Tuesday, May 23, 2017

It's Friends of Mine Week: Special It Takes a Village Edition

From (originally) 1972, please enjoy power pop legend/old chum Mark Johnson and his haunting "Rainy Dues"...

...a track from the just released reissue of his 1972 Vanguard LP Years.

Short version of a very long story: Mark all but ruled the Greenwich Village music scene in the late 70s/early 80s; about fifty percent of the reason The Floor Models got it together was our seeing Mark's band The Wild Alligators tear it up at Kenny's Castaways on numerous occasions (the other fifty percent was seeing The Smithereens do the same thing at the same venue).

In any case, at that time, I kept hearing from various Village types that Mark had this earlier album to his credit, but for some reason, nobody -- not even Mark -- would make me a cassette dupe of it. I eventually chanced across it, a few years ago, at some obscure download site via a vinyl rip. And was surprised at how different it was, stylistically, from the kick-ass pop/folk/New Wave rock he was doing when I met him. Years, in fact, was more or less the last flowering of the whole post-Sgt. Pepper baroque/orchestral/psychedelia album esthetic of the late-60s; think early Tim Buckley or something that could have been produced by Van Dyke Parks.

Oh well. Moving right along, let me just mention that this reissue -- splendidly remastered with bonus tracks -- on Real Gone also features definitive liner notes (including an extensive interview with Mark) by yours truly...

...and that you can (and should) order this remarkable artifact over at Amazon HERE.

You're welcome.

Tomorrow: More interesting music by somebody I've actually shaken hands with.

Monday, May 22, 2017

It's Friends of Mine Week! No, Seriously -- It's Friends of Mine Week! I Really Mean It This Time!

From a 2003 tribute to The Who, please enjoy Seattle legend Jim Basnight and an absolutely wonderful cover of "I Can See For Miles."

I've never actually met Jim, but he's been a Facebook friend for a while now, and I always loved his work.

In case you;ve never heard him before, among other things, he used to be the front man of two absolutely fabulous and influential New Wave/power pop bands called, respectively, The Moberlys and then The Rockinghams.

That being the case (and it is), you can -- and very definitely should -- order a retrospective of 25 years of his music...

...over at Amazon HERE.

You're welcome. Oh, and incidentally, Jim informs me that Pete Townshend was pleased by the cover of "Miles." Much cooler than that it does not get.

Tomorrow: More interesting music, but by someone I actually HAVE met.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Your Friday Moment of I'm a Little Choked Up

Attentive readers may recall that I posted tracks by The Sevens -- aka The Rolling Stones of Switzerland -- a week or two ago, which I found at a terrific download site (from Germany) called All We Need is Pop Music.

Anyway, by way of saying thank you, I sent the proprietor of the site copies of The Floor Models CDs (featuring some asshole whose name rhymes with Sleeve Nimels on bass), figuring he might get a kick out of them.

And this is the note I just got in response.

Hello Steve, this morning your gift arrived. And it's a little difficult to describe (also because my not so well english language) the emotions because of your gift. At first, you have paid ten bucks only to send two cds to a guy you don't know personally 5000 km across the ocean. That was the first time where i asked myself consciously: What kind of man is Steve and why he do this? And than i began listen to the album and after the first time i was very impressed. Naturally it meets my taste of music.But some songs have (imho) an extraordinary good songwriting and wonderful fitting arrangements. What i also like is the difference of the tracks.The whole album never sounds like one song cutted in 10 or 15 pieces. And it always sound very much agile (or alive?). One critical point is S.O.S in original by swedish band ABBA. To me it sounds a little weak without the particular kick.
The whole album is a great Pop rock/Jangle/Power Pop album and i think if the band had it released in the early eighties who knows what had happened. Steve you can be very proud of your band The Floor Models and the musical legacy of the band. I make music myself for more than forty years and know the meaning what particular experiences in music and making music with friends are really worth.(I hope you understand despite my english language try to say)
And now i come back to the question i asked myself: why do Steve this? I began to read the liner notes by you. And there is a lot what touches my feelings. After i read the liner notes completely two times i believe i have the answer for my question. The kind how you write about the times then, the band, friends, people you've met and the experiences you've made tells me that you are a human being who do the things he like with passion. And passion is an important characteristic for artists of any kind. Okay Steve i stop here my hobby psychology :-). I just can say that i thank you very much for the gift that you've gave me. I really appreciate it! And i want quote an sentence by you from the liner notes where is a kind of humour inside i really love. ''...I look back on the whole experience these days as pretty much the most fun i've ever had with my clothes on.''
Thanks for all and i hope we stay in touch from time to time

Kind regards,

I honestly don't care that we never sold a million records and got big rich and famous. Stuff like this makes the entire thing worthwhile.

