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:

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.