Oliver Wang

EP83: Karen Tongson on The Carpenters' "A Song For You" (1972)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Karen Tongson

The Album: The Carpenters' A Song For You (1972)

dulcet (adjective) used to describe a sound that is soothing and soft, like the dulcet harmonies in a 70s pop song or the dulcet tones of a harp.

It seems like Karen Carpenter invented dulcet tones. Her velvet buttery vocals floated and soared on songs like "We've Only Just Begun", "Top Of The World", "Close To You". Alongside her brother Richard, she created a signature sound built around layered arrangements and harmonies.

Our guest, Pop Rocket's own Karen Tongson, sat with us on Heat Rocks to deep dive into the Carpenters seminal, Close To You, their second studio album released on August 19th, 1970. We talked about what made Karen Carpenter's voice inimitable and extraordinary, how the Carpenters invented the power ballad, Karen's enunciation and lower register, and listened to acapellas that made us all swoon.

Karen's book "Why Karen Carpenter" makes its debut on June 1st and will cover all the ground we didn't in this episode, sans music, but Heat Rocks recommends that you listen to music of The Carpenters in prep!

More on Karen Tongson

More on A Song For You

Show Tracklisting (all songs from A Song For You unless indicated otherwise):

  • Hurting Each Other
  • Goodbye to Love
  • The Carpenters: We've Only Just Begun
  • Donny Hathaway: A Song For You
  • A Song For You
  • Piano Picker
  • Crystal Lullaby
  • I Won't Last A Day Without You
  • Diana Ross: I Won't Last A Day Without You
  • I Won't Last A Day Without You
  • Intermission
  • The Carpenters: Rainy Days and Mondays (isolated vocals)
  • Goodbye to Love
  • Road Ode
  • I Won't Last A Day Without You
  • Top of the World

If you're not already subscribed to Heat Rocks in Apple Podcasts, do it here!

EP82: Sy Smith on Meshell Ndgeocello's Plantation Lullabies (1993)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Sy Smith

The Album: Meshell Ndgeocello Plantation Lullabies (1993)

When Plantation Lullabies first hit the scene back in 1993, there wasn't anything really like it. Meshell Ndgeocello was a bald, badass, and bold woman with bars talking about sexuality, racism, and gender relations while paving the way for neo-soul music and artists.
Plantation Lullabies gave us many, many things, and Sy Smith (who has played alongside Meshell for years) came by the studio to talk to us about it. We discuss the impact it had on neo-soul, the shades of funk and go-go throughout the record, and the freedom it offered to black America.
Settle in, because this episode and this album are essential to any Heat Rocker.

More on Sy Smith

More on Plantation Lullabies

Show Tracklisting (all songs from Plantation Lullabies unless indicated otherwise):

  • Soul On Ice
  • Sy Smith: Sometimes A Rose Will Grow In Concrete
  • Dred Loc
  • If That's Your Boyfriend (He Wasn't Last Night)
  • Picture Show
  • Shoot'n Up and Gett'n High
  • If That's Your Boyfriend (He Wasn't Last Night)
  • Plantation Lullabies
  • I'm Diggin' You - Like An Old Soul Record
  • Dred Loc
  • Call Me
  • Untitled
  • Meshell Ndegeocello: Nocturnal Sunshine
  • Meshell Ndegeocello: Rush Over
  • If That's Your Boyfriend (He Wasn't Last Night)
  • Soul On Ice

Here is the Spotify playlist of as many songs as we can find on there

If you're not already subscribed to Heat Rocks in Apple Podcasts, do it here!