Have a great weekend, everybody.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Chris Cornell 1964-2017

Swear to god, I was just listening to the album that song is from when I heard the news.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Closed for Monkey Business

Had a long, extremely productive but exhausting, night in the recording studio yesterday.

Friends of Mine Week, complete with blow your mind music. resumes on the morrow.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

It's Friends of Mine Week!!!

Attentive and/or long term readers of this here blog may recognize the name Ronnie D'Addario for two reasons.

First, because out of the great goodness of his heart, he sang the angelic McCartney-esque background vocals on Letter From Liverpool, a song featuring a band with a bass player whose name rhymes with Sleeve Nimels.

And, secondly, because he's the proud dad of the hippest young band on the planet The Lemon Twigs.

But even coooler than that, Ronnie's also been producing exquisite Beatles-influenced pop/rock -- both as a one-man band (a la Emitt Rhodes, who is probably the figure he most closely brings to mind) or in various group contexts going back for decades.

And now, at last, he's got a CD set showcasing some of that work.

Here are two songs from the collection (the second is one of my favorite indie singles of the New Wave era) that should give you an idea of just how terrific he is.

In any case, I think we can agree that First Songs is one of the most impressive early career retrospectives ever heard by sentient mammalian ears.

You can -- and definitely should -- order it over at Amazon HERE or at You Are the Cosmos HERE.

You're welcome.

Monday, May 15, 2017

I'll Be There For You

As you may know, The Zombies just completed an American tour where -- to rapturous applause -- they performed their masterpiece Odessey and Oracle in its entirety.

You may be able to guess from the Odessey song above how the rest of the week here is gonna go. No coveted PowerPop No-Prizes if you do, however.

I should add that, to my delight, another Odessey track is now the unlikeliest radio hit of the current century..

Friday, May 12, 2017

Your Friday Moment of A Tail for Which the World is Not Yet Prepared !!!

From 1995, please enjoy Canadian (don't hold it against him) singer/songwriter Jay Semko...

...and his brilliant avant-garde screenplay masquerading as a pop record/absolutely flat out fabulous on every level "Mouse in a Hole."

I must confess that prior to a few weeks ago I knew nothing about either this guy or this song. And if truth be told, I was hipped to him/it by possibly the most offensively stupid/anti-Semitic/douchebag it's ever been my misfortune to have to deal with via the intertubes.

That said -- blind squirrel/nut. I mean, this is really great.

Have a terrific weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

I Deny Everything

New Procol Harum album is out; I must confess that it mostly leaves me cold -- i.e., it doesn't sound much like vintage PH -- but this track is really pretty and wouldn't have been out of place on one of their lesser mid-70s LPs.

Plus the title appeals to me for several obvious reasons.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

He Puts the Pluto in Plutocrat

Donald Fagen and Todd Rundgren nail our latest national nightmare.

And you gotta love that they did this before Trump went Nixon on steroids yesterday.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Here Comes the Night

Saw BANG!: The Bert Berns Story over the weekend.

Bottom line: If it's playing anywhere near you, run do not walk.

The incredible music aside, there are so many great stories told in the flick that it would be criminal for me to give any of them away. That said, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that a) the song-writing production team of Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein, and Richard Gottehrer -- better known as the guys in The Strangeloves who pretended to be Australians -- may be the funniest comedy trio since the Marx Brothers and that b) I had no idea that Van Morrison, who gets lots of screen interview time, is so normal.

Oh yes -- the music. Most of the songs in the film -- all either Berns-written or produced or both -- will be familiar to anybody who's listened to pop music in the second half of the 20th century. But one track in particular, for me, was a revelation.

This is one of the most spine-tingling vocal performances I've ever heard, and after you listen to it, I think you'll agree that Freddie Scott deserves to be talked about right up there with the greatest soul singers ever. It's not on the movie soundtrack CD, alas, but there's a comprehensive Scott best-of that you can still find at Amazon.

