Saturday, February 28, 2009

Late Saturday Night Glam Blogging...

I don't know, but the general beef is that the Sweet bubblegummed glam, but this song seems pretty heavy to me...

Happy Satday night!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Weekend Listomania (Special Seven Days in February Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental nafkeh metaphysical adviser Fah Lo Suee and I will be travelling to the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC for the annual batshit insane wingnut fest CPAC 2009 Conservative Forum and Cattlecall.

I'm currently scheduled to host a seminar entitled "Rachel Maddow and the Lesbian Plot to Sap Our Precious Bodily Fluids," but I may be sitting in at the "Al Franken and ACORN: How Liberals are Destroying the American Election System" forum as well. [Author's Note: That last one is absolutely real. Swear to god.]

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:

Most Memorable Post-Beatles Song With Either the Word Week or a Specific Day of the Week In Its Title!!!

Self-explanatory, obviously, so no arbitrary rules this time. Although if you try to sneak in Loudon Wainwright's "April Fools Day Morn," or "Wild Weekend" or something similar, I will come to your house and taunt you unmercifully. Okay? We're talking either Monday through Sunday or the actual word week.

Incidentally -- without having checked the archives (which is more complicated than I want to think about, frankly) it occurs to me I might have done something kind of similar to this not too long ago. if so, please forgive my incipient senility and a workload that would be crushing for a college kid on meth, let alone a senior citizen.

Thank you.

Okay, here's my totally top of my head Top Seven:

7. Groovy Tuesday -- The Smithereens

From Especially For You, which remains one of the great underrated albums of the 80s. This is a recent solo performance by head 'Reen Pat DiNizio, and it's so good I can almost forgive him for being a winger.

6. Sunday Morning -- The Velvet Underground

Lou's big Brill Building move on the Velvets' otherwise kinda scary debut LP. Seriously -- this is so pretty, the Monkees could have covered it.

5. Saturday Night -- Kaiser Chiefs

Not a fan, particularly, but in the absence of anything relevant featuring Billy Corgan's pretentious cueball noggin, I thought it appropriate to have something recorded in the current century.

4. Eight Days a Week -- The Beatles

From the non-canonical American LP Beatles VI. As Cameron Crowe famously said of something else, you still can't buy a better record.

3. Sunday Girl -- Blondie

You know, it's not exactly a secret that I'm a sucker for a woman in a man's dress shirt and tie, but -- and I've never seen this clip before -- she was really to die for, wasn't she?

2. Lazy Sunday -- Small Faces

One of the most evocative "knickers up at the pub" songs of 60s Brit rock. And those little psychedelic breaks in the middle, with the chimes and organ, are just exquisite, doncha think?

And the numero uno 7 Jours Par Semaine song of them all, c'mon for a change I'm not exagerrating here and there really can't be any doubt about this, obviously is --

1. Friday on My Mind -- The Easybeats.

C'mon -- you knew this was gonna be the one, right? Great song, and the amazing thing is that it's not even their best, although that remains a fairly well-kept secret outside of Australia.

Awrighty then -- what would your choices be?

[Shameless Blogwhore: My parallel Cinema Listomania -- theme: most memorable cop flicks -- is now up over at Box Office (inspired by the radically new transfer William Friedkin did for the Blu-Ray version of The French Connection). As always, if you could see your way to going over there and leaving a comment, it would convince management that I'm worth the vast sums of money they're paying me. Thanks!]

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Will No One Rid Me of Yet Another Troublesome Early Clue to the New Direction?

From 1977, here's a killer live version of Elvis Costello's angsty blue collar manifesto "Welcome to the Working Week."

It is perhaps worth pondering that at a mere 1:22 minutes in length, "Welcome" may be the greatest shortest first track on a debut album in rock history.

It is perhaps also worth pondering that, as usual, a coveted PowerPop No-Prize will be awarded the first reader to glean its relevance to tomorrow's Weekend Listomania.

Ernie, Meet Scott. Scott, Meet Ernie!

