Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Classical Gas

Here's my humble contribution to the Halloween festivities, a great live clip of God-like 6Ts legends THE MOVE performing their 1967 #2 UK hit Night of Fear. That is, of course, Ace Kefford singing on the bridge. Ace went solo in '68 with the ACE KEFFORD STAND and his soulful, slow-burn version of the Yardbird's For Your Love is worth seeking out. You can hear a snippet of it here.

Also, did you ever stop to think about how many of the Move's songs were about mental illness?

Wednesday Wayne

For my delightful co-blogger, Kid C.

Goodnight, Whatever You Are!!!!

It's Halloween, bitches! So give it up for hero of my youth John Zacherley, the once and future Cool Ghoul.

Oh my god -- this Saturday, there's going to be a 40th anniversary Disc-O-Teen Reunion in Newark, N.J.

The man himself will be there, of course. Plus a set by garage rock gods the Doughboys, featuring PowerPop fave Richard X. Heyman on drums.

Anybody want to go?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A View From the Bridge

[I'm gonna get horribly self-indulgent now, so please forgive me in advance.]

Here's the deal: I stumbled across this clip yesterday and I'm finding it difficult to describe just how moving I think it is. A caveat before you watch: The video quality is just barely adequate, but the audio is mostly fine. Listen to it with headphones -- you'll miss the bass, otherwise.

Okay, the backstory: The song of course, is the Kinks' gorgeous "Waterloo Sunset," and the guy singing it is Brit cult figure Terry Reid. If you don't know him, suffice it to say that he's a brilliant songwriter and vocalist (think a more soulful Steve Marriott) who made a couple of wonderful albums in the late 60s and early 70s (you can buy them here) but alas his career never really took off for all the usual reasons. What makes him slightly more than a fondly remembered footnote to history is that Jimmy Page actually offered him the frontman slot in Led Zeppelin; considering that he's also a terrific guitarist, the fact that he punted on the gig probably changed the world in unfathomable ways. Seriously -- can you imagine what Zep might have been like with a better singer and a twin-guitar attack? Wow. In any case, the clip derives from a series of club shows Reid did in L.A. in 2002; the band is led by longtime scenester Waddy Wachtel, and apparently all sorts of 70s and 80s B-list rockers did guest shots at one point or another.

So -- why do I find the vid so emotionally shattering? Well, the song itself has something to do with it, of course. Longtime readers are aware that I am occasionally of the opinion that it's the most beautiful song written in English in the second half of the 20th century. To my ears, it's about somebody who, for whatever reason, has concluded that they will never themselves find love, but who can watch other people -- total strangers, actually -- who have, and has decided that the solace they get from that is ultimately enough. It's a perfectly observed little vignette that manages to be both heartbreaking and strangely uplifting in its generosity of spirit; it's also, probably, the most revealing thing Ray Davies has ever written (and frankly, I can't think of another songwriter who could have pulled it off).

Reid gets all that of course, but he adds a lot more. It's a wonderfully theatrical performance, and at the heart of it is the not so dirty little secret of so much 60s Brit rock, i.e, that as much as the English pop boom owed to blues and r&b, it also owed to that now vanished English institution -- the music hall. The examples are almost endless -- see Sgt. Pepper or the Small Faces "Lazy Sunday" -- and one of the first things that struck me watching the clip is that Reid, singing his heart out up on that cramped little stage, could almost be a tragi-comic version of Archie Rice, the title character from John Osborne's The Entertainer. To really understand that you have to remember that back when Reid was an almost star, he was one of those skinny pretty boy rock god types. Here, of course, he looks like nothing less than one of those slightly puffy second tier expatriate Brit actors at Warner Brothers in the 30s. And he's not posturing like the pop idol he briefly was; instead he's swanning around in that ridiculous ice cream suit like Herbert Marshall in The Letter. It's laughably hokey but it's also quite brave; he's playing the fool and yet it's as if his relationship to the song and the audience and to the whole idea of being a rock star parallels the relationship of the song's narrator to the starcrossed lovers. There's something just enormously compassionate about it, and it just chokes me up.

And don't even get me started on Wachtel's solo or that gorgeous riff he introduces at the end to ride the song out (neither are on the actual Kinks record), or how Reid trails off into wordless falsetto, thus finding an unsuspected link between Davies' teddibly Bitish original and the American street corner romanticism of old Doo Wop and Goffin-King songs.

Alright, I''ve gone on about this for a little too long, and yes, perhaps I'm reading too much into it. In any case, I'm gonna go watch it again, and thanks for stopping by.

PS: If anybody knows anybody who knows anybody connected with the musicians, I would do almost anything within reason to get a high quality copy of the off-the-board audio for this.

PPS: Reid is playing B.B.King's in New York City in late November. I think I need to go and yell at him to sing the damn thing.

PPPS: I forwarded this to my old pal Eric Boardman (who's a fan and lives in LA), wondering if perhaps he'd been in the audience when it was shot. Just got his reply.

I was not (SIGH) at that show, but have been to Waddy's Monday night jam at The Joint quite often. A great scene as who's-who in rock drop by. Check the concert & club listings as to which bands are in town for the week-end and gamble. For instance, I saw Keith play for an hour, including a few Chuck Berry numbers and a torn-up version of "Down The Road Apiece."

Terry Reid's album with "Horses in a Rain Storm" kept me company summer of '70 along with "After The Gold Rush" and Donovan's "Open Road."

By the way, I sing it, "Eric meets Julie."

Tuesday Unapproachable Sex Object Blogging

Sorry for the cheesy song, but yesterday I discovered something so ineffably moving I'm having trouble writing about it. In the meantime, I figure Ronnie Spector in a tight dress might be worth contemplating.

May I just state for the record that (regardless of whether he killed that woman or not) Phil Spector is the stupidest motherfucker on the planet?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Bottle Blonde on Blonde

Wondrous times we live in. Having just gotten over my excitement for Islamofascist Awareness Week, I am now informed by extremely irksome New York Times gushing fanboy pop music critic Kelefa Sanneh that the underpantless Britney Spears has a new album out tomorrow. Apparently, it's her 8&1/2. Or Nevermind. Or A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. Or something.

From Sanneh's review:

If that sounds depressing, then you should hear “Piece of Me,” produced by the Swedish duo of Bloodshy & Avant, the same team that produced her 2003 song “Toxic.” Introduced by a sludgy bass line, Ms. Spears waxes defensive, in a heavily synthesized voice that’s the main (and sometimes only) instrument: “I’m Miss Bad-Media-Karma, another day another drama/Guess I can’t see the harm in working and being a mama.”

Over and over comes a refrain — “You want a piece of me” — that could be an accusation or an invitation or a threat. And the producers set upon her like ravenous fans, building her up (by dropping out the bass line) and then knocking her around (by shifting her pitch). Together they evoke the horror, the exhilaration and (finally) the boredom of the overexamined life. It’s brilliant.

