Monday, March 31, 2008

Stopgap Post-Convention Blogging, Part Deux

Still haven't decompressed from EschaCon08 completely. Enjoy this fine artifact of the post-Cold War Era until later!

[h/t Kid Java]

Stopgap Post-Convention Blogging

Not back from Philadelphia yet, but in the meantime a question:

Is Foreigner still, in Robert Christgau's immortal phrase, the most useless band ever? Or has someone surpassed them in the intervening years?


[h/t Sinfonian]

Friday, March 28, 2008

Weekend Listomania (Special This Must Be the Place! Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental amanuensis Hop-Sing and I are off to Philadelphia to spend the weekend at some convention or another. To be honest, I'm not sure what it's all about, but the little yellow devil has all but begged me to take him there, and the sight of him prostrate on the floor, his little froggy loins akimbo, always melts my heart.

So -- anybody know exactly what Eschaton is, or who some fellow named Atrios is? Me neither, but apparently a lot of DFH's -- whoever they are -- will be in attendance at a function in his honor.

In any case, as a result, posting by moi will necessarily be totally not happening until sometime Monday.

But while we wait, here's a little diversion for you all:


Je repete -- a real-life location, not something made up for the purposes of a cheap Top 40 thrill. If you try to sneak any of that Thunder Road or Heartbreak Hotel crap past me, I swear to god I'll take a hostage.

Okay, that said, here's my totally top of my head Top Ten:

10. Ramones -- Rockway Beach

Now that I think of it, even though I grew up in the Tri-State Metropolitan Area, I don't think I ever went to Rockaway. Of course, I'm still pissed nobody's ever written a song about Teaneck.

9. The Clash -- London Calling

This one's for Joe.

8. Wilbert Harrison -- Kansas City

More proof that YouTube blahblahblah. Seriously, I must have heard this record literally thousands of times over the years, but until I found this clip I had no idea what Wilbert Harrison looked like, let alone that he was a piano man.

7. Screamin' Jay Hawkins -- I Love Paris

"I saw a Mau-Mau kissing Santa Claus," indeed...

6. Johnny Horton -- The Battle of New Orleans

Johnny was a bit of geek. Just saying....

5. Arrested Development -- Tennessee

Apparently there was a period when rap groups were all peace and love and mellow vibes. Must have missed it.

4. A tie --

The Rolling Stones -- 2120 South Michigan Avenue

and The Rolling Stones -- Route 66

The first song was actually recorded at the titular address -- the legendary Chess Studios in Chicago -- which is why it sounds so much better than the otherwise incendiery "Route 66" from some crappy demo studio in England.

3. Another tie --

The Move -- California Man

and The Beach Boys -- California Girls

The sort of yin and yang of West Coast hedonistic chauvinism.

2. Bruce Springsteen -- Fourth of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)

Speaking of gorgeous.

And the number one most drop dead amazing, there's no fricking question about it, song with a real you-could-actually-go-to-it place in its title is ---

1. John Cale -- Paris, 1919

From his 1973 album of the same name. What a thrill to see this live version, which is yet more proof that YouTube is blahblahblah.

Alrighty now -- what would your choices be?

[h/t cangrejero]

Thursday, March 27, 2008

An Early Clue to the New Direction

From 1962, here's venerable greaseball Freddy "Boom Boom" Cannon" and his oft-covered hit "Palisades Park." And yes, it was actually written by Chuck Barris. Yes, THAT Chuck Barris.

As is customary, a coveted PowerPop No-Prize will be awarded to the first reader who divines the clip's relevance to Friday's Weekend Listomania.

The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming!

In case you're wondering, that's the debut single by The Last Shadow Puppets -- your basic latter day Brit-Pop supergroup, featuring Alex Turner (from Arctic Monkeys) and Miles Kane (from The Rascals). Apparently the pair were so inspired by listening to the likes of Scott Walker, early Bowie and David Axelrod(!!!) that they decided to do an album together (due out later in April). Adding to the whole just-too-hep-for-words vibe, the above single actually features a b-side cover of Billy Fury's 'Wondrous Place'.

It's not a bad little record, although to be honest it doesn't kill me; in fact, I kind of prefer the sort of unplugged version Turner and Kane can be seen performing here.

They're so cute -- kind of the like Monkees with a drinking problem.