I've been posting Ernie Kovacs videos over at Box Office of late, and reader MBowen was just kind enough to point me to this wonderful tribute to the Great Man from what probably shouldn't have seemed a surprising source.

That's the Loud Family, whose 1994 debut, Plants and Birds and Rocks and Things, remains perhaps the closest that anyone in our lifetimes will come to an artistic equivalent of The White Album. In any case, I always knew LF honcho Scott Miller had good musical taste, but obviously he's just a smart guy period.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Fun With Downloads (Special Sarah Palin Edition)

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the real life Smell the Glove cover.

In case you've never heard them, Boxer were a sort of supergroup (lead singer Mike Patto was one of the best r&b influenced vocalists to come out of the original British Beat boom, and guitarist Ollie Halsall was good enough to play with The Rutles) whose debut LP (on Virgin, where they were apparently a priority of Richard Branson) came out in 1975.

It's a great album, but it stiffed at the time, and not just because the band's vaguely progressive pop was about to get wiped out by punk. I mean, that cover -- how clueless would you have to be to not get that some people might legitimately find it...uh...offensive? Sheesh.

Anyway, there's one song on the record in particular, the fiendishly catchy and propulsive "All the Time in the World," that I absolutely adore, and not solely because it includes the immortal lyric "There's a moose on the loose."

You can download it here.

You're welcome.

Ticketmaster, Part 2

From the LA Times:

Senators and independent concert promoters took turns at a hearing Tuesday slamming a proposed merger of two of the biggest forces in the music industry -- Ticketmaster Entertainment Inc. and Live Nation Worldwide Inc.

"It seems to be monopolistic, plain and simple," Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said. "This is not the American dream, as the companies' witnesses might have you believe."

The Senate's antitrust subcommittee grilled chief executives Michael Rapino of Live Nation and Irving Azoff of Ticketmaster and solicited input from concert promoters on how the industry would be affected.

"This merger is vertical integration on steroids," Jerry Mickelson, chairman of concert promoter Jam Productions in Chicago, told the committee. "The amalgamation of these two companies into one should make them the poster child for why this country needs antitrust laws."

But Rapino and Azoff presented their case as two companies trying to weather the recession as best they could, creating a new model for the music industry in the process.

"The economic foundation that supported artists in the past is crumbling," Azoff said. "We cannot just cling to the old ways. This merger will allow the live music industry to avoid repeating the mistakes of the record industry."

Azoff and Rapino said their companies, by combining, could eliminate $40 million in inefficiencies.

"We have an opportunity to create a truly modern business by merging these companies together, something we can't do alone," Rapino said.

But Mickelson and Seth Hurwitz, co-owner of 9:30 Club and I.M.P. Productions in Washington -- who both use Ticketmaster for their events -- told the committee they feared a merger would result in Live Nation, a competitor, gaining access to their sensitive information and benefiting financially from fees added to their ticket sales.

"Our competitors would be receiving income from every ticket we sell," Mickelson said. "They'd have access to our ticket sales information, they'd have access to our customer databases, they'd have access to the terms of our ticket agreements."

This is a really bad idea to say the least.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Remember the Great Folk Scare of the Sixties? That Shit Almost Caught On!

I must confess, until this weekend, I knew nothing of the 1967 British hit "Days of Pearly Spencer" or its auteur, folkie David McWilliams.

McWilliams died in 2002, and according to that Wiki link, over the years he suffered somewhat from comparisons to Donovan (I don't much hear it from that song, I should say). He was pretty well known in Europe, though, and "Pearly Spencer" was apparently a much bigger hit in 1992 for that guy from Soft Cell.

In any case, my friend David Klein, currently doing business over at the terrific music blog Merry Swankster, sent me the link to the audio of this the other day, and I was immediately taken with it. (The song was apparently arranged and produced by the late Mike Leander, who did the string stuff for Marianne Faithfull's original "As Tears Go By" and the Beatles "She's Leaving Home.")

Dave says he hears a sort of Ralph McTell "Streets of London" before its time. Me, I get an uncomfortable whiff of Bob Lind and "Elusive Buterfly of Love," but there's something compelling about the damn thing I can't shake.