Maybe it's just me, but that last "It's brilliant" seems a tad overstated. I was thinking more along the lines of "It's slick, soulless and butt-ugly but I don't necessarily want to kill myself when I hear it."

Tales From the Maladministration

From 2005, here's Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow of the Posies with an unplugged version of Graham Nash's finest moment with the Hollies -- "King Midas in Reverse."

Apart from the fact that Auer and Stringfellow may very well have been genetically engineered to cover Hollies songs -- the studio version can be found here, on one of the very best tribute albums ever -- it's amazing how prescient the song is. For the longest time, everybody pretty much assumed Creedence's "Fortunate Son" was the George W. Bush story, but given recent events, it's obvious that Nash was the one going all Nostradamus about Chimpy.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

One for the Trolls

Dear steve's trolls,
You are execrable people who spend your days tongue-bathing Blanche DuBois and attacking anyone who points out that her tiara is cubic zirconia. But did you have to do this? Did you?

(I tried to embed the video, and even managed it, but it crashed the site. So you can see it by scrolling down the Sadly, No! post.)

(via Sadly, No!)

Longtime readers will be aware of he fact that my relationship with The Knack is ambivalent at best. While undoubtedly the sole commercial juggernaut of the era of high powerpop, they pretty much ruined the commercial potential of any other powerpop band for a good decade. The Knack backlash took out many bands, including 20/20 and my beloved Shoes, and for that I can't quite forgive them, though I loved them at the time.


Palate cleanser, please. Dutch Boy, if you have it.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Speedy Delivery!

Just saw that a cool new comp of NYC powerpoppers The Speedies is out. Speedy Delivery is 19 tracks of great 70s skinny-tie pop that you can pick up at Not Lame. Here's the band running through their swell 1979 single Let Me Take Your Photo just to give you a little taste of what they were all about.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Weekend Listomania (Special Quel Est Le Meilleur Nom? Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental manservant Hop-Sing and I are off to Paris for a weekend with French Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy. Nick's a little depressed of late -- seems his ungrateful bitch lovely wife has up and left him, so we're taking the poor man for a tour of the colorful waterfront bars and bistros of Marseiles. As they say -- allo, sailor!!!!

So posting by moi will be necessarily sporadic for a while.

But in my absence, here's a fun project for you all to contemplate:

Best Rock n Roll Band Name Ever!!!!
You know -- the coolest, the funniest, the most original, the most apt. However you define it.
[Totally arbitrary rule: It has to be a band that actually made records. So friends or acquaintances, like the guys I knew who had a band called Ape Law (they all wore Planet of the Apes soldier costumes) -- are ineligible.]

Okay -- my totally Top of My Head Top Six.

6. The Velvet Underground

5. Alberto Y Lost Trios Paranoias

4. Gaye Bikers on Acid

3. The Brian Jonestown Massacre

2. Teenage Jesus and the Jerks

1. The Rolling Stones

(C'mon -- what name could be more perfect?)

Honorable Mention: Kathleen Turner Overdrive (sorry, I couldn't find a video).

Okay -- and your choice would be??????

Thursday, October 25, 2007

An Early Clue to the New Direction (Bowery Boys Edition)

For those legions of folks nostalgic for New York City during the Koch administration, here's CBGB's faves Teenage Jesus and the Jerks performing one of their trademark plaintive love madrigals.

A coveted PowerPop No-Prize will be awarded the first reader to divine the clip's relevance to the theme of tomorrow's Weekend Listomania.

Today's Noise is Tomorrow's Hootenanny

I can't imagine a more amazing demonstration of the folk music process at work than the difference between The Easybeats bashing out their subversive Australian working class protest hymn "Friday on my Mind" on TV in 1967 --

-- and this bunch of regular joes having a Down Under living room singalong of the same song for somebody with a camcorder forty years later.

I'm a huge fan of Easybeats auteurs Vanda and Young, as longtime readers are aware, but this is just remarkable. Obviously, the Aussies should just go ahead and make the damn song their national anthem already....

[h/t Gilly Gonzylon]

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Wednesday Wayne

A fave of the divine watertiger, the hostess with the mostess.

Thanks, babe!

And People Thought "Across the Universe" Was a Big Deal

Apparently, said people never saw All This and World War II.

It's one of the most, er, wiggy cult classics of all time, a mixture of vintage WWII footage (including Nazis edited to march back and forth in time to the music) with a soundtrack of Beatles classics, as rerecorded by Ambrosia, Elton John, the Bee Gees, Leo Sayer, Bryan Ferry, Roy Wood, Keith Moon, Rod Stewart, David Essex, Jeff Lynne, Lynsey De Paul, Richard Cocciante, The Four Seasons, Helen Reddy, Frankie Laine, the Brothers Johnson, Status Quo, Henry Gross, Peter Gabriel, Frankie Valli, Tina Turner, Will Malone, and the London Symphony Orchestra.

Released in 1976, it spent a week in theatres, and then vanished, never to be seen on home video. According to Wiki, Terry Gilliam was supposed to direct, but mercifully declined the opportunity.

All I can say is -- eat your heart out, Julie Taymor.

Sweet Home Hoboken

Wow, here's a video I didn't know existed, and boy I am glad I found it.

That is, of course, the utterly gorgeous "The Lucky One," by Freedy Johnston, from the 1991 album Can You Fly. In case you don't know it, along with Matthew Sweet's Girlfriend it's pretty much the best jangly pop singer/songwriter record of the decade. Come to think of it, I mislaid my CD copy of this a while back -- I'm really going to have a spring for a new one.

Oh, and for those keeping score, that's the great Graham Maby, of Joe Jackson Band fame, on bass. I'm a BIG fan of his...for my money, he's the only musician beside Andy Summers to have emerged from the entire New Wave 80s hoo-hah with an instantly identifiable instrumental sound and style.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Odd Couple 2007

Well, this could be interesting.

Bluegrass diva Alison Krauss and the old lemonsqueezer Robert Plant, together again for the first time. Produced by T-Bone Burnett, no less.

I think I need to hear this. And may I simply say for the record that Krauss has gotten quite gorgeous of late? Anybody know how that happened? Did she suddenly get a better stylist or what?

Could Be a Hot One!

The mailman has just deposited the soundtrack to Todd Haynes forthcoming cinematic meditation on Bob Dylan at my door. Wow.

Here's the track listing.

