Monday, December 31, 2007

It was 30 years ago...

Here's the Electric Light Orchestra with Mr Blue Sky from their 1977 LP Out of the Blue. It received a deluxe reissue on Sony Legacy a couple of years back that is worth checking out if you are a fan. The LP was also included in Robert Dimery's book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Hope you are all enjoying the New Year's festivities! Cheers!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Saturday Glam Blogging...

The "bump" was the dance craze that was sweeping the nation in 1975 and glam also-rans Kenny tried to cash in with this dance number that hit #3 on the charts that year.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Weekend Listomania (Special We Can Dream, Can't We? Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental manservant Hop-Sing and I are off to the San Francisco Zoo, where we will be attending a memorial for somebody or other. We're not sure what exactly the occasion is, but apparently someone named Cat Power will be performing, so it could be a hot one. In any case, posting by moi will necessarily be sporadic for a few days.

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

You know -- some really fabulous song you'd really like to hear some favorite artiste -- solo or group -- perform or record, but so far they haven't gotten around to it (the bastards!!!).

Okay, my totally off the top of my head Top Ten:

10. The Hold Steady -- The Boys Are Back in Town [Thin Lizzy]
They've probably jammed on it a thousand times -- it's about time they go public for gosh sakes.

9. The Posies -- Carrie-Ann [The Hollies]
They already proved they were genetically bred to do Hollies songs with their version of "King Midas in Reverse" -- just think what they would bring to the sunniest of the Clarke-Hicks-Nash classics.

8. The Pretenders -- Every Little Bit Hurts [Brenda Holloway]
My fave 60s soul ballad/torch song would be a natural for Chrissie Hynde, I suspect.

7. Neko Case -- The First Cut Is The Deepest [Cat Stevens]
Because she'd do it better than Sheryl Crow, duh.

6. Steve Earle -- Street Fighting Man [The Rolling Stones]
C'mon -- this is the job he was born for.

5. Bob Mould -- Calvary Cross [Richard Thompson]
On the 1994 Thompson tribute album Beat the Retreat, Mould turned the rockabilly tinged "Turning of the Tide" into a killer piece of buzz-saw punk. I swoon to imagine what he could do with Thompson's most intensely doom-haunted song....

4. Emmylou Harris -- Withered and Died [Richard and Linda Thompson]
I can't recall if Emmy has ever covered a Thompson song, but if she was of a mind to, this one is so heartbreaking I don't know if we'd survive the hearing.

Update: Astute reader Virgotex alerts me in comments that Emmy has, in fact, covered a Thompson song -- the sublime "Dimming of the Day" -- on her Portraits album. "Withered and Died," however, still awaits the Harris caress.

3. Elvis Costello and the Attractions -- Sooner or Later (One of Us Must Know) [Bob Dylan]
If anybody is going to do the most majestic "Blonde On Blonde" song it should be these guys.

2. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers -- 19th Nervous Breakdown [The Rolling Stones]
Jagger's snarl would morph into Petty's sly drawl pretty good, doncha think?

And the number one cover I'd love to hear is....

1. Led Zeppelin -- Bits and Pieces [Dave Clark Five]
For obvious reasons.....

Okay -- what would be your picks?

[h/t FeralLiberal]

Thursday, December 27, 2007

An Early Clue to the New Direction

From the Letterman Show (not sure exactly when), here's Elvis Costello and the divine Emmylous Harris with a lovely version of the Everly Brothers' oft-covered 1960 classic "Love Hurts."

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

A True Testimonial

You know, I really hate having to agree with Dave Marsh on anything, but I'm beginning to think that the MC5 probably were the most exciting American live act of the 60s.

That's an obscure Jerry Lee Lewis song, BTW -- and today's first clue to the theme of tomorrow's Listomania.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Miracles of Modern Chemistry

Shane McGowan, who shares his December 25th birthday with someone or other, turns an improbable 50. How has he lived so long? The booze, he says.

"Smoking, drinking, partying -- that's why I've stayed alive as long as I have," the hard-boozing MacGowan told Britain's Daily Mirror, while flat out on his back in a trashed London hotel room.

"And I've got better with age, that's what's meant to happen. I party my way through life, it's what I like to do.

But the big news in the interview is that we, the parents of Liberal Mountain, are going to have to come up with a new negative exempla to enforce rules concerning dental hygeine.

MacGowan said he does not have own mobile phone, a computer or an iPod, but might treat himself to some teeth in the new year. MacGowan's mouth is rock's most notorious dental disaster zone.

"I am going to get my teeth done -- emergency dentures to stop my face falling apart," he said.

"It's not painful but your bone structure is kept in by your teeth, so I might get some dentures in and leave it at that, or get them done gradually."

Timothy Spall might do in a pinch....

Surrender to the Snark

My new favorite band -- The Electric Six.

I'm not a hundred percent sure what these guys are up to in the larger sense, but they make me laugh anyway. There's a level of insincerity here that I find hilarious.

Plus "I don't mind your rabid doggy" may be the greatest opening line in rock history....

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

From the PowerPop family to yours.

And from Liberal Mountain, too, where a young Mike Nesmith shares tea with a young Sinead O'Connor.

Have Yourself a Merry Little Etc.......

I first posted this the other week, but my opinion hasn't changed since -- it remains the most touching Christmas song yet written in the 21st century.

Above the rooftops
The full moon dips its golden spoon
I wait on clip-clops -- deer might fly
Why not?
I met you

Maybe it's the season, but that just kills me...

Monday, December 24, 2007

Year of the Pig

Off to Sodom on the Hudson for some forced holiday gaiety.

While I'm gone, enjoy this revelatory new version of a Christmas favorite.

Don't worry, I'll put up something sentimental that makes me cry when I get back....

A Christmas Gift For You

A Fab Four TV appearance I'll bet you've never seen before...

I had no idea the Beatles were Martians....

