Angry Dolphins Random acts of writing



Thursday :::
 
London Mar 20 2003

More faves from the vaults:

The Undertones' "Teenage Kicks" - Music doesn't get more direct or all-consuming than this. Sure-fire contender for the Greatest Three-Minute Pop Song Ever. I got to see them last weekend at the St. Patrick's Day festival on the South Bank and they played this - oh how happy it made me.

"Women in Chains" - Tears for Fears. Simple, atmospheric, and totally hypnotic. Set Roland Orzabal's muted scream "Men of stone!" against the warm vocal of Oleta Adams.

"Needle & the Damage Done" - Pete Wylie and The Icicle Works. I didn't think Pete Wylie could do much more than shout until I heard this. Soul-seared harmonising on a haunting version of one of Neil Young's best songs. Comes from an obscure anti-drug compilation album I came across while on Radio Caroline.

Nick Lowe's "Tonight": One of the simplest heartfelt teenage love songs ever: "Tonight we're just a boy and girl/The only people in the world".

"Biko" - Peter Gabriel. The segue from "Nkosi Sikelele Africa" into the intro is totally compelling. The threat of the fuzzed guitar, the inevitability of the funeral drumbeat. And the lyrics: so simple, so effective.

"Whole Wide World" by Wreckless Eric - despair, hope and tuneful tunelessness. A love song for closing time.

"Effloresce and Deliquesce" - The Chills. One of the most atmospheric productions you're likely to hear: fantastic echoed guitars, coupled to sharp, observant lyrics. I still don't know what either "effloresce" or "deliquesce" mean.

"Play that Funky Music" by Wild Cherry. Nastiest bass line. Ever.

"Homburg" - Procol Harum should be better known for this song rather than "Whiter Shade of Pale". Lyrics are just as totally bonkers, the mood is the same, beautiful keyboards and Hammond organ.

"Ace of Spades" - Motorhead. If you have to own one heavy metal song, this should be it.

"Stay With Me" - The Faces. It's a loud, obnoxious, raucous, mysogynistic, funny, irresistible party. You will dance. And to think Rod Stewart gave this up for dross like "D'Ya Think I'm Sexy".....

"Let Love Rule" or "Mr Cab Driver" by Lenny Kravitz. Towards the end of both songs comes a moment when Lenny's voice breaks and it's the most damn soulful thing you ever heard.

"Tipitina" - Professor Longhair. A rolling New Orleans bar-room groove, a master of boogie-woogie at the keyboard, a few shots of tequila... all you need is a Cajun dictionary to work out what he's singing.

"Kiss Me Hardy" - Serge Gainsbourg. He doesn't make for comfortable listening, his lyrics are often deeply suspect, but he had an impeccable ear for rhythm and a tune. Maurice Chevalier wouldn't have stood a chance if Serge had been around a little earlier.

"Peach" - Once in a while Prince gets back to his roots. If Dirty Dancing was a sport, this would be the soundtrack.

"The Sound of Musik" - Falco. If you thought "Rock Me Amadeus" was over the top, this goes just that little bit further. I think there's a kitchen sink in there somewhere, too.

"Silver Machine" by Hawkwind - actually I lied about the Motorhead track. There are two heavy metal songs you need to own, and Lemmy sings on both of them.

"Deeper Underground" - what is it with Jamiroquai? Jay's got the best soul voice since Stevie Wonder, he cooks up evil hooks, and he moves like he's slept in Vaseline all his life.

"I Ain't Ever Satisfied" - Steve Earle & the Dukes: there's a dusty, arid hopelessness about this song, perfectly conveyed by the almost-monotone vocals.



::: posted by Sun King at 11:07 PM


 
London Mar 20 2003

More faves from the vaults:

The Undertones' "Teenage Kicks" - Music doesn't get more direct or all-consuming than this. Sure-fire contender for the Greatest Three-Minute Pop Song Ever. I got to see them last weekend at the St. Patrick's Day festival on the South Bank and they played this - oh how happy it made me.

"Women in Chains" - Tears for Fears. Simple, atmospheric, and totally hypnotic. Set Roland Orzabal's muted scream "Men of stone!" against the warm vocal of Oleta Adams.

"Needle & the Damage Done" - Pete Wylie and The Icicle Works. I didn't think Pete Wylie could do much more than shout until I heard this. Soul-seared harmonising on a haunting version of one of Neil Young's best songs. Comes from an obscure anti-drug compilation album I came across while on Radio Caroline.

Nick Lowe's "Tonight": One of the simplest heartfelt teenage love songs ever: "Tonight we're just a boy and girl/The only people in the world".

"Biko" - Peter Gabriel. The segue from "Nkosi Sikelele Africa" into the intro is totally compelling. The threat of the fuzzed guitar, the inevitability of the funeral drumbeat. And the lyrics: so simple, so effective.

"Whole Wide World" by Wreckless Eric - despair, hope and tuneful tunelessness. A love song for closing time.

"Effloresce and Deliquesce" - The Chills. One of the most atmospheric productions you're likely to hear: fantastic echoed guitars, coupled to sharp, observant lyrics. I still don't know what either "effloresce" or "deliquesce" mean.

