Saturday, May 31, 2008

Saturday Encounter With Greatness

Corey Hart turns 46 today.

Who amongst us does not recall where we were when we first heard that song?

Seriously -- it occurs to me that there are actual living people whose nostalgia is Hart, Jack Wagner and Styx.

Sad, really.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Weekend Listomania (Special Carpe Diem! Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental flunky Hop-Sing and I are off to Georgetown, Texas, for the third and final session of our Writer's Seminar with the great Allen Butler, the literary genius behind Why I Stopped Writing For Could be a hot one -- especially if a certain banned-at-Atrios Swiss nuclear phycisist/runway model shows up with her beard. (That's an actual beard, BTW, not an escort).

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:


Completely arbitrary rule: The word "season" is allowed. Also days of the week.

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

10. Six O'Clock (The Lovin' Spoonful)

For my money, their best record -- a great song, stunning production, and the crack in Sebastian's voice is almost a metaphor for their good time vibe running headlong into the heart of darkness of the late 60s.

9. Time of the Season (The Zombies)

I know, I know, I've never posted this song before.

8. Quarter to Three (Gary US Bonds)

Some of our younger readers (by which I mean those born between the invention of the blowdryer and the premiere of the television series Manimal) may not believe this, but back in the day, my buddies and I killed hours playing the opening few seconds of this over and over again in a fruitless quest to discern the rumored dirty words. Think of that as a sort of hormonal adolescent version of the myth of Sisyphus.

7. Twelve-Thirty (The Mamas and Papas)

A great song, I think, but mostly because I'm just sick to death of the more obvious "Monday, Monday."

6. A tie:

Yesterday (The Beatles)

IIRC this is the world's most covered song. Incidentally -- anybody ever seen that clip before? I haven't, and I'm wondering where the string section was. Off-stage? Or maybe on tape? (Although synching Paul live to a taped backing would have been a fairly complex technical feat back in 1966).


Yesterday's Gone (Chad and Jeremy)

I only found out recently that Chad actually played the cool acoustic guitar stuff on their records. Hey -- it was a big deal for me!

5. Yesterday's Papers (The Rolling Stones)

From "Between the Buttons," still the Stones least understood great album.

4. Another tie:

In The Midnight Hour (Wilson Pickett)

Sheesh, I'll bet this has been covered only slightly fewer times than "Yesterday."


After Midnight (Eric Clapton)

That's the song's auteur, the wonderful J. J. Cale, trading licks with EC, in case you were wondering.

3. Time Has Come Today (Chambers Brothers)

More cowbell!!! True sad story: My skinny tie band had a sort of year-long residency at a club in the Village in the 80s. It was several weeks before I realized that the maître d' was the guy singing this song.

2. Business Time (Flight of the Conchords)

For NYMary, obviously, but also because I wanted something recorded in this decade. Plus it's a great song.

And the absolute coolest 4th dimensional ditty, it's so obvious why the frick are we even arguing about it, is --

1. She Don't Care About Time (The Byrds)

Genius songwriting by Gene Clark and Roger (nee Jim) McGuinn playing "Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring" on the break. It doesn't get any better.

Awrighty then -- what would your choices be?

Shameless Blogwhore: My companion movie Listomania is now up over at Box Office. As always, every time you leave a comment over there, an angel gets its wings.

[h/t Brooklyn Girl]

Thursday, May 29, 2008

A Slightly Earlier Than Usual Clue to the New Direction

Off to Gomorrah on the Hudson for a mysterious assignation. In the meantime, from 1960, here's Dion and the Belmont's gorgeous doo-wop version of Rodgers and Hart's "Where or When."

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 Present Day Kylie Minogue Refuses to Die

The NME says the Ting Tings are "the most exciting new band in the country." Presumably, they mean the United Kingdom.

I just listened to their album, and I'm unconvinced (if they'd said "the cutesiest new band in the country" -- maybe). But I think there's one thing we can all agree on -- Later is hands down the best music show ever on television and host Jools Holland is a treasure; if the Brits have any brains, they'll nationalize him.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Present Day Mod Refuses to Die

From 1965, the very first Who video (or promo film, as they were called back in the day).

And if that makes you feel decrepit, please remember that Paul Weller just turned 50 on Sunday.

I grow old...I grow old...

I shall wear the bottoms of my jumpsuit rolled...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Reckless Country Soul

On a whim, I just downloaded a couple of Jason and the Scorchers songs from iTunes, including this astounding Dylan cover.

I hadn't heard this stuff in a while, and I must confess to being blown away all over again. Seriously, there are times I think these guys weren't just the best American band of the 80s (for their stage act alone) but that perhaps they were the Great American Band period.

The Whiners Next Door

It has come to my attention that the kids dig the 3 Doors Down, who have a new album out.

That's the new single, for those who care, and while it's not as skull-crushingly annoying as their earlier National Guard recruitment anthem Citizen Soldier (the video of which looks alarmingly like something Leni Riefenstahl might have directed) I think that after hearing it we can all agree that emo, apart from being the stupidest name for a rock genre ever, is now indisputably the most irksome.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day 2008

The Zombies' "A Butchers Tale (Western Front 1914)." Still, for my money, the most powerful anti-war song of them all.