Disc 1
1. Eddie Vedder and the Million Dollar Bashers: "All Along the Watchtower"
2. Sonic Youth: "I'm Not There"
3. Jim James and Calexico: "Goin' to Acapulco"
4. Richie Havens: "Tombstone Blues"
5. Stephen Malkmus and the Million Dollar Bashers: "Ballad of a Thin Man"
6. Cat Power: "Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again"
7. John Doe: "Pressing On"
8. Yo La Tengo: "Fourth Time Around"
9. Iron and Wine and Calexico: "Dark Eyes"
10. Karen O and the Million Dollar Bashers: "Highway 61 Revisited"
11. Roger McGuinn and Calexico: "One More Cup of Coffee"
12. Mason Jennings: "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll"
13. Los Lobos: "Billy"
14. Jeff Tweedy: "Simple Twist of Fate"
15. Mark Lanegan: "The Man in the Long Black Coat"
16. Willie Nelson and Calexico: "Señor (Tales of Yankee Power)"

Disc 2
1. Mira Billotte: "As I Went Out One Morning"
2. Stephen Malkmus and Lee Ranaldo: "Can't Leave Her Behind"
3. Sufjan Stevens: "Ring Them Bells"
4. Charlotte Gainsbourg and Calexico: "Just Like a Woman"
5. Jack Johnson: "Mama You've Been on My Mind"
6. Yo La Tengo: "I Wanna Be Your Lover"
7. Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova: "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere"
8. The Hold Steady: "Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window"
9. Ramblin' Jack Elliott: "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues"
10. The Black Keys: "Wicked Messenger"
11. Tom Verlaine and the Million Dollar Bashers: "Cold Irons Bound"
12. Mason Jennings: "The Times They Are a-Changin'"
13. Stephen Malkmus and the Million Dollar Bashers: "Maggie's Farm"
14. Marcus Carl Franklin: "When the Ship Comes In"
15. Bob Forrest: "Moonshiner"
16. John Doe: "I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine"
17. Antony and the Johnsons: "Knockin' on Heaven's Door"
18. Bob Dylan: "I'm Not There"

Click here
and scroll down for links to MP3s of two of them.

Me, I'm off to listen to the Hold Steady doing "Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window," which I suspect was designed with my mind in mind.

[h/t Eric C. Boardman]

Paging Brooklyn Girl

Got this clip (along with lots else) for my birthday over the weekend.

Words fail me. It really is a crime against nature that these guys were in the proces of breaking up at the time.

Living in the Material World

Well, isn't this the darnedest thing.

I mean, I dig Todd Rundgren and Joe Jackson as much as the next guy. But a badass string quartet named Ethel? Didn't see that coming, I'll tell you that.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Speaking of Gorgeous...

...from 1984, it's the Everly Brothers and "On the Wings of a Nightingale." Written by Paul McCartney, produced by greatest living Welshman Dave Edmunds.

An all but perfect record, I think, and certainly the song fits Don and Phil like a glove. I'm not a thousand percent sure, but I seem to recall McCartney actually wrote the song when he was still a Beatle. Wonder what the song would have sounded like if the Fabs had recorded it? So did long running power pop gods The Spongetones, who provide a convincing answer with their really terrific cover version; click here and scroll down to hear an excerpt.

Saying Goodbye to Hilly

James Wolcott quotes in full Mary Harron's account of the funeral of Hilly Kristal, held a week ago today at the Bowery Ballroom. It's gorgeous, really.

A question: do punk rock mourners still wear torn shirts?

Sunday, October 21, 2007


Delightful evening with simels and others celebrating his b-day. Happy happy, dood!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Birfday Greetings for Steve

Allow me to send out a musical birthday greeting to fellow blogger and all-around great guy Steve Simels. Best wishes and cheers Mate! Have a pint for me!

This clip is cool in that it also includes a rare appearance by "Professor" Stanley Unwin who narrated the Small Faces' Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake LP on which the featured song, Happy Days Town Town was the final track.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Weekend Listomania (The Kenosha Kid Will Just Kill Me Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental manservant Hop-Sing and I are off to Kansas for a weekend barbecue with retiring former presidential hopeful Sam Brownback. Poor Sam is understandably off his feed, so we thought we'd raise his spirits with non-stop hookers and blow a reminder that he is, in fact, a god, if not God himself. So posting by moi will be necessarily sporadic for a while.

But in my absence, here's a fun project for you all to contemplate:

Most Pernicious Influence!!!!
You know -- an individual performer, a style, a genre, a song, a movement, or even a critic(!) that you believe has been, on balance, a complete disaster for pop/rock. Something or someone that really gets your goat, in other words. [insert obligatory Mickey Kaus joke here]

For me, this doesn't even require a minutes thought.

Yes, it's David Bowie in a walk!!!!!!!

Why Bowie?

1. He's a horrific singer whose pompous, affectless, butt-ugly quasi-operatic baritone crooning has never communicated a single honest emotion, and whose example has inspired countless equally awful self-important groaners for decades. For birthing Spandau Ballet alone, Bowie deserves oprobrium from all who walk upright.

2. He popularized the notion that constantly "reinventing yourself" -- which less pretentiously and more accurately used to be called "being trendy" -- is not only a good thing in and of itself but also The Mark of the True Artist. Bowie thus gave Madonna and half the bad bands in the world a pass to be insufferable poseur irritants for decades, and there's no end in sight (The Killers, anyone?).

Okay -- and your choice would be??????

[And don't forget to go downstairs and give ¡El Gato Negro! some love. It's for a good cause!]

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Thursday Guest ¡El Gato Negro! Blogging

[Please welcome our good amigo ¡El Gato Negro!, who has an important message.]

¡Hola Power-Poppers!

Primero, I must say muchas gracias a la Maria bonita y Estéban Simels for thees opportunity.

Muchas gracias, María y Estéban.

Power-Poppers, yesterday, een the comments section here, I mentioned that I was looking for a certain piece of music to go behind a slide show.

Sr. Simels responded, and after a brief email conversation,the sugestion was made that we should make a contest of eet. Thees seemed to be such a rrreasonable idea that I accepted readily.

So, today, Power-pop, een conjunction weeth ¡El Gato Negro!, breengs to joo a contest wheech may mean rewards for joo, and serious help to a family een need.

Here's the story:

The Joseph family of New Orleans lost their house during the Katrina disaster. Then, weeth the house 80% rebuilt they lost eet again, to a fire, set by a thug een the night.

Weeth their house gone a second time, Sra. Joseph began to lose hope for even maintaining her family, seence she has no shelter, and ees short on dolares,(her insurance company having treated her weeth all the fairness and acumen for wheech they are renowned) to say nothing of the rigors of quotidian existence een the current NOLA environment.

Luckily, some Good Samaritans appeared een the form of a few overworked medical students from Tulane University, who began trying to raise attention to the Joseph family's plight.

Even more luckily, the medical students efforts attracted the notice of the generous and intrepid Scout Prime at, who began to organize blogs and others to assist the Tulane students.

