Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Who Listens to the Radio? (An Occasional Series)

So I'm gonna be on friend of PowerPop Capt. Al's intertube show Lost at Sea today at Area 24 Radio...

...starting at 12pm EST.

And you can listen to it by clicking on the link HERE and then clicking on the Tune In button.

I should add that -- depending on how shy he is -- we may or may not be joined by another friend of PowerPop, constant reader Mark...

...and in any case, it's going to be a sort of theme show.

And here's the musical clue to the theme. (Capt. Al is in the dark as well). See if you can guess what it is!

Anyway, it could be a hot one -- join us, won't you?

P.S.: I'll be watching my e-mail -- ssimels@gmail.com -- during the show, so if you want to make comments/requests/death threats we'll acknowledge them on air.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Electrical Banana

From 1967, and the wonderful (but not released until 1969) Elephant Mountain album by The Youngbloods, please enjoy the fabulous (and surprisingly classically influenced instrumental) "On Sir Francis Drake."

I bring this up because a) I was a huge fan of the original incarnation of those guys, but more specifically because b) as attentive readers will recall, I attended a show by Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul last week and you could have knocked me over with a feather to learn that the white-haired second keyboardist in the the band was none other than the above song's composer/performer, the wonderful Lowell Levinger. AKA Banana.

Who's the guy in the loud jacket center in this vintage photo of the Youngbloods.

BTW, Levinger, who turns out to be a really nice cool guy (I'll spare you that story) has a terrific new website which you can and should access over HERE.

And let me just say, and for the record, that Little Steven obviously has really good taste in sidemen.

Friday, November 08, 2019

It's a Helluva Town

From 1987, please enjoy the irrepressible Peter Wolf as he hops his way into your heart with "Come as You Are."

I bring this up because a certain Shady Dame and I were in Manhattan Wednesday night to see Little Steven and the current incarnation of his Disciples of Soul at the Beacon Theater, and Wolf opened, which was an unexpected and delightful surprise. Let's just say he's as skinny, energetic and funny as ever, and by comparison Little Steven was a a tad pedestrian.

In any case, it was a memorable evening for other reasons. To begin with, during the intermission, the guy sitting across the aisle from us came over to say hello. Turned out he's a long time reader, and he had introduced himself to me at the Sweethearts of the Rodeo/Mcguinn/Hillman/Marty Stuart show earlier this year. Small world, and all that.

Hi, Roger!!!

Anyway, after about five Little Steven songs, the Shady Dame and I decided we'd seen enough, and we went outside and hailed a cab. At which point a wiry guy who looked familiar also hailed the same cab. And it was none other than all around great musician/friend of this here blog Willie Nile, who I've been a fan of since forever. We said hello and, naturally, told him to take the cab.

But the best was yet to come. The cab we finally got took us through Central Park and then turned down Fifth Avenue. We were stopped at a light in front of The Pierre Hotel, and we saw a stooped old man with a shock of white hair, leaning on two canes, being helped into a limo.

Who was this aged little troll?

Henry Fucking Kissinger.

In the immortal words of Cindy Adams -- only in NY, kids, only in NY.

P.S. And speaking of Willie Nile, I would be seriously remiss if I didn't take notice of this milestone.

River House Record is very proud to announce Beautiful Wreck Of The World 20th Anniversary Edition to be released November 22nd. Pre-Order: https://lnk.to/zx0jj8ID. It will be remastered and include a never before heard demo called "Help Me Say I Love You". The album holds a pivotal place in the Nile canon for a number of reasons. It was the first studio album released on his own label River House Records. It kicked off his second comeback and he has never looked back. Since “going indie” and taking the reigns to release albums to the public on his own terms it has allowed Nile to amass an unparalleled body of work one masterpiece after another and he shows no signs of slowing down. As No Depression said years later “Willie Nile's artistic renaissance continues unabated.” At the end of the day it’s about the songs and Beautiful Wreck has them in spades! You Gotta Be A Buddha (In A Place Like This), Black Magic And White Lies, Bread Alone, Every Time The World Turns Around, History 101, The Man Who Used To Be, Beautiful Wreck Of The World, Brain Damage, The Black Parade, Oatmeal Box, Somewhere It's Raining, On The Road To Calvary (for Jeff Buckley), Tiorunda Surprise. It was chosen as one of the Top Ten Albums of the Year by numerous publications including Billboard Magazine and The Village Voice! Lucinda Williams called "On the Road to Calvary," Nile's song for Jeff Buckley, "One of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard." Beautiful Wreck Of The World is back fully in all its remastered sonic glory on November 22nd. Pre-Order Today!

