Kendra Steiner Editions

February 16, 2019

upcoming reviews in Ugly Things #50

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 6:36 pm

The deadline for material intended for UGLY THINGS issue #50 is next week, and I’ve just finished the final review–another quick edit, and it will be on its way to editor/publisher Mike Stax.

I have 7 reviews of 8 items in the next UT:

various artists, NORMAN PETTY STUDIOS, VAULT SERIES VOLUME 6: 1965-1969 (Nor-Va-Jak CD)

norman petty 6

 

various artists, MOD JAZZ RIDES AGAIN (Ace-Kent, UK CD)

mod jazz

 

various artists, THAT’LL FLAT GIT IT!, VOLUME 30, RCA VICTOR RECORDS (Bear Family, Germany CD)

rca

 

various artists, FIDDLE  NOIR: AFRICAN AMERICAN FIDDLERS ON EARLY PHONOGRAPH RECORDS, 1925-1949 (Old Hat LP)

FiddleNoirHomePage10-18

 

JOHN LEE HOOKER, EARLY RECORDINGS, DETROIT AND BEYOND, VOLUMES 1 and 2 (Capitol/Third Man, two 2-LP sets)

johnleehooker_cover

 

ELVIS PRESLEY, THE ‘VIVA LAS VEGAS’ SESSIONS (RCA–Follow That Dream, Denmark, 3-cd box)

elvis viva FTD box

 

THE NOMADS, HITS OF THE NOMADS (Super Oldies)

6 panel wallet

Whenever a new issue of Ugly Things comes out, people put aside whatever they are doing for a few days and read the massive issue cover to cover. I’m proud to have been a part of the UT team for over 30 years. Mike Stax and UT have literally changed the way that 50’s-70’s edgy rock and roll is perceived and understood, much like the way that Something Weird Video affected the way that exploitation films and regional cinema are understood. Others have fought that good fight–the Kicks Magazine/Norton Records crew (Miriam Linna and the late Billy Miller); Chris Stigliano at Black to Comm/Blog to Comm (with whom I’ve also worked for 30+ years)–too over the decades, but Ugly Things has soldiered on, widened its distribution, and become a major player in the archival roots/punk/garage music world.

You can order the recent issues of the magazine and their music releases (it’s still 100% print and will remain so) at    ugly-things.com

Remember, the various artists compilations are in the very back of the magazine each issue, and 4 of my 7 reviews this time are of compilations. Go to back of the magazine or you might not notice most of my pieces! Thankfully, since everyone devours UT cover to cover, I don’t have to worry about people not getting around to reading my compilation reviews, which I might worry about in some lesser magazine!

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February 15, 2019

Kickstarter fund for the release of 7 BILL AND BOB silent Western adventure shorts (1920-22), with the adolescent Bob Steele

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 6:57 pm

bill and bob

Great news….Grapevine Video (I’ve been buying films from them since the 1980’s and the VHS era) has a new Kickstarter project to release 7 of the legendary 1-reel ADVENTURES OF BILL AND BOB silent shorts, dating from 1920-22 and originally released by Pathe. These are the earliest films of future Western star BOB STEELE (real name Bob Bradbury, Jr.), who is paired with his twin brother Bill….and the films were directed by a western great himself, Robert N. Bradbury, Bob’s father, perhaps best-known for directing 12 of the 16  John Wayne ‘Lone Star’ westerns in the 1933-35 period.

As a lifelong fan of Bob Steele and his director father, I have been wanting to see some of these since I first heard of them 40+ years ago….now, we finally can, thanks to our friends at Grapevine Video in Arizona. The shorts seem to be focused on the boys’ outdoor adventures–fishing, investigating wildlife in their area, tracking and trapping animals, etc.

bob steele

If you get in on the ground floor, you can guarantee the release of these films AND get your own DVD copy for only $15 postpaid (it goes up to $20 after the initial period). The campaign ends on Monday 18 March 2019.

