Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Walk on the Respectable Side

It's been a fairly hectic couple of days, and I just realized I forgot to post about the most fun I've had in ages.

To wit, attending -- last Friday -- the opening celebration for the Lou Reed Archive at the New York Public Library at Lincoln Center.


The ostensible focus of the event -- which was the swellest press party I've been to since my Stereo Review days -- was the 30th anniversary of Lou's New York album; as you can see in the above photo, among the artifacts that Lou donated (with the help of his wife Laurie Anderson, who spoke at the party, and was as charming and funny as one could have hoped) was the script for an (alas) never made film version of that album's "Dirty Boulevard."

Which would have been directed by Martin Scorsese(!) and starring Johnny Depp(!!). Words fail me.

I should add that part of the evening's festivities was being able to get a limited edition NYPL library card with the iconic Mick Rock photo of Lou.


A certain Shady Dame of my acquaintance stood on line and snagged one, I might add.

For information on exactly what is in the collection -- which I guarantee will blow your mind -- check out NYPL.ORG/LOUREED. I should also add that stuff like this is why you pay the big bucks to live in New York City.

[h/t Rebecca Littman]

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Closed Due to Exhaustion


Out late last night seeing What's Left of the Yardbirds©.

Regular posting, including some thoughts on the show, resumes tomorrow.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Your Monday Moment of the Coolest Songs in the World

From 2019, please enjoy...

...The Weeklings (featuring Peter Noone) and a very sharp cover of The Easybeats classic "Friday on My Mind."



And also from 2019, it's The Tearaways (featuring the great Clem Burke on drums) and their tribute to "The Wrecking Crew."



The above was recorded before the passing of the great Hal Blaine last week, BTW (Hal actually got to hear it before he went to the great recording studio in the sky).

I should add that in the last two weeks, both of these tracks got the nod as Coolest Song of the Week over at Little Steven's Underground Garage Sirius XM radio show. Which is itself the coolest thing of the week in perpetuity.

For more on The Weeklings, head over to their website HERE.

For more on The Tearaways, their website is HERE. And you should immediately check out their fantastic CD Anthems and Lullabies, which can -- and very definitely should -- be previewed and ordered at iTunes Music HERE.

[h/t Marc Platt]

Friday, March 15, 2019

Your Friday Moment of Words Fail Me

From 2011, please enjoy power pop gods The Left Banke (and the NYU Choral Society) and the damndest version of their masterpiece "Desiree" you'll ever hear.



Seriously, folk, I'm speechless.

Have a great weekend everybody.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Got Live If You Want It

Attention Gothamites: If you're in the East Village vicinity of this charmingly monikered club tonight..


...stop in at 7:30 to see friend of PowerPop (and me)...


...Joe Benoit and his combo.


Art direction on the above, BTW, by my beautiful and brilliant girlfriend.

Joe's a ridiculously talented singer, songwriter and guitarist, and if you doubt me, here's a glorious song from that forthcoming EP.



You can hear the rest of the new tunes on Spotify HERE.

Seriously -- get over there now!!!




Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Granny Takes a Trip

From 2018, please enjoy pioneering first generation San Francisco band The Ace of Cups and the utterly amazing "Feel Good."



Those ladies were very well known in their hometown back in the day, but they never made a proper album until last year, when they reformed, thus proving that Scott Fitzgerald was wrong -- there ARE second acts in American lives.

In any event, that is pretty much the most fabulous thing I've ever seen, even if I hate the bass player for being way better than me. I can't wait to hear the rest of the album, which is on its way from Amazon as we speak.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Hal Blaine 1929 -- 2018

From January of 1965, please enjoy the instrumental sessions for "Mr. Tambourine Man." With the late great Mr. Blaine on drums.



And after about the 8 minute point, when Larry Knechtel nails the classic bass riff, you have to wonder if these guys knew they had just changed music forever.

I"ll have more to say about the Wrecking Crew tomorrow.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Your Monday Moment of "We've Got Trouble!!!"

Attentive readers with long memories may recall me yammering about pioneering L.A. glam pop band Christopher Milk on earlier occasions, most often in the context of their swansong, a fabulous failed single cover of Terry Reid's "Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace,” which as they say should have been a goddamn hit.



In any case, Milk bass player Kirk Henry...


...is a Facebook chum of mine, and a few weeks ago -- during a discussion of original cast albums of Broadway shows (occasioned by my remarks about seeing Hamilton) -- he let it drop that back in 1987-88, he had recorded a shall we say highly rhythmic version of "Trouble," the classic patter song from The Music Man. As he told me: "I learned that song when I was 8, launched into an angry rapid-fire version of it at the Whiskey in 1972 when Ralph [Oswald, Christopher Milk's guitar player]'s amp blew up, and was reminded of it again the first time I heard rap."

I found this intriguing, obviously, and Kirk was kind enough to share the track with me. Give it a listen, won't you?



Okay, I won't go quite far enough as to say that it too should have been a goddamn hit, but it's, er, memorable nonetheless.

I should add that Christopher Milk's sole album, the charmingly monikered Some People Will Drink Anything, which is splendidly produced by Chris Thomas (of Procol Harum and Pretenders fame)...


...has finally been reissued, and can be streamed (or purchased on vinyl) over at Amazon HERE. Act now.







Friday, March 08, 2019

Because the Night V

Okay, so this has turned -- completely inadvertently, I should add -- into Patti Smith week.

