As the days turn rather crispy and cold here on the mountain, the title of the Phlorescent Leech and Eddie's radio show "By the Fireside" has an even more pleasant ring than ever. I love experimental free-form radio shows from the 1970's and was tickled to recently find this two-hour gem, complete with many of the PSA's and bits of commercials intact at the lovely Harry Nilsson-centric page For the Love of Harry. I knew of Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan, alias Flo and Eddie mainly from my Frank Zappa-collecting days in the 1970's and from their work as two-fifths of The Turtles, but I hadn't realized what an extensive and varied singing career they had in the last 40 years, aside from their own records, vocally backing everyone from the likes of T Rex, David Cassidy, and John Lennon, to Blondie, the Ramones, Bruce Springstein and the Psychedelic Furs among many others.
I love the DJing style they used on their shows- playing rarely more than the A and B part of a song, usually amounting to less than 50 seconds, before wildly segueing off into spoken word records (at the wrong speed) or more obscure and unpredictable musical fare; within the first 20 minutes of the show I was an immediate and huge fan of their style - I had thought that I was eclectic and bizarre in my playlist construction, but this was truly madcap and smart- very challenging for 1974! All of this and a weekly guest-star, too. Which brings me to the reason I found this document at all- this episode's guest on this August afternoon in 1974 was Harry Nilsson, who had asked them to bring special records and singles to play while he was there. His album Pussycats, produced by John Lennon, was just about to come out and it turns out that Harry had a soft spot for comedian Eddie Lawrence, who it was good for me to find out more about, as I had only the vaguest idea of his work, and it turned out that his 'Old Philosopher' character had been parodied on the TV show Fractured Flickers, itself an obscure production of Jay Ward studios in 1963 and 64. There was a recurring gag on the show that is totally ripped off from Lawrence, and it's nice to know what was really going on there. A REVISION FROM 2011: Just found- an interview with Mr. Lawrence by our own Kliph Nesteroff on his blog HERE.
So, we hear Nilsson spin some rare goodies, including some singles that he wrote for others, and cassette tapes are even played live over microhones, presumably from hand-held players (I love alternative formats on the air); and the show gets more and more wild and sloppy as it goes on, but considering the partying nature of an LA radio station in 1974 I'm not surprised. Mark Volman comments more than once, when the din of everyone talking at once reaches a peak, that "you're not really hearing two stations at the same time- this is just how we do our show". To make the whole thing more bittersweet- at the end we hear that next week's guests were Becker and Fagan from Steely Dan, who the hosts promised would be revealed as just as funny and nutty as the usual gang. Ooof-- I want more episodes! Enjoy this slice of radio history.