Anthony Bourdain comes to KCRW for Guest DJ Project
He's raw, unflinchingly honest and hopelessly candid, and because of those qualities, it's almost impossible to dislike Anthony Bourdain, the host of the Travel Channel's "No Reservations." While most food celebrities offer sanitized happy-go-lucky caricatures, Bourdain is the archetypal cool older brother who turned you onto smoking cigarettes, good food and the occasional harder substance.
After all, it's tough to have a problem with someone whose bio describes him as an "author, world traveler, insane eater and a punk rock aficionado. He was attracted to sinister and angry music at an early age, but it was when he discovered The Stooges that his 'downward spiral' began."
With a new book, "Medium Raw," to promote, Bourdain trekked down to KCRW's Santa Monica studios to participate in the station's Guest DJ Project, a series that has included Tyler Perry, Nick Hornby and Jake Gyllenhaal. Befitting his punk roots, Bourdain stepped to the turntables with five gems, plus some sharp descriptions that reveal that he'd have a career in music journalism waiting if he ever decides that he's eaten one raw seal eyeball too many.
Here's just a few examples of the knowledge dropped:
On ? and the Mysterians' "96 Tears":
"Even at age 10, I responded right away to that. Cheesy, evil, roller-rink organ…it laid out for me the possibility for darkness in an otherwise happy landscape of AM radio pop music. This was a very sinister-looking band -- Question Mark had sort of a Ramone-like bowl haircut and wraparound shades. It's essentially a very angry song about revenge."
On Curtis Mayfield's "Pusherman":
This just tapped into everything -- my new aspirations for materialism, my love for early blaxploitation pictures; this just fit in with my young man's dreams of success. It was sort of a pro-drug movie, I mean the hero was a cocaine dealer, but the soundtrack and lyrics are actually very anti-drug and moralistic. Just the same, it was the early '70s, and I was still of the mind that, you know, cocaine was a good idea. [laughs] I had yet to learn."
On The Stooges' "Down on the Street":
"It really said something about a person if you showed up with a Stooges album. You turned your back on Eric Clapton, you were over Hendrix, you were over everything you were listening to before. You were in a different, slightly dangerous and untrustworthy place. Stooges fans were not the cream of society, and I identified with that closely right away. I responded very powerfully to this record. It was, for me, the antidote to everything that was going on around me. To me, it made The Doors look like self-indulgent hippies. This was the real thing."
An MP3 of the full program and Bourdain's thoughts on The Dead Boys' "Sonic Reducer" and Richard Hell and the Voidoids' "Loves Comes in Spurts" can be found on KCRW's website.
Photo: Anthony Bourdain; Credit: Anthonybourdain.net