Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Closed for Monkey Business

Computer problems.


Regular posting -- including a fabulous new song by a friend of PowerPop who's initials are MP -- resumes on the morrow.

Monday, November 19, 2018

This Getting Old Shit is Really Starting to Piss Me Off

Singer/songwriter/guitar virtuoso and all around great guy Peter Spencer...


...a genius friend of mine from our old days in Greenwich Village, is in the hospital awaiting triple bypass surgery after a heart attack on Thursday.

Here's "Casanova's Waltz," one of my favorite songs from his quite amazing catalogue.




Yes once I had money and lovers
Once I had teeth in my jaw
But why have adventures except when you're old to tell stories
That fill your companions with awe?

I shall die here of boredom
I shall die here of boredom

Get better soon, Pete. We here at PowerPop are lighting multiple metaphorical candles for your speedy recovery.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Your Friday Moment of Why Didn't I Get the Memo? (Special The Queen of Soul Edition)

From 1970, please enjoy the late great Aretha Franklin and her astounding version of "Son of a Preacher Man."



I am embarrassed to confess that I hadn't heard that until last week, when friend of PowerPop Capt. Al played it on his intertube radio show.

I should also add that, like any right-thinking sentient humanoid, I am a huge fan of Dusty Springfield, and think that her hit recording of that song is one of the greatest things ever.

That said, Aretha's take on it is just on a whole other level.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Smells Like...Well, Okay, It Just Smells

Paul Anka sings Kurt Cobain.



Say what you will about it, but it's better than that Pat Boone heavy metal album from the 90s.

I should add, that while I hate "You're Having My Baby" as much as the next person, Anka always had more on the ball than any of those other post-Elvis pre-Beatles teen idols of the Happy Days era. For starters, he was a good enough songwriter to have written this genuine classic.



And he was also the subject of the first great rock documentary film, Lonely Boy...



...which is an artful and genuinely perceptive meditation on the price of stardom.

But don't worry -- I still hate "You're Having My Baby."

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Closed Due to Extreme Pain

Had a nightmare last evening and threw myself out of bed, whacking the shit out of one side of my head. Which aches like crazy. This is the fourth time in as many months, BTW.



Regular non-throbbing postings resume on the morrow.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Your Monday Moment of Guess Who!

No, not THE Guess Who.



But a coveted PowerPop No-Prize© will be awarded to the first reader who identifies the artist doing the very interesting cover of The Who classic above.


[h/t Capt. Al]

Friday, November 09, 2018

Your Friday Moment of Words Fail Me (An Occasional Series)

Mike Viola, doing business with The Candy Butchers, and their stunning "You Belong to Me Now," live on Conan O'Brien in 2002.



Apart from the song being about as drop dead gorgeous as it gets, that's some pretty amazing guitar playing too.

And have I mentioned that Viola's a fricking genius?

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, November 08, 2018

This Guy's a Fricking Genius

Mike Viola, ladies and germs.



I've been a fan since his work on Tom Hanks' That Thing You Do, but this one, which I hadn't heard till recently, is really really amazing. And for some reason, it seemed oddly relevant to the events of this week.

[h/t Frank Burrows]

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Closed Due to Emotional and Physical Exhaustion



Between dealing with doctors and the election results, yesterday has left me too pooped to pop.

Regular more jaunty postings resume on the morrow.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Chris Isaak Goes to a Record Store

I've always liked this guy, but this is particularly charming.



And I've said it before, but I'll say it again. Why the fuck wasn't Isaak...


...ever cast in a bio-pic about jazz great Chet Baker?


[h/t Matt M]

Monday, November 05, 2018

Bach is Dead and Hardy Fox Isn't Feeling So Good Himself

According to the New York Times, Hardy Fox (one of the founding members of the San Francisco music and multi-media collective The Residents -- maybe) has died at age 73.




The above song is one of the most accessible tracks(!) from the Residents' 1977 EP Duck Stab, which is where I first took notice of them, and which apparently was their first brush with above-ground success, albeit on a limited scale. Apart from the music itself, one of the things I most loved about the record was it was one of those 7-inch vinyl artifacts that could have been pressed at either 33&1/3 or 45 rpm, and there was no indication anywhere in the packaging as to which speed was the correct one. In fact, it sounded good either way.

I should add that, thanks to the Times obit, I have just learned two fun facts about the band.

The first is the origin of their name. It was chosen after sending a demo tape, anonymously but with a return address, to Warner Bros. Records. The tape was rejected (quel surprise) and returned, addressed to “Residents.”

I was also flummoxed to discover that their 1986 version of Hank Williams’s “Kaw-Liga,” which sampled Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean”...



...sold over 100,000 copies, which is pretty darned astounding for a bunch of avant-garde provocateurs on an indie label.

In any case, RIP Hardy Fox. Now resident of a better world, one hopes.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

The Cheese Stands Alone

Anthony Lane has long been my favorite film critic, but this meditation on the just released Bohemian Rhapsody may be his masterpiece. I am reprinting it, in toto, for those of you unfortunate enough to lack subscriptions to The New Yorker.

Take it away, Anthony!

Extra teeth. That was the secret of Freddie Mercury, or, at any rate, of the singular sound he made. In “Bohemian Rhapsody,” a new bio-pic about him, Mercury (Rami Malek) reveals all: “I was born with four more incisors. More space in my mouth, and more range.” Basically, he’s walking around with an opera house in his head. That explains the diva-like throb of his singing, and we are left to ponder the other crowd-wooing rockers of his generation; do they, too, rely upon oral eccentricity? Is it true that Rod Stewart’s vocal cords are lined with cinders, and that Mick Jagger has a red carpet instead of a tongue? What happens inside Elton John’s mouth, Lord knows, although “Rocketman,” next year’s bio-pic about him, will presumably spill the beans.

“Bohemian Rhapsody” starts with the Live Aid concert, in 1985. That was the talent-heavy occasion on which Queen, fronted by Mercury, took complete command of Wembley Stadium and, it is generally agreed, destroyed the competition. We then flip back to 1970, and to the younger Freddie—born Farrokh Bulsara, in Zanzibar, and educated partly at a boarding school in India, but now dwelling in the London suburbs. This being a rock movie, his parents are required to be conservative and stiff, and he is required to vex them by going out at night to see bands.

If the film is to be trusted (and one instinctively feels that it isn’t), the birth of Queen was smooth and unproblematic. Mercury approaches two musicians, Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy) and Brian May (Gwilym Lee), in a parking lot, having enjoyed their gig; learns that their group’s lead singer has defected; and, then and there, launches into an impromptu audition for the job. Bingo! The resulting lineup, now graced with John Deacon (Joseph Mazzello) on bass, lets rip onstage, with Freddie tearing the microphone from its base to create the long-handled-lollipop look that will stay with him forever. Queen already sounds like Queen, and, before you know it, the boys have a manager, a contract, an album, and a cascade of wealth. It’s that easy. As for their first global tour, it is illustrated by the names of cities flashing up on the screen—“Tokyo,” “Rio,” and so forth, in one of those excitable montages which were starting to seem old-fashioned by 1940.

