Saturdays 10 a.m.-Noon, Sundays 8 p.m.-Midnight
One of my favorite commutes is driving down to Dundalk with my wife Amy on Saturday mornings to have brunch with her parents. That's because Amy and I beat the Beltway Blues by listening to one of our favorite weekend radio programs, "The Music Show" on WKHS (90.5 FM), which is hosted by "The Coach," Andy Moloney, from 10 a.m. until Noon. (The Coach also hosts a "Music Show" on Sunday nights from 8 p.m. until Midnight. See full WKHS schedule here.)
WKHS broadcasts out of Kent County High School in Worton, Maryland, and on weekdays is staffed by the school's budding student DJs. But at night and on weekends, WKHS is staffed by local "community volunteers" like Andy Moloney, who at one time coached the school's basketball team; he may still be a coach at the school - there's hardly any information on the web about Moloney as either a coach or DJ - but he's definitely a jock at heart because he provides play-by-play of Kent County H.S. Trojans basketball games on WKHS with "Little C" Joey Cichoki and also reads sports scores as host of "The Scoreboard" on Saturday mornings from 9-10 a.m. (He even cancelled one Sunday night broadcast so he could concentrate on his Fantasy Football League draft!)
(When the students and community members aren't there - summers, weekends, late nights - WKHS simulcasts WXPN radio from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.)
As a broadcaster, The Coach is far from slick, but his taste is Eclectic Old School, with an emphasis on obscure '70s hard rock, Psychedelia in all shapes and forms, and unapologetic Prog (a four-letter word that dare not speak its name these days, unless "ironically"). Moloney reminds us that the 1970s ushered in the era of album-oriented FM radio, when "deep cuts"replaced the singles hit parade and "heavy rotation" playlists. Many bands during this era released a single record and disappeared without a trace, but Coach proves there's still a glut of undiscovered treasures to be unearthed on all those long-players. (As a child of the post-Beatles '70s, I had always ignored most of the music scene that existed before Punk and New Wave, erroneously believing it to be landfill fodder; now I'm retrospectively atoning for my audio ignorance.)
Sure, he loves classic mainstream hard rock like Bad Company, Mott the Hoople, Jimi Hendrix, Jethro Tull, Grand Funk Railroad and Loverboy ("Working for the Weekend" opened a recent show), but Amy and I discover bands and tunes here that we never hear anywhere else - songs that challenge my Shazam app's "name that tune" recall abilities. Bands with names like Aardvark (an organ-heavy UK Psych group featuring guitarist Paul Kossof and drummer Simon Kirke before they joined Free), Agnes Strange, Bang, Black Sheep (featuring the pre-Foreigner Lou Gramm), Home, Omega (the Hungarian rockers whose '69 international hit "Gyongyhaju Iany" - roughly "Pearl-haired Girl" - was later cover by Scorpions and sampled by Kanye West), Pipe Dream, Ram Jam (see video below) and Pulsar - the latter an amazing French prog band whose Pink Floyd- and King Crimson-influenced 1975 debut Pollen album is well worth picking up. (How I wish WKHS posted its playlists - can't those students teach the volunteers some basic HTML?)
On a recent Saturday, for example, we heard such obscure groups as Dutch rockers Drama, Earth Quake, Elmer City Rambling Dogs, the Chico Magnetic Band (from France, like the Coneheads!) and - wait for it - Gong! Not Pierre Moerlin's Gong, but the original Teapot Pixie himself, Daevid Allen's Gong! Yes, the pioneering Anglo-Franco Psychedelic Hippie Space-Rock band formed by Daevid Allen (previously a founding member of UK prog-rockers Soft Machine) and his muse Gilli Smyth in 1968. (Allen died from cancer in 2015; Smyth followed, succumbing to pulmonary pneumonia, in August 2016.) The Coach - after reading all those mind-numbingly dull sports results from 9 to 10 and then opening his music show with Loverboy - played Gong's "Magick Brother"!
