Friday, August 07, 2020

Hiroshima Mon Amour

Yesterday was the 75th anniversary of the first use of a nuclear weapon. I should have posted my 2019 cover of The Byrds' 1966 version of the deeply moving song about that horrific act, but given everything else that's going on at the moment, I think I can be excused for forgetting.

So here it is -- a day late, and I guess a dollar short.

In any event, I think I did a pretty good job with the song, despite the fact that I can't sing remotely as well as Roger McGuinn.

Have a great weekend everybody -- or at least as great as possible under the circumstances.

Thursday, August 06, 2020

Your Thursday Moment of the Coolest Thing Ever

In the immortal words of Cristina Applegate on Married With Children, you could have knocked me over with the weather when I recently learned that 60th Mayor of Atlanta and all around good person Keisha Lance Bottoms... the daughter of the incomparable Major Lance....

...who was the auteur of one of my favorite early 60s r&b/soul songs....

...which BTW happens to be a hugely unacknowledged influence on the music of Bruce Springsteen.

I mean c'mon -- compare "Monkey Time" to this...

...and tell me I'm making this up.

PS: Mayor Bottoms, alas, has the Trump Virus, but when last we heard, she's gonna be alright.

[h/t Mark R]

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Hepster Cinematic Notes From All Over

Sometimes, as I have taken to saying of late, despite the horrendous crisis we are currently all coping with, La Vie est Belle.

Case in point: the good folks at Kino Lorber are about to unleash a gorgeously restored version of pretty much the first great concert movie/music documentary -- photographer Bert Stern's groundbreaking cinematic study of the 1958 Newport Festival Jazz on a Summer's Day.

If you've never seen this, prepare to have your mind blown, if only for the Chuck Berry sequence which, as the story goes, the teenaged Keith Richards saw at his local cinema five days straight for obvious reasons. The film also features intimate performances by an all-star line-up of musical legends including Louis Armstrong, Thelonius Monk, Gerry Mulligan, Anita O'Day, Dinah Washington, and closes with a beautiful rendition of "The Lord's Prayer" by Mahalia Jackson.

This has previously been available on video elsewhere -- I saw it on my PBS station at some point if memory serves -- but this new Kino version is a 4K restoration by the preservationists at IndieCollect and looks and sounds fabulous.

Even better, it will be available in virtual cinemas through Kino Marquee starting August 12.

Seriously -- apart from the great music, the film is an absolutely jaw-dropping time capsule of American life in the years just prior to the tumult of the 60s. Don't miss it.

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Give the Drummer Some!

The Tearaways...

...featuring the great Clem Burke (of Blondie, and much more) on those pagan skins, and their brand new single.

Which is an ode to "Charlie, Keith and Ringo."

I'm sensing a theme here, kids.

I've written about The Tearaways on previous occasions (I'm on the record as saying that they may be the best traditional -- i.e. non-hyphenated -- rock band currently working).

In any case that new song (produced just before the pandemic by Ed Stasium, of Ramones and Talking Heads fame) is pretty freaking great; the EP it''s from (Four From Four) will be released momentarily and I'll keep you posted as soon as it drops.

Monday, August 03, 2020

Yes, It's True -- Music is the Universal Language

Attentive readers with long memories may recall that way back in July -- hey, that's several years in Pandemic Time -- I posted an absolutely fabulous and adorable clip of two teenage (I think) aspiring hip-hop kids listening to Dolly Parton's "Jolene" for the first time. And digging the hell out of it.

Which kind of blew my tiny mind for a number of reasons, but I just encountered another similar clip -- featuring one of the two youths -- watching a great live 1981 performance by Queen of their ragingly beautiful "Somebody to Love." A song with which he was previously unfamiliar.

An by the time it's over, the kid is reduced to tears, as was I from watching his reaction.


Oh, and BTW -- I don't really believe today's title, i.e. that music IS a universal language. Let's just say that you would be disabused of that notion very quickly if you attempted to play a Chinese classical piece on a country radio station in Nashville.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Weekend Listomania: Special "Nobody's Perfect" Edition

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental Pandemic Princess Fah Lo Suee and I are off to the president's Mar-a-Lagofuckyourself resort to shoot several holes of golf while unmasked. Could be a hot one!

That being the case here's a fun project to help us all wile away the idle hours until our return -- assuming we're not hospitalized -- on Monday:


No arbitrary rules whatsoever, you're welcome very much, but if you nominate Rod Stewart, who went Full Bullshit in the mid-70s and never came back, I will come to your house and smack you silly.

And my totally Top of My Head Top Five is:

5. The Ramones

Yes, they're the greatest, but not to put too fine a point on it, literally everything on that psychedelic covers album they made... utterly awful. Both conceptually and in execution. And they made several other dog albums.

4. Billy Joel

I became a sort of Born Again Billy Joel fan after seeing one of his Madison Square Garden shows a few years ago. That said...

