KFJC 89.7 FM – Blowing Minds Since 1959 – 2LP – 2009

Located in Los Altos, CA at Foothill College, KFJC 89.7 has been providing the Bay Area with a true alternative listening experience on the airwaves since 1959.  2009 marked the 50 year anniversary of KFJC’s existence, and this compilation commemorates the occasion with an eclectic collection of live recordings.  All of the tracks were recorded at various music venues in the Bay Area including the Stork Club in Oakland, the Great American Music Hall & the Old Waldorf in San Francisco, and the “Pit” located at the station itself, amongst others.

The first record, cleverly starting on the “K” side (for the K in KFJC), features some heavyweights such as Iggy Pop and Richard Hell & The Voidoids, but also spotlights some Bay Area talent like The Brian Jonestown Massacre. They perform “Hyperventilation”, which happens to be the longest track on their debut album, “Methodrone”, clocking in at just under 10 minutes. Spazz provide the shortest track on the album with the frantic thirty five second “4x A Day”. The “F” side features Japanese noise-rockers Melt-Banana, UK punk rockers, 999, and ends with some SoCal punk via TSOL.

The second record ventures a little more into the experimental, which is more up my alley. Cabaret Voltaire kick things off on the “J” side with “F16”, reminiscent of Throbbing Gristle w/reverberated and delayed vocals over uneasy sounding synths and a mechanical drum machine loop. Pylon play “Danger”, one of my favorite tracks off of their debut album “Gyrate”. Wesley Willis’ quirky schitzo-stylings end out side “J”. The last side, side “C”, is the standout for me.  Z’EV and saxophonist Stevie MacKay perform an improvisational free jazz track that builds slowly and leaves you lost. It then fades into Windy & Carl “Live at the Stork Club”, which is pure mind-numbing ambient space-rock bliss. Krautrockers, Cluster end the album gently with a quieter, thinner ambient piece.

To me, KFJC embodies what a college radio station should be – non-commercial radio featuring music that normally wouldn’t be heard anywhere else on the airwaves.  KFJC sheds light to the lesser-known and left of center and they play true “alternative” music.  This double album does just that and by including unreleased live versions of songs it makes Blowing Minds Since 1959 a unique, collectible compilation. This record is long out of print at this point, but anything can be found online, right? We salute KFJC and here’s to another 50 mind blowing years!

MB – 2017