Monday, November 30, 2009

Classic Children's Books


I admit, as a parent, I find this far too funny.

(Apologies for my long absence: what with one thing and another, I lost the entire month of November. I am not kidding.)

In Search of Eddie Riff (An Occasional Series): Pt. V

Okay, I've probably posted about this before, but it's fun to put them back to back, so what the hell.

From 1964, please enjoy The Beatles and their utterly sublime and guitar driven "I Feel Fine."

And from 1961, and its place on John Lennon's portable home jukebox, please enjoy the suspiciously similar six-string figure on bluesman Bobby Parker's "Watch Your Step."

I should add that there's a certain irony in the fact that just as Lennon appropriated the earlier riff for his own purposes, Parker's record is a fairly transparent attempt to clone Ray Charles' "What I'd Say."

Ah, the folk process at work...

Friday, November 27, 2009

Weekend Listomania (Special Four Legs Good Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental [insert your own outlandish double entendre here -- I'm all out] Fah Lo Suee and I will be heading for my local Hell Octaplex where we plan to set the record for most consecutive viewings of The Twilight Saga: New Moon. Dunno about you guys, but I just can't get enough of a movie about vampires not fucking.

As a result, posting by moi will be sporadic for a couple of days at least.

But in the meantime, here's a fun little project for us all:

Most Memorable Post-Beatles Song Referencing Members of the Animal Kingdom in the Title or Lyrics!!!

No arbitrary rules, you're welcome very much, and I just checked and, yes, I did an animal list last year. But since I've lost countless brain cells since then I'm reasonably sure my choices this time will be totally different.

Oh, and if you try to sneak a band named after an animal into the list I will come to your house and kill you. I'm serious about this. Also: I don't care if it's approaching the Christmas season, but if anybody nominates that "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer" thing they're similarly dead.

And my totally top of my head Top Six are:

6. Al Wilson -- The Snake

"You knew I was a snake before you brought me in." You gals know the feeling, I'm sure.

5. The Fools -- Psycho Chicken

When this came out in 1980, I remember thinking it was a long-overdue skewering of David Byrne's pretentious anxiety attacks. In retrospect, it's basically just a sort of sophmoric Weird Al record, which is to say only moderately amusing or smart, and I'm somewhat more forgiving of Byrne's neuroses.

4. Bruce Springsteen -- Pretty Flamingo

A great song, obviously, but I've been looking for an excuse to post this particularly gorgeous 1975 live version (from the Roxy bootleg) for ages. You're welcome.

3. The Killers -- Neon Tiger

As noted last week, I'm not nuts about this band but I always like to include something recorded during the current century. In any case, these guys seem to have replaced Billy Corgan's pretentious cueball noggin as my go-to weekly injoke.

2. The Hollies and Peter Sellers-- After the Fox

Even Burt Bacharach's joke songs are gorgeous. Seriously, that piano-riff-with-the-vocal-hisses is just a killer hook, isn't it?

And the numero uno post-Fab Four ode to those below us on the food chain obviously is --

1. Gilda Radner -- Let's Talk Dirty to the Animals

Written by the late great comic genius Michael O'Donoghue. I mentioned this over at Box Office last week, but the movie of which this is the opening number -- Gilda Live -- is finally out on DVD and can be ordered here. Cheap, I might add.

Alrighty, then -- what would your choices be?

[Shameless blogwhore: And speaking of Box Office, my parallel Cinema Listomania -- theme: best and worst film-to-tv or tv-to-film adaptations -- is now up. As always, if you could see your way to going over there and dropping a little snark, it would help justify my ridiculously exorbitant freelance rate to management. Thanks!]

Thursday, November 26, 2009

If It's Thanksgiving, It Must Be an Early Clue to the New Direction!

What can I tell you, this completely cracks me up.

From 1983 -- Beatle Barkers and "I Want to Hold Your Hand."

I actually had this on vinyl; for years, in fact, it was my LP of choice to clear a room whenever the party had gone on too long and I wanted to go to sleep. In any case, Beatle Barkers is pretty much the stupidest novelty album of the 80s, and I can't tell you how glad I was to find a free download of it on the web the other day.