Damn, I love that song (which is the leadoff track, BTW). And yes -- pre-order the album at the link. Like immediately.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Lifestyles of the Vapid and Creepy

[I originally posted this back in 2008 at the website of Box Office Magazine, where I happily toiled for two years. I'm posting it here, despite the fact that it has absolutely nothing to do with the music that is the raison d'etre of this here blog, because the Box Office archive site is kind of a pain in the ass to access, and I just love this enough to want it more readily accessible. Regular posting resumes on the morrow. -- S.S.]

My final thoughts on the Sex and the City movie: It's longer than Parsifal and with fewer laughs.

Okay, not really, but in all seriousness, about halfway through the thing it finally dawned on me exactly what has always bothered me about the whole SATC phenomenon. The movie itself, of course, is just a garden variety shoddily made romantic comedy. I mean, forget the fact that Sara Jessica Parker looks like she was lit by Stevie Wonder, or that the men are all unlikeable weenies, or that the funniest joke in the whole interminable two hours twenty two minutes is about diarrhea, or that what little sex is actually on screen is utterly joyless. What you're left with is still no better or no worse than another recent by the numbers flick like, say, What Happens in Vegas.

No, the real problem is that the film (and, looking back, the show) is, essentially an obnoxious 80s Reagan Era yuppie consumerist glitz fantasy run amok, and then dropped down, inappropriately, into the 21st century, where it pretends (against reason) to be hep and now and cutting edge.

In other words, Carrie and her designer shoe and Cosmo obsessed pals are essentially the pathetic, slightly over the hill trendoids of Absolutely Fabulous. Only without that show's knowing irony.

Or to put it somewhat unkindly, the fact is that these women....

...want to be these people...

...whereas they're actually...

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Vocals By a Nasal Lead Singer Say So Much

From 1982, please enjoy Little Steven and (the original incarnation) of The Disciples of Soul and a killer live version of (the greatest song in open G-tuning that has never been played by Keith Richards) "Under the Gun."

And yes, in case you were wondering that's the great Dino Danelli of Rascals fame on the weird drum kit.

I bring all this up because I'm going to see the current version of these guys tonight at the Beacon, which is sort of a bucket list thing for me.

In the immortal words of SCTV's Edith Prickley -- could be a hot one!

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Common My Ass. These Guys Are Totally UNCommon!

So as some of you may recall, back in 2018, I was at the Keuka Kafe, my local watering hole down the street (Queens Boulevard, or what the locals call Le Boulevard de la Mort) from a certain Shady Dame's home in Forest Hills. BTW, if you're ever in the neighborhood stop by, say hi, and order something refreshing from their spectacular wine list.

In any event, here's the short version of the story as I posted it at the time.

So the other week there was a sort of youngish hipster guy at the bar. I engage in this perhaps unfair cultural stereotyping because there were few such folks in the neighborhood when we moved in four years ago, but their numbers are increasing, and this usually presages the opening of better restaurants, which would be a good thing. I gleaned from his overheard conversation that he was in Forest Hills killing time because a connecting flight (from La Guardia to Bumfuck Somewhere) had been cancelled and a Google search turned up the fact that the Keuka Kafe might be an agreeable place to wile away several hours while waiting for the next plane out.

We got to talking; I asked him whether he was traveling for business or pleasure, and he let it drop that he was a rock musician in the midst of a brief tour. I allowed how isn't stardom wonderful, and eventually, after I got over my surprise at the encounter I asked him if I had heard of his band.

I hadn't, but I have now. Ladies and germs, let's give it up for my new pal Clinton Clegg, lead singer of the fabulous Pittsburgh-based neo-soul revival band The Commonheart.

And to facilitate that giving it up, here are three performances they did over the weekend on the CBS morning show.