Here is the link for the Kickstarter project: 1920-22 BILL AND BOB film shorts

The_Adventures_of_Bob_and_Bill_(1920)_-_1

I’m very much looking forward to experiencing these rare shorts when they are released…I’m sure Mary Anne and I will get a bottle of champagne and make an evening of it (freshly made guacamole will, I hope, also be involved!), transporting ourselves back 99 years with the richness of detail and immediacy than only the cinema can provide. Director Robert N. Bradbury was a master director of B-westerns, so it will be exciting to see what he can do with outdoor shorts in the early 1920’s….and since these films star his own children, I’m guessing he will bring his A-game to them!

February 8, 2019

Ernesto Diaz-Infante KSE albums reissued on Bandcamp

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 2:34 pm

ernesto-forbill-2

Very happy to announce that Ernesto Diaz-Infante, acclaimed West Coast guitar innovator, has re-issued some of his KSE albums digitally through his Bandcamp page. Ernesto did a number of albums for KSE, both solo and with collaborators such as Lisa Cameron, in the last 9 years, and they covered a lot of ground, as he would create certain methodological parameters within which he would work for each project, and he would bring a strong discipline, but at the same time, a free-wheeling creative sense, to each one. I can attest that I would receive many e-mails and texts in the first few months of release of each Ernesto Diaz-Infante album, telling me how much people were enjoying the albums, how they would put them on “repeat” for entire days, etc. When he released his first album with KSE, EMILIO, Brad Kohler texted me the day after he receiving it, “sign this man to a long-term contract immediately!”

With Ernesto on the West Coast doing a regular series of experimental guitar albums for the label, and Tom Crean on the East Coast doing a series of equally impressive albums taking the guitar into new territory, I felt that that KSE was doing a good job continuing in the tradition of the labels that issued the old Derek Bailey and Fred Frith and Hans Reichel and Sonny Sharrock that enriched my earlier life so much.

Presently, there are three of Ernesto’s KSE albums available on Bandcamp. I’ll provide a link for each, and you can also look up the name of each in the search box here on the KSE blog and read the original write-up about the album.

ernesto lovers_0001

THE LOVERS ESCAPE / LOS AMANTES ESCAPAN (originally released 1 January 2018)

http://ernestodiaz-infante.bandcamp.com/album/the-lovers-escape-los-amantes-escapan

 

ernesto album cover

WISTFUL ENTRANCE, WISTFUL EXIT (originally released 1 August 2014)

http://ernestodiaz-infante.bandcamp.com/album/wistful-entrance-wistful-exit

 

ernesto

EMILIO (originally released 1 January 2011)

http://ernestodiaz-infante.bandcamp.com/album/emilio

These albums make excellent companions–and I have friends who are painters and poets who listen to the albums while they work. I know I have put them on “repeat” while working on poetry! The downloads are reasonably priced, less than the original albums, and you can have them available on your computer or device in less than a minute!

Thanks to Ernesto Diaz-Infante for working with KSE on so many excellent albums. He was also the headlining artist at the KSE 6th Anniversary Concert at the Salvage Vanguard Theater in Austin in 2012, performing a trenchant solo set (based on Emilio) and a duo set with Lisa Cameron and Lee Dockery, the memories of which are still fresh in the minds of all who attended!

KSE APRIL 2012 POSTER

February 6, 2019

thoughts on Jack Kerouac’s SOME OF THE DHARMA

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 1:38 pm

JACK KEROUAC, SOME OF THE DHARMA

composed 1953-1956, published 1997 by Viking

8″ x 11″, 420 pages, hardcover and paperback available

some

Although Jack Kerouac has always been an essential author to me, I’ve never taken him to be any kind of model, and he himself would be the last one to ever present himself as such. An EXAMPLE, yes–but not a model. Someone who blows the rent money at the racetrack can be an example that’s negative–someone who follows their own quixotic artistic quest can be an example of many things on many levels, some good, some bad, some mixed, and really the goodness or badness is in the eye of the beholder.

People who criticize the misogyny or the over-reliance on leaps of faith or the lapses into sentimentality in Kerouac’s fiction are missing the point–he presented the 1940’s/1950’s male psyche whole and unvarnished and unedited, with all the ugliness intact. He did not edit it out and spray the finished work with Airwick. He was not concerned about making the narrative persona admirable or hip or conforming to any socially-approved norm of the counter-culture. He presented the character in all its nakedness and with all its inconsistencies, biases, pockets of ugliness, non-rational clinging to blind faith and cliche. With each passing decade, such a glimpse into the bare-naked male psyche of the generation who came to maturity in the 1940’s is of even more value, and it becomes more crystal-clear the more distance we have from it. What Kerouac provides us is almost like a case-study, or the kind of psychological study of a human subject that Gertrude Stein might have done when she was studying under William James.

