December 2013 Rocket Ship Ska Trip Archives

12/5/2013 Rocket Ship Ska Trip

12/5 in a nutshell…

For those of you who missed the Cabooze’s recent English Beat show, here’s fessin’ straight up: I’m one of you! I had a hankerin’ for a taste of what I missed, so on went their “Jeanette” 12” to launch the “Ooh” this week. Following that, what exactly does old-school U.S. dance-craze kingpin Arthur Murray have to do with “Jamaica Ska” you ask? Ask the Hip City Five, who contributed their Byron Lee cover to a Murray-branded and “discotheque”-themed 7“ep on RCA back in ’65. A partymaking round-up of ’60s and ’70s ska later, we find ourselves orbiting Sherwood’s Planet, where Mr. Funn opens with the Emil Richards calendar-album track “Turquoise (December)” and follows-up with singer Druid Chase before serving up a “Mint Julep” while “Boogie Woogie Cha Cha”-ing straight outa “Perdido”. Appropriately for December, we hear Robert Drasnin’s “Three Views of Havana” premiered live at the Fine Line by an outfit calling itself ICE (a.k.a. the Intergalactic Contemporary Ensemble). Interesting fact: “Three Views” was written specifically for the Fine Line gig, and Mr. Drasnin is known to have performed his piece with the Ensemble on occasion, though I can’t prove he’s actually on the Fine Line take, despite my previous playlist entries from years past indicating that (i thought) he was. Anyway, the Tokyo Bay Samba (really known as “Tengoku e Youkoso” or, “Where’s Heaven”, which isn’t a translation, “incidentally”) graced this week’s Planet for the third time in as many weeks! We must be lovin’ that thing around here. And, a track apiece by Tipsy and Messer Chups make their Sherwood’s debuts. Check ‘em! Die Tornados kick off the Home Stretch with their lick of the ole “Lollipop”, brand-new Umbrella Bed tunes made an appearance (as well as old fave “I Remember You”) and we did an all-local 5@5:05. Oh, and those Tornados came back for seconds, covering Blondie’s “Heart Of Glass”. We reprised most of the night-closing last DJ set ever at the late, great King & I Thai restaurant, made up of tunes by, among others, The Kinks, Madness, Gichy Dan’s Beachwood #9 and Bad Manners. We’ll roll this set again on the 19th (2 days past the closing anniversary), this time in its entirety, ‘cuz I miss the King. Tune in and stay tuned…

12/12/2013 Rocket Ship Ska Trip

12/12 in a nutshell…

From time to time we like to explore the impact the pioneering ska generation had around the world in their own heyday. In that spirit, in the “Ooh” we shared with skassengers Jamaica’s original ’60s homegrown R&B/jazz/pop groove as it was felt everywhere by musicians from South Africa (rest in peace, Mr. Mandela… freeing a country is hard work!) to Poland to England to Barbados to the US (and in the Home Stretch, this week’s Lollipop was in French, and done by the apostrophe-abusing Les Gam’s. “C’est Toi Mon Idole”, done by at least four different French artists in the ’60s, was one of numerous versions of the song which dispense with the “lollipop” imagery altogether. One Spanish-language version is about an Esquimale, or Eskimo, while the Czech sing about someone named “Bob” and in 1979, the UK’s The Selecter famously turned the song into a ganja anthem for the 2 Tone generation… and you’ve heard ‘em right here since January without repeat!). The Stretch also previewed some holiday goodies in the 5@5:05, including one by the aforementioned Selecter. Now let’s jump back through time to Sherwood’s segment! The psychedelically percussive Hal Blaine had our calendar-album track this week, “Love-In (December)”, both sides of a Joe Loco cha-cha 45 on Imperial got played, and a jazz cd all the way from rat-free Edmonton, Alberta Canada was sent by the artist, Don Berner to our show (thanks, Don!), and from that we heard “Long Green Valley”. From time to time Sherwood likes to slip in a really jazzy ska number (as do we all here at the RSST) and they don’t come much jazzier than upright bassist Joey Altruda, sax legend Plas Johnson, Jamaica’s finest Ernest Ranglin on guitar, and the rest of the Kingston Cocktail Crew. Their tune “Rolando”, after Mr. Alphonso, more than fills the bill, especially with its 7+min. runtime. The archive is up for 2 weeks, so tune in… and stay tuned!

