From his utterly brilliant 1970 album Bad Rice, please enjoy multi-talented San Francisco eminence grise Ron Nagle and his droll and hard rocking cautionary tale of one man's descent into "Marijuana Hell."
Nagle is, as I hinted up top, a really interesting guy, and certainly the closest thing to a Renaissance Dude to have emerged from the San Francisco rock scene. He's had a long and way interesting career as a sculptor -- here's a piece of his that's part of the collection at the Smithsonian American Art Museum --
-- and as musician, after a 60s stint in Fillmore faves The Mystery Trend and the aforementioned solo album, he enjoyed a few minor hits as a songwriter with his New Wave band The Durocs. He also worked on the sound effects for The Exorcist, which is pretty cool, obviously.
I should add that while readying this post I was delighted to discover that Bad Rice was given a deluxe (two CDs with bonus tracks) reissue by the good folks at Omnivore Recordings, and you can (and should) order it at their website HERE.
But now to business. To wit:
...and your favorite or least favorite post-Elvis rock, pop, folk or soul record whose title or lyrics clearly reference drugs of some kind is...?
And have a great weekend, everybody!!!
The joke in today's title was originally uttered by Lily Tomlin in her 1985 The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe. You're welcome.
As a rule, rock-and-roll themed novels deserving of your time are a bit of a rarity, historically speaking. Top of my head, I can only think of Lewis Shiner's Glimpses (a haunting time travel fantasy involving the making of Brian Wilson's Smile) and Mark Shipper's Paperback Writer, a laugh out loud alternate universe history of the Beatles, both of which are decades old. More recently, I've slogged through Taylor Jenkins Reid's Daisy Jones & the Six, a cheesy roman a clef about Fleetwood Mac (which spawned the similarly titled TV miniseries), and Sam Lipsyte’s No One Left to Come Looking for You, a sour and not terribly believable attenpt at a 90s downtown NYC underground band version of La Boheme, neither of which did much for me. There may be others worth noting, but they're not immediately springing to mind.
But, I am happy to report, now there's Keith Lives!.
By friend of PowerPop Bodie Plecas.
What's it about? Briefly, it's a blackly comedic tale of a struggling, largely clueless rock musician -- the titular Keith -- whose (apparent) sudden tragic suicide turns him into a gigantic posthumous international success. Hilarity, as they say, ensues, and Plecas doesn't miss an opportunity to puncture the pretensions of the various industry figures, media types and denizens of the rock demi-monde who are either grieving for or cashing in on the hapless hero.
Attentive readers will recall Plecas as the auteur behind the band Picnic Tool, whose "Einstein"...
...I accurately described as The Greatest Video of All Time when it was released in 2019.
As for his new book, well, it's smart, funny (it makes particularly droll use of some real-life small-time celebs), perceptive, and -- surprisingly -- way less cynical about its subject and the general times we live in than you're set up to expect. Without giving anything away, let's just say that I, for one, did not remotely see the ending coming.
In any case, as you will observe, I got a paperback copy...
...and you can (and should) get your own (or the Kindle version) over at Amazon HERE.
From 1970, and their eponymous debut album, please enjoy Fanny and their cover of Cream's classic "Badge."
Look, I recognize that these folks are historically important, and there's no gainsaying their obvious musicianship. And I'm happy for them that -- vis a vis the recent Fanny: The Right to Rock documentary that's been showing on a PBS channel near you, and is well worth watching --
...they're finally getting what might be justly described as their due.
And I always -- really always -- wanted to like them, I really did, honest.
But the fact is that -- well, listen to the "Badge" cover and tell me you feel the need to ever hear it again. Like the rest of Fanny's recorded output, it's just not terribly memorable; if you'd seen a male bar band doing something similar back in the day, you'd probably have had a moderately good time, but not much more.
Or as I said in 1973 in the pages of CREEM...
Incidentally, having now seen the documentary, I just wanna say that I stand by the review's comments on drummer Alice de Buhr.
Long time readers may recall that in the mid-70s I was a member of an enterprising New York City underground band, who released a highly regarded (by us) D.I.Y single. And that we were called The Hounds.
A name, I should add, that we agonized over and ultimately decided on thanks to the suggestion of a friend (hi, Kerri!) who thought the phrase "the hounds of spring," from "Atalanta in Calydon" (1865) by Victorian era English poet Algernon Charles Swinburne, kinda had a ring to it.
Anyway, I bring this up because, over the weekend, friend of PowerPop Steve Schwartz sent me this ad (probably from the old Village Voice) which he'd just found at somebody's Facebook page, and wondered if The Hounds being sold was us.
And so did I, at first glance. Yes, we played CBGBs on a couple of occasions, and we were still gigging -- if memory serves -- in 1977. And for some reason the Lawrence Talbot Band rang a bell (although perhaps just because their name was a reference to Lon Chaney Jr.'s character in The Wolfman).
The reason I wasn't completely sure, however, is a little more complicated than merely the failing faculties of an aging rock-and-roll wannabe.
The fact is, we broke up a year or two after the single above was released, and almost immediately we learned that a Chicago glam-rock bunch had not only stolen our name but actually gotten signed to a deal with Columbia Records. Even more infuriating, we heard third hand from somebody at CBS that the pretender Hounds had gotten their contract on the basis of somebody in A&R thinking that our song was the work of those other guys.
