Thursday, September 29, 2011


Please enjoy (if you can) the recently exhumed Official Music Video (circa 1980-81) for The Weasels infectiously New Wave (recorded-in-a-basement) ditty "Bad News."

[Technical Note: Because, as with the previous Weasels video I posted, the film's soundtrack had been somewhat ravaged with the passage of time, I have thoughtfully included a slightly higher quality mp3 of the song directly below the YouTube. You're welcome.]

This song -- on which I play both guitar and bass -- marked my last recorded appearance with The Weasels until 2010. It's a complicated and painful story -- basically I had recently converted to Orthodox Druidism, and the rest of the guys found my constant exhortations to join me at the neighborhood Stonehenge somewhat offensive. In any case, when it came time to shoot the "Bad News" video, I was long gone. (That's drummer Mike Sorrentino -- NOT the same guy as The Situation from Jersey Shore -- with the bass guitar, pretending to be me.)

I should add that if you listen to my bass part, you will note that I'm doing my damndest to sound like my then idol, Joe Jackson bassist Graham Maby. In fact, the whole track is pretty much an homage, however inadequate, to Jackson's sound at the time.

I should also add that the song was written and sung by Weasels' multi-instrumentalist Glenn Leeds, who plays the guy in the bed.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Machine Stops

Having temporary (one hopes) computer problems; I should be posting the interesting and alarming stuff you've come to expect from me again by tomorrow.

Incidentally, the title of today's post is from a 1909 E.M. Forster short story -- cautionary sci-fi, which I suppose is not what most people asssociate with him -- that is stunningly relevant to this modern world and definitely worth checking out.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I Will Never Be Through with The Bangles

And no one's more surprised about that than me.

The Bangles have a new record, which drops today. You can get it at all the usual places, plus there's a single streaming at MTV's Hive. Recorded with Matthew Sweet, Sweetheart of the Sun is supposed to be a return to the folkier Bangles, leaving aside their foray into mainstream pop in the mid-80s.

While Sweetheart finds the group covering two Nuggets-era garage rock tracks, lead single “I Will Never Be Through With You” recalls the delicate melodies of the Byrds and Big Star. They may always be known to some as “that Egyptian band,” but Sweetheart is a sound attempt at breaking out of that fossilized shell of their former selves.

It's a beautiful song, and I'm quite taken with it.

I ignored the Bangles for a little while: though I was never much of a hipster, and I adored "Hero Takes a Fall," I was in college during the Egyptian phase and the Eternal Flameout, and so had that college student disdain for all things popular. I hope they made a gazillion dollars, though. It took a while for me to get back to them: by the time I was done with grad school, Susanna Hoffs was doing stuff with Matthew Sweet and I had gotten over my cool snit.

It's nice to see them recording again.

Come to Think of It, the Word "Duck" is 3/4 Obscene....

Somebody doing to The Eagles what ALWAYS should have been done to The Eagles.

Actually, the funniest thing about this is that Joe Walsh probably thinks it's hilarious too.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Like Ethel Merman On Acid

From sometime between October 31 and November 22 of 1966, here's Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane, in RCA's cavernous Music Center studio in Hollywood, with the original unaccompanied vocal track to "White Rabbit."

The sound doesn't actually start until about the 30 second mark, i.e., at the end of what would be the instrumental intro if you could hear it. So be patient -- it's worth it.

I was originally going to title this post "Monday Moment of Creepy," but I thought better of it.

I should also add that the more I ponder Jefferson Airplane of late, the more it occurs to me they had far more in common with the punks that followed them then they've been given credit for.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Weekend Listomania (Special Alleged in Their Own Time Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental spring roll-in-the-hay Fah Lo Suee and I are...well, I don't actually have a joke ready, but after three weeks in DivShare Hell, the List is indeed back. Tanned, rested and ready, as was said of Richard Nixon or somebody.

That being the case, and given that it's going to be a little uneventful around here for the next day or two, let's get right to the traditional little project for us to wile away the idle hours that might otherwise be spent in neurotic self-contemplation:

Best or Worst Documentary on a Pop/Rock Artist or Group Who Is/Are Not Necessarily a Household Word!!!

