Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Si! Si! Si!

This won't come as a shock to anybody, but one of the nicest perks, if that's the word, of writing here over the last two years is that people have been moved to turn me on to some very cool music I would have never have otherwise heard.

But of all the songs I've been hepped to since NYMary gave me the spare set of keys to the car, as it were, I think this is the one I treasure most (and special thanks to Kid Charlemagne, whose encylopedic knowledge of some of the more obscure byways of pop and rock is a continuing source of amazement to me).

From 1965, please enjoy Los Shakers (a/k/a The Beatles del Rio de la Plata) and their exquisite "Always You."

Los Shakers were in many ways one of the archtypal 60s rock stories -- four kids from Uruguay who saw A Hard Days Night and flipped (like everybody else their age worldwide) and subsequently formed a band. Except they actually got signed by the Beatles parent record label (EMI) and became huge pop stars in South and Latin America (they were considered gods in Argentina, apparently).

Oh, and made absolutely wonderful records that live up to the source of their initial inspirations.

Case in point: "Always You." Seriously -- this is EXACTLY what the Beatles would have sounded like circa the soundtrack to Help if they had grown up South of the Border rather than in Liverpool. In short, as gorgeous a happy/sad pop tune as you'll ever encounter, with every little instrumental and vocal detail simply beyond perfection; I absolutely turn to jelly when that chiming Harrison-esque Rickenbacker twelve-string comes in at the top of the second verse, and I don't care who knows it.

BTW, you can see Los Shakers perform the song (in lower-fi mono) in a club scene from what is apparently a Latin version of an AIP beach party flick over at YouTube HERE.

For more on these guys -- who have credibly reinvented themselves as disciples of Astor Piazzolla since a 2005 reunion tour -- check out their estimable official website.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Get Your Kicks...

Long story short: In a bizarre bit of karmic convergence, my good friend David Klein, doing business over at the remarkable Merry Swankster blog, just weighed in with the latest in his brilliant Numerology series, with a superb piece on the history (and much more) of the often covered pop/rock classic "Route 66." (Check it out HERE, including audio of the original version by Nat King Cole and a couple of other cool covers.)

And a few hours after I read it, I found myself sitting in with some old friends' bar band in the wilds of New Jersey and actually singing the thing. You have no idea how weird this is, as the last time I performed anything publically all the women's parts were played by men and the show's protagonist -- Richard III -- was still alive.

Fortunately, no video of Thursday's performance has yet surfaced on YouTube, although I think somebody was cell phoning it so who knows. All I can say, ultimately, is yipes, and echo the comment one of the waitresses made to the owner: "Why is that old Rabbi doing punk rock moves?"

Anyway, "Route 66" is a song that has loomed large in my legend, as they say, for decades now. So here's hands down my favorite performance of it -- from The Rolling Stones 1965 EP Got Live If you Want.

Actually, on most days this isn't just my fave version of the song. In fact, I'm often of the opinion that this is the Stones single most exciting live performance ever AND the most exciting live performance by a rock band period.

And isn't that back cover shot just the most evocative damned thing you've ever seen? There's no photo credit, alas, which has always bugged me; I'm betting it was taken by either David Bailey or Gered Mankowitz, but if there's a Stones completist out there who knows, please get in touch.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Old Man Take A Look at Yourself...

Okay, kids, so despite my current straitened economic circumstances, I went ahead and splurged the 238 bucks over at Amazon for the ten-disc Blu-ray of Vol. 1 of the Neil Young Archives.

So of course I'm going to share with you.

From 1971, please enjoy Neil's previously unreleased tale of rock star anomie, "Southern California Brings Me Down."

I need someone to live with me
To keep my bed warm and keep my shorts clean
I need a maid to give for free
And sew patches on my jeans

I dreamed I found my cowgirl housewife
I was driving in my pickup through L.A.
I gotta love you while I can, babe
Before I become an old man

Southern California brings me down
Southern California brings me down
Southern California brings me down

I need some place to go
O North Ontario
It's safer than Alabama
It's safer than O-Ohio O-Ohio O

Gonna go home now where I can grow old
With the cowgirl of my dreams
Gonna stayed stoned now
Stare out my basement window and scream

I think we can all agree, Neil never distilled Topanga Canyon angst quite so brilliantly, although lord knows he's tried on numerous occasions.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Saturday Glam Blogging...

Here's Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel with their 1974 single Judy Teen, which reached #5 on the UK charts in 1974. This song scores high on the precious and twee scale of glam circa the mid-1970s, but I have always had a special place in my heart for this band. Enjoy and buon weekend!

Friday, June 26, 2009

RIP Sky Saxon

I think we would be remiss here at PowerPop to fail to acknowledge the passing of fellow astral traveler Sky Saxon yesterday. Personally, my introduction to the work of the Seeds came from Lenny Kaye's groundbreaking compilation of 60's punk/psych Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era: 1965-1968 which included the band's best known tune Pushin' Too Hard. I found my copy of Nuggets in a cutout bin when I was 18 and as a punk rocker in 1978 it literally blew my mind. Not only because of all the great music contained within the grooves of those two records, but also because it showed me that the punk/outsider ethos of rock and roll is truly universal and transcends all generations. Anyway, here's the Seeds' appearance in 1968's Psych Out which included the performances of Jack Nicholson, Susan Strasberg, Bruce Dern and Dean Stockwell.

BTW, you can't have flower power without the Seeds! Happy weekend!

Psych Out!

