Tuesday, February 18, 2020

The (Petrified) Dog Days of February

Okay, here's a little break from our usual PowerPop stuff.

THE DOG OF POMPEII
By Louis Untermeyer

Tito and his dog Bimbo lived (if you could call it living) under the wall where it joined the inner gate. They really didn’t live there; they just slept there. They lived anywhere. Pompeii was one of the most joyful of the old Latin towns, but although Tito was never an unhappy boy, he was not exactly a merry one. The streets were always lively with shining chariots and bright red trappings; the open-air theaters rocked with laughing crowds; sham battles and athletic sports were free for the asking in the great stadium. Once a year the Caesar visited the pleasure city andthe fireworks lasted for days; the sacrifices in the Forum were better than a show...

Read the rest of it HERE.

If it doesn't bring a tear to your eye, have yourself looked at.

I should add that Untermeyer was a good liberal Jewish guy who got blacklisted in the early 50s by the same fascist shitheads who now currently run our government. You can read all about him -- including the new to me story of how he got replaced by Bennett Cerf on What's My Line -- over HERE.

I should also add that when we were in Italy a few weeks ago, we saw an actual dog of Pompeii.


Which is what made me remember the story after all those years since I first read it.

Regular music posting resumes on the morrow.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Your Monday Moment of What a Sentimental Old Fluff I Have Become

From 2009, please enjoy -- if possible -- Train and their hit recording of "Hey, Soul Sister."



Okay, I have never cared for those guys -- and, as I implied last week, I sort of deliberately slept through much of the last couple of decades precisely to avoid bands like them and the rest of their commercial contemporaries.

But I'm sorry, that song is actually kind of irresistible.

Hey, soul sister
Ain't that Mr. Mister on the radio, stereo
The way you move ain't fair, you know

For starters, just in terms of wordplay, that's a pretty smart lyric. Not Cole Porter smart, but by contemporary standards, much better than you would expect. (A Mr. Mister reference? There's something you don't hear everyday).

Plus the whole sentiment is really kinda sweet and funny.

Hey -- so sue me.

POSTSCRIPT:

BTW, for those of you who have forgotten who Mr. Mister were, here's a reminder you won't thank me for.

Friday, February 14, 2020

The Glen Bob Chronicles: Special "Yet this claw could only belong to an arboreal creature -- like some impossible tree sloth" Edition

[I originally posted this in 2016, but it's such a great story -- and Glen Bob himself wrote it -- that I thought I'd repost it today, for obvious reasons. Have I mentioned I still can't believe he's gone? -- S.S.]

Before we start this post, let me link to the most relevant thingy GARAGE HANGOVER.

Okay, here we go.

Hi Steve,
I ran across your Floor Models website while trying to find info on an old 45 by a band called Arboreal (I'm guessing from the late 1970s). I am wondering if the songwriter Glen Allen is the same Glen Allen from your band? If you could provide any insight, it'd be great. (The songwriters on the Arboreal 45 are Glen and Greg Allen.) I collect records and (a) am curious as to where and when this 45 was released, and (b) would love to get one for my own collection.

Any info would be appreciated. Thanks in advance!
--Jason (Providence, RI)

I gotta admit, this was news to me. In all the years I've known and worked with Glen, this is the first I'd heard of this stuff.



LISTEN HERE


LISTEN HERE.

But as it turned out, yup, it was him.

Here's the whole saga, as Glen communicated it to me last week.
My brother Greg and I were raised in a musical household. We lived in Nutley NJ, home of Robert Blake, Martha Stewart, and, once upon a time, Annie Oakley!

Neither of our parents pursued an instrument beyond their grade school years, but as newlyweds they hosted an Upstate NY radio show pithily titled Ad-Libbing With The Allens.

They interviewed (and featured music by) the likes of Stan Kenton and other Jazz and Pop acts. Greg, before I was born, would sit quietly in the studio as the show was being broadcast live. He tells me how he still vividly recalls the lights on the console, and the excitement of knowing his Mom and Dad were "on the air".

