Friday, June 22, 2018

Letter From Liverpool

Words still kinda fail me.

BTW. you can't really see it in the photo, but Sir Paul himself signed the Penny Lane sign just last week.

I should add that the Beatle tour we took was amazing; I'll have more details on it, including a contact number and other info on the amazing guy who runs the show, next Monday.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

National Lampoon's Steve and BG's European Vacation (Day I)

In the immortal words of The Rutles' song -- we've arrived (in Liverpool) and to prove it we're here!

Photographic evidence -- and with any luck, an incredible anecdote which I won't give away -- will be available in this space on the morrow.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Your Wednesday Moment of Words Fail Me: Special Words REALLY Fail Me Edition

So I'm about to depart for a European vacation -- part of which will involve a Beatles tour in Liverpool (yay)! -- but while I'm getting ready for it, I thought I needed to pass this news along to you.

The Short Version: As I'm sure everybody who has ever read my poor scribblings at this here blog is aware, the legendary Yardbirds -- then featuring Jimmy Page on guitar -- did a concert at the Anderson Theater in NYC on March 23, 1968. Although the venue only sat two or three thousand people, since then approximately 50,000 liars -- most of them guitarists -- have claimed to have been in attendance at said show.


Unlike most of those 50,000, however, I was actually there. As was a certain Shady Dame of my acquaintance, although we did not know each other at the time. We have since bonded over our mutual attendance at said concert, but let's move on.

Anyway, a horrific live LP of said show -- with miserably mixed sound plus horrible fake echo and overdubbed bullshit applause -- was released in 1971 on Epic Records.

To his credit, Jimmy Page instantly threatened CBS/Sony with legal action over the release of said horrible album, and it was immediately pulled from circulation. At which point, it became a highly regarded, but always disappointing collectors item.

In the years between then and now, countless unofficial and/or semi-official/vaguely legal re-issues, on both vinyl and CD, of the album have been offered to the gullible public, including me. I myself have probably bought every single one of them on the off chance that the sound even remotely resembled my memory of the show, and every single one of them has sucked. Big time.

Cutting to the chase: Last week, I was web-surfing and discovered that Jimmy Page himself had re-mixed the original tapes and released them (along with a second disc of Yardbirds studio rarities) on his own label as Yardbirds 68.

And I figured -- okay, I'll give it one more shot.

And guess what -- THIS is the fucking shit.

Ladies and germs, from said reissue, I give you the opening track "Train Kept A Rollin'."

Behold it in breathless wonder.

Let's just say that rest of the record is perhaps even more mind-boggling, including a version of "White Summer" that will make the hair on the back of your neck jump up and do the Macarena.

You can (and should) buy the whole thing OVER HERE.

Meanwhile, wish us Bon Voyage and we'll talk to you, albeit perhaps briefly, on Thursday and Friday when we're a little more organized.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Your Tuesday Moment of Words Fail Me

From 2004, it's Say Anything and their harrowing yet strangely uplifting "Alive With the Glory of Love."

This song, which I think is kind of a masterpiece, is also newly relevant, given the horrific scenes of children in cages we've been seeing for the last couple of days. That's all I'm gonna say about that at the moment. In any case, this is to my knowledge the only pop punk song whose subject is the love between a Jewish man and woman beset by the Nazis during WW II.

On a less somber note, I can only add that any song that steals the beat from The Supremes' "You Can't Hurry Love" is probably eternally relevant.

[h/t Dan Fridman]

Monday, June 18, 2018

Okay It's Official -- I Have Totally Mellowed on David Bowie in My Old Age

Not sure when this is from, but it's absolutely hilarious.

I swear to god, I had no idea until relatively recently that Bowie was so charming and funny.

Friday, June 15, 2018

It's Moby Grape Week Part V: Special The Abyss Stares Back Edition

From 1969, please enjoy Moby Grape and their astonishing version of "Seeing." Or as we call it around Casa Simels, Skip Spence's masterpiece.

If you seen the naked dream I had of you
Would you care and, and come through?

Take me far away, my wiser mind gave me the dream of death today
How to get by when what greets my eye takes my breath away

In my dream you were all in your stalls I watched your walls all fade away
You were bare of thoughts, we were to part and we stayed that way

Some tried to hide because they lied, they were not true and they were afraid
They refuse to see or be free, be one with me and to gods, they prayed

Cryin', "Save me, save me, save me, save me, save me
I'll save you, can I spend you?

And now this naked dream I had of you
Will you care and come through?

Take me far away, my wiser mind gave me the dream of death today
Hard to get by when what greets my eye takes my breath away

Cryin', "Save me, save me, save me"

Apart from the fact that said track is brilliant on every level (from Spence's hauntingly mumbled opening vocal to the haunted church organ that closes it) I saved it for the end of the week because the Grape bio that I've been telling you about -- What's Big and Purple and Lives in the Ocean: The Moby Grape Story by Cam Cobb....

...while otherwise estimable advances the thesis that the Grape's 2nd and 3rd albums, including '69, from whence said track derives, are inferior to the failed Grape comeback album from the early '70s.

A thesis that I believe to be completely -- and demonstrably, if you listen to "Seeing" -- wrong.

Absurdly wrong, actually.

In any case, I should add that Robert Plant recorded a pretty good cover of "Seeing," which you can find on YouTube. Plant's probably the highest profile Grape fan around, now that I think of it.

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

UPDATE: Through a mutual friend, Grape drummer Don Stevenson has graciously forwarded me a corrected version of the "Seeing" lyrics. I have made the appropriate changes, and I'm even more impressed with Skippy as a wordsmith. Thanks, Don, from the bottom of my rapidly ageing rock-and-roll heart.

[h/t The Swede]

Thursday, June 14, 2018

It's Moby Grape Week Part IV: Special If We're All One, Who Needs You? Edition

From 1999, please enjoy Brit neo-folk rockers Diesel Park West and their quite remarkable cover of Skip Spence's "All Come to Meet Her Now."

For those who haven't been keeping score, the song itself derives from Oar, the shall we say somewhat quirky solo album Spence did, as a one man band, just after leaving the Grape. The DPW version derives from a fabulous Oar tribute album, which I heartily recommend, if only for Robyn Hitchcock's contribution.

In any case, if you've never heard Oar, I should add the DPW track is far more focused than Skippy's original...

...but it's essentially the same song and arrangement. In fact, what's really cool about it is that it sounds (to my ears, at least) exactly like it would have sounded had his old band mates in the Grape ever gotten a chance to bash it out along with him.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

It's Moby Grape Week Part III: Special It Came From Wolverhampton Edition

From sometime circa the early 70s, please enjoy those wild and crazee guys Slade and their surprisingly authentic cover of the Grape's classic "Omaha."