"Play that Funky Music" by Wild Cherry. Nastiest bass line. Ever.

"Homburg" - Procol Harum should be better known for this song rather than "Whiter Shade of Pale". Lyrics are just as totally bonkers, the mood is the same, beautiful keyboards and Hammond organ.

"Ace of Spades" - Motorhead. If you have to own one heavy metal song, this should be it.

"Stay With Me" - The Faces. It's a loud, obnoxious, raucous, mysogynistic, funny, irresistible party. You will dance. And to think Rod Stewart gave this up for dross like "D'Ya Think I'm Sexy".....

"Let Love Rule" or "Mr Cab Driver" by Lenny Kravitz. Towards the end of both songs comes a moment when Lenny's voice breaks and it's the most damn soulful thing you ever heard.

"Tipitina" - Professor Longhair. A rolling New Orleans bar-room groove, a master of boogie-woogie at the keyboard, a few shots of tequila... all you need is a Cajun dictionary to work out what he's singing.

"Kiss Me Hardy" - Serge Gainsbourg. He doesn't make for comfortable listening, his lyrics are often deeply suspect, but he had an impeccable ear for rhythm and a tune. Maurice Chevalier wouldn't have stood a chance if Serge had been around a little earlier.

"Peach" - Once in a while Prince gets back to his roots. If Dirty Dancing was a sport, this would be the soundtrack.

"The Sound of Musik" - Falco. If you thought "Rock Me Amadeus" was over the top, this goes just that little bit further. I think there's a kitchen sink in there somewhere, too.

"Silver Machine" by Hawkwind - actually I lied about the Motorhead track. There are two heavy metal songs you need to own, and Lemmy sings on both of them.

"Deeper Underground" - what is it with Jamiroquai? Jay's got the best soul voice since Stevie Wonder, he cooks up evil hooks, and he moves like he's slept in Vaseline all his life.

"I Ain't Ever Satisfied" - Steve Earle & the Dukes: there's a dusty, arid hopelessness about this song, perfectly conveyed by the almost-monotone vocals.



::: posted by Sun King at 11:07 PM



Wednesday :::
 
London Mar 19 2003

More from the Radio Caroline diary

Mar 1988

Just as I was closing down the station last night, a boat from Holland came alongside, totally unannounced, carrying supplies and a new generator - our third. The crew of the Dutch boat had also been hired to repair the anchor chain, which is apparently rusted and decaying at the waterline.

So we were up until 5 am. stowing the supplies (mostly soda, beer and chocolate milk - yay!). This morning we had to take the generator aboard: it's a 50 kW job, weighs about three tons and is presently in 5 or 6 pieces.

The main problem was that the hatch covers to the hold were sealed shut. But the Dutch flexed their muscles and ripped the hatch off using a handy little crane they happened to have on their boat. And proceeded to lower the generator bits higgeldy-piggeldy into the hold.

Rumblings from the crew: "I suppose Ronan [the owner of Caroline] will want us to fit the damn thing and have it running by sunset..." Of course nobody has much idea how to assemble the thing and in any case without the crane we can barely move the alternator let alone the generator engine.

So we spent an eventful day welding rings to the hold's ceiling and stringing hoists and dragging everything around so we can at least lash it down.

The generator is likely to put out three times as much power as we have at the moment.

Technical note: The "Ross Revenge" is 300 feet long. The original mast was about 300 feet high, before it cut loose and walked off the ship in the wake of the hurricane in 1987. The new antenna array is a very rickety affair that works just as efficiently, BUT can only transmit one frequency.

The latest plot is to resurrect the short wave antenna for the ever-eager religious broadcasters.

Last night a long moaning session and discussion with James, one of the DJs, at the apparent lack of organisation. You have to wonder whether or not Ronan takes Caroline seriously. Look at this generator business: he makes a couple of calls, waves a chequebook around and that's it. We've had no warning of its arrival at all.

Also the problem of no money - James has a lot more experience of this, and says it's about time someone let Rnan know about the situation. However, Ronan DOES pay the crucial/essential staff - all 3 or 4 of them.

For a while last night it seemed we might be down to just 4 DJs, but we persuaded James not to leave with the Dutch boat.

Peter is selecting the new playlist - we had to shut down the station today because the Dutch crane was risking a quick blast of 50,000 volts, but there's been plenty to do.

Been seasick for the last two days, laid up in my bunk except for essential duties - like the show - and not keeping any food down. But yesterday another boat came alongside in the morning (they'd been anchored a mile away for 20 hours while the weather raged), and unloaded a new antenna, many more supplies, 3 relief DJs and one relief engineer. So now we have five and sometimes six DJs, and a whole pile of new records.

The new engineer has been filling us in on the latest plans - there's a whole mess of equipmentscheduled to come on board to help boost the 558 signal, resurrect the 819 signal, short-wave (for the God Squad) and...... FM!

Someone's calculated that an FM signal from a new 300-foot mast should scream all the way up the Thames estuary right into London. Apparently the station is currently the 4th most-listened to in London, with a potential audience of up to 25 million people.

