Friday, January 30, 2009

Weekend Listomania (Special Casey Kasem, We Hardly Knew Ye! Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental groinal consultant appointment secretary Fah Lo Suee and I are off to France, home of the Ignoble Frog, for the tenth annual "'Allo, Sailor!" festival. It's a reunion of the surviving crew of Jacques Cousteau's ship The Calypso, and as usual, we'll be touring the colorful waterfront bars and late night establishments of Marseilles.

As a result (and also because I'm thoroughly embarrassed at having recycled that joke yet again), posting by moi will necessarily be somewhat fitful for a few days.

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


Self-explanatory, I think. The original idea here was to list either records that actually charted, albeit not as highly as they should have, or else historic commercial flops along the lines of "River Deep, Mountain High" (which is practically its own category and way overfamiliar, which is why it's not included here). Non-chart records that just should have been hits but have otherwise been lost in the dim mists of rock history are, of course, also acceptable.

In any case, my top of my head Top Eleven is --

11. The Poor-- She's Got the Time (She's Got the Changes)

Future Eagle Randy Meisner on bass; song written by either Brewer or Shipley (of "One Toke Over the Line" fame); group managed and produced by the Greene-Stone team that also managed and produced the Buffalo Springfield. I know for a fact that this got a fair amount of airplay in the NYC area in 1966 because I used to hear it a lot on WMCA-AM and, in fact, was moved to go out and buy the damn thing at Sam Goody. Apparently not big in the rest of the country, however.

10. Stealers Wheel -- Star

The barely successful followup to "Stuck in the Middle of You," and like that much bigger hit, written by group member Gerry Rafferty. As a solo, Rafferty would have better luck a few years later with "Baker Street," but in any case, this is quite adorably Beatle-ish, I think.

9. The Detroit Cobras -- Cha Cha Twist

If there was a sexier rock record released in this decade I haven't heard it. Singer Rachel Nagy rules, obviously.

8. The Easybeats -- Heaven and Hell

The followup to "Friday on My Mind" and an even more epochal masterpiece, I think. Yet despite brilliant production by Glyn Johns and keyboard work by Nicky Hopkins, the record stiffed in the U.S. -- because, or so it has always been said, radio stations were offended by the line "Discovering someone else in your bed." Ah, the Sixties....

7. Shocking Blue -- Never Marry a Railroad Man

The followup to "Venus" was a major hit in Europe, but only barely Top 40 in the States. I think it's gorgeous, myself. You can find it, along with the even lovelier Serenade, which stiffed in 1973, on their wondeful third album, available at Amazon here. Both songs are also available on iTunes, for those who care.

6. The Raspberries -- Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)

A record about desperately wanting to go Top Ten which only barely cracked the Top 40, despite being pretty much the band's masterpiece. The ironies abound, obviously.

5. Lorraine Ellison -- Stay With Me Baby

One of the last great baroque flowerings of classic soul, but after its brief appearances on the nation's radios in early 1966, it was largely forgotten by all but a devoted cult. It's been often covered since, of course, but I think the original remains definitive.

4. The Left Banke -- Desiree

(No video on YouTube, alas. Although you can watch and listen to a fan-made Sims video version here.)

This was the eagerly awaited followup to "Walk Away Renee" and "Pretty Ballerina." It took six months -- and cost $35,000, an enormous amount of money at the time -- to produce, and its progress engendered reams of breathless speculation in the then nascent rock press (those liner notes on the rear sleeve of the single address them, as you can see). Unfortunately, when it was finally released in late '67, it barely scraped into the bottom reaches of the Hot 100. Was it too ambitious? Too complex? I didn't hear it that way at the time -- I thought it was a knockout, actually -- and on balance I still think it's their best record.

3. Del Amitri -- Not Where It's At

From the staggeringly gorgeous twelve-string sound to the ache in Justin Curry's voice to the definitively world weary lyric, this is my candidate for Great Lost Power Pop Single of the 90s.

2. Danny Wilde -- Isn't it Enough

This got a lot of play on MTV in 1986, but the album it's from -- The Boyfriend -- is all but forgotten and has never been on CD. Go figure. In any case, despite an occasionally ridiculous lyric (that crap about "your fire," for instance) and a certain Aroma de Big 80s, I think it's a genuinely poignant song with killer hooks and guitars. Wilde, of course, did much better years later as a member of the Rembrandts, of "Theme From Friends" fame.

And the number one coolest record that millions of people should have bought but didn't, it's not even a contest so why are we even arguing about it for crissakes, is obviously --

1. The Byrds -- Lady Friend

Their absolute creative peak, but it totally went over the larger pop audience's head in 1967, a fact which irked composer David Crosby no end, especially after Roger McGuinn declined to put it on their then current album The Notorious Byrd Brothers. At which point Crosby either quit the band or was fired; he was replaced on the album cover photo by a horse, which he also reportedly found irksome.