As always, 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. And if you're really lucky, I'll send you the mp3 of the Beatle Barkers version of "Love Me Do," which adds goats and chickens to the mix.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

In Search of Eddie Riff (Pt. III)

Okay, I knew Led Zeppelin totally ripped off "Dazed and Confused" from Jake Holmes (although don't cry for Jake -- he's currently richer than god as the author and singer of more successful TV commercial jingles than anybody in the history of the medium).

Still, this is really ridiculous (and apologies if everybody but me already knew it).

Ah, Spirit. Why they're not household words is fricking beyond me. If there's a more gorgeous ballad in all of rock than "Nature's Way," I for one haven't heard it. And they had scads of songs as good.

"Taurus," the instrumental above, is pretty cool, too, of course.

BTW, I saw Jake Holmes on a bill with the Al Kooper-less Blues Project sometime during the fabled and very hot (at least in NYC) Summer of Love. A terrific guitarist and singer, and a very funny guy, which is why it didn't particularly surprise me when he went into jingle writing; the show-stopper of his set, apart from "I'm Confused," was a neat bit of punning and wordplay called "London Derriere."

Like the old folk song "Londonderry Air." In case you didn't get it.

Ooh -- and according to Wiki, the Holmes show I saw (The Yardbirds with Jimmy Page were also in attendance) was at the old Village Theater on August 25, 1967. I think it's a Barnes and Noble now.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

In Search of Eddie Riff (Pt. II)

From 1974, and their incomparable Pretzel Logic album, please enjoy Steely Dan and perhaps the best and most straightforwardly pop thing they ever did (certainly, it remains my favorite of their singles).

By which I mean the haunting "Rikki Don't Lose That Number."

And now from 1964, please enjoy the jazz original from which Messrs. Becker and Fagen -- lifted? appropriated? stole? -- their hit's opening E-octave piano riff.

At this stage in the game, the track's provenance vis a vis Steely Dan isn't really all that obscure any more, but the first time I heard it -- mid-90s, I think, at my local watering hole -- I was easily as taken aback as I'd been hearing yesterday's Bo Diddley riff vis a vis the Stones. In any case, I'm not much of a jazzbo, but I think this is a nifty little piece of music in its own right; I'll bet dollars to donuts that drummer Guy Patterson (aka Tom Everett Scott's character in That Thing You Do!) used to practice to it in his folks appliance store basement all the time.

No Googling, obviously, but a coveted PowerPop No-Prize will be awarded the first reader who correctly identifies it.

Monday, November 23, 2009

In Search of Eddie Riff (An Occasional Series)

From 1958, please enjoy the incomparable Bo Diddley and his characteristically self-referential r&b hit "Diddley Daddy."

You know, I'm almost embarrassed to admit it, but until I first heard that song sometime in the 70s, I'd had no idea whatsoever that The Rolling Stones had appropriated the song's insinuating three-notes-of-an-E-chord riff for the far more familiar "19th Nervous Breakdown."

Granted, the Stones appropriated it to rather brilliant ends, but frankly if I'd been Bo, I would have sued.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Undiscovered Country

There's been a death in the PowerPop family. Our deepest sympathies and condolences, obviously.

Words are often inadequate at times like these, but these words are pretty good.

She was a goddamn fantastic mom, and I am so very proud of her. Death can bite me.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Weekend Listomania (Special You Can't Call Me Al Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental Groinal Aerodynamics consultant Fah Lo Suee and I will be heading for the hills now that Attorney General Eric Holder has made the New York City area a terrorist target again. Seriously, what was he thinking?

As a result, posting by moi will be sporadic for a couple of days, or at least until we find an abandoned bomb shelter from the 60s. Preferably in Dayton, Ohio, which nobody, let alone a terrorist, would ever go to.

But in the meantime, here's a fun little project for us all:

Most Memorable Post-Elvis Record Featuring the Name Johnny in the Title or Lyrics!!!

Totally arbitrary rules: I'm stretching this to include songs with the name John. Jack, however, is verboten. So bite me, Billy Joel and that "Captain Jack" shit.

And my totally top of my head Top Six are:

6. Devo -- Come Back Jonee

Probably the closest the Spud Boys ever came to a conventional rock song, or power pop for that matter. Great stuff in any case.