As a film, “Bohemian Rhapsody” is all over the place. So is “Bohemian Rhapsody” as a song, yet somehow, by dint of shameless alchemy and professional stamina, it coheres; the movie shows poor Roger Taylor doing take after take of the dreaded “Galileo!” shrieks, bravely risking a falsetto-related injury in the cause of art. Anyone hoping to be let in on Queen’s trade secrets will feel frustrated, although I liked the coins that rattled and bounced on the skin of Taylor’s drum, and it’s good to watch Deacon noodle a new bass riff—for “Another One Bites the Dust”—purely to stop the other band members squabbling. The later sections of the story, dealing with Mercury’s AIDS diagnosis, are carefully handled, but most of the film is stuffed with lumps of cheesy rock-speak (“We’re just not thinking big enough”; “I won’t compromise my vision”), and gives off the delicious aroma of parody. When Mercury tries out the plangent “Love of My Life” on the piano, it’s impossible not to recall the great Nigel Tufnel, in “This Is Spinal Tap” (1984), playing something similar in D minor, “the saddest of all keys,” and adding that it’s called “Lick My Love Pump.”

The funniest thing about the new film is that its creation was clearly more rocklike than anything to be found in the end product. Bryan Singer, who is credited as the director, was fired from the production last year and replaced by Dexter Fletcher, although some scenes appear to have been directed by no one at all, or perhaps by a pizza delivery guy who strayed onto the set. The lead role was originally assigned to Sacha Baron Cohen (a performance of which we can but dream), although Malek, mixing shyness with muscularity, and sporting a set of false teeth that would make Bela Lugosi climb back into his casket, spares nothing in his devotion to the Mercurial. The character’s carnal wants, by all accounts prodigious, are reduced to the pinching of a waiter’s backside, plus the laughable glance that Freddie receives from a bearded American truck driver at a gas station as he enters the bathroom. With its PG-13 rating, and its solemn statements of faith in the band as a family, “Bohemian Rhapsody” may be the least orgiastic tribute ever paid to the world of rock. Is this the real life? Nope. Is this just fantasy? Not entirely, for the climax, quite rightly, returns us to Live Aid—to a majestic restaging of Queen’s contribution, with Malek displaying his perfect peacock strut in front of the mob. If only for twenty minutes, Freddie Mercury is the champion of the world.



Needless to say, a certain Shady Dame and I are going to see this tomorrow.

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Steve's Movie Reviews (An Occasional Series)

A STAR IS BORN (2018)

Gaga is adorable, and she does a killer Edith Piaf cover in act I. But the original songs -- with the exception of this one --



-- are totally generic/mediocre, and eventually it dawns on you that the theme of the film is "When will the Bradley Cooper character finally wash his hair?"

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The Kids Are Alright. Okay, Maybe Not.

From 2016, please enjoy Micah Tyler and his wickedly funny ode to the young generation.



I'm actually friends with exactly one Millennial, so I don't know if that's a fair or accurate parody. But speaking as a Boomer who gets culturally stereotyped all the time, I gotta say -- frankly, I don't give a shit.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Drugs Have Done Great Things (An Occasional Series)

So why do I love a certain Shady Dame's neighborhood in Forest Hills?

Well, among many other reasons, because yesterday we walked a few blocks from her apartment and got to participate in a ceremony renaming a street in honor of the late great Walter Becker, of Steely Dan fame.



He grew up on that block, BTW. I was totally unaware of that until a few weeks ago.

I should also add that, as estimable as Becker's Steely Dan work is, I think his finest accomplishment is his first solo album, 11 Tracks of Whack, from 1994. And this song from it in particular.



""You take their money just like you take mine." Ah, what a sentimental old fluff Becker was.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Atoms for Piece

From their new album Contra Mundum, which dropped -- as the youngs say -- last month, please enjoy Nashville pop-rock band Tall Dark Stranger and perhaps the smartest retro-70s song I've heard in eons.

"Love in Chernobyl."



I'm not sure exactly what this reminds me of -- Steely Dan, maybe, or Jackson Browne, or somebody else I'm forgetting -- but it's really just great; melodically addicting and with a central lyrical metaphor I would have killed to come up with.

In any case, you can find out more about these guys, and buy their album, over at their official website HERE.

I should also add, as I did when last I wrote about these guys, that this is the kind of terrific locally based band -- and I know from my experience at this here blog that they're all over the place -- that the people who book the music on Saturday Night Live should be showcasing, rather than the Migos/Cardi B/Nicki Minaj utter commercial crap they mostly foist on us.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Great Lost Singles of the Sixties (An Occasional Series)

So the other day, I was reading a piece by Charlie Pierce about Governor Scott Walker -- or, as Pierce refers to him, "the goggle-eyed homunculus hired by Koch Industries to manage their midwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Wisconsin" -- when for some reason this song by the Nashville Teens, which I hadn't thought about for years, popped into my head.



Jeebus, that's adorable. Incidentally, it was written by the great John D. Loudermilk, who also provided the Teens with their international smash hit "Tobacco Road." As for the Teens themselves, their real claim to fame is backing up Jerry Lee Lewis on his Live at the Star Club, Hamburg album, which is arguably the greatest live rock record ever made.

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Closed for Ka-Boom!


This week's news has exhausted me.

Regular posting resumes on the morrow.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Your Wednesday Moment of Where Has This Song Been All My Life?

From 1984, please enjoy The Textones, featuring Carla Olson and Phil Seymour (of Dwight Twilley Band fame) and "No Love in You."



I hadn't heard that until yesterday, when friend of PowerPop Captain Al played it on his intertube radio show. I've enjoyed Olson's work over the years, without ever becoming a fan per se, but Jeebus H. Christ on a piece of challah toast, that's fantastic. And yeah, I know its about as Stones-derivative as can be (albeit the Stones if they were fronted by a woman with a vaguely country-ish voice).

But between that fabulous riff and Olson's vocals, that simply kills me.

Thanks, Captain!!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Encounters With Greatness (An Occasional Series)

And speaking as we were last week of The Velvet Underground Experience show I was fortunate enough to attend the opening of...


...I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that my old college pal and friend of PowerPop Tony Janelli, who co-directed an absolutely brilliant animated short about the time the Velvets played at his high school in suburban New Jersey...



...that features prominently in the exhibition, will be a guest speaker at the VUE this very evening.


The exhibition is at 718 Broadway in Greenwich Village. You can get a ticket online at the show's website HERE.

And tell 'em PowerPop sent you.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Literary Notes From All Over

So as you may or may not have heard, certain obviously mentally ill people have decided to issue a book version of my greatest hits, i.e. an athology of pieces about music, film and pop culture in general I have written over the years for various dead tree publications and, more recently, web sites including this here blog and Box Office.com. This is gonna happen sometime next year, the good lord willing and the creek don't rise.

