Saturday, December 31, 2005

Saturday Babyblogging, or NTodd is a WATB

On Wednesday, we went to the park in Queens with Mother Thersites and the offspring. Here's the evidence.

The Boy.

(Not sure if the "Kiss My Hiney" is his sentiment, but he'd certainly approve....)
 Posted by Picasa

The Girl.

No sooner had she gone down the slide than she desired what all children most desire: to climb up it backwards. Posted by Picasa

Thanks to all our buds who hung out in the city!

Friday, December 30, 2005

The First One's Always Free

So I'm online with noted rock critic steve simels last night and he asks me:


If you're still here --

I'm desperate.

What's the name of track 15 on
the New Pornographer's TWIN

You know -- the one that sounds
like the greatest Rick Springfield
song he never wrote.

I can't stop playing it...

I go to Amazon and look: obviously, there is no track 15. I wrack my brain: I burned Twin Cinema for him a couple of months ago; what else would I have put on there? That sounds like Rick Springfield?

A-ha! It comes to me.

Back in the late 70's/early 80's, when power pop was the coin of the realm, there were a few terrific PP bands fronted by women. Often, they were British or Canadian, because the BBC and the CBC were much hipper than American television about the potential for video and music, and a cute front chick was a definite bonus. One of these bands was the almost-lost-to-history Canadian band Toronto.

Their third straight platinum record came in the form of GET IT ON CREDIT in the fall of '82, featuring new drummer Barry Connors and Gary Lalonde (also an ex-member of Rose & later with Honeymoon Suite) on bass. Recorded at Toronto's Eastern Sound and produced by Steve Smith, best known for his work with Robert Palmer, the lead single "Break Down The Barricade" yet again saw furious lick trading between Allen and Alton and Woods' now trademark vocals. Harder than ever, the title-track and the smash "Your Daddy Don't Know" were further evidence a six piece group could act like a well-oiled machine "Start Telllin' The Truth" again showed the diverse writing talents of the group, crossing over to the keyboard-laden easy listening side of the rock realm, yet still keeping the band's renowned 'edge'. Interestingly, the thirteenth song which was eventually dropped was "What About Love", co-written by Jim Vallance. It would turn into a smash hit when Heart recorded it three years later.

(This bio tells me that they were represeted by the same management as Chilliwack, a band I'd almost forgotten about until last week, when someone donated money to VH-1 Classics for Hurricane Katrina, asking for Chilliwack's "Gone So Long" as their request.)

The song must have been, had to be, The New Pornographer's 2002 cover of "Your Daddy Don't Know," something I acquired mysteriously. When Eli came to visit Liberal Mountain last fall, he had on his laptop a video for the TNP version which was, shall we say, a period piece, consisting mostly of drunk Canadians trying to jump over increasingly large piles of garbage in an alleyway. But it's worth it if only to see the band rigged out in 70's gear.

In fact, the opening riff to "Your Daddy Don't Know" bears more than a passing resemblance to the riff from "Jesse's Girl," which is almost certainly why it evoked Springfield for Mr. Simels.

And so we here at PowerPop continue proudly creating addicts of all stripes.

What I Got for Christmas

One of the hidden benefits of blogging: if your family knows about your blog, they can usually guess what to get you. Woo hoo!

Blue Ash - Around Again (2 CDs)

Blue Ash`s fate mirrored that of fellow power-poppers like Big Star: not enough sales to back up all those critical hosannas. Youngstown, Ohio, Blue Ash formed in 1969, and soon won comparisons to the usual suspects associated with the tag: the Beatles and the Who. Raspberries and Badfinger, not far behind. Strong regional interest secured a deal in1973 with Mercury Records, home of the New York Dolls. Both bands even had the same champion A&R man Paul Nelson, who plucked Blue Ash`s demo from an unsolicited tape pile. No More, No Less appeared that year, and is best remembered for its raucously melodic leadoff track, "Abracadabra (Have You Seen Her?")". Critics fell all over themselves, but sparse sales dashed hopes of continuing with Mercury. Their second, Front Page News arrived on Playboy Records in 1977, the group`s talent burned brightly as ever though snowed under horns and strings but failed to improve its fortunes. Other than leader Frank Secich`s work with Dead Boy Stiv Bators in the late 70`s, there ends the story. Until now.

This 2 CD collection gathers up some of the most amazing material recorded by Blue Ash between 1969-1977. With more than 200 studio tracks to choose from, the 44 songs here represent the finest in the genre of the then-developing genre of `power pop`. It`s a legacy that can now be extended, continued and shine into the future and influence new-comers to the roots of that `classic power pop` sound. Lots more great information on BLUE ASH can be found at

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Reindeer Games!

The holiday season is upon us, and things are busy busy busy here, but here are two fun things you can do.

1. Play the Penguin Game. This is evilly addictive, but I like it a lot.

2. Visit a great parody blog: Altmouse. As parody goes, the voice here is spot on, the banality captured in all its milquetoast glory.

I'll try to post through the week, but will be travelling. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Another One of These....

Courtesy of Phila, who obviously does NOT want me to get my grading done, comes this 7x7 questionnaire. But in a spirit of holiday reflection.....

Seven Things To Do Before I Die

1. Get to Paris.
2. Meet my Rock Star.
3. Raise my Children.
4. Write a Book.
5. Get Hot Again.
6. Learn to Make Pastry Well.
7. Write a Will.

Seven Things I Cannot Do

1. Swim well.
2. Play an instrument.
3. Drive standard.
4. Touch type.
5. Live without sex.
6. Grade in a timely manner.
7. Ride a bicycle.

