Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Some Girls Week: If You Can't Say Something Nice....

Okay, it's now considered a classic by most folks, but the other day, as I was researching the original reception to Some Girls, I recalled that that I had given an assignment to write about the album to Lester Bangs (i.e. Greatest Rock Critic of All Time©).

Figuring he would dig it.

Boy, was I wrong.

From the August 1978 issue of (The Magazine Formerly Known as) Stereo Review:
After the collage of fluff that was Black and Blue, I thought that nothing could get me interested in the Stones again, but I just had to review Some Girls. Hearing "Miss You" and "Far Away Eyes" on the radio, I marveled at how these guys could actually manage to fit so much contempt for so many -- Stones fans, disco fans, Latin women, country audiences -- onto one little single. The album cover of this one, with its take-off on Frederick's of Hollywood drag-queen sleaze, shows quite explicitly not only what the Stones think of women, but also what they think of themselves; they consider both to be cheap, tawdry trash, good only for a quick transient kick. It's fitting that they should end this way (and though it's protracted beyond belief, the end is certainly coming) because anyone who heaps as much contempt on as many people as the Stones have these past few years must inevitably come to an even greater contempt for themselves. Some Girls is supremely indicative of what "decadence" is really about; passivity and boredom.

Almost all the songs here are supposedly about women or the Stones' feelings towards them, yet not one depicts a real relationship or any genuine emotion other than greed. What, for instance, is "Miss You" about? Where is the expression of true longing, the lineaments of true love? Mick seems to be singing from some indifferent twilight, occasionally emerging just long enough to embarrass himself with a limp display of heavy vocal calisthenics: "People think I'm craaaaazzzzzy...."

The title track is perhaps the most disgusting song of all in its attitude towards women -- or perhaps toward other humans in general. If empathy is too much to expect, one might at least ask for some insight, and "Some girls take the shirt off my back/And leave me with a lethal dose" just doesn't quite fill the bill. What it really comes down to is a matter of what portion of humanity can be bought and sold.

Money is a crucial factor in "Beast of Burden," which may be why what might have been a worthwhile song about the difficulties of love degenerates so quickly into cliché: "You can put me out on the street/Put me out with no shoes upon my feet." And are those imitation Bee Gees falsetto chirpings that we hear in the bridge? The Stones have always followed the trends of the day, but once they took them up as a challenge. Now they just tag along after them meekly, melding them with those Same Old Stones Riffs and occasional bits looted from other (usually black) sources. "Respectable," for instance, is "All Down the Line"/"Silver Train" stapled to an old Isley Brothers cop. It's almost fun, except that you've heard it all before. Meanwhile, Keith Richards and Ron Wood play guitar solos. They play a lot of guitar solos on this album, on all kinds of guitars. I'm told that between the two of them, they own hundreds, and I think that's very nice for them. But why do they play with such faraway hands?

"Just My Imagination" is just inferior, though comparing it with the Temptations original does remind you of what, besides true gut-bucket kick, has been missing from the Stones music for a long time; heart. Even those who would say that the Stones never had much heart in the first place (which I don't believe) would have to give the band that used to stand inside these shells credit for honesty. And there are two songs here that sound like they might be about halfway honest. Keith's "Before They Make Me Run" suggests that he might have a future in drugged out country-rock. This is the only song on the album that's about an instantly recognizable real-life situation -- Keith's recent Canadian drug bust. There's a similar sort of tentative tiptoe towards self-recognition, on Mick's part this time, in "Shattered," but any real soul-searching is averted through pretentious quasi-sociological jottings: "Rats on the West Side, bedbugs uptown...." Like "When the Whip Comes Down," "Shattered" could be in part about a male hustler, but seen without compassion (something even male hustlers, perhaps especially male hustlers, deserve) or even understanding.

Supposedly the Stones selected the ten tracks here from about eighty recorded in Paris at the same time. A guitarist friend remarked cynically the other day that now they can just sit back and keep releasing the rest for the next five years. If these are really the best of the bunch, I would invite you to join me in responding to such a gesture of contempt in kind; by sitting back and not buying any more of this drivel, for who has really bought it this time is the Stones themselves.-- Lester Bangs
I should add that I totally disagreed with Lester's take on the album at the time -- and still do -- but that I was tickled pink to run such a scabrous review in the pages of SR, for all sorts of reasons.

