THE TIME TUNNEL OF TOP TUNES
A DAILY CELEBRATION OF POPULAR MUSIC — WEEKDAYS AT 5.30 P.M ON ABC FAR NORTH.
IT’S NOT ABOUT NOSTALGIA OR CLASSIC HITS. THERE’S PLENTY OF THAT ELSEWHERE ON THE RADIO. THE TIME TUNNEL EXPLORES MUSIC OF ALL STYLES, ERAS, LANGUAGES AND NATIONS.
THE TUNNEL BEGAN IN 2002 AND IS NOW UP AROUND 2000 EPISODES. WE’VE TRACED THE ORIGINS OF ROCK & ROLL, HEARD THE FIRST SONGS EVER RECORDED, AND TRIED TO CONJURE THE MUSIC OUR GRANDKIDS WILL LISTEN TO 50 YEARS FROM NOW.
THE PROCESS BY WHICH POPULAR MUSIC IS MADE HAS CHANGED SO MUCH OVER THE YEARS. THESE DAYS TECHNOLOGY MAKES IT EASY TO ACCOMPLISH THINGS OF WHICH RECORDING PIONEERS COULD ONLY DREAM.
BUT THERE IS STILL GREAT MUSIC BEING MADE & PLENTY OF OLD STUFF TO ENJOY. THE TIME TUNNEL OFFERS WELL- LOVED FAVOURITES AND TUNES YOU’VE NEVER HEARD BEFORE.
SUGGESTIONS AND REQUESTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME <firstname.lastname@example.org> OR POST A COMMENT ON THIS PAGE.
SCROLL DOWN FOR DETAILS OF RECENT TIME TUNNEL EPISODES. COPYRIGHT LAW PREVENTS ME POSTING AUDIO OF TUNNEL EPISODES ON THE WEB AT THIS TIME.
YES THE CASSOWARY IS A MUSIC LOVER TOO. WE SPEND A LOT OF TIME DOWN THE TUNNEL EVERY DAY. TUNE IN TO ABC FAR NORTH AT 5.30 WEEKDAY AFTERNOONS FOR THE TRIP DOWN THE TIME TUNNEL OF TOP TUNES.
Monday May 21: The Bee Gees were probably Australia’s biggest musical export success. The Brothers Gibb, Maurice, Robin and Barry started out singing for extra pocket money in suburban Brisbane at the end of the 50s. 4BH DJ Bill Gates heard them singing at Redcliffe Speedway, recorded them and the Bee Gees were on their way. Robin Gibb died in London today, aged 62.
Wednesday May 16: Louis Armstrong was one of the 20th century’s best known musicians. Today, some Louis recordings you’ve probably never heard before, and some stuff you didn’t know about him. When he first heard Hello Dolly, he didn’t like the song, and had to be persuaded to record what became his best known tune. And while many people call him Louie, the man himself would have corrected you and said, “I’m Louis”.
He was THE ace of bass. Donald “Duck” Dunn was one of the most influential musicians of his time, playing with The Mar Keys and Booker T & The MGs. He was part of the Stax Studios house band, played bass for the original Blues Brothers band, and worked on some of the best records of the past 50 years. Duck died in Tokyo over the weekend.
Wednesday May 9: Bill Haley’s Rock Around The Clock was not the first rock and roll record, but it’s the one people remember as the start of the rock era. Unbelievably, it was on the B side of a 1954 release and was only a minor success until it featured in the film Blackboard Jungle. On the 58th anniversary of its release, we tell the story of how one of rock’s most important records was made.
TUESDAY MAY 8: Songs that created or were inspired by dance crazes. From the Charleston to the Macarena, there’s a long history of songs setting off new dance moves and popular dances inspiring songwriters. We check out the Hustle, Mashed Potato, the Stomp, Stroll, Monkey, the Freddie & more. You can find all the dance moves at http://www.sixtiescity.com/Culture/dance.shtm
We explore the music of the great American songwriters covered by Paul McCartney on his new album Kisses On The Bottom. Harold Arlen, Yip Harburg, Fred Ahlert, Johnny Mercer and so many others created enduringly popular songs like It’s Only A Paper Moon, The Glory of Love, Sit Right Down & Write Myself a Letter, Accentuate the Positive. Dedicated to my mum, who turns 80 tomorrow. She doesn’t always like the music I play, but I think she’ll enjoy this collection.
