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This week’s featured album:

‘How to Speak Hip’ by Del Close and John Brent

Released in 1959, this remains one of the funniest comedy albums ever made by two underground comedians who were able to satirize the beatnik phenomena so sharply because they were both truly bohemian spirits themselves. John Brent was a Manhattan beat poet, actor and informal chemical researcher  who ran the Fat Black Pussy Cat Café (which, let’s face it, sounds like a pretty cool joint) whilst Del Close was a stand-up comedian who befriended, worked with, and quite often did copious amounts of drugs with the likes of Lenny Bruce, Frank Zappa, Tiny Tim, the Grateful Dead, and the Merry Pranksters; and this after leaving home at 17 to join Dr. Dracula’s Magic Horror Show traveling carnival as fire-eater and human torch, Azrad The Incombustible (which, once again, is kind of cool).

Brent plays groovy cellar-dwelling hep-cat Geets Romo, who is spurred on by Close’s button-down interrogator in the style of one of those ‘Teach Yourself. . .’ self-education records that were around at the time. On Planet L we love these kinds of records and play them all the time. The two improvise and riff on everything from Basic Hip to advanced notions of Cool and Uncool, in a manner that is both immediate and complex, meaning that, unlike any other comedy album I know, How To Speak Hip gets better with repeated listenings. I must have played it through about twenty times in preparing this show and it was still revealing layers of meaning that had me laughing out loud right to the end.

After the album Close and Brent formed improvisational Chicago comedy troupe, Second City, with Mike Nichols, Elaine May, and Joan Rivers. Close became an alcoholic, a heroin addict and a key figure in the ‘60s counterculture. He also discovered and became a mentor to John Belushi, Dan Ackroyd, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, George Wendt, and John Candy – so a life well lived. He died from emphysema on March 4 1999. His last words were “I’m tired of being the funniest one in the room”.  I read somewhere once that in his will he bequeathed his skull to Chicago’s Goodman Theatre, to be used in productions of Hamlet, for which Close would be listed in the programme as playing the part of Yorick.

Also played on tonight’s show:


So in answer to the question: what impossibly cool tune I do magic up in order to get my show off to a good start, the answer is CIBO MATTO, whose knowing mixture of jazz, hip hop, Brazilian beats, African drumming and disco samples sets the tone for the show quite nicely; plus, they appeared in an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. ABOUT A GIRL, a Nirvana cover from their Unplugged session (of course), can be found on the MOONCHILD sampler, released in 1999, as a promo for their second album STEREO*TYPE A. I understand that CIBO MATTO is Italian for CRAZY FOOD.


The incredibly influential but quietly understated ANITA LANE, duetting with one-time beau NICK CAVE on a cover of Dudley Moore and Peter Cook’s semi-legendary BEDAZZLED. In her youth Lane wrote songs for THE BIRTHDAY PARTY and was a founding member of THE BAD SEEDS before getting on with a career that was sadly untouched by anything you could reasonably call interest from the record buying public, and so remains an enigma to us all (well, me anyway). BEDAZZLED is taken from the B-side to her 1995 single THE WORLD’S A GIRL on which she and Nick also give I LOVE YOU. . .NOR DO I  a go. I seem to own a limited 7″ clear vinyl edition of the single that is number 1 of only 1000 pressings. This doesn’t excite me quite as much now as I expect it did back in 1995.


One of those impossibly obscure bands who exist for about the length of time it takes them to make an impeccably retro-cool homepage before going their separate ways and about whom, by their very nature, I know nothing; apart from the fact that they do, in fact, have an incredibly retro-cool home page that doesn’t seem to have been updated since 2005, where it informs me that the jazadelic slice of psychedelic pop that is SHE’S GROOVY was also released as a limited edition run of 1000 clear vinyl 7 ” records. My copy is to be found on the Head Kandi compilation CD THE ACID LOUNGE IN SPACE, and though I’m glad that I own a copy of it and all, my life still seems strangely empty knowing that there’s a thousand clear vinyl copies of it out there (probably tucked away behind their sofa) and I don’t have one.


