Friday, July 20, 2018

(A Tale of) Four Cities Confidential: A Photo Essay

Herewith, selected highlights of our whirlwind sojourn in the British Isles and France. To paraphrase Paul Simon, it's all a blur to me now, so it's a good thing I had the foresight to take a bunch of pictures.

Incidentally, the following photos are best viewed by clicking on them to increase their size. Thank you.

Anyway, after a long flight, we arrived, somewhat exhausted, in the ancestral home of the Fab Four and had this as our introduction to Liverpool -- as seen in the lobby of our hotel. He seemed like a nice young man, but the high heels struck us as a tad odd.

Turns out there was a good reason for the shoes, and kudos to receptionist Chris!

On the Liverpool docks, and yes -- that cat sculpture is made from discarded styrofoam coffee cups.

Incidentally, as you can see from these two street signs....

...although Liverpudlians nominally speak English, it's obviously not the same version that we Yanks do.

In any case, we found Liverpool utterly charming, but after two days of soaking up the atmosphere it was off to Oxford and the Pitt-Rivers Museum (of art and archaeology), where we encountered a stuffed stork that seems to have been art-directed by Chuck Jones and Friz Freling.

This sign, which made me laugh out loud, was glimpsed outside a seafood store at Oxford's famed Covered Market.

Later, we went in search of the Inspector Morse tv series, and found a charming pub that had been used as a location in the show. Imagine our surprise, then...

...when the bartender turned out to be Manuel, from Fawlty Towers.

Meanwhile, over at another museum -- the charmingly monikered Ashmolean -- we discovered this outfit. Which is NOT a costume from a movie...

...but is, in fact, something once worn by the actual Lawrence of Arabia.


While walking down the street nearby our hotel, we chanced across this darling little hat store...

...where BG tried on this remarkable hat.

Which, although tempted, we did not buy.

Then we took in a James Bond exhibit at the London Film Museum.

Jet packs! We were promised jet packs!

Hmm...this car looks strangely familiar.

And we found this in the museum gift shop.

Obviously, we had to buy one, and it now graces the entrance to BG's apartment in the Q-Boro.

Q-Boro. Seems appropriate, now that I think of it.

Later, after a splendid meal in the West End, we attended a performance of the hilarious farce The Play That Goes Wrong.

It was screamingly funny, but this really pissed us off.

I mean -- do you know how much those tickets cost???!!!!

The next day, still annoyed but at least well-rested, we spent several hours at the National Portrait Gallery, which has many treasures well worth the trip. For example, The Dream of Saint Helena, by Paolo Veronese (1570).

Or as it's better known -- Stop Sufferin, Take Bufferin.

Another stop you in your tracks moment was provided by this masterpiece from 1620. Say what you will about the unknown Flemish artist who painted it, but he was really showing off.

I was also much taken with Philosophy, by Salvator Rosa, circa 1645.

The Latin inscription held by the figure in the painting (widely assumed to be the artist himself) translates as "If you don't have anything interesting to say, then keep your freaking mouth shut." Seriously.

And what can I say about this amazing self-portrait by √Člisabeth Vig√©e Le Brun, from 1742...

...except -- wotta dish.

But my favorite, hands down, is this fabulous family portrait by William Hogarth.

I must admit, I did not know that Hogarth had done anything but black-and-white caricatures. But I was even more surprised when I looked carefully at the top right portion of the painting...

...and discovered that somehow it featured The Incomparable Eddie©!

The next day, it was off to Paris -- where we've been so many times now that it seems like a second home -- by the Chunnel Train...

...where we decamped at our beloved Duquesne Eiffel hotel.

With this view out of our room window. (It's less impressive than it looks -- as they say in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, it's only a model.)

BTW, for some reason, the Frenchies seem to like this sparkling lemon beverage...

...but I thought it tasted like Pschitt.

Okay, posting all these photos has been exhausting.

Have a great weekend, everybody! See you on Monday with more traditional power pop related stuff!!!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Closed for Monkey Business

The weather is kicking my ass.

Regular, hopefully cooler, posting resumes on the morrow.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

What Year is This Anyway?

Went to see the Foo Fighters at Madison Square Garden last night. I found it...a confusing experience.

For starters, opening act The Struts...

...seemed to be channeling the first Queen tour from 1974. (Later in the evening, BTW, the Struts' singer joined the Foos onstage for a spirited rendition of "Under Pressure.")

All well and good, but I drew the line at the usually estimable Taylor Hawkins' lengthy drum solo, which reminded of nothing so much as this.

Dave Grohl's truncated version of Billy Joel's "You May Be Right" also left me scratching my head.

I dunno -- I've been referring to Grohl and company as the Keepers of the Flame for a while now, but last night's show was a little too retro even for me.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

A Rolling Stone Gathers No Whatever: An Occasional Series (Special Ladies Day Edition)

And from that same week (on the Jimmy Fallon show) in 2012 that those Keith Urban and Green Day clips were from, please enjoy the lovely and talented Sheryl Crow and an interestingly sung version of The Rolling Stones' classic "All Down the Line."