To date, more than two-dozen blogeros have posted on Project Hope in Grace. The online effort has raised ten times the amount of money than was raised before Scout got involved. Por supuesto, more work, more donations, are vital to thees effort.

I myself have posted on the story once or twice, including a brief Q&A weeth a student advocate for Hope in Grace, and I can tell joo weeth confidence that more news and updates are on the way.

Weeth luck, thees weekend I weel have a "Donate Button" that pipples can put on their own blogs to direct aid to Hope In Grace een a more expeditious manner. Oh, and I hope to create a video slideshow thees weekend for Joutube and other outlets.

Here ees where joo come een to the peecture. ( I know, I know, finally, eh?)

I require a piece of music to go behind the slideshow.

Now, I know that thees sounds counter-intuitive, but the piece I require must be somber, yet hopeful. Theenk of a mash-up between Barber's "Adagio for Strings" and Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man". Only maybe a leetle more upbeat.

I want a piece of music that weel not just tug at pipples hearstrings, but instead weel seize them roughly and shake them hard and not let go until those checkbooks and credit cards come out of their wallets, and are put to use.

Entries een the contest can be made through comments here, or by email to me (and to Simels, eef he weeshes). [Yes. E-mail me.]

Eet ees also necessary that joo point us to an mp3 or joutube recording of the song een question, as my music collection, een all certainty, ees less comprehensive than that of the readersheep here.

So, thees ees how joo enter:

1.Go to the website for Hope in Grace, read the story of the Joseph family, and view the photos there. They weel make up the content of the slideshow.

2.Theenk of a fitting piece of music, and find an online recording of eet.

3.Place jour entry een comments here, or by email to me (see bottom of post) make sure we can get ahold of joo to notify joo of the results.

The Contest runs from the moment thees post goes up, and ends 8pm, CST Friday night Oct19th 2007.

Ideally, the video weel be done less than 24 hours later, and the winner weel be notified een posts here and at my blog, and also by email.


The winning entry weel be determined solely by me een a completely biased and confusing manner and my choice and myself weel be subject to massive vituperation on the part of the readersheep here eef I choose incorrectly.

Having the winning entry entitles joo too pick one candidate een the 2008 election, anything from dogcatcher on up through candidates for President, and then...

Whatever candidate the winner chooses, I, ¡El Gato Negro! promise to fundraise for them een the upcoming 2008 election. (No GOP, No DLC, No Ron Paul or Larouche, other than that, ¡Ay! the sky, she ees the limit.)

The Bad News:

There are already two entries een the contest, and they are good ones, too.

First entry: Sam Cooke, "A Change Is Gonna Come"

Second Entry: The Pretenders, "Hymn to Her"

As joo can see, the bar, she ees set pretty high already.*

But I am more than confident that the generous and discerning readers here can rise to the challenge.

So what do joo say?



My email, for entries gatobloggerro "at" yahoo "dot" com

Or go to my blog, and joo weel see a correlative post:

(A word about thees right-of-copy, I know that the Tulane students would weesh to avoid any trouble weeth the RIA(ugh)A, so maybe, eef joo can no find a piece een the public domain, at least pick one that won't breeng the gomberros squealing to their door, hokay?)

An Early Clue to the New Direction

Here's an interesting historical artifact -- from 1969, it's the original video for David Bowie's "Space Oddity."

A coveted PowerPop No-Prize will be awarded the first reader to divine the clip's relevance to the theme of tomorrow's Weekend Listomania.

Nick Rivers, Superstar

For some reason Top Secret, the 2nd feature by the guys who made Airplane!, isn't as well known as it should be; I, for one, think it's one of the most deliriously funny movies ever. The premise is brilliant -- an Elvis Presley musical crossed with a Cold War thriller -- and it goes from one outrageous gag to another with such speed that you can barely breathe sometimes. In any case, I wasn't surprised later when Oliver Stone cast Val Kilmer as Jim Morrison; after his impersonation of the King here, it was obvious he had the right moves for the Lizard King.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Tales From the Mohammedan Menace Part II

Death Cab for Cutie guitarist Chris Walla is apparently a terrorist.

Kudos to the Department of Fatherland Homeland Security for decoding the secret messages encrypted in the above video.


[h/t Roadmaster]

Wednesday Wayne

A new feature here at PowerPop--every Wednesday for as long as I can manage it. Enjoy!

This first one is dedicated to DeepToej, who insists he hipped me to it at the time, though I have no recollection.

Besides, the boys are getting silly downstairs. (Not that there's anything wrong with that...)

It's Monkey Time!!!!

Okay, after KC's Spotnicks post downstairs, I can't resist.

Tell me these guys aren't the greatest band evah.

Really -- I dare you.

Rocket Men

Okay, I'm not really sure why the Spotnicks aren't considered the greatest band evah. Talk about evoking the zeitgeist of the times!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Other Voices, Other Rooms

If you were around this weekend, you know that I got to see the recently reunited Raspberries on Sunday night (courtesy of ace publicist Amber Haeckel of Rykodisc -- thanks, Amber!!). The Raspberries, of course, are touring in support of their quite wonderful new album Live on the Sunset Strip, and I'm pleased to report that in the flesh they were in some ways even better than on disc -- live, they were a little bit more about the loud guitars, which was bracing in the extreme. They hit the stage running with the humongous opening chords of "Tonight," and rarely flagged after that (Keith Moon-ish drummer Jim Bonfanti, in particular, was a dynamo), and along with a nicely chosen selection of songs from their three classic 70s albums, there were a couple of really nice covers tossed in to show where they came from, including a note perfect version of the Who's 'Substitute" (the studio version, not the one from Live at Leeds). For the real fan obsessives, they even roared through the Choir's 1967 regional hit "It's Cold Outside" (Raspberries guitarist Wally Bryson and bassist Dave Smalley were of, course, half of the Choir in a previous life).

Personally, I could have done without Eric Carmen's encore version of "All By Myself" (complete with what seemed like a 15 minute Rachmaninoff piano break) -- if he had to do one of his post-Raspberries tunes, I would have much preferred "Hey Deanie" (still Shaun Cassidy's finest moment!) -- but what the heck. It was a small price to pay for hearing some of the loveliest powerpop confections of all time -- sublime stuff like "Overnight Sensation," and "I Wanna Be With You" -- rendered as fresh as paint. In short, a terrific night, and if the Raspberries show up anywhere near you in the future (tour information and some live audio here) glom a ticket posthaste.

[h/t Brooklyn Girl]

The Band That Dare Not Speak Its Name...

I've been meaning to do a post about Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick, & Tich for a while, but after recently learning that their 1966 Brit hit Hold Tight! was featured in the soundtrack of Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof, I figured now was as good of a time as ever.

