Wednesday, April 30, 2008

War is Over (If You Want It)

From today's Guardian (UK):

Teenager Who Gatecrashed 1969 Bed-In Puts Peace Anthem's Lyrics Up For Sale
By Mark Brown, arts correspondent

Twenty-seven years after his death John Lennon is to make good a promise he once made to a star-struck Canadian teenager: that he would always look after her. In one of the most keenly anticipated sales of rock memorabilia for years, Gail Renard, now a TV comedy writer, is to auction Lennon's handwritten lyrics of "Give Peace a Chance," which have hung in her study for years. The lyrics - "Everybodies talking bout [sic] /Bagism, Shagism, Dragism, Madism, Ragism, Tagism, This-ism, That-ism" etc - will be sold by Christie's this summer for an estimate of between £200,000 and £300,000.

The auction has brought to light the remarkable story of how Renard was given the lyrics nearly 40 years ago.

Lennon and Yoko Ono were in Montreal for their Bed-In in 1969, a week of staying in bed calling for peace capped off by a recording of Give Peace A Chance sung by Lennon and 50 or so others in the hotel suite, including the singer Petula Clark and the beat poet Allen Ginsberg. With them for most of the week was Renard who, with a friend, got into the hotel via a fire escape with a present for Ono's five-year-old daughter, Kyoko, waited for security on Lennon's floor to change and then simply knocked on the door. "It's incredible the things you'd do when you're young that you wouldn't do now," she said.

Renard and Lennon bonded, and the self-described "hyperventilating teenager" was allowed to stay until the media circus ended. Then Lennon refused to be interviewed by the DJ Roger Scott for the city's radio station and asked Renard to do it: "Can you imagine? A 16-year-old."

Renard says she had an amazing week and remembers in particular watching A Hard Day's Night with Lennon on the TV. "My mother spoke to him and made it quite clear what the rules were - 'you keep my daughter away from sex and drugs or you answer to me' and he did. He got me home for bedtime each night, although that's probably when the drugs came out."

Lennon gave Renard several mementos, saying they would be worth something one day. He also kickstarted her writing career by telling the editor of the Beatles Monthly magazine to publish her review of the Bed-In. He promised he would always take care of her and gave her a "magic" phone number to call any time. Renard subsequently carved out a successful comedy writing career in the UK and won a Bafta in 2001 for the CBBC drama Custer's Last Stand Up.

The lyrics have hung in her study for years, but when her roof leaked she thought it was time to let them go.

Helen Hall, head of popular culture at Christie's, said she expected the lyrics to beat the $450,000 paid at Christie's in 2003 for the original of the Beatles' Nowhere Man. Also up for auction on July 10 will be several original photographs from the Bed-In.

A few months after the Bed-In, half a million anti-Vietnam protesters sang Give Peace a Chance outside the White House. Lennon said it was "one of the biggest moments of my life".

[h/t Steve Schwartz]

Better Dead Than Shred

Words fail me.

I mean, I was only being slightly snarky when I dissed this guy's fast fingers.

But no, the above is not a parody a la Nigel Tufnel and Spinal Tap -- it's the apparently completely serious Michael Angelo Batio and his Quad Guitar.

I can only speculate that drugs are involved, either in the playing of the music or the enjoyment of it.

[h/t who am us anyway?]

The Spy Who Boinked Me

Troubled pop diva my girlfriend Amy Winehouse may have a new gig.

Amy Winehouse is working on a theme song for the forthcoming James Bond film with Mark Ronson, the producer has confirmed to the BBC. But Ronson said there are no guarantees the track will be used for Quantum Of Solace as they have not been officially signed up to release the song.

"Hopefully it will get used. We're working on it and we'll see what happens," the producer told BBC 6 Music. "They asked Amy, and I think Amy said that if she did it, she'd want to do it with me. So hopefully something will come of it," he told the station's Music Week's show. "The demo sounds like a James Bond theme, hopefully. But I don't know if it'll get used."

He added: "I'm sure there are loads more really famous people that probably we're competing with and we don't know about. I'm not sure.

"But hopefully I'll still be alive for at least 12 more Bond themes. If we don't get this one maybe we'll get another one."

This is good news, I guess. Don't know if Amy's the martini type, though. And I'm not sure I can picture Daniel Craig with multiple tattoos...

Postscript: Apropos the above, just chanced across the following in the May issue of MOJO, courtesy of Portishead drummer Geoff Barrow: "[Mark] Ronson is to soul music what Shakin' Stevens was to rock 'n' roll."

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tuesday Pop Quiz

Off to NYC to audition -- yet again -- for Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Back tonight.

In the meantime, a question:

Is the guy singing this song

(A) Full of shit?

(B) Rather full of shit?

(C) Incredibly full of shit?


A Summer's Night With a Magic Moon

The great Jackie DeShannon in 1964, performing her self-penned "When You Walk in the Room."

Truly, one of the canonical power pop classics, and if it will make you feel any better until fairly recently I didn't know she'd had her own version of it out before The Searchers either.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Oh Joy!

Madonna has a new album!! And a new video!!! And Justin Timberlake's in it!!!!

I'm sorry, but this whole deal where it's now supposed to be cool to like Timberlake, despite his lame boy band past, because he's some kind of all around entertainer who's not afraid to poke fun at his image (cf. the forthcoming Mike Meyers movie The Love Guru) strikes me as, at least on some level, a perverse camp affectation. Like when the MTV crowd pretended to, like, you know, really dig Tony Bennett.

As for Ms. Ciccone herself, the great cartoonist/singer/songwriter/guitarist Peter Blegvad probably said it best.

"A teaspoon of talent."

I Bet You Look Crappy On the Dancefloor

Full disclosure: Heretofore I have studiously avoided encountering MySpace faves Panic at the Disco in any way shape or form, largely because the very word Emo makes me break out in hives. That said, I caught them on the Saturday Night Live rerun over the weekend and found myself fairly impressed, especially by this little ditty.

"It’s influenced by the music our parents listened to: the Beach Boys, the Kinks, the Beatles", says lead singer Ryan Ross.

Really -- you think? I mean, no shit Sherlock.

BTW -- you can't tell from this video, but whoever dressed these guys on SNL really wasn't doing them a favor. Seriously, I like this song a lot but I can't remember the last time I saw a dorkier or less attractive looking young band. Except maybe for these guys.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Price of Everything and the Value of Nothing

And speaking, as we were downstairs, of keyboard genius/all around soulful dude Alan Price, here's the man himself with more recent and very cool live versions of both the songs in Friday's Listomania.

