I recently signed up with Rdio, a music streaming social network that provides access to a boatload of music for a monthly fee. I’ve enjoyed being able to listen to a lot of new discoveries and digging up old favorites. For example, I listened to Prince and the Revolution’s “Around the World in a Day” for the first time in at least 25 years. That was a new album around the time we moved to a new house in 1985, and while all my other tapes were packed in a box, that one had just arrived in the mail so I ended up listening to it over and over. It’s surprising how many of the songs seemed completely unfamiliar despite that.
On that same nostalgia vibe, I also payed tribute to one of my favorite New York area radio stations of my youth, which was known as 92.7 WDRE-FM when I listened to it, but was also known as WLIR. This was the “left of the dial” radio station that played Post-Punk, New Wave, Modern Rock, Alternative Music, whatever moniker you wanted to slap on it (oddly, the term “alternative” became most popular around the time that R.E.M and Nirvana lead the music into the mainstream in the early 90s).
One of the features of WDRE was a contest for the best new song of the week called the “Shriek of the Week.” Apparently, during the WLIR days there was the rhymeless “Screamer of the Week” that did the same thing. There is a list of all the Screamers & Shrieks from 1980 to 1996 here: http://www.advancedspecialties.net/wlir.htm
I made a Rdio playlist of the Screamer/Shriek of the week covering my junior high and high school days from 1985-1991. Rdio had many, but not all, the songs from the list and sadly it seemed to be the quirky one hit wonders that didn’t make it to the playlist. Still it’s a good playlist that gives one the sense of those exciting days of the 80s and early 90s, if one can excuse a little too much exuberance for artists such as The Smiths, Depeche Mode, Erasure, U2 and Morrisey who seemed to have entire albums elected as Shrieks over the course of several weeks.
If you are on Rdio and have the time and energy to populate the rest of the list, have at it. I may go back and fill in the earlier days of the 1980s. I feel it may be too sad to go forward in the 1990s and watch the musical erosion, especially when you get to the third week of June 1994 when alternative music officially jumped the shark.
Oh, and apparently WLIR lives on as an internet station with some of the original DJs.