I did not know this existed until yesterday, and to be honest it would never in a million years have occurred to me that Slade would have been Grape fans. Just shows to go you, I guess.

Incidentally, the song I'm putting up tomorrow is an even bigger mind boggler. In my humble opinion

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

It's Moby Grape Week Part II: Special Garageland Revisited Edition

From early 1966, please enjoy Seattle's The Frantics and their haunting ode to an interspecies dance craze the "Human Monkey."

Inspirational verse:

When I say jump, you've got to jump so high
When I say do, you've got to do or die
Yours is not to reason why, you fool

In case you're wondering about the song's relevance to this week's theme, I should mention that said Frantics feature Don Stevenson on drums, Jerry Miller on guitar, and Bob Mosley on bass and vocals. In other words, three fifths of the band that would achieve notoriety a year later as Moby Grape.

I must confess that I hadn't heard (or heard of) "Human Monkey" until a few days ago, when I read about it in the terrific new band bio What's Big and Purple and Lives in the Ocean: The Moby Grape Story by Cam Cobb....

...which can (and should be) acquired over at Amazon HERE.

You can sort of understand why "Human Monkey" wasn't a hit; it's not terribly well produced and it's a little weird, which is to say by early 1966 standards it's a little too smart for the room.

But damn -- it's pretty obvious those guys already sort of had the Grape template down.

Monday, June 11, 2018

It's Moby Grape Week Part I: Special Dirty F**king Hippies Edition

From 2009, and their album Warpaint Live, please enjoy The Black Crowes and their pretty darn terrific version of Moby Grape's 1967 ode to the young girls in Haight-Ashbury "Hey Grandma."

Honesty compels me to admit that I had no idea the Crowes' cover existed until the other day. It's not as transplendent as the original, but it's awfully close both musically and attitudinally.

I should add that said song is the opening track on the Grape's first LP, which is the most exciting debut album by an American rock band ever. But we'll have more to say on that subject as the week progresses.

I should also add that the reason I'm on a Grape kick of late is because I just got turned on to What's Big and Purple and Lives in the Ocean: The Moby Grape Story by Cam Cobb...

...the just released biography the band has always deserved, and which can -- and should -- be ordered over at Amazon HERE.

More on that as the week progresses as well.

[h/t Chris E]

Friday, June 08, 2018

Your Friday Moment of Words Fail Me: Special Tales of Beatnik Glory Edition

From Swedish television, in 1968, please behold in breathless wonder The Fugs and a live version of their poignant torch song "I Couldn't Get High."

Truly, there were giants in the earth in those days. I should add that the clip is worth viewing for the brief solo segment with my long time hero Ed Sanders alone.

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Have Bird, Will Sing

From 2017, please enjoy the great Taj Mahal and Keb Mo' and an achingly beautiful live acoustic version of Taj's "Corrina."

I should add that the original of that appears on Taj's debut album The Natch'l Blues, from 1968, which is one of the absolute greatest albums of its era.

And which can (and should) be acquired over at Amazon here.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

I Dreamed I Saw Ziggy Stardust In My Maidenform Bra

From 2015, please enjoy Irish neo-glam rockers Five Grand Stereo and their utterly brilliant tribute to "David Bowie."

I discovered that song, by accident, a few days ago, when the world's greatest intertube radio station, KOR (out of Bath, England), featured it on a playlist also including the fabulous Floor Models. In any case, it blew me away, and still does.

I should add that my fondness for it would seem to be further evidence that yes, I really AM mellowing about Bowie in my old age.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Your Tuesday Moment of Words Fail Me.

You know, as a friend of mine said the other day, I'm a sucker for this kind of thing.

And so -- please enjoy the late great Ray Manzarek explaining it all to you.

I'm not a Doors fan particularly, although I like lots of their stuff, but I gotta say -- the above just knocks me out. He makes it look just so damn easy.

[h/t Eric Boardman]

Monday, June 04, 2018

Hey, It Was the '70s -- We Were All a Little Over the Top

Pop quiz: What's the worst musical film -- rock or otherwise -- in movie history?

With due respect to fans of Xanadu, Thank God It's Friday, and Staying Alive (the Bee Gees replaced by Frank Stallone? Genius!) I think most sentient mammals are in agreement:

Hands down, it's the 1973 singing and dancing remake of Lost Horizon.

Written by Larry Kramer (yes, him). And starring Peter Finch, Liv Ullman, Sally Kellerman, Bobby Van, Sir John Gielgud with his eyes taped back to make him look like your six year cousin pretending to be Chinese, Charles Boyer in a diaper, and a chorus of Buddhist monks in little orange Mark Spitz bathing suits.

Here's one of the big production numbers, featuring a song that helped break up the previously unassailable team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David.

True story: Back when I was a baby rock critic, I was invited to an industry pre-premiere screening of LH (Thursday, March 15, 1973 -- a day that will live in infamy) at (if memory serves) the majestic Ziegfeld Theater. It was for charity, as I recall, and most of the audience was a good thirty or forty years older than I was at the time and much better dressed; I'm pretty sure it was in fact a black-tie event, which means that I stood out along the lines of Raymond Chandler's famous tarantuala on the angelfood cake. In any case, I spent most of the first forty minutes of the film desperately trying not to laugh, for fear of having the wrath of the assembled movers and shakers descend on my punk ass, and by trying not to laugh I mean literally biting my hand to the point of drawing blood. You can imagine my relief, then, when during the above musical number, I finally started to hear nervous titters emerging from other quarters of the audience, which were then followed by an absolute tsunami of helpless guffawing from the crowd at large.

Trivia note: In the film, the library at Shangri-La is supposed to be a repository for the world's great literature. If you look closely, there are a number of Readers Digest Condensed Books on its shelves.

Postscript: The last time I wrote about LH, back in 2008, when I was toiling at the website of Box Office magazine, the film itself was unavailable on home video. Since then, it has, however unadvisedly, been released in restored form on DVD, and can be ordered over at Amazon HERE if you are so inclined. The Bacharach/David soundtrack can be found on CD HERE, although, obviously, it is recommended only to the most perverse of ears.

Friday, June 01, 2018

It's Australia Week Part V: Special Your Friday on My Mind Moment of Words Fail Me Edition

From 2007, and their essentially unplugged album of Easybeats covers So Easy...

...please enjoy antipodean rockers The Choirboys -- who I have been bending your ear about this week -- and a pretty darned cool remake of the often covered Vanda-Young classic "Good Times."

