Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving From WKRP in Cincinnati

Because this never, ever gets old.

My favorite line: "It was almost as if they were...organized."

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Image of the Day: Fort Knox Rocks!

From 1968: Please behold in breathless wonder The Trends, an all-gal Louisville band that -- in the words of drummer and pal of mine Alanna Nash -- "broke out" only as far as Fort Knox."

Alanna has written for just about every media outlet on the planet, beginning with the Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Review (in point of fact, I think she got her byline in said rag even before I did). Later, we toiled together for Entertainment Weekly.

Alanna also wrote the Jessica Savitch biography that became the basis, however loosely, for the 1996 Robert Redford/Michelle Pfeiffer vehical Up Close and Personal.

I would also like to say, and for the record, that my favorite thing about this photo -- apart from the obvious -- is that Alanna, ever the rebel, declined to wear the admittedly very cool striped jackets that the rest of the band sported.

In any case: Eat your heart out, Go-Gos. Bite me, Bangles.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Image of the Day: I Don't Need No Doctor

And speaking as we were last week of the great Patti Smith -- a certain Shady Dame and I have been binge-watching The Killing, the extremely grim forensic crime series based on, apparently, an even grimmer Danish original.

And in episode one of the final fourth season -- what to our wondering eyes should appear the other day but said Patti Smith emergency room surgeon(?!).

It was barely one step above a cameo, but Patti was nevertheless a total natural; I'm surprised she hasn't done more acting.In any case, Patti and the divine Joan Allen in the same episode -- it doesn't get any better than that.

The series, of course, is on Netflix, and I recommend it (with reservations). The Danish original -- charmingly monikered Forbrydelsen (which apparently translates as Wolf Who Stands in Grape Juice) is available on DVD over at Amazon, but only on European format discs.

Okay, I made up that bit about the title translation.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Image of the Day: Oh, the Felinity!

Please, everyone -- share this picture to raise awareness of the plight of cats trapped in a folk music environment.

[This was originally posted on the Facebook page of Janis Ian, of all people. Heh. -- S.S.]

Friday, November 21, 2014

Mike Nichols 1931 -- 2014

In the pre-Beatles era, these guys were my rock stars.

Seriously -- I memorized every single word of that album. I can still probably do huge chunks of it, if pressed.

A true story (all dialogue guaranteed verbatim):

In December of 1975, I was invited -- along with the rest of the New York rock press -- to a screening at the Ziegfeld Theater of Stanley Kubrick's new film Barry Lyndon (the reason being, of course, that there was a concurrent soundtrack LP featuring music by The Chieftains). For whatever reason, I was in no mood to run into anybody I knew that night, and so I deliberately sat myself as far back in the vastness of the Ziegfeld as possible, i.e. there was nobody within thirty or forty rows of me.

Until just a few minutes before the lights dimmed, when -- you guessed it -- Mike Nichols (and a young blonde woman who I now realize must have been Diane Sawyer) -- sat down in my row a couple of seats to my right.

I was kind of jazzed by this, but more to the point, there was a rumor around in those days (the truth of which I have no idea) that Nichols suffered from some weird illness that rendered him completely hairless, and that any hair on his head, including the eyebrows, was artificial. So, unobtrusively as possible, I kept shooting glances his way, and eventually I guessed he noticed.

The following conversation ensued.

NICHOLS: That hot dog you're eating looks very good.

ME: It is.

NICHOLS: Where did you get it?

ME: At the snack bar.

NICHOLS: Where's that?

ME (pointing): Down those stairs and to your right.

NICHOLS: Thanks.

Okay -- how's THAT for an encounter with greatness?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Silly Love Songs R Us: Part Deux

So as I said on Tuesday, I shnorred a copy of the new McCartney tribute album.

And as I said at the time, like most tribute albums, it's wildly uneven, existing on a scale somewhere between complete crap, meh, what were they thinking?, alright but what's the point?, and okay, that's actually pretty good.

Here are two kind of cool examples -- you can rate them for yourselves.

Dion essaying "Drive My Car" (and brilliantly, in my humble opinion)...

...nd the godlike Toots Hibbert (with Sly and Robbie) doing to Badfinger's "Come and Get It" what always deserved to be done to "Come and Get It"...

Like I said, some of this is actually pretty good.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Closed for Monkey Business

Taking a day off to work on my forthcoming true crime book/memoir -- "Unusual Matricides."

Regular, less homicidal, posting resumes tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Silly Love Songs R Us

Just shnorred a copy of the new Paul McCartney tribute album.

Like most tribute albums, it's wildly uneven, existing on a scale somewhere between complete crap, meh, what were they thinking?, alright but what's the point?, and okay, that's actually pretty good.