Seven Things That Attract Me to...Blogging

1. Inflicting my obsessions on my friends.
2. Showing off my improbably attractive offspring.
3. Getting emails from obscure bands/musicians.
4. Doing noble battle with Blogger on a regular basis.
5. Revisiting the crap music mags of my youth.
6. Flagrantly violating copyright law.
7. Making steve simels whine at me when I don't get around to blogging.

Seven Things I Say Most Often

1. "Shit, I'm late!"
2. "Mother puss bucket."
3. "Who took my ________?"
4. "(Insert name of child here)!"
5. "My laptop is fucked up again!"
6. "I want a nap."
7. "Are you with me on this?" (when teaching)

Seven Books That I Love

1. Ulysses, James Joyce
2. Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie
3. Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding
4. Master and Commander (et al.), Patrick O'Brian
5. At Swim-Two-Birds, Flann O'Brien
6. Trainspotting, Irvine Welsh
7. Bleak House, Charles Dickens

Seven Movies That I Watch Over and Over Again

1. Office Space
2. Bedazzled (1968, please)
3. Pride and Prejudice (really a mini-series)
4. O Brother, Where Art Thou?
5. Any MST3K
6. Boogie Nights
7. Goodfellas

Seven People I Want To Join In Too

1. scoutprime,
2. NTodd,
3. Attaturk,
4. athenae,
5. spork_incident,
6. Zap Rowsdower,
7. rorschach

Woohoo! I beat watertiger!


I like it when things I like seem to go together. And this one's a doozy.

Cheap Trick tunes fuel ‘Colbert Report’

If you’re watching Comedy Central’s “Colbert Report” and hear music that sounds a bit familiar, that’s because it is.

The tune that plays at the beginning and end of each show and before commercials is by Rockford rockers Cheap Trick. The power pop band traveled to New York and recorded the original music for the show.

If you haven't seen The Colbert Report, allow me to recommend it (though being old and enciente, I tend to DVR it and watch it the next day). It's edgier than The Daily Show, snarkier, with Colbert ripping on pundits the way Stewart rips on newscasters. Especially worth noting, The Word, in which Colbert's O'Reilly schtick is fully formed, but the captions answer back, questioning him instead of supporting him.

(Remember that Bob Mould did the music for The Daily Show, so there's precedent here.)

(Thanks to preznit giv me turkee for the tip! (and for having one of the greatest pseudonyms on the internets!))

And in honor of Attaturk:

Stephen Colbert Posted by Picasa


Cheap Trick Posted by Picasa


Happy Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Strange Bedfellows

Courtesy of lavalamp, we find this curious piece of rock and roll history.

Lesley Gore & The Ramones Posted by Picasa

One of the trickiest issues with this genre, and one which routinely bedevils me, if whether a band is power pop or not--and it's a question I get asked all the time. Usually, when someone asks me to define the genre, I use Cheap Trick as my example, since they're a band most people know and pretty representative of the form. But The Ramones are trickier, because they're not so decisively in this camp. Nevertheless, I'm always happy to claim them, and this is a prety compelling piece of evidence.

Confession, though, and a request for help: I can't seem to find this song on any of my Ramones records, or on any of the several online discographies I checked. Any idea if it came out, maybe under a different name? Googling The Ramones and Lesley Gore only seems to produce this pic and sites on which they're both discussed seperately. So I'm at a loss. Cordell doesn't seem to be associated with The Ramones until Subterranean Jungle in 1983 (but he's the guy behind the Joan Jett cover of Tommy James and the Shondells' "I Think We're Alone Now," so there's a certain kind of operative logic here); Ms. Gore's hair certainly says 1983 to me. (Well, that's what my hair looked like in 1983, anyway.) But the song itself seems lost. Any ideas, pop sleuths?

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Happy Birthday....

to one our fave pop Commies, Billy Bragg!

NYC Area Poppers: I bid you "Go Out!"

Perennial PowerPop faves Milton and the Devil's Party play TONIGHT at The Knitting Factory. Big news coming down the pike for MADP: I'll tell you as soon as I can!

UPDATE: Knitting Factory show cancelled because of the transit strike. I'll let you know when it's rescheduled.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

PPPDA: Nick Lowe Interview from 1979

More from the continuing series of historical documents of the power pop era. Here we have Nick Lowe, late of Brinsley Schwartz and Rockpile, slagging and praising his contemporaries.

SEE Nick Lowe praise Cheap Trick as "the best group I've seen in years"!
SEE Nick Lowe call Mike Love a wanker for his treatment of Brian Wilson!
SEE Nick Lowe explain how the young girls love Gary Glitter!
SEE Nick Lowe slag Rod Stewart for "trying to get a bit of New Wave credibility"!

from Bomp, January 1979.

