Friday, December 08, 2023

Weekend Listomania: Special "A Good Joke is Worth a Thousand Guitar Riffs" Edition

[I originally posted a version of this in 2008(!), back when the world and this blog were young. I'm reviving it now primarily because given the appalling times in which we currently live, we could all use a hearty laugh. And also because one of today's subjects was just featured in Rob Reiner's wonderful new Albert Brooks documentary, which is available for streaming at various brand name outlets, and is highly recommended. In any case, I've done some rewriting and inserted some new choices, just to prove I'm not the senile slacker you all (justifiably) think I am. You're welcome very much.--S.S.]

Well, it's Friday, and you know what that means. Yes, I don't have a vaguely smutty topical joke, so let's get directly to business:


You know -- the funniest, the silliest, the one that best punctures somebody's pomposity, or however you define it.

Okay, here's my totally top of my head Top Ten:

10. Robbie Fulks -- Fountains of Wayne Hotline

Everything about that is priceless, although my favorite bit is "Oh -- that Gerald." Anyway, I don't know for a fact, but I'd like to think the late Adam Schlesinger thought this was as funny as I do.

9. Albert Brooks -- Party From Outer Space

From Brooks' 1975 A Star is Bought album, which is one of the all-time comedy masterpieces. The track, of course, is a tribute to the Buchanan and Goodman flying saucer break-in records (see below); the gimmick here being that Albert used fake records he himself had written to ensure he got the royalties.

8. Little Roger and the Goosebumps -- Stairway to Gilligan

Led Zep's management got this record banned back in the day, but in 2000 Robert Plant decided it was funny, so it's now on CD.

7. Bob and Doug McKenzie -- Take Off

Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas meet Geddy Lee, and then they all go out for a Molson.

6. Steve Martin -- King Tut

It's rarely said, but nonetheless true -- Steve Martin is a great dancer.

5. Weird Al Yankovic -- Dare to Be Stupid

A Devo parody that's actually better than the real Devo. "Mashed potatoes can be your friend." Indeed.

4. Napoleon XIV -- They're Coming to Take Me Away (Ha-Ha!)

An obvious choice, I know, but hey -- some high school friends of mine can be heard yelling in the background on this one. True story -- buy me a drink sometime, and I'll tell it to you....

3. The Diamonds -- Little Darlin'

These guys were actually a bunch of jazzbo snobs who thought the song (previously a minor doowop hit written by Maurice Williams, of "Stay" fame) was moronic crap and were goofing all over it. It is one of the great ironies of our time that the result is simultaneously one of the most exciting rock records ever AND an outsiders parody of the genre.

2. Buchanan and Goodman -- The Flying Saucer

The original break-in record, and an amazing technological feat in the days before sampling.

And the number one You Gotta Be Kidding comedy record of the rock era is, it's not even close, so don't gimme any crap about this is ---

1. Linda Laurie -- Ambrose (Part 5)

This record haunted my childhood, and at the time I assumed it was a monster national hit. Later, of course, I discovered it was only a local phenom -- I've never run into anybody who remembers it who wasn't also from the Tri-State Metropolitan Area. Perhaps not such a surprise, given Ms. Laurie's vintage New Yawk delivery and the single's subterranean subway milieu.

Oh, and as a special bonus, because I love you all more than food, I'm including here Ms. Laurie's utterly charming 1959 appearance as a contestant on TV's To Tell the Truth. She's really cute, no? And stick around till the end of the clip -- she actually does the Ambrose voice.

Man, that just kills me.

Anyway -- alrighty, then -- what would YOUR choices be?

And have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, December 07, 2023

Is it Warm in Here or Is It Just Me?

So as you may have heard. noted goyishe mensch Dolly Parton has just released an album of classic rock covers featuring all sorts of interesting guest stars. Here's her "Satisfaction" with Brandi Carlisle(!) and Pink(!!!)

Okay, like the rest of the album, I doubt I'll ever feel the need to listen to that again, but the first time you hear it, it's an inoffensive time waster at worst, and good for Dolly for having the cojones to attempt such a project in the first place, especially at her age.

As for Pink, however...words fail me. As a certain Shady Dame of my acquaintance observed this morning -- can you imagine if Queen had gone out with her as lead singer rather than Adam Lambert? Swear to god -- they would have had to have an emergency medical team on call at every concert.

Wednesday, December 06, 2023

Denny Laine 1944 - 2023

The very great man who wrote and sang this oh so sad and beautiful song has passed.

That's me in Paris, paying tribute at the site of the song's inspiration. A real thrill, I'll tell you that for free.

Oh, and here's a performance of Laine's that I had almost forgotten, which is odd considering it's probably the greatest white-boy James Brown cover in rock history.

I mean, wow. Seriously.

Have I mentioned that this death shit is really starting to piss me off?

Tuesday, December 05, 2023

Your Monday Moment of Cahiers du Cinema: Special "Give the Conductor Some!!!" Edition

So last Sunday a certain Shady Dame and I went to see Bradley Cooper's Maestro.

Which is brilliant on a number of levels, but not at all what I expected and more than a little disturbing.

Short version: It's not a conventional bio-pic. Actually, it's not even really about Leonard Bernstein per se. What it's actually about is Gay Men and the Women Who Loved Them, in a specific post-war American social and cultural milieu (the upper-crust art world) before Stonewall.