What do you think? (BTW -- if you want an mp3, give me a holler).

Pearl Jam Had it Right the First Time...

From Wired:

Ticketmaster faces a Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday about its plan to merge with Live Nation, but at least the company managed to resolve its conflict with the state of New Jersey just before the hearing takes place.

Bruce Springsteen's home state settled with the ticketing giant after fans filed thousands of complaints that Ticketmaster gouged them and others by directing them to its secondary ticketing market, TicketsNow, which offered tickets marked-up hundreds or even thousands of dollars above their asking price on the first day in which they were available.

As penance, the company paid New Jersey $350,000 and promised to compensate approximately 2,200 people who were overcharged as part of the flap, according to the Wall Street Journal (whose article can't be read without a subscription). Their means of compensation is a bit odd; out of those 2,200 disgruntled Springsteen fans, 1,000 will be entered in a random drawing to receive permission to purchase two tickets to another show on the tour without having to pay Ticketmaster's notoriously onerous convenience fees (so that's how you avoid those fees: by winning a lottery?).

In addition, Ticketmaster must erect a better wall between its primary and secondary ticketing businesses and must prove that it is selling its tickets first to the primary market, as opposed to injecting them directly into TicketsNow, whose auction style bidding generally results in higher prices.

This kind of crap really pisses me off. It kills me to have to pay a service fee to "Ticketscalper" and I always attempt to buy at the box office whenever possible to avoid them. What are the artist's responsibility in all this? Should they be concerned that their fans are getting ripped off and not getting a fair chance to purchase tickets? Guess I'll just stick with smaller venues.

Monday, February 23, 2009

This Could be Interesting...

From Billboard:

Former Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha, Cheap Trick drummer Bun E. Carlos, Hanson's Taylor Hanson and Fountains Of Wayne bassist Adam Schlesinger have formed a new band, Tinted Windows.

The group has recorded its debut album at Stratosphere Sound Studios in New York, which Schlesinger and Iha co-own with Ivy's Andy Chase. The set is expected this spring on a label to be announced.

Tinted Windows will play its first major show at Billboard's South by Southwest showcase, to be held March 20 at Pangaea in Austin, Texas.

Ceci N'est Pas Une Gospel Song

Somebody posted this over at Eschaton the other day, but in case you missed it...

Ever hear the classic Lenny Bruce routine about a hipster jazz musician auditioning for a gig with Lawrence Welk?

Hiptster jazz musician: Uh, I gotta tell you man, I got a monkey on my back.

Welk: That's okay, we love animals in da band!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Rise, Bleary-Eyed, and Report

PHILADELPHIA, PA--Went to see Fountains of Wayne last night, in a full-band acoustic performance. The tix were a gift from a certain pseudonymous blogger who graciously offered us a place to crash and a night off. Wonderful.

Full-band acoustic is a relatively rare thing, even post-Unplugged, But I found it sort of evens out the up-tempo and down-tempo songs, so that, for example, "Red Dragon Tattoo" and "Valley Winter Song" feel more similar than they might seem at first glance.

Anyway, set list. Some of these are new, and off the upcoming record (for which no date was given).

They took the stage to the 50's staple "Theme from A Summer Place," and threatened to play "La Bamba," but didn't.

Please Don't Rock Me Tonight
Little Red Light
Someone To Love
The Summer Place (new)
Fire Island
Cold Comfort Flowers (new)
Hey Julie
A Road Song (new)
Red Dragon Tattoo
Valley Winter Song
Fire in the Canyon
Bright Future in Sales
Radiation Vibe
Cemetary Games (new)
Stacy's Mom

Stage banter was, as always, funny and sharp. When the crowd gave only a smattering of applause as a new song was announced, Adam Schlesinger said he felt like The Rolling Stones announcing a new song. When "Hey Julie" required some audience participation, he joked that the song was in "17 time" and after a particularly lame audience member couldn't manage to keep the beat, joked again that she had believed him. When opener Mike Viola (more on him in another post) joined the band onstage, they found him a guitar, because "otherwise, you'd feel like a jerk." And Viola replied "Like Bez," which amused me more than it should have.