[h/t John McPartlin and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog]

Party Out of Bounds

April 29th and 30th, at New Orleans' House Of Blues, the Ponderosa Stomp will give you the opportunity to see such killer acts as William Bell, ? and The Mysterians, Roky Erickson, Sonny Burgess, Bobby Parker, Syl Johnson, The Hi Rhythm Section, Barbara Lynn, Jean Knight, and two girl group legends Ronnie Spector of the Ronettes and Mary Weiss of The Shangri-Las. Those artists alone make up one the greatest mix tapes I have ever listened to...

So says our old pal Sal Nunziato over at the Huffington Post. Read the rest here for more details about what sounds like the show of the millenium...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

And the Fitzcarraldo Award Goes To.... old critical colleague David Klein, currently doing business at the quite wonderful music site Merry Swankster. What's he up to specifically? Well, as his fellow Swanksters describe it, he's embarked on "an ill advised quest to find the definitive song for every number from one to a hundred. It's starting to creep everybody out."

And they're not kidding. Dave in fact hosts a regular feature over there called "Numerology" in which he's doing exactly that -- and more, i.e., he also offers a definitive essay on each definitive song. Forget Weekend Listomania; this is pop obsessiveness in a whole other dimension, and I for one applaud it.

Here's this week's essay for the Number 44. (Hint: the song it celebrates is either by The Zombies or Howlin' Wolf).

Okay, actually it's by the Zombies. Anyway, after you've read the current installment, feel free to scroll down to the archive, which extends back to the Number 1, of course (Hint: the definitive song is by Sparks).

Seriously, this is mad, brilliant stuff, and it would definitely motivate me to shake Dave's hand if I wasn't, at this point, a little nervous about being in the same room with him. Meanwhile, get over there and give him and the rest of the Swanksters some love.

I'm Through With White Girls

No message intended, I just love this song.

Dirtbombs rule, okay?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Sold American!

The most iconic instrument in rock history is now for sale on eBay.

And the starting bid is $4,995.

I find it hard to believe this is genuine, but apparently it is -- the very same tambourine the late Gene Clark played on The Byrds' Mr. Tambourine Man single and album in 1965.

I really don't know what I think about this. I can tell you, though, that I once had the privilege to hold in my hand the actual original eight-track master tape of that song and, silly as it may sound, I had a feeling that verged on the religious.

[h/t Eric C. Boardman]

Those Fabulous Nineties!!!!

The other day I was telling somebody that I have this weird habit of continually discovering a band or an album or a song that's ten years old (and that everybody else in the world already knows) and suddenly deciding "Holy shit -- that's great! Where's it been all my life?"

That admitted, I don't think this little number -- which was number one on the Billboard charts this day in 1998 -- is ever going to inspire that reaction.

Not the worst thing I've ever heard, granted, but let's just say it kind of helps put my disappointment with I Am Legend in perspective.

[h/t Josh Hosler's Number One on This Date site]

Tuesday Diet of Worms

Warren William Zevon (1947 - 2003).

You've got an invalid haircut
And it hurts when you smile
You'd better get out of town
Before your nickname expires
It's the kingdom of the spiders
It's the empire of the ants
You need a permit to walk around downtown
You need a license to dance

Life'll kill ya
That's what I said
Life'll kill ya
Then you'll be dead
Life'll find ya
Wherever you go
Requiescat in pace
That's all she wrote...

I absolutely love this song, which -- in an irony that's frankly almost too perfect -- the mortality-obsessed Zevon recorded two years before he was diagnosed with the cancer that killed him. I don't know exactly what it is that gets me about it; perhaps it's the contrast between the glorious hymnlike Coplandesque piano figures in the intro and verses and the sound of the cheesy electronic keyboard they're played on. Or maybe it's Zevon's name checking of two of the crappiest horror films of the 70s -- starring William Shatner and Joan Collins, respectively -- in a meditation on one of the most profound mysteries of the universe.

Monday, March 24, 2008

RIP: Neil Aspinall

The man who could probably have the most legitimate claim to being the Fifth Beatle has passed away.

Neil Aspinall, a longtime friend of the Beatles who managed their business enterprises and helped make the group a moneymaking phenomenon decades after they split up, has died. He was 66.

Aspinall's death was announced Monday in a statement from surviving Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, the widows of John Lennon and George Harrison, and the band's Apple Corps Ltd. company.

Aspinall died at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, where he had been receiving treatment for lung cancer, Sunday night, according to Geoff Baker, who formerly represented both Aspinall and Apple Corps.

Aspinall's wife and five children were by his side; McCartney visited him before his death.