Apparently, said album is available for download somewhere; me, I got it from friend of PowerPop Peter Scott, which is yet another reason that I love my phony baloney job. In any case, I think that's pretty spectacular, and the rest of the set list is equally impressive.

I should also add that it just dawned on me that said version of "Good Times" -- and the rest of the sort-of-live acoustic covers on the album -- remind me uncannily of The Beach Boys Party LP that spawned "Barbara Ann."

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, May 31, 2018

It's Australia Week Part IV: Special The Hell With Olivia Neutron-Bomb Edition

From 1972, and that Teenage Heaven album... Ozzie gods Daddy Cool I was bugging you guys about on Monday, please enjoy the hilarious and totally rocking "Teenage Blues."

Which is, essentially, a song Eddie Cochran would have written if he had been born a couple of decades later and was a bigger wiseacre.

Inspirational verse, from the song's lyric.

"Don't wanna get a job
Don't wanna go to school
Just wanna hang around
Street corners like a fool."

And that, my friends, is poetry.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

It's Australia Week Part III: Special No Thorns Included Edition

From 2011, please enjoyed the great antipodean progressive bluegrass ensemble Mustered Courage and their, shall we say, unexpected cover of "Kiss From a Rose."

Okay, that's not as good as yesterday's entry by those guys -- if truth be told, it's a little gimmicky -- but it's still good fun, and the song itself remains terrific.

Speaking of which -- did you know that the song's auteur, Seal, went to Juilliard?

It's true. And really unusual, in that you rarely see classically trained seals.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

It's Australia Week Part II: Special Big Hair Not Included Edition

From 2018, please enjoy Australian progressive folk/rock ensemble Mustered Courage with special guest frontman Mark Gable and a simply glorious re-imagining of the anthemic '80s Ozzie hit "Run to Paradise."

I was only vaguely aware of RTP when the above clip was graciously sent to me, but antipodean friend of PowerPop Peter Scott informs me that The Choirboys, for whom Gable was the lead singer and whose song it was, were superstars Down Under for close to a decade. Watching this clip of said band and song, I can well believe it.

In any case, the new bluegrass version just kills me; it's available for streaming or download over at Amazon, iTunes and Spotify.

Amazon also has some of Mustered Courage's CDs, which I suspect are well worth checking out as well.

Monday, May 28, 2018

It's Australia Week Part I: Special The Present Day Antipodean Refuses to Die Edition

Okay, this one slays me. From 1972 and their Teenage Heaven album...

...please enjoy the legendary-in-Australia Daddy Cool and their wonderful and wonderfully self-referential "Daddy Rocks Off."

The short version is that I used to have this LP -- a consequence of being on the Warner Bros. Records freebie list as my old college paper's in-house rock crit -- and although I vaguely recalled liking it (or at least some of the songs) I lost my vinyl copy ages ago and since then couldn't have remembered what it sounded like if you put a gun to my head. So when songs from it turned up -- where else? -- on Youtube a few years ago, I was delighted.

And yes, "Daddy Rocks Off" is a moronic/genius three chord garage-rock hybrid with a monster swampy blues/rock groove and attitude to spare. Fabulous stuff, and what a pleasure to rediscover it.

Incidentally, after I first posted about this back in 2008, I was subsequently assured by Australian friend of PowerPop Peter Scott that these guys are about as iconic as you can get in their homeland; their biggest hit -- "Eagle Rock" -- was Number 1 on the Ozzie charts for ten(!) weeks back in 1971. Peter also informed me that said hit is so utterly ubiquitous in his country that it took him years before he could get over being sick of it and actually appreciate how great a band they were.

Anyway, as I said, "Daddy Rocks Off" just slays me. The CD ressiue seems to be out of print, alas, but Amazon has vinyl copies.

Hmm. Now that I think of it, I may in fact have a complete copy of the album (from a now defunct download site) on my laptop at home; if you're interested, I'll check, and if it's there I'll burn you a copy if you're nice to me.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Weekend Listomania: Special How Do You Say Self-Indulgent in French? Edition

[This started a week or so ago as a sort of parlor game over at Facebook, but at some point it occurred to me it would be appropriate to post the equivalent over here. In any case, enjoy. -- S.S.]

Okay, kids here we go.

The Post-Elvis Songs or Albums -- In Any Genre Whatsoever -- That Totally Changed Your Life!!!

Excluding the Canonical BeatlesByrdsStonesWhoDylanKinksBeachBoysSpringfieldZombiesBigStar Etc. That Everybody Likes, or Should!!!

And my not at all top of my head Top Ten exemplars of same are...

10. John Cale -- Paris 1919

Or as we call it at Casa Simels, "Procol Harum meets Little Feat and the Velvet Underground, and then they all go out for dinner at Maxims."

9. Richard X. Heyman -- Actual Sighs

Why, you ask? Well, here's my review of the album that masterpiece song derives from.

8. The Loud Family -- Plants and Birds and Rocks and Things

The closest thing to the side two medley of Abbey Road as has ever been achieved by anybody.

7. Lothar and the Hand People -- Presenting...

The first synth pop record and by far still the best (and the band were really snazzy dressers, too). These guys were the coolest underground act in NYC back in their day, and I was lucky enough to see them open for The Byrds at the Village Gate in 1966. So there.

6. George Gershwin/Michael Tilson Thomas -- Rhapsody in Blue

The ghost of the composer (via piano roll) with live accompaniment by a simpatico conductor using Gershwin's original small jazz band orchestration (rather than the familiar traditional full orchestra version by Ferde Grofe). And Gershwin plays it like a jazz guy.

5. The Firesign Theatre -- Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me The Pliers

True stories of working people as told by rich Hollywood stars!

From my liner notes to the FT box set:
Remarkable as How Can You Be was, however, it hardly prepared the group's now sizeable audience for the next Firesign Theatre release, 1970's Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me The Pliers. Here, everything came together - the parodies of TV commercials and televangelists ("We had our knives sharpened for television on Dwarf," Austin says), the post-modern self-referential touches (you hear the other side of a phone conversation previously heard on Nick Danger, the mastery of sound effects and music (The B-movie takeoff, High School Madness, sounds astonishingly like the real soundtrack to some half-remembered Monogram youth film of the '40s). But what hit hardest for many listeners was Dwarf's unprecedented ending, in which the protagonist, old actor George Leroy Tirebiter (named after a locally famous dog who used to chase cars at USC) wakes up in front of his TV all alone on the top of the hill in sector R, then dashes out to chase a stray ice cream truck, his voice trailing off into childhood as he fades into the distance. By this point, of course, people expected funny from the Firesign Theatre; inexplicably moving was something else completely.

