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Behind the Music: "Post-Punk Dance Party" on Crush's Zoo

Way back when, in the pre-internet days of yore, it was a different journey to discover new music, new genres and more out there vibes than what you'd find on the FM dial or MTV. When I was a wee, I did the standard "tape songs off the radio and listen to them to death" move but my songs were always a little left of center...Frank & Moon Unit Zappa's "Valley Girl" or Devo's "Whip It", the kind of songs that somehow wormed their way into the popular consciousness alongside more obvious fare.

As I got older and looked to escape the boredom and heat of Tucson's sweltering summers, I would take the city bus to various destinations that could feed my hungry music monster. I'd always hit the college library to spend hours in the AC reading microfiche from 70s Rolling Stone mags, making lists of stuff to look for at the used record stores in town. I did that for years, actually, until I got my driver's license and had more freedom to do other things. Anyway, trolling the record stores after quickly taught me who had the import sections in town, who had the best used finds, and, more importantly, which record clerks would take the time to talk to a dorky pre-teen about stuff. Those guys were the best, and some of them are good friends of mine to this very day.

My routine was simple. I'd stroll in nonchalantly, scan the cassettes or walk the record aisles looking for things...then make my way to the counter to make my move. "Anything I should be checking out?" I'd ask casually, heart beating out of my chest. More often than not, it really paid off, especially at the used record stores. Clerks were more than happy to pass on cool records, and I was more than happy to lay my quarters and dimes on the counter to buy them. Two of these times are relvevant this week...

1) I used to go to a shop that was super mainstream, but had a clerk who'd bring in his own box of imports and punk rock to sell on the side. I found out about that box when I came in looking for a New Order record I'd heard on the radio, and the clerk was more than happy to tell me that what I really needed to hear was Joy Division, the seminal post-punk band that later evolved into the much brighter and dancier New Order. I was an impressionable enough 12 year old that I bought "Unknown Pleasures" from his box and snuck it home. I didn't want my parents to know that I'd snuck off to the record store that day, so I remember telling my mom I was listening to a Doors record when she asked what I was listening to that night... Anyway, suffice to say that pushed me into a good direction that would shape the rest of my music life.

2) Similarly, I went into a store with a clerk who'd hep me to a ton of cool vinyl over the years, and asked him what was shaking. He paused, tapping his finger on his chin...and asked "ever hear this?" In his hand was Gang of Four's great LP "Entertainment." That post-punk dance record melted my mind, and felt like my little secret until I got into my 20s and found other like-minded music heads.

Anyway, I'm older now and my tastes have fractured into tiny shards of genres of music and pop culture. I still hold post-punk near and dear to my heart, but I know it means different things for different people. This week on my show, I couldn't help but play a buncha post-punk dance music that the teenage me would've loved to know would follow from that Gang of Four initiation, as well as more straight-ahead female fronted bands, a few oddities here and there, and of course, Joy Division. If you caught the show, hope you liked it, but if you didn't catch it on the first go around:

Catch "Crush's Zoo" every Friday night from 6-8pm for a trashy blend of new wave, funk, world music and novelty tracks...

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