Actually, I remember where I was on this day in 1968. Vividly. And I can guarantee that if you had told me that, forty years later, the United States would be once again involved in another abominable, immoral war in a country on the other side of the world that had not attacked us, I would have assumed you were doing drugs far more potent than any I had yet encountered.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Weekend Listomania (Special Interstate Commerce Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental flunky Hop-Sing and I are off to the second weekend of our annual Writer's Retreat in Georgetown, Texas, hosted as always by the incomparable Allen Butler, author of such literary triumphs as A Review of Camel Signature Blends. Could be a hot one -- especially if a certain Swiss runway model shows up with her beard (that's an actual beard, by the way. Not a person.)

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:


Totally arbitrary rule: No title with the words "road" or "street" need apply. Sorry.

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

10. Highway to Hell (AC/DC)

Did I say 'highway"?

9. Little Deuce Coupe (The Beach Boys)

Pretty much my all time favorite car song, and I love this clip, from a closed-circuit theater concert presumed lost until it resurfaced a few years ago.

8. Last of the Steam Powered Trains (The Kinks)

From the epochal "Village Green" album. Somebody -- in MOJO maybe -- was bitching recently that nobody had ever covered this. If they haven't, they certainly should....

7. My White Bicycle (Tomorrow)

Brilliant Summer of Love psychedelic pop, even if the guitarist is the pre-Yes Steve Howe.

5. A tie:

Silver Machine (Hawkwind)

Lemmy! Goddamn -- it's fricking Lemmy!!!!!


The Aeroplane Flies High (Smashing Pumpkins)

Just because I wanted something recorded within the last ten years. Although I think it's time we all faced facts -- these guys may well have been the most pompous, pretentious gasbags in rock history.

4. Chestnut Mare (The Byrds)

Because "A Horse With No Name" is just too stupid for words, and I couldn't find a video for Procol Harum's "A Christmas Camel." Heheh.

3. Another tie:

Theme from Route 66 (Nelson Riddle)

George Maharis and Martin Milner come home -- all is forgiven.


Route 66 (Dr. Feelgood)

I can't think of another rock song that's inspired so many terrific covers in so many styles -- Depeche Mode, anybody? -- but I had never seen this Dr. Feelgood clip untill now. That's the great Wilko Johnson on guitar and spastic stagger, of course.

2. Rocket in My Pocket (Jimmy Lloyd)

That's Jimmy Lloyd a/k/a Jimmy Logsdon ("The Man Without a Subtitle" in Nick Tosches brilliant Unsung Heroes of Rock n Roll, still the best and funniest book about roots music ever) and what was for many years one of the rarest and in-demand rockabilly obscurities ever recorded. You might recall it from The Iron Giant soundtrack, of course.

And the number one transportation song, it's not even a contest so don't bug me is --

1. Trains and Boats and Planes (Dionne Warwick)

For obvious reasons, of course, not the least of which it's just so gorgeously mournful. I think it's the peak of the Bachrach/Warwick collaboration, actually.

Awrighty then -- what would your choices be?

Shameless Blogwhore: My companion weekend movie Listomania is up over at Box Office. Remember -- if you can see your way to leaving a comment over there, I can convince management to up my freelance rate, thus helping me to afford that romantic week in Paris I've been invited to share with a certain shady dame.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

An Earlier Than Usual Clue to the New Direction

Okay, off to the city to have a drink with The Smirking Chimp.

No, not Bush. The actual guy who runs The Smirking Chimp website. Turns out he's a friend of a friend of a friend.

Meanwhile, from 1969, here's the classic opening sequence from the counter-cultural action show Then Came Bronson, starring brooding Brando-esque Michael Parks.

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.

Shameless blogwhore: My latest Box Office musings -- featuring Secret Agent Patrick McGoohan as Iago(!) -- can be found here. As always, if you can leave a comment and help get me in good with management, it would be greatly appreciated.

Making Lemonade

Presented more or less without comment.
Unable to afford a proper camera crew and equipment, The Get Out Clause, an unsigned band from the city, decided to make use of the cameras seen all over British streets.

With an estimated 13 million CCTV cameras in Britain, suitable locations were not hard to come by.

They set up their equipment, drum kit and all, in eighty locations around Manchester – including on a bus – and proceeded to play to the cameras.

Afterwards they wrote to the companies or organisations involved and asked for the footage under the Freedom of Information Act.

"We wanted to produce something that looked good and that wasn't too expensive to do," guitarist Tony Churnside told Sky News.

"We hit upon the idea of going into Manchester and setting up in front of cameras we knew would be filming and then requesting that footage under the Freedom Of Information act."

(h/t Thers)

And You Thought "Barracuda" Was a Bogus Sexual Metaphor

From the current issue of MOJO:

Five years ago, on her album Halos and Horns, Dolly Parton covered "Stairway to Heaven." What with Robert Plant duetting with bluegrass singer Alison Krauss and John Paul Jones playing with Gillian Welch, isn't it about time we had a full-blown Dolly Parton/Led Zeppelin collaboration?