Heat Rocks EP80: The Art of Sampling #1, James Brown's "In the Jungle Groove" (1984)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks

The Album: James Brown: In the Jungle Groove (1986)
This is the first of what will eventually be four episodes, released quarterly, that focus on the art of sampling. As Morgan explains in this episode, sampling isn't simply a key aesthetic within pop music styles, especially hip-hop, it's also an important way through which the past becomes present, allowing us to rediscover artists of yore. No artist in the 1980s benefitted more from this than James Brown.
By the end of the decade, Brown's long funk discography had seemingly been mined thousands of ways over but if you had to trace things back to a ground zero, you'd find In the Jungle Groove, the 1986 compilation from Polydor that practically felt designed for sampling, especially by highlighting some of Brown's fiercest and funkiest tracks, complete with new edits and remixes, none more far-reaching than "Funky Drummer," a former 45-only jam that the comp not only released in its full form but also took Clyde Stubblefield's iconic breakbeat and looped it into its own standalone track. 
For our inaugural Art of Sampling episode, we revisit In the Jungle Groove and talk about both our favorite songs off the comp as well as our favorite uses of those various tracks. Listen to how we give it up and turn it loose.  
More on In the Jungle Groove

Show Tracklisting (all songs from In the Jungle Groove unless indicated otherwise):

  • Funky Drummer
  • Digable Planets: Where I'm From
  • N.W.A.: Fuck Tha Police
  • Public Enemy: Fight the Power
  • Funky Drummer
  • Nas: Get Down
  • The Incredible Bongo Band: Apache
  • Nas: Made You Look
  • Masta Ace Incorporated: Boom Bashin'
  • George Michael: Waiting For That Day
  • Skull Snaps: It's A New Day
  • The Winstons: Amen Brother
  • Public Enemy: Bring the Noise
  • Funky Drummer
  • Give It Up Or Turnit A Loose
  • Talkin' Loud And Sayin' Nothing
  • Keek and Qagee: Don't Say It, Sing It
  • Give It Up Or Turnit A Loose
  • Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved
  • Gang Starr: Gotch U
  • CeCe Peniston: Finally (Remix)
  • Full Force: Ain't My Type of Hype
  • Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved
  • Hot Pants
  • I Got To Move
  • Showbiz and AG: Diggin' In The Crates
  • Cypress Hill: How I Can Just Kill A Man (Blunted Remix)
  • Funky Drummer

Here is the Spotify playlist of as many songs as we can find on there.
If you're not already subscribed to Heat Rocks in Apple Podcasts, do it here!

Heat Rocks EP78: Heartbreak Radio on the "Chungking Express" soundtrack (1994)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Lady Imix
Guests: 
DJ Phatrick

The Album: Chungking Express Soundtrack (1994)
Legendary Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar Wai has long been known for how he integrates pop songs into his films and soundtracks. Chungking Express, Wong's breakout international hit, was no exception as he worked  in everything from '60s folk pop to '70s reggae to '90s alternative in the mix, alongside an original score by longtime composer partners Roel Garcia and Frankie Chan. To discuss the melding of sound, image and story in Wong's fanciful tale of two cops and the women who (may or may not) love them, we brought in the hosts of Heartbreak Radio, Lady Imix and DJ Phatrick.
Heartbreak Radio which began as an internet show devoted to the sounds of "beautiful sadness" and now it broadcasts every two weeks on KQBH LP, 101.5 FM, a micro-transmitter station out of Boyle Heights, Los Angeles. Imix (aka Sol) and Phatrick (aka Patrick) are now old hands at the sounds of love and longing and it was obvious why they'd want to muse on the music of Chungking Express. Together we talked about how Wong Kar Wai's movies use pop, how the right song can enhance a character and whether or not Oliver is bugging out when he says that he can't stand to hear "California Dreamin'" anymore.
The MaxFunDrive is in full swing! If you like what we do, please consider becoming a monthly supporter. We love making this show and we are able to make it because of your support! Head over to maximumfun.org/donate now!

More on Lady Imix and DJ Phatrick

More on the music of Chungking Express

Show Tracklisting (all songs from the soundtrack of Chungking Express unless indicated otherwise):

  • Fornication in Space
  • Things in Life
  • Heartbreak Interlude
  • Flying Pickets: Only You
  • Los Indios Tabajara: Always in My Heart
  • Nat King Cole: Quizas, Quizas, Quizas
  • What A Difference A Day Makes
  • Urge Overkill: Girl You'll Be A Woman Soon
  • California Dreamin'
  • Lee Moses: California Dreamin'
  • Fornication in Space
  • Things in Life
  • Dreams
  • What A Difference A Day Makes
  • Dreams

If you're not already subscribed to Heat Rocks in Apple Podcasts, do it here!