He was a childhood friend of McCartney and Harrison in Liverpool, England. While he didn't contribute musically, he played several key roles in support of the Beatles, most notably as the head of their Apple Corps business, which oversaw the commercial concerns of the group, including licensing.

h/t trademark dave

Je N'aime Pas Lundi

Sir Bob, from 1979. Hey -- I know the feeling.

Seriously, they knighted him for Live Aid, but he should have gotten it for this. It's like "The Killer Inside Me" but with strings.

Darn -- and nobody nominated this for the Weekend Listomania downstairs...

Friday, March 21, 2008

Weekend Listomania (Special Fiddle Me This! Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental amanuensis Hop-Sing and I are off to the coast of South Africa (specifically, to the mouth of the Chalumna River) for a fishing trip on some filthy rich wog sultan's yacht with Dick Cheney. I'm not sure of the details, but I've heard tell that Dick is bringing his trusty shotgun for an old-fashioned coelacanth hunt. Anybody have any recipes? Seriously -- do we filet them and then broil them? Or just shove them on a spit and roast them over a fire? With some kind of tartar sauce, maybe?

Oh well, in any case, that means that posting by moi will necessarily be somewhat fitful for a few days.

But until then, as always, here's a fun project for you all to contemplate:


By "best," we mean most inventive, most emotionally moving, or whatever works. And by "strings" we mean more than one -- i.e., one solo violin or cello need not apply, but anything from a string quartet to full orchestra is perfectly fine. And they have to be played by live musicians -- no sampling or Mellotrons need apply.

Okay, that said, here's my totally top of my head Top Twelve:

12. Radiohead -- Faust Arp (arr: Jonny Greenwood)

Just because we needed something on the list recorded in this century.

This is nicely White Album-ish, I think, although I should add that I still haven't made up my mind whether I like Greenwood's score for There Will Be Blood.

11. The Drifters -- There Goes My Baby (arr: Leiber and Stoller)

If I'm not mistaken this is generally acknowledged as the very first use of strings on a rock/r&b record. Hearing it on the car radio back in the day I remember thinking "Hey -- that sounds like classical music." Heh.

10. A tie --

Buddy Holly -- It Doesn't Matter Anymore (arr: Dick Jacobs)

and Buddy Holly -- Raining in My Heart (arr: Dick Jacobs)

The A and B-sides of the single from Holly's last sessions before the plane crash, if memory serves. Corny in both instances, but effective and catchy nonetheless....

9. Electric Light Orchestra -- Roll Over Beethoven (arranged: ELO)

For obvious reasons.

8. Smashing Pumpkins -- Disarm (arr: Eric Remschneider)

To be brutally honest, I've never much cared for these guys or even paid much attention to them. In fact, every time I've ever seen them play live on the tube, I've found them insufferably pretentious and actively wanted to slap Billy Corgan upside his cueball noggin. But as I was preparing the list yesterday this song came on the radio and I was a goner. Adding to the irony, if I had heard it the same time the previous week, it would have just as easily made that list for best use of bells.

7. Chris Farlowe -- Out of Time (arr: Arthur Greenslade)

Yes, the same backing track can be heard behind Mick Jagger's vocals on the Stones' Metamorphosis album. I think Farlowe's gruffer pipes suit Greenslade's uber-Phil Spector arrangement a lot better, but then what do I know? -- I think Heaven's Gate is a misunderstood masterpiece.

6.Lenny Welch -- Since I Fell For You (arr: unknown)

A guilty pleasure. Welch's vocals are Johnny Mathis on steroids, and those tremulous strings put the whole over the top. None of which has anything to do with Grace Kelly, of course, but a heck of a performance nonetheless.

5. The Beatles -- Eleanor Rigby (arr: George Martin)

Obviously, there are a lot of Beatles songs to choose from, but this one is my favorite. Sir George recently allowed how the semi-hysterical string bit toward the end was directly inspired by the similar riff in Bernard Herrman's score for the shower scene in Psycho.

4. The Pretenders -- 2000 Miles (arr: The Duke Quartet)

From the 1995 "Isle of View" live album. This was a gorgeous song in its earlier studio incarnation, but the sort of Brill Building strings here lift it into another dimension entirely.

3. The Left Banke -- Walk Away Renee (arr: John Abbott)

Baroque 'n' roll? Power pop? Whatever. It's a perfect song and record.