Weekend Listomania: Special I Knew 'Em When Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental groinal manipulation technician diet consultant Fah Lo Suee and I are off to the great state of South Carolina for some remedial nude hiking with Governor Mark Sandford (R-Down Argentine Way). Mark's bringing the Flit, but I'm worried that the bugs will be out of control anyway.

So posting by moi will be sporadic for a few days.

But in the meantime, here's another little fun project for you folks:

Best Major, i.e. Arena-Worthy, Rock/Pop Act You Were Lucky Enough to See in a Small Room!!!

No arbitrary rules here, as I'm going to be flexible about what constitutes a small room. A club like the departed Bottom Line in NYC sat about 400, which to me should be the outside figure, but B.B. King's, which is the contemporary equivalent, seats about 700. Anyway, I'll leave it to you guys to be honest about this. And hopefully, your examples will be from a time when whoever you nominate was on the way up, rather than down.

Oh, and incidentally, if you're puzzled about the clue downstairs, I saw Dolly Parton at the aforementioned Bottom Line sometime in the late 70s. Not really an arena act, I suppose, but you get the point.

Also, I have the unsettling feeling I may have done this topic (or one awfully similar) before, but cut me some slack. As you'll see from the list below, I'm obviously extremely old.

And my totally top of my head Top Seven is:

7. Patti Smith

At Max's Kansas City, which sat 150 people tops, performing the just released Easter album in its entirety. At one point, Patti kicked over the drinks on the table where my girlfriend and I were sitting; said girlfriend was totally freaked and made me take her home, and thus I missed the live version of "Because the Night." Irksome, as you can imagine, but I've forgiven both of them since.

6. The Cars

The aforementioned Bottom Line again, circa the first album. They were quite good in a steely sort of way, although I thought they were surprisingly deficient in the charisma department. Also, the late Ben Orr really shouldn't have been wearing leather pants.

5. The Police

At the aforementioned Bottom Line as well. They had been booked there before "Roxanne" hit, so it was your basic contractual obligation gig. Place was packed, obviously; I watched from the bar and had a very good time.

4. Dire Straits

Bottom Line, same deal; "Sultans of Swing" was Top Ten at the time. Knopfler was awesome, the more so for being totally nonchalant.

3. Bachman Turner Overdrive

Max's Kansas City, touring the first album, circa 1973. They played with tiny little Fender amps and I thought they were hilarious.

2. Cheap Trick

The Bottom Line, again, around Heaven Tonight in 1978. I went with a fanatical punk/New Wave fan who was disappointed they sounded so much like a metal band. Heh.

And the numero uno show featuring incipient superstars I ever saw at a hole in the wall dive, it's not even a contest as you'll see, obviously was --

1. The Wailers/Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band

Max's Kansas City again, early 1973 (the clip is from '72, but you'll get the idea). The Wailers (with both Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, for crissakes) were making their New York debut; Springsteen was pretty much an unknown. Both bands were utterly amazing, but most of the crowd left after the reggae, and so I saw Bruce for the first time in the company of fifty or sixty hardcore fans from the Jersey Shore. Bruce asked for requests, I shouted "Route 66," and they actually did it.

Awrighty then, who would your choices be?

[Shameless Blogwhore: My parallel Cinema Listomania -- theme: best revised re-released film, classic or otherwise -- is now up over at Box Office. As always, if you could possibly go over there and leave a trenchant comment, I'd be your best friend.]

Thursday, June 25, 2009

An Early Clue to the New Direction: Special They're Called Boobs, Ed Edition)

From 1974, please enjoy the aerodynamically unlikely Dolly Parton and a terrific live performance of her classic tale of a hill country Jezebel, the often-covered "Jolene."

I should add that my girlfriend at the time actually bought one of Dolly's stage outfits -- pretty much identical to the one in the clip -- at a charity auction back in the day, and being a petite little thing, it fit her almost perfectly. Except where you might imagine.

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

But I'm not holding my breath on this one...

Great Lost Singles of the 21st Century (An Occasional Series)

You know, there's been a lot of talk around here about how I only post incredibly old songs. Geriatric ones, even.

To which I can only reply -- is that Freedom Rock? Well, turn it up!!!!

But seriously...please enjoy a little beat number that's a mere two years old. From England, it's the charmingly monikered Noisettes and their charmingly abrasive "Don't Give Up."

To my ears, this is the kind of thing The Yardbirds would have done had they been born three decades later, which is to say a kind of punkish, hepster mix of Mose Allison-derived blues and downtown 80s Arto Lindsay guitar skronk. In any case, I think you'll agree that, as the Tom Hanks character says in That Thing You Do!, it's got a lot of pep.

[h/t plum p]

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Oh. My. God.

You know, I'd always hoped I hallucinated this, but apparently not.

From 1987, it's....well, you'll see.

"Hey man, Is that Freedom Rock?"

"Yeah, man."

"Well, turn it up, man!"

Seriously -- YouTube really is the Library at Alexandria.

Down the Road Apiece

Okay, this is a little far afield from the mission statement, but I just love this record so I thought I'd share it anyway.

From 1955, here's the greatest rock piano man of them all, Amos Milburn, and his signature tune "Chicken Shack Boogie."

Actually, this is a remake. Milburn cut the original, hit, version in 1948; it's a sleazy barrelhouse gem, very proto-rock 'n' roll, but also a tad on the languid side. This one was done in New Orleans in 1955, with Milburn backed by Little Richard's crack studio band, featuring the amazing Earl Palmer and Lee Allen on drums and sax, and as you'll hear, it's taken at a dangerous tempo, threatening to careen out of control at any minute. Essentially, it's the punk rock version, a sort of 50s analog to The Ramones blowtorching their way through some 60s cover like "California Sun."

