Program Notes

How does a song like the sweetly languorous "Make U Sweat" end up on the same album as the hip-hoppity, Gary Glitter-ized scratch-and-grab "Bad to the Bone" and an unlikely cover of Neil Young's "Down by the River"? Yes, skank tops, Inner Circle is back with a new one, Bad to the Bone. Now if we can only get through this item without mentioning "Bad Boys" -- there's nearly two decades more to the Circle than one song that happens to be heard by millions at least once per week. Go back and relisten to One Way for a sweet taste of how this Kingston-born, South Florida-based outfit can deftly integrate rock and roll elements into their deep roots fold. Or try Identified or Black Roses or -- just go to the I bin and buy any of their dozen-plus releases, because you'll probably end up wanting to collect them all anyway. Or don't. "If you want to call our music `pop'," keyboardist Touter Harvey told me four years ago, "that's your prerogative. But there are several different types of reggae. We go for high quality." And they hit it on the Bone effort. Beyond that, the Circle can square off with anybody live; they're proud head-cutters and once blew Ziggy Marley off the stage, at least according to a critic who reviewed that show. You can see for yourself on Sunday at Penrod's, where I.C. headlines a major raggy blowout.

WSHE watch: Because of that jab I took last week at WSHE-FM, long-time (three years, a relative eternity) program director Brian Krysz has resigned from the station and joined the United States Marine Corps. "I'd rather die proudly serving my country," Krysz explains, "than put up with the nonsense you write each week." I'm so upset by my own unthinking callousness, and the results of it, that I'm making this the last "Program Notes." Sorry, my fictive imagination ran wild for a moment there, which can happen if you hear "Too Much Time on My Hands" more than once per decade. Krysz is departing, to head up the Eagle, a contemporary-hits type operation in Dallas. I'm ashamed to admit that I have nothing bad to say about the guy, wish him luck. Bill Pugh, formerly of 96 Rock in Atlanta, is the new PD at SHE.

However, we came not to praise Krysz, but to bury me. I try so hard so often to irk, jerk, and otherwise offend readers of, and other participants in, this space. I have a whole mantel full of butthorns, so it should be clear that I don't mind the same bitchy treatment right back at me -- I can take it as well as dis it. Have to. Otherwise last week's would have been the last "PN." From my notes of the past few days: "That's a cheap shot," says SHE jock and local-scene hero Glenn Richards of the cheap shot I took at the station. "We're not `modern rock,' we're contemporary A.O.R., which means the best classic and the best new music. It's stuff that's going to be a hit, unfortunately that's what the business is all about, especially in this town. Matthew Sweet is a top-ten request, the Cure, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, we try a lot of new stuff. We've tested a lot of records, and we've shown guts. Some good stuff doesn't click." But Lynyrd Skynyrd and AC/DC live forever, I suppose. Sorry, Glenn, but until the local-music show's on at least twenty hours per week, this town remains in desperate need.

Swyambu is releasing a cassette -- Buy This Tape, Or We'll Shoot the Cat -- and will even give a few copies away at the release bash on Sunday at Washington Square.

One step up, two steps back is more than just part of a Bruce Springsteen song. Mary Karlzen's debut CD is receiving airplay on 40 stations around the nation and into Canada, attracting positive reviews all over. A recent live show I caught was -- despite one band member's contrary claims -- impressive, solid, absorbing. One of my favorite parts of Karlzen's live shows has been guitarist Mark Scandariato's wildly inventive colorings. He's leaving the band. Would-be replacements should call 665-3305. Karlzen should have new recorded music out in October.

It actually seems to be working, this rock-the-vote movement, this bizarre notion that people too young to have grown up during the Sixties can actually grasp power and try to rectify the wreck this nation has become. The under-30 set is beginning to exert an effort to deal with the maimed environment, the plague of AIDS, the unacceptable attempts to limit women's right to an abortion -- just about every concern, with the possible exceptions of the program content of Murphy Brown, the spelling of "potato," and the difficulties of landing a big fish. So let's begin the deserved hyping of Rock for Choice Weekend, a three-day benefit binge beginning July 24 at Uncle Sam's. Natural Causes, Diane Ward, Drive Choir, Wonderland, Alex Gomez, Love Canal, Son of Elektra, Wet Flower, Hippies and Pilots, Amazing Grace, Talisman, Kreamy Lectric Santa, Holy Terrors, the Dillengers, and other worth-catching bands, along with information providers of many stripes, will be there. And yes, you can register to vote during the party.

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