I am currently in the process of culling all this stuff (fortunately, there is now a pretty complete online archive of back issues of The Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Review). Also, a young, technologically savvy friend of mine has volunteered to digitally scan my 1985 masterpiece quickie rock book Gender Chameleons: Androgyny in Rock n Roll, which has been out of print practically since the day it was first released to a largely uncaring public.


I am also pleased to note that my new friend, Pulitzer Prize winning high-brow critic Tim Page (hi, Tim!) has graciously offered to give me a complimentary blurb upon the book's publication, which is really a mitzvah.

In the meantime, I found this 1975 piece from SR recently, and I thought I would share it with you as a little advertisement for myself, if I may paraphrase Norman Mailer. It's self-explanatory, obviously, and I still love the list, but obviously it's a snapshot in time and if I was writing it today it would be a lot different. Enjoy, if possible.

MY FRONT PAGES


My younger brother's passion -- or perhaps it's a mania -- for film exceeds even mine for music. I mean, he'll sit through four hours of a Republic serial without even going to the john! But his mania has its uses; not long ago I was browsing through an esoteric film journal in his collection whose basic premise I have decided to crib. Titled simply "Things We Like," it was a completely and openly subjective (what else?) catalog by two film nuts of moments they found memorable in various motion pictures. One moment that stopped me -- and it's the only entry I can remember, by the way -- was the opening: "Mariette Hartley's wedding in Peckinpah's Ride the High Country." Lovely.

Anyway, after worrying away at my own list culled from twenty-odd years of rock-and-roll, I've decided at last to air the dirty linen in public. What follows is simply a random rundown of things that have given me pleasure, rock-wise, over the years -- specific songs, events, brief musical bits. I won't pretend, as much as I'd like to (ought to?), that any of them have any significance other than showing where my own head is at, but never mind. This is strictly for browsing; I'm willing to bet any rock fan could come up with a totally different list that would be equally valid and just as much fun.

So, without further ado, "Things I Like."

•George Harrison's last harmonic on the solo from "Nowhere Man."
•Charlie Watts hitting the bell of his cymbal on the final line of "Dead Flowers."
•The opening a capella harmonies on Fairport Convention's version of "Percy's Song."
•The Beach Boys' background ah-ohm-wop-diddits on "This Whole World.
•Smokey Robinson's heartrending wordless vocalizing at the end of "Ooh Baby Baby."
•Keith Richards' guitar solos on "Down the Road Apiece."
•Dave Davies' finger-picking on the fade-out of the Kinks' "See My Friends."
•Roy Wood introducing his solo on "Turkish Tram Conductor Blues" with a coy "Oh, yes."
•All of Bruce Springsteen's "Rosalita."
•Bob Dylan's spoken introduction for "Like a Rolling Stone" on the Albert Hall bootleg.
•The back-up vocals on the last verse of the MC5's "Shakin' Street."
•Steve Marriott's screaming at the end of the Small Faces' "Tin Soldier."
•David Crosby's harmonies on the last verse of the Byrds' "Fifth Dimension" and "I Come and Stand at Every Door."
•The drunken Dixieland band on the Stones' "Something Happened to Me Yesterday."
•Arlene Smith's singing on the Chanels' "Maybe."
•The production (especially the percussion) on Martha and the Vandella's "Dancing in the Street."
•Paul McCartney's bass line on "A Little Help From My Friends."
•Keith Moon's drumming on the final break of "Happy Jack."
•Eric Clapton's lead guitar on the studio version of "Badge."
•Stevie Winwood's organ work on the ending of "I'm a Man."
•Jeff Beck's guitar solo on the Yardbirds' "Train Kept A-Rollin'."
•Keith Richards forgetting to turn on his fuzz-tone during "Satisfaction" on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1966.
•Todd Rundgren's guitar work on the Nazz's "Under the Ice."
•Leon Russell's piano on Dylan's "Watching the River Flow."
•Johnny Johnson's boogie-woogie piano break on Chuck Berry's "School Days."
•Jimi Hendrix's solo on "Little Wing."
•Roger Daltrey's "Yeahhhhh!!!!!" after the instrumental section of the Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again."
•The censored original cover for Beggars Banquet.
•Steve Stills' and Neil Young's guitar duet on the original "Bluebird."
•Skip Spence's mumbled vocal on Moby Grape's "Seeing."
•The rave-up during the Kinks' "Milkcow Blues" (studio and live versions).
•Buddy Holly's version of "Slippin' and Slidin'" with posthumously overdubbed backing by the Fireballs.
•The Stones doing "Under My Thumb" at Altamont, as seen in Gimme Shelter.
•Van Morrison's harp break on "Mystic Eyes."
•Joni Mitchell's long-held notes and guitar work on "Marcie."
•Ian Hunter's primal (what else?) screaming on Mott the Hoople's "The Journey."
•The fact that Bob Dylan is removing Pete Hammil's liner notes from Blood on the Tracks.
•The back-cover in-concert photo on the English EP version of Got Live If You Want It.
•Paul Buckmaster's orchestral evocation of Vaughan Williams at the conclusion of "Moonlight Mile."
•Paul McCartney's vocal on "Long Tall Sally". (Not to mention Ringo's drumming or George's second solo.)
•The out-of-tune twelve-string and falsetto vocal on the Stones' "Singer Not the Song"
•Gary Brooker's scream of "Here I go!" from Procol Harum's "Rambling On."
•Nicky Hopkins' electric piano solo on the Beatles "Revolution."
•Zal Yanovsky's solo album.
•Lou Reed's singing on the last verse of the original "Sweet Jane" on Loaded.
•John Fogerty's blues-wailing harmonica on "Run Through the Jungle."
John Mendelssohn's review of Led Zeppelin II.
•The Move's "Tonight."
•Beatles VI.
•Joan Baez's unintentionally hilarious attempt at soul singing on the Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" (in the 1966 film The T.N.T. Show.
•Almost anything by Dave Edmunds.
•Carly Simon's legs (if not her records).
•The echoed handclap before the ending of the Zombies' "Tell Her No."
•John Lennon forgetting the words to "Help" on the Ed Sullivan Show.
•John Entwistle's bass figures on the "teenage wasteland" portion of "Baba O'Reilly."
•Rod Stewart's "Whooo!!!" on the Faces' "Had Me a Real Good Time."
•Iggy Pop's Ray Davies imitation on "Gimme Danger."
•The Beatles' Shea Stadium Concert film.
•Elvis' weight problem.
•Alan Price's two-fingered organ solo on the Animals' "Boom Boom."
•Jack Cassady's eyebrows. (Also, his bass on the Airplanes' "Other Side of This Life.")
•Steppenwolf's "Born to Be Wild," as featured in the credit sequence of Easy Rider.
•Keith Richards' teeth.
•Carl Wilson's twelve-string break on the Beach Boys' "Dance Dance Dance."
•B.J. Wilson's one-measure drum solo on Procol Harum's "The Devil Came From Kansas."
•Neil Innes' "worst guitar solo in history" from the Bonzo Dog Band's "Canyons of Your Mind."
•West, Bruce and Laing titling a banal slow blues "Slow Blues."
•And, of course, just everything from Exile on Main Street.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Personne Ne Sait

And speaking as we have been for the last couple of days of the fabulous Yellow Pills volume 3...


