Monday, June 24, 2024

And Speaking of Gorgeous (An Occasional Series)

From 2020, please enjoy the great Carla Olson, assisted by Peter Noone -- yes, the guy from Herman's Hermits -- and a killer and heretofore unknown to me remake of The Searchers' 1965 English hit "Goodbye My Love."

I think we can agree that's quite fabulous, but since I love you all more than food, here's the original in a new stereo mix.

Well. That was pretty fabulous also, you're welcome very much.

BTW, the song was co-written by legendary Searchers drummer Chris Curtis and Petula Clark's auteur Tony Hatch. Both of which/whom are interesting stories I'll get to one of these days.

[h/t Jonathan Lea, who plays the cool 12-string on the Olson track]

Friday, June 21, 2024

La Fin de La Semaine Essay Question: Special "A La Recherche du Bands Perdu" Edition

And speaking as we were the other day about wonderful but unjustly forgotten Sixties NYC psych-folk rockers Autosalvage...my friend and Boston-based rock crit Brett Milano turned me onto this quite astonishing footage yesterday.

The aforementioned Autosalvage -- including all four original members -- rehearsing for a reunion gig they did at SXSW in 2012.

Way cool on a lot of levels, and what I wouldn't have given to attend the actual show.

Which leads us, as I'm sure you've guessed, to the business at hand (and apologies if I've done something like this before). To wit:

...and your favorite post-Elvis band (or solo artist) in any genre that you never got to see and it has bugged you ever since is...???

Oh, and in case you're wondering -- my choice is a tie. Between these guys...

I actually had tickets for a Springfield show in, if memory serves, 1968, but at the last minute I got sick and couldn't go.

Boy, was I pissed. Although I was more pissed in 2011 when that rat bastard Neil Young pulled the plug on the Springfield reunion tour before it got to NYC. Fuck you, Neil, and your highly overrated work ethic.

...and these younger guys.

I totally flipped over the GBs when their breakthrough album (the classic New Miserable Experience) came out in 1992 -- I might as well have been genetically programmed to dig their combination of wistful romanticism, punk and jangle -- and courtesy of A&M Records I was on the guest list for a weeknight show they were doing at CBGBs in support of it. But I figured -- rightly, as it turned out -- that they wouldn't hit the stage until the witching hour (when it would be fashionable), and at the point I was already too old for such an exertion and stayed home.

Which I have regretted ever since.

Okay, what would YOUR choice(s) be?

And have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, June 20, 2024

A Picture is Worth 1000 Words. However, They Don't Tell You WHICH Words...

Heh.

Okay, sorry -- I got lazy today. A fun Weekend Essay question will appear on the morrow by way of atonement.

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Great Lost Singles of the Sixties (An Occasional Series): Special "I'd Be Very Surprised if Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd Didn't Have a Copy of This Album" Edition

From their eponymous 1968 waxing, please enjoy shoulda-been-contenders NYC folk/rock/psychedelic/proto-New Wave band Autosalvage and their astoundingly prescient and fabulously jangly "Land of Their Dreams."

Attentive readers will recall me singing (heh) the praises of these guys several times over the years, but never specifically this song, whose aural mismash of symphonic strings, bluegrass influenced guitars, Dylanesque vocals and kick-ass rhythm section has confounded me (in a good way) ever since I stole a vinyl copy of it from my college radio station shortly after its original release.

Seriously, it's one of my forever faves, a haunting and stunningly abstract piece of jangle-rock that has always seemed (to me) to be utterly outside of time. I mean, for years, before and after it finally got reissued on CD in the late 90s, I used to play it for people and ask them to guess when and where it was recorded.

Invariably, the answer would come "Athens, Georgia, mid-to-late 80s?"

Heh.

Anyway, the short background version: Despite Autosalvage being a big deal on the local NYC scene back in the day, their sole LP never sold much, and the concensus has always been that they missed out by not moving to San Francisco in time for the Summer of Love, when their mix of psychedelic jam stuff and tight concise song structures would probably have gone down a storm.

They were also an interesting couple of guys. Guitarist Rick Turner, who I interviewed once, was a charming dude who went on to a hugely successful career as a luthier on the West Coast; he used to write a column for Guitar Player magazine, and he made and maintained all of Lindsey Buckingham's custom instruments for ages. Bassist Skip Boone was the brother of Lovin' Spoonful bassist Steve Boone, and went on to be a seminal figure, as a producer and recording engineer, in the Baltimore alt-rock music scene. And the band's rhythm guitarist Darius Davenport was the son of one of the founders of The New York Pro Musica, among the first and best original instrument groups performing medieval and early baroque classical stuff. (His dad is on the album somewhere, actually.)