Our folks would play Broadway and film scores. Our Aunt Beverly worked for MGM Records, she sent new releases our way. Greg would play LPs by Duane Eddy, Howlin' Wolf, The Ventures, Johnny Cash and more in our room.

Greg and I both started playing the drums in '64. We'd play along to the records we'd spin on our family's massive (15" mono speaker!) Hi-Fi.

Circa '65, Greg played drums in The Revengers. They had quite the cool repertoire, covering The Pretty Things, The Yardbirds, and other British Invasion acts. They even appeared on Zacherle's UHF show "Disc-O-Teen," along with The Cyrkle of "Red Rubber Ball" fame.

My hometown band went through a few names over it's 3 year span -- The Great Unknown, The Unknown Six,and, I kid you not, Admiral Allen & The Permanent Wave.

By the time I was 12, we were performing at teenagers parties and actually making money.

Note of scandal: At one rehearsal in my family's basement, our newly added Go-Go Girls -- 3 of our sixth grade classmates -- tied their blouses up to create a bare-midriff look.

This was well received by five of us in the band. However when our lead guitarist Steve Ucci's Dad showed up, Steve exclaimed, "Dad, the girls were bare!"

A sad farewell was said to the Go-Go girls.

We performed for 3000 people at The Nutley Oval on July 4th in '66. Another, older, band let us use their gear. A third band got stuck in transit, so we had a double set that night of about 90 minutes. We had 'em dancing on the infield to "Good Lovin", and because we had horns, "Batman," "Downtown," and,of course, "Tequila".

That night sealed my fate -- drums forever!

Greg and I had a clunky but good sounding Telefunken tape recorder and, later, a Sony that had sound-on-sound,as it was called back then. We could overdub ourselves. Many Dada-esque tunes were recorded, and some attempts at "real" music as well.

But in '68 I took up guitar, and we wrote and recorded more in earnest. By then our family had been in NYC for about a year. Greg and I decided to record in an actual studio.

An older classmate of mine, Jon Fausty, was working in a studio that specialized in Latin music. The first day in the studio the equipment went south, wouldn't work. I was actually relieved, for although Greg and I had performed in public and had recorded at home, this was A STUDIO! Where RECORDS WERE MADE!

The next day the gear was in working order, and I had shaken off the nerves. After all, I did have long wavy hair, a cool turquoise ring, a Superman-logo'd tee shirt, tie-dyed jeans, and, most of all, my '68 Gold-Top Les Paul Standard on which I had mastered the three essential chords.

I also loved the name we'd devised: Arboreal. We always had a thing for chimps, and we both probably would've proposed to Jane Goodall.

Greg was a metronomic drummer, a better time-keeper than me ('though I keep good time!). But who knew at the time that left handed drummers set up their drums differently than righties? Not us -- we'd only seen righties ever play.

Nontheless, with Greg keeping time and me on guitar, bass and vocals(!), we cut "Our Souls Would See Us Through," which Greg wrote the lyric for, and "Sixteen Years Old," which I wrote.

The chorus on "Sixteen..." was originally "Things are pretty shitty when you're sixteen years old.." But for the sake of mass appeal and radio play, I cleverly changed "shitty" to "sickening". A move of rare genius, though I missed the sheer beauty of the "pretty/shitty" rhyme scheme.

Greg, in true mystical metaphoric mode, came up with "we gazed into each other's eyestreams, until we met each other's dreams." And to think -- "eyestreams"was hardly ever used back then!

We printed 100 45's, sent them out to several record companies, and waited for the offers to roll in. Some of the rejection letters came on very nice stationery. Some with encouraging comments and actual signatures!

As I recall, Pickwick, a budget label, made an offer, but we held out for the big fish. That fish is still swimming merrily out there somewhere....