Speaking of Gertrude Stein, I’m not sure how much Stein Kerouac read, and which works of hers he was familiar with, but his works also often have the transcription-of-subvocal-mind-speech qualities we associate with Stein, though the results are quite different. This quality is strongest in the less commercial Kerouac pieces such as TRISTESSA or THE SUBTERRANEANS or VISIONS OF CODY, the ones I’ve always valued most.

That quality is front and center in the 400+ page SOME OF THE DHARMA. While the initial purpose of the work was to present to Allen Ginsberg as a kind of free-associational study guide to Buddhism 101, the end result is quite unique….400+ pages, each composed in the 8″ x 10″ format, using the page as a canvas, in the manner of open-field poetic composition. The content is essentially whatever crosses Kerouac’s mind during his study of and free-wheeling meditations on Buddhist study. It is meant to be an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink inventory of thoughts, associations, puns, self-reflection, reading notes, notes for future studies, notes to oneself, behavioral observations, reading lists, paraphrases of religious texts, etc. Nothing is excluded, nothing is checked for traditional concepts of “accuracy”— it’s a transcription of thought, of consciousness (hence the Gertrude Stein reference above).

It should also be emphasized that we are presented with 400+ separate compositions-for-the-page, 400 open-field (to a large extent) works within this book. To me at least, as an open-field poet myself, that in itself is an amazing thing. This is not a book to read from cover to cover. I dip into it and essentially dialogue with the page, one page at a time, and I’ve been doing that for 22 years since the book was first published in hardback. I have a copy at home and a copy at my office at work. With the publication of some of poet John Wieners’s poetic journals in forms that seek to replicate Wieners’s layout on the page, and the strong interest in those works (which I have also spent much time with), I’d think that SOME OF THE DHARMA would have commanded more attention from commentators/readers than it has. As with most non-traditional, long-form, book-length literary works, I wonder if people just don’t know what to do with this work. It falls into no recognizable genre. You can’t point to previous works which laid a path for it to step into.

Take for instance the review it received at Kirkus Reviews, a relatively staid and unimaginative service aimed at librarians. I’ll quote some lines from that, but interrupt  here and there with my own comments in all-caps:

” Kerouac is unable to keep his mind on track, resulting in a work that’s ultimately chaotic. His technique seems sound enough: He takes a classic Buddhist philosophical statement and then decodes it for his own use.”   YES, I CAN ACCEPT THAT. IT IS MEANT TO BE “CHAOTIC,” AS OUR MINDS TEND TO BE WHEN NOT SELF-CONSCIOUSLY INTENDING TO FOCUS.