No arbitrary rules, but as a bonus additional theme: As Yet Unmade Documentary You'd Most Like To See About a Pop/Rock Artist or Group Who Is/Are Not Necessarily a Household Word !!!

And my totally top of my head Top Five is:

5. The Doughboys -- Rock N' Raw Live

Formed in the immediate aftermath of the British Invasion, The Doughboys, featuring drummer and future powerpop god Richard X. Heyman (his 2006 Actual Sighs album is a bona fide heartbreaking work of staggering genius) were Plainfield, New Jersey teenagers who eventually recorded "Everybody Knows My Name," one of the cooler regional hit singles of the era. (Here's the b-side, "Rhoda Mendelbaum," which just might be my favorite 60s song title ever). [Correction:"Rhoda Mendelbaum" was the A-side of their first single, and "Everybody Knows My Name" the A-side of their second single, both on Bell Records. The B-sides, respectively, were "You're A Pip, Mr. Hip" and "Candy Candy". I regret the error. -- Ed.]

They went their separate ways soon after, but in the last couple of years they've been recording new music, playing clubs all over the place, and generally making some of the most intelligent and convincing garage-rock noises on the planet.

This new film, on a DVD which includes a complete recent live show (with an accompanying CD) and a lot of evocative period footage -- is a vastly entertaining look at their rise and fall and rise again. Great music, and positively inspirational on a lot of levels; you can view a clip from it and order it over at the band's website here. I'd do it now, if I were you.

4. The Monks -- The Transatlantic Feedback

Five American G.I.s, stationed in Germany at the height of the Cold War, shave their heads and invent Blank Generation punk rock ten years ahead of schedule. Still the weirdest saga in all of rock, and the film is pretty much the last word on it.

3. Scott Walker -- 30 Century Man

That's Scott Walker as in The Walker Brothers, as in the transplendently gorgeous 60s hit "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore." And a career since then that has defied easy characterization on any level. As I said in my review in 2009, this is one of the most remarkable music documentaries in ages, and certainly the absolute best ever made about a guy who went into a studio to record the sound of a man punching a side of pork.

2. The Remains -- America's Lost Band

Boston's finest -- they stole the show on the 1966 Beatles tour, by all accounts -- but they never really broke through, despite stellar turns on the Sullivan show and Hullabaloo. This 2008 documentary, narrated by long time fan Peter Wolf, does them full justice

And the Numero Uno if-you're-so-great-why-don't-I-know-your-name flick of them all simply has to be....

1. Dean Reed -- American Rebel

The short version: Reed was an American folk singer, groomed to be a teen idol in the late 50s, who wound up moving to Communist East Germany and finishing his career as a sort of Hero of the People's Republic before dying under mysterious circumstances in 1986. The guy was charismatic enough, although his music kind of sucked, but it's an interesting story to say the least, and the film gets to the You Can't Make This Shit Up strangeness of it quite effectively.

Alrighty then -- what would YOUR choices be?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

An Early (And On Balance Rather Disturbing) Clue to the New Direction

Attentive or charmingly tolerant readers are aware that I have toiled since time immemorial for a garage band called The Weasels (although -- as you will soon see -- the perhaps more accurate phrase would be basement band).

In any case, here's the recently rediscovered official video for one of our greatest songs -- the authoritatively rocking "Sweet Geraldine," from our 1976 masterwork Endless Bummer.

A few details, for those who care.

1. Given that the audio on the film soundtrack has been somewhat ravaged by time, I have -- quite thoughtfully -- included a high quality genuine stereo mp3 of the song directly from the album master, and it shouldn't be too hard to turn the volume down on the YouTube and sync the thing when you watch. On the other hand, it's an awful lot of work for a fairly feeble payoff, but the point is you're on your own.