Great show, and the new record shows a lot of promise.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Weekend Listomania (Special From Dusk Till Dawn Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental fille de nuit etiquette czar Fah Lo Suee and I will be spending the weekend at a cartooning seminar hosted by New York Post caricaturist Sean Delonas. Apparently, we'll be learning how to depict somebody named Rupert Murdoch as an orangutang, which seems like a small skill, but what do you expect in the course of two days -- Daumier? Hogarth? Harvey Kurtzman? I think not.

In any case, posting by moi will necessarily be sporadic until next week.

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

Most Memorable Post-Elvis Song With Either Night(s) or Day(s) In Its Title!!!

Self-explanatory, obviously, so no arbitrary rules this time. Oh, except that songs with "today" or "tonight" don't count. Specificity, people!

Okay, here's my totally top of my head Top Seven:

7. Rainy Night House -- Joni Mitchell

I'm not nuts about this live jazzbo version, from '74, but a great song is a great song.

6. Days -- The Kinks

You know, it's dawned on me that I'm constantly saying that if Ray Davies had written nothing but "________________" [fill in the blank] he'd deserve immortality. Be that as it may, this one certainly qualifies.

5. A Night Like This -- Smashing Pumpkins

The Cure song, of course. Face it -- you've been missing Billy Corgan's pretentious cueball noggin around here, haven't you?

4. Night -- Bruce Springsteen

Probably the least memorable track on Born to Run, but I saw a recent clip of Bruce doing it live somewhere and I thought "hey, that's a pretty cool song."

3. Perfect Day -- Lou Reed

One of the few unironic songs on Transformer, and one of Lou's prettiest, I think.

2. The Good Old Days -- Babyshambles

Not a fan of Pete Doherty, particularly, but I though it might be nice to have something recorded in this century.

And the obviously coolest got-the-sun-in-the-morning-and-the-moon-at-night track of them all, please don't bother to argue with me about this or I'll slap you viciously around the keppie, is ---

1. A Day in the Life -- The Beatles

Forty years on, the world-weariness in Lennon's voice still slays me. So let me say something now that I've wanted to say for ages...hey John -- I know the feeling.

Awrighty then -- so what would your choices be?

[Shameless Blogwhore: My parallel Cinema Listomania (theme: best teen flicks ever!) 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 get me in good with management. Thanks!]

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Jeebus H Christ in a Chicken Basket, It's Yet Another Early Clue to the New Direction!

In 2007, from Kiev in the former Soviet Union, here's Sir Elton John singing his rampantly homophobic classic "Don't Let Your Son Go Down On Me."

Okay, lame joke. Anyway, as usual, a coveted Powerpop No-Prize will be awarded the first reader who gleans the clip's relevance to tomorrow's Weekend Listomania.

Fun With Downloads

Kevin Salem: a guitar hero who deserves to be way better known than he is.

That's Soma City, his great debut album, from 1994.

You can download a zip file of the stunning opening track "Lighthouse Keeper," which is as close to vintage Tom Verlaine or Richard Lloyd as anybody who wasn't a member of Television has ever come, right here.

Yes, it's free. (In case you haven't figured it out, I finally learned how to post zip files, so I'll probably be putting up random songs I really like from now on ad nauseum.)

And you're welcome.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Rock and Roll Parlor Game

I was catching up on my podcasts of This American Life last week and there was an interesting piece that appeared on their December 12th show, 20 Acts in 60 Minutes. Reading from his book, Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto, Chuck Klosterman recounts a conversation he had at a party, where at one point he suddenly found it necessary to mention that Journey was rock's version of the TV show Dynasty. This then prompted a spirited debate that the participants dubbed "Monkees equals Monkees" He continues:

“The goal of this game is to figure out which TV show is the closest philosophical analogy to a specific rock and roll band and the criteria are mindblowingly complex. It is a combination of longevity, era, critical acclaim, commercial success, and most importantly, the aesthetic soul of each artistic entity.