This is Not a Christmas Post

For some reason, the other day I was having a discussion about Pink Floyd with somebody and I blurted out "I don't get David Gilmour." Then I found this utterly lovely version of a great Richard Thompson song.

I now get David Gilmour.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

X-treme Xmas Songs

Here's post-grunge Seattle powerpoppers Super Deluxe with a touching seasonal number from their 1995 Electric Holiday EP. The shredding Santas are a nice touch!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Saturday Holiday Glam Blogging

Here's Slade, the favorite earache of the 70s British teenager with their 1973 #1 Christmas hit Merry Xmas Everybody. Cheers!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Weekend Listomania (Special Armadillo in the Trousers Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental manservant Hop-Sing and I are off to Princeton University to attend the Annual Northern New Jersey Organgina Festival with our old chastity buddy Francisco Nava ('09). Obviously, there'll be no hanky-panky of any kind, at least for a few days, 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:

All-Time Top Pop/Rock Male Sex Object
You know -- the cutest, the hottest, the most historically significant, the one that you most wanted to be or boink. However you define it, either solo artist or in a band.

Alert readers will, of course, recall that last week I posted my fave female pop/rock eye candy, so it seems only logical to flip the premise this time out. And to bring in an expert from the other team.

Therefore, please give it up for special guest blogger the divine Brooklyn Girl, who will now offer her carefully considered Top Ten, along with accompanying pithy and mildly salacious comments.

Go get 'em, BG!!!

10. Barry Gibb

Those legs! Those teeth! That hair! And a falsetto to die for. Where would John Travolta be without him?

9. Steven Tyler

So he has a mouth bigger than the Holland Tunnel, he moves like a spastic marionette, and you wouldn't bring him home to meet your mother … he'd either try to ball her or he'd raid her scarf drawer. But still ...

8. Prince

Name me one other small-boned man who can wear ruffles, purple suits, eye make-up and high heels, and still come across suavely macho. Oh, did I mention that he can dance, too?

7. Lou Reed

Sullen and volatile … art rock's bad boy. And who can resist a bad boy?

6. Bruce Springsteen

Somewhere along the line, when Bruce cleaned himself up a little and discovered free weights, he got hot. He's usually pretty discreet, but when he stands up and slowly adjusts the microphone … I can't imagine what he's implying there, can you?

5. Jeff Beck

I know he doesn't sing. And maybe he doesn't even play rock (he's the only one of the Yardbirds' guitarists not in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame). And yes, he has a big nose (but we know what that means … or is it big hands? Either way, he's got it covered). Anyway, no other guy exudes such heat without even opening his mouth. Especially one who is over sixty.

4. Jim Morrison

Leather pants? In 1967? Oy gevalt.

3. Michael Hutchence

Okay, maybe he's somewhat derivative of the previous guy on the list, but he positively oozes lust out of every pore ... he's not exactly subtle (after all, he's wearing a pin that says "SEX") but if I looked and moved like that, I wouldn't be subtle, either.

2. Mick Jagger

Always in control, always in command. He put it right out there forty years ago (talk about eye-fucking the camera!)...

...and he still does.

1. Elvis Presley

The Once and Future King. Even after 50 years. Not only was he astoundingly handsome, he had that perfectly curled lip, the little shoulder twitch, and the famous Sulllivan-banned pelvis …no wonder the girls squealed.

Okay -- those are BG's picks. So who are your faves? And by the way -- is it getting warm in here, or is just me?

[special thanks for kibbitzing: slutty jewish girl]

[Editor's note: Steve asked me to post this for him while he was away. Kid C.]

Thursday, December 20, 2007

An Early Clue to the New Direction

From 1980, here's magnificently coiffed former teen idol Rex Smith and his thrash metal classic "Woman."

A coveted PowerPop No-Prize will be awarded to the reader who first divines the clip's relevance to the theme of tomorrow's Listomania (which, incidentally, will be going up a tad later than usual, as I'm off to Gomorrah on the Hudson for a pre-holiday assignation).

The Rock Reunion of the Year....

...isn't Led Zeppelin.
(Jimmy Page, feh!)

...isn't The Police
(bite me, Sting!)

And it's not even The Stooges
(okay, their new album is really good, but never mind).

No, hands down it's these guys!

That's Any Trouble, of course, and I have loved them with a red hot passion since their utterly addictive first album Where Are All the Nice Girls appeared on Stiff Records back in 1980. They were the perfect unpretentious pop rock package -- a classic two guitars/bass/drums lineup with a brilliantly emotive frontman/auteur in Clive Gregson and a hot lead player in Chris Parks, along with gloriously melodic songs (mostly about girls) full of passion, humor, and drive, plus the best Bruce Springsteen cover ever ("Growin' Up"). They should have been huge, and probably would have if not for Gregson's superficial resemblance (both visually and as a writer) to Elvis Costello, but they were surprisingly influential -- my own band back then stole so much from them it should have been criminal -- and this week, when I accidentally discovered that they'd just released Life in Reverse, their first new album since 1984 (on the revived Stiff label), it was as close to a religious experience as I've had in ages. (And don't even ask how I felt when I first watched the video for "That Sound" -- it was the new Any Trouble song of my dreams made flesh).

Oh, and here's the bonus: I never got a chance to see them live, to my eternal regret, but after chancing across this new stuff, imagine my astonishment when I discovered there's at long last a high quality video of them at their peak (early '81) on YouTube (complete with hilarious banter with a Swedish TV host whose English could be better).

Incidentally, if this stuff does it for you, Gregson has had a long and quite wonderful career on his own; he did a memorable stint in Richard Thompson's band, and more recently he's been working with Nanci Griffiths. In the meantime, that first album has been reissued in an expanded remastered version and needless to say you should get it immediately.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Wednesday Wayne: Holiday Edition

and a non-Wayne bonus.

Wayne Wednesday

Just holding down the fort until NYMary stops by with the real thing...