2. Bruce Springsteen -- Jungleland (arr: Charles Callello)

I don't know whose idea it was to get the guy who arranged most of the Four Season's hits to score Springsteen's most magnificently cinematic song, but if there's a better example of revisionist-60s New York City streetcorner romanticism extant, I for one haven't heard it.

And the number one most drop dead gorgeous, there's no fricking question about it, use of strings on a pop/rock record is --

1. The Rolling Stones -- Moonlight Mile (arr: Paul Buckmaster)

Elton John's long-time orchestral guy covers himself in glory here with what sounds like a deliberate evocation of the pastoral section of the Nielsen Third Symphony. [Could I be any more pretentious? Sheesh.] In any case, this is clearly the greatest Stones track that Keith Richards didn't play on.

Alrighty now -- what would your choices be?

[h/t's to Brooklyn Girl and John McPartlin]

Thursday, March 20, 2008

An Unusually Early Clue to the New Direction

From 1973, here's Steely Dan and one of the most chilling songs about sexual jealousy ever written, "Through With Buzz."

Seriously, this is so on the money about how you feel after you've been you lie awake, tossing and turning, agonizing about some other guy's hands on her thighs. "Maybe he's a fairy...." indeed.

Although, ahem, perhaps I've already said too much.

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

Doctor, Doctor, Mr. M.D....

You know, in retrospect, I think I've shown commendable restraint over the last year in terms of Bruce Springsteen. In fact, those who know me best -- by which I mean, as always, two ex-wives and certain folks over at Eschaton who I haven't actually met yet -- are actually rather amazed that I've posted only a couple of videos of the Boss and his minions since NYMary gave me the keys to the car here.

That said, if the above live performance of Bruce's greatest bluesy moan doesn't make you smile, then you are, frankly, just being difficult.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

You Won't Have Kelefa Sanneh To Kick Around Anymore

It's official -- Newsweek's pop music person Jac Chebatoris is an even more cloying prose stylist than the New York Times' eternally irksome Kelefa Sanneh.

Here's the lede to Jac's review of the new album by a certain country music icon.

Dolly Parton excels at being Dolly Parton, and I love her for it. On the cover of her new CD, my girl—now 62—reclines on a pile of hay in the back of a pickup truck, resplendent in a leopard-print bodysuit, her belt cinching a diaphanous, hot-pink trench coat around her wasp waist. What's with all the frisky imagery? The title of the album is "Backwoods Barbie," and Dolly clearly wants to make sure she's got our attention, because she's got a few things she'd like to say.

You can read the rest here, but trust me -- it gets worse.

Seriously, I was worried that -- given Sanneh's iminent departure from the Times -- I wouldn't have anybody's embarassing fanboy gush to make fun of on a regular basis any more. Clearly, this won't be a problem....

Logrolling In Our Time

Well, this is disappointing. This month's issue of the Brit music magazine Q comes with a free CD of 15 songs handpicked by cover boys R.E.M. and -- with the notable exception of Big Star co-founder Chris Bell's exquisite 1978 "I Am the Cosmos" -- just about all of them are by friends and collaborators of the band. It's like an alternative rock Bar Mitzvah reception.

Oh well. If you're interested, you can sample all fifteen tracks here, along with explanatory notes by messrs Stipe, Buck and Mills.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Beat of a Different Drummer

I am sad to learn, via the current issue of MOJO, that Scott Halpin passed away last month. Halpin, you may recall, was the lucky 19-year-old fan/audience member who got to sit in with The Who for three songs at a 1973 concert after Keith Moon passed out in a pill induced stupor.

Always wondered how he turned out; nice to know that he had an apparently happy and productive life after his brief encounter with greatness.

I have to admit though that I'm still kind of amazed said encounter is now available on YouTube.

Great Lost Singles of the Nineties, Part XXXVI

From 1993, it's Sugar, featuring the great Bob Mould, and "If I Can't Change Your Mind."

An utterly gorgeous song, to be sure, and it still boggles my mind that something so ecstatically Byrdsian is the work of a guy who once quit the music business to write scripts for wrestlers in the WCW.

Monday, March 17, 2008


An anonymous commenter on this post notes that Tom Hartman of The Aerovons is in the studio, recording some old stuff and some new stuff. For reasons that escape me, I can't cut and paste his post, but he says that after the re-release of Resurrection, he was approached by RPM Records to ask if he had anything else. The post isn't dated, but he says he's been working on it for some time, and that there's new material involved.

Click here, then through to News and Updates for his post.

