Conspicuous consumption - especially in nervous times.

Idealized Conspicuous consumption – especially in nervous times.


. . or click on the link here for Audio Player – Life And The World – December 19, 1957 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection

Even during the holiday season, we were never too far away from thinking about oblivion in the 1950s – and sometimes the doses of paranoia and holiday cheer came lumped together in one baffling package.

Take this one, for example. The NBC Radio/Life Magazine co-production Life And The World offered a rather strange piece on propaganda training for the U.S. Army in Germany, with one of the more truly weird examples of an imagined radio broadcast beamed at U.S. troops in an imaginary battlefield. After being reminded of how vigilant we must all be against subliminal suggestions from an unseen enemy, we’re catapulted into Christmas 1957, with thoughts on Christmas’ past.

It creates an odd sort of whiplash in sentiment, but that seemed to be the modus operandi of the 1950s and the Cold War era, which may explain the skyrocketing consumption of alcohol and the introduction of tranquilizers during this time period.

Some people look at this period with a degree of nostalgia and bliss and wish we could go back to it. I beg to differ, even the idealized depictions have a degree of false-ring to them.

Moral of the story: Stay in the present. It changes all the time anyway.

Radio Stars -  trading in Glam for New Wave.

Radio Stars – trading in Glam for New Wave.

. . . or click on the link here for Audio Player – Radio Stars – In Concert – Sept. 10, 1977 – BBC Radio 1 In Concert Series

Ending up the week with another dose of the late 70s. This time by way of former glam outfit Jet, reformed and re-tooled as the New Wave band Radio Stars, in concert and recorded by the ever-handy BBC Radio 1 for their In Concert series on September 10, 1977.

Radio Stars were an interesting band, if only for the personnel in it at the time. Fronted by Andy Ellison who was at one time lead singer for the legendary John’s Children in the 1960s, and former Sparks bassist Martin Gordon.

As Jet, they failed to connect with the audience, mostly because timing was off and musical tastes were changing. So their re-appearance as the New Wave band Radio Stars did much to improve their popularity. With three albums and a top-40 single to their credit before calling a hiatus in 1979, Radio Stars were a popular but still not well-known band outside their native UK. They geared back up in 1982 and have been on-again/off-again since.

As a reminder of what they were all about during their formative days – crank this one up to 11 and get ready for the weekend. Christmas shopping done? I didn’t think so.

In usual "wrecking ball meets walnut" fashion.

In usual “wrecking ball meets walnut” fashion.

. . . or click on the link here for Audio Player – CBS Radio – News and bulletins – December 19, 1989 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection

If you happened to be around on this day, 25 years ago, no doubt you saw and heard an endless barrage of bulletins and reports about the U.S. invasion of Panama, taking place in the night-time hours of December 19-20, 1989.

Dubbed Operation Just Cause, it was designed to forcibly remove Panamanian military dictator Manuel Noriega who had seized power in a military overthrow in May of that year.

Wanted on drug trafficking charges, Noriega ignored calls to step down and restore the democratically elected government. And according to some reports, antagonizing behavior existed between Noriega’s military and U.S. personnel stationed in the country. The flash point occurred when Panama declared a state war had existed with the U.S. and PDF (Panamanian Defense Force) troops reportedly shot to death an unarmed American serviceman in Panama City, wounded another and beat a third and sexually threatened his wife. Under that scenario, President Bush decided to act and sent in a force of some 12,000 U.S. troops to remove Noriega and to reinstate the government Noriega had overthrown.

According to Panamanian radio, all Hell was breaking loose as U.S. troops landed and spread out over the city. According to Press Secretary Marlin Fitzwater, the U.S. was committed only to getting rid of Noriega and would leave as soon as that was accomplished.

But in the meantime, an invasion was happening and bulletins were flashing and breathless anticipation seized newsrooms every few minutes.

And that’s what was going on for the most part, this December 19, 1989 as reported by CBS Radio News.

