March 11, 2013

NUCLEAR Platters ................... ....The Unofficial CONELRAD Sequel

When the folks at CONELRAD put together Atomic Platters collecting the songs from the early Cold War up to about 1965, I was already hankering for a sequel that went up through my childhood and high school years to the end of the Cold War. Atomic Platters includes over 100 novelty numbers, and radio spots, as well as serious religious and secular warnings about the end of the world. There was a kooky euphoria about the Bomb, at least for the few years the US was alone with it. Atomic war fell out of fashion in the early 70s, but came back in a darker way in punk and new wave. The tone of the music changed along with popular attitudes toward nuclear power, losing much of it's lightheartedness (but not all) after Three Mile Island, Reagan, and Chernobyl scared the Breznev out of people. My family evacuated when TMI started melting in 1979 and I grew up with the lingering feeling that a nuclear war was imminent. I wasn't alone.

Atomic Platters covers music of the "Golden Age" of the cold war, that is, before the kids who grew up with the Bomb started writing the music and driving the counterculture. Jeff Nuttall, in his 1968 book Bomb Culture, describes this shift in attitude and the "generation gap," which continued to widen and reach its musical crescendo in the 1980s as the Doomsday Clock ticked closer to Midnight.
What way we made in 1945 and in the following years depended largely on our age, for right at that point, at the point of the dropping of the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the generations became divided in a very crucial way. 
The people who had passed puberty at the time of the bomb found that they were incapable of conceiving of life without a future. Their patterns of habit had formed, the steady job, the pension, the mortgage, the insurance policy, personal savings, support and respect for the protection of the law, all the paraphernalia of constructive, secure family life. ...To look the danger in the eye might wreck the chances of that ultimate total security their deepest selves had contrived, death by H-bomb. 
The people who had not yet reached puberty at the time of the bomb were incapable of conceiving of life with a future. They might not have had any direct preoccupation with the bomb. This depended largely on their sophistication. But they never knew a sense of future. 
...Dad was a liar. He lied about the war and he lied about sex. He lied about the bomb and he lied about the future. He lived his life on an elaborate system of pretence that had been going on for hun­dreds of years. The so-called 'generation gap' started then and has been increasing ever since.
In Apocalypse Jukebox, David Janssen and Edward Whitelock mark Eve of Destruction as the song that
sucked out any sense of humor--or hope for that matter ... In twenty short years, the popular mood regarding the atom bomb had changed radically. By August 1965, Barry McGuire's song erased both God and hope from the atomic equation. The treatment of atomic power and nuclear weapons in American popular music would hereafter be characterized by mistrust, dread, and fatalism. 
The horrid zombie dancers in McGuire's Hullabaloo video (see below) alone could have inspired a torrent of punk violence. The songs that follow certainly have loads of that mistrust and dread. But many of them bring that old sense of humor back in a blacker, more subtle way. Or, like the Dickies, Eve of De-Ster-Uction, just spoof the whole god-awful mess.

My Nuclear Platters sequel is run through the Tapewrecks filter omitting a many of the big commercial hits and sappier protest songs (and a shitload of metal). The audio tracks included are some of my favorites, out of print, and bands from around my hometown downwind from Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania, and others that are rare, weird, or particularly stupid.

[TMI] denotes a song about or inspired by the Three Mile Island accident. [I've since found hundreds of TMI songs and documented them on Radioactive Releases.]