This is all within the next two years - if the Department of trade and Industry's deregulation plans go into effect, the airwaves could become very crowded, very quickly and so an established FM station should clean up.

The only thing that keeps Caroline out *here* is the unpleasant insistence by politicians that radio content should be strictly regulated: only x many minutes per hour of music etc etc. A non-stop music station would wipe the floor with the Capitals of this world.

::: posted by Sun King at 2:00 PM



Saturday :::
 
London Mar 1 2003

Further Radio Caroline diary excerpts:

Feb 1988

Rumour has it we're going to be getting a new and more powerful generator. The last two months have been pretty strange from what I hear - the 300-foot tall array mast went overboard and was lost late last year, and the poor weather has meant that two weeks' work has taken two months.

For a while in 1986 there was some question as to whether the mast of the old Caroline ship - the "Mi Amigo" - was still visible. She sank years ago, but there are still those who say they can see her radio mast poking through the surface at low tide. The Laser 559 radio ship, the "Communicator", gave up the fight against the Department of Trade and Industry blockade and half-drifted, half0motored into Harwich harbour a year or so ago. The folks here were a little disappointed to lose the competition, even though Laser apparently knocked the spots off Caroline in terms of quality of broadcast. In any case, Caroline stole Laser's format and wavelength... imitation being the sincerest form of flattery.

I've been coming across long-forgotten albums that I always jept meaning to buy, and so am very busy through the night making tapes of them. I "borrow" used tapes from the God Box in the back studio... occasionally there is some funny stuff that falls through the cracks: one tape I was using turned out to be a recording of features from "Punch" magazine, namely, a spoof of Idi Amin's memoirs.

Some of us are listening to a potential "payola" record at the moment: it's pretty dire stuff but the money will help out the land-based crew. The last two tender trips have been paid for by the shore manager - £250 each time. There really isn't much money around.

The sea is picking up a little today and we're definitely rolling, though I'm assured this is "mild" weather.

I've been reading up on the Radio Caroline history: it seems the UK government's efforts to close down Caroline tend to happen in 2-year cycles. in 1986 the DTI hired a ship to lay siege to the "Ross" and "Communicator" and effectively starve them into submission. The idea being that any UK-based vessel that came out to supply the radio ships would be impounded etc etc. There are newspaper cuttings plastered all over the walls, including one lovely note from the Independent Broadcasting Authority to all member stations, asking their staff to sooperate by giving names of any UK-based DJ's working on the ships: "while the staff of Laser all appear to be American, the Caroline jockeys all seem to be British. Any names or addresses would be appreciated."

Then there's the comedy about the 558 khz frequency: the DTI used to claim that 558 was an emergency/military frequency, but it now transpires that some new station in Essex wants to use that frequency, Lies, counter-espionage, warfare.

Just finished filing away the records and closing down the station at 1 a.m. Having only 5 DJs on board, each doing a 4-hour show, means we have four hours off-air so I, being the last one, play nightwatchman and have to wake Peter at 4 a.m. so he can be ready for 5 a.m.

Good weather forecast for this weekend, so we are expecting an Anorak Boat.

There are moments when being stuck out here, 15 miles offshore, can sem very claustrophobic. Late at night you can see the lights of Margate (or is it Ramsgate? who can tell), lights pf passing ferries and occasionally some larger traffic, and it feels wierd to be the only ones who aren't actually going anywhere.

There's been a rash of new music releases which we haven't been able to get hold of because there' s been no tender. So we've had to do a bit of electronic jiggery pokery. Peter videos all the music shows and transfers the music onto cassette, then to reel-to-reel and finally onto a cartridge tape: it's an bit of a long-winded operationa nd I'm sure a lot of sound quality is lost, but hey, it's a budget operation!

Steve spent an afternoon in the back studio doing an extended remix of Kylie Minogue - we only got about 2 and a half usable minutes on video, so he's had to loop a chorus or two and add some effects to fill it out. We'll be calling it the Caroline Remix, of course.

Some of the "privations" on board are a bit tough - the freshwater tanks have all been contaminated with saltwater, so our coffee, tea, showers etc all have a healthy kick to them. I'll be sticking to orange juice as long as I can. The cigarette supply has run out, so there's some pretty desperate scratching around going on.

And the station format can be a little stifling as well. The only real freedom we have is what we say over the intros to the records, and the order in which we play the records (always ensuring it is from the appropriate category for that particular slot). If you're very lucky you can string together a series of about six songs that follow a particular style.

Every DJ has to make an "aircheck" tape of all shis or her shows. The tape start srolling on every time the microiphone is switched on - a way of checking up on performance, if you like. The DJ guidelines make the point that Caroline only interrupts the music when we're paid to do so. And since we're only running three advertisements (Canadian lottery, Newsweek magazine, the Caroline Roadshow), there's not a lot of reason to interrupt records.

One of the advantages of being on board is that the generators run around the clock, so we have constant heat and hot water. Showers are never a problem.

::: posted by Sun King at 9:49 AM






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