...please enjoy my third favorite cut from it -- ex-Raspberry Scott McCarl and his infernally catch "Nobody Knows."



And speaking of nobody knows, I have no idea whatever happened to that guy (the track dates from the early '90s). I know he wasn't in the band when they did a fabulous reunion show at the Highline in New York City in 2007.

I should add that a certain Shady Dame and I had our first date at that show. Gee, I wonder why I fell in love with her.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, October 18, 2018

What Do You Call a Drummer Without a Girlfriend?

Homeless.

Thank you, I'm here all week -- try the veal. And please tip your waitresses -- they all have massive drug habits to support.

Oh, and here's Fred Armisen telling some other musician jokes.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

And speaking as we have been for the last couple of days of the fabulous Yellow Pills volume 3...


...please enjoy my favorite track. "Time Will Tell on You" by The Rock Club.



If truth be told, I have sort of personal reasons for loving that song. For starters, the drummer is my colleague in The Floor Models (and my musical director for the last fifty years) Glen Robert Allen. And the song's composer and singer is none other than honorary Floor Model Ronnie D'Addario.

Log-rolling aside, I think you'll admit that's a pretty gorgeous tune. I should also add that Ronnie is currently enjoying being the father to pop phenoms The Lemon Twigs (who, incidentally, now own my 1961 Fender Bassman amp, which is considerably older than they are). And that you can find out more about Ronnie and his own music -- which is a really high quality body of work, if I do say so -- over at his official website HERE.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The Stars Look Down

And speaking as we were last week about the late great John Wicks and his contribution to Yellow Pills Vol. 3...




A really lovely song, if not as great a performance as the stuff on the first Records album; when I saw him do it live, however, at the Yellow Pills record release party in 1995, it was considerably more glorious sounding, as was his entire set. Plus, as I mentioned last time, I got to meet John before he went onstage, which was one of the real thrills of my adult life.

Another song from the Yellow Pills comp -- one that's a little closer to home for me -- tomorrow.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Press Releases I'm Glad I Read

Got this from friend of PowerPop (and a guy who distributes Floor Models CDs, so he has excellent taste) Ray Gianchetti, proprietor of Kool Kat Musik:

Goodbye Kayfabe, the third (and latest) album from British multi-instrumentalist and producer Nick Frater sees a tougher sound, kicking off with sensational power-pop smash “Built To Last”! Featuring guest vocals from Nicolai Prowse (Do Me Bad Things) the song is a joyful blast of Raspberries meets Cheap Trick! "...impressive opener ‘Built To Last’ is one of the best retro-Raspberries singles I’ve heard this year. It’s almost impossible to top!" -- Powerpopaholic.com

Goodbye Kayfabe continues with the punchy jangle-pop of "Paperchase," with other tracks painting in Frater’s broad sonic palette - tropilia, brass band, vintage synth arpeggiators -- and ending with another trademark Beatle-esque ballad. "An absolute joy of a listen that’s right up our street." – IDontHearASingle.com “Frater’s music reminds me of Jellyfish’s incredibly knowing but lovingly crafted meta pop" – SongsFromSoDeep.com

Met with rapturous reviews when digitally released in early 2018, Kool Kat Musik has included three bonus tracks, including “Sara," which brings a hint of yacht-rock to the song’s narrative about witnessing a misguided workplace romance! Final track “The Sombrero Fallout Suite” is a truly staggering musical achievement! It’s an eighteen minute power-pop song-cycle, in nine movements! Imagine if The Flaming Lips had produced side two of Abbey Road




As you can hear from the above, Ray isn't indulging in hyperbole about "Built to Last," and I am here to tell you that his description of the rest of the album is spot on; this is modern pop with power at it's most inspired (although I must confess I haven't quite figured out the reference to yacht-rock).

In any case, you can (and definitely should) order it from the Kool Kat link up top; you can also find out more about Nick's other albums, including Something/Nothing (yes, it's a tribute to Todd Rundgren) over HERE.

Friday, October 12, 2018

9 Lives, 88 Keys

Real life concerns have got me sidelined. While I'm gone please enjoy the most adorable thing I've ever seen.



Regular posting more to do with the mission statement of this here blog resumes on Monday -- I promise.

Have a great weekend, everybody.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Closed For Monkey Business


Regular -- and very cool, because it's a great new song by an artist you may not know -- posting resumes on the morrow.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

I'll Be Your Mirror

So last night a certain Shady Dame and I went to the opening of the brilliant new Velvet Underground exhibition in Greenwich Village.


Boy, was it like old times for me (notwithstanding that the Village is all but unrecognizable from when I lived there in the early 80s). Lights, cameras, loads of press, plus free hors d'oeuvres, an open bar and celebrities.



You can't see them in that clip, but as I was shooting it I noticed John Cale and Laurie Anderson going nose to nose in a corner.

And I was particularly pleased that The Velvet Underground Played at My High School -- a brilliant animated short by my old college chum Tony Janelli -- was playing on a continuous loop.



It's a true story, BTW -- Summit (N.J.) High, in 1965.

In any event, the show runs through the end of the year and it's well worth your attention. I should add that we had dinner at a great Italian place nearby called Bar Primi, which is at 325 Bowery; if you go see the show, you could do a lot worse than try the pasta with pancetta and pecorino.

Monday, October 08, 2018

All Messed Up and Ready to Go

I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of John Wicks, lead singer of the enormously influential power pop band The Records.

And co-writer of one of the most perfect songs of all time -- "Starry Eyes."



The Records first album -- The Records in the US, Shades in Bed in the UK -- is an absolute stone classic; there isn't a less than memorable song on it.

Here's perhaps my faborite. And certainly the most gorgeous.



I should add that The Floor Models were huge fans. Here's our cover of "Hearts in Her Eyes," another classic from that debut album. We used to play it live so often everybody in Greenwich Village thought we wrote it.



I got to meet John at the 1995 record release party for this great power pop compilation put together by Jordan Oakes; John, who was sort of making a comeback, contributed a stunning tune called "Her Stars Are My Stars."


Here's a very nice unplugged performance of it from a few years later.



Some bandmates of mine had a song on the same album as well, but alas, I can't find Mp3s of either of the studio versions of those on my iTunes library or on the intertubes generally. I'll see if I can track them down later in the week.

In any case, you'll have to trust me -- John's performance at the aforementioned show was glorious. And he was incredibly nice when I introduced myself afterwards; he remembered a review of a Records best-of CD I had written in the early 90s, which blew my tiny mind.

End of story -- I've said it before and I'll say it again: This death shit is really starting to piss me off.

RIP John Wicks.

