Wednesday, April 30, 2008

New Music Update: Angelique Kidjo, Delaney & Bonnie, George Cates, Gypsy & More!

Some recent additions to NeverEndingWonder Radio:

Four extended pieces of electric guitar noodling from independent musician Tim Meece.
You can download some free tracks by Tim Meece here:
Free Tim Meece tracks


This was Bauhaus's last album and it's an interesting document of the end of the icons of Goth. It contains some unreleased items from the band's early days as well as their last recordings.


First two albums by 1970s prog outfit "Gypsy." Most compositions were written by guitarist/vocalist Enrico Rosenbaum, which is interesting because it's organist James Walsh that really stands out. His keyboard work is inventive and strong. This and the well integrated vocals, which have a feeling of British prog of the era, make this band stand out from the pack.


Another rare gem from the 1970s. Kathi McDonald sang as one of the Ikettes and was vocalist for Big Brother and The Holding Company after Janis left. It was a logical choice- her voice is big & bluesy. This is her first solo album, produced by none other than Pete Sears & featuring contributions from Nils Lofgren, Linda Ronstadt, Neil Schon and Papa John Creach among others. She covers Neil Young, Peter Frampton, Willie Dixon and Martha & the Vandellas. She also contributes her own numbers. A dynamite, little known classic of the era.


Born in Benin, relocated to Paris, Angelique Kidjo has been one of the leading forces in world beat music for over twenty years. This is a "best of" collection of sorts, featuring numbers from five albums released in the 1990s. Of particular note is her recording of Gershwin's "Summertime" performed in Swahili. I know- sounds like a train wreck, doesn't it? Her sensitive rendering of the song transcends any objections. The melody is so pure and she gives it the respect it demands. It may be my favorite version of "Summertime" ever, because it forces you to take a fresh look at the song and realize just how marvelous an accomplishment it is- both the composition and the reinterpretation. She also performs as song with Carlos Santana ("Naima"). The full range of her musical styles are exhibited here- afropop, blues, jazz, funk, rhumba & more.


This is the album that got me into traditional American music. I got it because I dug the top 40 hit "Never Ending Song of Love" and was astounded by the rest of what I heard. Lured by the overwhelmingly soulful voice of Bonnie Bramlett and the all-star cast of collaborators which included Duane Allman, Joe Cocker, John Hartford, Dave Mason, Gram Parsons and Leon Russell, I had my eyes opened to the wonders of Gospel, blues, country and folk music all at once. The heartfelt renditions of songs such as Rock of Ages, Will the Circle Be Unbroken and Faded Love all performed on acoustic instruments spoke to me on a very deep level. Combined with the loose "jam session" atmosphere of the recording it makes for a very unique experience.


This is straight up Exotica. George Cates is mostly remembered, when remembered at all, for his work with schlockmeister Lawrence Welk. Don't worry- there are no champagne bubbles here. This is Arthur Lyman/Martin Denny territory here, done very well. The standards are here- Pagan Love Song, Hawaiian War Chant, Bali Hai. What makes this release stand out are the fact Alvino Ray and Buddy Cole are among the musicians. There's an impressive list of percussion instruments used: Guiro, Boo-bams, Rhythm Logs, Celeste, Marimba, Xylophone, Bells, Pu Ili (or Pui Sticks), Kalaau, Uli Uli, Tympani, Timbales, Conga Drum, Bongos, Maracas, Finger Cymbals (or "Ching-Chings"), and Triangle. My only complaint is there's a bit TOO MUCH of that guiro. That's that thing that looks like this:

A little bit of that goes a long way and we hear it in nearly every song!

All these albums are currently in rotation on
NeverEndingWonder Radio

Friday, April 25, 2008


Today I watched one of the most amazing movies I've seen in some time. "Duck You Sucker," directed by Sergio Leone and released in 1971 is by far my favorite film by this director. Though known mostly for his "man with no name trilogy" - "Fistful of Dollars," "The Good, the Bad & the Ugly," and "For a Few Dollars More," this film, to me, is even greater. Set during the Mexican Revolution, "Duck You Sucker" has a layer of social commentary not present in the no name trilogy. By ingeniously paralleling the rise of fascism in WW2 Italy with revolutionary Mexico, Leone imbues his characters with a purpose not found in his other films.