Nick Lowe. Posted by Picasa

Nick Lowe: A Candid Interview
by Bobby Adams

You may think New Wave was invented by John Rotten and Malcolm McDuck, but if you take away all the shock/horror hoopla and look closely at who has exerted the most control, gained the most power, and profited the most from the British New Wave explosion, curiously enough it turns out to be a small, closely-related group of people who have been working together since the pub rock days of 1971-74. With their experience, it's no accident that success has come to Dai Davies [Albion Agency, Stranglers] and Dave Robinson [Stiff, Graham Parker], former managers of Brinsley Schwarz; Jake Riviera [former manager of Chilli Willi, Dr. Feelgood, now Elvis Costello & Nick Lowe]; Andrew Lauder [Radar Records], formerly A & R chief of UA Records, where most of the best pub rockers recorded; Ian Dury [Kilburn & the High Roads, incidentally managed by Charlie Gillett, whose Oval Records is now distributed by Stiff]; and of course Dave Edmunds and Rockfield Studios, where they all crossed paths sooner or later. It's been a rather incestuous scene, with all the musicians playing on or producing one another's records, the managers booking and getting deals for them all, Lauder getting Stiff off the ground by donating UA's pressing facilities, etc., etc. And at the center of the whole scene, as the ghost of Brinsley Schwarz, most beloved of pub bands with 8 albums [re-releases are still being done, with 2 LPs and a 45 in recent months] during their six-year span. Most of the ex-members, managers, and associates of this group have found more glory through New Wave and their ability to capitalize on it, than it ever seemed likely they'd attain, and what's more they did it without substantially altering the music they'd been making all along, "punk" notwithstanding. Of them none has become more of a focal point than NICK LOWE, the likeable, quirky, modestly brilliant songwriter/singer/multi-instrumentalist who [with Ian Gomm] was the nucleus of the Brinsleys. Lowe, now 29, has produced more than his share of the classic records of the past two years, co-written most of Dave Edmunds' best songs, fronted one of the most exciting bands—Rockpile—and for the first time in his career become a successful recording artist in his own right with the Jesus of Cool/Pure Pop for Now People album.

A ponderous list of accomplishments, and a perhaps confusing history of involvements, but some indication perhaps of why Lowe seems destined to remain one of the most enduring success stories to come out of British New Wave. And far from being the stereotyped "behind the scenes" sort. Lowe is well equipped to enjoy his position of preeminence. His engaging personality and outspoken views are a refreshing alternative to the tiresome naivete of the punks and the jaded smugness of establishment rockers. In an extensive series of talks with Bobby Abrams, from which his comments here are extracted, Lowe spoke out on a wide range of topics, and as usual, his aim is true... - Ed.

We got the record out and to our amazement it sold very well. This is due to a number of things. Jake Riviera is very shrewd about how and where to advertise and how to appeal and realize that people are going to buy the record. He also knows how to approach them. It was a very cheeky approach at the time, that's what got everyone's imagination...They were sick of all those English groups.

My favorite groups were the Small Faces and the Move. I also liked the Creation and the Who. I was kind of interested in Pink Floyd but I was more interested in American groups. I could never understand how everyone got off on Cream. I've always thought that Ginger Baker was the most useless drummer, he couldn't keep time or anything. I couldn't understand what everyone was talking about. There’s no point inbeing a drummer if you can't keep time. I liked Yes a lot when they first started, when they had Tony Kaye and Peter Banks. I also liked King Crimson when they first started as well. I started liking the American stuff when I heard the first Crosby Stills Nash album. I've never heard anything like it and the second LP as well. I liked the Byrds singles but not their albums. I also like ELO and Cheap Trick. Cheap Trick are the best group I've seen in years. They're great cus they've got a sense of humor. There's so many people who take themselves seriously. Cheap Trick are tight. They got it all covered. They've got two pretty boys and two bozos. It works perfectly...I'd really like to work with them.

Well, I used to like them. What a drag that brilliant man, Brian Wilson, he's such a brilliant and talented guy and now cus he's gone round the twist, no one has taken him seriously. Like what's that bloke's name… Mike Love? Is he the one that wears that hat all the time? What a wanker that bloke is! When he came over to England, I saw him on the television. He was being interviewed and he was like this crass American tourist and he all but said your policemen are wonderful and I just came over here for the girls, you got so many pretty girls here. I thought, for fuck’s sake, what is this wimp doing? He had on this sort of LA beige suit on and the beads around his neck. He just looked like the biggest wanker I'd ever seen. And his stupid little yachting cap! I thought is this the bloke who's supposed to be the Savior? Is this the guy trying to tell Brian Wilson that it's time for him to lie down and take his pills? You know, calm down Brian. Do you wanna do "Johnny B. Goode" in D minor? You can't do that. Why the fuck not? I think that's awful. The man is being swallowed up, he's got all these wimps around him. But obviously you can't knock the Beach Boys for what they've done, even though nowadays I wouldn't cross over the road to buy their records.

For a good musician, I think it's good to have a bit of brains. For instance, one of the best guitar players I know is Martin Belmont from the Rumour, He's rhythm player and he's not really very good lead guitar wise, he's not a virtuoso, but he's got a great sense of his own ability, of what he can do and what he can't do and he operates totally within that. I mean he pushes himself and he operates totally within that because he's intelligent musically. He knows when to play and when not to play. Terry Williams, the drummer from Rockpile, he's the same as Martin Belmont except he's technically better at his instrument than Martin Belmont is on guitar. He's got the same attitude...There's people who are considered to be good musicians who I think are just charlatans and phonies. Fur instance, I'm not into jazz or classical music, I just don't understand it but I know enough about the noise of music to know when somebody is bluffing, when somebody is not a good musician. There's a bloke called Chick Corea who I think is diabolical. I think he's soaked up. I cannot believe that so many people think he's hot. I mean I can't play the piano, but I can play the piano.

They were like a gang, your favourite street gang who happened to play guitars. It didn't really matter if they could or couldn't play, really. Rotten gives the greatest interviews, great quotes. He hit it right on the nail. That's why I like him, he really shook it up. I mean, they were the ones who did it. In England, people are so cynical and they believe in the Pistols. The Pistols were their gods, so if
they got back together again especially after all that they've said about each other in the papers, people would say, "Oh, they're doing it for the money or they're doing it for this or that" but I think Johnny Rotten could do something. I don't know what form it would take, cus Glen used to do most of the tunes, and they were good tunes.