You see, that's Wayne Fontana of the's a little joke because NYM usually puts up a Wednesday Wayne, i.e., a Fountains of Wayne clip.

Get it -- Wayne Wednesday? Wednesday Wayne?

Oh, never mind....

Scenes from a Marriage

Richard and Linda Thompson and "A Heart Needs a Home," from the Old Grey Whistle Test in 1975.

I don't know what's more startling about this clip -- the hushed intensity of Linda's vocal or the crystalline delicacy of Richard's deceptively simple finger-picking. In any case, watching it feels almost cleansing, psychically speaking, especially if you've been obsessing, as I have, over the various appalling stories out of the presidential campaign of late.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Une Fille Américaine

Petty and the Heartbreakers, 1978.

This is what it looks like at that frozen moment in time when you just happen to be the greatest rock 'n' roll band in the world.

Tuesday Monkees Blogging

No particular reason -- I just love this clip.

BTW, if you've never ingested a mind-altering substance and sat down for a viewing of
the movie
from whence it comes, you're missing one of life's most interesting experiences -- in particular, the scene where the band is combed like dandruff from the hair of a giant Victor Mature....

Monday, December 17, 2007

Sympathy for the Devil

Steely Dan auteur Donald Fagen gives the late Ike Turner his due in today's Slate.

Most all the musicians of my acquaintance know the legend of Robert Johnson, the great Delta bluesman. At a crossroads at midnight, Robert meets the devil (or Eshu or Papa Legba) and, in exchange for his immortal soul, comes away with supernatural skills as a singer and guitarist. Many versions of this Faustian story put the crossroads at Clarksdale, Miss., where Highway 49 meets Highway 61.

Muddy Waters was raised in Clarksdale. John Lee Hooker and Sam Cooke were born and grew up there. Ike Turner was a Clarksdale boy, too. This was the 1930s in the Deep South. Real bad stuff happened. Nevertheless, by the time he was a teenager, Ike could bang out a boogie on the piano and play the guitar with an authentic Delta twang. But, in truth, talented as he was, there wasn't anything really supernatural about Ike's skills as a musician. His singing was always spirited, but, relative to the wealth of local competition, no big deal. What Ike excelled at was leadership: conceptualization, organization, and execution. It's intriguing to think: If Ike walked down to the crossroads one moonless night, what exactly did he ask for?...

A really brilliant piece -- you can read the rest of it here.

Fuck you Fagen. I hate it when musicians make better rock critics than rock critics.

[h/t Eric C. Boardman]

Programming Notes From All Over

From today's New York Times:

The Early Years of Rock, Later Than Previously Thought

Any documentary series about the history of rock music that manages to get through its first show without mention of Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly or Chuck Berry, and only a passing reference to the Beatles — well, you have to admire its assertiveness.

And there is a lot of attitude to wade through in “The Seven Ages of Rock,” the series that starts Monday night on VH1 Classic and runs through Sunday.

The producer, William Naylor, is a longtime British documentarian with four earlier series on songwriting to his credit, including “Dancing in the Street” (1996), a 10-part look at rock music’s evolution. For this revisitation he has sliced a very large pie into subgenres, not so much separate ages as competing categories, everything from art rock to punk, heavy metal to alternative.

The first episode claims to examine “The Birth of Rock,” setting 1965 as Year 1....

Read the rest here.

Could be a hot one. Here in the NYC area, the show airs at 9pm. Check your local time and cable listing.

Things That Make Us Go 'Huh?"

Long time readers are aware that I have a major thing for the Mother of Us All, a/k/a Patti Smith, so -- especially in the light of Friday's Weekend Listomania -- I thought this little artifact might be worth sharing (I know some of you have already seen it, but indulge me).

I interviewed Patti for Stereo Review back in August of '78, when she was touring the Easter album, and she said something to me in passing that made me raise an eyebrow.

"Y'know, the same girl that takes Jimi Hendrix as a master has learned a lot from Debby Boone this year.

"I really mean it. I've watched Debby Boone sing "You Light Up My Life" maybe fifteen, twenty times. Each time...perfect. Each time with total, focused, concentrated commitment to delivering that song. Which I think is real good.

"Now I ain't a Debby Boone fan, specifically, and I ain't gonna start wearing chiffon tent dresses tomorrow. But I did learn something by watching that. Especially considering the fact that I'm about to have a hit single. I've got to be able to deliver that song ["Because the Night"] with all the strength and integrity and clarity that I was able to deliver it with in the studio. And if Debby Boone can do it, I certainly can do it."

Call me naive, but I basically assumed she was kidding.

Guess what? She wasn't.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Saturday Glam Blogging...

Here's Hello with their 1975 single New York Groove, written by ex-Argent guitarist Russ Ballard. This song reached number 9 on the U.K. charts in October, 1975. All you members of the Kiss Army probably remember Ace's version on his 1978 solo LP. Personally, I dig the luuded-out Bo Diddley beat on this tune. Cheers!

Overexposure: A Rumination

I, too, had my fill of Eddie Money in the 80's. But he was a good godfather to a lot of powerpop bands, particularly 20/20, and so he shouldn't take too much slagging here.

But it got me thinking about how much damage overexposing a band can do. Decisions about radio play and other forms of publicity are increasingly made by smaller and smaller numbers of people: many young people who aspired to be DJs have left in disgust at the miniscule amount of creative control they actually have. (And now that Mitt Romney owns ClearChannel, I'm sure that will get much better.)

When a song is in heavy rotation, it's often played as much as once an hour. For someone who has the radio on at work, that's eight or nine times a day this thing comes on. You get sick of it. But that skews your response to it, too. It's hard to strip away the associations of a song and remember how it hit you that first time.

Case in point:

(Jesus fuck, Janeane was young! And I swear to Ba'al this has never ever occurred to me before, but we're supposed to hear "My Winona," aren't we? Huh.)