The late 70s-early 80s were a strange and sometimes baffling mixture.

The late 70s-early 80s were a strange and sometimes baffling mixture. And it wasn’t just hair and clothes.

. . . or click on the link here for Audio Player – Hall & Oates – Live At My Father’s Place – December 7, 1979 – WLIR-FM

Late 70s/early 80s tonight. With MTV rapidly invading most living rooms in America by this time, the onslaught of video-perfect bands went into high gear.

Hall & Oates had been around for a while, actually since 1972. But it wasn’t until the dawn of MTV that they became a household name and the face of American Pop-Rock/Blue-Eyed Soul/Power-Pop and AOR-Friendly Rock to a cable-viewing audience.

They had a string of hits during the period of the late 1970s/early 1980s, starting in 1977 with the top-10 hit Rich Girl and continuing well into the 80s.

Tonight it’s a concert from 1979, right at the time X-Static was released, which included several hits and continued the band’s widespread popularity, particularly with KROQ-styled FM stations, which put many of their songs into heavy rotation.

And to prove that point, this concert was broadcast live on WLIR-FM in New York to a wildly enthusiastic audience.

Crank it up and hit the memory bank as there’s a lot of “oh yeah, I remember that one” songs in the show.

And if you don’t remember them, or got here just a bit too late, this is what you were hearing a lot of around that time.

Graf Spee Captain Langsdorff and crew - the crew got to sit out the war in South America. Langsdorff would be dead of an apparent suicide a short time later.

Graf Spee Captain Hans Langsdorff and crew – the crew got to sit out the war in South America. Langsdorff would be dead of an apparent suicide a short time later.

. . . or click on the link here for Audio Player – Guy Savage And The News – December 18, 1939 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection

News for this day 75 years ago had to do with the sudden scuttling and sinking of the German Battleship Graf Spee, after an intense sea battle off the Uruguayan coast. The battleship, discovered and chased by British Naval forces, sustained considerable damage and was granted safe harbor by Uruguay, who pledged neutrality in the situation. But rather than risk an escape, which would most likely have resulted in the ship being sunk at sea and sustaining heavy loss of life, the ship’s Captain Hans Langsdorff decided to scuttle the ship and surrender the crew.

Once terms were settled and amnesty was granted for the crew, Langsdorff decided that, since he wasn’t able to go down with the ship, he did the next best thing and committed suicide.

News relayed back to Germany was met with shock and dismay and it was the first major loss sustained by Germany during these early months of the war.

With all that, it didn’t deter the average German from wondering what to do about the shortage of candles to be used on Christmas trees. No shortage of trees, but Germans frowned on the idea of using electric Christmas tree lights. The other big news of this day was what Germans were doing to get around the lack of one of their traditional holiday customs, now that some 1 million Christmas trees had arrived in Berlin.

Seems even the war couldn’t stop Christmas from happening.

Meanwhile, Canadian troops were arriving in Scotland, along with some American volunteers. Ireland was putting torpedo boats into service, patrolling waters for German U-boats in the area as well as keeping an eye out for violations of Ireland’s neutrality. Russia staged their first significant air-raid of Helsinki by sending 20 planes to bomb strategic objectives in what were the first few days of the Russian/Finnish War. Finnish news sources countered that several Soviet land attacks were repulsed and some 36 Russian tanks were destroyed.

On the Western front; all was quiet with only some artillery fire reported. The main activity was confined to scouting activities as reported by both German and French news services.

From the Far East came word from Tokyo that Japan was preparing to re-open the Pearl and Yangtze rivers to the commerce of foreign powers. The Pearl River was to be opened as far as Canton and the Yangtze River was to be open as far as Nangking. Those rivers had been closed to foreign traffic for several months. The assertion was the traffic of commercial shipping was disrupting Japan’s military operations at the time. Sources in Japan said the U.S. would not be shut out from commercial activities in China. The move was anticipated to signify a turn in U.S.-Japan relations with Japan making most concessiona to American demands.