There's so many new bands in England and they're all copying the Sex Pistols. It's such a joke. They might as well be copying Smokie or something. It’s just bandwagon jumping... The Pistols were saying "Why copy me, make you're own thing up. You must be thick if you copy me". I quite agree with that. Why copy somebody else's style, make your own style up… In England clothes fashion and pop music have always been very close. People In England really like to dress up in a style to follow the groups. I used to go see the Small Faces in the mod era, and I had a scooter and spikey haircut and the kids used to go and dress up in the new clothes. That' the thing with the New Wave, that's part of the fun of it, the clothes. The English kids go in for it much more than the kids over here.

Whenever the Ramones or Blondie come over here there's always a few of the Pistols there. It's a drag because it was the same with the Damned as well. When I first met the Damned, I hated their group. I thought they were terrible but it was the fact that other musicians I knew hated them as well. They just didn't think they were a shitty group, they hated them. I thought, well, any group that can stir that emotion up in people must have something going for them so I started going around with them and going to see a few gigs and I changed my mind about them. I thought this was great, it was irritating people so much. It was the same as when the Stones used to come on the television and my old man used to leap out of his chair and change the channel. Also, I thought it was great how those kids of eighteen said, "Oh, Jimmy Page, wanker. He hasn't played a good solo for fucking years. He's just a wanker." And I thought, "Yeah, he is a wanker, you' re quite right", I loved all that. But as soon as the punks started getting famous, they started doing all those things themselves. They were all hanging out with all these pop stars. Take Rod Stewart. Rod's trying to get a bit of New Wave credibility there. They did all that crap the same as the Pistols, they put all this stuff down, and now you see they're the pillars of the establishment. I don't feel like that. I still feel like I'm on the outside of it and that's the way I like to stay. That means l can change my mind, just what ol’ John Rotten's gonna do and that's another reason he's good. He is that guy!

"I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass" was number eight in the disco charts for a couple of weeks, which I think was quite funny, actually. I've got a backing track at the moment in England of a tune that I'm halfway through called" Cigarette". It's an old thing by a group called the Visions and I've rearranged that and it's sort of disco that will be quite good. I’ll put that out when I get around to finishing it.

Obviously, we wanted to go with a record company that was sympathetic to what we're doing and they don't mind cause we've got a few off the wall things we're doing that haven't been done before. I always want to go with people who understand and trust our intuition. Radar is like that. They've put up with a lot of strange ideas, which have worked out. I'm sure that as soon as they stop working out, they're gonna clamp down, same as CBS. But they've really been great. Elvis and I were the first to sign up with them.

The problem with Stiff was when all the bills came in and all the boring stuff; everyone wanted to go down to the gigs and hear the new records and there was no one taking care of the fucking account. So we wanted to go with a record company where we could have a certain amount of freedom, but also have the machinery to take care of all that boring stuff and Radar is a happy medium.
They've got Warner's clout and in England that's very substantial. Also, they've got Martin and Andrew and they're good guys. They understand me and Elvis and Jake and all our little idiosyncrasies.

There is this crossover between pop which is why I started saying to people: "I'm a pop singer." It's kind of a glib phrase since it was very uncool to say you were a pop singer. Elvis' audience, for instance, consists not only of people who are music enthusiasts, but also a lot of young girls who really get off on him like they do with Gary Glitter or did with Marc Bolan: I've never seen that before. I saw it a bit with Dr. Feelgood, they were a bit like that, People were sort of hardcore music fans, yet there were also kids who buy the teen mags and things like that.' That's what happened to Elvis, his audience is just like that I think that's healthy because rock & roll or pop music is the property of young people. Certainly people younger than me.

I think there's a lot of people who could do what I'm doing. I don't think that I'm particularly talented. What I have got which a lot of people don't is an eye for style and for people with style: I can recognize it I don't even think that I have it but I can certainly recognize people who have got it, which I think is a talent in itself. So, I'm just a jack of all trades and master of none. I'm like a music fan and I'm in this position where I can do all of this. I have a very temporary attitude to the whole thing. I don't take it seriously and I don't think it will last forever. As soon as I stop thinking like that, I'll be bad. I don't want to go through all that pop star crap.

(As always, apologies for beaking copyright law, and I'll take it down if you really want me to.)

Friday, December 16, 2005

Friday Teenblogging

Regular readers of Eschaton know that I am absurdly proud of my teen, a fifteen year old anime freak with a mind of her own. Plus, she's fairly decent looking, if I do say so myself (and I can, because not a shred of her genetic material comes from me. I've never towered over a boy in my life, except Billy Barty).

For your edification, then, Teenblogging.

The teen. Posted by Picasa

And the first Real Dance.

The teen & friend. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


I heard this on the radio yesterday: apparently, Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint have been recording together, the first sessions in New Orleans since Katrina. Album expected next spring.
Morning Edition, December 12, 2005 · Elvis Costello and New Orleans piano legend Allen Toussaint have recorded a new album in New Orleans. The session is in part a symbolic effort to show the city's music industry is not dead.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Things We Do For Love

Thers is a genuinely amazing person. Though he has the demeanor (and often the memory) of an abstracted academic, every so often he'll pull out something fabulous (or just sort of scary) to prove that he is, in fact, paying attention.

