August 2016 -  WPRB History
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August 2016

The [Proto] Punk Production Tapes (NSFW)

One of the more perplexing pieces of archival audio we’ve discovered while combing through WPRB’s deep freeze storage facility is one from February of 1992 which I’ve taken to calling The Proto Punk Production Tapes. For some reason that is long lost to the ages, DJ Arthur Fenno spent the evening of February 11th barricaded in WPRB’s production studio with the goal of merging song snippets from the MC5, Iggy & the Stooges, The X-Ray Spex, and the Avengers into…well… something.

The recording embedded below features repeated takes of the MC5‘s legendary “Kick Out the Jams” intro, and then quickly segues into the brutal riff from “TV Eye” by the Stooges. That is followed immediately by Poly Styrene’s opening screeches of “Oh Bondage, Up Yours” by her band X-Ray Spex, and then finally, the closing refrain of “The American in Me” by the Avengers.

In the days before digital audio software, editing tight transitions like these required a razor blade, splice tape, and an ungodly amount of patience. Arthur’s challenges were exacerbated by the fact that the MC5 segment is very much not-ok-for-the-radio, and since no apparent final version of the recording was contained on this reel, I can only assume that Arthur threw down his razor blade, kicked over a few chairs in the production studio, and stormed angrily into the Princeton night.

We may never know. Nevertheless, I find that the five+ minutes of WPRB’s Proto Punk Production Tapes offer unique insight into the studio challenges of 20+ years ago. It’s also a weirdly inventive listening experience that quickly divorces itself from its individual parts, and becomes something all its own.

 

 

More 80s/90s Thursday Night Hip-Hop Audio

Pictured: WPRB’s trophy wax Naughty by Nature 12″s

With thanks to WPRB History’s newest digital archivist Joan Hsiao, we present two recently digitized drop-ins from the station’s storied era of Thursday night hip-hop shows (The Raw Deal, Vibes & Vapors, Club Krush, etc.)

First up, this drop from Jeru the Damaja from the Vibes & Vapors era.

 

And then from the Raw Deal, we present Treach from Naughty by Nature.

 

And finally, just because it’s an easy excuse to post a great song, here’s the late, great Tony D, who was a contributor to all of the above mentioned shows, as well as a WPRB DJ in his own right. “Check the Elevation” is a critical slice of local hip-hop history.

 

James Brown Interview — 1996

Photo: The Daily Princetonian

Things have been pretty quiet here at WPRB History Central for a long time, but with several new volunteer archivists itching to cozy up with our trusty Otari MX5050 reel-to-reel player, we’re aiming to get back to regular posting. And what better way to re-launch the ship than with this brief James Brown phone interview from 1996, performed by the great Lily Prillinger!

At the time, the Godfather of Soul was busy promoting the “Live at the Apollo 1995” album, and Lily managed to contact his management and secure access to The Man Himself for this brief phone interview. Lily is obviously nervous, but hell, what 20-year-old who’s about to speak to JAMES EFFING BROWN wouldn’t be?! For his part, Brown delivers on every level you could hope for—fielding Lily’s anxious questions with a mix of sincerity and almost mechanically-deployed James Brown-isms. (Put another way, it’s either like James Brown doing an impression of himself, or Eddie Murphy’s legendary “Celebrity Hot Tub Party” parody.)

The lead up to Brown taking WPRB’s call is also kind of fascinating, as Lily is given stern instructions by (presumably) Brown’s agent, as to what she may (and may not) ask about. Listen or download below.

[Download]

James Brown performed in Princeton’s Dillon Gymnasium in February of that year (to mixed reviews.)