5. The Rolling Stones -- Bye Bye Johnny

Chuck Berry's sequel to "Johnny B. Goode", obviously, and the Stones have owned it for years, at least live. This early studio version is a little more raggedy than most of their Berry covers, but it does have a certain atmosphere.

4. X -- Johnny Hit and Run Pauline

You know, with the benefit of hindsight, the term punk rock seems a bit of a misnomer for these guys. I mean, they seem so utterly traditional in a lot of ways (Billy Zoom's hot rockabilly guitar, for example) and I mean that in a good way.

3. The Mystery Trend -- Johnny Was a Good Boy

One of the more obscure of the original San Francisco bands, but one of the best (you can read a very good bio on them here).

2. The Killers -- Uncle Johnny

Not actually nuts about this song (or the band, come to think of it) but since I can't find a Johnny song featuring Billy Corgan's pretentious cueball noggin, I thought it would be nice to have at least one entry recorded in this century.

And the numero uno tune about some young guy nobody calls Jack, at least in my presence, obviously is --

1. Warren Zevon -- Johnny Strikes Up the Band

The best "Let's get this show on the road!" song in all of rock. I hadn't seen this live version before, but it totally kicks ass, and in stereo, so you're welcome.

Alrighty then -- what would your choices be?

[Shameless Blogwhore: My parallel Cinema Listomania -- today's theme: respectable but awful films you really wish had been eviscerated on Mystery Science Theater 3000 -- is now up over at Box Office. As always, if you could see your way to heading over there and leaving a nice snarky little comment, it would show management that I'm worth every penny of my truly exorbitant freelance rate. Thanks!]

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Yet Another Early Clue to the New Direction (Special Flogging a Dead Equine Edition)

From 1976, please enjoy the incomparable Patti Smith, my unrequited hearthrob for the last several decades, and a pretty fabulous live version (from Brit TV) of the classic title track from her debut album Horses. Eventually mutating into "Hey Joe."

As always, 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.

BTW, a chum forwarded this yearbook photo -- Deptford Township High School class of '64 -- the other day.

Words fail me, on several levels. Mostly, of course, I'm thinking she wouldn't have given me a tumble even then.

I'm also wondering what happened to Roger, but perhaps we don't want to know.

And There's Hamburger All Over The Highway...

I don't know if the mission statement covers stuff like this, but since it's fabulous, I don't care.

A brand new, very funny, interview with The Firesign Theatre. Who are touring, apparently. Opening for Great White.

[h/t Merciful Lee Dickens]

Songs the Beatles Covered (An Occasional Series)

From 1963, please enjoy Girl Group icons The Marvelettes and the original version of "Please Mr. Postman."

A great song, to be sure, but hardly obscure. Tell the truth, the real reason I wanted to post it is I just chanced across that 1963 picture sleeve, which I had never seen before and which is stone fabulous in its charmingly period way.

Actually, now that I think of it, I can't recall ever seeing ANY Motown picture sleeves from back then. If somebody out there has a clue, let us know, please....

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Golden Age of Paranoia: Special Post-Folkie Edition

And speaking as we were yesterday of rock cover versions of songs by extremely goyische 60s folkie Tom Paxton, from 1967, please enjoy L.A. Doors wannabes Clear Light and their interestingly over the top version of Tom's ode to the sinister secret forces that control our destinies, "Mr. Blue."

These guys were an interesting bunch, actually. They had two drummers (I think the Dead got the idea from them), one of whom was Dallas Taylor, who went on to Crosby, Ogden Nash and Mr. Stillman, or whatever the hell they were called. And the frontman was Cliff De Young, who's had quite a respectable career as a movie and TV character actor; you've seen him in a million things, including the debut episode of The X-Files, but he was particularly good as the the treacherous Justice Department guy in the fabulous 1986 thriller F/X starring Bryan Brown.

Which come to think of it was written by our old pal and funniest serious satirical rock songwriter of all time Gregory Fleeman.