The minute I heard Gilli Smyth's erotic "space whisper" on "Magick Brother," I knew it was my college faves and had to pull over to listen. Amy loves anything weird, so she was entranced as well!
Listen to Gong's "Magick Brother" LP.
As if hearing one Gong song wasn't cool enough, Coach followed "Magick Brother" with perhaps Gong's signature sing-along, "Pot Head Pixies"! "I am...you are...we are...CRAZEE!" (Parenthetical thought: This would make an excellent segue into P. Frog's "We Are Crazy." Just a suggestion, Coach!)
Listen to Gong's "Pot Head Pixies."
You see, back in the late '70s, I was a fan of all things Gong - be it Chuck Barris' The Gong Show or Daevid Allen's trippy-hippy-dippy musical troupe - during my "progressive" phase. Gong were definitely Prog (incorporating Allen's spacey "glissando" guitar with elements of jazz, rock and psychedelia), but were never overly serious or pretentious about it. They were fun and silly, dabbling in Far Eastern mysticism while creating a stoner mythology on vinyl about Zero the Hero and his pothead pixie pals zooming around the cosmos in their flying teapots (aka, The Radio Gnome Trilogy: Flying Teapot, Angel Egg and You). Richard Branson signed the group to his new Virgin Records label in 1973 and the original members were soon augmented by guitarist Steve Hillage, synth player Tim Blake, bassist Mike Howlett, and drummer Pierre Moerlen.
|A Pot Head Pixie in his Flying Teapot|
Back in 1978, a bunch of us Prog-heads (Tom Lehrer, John Lorch, Carlos?) drove up to New York to see Daevid Allen and various manifestations of Gong (Mother Gong, New York Gong) at the avant-rock-experimental Zu Manifestival...
...and in 1979 I saw Gong perform a midnight show at Johns Hopkins University, a gig at which my old bandmate Adolf Kowalski promoted our group by canvasing the campus with Thee Katatonix graffitti - promptly getting us banned from JHU! After the show, my ex-wife Katie and I even got our photo taken with Allen and his missus, Gilli Smyth (aka Shakti Yoni).
|Tom, Daevid & Katie at Gong's 1979 JHU show|
|Chanteuse Gilli Smyth space whispering at Gong's 1979 JHU concert|
I remember Gong were big on Lunar Lunacy, preferring to perform their sets under a full moon - and the Hopkins concert was no exception (and probably why Adolf killed time waiting for the midnight curtain call by roaming the halls and defacing the walls of Shriver Hall).
Before that, the Coach had introduced us to the crazy sounds of the Lyon-based Chico Magnetic Band, dropping something called "Explosion" onto our curious ears.
Listen to Chico Magnetic Band play "Explosion."
I think Coach was sampling their album for the first time, because he admitted afterwards, "I really wasn't sure what I was getting into with these guys!" He was probably as gobsmacked as we were by the crazy sounds he unleashed from their lone LP, for hearing these French acid-rockers truly is a shock to the system. Here's how reviewer Seth Man described Chico's album for Julian Cope's Head Heritage web site:
“Explosion” begins the album not with a whimper nor even a bang but Chico’s entire reason for existence all laid out in one glorious collision after another with Chico yammering, barking, guffawing and channeling consonants in a way irrespective of enunciation and rarely with a literal clue as to what he is freaking out so badly over as his ever-heaving, pulsating soul forces out a welter of incomprehensible sounds in such a riveting and demonstrative manner they almost make even [Can's] Damo Suzuki’s English/Japanese/neither dreamtime-to-Samurai-rage vocals seem like the Queen’s English by comparison...He’s dropping consonants and vowels left, right and centre and I can only make out “My sweat tastes like a river!” until it’s directed into a 4-lane highway of vocal gibber along the lines of: “Nuuuaaarrgugug!,” “Nene waundah orf zarebbb!” and even “Anmyne cloth iss fallin dawn!!...The entire album could just be this first track, and it would STILL be a killer. Ooh-la-fucking-la.”