Thanks, Anonymous!

Your Favorite Band Sucks, Part One

Yes, it's Coldplay butchering the Pretenders.

I don't care if Chris Martin IS married to Gwynneth Paltrow, he's fucking awful.

Blue Yodel Number One

Nick Tosches on the till recently all-but-unknown yodeling blues singer Emmett Miller (1900 - 1962):

"The very concept of him -- a white man in blackface, a hillbilly singer and a jazz singer both, a son of the Deep South and a roue of Broadway -- is at once unique, mythic, and a perfect representation of the schizophrenic heart of what this country, with a straight face, calls its culture."

Here's Miller, in 1929, with "Lovesick Blues," a remake of his own original (from 1925) anticipating Hank Williams, Bob Wills, Bob Dylan and so much else by decades....

If you're not familiar with Tosches, he is -- sorry, memory of Lester Bangs -- the greatest writer about rock and its related genres who ever lived; if you doubt it, or if the above clip has piqued your interest in the formerly obscure Miller, hie thee to Amazon and order Tosches' quite profound meditation on Miller's life and work Where Dead Voices Gather.

You should also check out Tosches' Unsung Heroes of Rock 'n' Roll (now in its third revised edition), a tome which is at once screamingly funny and historically fascinating about the real pioneers of the music it turns out most of us knew quite little about, actually.

Relevant quote: "The illusion of newness is pop culture's greatest sucker racket."

Amen to that, as the above Miller clip proves rather conclusively.....

And for the rest of Miller's music, go here.

[h/t Kerrin L. Griffith]

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Present Day Singer/Songwriter Refuses to Die

A brief programming note for those of you in the great Northwest: Tomorrow -- Sunday, March 16 -- Charlie Bermant"s documentary film
Peter Spencer Plays the Garden has its world premiere at the
Celluloid Bainbridge Film Festival
at the Linwood Theater on Bainbridge Island. The screening is at 1:50 p.m.

Pete's an old pal of mine (from my Greenwich Village skinny-tie band 80s past) and a rather mesmeric performer. This clip is an outtake from the above mentioned doc; it's also quite gorgeous and it'll give you an idea what both Pete and the film are about.

Area residents should also note that next week, on Monday March 24, Pete will be the featured lead guitarist at the Highway 99 Blues Club in Seattle. He'll play a 90-minute set starting at 8:30 p.m and then get down with his bad self in the club's Blue Monday Blues Jam. The house band at Highway 99 includes members of Left-Hand Smoke -- the same worthies who back Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready on his solo albums (how's that for name dropping?). Admission is free.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Weekend Listomania (Special Just Blow Me! Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental amanuensis Hop-Sing and I are off to Albany for the weekend, where we'll be attending the black tie premiere for the new bio-pic about Governor Eliot Spitzer, Thank You For Everything. Could be a hot one!

In any case, posting by moi will necessarily be somewhat fitful for a few days.

But until then, as always, here's a fun project for you all to contemplate:


By "best," we mean either in a blues or non-blues idiom, just to keep it totally wide open. And by "solo" we mean anything of any length, even if it's just a riff.

Totally arbitrary rule: Don't even try to nominate something by that fat guy from Blues Traveller. The Hendrix of the Blues Harp my ass....

Okay, that said, here's my totally top of my head Top Thirteen:

13. The White Stripes -- Hello Operator

Just because we needed something actually recorded in the 21st century.

12. Jimmy Reed -- Honest I Do

The very definition of sly concision. (Hey -- I made a couplet!!!!)

11. The Pretenders -- Middle of the Road

Chrissie Hynde -- first she growls, then she makes her harp sound like a stray cat in heat. Can we just admit she's the greatest female rocker who ever was or will be and be done with it already?

10. Procol Harum -- Your Own Choice

Sorry there's no audio or video link, but take my word for it -- it's gorgeous, and it's played (unredited) by the great Larry Adler. And if you don't know who he is, hang your head in shame and then read this.

9. Bruce Chanel -- Hey Baby

That's Delbert McClinton playing the harmonica stuff. I seem to recall it was a huge influence on a certain four-piece band from the UK.

8. The Beatles -- I Should Have Known Better

Uh...a case in point.

7. J. Geils Band -- Whammer Jammer

The aptly named Magic Dick. 'Nuff said.

6. Stevie Wonder -- For Once In My Life

As brilliantly structured and performed a solo as you'll ever hear on any instrument.