4. Howlin' Wolf -- The London Howlin' Wolf Sessions

Yes -- skinny, pasty-faced white boys can play the blues authoritatively, without embarrassing themselves in the company of the titans of the genre.

Also: Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts, and Ian Stewart -- no better rhythm section ever existed for this music.

3. Bruce Springsteen -- Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.

I'll take a wild stab here and suggest that anybody who's been reading my poor scribblings over the years is totally shocked -- SHOCKED!!! -- at this particular entry.

2. Moby Grape -- Moby Grape

The greatest American debut album of all time. A fantastically exciting three guitar attack, they all sang (brilliantly) and they all wrote (even more brilliantly). Plus, they had a punk rock attitude -- as Greil Marcus famously said, their best recordings sounded less like songs and more like gang fights.

And my number one choice, there was never a moment's doubt in my mind about its inclusion, is obviously --

1. The Replacements -- Let it Be

I had never heard of or listened to these guys until my brilliant colleague Glenn Kenny (now a film critic over at the New York Times) did a 1984 piece on the album for the Village Voice. They sounded like my cup of tea, so I borrowed somebody's copy of the LP and gave it a spin. And nothing was the same afterwards. This was to me, and still is, what rock-and-roll is supposed to sound like -- passionate, funny, heartbreaking, melodic, snotty, and really fucking loud.

Alrighty, then -- what would YOUR choices be?

And have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

An Early Clue to the New Direction

From 1965 and The Soupy Sales Show, Pookie the Lion (Frank Nastase) lip-synchs "Mumbles" (by Clark Terry and Oscar Peterson).

A coveted PowerPop No-Prize will be awarded to the first reader who gleans that clip's relevance to the theme of tomorrow's Weekend Listomania.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Your Wednesday Moment of Words Fail Me

Bruce Springsteen and the original E-Street Band -- with David Sancious and the criminally underrated Vinnie Lopez on drums -- in Los Angeles, 1973. "Spirit in the Night" live.

I wrote about a similar performance in NYC around the same time.

My own Springsteen moment was in early 1973. At the time, I was a baby rock critic at the old Stereo Review, and "Greetings from Asbury Park" had just come out, accompanied by reams of Columbia hype, the gist of which was that Bruce was (what were they thinking?) the latest New Dylan. Little did I know, of course, that for the rest of the more jaded rock press, this tag had the sort of negative connotations associated with phrases like "serial killer" or "record company weasel." In any case, in my naïveté I gave the disc a spin, and sure enough Bruce was spewing the sort of freely associative lyrics that could most charitably be described as Dylanesque (if not, more accurately, verbose and in need of a good editor), and I recall being mildly unimpressed. And then suddenly: Boom! A drum beat and Clarence Clemons's near-mystic sax wail announced "Spirit in the Night," and I was a goner. The music was perfect, like much of Bruce's stuff to come: a sort of Proustian mix of half-remembered licks from rock and R&B oldies that may or may not have actually ever existed, the whole thing sounding simultaneously sublime and absurd, like Van Morrison at his most uplifting, jamming at a South Jersey pizzeria. And the song's lyrics were—and are—the most dead-on evocation ever of what it felt like to be a post-Woodstock 20-something with no direction home. I personally had the eerie feeling that Bruce had been reading my mail, and I later found I was far from alone in that perception.

Now excuse me, I'm gonna go watch that again.

[h/t Laura G]

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Silence of a Falling Star Lights Up a Purple Sky

I hadn't heard of either this kid...

...or this song...

As lonely as these days are long
As dark as the night bird’s song
This strange way of livin’
Has bled my heart dry
I'm lonesome
But too stoned to cry

My clothes are ragged and worn
I’m a sailor who's lost in the worst kind of storm
The water keeps rising
But I’m gettin’ by
I keep walking
But I’m too stoned to fly

There’s whiskey and wine
And pills for the pain
Fast easy women
And a little cocaine
Im walking the line
Between hell bent and high
I ain’t happy
Just too stoned to cry

I been livin’ from town to town
I always been lost, ain’t ever been found
They said Jesus could save me
But that was a lie
I keep tryin’
But I’m too stoned to die
I keep tryin’
But I’m too stoned to die

...until last Sunday.

But Jeebus H. Christ on a piece of challah toast, that is just great.

In fact, I was gonna say that it isn't just great, it's almost Hank Williams for the 21st Century great. But upon sober reflection I'm not gonna go that far.

Still -- what an amazing song.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Your Monday Moment of Words Fail Me: Special The Fab Four Live! Edition

The greatest Beatles tribute band of all time. David Tennant as George, Michael Shannon as Ringo, Hugh Laurie as John, and John Oliver as Paul.

And here's where you can see them. Warning: This is some seriously funny shit.

And yes -- the kids are alright.

Friday, May 18, 2018

How Old Am I? (An Occasional Series)

It has come to my attention that some of today's kids will be attending this shebang.

My point is that the only one of the performers advertised here I've ever heard of is Courtney Barnett. Who's actually pretty good, but still — it pains me that I’m so out of it.

I rather like the band name Cigarettes After Sex, however.

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

[h/t wgg]

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Today We Are a CD

It's been 45 years in the making, but my 70s band, The Hounds, finally has a commercially available recording.

Okay, it's been 45 years since we first went into the studio to do demos. But the CD itself has only sort of been in the works for 10 years. These projects always take longer than you expect.

In any case, here's a representative track. As you can hear, we kinda liked The Byrds and Jefferson Airplane.

The physical CDs just went out to our distributor yesterday, so you won't be able to order copies -- including over at Amazon -- for another week or two; I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, the album is already available for streaming or download at iTunes, Pandora, Spotify and the rest of the usual suspects who pay shit royalties. Heh.

Seriously, I'm insufferably pleased with how well the project turned out. Hell, I'm sufferably pleased with the fact the original master tapes were still in playable condition.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Closed for Monkey Business

Had a long, and extremely productive, studio session last night. Adding an amazing guitar track to the latest Floor Models masterpiece.

Regular posting resumes on the morrow.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Girl Crazy! (Part Deux)

As promised, courtesy of Captain Al, here's that live version of "More LIke Them" by the irrepressible Lydia Loveless we discussed last week.

As I mentioned the other day, that derives from the vinyl-only soundtrack album for the Who Is Lydia Loveless? documentary film, which behooves beholding, obviously.

And may I just say, and for the record, that I suspect it might be fun to share an adult beverage or two with that young lady.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Your Monday Moment of Words Fail Me

From 2018, and his new album First Thing Tomorrow (produced by the great Andy Bopp, frontman/auteur of the transplendent Myracle Brah)...

