Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Smells Like...Well, Okay, It Just Smells

Paul Anka sings Kurt Cobain.

Say what you will about it, but it's better than that Pat Boone heavy metal album from the 90s.

I should add, that while I hate "You're Having My Baby" as much as the next person, Anka always had more on the ball than any of those other post-Elvis pre-Beatles teen idols of the Happy Days era. For starters, he was a good enough songwriter to have written this genuine classic.

And he was also the subject of the first great rock documentary film, Lonely Boy...

...which is an artful and genuinely perceptive meditation on the price of stardom.

But don't worry -- I still hate "You're Having My Baby."

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Closed Due to Extreme Pain

Had a nightmare last evening and threw myself out of bed, whacking the shit out of one side of my head. Which aches like crazy. This is the fourth time in as many months, BTW.

Regular non-throbbing postings resume on the morrow.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Your Monday Moment of Guess Who!

No, not THE Guess Who.

But a coveted PowerPop No-Prize© will be awarded to the first reader who identifies the artist doing the very interesting cover of The Who classic above.

[h/t Capt. Al]

Friday, November 09, 2018

Your Friday Moment of Words Fail Me (An Occasional Series)

Mike Viola, doing business with The Candy Butchers, and their stunning "You Belong to Me Now," live on Conan O'Brien in 2002.

Apart from the song being about as drop dead gorgeous as it gets, that's some pretty amazing guitar playing too.

And have I mentioned that Viola's a fricking genius?

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, November 08, 2018

This Guy's a Fricking Genius

Mike Viola, ladies and germs.

I've been a fan since his work on Tom Hanks' That Thing You Do, but this one, which I hadn't heard till recently, is really really amazing. And for some reason, it seemed oddly relevant to the events of this week.

[h/t Frank Burrows]

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Closed Due to Emotional and Physical Exhaustion

Between dealing with doctors and the election results, yesterday has left me too pooped to pop.

Regular more jaunty postings resume on the morrow.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Chris Isaak Goes to a Record Store

I've always liked this guy, but this is particularly charming.

And I've said it before, but I'll say it again. Why the fuck wasn't Isaak...

...ever cast in a bio-pic about jazz great Chet Baker?

[h/t Matt M]

Monday, November 05, 2018

Bach is Dead and Hardy Fox Isn't Feeling So Good Himself

According to the New York Times, Hardy Fox (one of the founding members of the San Francisco music and multi-media collective The Residents -- maybe) has died at age 73.

The above song is one of the most accessible tracks(!) from the Residents' 1977 EP Duck Stab, which is where I first took notice of them, and which apparently was their first brush with above-ground success, albeit on a limited scale. Apart from the music itself, one of the things I most loved about the record was it was one of those 7-inch vinyl artifacts that could have been pressed at either 33&1/3 or 45 rpm, and there was no indication anywhere in the packaging as to which speed was the correct one. In fact, it sounded good either way.

I should add that, thanks to the Times obit, I have just learned two fun facts about the band.

The first is the origin of their name. It was chosen after sending a demo tape, anonymously but with a return address, to Warner Bros. Records. The tape was rejected (quel surprise) and returned, addressed to “Residents.”

I was also flummoxed to discover that their 1986 version of Hank Williams’s “Kaw-Liga,” which sampled Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean”...

...sold over 100,000 copies, which is pretty darned astounding for a bunch of avant-garde provocateurs on an indie label.

In any case, RIP Hardy Fox. Now resident of a better world, one hopes.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

The Cheese Stands Alone

Anthony Lane has long been my favorite film critic, but this meditation on the just released Bohemian Rhapsody may be his masterpiece. I am reprinting it, in toto, for those of you unfortunate enough to lack subscriptions to The New Yorker.

Take it away, Anthony!