Greg would eventually quit playing the drums and moved on to a long career as a record reviewer and live performance critic for The Atlantic City Press, The Christian Science Monitor, Cashbox, Trouser Press and other newspapers and magazines. (He and I co-wrote songs for Ronnie Spector in '80 for a band I played in with Rafael Fuentes and that Greg managed -- Diamond Dupree.) He then went into talk radio (he hosted two nationally syndicated shows: "Him & Her w/ Greg And Fran," and "The Right Balance") and now regularly walks the malls and writes poetry (in retirement) on Florida's Gulf Coast.

As for me: Baby Moon (CBGB regulars), Diamond Dupree ( Lone Star Café regulars), The Floor Models (Darlings of the Village Scene), Lucy Kaplansky (ditto, the Village), The Human Condition ("World Beat" before the term even existed), Gerry Devine & The Hi-Beams (Flo-Mo's bastard son) and, for the last 22 years, French Cookin', Doc French's ensemble (B.B. King's Club regulars/Inductee NY Blues Hall Of Fame). I also perform with The Rock Club (featuring Ron D'Addario, proud father of The Lemon Twigs).

Jon Fausty is a Grammy Award winning Engineer/Producer in the Latin music field. He appeared on my wife's Cable TV show "Eddy Coston's Metro Music Scene" years ago to promote the David Byrne LP "Rei Momo," which he engineered.

Of course I've had the pleasure and privilege of being Steve Simels' personal musical conductor/arranger since '82. He promises my fee is forthcoming.......

A final note: I was astonished to discover that somebody stumbled upon Arboreal's one and only record.

More so that they posted it on a cool garage rock site.

Most amazing of all, I didn't cringe nearly as much as I thought I would after hearing this for the first time in 35-40 years.

I hope you don't either. -- Glen Allen

To paraphrase Thelma Ritter in All About Eve: What a story! Everything but the bloodhounds snappin' at his rear end.

But seriously, folks -- I love everything about that essay, and a big tip of the PowerPop hat to Glen Bob for sharing it.

I should also add that a special PowerPop No-Prize™ will be awarded to the first reader who -- without googling -- identifies the source of today's title.



Thursday, February 13, 2020

Your Thursday Moment of Is This Dude the Coolest Guy Who Ever Lived or What?

From sometime early in the 20th century -- 1930s would be my guess -- please enjoy Cab Calloway and his Cabaliers(!) and their fabulously spooky take on "St. James Infirmary."



Does MTV still exist? Because I guarantee they never aired a video as good as this one.

[h/t Allan Weissman]

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The Glen Bob Chronicles

From 1982, and the forthcoming Floor by Four album, please enjoy the fabulous Floor Models, featuring the late great Glen Robert Allen on drums...


...and a terrific live version of the first song we ever played together as a band -- "You'll Come Around."



I was in the studio last night, finishing the editing on the album, and I'm still having trouble processing that Glen's gone. Seriously -- there were times I expected to look over my shoulder and see him yelling at me about the tempos.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Glen Robert Allen 1954-2020

To quote a certain metallic gentleman from Oz -- now I know I have a heart, because it's breaking.


Sleep well, old friend. You made a difference in a lot of lives.

Monday, February 10, 2020

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

From 1998, and their album Head Trip in Every Key, please enjoy Superdrag and the lead-off track "I'm Expanding My Mind."



I don't know how I missed that one at the time -- although the excuse I usually give is that I largely slept through the '90s -- but I discovered it courtesy of honorary Floor Model (and friend of PowerPop) Joe Benoit, who kindly burned me a couple of Superdrag albums a few months ago.

Which, like a schween, I didn't listen to until a couple of days ago. And at this point I'm still playing "I'm Expanding My Mind" -- which I think is absolutely seraphically beautiful -- over and over again, like some 1964 teenager who just heard his first Beatles record.

In other words, my life just got changed by a piece of music again, and thank you Joe.

Friday, February 07, 2020

Your Friday Moment of Words Fail Me

From earlier this year, please behold in breathless wonder as Robyn Adele Anderson performs an absolutely jaw-dropping mashup of Amy Winehouse and The Rolling Stones.