"I'm not going out looking for it," Parton says, "but I'm open to anything. Anything's possible. Who knows? They're Led Zeppelin -- and I got the balloons!"

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Poetry: The Shorthand of Beauty

Our good friend and fellow blogger The Kenosha Kid calls our attention to this recent unholy shtup between Heart and annoying pop tart Fergie, which is indeed heinous.

On the other hand, this was a pretty dopey song well before the star of It's Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown got her untalented mitts on it.

Seriously, what the hell is this supposed to mean?
Back over time we were all
Trying for free
You met the porpoise and me

And this -- are we to believe it's a metaphor of some kind?
You lying so low in the weeds
I bet you gonna ambush me
You'd have me down down down down on my knees
Now wouldnt you, barracuda?

Seriously -- for the life of me, if there's a connection being made between the great fish above and something sexual(?), it's way too subtle for me to grasp.

The Unbearable Whiteness of Being

Well, here's an interesting curiosity -- Brian Epstein boy toy Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas in 1965 with a not bad version of Burt Bachrach's gorgeously mournful "Trains and Boats and Plains."

Dionne Warwick's 1966 American hit version of this is one of my favorite records of all time, but this less opulent guitar-driven take works surprisingly well, I think. It's worth noting, however, that the song's bridge -- which is far more harmonically complex than the verses -- is done here as an orchestral section sans lyrics. so as not to tax Kramer's less than stellar vocal abilities.

Incidentally, there's a clue to this weekend's Listomania hidden in here, but I can say no more.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

ELP: The Band That Wouldn't Die!

Okay, here's another of my Greatest Hits, i.e. one of my old pieces for the Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Review (AKA Sound and Vision).

As I've mentioned earlier, I had long planned to exhume my dead tree stuff when I started posting here, but I ultimately decided it would be a bad idea -- partly because it's a royal pain in the ass to transcribe the damn things, but mostly because after re-reading a decades worth of back issues I had come to the conclusion that too much of what I scribbled back then was either dated, embarassingly wrongheaded or both, and that I really didn't learn how to write until the early 90s anyway.

That said, the following H.P. Lovecraft pastiche has always been one of my favorites, and after re-reading it over the weekend, it still struck me as pretty fricking funny.

So now, without further ado, here it is, exactly as it appeared in the February 1980 issue. And yes, thanks to the miracle of Google Images, the photo below is the same one that appeared with the original review. Boss vines, guys.

It was in the late winter of 1979 that I first began to hear tales of peculiar, even weirdly aberrant, behavior on the part of my old friend Ernest Akeley. There were disquieting rumors about his overindulging in certain contraband substances, hushed stories of flirtations with such forbidden books as the dread Digitalchronomicon, and whispered reports of his emerging periodically from the Record Plant displaying a visage of such ghastly pallor as to freeze the soul of the beholder. But all these I dismissed as mere exagerration, overlooking, out of an almost habitual loyalty, the vague hints about some "queer business" that Akeley had himself let drop to me in unguarded moments. So, when an invitation came to visit him at his ancestral geodesic dome beside the decibel-blasted heath in witch-haunted Arkham, I accepted without hesitation, let alone trepidation.

When he greeted me in his art-deco study, however, I was immediately seized with an almost palpable dread. The cause was not merely the hideous, loathsome "music" that droned threateningly over his quadraphonic audio system ("Art-rock," he cackled dryly, "the last surviving remnant of a music of great antiquity"), or even the track lighting which revealed Cyclopean promotional albums whose Roger Dean covers boldly boasted a dizzying geometry not of this world. No, the source of my unease was Akeley himself, his appearance unaccountably, horribly altered beyond any human sympathy. He had come to resemble a shambling, galactic pudding with feral green eyes (my fingers shake even as I type these words), and he was clothed in a sinister black-satin baseball jacket upon which was lettered, in an ancient, strangely unsettling script, the legend "ELP."

"Good God, Akeley," I cried, "what unimaginable catastrophe has wrought this appalling change in you?"

The thing that had once been my friend regarded me with a glittering stare that chilled me to the bone.

"Hear me well," he hissed in tones suggestive of...other species. "The transformation is almost complete and I have little time."

I sank into a chair, unable to move.

"You may have heard," he continued, "that in the years since our college days I have been engaged in certain outré pursuits. The stories are true: I have spent the last decade and more in an attempt -- successful, as you can see -- to turn myself into a Mastering Engineer. This alteration has given me access to certain secrets denied to mortal kind. With them I have attained to almost miraculous achievements. Yes, already I have heard things that are undreamed of even in the innermost sanctum of Trouser Press! Do you understand? Yes! It was I who mastered what was supposed to Emerson, Lake and Palmer's swansong album! It was I who mastered 'Love Beach'!"

Blood thundered in my temples, and my chest felt as if I had been tackled by Meat Loaf. Then, in a whisper I barely recognized as my own, I replied, "But surely Emerson, Lake and Palmer have...broken up?"

"Yes," Akeley replied, "but don't you see? Yet another album was required before the arcane balances of corporate expenditure would come to final rest. And I so I struck a deal with certain...forces."

"You don't mean," I cried, "the Warner Communication Companies?"

