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Ugly rumors on the border.

I’m familiarizing myself a little bit with the music of the late fusion guitarist Larry Coryell … and that side trip has brought me to another of those great local airplay charts from the ARSA database.

What we have here is the survey from WKCO 91.9 FM, at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, for the fortnight ending Oct. 18, 1974.

What makes this one so awesome? Oh, all sorts of stuff:

– First off, it’s handwritten, in a friendly font that’s just the right side of legible. You don’t come across that many handwritten airplay charts, but once in a while you find one, and it’s a warm-casual touch, like a plate of homemade chocolate chip cookies with a joint on the side.

– Second, for people like me who like to consider the time and place when the music came pouring out of the radio: If you’re going to college and it’s early to mid-October, you’ve gotten past the stumbling points of the first week or so, and you’re in the groove. Plus, the weather is starting to mellow. So, the survey’s from a good place at a good time of year.

The Dead at Number One! Don’t see that a whole lot, do you? A quick glance through ARSA suggests this is one of only two surveys in the database to show a Grateful Dead album in the top spot. (The other came from St. Louis progressive station KADI in December 1970.)

Whoever annotated the Kenyon College survey was anal-retentive enough to affix the “Ugly Rumors” prefix to the album title. It must have been fun for ten seconds, in the summer and fall of ’74, to flip the album cover upside-down and squint at the stylized writing.

Further attention to detail: The cover of I’ve Got My Own Album To Do gives the artist’s name as “Ron Woods” with the S scratched out, and the Kenyon College radio survey duplicates this inside joke. Somebody cared enough to pay attention.

Further detail-points to the annotator for correctly transcribing Tim Buckley’s record label not as Discreet but DiscReet. While Wiki doesn’t specify this, I always thought the capitalized “Reet” was a nod to the old hipsters’ slang term of approbation.

The mix: The records on this list, bought in one lot, would make a pretty nice Seventies starter set, with everything from funk to hard rock to progressive rock to singer-songwriters represented.

It’s also a nice mix of well-known warhorses (461 Ocean Boulevard, Fulfillingness’ First Finale, the first BadCo album) and less-traveled side roads (Buckley! John Sebastian! Taj Mahal! Ry Cooder!) They’re not all great records, but the time you took to work through the whole pile would be well-spent, if that makes any sense.

And any station that was willing to play Neil Young records during the Ditch Trilogy era has a friend in me — particularly the On The Beach album, which is fantastic.

So, yeah, I dig this playlist.

Indeed, having listened to Larry Coryell the entire time I’ve been writing this, it may be fair to say I like this playlist more than I like the music of Larry Coryell.

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