Further research has uncovered the fact that Phish also performed on the show that week, but don't worry -- I'm not gonna inflict THAT on you,

Monday, July 16, 2018

A Rolling Stone Gathers No Whatever: An Occasional Series

When I posted that Keith Urban clip -- him covering "Tumblin' Dice" -- the other day, I didn't know that it was part of a week-long Jimmy Fallon tribute to The Rolling Stones' Exile on Main Street.

So from 2012, please behold in breathless wonder Green Day as they blowtorch their way through one of the greatest rock 'n' roll songs ever written.

Okay, it doesn't swing like the Stones' version -- absent Charlie Watts on drums, how could it? -- but it's fricking amazing anyway.

[h/t Jonathan F. King]

Friday, July 13, 2018

It's Slacker Friday

Courtesy of the great Albert Brooks, please enjoy the usually censored version of Ravel's Bolero.

That's from the greatest comedy album of all time, BTW.

And one of these weeks, I'm gonna post five other things from it, just to prove my point.

Meanwhile, regular postings, beginning with a hilarious photo essay on my recent sojourn across the pond, resume on Monday.

Have a terrific weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Work is the Curse of the Drinking Class

A very nice piece on the making of The Replacements Don't Tell a Soul -- and, more specifically, the recording of "I'll Be You," which may be one of my top five favorite rock songs ever -- in the current issue of Mix.

We talk a lot about “paying your dues” in the music business. Producer/engineer Matt Wallace paid his back in 1988 when he produced The Replacements’ raw, charming and clever album Don’t Tell a Soul. “I was basically hazed for most of that record,” he says.

Wallace had relocated to Los Angeles from San Francisco in January of that year. “I was hitting a wall in the Bay Area,” he says. “I kept making demos for bands that would get signed, but ultimately I couldn’t get hired because I wasn’t a big enough fish in the pond.”

Wallace signed on as a staff A&R rep/producer for the Slash indie label, where one of his early claims to fame was producing a song by the so-called New Monkees.

“Warner Brothers was working on a Monkees reboot,” Wallace explains. “They had four guys who were ready for TV and a bunch of writers. Obviously, it never really broke through, but I got to know the people at Warners. Then I heard The Replacements were making a record, and I started calling and saying, ‘Hey, I’m a fan and am interested in working with this band.’ But they were like, ‘Well, Tony Berg’s doing the record, sorry.’”

You can read the rest of it HERE.

Consumer alert: I'm a huge fan of the Replacements, and if you're reading this here blog presumably you are too, but be warned: after reading that piece, I sort of concluded that they're not particularly nice guys. Let's just say that if I had been Matt Wallace, I would have come away from his experience with the band thinking they were very large, unpleasant assholes.

On the other hand, they made the above record, which is such a magnificent work of art that I guess pretty much anything can be forgiven. Hell, given "Be My Baby," I've forgiven Phil Spector, and he actually killed somebody.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

A Rolling Stone Gathers No Whatever

From 2013 -- and speaking of cover versions of songs by Mick and Keith, as we were talking about last Friday -- please enjoy Nicole Kidman's beard fabulous Australian country-rocker Keith Urban and a live take on the Stones' "Tumblin' Dice" that essentially, totally, kicks ass.

Jeebus, the motherfucker actually takes the guitar solo and nails it.

I mean, wow.

[h/t mainuh]

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Closed for Monkey Business: Special Don't Fear the Reaper Edition

Courtesy of my new Facebook pal, Tim Page (former music critic extraordinaire of the New York Times, and the author of TIM PAGE ON MUSIC, which I plan to devour over the weekend), here's a parody from the old National Lampoon that I have been looking for since forever.

The subtext, of course, is that I had a rough day yesterday.

Fear not, however -- regular, well groomed and peppy, postings resume on the morrow.

Monday, July 09, 2018

Going Down to Liverpool...

So as you may have heard, a certain Shady Dame and I were in Liverpool recently. And we were fortunate enough to take this particular Beatles tour...

...hosted by our guide, the incomparable Ian Doyle.

Incidentally, we took the three hour Rickenbacker tour, which I lurved, for obvious reasons.

In any case, Ian really knows his stuff, and if you take the tour -- which I highly, HIGHLY recommend -- there's at least one mind-boggling moment which I will not give away, but which I guarantee that not even the most fanatical and well-informed Beatlemaniac will be prepared for.

I should also add that Ian's psychedelically decorated cab can be glimpsed... the James Corden "Carpool Karaoke" segment of The Late Late Show, which is the most fabulous 23 minutes of television IN HISTORY.

I should also add that Sir Paul autographed the Penny Lane sign that can be glimpsed here...

...approximately a week before the aforementioned Shady Dame and I, taking Ian's Beatles tour, got to see it in person.

In the meantime, if you're planning on vacationing in the British Isles any time soon, I will once again recommend Ian's Beatles tour, which can, and should, be booked over at And tell 'em PowerPop sent you.