I should also add that it almost didn't run at all, because my bosses thought it was just too negative. Also actionable -- one of the lines I was forced to cut (over my strenuous objection) was Lester's description of Jagger as "a jaded old catamite."


In any case, I much preferred the review by living secular saint Greil Marcus in the Village Voice. Particularly these paragraphs.
When one returns to 12 X 5, or December's Children or The Rolling Stones Now, the flaws are obvious; guitars are out of tune, Mick is flat, the lyrics are often corny, tempos are blown. By any sensible standard, "The Singer Not the Song" is a ludicrous performance; a cliched and clumsy guitar line, hopelessly strained singing on the choruses. And yet, it can still move a listener deeply -- maybe even more deeply -- than it ever did. That, after all, is why you can't turn rock-and-roll into sheet music. It may be that some years from now, when the novelty has worn off, the Stones' "Just My Imagination" will seem as shoddy as some people already think it is; it may be that it will still be breaking hearts.

As for the concept of Some Girls -- what it all means, how it makes culture out of music or history out of those who hear it -- the concept of Some Girls is the idea of the Rolling Stones, fifteen years after they came to our attention with hot new versions of songs by Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly, making an album as surprising as any they have put their name on.

Seriously -- the Stones version of "Imagination" has been breaking my tiny heart for more than three decades now. And I think Lester would have come around to it eventually.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Some Girls Week: Remixes of the Gods

Okay, ladies and germs, please enjoy one of the rarest -- and certainly one of the most exciting -- Rolling Stones rarities of them all.

From 1978, it's the Bob Clearmountain remix of the great Some Girls track "Before They Make Me Run." Which kicks the album version's ass bigtime.

How rare is this? Pretty damned rare; it was released as a limited edition 45 for critics and press only (with that fabulous Annie Leibovitz photo of Keith as the picture sleeve) and over the years it's pretty much disappeared down the memory hole. I'd been trying to find a copy since the old Napster days, with no success, until I stumbled across it at a torrent site in 2009.

In any case, I think it's absolutely unconscionable that nobody in the Stones camp figured that this should have been the very first thing on that otherwise fabulous disc of bonus stuff on the Some Girls deluxe edition. I mean, we're talking a much better edit and an overall level of sonic sheen that's quite revelatory.

True story: A few months before I found the thing online, I e-mailed Bob Clearmountain himself (he has a website, obviously) and asked if there was any chance he could spare an mp3 of this magnum opus. I assured him that I wasn't going to bootleg it or anything, but that I simply wanted to have a copy for my personal listening pleasure.

He got back to me right away -- nice guy -- but his answer was "Sorry, Steve -- to be honest, I have absolutely no recollection of ever having done the record."

[h/t Gummo]

Monday, November 28, 2011

Some Girls Week: Monday Battle of the Bands

[Yes, this is the beginning of five days of Rolling Stones-related stuff, inspired by the fact that I shnorred a promo copy of the quite excellent -- with cavils, which I will note as the week progresses -- new deluxe edition of the band's last classic of the 70s. You're welcome. -- Ed.]

Beatles or Stones -- that was the existential dilemma my generation faced. (Bill Clinton chose Elvis Presley, BTW, which is why I never trusted that rat bastard from day one. But I digress.)

So -- let's have it out on a level playing field.

From 1964, and a session with the BBC, here's the Fab Four -- John singing lead -- with a smokin' version of Chuck Berry's venerable "Carol.

And from just about the same time, here are the other guys on The Mike Douglas Show with a got-live-if-you-want-it version of the very same song.


Friday, November 25, 2011

Review: Vegas with Randolph, Above the Blue

As the weather cools and I realize that holy-crap-fall-is-over-and-I-haven't-accomplished-a-thing, I'm looking back on what I've been listening to over the fall and see that, overwhelmingly, it's centered on 2 CDs: the breathtaking Sky Full of Holes, and Vegas with Randloph's Above the Blue.

I've obsessed about VWR here before, and all the songs mentioned here are indeed on the CD, which was released at the end of the summer.