Last night, he asked if he could put something on TV and I said sure. It turned out that he had DVRed (that's a low-tech Tivo, for you hipsters out there) a movie for which I have great residual affection, while recognizing its appalling artistic flaws.

Posted by Picasa

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Look, I have absolutely no defense for an even residual affection here. This is, if you've never seen it, a BAD MOVIE. Bad bad. Bad bad bad. Peter Frampton stars as Billy Shears, The Bee Gees as the Henderson brothers (late of Pablo Fanky's fair, what a scene!). Together they are a band from Pepperland who sign to a Big Deal label in LA (literally, Big Deal Records) partly with the help of a racially ambiguous but overtly sexual girl band called Lucy and the Diamonds (and they're on a billboard, so in the sky... get it? get it?), partly because of drugs.

And this isn't even the improbable and retarded part of the narrative, which has to do with George Burns and magical musical instruments and female androids in spike heels and Aerosmith.

I am not making this up.

Anyway, Thers saw this thing on Sundance and DVRed it for me and didn't even complain when I sat and watched the whole damn thing last night.

Not a good movie. (shudder)

But it occurred to me, as it has before, that despite the execrable nature of this film, if it were pitched to film executives today, with cast members of a similar level of fame and accomplishment (this was Frampton after Frampton Comes Alive, The Bee Gees after Saturday Night Fever). They had established acts (did I forget to mention that Alice Cooper is in it?) and up-and-comers (Paul Nicholas, whose catchy "Heaven on the Seventh Floor" was a fave of mine at the time, and a young comedian named Steve Martin). They had, as my teen pointed out in a drive-by sneer, Star Wars graphics and uber-hip synthesized voices. And George Burns after Oh, God! And it was Robert Stigwood. I don't think any studio, presented with a similar package, would say no, even now. What do you all think?

But I have to confess that, even though I know it's a bad movie, I was annoyed at Sundance for allowing Alan Cumming to host it. He sneered his way through the introduction ("One thing good about the movie: you'll feel like you're up to your tits in psychedelic drugs without doing any.") and all I could think was "You were in fucking Spice World! You have zero moral authority!"

(Come to think of it, the existence of Spice World proves my point that Sgt. Pepper would get made again....)

Did I mention that the female lead is named Strawberry Fields?

More to come, possibly, since noted rock critic Steve Simels has promised me dirt on the premiere, which he attended.

And the addendum, courtesy of steve simels:
A lot of this has been lost in
the mists of memory, but...

the guy who wrote the movie was
a cat named Henry Edwards, who
was (IIRC) probably ten, fifteen
years older than me, and had been
one of the several appallingly
out of touch rock crits the NYTimes
used (Mike Jahn was another -- he
of the famously idiotic pan of
the Beatles White Album) before they
got smart enough to hire John
Rockwell and Stephen Holden. When
I met him initially, he was my
opposite number at High Fidelity;
he was a bitchy old queen who
had absolute undisquised contempt
for anything remotely connected
with rock music. Later, he started
hanging with the the
Robert Stigwood crowd (they made
the movie) and the usual 70s
Warhol suspects.

In any event, when the movie came
out, Andrew Sarris famously observed
that the screenplay sounded like
"it had been written between snorts
of cocaine in the Studio 54 mens
room." Which was way more accurate
than Sarris could ever have

As for the screening, like I said
every rock writer in NYC was
in attendance, and they were
pre-disposed to hate the film
for any number of reasons, including
the fact that it would doubtless
suck. (Punk was happening, and the
film was obviously soulless
corporate dinosaur crap at its worst. Not
Plus Beatle purists were primed to
hate it for obvious reasons).

Anyway, if memory serves, there
were drinks served before the
screening and the assembled rock
press got a bit lubricated.

Then...and like I said, this has
been lost in the mists of memory...

all I remember is there were was
a scene where Peter Frampton was
like on a roof or something, on
(I think) a burning building with
no chance of rescue.

And almost in unison, the critics
started screaming "Jump!!!!!!

It was glorious.

No replacement for actually being there, I know....

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Don't Tell NTodd!

...but he's got competition!

They Might Be Giants' very first podcast is available right now right here. To subscribe to this unique free service subscribe here. This first episode is approximately 20 minutes long and features a number of exclusive recordings and some unusual tracks we suspect you'll find interesting. The host is the Duke of Dead Air- Cecil Portesque- broadcasting from an undisclosed, very rainy location. Future podcasts are already in the works. Please check it out, and we sincerely invite you to hip as many people you know about this show- especially you blogtopianists out there.

So Dial-a-Song goes high tech. It was only a matter of time, I suppose.

But make sure to check out NTodd's podcasts, too.

Ruminating on Credibility

So I was cleaning and making a space for the tree this morning, the TV on as background noise, and a commercial came on to the tune of "Daydream Believer."

Monkees. Posted by Picasa

I'm one of the generation which rolls their eyes at such things: for us the term "sell-out" was still an insult. Cross-marketing, where a song was released as a commercial for something and on an album simultaneously, was a later innovation. I was once told that the amount of money involved in such negotiations is phenomenal: the topic was the Cheap Trick song "Surrender," which the band itself had apparently rerecorded, sans the majority of the lyrics, for an amusement park commercial. (I thought it was a cover, but someone who's hipper about this sort of thing than I assured me that it was, in fact, Zander singing.)

In any case, I heard "Daydream Believer" and rolled my eyes, then thought for a bit about the silliness of that response. The Monkees could not have been coopted by mass-marketing: they were themselves a creation of mass-marketing, as self-conscious an invention as Menudo or the Backstreet Boys.