"Yes," he intoned, "and your are about to hear the result, the awful price I have paid for consenting to master the repellent dogswill known as 'In Concert' these many months after ELP had ceased to exist!"

The music rose slowly, agonizingly, to a shattering, half-familiar crescendo. A look of cosmic terror seized what was left of Akeley's face, and he began to scream the fearful words that will haunt me for the remainder of my days.

"Oh, no...pointless synthesizer noodling...shameless audience pandering...lyrics beyond the limits of banality...The Enemy God!!...the rape of Pictures at an Exhibition!!!

He sank to the floor, and as I sat there, paralyzed with fear, he began to dissolve slowly into the floor boards, a spreading, noxious puddle of polyvinyl chloride!

"Too late, too late!" he screamed. "But you must warn them! It's already been's already been released!"

And then he was gone. Trembling, half-mad with fright, I leapt from my chair and bolted from that accursed house and the music that had destroyed my friend utterly. But as I turned the ignition key in my rented Pinto, I knew that the nightmare was only beginning. For right there, over the FM radio, came the abominable, unmistakable sounds I had just heard in the study of poor doomed Ernest Akeley, the posthumous, soon-to-be-mega-platinum threnody by a group that had already cost one man his immortal soul and may well have tainted my own sanity irrevocably. The sounds of Atlantic SD 19255. The sounds of "Emerson Lake and Palmer: In Concert." The sounds of...THE BAND THAT WOULDN'T DIE! -- Steve Simels

ATLANTIC SD 19255 $8.98.

[h/t Ken Richardson]

Monday, May 19, 2008

Fab Bites Dog

This is weird, but also very nifty. Discovered at YouTube, which is the greatest thing in the history of Western Civilization blah blah blah.

A few years back Apple Corps discovered that film footage of The Beatles that was used for a promo film for "Lady Madonna", was in fact footage of the Beatles recording "Hey Bulldog".

It was shown on ABC's 20/20, but with Elizabeth Vargas talking over the entire piece!!! But thanks to the magic of non-linear editing I was able to place a recording of "Hey Bulldog" over the 20/20 piece.

I can't vouch for any of this, but I don't think I've ever seen this footage in either case. What's inarguable is that this is one of their absolutely top-shelf rockers, and don't they just look incredibly cool?

[h/t Frankie O'Malley of the fabulous Safes]


Holy shit (from Live Daily):

Bruce Springsteen made a surprise appearance at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park on Saturday (5/17), joining Mike Ness on stage for four songs. The appearance marks Springsteen's fourth New Jersey performance since the formal end of the U.S. leg of Springsteen's spring tour in Florida on May 2nd.

On May 4th, Springsteen was inducted to the New Jersey Hall of Fame and joined house band La Bamba and the Hubcaps for a rendition of "Glory Days."

On May 7th, Springsteen pulled the E Street Band together for a benefit show benefiting the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank. At that show, Springsteen rolled out a surprise set, performing two of his classic album Darkness On The Edge Of Town and Born To Run back to back in their entirety.

That last just floors me. What I wouldn't have given, etc.

And the thing with Ness must have been fabulous -- he's always been the rootsiest punk rocker around...

Ciao! to My Street Cred

Okay, I heard this song in the theater the other day while waiting for Prince Caspian to start (Steve's Movie Review: Best ever flick starring a community theater/Renaissance Fair reject in the title role!) and I'm sorry, but I really like it. Apparently, I'm not only a wimp, I'm a hopeless middlebrow to boot.

I know nothing about this woman other than she may have been on Dancing With the Stars, and the video itself is awful -- sixteen pastel shades of banal. But the song gets me big time nonetheless. Yes, the central conceit -- that the feeling of falling in love is not unlike the feeling you get from hearing a great record for the first time -- is hardly new, but it still resonates, and as far as I'm concerned that ascending octave riff in the build-up to the chorus is an absolutely genius hook. Plus, the whole thing is just fiendishly catchy, the band rocks authoritatively, and the singing isn't horrible for a dancer.

I think what I'm trying to say is -- if nothing on the radio was any worse than this, the world would be a far better place.

(Oh, and speaking of Prince Caspian and the whole community theater thing, I have a hopefully amusing visual take on it over at Box Office today. Leave a comment and an angel gets his wings.)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Tales From the Space/Time Continuum

I just noticed that I posted Friday's Weekend Listomania at 11.59pm, thus causing it to appear on Thursday. Weird.

I regret the error....

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Weekend Listomania (Special New Sensations Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental flunky Hop-Sing and I are off to Georgetown, Texas, where we'll be taking part in a Writers Retreat hosted by the incomparable Allen Butler, author of such literary triumphs as How to Care For Your Eye Glasses. Could be a hot one, especially if a certain Swiss runway model shows up with her beard. (That's an actual beard, not an escort, by the way).

But 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:


Totally arbitrary rule: No song with the actual word "senses" in the title need apply. So you know which XTC track, for example, needs to get the fuck outta here.

Pained confession: You'll note that a certain Who song from Tommy didn't make the cut. Look, I love the Who, and I think on balance Tommy holds up pretty well, but the fact of the matter is I'm just sick to fucking death of the song in question and really don't care if I ever hear it again as I begin the long slow decline on the way to becoming worm fodder. Sorry.