DDDBM&T were the decidedly less cuddly British equivalent of the Monkees and I'm pretty sure that if you saw these blokes coming towards you on a dark city street, you'd probably cross over to the other side to avoid them. Nonetheless, despite having a string of top 10 hits in England, they didn't make so much as a dent in the charts across the pond. So, please enjoy the aforementioned Hold Tight! and dig that buzzy fuzztone solo. BTW, how the hell did they get their band name on the drum head? It must have looked like an eye chart!

Super Furry Animals

Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear. From 1974, it's The Wombles and the frighteningly self-referential "The Wombling Song."

[Note: apologies to any reader currently under the influence of a psychedelic drug]

Most Americans are unaware of these critters, but believe it or not they more or less ruled England in the mid-Seventies. Think of them as a much more earnest version of the Banana Splits, or a non-gay Teletubbies.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Another One Bites the Dust

[from the Onion]

Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Retires 'D' Chord

CLEVELAND—The D chord, famed for its part in innumerable classic rock songs, including "Back in Black," "Bad Moon Rising," and "Don't Be Cruel," was retired Tuesday during a ceremony at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.

"The D chord has firmly cemented its place in rock history," said Hall of Fame founder and Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner at the induction, during which Eric Clapton, Chuck Berry, Pete Townshend, R.E.M.'s Peter Buck, and several other rock luminaries simultaneously performed the chord one last time. "We are proud to honor the legacy of this immortal and eminently prestigious musical tone by never allowing it to be played again in any genre of rock music."

The D chord will take its place in the museum's permanent collection alongside Jimi Hendrix's guitar, David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust–era platform boots, and the whole-note rest.

Tales From the Mohammedan Menace

Absolutely live in 1967, here's the Tremeloes and the dangerous ear worm that is "Here Comes My Baby."

Written by the Artist Formerly Known as Cat Stevens, of course.

Seriously -- I think it's the dictionary definition of the perfect pop song. Three chords, addictively catchy, sounds perky, and yet at the heart of it is a profound sadness.

NYC Power Poppers Take Note!

Longtime PowerPop faves Milton and the Devils Party are playing the CMJ Music Festival this Wednesday.

Here are the deets:
The Trash Bar
256 Grand St. between Driggs & Roebling
Williamsburg, Brooklyn NY 11211

12:00 - YAKUZA



Have fun, and tell Daniel I said hi.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Go All the Way

Getting ready to go see the reunited Raspberries tonight.

Assuming they're even half as good as on their recently released live album, it should be a transplendent evening.

Memo to God: Please don't let Eric Carmen dress like this.

New to the Blogroll....

Please note Rick Redux, a site dedicated to those crazy beautiful Rickenbacker guitars and the people who play them.

And the machines in action:

Damn, I love the internets.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

In Defense of Pussy Rock

Okay, I admit it. I, alone among the posters at this blog, have a vagina. It's produced four human beings and welcomed several strangers (never you mind how many), and I admit, it's become one of my favorite body parts, particularly since I turned thirty.

Nevertheless, I've been on this kick which makes me somewhat uncomfortable of my (all too frequent) habit of referring to those I dislike as "twats." I objectively support the use of profanity in discourse, but I'm a woman, and using a parallel term for vagina as an insult is not, or should not be, where I'm at. This all started with a conversation with my students about the origins of obscenity in language (a hint: it has to do with the Norman Conquest), when I noted to them that they use words I would never use, such as the noun form of "quaint." A student noted that he bet I would use that term for Ann Coulter, and he would be right. But not very many other people.

I'm particularly uncomfortable with the use of the term "pussy" to mean generally weak, girlish, and soft. On one of my favorite shows eveh, The Soup, played this story:

Bryan Adams will headline concerts for peace in the West Bank and Israel next week, with his performances relayed by satellite to London, Ottawa and Washington.

The New York-based One Voice peace movement said the concerts were aimed at bolstering its campaign to collect one million signatures of ordinary Israelis and Palestinians demanding that their leaders sit down and finalize an agreement on a Palestinian state living at peace with Israel.

The head of One Voice's Ramallah office, Fathi Darwish, said Adams would launch the West Bank event at a football stadium in the ancient town of Jericho, then head to Tel Aviv to perform.

"Our goal is to send a message to the world, that the Palestinian people love life, and hope for life and liberation," Darwish said Sunday.

And they opined "Canadian pussy rock will bring peace to the Middle East!"

I dunno. But what Bryan is doing is objectively a good thing, and a whole fucking lot more useful than letting Israel drop bombs on Syria.

And for Thers. his fave:

Friday, October 12, 2007

Weekend Listomania (Fingernails on the Blackboard Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental manservant Hop-Sing and I are off to Florida for a quiet weekend with the intriguingly mannish beautiful Ann Coulter. Apparently she's having some people of the Hebraic persuasion over and we're going to "perfect" them (I'm not quite sure what that means, but I'm sure it doesn't involve torture.) So posting by moi will be necessarily sporadic for a while.

But in my absence, here's a fun project for you all to contemplate:

Worst. Guitar. Solo. Ever!!!!!
You know -- just the ugliest, clumsiest or most self-indulgent thing your ears have ever beheld. With luck, turned to 11.

My strictly off the top of my head Top Two:

A tie between

Neil Innes (The Bonzo Dog Band) -- The Canyons of Your Mind


Uncredited session guy (Tom Jones) -- It's Not Unusual

I should note in passing that when recording "Canyons," Innes was consciously striving to come up with the worst solo ever and I think you'll agree he succeeded. Bottom line: a feat deserving of respect from all those who walk upright. (And he could do it live, as I personally witnessed at the Fillmore East in 1969).

As for the Jones song, I was unable to find a clip of Tom lip-synching the actual record; the solo here (by an Australian hack whose name is lost down the echoing corridors of time) is not, alas, a note for note recreation of the original, but the rest of the arrangement is the same and in context the solo is almost as awful in its atonal cluelessness as its role model.

Okay -- and your choice would be??????

Postcript: I can't believe I forgot Blue Cheer.

The part where he goes WEE-ah WEE-ah!!!!! is pretty hilarious, but the freakout at the end is just so bad I can't believe it. Speed kills, man.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

An Early Clue to the New Direction

The Mavericks, featuring the great Raul Malo, have a go at Tom Jones.

A coveted PowerPop No-Prize will be awarded the first reader who divine's the clips' relevance to the theme of tomorrow's Weekend Listomania.

And Speaking of Gorgeous...'s the Candy Butchers and "You Belong to Me Now."

I have only one question:

Why didn't anybody ever tell me about these guys!!!!!!!!!


Joan Jett Explains It All For You

Seriously, this is just fucking awesome.

A Replacements cover that improves upon the original? Wow. Plus she's totally hot in the video.

[h/t Doug Watts]

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Gimmie Mick!