...please enjoy power pop phenom Dave Sheinin and the fiendishly catchy lead-off track "Lies."

And who is Dave Sheinin, you may ask?

Well, I did too, and the answer blew my tiny mind. As he explains:

I have kind of a crazy backstory, as I'm a 48-year-old sports writer for The Washington Post, and this is my debut record. People are understandably skeptical, but for what it's worth, Absolute Power Pop last week called it "one of the year's best."

I agree with that review, BTW, and you can (and should) download Dave's entire album (which is delightful from stem to stern) OVER HERE as soon as possible.

BTW, Myracle Brah was one of the first bands NYMary turned me on to in preparation to giving me the metaphorical keys to the car at this here blog, and I've always been grateful. And if you're wondering why, check out this song, which slayed me then and still slays me now.

In any case -- Dave, you're our kind of guy, and if you're ever in the vicinity of Hackensack, NJ or Forest Hills, NY I would consider it an honor to shake your hand and buy you a glass of the adult beverage of your choice.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Girl Crazy!

From 2011, please enjoy the incomparable Lydia Loveless and her attractively Stones-ish "More Like Them."

I actually hadn't heard this until last Tuesday, when Friend of PowerPop Capt. Al played it on his intertube radio show in an absolutely astounding live version. Alas, that derives from the hard to get vinyl-only soundtrack to the must-see documentary Who Is Lydia Loveless?...

...but I have an in with the good Capt., and I'll see if I can con him into sharing an mp3 with me and post it here later.

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Your Thursday Moment of Not Paul Weller

From 1968, please enjoy The Jam -- no, not them -- and their absolutely astounding power pop/garage rock should have been a classic "Something's Gone."

Who these guys were seems to have been lost in the mists of history, except that they were apparently from the Pacific Northwest somewhere. And, interestingly enough, this was the very first release on Sire Records (which is pretty cool).

In any case, had this been a hit I suspect the future of what we refer to as the popular music field might have been changed in totally unfathomable ways.

[h/t Herb S.]

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Closed for Monkey Business

Had a long, but very productive, evening in the studio yesterday, toiling on the instrumental track for the next Floor Models masterpiece.

Regular postings resume on the morrow.

Monday, May 07, 2018

Rudy and the Beast

Okay, I'm aware that the name of this blog is PowerPop, and not Pissed-Off-Lefty, but this version of the title song from a beloved Disney musical is a work of genius. (There's a few minutes of very funny interview footage before the song starts, BTW. Watch it all -- you'll thank me.)

I should add that apparently Francisco de Goya...

...anticipated Rudy by several hundred years.


At Last -- Somebody is Singing My Theme Song!

The irony is that this is actually terrific.

Now I can die happy if somebody else finally writes something called "Swear to God, I'm Gonna Take a Hostage."

[h/t dmark]

Friday, May 04, 2018

I Can See For Miles

Friend of PowerPop (and me) Jonnie Miles has a riveting new music video.

If Jonnie's name is familiar, it may be because I've posted about him before -- specifically, from his days as the drummer of The Prostitutes, an absolutely classic New York City rock band whose I've described (accurately, as you'll hear) as a cross between The Doors and The Smithereens.

I'd forgotten Jonnie's other cool credit, though; he actually was in a band -- Albania -- with an album on Chiswick Records, the first British 70s indie label of note (they also had The Count Bishops, and cooler than that it does not get).

Here's their single -- a smash in Italy, I'm informed.

In any case, apart from being a wonderful musician, Jonnie's also a great photographer; you can (and should) check out his work over HERE.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Darkness on the Edge of Your Whatever

You know, in retrospect, I think that my contemporaneous review of Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska, which I posted yesterday, was a little harsh.

That said, this song -- which Bruce wrote and gave to Gary U.S. Bonds at the same time he was toiling on said album -- is just...uh, what's the word I'm looking for?

Oh yeah. Better.

Hey, in the immortal words of Chuck Barris -- what do I know, I like cold toilet seats.

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Songs for the New Depression Revisited

And speaking as we were on Monday of Bruce Springsteen -- from the December 1982 issue of the Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Review, please enjoy -- if that's the word -- my review of Nebraska.

Slightly edited for style (don't ask) but otherwise exactly as it appeared at the time.

When times get tough, someone once observed, entertainment gets sloppy, but in the case of Bruce Springsteen, the once and future Bard of Asbury Park, New Jersey, we may have to amend that; when times get tough, entertainment gets grim. At least that's one implication to be derived from Nebraska, Springsteen's new all-acoustic -- dare I say it? -- folk music album. Another is that the record business is in even worse shape than I thought. Since the production costs of what sounds like the bleakest record of the year must have been next to nothing (Springsteen recorded it at home on a four-track Teac cassette deck), you might think Columbia would give us a break and sell it at a really reduced price -- like about two bucks. No such luck.

That's a pretty cynical thing to say about a Bruce Springsteen album, Springsteen being the one mainstream rock star who maintains a genuine give-and-take relationship with his audience, but I'm afraid Nebraska inspires cynicism. It sounds like it was written for critics rather than people. I'm not suggesting a sellout; in a lot of ways a release like this is a very gutsy career move, and I don't doubt that the ten songs on it are as sincerely, deeply felt as anything Springsteen has ever done. In some ways, actually, it's weirdly appropriate that he should mutate, however briefly, into a latter-day Woody Guthrie. CBS originally signed him as a folk singer, things are pretty depressing out there, and somebody's got to do it, I suppose. It's just that most of Nebraska is, well, boring.

I can't fault the stories Springsteen tells here. He seems to have aimed for a sort of contemporary working-class, factory-town equivalent of The Grapes of Wrath, and mostly he's succeeded. As vignettes they're wonderful; one in particular -- "Highway Patrolman" -- is going to make a heck of a movie someday. But God. The tunes are less than minimalist, the tempos are uniformly dirgelike, and hardly a ray of sunlight breaks through the overpowering miasma of fatalism and gloom. The effect is to trivialize the stories. It's impossible to care about the lives of the people being chronicled when the music is so resolutely leaden.

I suspect that this is not due so much to a lack of inspiration as it is to deliberate calculation. Springsteen has been headed in this direction for some time now. A lot of Darkness on the Edge of Town was all but unlistenable for the same reasons, and in places The River was even worse, the stark dramas inflated to operatic pretentious and unintentional self-parody. Nebraska, with its self-conscious underproduction, achieves the same sad result from the opposite direction. Springsteen must know better -- just listen to the material he gives away to other artists. Heck, his "Out of Work," on the recent Gary U.S. Bonds album, says far more about blue-collar aspirations than anything on Nebraska, and it's also tuneful, danceable and fun.