Seth Man goes on to call Chico's self-titled album "chock full o’ balls and amazing riffs that consistently make all the right moves at the right times...Put simply, this freakin’ album has EVERYTHING. And by that I mean it draws from elements of approaches set down by “Phallus Dei”-era Amon Düül Zwei, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Silberbart, Straight-era Alice Cooper, Can, Guru Guru, Groundhogs, Speed Glue & Shinki, Led Zeppelin, Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band, Tiger B. Smith and “Free Your Mind”-period Funkadelic (so help me Eddie) and are seamlessly wedged into one album." Seth Man concludes that "Chico IS...The Man."
And speaking of Hendrix, I note that the band are three white guys and black dude whose Afro makes him looks a lot like Jimi. That would be singer Mahmoud "Chico" Ayara. His bandmates are guitarist Bernard Lloret, bassist Alain Fabreque and drummer Patrick Gael. Chico Magnetic Band continue the Hendrix comparisons by choosing to cover "Cross Town Traffic" (though you'd hardly recognize it) and "If 6 Was 9" (an early single).
|"Chico IS...The Man"|
More prog followed with a Dutch quartet called Drama, comprised of Polle Eduard (ex-Tee Set, on bass and vocals), Uly Grun (guitar, keyboards and vocals), Frank van der Kloot (guitar and vocals), and Shell Shellekens (drums). I don't remember much beyond them sounding equal parts dreamy prog and blues-rock . They released a bunch of singles and one album called, appropriately enough, Melodrama.
Listen to three songs ("Dreamed I Was the President," "No Doctor," "Melodrama") by Drama.
Coach then got a little grittier by spinning "Little Floozy" by Elmer City Rambling Dogs. This harp-driven blues-boogie number sounds like an early Doors workout, especially given the singer's Jim Morrison imitation.
Listen to Elmer City Rambling Dogs play "Little Floozy."
|Elmer City Rambling Dogs|
|"Jam It" (1975) LP by Elmer City Rambling Dogs|
Coach even plays some more uptempo Powerpop on occasion, surprising us with cuts from San Francisco's Earth Quake (the Beserkley Records quartet that at one time backed Jonathan Richman on an early recording of "Roadrunner") and Glen Matlock's post-Pistols Rich Kids.
Listen to the Earth Quake single "Tickler."
Listen to Rich Kids play "Cheap Emotions."
Coach is also big on Philadelphia's '70s proto-Heavy Metal Bang, who obviously like Blue Cheer, Black Sabbath, Pentagram and their ilk - but also the Beatles, so their heavy rock is not adverse to pop melody. They had a minor hit with "Questions." Coach has played quite a few tracks from their back catalog.
Listen to Bang play "Questions."
Bang are still banging around (check them out on Facebook and Twitter @bangtheband, or read about them in the just-released biography "The Bang Story") and are still the power trio of Frank Ferrara (bass & vocals), Frank Gilcken (guitar & harmonies) and Tony Diorio (drums, lyrics, graphics, videos).
So there you have it, sports fans: a sampling of just one day's partial playlist from The Coach. When it comes to sampling the eclectic platters of 1970s album-oriented rock, there's no baloney with Andy Moloney - just choice cuts.
90.5 WKHS (www.wkhsradio.org)
90.5 WKHS (Facebook)
WKHS Celebrates 42 Years on the Air (ChesaDel Crier)
I Belong To the Blank Generation: WKHS' Martin Q. Blank (Accelerated Decrepitude)
WKHS' Disc Jockeys Harken Back To Radio's Golden Age (Baltimore or Less)
Listen to Aardvark's lone self-titled album (1970)
Listen to Pulsar's "Pollen" (1975) LP
Listen to Pulsar's "The Strands of Future" (1976) LP
Listen To Bang's "Bang" (1971) LP
Listen to Bang's "Bow To the King" (1972) LP