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The End of the Innocence

So Sunday I was channel surfing and I came across a Bruce Springsteen show from 2001 on FUSE; transplendent, actually, and I was pretty much an emotional basket case by the time "Thunder Road" came on. I gotta tell you, a certain shady dame is taking me to one of the upcoming Bruce shows at Giants Stadium for my birthday and god only knows what kind of a wreck I'll be at the end of that one.

Anyway, there was one song -- I don't remember which; at that point I was trying not to pay attention so as to prevent further strain on my tear ducts -- where everybody else in the front line (The Big Man, Little Steven, Mrs. Springsteen and Nils Lofgren) got to sing a verse or two solo, and I suddenly remembered why I've always loved Lofgren, who of course just nailed it.

And on that note, from his eponymous and utterly wonderful 1975 solo debut, here's Nils and perhaps the best song ever written about teen jealousy by an adult, the icily haunting "I Don't Want to Know."

The thing I most love about this song -- apart from the fact it's quite unforgettably melodic in a Brill Building throwback sort of way -- is that it's obvious its high school protagonist really DOES want to know what his errant girlfriend is up to; he's just not willing to admit it. "I worry the sun and moon," he plaints, but then Nils sings the title line so cooly you almost believe that her infidelities aren't eating the kid up inside.

Speaking of the Brill Building, the album also features a poignant cover of The Byrds version of Carole King's "Goin' Back"; it's a great record overall, actually, and you'd do well to order it HERE if you have a little disposable coin.

I should also add that there's an absolutely sensational semi-official live bootleg of the tour Lofgren did supporting this, and if anybody out there reading this has a copy, we neeed to talk.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Fight Fire!

Good afternoon all,

I was listening to an old garage comp that I put together for a buddy and this tune literally jumped out of the speakers and I had to share it with you! This is a band fronted by John Fogerty that eventially morphed into Credence Clearwater Revival called the Golliwogs. This is their awesome garage stomper Fight Fire, released in March 1966 on the Scorpio label that inexplicably went nowhere on the charts. John's fingerprints are all over this and it is an unquestionably a glittering gem of the garage era. God bless Bo Diddley! Please excuse me for the vid, but this was the only version of the song I could find on YouTube. If you have never heard this, please enjoy!

And Speaking of Gorgeous...

...from early 1966, please enjoy The Rising Sons, featuring Taj Mahal and the teenaged Ry Cooder, and their spine-tingling "2:10 Train." Unplugged, as they say, before the word had been coined.

The Rising Sons -- the other big L.A. rock band of the 60s fronted by an African-American -- were immensely popular in their hometown between 1964 and '66, but they only released one single during their lifetime (a Lovin' Spoonful-ish cover of Mississippi John Hurt's "Candyman," which I actually had a white label promo copy of back in the day, although I lost it years ago). Incredibly, this cut -- which I think would rightly be considered one of the absolute landmarks of 60s folk/blues rock had it been released at the time -- was allowed to sit, unheard, in the Columbia Records vaults until 1992, when somebody finally had the bright idea to put out the CDs worth of stuff the band recorded during its brief run. (Said stuff, including "2:10 Train," was all produced by the late great Terry Melcher, of Byrds and Paul Revere and the Raiders fame.)

It's an amazing album, actually; you can -- and absolutely should -- order it HERE.

Oh, incidentally the song itself was written by an L.A. folkie named Linda Albertano, about whom I can find nothing other than that she must have known Linda Ronstadt, who also recorded it on the first Stone Poneys album.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

And to honor the occasion, please enjoy the wonderfully sardonic roots-rock stomper "Early to Bed, Early to Rise" by the fortuitously named Daddy, whose sophomore album is being released, not uncoincedentally, this very afternoon.

Alert readers may recognize Daddy as the brainchild of Tommy Womack , the Nashville alt-rock veteran whose hilarious country-inflected ode to Dead Boys guitarist Cheetah Chrome I touted in an earlier post back in April. His co-conspirator here is guitarist Will Kimbrough, with whom he toiled in The Bis-Quits, still one of my top ten fave bands of the 90s (and I'll post about them soon).

In case, a great song; you can -- and surely should -- order the album HERE.

And with that little bit of well-deserved plugola out of the way, and equally in keeping with our theme du jour, please enjoy the incomparable Groucho Marx and his superb rendition of the Bert Kalmar/Harry Ruby classic "Father's Day."

You're welcome!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

All Ye Know on Earth, and All Ye Need To Know

Gonna start dangling pieces of text here, if that's okay. Writing is going well, and I am on target to finish on time. But this is the stuff I spend my spare time on these days.
Of course, by the spring of 1964, a lot of other things were changing for boys on the brink of adolescence, too. The British Invasion was well underway, and the radio was the doorway to a whole new world.

Zion was quiet, and pretty isolated. But, Jeff remembers: “[it] was within radio reception of Chicago and Chicago’s AM radio in the early and mid-sixties was a phenomenal influence on every red-blooded adolescent that imagined themselves to be a pop star. It was a type of schooling that ingrains itself into your subconscious and feeds your imagination.” Elsewhere, he has noted, “New Beatles songs coming every few weeks and two new Beatles albums a year groomed us on pop music.”

