Monday, July 16, 2018

A Rolling Stone Gathers No Whatever: An Occasional Series

When I posted that Keith Urban clip -- him covering "Tumblin' Dice" -- the other day, I didn't know that it was part of a week-long Jimmy Fallon tribute to The Rolling Stones' Exile on Main Street.

So from 2012, please behold in breathless wonder Green Day as they blowtorch their way through one of the greatest rock 'n' roll songs ever written.

Okay, it doesn't swing like the Stones' version -- absent Charlie Watts on drums, how could it? -- but it's fricking amazing anyway.

[h/t Jonathan F. King]

Friday, July 13, 2018

It's Slacker Friday

Courtesy of the great Albert Brooks, please enjoy the usually censored version of Ravel's Bolero.

That's from the greatest comedy album of all time, BTW.

And one of these weeks, I'm gonna post five other things from it, just to prove my point.

Meanwhile, regular postings, beginning with a hilarious photo essay on my recent sojourn across the pond, resume on Monday.

Have a terrific weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Work is the Curse of the Drinking Class

A very nice piece on the making of The Replacements Don't Tell a Soul -- and, more specifically, the recording of "I'll Be You," which may be one of my top five favorite rock songs ever -- in the current issue of Mix.

We talk a lot about “paying your dues” in the music business. Producer/engineer Matt Wallace paid his back in 1988 when he produced The Replacements’ raw, charming and clever album Don’t Tell a Soul. “I was basically hazed for most of that record,” he says.

Wallace had relocated to Los Angeles from San Francisco in January of that year. “I was hitting a wall in the Bay Area,” he says. “I kept making demos for bands that would get signed, but ultimately I couldn’t get hired because I wasn’t a big enough fish in the pond.”

Wallace signed on as a staff A&R rep/producer for the Slash indie label, where one of his early claims to fame was producing a song by the so-called New Monkees.

“Warner Brothers was working on a Monkees reboot,” Wallace explains. “They had four guys who were ready for TV and a bunch of writers. Obviously, it never really broke through, but I got to know the people at Warners. Then I heard The Replacements were making a record, and I started calling and saying, ‘Hey, I’m a fan and am interested in working with this band.’ But they were like, ‘Well, Tony Berg’s doing the record, sorry.’”

You can read the rest of it HERE.

Consumer alert: I'm a huge fan of the Replacements, and if you're reading this here blog presumably you are too, but be warned: after reading that piece, I sort of concluded that they're not particularly nice guys. Let's just say that if I had been Matt Wallace, I would have come away from his experience with the band thinking they were very large, unpleasant assholes.

On the other hand, they made the above record, which is such a magnificent work of art that I guess pretty much anything can be forgiven. Hell, given "Be My Baby," I've forgiven Phil Spector, and he actually killed somebody.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

A Rolling Stone Gathers No Whatever

From 2013 -- and speaking of cover versions of songs by Mick and Keith, as we were talking about last Friday -- please enjoy Nicole Kidman's beard fabulous Australian country-rocker Keith Urban and a live take on the Stones' "Tumblin' Dice" that essentially, totally, kicks ass.

Jeebus, the motherfucker actually takes the guitar solo and nails it.

I mean, wow.

[h/t mainuh]

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Closed for Monkey Business: Special Don't Fear the Reaper Edition

Courtesy of my new Facebook pal, Tim Page (former music critic extraordinaire of the New York Times, and the author of TIM PAGE ON MUSIC, which I plan to devour over the weekend), here's a parody from the old National Lampoon that I have been looking for since forever.

The subtext, of course, is that I had a rough day yesterday.

Fear not, however -- regular, well groomed and peppy, postings resume on the morrow.

Monday, July 09, 2018

Going Down to Liverpool...

So as you may have heard, a certain Shady Dame and I were in Liverpool recently. And we were fortunate enough to take this particular Beatles tour...

...hosted by our guide, the incomparable Ian Doyle.

Incidentally, we took the three hour Rickenbacker tour, which I lurved, for obvious reasons.

In any case, Ian really knows his stuff, and if you take the tour -- which I highly, HIGHLY recommend -- there's at least one mind-boggling moment which I will not give away, but which I guarantee that not even the most fanatical and well-informed Beatlemaniac will be prepared for.

I should also add that Ian's psychedelically decorated cab can be glimpsed... the James Corden "Carpool Karaoke" segment of The Late Late Show, which is the most fabulous 23 minutes of television IN HISTORY.

I should also add that Sir Paul autographed the Penny Lane sign that can be glimpsed here...

...approximately a week before the aforementioned Shady Dame and I, taking Ian's Beatles tour, got to see it in person.

In the meantime, if you're planning on vacationing in the British Isles any time soon, I will once again recommend Ian's Beatles tour, which can, and should, be booked over at And tell 'em PowerPop sent you.

Friday, July 06, 2018

Weekend Listomania: Special You Can't Always Get What You...Whatever Edition

[I originally posted this back in 2010, back when the world and this blog were young. I've decided to revive it for no particular reason except I chanced across it the other day and thought -- hey, if I was doing this now, I'd probably include some other songs. So I've re-written parts of it and changed a bunch of the song selections, just to prove I'm not the slacker everybody mostly assumes I am. Enjoy, if at all possible. -- S.S.]

Okay, kids -- here a fun project for us all!

All-Time Best or Worst Covers of Songs by the Rolling Stones!!!

No arbitrary rules here, but just so we're clear -- we're talking about covers of songs by the Stones, not songs that the Stones covered. Jagger/Richards tunes, in other words, as interpreted by other artistes or miscreants.