“Unfortunately, his interpretations are usually far from the point, as Kerouac is unable to separate Hinduism, Taoism, and even Catholicism from Buddhism, with repeated incorrect assessments of how the Tao affects Buddhahood (it does not) or how Jesus was a Buddha-like figure (by most accounts he was not).”  THIS IS FAULTING THE BOOK FOR WHAT IT IS NOT SETTING OUT TO DO. IT’S ONE MAN’S EXPERIENCING OF THESE TEXTS, OF THIS TRADITION. HE BRINGS HIS OWN BIAS TO THE STUDY. WE ARE EXPERIENCING HIS EXPERIENCING OF THIS MATERIAL, FOLLOWING THE WANDERINGS OF HIS THOUGHT AND HIS ATTEMPTING TO CONNECT THE MATERIAL TO KNOWN ELEMENTS FROM HIS BACKGROUND, READINGS, AND UPBRINGING. KEROUAC IS NOT WRITING ANYTHING DOCTRINAIRE HERE–HE DID THAT IN HIS WAKE UP BOOK, WHICH WAS A DRY PARAPHRASING OF BUDDHIST SOURCES. SOME OF THE DHARMA IS MEANT TO BE CHAOTIC, SELF-CONTRADICTORY, GOING DOWN BLIND PATHWAYS AND MAYBE EVEN FINDING DEAD-ENDS AND TURNING AROUND AGAIN. THAT IS PART OF THE BEAUTY AND UNIQUENESS OF THIS WORK. ALSO, KEROUAC WAS ALWAYS TRYING TO RECONCILE DIFFERENT RELIGIOUS TRADITIONS. HE DID NOT DO THAT IN A SCHOLARLY WAY IN THE MANNER OF, SAY, A THOMAS MERTON OR AN ALAN WATTS. OF COURSE, TO DO THAT HE WOULD HAVE TO BLUR THINGS, FORCE SQUARE PEGS INTO ROUND HOLES, MISCONSTRUE DETAILS, ETC. HE’S A LAY PERSON, NOT A PROFESSOR OF COMPARATIVE RELIGIONS. SO WHAT IF KEROUAC IS DRINKING, BRINGS A DEEPLY ROOTED ROMAN CATHOLIC BIAS TO WHATEVER HE STUDIES, HAS MISOGYNISTIC ATTITUDES NOT UNTYPICAL OF MANY OF HIS HARD-DRINKING, SEMI-MACHO MALE FRIENDS OF THE 1940’s AND 1950’s. WHY NOT TREAT THE WHOLE WORK AS A PIECE OF FICTION WRITTEN BY AN UNRELIABLE FIRST-PERSON NARRATOR. THINK ABOUT THE QUALITIES THE NARRATOR/PERSONA POSSESSES, THE PROCESSES OF HIS MIND, THE BIASES AND ASSOCIATIONS HE BRINGS TO HIS STUDIES, THE CHARACTER THAT WE SEE REFLECTED IN THE CONSCIOUSNESS THAT HAS CREATED THESE PAGES. THAT LINE OF ANALYSIS CAN BE INFINITELY RICH….

“Furthermore, Kerouac, by his own admission, is unable to stay sober long enough to attain any real enlightenment. He sets forth the goals of not drinking, meditating regularly, and abstaining from sex, but he makes lame excuses for his falling off the wagon, and his rationalizations for avoiding sex devolve into plain misogyny.”  HEY, THAT’S KEROUAC. IF YOU ARE GIVEN 400+ PAGES OF HIS PERSONAL NOTES ON HIS RELIGIOUS STUDY, WOULDN’T THEY REFLECT THE FLAWS AND BIASES OF THE CREATOR? AS STATED ABOVE, THIS IS AN UNRELIABLE NARRATOR WHO IS NEVER PRESENTING HIMSELF AS AN EXPERT ON ANYTHING. WE ARE SIMPLY GOING ALONG FOR THE RIDE WITH HIM AS HE RUMINATES ON THIS MATERIAL AND FREE-ASSOCIATES ON IT.

For me, Kerouac is at his best when he is least tethered to any kind of “form.” He’s at his best when the form is ever-becoming, and that form is not visible until the work is complete. That’s the reason why I tend to value TRISTESSA, VISIONS OF CODY, and THE SUBTERRANEANS over ON THE ROAD. I am also a champion of the late-period work SATORI IN PARIS—in fact, a recent collection of my own poems is titled SATORI IN NATCHEZ in homage to Kerouac. SATORI IN PARIS is a work that many find maddening, and the usual negative remarks about Kerouac’s drinking and lack of concentrated attention and scattershot observations and supposed clouding by personal bias are trotted out when people write off SATORI IN PARIS. However, those qualities are in a way the essence of the work. I’m reminded of some of the negative critical analyses of Bob Dylan’s post-1990 work or live performances. Many times the negative reviews are more on-target than the uncritical hagiographical observations of super-fans. It’s just that the negative critics view the cup as half-full–they see and hear what Dylan is doing, they describe it in a way that’s not inaccurate in a factual sense (a half-full or half-empty 8 ounce cup has 4 ounces in it, all agree) , and they just don’t care for what he’s doing. And of course that’s fine; they don’t have to like it. I’ve never developed a taste for opera or K-Pop or the films of P.T. Anderson–however, they are surely of some value in the big picture, and you may find transcendence within those works. God bless you if you do!