Extra teeth. That was the secret of Freddie Mercury, or, at any rate, of the singular sound he made. In “Bohemian Rhapsody,” a new bio-pic about him, Mercury (Rami Malek) reveals all: “I was born with four more incisors. More space in my mouth, and more range.” Basically, he’s walking around with an opera house in his head. That explains the diva-like throb of his singing, and we are left to ponder the other crowd-wooing rockers of his generation; do they, too, rely upon oral eccentricity? Is it true that Rod Stewart’s vocal cords are lined with cinders, and that Mick Jagger has a red carpet instead of a tongue? What happens inside Elton John’s mouth, Lord knows, although “Rocketman,” next year’s bio-pic about him, will presumably spill the beans.

“Bohemian Rhapsody” starts with the Live Aid concert, in 1985. That was the talent-heavy occasion on which Queen, fronted by Mercury, took complete command of Wembley Stadium and, it is generally agreed, destroyed the competition. We then flip back to 1970, and to the younger Freddie—born Farrokh Bulsara, in Zanzibar, and educated partly at a boarding school in India, but now dwelling in the London suburbs. This being a rock movie, his parents are required to be conservative and stiff, and he is required to vex them by going out at night to see bands.

If the film is to be trusted (and one instinctively feels that it isn’t), the birth of Queen was smooth and unproblematic. Mercury approaches two musicians, Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy) and Brian May (Gwilym Lee), in a parking lot, having enjoyed their gig; learns that their group’s lead singer has defected; and, then and there, launches into an impromptu audition for the job. Bingo! The resulting lineup, now graced with John Deacon (Joseph Mazzello) on bass, lets rip onstage, with Freddie tearing the microphone from its base to create the long-handled-lollipop look that will stay with him forever. Queen already sounds like Queen, and, before you know it, the boys have a manager, a contract, an album, and a cascade of wealth. It’s that easy. As for their first global tour, it is illustrated by the names of cities flashing up on the screen—“Tokyo,” “Rio,” and so forth, in one of those excitable montages which were starting to seem old-fashioned by 1940.

As a film, “Bohemian Rhapsody” is all over the place. So is “Bohemian Rhapsody” as a song, yet somehow, by dint of shameless alchemy and professional stamina, it coheres; the movie shows poor Roger Taylor doing take after take of the dreaded “Galileo!” shrieks, bravely risking a falsetto-related injury in the cause of art. Anyone hoping to be let in on Queen’s trade secrets will feel frustrated, although I liked the coins that rattled and bounced on the skin of Taylor’s drum, and it’s good to watch Deacon noodle a new bass riff—for “Another One Bites the Dust”—purely to stop the other band members squabbling. The later sections of the story, dealing with Mercury’s AIDS diagnosis, are carefully handled, but most of the film is stuffed with lumps of cheesy rock-speak (“We’re just not thinking big enough”; “I won’t compromise my vision”), and gives off the delicious aroma of parody. When Mercury tries out the plangent “Love of My Life” on the piano, it’s impossible not to recall the great Nigel Tufnel, in “This Is Spinal Tap” (1984), playing something similar in D minor, “the saddest of all keys,” and adding that it’s called “Lick My Love Pump.”

The funniest thing about the new film is that its creation was clearly more rocklike than anything to be found in the end product. Bryan Singer, who is credited as the director, was fired from the production last year and replaced by Dexter Fletcher, although some scenes appear to have been directed by no one at all, or perhaps by a pizza delivery guy who strayed onto the set. The lead role was originally assigned to Sacha Baron Cohen (a performance of which we can but dream), although Malek, mixing shyness with muscularity, and sporting a set of false teeth that would make Bela Lugosi climb back into his casket, spares nothing in his devotion to the Mercurial. The character’s carnal wants, by all accounts prodigious, are reduced to the pinching of a waiter’s backside, plus the laughable glance that Freddie receives from a bearded American truck driver at a gas station as he enters the bathroom. With its PG-13 rating, and its solemn statements of faith in the band as a family, “Bohemian Rhapsody” may be the least orgiastic tribute ever paid to the world of rock. Is this the real life? Nope. Is this just fantasy? Not entirely, for the climax, quite rightly, returns us to Live Aid—to a majestic restaging of Queen’s contribution, with Malek displaying his perfect peacock strut in front of the mob. If only for twenty minutes, Freddie Mercury is the champion of the world.

Needless to say, a certain Shady Dame and I are going to see this tomorrow.

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!