Give them this, though: they had some self-awareness:
Hey, hey, we are The Monkees,
You know we love to please,
A manufactured image
With no philosophies.

Head. Posted by Picasa

You say we're manufactured.
To that we all agree.
So make your choice and we'll rejoice
In never being free!
Hey Hey we are The Monkees
We've said it all before;
The money's in, we're made of tin,
We're here to give you more!

When I was a kid, I loved The Monkees with the wholehearted and unquestioning affection of youth. (I see "Head" premiered on my second birthday as well....) I guess I knew that they were packaged and a ripoff, but that didn't bother me. Of course, as a preschooler, I was probably close to the ideal demographic.

I went through the usual disdain for them as I aged, taking to heart the adolescent sneer which cast everything I had once loved under a dark shadow. When college came, I found drugs and "Head"--but this also happened to be during one of the various resurgences of The Monkees--this time courtesy of MTV, which was, at that point, making some of their early forays into conventional programming (1985 or 6), and The Monkees were one of the first programs they revived. So for a while, they were everywhere: hell, I even saw them live (sans Nesmith, of course, though I saw the Christmas special when he rejoined the band, too). That phase of my life, too, I boxed up, labelled and stored in the back of a closet.

But as I've gotten older, my perspective has softened. Partly, I see them as a symptom of a time when power pop was deemed worthy of coopting for the mass market: that in itself is fairly amazing these days, when only rap gets that sort of treatment (50 Cent has a movie? 50 freakin' Cent?). So there's that. But I also look at the narrative of the development of the Monkees from "manufactured image" to something resembling a real band. (Not much of a country person, but I like Nesmith's country rock stuff a lot--"Sweet Young Thing," etc.) I don't know how much I credit the mythos--stuff like Nesmith putting his fist through a wall and warning a record executive that it could have been his face--but I don't think there's any question that the crises of the market and artistic credibility met and fought it out on that field.

So when I hear "Daydream Believer," I reserve the right to roll my eyes a bit, even knowing that the song was conceived simply in order to be marketed. But I'll always see the Monkees in sort of a liminal space, unable to dismiss them entirely.

Friday, December 09, 2005

A Power Pop Health Tip

This is real, from a book I was paging through looking for tips to deal with a headache.

Caption reads: Disco dancing is not a recommended activity for those prone to migraine. Excitement, flashing lights, and loud music can all trigger an attack. Posted by Picasa

Power pop, of course, does not exacerbate migraine.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


The Onion weighs in:

"We will aggressively prosecute those individuals who attempt to pirate our property by generating 'buzz' about any proprietary music, movies, or software, or enjoy same in the company of anyone other than themselves."

Admit it: if you didn't know it was The Onion, it'd be perfectly plausible.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

DeepToej Doesn't Want Me to Get Any Work Done

Or he wouldn't have sent me this tidbit:


Bob's touring band for his solo tour in support of From A Compound Eye is
all set:

Bob - vocals
Tommy Keene - guitar/keyboards
Dave Phillips - guitar
Jason Narducy - bass
Jon Wurster - drums

The tour will start in late January. Look for tour date announcements in
late December.

Even those of us who spend absurd amounts of money to see GBV's last shows a year ago at this time (almost exactly, actually) didn't believe for a second that Pollard was done. Hell, I have Relaxation of the Asshole on my iPod, though I admit I ritually skip the tracks (kind of a one-trick-pony sort of thing).

But I'll admit, I'm giddy as a schoolgirl at the thought of Pollard travelling with Tommy Keene. Keene did some opening gigs for GBV here and there, and his album The Real Underground is a classic of the power pop genre. I just hope Pollard doesn't bulldoze him.

Here's a nice interview with Keene. (And do I know the interviewer? I think I might....)

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Packing It In

Blessed Mary of Prankster Posted by Picasa

No, no, not me. But Mary Prankster, one of my favorite live shows, is apparently "retiring" the Mary Prankster character and getting ready to write a book about her ten years of nonstop touring. Here's what she said:
"This year I decided to take a hiatus from the road after playing 80-200 shows a year, every year, since 1995. When I tallied up the numbers, I realized I'd played over a thousand shows as Mary Prankster. Artistically, 'Mary Prankster' did more than I ever dreamed possible. Creatively, I'm ready to try something new."

Final show Monday the 28th at the Knitting Factory in NYC, where she's apparently relocated (the city, not the club).

DeepToej and I ruminated on the meaning of this retirement the other day at brunch, and I have some theories. One of them is that Mary had apparently reached for a bit of something different with her last record--less bawd, more pop--and I don't think it connected as well as one might have hoped. There are reasons for it: she was working with a high-powered power pop producer with an impressive pedigree (Mitch Easter), but he may not have seen the same value in her raw edges that we the fan base did. Plus, the personal and band implosion happened mid-recording. This complicated the recording process, of course, and apparently Easter himself stepped in and did rather more playing than one usually expects of a producer, making his thumbprint even more distinct. But it also made touring as anything other than a solo acoustic act impractical. And I'll bet that gets wearying fast, even for the wiry, energetic Ms. Prankster.

The crucial comparison, I thought, was Liz Phair, who also risked alienating her fan base by going with hot-shot production, but Phair was starting from a stronger position and shooting for the mainstream, which she mostly hit. Prankster was shooting for a different level of indie cred, but she didn't have the same strength (by this I mean name recognition, label support, and presumably finances) to risk, and so the payoff didn't work quite the same way.

