Ahoy, dear Contrarian readers! I apologize for my long absence from these pages. But I thought I’d jump back in with something that blew my mind this morning on the radio — and a side note. . . it feels so good to say that. I absolutely love quality radio (see: long-delayed still-forthcoming post about BBC4), which as you know is as hard to come by these days as a sane word at a town hall screamfest.
And, even though I harbor some disparaging feelings for my local Emerson College station WERS (awkward DJs and their pretend grown-up “radio voices,” the occasional befuddling Dave Mathews/Bonnie Raitt offense), I’m consistently blown away by their programming, which often features amazing new music alternating with obscure older stuff that I love. For me, this is typified by the fact that I can occasionally hear Phil Ochs on WERS: I don’t even like Phil Ochs, but I think it’s so fantastically odd that they play him, and it therefore makes me happy.
Anyway, on a number of occasions I’ve been so wowed by something I’ve heard on the station that I go out and track it down, which makes a sour old curmudgeon like myself feel like a young impressionable rocker again. Of course, I know to be careful not to drop it in conversation if it’s the latest thing all the kids are into — I do my research. But inspired by the track I heard this morning — On A Clear Day, by The Peddlers (YouTube link, just audio so I’m not embedding here) — I’ll take the risk. It’s a corny old 60′s show tune my folks used to sing, which became an elevator cheese-whiz standard. But in the hands of The Peddlers, it becomes crazy beatnik jazz magic. Dig especially the organ solo that starts around the 2:00 mark, which makes me feel all wiggly inside like a magic leprechaun is doing the herky-jerky on my funnybone.
The ensuing internet search brought up a motherlode of such swingin’ hipness I just had to share with you all. This also brings up a pet fascination of mine, the bittersweet, embarrassing purity of unabashed beatnik zeal. For example, my brother on the bass guitar. Straps are bourgeois, man.
But holy shit, right? I mean, holy shit. If you don’t like that, you don’t like fried chicken. Or in their case, a pie and a pudding. Sadly, it’s the only live performance I could find. However, do check out the following bit which is a beautiful time capsule from way back when people still celebrated the phenomenon of TV:
I don’t want to take up too many more column inches here with embedded video, so I’ll just link to this last bit of required viewing and say burn one down for The Peddlers: no other trio of Englishmen could cruise ‘n’ swing so effectively — in crocheted vests, no less.