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

10. What I Can't Hear, Touch, Taste, Smell or See Can't Hurt Me (Death By Stereo)

For obvious reasons, not the least of which is I wanted something written in this century. There's no video of it, but the above is the band's charmingly monikered "Don't Piss On My Neck," which is perhaps stylistically related.

9. A Taste of Honey (The Beatles)

This song, and the Fab's more or less simultaneous cover of "Till There Was You," were what motivated first generation rock crit Richard Meltzer to refer to Paul as "the weakest link, at all stages of their career." Of course, Meltzer is a bit of an asshole....

9. Smell the Glove (Spınal Tap)

Not actually a song, but what the hell. Is there a better fake album title in all of pop music? I think no!!!!

8. I Can Hear Music (The Beach Boys)

A Ronettes cover, IIRC. In any case, produced and sung by the late great Carl Wilson, and all the proof you need that Brian wasn't the only big talent in the group.

7. I Can Hear the Grass Grow (The Move)

Early Roy Wood, and what an amazing band -- with the four singers up front, they were almost a Brit Moby Grape. Note bass player Ace Kefford on the far left, AKA The Singing Skull.

6. Cum On Feel the Noize (Slade)

See, also: Quiet Riot, Oasis, numerous commercials. Okay, I realize that "feel" isn't actually one of the five senses, but tough noogies.

5. A tie --

I Hear You Knocking (Dave Edmunds)

Dave channels Smiley Lewis. It will perhaps not come as a shock to anyone that John Lennon adored this record.


Can't You Hear Me Knocking (The Rolling Stones)

Mick Taylor channels Carlos Santana. A fabulous solo anyway.

4. See the Sky About to Rain (The Byrds)

Gene Clark sings Neil Young, which turns out to be a pretty good idea. One of the two or three really brilliant cuts from the otherwise disappointing 1973 Byrds reunion album.

3. I Touch Myself (The Divinyls)

In Woody Allen's immortal phrase, the great thing about masturbation is that you don't have to look your best. Although I've always though Christina Amphlett was pretty darn cute in the video....

2. That Smell (Lynyrd Skynyrd)

Given the plane crash, an amazingly prescient song. What -- you've never made the same joke?

And the number one coolest, it's not even a contest so let's just get to it already, song with one of the senses in the title is -----

1. I Can See For Miles (The Who)

If memory serves, the first known appearance of the term "power pop" was in a British music paper (Melody Maker, probably) review of this, circa late '66. Four decades later, it's still the song that pretty much defines the genre, come to think of it...

Awrighty then -- what would your choices be?

Shameless blogwhore: My parallel movie Listomania is up over at Box Office. If you could see your way to commenting over there, it might convince management that I actually know what the hell I'm doing.

An Earlier Than Usual Clue to the New Direction

From 1977, here's hirsute balladeer Dan Hill and his ahead-of-its-time ode to anti-spasmodic drugs, "Sometimes When We Touch."

Sadly, this was actually co-written by the otherwise great Barry Mann, half of the immortal Mann-Weill songwriting team, the fine folks responsible for "Kicks," "We Gotta Get Out of This Place" and numerous other Brill Building classics.

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.

Oh, and pardon the shameless blogwhore, but in my latest Box Office post I reveal the X-Files/Marvin Gaye connection. Remember -- every time you leave a comment over there, an angel gets his wings and I get in better with management.

Whose Year Is It Anyway?

So I have just learned that the kids really like the Paramore.

I kind of like that song too, actually. I just think I liked it better in the early 80s when it was by Pat Benatar. Or maybe Missing Persons....

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Wednesday Shameless Blogwhoring

My latest and greatest Box Office post is now up here.

I understand there's been some technical problems with the commenting apparatus, but if you could see your way to putting up a little "hi there!" or something -- actually, it's by way of a quiz -- I'd be your best friend. As always, the more comments that show up, the more likely management is to give me a raise, thus enabling that romantic week in Paris I've been invited to share.

Somewhere, Glenn Reynolds is Experiencing Inappropriate Urges

Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto.

From the Associated Press:

DETROIT - The lights dimmed, the sold-out hall grew hushed and out walked the conductor - shiny, white and 4 feet, 3 inches tall.

ASIMO, a robot designed by Honda Motor Co., met its latest challenge Tuesday evening: Conducting the Detroit Symphony in a performance of "The Impossible Dream" from "Man of La Mancha."

"Hello, everyone," ASIMO said to the audience in a childlike voice, then waved to the orchestra.

As it conducted, it perfectly mimicked the actions of a conductor, nodding its head at various sections and gesturing with one or both hands. ASIMO took a final bow to enthusiastic shouts from the audience.

"It is absolutely thrilling to perform with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. This is a magnificent concert hall," ASIMO said.

Later, cellist Yo-Yo Ma joined ASIMO onstage to receive an award for his efforts in music education. Ma bent to ASIMO's height and shook the robot's hand. Ma performed later on the program but didn't take questions from the media about ASIMO.