And my totally top of my head Top Fourteen is --

14. Alvin Youngblood Hart -- Moonlight Mile

On balance, if I had to pick my favorite Stones song of all time, this would be it, and this great blues guy just nails it to the wall. Genius at work.

13. The Loud Family -- Rocks Off

In a million years, it never would have occurred to me that this bunch would do such a great version of this masterpiece from Exile on Main Street. But then again, the late Scott Miller was a freaking genius, so I shouldn't have been surprised.

12. The Floor Models -- 19th Nervous Breakdown

Recorded with a boom box in front of the band at one of our legendary gigs at the Other End, with the late great Andy Pasternack doing the famous opening Brian Jones riff on an electric 12-string, and our singer's then girlfriend discussing the tab.

As you can see (and hear, especially at the end) I got to do my best Bill Wyman imitation on bass, which was a hell of a lot of fun.

11. The Mona Lisa Twins -- The Last Time

Love these young gals from Liverpool. Their version of this one doesn't have the air of menace of the original, but it more than makes up for that by sheer sprightliness.

10. The Flying Burrito Brothers -- Wild Horses

This actually came out before the Stones version on Sticky Fingers, and after all these years I still kinda prefer it. Gram Parsons never sang more affectingly.

9. Linda Ronstadt -- Tumbling Dice

Jeebus H. Christ on a piece of challah toast -- despite the presence of the great Waddy Wachtel on guitar, this sounds like Ronstadt recorded it with a metronome rammed up her ass.

8. Melanie -- Ruby Tuesday

You know, I get a little annoyed sometimes by uninformed anti-Baby Boomer snark from younger friends, but then sometimes I remember -- shit, my generation actually bought this dingbat's records.

7. Rage Against the Machine -- Street Fighting Man

This one totally misses the point, I think, but of course nothing says "Total victory is ours, comrades!" like an album marketed by the Sony Corporation.

6. Bette Midler -- Beast of Burden

Miss M's finest recorded moment, no question. Certainly it beats "Wind Beneath My Wings" all to hell.

5. Social Distortion -- Back Street Girl

I had mixed feelings about this one for the longest time -- the original is, IMHO, one of the Stones' genuine (if mostly overlooked) masterpieces, and SD's punkish take lacks a certain depth and ambiguity. On balance, though, I think it's effective on its own terms.

4. The Dirtbombs -- No Expectations

I'm a huge fan of these guys, but I have to admit, in theory I didn't figure this one was going to work. Frontman Mick Collins' trademark punk-with-soul turns out to suit the song to a T, however (as does the mashup with another Stones classic).

3. The Supersuckers with Steve Earle -- Before They Make Me Run

The band is a little clunky, but if anybody has a right to sing Keith's outlaw blues classic it's Earle.

2. Grand Funk Railroad -- Gimme Shelter

Seriously, this is worse than that kid on American Idol doing "Under My Thumb."

And the number one simultaneously best AND worst Rolling Stones cover of all time, it's not even a contest my friends, is....

1. Charo -- Let's Spend the Night Together

Alrighty then -- what would your choices be?

Oh, and have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, July 05, 2018

An Early Clue to the New Direction: Special Nanker Phelge Edition

From 2018, please enjoy the fabulous Doughboys (featuring genuine power pop legend Richard X. Heyman on drums) and their just-released and unexpectedly blues-wailing cover of The Rolling Stones 1965 "Play With Fire." (Or about 52 seconds of it -- I clipped the track so that you bastard kids don't download the song for free. See the final paragraph below for more information about that).

That's a really wonderfully clever re-imagining of the song. The original Stones track, on the American version of Out of Our Heads (the album with "Satisfaction"), is a sort of folkie/classical hybrid (the great Jack Nitzche plays harpsichord on it). But the Doughboys turn it into a sort of primal rave-up -- it's now closer to The Yardbirds than the Stones, and in this case that's a really good thing.

I should add that I've written about Heyman and the Doughboys...

...who had this quite miraculous sort of local (New Jersey) hit record back in the late 60s...

-- before on numerous occasions (here's one of them). They're great, is the bottom line.

BTW, the relevance of their new single to the theme of tomorrow's Weekend Listomania is so blindingly obvious I can't bring myself to award a coveted PowerPop No-Prize to the first reader who guesses it. Sorry.

In the meantime, you can -- and should -- buy the complete version of "Play With Fire," and the rest of the Doughboys catalog, over at their website HERE.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

It's Independence Day (In What's Left of the USA)

And in its honor please enjoy Bill Pullman, the greatest president of the United States who was never president of the United States..., wait, in the era of President Biff Tannen that's not even a particularly good joke.


What I meant to say was please enjoy the late great Ben E. King and his gorgeous cover of Bruce Springsteen's "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)."

I should add that I had no idea King's version of that song existed until early yesterday. Mind boggling, I think.

I mean -- can you imagine how cool for Bruce it must have been to learn that one of the singers you idolized back in your youth had actually beautifully interpreted a song you had written?

I think the word is wow.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Alan Longmuir 1948 -- 2018

Say what you will about The Bay City Rollers, but a) they were a genuine band who had paid their dues big time before they became superstars and b) they did an absolutely brilliant, and courageously self-referential, cover of Vanda and Young's classic "Yesterday's Hero."

Plus Nick Lowe wrote a great song about them.

Cooler than that it does not get.

Monday, July 02, 2018

Closed to Catch Up on My Reading

Got back from Paris yesterday and I'm all tuckered out. So I'm going to bed with a couple of good books to decompress till Tuesday.

BTW: Click to enlarge the photo -- otherwise you'll miss two of the best titles.

Regular peppy postings resume tomorrow morning. Scout's honor.