Seriously, underrated (at least in this country) doesn't begin to describe this guy.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Weekend Listomania (Special Dave "Baby" Cortez Lives! Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental amanuensis Hop-Sing and I are off to Paramus, New Jersey (a mere stones throw from my digs in the Paris of the Tri-State Metropolitan Area). Something about brown bears on a rampage. I'm not sure what the deal is; perhaps they're eating old Jews. Doesn't seem right.

Hey. It's late and I was stuck for a joke. So sue me.

In any case, as a result, posting by moi will necessarily be somewhat fitful for a few days.

But until then, as always, here's a fun project for you all to contemplate:


As we stipulated for last week's piano list, once agin by "best" we mean the most melodic, the most effective, or the most inventive. It can be a solo, an entire part as played through the length of a song, or simply a riff -- whatever gets you off.

And just to belabor the obvious, we said "organ." No pianos, clavinets or synths need apply. You heard me. But in the interests of common sense, we're waiving the four minute time constraint this time -- there are too many good songs that run well over that arbitrary limit -- although I do hope you'll have the good breeding not to nominate anything by Yes.

Okay, that said, here's my totally top of my head Top Twelve, with credits for the fine folks who actually play the notes appended:

12. Arcade Fire -- My Body is a Cage (William Butler)

Just so we have something recorded in this century. This sounds a lot like some other, older band from Canada, though...can't quite think of their name.

11. Booker T. and the MGs -- Time is Tight (Booker T. Jones)

Get me drunk and I'll actually claim that this is one of the best short pieces of instrumental music, in any genre, written in the second half of the 20th century.

10. The Beatles -- We Can Work It Out (John Lennon)

That's John on harmonium, of course, which is a primitive form of pump organ so don't give me any crap. In any case, this may be the most perfect early Beatle record, largely due to those organ swells adding color and texture during the verses. And the out of nowhere liturgical riff at the end, of course.

9. A tie:

The Animals -- Boom Boom (Alan Price)

The Alan Price Set -- I Put a Spell On You (Alan Price, natch)

Price is kind of a household name in England; in this country, alas, less so. But if there was a more soulful keyboard guy and singer tossed up on the shores of the British Invasion, I can't think of him.

8. Spencer Davis Group -- I'm a Man (Stevie Winwood)

Well, maybe Stevie.

7. Brinsley Schwarz -- Surrender to the Rhythm (Bob Andrews)

This clip simply slays me. Astoundingly lyrical organ work; the young Nick Lowe wrote the damn thing and is trying hard to be the focus of attention here, but Andrews absolutely steals it.

6. Another tie --

? and the Mysterians -- 96 Tears (Frank Rodriguez)


Sir Douglas Quintet -- She's About a Mover (Augie Meyers)

Genuis simplicity or moronic mindlessness? YOU make the call!! Seriously -- the cheesy 60s organ sound that pretty much defines pop retro begins here.

5. Another tie --

Bob Dylan -- Like a Rolling Stone (Al Kooper)


Elvis Costello and the Attractions -- Pump It Up (Steve Nieve)

Kooper invents the quicksilver 60s folk rock keyboard sound in the former, Nieve updates it for the immediate post-punk era in the latter.

4. The Zombies -- Time of the Season (Rod Argent)

Argent's playing here is dazzling, of course, but the decision to overdub a second solo on top of the first one on the fadeout was sheer genius.

3. Procol Harum -- Pilgrim's Progress (Matthew Fischer)

Like "Layla," this is a song with a lengthy, seemingly unrelated instrumental coda appended from out of the blue. Unlike "Layla," this one has no guitar histrionics whatsoever, and yet it's just as gorgeous. Remarkable.

2. Alabama 3 -- Woke Up This Morning (Orlando Harrison)

This is possibly the simplest organ lick ever recorded -- really, I could teach my cat to play it in five minutes -- and yet damned if it doesn't work in the context of the everything but the kitchen sink stuff these guys surround it with. Of course, this is now essentially the state song of New Jersey, so I may be overrating it....

And the number one coolest, it's not even a contest for crissakes, organ grinding on a pop/rock record of all time is indisputably ---

1. Oh crap, it's another tie!!!

The Band -- Chest Fever (Garth Hudson)


The Call
-- The Walls Came Down (Garth Hudson)

The Mad Professor at his maddest and grandest. And it is perhaps no accident that both these songs, as lyrically different as they are, have magnificently primal hard rock riffs at their core.

Awrighty then -- what would your choices be?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

An Early Clue to the New Direction

From 1967, here's Brit Invasion faves The Zombies and a rather astounding live (non-lipsynched) cover of the Isley Brothers' "This Old Heart of Mine" as performed on teevee in the land of the Ignoble Frog.

Viewing that, of course, there's really only rational response:

In conclusion, Rod Stewart -- bite me.

In any case, as is customary, a coveted PowerPop No-Prize will be awarded to the first reader who divines the clip's relevance to Friday's Weekend Listomania.

The Company They Keep

Superchunk to endorse Obama, or at least play a few concerts with Arcade Fire in NC.

Pluck Your Magic Twanger, Froggy!!!

Read about this guy in todays' NY Times review of a Megadeth show.

May I just go on record as saying that I totally don't give a shit about this entire style of instrumental wanking? Seriously -- for all the use Broderick is making of the guitar as a rhythm instrument, he might as well be playing a flute. I say it's spinach and the hell with it.

Tales From the Crypt

Okay, I'm going to get a little self-indulgent for a minute now, so bear with me.

Those of you who've been hanging around here since NYMary first gave me the spare keys to the car may recall that one of the things I talked about doing early on was using the blog to rescue various things I'd written about pop music over the years for various dead tree media, primarily the old Stereo Review (now Sound & Vision). In practice, however, I've only done it once or twice, partly because it's a royal pain in the ass to transcribe the damn things, but mostly because upon re-reading some of my early stuff I've come to the conclusion that a lot of it is either dated, embarassingly wrongheaded or both, and that I really didn't learn how to write until the early 90s.

That said, the other day I got an e-mail from Eschaton chum/World's Most Aggravating Velvet Underground Fan/blogger of note The Kenosha Kid. The Kid informed me that he had found an old copy of SR featuring my review of the Sex Pistols "Never Mind the Bollocks" album, and that he had intended to give me grief about how lame it was but that to his surprise he thought it was actually pretty good. A few days later I found a copy and reread it myself; to my surprise, I discovered that I kind of agreed with him, so I've decided to share it with you. I've made a few cosmetic changes -- mostly involving punctuation, although I've altered the odd phrase I found insufferably pompous -- but this is essentially 99.9 percent word for word the way it appeared on newstands in February 1978, back at the height of the Jimmy Carter administration.