5. A tie --

The Rolling Stones (Mick Jagger) -- Stop Breaking Down

No vid available alas, but you can listen to the whole thing in stereo(!) here.


The Rolling Stones (Brian Jones) -- Good Times Bad Times

Amplified Chicago blues harp in the former, acoustic country blues harp in the latter, both brilliant.

4. Bob Dylan -- I Want You

Short, melodic, and it frames the song perfectly, front and back. Anybody who says Dylan's a crappy harp player really isn't listening....

3. XTC -- Ballad of Peter Pumpkin Head

Blues harp on a revisionist folk rock song. Andy Partridge is god, obviously.

2. Creedence Clearwater Revival -- Run Through the Jungle

John Fogerty channels Howlin Wolf. It doesn't get any spookier, song OR harp part.

And the number one, no question about it, all time coolest harmonica solo on a hit record is --

1. Slim Harpo -- Scratch My Back

Hands down, the down and dirtiest blues performance ever to crack Top 40 radio.

Alrighty now -- what would your choices be?

[h/ts to Brooklyn Girl and John McPartlin]

Thursday, March 13, 2008

An Early Clue to the New Direction

From 1942, here's nice Jewish boys Borrah Minevitch and His Harmonica Rascals doing...well, whatever it is they do. Surrealism really doesn't cover it.

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

A Brief Personal Moment Wherein Steve Gets Totally Verklempt

Those who know me best -- by which I mean several ex-girlfriends and some people over at Eschaton who I've not actually met yet -- know that I'm something of a sentimental old fluff, the kind of guy who cries at supermarket openings. That being the case, I'm going to try to keep this little wallow as concise as I can.

Bottom line: On this date last year, I posted at PowerPop for the very first time. In retrospect, it wasn't a particularly memorable entry -- you can read it here, and who amongst us can't remember where we were when we first encountered it? -- but I like to think that I was a quick learner (okay, I still haven't figured out how to post jpegs and the like, but I promise I will soon, okay?) and in any case I soon found that a day without blogging was, well, sucky.

Since then, my life has changed, for the better, in ways I couldn't have predicted when I first accepted NYMary's incredibly generous offer to have a spare set of keys to the car, as it were. I've made wonderful friends, I've discovered all sorts of glorious or alarming music I wouldn't have been aware of otherwise, and most importantly, publicists at major record labels now routinely ply me with hookers and blow. Okay, I lied about that last.

Anyway, I hope you've enjoyed my little efforts here this past year at least as much as I have (which is an awful lot, frankly) and I hope you'll continue to indulge me in the future, especially when I tell another incredibly boring story about some Z-list rock guitarist I once met in a mens room in the mid-70s. I'd also like to thank my colleague and pal Kid Charlemagne for sharing his expertise about all sorts of interesting stuff -- the masses are clamoring for more Saturday Glam Blogging, buster! -- and for saving my sorry ass on a number of tech issues in recent months.

But most of all, I want to say how deeply and profoundly grateful I am to NYMary, both for offering me this opportunity and for repeatedly nudging me to get off my geriatric tush and take advantage of it. Her friendship, her brilliance and her passion for the music have been an unfailing inspiration, and at the risk of coming off even cornier than I have so far let's just say that the Lou Reed/Velvets line about somebody's life being saved by rock and roll could easily apply to me and this blog. And I mean that literally, if you must know.

Thanks, kiddo. You're the best.

Now start posting here regularly again, okay? Ya knucklehead!!!!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Garage Bands of the Gods

In case you're wondering who does that fantastic song in the Dell commercial, it's these guys.

BTW, I note with some small pride that they're from New Jersey, albeit not alas the Paris of the Tri-State Metropolitan Area.

[h/t Kerrin L. Griffith]

Brother Keith Richards Explains It All For You

'Nuff said.

[h/t Steve Schwartz]

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Despite All the Complications....

Wow...apparently New York City has a real rock and roll radio station again. WRXP FM 101.9.

And dig what songs they played in their opening hour....

And if that's not promising enough, I just tuned in for the first time and they segued from the Allman Brothers into this:

Fastball? Hmm. I think I could get to like the place....

[h/t John McPartlin]

Great Lost Singles of the Sixties, Part XVII

From 1968, here's Al Wilson's "The Snake." In glorious stereophonic sound, as nature intended.

I don't know who this Music Mike geek is, but I'll give him this -- he knows how to pick 'em.