John’s recollections are even more pointed: “It was like a 5-alarm brushfire when ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand’, ‘She Loves You’ and ‘Please Please Me’ were unleashed in America…. All at once, the floodgates opened and every song from every band resonated with feverishly-sung melodies and lapel-grabbing guitar licks…. Talk about an embarrassment of riches – the AM airwaves were just dripping with tingly, jangly treasures and I’m fairly certain this is where we subconsciously learned about song structure and the mystifying appeal of aching, heart-twisting lyrics.”

Gary is more circumspect: “Any music fan who grew up in the 60s will tell tall tales of a utopian period where all was good. Imagine randomly pressing the buttons of your car radio and hearing nothing but glorious pop music 24 hours a day.…. I guess we all tend to have selective memories. …. All that great music still had to share radio airspace with the same kind of junk that we’ve always had to endure.”

Welcome to my world.

(*This is Skip Meyer's first gig, in Dwight, Illinois, sometime in August or September 1976. I like this shot because the contrast between the back and the front could not be more pointed.)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Weekend Listomania (Special The Simple Pleasures Are the Best Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental strumpet aroma therapist Fah Lo Suee and I are off to join Emily Litella at an all-weekend protest outside the Ed Sullivan Theater in Manhattan. I'm not exactly sure what it's about, but I think it has something to do with the guys in The Lettermen insulting Bullwinkle the Moose. Actually, I've always loved The Lettermen's music, but you do what you have to do.

In any case, posting by moi will doubtless be sporadic for a couple of days while the Mossad interferes with Twitter.

So, in the meantime, here's another little project for you all to contemplate:

Most Memorable Post-Elvis Song Referencing a Home of Some Sort in Either the Title or the Lyrics!!!

No arbitrary rules this time, you're welcome very much. It can be an actual building, a home town, whatever. As long as the point of the song is a place where somebody or something lives.

And my totally top of my head Top Six is:

6. Madness -- Our House

Honorable mention: The CSNY song of the same name.

5. The Kinks -- Dead End Street

As in "People are living in..."

4. Talking Heads -- Once in a Lifetime

As in "You may find yourself in a shotgun shack..." I'm getting kind of predictable here, aren't I?

3. The Smashing Pumpkins -- My Blue Heaven

Yes, the Fats Domino song. It was actually an official Pumpkins b-side in Japan.

"You'll see a smiling face
A fireplace, a cozy room
A little nest
That's nestled where the roses bloom

Just Molly and me
And baby makes three
We're happy in my blue heaven"

Because we needed Billy Corgan's pretentious dyed-hair noggin yet again, obviously.

Oh, and yes, I know it's not strictly speaking a Fats Domino song.

2. Lynyrd Skynyrd -- Sweet Home Alabama

Did I say predictable? Hey, what can I tell you -- this had to be on the list.

And the numero uno paean to hearth and home quite obviously is...

1. The Guess Who -- Runnin' Back to Saskatoon

As in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, which is where they were from. Almost got a hit out of it, too. I love this song, actually, and I don't care who knows it.

Which leads us, inexorably, to -- awrighty then, what would your choice(s) be?

[Oops -- forgot my Shameless Blogwhoring: My parallel Cinema Listomania -- theme: most memorable Surrealist films, intentional or otherwise -- is now up over at Box Office. As always, if you could see your way to going over there and conning management into believing we're A-List, I'd be eternally in your debt.]

Thursday, June 18, 2009

As Predictable as Armageddon, It's Another Early Clue to the New Direction!

From 1945, here's the skinny young Frank Sinatra singing his obviously Communist-inspired ode to tolerance "The House I Live In."

It is perhaps no accident that Albert Maltz, the screenwriter of this little short, went on to become one of the (jailed for their political beliefs) Hollywood Ten. And I was hardly surprised to learn that songwriters Earl Robinson and Lewis Allan would become victims of the blacklist that former Screen Actor's Guild president Ronald Reagan, who should have fricking known better, famously insisted never existed.

But, of course, I have no animus whatsoever against the rightwing Republicans responsible for HUAC or the blacklists. Nor their contemporary progeny. Nosirree.

Okay, sorry to let my politics intrude here. As the guy says in Monty Python and the Holy Grail -- This is supposed to be a happy occasion. Let's not bicker and argue over who killed who.

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

I would also like to say, and for the record, that the jacket Frankie is wearing in that clip is just way, way cool.

Words Fail Me

From just a few weeks ago, here are those hard-rocking youngsters Members of the Press and their rather remarkable cover of "Dead" by My Chemical Romance. Incidentally, the guys in My Chemical Romance think this clip is pretty cool.

The singer/guitarist and the drummer are the sons of an old buddy who I played with in a couple of bands back in the day.

The drummer is eight years old.

Let me repeat -- the drummer is eight years old.

And now please excuse me, I have to go kill myself.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Gentlemen, Start Your Cameras

You have work to do: make yourself a ShoeTube!

Fierce Creatures: The Sequel

Longtime readers may recall the saga of Something Fierce, the brilliant and brilliantly funny band I first wrote about here back in August of '07.

Well, I'm happy to report there's some big news on the band front -- to wit, an utterly amazing box set.

If you click play, BTW, you'll hear one of my Something Fierce faves -- the hilarious and gloriously melodic "Deep and Meaningful."

Anyway, here's the skinny, from the official website:

From 1983 to 1991 there was a band in Minneapolis called Something Fierce. Drawing from such classic influences as Elvis Costello, R.E.M., and the Beatles, SF made the catchy, brainy, danceable music that (their compatriot small liberal arts college grads) Fountains of Wayne was to hit it big with a decade later. They released six records in a variety of formats, and now most of them are long out of print.