There's Something Happening Here

From 2018, please enjoy friend of PowerPop (and moi) Joe Benoit...


...and the lead off track of his forthcoming solo album Too Old to Be a Rock Star.



Apart from being stone gorgeous, that song seems obviously relevant to our current national trauma, but I won't beat you over the head about that.

In any case, Joe used to front a killer NYC power pop band called The Regulars (you can read and hear more about them over HERE) and he's super talented. He also recently, out of the great goodness of his heart, contributed angelic harmony vocals to a new Floor Models song.

I'll keep you posted as to when his album is coming out. I should add that he's doing a solo gig on October 19th, starting at 8:30 pm, at the fabulous Gutter Bar in Williamsburg...


...so if you're in Brooklyn that evening check him out. Here's the info:

718-387-3585
200 N 14th street
Brooklyn, NY 11249

And tell 'em PowerPop sent you.

Friday, October 05, 2018

It's Classical Friday!!!

True thing: For the last couple of weeks, I've been going to sleep nights by listening to old radio broadcasts of Jack Benny over at the invaluable Internet Archive.

Which are hilariously funny, but Jack and company really were meant to be on television, where you could see them too.

I present this clip as evidence.



When you look up "comic timing" in the dictionary, it has a picture of Jack.

Have a great weekend, everybody.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Sometimes Life is Good

Case in point -- I just got a CD reissue of one of my favorite classical LPs of all time. Serge Prokofiev playing his gorgeous 3rd piano concerto...


...which also includes his solo piano version of the gavotte from his Classical Symphony.



Apart from being stone beautiful, that comes in at way less than two minutes -- EMI should have released that as a pop single back in the day.

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

I Knew I Liked These Guys!

Devo reworks their biggest hit as a force for good.



BTW, I saw them in a small club when their first album came out, and I have never seen a band so completely focused on getting every deal of their presentation right. To the point that when the bass player accidentally banged his knee and broke character for a few seconds to make a joke about it, it was almost shocking.

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Your Tuesday Essay Question

Should The Beatles' A Hard Days Night be colorized for a new generation?

Over at the Steve Hoffman forums, they're having a spirited discussion on this very subject.

Personally, I think the mere fact the idea is being bruited is a clear sign of the end times, but I'm obviously a purist.

In any case, I'm of the opinion that Night should have brand new CGI effects inserted...


...and thus turned into a Japanese monster movie.



Monday, October 01, 2018

Marty Balin 1942-2018

From their debut appearance in NYC -- at the Cafe Au Go Go in legendary Greenwich Village on April 3, 1967-- please enjoy Jefferson Airplane (featuring the great Marty Balin, who co-wrote the song with lead guitarist Jorma Kaukonen) and their fabulous "She Has Funny Cars."

The lead-off track from Surrealistic Pillow, which remains one of the great American rock albums of the 60s.



I was at that show, BTW. On a date. With...well, I'm not gonna drag that lovely woman into this.

If I may go off on a brief tangent here -- I had forgotten that Marty already had an attempted Top 40 teen idol career before he got the Airplane together; here's a record he did in 1962. Sounds a little like Gene Pitney, I think.



In any case, I was, and still am, a humongous Airplane fan; my first serious band might as well have been an Airplane tribute act, as you can see by our performance in this 1969 student film. (We enter approximately two minutes in).



I got to meet Balin once, in 1975. RCA Records flew me out to San Francisco when Jefferson Starship (not Starship -- this is when they were still good) were in the studio recording Red Octopus. He was kind of a moody, brooding presence, but when I asked him about an old Airplane song they had performed on TV but never released in a studio version, he totally opened up to me. I thought he was a very cool guy.

Still do.

RIP, Marty.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Songs of Innocence and Experience

Going to see the wonderful Nils Lofgren on Sunday night. At a small club in NYC.

Works for me.

In the meantime, here's my favorite song from his fabulous 1975 debut solo album.



Written, brilliantly, from the perspective (it seems to me) of a much younger guy than Lofgren was at the time.

In any event, I always wanted to cover that song live; maybe I'll get a chance if there's ever a Floor Models reunion.

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, September 27, 2018

When We Paint Our Masterpiece

Please enjoy "Getting Back Into My Life." The lead-off track from the forthcoming Floor Models album, written by power pop legend Marc Jonson, who also contributes the stunning background vocals. That's some asshole whose name rhymes with Sleeve Nimels on bass and sampled strings, BTW.




Marc says he wrote the song for us, which is quite a compliment; we used to play it live back in the day, and it was an unbelievable thrill to finally record it this year, especially given how unexpectedly gorgeous it turned out. In any event -- thanks, pal.

As for the album, we're in the process of recording one more tune -- one of our own originals -- and we hope to have the album ready for release by the end of the year, although these things always take longer than you plan. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Other Than That, Ms. Ono, How Did You Enjoy the Recording Session?

Two ex-Beatles working on a song about a third one.



An interesting historical curio, to be sure, but I was alarmed to learn that it was released in anticipation of a 6 disc (CD or vinyl) box set devoted to Lennon's Imagine album, which is coming out the first week in October. I'm not particularly a fan of that record, but even if I were, that box set sounds like way too much of a good thing for my taste.

In any case, you can learn more about it over HERE.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

There Were Giants in the Earth in Those Days

From 1979, please enjoy The Pretenders and a rare early video demo of their cover of The Kinks' classic "Stop Your Sobbing."



You know, there are days I think that, pound for pound, Chrissie Hynde is the greatest woman in rock history. And the rest of that band were no slouches either.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheaert

Off to see Roger McGuinn, Chris Hillman and Marty Stuart do Sweetheart of the Rodeo in its entirety (and lots more Byrds songs) tonight in NYC.



In the immortal words of Edith Prickley -- could be a hot one!!!

Friday, September 21, 2018

Sometimes Life is Good

Why, you ask?

Because I just scored tickets to see Procol Harum at a New York City club (the show is in February).



Procol has been one of my favorite bands since forever; they were the first band I wrote about for money (at the Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Review in 1972), and a revised version of that piece was the first thing I ever posted at this here blog back in 2007.

I've seen them a bunch of times over the years, but never in an intimate setting, so this is a real bucket list thing. And yes, I'm aware that only lead singer Gary Brooker is an original member, and no I don't care that it really isn't Procol Harum; hearing Brooker sing those songs in a small room is something I never thought I'd live to experience, and I have no doubt they'll sound terrific. So there.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Your Thursday Moment of Steve Destroying What's Left of His Street Cred Forever

Okay, this is a very weird story, so please bear with me.

Of late, I've been going to sleep while listening to old radio episodes of The Jack Benny Program over at the invaluable INTERNET ARCHIVE. I've been a Benny fan since I was a kid, but totally because of his television work; the radio stuff, which I hadn't heard until recently, turns out (for my money) to be even smarter and funnier.