Heat Rocks EP77: Illa J on Prince's "Dirty Mind" (1980)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Illa J

The Album: Prince Dirty Mind (1980)

Dirty Mind, Prince's third album, arrived on the scene in the late fall of 1980, and brought with it a salaciousness we hadn't known heretofore. The album, a mix of punk, funk and disco allowed Prince to play with gender and genre as well as sexual innuendo and double entendre.

Beatmaker and producer Illa J sat down with us to talk about why Dirty Mind for him is an all time heatrock, what makes the album impossible to stop bumping and how Prince was on time and ahead of his time all at the same time.

This episode was short and sweet - just like Dirty Mind. Check it.

More on Illa J

More on Dirty Mind

Show Tracklisting (all songs from Dirty Mind unless indicated otherwise):

  • Uptown
  • Illa J: Enjoy the Ride
  • Partyup
  • Dirty Mind
  • Prince: Controversy
  • Dirty Mind
  • When You Were Mine
  • The Bangles" Manic Monday
  • Sister
  • Partyup
  • When You Were Mine
  • Head
  • Gotta Broken Heart Again
  • Vanity 6: Nasty Girl
  • Britney Spears: I'm A Slave 4 U
  • Uptown

If you're not already subscribed to Heat Rocks in Apple Podcasts, do it here!

*updated EP76: Nick Waterhouse on Jackie Shane's Any Other Way (2017)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Nick Waterhouse

Dear Heatrockers,

On a recent episode, our deep dive into Jackie Shane's "Any Other Way", we unintentionally misgendered Ms. Shane and the late Wilmer Broadnax. Although some of this was addressed at the start of the episode, we'd like to take the opportunity to apologize to members of the transgender community and anyone who found our choice of words offensive and insensitive. We have re-cut the episode to remove the discussion of Broadnax and we pledge for the future to do a more thoughtful job in choosing our language in a respectful and accurate manner. Thanks to all of you who sent us feedback on this; we appreciate your input and support.

The Album: Jackie Shane Any Other Way (2017)

This week's episode focuses on the life, career and resurgence of soul singing trans pioneer Jackie Shane, who spent much of the 50's and 60's alongside Frank Motley and the Motley Crew band enthralling Toronto audiences with her voice, her presence and her realism.

We were thrilled to be joined by another old soul, singer Nick Waterhouse, a cool kid from the best coast whose sonic leanings hearken back to a time and type of rhythm and blues. He came to share the Jackie Shane's influence on him as a singer, the splendor that was her life and the songs that moved him from her seminal 2017 compilation album, Any Other Way.

This one's too good to miss!

And be sure to check out Nick Waterhouse's new self-titled record releasing 03/08.

More on Nick Waterhouse

More on Any Other Way

Show Tracklisting (all songs from Any Other Way unless indicated otherwise):

  • New Way of Loving
  • Nick Waterhouse: Wreck the Rod
  • Stand Up Straight and Tall
  • Walking the Dog
  • Any Other Way
  • Frank Motley and the Hitchhikers: Hook & Sling
  • Money (That's What I Want)
  • Dual Trumpet Bounce - Live
  • Papa's Got A Brand New Bag - Live
  • Comin' Down
  • Money (That's What I Want)
  • Violent Femmes: Blister in the Sun
  • Stand Up Straight and Tall
  • Money (That's What I Want) - Live
  • Walking the Dog
  • Shotgun - Live

Here is the Spotify playlist of as many songs as we can find there.
If you're not already subscribed to Heat Rocks in Apple Podcasts, do it here!

EP73: Tre'vell Anderson on the "Dreamgirls" soundtrack (2006)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Tre'vell Anderson

The Album: Dreamgirls soundtrack (2006)

Former LA Times Editor and Out Magazine's Director of Culture and Entertainment Tre'vell Anderson, joined us to talk Jennifer Hudson and the Dreamgirls OST.