Well, you know what it was like back then in the studios of downtown Kingston in the 1970’s. This track, which I came across on an old tape cassette I found in a stack of old tape cassettes I found the day I decided to brush the dust from my old tape cassette player and see if it still worked (which happily it did) is most likely the version that appears on the 1975 album WHO SAY JAH NO DREAD that Pablo released with JACOB MILLER, and not, say, the version that appears on the album KING TUBBY MEETS ROCKER’S UPTOWN that Pablo recorded with Tubby in 1976. Sadly, the tape cassette came without a tracklisting so I really couldn’t say.


Rapper Ben Drew went all soulful for his second album THE DEFAMATION OF STRICKLAND BANKS, from which the single SHE SAID was taken. Released in 2010, he seems to have recorded a concept album whose songs tell the fictitious tale of a sharp-suited British soul singer who finds fame with bitter-sweet love songs, but then loses everything when he ends up in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Apparently he’s been released from his record company for embracing hip hop’s giddy flame, which is weird because the album sold rather well and I had always understood that record companies were quite keen on that sort of thing.


Tonight’s only mash up from ALEX H who specialised in creating complex tunes and never combining two tracks when eight would do better. GREEN LINES  incorporates Booker T and the MG’s Green Onions with that daft Duran Duran cover of White Lines, P.E.A.C.E. ‘s Runaways, music from John Barry’s score for Goldfinger, M’s Pop Musik, the EZ Rollers’ Lady Jam, Ill Type Sound’s Krafty Kuts, Jean Jacques Perry’s original version of E.V.A., Betty Boo Doin’ The Doo and finally, Bentley Rhythm Ace with, altogether now, Who Put The Bom In The Bom Bom Diddleye Bom. Created back in 2006, for me the golden age of mash up’s.


Spy-chase thrills from AIR, from their 5th st

udio album LOVE 2 – released in 2010 and an album of yacht-pop noodlings curiously devoid of weight or, indeed, tunes. Except this one. I like this one.


I love CANNONBALL JANE – I’m not entirely sure who she is, but I love her nevertheless. Her real name is Sharon Hagopian (which explains every question you ever had about the name) and I remember reading once that she was/is an elementary school teacher from Connecticut who seems to have knocked off a ravishing debut album called STREET VERNACULAR back in 2006 (possibly in her lunch hour) – it’s a lo-fi world of sampledelica taking in The Shangri-Las, retro hip hop beats, dreamy doo-wop oohs and aahs, fuzzy garage pop and sugar rush vocals that fall somewhere between The Beastie Boys and St. Etienne. She sounds like the coolest teacher in the school.


A little known gem of an album, TO HELL WITH YOU I’LL MAKE MY OWN PEOPLE was released in 2003 by shit-hot producer to the stars JACKNIFE LEE under the moniker JACK PLANCK. It contains the observation that so many good drugs are now on the market, it is most important that we take them all – which is why he made the album. A lovely mix of semi-trance, jazzy beats, cut-up funk and lo-fi sensibility to chill out to.


THE HIPPY AND THE SKINHEAD is taken from one of the weirdest albums I own (and all that implies), the resolutely masculine WHEN SEX LEERS IT’S INQUISITIVE HEAD, unleashed on an unsuspecting public by PETER WYNGARDE in 1970, and quickly withdrawn about a week later after the public had given it a good listen to. What the record company was expecting was an album of contemporary standards in the style of Richard Harris doing MacArthur Park, in order to cash in on the popularity of Wyngarde’s portrayal of hirsute sleuth Jason King from the then popular TV show Department S. What they got instead was an explosion of rampant male sexuality couched in an aesthetic of such unbridled abandon that it set off alarm bells even in those permissive times.  Wyngarde’s career plummeted following a ‘misunderstanding’ with a lorry driver in the toilets at Gloucester bus-station in 1975 and the album disappeared into the world of myth until finally enjoying a re-release in 1998. Despite more or less inventing rapping for this track I’m still not entirely sure that the world is ready for it.