I'm gonna leave it at that, largely because I don't want to give away anything if you're planning on seeing it (and you should). However, I would like to add, and for the record, that as much as I loved Sarah Silverman before going in, after seeing her in the film (she's glimpsed in the trailer above as Lenny's sister) I now love her twice as much. I should also add that Kazu Hiro -- the make-up guy who designed Cooper's inexplicably controversial prosthetic schnozz -- gets a big seperate credit at the end, and it's well deserved.

POSTSCRIPT I: I should mention at this juncture that the aforementioned Shady Dame and I are the owners of a framed and autographed (by Lenny) program booklet from the final performance (May 17, 1969) Bernstein made as the music director of the New York Philharmonic. I wasn't at the event myself, but my maternal unit, who was a huge fan -- and earlier in the '60s brought me to see several of the legendary Young Peoples Concerts Bernstein did for television -- was at the farewell show, and went backstage to get Lenny's John Hancock. Thanks Mom!!!

POSTSCRIPT II: A few years ago, the aforementioned (twice) Shady Dame and I printed up a bunch of t-shirts sporting this logo she'd photo-shopped...

...strictly for shits and giggles. This came to the attention of Friend of PowerPop© (and Pulitzer Prize winning critic) Tim Page, who is also a friend of the Bernstein family.

And as a result, one of those shirts is now in the proud possession of Lenny's daughter Jamie Bernstein (played, quite affectingly, in the film by Ethan and Uma's daughter Maya Hawke), who apparently wears it with pride. A fact that I find hilarious.

Monday, December 04, 2023

Artists Whose Later Non-Group Work May Need Reassessment (An Occasional Series): Special "For a Fat Girl You Don't Sweat Much" Edition

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

In any case, from her eponymous 1972 solo album, please enjoy the not then Mama Cass Elliot and a simply lovely cover of "Baby I'm Yours."

That came on the sound system at my local watering hole the other day and I couldn't immediately place it, but when Shazam identified it for me I was both pleasantly surprised and intrigued. Granted, it's not as good as the gorgeously sexy Barbara Lewis original, which is one of my all-time fave early 60s soul records, but it's beautifully sung and arranged, and it has a really nice almost sunshine pop vibe. Not surprisingly, I immediately decided to check out more stuff from the album, but don't worry, I have no intention of inflicting that on you; let's just say the side-two version of The Beach Boys' "Disney Girls" sounds uncomfortably like the work of somebody who's suffering from a debilitating disease. That said, I probably should investigate the 1970 album Cass did with none other than Dave Mason, which I recall being ambivalent about at the time, but who knows?

I should add that while researching the above I was gobsmacked to discover that in 1962 Cass had lost out to Barbra Streisand for the role of Miss Marmelstein in Broadway's I Can Get It For You Wholesale, a casting choice that clearly changed history in all sorts of unfathomable ways, and that, later, she did a week as a guest panelist on my favorite afternoon TV show Match Game '73, the videos of which I am gonna have to track down on YouTube immediately.

Friday, December 01, 2023

Sympathy for the Devil?

Uh, no.

"You've got nicer legs than Hitler

And bigger tits than Cher!"


I should add that the above song, nastily hilarious as it is, is nonetheless better than that monster deserved.

I should also add that a certain Shady Dame and I had one of the most surreal moments of our lives a few years ago when, after exiting a Little Steven show at the Beacon Theater in Manhattan, we suddenly witnessed Henry the K. getting into a limousine.

I should also also add -- and I swear this on all that is kosher -- that nothing but serious regular postings related to the theme of this here blog will resume on Monday.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Your Thursday Moment of Why Didn't I Think of That Gag First?


Also hah.

Seriously, THOSE guys I'd go see.

And yes, it's been a busy week, real life wise, here at Casa Simels, but I promise -- actual non-filler posting will resume on the morrow. I thank you.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Closed for Monkey Business

Or we could just call it Slacker Wednesday.

Actual stuff resumes on the morrow.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

No Drugs Were Involved in the Making of This Recording. Honest!!!

Okay, I promised some of the people responsible for the below that I wouldn't post it on the blog, but on reflection I believe that it belongs to posterity, so here it is.

The short version: That's me and two of my long time garage band chums (who shall remain nameless, but their initials are Allan Weissman and David Hawxwell) in Dave's Teaneck living room sometime in the mid-70s, fooling around with an old-fashioned two track tape recorder. What specifically motivated us to do that has been lost in the sands of time, but I do recall we had a lot of fun doing it, particularly all those disgusting coughing noises toward the end,

I should also add that Al, who is responsible for the lead vocal, did a surprisingly soulful job under the circumstances. Way to go, Al.

Coming tomorrow: That interesting Vanda and Young story I teased yesterday.

Monday, November 27, 2023

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

From 2015, please enjoy power pop deity Marshall Crenshaw and his spectacular (and heretofore unknown to me) remake of The Easybeats' 1966 "Made My Bed, Gonna Lie In It" (aka the B-side to the epochal "Friday on My Mind.")

Long-time readers are aware of my enthusiasm for the Easys (and Harry Vanda and George Young, the auteurs of the band and much else); when people talk about them as being simultaneously both the Beatles AND the Stones of Australia, it isn't hypberole,

In any case, I was unaware of Marshall's cover until Friend of PowerPop© Sal Nunziato mentioned it in the Weekend Listomania just passed, and herewith a hearty "Thanks, buddy!"

Hmmm...I think tomorrow an interesting Vanda & Young related story might be appropriate.