So here's a sort of nostalgic closer, which I first posted about in these precincts back in 2011(!).

Consider, then, if you will, this extremely rare 1976 pamphlet edition of a poem by (then an item) Ms. Smith and Television guitarist Tom Verlaine.


Patti was kind enough to give me an autographed copy of that during the course of the 1978 interview I did with her for the Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Review. And years later -- some time in the early 90s -- a friend of mine, who was working with Verlaine's management, passed it along to Tom, who was equally kind enough to add his John Hancock along with handwritten notes as to which verses were his and which were Patti's.

What can I tell you -- it's one of my most treasured possessions, even if it IS pretentious enough to alternate pages in English and (presumably well-translated) French.

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, March 07, 2019

Because the Night IV

Patti Smith IS the Witch...


...in...



...coming soon to a theater near you.

Okay, I'm going to hell for that joke.

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Because the Night III

Gilda Radner apparently found Patti Smith's performance on SNL a tad over the top.


With, as you can see from this 1976 clip, hilarious -- if slightly unfair, in my view -- results.


Rock Against Yeast, indeed.

Because the Night II

And speaking of Patti Smith as I sort of was yesterday, I'd forgotten how kind of adorable she was.


And what a riveting performer.


Monday, March 04, 2019

Because the Night

Comedian John Mulaney -- who hosted a surprisingly funny episode of SNL last weekend -- poses for an update of one of the most iconic album covers of all time.


I had no idea who this guy was until I saw the show, but he's now aces in my book.

Plus, that photo just slays me.

Friday, March 01, 2019

Your Friday Moment of In Vino Veritas

From 2008, please enjoy Norwegian pop tart Ida Maria and her charmingly honest "I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked."



I heard this for the first time earlier this week while hanging out at my local watering hole and dug it the most. A day later, listening to it at home while quaffing a non-adult beverage, I found myself less impressed. I've been going back and forth on it ever since, although mostly I figure that any song that cribs from the theme from The Banana Splits is sort of excellent by definition.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Closed Due to Lawyers

Signing the papers on my mom's apartment today.


Assuming I don't take a hostage, and our long national nightmare is finally over, musical postings -- perhaps even a Listomania -- will resume tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

And So You See...Ennui!

Saw the curent incarnation of Procol Harum last night.



Brooker was in terrific voice, the band was pro, and the occasional A-list material performed -- "Homburg," for example -- sounded fine, in a sort of Procol Harum Mania kind of way. But I mostly spent the show fidgeting, and in the end, I prefer my memories of the real thing.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Destination Unknown

From 1968 and their sole (eponymous) album, please enjoy The Travel Agency and "Old Man."



I first wrote about those guys here back in 2010(!), immediately after discovering the album at the long-departed download site Redtelephone66, but I hadn't thought about them since until last weekend, when a another one of their songs got posted on Facebook by a friend of mine.

In any case, the group was from Houston and member Frank Davis was later involved with the Texas pop-psych band Fever Tree, whose minor 1969 hit "San Francisco Girls" was much beloved of the late WNEW-FM deejay Alison Steele (a/k/a "The Nightbird"). The album was produced by Jimmy Griffin, of Bread fame -- and as you can hear, he did a pretty spiffy job. To my ears, it anticipates pretty much everything Dave Edmunds did a few years later in his "I Hear You Knockin'" period (pleasantly nasal, lots of compression, guitars that sound like they were recorded directly into the board, etc). As for the song itself, "Old Man" adapts the Buddy Holly/"Peggy Sue" guitar riff to some interesting ends; this, I think, is power pop before its time, plowing the same field as Bobby Fuller, at least to my ears.

Bottom line: While I remain convinced that most obscure 60s pop and rock albums deserve their obscurity, The Travel Agency is an exception. You can order or stream a copy of the remastered album over at Amazon HERE; if you're a cheap bastard you can also find the entire shebang on YouTube.

Monday, February 25, 2019

There Goes the Neighborhood

In the process of cleaning out my late mom's house. On a deadline.


This kind of thing is nightmarish under the best of circumstances, but without boring you with the details, the entire process -- including selling the apartment -- has taken several years off my life and raised my blood pressure precipitously.

Normal music-hath-charms posting resumes tomorrow, if at all possible.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Peter Tork 1942 - 2019

Goffin and King's folk-rock classic "Wasn't Born to Follow." A Sixties studio outtake reworked for The Monkees fabulous 2016 album Good Times. Tork on lead vocal.



Mann and Weill's gorgeous "Shades of Grey," from The Monkees even more fabulous 1967 album Headquarters. All instruments played by Davy, Mike, Mickey and Peter, except for French horn and cello. Lead vocals by Tork and Davy.



And this is one of the most endearing things I've ever seen -- Tork's audition for The Monkees tv show. What a charmer.



I've said it before and I'll say it again -- the fact that Jann Wenner won't allow these guys into the Hall of Fame, and has not been struck by lightning, is all the proof one needs of the non-existence of God.

Have a great weekend, everybody.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Walk on the MIld Side

So I've heard some really interesting Lou Reed news, which I will pass along as we get closer to the date of it being made public, but in the meantime I was moved to re-visit Lou's first solo album, which I haven't listened to in ages, but adored back in 1972. (To the point that I conned the powers that be at the Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Review to favor it with a Record of the Year award.)

Quel disappointment.



Seriously, that's pretty much the best thing on it, and it's a complete mess.