And that’s a little of what went on this day overseas, as reported by Mutual Radio News in Chicago on December 18, 1939.

Not going away quietly anytime soon.

Not going away quietly anytime soon.

. . . or click on the link here for Audio Player – CBS Radio News – December 18, 1981 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection

The saga of Solidarity and the mass strikes in Poland continued and escalated, this December 18, 1981. Despite efforts at a crackdown and imposition of martial law, people hit the streets in the thousands to protest heavy-handed tactics of the police and military. Police responded by using rubber clubs and firing teargas into crowds and arrested hundreds of students who chanted “gestapo” and “fascists”.

Even with a tight lid placed on news from Warsaw, reports filtered in of mass beatings and arrested protestors being carted away to internment camps. The State-run News Agency admitted tacitly that the regime had removed seven regional governors for improperly discharging their duties, replacing them with military officers. Also removed were several Factory managers for failing to implement decrees from the military council under the new martial law. So it would appear that resistance from this new military regime wasn’t all coming by way of Solidarity. That in fact, dissent was spreading throughout Poland.

And the war of words extended as far as Moscow, who blamed the U.S. for provoking the unrest in Warsaw. In a rebuke of President Reagan, the official news daily Pravda claimed that Reagan had forgotten that Poland was a member of the Warsaw Pact and not to NATO, and that the White House had lost its perspective when it came to Poland and was interfering in what Moscow claimed was “purely an internal affair”. Radio Moscow went on to say that threatened economic sanctions imposed by Washington will not work, saying its use of economic pressure in the past has failed many times and that Poland was putting its own house in order and outside influences need not apply. And the beat went on.

Meanwhile; late reports of explosions at the party headquarters of Robert Mugabe in Salisbury Zimbabwe said the building was destroyed but offered no further details at the time.

And a wide search was underway in Northern Italy for a kidnapped American Military officer, seized the previous day by members of the Red Brigade. U.S. Army Brigadier Gen. William Dozier was taken at gunpoint by four gunmen who broke into Dozier’s home, bound his wife and stuffed him into the trunk of a waiting car.

In New York, former President Jimmy Carter, speaking at a meeting of the Council On Foreign Relations, sharply criticized the Reagan administration’s Foreign Policy, calling it belligerent and a danger to peace. He also criticized Israel, calling its annexation of the Golan Heights a tragic mistake. At the UN Security Council, the US voted for a resolution declaring the annexation of the Golan Heights null and void and demanded Israel rescind its claim. Israel immediately made it clear that the resolution, which was passed unanimously would be ignored.

That’s a small portion of how this December 18th went in 1981 as reported by CBS Radio Hourly News, including a long forgotten commercial for an ill-named diet product called Ayds. It was a big seller in the early part of the 80s and pretty much vanished by the end of the 80s for obvious reasons.

Robert Gordon - for those who just don't feel like mellow tonight.

Robert Gordon – for those who just don’t feel like mellow tonight.

. . . or click on the link here for Audio Player – Robert Gordon Band – Live At My Father’s Place – Roslyn, New York – March 6, 1979 – WLIR-FM

In the odd event listening to a Piano recital by a Russian wiz isn’t what you’re up for tonight, here a taste of something wild. The inimitable wild man, Robert Gordon and his band in concert at My Father’s Place in Roslyn New York, recorded on March 6, 1979 by WLIR-FM.

The first few seconds are missing, but the rest of the show is intact and wild.

If you’re in the mood for a taste of Rockabilly tonight, you can’t go too far wrong with the likes of Robert Gordon burning a hole through your speaker system.

And for that reason, crank this puppy up and celebrate Hump Day – and the Hump Day before Christmas, no less.

Just think – next week at this time it’ll be Christmas Eve.

In case you were wondering.

H/t to Pat Dallas – further evidence we take requests!

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