But Springsteen seems to think that fun is beneath him now. As much as it pains me to say it, I think what we have here is a classic case of a "primitive" artist corrupted by "intellectuals" (well, ex-rock writers, like his producer Jon Landau and official biographer Dave Marsh). How else to explain Springsteen's apparent compulsion to make the Big Statement every time out, the references to film directors -- here it's Terence Malick (Badlands) in the title song -- and the hectoring preachiness of so much of his recent output? Nebraska, its offhand simplicity notwithstanding, is an ambitious work, and, given the thoroughly decadent state of contemporary pop music, it merits respect if only because it aims high. But the fact is, it misses -- by a big margin -- and the reasons suggest that its author has worked himself into what may be an artistic cul-de-sac. Let's hope I'm wrong. -- Steve Simels

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN: Nebraska. Bruce Springsteen (vocals, guitar, harmonica).

A review that holds up pretty well, I think.

Although I've mellowed a bit on Darkness since then. I'm still not crazy about it, but the obviously anthemic songs (plus "Candy's Room," which I've always thought of as Bruce channeling The Yardbirds) are great enough that I can sort of ignore the (IMHO) lame West Coast-style production.

I'm also tickled by my prediction about "Highway Patrolman," which of course Sean Penn filmed as The Indian Runner in 1991

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Praying for Wal-Mart

From 2015, please enjoy the incomparably droll Matt the Electrician and his ode to finding love in all the wrong customer service departments, "For Angela."

Let's just say that apart from being, obviously, a very funny guy, he's also an extremely lucky one. Also, god bless him for rhyming the word "virus" with Miley Cyrus.

[h/t Matt M.]

Monday, April 30, 2018

Your Monday Moment of Hell Has Frozen Over

So thanks to a longtime reader who has far too kind a heart, I have just discovered an online archive of years and years worth of scanned issues of The Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Review.

I am not gonna post the link, lest you access all sorts of my poor scribblings that now kind of make me a little queasy.

But starting today, I will, from time to time, be posting some pieces that I think hold up.

Exhibit A in that regard: From the January 1981 issue, please enjoy my thoughts on Bruce Springsteen's The River. I worked pretty hard on this one at the time, and I think it's both perceptive and fair.

Double click on the image and you'll be able to see it and read it in the same size as it appeared in the mag originally.

Damn, I'm guess gonna have to start thinking about doing that threatened book version of my greatest hits.

[h/t M. Hardy]

Friday, April 27, 2018

Closed for Scientific Monkey Business

Doing some research. Back on Monday, with some really amazing news. Trust me, it will be worth the wait.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Remember Folks -- The Word Duck is 3/4 Obscene

From sometime in the mid-70s, please enjoy The Weasels -- featuring a guitarist whose name rhymes with Sleeve Nimels -- and their insinuating cover version of Jelly Roll Morton's "Whinin' Boy."

And then, from 1939 and the celebrated Alan Lomax Library of Congress sessions, please enjoy the composer's spectacularly smutty version of the same tune.

God, that's filthy. And paid for with taxpayer's money, thus proving that you libtards have been trying to destroy America's moral fiber since forever.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Closed for James Bondian Monkey Business

Had a long, exhausting evening doing secret agent kind of stuff.

Regular -- civilian -- posting resumes on the morrow.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Your Tuesday Moment of Words Fail Me

From 1965, please enjoy The Seekers and their gorgeous folk-rock hit "Another You."

Always liked this song, but I don't think I've ever heard it in stereo before. And I'm totally sure I've never seen this wonderful pretending-to-be-live-in-the-studio video version.

I should add that the charmingly geeky/bespectacled bass player in the clip, who wrote the song, is Tom Springfield.

As in brother of Dusty Springfield. Obviously a very talented family.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Cover Versions I Haven't Made Up My Mind About: An Occasional Series

From 2008, please enjoy the great Lindsey Buckingham and his version of The Rolling Stones' anthemic "The Singer Not the Song."

This was originally recorded for Buckingham's Gift of Screws solo album, but didn't surface untill a bootleg version of the album appeared years later. In any case, I hadn't heard it until last week, and I still haven't decided if the song works at such a glacial tempo.

That said, I relistened to the Stones original recently, which I dearly loved (actually sang it in a band back in the '70s), and it suddenly struck me as an unholy mess.

Funny, that.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Weekend Listomania: Special Song Crushes Edition

[The original version of this went up back in 2008, which totally floors me for any number of reasons. However, I have mostly rewritten it, and added two new entries, to keep you guys from thinking I'm the slacker I obviously am. Please enjoy. -- S.S.]
Okay, kids -- it's Weekend Listomania Time. Today's theme:

Post-Elvis Album/Album Track/Song/Single You Discovered Long After the Fact and Immediately Wondered How You had Lived Without It!!!

No arbitrary rules of any kind, you're welcome very much.

And my totally top of my head Top Seven is...

7. The Grateful Dead -- Box of Rain

It's no secret that I'm not remotely a Deadhead; they were my least favorite San Francisco band back in the day, and I have never much liked any of their albums with the exception of Working Man's Dead and American Beauty, neither of which I ever owned. (Caveat: I love Garcia's bluegrass stuff; if you haven't seen Grateful Dawg you're really missing something.) That said, about six months ago, for whatever reason, I sat down under the headphones with this song and pretty much lost it. How fricking gorgeous.

6. Sonic's Rendezvous Band -- City Slang

SRB, of course, being a sort of Detroit supergroup featuring ex MC5 guitarist Fred Smith and several other worthies. I'd heard of the single, which came out in 1978, for years, but didn't get around to listening to it until when I first wrote this post. Needless to say, the damn thing is pretty much hard rock at its most intense, and god only knows what I was waiting for.

5. Los Shakers -- Always You

The Beatles of Uruguay, and every bit as good as anything by their role models, IMHO. I got hipped to this one courtesy of a long time reader, and I have to say -- of all the great songs I've discovered since NYMary gave me the spare set of keys to this place, this is the one that means the most to me.

4. You Am I -- Mr. Milk

First heard this one (which dates from 1996) sometime around 2003, over the sound system at NYCD, the late lamented (and still the coolest in history) indie record store on Manhattan's upper West Side run by our pal Sal Nunziato. How the best Australian band since The Easybeats had previously gotten by me remains a mystery that may never be solved.