But I digress. Anyway, "Mr. Blue" got a fair amount of Summer of Love airplay, at least in New York; I recall that both Rosko and Murray the K played it a lot on WOR-FM, then THE underground rock station in town. I had the LP, and I really liked the song, but as you've heard by now, it's (shall we say) portentous enough to be kind of unintentionally funny. My Jersey garage band at the time used to cover it, and I recall that our bass player got a skull on a stick from somewhere and used it as a prop a la Screamin' Jay Hawkins when he sang it. I can't remember if he put a cigarette in it like Jay used to, but it was still pretty hilarious.

And bringing it all back home, as it were, I actually interviewed singer De Young in the late 80s. Very nice guy, and he told me an amusing story about how he had gotten a job as a messenger in NYC where he'd moved after the band broke up later in '67. "So I'd be delivering packages sometimes to the offices of the Village Voice," he told me, "and there I was, dropping envelopes off in the music department, where the critics had been hailing me as the next Jim Morrison just a few months before. Hahahah!!!!"

Monday, November 16, 2009

Compare and Contrast (An Occasional Series): "Remember the Great Folk Scare of the Early 60s?"

"That shit almost caught on," as my old chum Erik Frandsen used to say.

In any case, from 1964, please enjoy Tom Paxton and his often covered folkie standard "The Last Thing on My Mind."

And from 1970, behold in breathless wonder The Move's astounding reimagining.

To my surprise, the original is rather more touching than I recalled, albeit rather square, rhythmically; Paxton was, how you say, one of the whitest folkies ever. Okay, Irish.

The Move's cover, however, is...well, words fail me. The final over-the-top apotheosis of folk-rock? A folkie/metal hybrid that out Zeppelin's early Led Zeppelin? In any case, it's really something, and that backwards wah-wah solo that emerges from the McGuinn-esque twelve-string raga stuff and slices the song down the middle just may be Roy Wood's finest moment as a guitar hero.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Weekend Listomania (Special You'd Never Know It, But Buddy I'm a Kind of Poet Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental fille de shmeckel-bopping Fah Lo Suee and I will be heading to the Canadian border, where we plan to bar the suddenly unemployed Lou Dobbs from entering illegally. Sorry, Lou -- you will not pass!!!

It'll be sort of like 300, only not as screamingly gay and with health insurance.

Sooo, as a result, posting by moi will be sporadic for a couple of days.

But in the meantime, here's a fun little project for us all:

Most Memorable Two Consecutive Lines in the Lyrics of a Post-Elvis Pop or Rock Song -- Couplet or Otherwise!

No arbitrary rules, obviously, and I've taken some liberties about just how long a line has to be to qualify. So feel free to take some of your own.

In any case, my totally top of my head Top Six are:

6. Guided By Voices -- Teenage FBI

"When you clean out the hive does it make you want to cry?/Are you still being followed by the teenage FBI?"

No idea what it means, don't care, it's great.

5. The Kinks -- The Village Green Preservation Society

"We are the Custard Pie Appreciation Consortium/God save the George Cross and all those who were awarded 'em." Seriously -- the Brits really need to nationalize Ray Davies.

4. Bob Dylan -- Tangled Up in Blue

"Later on, when the crowd thinned out/I was just about to do the same."

From our "wish I'd written that" file. And a song that's absolutely lousy with great lines, I should add.

3. Buffalo Springfield -- Bluebird

"Do you think she loves you? Do you think at all?"

The original 45 version of this (the first commercially available 7-inch record in stereo, BTW) faded out after that line, which I felt at the time was the most mysterious and haunting thing I'd ever heard. To this day, I'm not sure whether Stills meant that as "do you think she loves you at all?" or "do you think at all?" as in "are you some kind of a moron?"

2. Marah -- It's Only Money, Tyrone

Best opening line of any song of the last ten years: "Josephine cracked; her eyes black and bloodied/Screamin’ “Gimme back, back all that money Tyrone”. And the next two -- "So he snapped her neck back and slapped his lover/Put a bullet in her brain and threw her body off the bridge" -- are pretty good, too.

Don't even get me started on the chorus...

And the two most evocative consecutive lines in rock and pop history, it's not a contest not even remotely, obviously are...

1. Humble Pie -- 79th and Sunset

"There'll be some dramas/Inside your pajamas tonight."