But, for a number of reasons, 2009 was the year for a gigantic reissue. Culling through stacks of nearly worn out board recordings, we've put together the official complete Something Fierce set, pre-ripped to MP3, over nine hours of music packaged on two data CDs with a 24-page deluxe booklet. It is available now and can be ordered online for the very reasonable price of $39.99.
That pretty much sums it up, except to say that the set has all their studio work, including amazing outtakes (like the beyond remarkable "Abducted By Your Face"), plus tons of great live stuff (including a cover of Spinal Tap's "Give Me Some Money" that has been making me smile for two days now) and that the deluxe booklet features reminiscences from critics and fans including yours truly. Here's a little of what I had to say.

"One song [from the set] deserves particular mention...specifically, 'Watergate,' in which [they] posit -- over a hilariously overdramatic instrumental bed -- that A Girlfriend From Hell is the metaphorical equivalent of the Nixon scandals and sustain the conceit for more than five fricking minutes. If nothing else, this must be the first song in history to contemplate rhyming 'spill the beans' with 'Haldeman, Mitchell and Dean,' and I would like to go on record, at this juncture, as saying that this song remains for my money the most audacious conceptual masterstroke on any '90s rock album by anybody. So there."
Strong words, and unminced, but I stand by every one of them. In any case, you can find the complete track listing, as well as order The Everything That the Man Had, over HERE.

Well -- what are you waiting for?

Incidentally, if you happen to find yourself in the Minneapolis area this weekend, the band -- Eric Tretbar, Jerry Lefkowitz, Dave Russ, Devin Hill and Al Bergstrom -- will be playing 2 sets at a Carleton College (their alma mater) reunion in Northfield on Saturday at 9pm. If you're comfortable with the idea, please crash the thing and tell the guys I said hello.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Talk to the Wool Hat!

From 1972, Mike Nesmith invents psychedelic country rock with this quite remarkable twelve-string and pedal steel version of the venerable cajun classic "Bonaparte's Retreat."

All of Nesmith's post-Monkees RCA albums are worth checking out -- his unplugged And The Hits Just Keep On Comin' is perhaps the definitive backporch folk/rock album ever -- but this one is the most, er, out there of the bunch, as you can hear from the above clip. Seriously -- I realize he didn't invent the acid-C&W genre all by himself, but I think the track is an absolutely brilliant synthesis of traditional country and the kind of jamming you would have heard from a San Francisco band in front of a light show back in the day.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Some Like It Hot

Okay, this may be a little outside of our traditional purview, but did you know that Maurice Ravel's Bolero -- the four minute erotically-charged single that's the closest thing to powerpop in the entire classical music repertoire -- originally had steamy lyrics by the composer himself?

Well, it did, and after the piece's premier (at the Paris Opéra on November 22, 1928) there was such a tremendous scandale -- the level of arousal in the concert hall was so high that three members of the wind section were caught masturbating behind the French Horns -- that the composer was forced to withdraw the lyric version in favor of the all-instrumental standard that everybody knows today.

Fortunately, the lyric version has just been rediscovered and we are proud to present the premier recording, featuring Peter Michael Davis conducting the Independent Symphony Orchestra.

Enjoy -- but try to listen to it in the company of someone you love.

And a coveted PowerPop No-Prize will be awarded to the first reader who guesses who's the featured soloist and from whence the clip actually derives.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Emmit Rhodes Collection

Just FYI:

Among the cult legends that populate the margins of contemporary popular music, the story of Emitt Rhodes remains one of the most compelling.

Compared by fans and critics favorably to the likes of Paul McCartney, Emitt Rhodes was arguably one of the most overlooked and underappreciated pop-rock singer-songwriters of the ‘60s/’70s.

Finally getting his due, Hip-O Select is proud to release The Emitt Rhodes Recordings, a newly remastered, two CD, 48 song collection features the four albums Emitt Rhodes released between 1970 and 1973 - the three ABC/Dunhill albums Emitt Rhodes, Mirror and Farewell To Paradise, and his one A&M album, American Dream, along with the non-LP single “Tame The Lion,” all showcasing Emitt’s intricate melodies, harmonies, and arrangements.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Saturday Night Glam Blogging...


I'm going rare again if you don't mind. This is from the wonderful Velvet Tinmine comp on RPM which pulls together loads of lesser-know glam classics. While i'm not sure what an Iron Virgin is, this has all the trademarks of classic glam: big tub-thumping drums, a fist pumping chorus and a very crunchy guitar break. Double-plus good! Happy weekend kids! Rebels Rule!

A Moral Dilemma

More on this show later, but now I propose a moral dilemma: What's the better cover?

A. Gary Frenay & Arty Lenin from the Flashcubes doing "September Gurls,"


B. John Wicks and Paul Collins doing "Things We Said Today" seguing into "Bus Stop"?

I admit, I am torn.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Weekend Listomania (Special Doctor, My Eyes Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental fille de joie handmaid's tail Fah Lo Suee and I are off to scenic Palau, where we'll be checking out the hotel accomodations for the Gitmo detainees about to be released into the lap of luxury by our communist negro president. Here's hoping the cable TV comes with Showtime -- that new Edie Falco series about the junkie nurse is a pip!

In any case, posting by moi will be necessarily sporadic for a while.

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

Best or Worst Post-Beatles Song or Record Referencing Illumination of Some Kind (Either Literal or Metaphorical) in the Title!!!