Awrighty then -- what would your choices be?

[Shameless Blogwhore: My parallel Cinema Listomania -- theme: Movies You Loved As a Kid That Turn Out Not to Be So Hot -- is now up over at Box Office. As always, if you could see your way to going over there and leaving a comment, it would help get me in good with management. I thank you!]


Anonymous said...

Here's a few quick ones:

Tonio K., I'm Supposed to Have Sex With You - infectious and hilarious. Was a big hit for a couple of weeks on KROQ in LA, but the record company wasn't ready to support and it faded away.

T Bone Burnett, The Murder Weapon - I actually saw a video of this on MTV in 1985, went to my local record store immediately and bought the LP (Proof Through the Night, sadly never re-released on CD) and saw Tonio K.'s La Bamba EP as well and picked that up the same trip. Too cool for the room, though.

Aimee Mann, Calling It Quits - Pick any Aimee Mann single and it should have gotten 20 times the sales and airplay it did. This one is what got me hooked on her and banished the "hey, wasn't she the actual chick in 'til tuesday?" thoughts forever.

Mister Pleasant said...

Those are a bunch of home runs in this week's Listmonia. "Star" is a beauty with the intricate interwoven vocal line. Even better is their impossible to find 45 rpm version of "Everyone's Agreed That Everything Will Turn Out Fine" with backwards guitar and Beatlish effects sadly missing from the album version.

For me it is a tossup between "Overnight Sensation" and "Tonight" for the Raspberries masterpiece.

Kudos for continuing to champion "Desiree". You mentioned it in a review years ago as a long lost gem and I spent years looking for it. Well worth the wait.

"Lady Friend" is staggeringly magnificent with the harmonies, horns, and jangly guitars. America and Mr. McGuinn really missed the boat on that one.

I would add Cheap Trick's "If You Want My Love", a classic power pop song which was top 10 Down Under but failed miserably in the States. And The Who's "Dogs" which never got a proper release in the US.

The Wolfmen said...

A real fistful of winners

steve simels said...


You read my mind about the Tonio song...I meant to include that -- I haven't looked, but there may even be a clip of it (it was from some Carl Reiner comedy) -- but it slipped my mind at the last minute.


Bless you -- I had totally forgot that Stealer's Wheel's "Everyone's Agreed" ever existed, including the 45 version which I had a promo of. What an amazing song....

Oh, and vis a vis "Lady Friend" -- David Crosby did an astounding remix of in the late 80s (he may have dubbed a new drum part, though on the evidence of my ears I'm not a hundred percent sure). In any case, if you love the record it's a must hear...sounds totally contemporary without really changing the thing at all.

In any case -- if you or anybody else here wants the mp3, give me an e-mail holler.

steve simels said...

Mister Pleasant:

Sorry I tagged you as KC.

Your nominees are still spot on, obviously.

steve simels said...

"I'm Supposed to Have Sex With You"

Heh heh.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for including the Cobras on here, Steve. Rachel Nagy is a local treasure. In that same spirit, I nominate The Rationals' cover of Leavin' Here, a great Eddie Holland tune with an amazing history that runs all the way to The Who. The Rationals released it as the A side to their cover of Respect. It's one sweet single that deserved better.

steve simels said...


Funny you should mention -- I just heard the Eddie Holland original of "Leavin' Here" for the first time. The current issue of MOJO has a Motown CD sampler with mostly obscure stuff and that's on it. Great song...

Attaturk said...

About 50 different songs by Bob Mould.

TMink said...

I am so out of touch with the charts that I am surprised when I find that the songs I love weren't huge hits! I talk to my wife about Famous Blue Raincoat or English Settlement and expect her to know what the heck I am talking about because I honestly believe that EVERYONE knows those albums backwards and forewards like I do. It is very myopic of me and makes me completely useless in this context.

I'm like "If you want my love" was a huge hit! just because I like the song. I guess if it SHOULD be a huge hit, I make it one in my little world.

Is anyone else this way, or is it a localized pathology?!?!?!


Anonymous said...


I know the feeling.

Anonymous said...

Name almost any song by:

The Records
Nick Lowe (bass player in my Ringo & all-starr band fantasy lineup)

Anonymous said...

Cant Let Go- Evie Sands
They Don't Know - Kirsty MacColl
Stop -- Sam Brown

Noam Sane said...

Sure, NBRQ. Their last big shot, from the 'Wild Weekend' album, was "If I Don't Have You" - tremendous tune written by Joey Spampinato, who is one of the all-time great pop songwriters, by any standard. It stiffed, and it was all downhill from there for the boys.

Plimsouls, "Million Miles Away" - WTF? How could anyone resist it? Shoulda been a smash.