Have I mentioned that you should run not walk to see this if it's in your neighborhood?

Monday, May 08, 2017

Closed for Monkey Business: Special Vive La France! Edition

Got so emotional watching the scene outside the Louvre yesterday, after the French turned back the forces of darkness, that I was too drained to post anything musical.

Regular non-political pop stuff resumes on the morrow. Now excuse me -- I have to go score some brie.

Friday, May 05, 2017

Your Friday Moment of the Worst Song of All Time

I don't know why this one popped into my head this morning, although it's possible it has something to do with Satan.

I must admit, however, that I had forgotten that one of Liz Taylor's exes was responsible for it.

I should also add that at Casa Simels when I was growing up we used to refer to RCA platters as New Orthopedic recordings.

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Willard's Wormholes 2007-2017

The greatest download site in the history of the intertubes...

...is no more.

If, like me, you were worried that Willard had either had some kind of personal crisis, or had been shut down by the Intertube Police, not to fear: I e-mailed him yesterday and he said that, no, it had been ten years and he figured it was time for him to retire and do other things. I think I speak for many when I say -- good luck with that. You're a mensch, and our music collections would be much the poorer if not for your work over the years.

I'm still pissed that I never got around to downloading the soundtrack to the original Outer Limits, however.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Only the Dead Know Basel: Special It's Just a Shot Away Edition

[I originally posted this back in 2011, but I'm reprising it now for two reasons. First of all, I discovered that my copy of the album -- which I had obtained from a download site that has since been closed down -- had disappeared from my collection (both the CD I burned and the computer file of it), and I was in full panic mode until I found a replacement over the weekend. Secondly, given President Drunk-at-the-End-of-the Bar's speech to the bloodthirsty shitheads at the NRA, also over the weekend, I thought it might have some amusing relevance to our current national circumstances. -- S.S.]

"Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love, they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock." -- Orson Welles, The Third Man (1946)
Cut to 1965, and you'd have to add the eponymous debut album and several singles by Switzerland's The Sevens to the list.

Hands down the greatest rock band out of a historically neutral country. Ever.

Basically, these guys were the Rolling Stones of Switzerland; as you'll hear they might as easily be described as the Pretty Things/Animals/Kinks of Switzerland. In any case, they never had much impact outside of their home turf, where their peak years were 1965-66. I should confess at this point that I'd never encountered them until a few days ago, although I assume they're rather highly regarded in Garage Punk/Nuggets circles.

Here's their first single -- titled, with absolute pop perfection, "Seven," and a more eerily apocalyptic pop record had never been heard by sentient mammalian ears, I'll tell you that for free. Recorded essentially live -- the pistol shots were done in real time, although they never used the gimmick onstage -- and in just one take; if the freakout/raveup at the end doesn't get you going, you probably need to have it looked at.

Oh, and you'll never guess who the producer was.

Wait for it....

Giorgio Moroder. Yes, him.

Here's what they sounded like in stereo -- from the aforementioned album, it's the equally ominous "You Should Know." Which sounds to my ears like a mid-tempo ballad by The Zombies, albeit if that band consumed a case of Italian Swiss Colony before the recording session.

Obviously, the musicianship on both these tracks has a certain...primitive quality, I think is the phrase, but both of them also have a very palpable end-of-the-world vibe that I find remarkable. I should also add that lead singer Pierre Aebischer, who comes across as alternately creepy and amusingly suave, was either a genius or a madman, at least from the sound of this stuff.

Meanwhile, if you'd like to download a copy of The Sevens' album (with bonus tracks) you can find it -- along with lots of other fabulous free stuff -- over here at ALL WE NEED IS POP MUSIC.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Closed for Monkey Business

The good news: The Incomparable Eddie© is back from the vet, and he's suffering nothing more serious than a little tendonitis. Of course, he won't be available for the play-offs.

The bad news: I was too exhausted to do a real post today.

Swear to god, tanned rested and ready postings about music resume tomorrow.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Your Monday Moment of Please Send Good Thoughts

Gotta take The Incomparable Eddie© to the veterinarian for some tests today.

Barring the unforeseen, regular and happier posting will resume on the morrow.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Your Friday Moment of Lothar Mania!

And speaking as we were yesterday of sort of obscure bands that I was fortunate enough to see live -- how about Lothar and the Hand People?