3. Sam Cooke -- Night Beat

It sounds, deliberately, like a late night blues/soul/gospel jam session at a small smoke-filled club, and it's probably the greatest pop music album of the last sixty years that most people still don't know about. Cooke cut it for his own label in 1963 and it went out of print pretty much immediately; the American CD reissue from 2001 (which is when I first heard it) got pulled due to legal wrangling (love that Allen Klein) almost as quickly. But you can still find copies on Amazon; thank you Jeff Bezos.

2. The Cat's Meow -- La La Lu.

Found this 1966 garage rock gem (which definitely should have been a radio hit) courtesy of a reader back in the day; apparently, it was fairly well known in Nuggets circles, but I'd never run across it previously. In any case, a simply wonderful piece of Revolver-ish bubblegum punk.

And the Number One great song I can't live without that I hadn't heard before I wrote this piece -- it's not even remotely a contest -- absolutely has to be...

1. The Weepies -- Gotta Have You

So approximately eleven years ago, I found myself falling in love with a certain Shady Dame, and it was happening to the soundtrack of a Weepies song, which was running in a TV commercial at the time, called "All That I Want." I was later hipped to another Weepies song that I dearly love, called "Nobody Knows Me at All." But for some reason, I was never moved to research more of their stuff. And then yesterday somebody sent me a link to "Gotta Have You," which is about the most gorgeous and ineffably touching thing I've ever heard in my life. Seriously -- these guys are now The Beatles, as far as I'm concerned. And Deb Talan is the single greatest girl singer in the history of pop music.

Alrighty, then -- what would your choices be?

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Local Boy Makes Good

Scotch Plains, N.J has just named a street in honor of the late great Pat DiNzio, homeboy and leader of The Smithereens.

I have been smiling from ear to ear since I heard the news.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Beauty May Be Skin Deep, But Ugly is to the Bone

Okay, I know this portrait of Jared the K has absolutely nothing to do with the mission statement of this here blog, but if you haven't seen it, you need to.

And yes, this was painted by Jim Carrey, who turns out to be one of the greatest caricaturists alive. Google his rendering of a certain Fox News shithead as a manatee; it'll make your day.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Bright Lights....

The story so far: Marc Platt used to front one of my favorite lost bands of the 80s, L.A.'s The Real Impossibles (seen here...ohmigod...with Martha freaking Quinn)...

...whose music was a canny mix of power pop, garage and New Wave energy; I usually compare them to the Plimsouls and Peter Case, which I do not think is overblown at all. Bottom line: They were a killer band and they should have been household words.

Cut to 2018, and Marc is still making great music. To wit: His just released solo album...

...which is in more or less the same style as his previous work, although a little rawer and more garage...

...and in this case including three really fabulous covers -- a dark, menacing take on The Stones' "The Last Time," a spooky stomp through Elvis Costello's "You Belong to Me," and a straight-ahead version of The Flamin' Groovies' "I Can't Hide" that may rock harder the original.

Have I mentioned that Marc has thoughtfully included a bunch of his new songs that are instantly addictive?

To wit, the sort of folk-rockish "High Road"...

...and the moody jangle-fest "Feelin' the Heat."

Plus lots more, and the whole thing adds up to one of the best albums of the year so far. You can (and very definitely should) order it Amazon over HERE.

I thank you.

Friday, April 13, 2018

My Friday Moment of Words Fail Me

Fabulous singer/songwriter Jenn Bostic, out of the great goodness of her heart, does a killer cover of The Floor Models' "Excuses Excuses."

I had no idea this was in the works, and when I first heard it last week I will confess I was reduced to a puddle of tears. I only wish my late great bandmate Andy Pasternack (who wrote it) had lived to hear Jenn's version, but I think he's smiling about it in heaven. And thank you for doing it, Jenn, from the bottom of my rapidly aging rock-and-roll heart.

BTW, there's a backstory to all this, involving longtime reader/friend of PowerPop Phil Cheese and my abject failure to write about Jenn's CD Faithful...

...after he kindly sent an autographed copy of it to me a while back. But let's not get into my myriad moral failings.

In any case, here's a track from said CD, and if it doesn't make you grin from ear to ear, consult your physician.

You can (and should) buy Faithful over at Amazon HERE. Jenn's new album, which comes out in May, can (and should) be pre-ordered, also from Amazon, OVER HERE.

And may I say once more -- thank you, Jenn.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Annals of Post-Hippie Revisionism

From 2009, please enjoy Top Loader's totally infectious modernization of the venerable "Dancing in the Moonlight."

I gotta say, I've always liked this song, but neither of the more familiar versions -- the 1972 Top 40 hit by King Harvest...

...or the 1969 original FM staple by Boffalongo...

...completely did it for me.

The Top Loader remake, however (which I hadn't heard till yesterday, courtesy of a Pandora channel at my local watering hole), kinda knocks my socks off. Despite the fact that they're pasty-faced Brits who used to open for Coldplay.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Headlines For Stories in Today's New York Times That Did Not Motivate Me to Read Further: An Occasional Series

From World's Most Irksome Rock Critic© Jon Caramanica:

Cardi B Is a New Rap Celebrity Loyal to Rap’s Old Rules on ‘Invasion of Privacy’

Cardi B? Seriously? Hey, I saw her the other week on SNL...

...and she's got, as Peter Blegvad famously said of Madonna, at best a teaspoon of talent. And her music is about as interesting as watching paint dry.

If you want to read the piece, here's the link. If you do, however, and if we meet in the future, I will be loathe to shake your hand.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Wails From the Crypt: An Occasional Series

Okay, here's the greatest archaeological excavation since Heinrich Schlieman unearthed the city of Troy.

From approximately 1988, at Kenny's Castaways in fabled Greenwich Village, please enjoy The Souvenirs -- aka Gerry Devine and the Hi-Beams aka The Floor Models 2.0 -- covering The Left Banke's great "She May Call You Up Tonight."

That's from a previously presumed lost VHS tape featuring our entire opening set, and at some point I'm gonna post some more from it, including a blistering cover of Paul Revere and the Raiders' "Him or Me (What's It Gonna Be?)."

And yes, that's some asshole whose name rhymes with Sleeve Nimels on keyboards.

[h/t Brian Smith]

Monday, April 09, 2018

A Different Miami Sound Machine. No, Seriously -- a REALLY Different Miami Sound Machine.

Okay, ladies and germs, please enjoy a terrific song -- "Two in Love" -- by fabulous Miami power pop band The Tomboys.

And why do I bring this up?

Well, if you're not remembering who these guys are, here's what I wrote about them last year:

The story so far: Last week I got an e-mail from a band -- called, as you may have now guessed, The Tomboys -- that I was unfamiliar with (which is far from an unusual occurrence around here, obviously).

And the message of which was -- hey, we're pretty cool, we think we're up your alley, and if you agree, will you write about us?