Now objectively, it's a great song. Yeah, it's unusual and innovative to have the rhythm line be the hook, but it totally works on a level of composition, and its earwormy nature ought to be a plus.

But who among us is not fucking sick of this song?

And I'm not defending "Take Me Home Tonight"--far from it. But if "Two Tickets to Paradise" can't get some love, we might as well pack it in and start listening to Radiohead.

So I ask you: is it ever really possible to hear an overexposed song as though it were the first time?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Weekend Listomania (Special Hubba Hubba! Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental manservant Hop-Sing and I are off to a prayer retreat with Republican presidential cadidate Alan Keyes, a man who absolutely, positively is not
batshit insane, so our lives will probably not be in jeopardy. Nevertheless, posting by moi will be necessarily sporadic for a while while we find out for sure.

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

All-Time Pop/Rock Female Sex Object
You know -- the cutest, the hottest, the most historically significant, the one that you most wanted to boink. However you define it, either solo artist or in a band.

My carefully considered Top Ten:

10. The Duchess (Bo Diddley's gorgeous sister)

Note: She's the one with the guitar.

9. Joan Jett

I would so switch teams for that woman.

8. Kim Wilde

Those lips! Those eyes! Those cheekbones!!!

7. Patti Smith

Around the time this clip was made, Patti famously told a magazine that she'd actually jerked off to her album cover, just to see what it would be like for her fans. I find that...intriguing.

6. Marianne Faithfull

Wotta babe.

5. Grace Slick

Wotta babe.

4. Courtney Love

Hey, what can I tell you -- as NYMary put it, I like 'em disheveled.

3. Chrissie Hynde

Oy gevalt.

2. Pink

Look in the dictionary under "fiercely erotic" and there's a picture of her.

...and my number one all-time rock female sex object is....

1. Ronnie Spector!!!

Ah, Ronnie. Has there ever been a sexier video for a crappy song by a doughy white guy who gets upstaged by his female guest star? Seriously -- that silhouetted wiggle, that cigarette being crushed by the high heel, that first moment when she sings "Be my little baby...." God, I love that woman.

Okay -- who are your faves?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

You Can't Be Too Strong

I've been meaning to post this since I discovered it two weeks ago. About fricking time, Steve.

Yep, it's Graham Parker and the Rumour with "Nobody Hurts You" from Squeezing Out Sparks, one of the most emotionally resonant and viscerally exciting albums ever made.

Keith Richards
famously observed that on any given night somebody somewhere is the greatest rock 'n' roll band in the world. Obviously, there were many nights in 1979, as GP and company toured that album, that they more than deserved the accolade....

An Early Clue to the New Direction

From her 1968 album Way Out West, here's the pneumatic Mae West with her cosmic re-working of "Great Balls of Fire."

A coveted PowerPop No-Prize will be award the first reader who divines its connection to the theme of tomorrow's Weekend Listomania.

And may I just add -- if you get this one, you're good.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

R.I.P. Ike Turner.

You son-of-a-bitch.

Regrets? I've Had a Few...

This is a very sad story, so please try not to laugh.

First, the dramatis personae.

The gentleman on the right is Tommy Womack, a versatile rock utility infielder who's made a lot of excellent music over the years; I particularly recommend an album he did as a member of The Bis-Quits (on John Prine's Oh Boy! label -- look for it) and his solo debut Positively Na-Na, featuring the absolutely brilliant "What Ever Happened to Cheetah Chrome?" (scroll down for a listen).

More to the point, however, the tall, lanky, slighty androgynous blonde in the middle is the redoubtable Marshall Chapman, a fabulous singer/songwriter/guitarist who is the grandniece of Amelia Erhardt and who for a brief moment in the late 70s came this close to being the country-rock Patti Smith or Chrissie Hynde. I interviewed Marshall for Stereo Review back in the 70s and got to know her fairly well. I also had a mad crush on her, which is to say I would have killed to boink her, and the same might have been said for the twenty or thirty people I dragged to her shows over the years. Men, women, gay, straight -- everybody wanted her.

Anyway, sometime in '79, I think, my first wife and a few friends went to see her at some dive in NYC, and when the show was over, they went to another bar down the street while I went backstage to pay my respects. Marshall then proceeded to put her arm around me (have I mentioned that she's like 6'1"?), and said to me (have I mentioned that her voice is a breathy marvel, like Katherine Hepburn with a southern drawl?) and I quote: "Steve -- have you got a girlfriend tonight?"

Shmuck that I am, I allowed as how, oh gosh, I'm sorry, but yeah I do, and said my goodbyes. Fifteen minutes later I had rejoined the wife, and told her the story. At which point she looked at me as if I was some kind of mongrel idiot and said "You didn't go home with her? Are you out of your mind? Don't you know that someday you're going to be 87 years old and sitting on a park bench in Miami, and you're going to think back on not having grabbed the chance to boink her -- and you're going to have a stroke and die?"

My first wife, folks.

I told you this was a sad story. Please -- try not to laugh...

Postscript: In 2003, Marshall wrote Goodbye Little Rock and Roller, an absolutely lovely autobiographical memoir (in which that episode does not, alas, appear) and you should order it from Amazon pronto. It comes with a CD of some of her best songs, BTW.

Wednesday Wayne

I get a little silly in the last week of the semester....

Happy Hannukah from Yo La Tengo!

Every year, Yo La Tengo play the eight nights of Hannukah at Maxwell's in Hoboken.
Every night, they have a different guest act.

Sunday night was Redd Kross, and roving PowerPop reporter Deeptoej was there!

His Report:

Um, it was a pretty good time, if you're into like, joy and bliss and stuff.