One of the best things about the show is the ensemble cast, and that includes crooner Dennis Day, who is absolutely hilarious in the comedy sketches. That said, however, when I was a sprout I absolutely detested Day's musical numbers. All that Irish tenor crap just made me cringe; I considered it the worst kind of cornball kitsch sentimental ickiness on God's green earth. And don't get me wrong, I love and appreciate lots of pre-rock pop -- c'mon, early Sinatra? You'd have to be a complete moron not to dig that. But Day, and all that in Dublin's fair city shit? Beyond the pale as far as I was concerned.

But a funny thing happened in the last few months -- listening to the Benny shows, I began to really really look forward to Day's non-comedic performances. And it's starting to freak me out.

Exhibit A: From 1951 (and an episode of the show I listened to for the first time last Tuesday), here he is singing a song (that was apparently a hit for him) entitled "Mary Rose."



Okay, call me a doddering old fluff, but that really gets to me. For starters, the song is genuinely sweet, and the orchestral arrangement -- especially the Irish flutes and strings on the instrumental break -- is lovely. And for another thing, Day's voice is objectively beautiful and he's geniunely musical; his phrasing is great.

I think what I'm saying is -- I'm getting really ridiculous in my old age and somebody please shoot me now. I mean, if you had told my twenty-something self that I would be grooving to this record in my declining years I would have assumed you were huffing drugs too potent for me to have even imagined.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

A Day That Will Live in Infamy

From a press release I got yesterday.

FOUR CONCURRENT KISS SOLO ALBUMS GET BOXED

The Iconic Rock Band’s Four Same-Day-Released Solo Albums Come Together
To Celebrate Their 40th Anniversary In A Limited-Edition 4LP Vinyl Box Set
Via Casablanca/UMe On October 19

Los Angeles – September 18, 2018– Forty years ago today, each one the four founding members of KISS — Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley, and Peter Criss — released their respective solo albums all on the same day to much fanfare, chart success, and platinum sales. And now, four decades later, all four of these pioneering albums are celebrated in KISS: The Solo Albums - 40th Anniversary Collection, a limited-edition 180-gram 4LP box set by Casablanca/UMe that’s earmarked for release on October 19.

Hey, I like vinyl as much as the next guy -- which is to say, hardly at all -- but I reviewed these records forty years ago, and it's one of my favorite things I ever wrote. [A brief note on the dramatis personae: Paulette Weiss was my editor at the mag at the time; (Noel) Coppage and (Joel) Vance were two of our other reviewers.]

And now, without further adieu, here it is as it appeared in SR in the Feburary 1979 issue.

THE BIG KISS-OFF OF 1979



It was about four o'clock when she walked into my office, dressed in a mourning suit that made her look like a road-show Ligeia.

"Are you Marlowe?" She wriggled slightly as she sat down, which either meant she liked me or she'd noticed that my furniture is upholstered in mohair.

I looked up. "That's me, like the sign says. Chris Marlowe, Aesthetic Investigator. What can I do for you, Miss -- ?" For some reason, she looked vaguely familiar, but I couldn't place her under the widow's weeds.

"The name's unimportant, but call me Ms."

"Frankly, I don't care if you want to be called late for dinner. You have a job you want done, spill it."

"Oh, a tough guy, huh?" She tossed four black record jackets onto my desk.

"The results of your Wasserman test?" I asked.

"No, shamus. Albums by Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley, Peter Criss and Paul Stanley, members of a rock band called Kiss. You'll notice they're all wearing disguises on the cover."

"Nowadays who doesn't?"

"Never mind. My employer wants you to find out why. What have these guys got to hide? You've got twenty-four hours to run down the answers."

"And if I don't?"

"Front-row seats for the Al Martino farewell tour. Get the picture?"

"I'm trembling in my Capezios."

"Don't crack wise with me, turkey. Remember, you've got twenty-four hours."

With that she was out the door. I reached for the bottle of Scotch in my desk. Mysterious liberated women, rock-and-roll...suddenly, I felt very tired.

I spent the evening listening to the four records and staring at the covers. After I polished off the Scotch I had most of the scam doped out; the rest I glommed after a few phone calls to some friends of mine in the low-life end of the music business. Rack jobbers. AM jocks. The scum of the underground. Nice people you know, Marlowe. What a world.

True to her word, she was back the next day at four.

"You look beat," she said cooly. "A rough night?"

"Rough enough," I said. "But I found out what you wanted to know. These Kiss guys have never appeared out of makeup. The records are their first solo efforts, and the idea is that they're supposed to give the poor slobs who buy this stuff a chance to find out what kind of music these guys might make if they weren't limited by the group concept. It's a symbolic dropping of the mask."

"That's pretty good, Marlowe."

"I'm not finished. The thing is, it doesn't add up; these records could be by anybody. Frehley does a bad punk imitation; Simmons has pop tendencies; Criss is a closet MOR wimp, and Stanley tries to be a guitar hero. In other words, it all still sounds like Kiss -- slick, dumb, and inconsequential."

"Good job, Marlowe," she said nervously. "Write it up and send it to this address; your check will be in the mail." She started to get up, but I beat her to the door.

"Not so fast, sister. Like I said, it doesn't add up. So I began to think. Who in her right mind would be so interested in all this that she'd hire a broken-down private dick to figure it out? And why the time limit?"

I ripped the veil and sunglasses off her face.

"I knew it. You're Paulette Weiss of STEREO REVIEW."

"I had to do it, Marlowe," she sobbed. "None of my regular reviewers would touch the stuff, and I had a deadline. It was the only way."

"You're good, sweetheart," I said, putting on my coat. "But not that good."

"You mean...?"

"That's right. I won't write the review for you. Understand?"

"But, Marlowe..."

"I won't do it, do you hear? Get Simels, or Vance, or Coppage; they'll write anything for free albums. But not me."

I started out the door. "Where are you going?" she asked in a voice as quiet as the grave.

"I don't know," I said. "Computer school, maybe. Anywhere I don't have to intellectualize over loud noises."

"You can't run out on me like this."

I shook my head. "You should have thought about it before you got into the editing racket. See you around, sister."

I walked slowly down the five flights of stairs to the street and thought about her. She wasn't the first good girl to miss a deadline, and she wouldn't be the last. Still, somehow I knew I'd never hear from her again. Like I said, what a world. -- Steve Simels










Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Who is That Mysterious Man, Anyway?

From their new album Contra Mundum, which drops -- as the youngs say -- today, please enjoy Nashville pop-rock band Tall Dark Stranger and their insinuating "Was What It Was."



I'll be posting some more of their music as soon as they say it's kosher; let's just stipulate that some of their other songs I've heard so far are sort of 70s retro, a la Jackson Browne. And completely gorgeous, in a sort of "Somebody's Baby" kind of way. In any case, you can find out more about them and buy their stuff at their website HERE.

I should also add that this is the kind of great locally based band -- and I know from my experience here that they're all over the place -- that the people who book the music on Saturday Night Live should be showcasing, rather than the Migos/Cardi B/Nicki Minaj utter commercial crap they mostly foist on us.