Wednesday May 2: We start the search for FNQ’s favourite songs. See https://rdontheroad.wordpress.com/2012/05/02/were-looking-for-fnqs-favourite-songs/
Tuesday May 1:
Norman Greenbaum’s Spirit in The Sky was a huge world-wide hit in 69/70. So how did a Jewish kid come to write a song about Jesus? We trace the ingredients of a song that stands as one of the great one hit wonders. More about Norman at http://www.spiritinthesky.com/
On the 29th anniversary of his passing, we remember Muddy Waters. He was the key figure in the journey of the blues from acoustic Mississippi style to the hard rocking Chicago blues sound championed by Chess Records. Muddy Waters was a giant of a performer and a major influence on rock music.
Thursday April 26:
We examine the work of song-writer/producers Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff. Pioneers of Philadelphia soul, almost 200 hit records to their names. They emerged when Motown and Stax studios were the dominant forces in American music. But Gamble & Huff had a new sound that blended soul, funk and strings, flirted with disco, and gave us memorable hit records.
We’re Space Truckin’ today. The Purple People Eater, Space Oddity, Telstar. Rock and pop’s long fascination with planets, stars, outer space and the life forms who might reside there. Music by Bill Haley, Sheb Wooley, Deep Purple & Billy Lee Riley’s epic Flying Saucer Rock and Roll. Billy Lee’s story is further explored at http://testifyse15.blogspot.com.au/2006/08/were-gonna-rock-n-roll-all-way-to.html
The man they called America’s oldest teenager, Dick Clark, has died, aged 82.
Dick pioneered pop music on TV with the Dick Clark Show and American Bandstand, which began in 1952. It was the first time TV really took to the “new” music and the teenagers that bought it.
WEDNESDAY APRIL 19:
Hit songs that were spoken rather than sung. Probably began as spoken introductions on stage, but Hank Williams seems to have started it on record with his Luke The Drifter recordings. Examples from Joe Tex, Clarence Carter, Desiderata, Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen, Johnny Cash and more.
Andrew Love & Wayne Jackson formed one of music’s hottest horn sections, The Memphis Horns, in the early 60s. Their powerful blend of sax and trumpet added class and power to hundreds of songs over nearly 40 years working with some of the biggest names in rock, soul, funk and pop. Andrew Love died yesterday aged 71.
One day a musician heard Bessie the cow jangling round the farm, the cow bell around her neck jangling in a way that suggested all kinds of musical possibilities. The many and varied musical uses of the much under-rated instrument, the cow bell.
In April 1974 Paul McCartney & Wings scored their first major album success with Band on the Run. Recorded in Lagos, Nigeria, amid a run of bad luck, Macca Linda & Denny Laine produced a memorable work. Can you name all the celebrities on the cover?
Stax and Motown are remembered as the two powerhouse studios of US music in the 60s and 70s. They had great house bands, The Stax band and the Funk Brothers, and created hundreds of hit records. But there was another great studio in those days, American Studios in Memphis, with it’s house band, the Memphis Boys. 120 plus hits in a decade, Elvis, Dusty Springfield and many other big names came here to record.
Novelty songs have always been popular with Australian audiences, most of them by overseas artists. But there are plenty of home grown novelty hits, including two of Australia’s biggest selling singles. Songs by Rolf Harris, Joe Dolce, Bill & Boyd, Redgum, The Bushwhackers, Austen Tayhsus, Drummond & more.
Radio stations tell you they play the best songs of all time. It’s a very subjective thing deciding which tunes are the best. But what about the worst songs of all time? Today we sample some of the tunes consistently ranked as the worst, least liked, or just plain musical folly.
The story of what history records as the first ever rock & roll concert. March 1952, the Moondog Coronation Ball, staged by D.J Alan Freed, the man who gave rock & roll music its name. The concert was shut down when thousands of fans without tickets tried to get inside. Freed turned a potential PR disaster into a triumph that made him the king of the Moondogs and the man at the vanguard of radio rock & roll.