If one is slightly cynical about things (and in America in 1978, I can't conceive of being otherwise) it's hard to view the meteoric rise of the Sex Pistols to the status of Genuine Phenomenon as anything other than the result of shrewd managerial reading of the public mood. Except for their visual trappings, they're certainly not doing anything that could be remotely called original, either musically or in their public pronouncements. So they're loud, crude, minimally skilled at their instruments; so they spit at queen-and-country, at the rock-and-roll tradition, at the music business, and at anyone rooted in the values of the Sixties. So what? The idea that kids should reclaim rock from the clutches of arrogant superstar tax exiles and balding corporate moguls dates back at least to David Bowie's All the Young Dudes and its contemptuous sneer at older brother "back at home with his Beatles and his Stones." The Pistols' stance of calculated obnoxiousness and musical primitivism is the same ploy countless rockers from Elvis on down have utilized to get noticed in a hurry.

But even granted all that, it would be a mistake to dismiss the Pistols as just this season's hype; there's art lurking beneath the artifice of their debut album. Of course, to appreciate "Never Mind the Bollocks" you have to have a certain tolerance for loud noises. You also have to understand something perhaps not readily apparent, which is that the Pistols are wittily well aware of the contradictions in what they're attempting, the most obvious of these being that to reach the mass audience they want they will have to seduce the very types they detest, especially once they invade America. But they go ahead anyway, in E.M.I and New York, knocking the record company that dropped them (because some execs believed they were seriously advocating anarchy) and sneering at the "bored old faggots" who are habitues of Max's Kansas City (i.e., the trend setters who have helped make punk rock, at lest in the U.S., the Next Big Thing). Unless we're being kidded on some level, how else to explain the theatrical panache with which the Pistols deliver such utterly ridiculous lines as "I'm a lazy sod." Or the very idea of giving themselves surnames like Vicious and Rotten?

The blatant put-ons notwithstanding, however, the Pistols' political message comes across with undeniable power. It should be noted that, among other things, they happen to be the most legitimately influential protest songwriters in over a decade, and as with Bob Dylan it hardly matters whether they're completely sincere or not. God Save the Queen, which they released as a single just in time to spoil the Silver Jubilee for a lot of their countrymen, is something of a small rock masterpiece in that regard (as well as the strongest track on the album); it's also a remarkable revival of the kind of spleen-venting the Angry Young Men of the British theater were doing twenty years ago. As James Walcott observed, there isn't that vast a gulf between John Osborne and Johnny Rotten, and if you doubt it, I suggest you listen to the way Rotten yowls "God save the Queen...we mean it, man."

As you may have gathered by now, I don't find the Sex Pistols particularly threatening, for all their revolutionary fervor. Rotten is a first-rate rock-and-roll singing actor (his Cockney whine is almost cute), and though the band still has some growing to do, when they're on they have a drive and power reminiscent of the MC5. "Never Mind the Bollocks" may be a little repetitious at times, but the best cuts are viscerally exciting and easily accessible rock by any standard. Still, by the rules of the game the Pistols are playing, if somebody like me (who represents a lot of what they claim to be rejecting) comes to terms with them, it smacks of co-optation. And so, that I do rather like them indicates a failure on their part, it seems to me. I hope that when they bring their peculiarly English brand of sonic assault to these shores in person, they'll do their damndest to make me uncomfortable about my endorsement. After all, if I read them right, that's their job. -- Steve Simels

SEX PISTOLS: Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols.
WARNER BROS. BSK 3147 $6.98

For what it's worth, I really wouldn't change much except for that bit about them being minimally skilled at their instruments. In fact, other than that, by and large I think I nailed it.

Et vous?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Ricola -- Take Me Away!!!!

From today's L.A. Times:


By Bob Pool, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
April 23, 2008

No! No-o-o-o! No-o-o-o-o-o! That plea from Hollywood is reverberating through Los Angeles City Hall as officials try to decide whether a 16-story tower should be built next to the landmark Capitol Records building.

A Marina del Rey developer hopes to construct 93 condominiums, 13,442 square feet of commercial and office space and a 242-space underground parking lot next to the landmark, 13-floor, record-shaped building.

But Capitol executives are trying to stop the multimillion-dollar project because of fears that pile-driving and excavation for the three-level underground garage will damage one-of-a-kind, below-ground echo chambers that are used for high-end recordings...

You can read the rest here. My favorite bit, though, is this aside:

EMI's appeal of the project is one of two that have been filed. A separate objection has been lodged by Hollywood resident Jim McQuiston, who has lived for 48 years across the street from the tower site. He objects to it on seismic grounds.

"It would affect me when it falls over on me," McQuiston, a Caltech-trained engineer, said Tuesday. In papers filed with the city, he asserted that "the so-called Yucca strand of the Hollywood Fault poses an extreme hazard" to the condominium tower.

EARTHQUAKE 2008! In Sensurround!!!!

[h/t GWPDA, yclept Irate Historian]

La Nuit des Morts-Vivants

More proof that YouTube is the greatest boon to human knowledge since the library at Alexandria.

Seriously, until I chanced across this French TV clip yesterday I don't think I've ever seen actual non lip-synched live footage of The Zombies before, let alone a shit hot performance of a song they never officially recorded.

Jeebus, these guys were an amazing band...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Return From Planet Claire

I haven't really made up my mind yet, but it occurs to me that the B-52s may well have passed their shelf date.

Seriously -- it's a cute enough song (and apparently the whole new album is in the same ballpark, quality wise) but I think Fred Schneider comes off a little creepy here. I'll leave it to others to comment on the ladies, however.

Seperated at Birth?

Heavily hyped NYC hepsters du jour Vampire Weekend (2008) --

-- and one hit wonder NYC hepsters de le vieille école Every Mother's Son (1967).

Seriously -- are both of these bands just too cute for words or what?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Tempest in a D Cup

Is usually estimable New York Times pop music critic Jon Pareles chanelling the mercifully departed Kelefa Sanneh?

Cast as the daring rock rebel in the Simpson family reality-show empire, Ashlee Simpson is hardly less plastic than her nice-girl sister, Jessica. Her debacle of a “Saturday Night Live” appearance exposed her as a lip-syncher, and when she’s not singing about her rocker-girl independence, she’s working on Broadway. Lately, she and her fiancé, Pete Wentz, of Fall Out Boy, have been teasing the tabloid media by refusing to confirm or deny pregnancy rumors.