Saw them -- then unsigned -- opening for The Byrds at the Village Gate in 1966...

...and they damn near stole the show. Absolutely amazing band, and snazzy dressers to boot. Don't recall if they did this particular song, but I've loved it since their first album came out in 1968, and it still slays me all these years later.

The folk-rock vibe notwithstanding, Lothar were pretty much the first real synth band, as you can plainly hear from this brilliant should-have-been-a-hit cover of a Manfred Mann track.

Incidentally, it is one of the great regrets of my adult life that no live video footage of these guys exists. But hey -- rock 'n' roll, right?

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Thursday Completely Bogus Listomania

Okay, this dopey meme has been all over the intertubes for a day or two now, so I suppose it behooves me to add to the dumbness.


1. The Yardbirds

2. Talking Heads

3. Chrysalis

4. The Who

5. P-Funk

6. The Cars

7. The Searchers

8. Buffalo Springfield

9. Iggy and the Stooges

10. The B-52s

No arbitrary rules, except that a certain Shady Dame and Capt. Al are disqualified.

And a coveted PowerPop No-Prize will be afforded the first person who guesses the band I didn't see correctly.

P.S.: If you don't know who Chrysalis were, go to YouTube and be changed.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Today We Are a CD!

Hey, I know it's an obsolete format, but the disc version of the reissue of my 90's band's album masterpiece (superbly re-mastered and with bonus tracks) is now available for purchase.

It's been downloadable since last December (iTunes, Amazon, and the rest of the usual suspects including Spotify, whatever that is) but the actual CDs are finally at our distributor; you can order the physical copies at CD Baby over HERE.

And because I love you all more than food, here's what was the concluding track on the original 1995 version. I think it's freaking killer, but obviously I'm prejudiced.

In any case, if you decide to order the thing, remember -- as they used to say at MAD magazine: "$12.97. Cheap."

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Closed for Monkey Business

All tuckered out, and I don't mean Carlson.

Regular totally dressed and peppy postings -- including some delightful news involving the music of a band whose bass player's name rhymes with Sleeve Nimels -- resume on the morrow.

Monday, April 24, 2017

In Search of Caitie Riff

Long-time readers of this here blog may recall that back in February of last year I completely went out of my nut over Debutante, the astoundingly assured (self-released) debut album by singer/songwriter/force of nature Cait Brennan.

And now comes her non-slump sophomore effort Third -- via the fine folks at Omnivore Records (where she belongs) -- which is, cheekily, named after a certain album by a certain Memphis band you may have heard of.

And which (much like Debutante was for me in 2016) is already my 2017 album of the year even though it's not even summer yet.

If you haven't yet heard Cait, Melissa Bratcher of Popshift reviewed Debutante and nailed it:

"Cait Brennan has an instantly recognizable voice, and, paired with her sugary power pop proclivities, makes the kind of music that stops me in my tracks. With an undeniable gift for writing hooky delights, she’s an heir to the throne of the greats: ELO, Nilsson, The Sweet, Rundgren. Her influences are all over her songs and Debutante is a sparkly kaleidoscope of AM Radio, 1970s pop, and confessional lyrics. It’s delightful.

I couldn't agree more, although at the time I added Big Star (little did I know) and Glam Era Mott the Hoople and David Bowie to the list of reference points; listening to the new record -- which in a lot of ways is considerably darker in tone -- I also hear flashes of Prince and early 70s pre-disco r&b and soul as well.

In any event, those previously mentioned long-time readers may also recall I have already gone on record as saying that "Bad at Apologies" -- the lead off track from Third -- has one of the greatest opening lines in rock history. Which is certainly true, and if there's any justice in this world, the song's choruses will also be sung by a stadium audience near you sometime very soon.

But (mirabile dictu) the rest of the album (recorded at the same Ardent studio as Big Star's masterpieces) is a real advance over Debutante; musically and lyrically richer in just about every way. It may not be an exaggeration to say that Cait and co-producer/multi-instrumentalist Fernando Perdomo could be the most synergistically-matched team of artistic collaborators since those four kids from Liverpool hooked up with that older guy at EMI who had recorded The Goons.