Frank Black's Calistan has lodged inside my brain permanently - brilliant song that would sound great on the radio.

Michael said...

Love, love, love Overnight Sensation!! That would be my #1 "shoulda been." I think half of my iPod playlists is "shoulda beens," but off the top of my head:

"Atomic" and "Dreaming" by Blondie

"Holy Man" by Diane Kolby

"I'm Her Fool" by Billy Swan

"Shoes" by Reperata

"Jean Genie" & "Rebel Rebel" by David Bowie

"Electric Barbarella" by Duran Duran

"Easy Street" by Edgar Winter Group

"Gillian Frank" by Jerry Hudson

"Spaceman" by Harry Nilsson

"Starry Eyes" by the Records

"Love and Loneliness" by The Motors

Wendy said...

Did anything by Arthur Lee & Love hit the charts? "Alone Again Or" for example?

Anonymous said...

"this time its for real" - southside johnny & the asbury jukes
"meeting across the river" springsteen

Who Am Us Anyway? said...

Let me second Nilsson's Spaceman as per Michael, as it had Top 10 written all over it everywhere except in the real world.

Ramones -- I must admit to sharing the CW that Sheena is a Punk Rocker would have been a Top 10 crossover smash(!) hit(!) breakthrough (with a bullet!) (!) in a better world -- also Rock 'n Roll Radio, Rockaway Beach, others.

Heartless Bastards -- They have a tune, new resolution, which i fully expected to hear on the radio, but no.

Nick Lowe -- h/t anonymous but All Men Are Liars in particular

ms. rosa said...

Nice list, steve! I'm making my way through it.

"Here! Here!" to Plimsouls and Nick Lowe.

I'll skip my usual "Why, God? WHY?" about The Remains and Terry Reid and declare The Flaming Groovies "Slow Death" the most famously unfamous song. IT WAS 1972 FOR GOD SAKE! I should be hearing it on the classic rock station umpteen times a week!

Kid Charlemagne said...


Beat me to the punch with the Plimsouls! I would also humbly suggest:

Paul Collins' Beat: "Rock N Roll Girl"

The Neighborhoods: "Prettiest Girl"

Sinceros: "Disappearing"

The Church "Almost with You"

XTC: "Mayor of Simpleton"

dave™© said...

Hey, I agree 100% with "Overnight Sensation"! I'd include "Starting Over," which was self-sabotaged by Carmen's inexplicable use of the word "fucking" in the opening line...

Anonymous said...

Graham Parker "Local Girls"

Anonymous said...

I never get tired of NRBQ's "A Girl Like That." And the "Wild Weekend" single. They also had one in the early '70s called "Get That Gasoline" that wins Best Song About An Energy Crisis.

Gee, I missed you guys.

Kid Charlemagne said...

Another good NRBQ tune:
"Rain At The Drive-In"

Anonymous said...

I'll second a lot of what's already been listed, but hey! The Zombies, Odyssey and Oracle. Lots of good cuts, but if cornered, I'd go with "Care of Cell 44."

MBowen said...

Off the top of my head:

The Del Lords - "Judas Kiss"

Sugar - "If I Can't Change Your Mind"

Fairport Convention - Time Will Show The Wiser or "Meet On The Ledge"

The Soft Boys - "I Wanna Destroy You"

The Wannadies - "Damn It, I Said"

Voice of the Beehive - "Monsters and Angels" (or damn near anything else)

Old 97's - "Rollerskate Skinny" (or "Buick City Complex" or "Designs On You")

Aimee Mann - "That's Just What You Are" (or "Frankenstein")

and the ultimate, shouldabina hit

The Only Ones - "Another Girl, Another Planet"

Mister Pleasant said...

Brooklyn Girl,

Love hit the singles charts twice. First with "My Little Red Book", followed by "7 and 7 is" which grazed the top 40. Alas, nothing from Forever Changes made a dent. Their last gasp 45rpm only "Your Mind and We Belong Together" is a real treat.

steve simels said...

Did somebody say "Slow Death" by the Groovies?

Jeebus, how many great covers of that have their been?

And Big Star?

Practically the Canon in a better, alternate universe.

TJWood said...

The surprise no-show here so far is Moby Grape, who tend to be all over the place on lists like this. I'm actually not a huge Grape aficionado,so the one I'll pick is probably the most popular of the five simultaneous singles released from the debut album, "Omaha".

I know NRBQ have been spoken for several times already, but the one that should have been a huge hit--and was something of a minor hit--is "Riding In My Car" from NRBQ at Yankee Stadium

I'll also mention a couple from Gomez, who have never made it beyond cult status over here: "Silence" from Split The Difference and "Shot Shot" from In Our Gun

Anonymous said...

The La's - There She Goes

Ok, so it's a bit repetitive, but what an infectious repeat!