Not everyone wants what Jack Kerouac at his purest and most uncompromising has to offer in a work such as SOME OF THE DHARMA (by the way, note the word SOME….). Not everyone wants what Gertrude Stein has to offer in STANZAS IN MEDIATION of TO DO: A BOOK OF ALPHABETS AND BIRTHDAYS. Not everyone wants what John Wieners has to offer in his poem-journals such as A NEW BOOK FROM ROME or STARS SEEN IN PERSON or 707 SCOTT STREET: THE JOURNAL OF JOHN WIENERS. Not everyone wants an 8-cd set of field recordings from a Zurich train station. Not everyone wants 100+ variations on a Shadows painting by Warhol. Not everyone wants 48 feature films from the Bowery Boys (not even mentioning the films from the Dead End Kids, The Little Tough Guys, and the East Side Kids). Not everyone wants to read all the novels of John Galsworthy or Anthony Trollope. That’s fine, and the multiplicity of options out there for us to experience is one of the things that make life worthwhile.

However, there is a small group of people (the few, the proud….) out there who upon encountering Jack Kerouac’s infinitely rich and contradictory and human (in both the good and bad senses of that word) work SOME OF THE DHARMA will proclaim, “where has this been all my life!” I am one of those. You may be too….probably if you’ve read this far, you know whether you are or not. As I write this (February 2019), used paperback copies can be had for as little as $2 plus postage and used hardback copies (which will last you a lifetime) can be had for as little as $6 plus postage via various online booksellers. I also see this at various Half Price Books stores in my travels for under $10.

A more sympathetic interpretation of the book can be found at Tricycle magazine, an American Buddhist publication that tends to be relatively open-minded and accepting:

https://tricycle.org/magazine/some-dharma/

some

February 3, 2019

Durchs wilde Kurdistan (Germany-Spain 1965), starring Lex Barker, 2nd of the 3 ‘Kara Ben Nemsi’ films

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 12:05 am

wildkurdistan1

DURCHS WILDE KURDISTRAN (Germany-Spain 1965)

directed by F.J. Gottlieb

based on the writings of Karl May, starring LEX BARKER as Kara Ben-Nemsi

the second of three films with Barker in that role

wildkurdistan2

During the 1960’s, there was a large phenomenon in Germany and across Central Europe in general to create film adaptations of the works of adventure novelist KARL MAY, best known outside Germany for the series of WINNETOU books about the Apache character and his white friend and comrade Old Shatterhand, played by Pierre Brice and Lex Barker, respectively (with Stewart Granger as Old Surehand in a few, and Rod Cameron as Old Firehand in one, which is reviewed elsewhere on this blog), in the film adaptations. Those films were such a success that some films were made which adapted May’s works set in Central America, and these also starred Lex Barker as Dr. Karl Sternau . All of these films have been issued on DVD across Europe, though the Central American ones are not easily available in English-friendly form.

wildkurdistan3

The mania for May film adaptations was such that his somewhat philosophical and cerebral character Kara Ben Nemsi was also brought to the screen, played of course by the inimitable American actor LEX BARKER, whose name was synonymous with Karl May films, a former Tarzan who wound up being a bigger star in Europe than he ever was here in the USA. This character’s exploits took place over the Near East/Southwest Asia/Balkans area, and as with the May westerns, the character was a larger-than-life, somewhat stoic bringer-of-peace-and-understanding who was not afraid to tote a gun. I’ve read English translations of two of the Kara Ben Nemsi books (and I’ve read about a number of untranslated ones), and the three film adaptations of the character made in the 1964-1965 period tend to play down the long philosophical ruminations  found in what I’ve read of the novels and place the emphasis on a kind of stylized grandeur that leaves one speechless, at least the second and third films in the series. One presumes that the target audience would have been familiar with the books, at least in general terms, and that the memory of them would resonate as one watched the films.

wildkurdistan4

The first film in the series, DER SCHUT (The Shoot), was dubbed into English and played on American late-night television on independent and UHF stations. It was available on VHS and DVD-R and has never been hard to find.

wildkurdistan5

The third film in the series, Im Reich des silbernen Löwen (aka Kingdom Of The Silver Lion) surfaced a few years back with English subtitles, though they seemed automatically generated and didn’t always make sense. Still, it allowed English speakers to see the film and follow it somewhat. By the second or third viewing, things became relatively clear.

wildkurdistan6

The second of the three films, however, has not appeared in an English-friendly form that I’ve been able to discover until a few months ago. DURCHS WILDE KURDISTRAN (aka THROUGH WILD KURDISTAN) is now available on You Tube in a beautiful widescreen print, with English subtitles. Yes, the subtitles seem auto-generated, but they are not as bad as the ones on the third film, and anyone who knows a little German will have no problem getting the gist of what’s missed by the subtitles. I could barely order a cup of coffee or ask for the bathroom in German, and I could follow things on a surface level when the subtitles were inadequate.

