Jimi gets his hair done, with a cameo appearance by Alfred E. Neuman.
For some reason, I have a feeling Claire Booth Luce really hated that photo.[h/t Jonnie Miles]
Jimi gets his hair done, with a cameo appearance by Alfred E. Neuman.
For some reason, I have a feeling Claire Booth Luce really hated that photo.[h/t Jonnie Miles]
So after posting "A Butcher's Tale (Western Front 1914)" on Memorial Day just passed, I was frankly surprised to discover that there actually are people who didn't know the song, and -- thus, apparently -- don't know The Zombies album it derives from.
Which, of course, is the 1968 classic (1967 in England) Odessey and Oracle. Which is a masterpiece from stem to stern, and from whence "Time of the Season" also derives.
There isn't a dud cut on it, frankly, and while a lot of it is the fullest flowering of 1967 psychedelia after Sgt. Pepper -- the Zombies actually recorded it at the same Abbey Road EMI studio the Fabs used, on a lot of the same equipment (amps, et cetera) -- quite a bit of it is the purest power pop ever heard by sentient mammalian ears.
Case in point: "Friends of Mine."
Seriously -- is there a more spine-tinglingly lovely voice in the history of rock-and-roll than Colin Blunstone? For that matter, have you ever heard a better instrumental break than the piano and guitar (god bless the late Paul Atkinson) business that slices this song in half?
I think not.
In any case, if you're one of those folks who doesn't know this record, hie thee to Amazon and legally download a copy of the damn thing immediately.
[Yes, this has absolutely nothing to do with the mission statement of this blog, but I'm really jazzed about it, so sue me. Also: In slightly different form, I originally posted it at the website of Box Office magazine back in 2010. -- S.S.]
Okay, in terms of film preservation discoveries, it doesn't rank with the missing footage from Fritz Lang's 1927 Metropolis that turned up in a Buenos Aires basement in 2008. And no, the eight hours MGM cut from Erich Von Stroheim's 1924 masterpiece Greed remain missing, the Holy Grail of film preservationists since time immemorial.
Nevertheless, via the real-life cinema detectives over at The Serial Squadron, now comes news that the more-or-less "lost" film that I, personally, have most longed to see over the years has, in fact, been found. And is finally out on DVD.
I refer, of course, to the absolutely astounding 1940 Republic serial Drums of Fu Manchu, starring the criminally underrated Henry Brandon as the definitive screen Fu.
I've been writing about this flick for ages, but in case you're new here, suffice it to say that DOFM is a corker. Directed by Republic's great William Witney and John English team, then at the height of their powers, and featuring a terrific cast besides Brandon (let's hear it for that great neurotic presence Dwight Frye), it's on most critic's short list for the Top Five All-Time Cliffhangers, and with good reason; slick even by Republic's standards, it's perhaps the only chapterplay out of Hollywood that feels -- both in terms of the screenwriting and the whole mise-en-scene -- like a feature film.
As for the whole "lost" deal: the original film elements of the serial were destroyed in an accident at Republic (most likely in a fire, although there's some dispute over this) in the late 60s or early 70s; as a result, the only versions available for screening since then -- including numerous videos, ranging from VHS bootlegs of dubious legality to the 2004 DVD released by VCI Entertainment -- have derived from soft-looking second generation 16mm sources of at best barely adequate quality. I myself first watched DOFM in 1988 on an appalling bootleg from an outfit called Stokeley's Serials, an experience that was reminiscent of viewing a film projected underwater while wearing grimy sunglasses.
Now, however, the good folks at Serial Squadron -- who have done truly remarkable yeoman restoration work on such presumed lost serial classics as the original 1938 Lone Ranger -- have discovered a heretofore unsuspected copy of DOFM in the hands of a private collector. According to Squadron honcho Eric Stedman, it was duped at Republic, legally, from the original elements shortly before they were destroyed, and by somebody with a high level of technical expertise who really knew what they were doing. It has now been transferred to the digital domain, and I am here to tell you that it looks like, if not a pristine 35mm print, than at least a damn good one.