Courtesy of the good folks at Rhino Records, I just got a copy of The Very Best of Mick Jagger, which purports to anthologize the highpoints of what I (and I think most Stones fans) consider to be a solo career largely devoid of same.

To my surprise, however, it's much better than I expected. A lot of the stuff from the solo albums isn't as blah as I recalled ("Just Another Night," in particular, holds up rather well), there are two great previously unreleased tracks (one produced by John Lennon, the other a really terrific Sonny Boy Williamson tune cut live with ace L.A blues band The Red Devils and producer Rick Rubin), and I had completely forgotten how much fun the 1978 "Don't Look Back" duet with Peter Tosh was.

And, of course, there's this, which pretty much justifies the package all by itself.

With a mystery solved, incidentally -- it was heretofore well known that Ry Cooder was the guy playing all the cool guitar stuff; but Rhino's liner notes reveal that the rhythm section is none other than Stevie Winwood and the late Jim Capaldi.

A Hard Days Noche

Our co-blogger Kid Charlemagne turned me on to Los Shakers, AKA The Beatles of Uruguay, a few months ago when he posted the YouTube of their delightful "Break It All." Since then, I've been playing their even cuter Beatles 65 derived "Always You" obsessively.

Who knew there was a video?

Seriously, they had me from that adorable piano riff. What a wonderful band...

Tell Me About the War, Grandpa

steve's last post reminded me vividly that he and I are of different generations, musically speaking. (I was, err, born in 1966.) But I didn't really miss the sixties, because as the sixth of seven, I have many older siblings. Indeed, my musical education began at an alarmingly young age, probably around three or so. The first time I realized that some people have the same names was looking at those stickers included in the White Album and realizing that one of them had the same name as my father, another the same name as my brother. I must have been about 2.

My brothers hated disco to a person, so my childhood was spent listening to The Beatles and The Stones, The Kinks and Led Zeppelin, Creedence and The Who. (My sister, somewhat lamentably, was a Styx fan. I'll draw a veil over the year I spent waking up to either The Grand Illusion or Steve Miller's "Jet Airliner." I'm sure a good Freudian psychotherapist could help cleanse me, but that would be very expensive.)

In any case, I came of record-buying age just as power pop, or new wave or synth pop or whatever was hitting the ground. And I came in with a good solid base in the British Invasion.

All of which has little to do with this song, except that it was one of my faves at the time.


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

And Some People Thought The Last Waltz Was a Big Deal

And speaking of great concert movies, as we were yesterday, let us now praise the sequel to The Greatest Live Rock and Roll Extravaganza Ever Filmed.

That would be The Big T.N.T. Show, released to drive-ins everywhere by American International in 1966. As with its predecessor, it wouldn't be a big surprise If you're not familiar with it as there hasn't been an above ground video version since a mangled VHS release in the mid 80s. In any case, it's an almost equally astounding document -- a concert featuring pretty much everybody who was anybody in rock, pop, folk and r&b back then with the exception of the Beatles.

I'm not sure where it was shot -- I'm assuming at the same Santa Monica Civic Auditorium that hosted The T.A.M.I Show the year before -- but get a load of the talent line-up:

The Byrds
The Lovin' Spoonful
Ike and Tina Turner
Ray Charles
Roger Miller
Petula Clark
The Ronnettes
Joan Baez
Bo Diddley

Here's Joan Baez and Phil Spector, together again for the first time. Okay, this one has already frightened several people here, but c'mon -- Donovan's incoherent introduction for Joanie is worth the price of admission.

Bo Diddley
-- a man among men. With the Duchess, his gorgeous sister. (Okay, she really wasn't his sister)

The Byrds doing "Mr. Tambourine Man." Words fail me.

Ike and Tina Turner and a stunning version of "I Think It's Gonna Work Out Fine." Somebody asked me the other day -- "Back in the 50s, why did people wear buttons that said 'I Like Ike?' Because it couldn't have been Tina -- he beat the crap out of her."

The Lovin Spoonful, screwing up the intro to "Do You Believe in Magic." Watertiger knows the drummer, by the way.

The Ronettes, "Baby I Love You" and "Shout." Just like Ronnie sang....

Roger Miller tells the oldest joke in the book and gets a laugh anyway.

Okay, you get the idea (although it's too bad I couldn't find a clip featuring host David McCallum (yes, Ilya from The Man From Uncle. He sang, too).

Seriously, apart from the obvious, what's interesting about the film is that it documents the exact historical moment that rock 'n' roll became simply rock. In Donovan's segment, in particular, the crowd suddenly stops screaming and gets very, very still. You realize you're no longer at a rock show, but rather at a concert.

[h/t Brooklyn Girl]

Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here

The Beatles + Metallica = crap.

Seriously, I think we can agree that this is just plain wrong....

Monday, October 08, 2007

Pygmies Tramps and Thieves

Ready, Steady Go, 1965. Trust me, you won't believe this one.

Brian Jones and Cathy McGowan channel their inner Sonny and Cher, while Mick Jagger and Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham have a good old high camp hoot.

And Some People Thought Woodstock Was a Big Deal

Here's one more reason YouTube is the most important cultural development in the history of Western Civilization -- it's currently the only place you can see performances from The Greatest Live Rock and Roll Extravaganza Ever Filmed.

Of course, that would be The T.A.M.I. Show, released by American International to an unsuspecting world in the summer of 1965 as part of a double bill with one of their Frankie and Annette beach party epics.

If you're not familiar with it, that's not really surprising; there hasn't been an above ground video version since a mangled VHS release in the mid 80s. In any case, it's an astounding document -- a concert featuring pretty much everybody who was anybody in rock, pop and r&b back then with the exception of the Beatles.

This seismic event was shot at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium on October 28 and 29, 1964, and let's simply say that the phrase "be there or be square" has never been more apt.

The performers:

* The Barbarians
* The Beach Boys
* Chuck Berry
* James Brown & The Famous Flames
* Marvin Gaye
* Gerry and the Pacemakers
* Lesley Gore
* Jan and Dean
* Billy J. Kramer and The Dakotas
* Smokey Robinson and The Miracles
* The Rolling Stones
* The Supremes

Here's a clip (from about half way into the show) of the Beach Boys, in their striped shirts, doing "Surfer Girl." The crowd is going batshit by this point. (That's Jan and Dean doing the intro, BTW. They also did a lot of endearing low comedy throughout and sang the great theme song, "They're Coming From All Over the World").

And now marvel at James Brown and the Famous Flames doing "Please, Please, Please," complete with cape routine. When I first saw this, at the Oritani Theater in Hackensack, New Jersey, I was of course a 16 year old suburban white kid who had barely heard of James Brown or ever seen a live performance by a person of color. Speechless does not begin to describe my condition at its conclusion. Thunderstruck is more like it.

