Pass it Around
"If I made records for my own pleasure, I would only record Charley Patton songs." - Bob Dylan
John B. Wells Best Disc Jockey and Bumper Music Man in the Country? Coast to Coast Weekend Man spins the Spinners with the Beatles.
John B. Wells has amazing musical taste for a late night talk show host. Weekend voice (really DEEP) voice-man and interviewer for the popular Coast to Coast radio show which runs all night long. Having been a Coast listener for thirty years in a row, I can assure you it is no feat to match the on-air personalities of Art Bell, the original Coast host, or George Noory, the current. When previous weekend man Ian Punnett, also great, developed tinnitus and had to limit his appearances (though radio really has no appearances…) John B. stepped in.
Coast to Coast is a junk science program, but it is the ONLY junk-science program worth listening to. It is every bit as good today as it ever was and quite likely the greatest radio show in history, except for the Jack Benny show, Prairie Home Companion, and Howard Stern that is. Note I did not include the sweaty, oxycontin survivor host who obviously has no research department other than his rear end. Coast to Coast is always wrong too, of course...it is hard to be "right" when discussing the paranormal, but Rush is always wrong because he just is. And he insults women too, in public. Shame on him. But to each his own, and if you are driving all night, you might as well listen to a show which will help you identify that Chupacadra crouching near the truck stop when you get out to stretch.
There are numerous traits John B. Wells brings to the show. His goofy, trippy, conspiratorial asides and his booming, reassuring late night voice being primary. He also breaks the "face made for radio" curse, being a quite handsome man. Brits may even remember him, as he did ten years on the air over the pond.
But John B. Wells picks the best bumper music in radio history, AND he frequently lets the song play long enough to have to pay royalties for them!
Last night? The Spinners. Rubberband man. Direct from the streets of Detroit city and with a glorious chorus as beautiful (and likely borrowed) from Love the One You're With by Stephen Stills. Pure, pure effing funk. At three in the morning when you can't sleep? A gift in falsetto.
Later? The most under-rated and beautiful chorus the Beatles ever came up with, Cry Baby Cry. Plus, he let the song play until the FINAL chorus, where John Lennon breaks the pattern, doubling his "Cry" which is just magic. Being more of a Stones man, I'll have to say that chorus makes me miss the Beatles and I've played it five times today while writing this.
Other songs last night? Stanley Clarke's Rock "N" Roll Jelly. Judas Priest! Grand Funk Railroad's entirely forgotten Sin's A Good Man's Brother. When is the last time you heard Grand Funk Railroad? They rock. LOUD! In my pillow speaker so my wife doesn't hear it.
Okay…so he played Peter Gabriel. Cut him a little slack. Plus Peter is going into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Better him than Yes. Umm….YES? No. YES? OH no.
I grew up in Michigan with Michigan radio. When it was taken for granted a soul song would follow a hard rock song which would be followed by who knows what the jock wanted to share, and it was frequently something you not only wanted to hear, you NEEDED to hear.
There are no real disc jockeys anymore. John B. Wells comes as close as one can, and that he favors good guitar crunch and excellence in all forms makes his weekend shows as good as radio music gets.
John B. Wells is the king of deserving musical obscurities. If I was a filmmaker, I'd hire John B. Wells to create the soundtrack. A few selections from last night's show alone follow.