Tell me Steve Marriott wasn't the greatest English language poet in the second half of the 20th century. Go ahead -- tell me.

Alrighty then -- what would your choices be?

[Shameless Blogwhore: My parallel Cinema Listomania -- theme: most memorable film whose title consists solely of somebody's first or last name -- is now up over at Box Office. As always, if you could see your way to heading over there and leaving a comment, snarky or otherwise, it would help reassure management that I'm worth my truly scandalous freelance fee. Thanks!]

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Way Early, Perhaps Even Obnoxiously So, Clue to the New Direction

From 1966, please enjoy the great Marvin Gaye with Kim Weston, Marvin's Motown duet partner number two (after the ill-fated departure of Mary Wells to another label but before the tragic death of Tammi Terrell) and their infernally catchy proof of the theorem that one is the loneliest number,"It Takes Two."

As always, 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.

Songs I've Just Realized I Can't Live Without (An Occasional Series)

From when or where I have no idea, but here's the redoubtable Billy Bragg with a great unplugged cover of The Rolling Stones' "She Smiled Sweetly."

No clue as to the ultimate derivation of this -- I got it off one of those free CDs with an issue of MOJO -- but I think it's quite beautiful and I've been playing it obsessively all week. The song itself (from late '66, although the album it's from, Between the Buttons, was actually released in early '67) is non pareil, of course; nobody but nobody was writing this kind of adult stuff in rock at the time.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Compare and Contrast (An Occasional Series): Pretty Fly For Some White Guys

From 1967, please enjoy gospel dudes turned psychedelic blues-rockers The Chambers Brothers and their minor (but memorable) hit single "I Can't Stand It."

And from 1968, here's greatest Australian band of all time The Easybeats with their thoughts on the matter.

Actually, "I Can't Stand It" was something of a late 60s standard, and there were probably a bunch of other recorded versions, although none springs immediately to mind. I seem to recall my college band butchering it live on several occasions, but I may have hallucinated that. The cowbell certainly sounds familiar.

In any case, The Easybeats take on the song is one of my all-time favorite white boy r&b essays. Lead singer Stevie Wright is particularly good, I think, and the production (that's Nicky Hopkins on piano, BTW) by the justifiably legendary Glyn Johns is really stellar, especially on the protracted instrumental ending and eventual fadeout. Your basic monster groove, as they say.

BTW, I saw the Chambers Brothers a couple of times, including at least once as headliners at the Fillmore East, back in the day. In the early 80s, when my skinny-tie band was one of the house acts at Kennys Castaways in Greenwich Village, front man Lester Chambers had been reduced to being a greeter/maitre d' at said dive. I remember thinking about that career arc quite a lot whenever I ordered a pre-gig burger.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Compare and Contrast (An Occasional Series): Pretentious? Moi?

Okay, I'll grant you I was having a little fun with Joni Mitchell yesterday, which is admittedly easy to do, given all her hippie-Coyote Woman-Ladies-of-the-Canyon-patchouli-scented-stuff over the years. And yes, if you buy me a drink sometime, I'll do fifteen minutes on Joni's bedroom from a wonderful Architectural Digest coffee table book of Celebrity Homes from the late 70s, which is one of the most hilarious things I've ever seen in my life.

But seriously, people, I'm nonetheless just a tad surprised by a certain anti-Joni animus chez PowerPop.

C'mon -- her best stuff is emotionally devastating and musically gorgeous. Exhibit A: From 1971's Blue -- the exquisite confessional masterpiece "River." I mean, this is like a perfect art song.

And by way of demonstrating the essential sturdiness of the piece, from 2000 and the Ally McVeal Christmas Album, here's most interesting actor of his generation (and as it turns out a brilliant singer) Robert Downey Jr. with an out of left field cover. Which is even more of a heartbreaker, IMHO.

I go back and forth on which version I prefer, but in either case, you really would need the proverbial heart of stone to be snarky.

Well, that's what I think, anyway.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Compare and Contrast (An Occasional Series): We've Got Only One Thing to Say to You Fucking Hippies...

You know, people always ask me "Steve -- you're incredibly old...did you go to Woodstock?"

And I always answer, "Uh, no, I didn't, but then again neither did Joni Mitchell, dickweed, and she wrote the goddamn theme song."