I'm particularly enamored of "Goodbye Missamerica," which -- over the sounds of Alex Chilton's very own mellotron -- speaks rather poignantly in part to the current state of the US of A and Cait's personal backstory; "Benedict Cumberbatch," a big sort of Queen-inspired power ballad in which Cait tells a faithless lover that she's giving the song to the Dr. Strange/Sherlock star instead; and "Caitiebots Don't Cry," which is such an astoundingly smart piece of self-referential post-modern pop that you don't know whether to laugh out loud or go "I'm not worthy" or both. But there's not a song on the record that doesn't repay the time spent in listening. And hardly one that doesn't make you want to get up and dance around your house -- as John Lennon put it -- in wild abdomen.

Have I mentioned that Cait's vocals throughout are beyond amazing?

That duty pleasantly dispatched, I will end by pointing out that you can learn more about Cait and Third over at her official website HERE. You can also purchase said fine audio product over at Amazon HERE and what are you waiting for?

Friday, April 21, 2017

Your Friday Moment of Four Strings Good!

From 2016, please enjoy The Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra and their quite remarkable cover of Thin Lizzy's classic "The Boys Are Back in Town."

I think at this point we can all agree that you can get an impressive amount of music out of those tiny things; that said, I really would like an explanation for the resurgence of interest in an instrument that -- for most of my lifetime, anyway -- had been mostly associated with the era of bathtub gin and flappers.

Have a great weekend, everybody. Especially (and this is a clue to Monday's post) you, Cait!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Your Thursday Moment of Well, This is Kinda Interesting

From 2012 please enjoy Hospitality and their sort of breathless alt-rock take on the Steely Dan classic "Rikki Don't Lose That Number."

Chanced upon this one yesterday when I posted the GWAR clip from the A.V. Club. Not particularly sure I'd want to hear any of this bunch's originals, but there's something about this one that got under my skin. It helps that the original song is pretty much a masterpiece, of course.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Your Wednesday Moment of Words Fail Me

Frpm 2012, please enjoy the irrepressible GWAR doing to "Carry On My Wayward Son" what, frankly, should have been done to the entire Kansas catalogue years ago.

Have I mentioned that words fail me?

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Closed for Monkey Business

A tad under the weather, actually.

Regular tanned, rested and ready postings -- including (on Friday) a review of the album of the year even though it's only April -- resume on the morrow.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Be a Patron of the Arts -- It's Fun!

Holy cow -- power pop genius and friend of this here blog Richard X. Heyman has a new CD coming out! And he needs your help!!!

If you don't know Richard's work -- either solo (or more recently with his ace band The Doughboys) -- here's an excerpt from the very first thing I wrote about him back in 2007, when both this blog and the world were young.

(TurnUp Records )

Let's start this with a mea culpa and an embarassing confession.

First of all, there's no question in my mind that this album would have made my Top Ten list in the 2006 Village Voice critic's poll save for the inconvenient fact that I didn't hear it until last week. Sorry. What's worse, I'm afraid, is that even though its auteur has been a wildly acclaimed power pop icon for two decades I'd never actually heard a note of his until then. Ridiculous, really, when you consider that my long-time critical colleague Parke Puterbaugh (who contributes excellent liner notes to the album) wrote not one but two rave reviews of earlier Heyman CDs when I was his editor at Sound and Vision (i.e., The Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Review).

Oy, as they say, gevalt.

But let's move on. For those who've been as out of touch as yours truly, here's what you need to know. Richard X. Heyman is a singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist (one of the best, actually -- he's a killer drummer, unlike most of the breed) who's been making wonderful classicist pop rock (occasionally on major labels) since 1986. The album currently under discussion is in some sense a remake. What happened was that back then Heyman had twenty songs ready to unleash on the waiting world, but after recording six of them he couldn't afford any more studio time and decided to release what he'd finished as a mini-album (or EP, as they used to be called). On "Actual Sighs," ("Actual Size" back in the day) he's re-recorded the original six and finally gotten around to the orphans. As Puterbaugh points out, there's really nothing to compare to it in pop history except for Brian Wilson's revisiting of the Beach Boys' "Smile," except that (for me, anyway) "Actual Sighs" is more consistently terrific...
You can read the rest of the review over HERE. And because I love you all more than food, here's my favorite track from the record -- the spine-tinglingly gorgeous closer "The Gazing Moon."

Meanwhile, here's the KICKSTARTER LINK for the new record.

What are you waiting for, you bastids -- get over there and show the guy some love.

