Crap From the Past turns 20 tonight on KFAI

By John Ervin

The long-standing KFAI-FM radio show Crap From the Past marks its 20th anniversary tonight from 10:30 p.m. to midnight.

If you're wondering, what's Crap From the Past? It's a weekly musical exhibition curated by Ron "Boogiemonster" Gerber. He dubs it "a graduate level course in pop."

Since 1992, Crap From the Past (CFTP) has enlightened rock PhD's with deep cuts, demos, obscurities, and just plain weird stuff from the '70s and '80s. Occasional dips into the first two and last two decades of pop. Some bands and artists are complete unknowns, some are legends identified by one or more hits, but the hits aren't what you're going to hear -- at least, not the versions you know.

The original demo of Blue Oyster Cult's "Don't Fear the Reaper" without the cowbell? Ron's played it. The wretched 1982 version of Whitesnake's 1987 hit "Here I Go Again" without Tawny Kitaen? Check. The first release of Huey Lewis and the News' "Heart and Soul" without Huey Lewis and the News? Check, please.

Exile's original "Heart and Soul" was part of a CFTP episode entitled "Gosh! I didn't know that was a remake!" This is one of many themes that Gerber, whose giddy on-air persona evokes the animated sitcom audio clips he weaves between songs. Others include "Not The Beatles," "Woefully Inappropriate Love Songs," and "Badly mixed sister from outer space is simply gonna step on you again." To find out what these and other titles mean, you can stream every episode from the past 20 years on the archive page of the CFTP website.

The show's title should not be a mystery even to those tuning in for the first time, because this meister happily spins everything from the brilliant to the bilious. Gerber says: "The criterion I use on whether I like something or not is, am I gonna want to listen to this record in five years? 80 percent of pop music is garbage, 10 percent is wonderful and 10 percent is so bad I have to use it!"

Though many of Ron's godawful selections -- including "The Godawful Medley of the Week," one of several semi-regular features of the show -- have been challenging, none has surpassed the horror of "Dear Mr Jesus" by Christian band PowerSource. Says Ron: "It's so repulsive in that it takes the point of view of an abused child singing to Jesus asking to save our children. Funny thing is, when it came in 1986, it got a ton of airplay around Christmas!"

As for this Friday's unofficial holiday, Gerber is not revealing what he has spent over 120 hours editing -- except that "if you were listening to pop radio from '82 to '92, this will be near and dear to you." Rest assured it will be a staggering display of the sublime and the sickening. Let's just hope he doesn't give us another taste of "Dear Mr. Jesus."

Tune in tonight to KFAI-FM 90.3 Minneapolis/106.7 St. Paul at 10:30 pm.

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