Haven't had a chance to really digest the whole thing, but at this point here are my two faves.

1. Bob Dylan -- Things We Said Today

2. Jeff Lynne -- Junk

The Dylan cover, obviously, is pro forma except for the fact that Bob sings it in his current raspy death rattle voice; I can understand why some people might have a problem with that, but I find it weirdly compelling.

The Lynne track, however, is just exquisite; "Junk" is one of Macca's most beautiful (and inexplicably underrated tunes) and I think this version does it total justice.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Il Papa's Got a Brand New Bag

From Rolling Stone:

Patti Smith will be among the performers at the Concerto di Natale, the Vatican's annual Christmas concert held in Rome since 1993, next month, according to The Independent. The concert will take place at Auditorium Conciliazione, a venue located about a 15-minute walk from the heart of Vatican City, on December 13th. The Italian-language newspaper Il Corriere della Sera suggests that Pope Francis invited Smith, according to International Business Times. The program – which will also feature DJ Bob Sinclar and the singing nun who won this year's edition of The Voice of Italy, Sister Cristina Scuccia – will be broadcast on Christmas Eve in the country.

Smith...met the Pope last year in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican. She described the pontiff as being "very interesting" at the time and said she "liked him a lot," according to Huffington Post (via CathNews USA)...Smith explained her relationship with Christianity in the context of her song "Mercy Is," which appeared in Darren Aronofsky's film Noah earlier this year. "I have a very strong biblical background," she said. "I studied the bible quite a bit when I was young and continue to study it, independent of any religion, but I still study it."

[Note photographic evidence that I am One Degree of Separation from Pope Francis. How fricking cool is that? -- S.S.]
Words fail me. That's Patti Smith, as in the Patti Smith whose first line in the first song on her first album is "Jesus died for somebody's sins, but not mine."

In any case, quite by coincidence, I'm actually gonna see Patti discuss "Mercy Is" at a screening of Noah at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria tonight. I'll probably be too nervous to ask her a question about anything, but I'll keep you posted.

I should add that I'm liking this pope more and more these days.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Weekend Listomania's Greatest Hits: Special Guided By Voices Edition

[This is one of the very first Weekend Listomanias ever; I originally posted it in early 2007, which as you know is several centuries ago in dog years. As is my wont, I have done some re-writing, substituted some different video clips, and added an extra entry, all mostly to keep you from thinking that I have grown indolent and lazy suckling on the government teat of Medicare and Social Security. -- S.S.]

Okay, kids here's a fun project for you all to contemplate:

Best a cappella Pop/Rock Song (either totally a cappella, or with a cool a cappella section of whatever length!!!)

And I don't just mean doo-wop. Group harmony is group harmony, okay?

That said, here's my totally top of my head top eight:

8 Steeleye Span -- Gaudete

I don't know what's more amazing -- the Spans stunning medeival harmonies on this or the fact that at the time it was recorded, the band were actually pop stars in England with hit records on the charts.

7. Petra Haden -- I Can See For Miles

The Who's power pop classic done solely with mouths turned to eleven. Utterly mind-boggling.

6. Fairport Convention -- Percy's Song

The acapella intro for this is one of my all time favorite things; amazingly enough, the performance gets even better as it goes along.

5. The Beatles -- Because

Of all the reasons to hate the Fabs, the fact that they were -- on top of all their other talents -- absolutely astoundingly good harmony singers may be the most plausible. This may or may not be from the Love mashup album, but I'm too lazy to check. Maybe it was on one of the Anthology sets. Whatever

4. Big Daddy -- Eye of the Tiger

The Survivor song recast as street-corner doo-wop, as it probably always deserved. The traffic noises at the top are a particularly droll touch.

3. Crosby Stills and Nash -- Find the Cost of Freedom

The a cappella at the end is pretty spine-tingling, I think. One of their better songs, although the a-side -- "Ohio" -- sent the same message somewhat more forcefully with loud guitars.

2. The Beach Boys -- Their Hearts Were Full of Spring

A straight cover of the Four Freshmen's original, but if it doesn't bring a tear to your eye, I probably don't want to know you. And this despite the immense dickitude of Mike Love.

And the number one all-time top acapella pop/rock madrigal is ----

1. Imogen Heap -- Hide and Seek

I first heard this in late 2006 when it was used in a montage at the end of an episode of the short-lived Ray Liotta TV crime show Smith, although I'm told it had also figured earlier on The O.C. In any case, I remember practically falling off the couch at the time and thinking it's the most bizarrely haunting thing I'd ever encountered. It's almost a whole new genre -- Android Doo-Wop, anybody?

Alrighty now -- what would your choices be?