Monday, September 17, 2018

76 Trombones Led the Big Parade

Actually, 28 trombones perform "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen.



Words fail me.

[h/t Matt Mitchell]

Friday, September 14, 2018

How Do You Say Rock Star in French?

From 2018, and his album Stupefaction, please enjoy the pride of Biarritz, the incomparable Tommy Lorente, and his infernally infectious "Arthur."



Damn this kid is good -- not only is that a brilliant slice of the music that provides the mission statement of this here blog, but he's doing it with the handicap of having to sing in French, which I heretofore had thought impossible.

You can find out more about Tommy -- who has a new album ready to drop momentarily -- and purchase his other stuff over at his website HERE.

Hey -- what are you waiting for? Go buy something! And when you do, tell him PowerPop sent you!

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

God Save the Queen

Okay, so as I mentioned yesterday, I am not a Queen fan (for reasons that I'll get into in depth at a later date).

That said, I would like to go on record as agreeing with Dave Grohl, who famously observed that "Brian May is an awesome guitarist."

And I would like to offer, as proof, this little snippet of Mr. May's work. He comes in at the 1:24 point in the video below.



Like the man said -- an awesome guitarist.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

As John Lennon Said in A HARD DAYS NIGHT: Queen -- It's an In-Joke

Well, this looks interesting.



I should add that I am not now and have never been a Queen fan. The reasons why are probably a subject for another longer and more thoughtful post, but I will note that I saw them in a small venue when they were touring their debut album and they were appallingly awful.

That said, if the movie is as good as the trailer, which I suspect it is, I might actually change my mind.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Two Jews' Blues

And speaking as we were yesterday of the great Gerry Goffin and Carole King -- and in honor of Rosh Hashanah -- please enjoy, from 1964, the great Maxine Brown and the original version of Goffin and King's exquisite "Oh No, Not My Baby."



For some reason -- incipient senility, perhaps -- I was convinced King herself had a version of this on the radio in the pre-Tapestry Sixties.

Wrong! She didn't release her own performance of the song until 1980.

In any case, Good Yontiff, everybody!

POSTCRIPT: Here's Rod Stewart (with Faces) covering it in 1973.



Believe it or not, kids, there actually was a time that Rod Stewart wasn't an embarrassing asshole.

Monday, September 10, 2018

The Magic of the Theatre

So as I may have mentioned, a few weeks ago a certain Shady Dame and I bit the bullet and went to see Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.


As a rule, I'm not a big fan of jukebox shows (although I will confess to rather enjoying Clint's film version of Jersey Boys). On the other hand, like all right-thinking Americans, I'm a huge fan of Goffin-King's songwriting; I mean, if they had been responsible for nothing more than "Porpoise Song" for The Monkees, they would deserve immortality. Plus, I was pleased to discover that the show is as much the Barry Mann/Cynthia Weill story as it is Goffin and King's, and I was kinda curious about seeing Maria Benoist, aka TV's Supergirl, as Carole.

Unfortunately, turned out she had left the show a week before the performance we saw. Aaaarrrggghhhh.

In any case, Beautiful was at best...wildly uneven. Forget the book, which was shall we say historically dubious (the words Phil and Spector were never uttered) although on balance I could live with that. And on the plus side, the musical performances that are supposed to be King solo, primarily from the Tapestry-era (in the case of the show we saw, performed by Broadway singer/actress Abby Mueller) were right on the money.

On the other hand, the performances that channeled other acts that had 60s hits with Goffin-King songs (The Shirelles, The Chiffons, The Cookies, et al) were uniformly ghastly -- pure Vegas bullshit, soullessly sung and with some of the worst choreography I've ever seen.

Okay, all that said -- there are two Goffin-King songs I dearly love that weren't in the show, and I thought I'd share them now.

So, please enjoy -- from 1963 -- the ineffable Skeeter Davis and the cute as a bug's ear "I Can't Stay Mad at You." Perhaps the greatest teen-pop/sort of doo-wop hit by a stone country singer ever.



And from 1964, please enjoy The Tokens and "He's in Town." Perhaps the greatest proto-Bruce Springsteen slice of urban romanticism ever recorded by a sort of teen doo-wop group.



I'm not saying the inclusion of those two songs in Beautiful would have made it a better show, but on the other hand -- could be, could be.



Friday, September 07, 2018

I Bet You Really Miss the Reagan Years. John Hughes Movies and Tears For Fears (Part Deux)

From 1993, and their self-titled album on John Prine's Oh Boy label, please enjoy incredible alt-rockers The Bis-Quits and their brilliant ode to Those Fabulous 80s.



Have a great weekend, everybody!!!!

Thursday, September 06, 2018

I Bet You Really Miss Those Reagan Years. John Hughes Movies and Tears for Fears.

From 1991, please enjoy pride of New Jersey alt-rockers Dramarama and an absolutely sensational cover of the Not Really a Stones Song Even Though Mick and Keith Wrote it "Memo From Turner."



I bring all this up because we had brunch over the weekend with some friends who had just attended a Those Fabulous 80s nostalgia concert, and it sounded like fun.

Here's the line-up.



I will confess at this point that most of those groups never did it for me, although I have a sneaking affection for A Flock of Seagulls; I have been saying for years that some smart country band could have a huge hit covering their "Wishing," which is a ravishingly beautiful song that, when stripped of the New Wave synths and guitars, could pass for Buddy Holly. And I loved Dramamara, and always regretted not seeing them live back in the day.

I should add that you should rent this obscure but very funny 1999 Will Ferrell film...



...about a fictional 80s one hit wonder band that gets back together and winds up opening for -- you guessed it -- a reunited A Flock of Seagulls (playing themselves).

Also: a coveted PowerPop No-Prize will be awarded to the first reader who identifies the song the title of today's post derives from.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Where's Marcel Carné When You Need Him?

From his terrific new album Children of Paradise, about which I will have more to say later in the week, please enjoy the great Willie Nile and the official video for "Earth Blues."


Have I mentioned that the new album is flat out terrific?

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Tuesday Encounter With Greatness: Special "Letter From Liverpool" Edition

So I've told part of this story before, but hang on -- there's a new epilogue that justifies my recycling it.

Okay, the short version. Back in March of 1981, a think piece I had written about John and Yoko's Double Fantasy album appeared in The Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Review. This was the most difficult thing I ever wrote, for obvious reasons, so I was actually rather pleased to find upon re-reading it a few years ago that the only thing that embarrassed me about it were some dire predictions that (mercifully) didn't come true.

In any case, a few weeks after the piece originally appeared, I got a very nice hand-written note from a woman (the now famous Freda Kelly) who had worked as a personal assistant to Brian Epstein at the height of Beatlemania. She told me that of all the reviews of the album she had seen, mine was the one that most resonated for her. That meant a lot to me, also for obvious reasons, but because I'm an idiot, I didn't save her letter.