In any case, from 1972 and the incredibly great Godfrey Daniel LP, here's what the aforementioned theme song always should have sounded like. Make sure you stick around for the suspiciously familiar keyboard solo after the second chorus.

And people thought the CSNY cover was the definitive rock 'n' roll version.

Incidentally, Take a Sad Song..., which features eleven more (then) contemporary rock classics given the oldies treatment, is an absolute stroke of genius, but it's been out of print more or less since the day it was originally released. Collectables announced a CD version in 2005, which showed up (and is still there) on Amazon, but it never apparently came out in the real world -- one assumes there were rights issues of some sort. In any case, I've been looking for a digital edition since forever, and now -- courtesy of esteemed reader Merciful Lee Dickens, who transferred it from an unopened vinyl copy he got off eBay -- I've got one, which I will be glad to share with anybody who e-mails me about it.

Who were Godfrey Daniel, you ask? I had always heard they were two staff engineers at Atlantic Records -- that's the old Atlantic Studio circa 1958 on the album cover -- but it turns out to be a somewhat more interesting story, courtesy of Ron Christopher, posting over at Amazon.

The album is only Andy Soloman ('ALL' vocals, and 'All' instruments) and Dave Palmer (Drums). Studio musicians appear on two cuts credited as the Charles Soloman Orchestra. Dave co-produced with Andy, and engineered|mixed as well. The album is mixed in mono, except for the splash cymbal ending on 'Groovin' which is stereo. It was born out of a send up demo Andy made with Dave on a sound-on-sound Sony TC-630 reel-to-reel recorder in 1969. While making The Amboy Dukes last original lineup album 'Marriage' for Polydor records, lengendary producer|engineer Eddie Kramer heard the doo-wop version of 'Hey Jude' and totally flipped out. The Atlantic deal soon followed. Dave left the band to become an engineer at Electric Lady Studios with Eddie, and Andy eventually left Ted for a career in commercial music writing. That's the true backstory...Dave Palmer is my cousin.

God, I love the intertubes....

Friday, November 06, 2009

The Angels Want to Wear My Red Blogwhore Shoes

Uh, forgot to mention this in the whole travel thing, but my parallel Weekend Cinema Listomania -- theme: Most Memorable Flick About a Supernatural Entity Intervening in Human Affairs, Great or Small -- is now up over at Box Office.

As always, if you could see your way to going over there and leaving a comment, snarky or otherwise, it would keep me in good with management.

Thanks in advance!

Weekend Listomania: Special The Undiscovered Country Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental philo-groinal consultant Fah Lo Suee and I will be heading to a Learning Annex in Stillwater, Minnesota where we'll be attending a special accounting seminar hosted by Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Prozac). Apparently she's got some kind of system where you can prove that 4000 dollars actually equals 150,000; should come in handy next time I'm trying to balance my checkbook.

In any case, posting by moi will more than likely be sporadic for a little while.

But in the meantime, here's another little fun project for us all:

Most Memorable Post-Elvis Pop or Rock Song About Getting Away From It All

Songs about travel, in other words, or more specifically the specific faraway places you might dream of someday travelling to.

And my totally top of my head Top Five is:

5. The Kinks -- Holiday in Waikiki

Based on a true story, or so I've heard. Apparently it stuck in Ray's craw that he had to pay to go swimming on some idyllic beach. A fabulous song in any case -- that Hawaiian guitar break in the middle doing the hula thing never fails to crack me up.

4. The Clash -- London Calling

Okay, granted it's not exactly a travel poster, but it makes you want to go there just the same, no?

3. The Go-Go's -- Vacation

My favorite Go-Go was Jane Weidlin, in case anybody was wondering. Wotta cutie.

2. Three Dog Night -- Shambala

I figured we needed a hippie hashish trail song here, but I'm just sick to death of "Marakesh Express." Sorry. Anyway, I really like this one even if Three Dog Night aren't cool.

And the numero uno On the Road to Somewhere tune, I'll brook no debate, has to be --

1. Gene Pitney -- Mecca

For obvious reasons. I love this record, incidentally, and I think it's really pretty sad that it can't be played on oldies stations anymore -- also for obvious reasons.