But Above the Blue is a lot more than that: the title itself references a conscious decision to turn away from the traditional melancholy of power pop (see: Shoes, no The), and the title track is a soaring anthem, or as much of an anthem as power pop can have:

The CD is, somewhat ironically, set up like an old-school vinyl album, with a clear side 1 and side 2. Side one consists of, say, the first ten songs: "The Better Part;" "Above the Blue" (above); "Some Time to Live;" the catchy commuter love song "Supergirl;" a duet with Liverpool songstress Maxi Dunn, "The Lesser Fool;" "She Does it for Me" (the only one of these without a YouTube accompaniment; more on that below); "Summertime," which makes me want to drive around in a convertible in a beach town (something, I hasten to add, I have never done, but I imagine it feels just like this song); the totally understandable chronicle of obsession, "Marisa" (that's Marisa Tomei, for those of you playing along at home); the seasonally-appropriate, take-the-guesswork-out-of-it "Lagavulin for Christmas" (below); and the ethereal, beautiful "Tree Song," which reminds me uncannily of "India Song," and if someone could explain why, I'd be grateful. (Title? Feel? Unusual instrumentation (orchestrated by Win Oudijk)? All of the above?)

If we define the parameters of power pop as being, roughly, Big Star on one end and the Ramones on the other (and I'd claim both of them, though there's obviously a ton of debate to have on the relative positioning) then VWR really runs the gamut, with "Tree Song" on one end and "Some Time to Live" on the other. But they're not just adhering to the formula, there are some genuinely clever lyrical moves in some of these songs--the kind of "minutiae of life" Gummo mentioned last time we talked about this band--and some terrific, understated stylistic flourishes as well. (For example, you know that moment in Fountains of Wayne's "Mexican Wine," at the end of the first verse, where Chris Collingwood says, almost under his breath, "Yep"? Well, in VWR's "Supergirl," there's a similar moment when, blown away by the hot girl in the next car, left behind at a stoplight, John Ratts whispers a single, awed "Damn." I love that kind of thing.)

What I take to be side two of the CD aspires to an almost operatic scope, in the mode of--okay, I'll go there--side two of Abbey Road. They call it "Double Play," the six songs vary in length from :30 ("Alone") to 3:09 ("Even Though"), and all together tell the story of a far-from-perfect relationship and its aftermath. (One particularly vivid moment occurs in "End of the Party," where the obviously ambivalent, but stoically-trying-to-talk-himself-into-it protagonist, says "you've got something I can't deny/ you get the quarter in the cup every single time." I've been at that party; have you?) It's kind of unusual in power pop, unless you're say, Guided by Voices, in which case you just let the fragments fly. This is a little more cohesive than GBV tends to be. And though "Double Play" is not completely successful, it's ambitious and interesting, and worth a bunch of listenings.

I saw and met VWR at the beginning of this month, when they played IPO in New York. They were really tight, pulling off harmonies completely without monitors and playing a taut, intense set. Live, Brock Harris's guitar rips even more than it does on the recordings, and his liberal use of the pick-slide touches my geeky little heart. Nice guys, too.

A completely nuts-and-bolts observation: VWR seems to have really mastered the idea of using the tools of the web for marketing purposes. Note that pretty much all of the songs on Above the Blue have YouTube videos: that's what you need now, to make sure that people can link you easily. In addition, VWR have come up with an online press kit: the same set of interviews that used to be sent out with record albums in a three- or four-page flyer. Pretty nifty. Are these common? I've only seen a couple of them.

And to inaugurate the holiday season, I'll close by mentioning VWR's Christmas song, "Lagavulin for Christmas," which answers the perennial conundrum with the simplest answer possible: single-malt Scotch.

In short, Above the Blue is highly recommended. Enjoy it with your Langavulin!

Something There Is That Doesn't Love a Weekend Listomania

Hey -- it's the Thanksgiving weekend, and I pretty much had my hands full the last day or two getting a holiday dinner together for my Maternal Unit. So no Listomania today, but have no fear -- the List will return next week, all tanned, rested and ready.

But it in its stead, and given some of the current events of the last couple of weeks, please enjoy -- along with your leftover turkey and stuff -- The Call and "When the Walls Came Down."

Still the best political/protest rock record ever made, IMHO. Certainly the catchiest and the most sadly prescient, in the sense that's it's as depressingly relevant in 2011 as it was when it was recorded in 1983. And certainly the one that occasioned the most exciting video.

