Left of the Dial

I’ve often credited my diverse musical taste to the years I spent in college volunteering at the university radio station—WUSC-FM 90.5 in Columbia, SC. It was there I discovered many of the bands and genres I still enjoy to this day. Every year for the school’s Homecoming weekend, they let alumni DJ’s like me get back on the airwaves for a few hours.

This past weekend I put together a set of songs from the late 1980’s era when I was a student DJ, and while it doesn’t show the tremendous diversity of programming that included reggae, punk, afropop, dance, hip-hop, and more, my playlist for the evening (Which I’ve listed below) does read like a preview of the then-nascent “alternative” music boom.

While some of these names may be familiar from their later work, many of them are as obscure now as they were then. Curious? Search the band names on Google, YouTube, and Myspace; there is a lot of material out there posted by others who remember this music as fondly as I do.

Tommy Keene, Places That Are Gone
Marshall Crenshaw, Mary Jean
Waxing Poetics, Walking on Thin Legs
The Broadcasters, Hole In My Heart
The Godfathers, Birth School Work Death


The Catheads, Power Love and Pizza
The Royal Court Of China, It’s All Changed

American Music Club, Firefly
The Silos, A Few Hundred Thank You’s
David Sylvian, Let The Happiness In
Billy Bragg, Must I Paint You A Picture

Big Pig, I Can’t Break Away
Stump, Charlton Heston
Fetchin Bones, A Fable

The Swimming Pool Q’s, Big Fat Tractor
Translator, Un-Alone
The Walkabouts, Jumping Off
Thin White Rope, Elsie Crashed the Party
The Dream Syndicate, Halloween

Green On Red, That’s What Dreams
Rain Parade, Mystic Green
The Wygals, Passion
Bobby Sutliff, Small Town Romance
Easterhouse, Nineteen Sixty-nine
The Waterboys, We Will Not Be Lovers

Close Lobsters, Too Bloody Stupid
The Jazz Butcher Conspiracy, Too Much Falling In Love
True Believers, The Rain Won’t Help You When it’s Over
The Del-Lords, The Cool and the Crazy
EIEIO, Andy Warhol’s Dead But I’m Not
Dash Rip Rock, Endeavor
The Reivers (Zeitgeist), Blue Eyes
The Saints, Music Goes Round My Head
Jennifer Warnes, Bird on a Wire
Marti Jones, The Real One
The Rainmakers, Spend It On Love
Paul Kelly, Before the Old Man Died
Dumptruck, Back Where We Belong
Died Pretty, As Must Have
Washington Squares, New Generation
Andy White, Things Start to Unwind
Syd Straw, Hard Times
Peter Case, Horse & Crow
Antiseen, Ruby Get Back to the Hills

Fluid, Fools Rule
The Buck Pets, Hammer Valentine
Splatcats, Surfin Hearse
Droogs, Jack Of Trades
Scruffy the Cat, My Baby She’s Allright

Wenesday Week, I Wonder What We Had
Brian Setzer, Three Guys
Uncle Green, Vulnerability
Wild Seeds, I’m Sorry (I Can’t Rock You All Night Long)
Sister Double Happiness, Sister Double Happiness

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One thought on “Left of the Dial

  1. Kevin…I swear you have been to my house and been through all my music! I heard you play the True Believers that Sat. night as I was driving up to Newberry. I got so excited! I saw them at Rockefellas waaaay back and remember it as one of the loudest shows ever. Unfortunately, I lost the signal and missed out on the rest. Honestly, if I had heard Dumptruck, Marti Jones or Zeitgiest, I would have had to pull over and just listen. And don’t get me started on my love of Fetchin Bones and Syd Straw. I always enjoy your columns and lists in the Free Times…and am so excited to have found your blog.
    Darla

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