Cut to earlier this year, when a certain Shady Dame and I were about to go to Liverpool and take a Beatles tour (which we did, and I highly recommend it. You can find more info about it over HERE). And we were in touch with a woman who runs another of those Fabs tours, the special guest of which was the aforementioned Freda, who you could meet. As it turned out, we couldn't work it out logistically, but we asked the tour lady if she could give Freda a printed copy of the Double Fantasy review and have her autograph it. When we got to town, she (the tour lady) e-mailed me and said for whatever reason she wasn't able to get Freda the print-out, but she had told her the story and said that she (Freda) would leave something personal for me behind the desk at The Hard Days Night Hotel (yes, there is such an establishment).

Anyhowever, on the afternoon we were leaving town, we stopped at said hotel to pick up the package.

Which turned out to be a photo of the Fabs back in the day...


...with a little handwritten note from Freda on the back.


If you can't read it, it says "Sorry. Cannot remember. Long time ago."

Words fail me.

POSTSCRIPT:

Sorry...


...but I just had to.

Monday, September 03, 2018

It's Labor Day!!!

And as you know...



...starting tomorrow, you can't wear white again until after Memorial Day.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Peter Holsapple is Always a Good Idea

My Facebook pal Peter Holsapple has a terrific new album out...


...which I'll be writing about next week.

In the meantime, I thought I'd end this one with one of my favorite Holsapple songs, The dBs 1984 "Love is for Lovers."



It doesn't get much janglier than that, I'll tell you that for free.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Loud Noises Say So Much (Part Deux)

And speaking as we were yesterday of godfathers of punk The Sonics, from 1985 please enjoy The Fuzztones and their brilliant cover of perhaps my all-time favorite Sonics song.



That harp solo, which is the main point of difference between the FTs cover and the original, just slays me; the track effectively picks itself up and flies once whoever is playing it starts wailing.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Loud Noises Say So Much

Finally -- a documentary about the only rock band that matters.




The film premieres September 30th 2018, in London at the Raindance Film Festival. No word on when it will be released on home video, but obviously we'll keep you posted.

Oh, and BTW, if you don't know why The Sonics are beyond awesome...



Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Closed for Monkey Business

Hassles, hassles, and more hassles.


Regular posting -- including extraordinarily interesting news -- resumes on the morrow.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Encounters With Greatness (An Occasional Series): Special A Guy Walks Into a Bar... Edition

So a week or so ago, I was at the Keuka Kafe, my local watering hole down the street (Queens Boulevard, or what the locals call Le Boulevard de la Mort) from a certain Shady Dame's home in Forest Hills. BTW, if you're ever in the neighborhood stop by, say hi, and order something refreshing from their spectacular wine list.


But I digress. In any case, for some reason it seems to attract people directly or indirectly working in the popular music field.

For example, in 2017, I struck up a bar conversation with a neighborhood guy named Gabe Mera, who plays in what turned out to be a really good sort of classic rock band, and also is a terrific guitar tech who specializes in instrument set-ups and repairs. You can read more about Gabe, and the great work he did on a trash-can bass discovered by my chums The Weasels, at the link HERE.

And then in 2018, I got to chatting with a young kid named Joe Benoit (also a neighborhood guy), who turned out to be an insanely talented singer/songwriter/guitarist who (doing business with his band The Regulars) made an album that I played obsessively for months after meeting him, and who more recently was kind enough to contribute angelic backup harmonies on a new Floor Models track.

You can learn more about Joe, and listen to one of The Regulars utterly gorgeous songs, over HERE. You'll thank me, frankly.

In any case, the other week there was a sort of youngish hipster guy at the bar. I engage in this perhaps unfair cultural stereotyping because there were few such folks in the neighborhood when we moved in four years ago, but their numbers are increasing, and this usually presages the opening of better restaurants, which would be a good thing. I gleaned from his overheard conversation that he was in Forest Hills killing time because a connecting flight (from La Guardia to Bumfuck Somewhere) had been cancelled and a Google search turned up the fact that the Keuka Kafe might be an agreeable place to wile away several hours while waiting for the next plane out.

We got to talking; I asked him whether he was traveling for business or pleasure, and he let it drop that he was a rock musician in the midst of a brief tour. I allowed how isn't stardom wonderful, and eventually, after I got over my surprise at the encounter -- I mean, statistically, this was getting weird -- I asked him if I had heard of his band.

I hadn't, but I have now. Ladies and germs, let's give it up for my new pal Clinton Clegg...


...lead singer of the fabulous Pittsburgh-based neo-soul revival band The Commonheart.


And here they are, tearing it up at a recent live appearance.



You can, and should, find out more about them over at their official website HERE. It features tour dates, videos, merch, and links to all that sort of jazz. And here's a really good piece on them from their hometown paper.

And if you bump into Clinton at a bar near you, tell him PowerPop sent you!



Sunday, August 26, 2018

John McCain -- Bigoted Asshole, Lousy Rock Critic

[reposted from April 22, 2007, for obvious reasons. Fuck him. -- S.S.]

By now, you all know about Republican presidential candidate John McCain's most recent contribution to our national discourse.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The liberal group MoveOn.org is launching an ad against Republican John McCain and his joke about bombing Iran, arguing that the nation "can't afford another reckless president."

The group plans to spend about $100,000 to air a commercial on network and some cable television stations in Iowa and New Hampshire, states that hold early contests in the presidential nomination process, spokesman Alex Howe said Friday.

McCain, campaigning Wednesday in South Carolina, answered a question about military action against Iran with the chorus of the surf-rocker classic "Barbara Ann."

"That old, eh, that old Beach Boys song, Bomb Iran," he said. "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, anyway, ah ..."

McCain defended the joke during a campaign stop in Nevada on Thursday.

"Please, I was talking to some of my old veterans friends," he told reporters in Las Vegas. "My response is, Lighten up and get a life."

Asked if his joke was insensitive, McCain said: "Insensitive to what? The Iranians?"

Apart from its stunning assholishness, there are several ironies attendant to McCain's comment.

For starters, "Barbara Ann" is not a Beach Boys song. Brian Wilson and company's version was a cover of a 1961 doo-wop hit by The Regents.

And the "Bomb Iran" parody that he thought so funny was actually by Vince Vance and the Valiants, a still active oldies revue that originally released the loathsome song on -- get this -- Towel Records.

Towel. As in Towelheads.

And here's the kicker: Both Fred Fassert -- who wrote the original "Barbara Ann" -- and his brother Chuck -- who sang on it -- were of Iranian descent.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Those Fabulous Sixties. Not.

From 1979, please enjoy my somewhat jaundiced review of a certain movie musical as it appeared in The Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Review.

Sorry I was too lazy to transcribe it, but all you have to do is click on it to enlarge it to readability.


In retrospect, I'm not sure I still agree with all the views expressed, but I like it nonetheless. If truth be told, however, I'm mostly reprinting it here because a certain Idiot from Maine© has been dissing me for being overly nostalgic for Woodstock Nation.

As if.

Have a great weekend, everybody!