2. Glenn Leeds -- the Weasels' multi-instrumentalist genius (who wrote and sang the song) -- is seen in the video doing his dead-on accurate impressions of the other guys in the band. His performance as me -- with the velvet jacket and the eye makeup -- is particularly good, and it's clear that Glenn deserves his nom de cinema as "The Man of 1000 Faces (All of Them The Same)."

3. The mystery guest star Glenn is revealed to be singing the song to is the Weasels' (for want of a better word) mascot and living legend Roy Kalish. It's a long story.

In any case, enjoy.

And 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.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Everybody Else -- Just Pack It In, Already.

You know the old story about the guy who shut down the Patent Office because there was nothing left to invent?

Well, in the case of the music business, it's time to officially close shop and go home.

Really -- after the above, what's the point?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Million Dollar Movie

My old chum Bart Goldberg -- the bass player of my college rock band, who can be glimpsed in Party, the student film I bugged you about a while back -- has unearthed another product of the C.W. Post College cinema department.

So, from 1970, please enjoy Fanny Meets the Fickle Finger. Written and directed by the aforementioned Bart Goldberg, and featuring barely adequate silent film piano stylings by some guy whose name rhymes with Sleeve Nimels.

I think we can all agree on two things after viewing this. To wit:

1. It is no surprise that I never had a career as a film composer.


2. Linda Megna -- who plays the girl on the railroad tracks -- was cute as a bugs ear.

Monday, September 19, 2011

"Thank You, Jesus. Thank You, Lord."

From 1978 and Some Girls, here are those Rolling Stones guys again and the official video for "Far Away Eyes."

Which I somehow never saw before I found it on YouTube last week. In fact, I didn't even know it existed, and the song's Wiki entry makes no mention of it either.

Having seen it now, of course, I have to say that the expression on Jagger's face when he gets to the Jeebus line is absolutely fricking priceless.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Present at the Creation

Still in DivShare Hell, alas, so once again no Listomania this week. I promise, though, that by hook or by crook I will have this issue resolved in the next few days, and the List will return next Friday -- all tanned, rested and ready.

In the meantime, from late 1956, here's takes 1-4 of Elvis Presley in the RCA studios working on "Jailhouse Rock." Take 4 -- which starts about a minute into the clip -- is complete, although not the one ultimately used for the single.

And the whole shebang is in, as they used to say at RCA, Living Stereo. As nature intended.

There's still something rather startling to me about hearing 50s rock, especially the familiar mono radio classics, in multi-channel sound. It's like going from black-and-white to Technicolor, and the sense of immediacy is really palpable; the music no longer sounds like history, if you know what I mean.

In any case, I think we call agree that the band here -- I believe that's co-composer Mike Stoller on piano -- really kicks ass.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Thursday's Moment of Creepy

New York City, 2004: The former Stefani Germanotta dances with her dad at her high school graduation.

I'm sorry folks, but this woman has more issues than National Geographic.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Street the Beat: Part III

"Falling in Love."

The studio version.

Yes, as a commenter the other day noted, there's a purity to the busking incarnation of this band that shouldn't be messed with.

But damned, if this isn't the prettiest thing in the fricking world...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Street the Beat: Part II

Apparently they DID make it into a recording studio.

Words fail me. These guys should have been huge.

Monday, September 12, 2011

And Speaking of Gorgeous...

New York City in the late 70s and early 80s may have been a scary place -- with rampant crime, abandoned crack vials on every street corner, and that Ed Koch idiot standing in front of the Brooklyn Bridge demanding that people tell him "How'm I doin'?" -- but at least one thing, thankfully, hasn't changed since those long ago days; the quality of our street musicians. Then, and now, they were and are the best in the world.

I bring this up because, for some reason I can't account for specifically, I started thinking about The Iranian Beatles the other day.

They weren't actually Iranian, of course, although that's how everybody I knew referred to them at the time, but in the late 70s and early 80s they were a Manhattan fixture, particularly in the area around Greenwich Village -- three vaguely swarthy guys playing acoustic guitars, another one simulating drums with a couple of cardboard boxes, and all of them singing covers of Beatles songs in the most astoundingly pretty harmonies you could possibly imagine.