Jeebus, those guys are good. More important, can somebody please explain to me why with non-major label music this memorable available on your teevee, why is it that whoever books the acts on Saturday Night Live continues to foist the worst crap imaginable on us?

Oh well. Meanwhile you can find out more about Clinton and the band over at their website HERE, including a way to order their fabulous new CD Pressure.

Monday, November 04, 2019

Time is Money, Dave!

Circa 1978-9, the great Dave Edmunds tries to nail the vocal to the Rockpile recording of "Born Fighter" with a certain amusing lack of success.

And then when Nick Lowe and the rest of the band show up, it gets even cooler.

Seriously — this is one of the best rock promo documentaries ever, and I had no idea it existed until last week.

[h/t Matt Mitchell]

Friday, November 01, 2019

I Lost It At the Movies

Okay, this is pretty much the coolest thing ever.

The guest programmer on my favorite historic film channel tomorrow is...get ready...Bruce Springsteen.

Via Rolling Stone:

Bruce Springsteen will appear on Turner Classic Movies November 2nd to “guest program” the network by picking two of his favorite movies and discussing them with host Ben Mankiewicz. First up is the 1956 John Ford/John Wayne classic Western The Searchers. It will air at 3:30 pm EST. It will be followed by Elia Kazan’s 1957’s masterpiece A Face in the Crowd at 5:45 pm EST.

The interview segments were shot at Springsteen’s home studio in New Jersey... In the first one, Springsteen talks about how his songs are similar to movies. “I write in character,” he says. “And to write like that you need to gather so much cinematic detail, constantly filling the songs with images, images, images, geography, little character traits, things very similar to script writing, really.”

In the second one, he explains how the 1973 Terrence Malick movie Badlands and the 1955 thriller The Night of the Hunter influenced his songwriting on Nebraska. “The thing they have in common is they’re both twisted fairytales,” he says. “Even the score in Badlands had, I believe, glockenspiel — was very fairytale-ish. I took that sound picture and made a record to of it.”

And, needless to say, picking A Face in the Crowd is totally relevant to our current historical moment. I mean, wouldn't it be fabulous if President Mediocre Columbo Villain had his own personal Lonesome Rhodes moment before Bruce's TCM segment?

Hey -- a boy can dream.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

In honor of Halloween, please enjoy the criminally underrated Gwil Owen...

...and his fabulous ode to the proverbial "Haunted House."

I first encountered Owen when he was the lead singer (circa 1988) of alt-rockers The Thieves, who made an absolutely sensational album -- Seduced by Money -- that was produced by none other than Marshall Crenshaw. If you can find a copy, grab it immediately; it's a classic. The song above, if I recall, was from the follow up album Phoenix, which I believe Gwil self-released.

In any case, I lost track of the guy over the years, but I rediscovered him in 2017, and he's done really well for himself since the Thieves, including an Oscar nomination for a song he wrote for the soundtrack of The Horse Whisperer.

You can find out more about him over HERE.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Ever Since the World Ended

Mose Allison -- the greatest hepster songwriter/piano player of all time -- is finally getting a tribute album.

Hey world -- what took you so long?

Here are two cuts from the CD, which drops, as the kids say, on Nov. 29 on Fat Possum Records.

And here's the complete track listing.

1. Taj Mahal - Your Mind Is On Vacation

2. Robbie Fulks - My Brain

3. Jackson Browne - If You Live

4. The Tippo Allstars featuring Fiona Apple - Your Molecular Structure

5. Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite - Nightclub

6. Chrissie Hynde - Stop This World

7. Iggy Pop - If You're Going to the City

8. Bonnie Raitt - Everybody's Crying Mercy

9. Loudon Wainwright III - Ever Since the World Ended

10. Richard Thompson - Parchman Farm

11. Peter Case - I Don't Worry About A Thing

12. Dave Alvin and Phil Alvin - Wild Man On the Loose

13. Anything Mose! - The Way of the World

14. Frank Black - Numbers On Paper

15. Amy Allison with Elvis Costello - Monsters of the Id

I was lucky enough to see Mose, who passed away in 2016 at the ripe old age of 89, at some hole in the wall jazz club in Greenwich Village sometime in the early 80s; the word that most comes to mind to describe the man and the music he made that night is "droll."

In any event, I am planning to enjoy the hell out of this CD when it arrives.