Anonymous said...

Additional thoughts:
Here's a link for The La's- There She Goes

Plus 3 others:

Liz Phair - Never Said, off of 'Exile in Guyville'
This would have sounded great, loud, on the car radio. "Don't look at me sideways..."

Hoodoo Gurus - Bittersweet, off of 'Mars Needs Guitars', a fabulously fun album
Was a big hit in Australia, why not in the US?

But, most of all

The Bangles - Going Down to Liverpool, off of their wonderful first full length album
It rocks, it's danceable, and the harmonies & backing vocals still give me chills.
Plus, the video has the Bangles themselves, AND Leonard Nimoy.
How was it (virtually) ignored (pre-Manic Monday)?

Anonymous said...

Is it possible that a year from now Springsteen's supermarket fantasy marketing product that just hit Wal-Mart shelves will make such a list?

Genius denied!

Dave said...

This is my all-time favorite list of yours, Steve, and I hope you repeat it: I'd never heard the great Shocking Blue and The Poor songs. It has been years since I've thought of "Star," which clearly belongs on this list.

It took me about 5 minutes to come up with this ridiculously long list of my own:

In random order:

"Forever" or "When You're Young and In Love" by the Marvelettes.

"Does Your Mama Know About Me" by Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers

"Do the Best You Can" by the Hollies.

"Someday Someway," "Cynical Girl," "Mary Anne," "Whenever You're on My Mind" or just about anything from Marshall Crenshaw's first.

"Rosecrans Blvd." by the Fifth Dimension (although there are many good versions, but this Jimmy Webb arrangement takes the cake, which has not been left out in the rain)

"Guess I'm Dumb" by Glen Campbell

"I Just Don't Want To Be Lonely" by Ronnie Dyson beats the heck out of the Main Ingredient version

"I Love You Suzanne" by Lou Reed (If "Walk on the Wild Side" could be a hit...."

"I'll Be Back" and "For No One" by the Beatles

"World" by the Bee Gees (a monster in England -- why did it stiff here?)

Edie Reader -- "Dear John" is a masterpiece

"Baby Let's Swing" by Runt -- the B-side of one of the great singles

"Full Measure" -- should have been the A-side of the best Lovin' Spoonful song

"Please Let Me Wonder" or "Girl Don't Tell Me" (Beach Boys)


steve simels said...


That list of yours just slays me. Particularly "Full Measure" (which I have always assumed that I was the only person moved by it) and Lou's "I Love You Suzanne."

Dave said...

I always thought that Reed intentionally tried to get a dance hit with "Suzanne," but who knows?

I just thought of two more.

"Make Way for Dionne Warwick" was so full of hits that a Top 10 hit was missed: "The Last One To Be Loved."

Maybe this would only appeal to hardcore 45 collectors or old fogies, but "shouldda been the A-side" would make a good list, too. What were they thinking when they made "Nashville Cats" rather than "Full Measure" the A-side. Or "Baby Please Don't Go" (as wonderful as it was) instead of "Gloria."

What about Aretha Franklin's "You Send Me"? The piano solo intro is so compelling that I would have bought the single even if she never laid down her brilliant vocal.

Who Am Us Anyway? said...

What Dave said re The Simels List and what Simels said re the Dave List, plus the extraordinarily cool pointers from all the PowerPop crew & commentators ... man this blog is something else. I am so grateful for it.

MBowen said...

Going back to the top:

cthulu wrote:

T Bone Burnett, The Murder Weapon - I actually saw a video of this on MTV in 1985, went to my local record store immediately and bought the LP (Proof Through the Night, sadly never re-released on CD)

"Proof Through The Night" (along with the "Trap Door" EP) was released last year on one of those damn Rhino limited edition CDs. Unfortunately, it sold out before I could order the damn thing. Apparently Burnett doesn't like the production on those records, and only let them be re-released in a limited format. Currently it's selling for $140.00 on Amazon Stores.

Dave said...

I know it's too late, but I just thought of three songs that would have been certain top 10 hits if released as singles:

"Connection" and "Under My Thumb" by the Stones.

"You Must be Love" by Smokey and the Miracles was stuck as a B-side and it's up there with "Tracks of My Tears" as their best love song, albeit a love song to a girl that the singer has never met.

Why wasn't Mott the Hoople's "Roll Away the Stone" a smash hit?

Anonymous said...

Ok, this is really, really late, but this thread is great.

another one came to mind:

Can't Hardly Wait - the Replacements, from Pleased To Meet Me

The album version is =so= much better than the single version. Maybe that explains why this track didn't take over the airwaves in 1987? Was it because Jesus was mentioned in the lyrics ("He never buys any smokes")? Or, was commercial radio just not going to play the 'Mats?

It does look like quite a number of folks have done covers on Youtube...