Friday, January 15, 2021

Found Music (An Occasional Series): Songs From a 30 Plus Year Old Mp3 Player I Just Unearthed -- Part III (I Have No Title Joke for This One, Which is a Stone Musical Masterpiece)

The astounding World Party -- from 1990 -- and the greatest George Harrison record George Harrison never made.

As recovered from the old gizmo I have been bugging you about for the last several days.

It doesn't get more gorgeous than that, nor should it. I should add that it is one of the greatest regrets of my adult life that I never saw those guys do that song live.

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Another Opening, Another Show!

So you've heard of Live at Daryl's House, right?

Well, tonight it's Live at Joe's House!!!

That's right -- my insanely talented young friend (and Forest Hills -- down the street from Casa Simels) -- homeboy Joe Benoit...

...has a fabulous new album -- What Kind of World -- that's dropping (as today's kids say) this Friday.

Here's a video teaser to give you an idea.

And to get the album out to the world in the style it deserves, Joe's doing a live performance from his living room starting at 8pm EST this evening. You can watch it at the link HERE, which will go active just before the show starts.

I've written about Joe in these pages on a number of occasions, like THIS ONE, (where we can be glimpsed in happier pre-pandemic days at our shared neighborhood watering hole) but as I said, he's just insanely talented, and the new album -- which can be ordered starting Friday over at Joe's one-stop music site over HERE -- is just great.

I am on record as saying that "The Longest Weekend," the first track from it, released earlier in the year...

...will someday be reckoned as the most important work of art to have emerged from the trying times we all shared in 2020. But the entirety of the new album is so strong I frankly hate its auteur on a deeply personal level.

In any event, listen to the live show tonight -- I know I will -- and buy the goddamn music already.

Talk to you guys after the show, I hope.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Found Music (An Occasional Series): Songs From a 30 Plus Year Old Mp3 Player I Just Unearthed

So hey youngsters -- most of you won't recognize the gizmo in this picture, but in the immortal words of David Letterman, this is how we old-timers used to enjoy the rock-and-roll music.

Oh hell -- most of you youngsters won't even know who David Letterman was, but that's a separate issue.

In any case, that's a Creative Zen Nano mp3 player -- a birthday present a friend gave me in the early 90s, as I recall -- that was essentially a flash drive, with a built in volume control and LED readout, that stored approximately 200 songs in various digital formats. I loved it, not least of which is because you didn't have to worry about charging it on your computer; you could just pop in a AAA battery and you were good to go.

Bottom line is, I recently found that gadget in the back of a drawer somewhere, and was delighted to discover that it still worked like a charm. More to the point, I was listening to it yesterday, because the playlist was a snapshot in time of the music I dug in the past but -- alas -- the title readout was so small and I'm so old geezer blind I couldn't really figure out who this one of the songs was by when it popped up. Obviously, it was a cover of The Byrds' version of Bob Dylan's "My Back Pages," which struck me as relevant to that Byrds tribute album I'm producing, but I couldn't quite place who it was by or where it was from.

Fortunately, a trip to Amazon provided the solution -- it was Marshall Crenshaw from this 2006 compilation album I had totally forgotten ever having owned.

BTW, you can still get a copy of that CD to stream at the aforementioned Amazon OVER HERE. The identical mp3 player can also be found over at eBay for a paltry 35 bucks.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Premature Weekend Listomania: Special "Rehearsals for Retirement" Edition

[I originally posted this back in 2007, when the world and this blog were young. It occurred to me it is more relevant today than it was at the time -- for obvious reasons -- and so, with some slight re-writing, here it is again. Enjoy, in the intended black humor way. -- S.S.]

Well, it's Monday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental houseboy Hop-Sing and I...

Actually, I'm gonna break character here and get serious for a minute, so bear with me.

Ahem.

As Capt. Picard said in Star Trek: Generations, I have of late become acutely aware that there are fewer years in front of me than behind. Thus, perhaps predictably, I've started to have all sorts of dire thoughts about my iminent departure from this sad vale of tears. And one of the direst is that when I snuff it, my friends (assuming they've outlived me), will feel compelled to stage a memorial service in my honor.

So at this juncture let me go on record as saying, loudly and publically, that...

I DON'T WANT A FRICKING MEMORIAL SERVICE!!!

Really -- I dislike them -- and I say that despite the fact that, earlier this year, I attended a quite lovely one for one of my dearest and oldest friends, Floor Models drummer Glen Robert Allen.

Yes, I know mine is a minority opinion on this issue, and that most well meaning folks think they're a good and appropriate idea. But -- speaking in my capacity as the (sooner rather than later to be the) Recently Deceased Guy -- here's what I'd like you all to do if you feel you absolutely must stage something to remember me by when I buy the farm.

THROW A PARTY WHERE EVERYBODY GETS STINKING DRUNK OR HIGH ON THE POISON OF THEIR CHOICE AND HOOKS UP WITH SOMEBODY INAPPROPRIATE AND GOES HOME TO HAVE CRAZED WEASEL SEX!!!

Thank you in advance for your diligence in that regard.