For example, the Rolling Stones are Gunsmoke. The Strokes, Keifer Sutherland’s 24. Jimi Hendrix was the Twilight Zone. Devo was Fernwood 2 Night. Lynyrd Skynyrd was the Beverly Hillbillies which makes Molly Hatchet Petticoat Junction. The Black Crowes are That 70s Show. Hall and Oates were Bosom Buddies. U2 was M*A*S*H because both kinda got preachy at the end. Dokken was Jason Bateman’s shortlived sitcom It’s Your Move. The Eurythmics were Mork and Mindy. We even deduced comparisons for solo projects which can only be made to series that were spawned as spinoffs. The four Beatles, post 1970 were as follows: John equals Maude, Paul equals Frazier, George equals the Jeffersons, and Ringo equals Flo. David Lee Roth’s solo period after Van Halen was Knot’s Landing.”

OK, I’ll get the party started:

REM = Saturday Night Live because each began brilliantly, but today no one really gives a crap anymore.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Vinyl That Time Forgot!

So -- a few weeks ago, I was freaking out trying to remember an album that crossed my desk very early in my tenure at the Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Review. And by early I figured 1973 or thereabouts.

Try as I might, I couldn't remember the name of the LP or the band that made it. And I wasn't even particularly sure that it was by a band -- it might, I thought, have been by a comedy troupe that also did music. All I knew, however, or at least thought I knew, was one song in particular -- a hilarious blues parody which finished with a Robert Plant-esque lead singer yowling "Now wait a minute!". At which point, the track stopped cold except for a clock ticking.

Anyway, a Google search proved unavailing, so I e-mailed an old bud, longtime L.A. music writer and scenester Todd Everett. It didn't ring any bells for him, but he promised to forward my query to some folks he knew from the record business back in the day. And sure enough, a few hours later came the answer.

Turns out the culprits (and yes, it was a real band, not a bunch of comedians) were Wilderness Road, who seem to have been a sort of American equivalent of Brit wiseguys The Bonzo Dog Band. And the album (indeed, from 1973) was Sold For the Prevention of Disease Only. Hey -- I'm a sucker for condom jokes.

As it happened, the song that had haunted me all these years was the appropriately titled "The Authentic British Blues." And I was pleased to discover that it was as funny as I remembered...I particularly like the ersatz Gilbert and Sullivan intro, and the bit where the harmonica player, in the voice of an old Jewish man, goes " lips!"

Plus this inspirational verse:

I've got just the liberate your mind.
Some asshole on a sitar...playing "My Darling Clementine."

Heh heh.

Anyway, neither song nor album has ever been on CD, but thanks to the miracle of the Intertubes, you can download the former, in all its over the top glory, here.

And if the authorization has run out, you can download the entire album, which behooves behearing, here.

You're welcome.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Saturday Glam Blogging, Valentine's Day Edition...

Since it is Valentine's Day, I thought I'd go with a romantic tune, so here is Marc Bolan and T-Rex with Light of Love, a song that appeared on the Bolan's Zip Gun LP. Light of Love reached #22 on the UK charts in 1974, his least successful single up to that point and that has always been kinda inexplicable to me. I really dig the funky sound that Bolan gets on this track and it's cool to see Bolan's flame at the time Gloria Jones (who recorded the original version of Tainted Love back in 1964 that was ultimately destroyed by synth-poppers Soft Cell who had a big hit with it in 1981).

Cheers! Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Weekend Listomania (Special Journalism 101! Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental on-call strumpet social secretary Fah Lo Suee and I will be traveling to something called the Borscht Belt (I think it's in upstate New York) where some very old guys are going to help me write a joke for next week's Listomania. I think there will be corned beef sandwiches and Jews involved, but I can't be sure.

In any case, posting by moi will necessarily be sporadic for a few days while we schvitz.

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

Most Memorable Song Whose Title Includes one of the Five W's They Teach You About in J-School -- Who, What, When, Where or Why!!!!!!