Well they blew the horns
And the walls came down
They'd all been warned
And the walls came down

They stood there laughing
They're not laughing anymore
The walls came down

Sanctuary fades, congregation splits
Nightly military raids, the congregation splits
It's a song of assassins, ringin' in your ears
We got terrorists thinking, playing on fears

Well they blew the horns
And the walls came down
They'd all been warned
But the walls came down

I don't think there are any Russians
And there ain't no Yanks
Just corporate criminals
Playin' with tanks
Okay, the reference to the Russians dates it a bit, but other than that....

And yes, the mad professor on keyboards is Garth Hudson.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Many Happy Returns!

We at Power Pop would like to wish a very happy birthday to John Murphy of Shoes!

Murphy was a scrawny, quiet kid with killer art skills and a massive record collection (which he shared with his younger brother) when the guy sitting next to him in sophomore English, a tall jock he didn't know named Gary Klebe, looked over his shoulder and saw the caricature he was absent-mindedly drawing of the teacher. Gary asked him if he wanted to draw pictures for a satirical high-school magazine he and some of his friends were putting together, and John agreed. Nothing came of it immediately, but when junior year began, Gary walked up to John and handed him a copy of the magazine, Lime.

The friendship between the two blossomed, and by the time they were headed to college, they'd decided to have an imaginary band. They had a name, Shoes, and they drew comics to each other fantasizing about how famous they'd be, though they didn't have instruments, let alone any idea how to play them. An idea it stayed, until Jeff, John's younger brother, bought himself a TEAC-3340S four-track recorder. He needed a band to learn how to use it, and so John and Gary buckled down and actually tried to figure out how to play for Jeff, and with him, and the three moved forward together.

Now, John and his bandmates are finishing up an
as-yet-untitled record
(link goes to their new website), due sometime next year, probably about the same time I finally get my book, Boys Don't Lie, a History of Shoes, out into the world. It's the first new Shoes music in 17 years, and they're giddy as hell about it, I can tell you that much. (No, I haven't heard anything, in case you're wondering, but I heard plenty about it.)

Over the last two years, I've logged a lot of time with John Murphy, and he's a warm, funny guy I like a lot. Warmest greetings from all of us here to him.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

And Speaking of Unsettling....

Saw Ray Davies in concert over the weekend -- a lovely show, including the stuff with the Dessoff Choir, which worked far better than I had frankly expected it to. And of course, the "and then I wrote..." format isn't really hard to take when the person who's singing the songs has the sort of back catalog that Ray has.

But here's a song of his -- from the early 80s -- that he didn't do on Sunday, and I'm kind of glad. "Art Lover."

Which is not to say that it isn't a great song -- it is. But it's either about a pedophile or a divorced dad who's being prevented from seeing the young daughter he adores by a horrid ex-wife, which is to say that it's kind of heartbreaking and kind of creepy at the same time. In fact, its deliberately calibrated ambiguity is probably even more fine-tuned than Henry James' The Turn of the Screw and Ray's own "Lola" combined.

It's also infernally catchy, with -- given the aforementioned thematic ambiguity -- an emphasis on the infernally.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

And Speaking of Gorgeous....

From 1968 and German television, please enjoy Procol Harum's original classic lineup with the quite astonishing "Quite Rightly So."

This is by far the best video clip I've ever seen of the original 5-piece PH, and I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say they're actually playing live, given the differences between Gary Brooker's vocals and Robin Trower's guitar from the album track (although if memory serves, the single version was a little different, and perhaps they're lip-synching to that). In any case, this is exactly what PH sounded like in concert.

I've taken a fair amount of ribbing over the years in these precincts due to my enthusiasm for these guys, but I've said it before and I'll say it again -- I have never heard a more magnificent sound emanating from human beings on a stage than the one I encountered at various shows performed by Procol Harum (Mark 1) during their approximately three year run. I will further add that the group's seamless fusion of J.S. Bach and Ray Charles made them the only progressive rock band that ever mattered. So there.

Incidentally this was the first single from the group's sophomore LP (Shine on Brightly), as well as -- in its 45 incarnation -- the first music in stereo anybody heard by PH.

[h/t Laura G]

Monday, November 21, 2011

The History of White People in America (An Occasional Series)

Wayne Cochran and the C.C. Riders on The Jackie Gleason Show, sometime in the late 60s. Words fail me.

The thing is, as ridiculous as the idea of a Caucasian James Brown might seem in the abstract, Cochran actually was kind of the real deal. He wrote "Last Kiss," too, which means he deserves respect from mere mortals like you and me and Eddie Vedder.