In retrospect, the coolest thing about the album is the cover, which is the work of the great Tom Adams, who also did the covers for the early 70s paperback re-issues of the novels of Raymond Chandler.


I'll bet you can guess which one that's for.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Sick as a Dog


There's some bug going around and it's really kicking my pasty white ass.

Actual musical posting resumes tomorrow, come what may. And if you believe that, I have some bridgefront property in the boro where Welcome Back Kotter was set I'd like to interest you in.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Friday, February 15, 2019

If You Can Watch This Without Getting Misty, I Don't Want to Know You

Dawes on the Letterman show, from 2015, doing probably my all-time favorite Warren Zevon song.



I chanced across this by accident yesterday, although one of my old bandmates and pals in The Weasels had been telling me how great the Dawes guys were for ages, and I was looking to post something by them in his honor. This particular video, obviously, was a two-fer.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

[h/t Jai Guru Dave]

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Submitted For Your Approval

A pathetic failed rock star wannabe falls through a hole in the space/time continuum and finds himself in an alternate reality where The Beatles never existed.



Okay, I'll go see that, even if it is directed by Danny Boyle. (Have I mentioned that I absolutely loathe Trainspotting? Thank you.)

In any case, a fabulous premise. All that's missing is this guy.


Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Your Wednesday Moment of Self-Indulgence

Attentive readers may recall that The Floor Models, featuring some asshole whose name rhymes with Sleeve Nimels on bass, recently went into the studio and emerged with an absolutely fabulous version of a song power pop legend Marc Jonson wrote for us several decades ago but which we had never previously recorded.

If you'd like to hear it, please click on the link here and refresh your memory.

The above is going to be on our forthcoming album, BTW.


Art direction courtesy of my beautiful and brilliant girlfriend, who is working cheap, I'll tell you that for free.

Anyway, I bring it up because while cleaning out my old laptop yesterday, I chanced upon this 1989 live version of the song, which while having a much different feel -- eighth notes, goddamnit -- is also pretty spiffy...



...and also catches what a hot little band we were at the time. If I do say so myself.

Tomorrow: actual great music by people who aren't us!!!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Your Tuesday Moment of Possibly Interesting Coincidence

So over the weekend, I was at my local CVS pharmacy and this utterly gorgeous Gin Blossoms song, from their brilliant 1992 debut album New Miserable Experience, came over the store sound system.



And I remembered just how much I had loved that record at the time. And how I regretted never having seen the band live.

And then yesterday, I discovered that they were in town and performing NME in its entirety at a local small club...


...and that I hadn't gotten the memo in time.

There's a moral to this story, I suspect, but it's probably just shoot me now.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Closed for Monkey Business


Can't get a certain music file I wrote about for today to open on the page.

I will attempt to fix the problem and re-post later today. If not, hopefully by tomorrow.

God, I hate when this shit happens.



Friday, February 08, 2019

Weekend Listomania: Special Wide World of Weird Edition

Okay, it's Friday, and you know what means.

It's Listomania Time!!!

And a potentially fun project for all of us is --

MOST AVANT-GARDE SONG/SINGLE TO HAVE CRACKED THE TOP OF THE POPS!

No arbitrary rules here, obviously, but I must confess that some of my nominees may be more accurately described as innovative, rather than avant-garde. It's all subjective, obviously, so have fun.

In any case, my totally top of my head Top Eight are:

8. Buchanan and Goodman -- The Flying Saucer



The first mash-up record, and they did it the hard way -- without sampling.

7. A tie --

Nervous Norvus -- Transfusion



Jody Reynolds -- Endless Sleep



Two of the weirdest records ever made. Echo and suicide -- when was that something that got you a hit?

6. Donna Summer -- I Feel Love



You know, I didn't particularly like this one at the time, and I still don't really, but jeebus -- the first time you heard this, you had to go "??????"

5. The Beatles -- All You Need is Love



The moment when they sing "She Loves You" at the end? The precise moment when Post-Modernism begins.

4. Tone Loc -- Funky Cold Medina



The first great rock 'n' roll record where the backing track is totally sampled. And I have to admit -- it was months after this became a hit that I realized the guitar stuff was from Foreigner.

3. The Beach Boys -- Good Vibrations.



Cellos and a theremin. Right.

2. The Byrds -- Eight Miles High



Excuse me, forget the alleged drug-influenced lyrics -- name me another record that sneaked John Coltrane licks onto AM radio.

And the number one avant-garde Top Twenty hit single of all time, it's not even a contest, obviously is...

1. The Yardbirds -- I'm a Man



Wait a minute -- this is a cover of a Bo Diddley blues song; so why is Jeff Beck making strange noises up the neck of his guitar at the finale?

Alrighty then -- what would YOUR choices be?

And have a great weekend, everybody?

Thursday, February 07, 2019

An Early Clue to the New Direction: Special I've Suffered for My Art, Now It's YOUR Turn! Edition

From 1954, legendary electronic music pioneer Leon Theremin demonstrates the ultimate musical handjob.



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

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Your Tuesday Moment of Why Didn't I Get the Memo?

From 2011, please enjoy Middle Brother and their thoroughly rocked out ode to solipsism "Me Me Me."



I had neither heard, or heard of, these guys until last Friday, when the great Roy Edroso posted the song over at his invaluable Alicublog, where he described the song as sounding like Cheap Trick reborn as post-punks. I don't think it's quite that good, but it is thoroughly charming and I am happy to have made band's acquaintance. Thanks, Roy.