Redd Kross opened the show. Robert and Steve were dressed more or less as they did at Southpaw. Jeff was wearing a Hannah Montana t-shirt. They did a slightly shorter version of the Southpaw set, with a few surprise additions. First off, in the spirit of the Hanukkah celebrations, they did 2 songs by Jewish musicians "of the female persuasion": Anna Waronker's "I Wish You Well" (sorry Mary, but it's true) and "You Love It" by Peaches(!?!) Then they played "Look on Up at the Bottom," which I was extra happy to hear. Georgia from Yo La Tengo was up front bopping along in front of me and Marc for the whole set. (They dedicated a couple of songs to her.) It was great because the place was packed with people who weren't necessarily Redd Kross fans, and they got a great reception.

Following YLT Hanukkah tradition, next up was a comedian named Heather Lawless, who was pretty funny, sort of rambling and slightly disturbing.

Yo La Tengo's set was really good, I enjoyed them more than the last time I saw them. I think Georgia is my favorite drummer in indie rock, along with the New Pornographers guy. (New Porns are rumored to be opening tonight, by the way. Probably true, because they're in New York this week.)

THEN, the encore set. They invited all of Redd Kross back on stage (Roy played a second little drum kit in front of Georgia, Robert was on guitar with Ira, James on bass, and Jeff and Steve were swapping lead vocals up front.) They played:

September Gurls
Bus Stop
Who Loves the Sun?
Calling Dr. Love (Roy sang the first verse, then Robert most of the rest).

I swear I'm not making this up. Probably the most fun 15 minutes of music in my entire life.

Then Redd Kross left the stage, and Ira's mother came up to sing "My Little Corner of the World," which was a nice capper.

After the set, Steve was hanging around by the bar, and Marc {Bendian, of The Dawn of Mechanized Farming} said, "Let's go talk to your boy" and before I knew it, I was babbling like an idiot at Steve McDonald, who was totally cool and nice, oh my God!!! I told him that I was talking to a friend {That would be me. --NYM}at Southpaw about That Dog and Anna Waronker and that my friend had said "Anna Waronker wrote the best kiss-off song of all time, called 'I Wish You Well'", and Steve was all like "oh wow, that's so freaky," but with like, total wide-eyed sincerity. Then he asked me what my name was (I think I answered correctly), and he was like "Great to me you, I'm Steve," and I was like "I KNOW!" Then I told him how I got busted for public urination in Trenton the last time I saw Redd Kross and Yo La Tengo play together, in 1991, and he was still cool, but I could tell I was losing him a little, so I split before I got worse.

Marc said I wasn't embarrassing, and I think he would have told me the truth. (By the way, Marc is a big Yo La Tengo fan, and was not a Redd Kross fan, and he thought RK stole the show.)

I shall do my level best not to strangle Deeptoej for hearing Redd Kross play "I Wish You Well" and "September Gurls" while I did not. He's a wonderful person, but..... man. As Kevin Kline says: "DISAPPOINTED!" But so cool to get a report.

At Yo La Tengo's site, they have pics and complete recaps of all the evenings in question.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Last Minute Gift Ideas...

I was scoping out the website of legendary independent label Bomp! Records, yesterday and was thrilled to see an annoucement for the publication of BOMP : Saving The World One Record At A Time.

Those plugged into the powerpop scene know that the Bomp! label issued singles by such archetypal bands as Shoes, 20/20, and the Flamin' Groovies, as well as many of the more interesting LA punk bands of the day. It was also an influential rock mag/fanzine that covered the burgeoning powerpop and punk scene of the late 70s, as well as reviving and popularizing obscure and cool 60s musical artifacts. Esteemed rock writers Lester Bangs, Greil Marcus, Ken Barnes, Gene Sculatti and label owner Greg Shaw all graced the pages of Bomp! at one time or another, and I personally treasure each and every issue that I own.

So, a new retrospective compilation pulling together much of that great rock and roll writing is a dream come true for those of us who have been trying to track down missing issues over the years. According to the website, it features full color repros of the Bomp's predecessor, Mojo Navigator (1966 to 1967) as well as its successors, including repros of the Bomp! fanzine and magazine from 1974 to 1979. In the words of Co-Editor Suzy Shaw:

The idea for this book came in the early '80s right after BOMP magazine first folded. It seemed a tragedy that the earliest works of so many great writers and artists would be lost to the ages, and we knew that somehow we needed to reproduce as much of the historic material as we could in book form. But assembling the material was an enormous task that would involve years of work, a team of artists and writers, and certainly a lot of money. And although Greg and I never gave up on the idea, we couldn't manage to find the time and make the connections to do it right. When Greg died I knew it was the most important job I had, as this book is not just the story of BOMP and Greg Shaw, but a unique document of a time, place, and perspective in the history of rock and roll. This is a work beyond anything Greg and I could have dreamed of, thanks to the hard work and dedication of many talented people, and of course thanks to all of you, my customers, for making it all possible.

This is a must-purchase for record collectors and fans of 60s influenced rock and roll. Get it now in a deal that includes a cool Bomp! T-shirt here!

It's Crying Time Again

So the subject of pop/rock Christmas tunes came up the other day somewhere -- probably over at Eschaton -- and I remarked that there hadn't been a really good new one since the Pretenders' "2000 Miles" back in 1983.

Turns out I was wrong.

That's "All That I Want," by the utterly charming pop/folk duo The Weepies. It is, of course, a fiendish earworm that has been chewing at my cerebellum for a week or so of late since I noticed it in a J.C. Penny ad, but I hadn't realized it was a holiday song until I found that YouTube yesterday. In any case, it's wonderful; Deb Talan has the most adorable voice I've heard in ages, and then there's this bit in the lyrics

Above the rooftops
The full moon dips its golden spoon
I wait on clip-clops, deer might fly
Why not? I met you

which just kills me. What could be more improbable or too much to hope for than falling in love, and yet...

Okay, I'll just say it -- these guys are for the moment at least my favorite band.

Oh, and this song is another reason why.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Way Beyond the Bandcrush: Redd Fucking Kross!

Saturday night, Thers and I met up with a bunch of our friends to go see Redd Kross play at Southpaw, in Brooklyn.