But for Ms. Simpson as a pop contender, none of that matters. On her third album, “Bittersweet World,” the defiant pose — “I just wanna color outside the lines,” she pouts in “Rule Breaker,” sounding about as dangerous as an unruly kindergartner — gives her fertile songwriting territory.

Well, at least he didn't feel compelled to mention Ms. Simpson's Billboard chart history. The song still sucks, of course...

Gratuitous (Sorry, I Got Nothing) Afternoon Topic

Sex with the stupid -- fun or not?

Discuss amongst yourselves.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Sunday Song

Because sometimes you just need some Marxism in the morning.

I expect all those men with the dyed white-blonde hair from the 90's look to young people now like mullet-heads and Jerry Garcia looked to me.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Danny Federici 1950 - 2008

NEW YORK (AP) — Danny Federici, the longtime keyboard player for Bruce Springsteen whose stylish work helped define the E Street Band's sound on hits from "Hungry Heart" through "The Rising," died Thursday. He was 58.

Federici, who had battled melanoma for three years, died at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. News of his death was posted late Thursday on Springsteen's official Web site.

He last performed with Springsteen and the band last month, appearing during portions of a March 20 show in Indianapolis.
"Danny and I worked together for 40 years — he was the most wonderfully fluid keyboard player and a pure natural musician. I loved him very much ... we grew up together," Springsteen said in a statement posted on his Web site.

Springsteen concerts scheduled for Friday in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Saturday in Orlando were postponed.

This is really too sad for words. For the sheer joy Springsteen's E-Streeters have given countless people over the years (and I count myself in that number, obviously) these guys really deserved to be immortal.

Weekend Listomania (Special Baby, Let Me Bang Your Box Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental amanuensis Hop-Sing and I are off to join communist harpy Hillary Clinton in rural Pennsylvania -- specifically, at the old farmhouse where they shot the original Night of the Living Dead -- for the first annual "I'm Not Bitterfest '08!!!" Apparently, there'll be a lot of bowling, a quick visit from the Pope, and many shots of Crown Royal between shots at small furry animals involved. Could be a hot one!!!

In any case, as a result, posting by moi will necessarily be somewhat fitful for a few days.

But until then, as always, here's a fun project for you all to contemplate:


By which we mean the most melodic, the most effective, or the most inventive. It can be a solo, an entire part as played through the length of a song, or simply a riff -- whatever gets you off.

But, and at the risk of belaboring the obvious, it has to be played on a piano. No synths, organs, or even clavinets need apply, although by piano we do mean of both the acoustic and electric varieties. On the other hand, if somebody nominates anything played on the shimmering Fender Rhodes (as we used to say in the '70s) I'm gonna take a hostage blah blah blah.

Oh, and one other totally arbitrary rule: The record said piano part adorns has to come in at under four minutes in length, which is pretty much the limit of my attention span where these things are concerned. This, of course, has the virtue of eliminating almost any dreaded prog rock I can think of, although it also means I can't include two of my personal faves, Bruce Springsteen's gorgeous piano-driven "Incident on 57th Street" (sorry, David Sancious) and Traffic's ridiculously infectious "Glad" (forgive me, Stevie Winwood).

Hey, life's a trade-off.

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

10. Bruce Hornsby and the Range -- The Way It Is

From the YouTube comments: "Does anyone know if he was famous before 2pac used the tune?"

Sigh. Incidentally, there are many reasons that Sean Hannity will someday burn in hell, but high among them is the fact that the odious racist fuckwit has the gall to use this passionately anti-racist song as a lead-in on his radio show.

9. The Chiffons -- One Fine Day

One of the greatest opening riffs in rock history, played here by its auteur, Carole King. It's so good, as a matter of fact, that a decade later the Raspberries were moved to recycle it on twelve-string guitar for the intro of their equally epochal "I Wanna Be With You."

8. A three way tie --

The Beatles -- Tell Me What You See


The Beatles -- You Like Me Too Much


The Beatles
-- In My Life

Don't know which Beatle is playing the brilliantly simple mini-solos on the first tune but it's a perfect part, and heard in tandem with Ringo's quasi-Phil Spector drum fill, it's pretty breathtaking. Apparently that's Paul and George Martin on "You Like Me" (one of George Harrison's best early songs), and then it's all Martin on the "In My Life" solo, which (note to aspiring pianists) is actually in the key of C although the track itself is speeded up so that it plays in B flat.

7. Ben Folds Five -- Philosophy

Punk rock for sissies. I like the sound of that. Odd to think, though, that Folds may well turn out to have been the last great piano man in rock history.

6. The Moody Blues -- Go Now

This is, of course, the kickass r&b-inspired early Moodies featuring the great Denny Laine, not the Justin Hayward-led ensemble responsible for such over-ambitious albums as The Moody Blues Cure Cancer. Incidentally, the arrangement here is lifted pretty much note for note from the original version by Bessie Banks; Mike Pinder's trenchant piano solo, however, is totally his own invention.

5. Johnny Cash -- Hurt

I'm not sure who's actually playing the piano here -- the video suggests it's the Man in Black himself, although from what I can tell from the album credits it could be Benmont Tench, Roger Manning or even(!) Billy Preston -- but whoever it is, it's brilliant. In fact, that droney thing may be even cooler than John Cale's similar octaves on the Velvet's "All Tomorrow's Parties."

4. Nina Simone -- My Baby Just Cares For Me

This after-the-fact video is so hilariously apt that you can almost miss the fact that Nina's solo is as perfectly constructed as any in the entire history of jazz OR pop/rock.

3. The Rolling Stones -- Street Fighting Man

The late great Nicky Hopkins, of course. He played on just about everything good out of England or San Francisco in the mid-to-late Sixties, including the Beatles' "Revolution," the sort of spiritual flip side of this one. Which is, you'll have to admit, one hell of a hat trick.

2. Ray Charles -- What'd I Say

IIRC, this was the first time a Wurlitzer electric piano had been heard on a pop single. In any case, the sound of the thing sold this record almost as much as Ray's brilliant (and subsequently endlessly imitated) minimalist funk phrasing.

1. The Zombies -- She's Not There

There's more sheer drama and atmosphere in the ten or twenty odd seconds of Rod Argent's solo here than can be found in the entire ouevre of countless keyboard-dominated prog bands I could mention. Simply brilliant, and for this, if for no other reason, I can forgive him for "God Gave Rock and Roll To You."

Awrighty then -- what would your choices be?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

An Unusually Early Clue to the New Direction

Off to Gomorrah on the Hudson for yet another mysterious assignation. In the meantime, from 1967, here's the great and sadly underrated first generation San Francisco band The Sopwith Camel and "Hello Hello."