Be still my beating heart. So -- here's the restored first chapter to whet your appetite. The DVD looks better, of course.
In any case, you can order a copy -- and absolutely should, if I'm any judge of horseflesh -- at the Serial Squadron link above. And tell 'em PowerPop sent you.
From 1968 -- The Zombies' "A Butchers Tale (Western Front 1914)." Still, for my money, the most powerful anti-war record of them all
And, alas, sadly relevant to our current mis-adventures in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
In any case, enjoy the holiday, and regular less depressing posting resumes on the morrow.
From 1969 (and produced by Jimi Hendrix, of all people) please enjoy the perhaps unfortunately monikered Cat Mother & the All Night Newsboys and an extremely rare -- meaning I had not even suspected its existence until yesterday -- and totally live television performance of their deliberately retro hit "Good Old Rock 'n' Roll."
I bring the record and band up for a couple of reasons, the first being as an illustration of just how cruelly time can play tricks on works of popular art. If you weren't around at the time, it's hard to explain just what a breath of fresh air this track was when you heard it on the radio; today, unfortunately, it comes off as cornball rock revival pandering, sort of like Sha-Na-Na without the saving irony. (Although I will stipulate that these guys had a pretty high level of musicianship.)
In any case, the other (happier) reason I posted this is the interesting (to me, anyway) fact that the Asian gentlemen with the glasses playing rhythm guitar is none other than longtime Greenwich Village folkie Charlie Chin, who has a far more serious claim to fame than this particular period piece. He is, as it turns out, the guy who played the gorgeous banjo stuff at the conclusion of the album version of Buffalo Springfield's "Bluebird," and I think we can agree that for that stalwart service he deserves respect from all who walk upright.
Found this review I'd written -- from The Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Review, in October 1978 -- the other day and thought it might be interesting to try to find the music involved on-line. Obviously, I hadn't listened to this record since the day I wrote the review, and perhaps I was being overly unkind.
WEREWOLVES RCA AFLI-2746 $7.98
Andrew Oldham is one of the more colorful hucksters of our time, a sort of English Kim Fowley who made it. Trouble is, he made it quite a few years ago as manager amd producer of the embryonic Rolling Stones, who unceremoniously dumped him about 1968 and went on to make the series of albums on which their reputations will someday undoubtedly rest on.
Opinions on the depth of his contribution to the success of the Stones vary. Some say that he lived out all his most outrageous fantasies through Mick Jagger and Brian Jones; others reckon that it all would have happened pretty much the same way without him. One thing is certain, however; he was never much of a producer, and the real production chores on the Stones' classic early records were delegated to various engineers -- notably Ron Malo and Dave Hassinger -- whose services he was smart enough to enlist.
Since then, Oldham has mostly been a dabbler. There have been a few production efforts -- the Jimmy Cliff live album, for one, which was abominable -- but not much else. Now he has come back at the helm of a band that he has apparently convinced the good folks at RCA is going to he that most tedious of items, the(you guessed it) Next Rolling Stones. I wouldn't take bets on it. The Werewolves (not a bad name, actually, but unfortunate in view of Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London" hit) are an agreeable mainstream guitar band a la Bad Company or Aerosmith, with some of the same blues roots as Oldham's first charges. They probably sounded very good in the bar where he most likely discovered them. Beyond that, though, they have absolutely no sound of their own, and the only interesting thing about the whole venture will be seeing if Oldham can still maniputulate the media with the same flair he demonstratd in the old days. For the moment, however, rest assured that the Werewolves are just a group, not a way of life. -- S.S.
Here's "The Flesh Express," the album opener.The Flesh Express
And the answer to my my implied question seems to be -- perhaps a little unkind, but frankly not that much.
So I saw Tim Burton's Dark Shadows feature the other day; let's just say that as much as I adore Johnny Depp and all his works, the thing is pretty much a mess. The short version being that nobody involved with it seems to have decided whether it's a gothic horror flick or a parody of same, and as a result it doesn't work as either.