A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall / Talkin' World War III Blues - Bob Dylan (1963)
Fidel Castro - Skatalites (Jamaica 1964)
Eve of Destruction - Barry McGuire (1965)
Kill for Peace - The Fugs
The Russian Spy and I - The Regents (1966)
Commie Lies - Janet Greene 
That's the Bag I'm In - Fred Neil 
Monk Time - The Monks
I Come and Stand at Every Door - The Byrds
My Little Red Book / Mushroom Clouds - Love
7 and 7 Is - Love
Transparent Radiation - The Red Crayola (1967)
That's the Bag I'm In - The Fabs
War Sucks - The Red Crayola
Last Day on Earth - The Velvet Haze (1968)
Draft Morning - The Byrds
Running Gun Blues - David Bowie (1970)
Apeman - The Kinks
O Apocalipse - The Pop's (Brazil 1971)
Political Science - Randy Neuman (1972)
Search and Destroy - Iggy & the Stooges (1973)
Final Solution / 30 Seconds Over Tokyo / Search and Destroy - Rocket from the Tombs (1974)
Cyclotron - The Electric Eels (1975)
Geiger Counter / Radio-Activity - Kraftwerk
Final Solution / 30 Seconds Over Tokyo - Pere Ubu (1976)
Rocket U.S.A. - Suicide
Holidays in the Sun - Sex Pistols 
Chinese Radiation - Pere Ubu (1977)
Havana Affair/Commando - Ramones
Cold Wars - The Rezillos
Eve of Destruction - The Feelies
Contact in Red Square - Blondie 
Hiroshima Mon Amour - Ultravox
Flamethrower Love - The Dead Boys
Love and Peace (H-Bomb) - Eater
We Got the Neutron Bomb - The Weirdos (1978)
No Nuclear War - Peter Tosh
Bomb Scare - The H-Bombs
Armagideon Time - Willi Williams
Eve of Destruction - The Dickies
Your Love Is Like A Nuclear Waste - Tuff Darts
I Wanna Start a War - The Warm Jets (Philadelphia)
The Dead Dreams of a Cold War Kid - Hawklords
War Zone - The Dead Boys
Panic in the World - Be-Bop Deluxe
'A' Bomb in Wardour Street - The Jam
The A-Bomb Woke Me Up - The Swimming Pool Q's (1979)
I Found That Essence Rare - Gang of Four
Atomic - Blondie
Kill the Poor - Dead Kennedys 
Nuclear Device - The Stranglers
Yellowcake uf6 - The Stranglers
Secret Agent Man - Devo
Atom Age - Bill Nelson's Red Noise
Top Secret Man / Peace - Plastics (Japan)
Life During Wartime - Talking Heads
Save For the Sky - The Dead Milkmen
(Potter County Was Made By the Hand of God, But the Devil Made) Three Mile Island - Al Shade (Potter Co., PA)TMI
Three Mile Island - Joseph Aronesty TMI
Three Mile Island - The Tyme-Aires (Etters, PA)TMI
Radiation - Richie Gerber TMI
Three Mile Island - Fred Small TMI
Radiation Funk - Maxwell (PA)TMI
Face the Fire - Dan Fogelberg TMI
Three Mile Smile - Aerosmith TMI
Three Mile Island Blues - Alan Fox TMI
Goodbye T.M.I. - Gary Punch & the Outriders (York Co., PA)TMI
No More Nukes - Roger Matura & the Niss Puk Band (Germany)TMI
London Calling / Clampdown - The Clash TMI
Shut 'Em Down - Gil Scott Heron TMI
The Meltdown - Root Boy Slim & the Sex Change Band TMI
World War III - Root Boy Slim & the Sex Change Band (DC)
Atomic Love - The Late Teens (Carlisle, PA)TMI
Three Mile Island / Call to Arms - Arcade (central PA)TMI
Who Will Close Pandora's Box - Fred & the Jupiter Gypsies TMI
Critical Mass / System Failure - The Nuclear Regulatory Commission TMI
Three Mile Island - Jorge Santana TMI
TMI - Reesa & the Rooters (Philadelphia)TMI
Who's Gonna Win the War? b/w Nuclear Toy - Hawkwind TMI
Paranoid Chant / Joe MacArthy's Ghost - Minutemen 
Generals and Majors / Living Through Another Cuba - XTC
Man at C&A - The Specials
Stop the World - The Clash
Armagideon Time - The Clash
Nagasaki Nightmare - Crass 
Cold War - Devo
Ivan Meets GI Joe / Washington Bullets / Charlie Don't Surf - The Clash
Enola Gay - OMD
If the World is Coming to an End - The Dead Milkmen (1981)
She's a Bomb - The Dead Milkmen
A Minute Closer to Death - The Dead Milkmen
What Future? - The Proteens
Susquehanna Meltdown - Fly By Night TMI
Beautiful World - Devo
Los fusilitos - Los Torogoces de Morazan (El Salvador Libre)
Some Other Time - X
Radio Free Europe - REM
The Third World War / Nuclear Spy - S.I.B. (Italy)
World War 9 - Billy Synth (Harrisburg, PA)
Nuclear War - Sun Ra (1982)
European War - The Cleaners from Venus
Radioactive Kid - The Meteors
Sleeping Snakes - Translator
Der Kommissar - Falco
Straight To Hell / Atom Tan  - The Clash
Kill a Commie - Gang Green
Nuclear War - The Bodies (Lancaster PA)
Radioactive Chocolate - MDC (1983)TMI
Radioactive Baby - The Turn Ups (Harrisburg, PA)TMI
Deadly Skies - Husker Du
Dream Told By Moto - Minutemen
Radio Activity - Royal Cash
Central Nuclear - Vulpes
Before You Push the Button - Joe Jack Talcum (Philadelphia)
Nagasaki Neuter - Slickee Boys 
A Sense of Belonging - Television Personalities
Two Tribes - Frankie Goes to Hollywood 
You'll Never Know - Primitons
Dancing With Tears In My Eyes - Ultravox (1984)
Three Mile Island - Pinkard and Bowden TMI
This World Over - XTC
I Hope You Get Drafted - The Dicks
Hopeless - Briggs Beall (Lancaster, PA)
Doomsday - Discharge
Vietnam / West Germany / Untitled Song for Latin America - Minutemen
Eve of Destruction - Johnny Thunders
Hallowed Ground - The Violent Femmes
Kinky Sex Makes the World Go Round - Dead Kennedys
100 Million People Dead - Butthole Surfers
World War III - Grandmaster Melle Mel
Nucular Rat - Kenny Gross (Lancaster, PA)
Hammer to Fall - Queen
Headin' for Armageddon - Joey Welz (Lancaster, PA)
Two Minutes to Midnight - Iron Maiden
Uranium Rock - The Cramps
World Destruction - Time Zone
Caustic Future / Khadafy's No Worse Than Reagan - Combat Hamsters (Lancaster, PA 1985)
Reagan Blues - Hasil Adkins
Song No. 15 - Ornamental Wigwam (Philadelphia)
Party at Ground Zero - Fishbone
Violence Is Golden / Bells Are Ringing - The Real Gone (Lancaster, PA)
Right Wing Pigeons - The Dead Milkmen (Philadelphia)
The Viet Cong Live Next Door - The Left
Emergency - Nobody's Fools (Lancaster, PA)
Nuclear War / Radiation Sickness / Mr. Softee Theme - Nuclear Assault (1986)
Christmas at Ground Zero - Weird Al Yankovic
MAD - Tons of Nuns (Philadelphia)
Flamethrower Love - Kirk & the Jerks (Lancaster, PA)
Bombs Aren't Cool - Li'l Rodney C and KK Rockwell
The Future's So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades - Timbuk 3 
Atom Bomb Baby - The Scientists
How I Learned to Love the Bomb - Television Personalities
Binded World Radiation - Hellsent (Lancaster, PA)
It's the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine) - REM (1987)
Geiger Counter - The Legendary Stardust Cowboy (1989)
End of the World - The Original Sins
Sweathearts - Camper Van Beethoven