Seriously, these guys brand of slightly whimsical folk rock was flat out wonderful; get yourself over to their official website, click on the music link and listen to beautifully produced (by Lovin' Spoonful/Chris Isaak auteur Erik Jacobsen) period confections like "Postcard from Jamaica" or "Cellophane Woman" right now -- you won't regret it.

Of course, as is customary, a coveted PowerPop No-Prize will be awarded to the first reader who divines the clip's relevance to Friday's Weekend Listomania.

This May Indeed Be....

.... the worst thing in all human history.

NEW YORK, April 2, 2008 /PRNewswire/ --
There's a new kind of Beatlemania craze hitting the preschool airwaves as The Wonder Pets! travel to Liverpool, England, to save their favorite rock band on "Save the Beetles!", a new primetime musical adventure premiering Monday, April 21, at 7:00 p.m. (ET/PT) on Nickelodeon. The Wonder Pets! tribute to the Fab Four features Lenie Colacino and Tom Teeley of Broadway's Beatlemania as guest voices for the famous animated bug band The Beetles. The new mini-operetta is composed by Larry Hochman (orchestration for Monty Python's Spamalot), who also serves as lead composer on the series.

For those of you without children, the Wonder Pets are an insufferably adorable but ultimately insulin-shock producing children's program. It makes Dora the Explorer look like Almodovar. It makes Barney look like Shoah. It makes Boobah look like last night's debate.... of wait, Boobah's actually smarter than the questions asked there.

I will have to watch this, of course. And then I will weep.

A sample of what to expect (alas, wholly representative):

Blues in the Bottle

Ladies and gentlemen, from 1968 it's The Finest Hair in Rock 'n' Roll -- AKA Dave Davies of The Kinks -- and his first solo hit "Death of a Clown."

I may be throwing away a perfectly good Listomania topic here, but if there's ever been a better rock drinking song, I can't think of it this morning.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Vidi This!

The 22nd annual Washington, DC International Film Festival begins next week and one of the more interesting offerings is on Friday, April 25th. That evening, the festival will screen Patti Smith: Dream of Life, a documentary by Steven Sebring. The website describes the film as "a hypnotic plunge, a breathing collage of this legendary musician/poet/painter/activist's philosophy and artistry that feels as if it sprang directly from her soul. A punk pioneer and spiritual child of Rimbaud, Blake, and Burroughs, Patti Smith's fierce poetry and rock music shook up New York's 1970s underground scene, and her work continues to be stirred organically by her rigorous mind, beloved artistic touchstones, and world events. Shot over 11 years, the film travels Smith's mystical interior terrain—the ideas, losses, and memories she wrestles with—and traces her outward adventures. Layered with mesmerizing recitations, music, and narration, the fluid journey incorporates performances, graveyard pilgrimages and political rallies, archival nuggets, and vérité moments with her working-class parents, children, and friends."

Here's a YouTube video with snippets of the film. As Patti and Steven will appear at the screening, it looks like I need to score a ticket!

The Present Day Hitter Chick Refuses to Die

I don't know why this one strikes me as so odd, but it does. From 1968, it's born-and-bred-in-Brooklyn sirens Reparata and the Delrons and their only-in-England smash hit "Captain of Your Ship."

Seriously -- how the hell a pre-Beatles style girl group song like that found a hipster Brit audience in that most quintessentially psychedelic of years is a mystery that may never be solved. "It's hard to believe it ever happened," Reparata (AKA Mary Aiese, and now a retired schoolteacher in Rockaway Beach) told MOJO magazine this month. "Being in England was like a snippet of Alice in Wonderland, like falling into a hole."

Need I add that the Delron in the middle, the one with the great bangs, could have had me if she'd played her cards right?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Monsters of Rock Retail

Our old friend Sal Nunziato, formerly of NYCD, the greatest indie record store in history, weighs in on an interesting event over at the Huffington Post.

Saturday, April 19th has been declared "Record Store Day." The idea, according to Eric Levin, an Atlanta retailer who heads the 32-store Alliance of Independent Media Stores, is to dispel the perception that "record stores are something of a joke; like we are all dinosaurs stuck in the tar." Big names such as Metallica, Steve Earle, and Panic! At The Disco have signed on to participate and to spread the word that the record store is alive! I think this is a fabulous idea. I just wish I was a little less bitter about the whole campaign. I feel like Don Mattingly. "Donnie Baseball" gave his all as a member of the New York Yankees. He did everything right and earned the respect of everyone around him, both fans and players alike. But it was only after his retirement, that the New York Yankees went on to win 4 out of the next 5 championships. Don Mattingly had a passion for his craft, yet the World Series' ring has eluded him.

Read the rest of it (and perhaps weep) right here.

Sitting on a Fence

So I went to see the Martin Scorsese-directed Rolling Stones concert film over the weekend.

My short review: It's not as good as this.

That said, it's a beautifully staged and shot document of the current Rolling Stones on a pretty good but not great night. It drags a little toward the end -- Mick Jagger famously said he couldn't imagine singing "Satisfaction" when he was 60; I can't speak for Mick, but I can't imagine listening to him singing it again in the pro forma full-tilt boogie version he's been purveying since the early 80s -- and Christina Aquilera flat out sucks, although I must say it's amusing to watch Mick dry humping somebody young enough to be his granddaughter. But most of what's on view is vintage, including a hilarious "Far Away Eyes" and a gorgeous version of "You Got the Silver" sung by Keith Richards (in a long leather coat and sans guitar) as if his life depended on it. The band mostly sounds great, although they're still not even close to slick, and it's perhaps relevant to note that Keith has developed an extremely elastic sense of time in his old age. Here he plays behind the beat (sometimes, it seems, as long as five minutes behind) or simply pretends to be playing a chord, rather than actually playing one, when the mood strikes him. Apparently, at long last, he's finally turned himself into the broken-down 90-year-old black bluesman he's always wanted to be. As for Mick, meanwhile -- well, let's just say that however he's done it, he's found some way to stay Mick Jagger forever. In fact, short of supernatural, perhaps demonic, intervention, I simply can't conceive of how a 64 year old can carry on the way he does here.

In any case, the whole thing is definitely worth seeing, especially in a big theater (I saw it at the Ziegfeld in NYC, which is pretty much state of the art) and whatever you do, don't leave your seat until the final post-show, pre-credits sequence; otherwise you'll miss one of Scorsese's little visual jokes (think of the very last shot in "The Departed") and, in this case, a great one.

Heavy sigh: In one of the backstage sequences, we learn that Jagger was briefly considering including this fairly obscure early Stones beauty in the show's set list.

One of my all time favorite songs of the period, but alas, it was not to be.