To be clear, Redd Kross are the tits. They are the shit-kickingest, hippest, goofiest, funniest, most melodic and best stage show I've ever seen. And now that they're back with the best lineup ever (Robert Hecker on guitar, and Roy McDonald on drums), they're on their game in that transcendent way most bands only dream about.

So, the show. We were there, as were many of our dear friends, and several luminaries. I'm concretely confident that the lanky redhead with the aspirational goatee was A.C. Newman, and that the fellow in the black wool coat who kept bumping me with his ass was Colin Moulding. (watertiger is skeptical of this surmise, but as I noted to Deeptoej, if Andy Partridge doesn't know where he is, why should we assume we do? And as he noted to me, there probably aren't a whole lot of people in the US who would recognize him better than I. I think I'm right about this one, seriously.) We were right next to Boston indie god John Hovorka (who used to play with a friend of ours, and yet I didn't recognize him until after). Our crowd got separated by an influx of people pushing toward the stage, but I stayed near watertiger and Brooklyn Girl much of the night.

One weird thing was this lanky drunk blonde girl who kept pushing in front of us. Now, I'm a short person, and I wanted to see this goddamn show. So when a 6'3" model in a sparkly shirt repeatedly kept trying to horn in, we got pissed. (Kudos to the young woman next to me who threatened to punch her in the uterus, but watertiger's trip was probably more effective.) Show etiquette is weird, but she clearly crossed the line.

But the show--oh the show.

The pics are from my cell, and Thers kept the setlist: (which will be inserted when he gives it to me in a form I can read--he has appalling handwriting, truly).

Redd Kross have a very very specific place in my heart--when Thers and I were just buds hanging out in grad school and I had ample reason not to flirt with him (spouse, toddler), he made me a Redd Kross tape. It was miraculous, my first awareness that there was something out there that connected with the music I had adored but had fallen away from, that punch-in-the-gut immediate connection you get sometimes. And since he was integrated into their batshit, passionate fan base, the sort of folks who collect b-sides and go to every show in the area (and one notable instance when we drove fifteen hundred miles to see them--as openers), he was the perfect person to keep lending me cassettes of their stuff. That discovery lead to the discovery of a lot of other things, and eventually to the life I'm now living, where hanging out with my best friend and listening to cool music is pretty much the rule of the day.

Jeff's 44 now, and Steve 40, according to Wiki, but you can't tell that from their energy levels. They bounced and danced and played the audience like a fucking drum. Barefooted Robert jerked like a Peter Garrett marionette under the control of a spastic puppeteer, but when he burst into a solo, it was impossible to watch anything else, even in his Tony Manero suit. (The others were similarly fabulously dressed, Jeff in a clover green suit with bright red shoes, Steve in a red tux shirt with a Red Cross armband, and Roy in shirt like a polka-dot purse from Target.) Stage banter included the songs Robert played for his kids (Bach, then "What a Day for a Daydream" and "Across the Universe") and frequent imprecations from Steve to make more noise (which had to be ironic). Jeff, who sweats a lot for a skinny guy, was absolutely magnetic, whether jumping in front of the monitors to connect with the crowd (I think he sweat on me), flinging picks to the cute chicks (watertiger got one, which she gave to me in a gesture of friendship so overwhelming I'm still verklempt), or simply rattling a tambourine while Robert did his thing. Two encores, including the theme from "Good Times."

So, a great night with a great band. I'm still pumped.

(Cross-posted at WhiskeyFire)

Baby Got Smack

A confession: Basically, up till now I've gone out of my way to avoid encountering any music by Brit bad boy Pete Doherty and his band Babyshambles, on the seemingly sensible theory that any pop act that's in the UK tabloids all the time because of conspicuous substance abuse is probably not worth listening to. But then today I thought -- hey, I love tab queen Amy Winehouse, and she's more fucked up than the drummer that got thrown out of Guns n Roses for being too fucked up to be in Guns n Roses, so maybe I'm just being a snob.

So I decided to check out this most recent Babyshambles single on YouTube.

To my not so considerable amazement, the band turns out to be be pretty much what I expected -- i.e., just like the early Kinks, except without the genius songwriter and the cool guitar player.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Saturday Glam Blogging...

Here's Chris Spedding "minding the gap" between glam and punk with his neat 1975 single Motorbikin' which reached no. 14 on the UK charts in that year. While it's a pretty straight forward rockin' track, I'm pegging it as glam for a couple of reasons. First, it appeared on Mickie Most's RAK label, which housed other glam stalwarts such as Mud and Suzi Quatro. Secondly, it was also anthologized on the first really serious look back at the glam period, The Great Glam Rock Explosion LP released in the late 80s. Plus, the solo wouldn't sound out of place on a Sweet record either. Have a glamtastic S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y Night!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Weekend Listomania (Special There is Nothing Like a Dame Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental manservant Hop-Sing and I are off to Hollywood, where we've been offered cameo roles in the new J.J. Abrams Star Trek movie. Apparently, we're going to be playing green Orion slave girls, which in the little yellow devil's case is apparently against his religion, so I may have to apply the lash.

In any case, 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 Song With A Girl's Name in the Title!!!!!!
You know -- the catchiest, the best written, the most historically significant, the one that most reminds you of a girl you actually knew. However you define it.

[Oh, and BTW -- the word "girl" here is used in a deliberately anachronistic, ironic Sixties Pop-contextual way. Obviously, we know that these are all songs about strong, confident "women" who don't need men in their lives as anything other than large, hairy vibrators with lots of good attachments.]

In any case, my totally top of my head Top Ten would be....

10. (a tie) Four Seasons -- Marlena

and Suzanne Vega -- Marlena On the Wall

[The Four Seasons had lots of songs with girls names, but this one, while a tad obscure, is clearly the champ as Pure Pop. Those falsetto "roop-eee-doops" at the end are absolutely sublime, IMHO]

9.Leonard Cohen -- Suzanne

[Not my favorite song, but in honor of Hannukah....]