To be honest, I'm not sure why this is such a big deal. Seriously -- how is this any different from any David Bowie gig you've ever seen?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

No Fat Chicks!*

Courtesy of the corporate weasels at Sony/Columbia, I got Gossip's Live in Liverpool CD/DVD package in the mail last week, and I've been checking it out.

My immediate short take (as per a discussion with our pal the incomparable Virgotex):

I have no doubt that if I was fifteen years old and deeply alienated and/or gay, I would absolutely love -- nay, lurve -- this band. And with good reason, because they would be talking to me -- powerfully and directly.

But since I'm neither, what I hear, basically, is just another band without a bass player, all of whom (with the exception, barely, of the White Stripes) suck by definition. And that includes Sleater/Kinney, who had a lot more on the ball than this bunch, both musically and in terms of sexual politics.

It’s an affectation, is what I’m saying, and an annoying one.


*And don't yell at me about the sexist title. Obviously it's a joke, stolen, in this case, from a Matt Groening Life in Hell strip featuring "Sullen Teen Magazine."

Monday, May 12, 2008

Actually, Rock 'n' Roll Does Forget

And people make fun of me for living in the Paris of the Tri-State Metropolitan Area. Well, guess whose band is playing just down the road from me on Wednesday.

“If you keep reflecting on it, you do become a little bit cynical,” Best said, “you do become a little bit twisted and acidic. But when you actually put that to one side and say, ‘Look, it’s happened, it’s over,’ then your priority is very much about today and tomorrow.”

Read more about the man and the gig here and weep.

Seriously -- what must it be like to be generally considered the single biggest loser of the 20th Century?

The Big Kiss-Off of 1979

Alert readers may recall that a few weeks ago I reprinted a review of the Sex Pistols album from back in my dim dark past at the old Stereo Review (now Sound & Vision). I did so a little nervously, if truth be told. When NYMary first gave the spare set of keys to the car here, I'd initially planned to rescue a lot of my old dead tree pieces, but as I mentioned with the reprint, on calm reflection I'd decided it would be a bad idea -- partly because it's a royal pain in the ass to transcribe the damn things, but mostly because after re-reading a decades worth of back issues I had come to the conclusion that too much of my old stuff was either dated, embarassingly wrongheaded or both, and that I really didn't learn how to write until the early 90s anyway.

That said, I chanced across the following Raymond Chandler pastiche recently -- a review of the simultaneously released solo albums by the four guys in Kiss, one of the great examples of 70s excess and nutso commercial miscalculation -- and I think it holds up; in fact, I think it's really quite funny and I'm rather proud of it. See what you think. [A brief note on the dramatis personae: Paulette Weiss was my editor at the mag at the time; (Noel) Coppage and (Joel) Vance were two of our other reviewers.]

And now, without further adieu, here it is as it appeared in SR in the Feburary 1979 issue.

It was about four o'clock when she walked into my office, dressed in a mourning suit that made her look like a road-show Ligeia.

"Are you Marlowe?" She wriggled slightly as she sat down, which either meant she liked me or she'd noticed that my furniture is upholstered in mohair.

I looked up. "That's me, like the sign says. Chris Marlowe, Aesthetic Investigator. What can I do for you, Miss -- ?" For some reason, she looked vaguely familiar, but I couldn't place her under the widow's weeds.

"The name's unimportant, but call me Ms."

"Frankly, I don't care if you want to be called late for dinner. You have a job you want done, spill it."

"Oh, a tough guy, huh?" She tossed four black record jackets onto my desk.

"The results of your Wasserman test?" I asked.

"No, shamus. Albums by Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley, Peter Criss and Paul Stanley, members of a rock band called Kiss. You'll notice they're all wearing disguises on the cover."

"Nowadays who doesn't?"

"Never mind. My employer wants you to find out why. What have these guys got to hide? You've got twenty-four hours to run down the answers."

"And if I don't?"

"Front-row seats for the Al Martino farewell tour. Get the picture?"

"I'm trembling in my Capezios."

"Don't crack wise with me, turkey. Remember, you've got twenty-four hours."

With that she was out the door. I reached for the bottle of Scotch in my desk. Mysterious liberated women, rock-and-roll...suddenly, I felt very tired.

I spent the evening listening to the four records and staring at the covers. After I polished off the Scotch I had most of the scam doped out; the rest I glommed after a few phone calls to some friends of mine in the low-life end of the music business. Rack jobbers. AM jocks. The scum of the underground. Nice people you know, Marlowe. What a world.

True to her word, she was back the next day at four.

"You look beat," she said cooly. "A rough night?"

"Rough enough," I said. "But I found out what you wanted to know. These Kiss guys have never appeared out of makeup. The records are their first solo efforts, and the idea is that they're supposed to give the poor slobs who buy this stuff a chance to find out what kind of music these guys might make if they weren't limited by the group concept. It's a symbolic dropping of the mask."

"That's pretty good, Marlowe."

"I'm not finished. The thing is, it doesn't add up; these records could be by anybody. Frehley does a bad punk imitation; Simmons has pop tendencies; Criss is a closet MOR wimp, and Stanley tries to be a guitar hero. In other words, it all still sounds like Kiss -- slick, dumb, and inconsequential."