No arbitrary rules this time, you're welcome very much. Basically, it can either be a song or record about an inner, spiritual kind of thing, or an actual, possibly heat-producing, light source.

And my strictly off the top of my head Top Seven is:

7. Jimi Hendrix -- Burning of the Midnight Lamp

My favorite Hendrix riff bar none. Honorable mention: The Byrds' "Oil in My Lamp."

6. Paul Westerberg -- Sunshine

The Jonathan Edwards hippie anthem, from the Friends soundtrack. Frankly, I had never considered the song anything but borderline counter-cultural camp, but damned if Westerberg didn't locate the kick ass guitar protest song lurking within.

5. Kevin Salem -- Lighthouse Keeper

The closest thing to vintage Television ever heard by sentient mammalian ears in the 90s. Incidentally, if the download thingies for this or the Westerberg don't work, just e-mail me for the mp3s.

4 The Bangles -- Eternal Flame

As awful a commercial sellout in its way as, oh say, Starship's "We Built This City," I am convinced that this piece of crap actually killed the Bangles career. Incidentally, according to Wiki, co-writer Billy Steinberg described it as "The Beatles meet The Byrds," which only goes to show that Billy Steinberg is a very large idiot. Honorable mention: Cheap Trick's "The Flame," a suspiciously similar piece of crap which did similar damage to their street cred.

3. The Smashing Pumpkins -- By Starlight

Billy Corgan's pretentious cueball noggin rears its ugly, er, head, yet again. From the Mellon Collie album, of course, and in case I haven't mentioned it before, that's the goddamn stupidest title since The Moody Blues Cure Cancer.

2. Todd Rundgren -- I Saw the Light

From Something/Anything, of which, as Cameron Crowe famously said of a certain Beatles album from 1968 -- you still can't buy a better record.

And the number one tune inspired by the Illuminati, please it's not even an issue, obviously fricking is --

1. Firetown -- Carry the Torch

Two of the guys from Garbage in 1989 (not '86, despite the clip) with as soaringly anthemic a piece of Rickenbacker folk rock grandeur as was heard that year.

Alrighty then -- what would your choices be?

[Shameless Blogwhore: My parallel Cinema Listomania -- theme: best or worst black comedy -- is now up over at Box Office. As always, if you could see your way to going over there and dropping a comment, as the kids say, I'd be profoundly grateful, if not demonstrably so.]

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Gosh Darn It, It's an Unusually Early Clue to the New Direction!!!

From 1970, here's the great and tragic Badfinger with (IMHO) their most beautiful song, "We're For the Dark."

As always, a coveted PowerPop No-Prize will be awarded the first reader who gleans its relevance to the theme of tomorrow's Listomania.

Flying the Flannel

From his 1993 album Illiterature, please enjoy Adam Schmitt and his totally gorgeous "Just Listen."

Schmitt was (and is) a pop classicist who, like The Posies, kind of got blindsided by the emergence of Nirvana and the whole grunge thing; I remember hearing this song when it came out and thinking, yeah, wow, it's great, but that guitar sound is needlessly distorted in a sort of chic, trendy way.

I hadn't listened to the thing in maybe fifteen years, but when I downloaded it over the weekend, I was struck by how conventionally accessible it now sounded to me. Unarguable, actually. Although I'd love to hear a band with a more Keith Moon-ish drummer take a crack at covering it.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Pop in the Pasture

Just because we're not dazzling urbanites doesn't mean we're not The Shit out here in the country. Lookee who I get to see Friday!

Paul Collins


John Wicks.

Lucky's, Cortland, NY. Friday June 12. I'll be there.

Great Bands Steal, Mediocre Bands Borrow!

Last massive self-indulgence of the month, I promise.

Okay, first of all, please enjoy "Second Choice," pretty much my favorite song from the wonderful Any Trouble's 1979 skinny tie classic Where Are All the Nice Girls. A Stiff Records product, of course.

And now compare and contrast Greenwich Village's finest, The Floor Models, and their winsome "She'll Make Up Her Mind," featuring vocals and bass by somebody whose name rhymes with Sleeve Nimels. Recorded mostly live at WBAI-FM in 1982.

The same song? All signs point to yes. A coincidence? I think not!!!

Theirs is better, of course.

Incidentally, ours was written by the great Andy "Folk Rock" Pasternack, who is also playing the cool Rickenbacker 12-string stuff. I've totally lost touch with Andy, who was one of the funniest guys I've ever had the pleasure of hanging with as well as the greatest 12-string player of all time (I'm not kidding about this). So if you're out there, buddy....

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Genius is Pain. Or Something

And speaking as we were downstairs of T-Bone Burnett's genius as a producer, here's the very first hit he produced -- from 1968, it's the legendary Legendary Stardust Cowboy and "Paralyzed."

Be warned -- if you hit the play button and listen, you may never come back; there may be a part of you that's gone forever.

Incidentally, that's T-Bone on drums. Talk about multi-talented.

For more info on The Ledge, as he's mostly known, go HERE if you dare.

The Song That Got Away (An Occasional Series)

From the 1982 EP Trap Door, please enjoy T-Bone Burnett's remarkable take on Jules Styne's ode to conspicuous goldiggery (a/k/a The Judi Nathan Story) "Diamonds Are A Girls Best Friend."

You know what to do -- just click on the play button and marvel.