Sunday, February 03, 2019

Your Monday Moment of Why Didn't I Get the Memo?

From 1994, please enjoy the latter day version of The Sir Douglas Quintet and their as-close-to-power-pop as Doug ever got "Too Little Too Late."



I've been a fan of those guys since my high school days and "She's About a Mover" (and their lesser known 1969 hit "Mendocino"....



...is another longtime fave.

But I'd totally forgotten the album that "Too Little Too Late" derives from...


...until the other day when a kind reader sent me the video.

Although now that I think of it, I seem to recall I raved about it -- the band includes John Jorgenson, Augie Meyers and Doug Clifford? Holy shit -- in the pages of The Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Review.

In any event, a way cool song and arrangement -- the 12-string is transplendent -- and I think I'm gonna get a copy of the disc.

[h/t Josh Lewellen]

Friday, February 01, 2019

Weekend Listomania: Special Honkies, Please! Edition

[I originally ran two pieces somewhat similar to this one back in 2007, when this blog and the world were young. I have almost totally swapped out the song choices and re-written the whole fershlugginer mess, just to demonstrate that I'm not the slacker you all probably, and with justification, think I am. In any case, enjoy. -- S.S.]


Okay, so here's a hopefully entertaining project for us all:

BEST PERFORMANCES OF SONGS ORIGINALLY WRITTEN AND RECORDED BY THE GOOD FOLKS AT MOTOWN AS REINTERPRETED BY ROCK, POP, AND SOUL ARTISTS OF THE NON-AFRICAN AMERICAN PERSUASION!!!

Self-explanatory, I think and thus no arbitrary rules. But if you nominate either Linda Ronstadt's "Heatwave" or Soft Cell's "Tainted Love," I will come to your house and smack you silly.

Okay, and my totally top of my head Top Ten is/are:

10. The Rolling Stones -- Just My Imagination (The Temptations)



In the immortal words of (Holy) Greil Marcus, the Stones cover of this will be breaking hearts for as long as people are still listening to rock-and-roll. I should add that as much as I adore the Temptations original version, it's major league urbane; you can almost hear the tuxedos while they're singing it. The Stones reading, by way of contrast, is about as pure a musical representation of desperate romantic longing as can be imagined.

9. The Beatles -- Money (That's What I Want) (Barrett Strong)



Fun fact: The original of this was the very first Motown record. It also still boggles my mind that a jazz and classical guy like George Martin totally nails the piano part.

8. God -- One More Heartache (Marvin Gaye)



From 1969, my college band essaying what I think is a very convincing garage rock assault on Marvin's classic (that dual guitar solo was decidely avant-garde at the time). Yes, that's some asshole whose name rhymes with Sleeve Nimels on bass in the first half of the track and on piano throughout.

7. Joan Osborne -- What Becomes of the Broken Hearted (Jimmy Ruffin)



From the astounding documentary Standing in the Shadows of Motown. Which, if you haven't seen it, means your life is the poorer for it.

6. Fleetwood Mac -- I'm a Roadrunner (Jr. Walker and the All-Stars)



Anybody else noticing that a lot of the pre-Buckingham/Nicks Mac albums are a lot better than legend tells us?

5. Steve Martin -- Billie Jean (Michael Jackson)



Okay, it's not technically a cover, but it's the best version of the song ever.

4. The J. Geils Band -- Where Did Our Love Go (The Supremes)



This was actually a single at the beginning of the punk era, which may explain why it wasn't a radio hit. Which it clearly deserved to be. Damn, I love the rhythm guitar in the solo section at the end.

3. Bruce Springsteen -- War (Edwin Starr)



I was surprised to find, in a Google search, that Springsteen has covered surprisingly few Motown songs. In any event, this is pretty great. Especially in the historical context of when it was performed.

2. The Small Faces -- Every Little Bit Hurts (Brenda Holloway)



A definitive performance of the definitive Motown torch song ballad. Fun fact: The song was written by the same guy who wrote The Standells' garage punk classic "Dirty Water."

And the number one Caucasian performance of a Motown hit, it's not even a contest, is clearly --

Graham Parker and The Rumour -- I Want You Back (The Jackson Five)



This is simply terrific, but it also gets extra points for chutzpah -- I mean, what are the odds that a bunch of Brits, as white as the whale, could do a credible job on this?

Alrighty then -- what would YOUR choices be?

And have a great weekend, everybody.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

An Early Clue to the New Direction

From 1987 (apparently -- Wiki informs me there are three distinct versions of this), please enjoy loveable British pop tarts Bananarama and their sort of sprightly cover of The Supremes (post Diana Ross) classic "Nathan Jones."



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

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Noted Without Comment


Had a long late night in the studio yesterday. Regular posting -- including a pretty amazing news item about David Bowie -- resumes on the morrow.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Okay, My Last Thoughts on Greta Van Fleet

Basically, I prefer Jo Van Fleet.


No, but seriously, I had never heard of these guys (let alone had an opinion on them) until two weekends ago when they were on Saturday Night Live, and apparently pissed a lot of people off for being too blatant a Led Zeppelin knockoff.

So then I watched the SNL clips. And my immediate reaction was that they were more like a reasonably talented 1974 Southern bar band with a creepy lead singer than a Zep knockoff.



And yes, that's pretty awful.

But then I watched the second clip...



...and realized that the bass player had a) switched to actual Hammond organ(!) and b) was playing the bass part on the foot pedals, and my respect for the band went through the roof.