"Good job, Marlowe," she said nervously. "Write it up and send it to this address; your check will be in the mail." She started to get up, but I beat her to the door.

"Not so fast, sister. Like I said, it doesn't add up. So I began to think. Who in her right mind would be so interested in all this that she'd hire a broken-down private dick to figure it out? And why the time limit?"

I ripped the veil and sunglasses off her face.

"I knew it. You're Paulette Weiss of STEREO REVIEW."

"I had to do it, Marlowe," she sobbed. "None of my regular reviewers would touch the stuff, and I had a deadline. It was the only way."

"You're good, sweetheart," I said, putting on my coat. "But not that good."

"You mean...?"

"That's right. I won't write the review for you. Understand?"

"But, Marlowe..."

"I won't do it, do you hear? Get Simels, or Vance, or Coppage; they'll write anything for free albums. But not me."

I started out the door. "Where are you going?" she asked in a voice as quiet as the grave.

"I don't know," I said. "Computer school, maybe. Anywhere I don't have to intellectualize over loud noises."

"You can't run out on me like this."

I shook my head. "You should have thought about it before you got into the editing racket. See you around, sister."

I walked slowly down the five flights of stairs to the street and thought about her. She wasn't the first good girl to miss a deadline, and she wouldn't be the last. Still, somehow I knew I'd never hear from her again. Like I said, what a world. -- Steve Simels





[h/t Ken Richardson]

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Tom Petty: Mensch of the Year

Seriously -- what other major rock star would have even thought of doing this, let alone actually getting it done?

And the remake of "Lover of the Bayou" is better than the original.

And Remember -- Mom Upside Down is Wow

From the album Unusual Matricides.

I kid, I kid.

Seriously -- I don't quite know what I think about that, except that I'm not sure John Lennon wrote it as a vocal exercise/American Idol auditon piece for a graduate of the Mickey Mouse Club.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Weekend Listomania (Special Color My World Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental bete noire (bete jaune?) Hop-Sing and I are off on a weekend campaign junket with Senator Hillary Clinton (D-not bitter). Apparently, we're going some place where hard-working white folks hang out, wherever that might be. (Actually, I find that joke offensive myself, but as you'll see it has a certain thematic relevance so what the hell).

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:


Totally arbitrary rule: No songs using the actual word color need apply. Which means, say, Love's otherwise brilliant "She Comes in Colors" should just get the fuck out of here. Also: No rainbows.

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

10. Yellow -- Coldplay

I really don't care for this one at all but I figured we needed at least one entry recorded in this century.

9. White Lines (Don't Do It) -- Grandmaster Flash

Amazing how styles change. Back in the day, this was a founding artifact of hip-hop, and yet today it sounds like a classic rock song...

8. Brown Sugar -- The Rolling Stones

I wonder how many late 60s/early 70s backup singers think they're the inspiration for this. Supposedly it's this gal, but I don't think Jagger's come right out and said it.

7. Deep Purple -- Nino Tempo and April Stevens

I actually love this, but the main reason I included it is because the b-side has the greatest (and at the time, longest on record) song title ever: "I've Been Carrying a Torch For You For So Long I Burned A Great Big Hole in My Heart."

6. Raspberry Beret -- Prince

This would have been a tie with "Little Red Corvette" (one of my all-time fave videos), but as you can see, the clip here isn't Prince but rather some shmuck miming the track. Apparently, his Purpleness has been cracking down on YouTube appearances of his songs, old or new, going so far as to have the audio blocked on cell phone clips of his recent Coachella gigs. I'm beginning to think I liked him better when he was Symbol Guy...

5. Baby's in Black -- The Beatles

"She's dressed in black...because she thinks she's a nun...and it sure isn't much fun...when she's a nun."

How we sang it in my high school, if you must know.

4. A tie --

Pink Cadillac -- Bruce Springsteen

Much as I love the studio version, I simply LOVE this spare, minimalist "Nebraska" outtake...


Juicy John Pink -- Procol Harum

Can't say the same about this recent live performance, which can't hold a candle to the spare, minimalist "A Salty Dog" version (not, alas, online at the moment)....

3. Red Right Hand -- Nick Cave

Posted this in another list recently -- I think it was the one about bells -- but I just love it. Spookiest rock song ever.

2. Yellow Pills -- 20/20

For NYMary, who knows why....

And the numero uno, it's not even close so why are we arguing coolest song with a color in the title is ----

1. The Green Manalishi -- Fleetwood Mac

Featuring Peter Green, erstwhile lead guitarist of the nutso supergroup The Unravelling Wilburys (see last week's list).

Awrighty then -- what would your choices be?

Oh -- and sorry for the shameless blogwhore, but a companion movie Listomania will be going up sometime later this morning over at my new gig -- Box Office. Leave a comment if you're of a mind to and maybe management will buy me a pony.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Gender Inequity

I know I've been a bit obsessed with entrenched sexism lately--well, there's been a lot of it around--but I finally figured out why.

I just saw the Journey video for "Separate Ways," and I realize that, during my formative years, women were expected to be frosted, coiffed, made-up, and dressed in white, bedazzled denim. Men were expected to look like, well, Steve Perry.

