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.