Mick Jagger and the Stones, who were scheduled to close the show, watched Brown from the wings and were scared shitless at the prospect of following him.

Here's how they responded. Pretty fly for a white guy, Mick.

And speaking of white, don't miss the then not a lesbian Lesley Gore doing the proto-feminist anthem "You Don't Own Me" over here. Sorry there's no embed, but the link works just fine.

There's much, much more -- the young Marvin Gaye, for example, simply oozes talent and sex appeal in his set, and you haven't lived until you've seen Smokey Robinson's dance moves on "Mickey's Monkey".

But the bottom line is -- this film needs to be on DVD, uncut and remastered. And pronto.

Update: Constant commenter Gummo informs us that The T.A.M.I. Show is indeed available at

I don't think I'd be out of line if at this point I mentioned I have a birthday coming up.

[h/t Brooklyn Girl]

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Oh. Dear.


Dad's Gonna Kill Me

As a sometime folkie, I've spent my time with Richard Thompson (and with Richard and Linda, when they were together). But I admit I did not know that he was a Muslim.
Like many young counterculture Westerners, Thompson was initially drawn to Islam through Sufism, with its emphasis on love and transformative spiritual experiences. He became a dedicated adherent, and now describes himself as a "liberal Muslim" rather than a Sufi. "I suppose you could call me a 'lapsed Sufi,'" he says, "but I still embrace the Sufic interpretation of Islam."

When it comes to famous British converts, there's Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam - and then there's Thompson. But he and his sometime bassist and fellow Muslim Danny Thompson (no relation) don't look like exotic specimens. They seem more like guys you could have a beer with down at the pub. Does he feel his visibility as a performer and a Western convert carries any responsibility?

"I hate to be a spokesman for anything as broad as Islam," says Thompson. "You can easily be misinterpreted. A lot of what is seen as Islam in the West comes from the loudest shouting voices, the neo-Islamic fundamentalists."

"The willingness to fight, the violent side, is a misinterpretation and a misapplication of the teachings of the Prophet," adds Thompson. "It ignores the heart of Islam: peace, generosity, and compassion. Islam is about winning hearts and minds."

Thompson's a thoughtful guy, and has some good things to say about writing and music and guitars. And George Bush.

When asked if he has any political comments for the blogosphere crowd he says:

"Impeach now."

And here's a link to the guy I knew at school who was a Thompson fanatic--you can really hear the influence.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Ming Tea

Sitting around with NTodd and watertiger and talking about Matthew Sweet, both alone and as part of Sid and Susie.

And they didn't realize that this had been their first outing.

It's so rare that my useless knowledge is not, you know, useless.

Your Concern is Noted

Apparently there wasn't enough of The Clash on the downstairs thread for some people.

[h/t John McPartlin]

Friday, October 05, 2007

Weekend Listomania (Special Agitprop Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental manservant Hop-Sing and I are heading to the Left Coast, where we will be spending the weekend at the palatial, yet tastefully appointed, estate of my dear friend David Horowitz as we prepare for for his upcoming Islamofascism Awareness Week.

This will mostly entail engaging various diaper services for when we all pee our pants in fear over the scary brown people lurking under our beds. So posting by moi will necessarily be sporadic for a bit.

In the meantime, here's another little project for you folks:

Best Pop/Rock Protest Song!!!!!!
[Mostly anti-war, but other grievances welcome. Folkies with acoustic guitars need not apply, unless I say so.]

My carefully considered (if not always totally serious) Top 11:

11. Rage Against the Machine -- Killing in the Name

10. The Specials -- Ghost Town

9. Bruce Springsteen -- Last to Die

8. Tom Robinson Band -- Glad to Be Gay

7. Bruce Springsteen -- American Skin

6. Mothers of Invention -- Trouble Comin' Every Day

5. Beastie Boys -- (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (to Party)

4. Edwin Starr -- War

3. Barry McGuire -- Eve of Destruction [I didn't much care for this at the time -- I still think it's a basically bogus song -- but in the mid 80s there was a ferocious cover version by Red Rockers that won me over. No vid of that, alas.]

2. The Searchers -- What Have They Done to the Rain?

and last but not choice for best rock protest song is....

A tie!!!!


1. Bruce Cockburn -- If I Had a Rocket Launcher

and Elvis Costello (natch) -- What's So Funny Bout Peace Love and Understanding!

Your thoughts?

Thursday, October 04, 2007

An Early Clue to the New Direction

The artist: Janis Ian. The venue: The Smothers Brothers Show. The kvetching: "Society's Child."

This was actually a pretty daring record in its day, and musically and lyrically it's remarkably sophisticated given the youth of its composer. Superbly produced, too, by the legendary Shadow Morton (hard to believe that the same guy who recorded something as earnest as this also midwived the Bad Girl epics of the Shangri-Las or a trash wallow like the New York Dolls Too Much Too Soon).

I just love the little instrumental flourish at the end -- what Leonard Bernstein, listening to the song on his 1966 CBS special "Inside Pop," referred to as "that arrogant organ."

Janis, of course, went on to bigger things in the 70s with "At Seventeen," an even more depressing song about an adolescence fatally scarred by kewl kids prejudice and facial blemishes.

In any case, a coveted PowerPop No-Prize will be awarded the first reader who divines the clip's relevance to the theme of tomorrow's Weekend Listomania.

Hey Good Lookin

Wow, here's one I didn't expect to see. From the Hollywood Palace in 1967, it's the Merry-Go-Round doing a medley of "Live" (famously covered by the Bangles), "You're a Very Lovely Woman" and "Listen, Listen." The cute singer is none other than power pop god Emitt Rhodes, seen here not long after his testicles descended.

I bring all this up because a few weeks ago I went to YouTube hoping to find some footage of these guys and crapped out. In despair, I prevailed upon my co-blogger Kid Charlemagne to burn me a copy of Listen, Listen: The Definitive Collection, an anthology of literally every note these guys recorded before imploding in 1969. I've been spinning it obsessively since it arrived, and then today on a whim I went back to YouTube and there it was. Lesson: YouTube may be greatest thing in the history of Western Civilization, but it needs to be attended to constantly.

Incidentally, Rhodes is somebody who deserves to be a lot better known. Back in 1970, he put out a winsomely melodic McCartneyesque solo album -- on which he wrote, sang and played every note -- that appeared at roughly the same time as the first solo album by the actual Paul McCartney. Critics of the time (myself included) were pretty much in agreement that Emitt's was by far the better of the two, and all these years later it's still hard to disagree.

He's been fitfully active in the business since then, but "Lullaby," one of the nicest songs from the album, was featured in the 2001 Wes Anderson film The Royal Tenenbaums.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Jaguar Ride

OK, I just picked up Big Beat's grrreat comp of Japanese 60s "Group Sounds" GS I Love You Too and in no time this tune ended up being the most played song on my iPod. This is The Jaguars running through a raved up version of their 1967 single Seaside Bound. Dunno why, but this stuff just really makes me happy.