Alrighty then -- what would your choice(s) be?

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Oh Just Wank Me Already, It's Another Early Clue to the New Direction

From 1966, please enjoy The Byrds and "2-4-2 Foxtrot (The Lear Jet Song)," the (let's be frank) concluding throwaway track from Fifth Dimension (my personal fave of their albums nonetheless).

Roger McGuinn (still Jim, at that point) actually taped the sound of a Lear jet on the runaway for the track, and over the years it's apparently been a source of some irritation to him that most people assume it's in fact a vacuum cleaner.

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

Compare and Contrast (An Occasional Series): Garage Bands of the Gods

From 1965, here's toughest American band of its (or any other) day The Sonics, featuring the astonishing and frightening vocals of the great and possibly demented Gerry Roslie, with their proto-punk masterpiece "Cinderella."

And from sometime in the mid-80s, please enjoy New York City local heroes The Fuzztones, with their supercharged cover version.

Okay, this may be heretical, but as great as the original is, and I'll grant you Roslie's vocals are in a class by themselves, I seriously think the cover is not only an improvement, I consider it one of the most exciting rock records ever. Three chords and a cloud of dust, as they say. Also great attitude and the addition of the tambourine and (especially) the blues harp is a stroke of genius.

If I was in a band I'd love to open a set with this, is what I'm saying.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Somebody Busted a Button On His Trousers

As promised, my review of Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out, the Maysles Brothers' "new" documentary on the Rolling Stones at the Garden in '69 (i.e. the outtakes from Gimme Shelter), is now up over at Box Office.

GYYYO the movie is also available as a bonus DVD on the new 40th anniversary edition of the similarly titled live album. Needless to say, if somebody wants to get it for me for Christmas, I probably wouldn't object.

Incidentally, I saw the film on Friday at the IFC Theater in Manhattan, which used to be called The Waverly. Halfway through, it suddenly dawned me it's the same theater I saw Gimme Shelter in the week it opened in 1970. With a bunch of pissed off New York Hells Angels sitting and muttering in the row in front of me.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Compare and Contrast (An Occasional Series): Blues With a Feeling

Saw the Maysles Bros. new Rolling Stones flick Get Yer Ya-Yas Out the other day -- my review will be up over at Box Office momentarily I think -- and one of the best scenes is Mick and Keith doing an unplugged version of "You Gotta Move." Mick, at his most transparently disingenuous, prefaces it by saying "We've been trying to find out who wrote it, but we don't know."

Actually, it's by Mississippi Fred McDowell and Rev. Gary Davis; here's Fred doing it on an early 60s album that probably was in Keith's record collection.

And from the same year -- and from Night Beat (which I am willing to bet is the most amazing rock/r&b masterpiece you probably have never heard) -- here's the great Sam Cooke's gorgeous, and slightly more urban(e), version. That's the 16-year-old Billy Preston playing the cool keyboard stuff, by the way.

And just to bring it all back home, here's the Stones' famous studio cover from Sticky Fingers (1971).

Reportedly, McDowell himself was flattered by the Stones version, his 1969 album I Do Not Play No Rock 'N' Roll notwithstanding. As for the Stones, they did a live version of the song on one of their forgettable 70s in-concert albums, and the keyboards were played by -- wait for it -- Billy Preston.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Compare and Contrast (An Occasional Series): Was Marvin Gaye?

From 1966, please enjoy the man himself and one of his coolest early singles, "One More Heartache." LOVE that guitar riff.

And now consider if you will, from later that year, a cover of same by The Artwoods, one of the lesser known Brit r&b outfits of the day, but one of the best. (That's the late Art Wood on vocals, as in older brother of Ron Wood, BTW. The evocative organ noodling in the rave-up is by Jon Lord, later of Deep Purple fame).

And finally, from 1969, here's my college band God (don't ask) in its only foray into the studio, with a sped-up white boy (and girl) version featuring dual-lead guitar several months before it became fashionable. This was our big live showpiece, actually. More cowbell!!!

The arrangement switch half way through the song -- through the miracle of tape-splicing -- was a good idea that in retrospect I think worked better as a concept than in execution, but what the hell. In any case, we were kids.