I had absolutely no idea of the existence of Ms. Anderson until yesterday, when I chanced across the video at YouTube, but apparently she's been doing stuff like that for a couple of years; this 40s Swing Era cover of Nirvana, for example.

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

PS: A coveted PowerPop No-Prize© will be awarded to the first reader who correctly identifies the provenance of that "behold in breathless wonder" line above.

Thursday, February 06, 2020

Your Thursday Moment of And Speaking of Gorgeous

From her recently released (late 2019) new album, please enjoy the quite remarkable P.P. Arnold and a cover of Mike Nesmith's "Different Drum" that serves to put much of the (to me) inexplicable current Linda Ronstadt nostalgia into, shall we say, perspective.



Damn, that's great.

I should add that I was hipped to the existence of that album (the whole thing is amazing, BTW) over at friend of PowerPop Sal Nunziato's invaluable Burning Wood blog a few weeks ago. Which is one of the many things I've owed him for over the years.

I should also add that I was heretofore unfamiliar with Ms. Arnold beyond her original hit version of "The First Cut is the Deepest" and this fabulous appearance in my favorite Small Faces video.



But after hearing the new album, I looked her up over at Wiki here. Jeebus H. Christ on a piece of burnt challah toast -- this gal has been everywhere and done everything.

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (An Occasional Series): Special "Alliterative Band Names Rule" Edition

Ah yes -- Diamond Dupree. And therein lies a tale.


DD was a fixture in New York clubs throughout the 80s and early '90s; they also wrote songs for and backed up Ronnie Spector(!) on her fabulous Siren album (which, alas, has never been on CD, but you can get a vinyl copy at a reasonable price over at Amazon HERE).

A lot of people passed through the band over the years (including, briefly, myself) but the two constants throughout their career were Rafael Fuentes (second from left in the picture below) and Glen Robert Allen (right).


And if Glen looks familiar, that's perhaps because he's also been the drummer of The Floor Models since forever, but that's another story.

In any case, DD never made a proper album during the days they were gigging, but now -- as you may have guessed, given the CD cover above -- they have. And I am pleased to report that it's an absolute gem; melodic guitar driven pop/rock (with a pretty wide stylistic canvas, songwriting wise) at its most infectiously appealing.

Here's one of my favorite songs from the record (and I'm not just saying that because I'm playing the mariachi piano and horns stuff on the track) that should give you an idea of what the band was about.



And here's a vintage video, which demonstrates what a hot little outfit they were live.



The bottom line: Diamond Dupree are one of the great lost bands of their era, and this compilation does them full justice. You can -- and as I always say should -- order "Wake Me When I'm Famous" over at Amazon HERE in either CD or streaming form. Pronto.





Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Closed for Existential Monkey Business


Having one of those days.

Regular postings -- including fabulous music you've never heard by friends old and new -- resume tomorrow.

Monday, February 03, 2020

Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (An Occasional Series)

Yes, lets. Specifically my chum Marc Platt.

Marc fronted a mid-80s Los Angeles punkish power pop band called The Real Impossibles, and a compilation of their stuff (entitled It's About Time) came out on Zero Hour Records a few months after the 2013 Zero Hour release of Floor Your Love. Which made us labelmates, of course.

I had never heard of the band until the CD, but it knocked me out, and we struck up an intertube friendship, with me mostly telling him "I'm not worthy! I'm not worthy"!

Here's a representative track...



...that absolutely kills me. I think comparisons to The Plimsouls are not implausible (which is about the highest praise I can give anything), and for my money the whole CD is just freaking great guitar driven rock-and-roll.

Oh, and have I mentioned perhaps my favorite Neil Diamond cover ever?



So why am I bringing this up now? Because the good folks at Rum/Bar Records have just reissued It's About Time, completely remastered and with bonus tracks, and the damn thing is better than before. If ever there was a Great Lost Album of the 80s, this is it.

Bottom line: You can -- and should -- order it from Amazon HERE or directly from Rum/Bar over HERE.