And then one of my much younger friends, who has actually seen them in concert and thinks they're awesome, turned me on to this song.



Which, yes, is about as much of a Led Zep homage as you can get, but frankly despite how derivative it is, I can't resist it.
,
And I don't even particularly like Led Zep.

Discuss.

[h/t Dan Fridman]





Monday, January 28, 2019

Album of the Year

Apparently this went viral over the weekend, but in case you haven't seen it...


Click on the cover to enlarge and fully savor the song titles.

BTW, leaving Mike Love in the photo is the cream of the jest.

[h/t Laura Giantonio]

Friday, January 25, 2019

John Lennon's Finest Moment. Not.

So as i mentioned earlier this week, a certain Shady Dame and I were at London's Victoria and Albert Museum last Sunday, which is a fabulous place and I highly recommend it. More specifically, we were there to see an exhibition on the history of censorship in England. Which turned out to be unexpectedly droll, as you can see from the photos below.



In any event, the big whoop over a late 60s/early 70s Brit underground magazine called Oz featured prominently in the show; most Americans, even hippies like myself, were only vaguely aware of it at the time, but it was a very big and controversial deal in England and it's a fascinating story.

If only because John Lennon released an actual benefit record for the rag on Apple. Which I also hadn't known about...


...and so as soon as I got back to our hotel room, I sat down and listened to it.



And promptly wished I hadn't.

Let's just say it's not "Instant Karma."

Have a great weekend, everybody.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

I've Lived Before!!!

From 1974, please enjoy the charmingly monikered Bridey Murphy and their why-wasn't it a hit? single "The Time Has Come."



Bridey Murphy -- named after my favorite 50s best-seller piece of nonsense The Search for Bridey Murphy (which involves a shrink who hypnotizes a young woman who then "remembers" a previous life as a young girl in 19th century Ireland) -- was a band featuring the great Waddy Wachtel, plus Paul, Barry and Bill Cowsill, of the 60s hitmakers of the same name. That single is the only record they ever made. Had it been successful, obviously, pop music history would have been changed in unfathomable ways.

Incidentally, you can watch the wonderfully cheesy B-movie version of said book over at YouTube HERE. You may or not thank me.

[h/t FD13NYC]

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Wednesday Travel Notes

Returning home from London today, to reunite with The Incomparable Eddie©.


Regular music related postings resume tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

England Swings (And Apparently Too Damn Much)

Had high tea at Fortnum and Mason in London today.


BTW, it’s true — the Brits are polite to a fault. Unfortunately, given the number of them who bumped into me on the street on the way there, they’re also blind as bats.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Monday Shameless Filler

Checked out the Linda McCartney photo exhibition at London’s Victoria and Albert museum yesterday, and chanced across this fabulous pic of The Yardbirds circa 1968.


Hey sorry — that’s all I got today.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Weekend Listomnia: Special The Horn Blows at Midnight Edition

Well, it's Friday, and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental fille-de-whoopie Fah Lo Suee and I are off to beautiful Mar-a-Lago(fuck yourself) to spray paint graffiti on the wall separating the President from the special counsel's investigators.

Okay, I made that up -- actually, a certain Shady Dame and I will be winging our way to London for a four day weekend, during which time -- seriously -- we will be taking in an exhibit of Linda McCartney's photographs and seeing a performance of the smash musical Hamilton. Could be a hot one, as I'm wont to say.

But in the meantime, here's a fun project for you all:

BEST OR WORST USE OF A HORN SECTION ON A POP/ROCK/SOUL RECORD!

No arbitrary rules at all, although remember, I'm talking horn section, not solo horns, so don't give me any of that Junior Walker shit. Also, I'd prefer it if the name Chicago did not enter into the festivities.

Okay, my totally top of my head Top Five:

5. Elvis Presley -- Trouble



As seen and heard in King Creole. Directed by Michael (Casablanca) Curtiz, of all people. I don't know who did the horn charts (Leiber and Stoller wrote the song, of course) but man, they kick some serious ass.

4. Otis Redding -- Can't Turn You Loose



Even the Blues Brothers couldn't spoil that arrangement.

3. Bruce Springsteen -- Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out



Arrangement by the lovely and talented Little Steven, who should be immortal for this alone..

2. The Rolling Stones -- Rocks Offf



"The sunshine bores the daylights out of me." No better lyric has ever been written. Also, the horn arrangements on Exile are pretty stellar throughtout.

And the number one horn arrangement of all time, it's not even close, self-evidently is...

1. The Beatles -- Got to Get You Into My Life



Alrighty then -- what would YOUR choices be?

And have a great weekend, everybody!








Thursday, January 17, 2019

An Early Clue to the New Direction



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

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Closed for Monkey Business


Well, actually insanely busy with preparations for our upcoming four day jaunt to London.

But have no fear, while we're gone Weekend Listomania will make another triumphant return.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Sing Along With Comrade Trump

From 2018, Brit comic Bill Bailey discovers that in a minor key, "The Star Spangled Banner" sounds Russian.



That guy's new to me, but he's kinda reminiscent of a Victor Borge for the current century. I particularly liked his description of a major key version of "Für Elise" as sounding like "a Bavarian milking song."

Monday, January 14, 2019

My Monday Moment of Why Didn't I Get the Memo?

From 2001, please enjoy Jimmy Eat World and the goddamned cutest power pop confection I've heard in ages, and why did I not hear it before last Saturday?