Self-explanatory, obviously, so no arbitrary rules this time.

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

8. Why -- The Byrds

This is actually a cover by the Brit psych band Tomorrow, of "Excerpt From A Teenage Opera" fame. The Byrds themselves did like three different versions of this, but none of them are on YouTube at the moment. Great song, though, and the cover's not bad.

7. Where or When -- Dion and the Belmonts

The Rogers and Hart classic, given a gorgeous sort of doo-wop treatment. A lyrical two-fer, for my purposes, obviously.

6. Why Do I Cry -- The Remains

I'd forgotten that this figures in Superbad; funny to think of Judd Apatow as a garage rock fan. In any case, the live version -- from A Session with the Remains -- is better, but there's no video alas.

5. Where is My Mind -- James Blunt

Blunt goes neo-psych, and possibly the worst goddamn song I've ever heard. Included just to have something recorded in the 21st century, obviously.

4. Tell Me Why -- The Beatles

Swoon. Look for an adolescent Phil Collins in the cheap seats.

3. What's Happening?!?! -- The Byrds

Embedding disabled by request, but here's the link if you'd like to listen. My favorite track from Fifth Dimension; my crappy 70s band used to butcher it live with depressing regularity.

2. Tell Me What You See -- The Beatles

Possibly the best sort-of obscure Beatles song. From Beatles VI, which may be the greatest album ever made, despite the fact that it's not really part of the official canon blah blah blah.

And the number one Big W song, there's really no argument about this remotely possible so just shut the frick up, has to be --

1. Who Are You -- The Who

The whole self-referential thing, 'natch.

Awrighty then -- so what are your faves?

[Shameless Blogwhore: My parallel Cinema Listomania (theme: unnecessary sequels) 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 convince management it's worth paying me. Thanks!]

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Oh For Crying Out Loud, It's Yet Another Goddamn Early Clue to the New Direction!

From 1978, and featuring the remarkable Graham Maby (one of the tiny handful of interesting instrumentalists to come out of the New Wave movement) on bass, here's irrespressible tall guy Joe Jackson and his charmingly acerbic "Sunday Papers."

As always, a coveted PowerPop No-Prize will be awarded the first reader to glean the clip's relevance to tomorrow's Weekend Listomania.

Definitely not holding my breath this time....

If Tom Petty Had Married Helen Reddy...

...who then divorced him and married Johnny Cash, she'd be Helen Reddy Petty Cash.

Okay, lame joke, but it will have to do as a lead-in for this interesting clip of Petty and the Heartbreakers (in 2006) taking on one of the greatest but never-covered records of the 60s, to wit Them's astounding proto-psychedelic Mystic Eyes.

I'm not sure this really gets to the heart of the original in the way most of Petty's 60s covers do, but like I said, this is one of the greatest songs that nobody has ever (to my knowledge) remade, so I guess I appreciate the effort.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Tap is Back...

Reported in last Wednesday's Guardian, legendary spoof-rockers Spinal Tap:

... will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the This is Spinal Tap mockumentary by releasing a new album, their first since 1992's Break Like The Wind. "It'll be for download as well as on conventional media later this year," Harry Shearer (aka bassist Derek Smalls) confirmed to BBC 5 Live.

According the article, "the band have yet to announce their new drummer."

Give the Drummer Some

God, I've been waiting since forever for this clip to finally show up on YouTube.

From the early 90s, it's Tom Petty and Heartbreakers doing "You Don't Know What It's Like" on SNL.

With guest drummer Dave Grohl, late of some band whose name escapes me that changed music.

Does he kick, or what? Seriously -- the kid plays about a thousand times harder than any drummer Petty's ever had, and what a pleasure to see it.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sad Songs Mean So Much

This is an oh so tragic story, so please try not to laugh.

A long time ago (no Spanish American War jokes, thank you) I was going through a really painful breakup, by which I mean I was at the beginning of a three year depression that made me all but impossible to hang out with because of my annoying habit of saying things like "What's there to live for?" in response to questions like "Would you like fries with that?"