Incidentally, Wilson followed this one up with an absolutely astonishing Stax-style take on Creedence's "Lodi," a 1969 single (never on CD, alas) featuring some of the best (uncredited) slide guitar work ever heard on a commercial pop record. For years I've been guessing it was provided by either Ry Cooder or Canned Heat's Alan Wilson, since they were the only slide whizzes doing session work in L.A. at the time, although my research on this hit a blank wall a while ago (frequent queries over at producer Johnny Rivers' website have proved unavailing, as have various Cooder and Wilson discographies). So if anybody has any idea....

Monday, March 10, 2008

Songs For Swinging Viscous Fluids

It's the greatest rock-oriented movie theme in history.

"Beware of the Blob!
It creeps, and leaps!
And glides and slides across the floor!
Right through the door!
And all across the wall -- a splotch, a blotch...
Be careful of the Blob!

Beware of the Blob!
It creeps and leaps......"

I can't imagine why it doesn't figure more prominently in Burt and Hal's resume...

[Okay, I know I've posted this song before, but every now and then I just crack up thinking about it. So sue me.]

Wiseguys of the Rodeo

Submitted for your approval -- Dusty Rhodes and the River Band.

Read about these guys in MOJO recently; they called 'em "the most original take on West Coast country since Gram [Parsons] in a Nudie suit." Don't know if I'd go that far, but any band with the smarts to dress their keyboard player as Paul Revere (as in The Raiders) is definitely okay in my book.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Weekend Listomania (Special No Mas Cowbell!! Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental amanuensis Hop-Sing and I are off to Phoenix, Arizona to attend the first annual Cindy McCain Just Say Yes! Foundation dinner. I'm not sure what exactly Ms. McCain's cause is, but I'm sure it's something wonderfully positive and I'm proud to be a part of it, however small.

Of course, that means that posting by moi will necessarily be somewhat fitful for a few days.

But until then, as always, here's a fun project for you all to contemplate:


By "best" we mean the most creative, or the spookiest, or the most atmospheric or whatever works. And by "bells" we mean chimes of the tubular variety. Mostly. Sleighbells or alarm bells are okay too.

But no fricking cowbell!!! That's another list and/or joke. Seriously -- you try sneaking some of that "Don't Fear the Reaper" or "Time Has Come Today" crap past me and I swear to god I'll take a hostage.

Okay, that said, here's my totally top of my head Top Eight:

8. The Weepies -- All That I Want

Attentive readers already know of my fondness for this; the sleighbells are sort of subliminal, but the record wouldn't be near as good without them

7. Procol Harum -- Pilgrim's Progress

Sorry no video or audio link, but trust me -- when the chimes on the fadeout of this one (it's the closing song on A Salty Dog) seem to appear out of nowhere, it's guaranteed to take your breath away.

6. Spike Jones -- My Old Flame

The great Paul Frees (Boris Badenov on Rocky and Bullwinkle) steals this one as Peter Lorre, but those fire alarms in the band freakout section are pretty hilarious, you'll have to admit

5. The Dixie Cups -- Chapel of Love

Wedding bells, natch. Did producers Leiber and Stoller arrange this one?

4. The Lovin' Spoonful -- You Didn't Have to Be So Nice

Zally's signature guitar riff doubled by the chimes still gives me chills. Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure that's the first time that particular trick was used on a pop record....

3. Bruce Springsteen -- Your Own Worst Enemy

The Iraq War subtext notwithstanding, Bruce's 2007 album is his poppiest in ages. The chimes here are a wonderful Brill Building touch, no? God, I love this song....

2. The Hollies -- Pay You Back With Interest

Sorry no video, but you can listen here -- it's one of their absolutely best songs, and the chimes at the end are gorgeous...

And the number one, nobody even comes close, use of bells on a pop or rock record is ---

1. Nick Cave -- Red Right Hand

This has been appropriated as background music for countless TV dramas -- actually, I think the first time I heard it was on an episode of The X-Files -- but it's still one of the eeriest pop records in memory, and those solitary chime hits after the choruses just slay me.

Alrighty now -- what would your choices be?

[h/t Brooklyn Girl]

Thursday, March 06, 2008

An Early Clue to the New Direction

From 1970, at the Randall's Island Pop Festival, here's Leslie West (aka The Fat Eric Clapton) and Mountain with their tender ode to the joys of homsexuality below the Mason/Dixon line, "Mississippi Queen."

Okay, I'm totally embarssed over that joke.