Dreamgirls won two Academy Awards - one for Best Sound Mixing, the other, Best Supporting Actress for Jennifer Hudson's star-making portrayal of Effie White.
The single disc-version of the soundtrack spent two weeks at #1 on the Billboard 200 and was nominated for the 2008 Grammy Award for Best Compilation Soundtrack Album. One of the songs, "Love You I Do" won the Grammy Award for Best Song Written for a Motion Picture or Television. The soundtrack, a certified banger, and Tre'vell's personal heat rock, was certified platinum.

A fan of Jennifer Hudson's since American Idol Season 3 (his favorite), the film and soundtrack resonated with him because of the all too familiar narrative of the most talented person in the room having to contend with implicit bias preventing them from living their best life.

We talked about the glory of Jennifer's journey from losing American Idol to winning at the Oscars, the difference between singers and sangers, Detroit vs. Chicago as a backdrop for the film, and what it sounds like when a Cadillac commercial get's "Pat Booned" (an Oliver Wang original saying).

Why did the film propel Jennifer Hudson to the stardom possibly meant for Beyonce (AT THAT TIME). Who knew Eddie Murphy had this sort of vocal range? Who's version of "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" was better: the original J.H. or the new J.H.?

Tre'vell helped us answer those questions and more!

More on Tre'vell Anderson

More on the Dreamgirls OST

Show Tracklisting (all songs from the Dreamgirls OST unless indicated otherwise):

  • Move
  • Jennifer Holliday: And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going
  • Cadillac Car
  • Eddie Murphy: Party All The Time
  • I Meant You No Harm/Jimmy's Rap
  • Move
  • Fake Your Way to the Top
  • Patience
  • One Night Only (Disco)
  • And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going
  • Jennifer Holliday: And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going
  • Family
  • Steppin' to the Bad Side

Here is the Spotify playlist of as many songs as we can find on there.

If you're not already subscribed to Heat Rocks in Apple Podcasts, do it here!

EP70: Jamie Stewart on Otis Redding's "The Very Best of Otis Redding" (1992)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Jamie Stewart

The Album: Otis Redding The Very Best of Otis Redding (1992)

Xiu Xiu's Jamie Stewart is the son of a record producer and session player who blessed him with the gift of The Very Best of Otis Redding, the 1992 compilation of sixteen of the best songs from the late Otis Redding's catalogue. His father gave him instructions for listening - the charge to learn all about feel.

We talked about the nuances of jabs and riffs and Otis Redding's pathos, his restraint, Otis' use of "uncool words" his penchant for the word "lovely", and his wonderfully nuanced cover of the Rolling Stones "Satisfaction".

We discussed the sound Memphis music - Stax/Volt, the musicianship, the organic country friend soul sound of the label, and how that sound benefitted Otis Redding.

What Jamie Stewart learned most from Otis Redding was awareness, how beats affect emotion, awareness of feel and how rhythm and emotion impact singing.

It was a great conversation about a career and a life interrupted.

Xiu Xiu's newest album Girl with Basket of Fruit  releases 02/08/2019 via Polyvinyl.

Check out the music video for their newest single Scisssssssors.

Editor's note: Xiu Xiu was formed in San Jose, but the band is now LA-based.

More on Jamie Stewart

Show Tracklisting (all songs from The Very Best of Otis Redding unless indicated otherwise):

  • I've Got Dreams to Remember
  • Shake
  • Pain in My Heart
  • Otis Redding: Ole Man Trouble
  • Try a Little Tenderness
  • Frank Sinatra: Try a Little Tenderness
  • The Happy Song (Dum-Dum-De-De-De-Dum-Dum)
  • Satisfaction
  • Respect
  • I've Been Loving You Too Long
  • Jay-Z and Kanye West: Otis
  • I've Got Dreams to Remember
  • These Arms of Mine
  • Otis Redding: Free Me
  • Otis Redding: Hard to Handle
  • Otis Redding: Change Gonna Come
  • Otis Redding: Try a Little Tenderness (Live on Upbeat)

Here is the Spotify playlist of as many songs as we can find on there.