I met Mary once, in a bathroom at a club in Ithaca, NY. We were wearing the same shirt, a red baseball jersey with the words "Rock & Roll" emblazoned across the tits. I'm a buxom sort, and Ms. Prankster is, well, not, so we looked at each other and laughed and she asked "Why doesn't that shirt look like that on me?"

Mary as I met her. Posted by Picasa

Anyway, in honor of Ms. Prankster, I present one of my favorite songs.

The World Is Full of Bastards

He said, “Mary is the rarest gem
And she’s the wildest flower.
I’ll make my Mary merrier
With every passing hour.”

So I made a certain sacrifice
As soon as we were through
I said, “Your Mary loves you, lad.”
And he said, “‘Mary’ who?”

You don’t know if an apple’s rotten
’Til you take a bite
You don’t know if there’s breakfast comin’
’Til you spend the night

And I’m sure I’ll kiss my share of frogs
Before my time is done
The world is full of bastards
And I’ve dated every one

Eh, the lad was oh-so-generous
Much more than you would think
He didn’t have a license
But he still drove me to drink

And I had no insecurities
So he gave me some of his
But I didn’t need his sorrow, man
I’m Irish as it is

You don’t know if the beer is bitter
’Til you buy a glass
You don't know if your peace of mind
Is just a piece of ass

And I’m sure I’ll kiss my share of frogs
Before my time is done
The world is full of bastards
And I’ve dated every one

RIP: Link Wray

Didn't get a chance to blog this when it happened, but better late than never:

"Rumble," Mr. Wray' s signature song, was released in 1958, and its snarling two-chord pattern remains a symbol of the stylized menace of rockabilly. According to legend, the song got its title when someone said it reminded her of the fight scenes in "West Side Story."

To record it, Mr. Wray punctured his amp with a pencil, damaging the speaker just enough to give the sound a thorny fuzz. Though an instrumental, the song was considered an incentive to violence and was banned from the radio in some cities.

In other songs, like "Raw-Hide" "Jack the Ripper" and "The Swag," Mr. Wray expanded on the vocabulary of "Rumble" and experimented with rougher and more aggressive guitar sounds. To record "Jack the Ripper," Mr. Wray placed his amp in a hotel staircase, creating an eerie and enticing reverb.

Though he was imitated by other rockabilly guitarists, his wider influence was first felt in early British rock bands like the Kinks and the Who, who borrowed his sharp guitar sound, as well as some of his amp-damaging tricks. Others, especially later heavy metal and punk players, also made abundant use of the deep, chunky power chord.

We always need to remember where we came from.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Babyblogging: The Triumphant Return!

It's Fall Cleaning Season here at Chez Thers, and I've been taking the opportunity to pull apart the house and clean under things, move furniture, et cetera. Besides annoying Thers (I have never yet met a man who can stand having the furniture rearranged), the process fascinated Rosie, who thought the idea of strolling around inside the empty bedframe was too cool for words.

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Damn. What a difference five years and two flights from prosecution make!

Gary Glitter in 2000. Posted by Picasa

Gary Glitter this week. Posted by Picasa

Whatever he was doing with those young Southeast Asian girls, it wasn't keeping him young.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Bruuuuuce! (Part Deux)

So I was going to blog this, but it was too stupid and embarrassing, I thought. But the Good General has an alternative to that Commie anyway.

Just last year, you honored a Republican rocker, whose commitment to the Second Amendment, traditional values, and the Eternal Struggle to Resubjugate Brown People is without equal. Of course, I'm referring to the Motor City Madman, Ted Nugent.

His paen to traditional female roles, Wang Dang Sweet Poontang, will have its own 30 year anniversary soon. What better way to put the French-minded Springsteen in his place than by honoring Mr. Nugent and Wang Dang Sweet Poontang.

Been a great week for the House Republicans, though. Rob some food and health care from poor kids, snub The Boss, and attempt a transparent political ploy stating "we know it was lies and we don't care!" Good thing they put off making Paris Hilton's tax cut permanant until closer to Christmas.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Do You Want to Touch?

I'm guessing "no."

Police Search for Gary Glitter in Vietnam
Authorities said Thursday they are searching for former British rock star
Gary Glitter over his alleged relationship with a Vietnamese teenager.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Le Dung said officials have confirmed that Glitter, 61, whose real name is Paul Francis Gadd, was residing in a home in southern Vung Tau city and had applied for permanent resident status in Vietnam.

Glitter rose to fame with glam-rock songs in the 1970s, most notably his only U.S. hit, "Rock and Roll Part 2," a largely instrumental song that has been a staple at stadium sporting events for years. Among his other songs hits were "I'm the Leader of the Gang (I Am)" and "Do You Wanna Touch."

Glitter fell from grace in 1999 when he was convicted in Britain of possessing child pornography. He served half of a four-month jail sentence before being released. He later went to Cambodia and was permanently expelled in 2002, though Cambodian officials did not specify his crime or file charges.

Dung said that Glitter had left the house on Nov. 12, and police are seeking his whereabouts.

You'd think a guy would learn, wouldn't you?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


Look, I know he's not power pop, but I heard something today which was, at best, concerning.

Go here, hit "Listen," and fast forward to about two minutes in.

I'll wait here.

Okay, so what you heard is an alternative mix of Springsteen's "Born to Run," with a choir, orchestral instruments, and a glockenspeil.

I think, in general, that orchestral instruments are a mistake in pop. (Though, inexplicably, I like things like banjos and bagpipes. Go figure.)