I have no idea if that's true or not, but I can guarantee that we all stewed about it at various low dives while consuming adult beverages at three in the morning on numerous occasions. In any event, here's THEIR single, which failed to set the world on fire to any significant degree more than ours.
Meanwhile, after having wracked what's left of my brain for a while, I have reluctantly concluded that the Hounds in the ad are the other guys. Although, given the other luminaries being hyped -- The Feelies? Alex Chilton? Wow! -- wouldn't it be pretty to think it was us?
A couple of postscripts:
Although I was unaware of it until this century, before either of the previously mentioned Hounds, there were...The Hounds. From Sweden, and apparently world famous in their homeland between 1966-68.
And speaking of obscure rock history, here's my fellow NYC canines -- featuring yours truly on inadequate rhythm guitar -- at Max's Kansas City around the time in question.
And finally, if you're extremely tolerant and have a little discretionary coin available, I should point out that the Hounds album pictured at the top of this lengthy exercise in self-indulgence --- which is actually quite good, if I may pretend to be objective for a moment -- can be streamed or purchased over at Amazon HERE. Also, I have a box of CDs of the thing lying around somewhere, and if you want a physical copy I could probably be successfuly importuned to send you one.
From their 2005 album Heard It On the X, please enjoy (heretofore unknown to me) occasional studio supergroup Los Super Seven and a cover/remodel of Bobby Fuller's classic "Let Her Dance" that has totally blown my tiny mind.
That's the great Joe Ely singing lead on the track (other vocalists on the album include John Hiatt, Rodney Crowell, Freddy Fender, Raul Malo, and Lyle Lovett), and I'm not 100 percent crazy about the liberties he takes with the melody line, but my god -- the band is just to die for. That big instrumental build-up leading into the finale is like The Who if they'd gone Tex-Mex.
Words, as I often say, fail me.
BTW, I have long been (and still am) a big fan of Phil Seymour's rather more traditional 1981 version, but I had not been aware of the video that went with it until the other day.
Phil busting a move is quite charming, n'est-ce pas?
From 1976. and his inexplicably gazillion selling double disc concert album Frampton Comes Alive!, please try to endure moderately talented power pop cult figure turned insufferable MOR annoyance Peter Frampton and his hear-it-once-and-you-can't-unhear-it-no-matter-how-fervently-you-try mega-smash "Do You Feel Like We Do."
I mean seriously. YUCK!
At this point, I feel obligated to point out that some more substantive rock star of the period -- I'm pretty sure it was Tom Petty -- was asked, as the 80s dawned, what he thought had been worthwhile about the music of the 70s. His terse and accurate response: "Punk, Springsteen, Steely Dan."
And who can argue with that? But noooo -- we had to suffer please-shove-ice-picks-in-my-ears albums like that Frampton shit.
The noxious vinyl extrusion of which Mike Myers so aptly obsserved in Wayne's World: "Everybody in the world has Frampton Comes Alive. If you lived in the suburbs you were issued it. It came in the mail with samples of Tide."
Okay, perhaps I exaggerate.
No, I don't, actually.
In any case, now to business. To wit:
...and the most annoying 70s record or performer(s) that became gynormous cultural artifacts is/are...?
And speaking as we were on Monday of ubiquitous/archtypal late night New York City teevee ads from the '70s, please enjoy entrepreneurial crooner Peter Lemongello hyping his self-marketed double(!) LP Love '76.
As you would have seen him on WPIX channel 11 some average evening, after midnight, as you were taking a last sip of wine to mellow your cocaine buzz before bedtime.
As promised, a sneak peek track from In My Own Good Time, the fab new EP by personal friend of mine (and long-time frontman of The Floor Models) the incomparable Gerry Devine.
The rest of the EP (which features occasional bass and keyboards by some dweeb whose name rhymes with Sleeve Nimels) is also up at Bandcamp, but the official release everywhere else -- Spotify, Amazon, iTunes, YouTube, and the rest of their ilk -- happens on Tuesday June 12th.
Needless to say, I'll keep you posted on that, as well as where and when actual physical CDs can be procured.
Oh -- and have I mentioned how hilarious the album cover is? The work of my beautiful and brilliant art director girlfriend who, as always, is working cheap.
From 1982 approximately, live at The Speakeasy in fabled Greenwich Village, please enjoy the incomparable Erik Frandsen and his hilarious "I Shot Jack LaLanne."
Erik was a fixture on the Village music scene, deservedly, and is, as they say, a multi-tacular guy; apart from being a great guitarist and terrific singer/sonwriter he's also a wonderful comic actor, and some of you non-Village types will doubtless remember him from his recurring stint on The Colbert Report, where he played the existentially depressed German ambassador to the UN Hans Beinholt.
In any event, for you non-New Yorkers who don't immediately get the joke, the various people Erik celebrates offing in the song were vastly over-exposed celebrities then hawking their wares -- seemingly endlessly -- on late night NYC teevee. My personal favorite (namechecked in the song) was Luba Potamkin, of the local Cadillac dealership that bore her family name.
Hey -- there wasn't a lot else to watch after midnight in the days before everybody had cable.