Monday, April 14, 2008

From Totally Blown Speakers

Last night, Thers and I trekked out to see The New Pornographers at the State Theater in Ithaca, New York. It was the youngest show we'd been to in ages--Ithaca's obviously a massive college town (the population triples during the semester), and it seemed that this show was primarily marketed to college students. So we were, by a significant margin, older than most (not all) the people there. (When did it get to be a thing to bring your kids to shows? We saw a fair few tweens--I dunno, I sort of want to not be with my kids when I go out, but maybe that's just me.) But I definitely felt my inner codger working, mostly because these kids were so still and respectful--but it was a rock show, you know? It was in a theater, but then so were FoW and Squeeze when we went to see them last year, and the audience for that show had a ton more energy.

Not that this audience didn't give plenty of feedback. Early on, the band insisted that all comments from the audience include the word "totally," a goofy request which was largely observed. Neko was clearly struggling with a bear of a cold which kneecapped her ability to rock us back with her characteristic blast, but her sense of humor was just fine, thank you. The last time we saw them, all the female vocals were handled by Kathryn Calder, who has a lovely voice, but seemed a bit intimidated by the boys. Neko has no such qualms, and even seems to encourage Kathryn to tease right back. The audience ate it up, guffawing at Newman and Case's cracks, even at one point inappropriately, causing Newman to chide them ("Do I have to tell you how to react?") Case's good-humored attempt at "These Are the Fables" didn't completely work, but when she reached for notes that weren't quite in her infected throat, the audience responded with a roar of support. She thanked us for making her feel like Evel Knievel attempting a jump. Calder seemed willing to cover for Neko--after all, she's been covering for her not being there at all--but with Neko there and not wholly functional, it was a little weird. There seemed to be moments when neither one knew who was taking the line, others where they both did, drowning Newman right out. As Thers noted, however, the confusion is understandable: "covering for Neko" is probably not generally an issue.

Given the circumstances, the band's energy was terrific (only Dan Bejar was missing), but the sound--oh, man. There's a special circle of hell for bad sound guys, and this guy will be right in the middle of it, with a constant low hum and feedback, and clearly with no idea when and how to adjust the volume or different parts of the songs. (Hint: Twin Cinema has a guitar solo, so Todd's guitar should probably get a boost just there. Kthnxbai.) It made me rethink my generally tepid response to he Robitussiny stylings of the openers, Okkervil River--maybe all that feedback wasn't quite intentional, and besides, their drummer was adorable.

But my love for The New Pornographers continues unabated. It was a great show, and I wanted to bring Neko home and give her some soup.

Set List: My Rights Vs. Yours, Stacked Crooked, All the Old Showstoppers, These Are the Fables, Use It, All the Things that Go to Make Heaven and Earth, The Laws Have Changed, Challengers, Testament to Youth in Verse, Twin Cinema, It's Only Divine Right, Mutiny I Promise You, Mass Romantic, Adventures in Solitude, Sing Me Spanish Techno, The Bleeding Heart Show. Encore: Don't Bring Me Down, My Slow Descent into Alcoholism.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Saturday Night Glam Blogging...

Here's a bit of a Bowie oddity (not a space oddity!). According to Wikkipedia:

Arnold Corns was a band formed by David Bowie in 1971. The name was inspired by the Pink Floyd song Arnold Layne. This was one of Bowie’s side projects and something of a dry run for Ziggy Stardust. The band was formed in Dulwich College and Bowie agreed to write for them. At the same time he also agreed to write for the 19 year old dress designer Freddie Burretti (aka Rudi Valentino). Bowie came up with the idea of combining Burretti and Arnold Corns, and with the help of Mick Ronson, Mick Woodmansey and Trevor Bolder, a revised version of Arnold Corns was created during the spring of 1971. Bowie was writing material that would later become Hunky Dory, as well as songs earmarked for Burretti. Burretti as the frontman was a total fabrication, and his contributions were simply lost alongside Bowie's.

The band’s first single Moonage Daydream"/"Hang on to Yourself, released on B&C Records on 7 May 1971 was a stunning flop. Both these songs later reappeared on Ziggy Stardust in new versions.

Cheers! Buon fina settimana!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Weekend Listomania (Special Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental amanuensis Hop-Sing and I are off to Baghdad for the kick-off to presidential favorite John McCain's I Don't Know a Shi'ite From Shinola Tour '08!. Of course, when I have a spare moment, Lindsey Graham (who has an absolutely exquisite fashion sense) and I will be doing a little rug shopping in an only moderately fortified bazaar; I understand there's simply bargains galore to be had. [BTW, is rug shopping a double entrendre? Oh, wait -- that's carpet munching. I regret the error.]

In any case, as a result, posting by moi will necessarily be somewhat fitful for a few days.

But until then, as always, here's a fun project for you all to contemplate:


This is, obviously, the flip-side to our next to last list about songs named after real places. But this time, equally obviously, the titular songs have got to feature totally made-up locales. That can't be found on any map. Like nowheresville, man.

So don't try to sneak any of that "Ventura Highway" or "South Street" crap past me, because those places actually exist, okay?. And for what it's worth, if anybody nominates "Rock n Roll Heaven" I will find you and rip out your spleen.

Okay, that said, here's my totally top of my head Top Eight:

8. Procol Harum -- Cerdes (Outside the Gates of)

A brilliant track from their brilliant first album. The above video, alas, is some crappy bar band doing a cover version at a sports bar somewhere; frankly, I'm so amazed that such a thing would even be on YouTube that I can overlook the fact that it's not terribly well done.

True confession: Back in '67, the first couple of times I heard this I thought they were singing "Outside the gates of Sardi's." As in the restaurant.

7. Roxy Music -- Avalon

Because nothing says "Arthurian legends" better than Bryan Ferry in a tuxedo.

6. Bob Dylan -- Desolation Row

I'm not a Dylan scholar, but it occurs to me this may be a Steinbeck homage, as in Cannery Row. That sound I'm hearing in the distance is probably the rest of the world going "Uh, like, duh."

5. Creedence Clearwater Revival -- Green River

With the world smoldering, John Fogerty conjured up a homegrown equivalent of Shangri-La to escape to. A genius move, frankly, and I've always imagined that the barefoot girl dancing in the moonlight looks like a hippie Jane Wyatt....

4. Elvis Presley -- Heartbreak Hotel

Written by Hoyt Axton's mama. Something to think about the next time you rent "Gremlins."

3. Bruce Springsteen -- Thunder Road

The studio version of this may be one of the most perfect rock records ever made. Seriously -- after more than three decades, I have yet to be able to sit through it without getting all verklempt. Title cribbed from a vastly inferior Robert Mitchum movie and song, BTW.