Atomic Power - Uncle Tupelo (1992)


Thanks to contributions from Tom Casetta, Ed Whitelock, Scott Lubic, Bryan Rutt, Mic Rage, Christian Dayton Osgood, and Rustle Noonetwisting

Tom Casetta's Listen Up! radio program on G-Town Radio. Tom's interview with Ed Whitelock is essential, as is Janssen and Whitelock's book, Apocalypse Jukebox: The End of the World in American Popular Music.

NUCLEAR WAR and Lancaster County - Tapewrecks
Radioactive Releases...The Music of Three Mile Island - Tapewrecks
Garage Hangover
Freedom Has No Bounds
Vinyl Meltdown on York, PA's Bona Fide Records
On Jeff Nuttall's Bomb Culture - The Generalist
In the 80's: Songs About Nuclear War
Bulletin of Atomic Scientists: Doomsday Clock timeline



  1. A fellow Pennsylvanian? That Lancaster County? Cool. Me...Pittsburgh, i. e. North Hills area. Boomer. May '46 to the present. Remembering well the Cold War era. Had a Nike radar site about a mile from our rural home and just SW of it, the Nike Missile silo, where ironically, my small suburban school district built a new high school years after we graduated in '64, the Nikes long since departed. Our Cub Scout Pack toured the radar and missile site in the mid '50s. Memories. BTW, no Zager & Evans "In the Year 2525" or "Exordium et Terminus"? I know they weren't doomsday per se but their composition was based on survival to a totally preplanned and mechanized and government controlled existence. Hopefully that nightmare never materializes. Not hopeful the way DC is devolving!

  2. What a fantastic collection! Thanks!