Rock Criticism: Prejudice Made Plausible, or Just So Much Chin Music?

Alert readers may recall that I have on several occasions this year had a little fun at the expense of extremely irksome New York Times pop music critic Kelefa Sanneh, a guy who at heart believes that pop music really is (or at least should be) nothing more than good looking young kids with great haircuts. The kind of critic who could write embarassing sub-Tiger Beat gush like this --

There have been ominous signs for months. Like the pair of flip-flops that showed up in the mail, courtesy of some record label looking to influence the outcome. And the half-hearted arguments among friends who seemed to be merely going through the motions. And the stagnant pop charts, which all but eliminated suspense.

Yes, it’s probably time to stop talking about the so-called Song of the Summer

-- for the Newspaper of Record and yet not die of shame.

Alert readers will recall as well that I have found time to scratch my head over the fact that the Times pop music coverage generally (Sanneh's the worst, but he's not alone) is so ponderous and shallow while its movie coverage is so entertaining and perceptive.

So it was not without a certain irony when I noticed that the paper's really excellent Arts and Leisure feature on Bruce Springsteen and his new album this weekend was NOT by one of their pop guys, but rather by estimable film critic A.O. Scott (who got the album exactly right, I might add -- read it here). I don't know which Times editor was responsible for the decision to allow this little bit of turf poaching, but all I can say is -- more, please.

Meanwhile, you can contrast it with Hugo Lindgren's amusingly snarky but surprisngly obtuse take on the same album in this week's New York Magazine. Obtuse in the sense that Lindgren didn't seem to notice the 800 pound gorilla in the room, i.e., the album's Iraq War subtext.

Folk You!!!

For those who care, my review of Steve Earle's quite wonderful new album Washington Square Serenade is up at the website of the Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Review. Read it here, if you must.

In the meantime, here's a glimpse of Earle's hairline in happier days.

It's the title track from his 1996 post-rehab album I Feel Alright and thank god he meant it.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Tales from the Cryptkeeper

Thers recently blogged about our shitty car radio, which frequently only gets one station, and you don't get to pick it. Thus, my encounter with this song:

If you're reading this
My momma is sitting there
Looks like I only got a one way ticket over here
I sure wish I could give you one more kiss
War was just a game we played when we were kids
Well I'm laying down my gun
I'm hanging up my boots
I'm up here with God
And we're both watching over you

So lay me down
In that open field out on the edge of town
And know my soul
Is where my momma always prayed where it would go.
If you're reading this I'm already home.

It's a weird little tune, and a little out of place, because its closest cousin, as far as I can tell, is this poem: Rupert Brooke's "The Soldier."

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England's, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

There are a couple of differences here, which tell us something about the nature of nationalism and how it's changed in the last century. Brooke's Soldier is (a) still alive, (b) not religious ("a pulse in the eternal mind" is numinous at best), and (c) not a husband or son or daddy.

More importantly, Brooke's poem was written at the beginning of a horrific, pointless war in which he died, and was superceded by the far superior work of Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon. McGraw is, as far as I know, not a soldier, and if he were, the tune would maybe have been appropriate in 2003--now it's just bitter and horrible. I can understand that it might be comforting for those who have lost loved ones, but as a piece of propaganda, it's a day late and a dollar short. Brooke is only widely read because he perfectly captured that sort of nationalist fervor that lead to war, but McGraw's song, four years too late, is intended to bolster the flagging spirits of those who fear their loved ones have died for nothing.

Honestly, I'm just speechless.

Great Move!

Following up on Steve's post yesterday on the legendary Move, last month Salvo Music released what appear to be the definitive reissues of two of their classic LPs Move and Shazam.

Their 1968 pop-sike masterwork Move, has been expanded to two discs which include 34 indispensible tracks that perfectly encapsulate the humor, exuberance, and fancy of swinging London circa 1968. This Move maniac's dream package includes the original mono LP, Deram A&B sides plus a bonus CD of stereo mixes from the multi-track session tapes.

Their second LP Shazam, originally released in 1970 has been given the same loving treatment with 8 bonus tracks including previously unreleased songs, original demos, and an alternate mix of the band’s only UK No.1 single, Blackberry Way. Both discs have been remastered from the original master tapes by Rob Keyloch and Rob Caiger and if you have ever heard their work with the Move's Message from the Country, you are in for a sonic treat.

Yes, I confess, I already have three previous CD editions of both of these discs, but I can't wait to get my mitts on these! You can get them here or at any purveyor of fine pop music you fancy. Cheers!

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

Wow. Just finished my review of Steve Earle's Washington Square Serenade, which will be live at the website of The Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Review tomorrow, and guess what -- it's terrific (I mean the album, of course, although my review's not bad).

But you know what that means -- along with the new
(which I'm liking even more the longer I live with it) that means I've just heard two really good records by important figures who should be past their prime. Hell, if the forthcoming Neil Young is as good as the rumors have it, I'll have hit some kind of trifecta.

Too bad the music bizness as we know it is coming to an end, though, and sooner rather than later, apparently.

Anyway, speaking of Earle, here's the video for my favorite of his early songs, I Ain't Ever Satisfied.

Being that it's posted by the record company subsidiary of Engulf & Devour, there's no YouTube embed, but the link works well enough. The upside is that since it's posted by the record company subsidiary of Engulf & Devour, unlike most of the stuff on YouTube it's actually in stereo, like the album.

Hey, Hey, It's the Cleverly Brothers!

"Pretty Flamingo." Elvis Costello, Difford and Tillbrook of Squeeze, and Nick Lowe live at Montreux.

Contrary to what intrepid commentator Gummo said downstairs, I don't think this song is silly at all.


This has been another edition of What Thers Says....

When Yngwie Malmstein covering Kansas is a welcome relief, something's very, very wrong with the world.

Monday, October 01, 2007

After the Rising

For those who care, my review of Bruce Springsteen's Magic has just gone live at the website of The Magazine Formerly Known As Stereo Review.

A long time ago — May of 1968, to be precise — first-generation rock critic Jon Landau reviewed Bob Dylan's John Wesley Harding in Crawdaddy (which, by the way, has recently been revived — online), and he summed it up with this particularly felicitous and insightful phrase: "Dylan has felt the War."

It is, to say the least, a tad ironic that lo these many years later, a similar phrase could be tagged to Bruce Springsteen's Magic — and not just because Landau has been Springsteen's manager for longer than some people who will buy this album have been alive. But yes, the specter of Iraq does haunt some of the songs here — and not just the explicitly antiwar "Last to Die," a fairly heartbreaking piece of work, it should be noted, albeit more in resignation than in anger...

You can read the rest of it here.