As I mentioned last week, I'd never really paid attention to those guys, but one of my youthful friends, who's also my Saturday afternoon bartender, was playing a bunch of their stuff at my local watering hole two weekends ago and my ears pricked up. The song above? God, it's terrific -- some of those answering chorus vocals are sheer genius.

Thanks, Dan!!!

Friday, January 11, 2019

Return of Weekend Listomania: Special Dave "Baby" Cortez Lives! Edition

[I first posted this in 2008, back when this blog and the world were young. As is my wont, I have re-written parts of it and deleted/added a couple of the entries, just so you don't think I'm the slacker I actually am. Enjoy! -- S.S.]

So -- here's a fun project for you all to contemplate:

BEST ORGAN LICKS ON A POST-ELVIS POP/ROCK RECORD !!!!!!

And by "best" we mean the most melodic, the most effective, or the most inventive. It can be a solo, an entire part as played through the length of a song, or simply a riff -- whatever gets you off.

And just to belabor the obvious, we said "organ." No pianos, clavinets or synths need apply. You heard me. And in the interests of common sense, I do hope you'll have the good breeding not to nominate anything by Yes.

Okay, that said, here's my totally top of my head Top Thirteen, with credits for the fine folks who actually play the organ parts appended.

13. The Young Rascals -- Good Lovin' (Felix Cavaliere)



The first rock organ solo I ever learned how to play. And still the most fun.

12. Janis Ian -- Society's Child (can't find the musician credits for this track -- anybody have the CD?)



"That arrogant organ." -- Leonard Bernstein.

11. Booker T. and the MGs -- Time is Tight (Booker T. Jones)



Get me drunk and I'll actually claim that this is one of the best short pieces of instrumental music, in any genre, written in the second half of the 20th century.

10. The Beatles -- We Can Work It Out (John Lennon)



That's John on harmonium, of course, which is a primitive form of pump organ so don't give me any crap. In any case, this may be the most perfect early Beatle record, largely due to those organ swells adding color and texture during the verses. And the out of nowhere liturgical riff at the end, of course.

9. A tie:

The Animals -- Boom Boom (Alan Price)



The Alan Price Set -- I Put a Spell On You (Alan Price, natch)



Price is kind of a household name in England; in this country, alas, less so. But if there was a more soulful keyboard guy and singer tossed up on the shores of the British Invasion, I can't think of him.

8. Spencer Davis Group -- I'm a Man (Stevie Winwood)



Well, maybe Stevie.

7. Brinsley Schwarz -- Surrender to the Rhythm (Bob Andrews)



This clip simply slays me. Astoundingly lyrical organ work; the young Nick Lowe wrote the damn thing and is trying hard to be the focus of attention here, but Andrews absolutely steals it.

6. Another tie --

? and the Mysterians -- 96 Tears (Frank Rodriguez)



and

Sir Douglas Quintet -- She's About a Mover (Augie Meyers)



Genuis simplicity or moronic mindlessness? YOU make the call!! Seriously -- the cheesy 60s organ sound that pretty much defines pop retro begins here.

5. Another tie --

Bob Dylan -- Like a Rolling Stone (Al Kooper)



and

Elvis Costello and the Attractions -- Pump It Up (Steve Nieve)



Kooper invents the quicksilver 60s folk rock keyboard sound in the former, Nieve updates it for the immediate post-punk era in the latter.

4. The Zombies -- Time of the Season (Rod Argent)



Argent's playing here is dazzling, of course, but the decision to overdub a second solo on top of the first one on the fadeout was sheer genius.

3. Procol Harum -- Pilgrim's Progress (Matthew Fischer)



Like "Layla," this is a song with a lengthy, seemingly unrelated instrumental coda appended from out of the blue. Unlike "Layla," this one has no guitar histrionics whatsoever, and yet it's just as gorgeous. Remarkable.

2. Alabama 3 -- Woke Up This Morning (Orlando Harrison)



This is possibly the simplest organ lick ever recorded -- really, I could teach my cat to play it in five minutes -- and yet damned if it doesn't work in the context of the everything but the kitchen sink stuff these guys surround it with.

And the number one coolest, it's not even a contest for crissakes, organ grinding on a pop/rock record of all time is indisputably ---

1. Oh crap, it's another tie!!!

The Band -- Chest Fever (Garth Hudson)



and

The Call -- The Walls Came Down (Garth Hudson)



The Mad Professor at his maddest and grandest. And it is perhaps no accident that both these songs, as lyrically different as they are, have magnificently primal hard rock riffs at their core.

Awrighty then -- what would your choices be?

Thursday, January 10, 2019

An Early Clue to the New Direction

From 1966, please enjoy the (then) Young Rascals and their kick-ass hit "Come On Up."



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

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Your Wednesday Moment of Words Fail Me

Big deal astrophysicist(!) Brian May CBE [left], some American guy [center], and dapper Queen drummer Roger Taylor (looking like an actor in a British-in-India Hollywood flick from the 1930s) [right] pose with their Golden Globe awards for Bohemian Rhapsody last Sunday.


I can't tell you how much this tickles me.

And as for Brian May -- can I just say, and for the record, that nobody in human history has ever had as cool a second act? Thank you.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Is It a Good Day for The Music Machine?

Heck, it's ALWAYS a good day for The Music Machine.