If you're not already subscribed to Heat Rocks in Apple Podcasts, do it here!

EP69: Open Mike Eagle on Ol Dirty Bastard's "Return to the 36 Chambers" (1995)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Open Mike Eagle

The Album: Ol Dirty Bastard: Return to the 36 Chambers (1995)

"Ain't no father to his style." That's how Ol Dirty Bastard was introduced to the world on 1993's Enter the 36 Chambers by hip-hop's posse supreme, the Wu Tang Clan. At the time, we got an inkling of ODB's eccentricity but on that first Wu album, so overloaded with personalities, it was hard to pluck him out of the stream and think "he might be the Clan's most memorable talent" but two years later, sandwiched between a stream of solo efforts by Method Man, the GZA, Raekwon and Ghostface, ODB put the world on notice with Return to the 36 Chambers. Here was Big Baby Jesus aka Dirt McGirt in all his weird, wonderful glory, with a raspy, rumbling voice that was like no other, singing and rapping in a way that was either wholly unhinged, creatively brilliant or perhaps, both.

These are the part of the mysteries that we tried to unpack with the help of Open Mike Eagle. He's no stranger to Max Fun listeners as OME is half the team behind Tights and Fights, when he's not also helping host the Secret Skin or Conversation Parade podcasts. He also, of course, is a prolific MC himself, with well over a dozen EPs and LPs to his name including last year's What Happens When I Try to RelaxAs you'll hear, Return to the 36 Chambers wasn't just OME's intro to Dirt Dog, it was how he discovered the Wu and he, and hip-hop, would forever be changed.

More on Open Mike Eagle

More on Return to the 36 Chambers

Show Tracklisting (all songs from Return to the 36 Chambers unless indicated otherwise):

  • Shimmy Shimmy Ya
  • Intro
  • Brooklyn Zoo
  • GZA: Investigative Reports
  • Hippa to da Hoppa
  • Thelonius Monk: Ba-Lue Bolivar Ba-Lues-Are
  • Cuttin' Headz
  • Raw Hide
  • Brooklyn Zoo
  • Shimmy Shimmy Ya
  • Goin' Down

Here is the Spotify playlist of as many songs as we can find on there

If you're not already subscribed to Heat Rocks in Apple Podcasts, do it here!

EP68: Chani Nicholas on Cyndi Lauper's "She's So Unusual" (1983)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Chani Nicholas

The Album: Cyndi Lauper She's So Unsual (1983)

She's So Unusual dropped October 14th, 1983, and introduced much of the world to Queens' pop punk tough girl Cyndi Lauper. She presented as a colorful character with colorful hair and colorful homies and charmed her way into pop culture with ten tracks recorded for CBS at the Record Plant, NYC.

The former front woman for rockabilly band Blue Angel took a demo written by Philly rocker Robert Hazard and retooled it to become an anthem for her and the Eighties. "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" was the hit single that launched She's So Unusual and Cyndi Lauper into fame and led the album to platinum success, with six singles, two Grammy Awards, and critical acclaim for days.

She's So Unusual was the pick of astrologer/activist Chani Nicholas, who joined us to break down the relevance and resonance of the album in her life, Cyndi's star appeal, the queer gaze present on the album, Cyndi's quirky Cancerian coolness, and the her impact on music and the masses.

More on Chani Nicholas

More on She's So Unsual

Show Tracklisting (all songs from She's So Unsual unless indicated otherwise):

  • Time After Time
  • Girls Just Want to Have Fun
  • Money Changes Everything
  • She Bop
  • Divinyls: I Touch Myself
  • When You Were Mine
  • Prince: When You Were Mine
  • When You Were Mine
  • Money Changes Everything
  • The Brains: Money Changes Everything
  • Time After Time
  • Money Changes Everything
  • Girls Just Want to Have Fun - Early Guitar Demo
  • Girls Just Want to Have Fun - Demo
  • Girls Just Want to Have Fun

Here is the Spotify playlist of as many songs as we can find on there.
If you're not already subscribed to Heat Rocks in Apple Podcasts, do it here!

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