And when you do, tell 'em PowerPop sent you.

Friday, April 14, 2017

"Let's Let the Little Twerp Express Himself as Best as He Can"

For those of you who don't recognize the title quote, that's one of the many funny but mean things Sir Raymond Douglas Davies used to say on stage about his younger brother Dave Davies' solo turns..

I bring it up because I got to see Dave sans the other Kinks for the very first time this past Wednesday (here I am with World's Greatest Kinks Fan Frank Lima and the incomparable Dennis Diken of The Smithereens, who was the drummer on the gig)...

...and -- be still my beating heart -- Dave opened with this fabulous 1968 gem by his celebrated sibling.

I'd actually forgotten that song (which originally appeared as the B-side of "Days") until the other night, and boy does it kick all sorts of ass.

As for the show itself, it was mostly a lot of fun, although I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed that Dave was performing as a power trio (not to cast aspersions on his guitar stylings, which were splendid throughout the evening; I just would have preferred a crunchy rhythm guitar to flesh out the sound).

That said, to my regret, Dave omitted my all-time favorite song from his catalog -- one I wrote about about on this here blog back in 2009, and which I will repost now for obvious reasons.

From 1965 (and the only-in-America compilation album Kinkdom), please enjoy The Kinks, featuring Dave Davies on lead vocals, and the oh-so-sad-and-beautiful folk-rock ballad "Wait Till the Summer Comes Along."

I've adored that song (Dave's first writers credit on a Kinks record, if memory serves) since buying the LP above in a crappy reprocessed stereo version at Sam Goody in Paramus, New Jersey. But I hadn't listened to it in a while, and on revisiting it (and still finding it deeply touching, I hasten to add) I was immediately struck by a) how slapdash the Shel Talmy production is and b) what a wonderfully pretentious Sorrows of Young Werther kid's blues it is.

"I've been crying all the winter," Dave all but sobs in the song's opening line, and the clear implication is that his life has been nothing but endless heartache, self-lacerating guilt and tragedy, and frankly what's the point of going on?

Just to put things in perspective, its popstar composer was all of 17 when he wrote and recorded it.

Have great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Closed for Monkey Business: Special Rock 'n' Roll Animal Edition

Got back late from seeing Dave Davies at the City Winery last night.

Regular posting -- including my thoughts on the show -- resume on the morrow.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

J. Geils 1946-2017

Oh crap, not another one.

I should add that, although their 80s pop hits were lots of fun, the real reason The J. Geils Band should be remembered is for their albums of blues and r&b derived stuff. They were as close to an American version of the early Rolling Stones as has ever been heard by sentient mammalian ears. And a lot funnier.

Have I mentioned that this death shit is really starting to piss me off?

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Take My Prog-Rock, Please.

This has gone sort of viral, but if you haven't seen it, you need to.

Rick Wakeman's acceptance speech -- with Yes -- at the Rock Hall of Fame induction last week.

As Jack Nicholson famously said of Bob Dylan -- this guy's a riot. The jokes about his Dad alone are worth the price of admission.

Wakeman begins his stand-up routine at approximately the 7:00 mark.

You're welcome.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Stockholm Confidential: A Photo Essay

So, as you may have heard, a certain Shady Dame and I spent a few days recently in the Land of Ice and Snow, specifically in the lovely and gracious Swedish capital city. We had a truly spectacular -- or should I say spektakulär -- time, but I must confess I found the place a little odd, despite a lot of really great food.

Herewith, a visual record of some of the highlights of our trip. [Click on all photos to enlarge]

Contrary to what you might have heard, the Swedes are actually a vicious and warlike people. Here's an example of the kind of militaristic indoctrination Swedish kids are exposed to at an early age.

On the other hand, they have a deep respect for nature. Sweden is, in fact, the only country in the world where even the trees get their own cozies.

This was a sign at the lounge in our hotel. Apparently, the notorious Ruth Bader Ginsberg has been running a side business overseas while on the Supreme Court.

Like the Canadians, it seems the Swedes really like their moose.

They also really seem to like their Red Sea Pedestrians. This is the gift shop at the fabulous Swedish Historical Museum -- you'll notice that they're selling the traditional shofar, or rams horn, which we Jews wail on during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

And this was taken at one of the oldest Catholic cathedrals in the country. Why it has the Hebrew word for God as part of the decor I have no idea, but it shows a nice ecumenical spirit.

