Sunday, July 06, 2008

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Updated Further: WCBS-FM A to Z - not quite

Someone at WCBS-FM radio (101.1 FM in New York City or, we don't know who, had a great idea: Play every song in the WCBS-FM library, from A to Z.

Great idea, as listeners finally get to hear more than just the small subset of songs the station keeps otherwise playing. Sadly, however, a lot of songs are missing.

Here is just a very small sampling of some songs that were and were not played:

Played Not Played

Love Me Tender - Elvis Presley Love Me - Elvis Presley

Loving You - Elvis Presley

Stay - Maurice Williams & the Zodiacs Stay - 4 Seasons

Stay - Jackson Browne

Little Darlin' - Diamonds Little Darlin' - Gladiolas (Maurice Williams)

Silhouettes - Herman's Hermits Silhouettes - Rays

Sukiyaki - A Taste of Honey Sukiyaki - Kyu Sakamoto

Soon - 4 Seasons

Alone - Heart Alone - 4 Seaons

Bye Bye Baby - 4 Seasons

Could It Be Magic - Barry Manilow Could This Be Magic - Dubs

Leader of the Pack - Shangri-Las Leader of the Laundromat - Detergents

Gloria - Shadows of Night Gloria - Cadillacs
Gloria - Them Gloria - The Passions
Gloria - Laura Branigan

Crying in the Chapel - Elvis Presley Cry - Johnny Ray

Do You Wanna Dance? - Beach Boys Do You Wanna Dance? - Bobby Freeman
Do You Want to Dance? - Bette Midler

Daddy's Home - Shep & The Limelites

Ain't That A Shame - Fats Domino Ain't That A Shame - 4 Seasons

Ain't That A Shame - Pat Boone

Baby Blue - Badfinger Baby Blue - Echoes

Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime - Dean Martin

Go Away Little Girl - Happenings Go Away Little Girl - Steve Lawrence
Go Away Little Girl - Donny Osmond

I Feel Fine - Beatles

Chances Are - Johnny Mathis

It's Not For Me To Say - Johnny Mathis

Love Potion Number Nine - Searchers Love Potion Number Nine - Clovers

Surfer Girl - Beach Boys Surf City - Jan & Dean
Surfin' Bird - Trashmen

Surfin' U.S.A. - Beach Boys

In The Still of the Night - Five Satins Tonite Tonite - Mello-Kings

(Just added the last item above - They played "In the Still of the Night" but not "Tonite Tonite", and the latter was glaringly missing while Norm N. Nite was on the air broadcasting from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame! Why didn't he say something or just make sure it got played?)

The order of a number of songs is totally illogical. Sometimes a song beginning with "The" fell into the letter of the next word, and others fell into the "The" section of the survey. Same for song titles beginning with "A" or "I". Very strange and confusing.

Although lots of other great songs from the 50's through the 80's were played, many great songs are missing. Instead, some never heard of before (and hopefully never to be heard again) songs got airplay. I can't even tell you the names of the really bad non-hit songs that got played, because I never heard them before and no one ever said what was played. (Perhaps the DJs were just too embarrassed to tell us.)

So while this was a great idea, the claim by the station that they are playing everything in their library is clearly not quite accurate, because the real WCBS-FM would have played the songs listed above and the many, many, more that have been skipped along the way. It is hard to figure out the logic of the choices, as many singles were excluded, but a number of album-only songs got played. I hope they do this again -- and next time really play ALL the music from A-Z from the 1950's through the 1980's.

As I've pointed out in previous articles, there would be no rock & roll of the 60's, 70's or 80's without the rock & roll of the 50's.

Richard Kuper
The Op Ed Page

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Friday, July 04, 2008

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Public Transportion in NYC Getting Worse

Every time the fares go up, the service goes down. This seems to be a recurrent theme whenever the transit services raise their fares.

Several months ago, the fares on the NYC subway system went up. So did the fares on the PATH trains. Travel on both of these services, and transferring from one to the other, have since gotten much worse.

On the subways, for example, the E and F trains in Queens now run slower than ever during rush hour, and there are regular mishaps. The local R and V service actually sometimes get from Continental Avenue to Queens Plaza faster than the E express. Audio announcements are fewer and are again at times unintelligible.

The PATH trains have had many many delays and mishaps since the fare increase.

The transfer between the two services at the World Trade Center location is a story unto itself. The underground transfer between the E, for example, and the PATH train survived the 9/11 attack but was clearly in need of some repairs as there were constant water leaks. So PATH built a new entrance and closed down the old one. But no one at the MTA/NYC Transit or at PATH seemed to have thought the changes through very well. On day one several months ago, shortly after the fare increases, the old entrances that could accommodate the hundreds of thousands of commuters transferring between the two services or simply entering or leaving the World Trade Center area, were closed. Instead, these hundreds of thousands of commuters were directed to/from the E train via one (yes I said one) very narrow staircase that could barely accommodate one way commuter traffic, let alone two-way for hundreds of thousands of commuters. Then, all who were going toward the PATH train or toward the subway (opposite directions) were relegated to one enclosed street where construction was also going on, to get to/from the E and the PATH. What a nightmare.

The folks in charge of the MTA, NYC Transit, and PATH should all be replaced with people who think ahead and look at the ramifications of changes and then fix the problems before they become problems. And the poor service on both systems clearly do not warrant the fare increases already imposed or those threatened to be imposed in the near future. Instead, fares should be rolled back and a thorough investigation launched into the clear mismanagement of both services. Where is all that fare money going? It clearly isn't going into service improvements or to people with common sense to avoid such nightmares. And where has the asleep-at-the-wheel press been? I haven't seen any articles about this.

Richard Kuper
The Op Ed Page