This is Myke Dodge Weiskopf, the producer of KCRW’s Lost Notes: a brand-new series devoted to “the greatest music stories never truly told.” Over eight episodes, our intrepid host Solomon Georgio will take you deep into the memory-stained musical past for stories both strange and familiar, popular and obscure. Whether your tastes run to ’60s country, ’80s bubblegum, or ’90s hip-hop, Lost Notes has a story for you.
In preparation for this grand adventure, our production assistant/KCRW DJ Marion Hodges and I have selected some of our favorite tunes from the first season. You can find them all, and many more on the Lost Notes Spotify Playlist which we will be updating throughout the season.
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From Myke Dodge Weiskopf:
Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band – “The Floppy Boot Stomp”
Captain Beefheart’s reputation most certainly precedes him. If you know the name at all, it stands to reason you’ve heard the same adjectives dragged out again and again: avant-garde, experimental, challenging. A 1970 review in Rolling Stone declared: “I about puked. What is this shit?” But drop a needle at any point in his discography, and you’re just as likely to hear something that exercises your feet, brain, and heart simultaneously. For fans of the Captain, 1978’s “The Floppy Boot Stomp” was a watershed moment, a strong return to form after a string of lackluster albums and rumored legal entanglements. And for neophytes, it has all the right ingredients: slippery-eel blues guitars, rhythms like falling down a cubist staircase, and the velvety purr of Mr. Don Van Vliet himself at the center. “The hoodoo hoedown,” indeed.
Glen Sherley – “Big Steel Prison Gate”
Even among ardent country/western fans, Glen Sherley’s name is barely a footnote, only vaguely recalled as the author of a tune on Johnny Cash’s landmark Folsom Prison concert recording. Later in our series, producer Peter Gilstrap will explain how that night in Folsom proved fateful for both men … but for now, as the old quote goes, there’s “nothing here now but the recordings.” “Big Steel Prison Gate” is one of Sherley’s many prison tapes, laid down on a succession of blank reels brought in by his family. His life story hardly makes a romance of incarceration – or the things one does to wind up there – but, unlike his celebrated mentor, at least one can say Sherley sang from bitter experience.
Abu Zaria Ensemble – “Raqs al Ghawazee”
With this selection, we leave the West altogether and board a plane for Upper Egypt in 1973, where an American woman named Aisha Ali is making groundbreaking recordings of the music of North Africa and the Middle East. The ghawazi (or “ghawazee”) are a group of female dancers from Upper Egypt whose lineage stretches back centuries. For any student of “classical” Egyptian belly dance, the title “Raqs al Ghawazee” will ring a bell or two, as the modernized form of the dance is known as raqs sharqi. But this recording was made by Aisha at the source, performed by the people who originated both the dance and its music. Get lost.
From Marion Hodges:
Richard Berry & the Pharaohs – “You Are My Sunshine”
“You Are My Sunshine” might be the first song I ever heard in my life. It’s certainly one of the first that I can remember as my grandmother would sing it to me at bedtime when I was little, usually by request. It’s now thanks to the first episode of Lost Notes that I’m aware of this delightful, swinging R&B take on the ubiquitous classic.
The Shaggs – “My Pal Foot Foot”
For those of us whose musical first love is a particular brand of often willfully amateurish, shambolic indiepop best epitomized by bands like Television Personalities, and Beat Happening – the Shaggs are required listening. They were the ones to pioneer that amateurish “anyone can form a band” style on their cult classic album Philosophy of the World. But the Shaggs’ musical reach extends far and wide as they notably enthralled the likes of Kurt Cobain, and Frank Zappa – to name but two of their biggest fans. If you’ve not yet heard them, you’ll find it hard to not be enthralled as well.
New Edition – “Candy Girl”
As a child born in the 80s – who watched a LOT of VH1 specials in the 90s – I’d be remiss not to include some New Edition in the run down. You know this one, go ahead and bump it loud and proud.