Apparently he's found Jeebus in his old age, which of course isn't all that big of a shock.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Weekend Listomania (Special The Dogs Breakfast Audio/Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental biohazard Fah Lo Suee and I are off to lovely Zuccoti Park in downtown New York City, where we are hoping to pick up a case of scabies. Hey -- Mayor Bloomberg promised us we could get one, and he NEVER lies.

That being the case, and because as you might expect things are going to be fairly quiet around here until Monday, here's a fun and morally uncompromised little project to help us wile away the empty hours until our return:

Best or Worst Post-Beatles White-Boy Blues Performance!!!

And my totally top of my head Top Seven is:

7. Pussy Galore -- Stop Breaking Down

Jon Spencer's low budget, low-fi cover of the Stones' Robert Johnson cover, recorded in a hallway somewhere before there was a Blues Explosion in his pants. I've heard worse, but then again I've been around an awfully long time.

6. John Mayall -- Room to Move

I'm sorry, I know it's not supposed to be funny, but I can't listen to this without cracking up.

5. Wilderness Road -- The Authentic British Blues

"I've got just the thing
To liberate your mind
Some asshole on a sitar
Playing 'My Darling Clementine'"
"Now wait a minute!!!"


4. The J. Geils Band -- Serves You Right to Suffer

From their great debut album, and this track has been giving me chills for over forty years now. Well, not continuously, of course; that would be rather debilitating, now that I think of it. But a great performance any way you slice it.

3. The Rolling Stones -- Good Times, Bad Times

Astoundingly authoritative -- Keith's acoustic 12-string work almost beggars belief -- and even more remarkable when you consider they were, not to put too fine a point on it, a bunch of pimply post-adolescents when they recorded it.

2. Steppenwolf -- Disappointment Number (Unknown)

From their 1968 sophomore LP, which is one of the most underrated hard rock records of the decade, here's a sort of history of the blues in a concise four minutes.

And the Numero Uno "They've Suffered for Their Art -- Now It's Your Turn" bluesola of them all simply has to be...

1. West Bruce and Laing -- Slow Blues

A performance as emotionally compelling as its title is imaginative.

Alrighty then -- what would your choices be?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

An Early (And Alarmingly Sloppy) Clue to the New Direction

Keith Richards and Johnny Depp jamming on "Key to the Highway" last month at the premiere party for The Rum Diary.

Which, by the way, is a pretty great little flick. And I can't believe that it's the first thing that writer/director Bruce Robinson -- who did Withnail & I, hands down the best film ever about the '60s counter-culture -- has been hired to helm in close to two decades.

In any case, as always, 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.

[h/t Gummo]

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Well, Here's One Andrew Sarris Never Called "The Citizen Kane of Jukebox Musicals"

So I was casually browsing that making of A Hard Day's Night book I wrote about last month and something I had somehow overlooked absolutely jumped out at me.
One of the first film offers the Beatles received was to do a cameo in a movie called The Yellow Teddy Bears, a lurid drama about teen sex and pregnancy set in an all-girls school in the English suburbs. The boys were asked to play a band that backs up one of the film's male characters, who dreams of being a pop star. Because director Robert Hartford-Davis wanted to write all the music the Beatles were meant to play in the film himself, they declined (another Beat group called the Embers took their place).
To which I can only add -- wow. Which is to say that, obviously, history might have been changed in unfathomable ways had the Fabs actually gotten involved with this project.

The film itself appears to be pretty much of a sexploitation period piece -- director Hartford-Davis seems to have had a rather undistinguished career, save for the 1965 sci-fi musical classic Gonks Go Beat -- but if you're curious you can order it from Amazon over here.

As for the Embers, the pop combo that took the place of the Beatles in the film, I can find no information whatsoever.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Instrumental Backing Tracks of the Gods (An Occasional Series)

Interesting Rolling Stones news -- apparently the expanded Exile on Main Street reissue did well enough to occasion a similar deluxe edition of Some Girls, with live bonus tracks.

Here's Britain's The Guardian with the details.

And on a related note, here's something that just blew me away -- one of my favorite tracks from Between the Buttons -- "Yesterday's Papers" -- without the vocals. Recorded sometime between the 3rd and the 11th of August, 1966 at RCA Studios in Los Angeles, with the late great Jack Nitzsche on harpsichord

Words, as they often do, fail me.