Rod Steiger plays Juan, a bandit who, at the beginning of the film is amoral & apolitical. Throughout the film we see his transformation into someone who is forced to deal with the epic changes around him, even becoming a "hero" of the revolution. Rod Steiger, cast in a role far different than others he's played, turns in a performance that draws you in and exposes you to the pain and bewilderment the character feels. Leone wanted Eli Wallach for the role but the studio wanted a bigger name, so they got Steiger, and I'm glad they did. His performance gives a human element to the story.

The other main character, John, an Irish demolition expert on the run from the British for his involvement in "The Troubles" in Ireland, is played by James Coburn, who turns in an equally nuanced and deep characterization of a man tortured by memories.

I don't mean to give the impression "Duck You Sucker" is by any means a brooding, somber character study. No, this is a griping action filled adventure that involves you from the very start to the very end. It just happens to have a very dark tone to it- the scenes of Mexican Federales slaughtering revolutionaries as they lie in trenches evokes nothing if not scenes of Nazis in WW2.

This film is a masterpiece. I make that statement unqualified. Hard hitting, involving, thought provoking, gorgeous cinematography with a typically atmospheric and varied score by Ennio Morricone, that even features a whistled motif.

It's a beautiful and powerful score that evokes many emotions. I was so impressed with the film that I wanted to share it with you some how. If you have Comcast Cable it's available RIGHT NOW for free on demand. If you don't have Comcast I recommend renting the DVD. You can also hear the soundtrack on
NeverEndingWonder Radio

Drop by and take a listen!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

CD Review: The Polka Floyd Show

The Polka Floyd Show is just the kind of music we love here at NeverEndingWonder Radio - completely unclassifiable. It is simply exactly what it sounds like- 7 Pink Floyd songs played as polkas. If you're expecting a comedic accordion rave up ala Weird Al, though, you'll be disappointed. This is an accomplished high octane rock band, with an accordion, playing in the 2/4 beat of polka music. Though it is energetic good fun it's not exactly played for laughs. Well, not COMPLETELY for laughs.

Their rendition of "One of These Days" is a case in point. It starts off as a straightforward tribute to Floyd with the eerie wind noises and the bass notes. It's pure Floyd until the accordion comes in and gives it an off kilter quality that takes it in another direction briefly, and then suddenly they're back with a searing guitar lead that really takes the song into high gear. Yet, in the background there's that polka beat.... and it WORKS! They even manage to incorporate a snippet of a riff from the Wizard of Oz score.

Perhaps my favorite song is their reading of "Hey You." It starts off simply, evoking a simple European folk melody with plaintive vocals and the subtle accordion work of Eric Hite. But soon enough the band is there rocking out, taking it just to the edge - then pulling back, and there's that rollicking polka beat. Once again it works marvelously

Their magnum opus is a ten minute version of Breathe/Time that simultaneously leaves you in awe of this band's ability to rock out in the best classic rock tradition AND make you walk to get up and do a polka. Astounding! I think they've created a new genre of music- Rock Polka. The Polka Floyd Show hails from Toledo- and where else could something like this happen?

Guitarist & vocalist Ken Haas keeps the band reaching for rock Heaven while accordionist Eric Hite makes everything dance. Bass player Chris Zielinski, drummer Frank Dramczyk and keyboard player Penny Haas all contribute their considerable talents making this a band that stands up in its own right. I'd listen to them play ANYTHING- but when it's Pink Floyd's classic songs played polka style that's something just beautiful.

My only minor quibble with this release is that it focuses almost entirely on Roger Waters compositions. There is one Syd Barrett song, but maybe in the future they could try their hand at Saucerful of Secrets or Comfortably Numb. This is a minor complaint, however. This release shines.

Band website:
The Polka Floyd Show

The Polka Floyd Show can be heard on NeverEndingWonder Radio

Thursday, April 17, 2008

CD REVIEW: Jerry LaRocca - Years of Longing

Jerry LaRocca's 2006 release "Years of Longing" is 14 languid melodies featuring (mostly) piano and synthesizer. If you like pastoral music you likely will appreciate this CD. The melodies unfold at a leisurely pace, as if to accompany you on a contemplative walk through the woods or sitting atop a mountain partaking in the beauty of nature around you. With titles like "Walking to the Sun" and "Dawn on the Mountain," clearly the link with nature is intentional.

There's also a theme of remembering days past, with such titles as "Remembering You," "Years of Longing" and "Dreams of Long Ago." Not all the songs are rooted in the past, however, as the title "Sorrow in Iraq" reveals.