But I mean seriously -- what I wouldn't have given to have heard these guys cover a Wilson Pickett song with backing by a crumhorn section.

Anyway, the even shorter version: If the song above doesn't remind you of Television (the band) you're just not paying attention. Which is the larger point this post is about, duh.

I thank you.

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

And Speaking as We Were Last Week of Moby Grape...

...I discovered this over the weekend and it just blew my tiny mind.

That's the Grape's classic "Sittin' By the Window," written by Peter Lewis, and performed by -- hole. e. shit -- his daughter Arwen.

The short version: that's from an entire album of Grape covers Ms. Lewis did in 2015, which apparently none of you bastards ever bothered to tell me about; I have been listening to it obsessively since Sunday, and I just can't get over how wonderful it is, both in execution and conceptually.

I should add that I love that her name on the guitar case is in the same typeface as the old Grape logo. Oh, and John Sebastian (yes, him) is on another track from the record; remind me and I'll post it later in the week.

Monday, June 17, 2024

Annals of Art Direction (An Occasional Series): Special "Hey, It's Actually Not So Bad!" Edition

[The following is a true story. I first posted it here in 2008(!), but I've just tweaked it for inclusion in my forthcoming Greatest Hits book, and in case you missed it back in the day, I hope you get a kick out of it. --S.S.]

So...Back in the dim dark past (by which I mean the Hyborian Age, when Conan the Barbarian actually walked the earth) I got a gig (life-changing, as it turned out) as the rock critic at my college (C.W.Post) newspaper. I got it not out of any special qualifications, of which I had none; in fact, if truth be told, the reason I got it was that nobody else had bothered to ask for the job. I, on the other hand, had correctly reasoned that the major record labels were then in the process of dispensing vast largesse on anybody with a byline anywhere, and thus -- dreams of free LPs dancing in my head -- I petitioned the paper's powers that be (who were doing massive quantities of drugs, if memory serves) and was given a weekly column to do with as I pleased.

Anyway, sometime in the spring of 1970 I received a large package from Warner Bros./Reprise Records. I don't recall everything that was in it -- I'm thinking an early T-Rex album, although I can't be sure -- but one LP in particular stood out -- No BS, by a then obscure Detroit band called Brownsville Station. And by stood out, I mean it REALLY stood out.

Like, it sported perhaps The Worst Album Cover of All Time.

I mean, really, embarrassingly, horrendously bad. So bad, in fact, that I didn't bother to sell it for beer-and-cigs change, as was my wont with most of the free promo LPs I knew I was never going to listen to, but rather kept it around, still shrink-wrapped, as a cautionary exemplar of esthetic hideousness. (I later learned that before Warners picked up No BS for distribution, it had been a D.I.Y. effort self-released on the band's own label, mostly to sell at gigs, which in some ways excused the cover's awful amateurism. But still, I thought -- dudes, you're on a major label now; hire somebody who can actually draw.)

Anyway, like I said, the album -- which I showed, with much guffawing, to everybody I knew for a few weeks -- eventually went into my collection in the milk crate with the rest of the B's (I was one of those geeks who alphabetized his albums) and I got on with my life.

Cut to: a party in early 1973. I found myself chatting with an absolutely adorable young woman (long dark hair and bangs, and I was a goner) who, as it turned out, had grown up in Detroit and knew everybody in the rock music community there. She told me some amazing stories -- at 13, she had painted Bob Seger's psychedelic van -- and she thought I was fairly cool because I knew who (local Detroit faves) The Rationals were. After many drinks, we adjourned to a local Greenwich Village watering hole (it was run by legendary Max's Kansas City restauranteur Mickey Ruskin, who said hello to her when we walked in, impressing me mightily) and I proceeded to fall completely head over heels. And then -- around midnight, I recall -- she mentioned that she really wanted to do album covers when she got out of art school. I asked if she'd ever done one, and, somewhat ruefully, she mentioned Brownsville Station.

Yup -- the object of my affections was the woman behind The Worst Album Cover of All Time. And in in case you're wondering if I told her I knew it, let alone that I thought it was TWACOAT, I'm going to assume you know absolutely nothing about guys.

Anyway, the story has a sort of happy ending. The woman in question and I proceeded to have a long and mostly delightful run as the Nick and Nora Charles of 70s Manhattan, and we're still friends to this day. Carol Bokuniewicz (that's her name) went on to do some much better album covers -- you might remember this one --

-- and eventually achieved, deservedly, lasting fame when she co-founded the hugely influential design firm M&Co. You can find out more about her...

...and her most recent work over at her official website HERE.