As you can imagine, my emotional state was impacting my listening habits, and at one point the then new 1991 album Anything Can Happen, by Nashville alt-pop rockers The Questionnaires, happened to cross my desk.

One song from the album in particular -- the (I thought) ragingly beautiful breakup ballad "In the Back of My Mind" -- hit me pretty hard and I began listening to it obsessively, to the point where I think I basically ignored everything else on the record, the rest of which could have been Lithuanian grindcore for all I knew.

Anyway, one day a critical colleague of mind -- toiling at Entertainment Weekly, as I recall -- happened to ask me what I was listening to, and I recommended said Questionnaires album, rather heartily, as I also recall. A few weeks later he called me up about a review assignment, and he finally said "Uh...Steve? You know that Questionnaires thing you made me listen to? It...really sucks."

To be honest, I didn't really see the point in arguing, and I'm sure I figured that my own judgement probably wasn't all that reliable anymore, for obvious reasons. So I put the CD away out of earshot, and eventually mislaid it somewhere, probably while moving to a new apartment a year or two later.

Cut to the present and, out of curiosity, I snagged a used copy of the album at Amazon the other day and checked out "In the Back of My Mind" for the first time in nearly two decades. And guess what -- I still think that it's ragingly beautiful in a sort of Brian Wilson/early Association/lotsa harmonies kind of way. But I also can kind of understand how other folks might find it...uh, sappy.

Okay, no larger point, but you can listen to it here and make up your own mind about whether or not I'm the biggest pathetic wimp who ever lived.

Incidentally, the guy who wrote the song is big band jazz great Stan Kenton's grandson. What Stan would have thought about any of this, of course, is anybody's guess.

Monday, February 09, 2009

La Vache Qui Rit

The late Ernie Kovacs does to The 1812 Overture what really needed to be done.

I realize that this has nothing to do with power pop per se, but I think we can all agree that it's the greatest and funniest music video of all time. Edited, I might add, the old fashioned way -- with an Exacto knife and Scotch tape.

Incidentally, I've been looking to post this from YouTube for what seems like ages; this DailyMotion thing is new to me, but they seem to have a lot of stuff you can't find anywhere else.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Weekend Listomania (Special There's No Accounting For Taste! Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental fille de nuit manual catharsis manager Fah Lo Suee and I will be travelling to Washington, D.C., where we'll be staying at the spartanly-appointed digs of Sen. Lindsey Graham for some kind of stimulus package thing. Apparently, it involves my pants, but I'm not really sure what might be on the agenda above and beyond that.

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:

Most Inexplicably Fricking Huge Post-Beatles Hit Single!!!!!!

Obviously, the flip side (as it were) of last week's shoulda-been-bigger-hits Listomania. This time we're talking about the record(s) whose massive chart success merely flummoxes you or (worst case scenario) actually strikes you as some kind of crime against nature. Something so butt ugly or moronic that after hearing it you despair of being human.

You know -- some piece of shlock pop fluff that got lucky.

Okay, here's my top of my head Top Nine:

9. Rihanna -- Umbrella

Gorgeous woman, lousy singer, skull-crushingly annoying song.

8. James Blunt - Goodbye My Lover

I don't think I've ever heard a note from this guy that didn't make me want to go "What the fuck is that shit?". But this one is REALLY beyond the pale....

7. The Royal Guardsman -- Snoopy Versus the Red Baron

If memory serves, I'd never seen what these guys looked like before finding this clip. But after viewing their moronically grinning mugs here I find myself even more annoyed by the song than ever. Frightening Fact: The original group reformed in 2006 to record "Snoopy Versus Osama," which is a big fave on the Dr. Demento Show, or so I hear.

6. Celine Dion -- My Heart Will Go On

Apparently, the deal with this song is that she's recommending low-fat snacks and a heart-healthy diet rich in beta carotene. Other than that, I think it's inexcusable on a purely aural level.