All these elements together reveal an artist very much in touch with his inner landscape and at the same time connected to the outer landscape as well. In the CD liner LaRocca lists his influences as film composer Miklos Rozsa, Ravel, Debussy & Rachmaninoff. The mentions of Debussy & Rachmaninoff are particularly apt- the music evokes their more serene compositions. As tangible evidence of the connection LaRocca includes a photo of himself at Rachmaninoff's gravesite.

Fans of piano music, new age music fans and any that appreciate beautiful intrumental music should all have their days brightened by this music. You can hear samples of the CD at CDBaby:

Jerry LaRocca on CDBaby

You can also hear "Years of Longing" on NeverEndingWonder Radio

Most Recent Additions to NeverEndingWonder Radio- Grasshoppers, Rare Comedy and $64,000 Jazz

These are the most recent additions to NeverEndingWonder Radio. Three classic rare albums recorded on my brand new Crosley usb turntable (my old school turntable gave out and this usb device works GREAT!).

The Grasshoppers Sing the Beatles Hits

I don't have a proper image of the cover, so this will have to do. I haven't had a scanner in years.

The Grasshoppers were a Chipmunks ripoff- only hipper. They have their own Dave, only he's named Jerry. They sing Beatles songs! It's a truly demented record.

How to be Terribly, Terribly Funny
No cover for this, sorry. A great lost comedy anthology released in the Fifties. Features a wonderful example of pre-hippie dope humor by Ronnie Graham. Lots of inside jokes for the beatnik era- this even predates the classic "How to Speak Hip." Another lost great routine by "George Crater." Crater was actually Downbeat columnist Ed Sherman. Here he explains his plans for a new series of wind-up dolls based on Jazz musicians. Also classic routines by Louis Nye, Peter Ustinov, Henry Morgan & Stanley Holloway.

$64,000 Jazz

Anthology Jazz album released in the mid-50s containing tracks from Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong, Eddie Condon, Harry James, Duke Ellington, Woody Herman, Sarah Vaughan, Dave Brubek and others.

These were all recorded from vinyl albums over 40 years old and as such contain some noise. I cleaned them up a bit but you still hear some. Well, it adds to the charm, right?


Yes, I'm finally starting a blog. Way behind the curve there. To all my old friends- welcome. To all my new friends, welcome.

A bit of introduction:

For over four decades I've been a fan of and collector of strange, unusual, rare, off the wall & forgotten music, comedy & spoken word weirdness. When my friends and I went to the record shop back in the sixties they'd head for the latest Zeppelin, Beatles or Stones releases. I'd head for the bins of cutout discs and search for gems like The Naked Carmen, Ark 2 by Flaming Youth, Beaver & Krause, Dracula's Greatest Hits or something equally bizarre.

For many years I hoped for a way to share my passion for off-kilter audio. Seven years ago I found the answer- Internet radio. Dr. Demento had been a long time inspiration for me and I wanted to create something like his show, only expanded. The result was NeverEndingWonder Radio- a freeform Internet radio station that focuses on rare, forgotten, off the wall & off beat music from the beginning of recording history to brand new releases.

It's been a constant joy running the station, aided by my able assistant Ozma the Elf. I've won awards, been featured in stories online & in print, been contacted by some of the musicians I've been a fan of over the years, and met a lot of people who share my taste for music that doesn't quite fit into the mainstream. NeverEndingWonder Radio is a constant work in progress. I add new music to the library almost daily. I have some specialty shows and I have plans for adding more in the future.

One of the greatest joys of running the station has been getting to know hundreds of independent artists and airing their music. Traditional radio is so locked into the parasitic relationship they have with the major labels that artists who don't fit the mainstream have no chance of getting airplay. There are creative, talented artists across the world hungry to get their music HEARD. Internet radio is a godsend to them. I am constantly amazed at the depth of talent the artists who send me music have. It's an honor to provide them with a venue.

I am always behind on keeping up with my work on the station. I have enough music in my collection to keep me busy for YEARS, as well as keeping the website updated. I've been working on a new format for links to the independent artists I play for a year now. My apologies artists! It will be ready soon, I promise!

It's my goal to keep this site fresh with notes on new music added to the station, reviews of new CDs, news items and such. And no- I won't provide mp3 downloads of music you hear on NeverEndingWonder Radio. If you enjoy the music, support the artists and buy their music. Please feel free to leave comments in the comments section. If you don't have a blogger account and leave an "anonymous" comment please put a name in the comment so I know who you are! Looking forward to hearing from you.