That said, one of many other annoying aspects of the film is that the closing credits feature a truly crappy version of The Raspberries' sublime power pop classic "Go All the Way." In this case by The Killers, a band, if anybody asked me, that is incapable of performing somebody else's song without air quotes around it.
Meanwhile, and perhaps coincidentally, a younger band heretofore unknown to me -- Surfer Blood -- has done a somewhat more interesting cover.
Hey, I said somewhat more interesting. I didn't say it was actually any good.
Well, here's an interesting curiosity. From 1964, and an album recorded on-stage at The Cavern -- yes, THAT Cavern -- in Liverpool, please enjoy Godfather of the British Blues Scene Alexis Korner, doing business with Blues Incorporated, in a live version of the venerable "Kansas City."
To be honest, although I obviously know Korner by reputation, the only music of his I can actually remember listening to heretofore is an amusingly actor-ish cover of "Get Off of My Cloud" he did (with Keith Richards' assistance) in 1975.
As for this track? Not a bad little band, but in the case of this particular club and this particular song, I think The Beatles probably did it better.
Keith Richards poses for a high-end luggage ad. Which seems only appropriate, given that his skin actually resembles the sort of thing you find on the better grades of luggage.
Is it just me, or is he looking even more lizard-ish than usual in that picture?
In any case, here's the great Annie Liebovitz working the photo shoot.
For some reason, I'm reminded of the old joke Jack Douglas ended My Brother Was an Only Child with: "This book is bound in old Moroccan leather. So if you orld Moroccan grandfather is missing..."
Okay, as long as I've been on a political kick for a couple of days and/or talking about Something Fierce -- i.e., the greatest pop/rock band you've never heard of -- here's their absolutely wonderful 1996 Billy Joel/Elton John-ish tribute to the most important Supreme Court guy of our time.
"Poetic Justice Thurgood."
Yeah, I know I put this song up a couple of years ago, but it sort of seems relevant, so what the heck.
And speaking as we were last week of the late and unlamented Richard Nixon -- and let us stipulate that I agree with Jules Feiffer, who referred to him as "a genuine pop genius," i.e. the guy may have been a monster, but he was also endlessly fascinating -- please enjoy, from 1996, the greatest American pop/rock band you've never heard of, the incomparable Something Fierce, and their brilliant ode to the Fall of the House of Nixon, the incomparable "Watergate."
Alert readers may recall that I've written about these guys on numerous occasions, including the release of their fabulous 2009 retrospective box set. Here's what I had to say about this particular song in a liner note essay I contributed to the project, and I stand by every word.
"One song [from the set] deserves particular mention...specifically, 'Watergate,' in which [they] posit -- over a hilariously overdramatic instrumental bed -- that A Girlfriend From Hell is the metaphorical equivalent of the Nixon scandals and sustain the conceit for more than five fricking minutes. If nothing else, this must be the first song in history to contemplate rhyming 'spill the beans' with 'Haldeman, Mitchell and Dean,' and I would like to go on record, at this juncture, as saying that this song remains for my money the most audacious conceptual masterstroke on any '90s rock album by anybody. So there."
Like I said, Nixon may have been a monster, but he was endlessly fascinating. I mean, can you imagine a comparably evil but otherwise uninteresting shithead like Dick Cheney inspiring such a great song? I think not.
Once again, I seem to have missed the memo. Which is to say, I hadn't heard of these kids until last Saturday. (And which also means I actually have something to thank World's Most Irksome Rock Critic™ Jon Caramanica for, although I won't bore your with the details).
From All-Music Guide:
Yeastie Girlz (their name obviously a take-off on the Beastie Boys) were a short-lived feminist rap trio comprised of members Jane, Cammie, and Kate, hailing from the fertile punk scene of Gilman St. in Berkeley, San Francisco. The trio released a lone 7" EP in 1988, Ovary Action (issued on the independent Lookout! label), which contained a total of ten songs (only one of which stretches past the two-minute mark); some sample titles being "Sperm Brain," "Talkin' Shit," "Orgasm Addict," and "Fuck Yerself." Besides their single, not much else was heard from Yeastie Girlz.