5. Meat Loaf -- I Would Do Anything For Love

Seven goddamn minutes long, and when it's over you still have no idea exactly what he's talking about when he says "I won't do that." Take out the garbage? Vote Republican? Divulge the secret formula that makes Orange Julius so devilishly delicious? C'mon, help us out here, Meat.

4. Pat Benatar -- Love is a Battlefield

You know, it occurs to me that this may not actually be the worst song ever written, but that the video is just so hilariously awful that it merely seems like it is. The dueling dancing hookers at the end are a particularly ghastly touch either way, of course.

3. The Poppy Family -- Which Way You Going Billy?

Unspeakably icky, even for Canadians. And the drummer overplays, criminally.

2. Colbie Callat -- Bubbly

Perhaps the lamest song of perhaps the lamest pop music decade since the halcyon days of Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods. Seriously, if the world was to come to an end tomorrow and I was forced to reflect on the 21st century, I would probably echo Isaac Bashevis Singer on the 20th: "On balance, a complete flop."

And the number one biggest piece of crap to become a gigantic hit apres the British Invasion, there's really no argument about this even remotely possible, obviously is --

1. Tommy James and the Shondells -- Hanky Panky

A crappy 1963 throwaway b-side becomes a huge hit during 1966, arguably the most creatively exciting year in the history of 20th century pop music, thus proving there is no God. I have decided, however, that there is a certain karmic payback in the fact that James, seen here performing it live in 2005, has been fated to warble the damn thing more times than Judy Garland sang "Over the Rainbow."

Okay -- so what would your choices be?

[Shameless Blogwhore: My parallel Cinema Listomania (theme: underrated director or star whose work most deserves a second look re-evaluation) is now up over at Box Office. As always, if you could see your way over there to leave a comment, it would keep me in good with management. Thanks!]

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Holy Kazoozis, It's Yet Another Early Clue to the New Direction

Okay, I know that I usually post these things after lunch or later, but I really don't think anybody's gonna get this one. Heh heh.

So -- from 2000, it's the pride of the Bahamas, The Baha Men, and their still ubiquitous ode to canine wanderlust "Who Let the Dogs Out?"

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

But like I said...heh heh.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

I've Got a Plan... Stick It to the Man!

Bruce Springsteen's Superbowl Half-Time Show, part I...

..and Part II.

Come and get me, Universal! Yada yada yada!!!!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

And All We Mortals Struggle So

From his quite wonderful Washington Square Serenade album, enjoy Greatest Living New Yorker Steve Earle and the spinetingling "Down Here Below."

This was pretty much my favorite song of 2007.

Pale Male, the famous redtail hawk, performs wingstands high above midtown Manhattan
Circles around for one last pass over the park
Got his eye on a fat squirrel down there and a couple of pigeons
They got no place to run, they got no place to hide

But Pale Male he`s cool, see, 'cause his breakfast ain`t goin' nowhere
So he does a loop de loop for the tourists and the Six o'Clock News
Got him a penthouse view from the tip-top of the food chain, boys
He looks up and down on Fifth Avenue and says "God I love this town"

That's as close to poetry as pop music needs to get, I think, and it actually gets better from there. Incidentally, the woman singing the way cool harmony part on the chorus is the lovely and talented Allison Moorer, aka Mrs. Earle, whose solo work definitely behooves behearing; if you're in the vicinity of iTunes, you might want to download "The Hardest Part," for starters.

Monday, February 02, 2009

The French They Are a Funny Race...

...and if you know the second half of that couplet, you ought to be ashamed of yourself.

In any case, our pal Sal Nunziato over at Burning Wood first posted this clip of Jerry Lewis (from the 1958 classic Rock-a-Bye Baby) a few weeks ago, in what context I can't recall. But I thought I'd put it up here today for any lurking fans of the whole downtown NYC Noise Rock scene of the 80s. You know -- Mars, DNA, Teenage Jesus and the Jerks...bands like that.

And speaking of DNA, as you will doubtless notice, Jerry's guitar solos sound pretty much exactly like Arto Lindsay. Obviously, if Jerry had been hanging out on the Bowery circa 1984, it wouldn't just have been the French hailing him as a genius.