Here they are on a corner somewhere back then doing "I Saw Her Standing There," which will give you an idea of how utterly charming they were.

Eventually I found out they were actually Latino ex-gang members from the South Bronx, and that they were called Street the Beat. They used to absolutely make my day whenever I would run across them in performance (you never knew where they were going to show up, which was, of course, part of the fun). To my knowledge, they never went into a recording studio, but they did do the occasional club show at Folk City, where (I can tell you from personal experience) they were no less amazing than they were al fresco.

And they had a couple of original songs in a Merseybeat vein that would, or should, have been hits in the context of the early New Wave, when such things were being re-appreciated. Here's one of them -- "Falling in Love," as seen on an early morning Public Affairs show on NYC Channel 9 in 1983.

I have no idea what happened to the band, although apparently the drummer has a Facebook page. In any case, if "Falling in Love" doesn't make you swoon, or weep for what might have been, there's no hope for you.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

It's the Tenth Anniversary of 9/11 and Amazingly Enough, I Don't Feel the Slightest Bit Patriotic

Quite the opposite, if truth be told. And rather than watch the all-day jingoism-and-denial porn that will be on my teebee non-stop, I'm off to a party where we're going to get stinking drunk and watch bad movies.

And speaking of bad (well, actually pretty good) movies, here's something I originally posted over at BOX OFFICE on a previous 9/11 anniversary. Just to put a little blame where blame is due.

[From a press briefing on May, 17 2002 by (then) National Security advisor Condoleeza Rice, about the events of 9/11.]

DR. RICE: "I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, take another one and slam it into the Pentagon; that they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile."

Apparently, Dr. Rice doesn't go to the movies. Well, maybe she goes to the movies, but we certainly know she didn't go to see the very popular [worldwide gross: $121,969,216] 1996 thriller Executive Decision starring Kurt Russell and Halle Berry.

A movie in which some Middle-Eastern terrorists hijack a commercial airliner, load it with a huge bomb, and try to detonate it over Washington D.C.

A movie, we should add, that was made with the full cooperation of the Pentagon.

"I don't think anybody could have predicted..."

Oh, well. At least they killed Steven Seagal off in the first half an hour...
I should also add that the pilot episode of The X-Files spin-off, The Lone Gunmen (originally broadcast in March of 2001) is even more prescient, i.e. terrorists slam a plane into the World Trade Center.

Again -- who could have predicted?

Have a nice day, everybody.

Friday, September 09, 2011

It's Another Friday in DivShare Hell...

...and as a result no Listomania again, alas.

In case you're wondering, for the last several weeks -- inexplicably, and out of the blue -- DivShare simply stopped working on my PC. Nothing uploads. For some reason, I have no problem with it on a certain shady dame's Mac in another borough, so it's not my account per se, but it's obviously incredibly annoying just the same.

In any event, I have sent the DivShare help desk several sternly worded e-mails, so I'm hopeful this will be cleared at up at some point this century. And I thank you all for your patience and forbearance in this regard.

Meanwhile, just so today isn't a total loss, here's a pretty great un-released Stones track from 1971 -- a stunning live version (with the Exile horn section) of "Love in Vain."

The show it's from was apparently recorded and mixed for an album that was shelved at the last minute, for reasons that remain unclear. One track from it -- the greatest version of "Let It Rock" ever heard by sentient mammalian ears -- appeared, legitimately, as the B-side to the English "Brown Sugar" and as a replacement for (the censored by the still dead Francisco Franco) "Sister Morphine" on the Spanish LP of Sticky Fingers.

On balance, it's not as good a live album as Ya-Yas, but as you can hear from the above, it sure has its moments.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Don't Worry Baby

The Beach Boys. Live in Chicago, March of 1965. Carl Wilson on Rickenbacker 12-string; Brian Wilson(!) on lead vocal and bass.

In glorious stereo, as nature intended.

This must have been one of the last shows Brian played with the band before he left the road after his famous nervous breakdown. (I saw them at Asbury Park in June or July of that year, with Glen Campbell filling in).