T-Bone has claimed this was an attempt at a sort of Tommy James thing; myself, I hear more of a Tex-Mex Lou Reed, but in any event it's a genius version ("Let's rock!" in this context may be the most hilariously brilliant exhortation in the history of the music). As a scholarly note, I should mention that the vinyl version of this disappeared almost as fast as it was released; I had it on a cassette that eventually fell apart in the early 90s. "Diamonds" itself didn't show up on CD until 2000 and the soundtrack album to Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (with extraneous overdubbed applause) and it made its first official unsullied appearance on Sony's excellent two-disc T-Bone best-of Twenty Twenty in 2006.

Actually, I just found a link where you can download the entire original EP, which includes the even more amazing "A Ridiculous Man."

Go for it HERE.

Monday, June 08, 2009

What Goes Around...

A true, and probably self-induglent, story:

Sometime in late '73 or early '74, a large and mysterious package addressed to me arrived at the offices of the Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Review, with a label that said "Trademark of Quality Records," and a postmark from San Francisco, but no return address. When I opened it, I found, to my surprise, a stack of 30 or 40 LP albums. All bootlegs. Each more amazing than the next, including these two --

-- which featured cover illos by a (then unknown to me) comic book artist named William Stout.

And when I say amazing, I'm not kidding; there was Dylan stuff up the wazoo, including the Albert Hall concert, another Yardbirds package (on colored vinyl!) featuring liner notes where the bootleggers interviewed singer Keith Relf about each track in detail, Pete Townshend's home demos, tons of Stones, including the '72 Garden show in glorious off-the-board stereo and a seven-inch EP of live at the BBC r&b covers --

plus the Beatles fan club Christmas records, and blah blah blah.

In other words, just ridiculously great and in some cases -- a '66 acoustic Dylan set from Australia in perfect sound -- life changing stuff.

And a note: "Dear Steve -- we've been reading you and we think you might like some of this. Enjoy!"

I never found out who had sent me the package, but over the years I followed Stout's career with interest, and was perhaps inordinately pleased when he moved over into movie work; I remember in particular how tickled I was when I saw he'd done production art on the Invaders From Mars remake and the Masters of the Universe flick. (He has slightly tonier stuff to his credit, BTW; more recently he worked on Pan's Labyrinth, and cooler than that it does not get).

Anyway, the other day, while researching an obscure David Carradine movie -- The Warrior and the Sorceress -- for today's Box Office, I discovered that Stout had a writing credit on it, so with the intention of picking his brain about it and some other stuff -- figuring this was as good an excuse as any to finally get in touch with him -- I gave him a holler.

Turns out he's a thoroughly charming guy with a lot of (as you might imagine) interesting stories. But just before I hung up I told him about the package that had arrived at SR all those years ago, and how much I've always wanted to thank the people that sent it, whoever they were.

He laughed, and then finally said "I'll tell them."

I think there was an implied wink, but I'll probably never know.

Hmm. All I can say is -- God, I love my job sometimes.

Meanwhile, when you get a minute, go over to Bill's official official website, which has lots of other cool art and reminiscences, and definitely behooves beholding. You'll thank me.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Saturday Glam Blogging!

Happy Saturday Kids,

Here's an ultra-rare slab of "Nederglam" from Pantherman. I really know nothing about this other than it comes from Dutch producer Frank Klunhaar and it was released in 1974. You can get a little more information about this from Robin Wills' (remember the Barracudas?) great blog Purepop, which is a shrine to all things obscure in the glam world. I make no judgment about the leather pseudo-Catwoman threads but I can definitely attest to the awesomeness of this piece of obscure glam punk. Enjoy and happy weekend cats!

Friday, June 05, 2009

Roger Debris Presents: History!

For your, uh, edification. I am now drowning in in shots like this.

This is Shoes' first live gig: at The Brat Stop, Kenosha, Wisconsin, April 8, 1976. The hotel I stayed in was mere steps from this place, though it's burned down and been replaced in the meantime (The Brat Stop, not the hotel). Correct pronunciation for those not from the upper midwest: brAHt, as in Bratwurst: a hot dog stand.

Note: Gary Klebe has no microphone: he was not singing at this point. (Requests have been made by anonymous but interested parties to photoshop out the bellbottoms: these requests have been summarily denied. This is history, people!)

Working on the site now: Boys Don't Lie: A History of Shoes should be available for preorder within a week or two: expected publication, September 09, to correspond with the thirtieth anniversary of Present Tense.

Weekend Listomania (Special Brevity is the Soul of Wit Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental slattern du jour food taster Fah Lo Suee and I will be heading off to Wichita, Kansas, for a weekend at the recently opened Barbie Museum. Our host will be irrepressible rightwing pundit Pat Buchanan; I'm not sure why he's interested in girls dolls made by Mattel, but apparently the museum is mostly in honor of one in particular. The Klaus Barbie, which I think is an unusual name, but what do I know?

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:

Best or Worst Post-Elvis Song or Record With a One Word Title!!!

Self-explanatory, I think, so no arbitrary rules this time, you're welcome very much.

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

7. The Beatles -- Help!

C'mon -- according to George Martin, they learned the title of the movie was going to be Help! on Monday, they wrote the song on Tuesday, and they had figured out the entire arrangement and recorded it by the end of Wednesday. It doesn't get any more brilliant.

6. The Rolling Stones -- Think

The Aftermath song the Stones had previously given to Chris Farlowe, who had the hit. One of the best of the early Jagger-Richards collaborations, I think, and the riffage between the acoustic guitar and the fuzz electric is inspired and haunting. This is a cover by some unknown bozos or other, but it's a damn good sound-alike anyway. An honorable mention to the James Brown song of the same title, which is also pretty neat.