We celebrate the life and music of Jimmy Little, Australia’s first indigenous music star. He grew up on the banks of the Murray River, where he heard the music of Nat King Cole and Jim Reeves. He loved country music and became one of Australia’s leading country performers. Jimmy died yesterday at the age of 75.
Earl Scruggs was one of the founders of bluegrass, a style of country born in Kentucky. Earl played in Bill Monroe’s band, where he met Lester Flatt. Together they created a unique sound, gave country a new direction that inspired the American country-rock boom of the early 70s. And yes, they did the theme song to The Beverly Hillbillies.
Reggae captured the imagination of music lovers around the world in the early 70s. The sounds of the Caribbean, particularly Jamaica, became the bench-mark of cool. But the Caribbean had been making great music for decades. The Skatalites (pictured) were pioneers of a sound called ska, a musical style that remains popular today. We sample the works of Prince Buster, Dandy Livingstone, Little Milli and others who inspired UK bands like Madness and The Specials.
TUESDAY MARCH 27:
Oz rock pioneer Vince Lovegrove shared vocals with Bon Scott in the 60s Aussie band The Valentines. He introduced Bon to a very young AC/DC who signed him up as their front-man. Vince went on to be a music journalist, band manager, TV producer and HIV campaigner. Vince died near Byron Bay last weekend.
We celebrate the 70th birthday of the queen of soul, Aretha Franklin. She was singing gospel in her father’s church as the new musical style, soul, began to develop in the 1950s. Soul music had many champions, but few had the gospel credentials or soaring vocals to match Aretha. http://www.aretha-franklin.com/
In 1960, a dance craze erupted in the U.S and swept the world. The Twist was inspired by rock and roll music, and like the music, the moves were a bit saucy. Wowsers thundered against the Twist, but it lasted for years and inspired other dance crazes like the Jerk, the Pony, Monkey, Watusi & Mashed Potato. History credits Chubby Checker’s song The Twist as the start of it all but it ain’t necessarily so. Today we meet Hank Ballard, who wrote & first recorded The Twist.
Graham Parker & The Rumour are working on a new album, 30 years after their first Australian hits. Graham came out of the UK pub rock scene to lead one of the hottest 70s stage acts. Hey Lord Don’t Ask Me Questions was their big Aussie hit.
Songs about or inspired by dogs. Humans and dogs have been living together for thousands of years so it’s not surprising they turn up in our songs. Dog songs from Lobo, Elvis, Big Mama Thornton, Johnny Cash, Patti Page, Johnnie Johnson and Seamus the bitser who sang on a Pink Floyd album.
TUESDAY MARCH 20:
A US radio show called Louisiana Hayride ran from 1948 to 1960, becoming known as the “cradle of the stars”. Many of the big names in music got their first significant exposure on the Hayride. Today we sample some Elvis Presley Hayride shows. Imagine that – Elvis live at the wireless.
Pseudo Echo celebrates 30 years in the music business. Best remembered for their cover of the Lipps Inc disco tune Funky Town, but Pseudo Echo made some great music of their own. They had the “new wave” look & moves, but managed to take the genre in a genuinely new direction. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F0KGF8lg6Dc & http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x11ln4_pseudo-echo-funky-town_music
Not many “we were big in the 80s” bands are still going. But The Hoodoo Gurus are still doing their thing, this year celebrating the 30th anniversary of their first single. Front man Dave Faulkner talks about life with the Gurus then and now. Some Gurus tunes at http://qld.so/47
The founder of one of the best TV music shows, Soul Train. Don Cornelius made US TV sit up & take notice of soul & black music. He hosted the show for 22 years. Strangely it never ran in Australia but was the source of many clips that aired on Sounds Unlimited, Countdown, Nightmoves & their contemporaries. http://qld.so/3y
Or watch some Soul Train highlights at http://qld.so/3z
Band leader, godfather of R & B, the white man so funky his record listeners were sure he was black. The man who created the hand jive craze of the late 50s. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TEeeGMpM_Nk
We celebrate the life and music of Etta James. Etta was one of the great soul and blues singers. She died in January this year. http://qld.so/3q