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.

Harumph.

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!!!