That was the 1966 follow-up to the immortal "Talk Talk"; it wasn't as big a hit, although I always thought it should have been, and it got respectable airplay in the New York City area as I recall. In fact, I actually owned the single version, which I bought, proudly, at the Sam Goody store in the Paramus mall.


Apart from being a terrific song, the musicianship and sound on that is really stellar for the period; MM bassist Keith Olsen went on to a huge career behind the recording console, and was responsible for, among other fine audio products, the eponymous 1975 Fleetwood Mac album you might be familiar with.

Monday, January 07, 2019

Will Our Mystery Guest Enter and Sign In Please?

From 2016, please enjoy Jimmy Eat World and their quite ragingly beautiful "It Matters."



I've never really paid attention to those guys before, and the reason I bring them up now is because one of my youthful friends, who's also my Saturday afternoon bartender, was playing the album that song is from at work last weekend, and when the chorus came on it instantly reminded me of another song hit -- probably from the 80s -- that I could not and still can't readily remember the title of, or the band that did it.


Obviously, a coveted PowerPop No-Prize© will be awarded to the first reader who figures it out.

Friday, January 04, 2019

Joey the Icon

I have to say it -- if you had told me in 1979 that four decades later I would be seeing teenage kids walking down the street wearing CBGS/Ramones t-shirts or buying other Joey related stuff...


...I would have told you that you were huffing drugs more potent than either of us could have imagined.

In the meantime, please enjoy power pop legend (and friend of The Floor Models) Marc Jonson and his fabulous new song "MY GIRLFRIEND (Doesn't Like the Ramones").



Words fail me, obviously. And have I mentioned that there's a street in Manhattan named after Joey?

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, January 03, 2019

Dean Ford 1946-2018

The Marmalade lead singer responsible for the wonderful "Reflections of My Life" has passed.

But I'd forgotten that he was also responsible for this classic, which no less an authority than Jimi Hendrix praised as the best single of 1967.



A special PowerPop No-Prize© will be awarded the first reader who identifies the TV commercial in which this song featured prominently.

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

2018: The Year My Readers Let Me Down

Specifically, none of you guys told me that Wayne Kramer was doing an MC5 fiftieth anniversary tour (as MC50) untill two weeks after the show played New York City. You bastards.


Get on the ball, people!!!

But, as I mentioned the other day, since I love you all more than food, I am thoughtfully reproducing here -- for those of you who don't have subscriptions -- a terrific piece about Kramer from the Dec. 17 2018 issue of The New Yorker.

WAYNE KRAMER AND THE MEANING OF PUNK
The seventy-year-old guitarist from the proto-punk group MC5 revisits the East Village of the eighties.

By Nick Paumgarten

By many lights, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is a silly project. Recently, Bruce Dickinson, the lead singer of Iron Maiden, called it “an utter and complete load of bollocks.” He said, “It’s run by a bunch of sanctimonious bloody Americans who wouldn’t know rock and roll if it hit them in the face.” Evidence, if you want it, can be found in the hall’s failure to enshrine the MC5, who may have been the first real rock-hitting-you-in-the-face band. (They’ve been nominated this year, for the fourth time, but, with the induction announcement likely coming this week, oddsmakers have put their chances below those of better-selling and less face-hitty acts like the Cure and Stevie Nicks.) It was fifty years ago that the MC5 released their proto-punk anthem and album “Kick Out the Jams.” They were five spirited white boys from Detroit who’d been radicalized by the 1967 race rebellion (they joined their mentor, the poet John Sinclair, in establishing the White Panther Party, an adjunct of the Black Panthers).

This fall, the guitarist Wayne Kramer, one of the two surviving MC5s, toured with other musicians as the MC50s. Kramer, now seventy, has also been peddling a memoir, “The Hard Stuff,” which relates the band’s grand ambitions and commercial failures (they broke up in 1972, after just three albums), his own descent into crime and heroin addiction, his years in federal prison (drug trafficking), and his subsequent decades of trying to get his shit right, which (spoiler alert) he has—at least as of today, as he’d say.

Kramer was released from prison in 1979. “I said, If I’m not on the good foot after a year, I gotta leave Detroit,” he recalled the other day. “All my friends and associates were in the life. They were dealing, and they were ripping and running. So I came to New York, where I’d be safe”—big laugh—“here where heroin flowed out of the faucets.”

Kramer was strolling in his old East Village neighborhood, pointing out bygone haunts amid the new condo projects and juice shops. He was wearing Day-Glo-orange running shoes, black jeans, and an expression of perma-delight: survival. Punk had meant one thing in prison but another here, when he turned up to discover that the MC5 were cherished as forebears by the CBGB generation, which had adopted the term. The other MC5 guitarist, Fred (Sonic) Smith, got married in 1980 to Patti Smith and died in 1994.

"I was in this band Gang War with Johnny Thunders, which was another terrible decision,” Kramer said. Thunders, a founder of the New York Dolls, “was in the midst of active opiate abuse, and people in that condition have a prior commitment. I also had a girlfriend who was using. I didn’t have a chance. Red Rodney”— the jazz-trumpet great, who had been in prison with Kramer—“had warned me about that, and he was absolutely right. So, after Thunders was late for rehearsal for the umpteenth time, I told him, If you’re going to cop, pick me up a couple, too. And then I was up to my old tricks.”

215 East Tenth Street: Kramer’s neighborhood beachhead. “Third floor in the front,” he said. “Some judiciously applied grease to the super got me the next available apartment. The storefront across the street was a reefer store.” It’s now a high-end Japanese café. The drugs, and what he considered the industry’s anodyne preferences, kneecapped his attempts to resuscitate his career. Before long, he was homeless. He wound up in an S.R.O. on Lexington Avenue.