This is a typical Stockholm subway station. Some of the others, which I forgot to photograph, look like hyperkinetic acid trips carved out of the living rock.

And speaking of acid, we saw this at the Stockholm equivalent of MOMA. What I wouldn't give to encounter that on an actual interstate.

Noted without comment.

We had our first taste of those ubiquitous Swedish Meatballs at this joint, which has been continually in business since before the American Revolution.

Interestingly, not only had the decor not changed since then, but apparently Jan Vermeer was off in a corner painting a picture of the dining room while we were chowing down.

Saw this at a science-fiction bookstore in Old Town. A kindly American couple actually moved it lower on the shelf so I could get more flattering lighting as I photographed it. I am not making this up.

Have I mentioned that the Swedes really like their moose?

The gift shop at the Nobel Prize Museum. The national concensus is that Dylan's lyrics are better in the original Swedish.

And speaking of the Nobel Prize Museum, these lab coats were on display. Our guide told us that these were worn by future laureate Keith Richards while he was conducting experiments with drugs.

The Swedes are also a very considerate people. This is a canal behind our hotel -- note the life preserver thoughtfully provided for any locals who get existentially depressed and decide to jump in and end it all.

We glimpsed this sign in some sort of chi-chi shop window in upscale Ostermalm. I don't speak a word of Swedish, and I have no idea what this translates as, but who can argue with the confidence with which it's expressed?

And speaking of drunk history, I am very impressed with the fact that Sweden's most famous lady scientist (the country's Madame Curie) basically invented alcoholism.

An exhibit at the amazing VASA Museum, which is dedicated to the most embarrassing shipwreck in Swedish naval history. You learn something new everyday in this town -- for example, who knew that Kellyanne Conway was something of a national hero?

The gift shop at the VASA Museum. I think it's very cool that Soupy Sales' old sidekick Pookie the Lion is big in Sweden.

Have I mentioned that the Swedes really love their moose?

Friday, April 07, 2017

Annals of the Land of Ice and Snow: Special Hey, This is Bad! Edition

From 1965, please enjoy The Hep Stars -- featuring a young and beardless Benny Andersson (of later ABBA fame) on cheesy electric organ -- and their Top 3 (in Sweden) smash hit "No Response."

That was one of Benny's first songwriting efforts, and I think, to put the most charitable face on it, that we can say with some certainty that he did much better later.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Annals of the Land of Ice and Snow: And Speaking of Ubiquitous...

...the great R. Crumb really nailed the essential element of Swedish culture.

But seriously, ladies and germs, one of the few disappointing things about our recent nordic adventure was discovering that the Swedish Music Hall of Fame is no longer housed in the same building as the ABBA Museum...

...but is, in fact, relocating to a separate facility and is thus, for the moment, unavailable for beholding.

Oh well, we're going back next year, and hopefully it will have reopened by then.

In the meantime, from 2002, please enjoy the incredible The Soundtrack of Our Lives and the jaw-droppingly fabulous "Sister Surround."

Those guys are my favorite Swedish band ever, and they should be yours, too.

More Scandanavian mishegass on the morrow.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Annals of the Land of Ice and Snow: For a Dour, Existentially Depressed People, Those Swedes Sure Are Tacky!

So yes, on our last day in Stockholm, we took in the museum devoted to the country's biggest cultural export since those ubiquitous meatballs.


Now, just so we're clear -- I like ABBA. My beloved Floor Models famously (in Greenwich Village) covered their "S.O.S.", and "Knowing Me Knowing You" is a legitimately great song (The Wondermints, to their credit, agree. Bigly.)

That said, the museum is pretty...silly, I think is the word. Basically, it's like a kitsch version of the Rolling Stones Exhibitionism show, but if you like that sort of thing, it's certainly worth a trip. Here are my two favorite exhibits.

ABBA -- The Madame Tussaud's Edition. And impressively realistic.

And ABBA -- the puppets. Which are actually quite a little disturbing.

And speaking of a little disturbing, those puppets are the stars of ABBA: The Last Video. Which was playing at the Museum and which, after viewing it, a certain Shady Dame and I fled the building in terror.

It's true -- some things in life once seen can NOT be unseen.

More Swedish-themed mishegass on the morrow.