8. Ramones -- Sheena is a Punk Rocker

7. Elvis Costello -- Veronica

6. The Beach Boys -- Wendy

[Here's looking at you, Brooklyn Girl!]

5. Bob Dylan -- Visions of Johanna

4. The Hollies -- Carrie Anne

3. Aerosmith -- Janie's Got a Gun

2. Buddy Holly -- Peggy Sue

and my number one girl's name song is....

1. Fountains of Wayne -- Hey Julie

What can I say? This is the one that makes me cry...the guy in the song just loves her so much. More proof, if any is needed, that Adam Schlesinger is a fricking genius.

Okay -- what are your faves?

[Editor's Note: Steve called me from the set to let me know that because of all the Hollywood debauchery he was enjoying, he couldn't get to a computer to post his Weekly Listomania. Kid C.]

A Family Affair

I admit it: I'm a hopeless sucker for celeb gossip, if they're celebs I like. (OTOH, I don't really care if ex-Mousketeers wear panties.) So I was trawling around looking for info on Paul McCartney's new relationship with Rosanna Arquette (yes, the actress Rosanna Arquette, late of Toto and Peter Gabriel) in the British gutter press, when I happened across this information:
PAUL MCCARTNEY is plotting an album with his son JAMES.

The former BEATLE has been busying himself in the studio with his 30-year-old offspring.

Macca revealed: “I'm actually doing some recording with my son.

“We're just looking at the idea of him making an album. He's doing it all. He's writing it all, laying it all. It's sensational. But there's nothing set yet. We don't know if it'll work.

“The plan is for me to just do some recording with him, and it's really exciting. I'm really loving it.”

Musician James keeps an intentionally low profile, but has appeared on a number of his father’s recordings.

He co-wrote two tracks on Macca’s 2001 long player Driving Rain and provided a scorching guitar solo to 1997 song Heaven On A Sunday.


Well, at least she's older than his kids.

And now: a musical interlude.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

An Early Clue to the New Direction

From somewhere in England (Wembley Stadium, actually) in 1982 here's 10CC (featuring genius songwriter Graham Gouldman on bass and vocals) with "I'm Mandy, Fly Me."

A coveted PowerPop No-Prize will be awarded to the first reader who divines the clip's relevance to the theme of tomorrow's Weekend Listomania. (Which will be going up later than usual -- circa 8am -- so speculate away!!!)

The Long Goodbye

October 23, 2007 -- the last night for my long-time watering hole, the All-State Cafe.

Video courtesy of Tom Petty the frighteningly brilliant Lyle Greenfield, proprietor of, a site which behooves beholding.

In case you're wondering why Kevin Bacon's in the clip, it's because he worked at the joint when he first came to NYC. (The photos are from a seperate shindig held for some of the oldtimers the Friday after). And yes, that's me in the stupid hat about 1:10 into the clip. Don't laugh too hard.

Damn, I miss that place...

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Jews to the Right of Me! Jews to the Left of Me! But Still I Soldiered On!

Oh, IS Hannukah after all.

For more on Brigid Kaelin, the charming auteur of the above "Blue Dreidel No. 9", here's the link to her MySpace page. Obviously, a nice Jewish girl, and a shayneh punim for sure....

Wednesday Wayne

I can't believe I haven't done this one yet!

If there's such a thing as a perfect video, I think this is it.

But What Will the Goyim Think?

From yesterday's New York Fishwrap Post:


December 4, 2007 -- Oh, no, no, no.

Troubled "Rehab" singer Amy Winehouse takes a barefoot walk around chilly East London at 5:40 a.m. on Sunday, while wearing only a bra and jeans. Winehouse, 24, had been partying at a friend's house before she was spotted muttering on the cold streets, the London Sun reported in yesterday's editions. "Amy came out and started stumbling around," one onlooker told the paper. "She popped her head over the fence like she was looking for something. "It was freezing, and she had no shoes and just a red bra," the onlooker added. "She was mumbling something incomprehensible. It wasn't the behavior of someone in the right state of mind."

Winehouse's representative told The Sun that the British R&B singer had been awakened by a sound and simply was out looking for what had caused it. "Amy had been asleep and heard a noise," the representative said. "She went outside to investigate. She didn't realize the time."

God, I love Winehouse. Seriously -- I just think it's so cool that the Keith Richards of her generation is a Jewish woman.

The Hell With Radiation!

Here's another pleasant surprise from YouTube -- rock n roll lifers The Fleshtones, somewhere in Italy, with the lead track from their fabulous Laboratory of Sound album.

I should add that both song and album would have been the most exciting music released in 1995 if not for the astoundingly crappy production by inexplicably esteemed producer/punk theoretician Steve "Teeny Weeny" Albini.

True story: I met head Fleshtone Peter Zaremba at a WMFU Record Fair sometime in the late 90s; I was looking for Fleshtones albums in a bargain bin, and as I was about to buy one, the guy running the booth said "That's the lead singer next to you. Ask him to autograph it." Which he did. Nice guy.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Jewing Me Jewing You

Nice Jewish boy Adam Sandler performs his holiday classic.

Pretty funny stuff, although I still haven't forgiven him for that piece of crap where he played the Son of Satan. I mean, talk about typecasting.

In the meantime, if you want to get me a Hannukah present (that new STAR TREK:REMASTERED box set would be nice) you can reach me here,

Monday, December 03, 2007

Babyblogging: Holiday Edition

Our Holiday pic.

It is literally impossible to get a good pic of all 137 at once.

Happy Hannukah!

I think steve needs this:

Now offered for sale is an ultra-rare piece of rock memorabilia. It's by Cherry Vanilla with a serious scoop for you: a vintage photocopy of the original manuscript (in somewhat imperfect condition—slightly yellowed and frayed, but it’s complete and hey, it’s 33 years old) of this sex-drenched true story. No names have been changed to protect the guilty--or the innocent, not that there were any of those then.