Incidentally, a few years after Carol and I became an item, I interviewed the guys in Brownsville Station, who were then riding high on their hit "Smoking in the Boys Room." All went well until I mentioned that I was living with the woman who had done their first album cover, at which point I was nearly ejected from their hotel room.

When I asked what was wrong, band leader Cub Koda would only say "Shit, man...that's the worst album cover of all time."

Friday, June 14, 2024

La Fin de La Semaine Essay Question: Special "There is Nothing Like a Dame" Edition

So I was saddened to hear that Gallic chantoosie/major babe Francoise Hardy passed away last Tuesday at age 80.

Attentive readers are aware that I have a particular fondness for all those existential French popstar gals of the late Fifties and Sixties (where have you gone, Juliette Greco?)...

...and Hardy was one of my particular favorites. For obvious reasons.

I mean, if you had to be as good looking as Brian Jones to even have a chance with her...

That said, in all honesty, Hardy's music...

...was no better or worse than the rest of the commercial French pop purveyed by her ye-ye contemporaries, which is to say there's a reason none of that stuff ever made it to the Anglo charts (with the exception of Jane Birkin and the overtly smutty "Je T'Aime," which was essentially a novelty record). But I loved her anyway.

Which brings us, as you may have suspected, to the weekend's business. To wit:

...and your favorite (or least favorite) post-Beatles English-language rock/pop/country/soul/folk gal singer is...???

No arbitrary rules, but by post-Beatles we mean, obviously, someone who came to public prominence AFTER the release of the hit recording "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and the invention of the blow dryer.

Discuss.

Oh, and my choices (one of which I suspect may surprise you -- hell, it surprised me!) for favorite are...a tie!!!

Beginning wth...

Chrissie Hynde, of The Pretenders!!!

Who, as you can hear in the above clip, has the uncanny ability to call to mind ALL the greatest diverse Sixties girl singers who preceded her -- from the wistfully teenage Claudine Clark lamenting that she can't go see the "Party Lights" to the imperiously regal Sandy Denny as she bemoans the fate of the murdered adulterous "Matty Groves" -- in just about about every rock/pop genre imaginable.

And then, of course...there's the late Rachel Nagy of The Detroit Cobras!!!

And why?

Silly mortals...because SHE HAS THE MOST F**KABLE VOICE IN ALL OF HUMAN HISTORY!!!

Seriously, as I said when I first posted that video in 2007, "is there another woman on the planet who can make the three syllable phrase 'cha-cha-cha' absolutely drip with lust?"

I think not.

Anyway, those are my nominees. What would YOURS be?

And have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Holy Cow -- Simels Just Posted an Actual Power Pop Song For a Change!!!

And a great one, to boot!

From his accurately titled new album Let 'Er Rip, (which drops, as the kids say, tomorrow) please enjoy Mark Ward and his absolutely killer first single "I've Been Around."

Which, as it turns out, is also accurately titled.

MARK WARD is an Alaska-raised singer-songwriter/guitarist and former member of bands Last Train and Ryebender, whose albums have garnered national airplay and critical acclaim. As a multi genre artist, Mark writes about what moves him, giving voice to his passions through heartfelt lyrics set to power pop, rock, Americana and roots-based music.

Anyway, the whole album is terrific -- you can (and should) listen, stream and download it over at Bandcamp HERE.

I am also informed that actual physical CDs will be available soon via our friends at KOOL KAT MUSIK -- I'll keep you posted as things develop over there.

I should add, and for the record (as it were), that "I've Been Around" is one of my absolute favorite things so far this year. I love everything about it -- the wise-ass snotty vocal, the classic chiming lead guitar riff/hook, and just the whole sound. Man, what I wouldn't give to have a chance to cover it live with a band, and higher praise than that I can not bestow.

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

It's True -- Clothes Make the Man!

Hey -- if you had told me back in the day that some time in the future I'd be walking around in a promo shirt (decorated front and back with album covers) for a band I was once in, let's just say I would have chortled in your general direction. 😎

The short version: Floor Models fan, long-time Friend of PowerPop© and all around swell guy Phil Cheesebrough had some of those gorgeous tees made up out of the immense goodness of his heart recently. (Gerry got one too, as did a certain Shady Dame and our late drummer Glen Bob's widow Eddie.)

I should add that Phil gifted similar shirts to both Brian and Michael D'Addario, better known these days as The Lemon Twigs (who actually got onstage with the Flo Mos during our 2019 reunion gig), and I am informed they too have been known to be seen in them in public.

Wear 'em in good health, everybody, and bless you Phil -- you're a real mensch.

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Closed for Monkey Business

Too much stuff on my proverbial plate today.

Serious new music you'll enjoy will be here on the morrow.