Full disclosure: I got to know Mountain's Corky Laing pretty well in the late 70s; super nice guy as well as a fantastic drummer.

Meanwhile, a coveted PowerPop No-Prize will be awarded to the first reader who divines the clip's relevance to Friday's Weekend Listomania.

Big Noise From Jakarta

From Dutch TV in 1960, here's The Tielman Brothers and possibly the most astounding thing I have ever seen.

Re-write all previous rock history now.

Dutch Indo-rock? Seriously -- WTF?

I won't pretend I had ever heard of these guys, and so a big tip of the PowerPop hat to Frankie O'Malley of the great Chicago indie rockers The Safes, who hipped me to them.

I've been meaning to write about the Safes for ages -- have I mentioned they're my new favorite band? -- and I'm going to next week, but in the meantime it's Frankie's brother and bandmate Patrick's birthday, and in his honor here's the video for their killer "Since Trust Went Bust."

Meanwhile, for the entire incredible story of the Tielman Brothers, click here. Words fail me, frankly.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Today's Noise is Tomorrow's Hootenanny

Ladies and Gentlemen, the incomparable Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain and "Smells Like Teen Spirit."

The really funny thing is I can't make up my mind what Kurt Cobain would have thought of this.

[h/t Kid Java]

Ciao! to My Street Cred

I have a confession to make, and it's been a long time coming, so here goes:

I. Don't. Particulary. Care. One. Way. Or. Another. For. Radiohead.

Never owned one of their albums, never listened to one all the way through.

Wow, that feels better.

I don't actually know why they inspire such galloping indifference in me. Maybe I just resent being told they're the greatest band in the world blah blah blah all the time, but whatever it is I just can't work up much emotion about them either pro or con.

I should add, however, that if I'm listening to the radio or a jukebox somewhere and a record comes on that I don't recognize but immediately like, invariably it's them. Like "Fake Plastic Trees," for example. Heard it at a bar a year ago and thought -- wow, what a gorgeous song.

I should also add that I still haven't made up my mind about Johnny Greenwood's score for There Will Be Blood yet; it's effective in spots, but its mix of modernist readymades a la Ligeti and warmed over Copland-isms is just as often fingernails-on-the-blackboard annoying.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Tales From the Quiff

A friend writes (via e-mail):

Go immediately to

Hold on to your socks. They've been known to rock off to this clip as Brian Setzer and Dave Edmunds show you what second generation hillbilly boogie is all about.


Go, cat, go!!!!!!

[h/t Eric C. Boardman]

War is Over If You Want It

Our good friend peace activist/anti-pants crusader NTodd contemplates today's Vermont primary in a podcast over at Pax Americana and manages to work in a terrific song by neo-power popsters Silversun Pickups in the bargain.

Interestingly, neither one of us is sure just what the title "Well Thought Out Twinkles" means exactly.

Kidding aside, NTodd's been doing some pretty heavy lifting against the war for quite a while now; check out the ACTIONS link on the left of his post and see if you can find your own way to join in.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Everything's Great, Even the Obvious Shit Part II

Extremely irksome New York Times pop critic Kelefa Sanneh confesses to another inexplicable crush today....

A few years ago James Blunt was what Sara Bareilles is today: an emerging singer and songwriter with a big hit and a growing fan base...

For Ms. Bareilles, from California, that song is “Love Song,” a toothsome piano-pop confection that may well be stuck in your head by the time you finish reading this paragraph. The first three words — “Head under water” — are probably enough to summon up the Rhapsody commercial that helped make it a hit. And the chorus is a plea disguised as a dismissal: “I’m not gonna write you a love song/’Cause you asked for it, ’cause you need one.” It sits at No. 4 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, wedged between radio favorites from Alicia Keys and Rihanna.

Toothsome? Actually, I think a more accurate word describing that song is...oh I dunno...undistinguished, maybe?

Seriously -- that stuff is dreck, and frankly it's getting harder and harder to shake the feeling that Sanneh's fondness for rampaging mediocrity may be bidding fair to finally and irrevocably jump the shark.

Separated at Birth?

And speaking of insufferably cloying pop sensation James Blunt -- is it just my imagination, or does he...

...sound suspiciously like a certain Dana Carvey character from Saturday Night Live in the 90s?

Jeff Healey 1966 - 2008

More sad news -- blind Canadian blues-rock guitar whiz Jeff Healey has succumbed to cancer at age 41.

I had absolutely no idea he was so young. What a shame....