In other Bruce news, I quite like this rumor. He's smart and principled and articulate, and the worst thing you can say about the guy is that he married a supermodel by mistake. It could have happened to anyone.

The Thinker

Because Eli is a brilliant photographer, and not everyone reads metacommentsPosted by Picasa

Saturday, November 12, 2005

A Debate: That Thing You Do

I'm always willing to reconsider my deeply held opinions in the face of others, and so I open this debate:

That Thing You Do Posted by Picasa

Here's a recent off-site discussion with noted rock critic Steve Simels on the film.


If you're still here -- I saw your
post on Schlesinger at Power Pop.

For what it's worth, I like
THAT THING YOU DO -- both the movie
and the album -- a lot more than
you do.

I think the movie is pretty much the
best rock movie about the period
ever (with the possible exceptions
and I think the soundtrack is classic.
Just about every song is a gem,
even the deliberately crappy one that
leads it off.


steve simels | Email | 11.08.05 - 11:11 pm | #
I really have issues with the two-dimensionality of a lot of the characters and the pseudo-hipness of the central guy, who was obviously cast because he looks like a young Tom Hanks.

But I do like the music a lot.
NYMary | Email | Homepage | 11.08.05 - 11:14 pm | #

I know what you mean about the
script, but trust me -- the period
detail is a hundred percent dead

Best movie about 1965 ever made.

steve simels | Email | 11.08.05 - 11:20 pm | #

So, what do you think?

Friday, November 11, 2005

New Finds of Old Stuff

Courtesy of Kid Charlemagne, I'm currently obsessed with Ail Symudiad, a Welsh power pop group of the early 80's.

Follow the link: it's one of the few on the band in English. But I did post a song (or rather, someone did it for me as a favor).

Garej Paradwys (Paradise Garage)

Lots more to discover on the discs he sent me, but that must wait for another day.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Serendipity and Ubiquitousness

So I've been working these crazy hours, but I had one of those weird, serendipitous experiences last night that left me contemplative on my long commute.

I was in the car, approaching a gas station, humming along to the goofy FOW Christmas song "I Want an Alien for Christmas" and thinking that, man, I like this band. They're catchy and sharp and don't take themselves too seriously. You'd have to look hard to find a song more good-humored and cutting than "Bright Future in Sales," for example, and that's a pretty hard line to straddle. I saw them in 2003, at Metro in Chicago, just before "Stacey's Mom" broke huge, and they were tight and just a bit uptight. But an amazing band. (True: a friend of mine went to college (Williams, in Massachutsetts) with Collingworth and Schlesinger, but he said they existed "on a completely different level of cool" than he did--alas, I believe it.)

So I cruise into the pump, which is one of those informational pumps, where the screen tells you that beer is on sale and there's a radio making announcements over the music. But the music, which I was also humming along with without quite realizing it, turned out to be "That Thing You Do"--a middling bad film, but with a decent power pop soundtrack. Ruminating in empty brain space, I grinned a bit thinking that "power pop" and "Oscar" don't generally go in the same sentence. But in this case, I'm glad they did.

So I get back in the car, realizing that I've left the ipod playing this whole time. Oops. It's dreamy, contemplative, a girl's voice. Ivy.

Not until that song is over do I realize that I've just been treated to a 1-2-3 punch from Adam Schlesinger, one of the most gifted people working in music right now, and a solid power pop guy. I run into him in the weirdest places: for example, the documentary "Gigantic: A Tale of Two Johns"--shot partly at a 2001 recording session--scanned the room and across Schlesinger's face: he was producing them.

So Schlesinger is everywhere, or at least some days it seems that way. And you know what? I'm okay with that.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Great Lost Bands of the PowerPop Era: Martha and the Muffins

Blast from the Past: Over at Perfect Sound Forever, we see a recent interview with Martha and the Muffins!
PSF: When you wrote "Echo Beach," did you think that people would still be listening to it years later?

MG: The song has legs and we could have never anticipated that. If somebody had said then that song is going to be as popular 25 years on, I wouldn't have believed it. But I can see in retrospect how it has appealed to people. My father always said one reason he thought it was a hit is because it's nostalgic, and any song that has nostalgia in it hits a chord with people. And I think to some extent he's right. We're also the only Canadian band or artist to make Mojo magazine's list of "100 Singles You Must Own" ("Echo Beach" was #67). (In Canada) we have an award called the Juno, and we won two of them, one for the song "Echo Beach" – I think it got single of the year in 1980.

PSF: How popular was "Echo Beach" when it was released?

MJ: It did really well (in England). We just sat at home in Canada and got phone calls every week saying "It's at number 22!" "It's at number 18!" It made the top ten. It didn't actually make number one, but it was very popular and sold like 500,000 copies of the single. It was quite a whirlwind. But there was no followup (hit). The followup was chosen by the head of the record company, which was DinDisc at that time. And the band really didn't agree with her but she went ahead anyway with a song called "Saigon." I think (the single) probably should have been "Paint By Number Heart" or "Indecision." After the success in England, Canada followed suit and throughout Europe and in Australia, everywhere it was released the song went top ten as well.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Neo BabyBlogging: Sean Patrick Edition

From the side, the noble profile. Posted by Picasa

Ack! He's looking at us! Posted by Picasa

Much as they reportedly used to "gender-check" medieval popes after the unfortunate "Pope Joan" incident, we are looking up from underneath at the thigh bones and a penis, helpfully identified by the ultrasound tech. The black bubble is his bladder. Posted by Picasa

Well, he's rudely turning his back on us! Guess we'll let him sleep. Posted by Picasa