The content is erotic and exotic and otherwise must be left to your imagination! But suffice to say this is a gift that keeps on coming, an extra-sexy present for a sex-drugs-and-rock fan you love this holiday season.

Cherry Vanilla, the 1970s Superstar, performed in Andy Warhol’s Pork, gained fame as the fabulous public relations woman for David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust, and was briefly an RCA Records recording artist herse;f. Today, she manages Vangelis. But back then, she was a legend in her own time, in her own mind, and in the back room of Max’s Kansas City, she was everybody’s darling. Literally.

In a recent interview she was asked, You've been described as a groupie. Do you think that's fair since you've worked in the music biz as well [as] being a recording artist?

Her reply? “You know, someone I know fairly well--someone loosely in my circle of friends--recently posted a picture of me on his website and captioned it, "Cherry Vanilla, former groupie." Now, that upset me! Not the groupie title, but the fact that a so-called friend would chose to describe me only as that. Otherwise, I understand human nature, publicity, spin, sound--bites, headlines, selling magazines, all of that too well to get upset over what people call me. They will usually pick the most sensational thing, and I guess to most people, being a groupie is a pretty sensational thing. For me, it was just a matter of loving music and sex so much. It was simply natural for me to be so drawn to musicians. My real friends know what I'm about. And you know the old saying that "all is fair in love and war," so I guess all is also fair in rock & roll too.

Now, you can judge for yourself! Be the first on your block…be the first person in thirty years…to read Cherry Vanilla’s legendary unpublished book…a true rock and roll relic…a groupie masterpiece…a rare piece of Warholiana…perhaps even a work of art. We sell. You decide. Want more? Then bid. Not sure you want it that bad? Then read more about Cherry and her famous lost book before you decide here and here.

This is the real thing. Accept no substitutes. Remember, this manuscript is being sold AS IS--NO RETURNS ACCEPTED--but it is absolutely complete and unexpurgated at 156 pages and full of gems like “Last night was probably the all-time high in my groupie career so far. I mean, I did it.… Uhn hum. I got him – The Master to Time and Space himself, Mr. Leon Russell Far out, huh, I mean this means I can do anything…”


h/t Michael Gross

A Hearty Power Pop Congrats

to Peter Garrett, Australia's new Environment Minister.

He's been quite active in this issue for many years, and has turned his attention to the public sector. Good for him.

Plus, he scares the bejeesus out of everyone.

Good Vibrations?

Brian Wilson was feted last night for his Kennedy Center Honors Award. The Honors gala will be broadcast Dec. 26 at 9 p.m. on CBS. Here's the run down from the WaPo:

Wilson got the final set of Honors, a tribute kicked off by a fuzzy-as-ever Art Garfunkel, who described hearing Wilson's music for the first time: "It was this unique, crazy creation: a mix of rock-and-roll and heartfelt prayer."

And, er, drugs? No, no drugs were mentioned, just as no diva antics were mentioned for Ross. This was an evening of whitewashed kindness, unadulterated gushing. (Garfunkel did say, "He is in a world of his own vibrations.") Next to fete Wilson was Lyle Lovett (Lyle Lovett?) doing a melancholic take on "God Only Knows (What I'd Be Without You)." Not your typical association with California surfin' and sunshine, but Wilson seemed touched.

As he also appeared to be by a Hootie and the Blowfish (Hootie and the Blowfish?) medley of Beach Boys tunes, which ultimately brought the audience to its feet for a "California Girls" singalong.

And finally, a South London boys choir (a South London -- oh, ; cherubic kids are always a crowd-pleaser). "We were born a long, long way from your California beaches," said one member of Libera, "but the warmth of your music can be felt" all the way in England. They sang a harmonic and tear-jerking rendition of "Love and Mercy" -- Ross could be seen dabbing her eyes and looking toward the ceiling to prevent mascara runnage.

Then there were dozens and dozens of beach balls raining from the ceiling and batted up to the first balcony so each honoree could take one home.

No word yet as to Brian's condition after prolonged exposure to Condi Rice.

Oh, For Crying Out Loud

Guess who penned the following opening sentence without (to our knowledge) subsequently dying of shame?

The Houston hip-hop pioneer Scarface was once known for his bloodcurdling voice and for his vivid lyrics, which were even bloodcurdlinger [emphasis mine].

Yup, it's extremely irksome NY Times music writer Kelefa Sanneh embarassing himself and the paper yet again today with an album review that for obvious reasons I don't plan on reading the rest of.

Apparently, the poor SOB just can't help himself, although I can't imagine what his editor's excuse is.

Hard. He Said Hard. Heh Heh.

Opened today's mail and found -- along with the obligatory solicitations from AARP -- the soundtrack for Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, the latest comedy from prolific filmmaker Judd Appatow (who's bidding to become the John Hughes of the first decade of the 21st century, apparently).

That's John C. Reilly, of course, as the made-up superstar title character. As the clip makes clear, Cox is an amalgam of all sorts of real life folks, and his story seems mostly to be an excuse for Appatow to do broad parodies of various pop cultural moments (Dewey meets Elvis, Dewey meets the Beatles, Dewey goes disco). And of course lots of dick jokes.

In any case, the soundtrack's not bad (Reilly does his own singing, for what it's worth) and as you can see, the title song's actually pretty good. Which shouldn't be a surprise, considering that it was co-written by power pop god Marshall Crenshaw. Makes sense -- if you want a flawless pastiche of Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison, who else are you gonna call?

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Saturday Night Glam Blogging...

Here's former Jellyfish member Roger Manning's fab Imperial Drag doing a spot on T-REX impersonation with the great Boy or a Girl. This tune came from their eponymous 1996 CD which unfortunately, sunk without a trace upon its release. Roger went on to release the super Land of Pure Imagination last year.