Actually, my favorite is their "Sue Your Friends."
But in any case...
...I think I'm in lurve.
Posted today for no particular reason except...oh, just because.
The short version is that bandleader Vic Caesar wrote and recorded that little ditty, strictly out of the goodness of his heart, for the Nixon campaign in 1968, after which it was more or less forgotten. Then, as Watergate led inexorably to the Jowled One's resignation, some wiseguy at Capitol Records remembered it and acquired the rights.
I actually had a promo 45 just like the one in the photo, which I used to play for unsuspecting friends when they dropped by my digs. Lost it at some point, but fortunately the recording re-surfaced on the soundtrack to the Clifford Irving bio-pic The Hoax in 2006.
I still think it's the most genuinely psychedelic piece of music in history, BTW.
An update to our discussion below about The Diamonds and their white boy cover of "Little Darlin'.
I incorrectly attributed the original of the song to Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs (of "Stay" fame); in point of fact, "Little Darlin'" was issued under the nom de disque The Gladiolas, the group with whom Williams was toiling at the time.
Also, as you can hear, The Diamonds version is actually quite faithful to the The Gladiola's frankly over the top original; if anything, The Diamonds take on the tune seems to be quite subtly and perceptively tongue in cheek, rather than some kind of yahoo racist parody. In any case, it's a more exciting record.
From 1957, please enjoy -- if that is the precise word -- Canadian vocal group The Diamonds and a, shall we say, idiosyncratic take on Buddy Holly's sublime proto-power pop gem "Words of Love."
The Diamonds, of course, are the group best known for "Little Darlin'," a white-boy cover of the Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs original that is one of the most exciting of all the classic 50s rock hits.
What is perhaps less well known is that these guys were jazzbo snobs who really kind of looked down on rock and r-&-b, and that their cover of "Little Darlin'" was meant as a parody. As apparently was that version of "Words of Love," which I have subsequently learned was actually released before the Holly original (they acquired the song from Holly's publisher, or so I'm told).
In any event, here are The Beatles rendering a rather more idiomatic and affectionate tribute, from Beatles For Sale, perhaps my favorite of their early LPs.
As somebody said, in the context of Steve Allen's famous recital of the lyrics to Gene Vincent's "Be-Bop-a-Lula"...
...one man's nonsense is another man's poetry.[h/t Todd Everett]
In most cases, “Mad Men” is bound by the history of the era in which it takes place. But on Sunday night, a new episode of that 1960s period drama that concluded with the Beatles song “Tomorrow Never Knows” appears to have made some history of its own, marking a rare instance in which a song written and recorded by that band has been licensed for use on a television series.
“It was always my feeling that the show lacked a certain authenticity because we never could have an actual master recording of the Beatles performing,” Matthew Weiner, the creator and show runner of “Mad Men,” said in a telephone interview on Monday. “Not just someone singing their song or a version of their song, but them, doing a song in the show. It always felt to me like a flaw. Because they are the band, probably, of the 20th century.”There's no question that you can't DO the 60s without doing the Beatles: they provided the soundtrack for the era. Not alone, and not always ahead of the curve, but the Beatles had saturation. If they were doing it--whatever it was at the moment--you knew it was the thing to do.
From August of 1967, and the rehearsals for a Hawaiian tour, please enjoy The Beach Boys -- vocals by Brian and Carl Wilson with Bruce Johnston -- and a spine-tinglingly gorgeous version of the Pet Sounds classic "God Only Knows."
And from some time later (I'm not exactly sure when) and a recent MOJO Pet Sounds tribute CD, please enjoy latter-day psychedelic cult figures The Flaming Lips and their characteristically skewed take on the same song.
For what it's worth, I should stipulate here that I have never gotten The Flaming Lips on any level. I don't fault their musicianship, and their hearts are obviously in the right place, but I simply have never been able to figure out what the fuck they're on about. It must be a generation gap kind of thing.