In any case, the next time somebody tells me these guys were whitebread and a crappy live act, I swear to Jeebus I'm gonna take a hostage.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Wednesday Essay Question

A Rickenbacker 12-string electric guitar, well played, is the most beautiful sound occurring in nature. Discuss.

Still in DivShare Hell, BTW, but frequent commenter David Klein has thoughtfully provided us a brief but interesting set of lesser known 12-string songs -- including Glen Campbell's cover of Guided By Voices "Hope on Hold" -- to add to the fun.

Download it here.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Tuesday Moment of Dark Psychedelia in E-Minor

Okay, pardon another little self-indulgence, but here's the fabulous Floor Models and "Fade Into Grey". Our fairly blatant rip-off of "Eight Miles High" as heard on that recently re-discovered cassette of our earliest (circa 1981) home demos I bugged you about a couple of weeks ago.

This is one of the first songs we worked up as we were getting our act together, although I think writer and lead singer Gerry Devine had it lying around for some time prior to the band. In any case, the forthcoming Floor Models The Album We Never Made CD project will feature a much better recorded version, done a couple of years later, after we'd written an instrumental bridge to the thing.

But I love -- nay, lurve -- the backwards guitars just before the final verse here; kudos to our producer, Beatlemania alumnus David Grahame.

Monday, September 05, 2011

The Way They Were

In case you didn't see it in yesterday's NYTimes Magazine -- Paul McCartney and Astrid Kircherr on the beach at Tenerife, late August 1963.

This was the Beatles first real jet-set vacation, and the last before the onset of all-out Beatlemania world wide. Kircherr says the picture was probably taken by George Harrison, with her camera. Ringo Starr was also along for the trip; John Lennon was on his own separate holiday in Barcelona, where he famously did or did not have sex with manager Brian Epstein.

In any case, a remarkable photo; on Sept. 24 and 25, the actual print -- along with 600 more pieces from Kircherr's Beatles photo archives (negatives included) will be auctioned off at Guernsey's in Manhattan.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Our Talented Readers (An Occasional Series)

Still in DivShare hell, so no Listomania this week (I'm working on it, I'm working on it).

But in the meantime, from 2001, please enjoy sterling New York City tribute band Tru Brit, and -- in keeping with our discussion of the other day -- their ace live cover of the glorious Manfred Mann hit "Pretty Flamingo."

That's frequent commenter FD13NYC [pictured right] on second guitar and harmony vocals, BTW, and a splendid job indeed. Kudos and huzzahs all around.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Instrumental Backing Tracks of the Gods (An Occasional Series): Special Meaning of the Universe Edition

From 1966, and what I think is (on balance) the best album The Byrds made in their classic line-up (Gene Clark is actually on it, despite not being in the cover photo) please enjoy what seems to be the final instrumental take of Roger McGuinn's fabulous not-an-acid song "5D."

Sing along, won't you?
Oh, how is it that I could come out to you,
And be still floatin',
And never hit bottom but keep falling through,
Just relaxed and paying attention?

All my two-dimensional boundaries were gone,
I had lost to them badly,
I saw that world crumble and thought I was dead,
But I found my senses still working.

And as I continued to drop through the hole,
I found all surrounding,
To show me that joy innocently is,
Just be quiet and feel it around you.

And I opened my heart to the whole universe,
And I found it was loving,
And I saw the great blunder my teachers had made,
Scientific delirium madness.

I will keep falling as long as I live,
Ah, without ending,
And I will remember the place that is now,
That has ended before the beginning ...

Oh, how is it that I could come out to you,
And be still floatin',
And never hit bottom but keep falling through,
Just relaxed and paying attention?
The actual single/album track fades out about fifteen seconds earlier than this, and of course this lacks Van Dyke Parks' brilliant Hammond organ work on the ending (not to mention the inimitable Byrds harmonies).

But I think this is pretty damn impressive in its own right, if only for the wonderfully live immediacy of the thing. And if anybody ever tells me again that drummer Mike Clarke was the weak link in this band, I swear to God I'm gonna take a hostage.