2. Duffy -- Rockferry

The anti-Amy Winehouse, i.e. to our knowledge she doesn't have a substance abuse problem and a husband in the clink. I think she's great, actually -- kind of like Lulu and Dusty Springfield smushed together in a trash compactor.

And the number one, it isn't even a contest, hands down coolest song ever about a place that doesn't actually exist is ----

1. MC5 -- Shakin' Street

Pete Townshend's teenage wasteland, in the brief idealistic moment before the late 60s curdled into the 70s.

Awrighty then -- what would your choices be?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

An Early Clue to the New Direction (Special Hire People With Hooks Edition)

Off to Gomorrah on the Hudson, for my traditional mysterious Thursday assignation.

Meanwhile, from 1970, here's Christie and their sort of lame but still endearing Creedence ripoff "Yellow River."

As is customary, a coveted PowerPop No-Prize will be awarded to the first reader who divines the clip's relevance to Friday's Weekend Listomania.

No Country For Old Men

Speaking as a lapsed Rolling Stones fan of long standing, it is with some trepidation that I have decided to go see the new Martin Scorsese-directed concert film Rock n Roll Nursing Home Shine a Light this weekend.

What the hell -- it's playing at the Ziegfeld, still The Greatest Movie Theater in the World.

Postscript: At the risk of sounding like a certain irksome and thankfully departed New York Times twit pop critic, I note that the soundtrack to "Light" has entered the Billboard charts this week at a respectable number eleven. Of course, given the dark days that have befallen the music biz of late, respectable is not quite what it used to be; an eleven showing, in this case, means the album sold less than 37,000(!) copies.

Morning Blast from the Past...

Here's some great late-70s skinny tie powerpop by UK band The Autographs. Apparently, this was the group's only single and member Chris Gent later when on to take over lead vocal duties for the Records on their third and final LP Music on Both Sides, released in 1982.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Great Thoughts of Western Man

Ladies and gentlemen, from 1974, it's the Sensational Alex Harvey Band and their epic live version of "Midnight Moses."

These guys were absolutely huge in England during the Glam Era but were never more than a rumor here in the States, despite an amazing stage show (Harvey would put pantyhose over his head, jump into the audience and mug people in the first row). In any case, I think we can all agree that, for sheer de profundis, the following couplet from "Moses" may be the two most brilliant lines ever penned -- not just in rock history, but going back to the days in the dim dark past when people wrote stuff on clay tablets.

"I wish I was a forest ranger...

Danger, danger, danger."

In a similarly Spinal Tap-ish vein, it is perhaps worth noting that Harvey's brother Les, a member of British blues band Stone the Crows, had the misfortune to fry himself to death onstage as a result of touching an improperly grounded microphone.

Popfest Time

Those of you in the Delmarva region may wish to take a trip to Dewey Beach, DE for the Dewey Beach Popfest, April 18th and 19th. I see that a few of my faves such as Parallax Project and the Jellybricks will be participating. Looks like a cool time.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Very Vine Music!

Here's a cool promo clip of the Iveys, the precursor band to the much-beloved Badfinger running through the title track to their 1969 LP on the Apple label that only saw release in Japan, West Germany, and Italy. The song is a bit cloying and twee for my tastes, but it sure does remind me of the work of the Raspberries as well.

Ghoul VS Ghoul

Okay, our Cleveland contingent has convinced me. This Ghoulardi guy was pretty cool.

Zacherley still rules, though.

The Present Day Clash Wanna-be Refuses to Die

Hmm. Seems these guys have a new album out. No video yet, but from the review I read in yesterday's Times, the new single sounds a lot like their older stuff. For instance:

Food for thought: 40 years ago, there were no songs this angry or explicitly political coming from influential rock bands, with the possible exception of Country Joe and the Fish. Seriously, everybody thinks protest songs mobilized anti-Vietnam sentiment, but if you actually remember 1968 it's just not true. Protest? Cream? The Youngbloods? The Doors? The Grateful Dead? Traffic? Creedence? Hendrix? Get real....

Monday, April 07, 2008

They Walk Among Us

Well, here's an astonishing piece of rock archaeology, and still more proof that YouTube is the greatest thing since blah blah blah.

From 1967 (on Halloween) it's the Box Tops (with a teenaged Alex Chilton) from a presumed lost episode of Zacherley's Disc-o-Teen.

You youngsters may not remember Zach, AKA The Cool Ghoul, but in the late 50s and early 60s he was without question the funniest and hippest of the various TV horror movie hosts (Vampira? feh!!!) then the rage on local TV around the country. Later, as you can see here, he reinvented himself as a sort of Dick Clark for the Chiller Theater set (Disc-0-Teen ran for two years on a Jersey UHF station that went Spanish a short while after this eppy) and in the 70s he had yet another career as perhaps the smartest progressive FM disc jockey in New York radio history. Film/sleaze buffs will also recall Zach's hilarious turn as the (uncredited) voice of the monster in Frank Henenlotter's 1988 cult classic Brain Damage, which is highly recommended.

To say that Disc-o-Teen loomed large in my formative years would be a major understatement; I watched it religiously (especially in the summer of '66, when kids from my high school performed on Zach's Battle of the Bands) and it really was amazingly cutting edge for its time; where else on local television could you watch Jersey babes dancing to a song so underground -- the Who's "Substitute" -- that it wasn't yet airing on NYC radio?

In any case, seeing this clip -- which I actually remember from back in the day -- for the first time in decades has been a beyond Proustian experience. For more information on Zach and the show (which just had a 40th anniversary reunion, including a performance by PowerPop god and Zach fan Richard X. Heyman) check out all the cool stuff here.

Have I mentioned that YouTube is the greatest thing since blah blah blah?

Update: Commenter reddyrooster is holding out for Cleveland's Ghoulardi as the definitive horror host. To which we say -- fat chance.

Exhibit A: Zach's classic hit "Dinner With Drac."

Good night, whatever you are...!!!!

Can Blue Men Sing the Whites?

This has very little to do with the mission statement of the blog you're reading, but we offer it simply as a way to clean your palate, as it were. Ladies and gentlemen, the great Otis Spann.

'Nuff said.

[h/t Eric C. Boardman]

Friday, April 04, 2008

Weekend Listomania (Special They're Gonna Put Me in the Movies Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental rentboy amanuensis Hop-Sing and I will be shuttling between Hollywood, London and southern Florida on some sort of Medicine Cabinets of the Stars tour. I'm not really sure what this is all about, concept wise, but apparently we'll be visiting the actual bathrooms of Robert Downey Jr, Amy Winehouse, Pete Doherty and Rush Limbaugh (hey -- what's he doing in there?).