“So me and a partner went to work for a couple of brothers who owned buildings all over this neighborhood,” he said, and pointed at one across Avenue A. “We renovated an apartment on the top floor there for a guy I was told was the nephew of Donald Trump.” The job also included a lot of hot-tar roofing. “One day, I had an ‘Aha!’ moment. I found myself both freezing and burning up on a rooftop, my feet stuck in the tar, and I thought, Hey, I used to be an artist. What am I doing?”

He took up woodworking, as an apprentice to a cabinetmaker downstairs from his next apartment, on East Thirteenth Street—now a real-estate brokerage. “Frank Mattiello. He was a music fan. He builds skyscrapers today. And we’re still best friends. He’s the godfather of my son, Francis, who we named after Frank.” Kramer ticked off some old job sites: Oscar de la Renta’s apartment uptown and the Barbizon Hotel. “I added something to this city. It wasn’t all doom and gloom.”

He left New York in 1989, for Key West. “I built a couple houses, and a lot of stuff for Jimmy Buffett. He’s a good boss.” Eventually, Kramer moved to Los Angeles, got married, got sober, and regained some traction in the music business. “Opiates are painkillers, and they kill psychic pain, too,” he said. “But that’s where your ambition comes from: ‘You have to do this thing.’ There were a lot of moves back then I didn’t make.” Still, failure, if you want to call it that, has its rewards. He said, “If we’d been successful, I’d probably be dead.” ♦

It is one of the great regrets of my life that I never saw the MC5 live, but I did meet Kramer in the 80s once at some club in NYC; I don't remember who the act we were seeing was or when exactly this happened, but I do remember that I got to tell him how much I loved the MC5. And, if memory serves, how much I loved his production of the eponymous 1987 album (on Enigma) by The Broadcasters, who remain one of my all time favorite bands of the period.


Upon reflection, we may have been introduced by power pop legend Marc Jonson, and I'm pretty sure it was at the late lamented Kenny's Castaways, but hey -- it was the 80s. We were all pretty much over the top and my recollections may not be reliable.

In any event, The Broadcasters were an absolutely killer band, and although they didn't really sound like the 5, Kramer was obviously a brilliant fit as their producer. Here's the radio hit from the record, which makes the point pretty obvious.



The rest of the album, including a great cover of the 5's cover of Them's "I Can Only Give You Everything," can still be acquired over at Amazon HERE. Or -- if you're really nice to me, I can burn you a copy.





Tuesday, January 01, 2019

New Year's Day's Greatest Hits

[I first posted this one on New Years Day 2013, and, while I'm not trying to turn it in into some kind of internet tradition, I do find it amusing enough to give it the old "One More Time!". --S.S.]

This is, as I have been wont to say here on many previous occasions, a very sad story, so please try not to laugh.

It also has a certain relevance to today's festivities, which will be revealed later in the narrative. Please be patient.

Anyway, so the other day I was in a cab heading down the West Side Highway in a snowstorm, and the driver had the radio tuned to whatever soft-rock Lite FM station they inevitably have on when they don't have WINS News Radio blasting or some guy from Queens yelling about sports.

I wasn't particularly paying attention, but suddenly some soft-rock Lite FM staple song came on, and immediately I knew three things.

1. I had definitely heard it before.

2. It was probably from the 70s or the 80s, although I couldn't rule out the possibility that it might have been more recent, and it had that whole California soft-rock vibe, which I usually detest, in spades.

3. I had no idea who the guy or the group singing it was, although I was painfully aware that when and if I found out I was gonna kick myself. Because pretty much everybody in the world, at least of a certain age, would have been able to recognize it instantly.

The truly insidious part was that there was something about the damn thing that grabbed me. Yes, the vocals had that laid-back L.A. Mr. Sensitive shtick that usually makes my gorge rise. But the tune was charming, the voicings of the harmony parts in the chorus were really quite lovely, and -- try as I might to deny it -- it was getting under my skin.

Fortunately, because of the roar of traffic, I couldn't really hear the lyrics, although one word -- "architect" -- jumped out. "Hmm," I thought. "There's a word you don't hear in a pop song everyday."

Anyway, I then went about the rest of my weekend, but I knew with an absolutely dread certainty that I was gonna break down sooner or later and look the song up on the Intertubes.

So, late on Monday, I googled "Soft Rock song with the word architect in it" and up it popped.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you...and my fingers are shaking as I type these words....Dan Fogelberg (the horror, the horror!) and his 1980 smash (which I had apparently put out of my mind, probably deliberately, ever since its original vogue) "Same Old Lang Syne."




Well. In case you're wondering, no -- I have no interest in revisiting the rest of Fogelberg's body of work, and yes, I still basically can't stand the whole genre he represents, but goddamn it -- this damn song works and it gets to me. Like I said, it's melodically quite charming, and now that I've actually deciphered the lyrics, it turns out that -- despite a certain smugness that kind of rankles -- they actually make a pretty good little short story.

And the record's not even a new guilty pleasure, to be honest, because I don't feel particularly guilty about liking it.

Sticks in my craw a bit, though.

As I said, this is a very sad story, so please try not to laugh.

Happy New Year, everybody.

And fuck you, Dan Fogelberg, for your pernicious influence. Wherever you are.

Thank you.