This track is taken from the 1985 release V.U., a collection of rarities and lost studio recordings that were compiled for the release of a VELVET UNDERGROUND box set which also included their first three albums and a further album of unreleased material called ANOTHER VIEW which I remember saving up all my pocket money for and being first in line at the shops the day it was released – I believe it cost 25 quid, which was a lot of money in those days. I CAN’T STAND IT would have been recorded in 1969, long after John Cale left the band, and yet is as good as anything on the first two albums and V.U. stands very nicely as a great lost VELVET UNDERGROUND album in its own right, whilst not actually being the great lost VELVET UNDERGROUND album. It’s better than LOADED anyway.


GOT ME GOING comes on like the best bits of The Avalanches playing around with The Go! Team and was the compellingly catchy 2009 release from MIDDX, the secretive bedroom producer whose identity is known only to three people (and, sadly, I’m not one of them). I don’t know why he (or indeed she) is so secretive but if I’d made a single that fizzed with such sweet soul loveliness I’d be shouting about it from the rooftops.


10 years ago this was absolutely cutting-edge turntablism and as far as I know it still is. Taken from the brilliant album PRODUCT PLACEMENT, released in 2001 by hip hop producer DL SHADOW and JURASSIC 5 turntablist CUT CHEMIST, It’s often unfavourably compared to their first collaboration BRAINFREEZE, and it’s true that, on the whole, it lacks the effortless fluidity of their earlier work, but I think the section I’ve slipped into the show is just far out and gone brilliance from two DJs who love their music as much as I do.


 I love MY TOYS LIKE ME.; they sound like a bad trip in Toy Town, just before the laughing policemen arrive to put the boot in. Their debut album, WHERE WE ARE, released last year, is full of sweet but twisted lullabies that sound by turns sinister, unsettling and paradoxical, like a mix of bedtime tantrums and upside-down electronics from a child with ADHD riding the surge of a sugar dose who absolutely refuses to clean their teeth at bedtime. Most of all, though, they manage to sound like no one else at all. Marvelous.


Who knew Andy Williams was once cool? Not cool nowadays, in that ironic, hip, post-lounge Tiki-Lounge daydream we all seem to have drifted in and out of, but cool, really cool enough to have produced a record as cool as HOUSE OF BAMBOO. Ever since I first heard this song, released in 1958, I think I’ve been looking for some bar, some café, some hang out joint that could be as cool as the House of Bamboo, and even though I’ve come close, I’ve never found the place. It occurred to me the other day that the place might not exist in and of itself, but that any place that actually has this song on the juke-box, might, by de-fault, be cool enough to do for the time being. Which effectively means that my lounge is that place and, therefore, I am cool in and of myself, and I can stop looking _ I’m here already. Well, it’s just a thought.


CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME, from which this track is taken, is essentially a comic put to music. Released in 2000 by KID KOALA (Eric San to his mum), it’s a playroom of jiggled beats, cut ‘n’ paste delights, obsessive scratching, cool dialogues and catchy notes that brings so much enjoyment and entertainment to the mix that you can’t but share his delight in the world he’s creating with, let’s face it, junk shop records and cool vinyl. Hmm, that would be just like The Planet L Radio Show then, I hope.


And in answer to the question: but how do you finish such an assured debut show, the answer is, of course, with LAUREL AND HARDY, and THE LONESOME PINE, from the very great film WAY OUT WEST, released in 1937. This song was actually released in Britain in 1975 as a single and reached No. 2 in the charts. I probably love it more now than I did then and, seriously, I couldn&rsqu

o;t think of a better way than ending the first show than with a song I love as much as this. Check out the clip on You Tube, or buy the film from Amazon – it will make you feel curiously safe in a world that ran out of explanations for itself shortly after you were born.

And that was The Planet L Radio Show 1. Thank you for listening.

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