12/19/2013 Rocket Ship Ska Trip

12/19 in a pinecone…

“Adam and Eve went up my sleeve and they never came down until Christmas Eve,” so Merry Skanxmas all you cats! Ol’ Cozy Claws has the skaliday goodies to perk up yer ears, with Sir Lord Comic leading the way. Bob Andy turns life into a symphony, Roland Alphonso dreams of being a bell, and those cannibal kids (tee-hee-hee) from the Gable Hall School Choir are still feasting on Santa the Candy Man. Our joy ride through ska oldie-dom leads, as always, to the fabulous flying party palace known across space (at least in the hyperactive imaginings of Sherwood’s Planet DJ Sherwood B. Funn) as the Voovie Doo Lounge, where we learn who’s birthday Dec. 25th really is… why, it’s Pete Rugolo’s, of course, and he’s heard here doing “Snowfall” and “Skyliner” with Billy May’s “Snowfall Cha-Cha” in the middle of that sandwich. Billy later outs himself as Santa Claus! Listen also for the Nutcracker, as cracked open by Les Brown, Duke Ellington, and the Hot Club of San Francisco (doing the Duke’s “Sugar Rum Cherry” a la French Gypsy Swing). A Christmas present the RSST crew made for KFAI yields up songs with titles like “Winter Love”, “Sno King”, “Winter’s Tale” (written as an ad jingle for Sapporo beer by Hiroshi Takano) and “Snowbound”, that last one being a 7+min. slow-funker by Steely Dan vet Donald Fagen, produced by fellow Danster Walter Becker. In the Home Stretch, Israeli Gila Adari served up this week’s Lollipop, “Od Daka Achat” from a mid-60s 7“ep. The rest of the Stretch delivered wintertime cheer from The Selecter, The Dualers, Bad Manners, The Toasters, Suggs (from Madness), August Darnell as his character Kid Creole, his associate Gichy Dan, and more. Remember, Gina… he’s just a ski instructor! The rest of you… tune in, and stay tuned!

12/26/2013 Rocket Ship Ska Trip

12/26 in a nutshell…
Gotta cut straight to the Home Stretch highlights this week… a Lollipop by Kyoko Koizumi that we’re given to understand Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra had a big hand in… and that wraps up a whole year’s worth of no-repeat Lollipops that date back to before Millie Small… Barbie Gaye’s 1956 original, to be exact! And speaking of stretching, The 5@5:05 expanded to consume the whole rest of the hour, excepting of course The End. The theme was… 2013 Ska Roundup (tho’ we did get in one cut from 2010’s Moodsteady by Tsuyoshi Kawakami & his Moodmakers. The rest was 2013 releases by everybody from The Slackers to The Dualers to TC locals The Prizefighters and Umbrella Bed. We also blasted 2-in-a-row from The Selecter’s sparkling String Theory, which this dj scored at the band’s wonderful Cedar show a few months back. Australia was well-represented by big band the Melbourne Ska Orchestra and the smaller-scale, but equally energetic Cat Empire, and the aforementioned Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra got in “Aranjuez Con Tu Amor* from their live appearance at the 2013 420 Fest in Guadalajara, Mexico. “The Season” was honored by Inspecter 7 (“Old Man Winter”) and Begoña Bang Matu (“Smiles in December”), and on Sherwood’s Planet by Billy May (“Snowfall Cha-Cha”) and Original Love, whose “Winter’s Tale” started out life as a Sapporo Beer ad jingle back in ’92. Pete Rugolo (whose Dec. 25th birthday guarantees him Christmastime airplay in Sherwood’s universe!) also turned up with “Our Waltz” from An Adventure in Sound. The “Ooh” crew missed a good bet… being as the show this week happened on Boxing Day, it would have been fun to hear one of Prince Buster’s “Big Fight” 45s. The onetime boxer himself (and longtime friend of The Greatest) did get airplay, though… “Ain’t That Saying a Lot” appears on the Prince’s “Ten Commandments” reissue. By this time next week, the New Year will have begun, and that means we’ll play some Hepcat. Tune in, and stay tuned!