[h/t Eric C. Boardman]

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday Video Alert: Special Spores R Us Edition)

Terrific news from the good folks at the MGM Limited Edition Collection -- a first-rate version of The Quatermass Xperiment (aka The Creeping Unknown in its American incarnation, but either way one of the creepiest and most original sci-fi thrillers of the 50s) is just out and at a quasi-bargain price.

Tautly directed by Hammer Films stalwart Val Guest (who also did The Abominable Snowman and The Day Earth Caught Fire, two equally memorable B-movie genre classics) the 1958 Quatermass stars Brian Donlevy as the titular driven scientist who shoots the first manned rocket into orbit, only to find the crew inexplicably disappeared -- save for one, who's suffering from some degenerative disease nobody can explain -- after the spaceship crashes in the British countryside. And after that...well, I don't want to spoil any of the film's still effective low-budget shudders, although I will say that the original story for the film is by the great Nigel Kneale, who might be described as the Rod Serling of Britain.

Here's the trailer for the American version.

As you may know, the Limited Edition Collection discs -- burned as DVD-R's on a by request basis -- don't feature film restorations per se; instead they're re-mastered from whatever was the most recent video transfer lying around the studio vaults, and are thus rather hit or miss. In the case of The Quatermass Xperiment, the print/transfer is the same one currently being aired on Turner Classic Movies, which is to say by far the best version of the film I've ever seen. In fact, it looks well nigh pristine, with negligible scratches and dirt and absolutely razor sharp black-and-white images.

You can -- and if you're any kind of a sci-fi buff really should -- order the DVD over at Amazon here. You'll thank me, honest.

Incidentally, The Quatermass Xperiment -- like the two film sequels Hammer later unleashed -- was based on a wildly successful Kneale-penned BBC-TV live mini-series. Alas, the kinescope for the first of them has not survived, but the other two have. Even better, you can watch (or download) both, in very high quality print/transfers, totally for free over at the invaluable Internet Archive.

Quatermass II, aka Enemy from Space, can be found right here.

Check out the remarkably Lovecraftian Quatermass and the Pit, aka 20 Million Miles to Earth, here.

I should also add that these TV versions, for a variety of reasons, are actually even more atmospheric and creepy than the films. Which is really saying something.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Weekend Listomania (Special No Matter Who You Vote For, The Government Always Gets In Audio/Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental palm pilot Fah Lo Suee and I are off to...and at this point I was going to write [Insert Penn State/Joe Paterno joke here] except that...well, except that the whole business really isn't funny.

At all.

So -- because things will nonetheless be quiet around here, as is customarily the case, until Monday, here's a fun and hopefully otherwise relevant little project to help us all wile away the idle hours till my return:

Most or Least Fatuous Post-Beatles Politically Themed Pop or Rock Song(s) Ever!!!

And my totally top of my head Top Six is/are:

6. The Butthole Surfers -- The Shah Sleeps in Lee Harvey Oswald's Grave

These guys were such kidders...

5. Freda Payne -- Bring the Boys Home

A terrific piece of pop/soul with a message that resonated quite powerfully at the height of the Vietnam War, and still does alas. Of course, given that "Band of Gold," Freda's previous hit, had been about her husband's inability to cut the proverbial mustard when it counted, one did have the feeling listening to this one that her pining for the boys' return might be an example of the personal as political. If you know what I mean.

4. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young -- Almost Cut My Hair

Yeah, Dave -- that'll show 'em.

3. John Lennon -- Woman is the Ni-clang of the World

Honorable mention: Patti Smith's "Rock 'n' Roll Ni-clang." Hey -- I'm sure everybody involved with those songs meant well, at least.

2. Graham Nash -- Chicago

Sorry, I can't take a political song that rhymes "change" and "rearrange" seriously. YMMV.

And the Numero Uno Total-Victory-is-Ours-Comrades! ditty of them all simply has to be...

1. Sha Na Na -- The Vote Song

The Nixon reference dates it, obviously, but it's still pretty relevant and pretty funny. Incidentally, while it's true that one of the Sha Na Na gold suit guys has turned into a Teabagger, it was nice to see lead singer Jon "Bowser" Bauman on Tuesday night celebrating the unions win in Ohio.

Alrighty then -- what would your choices be?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

An Early "Teach Your Grandchildren"-ish Clue to the New Direction

So grizzled old DFH's Graham Nash and David Crosby showed up at Zuccotti Park last Tuesday to show solidarity with the OWS protesters, and our pal Watertiger, of Dependable Renegade renown, caught this image via her cell-phone camera.