But since this is, after all, a Listomania, here's a little competition that seems a propos:

[I should add that I've been agonizing about this, and I must stipulate that if after I've become worm fodder you still decide -- despite everything you've just read above -- to have a fricking public farewell for me, under no circumstances -- repeat, under NO circumstances -- play any music featured on the soundtrack to The Big Chill. I'm serious about this; if you should play such music, I will come back from the dead and do a poltergeist number on your sorry ass.]

So what's YOUR memorial song?

Oddly enough, mine is "Maybe in a Dream," the alternately elegaic and peppy pseudo baroque (mostly instrumental) Sopwith Camel track which can be heard here.

If you listen, I'm sure you'll agree that the mood of the thing just seems right. It's kind of like Pachelbel's Canon, except with really cool guitars and a backbeat.

Anyway, that's my choice (although it just dawned on me that I also would't mind Warren Zevon's "Life'll Kill Ya").

What's yours?

Friday, January 08, 2021

We Are the Cambridge Preservation Society

From our Department of the Intertubes are a Wonderful Thing Department: I posted this song, from the great Kimberley Rew's 2000 album Tunnel Into Summer, a couple of weeks ago.

And if memory serves, I mentioned at the time that I really wanted to record a cover of it some day, but that I was unable to decipher about half the lyrics, due to Rew's impenetrable -- albeit charming -- British accent.

In any case, I was over at Facebook kvetching about this recently, and somebody said to me "Uh, Steve -- Rew is on the social media; I bet if you ask him he'll send you the words."

So I did. And to my utter astonishment, the great man forwarded them to me within 24 hours.

I don't even know where to begin about this. But here they are.

I wish every day was like today/ Right here in Cambridge I will stay/ The sun can stop in if it please/ If I can swish thru autumn leaves

CHORUS:

And love this is no ordinary feeling/ By your side my proud adventuress/ The simple pleasures are the best

I think about your smiling voice/ I’d sulk at home but I’ve got no choice/ Your roving spirit lets me slide/ My blinding failures pushed aside

CHORUS

After October winds have blown/ Extension builders scurry home/ Develop all they can and more/ Shapes of things to come by my front door

CHORUS

Bottom line: That's a great freaking poem, and a song lyric that is so brilliant in a deeply English way that it can only be compared to Ray Davies at his best.

And yes, I'm going to record a nasal suburban Jewish version of it sometime this summer. Please pray for me.

POSTSCRIPT: From now on, BG will no longer be referred to in these precincts as a certain Shady Dame but rather as "my proud adventuress."

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, January 07, 2021

A Time for Peace I Swear It's Not Too Late

The Fifth Symphony of Ralph Vaughan Williams -- and, specifically, the recording of it linked to below --

-- got the teenaged me through the week of the assassination of JFK in 1963.

I am not kidding about this -- I wouldn't have survived without that music.

I should add that, in retrospect, I found that fact even more moving when I later learned that the premiere performance of the symphony in 1943-- which was broadcast across the British Isles by the BBC while the bombs were falling on London during the Blitz -- is widely celebrated as a transformative generational experience by the Brits of that day.

Okay, I needn't draw any more facile parallels, but I think you know what I mean.

I should also add, and I am embarassed that I am still capable of snark after the tragic and infuriating fascist events of yesterday, but one of the things that most disgusts me about President Mediocre Columbo Villain is that he wouldn't know the difference between Ralph Vaughan Willians and Ralph Kramden.

Wednesday, January 06, 2021

Welsh Mining Disaster au Go Go!

From 2018, please enjoy incomprable Byrds bassist Chris Hillman and friends with an utterly gorgeous acoustic re-imagining of a classic track from the Byrds debut album "The Bells of Rhymney."

I suspect that this was done while Hillman was promoting the fabulous solo album Tom Petty produced for him just before his untimely death. In any case, a somewhat more faithful to the original cover version of this will be on that forthcoming Floor Models Byrds tribute I was yakking about yesterday.

Tuesday, January 05, 2021

Our Back Pages

Attentive readers are aware that, when not otherwise occupied raising my blood pressure over the outrage du jour from President Twitler in the Bunker, I have been more profitably spending my time producing a Byrds tribute album featuring my old band The Floor Models and some special guests.

At the moment we have 9 songs in more or less completed form as well as some amazing album art (courtesy of my beautiful and brilliant art director girlfriend...

...who as always is working cheap); the current plan is to finish two more tracks this month and then to get the whole thing out immediately to a world clamoring for more Floor Models stuff, but as you know, these things always take longer than you hope or expect. In any case, I'll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, as a sort of belated Christmas present for all you guys, here's the fully finished opening and closing tracks; hope you enjoy them.

I should add that "We'll Meet Again" features our old pal and auxiliary Flo Mo Ronnie D'Adarrio on all vocals and instruments, and we offer it up as a farewell to our late great bandmates Andy Pasternack and Glen Robert Allen. I hope somewhere in heaven they are listening to it and smiling.

Monday, January 04, 2021

Youth Wants to Know!!!

From 2020, and the legendary Cavern Club in Liverpool, please enjoy the increasingly amazing Mona Lisa Twins and their live cover of The Who's classic "My Generation."

Attentive readers are aware that I'm crazy about those two kids, but I must admit -- when I first was sent that clip my gut feeling was that they weren't gonna be able to pull the song off.

Shows what I know. I mean, that kicks ass. Period.

Friday, January 01, 2021

New Years 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.

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.