So having (as usual) far too much time on hands, I gave 'em a listen, and what do you know -- they really WERE terrific. Great early 80s retro guitar driven power pop sound, and very very accomplished; comparisons to Elvis Costello or Any Trouble would not have been inappropriate.

I got back to them immediately and asked who they were and how long had they been doing this?

Drummer Joe Alonso promptly filled me in:

We’re from South Florida – Miami, specifically. The band formed in 1979 and had a nice run thru 1986. We were literally freshmen in high school - very young teens - when we started performing and songwriting. We finally hit the studio in 1982. We had our “moments”, locally and regionally. Several showcases and “label-auditions” later, we were right back in Miami. Power-pop, from Miami, by teenagers… it was a mix they just couldn’t wrap their heads around. Perhaps if we were from the mid-west, already in our mid-twenties, and lived out of a van – then maybe. LOL.

Well, that explained the retro sound, and given that (despite being older than those guys) I had a similar sort of story in my own musical past, I decided to sing their praises.

Anyway, while getting the piece together I noticed they'd included a considerably longer bio and while reading it I was almost knocked out of my Barcalounger to learn that their bass player was none other than the incredibly great Raul Malo, who'd gone on to be the singer for the also incredibly great (and considerably more commercially successful) The Mavericks. A band, coincidentally, which I'd written about a few weeks earlier after chancing upon this fabulous video.

(I should add that Tomboys guitarist/vocalist Tommy Anthony also has a resume that's not too shabby; in fact, he's been a member of Santana since 2005. But enough about me.)

You can find out more about these guys, and download their new EP...

...for free, at their website HERE. As well you should, since the whole thing is every bit as good as the single

Have I mentioned that it's things like this that really make me dig my phony baloney job?

Seriously -- these guys are obviously great, so go over to their fan page and give them some love. And tell 'em PowerPop sent you.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Annals of Steve's Bucket List: An Occasional Series

So a certain Shady Dame of my acquaintance just scored fantastic tickets for the latest incarnation of Ringo's All-Star Band at Radio City.

And guess who's one of the guys in the band.

If he does "Bus Stop" I can die happy.

Have a great weekend, everybody.

Thursday, April 05, 2018

The Machine Stops

Actually, computer trouble.

Back tomorrow with a new song by an old band you might not have heard of featuring one of the greatest living singers in the popular music field.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Annals of Critical Confusion: An Occasional Series

From 2003, please enjoy latter day folk-rock/power-pop icons The Shins and their fabulous cover of a song -- "We Will Become Silhouettes" -- by a band -- The Postal Service -- I had never heard of until the other day.

The Shins are one of those acts that, on paper at least, are designed with my mind in mind, and that I should theoretically like a lot. But in reality have always left me cold.

That track is great, however, and I'll have more to say about both bands tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Closed for Monkey Business

Slightly harried, so I'm slacking today.

Regular posting -- including a hopefully amusing rant about a certain classic song -- resumes on the morrow.

Monday, April 02, 2018

A View From the Bridge Revisited

So long time readers may recall that back in 2007(!) -- shortly after NYMary gave me the metaphorical keys to the car around here -- I chanced across a highly primitive live clip on YouTube of Brit cult figure Terry Reid doing The Kinks' "Waterloo Sunset" (which I have been known to refer to as the most beautiful song written in the English language in the second half of the 20th Century).

And that as a result I was moved to write a long and passionate essay about why I found the clip so astoundingly and deeply moving. (It was a piece I was as proud of as anything I had ever written and, to my vast relief, the comments on it at the time were nothing but favorable. But I digress.)

I've reposted it on a couple of instances subsequently, but you can find it in its initial appearance over here, including a still working link to the video in question. I think both the video and my essay hold up, but obviously I'm prejudiced.

In any case, as I said, the video itself -- which was shot on an obsolete format called MiniDVD, in live-from-the-audience mono sound -- was technically primitive, but as I argued in the essay, it was emotionally devastating despite all that, or perhaps partly because of all that. Nonetheless, I was later able to get in touch with various people who had been there when it was shot, including the band's drummer, and I have subsequently lived in hope that a better quality version of the performance might surface someday.

Long story short, that's not gonna happen, for a variety of reasons.

But now there's this -- a fabulous (albeit not quite as unexpected and surprising) performance of the song by the same folks at the same LA club in vastly superior quality. Although still shot by somebody in the audience, this time with (I presume) a cell phone camera (it's actually stereo, though).

Bottom line: It's fucking great and I can now die happy. Enjoy.

Have I mentioned that when Reid goes into doo-wop falsetto as the song rides out that I swoon?

[h/t MJConroy]

Friday, March 30, 2018


Stephen Colbert has really been on a roll lately, satire of the current misadministration-wise; last night he hosted Michael Bolton singing John Bolton, which is about as hilariously meta as you can get. But the night before he did a riff about the absurdity of the latest crap emanating from supporters of President Malevolent Chauncy Gardiner that made me practically fall off my couch.

The short version (and this is completely true): Said supporters have actually suggested that Trump start a GoFundMe deal to pay for his proposed wall on the Mexican border.

I kid you not. In any case, for the benefit of his viewers who might not know what that meant, he did an extended riff on the GoFundMe page of Flaw, a modestly successful and long running indie metal band from the Mid-West who were trying to raise money to buy a van in order to get to a series of upcoming gigs.

Please behold Colbert's extended riff now and be changed. It starts at about the 6:00 minute point.

As somebody at YouTube commented -- what next, a bake sale?

In any case, the band, of course and with good reason, couldn't believe the free publicity they had just been handed, but were still tickled pink about it beneath their copious tattoos

And the cream of the jest is -- they're actually pretty good. Not my cup of tea, but not as ridiculous as I had assumed while watching Colbert riff on them either.

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Cinema News From All Over: An Occasional Series

The short version: In 1965, Tony Janelli -- an old college friend of mine -- saw one of the first ever Velvet Underground gigs, which happened to be at his high school in suburban New Jersey. An experience which blew the minds of the youthful attendees and, in Tony's case, changed his life.

So he and some of his filmmaker friends have now made an animated short celebrating the VU's performance. And as you'll see from the brief trailer below, it's pretty fricking amazing.

I should add that the show's headliners -- The Myddle Class -- featured the future husband of Carole King and the singer of Steely Dan; they also had a minor regional hit that the Blues Project appropriated to better effect as "Wake Me, Shake Me." The other act on the historic bill -- The Forty Fingers -- has, alas, disappeared into the mists of history.

In any case, the film is about to hit the festival circuit; I'll keep you posted on further news about the project as it develops.