You can find THROUGH WILD KURDISTAN here: https://youtu.be/APniCTMF17c

Lex Barker fans and English-speaking admirers of the film adaptations of Karl May’s works will be excited to finally see this film with subtitles.

The same person who uploaded THROUGH WILD KURDISTAN to You Tube also uploaded the other two films in the Kara Ben Nemsi series, in beautiful sparkling widescreen prints (and these films are beautifully photographed and possessing a sense of grandeur that is humbling), with English subtitles that are adequate.

DER SCHUT (The Shoot), 1st in the series     https://youtu.be/kFi4-mPO0Zs

IM REICHE DES SILBERNEN LOWEN (Kingdom of the Golden Lion), 3rd in the series https://youtu.be/kihhjCzxrn0

Let’s hope that these links will continue to work in the coming months and years.

I could comment on the significance of these films to me and on my view of the significance of the literary works of Karl May as I understand them, but this post is intended more as a resource for those who have been looking for these films. As for Karl May’s work, perhaps Hermann Hesse summed it up best when he described it as “the most brilliant representative of a truly original type of fiction–fiction as wish-fulfillment.”

Settle back and enjoy these sumptuous lesser-known films, which will take you somewhere you’ve never been before, which exists only in the imagination….and, one must admit, the imagination of the colonial age. These are NOT for everyone–they are artifacts of an earlier place in time, and when the films were released in the 1960’s they were quite old-fashioned then in terms of cultural attitudes. However, May’s wide-eyed and naïve literary quest for peace and understanding has a charming quality that can win over those capable of leaving behind the lens of present-day attitudes and dogmas to their studies of the artifacts and thought from earlier historical periods.

February 2, 2019

Commercial Radio Dramas of the 1970’s

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 6:31 pm

1962 is generally considered the final year of radio drama’s original run, one lasting over 30 years, with the passing of YOURS TRULY, JOHNNY DOLLAR on CBS, the network that held on to radio drama as a viable enterprise for the longest period. The 15-minute daily music-and-chat show with Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney on CBS also finished its run in 1962. You can find hundreds of examples of each of these fine shows at Archive.org

Commercial radio then became pretty much segregated into various formats that dominated the particular station’s schedule: music (in various styles), news and/or talk, religion, with some region-specific specialization within those boundaries.

However, in the 1970’s, there were FOUR significant attempts to bring back commercial network radio drama in a form updated for the times….all of them succeeded at least in terms of producing a quality product, and they are deserving of a survey and tribute, though none lasted beyond the early 1980’s.

THE CBS RADIO MYSTERY THEATER

In the early 1970’s, some people who had worked in radio drama and felt it could still attract an audience convinced CBS to green-light a five-day-a-week, hour-long program of new radio mysteries called THE CBS RADIO MYSTERY THEATER. The show was New York-based and benefitted from having fine casts of New York stage actors involved….people like Fred Gwynne and Tony Roberts come to mind as having acted in multiple shows. The early days of the show were hosted by E. G. Marshall, and the final period was hosted by Tammy Grimes. 1399 shows were produced between 1974 and 1982. The show tended to be aired in the period just before midnight in most markets. It aired in Denver on KOA Radio 850-AM, and I used to listen to it many nights before going to sleep. The quality of the shows varies somewhat (usually in the writing, NOT in the acting), but coming up with a daily show for so many years with ALL NEW stories each day and no recurring characters (as in a daily soap opera) must have been an incredible chore. Most all of these shows are available free online for your enjoyment, and I’ve included a link below for that.

https://www.cbsrmt.com/

 