Redd Kross is back and delivering their signature brand of genuine rock ‘n’ roll with a vengeance. On August 7, Merge will release Researching the Blues, the first new album from Redd Kross in 15 years. Researching the Blues features 10 new songs clocking in at just under 32 minutes. With songs written by Jeff and produced and mixed by Steven, the album is by far the band’s favorite record. Steve says, “It has the most singular artistic vision of any record we’ve done. It’s just 10 really fucking awesome songs that have the ability to move you in many different ways.”I won't say it's the most exciting new record this year--you know where that honor falls, about which more in the coming days--but when Mac is putting out Redd Kross, that's pretty freaking exciting. Gonna be a good summer.
And speaking as we were the other day of David Marks, a/k/a The Briefest Beach Boy, here he is in 1967 doing business as The Moon (not, if truth be told, the greatest band name in rock history) with the surprisingly aptly titled "Pleasure."
While, as you can hear, it obviously lacks that certain je ne sais quoi that truly says I don't know what (i.e., hit potential), it nonetheless is a very nice piece of period psychedelic pop in the vein (as pointed out by reader buzzbabyjesus, who turned me on to it) of The Monkees and The Zombies circa Odessey and Oracle.
Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental Michelle Bachmann body double Fah Lo Suee and I are -- well, actually, we're not doing anything, so I have no joke. By way of making it up to you, please click on this link and download the "Doink! Doink!" sound effect from Law and Order for use as you see fit. Me, I'm putting it on my iPod Touch as the sound effect for incoming e-mail.
Okay, and with that out of the way, and because things will doubtless be a tad quiet around here for a couple of days, here's a fun little project to help us wile away the hours:
Funniest Post-Elvis Pop/Rock/Soul Song or Single Record!!!!
No arbitrary rules, you're welcome very much, except it has to be an actual song or record that's amusing without being an obvious novelty -- The Singing Dogs "Jingle Bells," for example -- or (I'm talking to you, Weird Al) a parody. Although I'll bend the rules if I damn well feel like it, so the hell with you guys.
No, seriously, I may bend the rules but I love each and every one of you more than food.
And my totally top of my head Top Five is/are:
5. The Who -- Boris the Spider
John Entwistle at his creepy-crawliest. Subject for future research: Smash Your Head Against the Wall.
4. The Beatles -- You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)
"Good evening, and welcome to Slaggers!" Heh. Brian Jones drops by to play the sax -- a part that, it is perhaps not unkind to note, lacks the lapidary beauty of his dulcimer work on "Lady Jane."
3. Harry Chapin -- Taxi
Anybody who can listen to the lyrics...
You see, she was gonna be an actress/ And I was gonna learn to fly/ She took off to find the footlights/ And I took off to find the sky/ Oh, I've got something inside me/ To drive a princess blind/ There's a wild man wizard/ He's hiding in me, illuminating my mind.
...not to mention "Harry, keep the change," without laughing should seek immediate medical attention.
2. Circle Jerks -- Golden Shower of Hits
Okay, okay, I know it's a novelty record, but it just cracks me up. Also, it was much beloved of an ex-girlfriend who, alas, has departed this sad vale of tears, and I'm including it in her memory.
And the Numero Uno stop-you-kill-me! ditty of all time clearly has to be...
1. Warren Zevon -- Werewolves of London
There's a live version of this one from somewhere where he changes the lyrics to "I'd like to meet James Taylor." Heh.Alrighty, then -- what would YOUR choices be?
“I lived with my mother intimately for 22 years and never saw the furniture. On every piece of furniture was a sheet to keep the dust off.”
So says Mel Brooks on the How to Be a Jewish Son episode of The David Susskind Show, originally aired in the fall of 1970 and available for the first time in its entirety on DVD from S’more Entertainment.
It’s often regarded as the funniest impromptu 90 minutes in TV history. [Including by me -- S.S.]