In any case, as a result, posting by moi will necessarily be somewhat fitful for a few days.

But until then, as always, here's a fun project for you all to contemplate:


Just to make this clear -- the song has to predate the movie. Title songs written specifically for films, like "A Hard Day's Night" or "Jailhouse Rock" don't count. Conversely, a song that provided a title for a good movie -- "Peggy Sue Got Married," say -- is off limits as well. Try to sneak any of that crap by me and I swear to god I'll take a hostage.

Okay, that said, here's my totally top of my head Top Eight:

8. Satisfaction

Justine Bateman stars as an extremely lame 80s indie rocker. There's a word for this, and I believe it's "Ack."

7. Message in a Bottle

From this year, actually, although it came and went pretty quickly. Basically, it's like a very damp version of an old Rock Hudson/Doris Day sex farce. Biggest laugh is Kate Hudson wacking Matthew McConaughey in the face with a golf club, which should tell you all you need to know.

6. Pretty Woman

I know a lot of people like this movie, and Richard Gere and Julia Roberts are obviously easy on the eyes, but really -- she's not some high class courtesan, she's an LA street walker. The idea that anybody would attempt to glamorize such a life, even in a romantic fairytale, just strikes me as moronic, if not downright morally reprehensible.

5. Can't Buy Me Love

"Ronald Miller is tired of being a nerd, and makes a deal with one of the most popular girls in school to help him break into the "cool" clic. He offers her a thousand dollars to pretend to be his girlfriend for a month. It succeeds, but he soon learns that the price of popularity may be higher than he expected..."

About as bad as it sounds, although it's kind of amusing to see Patrick "Dr. McDreamy" Dempsey as a zygote.

4. My Blue Heaven

Steve Martin as an Italian mobster in the Witness Protection program in some whitebread suburb. Yeah, sure, I'll buy that.

3. Jumpin' Jack Flash

Whoopi Goldberg, mugging shamelessly, gets mistaken for a secret agent in a film that recalls "North By Northwest" if it had been directed by a moron. The pic's video promo, featuring Aretha Franklin and Keith Richards, is better than anything in the movie itself, but that's not really saying much.

2. She's the One

I like Edward Burns, but he earned numerous demerits from me for turning Springsteen's grandest ode to romantic obsession into a sentimental meditation on immature dorks with relationship problems.

And the number one, hands down, it's not even a fricking contest for crissakes, best song whose title was appropriated for a really awful flick is -----

1. Soul Man

Spoiled brat white teen dons blackface to get a scholarship to Harvard. Racist swill, obviously, and easily one of the top ten appalling films of the 80s (and that's not even taking into account that its star is C. Thomas Howell).

Alrighty now -- what would your choices be?

Thursday, April 03, 2008

An Earlier Than Usual Clue to the New Direction

Off to Gomorrah on the Hudson for a mysterious pre-weekend assignation. In the meantime, from 1966, here's some Nuggets-era garage band called the Rolling Stones(?) on some local TV show from somewhere performing their super obscure b-side "Satisfaction."

As is customary, a coveted PowerPop No-Prize will be awarded to the first reader who divines the clip's relevance to tomorrow's Weekend Listomania.

And frankly, if you get this one you're really good. And I mean really. In fact, I'll fricking hate you, you bastard.

More Jeebus Related Shit

Got the new album by Christian rap metalheads P.O.D. in the mail this morning.

Apparently, on the basis of songs like this, the kids love 'em.

Me, I haven't decided whether I'm going to take off the shrinkwrap. What do you guys think?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The Sockpuppet Inside Me

This has absolutely nothing to do with music whatsoever, but I chanced across this clip today and, given that Shari Lewis was one of the great sex symbols/crushes of my adolescence -- to me, she was right up there babe-wise with Diana Rigg and Barbara Feldon -- I thought I might share it with you.

Apparently, she was a wee bit nutso, which in retrospect explains much.

Flogging a Deceased Equine

So I've been noticing -- and I realize that this is an insight that's occurred to everybody else on the planet considerably earlier -- that when discussions about the pop music of the last ten years take place these days it is now all but obligatory to mention that Creed, in fact, suck. I mean, it's almost a reflexive thing at this point. Sort of like, "Hi, nice to see you, and by the way Creed suck."

As I said, I'm late to the party about this, but I find the phenomenon particularly amusing since Creed is one of those bands I went out of my way to avoid back in their day, apparently out of some sort of critical instinct that told me that they would, no question, suck more than even some other really sucky bands that I hadn't had the foresight to avoid. I'm not kidding about this. Although I probably did hear a Creed song on the radio or in a commercial without meaning to over the last decade, I can state categorically that I was never consciously aware of it or them; in fact, apart from their name and the fact that they were sort of famous, absolutely nothing about them had impinged on my consciousness in any meaningful way. Until, that is, our current moment, when decrying their suckitude has reached the status of cultural signifier.

Anyway, I was thinking about this the other day, and so I decided to bite the bullet, get on the bandwagon (however belatedly) and finally listen to and watch one of their hits on YouTube. Which led me to this Lovecraftian horror, live on Leno.

Ye cats, what an unlistenable song. Guess what -- Creed really do suck, probably more than just about anything else has sucked in the history of the universe. Jeebus -- the guitar player alone (don't even get me started on what he's wearing) is enough to ensure them a prominent place in the Trans-Dimensional Things That Completely Suck Hall of Fame.

Man, do they suck.

I could go on about exactly why, of course, but since this kid lays it all out for you in such laborious detail, I've decided I don't have to. In any case, I would like to state for the record that -- in recognition of his invaluable service -- I would like to meet him someday, if not quite shake his hand.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Girl You Know It's True

Those guys really were singing this.


No fooling.

Apotheosis Now

Well, this is beyond remarkable -- a video celebrating the greatest surf song of them all. The absolute highest achievement of the genre. The ne plus ultra, the Michelle ma belle, if you will, of the California Sound.

Ladies and gentlemen, from 1964 it's "The Anaheim, Azuza, and Cucamonga Sewing Circle, Book Review and Timing Association."

Apparently, there's a Jan and Dean tribute album/project that I either missed or is in the works. I'll see if I can find the details...

Postscript: Okay, there's a lot more going on with this than I realized (for starters, the music above is apparently a remake from said tribute project, which is amazing in itself).

You can get the lowdown on this long overdue piece of cultural/historical revisionism here. Frankly, I'm speechless.