ZERO HOUR (also known as Hollywood Radio Theater) appeared on the Mutual Radio Network, once a respected competitor to NBC, CBS, etc., but Mutual had put its eggs in the news basket a decade or two prior to this and emphasized service to smaller market stations, especially in the Midwest and West. ZERO HOUR had a somewhat different format, telling one story nightly for a week in a five-installment unit. It was hosted by Rod Serling, of NIGHT GALLERY and TWILIGHT ZONE fame, and featured theme music by Ferrante & Teicher (!!!). It ran in 1973 and 1974. I heard only a few of these at the time, when I was visiting cities where it aired. I don’t remember hearing it in the Denver market, though perhaps it did and flew under my radar. Episodes were available on cassette back in the 1990’s, and many merchants are selling CDR’s containing MP3’s of the shows, though they are not widely available online the way the CBS series is. A little searching should find you SOME of the shows online for free. I’ve included a link to a history of and episode guide for the series.

http://www.digitaldeliftp.com/DigitalDeliToo/dd2jb-Zero-Hour.html

 

THE GENERAL MILLS RADIO ADVENTURE THEATER ran for just under a year in 1977 and early 1978. It ran on CBS, was aimed at an adolescent audience, and I remember it being supported by ads in comic books of the day. The host was Tom Bosley, then well-known for his role as the father on HAPPY DAYS (the more adventurous had perhaps seen his Italian western comedy with Guy Madison, THE BANG-BANG KID, on TV at 3 a.m. some night on a UHF station). It aired twice a week on weekends, and I don’t remember hearing any of these when they were originally on. Quoting from Wikipedia, “General Mills’s advertising agency was looking for a means of reaching children that would be less expensive than television advertising. Brown and CBS were willing to experiment with a series aimed at younger listeners, reaching that audience through ads in comic books. Apart from Christian or other religious broadcasting, this may have been the only nationwide attempt in the U.S. in the 1970s to air such a series. General Mills did not continue as sponsor after the 52 episodes had first aired over the first 26 weekends (February 1977 through July 1977), and the series (52 shows) was then repeated over the next 26 weekends (August 1977 through the end of January 1978), as The CBS Radio Adventure Theater, with a variety of sponsors for the commercials.” These ARE available online for your listening pleasure, and I’ve included a link below for that.

https://archive.org/details/TheGeneralMillsRadioAdventureTheater77042424JourneyToTheCenterOfTheEarth

 

THE SEARS RADIO THEATER  initially ran on CBS and then moved to Mutual, beginning in 1979 and ending with reruns through 1981. It was somewhat ambitious with a five-night-a-week schedule, each evening devoted to a different genre with a different host: Lorne Greene, Cicely Tyson, Andy Griffith, and Vincent Price….with the Friday night slot first filled by Richard Widmark, then by Howard Duff, then by Leonard Nimoy. 103 original shows were produced, and with reruns, a total of 210 programs were aired, though local stations would sometimes play a program more than once. Many of these programs are available free online, and I’ve included a link to those below.

https://archive.org/details/OTRR_Sears_Radio_Theater_Singles

National Public Radio had a series during this period called EARPLAY, though that was aimed at a highbrow audience and included works by playwrights such as Edward Albee, and didactic religious dramas were created and aired in a variety of styles and formats, particularly the UNSHACKLED series, which began in 1950 and is still being aired today! There were locally produced religious dramas too… I can remember hearing a series of religious dramas on a small AM radio station which were aimed at prison inmates! However, this article is devoted to commercial radio drama. You’ve got links to over 1500 radio shows here, most of which are very good, and all of which are at least worthwhile. Radio drama provides a theater of the mind which is rich and of great value. It lacks the mind-numbing quality of television. Thanks to those who valiantly tried to bring back radio drama in the 1970’s. The work they created was very good, and it was very well received in its day by those who had a chance to hear it. I remember (in Denver, at least) the CBS Radio Mystery Theater being pre-empted (or played much later at night) a number of times by sports programming, and it took a certain dedication to seek it out. Thankfully, I was able to until 1979, when I left Colorado and moved to Oklahoma, where I never heard it again….

My job requires me to take a lot of work home each night, a least 2-3 hours on many evenings, and I enjoy listening to radio drama while I’m doing that time-consuming work. This huge body of little-known radio drama is out there for YOU to enjoy too. Try it….you may get hooked.

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