23 November 2013

The Views Expressed Do Not Necessarily Reflect Those of the Station or Its Management

Recently stumbled across KEXP's "Review Revue" blog category thing, in which someone at the station scans and post old LPs from their library, highlighting the comments written by former DJs. And was a bit surprised at how boring much of it proved to be. Which had me thinking about my former community radio venue, and the odd items in its record library and some of the reviews scrawled thereon, thinking that said station should mount something similar.

And apparently someone there recently did just that.

First item that comes to mind, here's an old favorite, famous among staffers for its historical significance...

Featuring a response penned by one Mark E. Smith. Mark had recently married American expat Brix, who was in the lineup of The Fall. Brix, as it turns out, was an alumnus of the University of Chicago. And when The Fall played Chicago sometime around 1985-6ish, they apparently made a trip to the UofC campus, which included paying a visit to the radio station, with Mark E. poked through the record library and discovered that someone had made a disparaging remarks about Brix's vocal, and fired back: "YOU FUCKING DUMB MEDIOCRE PLANK! Signed - Lord Marquis E. Smith".

As I recall, he left comments on some other albums, as well. Sometimes taking issue with a staffer's reviewer, other times merely bestowing his blessing on the LP/artist.

The site so far sports a high ratio of old hardcore punk records for some reason, which is hardly representative of the rock end of the station's library. I thought some of the most amusing (i.e, quaint) comments came from the period roughly around 1980 -- from the years that the station was transitioning out of it prior AOR format (so common among left-of-the-dial college stations during most of the 1970s) and gravitating toward the noo music that would ultimately pave the way for '80s "college rock." Heated debates on the sleeves of some LPs by short-lived acts of that vintage; arguments about whether the act in question was a "real" or "fake" "New Wave" band, usually sparked by someone angrily decreeing that the artist in question (The Suburban Lawns, say) was little more than a despicably cynical trend-hopping opportunist, etc.

Among some of the highlights:
"Iggy’s been watching Werner Herzog films again — how else to explain the ‘hypnotizing chickens’?"
"Henry [Rollin]’s whining makes him sound like a three year old who, upon discovering that his tricycle is broken, wants everyone else’s to be broken too."

Another favorite I once encountered: A box set of early Guided By Voices material, released -- I gather -- at the height of their popularity. Thing contained something like 8 LPs, about half of which revealed unremarkable beginnings as one among a slew of indistinguishable 1980s-styled college-rock REM knock-offs, the other half pointing in the direction of the Bee Thousand-era sound. Upon which, one terminally contrarian DJ had written something like: "There are so many good bands out there now that are much more deserving of your attention and support. So please reconsider why you waste your time with this bunch of alcoholic midwestern unemployed steel-worker fucks."

{ For the record, I like GBV. Still, thought it was funny. }

The impassioned exchange of opinions over the merits of Shellac or Poison Idea might amuse. But, really...what do college kids know about anything?

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