5. The Smashing Pumpkins -- Disarm

No, this time I'm not being snarky. I really like this one, which is the Pumpkins waxing anthemically White Album-ish, and quite convincingly too, I think.

4. Fleetwood Mac -- Tusk

The original of this is Lindsay Buckingham at his most wacky and wonderful, but I still think this MST3K sort-of version is the best one evah.

3. The Loud Family -- Aerodeliria

My favorite song from perhaps my favorite album of the 90s, and only one of the reasons PABARAT was the only genuinely psychedelic experience legally available in the decade. And if you've ever heard the EP they did right after, you know these bastards could nail the damn thing live.

2. The Moody Blues -- Stop

The follow-up to "Go Now," and in some ways even more sad and beautiful; Denny Laine really is one of the most underrated figures of the British Invasion. Incidentally, if the download thingies on the divShare links to this and the Loud Family don't work, just e-mail me and I'll shoot you the mp3s.

And the all-time coolest one word song, it's so obvious why are we even discussing this, is --

1. Soupy Sales -- Pachalafaka

Pachalafaka, pachalafaka
They whisper it all over Turkey
Pachalafaka, pachalafaka
It sounds so romantic and perky
Oh, I know that phrase
Will make me thrill always
For it reminds me of you, my sweet
Just the mention of
That tender word of love
Gives my heart a jerkish, Turkish beat

I won't say c'est si bon
Or l'amour toujours
For they can't express what I'm feeling
Even mairzydoats or
Other foreign quotes
Don't seem to be quite so appealing
But pachalafaka! pachalafaka!
Takes me back with you to passionate desert scenes
And it's there we'll stay
Till the very day
We find out what pachalafaka means!

The B-side of Soupy's great "The Mouse" single; alas, I could find no video clip or mp3 link, but sing along with this admittedly inferior cover from The Muppet Show, won't you?

Awrighty then -- what would your choices be?

[Shamless Blogwhore: My parallel Cinema Listomania -- theme: crappiest film ever by a theoretically important director -- is now up over at Box Office. As always, I would take it as a personal favor if you could see your way to going over there and leaving a comment.]

Thursday, June 04, 2009

An Early Clue to the New Direction: Special "I Love You, Man" Edition

From 1965, and their endlessly exquisite Rubber Soul album, please enjoy the once and future Fab Four and their in retrospect ahead of its time ode to universal love "The Word."

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

Confessions of a Guess Who Fan

From their 1971 album So Long, Bannatyne, The Guess Who respond to their detractors in the rock press with the hilarious "One Man Army."

You know what to do -- just click on the play button below and enjoy.

As you'll hear, the song's succinct hard rock chorus -- "One man army...have you shot somebody down?" -- alternates with lounge jazz (sort of) nonsense verses sung by Burton Cummings in the cheesiest Frito Bandito accent you can possibly imagine. And don't miss the spoken word interlude, in which Cummings and co-author/guitarist Kurt Winter play two Chicanos in a mens room dissing the crappy band onstage while peeing.

God, I love these guys.

Oh, and if for whatever reason the download thingie on the divShare link doesn't work, just e-mail me etc etc.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

You Ain't Going Nowhere

From the uneven but ultimately wonderful 1996 tribute album to Cleveland's finest -- Raspberries Preserved -- please enjoy power pop god (and former half of the mega-country duo Foster and Lloyd) Bill Lloyd and his amazing version of "Going Nowhere Tonight."

"Going Nowhere" is one of the perhaps less celebrated Raspberries tracks; in fact, the original is a kind of throwaway Eagles-lite country pop thing that never made much of an impression on me despite (or perhaps because of) appearing as the B-side of the sublime "I Wanna Be With You." Lloyd, however -- genius that he is -- located the passionate guitar rocker lurking within it, and the result is a perfect mix of soaring harmonies, romantic longing and glistening Stratocasters that wouldn't have been out of place on a Big Star album. Just terrific.

And as always, if the download thingie over at the divShare link doesn't work, just e-mail me and I'll send you the mp3.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Bonnie Tyler: What I Really Meant to Say....

Words fail me.

[h/t Glen "Bob" Allen]

Incense and Peppermint

From 1978, here's the charmingly monikered Johnny G. and his irrepressible ode to generational warfare, "The Hippys Graveyard." (As in "I don't want to go to...").

You know what to do -- just click on the play button below and enjoy.

I actually had this -- one of the very first singles on the then fledgling Brit label Beggars Banquet -- when it first came out, and I used to play it constantly to taunt some of my friends who weren't quite getting with the late 70s punk/New Wave program. Sadly, I lost it, along with most of the rest of my seven inch vinyl collection, during the Great Girlfriend Crisis of 1980, and I've been looking for a replacement mp3 for ages. To my delight, I just found this one over the weekend at the wonderful Always Searching for Music website, which has all sorts of cool stuff from the period; make sure you go over there and give its proprietor, the estimable Gary Ching, some love.

As for Johnny G., he was an ex-pub rocker who, like Nick Lowe (although obviously on a less exalted level) had some brief rock biz success in the early 70s and then managed to find himself a niche in the briefly eclectic wake of the Sex Pistols.

Anyway, it's way catchy and pretty funny still, I think; certainly, it's one of the more unjustly forgotten artifacts of its era. As always, if you can't get the download thingie to work over at the divShare link, just e-mail me and I'll shoot you the mp3.

Now if I could just find a link to Johnny's equally hilarious 1977 single "Call Me Bwana"...