Michael Jackson was so huge in the 1980s that his success affected everyone in the music industry, not excluding the other Jacksons, i.e., Michael’s siblings. Everyone was so desperate for a piece of what Michael had that anyone related to him got a record deal. That’s what this episode is about: what Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon, Randy, Rebbie, La Toya and even Janet were doing at the height of their brother’s fame. Some of it’s bad, some of it’s weird, and some of it’s surprisingly great.
We’ve done a “grab bag” episode in the past where we said the theme was no theme. It was kind of random videos that didn’t fit any topic. We’re doing another assortment show this time, but it’s sort of the opposite, because instead of no theme, it’s all the themes. We’re going back to themes we’ve done in the first 15 episodes of the show, and picking new videos that didn’t quite make the cut for whatever reason the first time around. Call them Music Raygun B-sides.
Kirk had his time to shine with the disco episode, but this one is all Paul’s doing. It’s finally time to talk about punk. Cretins hop, Pistols curse, and GG Allin does, well, the things that GG Allin did before he passed on. Knowing that Kirk doesn’t actually like punk music, Paul made sure to load this episode up with interesting archival material, including a fantastic old interview with John Holmstrom and Legs McNeil, and a look at that infamous “battle of the bands” episode of “CHiPs.”
What do we like? We like the cars that go boom, or at least the girls who sing about them. We also like Biz Markie, BDP, Heavy D, and Public E, so we're taking a look at a very specific time period in rap history: 1988 and 1989. Kirk was in college, getting drunk at parties and dancing to Salt-N-Pepa records. Paul was practically a toddler, and never got to watch "The Arsenio Hall Show," because it was on past his bedtime. So they have different perspectives.
Kirk takes the wheel as “Music Raygun” goes back in time to the 1970s, when everything was bright and shiny on the outside, but sort of washed out and profoundly bleak beneath the surface. That's right: It's our disco episode. There’s Travolta, “Dance Fever” and, of course, a “Soul Train” line. That’s all to be expected. Less expected is… Ethel Merman? And don’t worry; we also sit through “Disco Duck.” Yeah. We do that. For you. All this, plus a fish saves the city of Pittsburgh.
We're going home, back to our respective hometowns. Paul is presenting the music of Rhode Island, and Kirk visits his old stomping grounds in Cleveland/Northeast Ohio. Both areas spawned bands with a working-class, blue-collar aesthetic, but that’s where the similarities end. Rhode Island provides the alternative and punk rock, while Cleveland brings the smooth pop and R&B. Then again, those differences probably have way more to do with our respective tastes than the regions where we come from.
For the first time, we’re focusing our attention on one instrument: the saxophone. This has been a long time coming. When we first discussed what topics we wanted to have on the show, “saxophone” was Kirk’s immediate thought. There’s lots of smooth jazz and pop here to make him happy, but there's also some punk rock to keep Paul satisfied. We learn what’s wrong with the greatest pop sax solo of all time, and we spend 20 minutes talking about just one Kenny G video. Strap in.
Katie Willert is back! She's co-hosting while Kirk is on vacation. As promised during Katie’s first appearance on “Music Raygun,” she and Paul devote this episode to a legendary artist whom they love: Harry Nilsson. Nilsson never performed live, but he was creative with his projects on record, on TV and in movies, and there’s lots of cool video of him to look at. He was a true weirdo, a deeply troubled man and a tragic figure. So there’s both laughter and honest-to-God tears in this one.
We always say every episode of “Music Raygun” features a particular music artist, concept or topic. Well, we lied to you about that. Because this time, our topic is... no topic. It's the first "grab bag" episode. We each chose a few of our favorite videos that, frankly, defy categorization. But they’re too good to ignore just because we normally make a themed podcast. We’ll watch a dance contest, a domestic dispute, and the most coked-out band in the world. Also, Paul convinces Kirk to like punk.
Kirk is really happy whenever he gets to talk about one of his top five, possibly top three favorite bands ever. We’re talking about Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky and Mike (and Ralph and Johnny). It’s the long-planned New Edition episode. And that means we also have to cover the whole New Edition family tree. That means Bobby Brown, Bell Biv DeVoe, New Kids on the Block, Another Bad Creation, Heads of State and more. N.E. has been around for almost 40 years, so there's much to discuss.