Actually, if you were watching Keith Olbermann on Current TV Tuesday night, he had video footage of this where you could clearly glimpse El Tigre in front of the stage taking the photo; unfortunately, that part of the segment isn't included in the clip on the Current website, so I couldn't grab a screen cap of her getting the shot, meta as that would have been.

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

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

The Kitty With the Atom Brain II

Well, I'm afraid there's some breaking bad news in the saga of Ollie, the World's Most Radioactive Pussycat©.

If you were with us a year ago, you may recall that we told you that the little fella had come through his thyroid therapy with flying colors.

That was true enough at the time; however, as you can see from this just taken photograph, there seem to have been late-developing side effects of a devolutionary nature.

Surgery to remove that weird growth on his head is scheduled for next week; we'll keep you posted, and please keep your fingers crossed.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

You're Not Getting Older, You're Getting MUCH Older

Did I mention that Garland Jeffreys was on the David Letterman show last month?

Damn, he sounds good.

By which I mean, in part, much better than he did on that 1970 ersatz Band record I posted about yesterday....

Monday, November 07, 2011

Monday Mystery Track

From (well, I won't tell you when, just to be difficult) please enjoy (I won't tell you who, either) and their apparent homage to all things The Band and Music From Big Pink entitled "And Don't Be Late."

The short version: The group in question made exactly one album (which sank like a stone, unheralded) although they also backed John Cale on his first post-Velvets LP. And the band's lead singer/frontman went on to be a well-respected New Wave phenom and scenester. He's still active, too; in fact, he was on Letterman just last month.

In any case, the Woodstock-ian country rock on the commercial flop album in question doesn't seem to have a lot to do, style-wise, with what the lead singer/frontman has done subsequently.

As always, a coveted PowerPop No-Prize will be awarded to the reader who first guesses the band and the lead singer/frontman's identity. And no Googling!!!!

I should also add that I was able to score the album courtesy of our chum Leonard over at the estimable Red Telephone 66; once you've figured out who's responsible for the track, please head over there and give him and the site some love. Or money, via the fundraiser now in progress.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Friday Mea Culpa and Catblogging

Okay, I lied when I said there would be a Listomania this week; the post-vacation jet lag has proven insurmountable, so we'll have to postpone the traditional festivities till next time.

By way of apology, however, let me leave you with -- The Kitten Covers Collection!!!

I'm not sure which one's my favorite, although the kitties in the plastic flowerpot hats cracks me up completely.

[h/t Watertiger]

Thursday, November 03, 2011

The Holy Grail

The Beach Boys' legendary 1966 masterpiece Smile -- the real thing, essentially complete -- dropped (as the kids say) yesterday.

I have the two-disc version on order, but friend of PowerPop and all around swell guy Sal Nunziato has the super-deluxe version with all the outtakes and kindly shared this one. Brian conducting (for want of a better word) the sessions for "Surf's Up."

Words fail me.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

There'll Always Be a France (Part Deux)

Still decompressing from jetlag occasioned by my recent return from the land of the Ignoble Frog, but until regular posting resumes I thought I'd share something I stumbled upon at the fabulous Pompidou Center in Paris while waiting to get into the Edvard Munch show.

From 1963, please enjoy Roger and his Son by remarkable Polish-French modernist Balthus.

And then tell me the son in the painting doesn't look disturbingly like this MTV icon.

Seriously, I have no idea if Mike Judge had this painting in mind when he created Beavis and Butthead, but the resemblance strikes me as too close to be an accident.

I should also add that there actually is another rock-and-roll connection with this painting -- Bono (yes him) sang at Balthus' funeral. Go figure.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

There'll Always Be a France (Special plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose Edition)

Well, we're back from the land of the Ignoble Frog, safe and sound, but still decompressing. Regular, relatively serious, power pop blogging will resume later in the week.

But in the meantime, here's a 1968 painting -- entitled Poverty -- by American surrealist Peter Saul that we glimpsed while wandering around the fabulous Pompidou Center in Paris last week; clearly, it displays a certain prescience where the current activities of Occupy Wall Street are concerned.

If you don't get the joke immediately, click on the image till it increases in size and look carefully at the name of the financial institution the tree figure is holding.