Brooks, who began his career as a “tummler” (sort of a combo emcee and social director) in the Catskills, was not alone on the stage, although it often seems that way. Even when he’s sitting there behaving himself, your eyes are on him.
Besides Susskind, who keeps fairly mum on the evening’s subject despite prodding, the other Jewish sons included comedian David Steinberg, fashion designer Stan Herman, Goldberg Pizzeria founder Larry Goldberg, actor George Segal (whose Where’s Poppa is the ultimate Jewish son black comedy), and Dan Greenburg, who was married to Nora Ephron and had recently written the best-seller How to Be a Jewish Mother: A Very Lovely Training Manual. [And who seems to be having a contest with Herman to see who can wear the most absolutely heinous early 70s clothes -- S.S.]
Susskind, who once professed he wanted to become “the Cecil B. DeMille of television,” clearly was unprepared for Brooks’s antics. Clipboard in hand, scrolling agitatedly down the list of prepared questions, he’s continually interrupted by Brooks’s free-associative spritzes.
“I was in analysis for six years and couldn’t say a bad word about my mother,” Brooks says when asked if he sees a psychiatrist. “I love my mother. If I could I would go skinny- dipping with her.”
Possibly amusing postscript: My second ex-wife appeared on an episode of the Susskind show sometime in the early 80s. (Long story, but she was working as an editor at a well known woman's magazine at the time, and the show's theme was some Modern Relationships and Dating bullshit of the sort that all known woman's magazines have trafficked in since time immemorial.) In any case, while the show was being aired -- Susskind was on at 9pm Sunday nights on the pre-Fox channel 5 in the New York area -- our phone rang. My second ex-wife answered, and when the guy on the other end asked if it was in fact her -- i.e. the woman on the Susskind show at that moment -- she answered in the affirmative. At which point the guy on the other end launched into the mother of all obscene phone calls. Swear to god.
Moving right along, you can watch the whole thing for free over at Hulu -- Google it youself (what am I, your mother?) -- but don't be a shnorrer; just go to Amazon and order the DVD over here.
More to the point, as always, a coveted PowerPop No-Prize will be awarded to the first reader who gleans the significance of the Jewish Son DVD to the theme of tomorrow's Weekend Listomania.
From August 17th 1995, please enjoy Gerry Devine and the Hi-Beams -- and the sessions for a live radio broadcast on WDST in Woodstock emanating from the fabulous Tinker Street Cafe -- and a heartfelt and definitively jangly rendition of "Getting Back Into My Life," by genuine underground power pop legend Mark Johnson.
Featuring some guy whose name rhymes with Sleeve Nimels on bass (apologies for the flubs).
I wrote about Mark in these precincts last year, but if you missed it, the short version is that he was a fixture in the Village in the late 70s and early 80s, and somebody who I thought at the time was (of all the folks who featured in the Bleecker Street revival of the day -- which included Shawn Colvin, The Smithereens, Chris Whitley, Willie Nile, The Roches and Suzanne Vega) by far the most abundantly talented.
A natural born songwriter -- Dave Edmunds and Robert Gordon recorded some of his tunes -- and a riveting singer and stage presence, he really should have been a contender; why he wasn't comes down to the usual demons and/or bad luck blah blah blah, but he's still active and, as I said up top, pretty much one of the genuine underground legends of power pop.
You can find out more about him over at his oficial website, as well as ordering some of his CDs.
Including this one, which features period demos of the stuff he was doing in clubs when I first encountered him in the late 70s...
...and which, if memory serves, was perhaps the greatest rock-and-roll you or anyone else who wasn't there at the time has never heard. Including lead guitar by the astounding Drew Zingg, which will completely blow your tiny mind.I should add, however -- strictly in terms of consumer protection -- that I personally ordered a copy of this via PayPal a couple of weeks ago and so far have found nothing in my mailbox. I have also been dropping Mark messages over at the website about this but have heard nothing in reply.
An idiosyncratic blog dedicated to the precursors, the practioners, and the descendants of power pop. All suggestions for postings and sidebar links welcome, contact any of us.