...if you didn't want to hunt him down and kill him after the first time you heard this song, there's no hope for you.

3. Stevie Nicks

Great with Fleetwood Mac, considerably less so on her own.

Just like a white winged dove my aunt Fanny, babe.

2. Patti Smith

I have loved this woman since before she made her first indie single back in 1973, but boy can she be pretentious sometimes. And in the case of this little ditty from her second major label album --

--- in need of somebody to say to her, uh Patti -- what the hell are you thinking?

And the number one great artist with an unfortunately high percentage of bovine fecal matter is:

1. Joni Mitchell

Let's just say that Joni's good stuff is out of this world, but that a lot of the self-important humorless crap she's been responsible for over the years is frankly impossible to ignore.

Seriously, you would need a heart of stone not to laugh at the unintentional silliness of the above.

Alrighty then -- who would YOUR choices be?

And have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, July 30, 2020

An Early Clue to the New Direction

From 1971, please enjoy Neil Diamond and the classic(?) shout to the world HEY NOTICE ME! that is his "I Am I Said."

Okay, in the interest of full disclosure, that video is actually from 1988. The song, however, dates as I said to to 1971.

In any event, a coveted PowerPop No-Prize© will be awarded to the first reader to glean its relevance to the theme of tomorrow's Weekend Listomania.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Your Wednesday Moment of Amazing True Fact: Special "Up Up and Away!" Edition

The opening and closing theme from the Adventures of Superman TV series.

As iconic music as Rossini's William Tell Overture as used on The Lone Ranger, right?

Well, yes and no. And here's why.


I'm not kidding about this.

Apparently, and most of this is guesswork, the people who made the Superman show relied exclusively for their background music on a company called Mutel, that licensed stuff from 40s B-movie soundtracks that had originally been generated by vastly underpaid folks toiling mostly uncredited at what studios that were then called Poverty Row -- Republic, Monogram, etc.

In any event, the Superman music is officially credited to a guy named Leon Klatzkin, who was an arranger, not a composer.

According to Gary Grossman's fabulous history of the show -- Superman: Serial to Cereal, there is a rumor that the theme was written, uncredited, by the great Miklós Rózsa.

But the bottom line remains: Nobody fucking knows who composed a total fucking masterpiece.

Words fail me.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Your Tuesday Moment of Why Isn't This Guy a Freaking Household World?

From 1990, please enjoy the genius that is Peter Blegvad and the greatest story song ever written by anybody "King Strut."  
I'm not kidding about this -- if there's a better song of its ilk than this, I haven't heard it. And I've been around. 

 I should add that apart from being a brilliant songsmith, Blegvad is a hot guitarist -- that's him playing lead on the above, which should give you an idea -- and he's had a separate career as...wait for it...a cartoonist. 

 Nobody should be allowed to be that talented,is what I'm getting at.

Monday, July 27, 2020

And Then I Wrote...

Chanced across this pan I did of an Eagles album for the Magazine Formerly Known as STEREO REVIEW the other day, and it completely cracked me up.

THE EAGLES: The Long Run.

Performance: They gotta be kidding

Recording: Expensive

I really don't believe this record. Yes, against all expectations (for this they labored three years?), here is still more monied angst, lame social commentary, and overproduction from the Eagles, who apparently are convinced that what the world needs now is a tuneless, turtle-tempoed essay on the human condition from the perspective of five very rich, very bored Angelenos.

Here, for example is a potentially good idea for a song about a mass murderer at Studio 54 ("The Disco Strangler") that makes the most obvious points imagineable about loneliness and alientation. Here's an unbearably smug attempted dissection of the casting couch mentality ("King of Hollywood") rendered in a manner so laid-back it approaches the catatonic. Here's a song about the good old days of hanging out at the Troubador Bar ("Sad Cafe") that is guaranteed to be of absolutely no interest to anyone outside the Eagles immediate circle of friends. Here's a watery love song pasted together from snippets of old George Benson records ("I Can't Tell You Why") and the most tired-sounding bit of blues-based rock ("Heartache Tonight") they have yet essayed. Here's a vaguely funny evocation of mid-Sixties frat-house partying ("The Greeks Don't Want No Freaks") that is supposed to be a throwaway yet ironically has more life than anything else in the package. Here are tedium, a total waste of the not inconsiderable talents of Joe Walsh, and the sound of a band with nothing to say, but saying it at incredible length ("King of Hollywood" runs more than six minutes).

In sum, the Eagles' The Long Run is the most pointless vinyl extrusion of 1979, with the possible exception of The Georgie Jessel Disco Album, which I understand A&M is readying in the wake of their success with a similar venture by Ethel Merman. Like I said, I really don't believe this record. -- S.S.

Wow, Steve -- don't mince words, tell us what you really think.

And yes, in case you were wondering, that's gonna be in my forthcoming greatest hits book, which -- pandemic permitting -- will be available in some format early next year.