Tell me that's fair.

An (Unusually) Early Clue to the New Direction

Off to New York City for a mysterious assignation. In the meantime, from 1963, here's less whitebread than I remembered teen heart throbs Nino Tempo and April Stevens with a kinda cute cover of Bruce Chanel's "Hey Baby."

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.

Grudging hint: The song itself has nothing to do with it.

Shameless blogwhore: My arch love letter to Zooey Deschanel can be found over at today's Box Office. Leave a comment and help get me in good with management if you're of a mind to.

Seperated at Birth?

Well, this is just too funny. My old colleague Glenn Kenny, doing business over at the Premiere website, notes a striking resemblance between these two grizzled rock vets --

-- and these two (barely) twenty-something weisenheimers.

Coming to theatres in 2009: A Judd Appatow Production -- Jonah Hill and Michael Cera are Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan in Happy Together: The Flo and Eddie Story!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Why Is This Man Laughing?

More anti-Frank Miller snark over at today's Box Office blog. Post a comment and I may be able to raise my freelance rate enough to take that romantic trip to Paris I've been planning....

The Rising

A brief concert note for readers in the Tri-State Metropolitan Area: If you're anywhere in the vicinity of mid-town Manhattan today, run, do not walk, to B.B. King's on 42nd street and catch a show -- 8 pm sharp! -- by the Pride of Plainview, New Jersey -- the (honestly) legendary Doughboys.

As you will have gleaned from the above video, said Doughboys (featuring power pop god Richard X. Heyman on drums) are the garage revivalists of your dreams; tonight they're opening for the reformed (and supposedly excellent) Electric Prunes, but if I was a betting man, I'd put good money down to the effect that the Boys will blow 'em away. The DBs also have an absolutely killer album out -- get yourself to the band link above and order it now. Seriously -- what the hell are you waiting for? Just do it!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Tuesday Guess Who?

Somebody's aged surprisingly well.

Hint: Normally, he'd be wearing a hat.

[h/t Brooklyn Girl]

Blogwhore Question of the Day

Why does anybody take Ayn Rand-ian blowhard Frank Miller seriously, either as a comic book auteur or a filmmaker?

There's more over at today's Box Office. If you get a chance, please comment over there -- it helps my street cred with management.

BTW, I like what NYTimes film critic A.O.Scott said about Miller's 300 -- "about as violent as Apocalypto and twice as stupid."

Blue Eyes Crying in the Cab

And speaking of Aimee Anne Duffy, as we were yesterday, here's her new single.

Seriously, if the producers of the new Bond flick don't ask her to sing the theme song, I swear to god I'm gonna take a hostage.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Soul On Ice

Apparently, a certain tattooed, bee-hive tressed British trollop latter day r&b star isn't doing the theme from the new James Bond flick after all.

Auld Acquaintances

Ladies and gentlemen, from early 1965, -- here's Scotland's Number 1 beat group, The Poets and their genuinely haunting "That's the Way It's Got to Be." Note the humongous crunch-r&b bass line which powers the tune and ponder its fairly obvious influence on the Spencer Davis Group's later "I'm a Man."

I first heard about these guys, who at the time I assumed had never even been a rumor in the states, early in 2000 when (if memory serves) some indie label put out a CD covering just about every note they recorded in their brief even by Sixties standards career. A year later, "TTWIGTB" turned up on Rhino's fabulous and essential Nuggets II compilation of 60s garage rock from the UK, Europe and Australia, and since then there's been a mild uptick of interest in their work. Still, as recently as a few months months ago there was no YouTube documentation that I had discovered, so imagine my surprise, then, when over the weekend I chanced across the above clip and (even more astounding) a live version of an earlier (to my ears, inferior) song from American TV.

These guys were on fricking Shindig? Knock me over with the proverbial feather, and let me just say it again -- YouTube is the greatest contribution to the sum of man's knowledge since the Library at Alexandria at least.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Saturday Pathetic Blogwhoring

A possibly relevant joke.

A 95-year-old guy goes to Confession.

Old Guy: Forgive me father, for I have sinned.

Priest: Tell me about it.

Old Guy: I'm sleeping with two 18 year old girls. Sometimes, together.

Priest: Wow. Say two Hail Marys and make an act of contrition.

Old guy: I will not. No way.

Priest: Huh?

Old guy: Nope.

Priest: Why not?

Old guy: I'm not a Catholic. In fact, I'm Jewish.

Priest: Then why are you telling me?

Old guy: Telling you? I'm telling everybody!!!

Seriously -- I just got a gig blogging about movies over at In fact, there's a cinematic Listomania up over there right now. So -- if it's not too much trouble, maybe you could go over there and leave a comment?

I'll be your best friend...

Friday, May 02, 2008

Weekend Listomania (Special Gray's Anatomy Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental bete noire (bete jaune?) Hop-Sing and I are heading off for a clandestine weekend at oof...aargh...feh...ack....!!!!!!!!! nowhere we can talk about.

Seriously. Don't even ask. Uh....we'd be killed if we told you. All I can say is it's a lead-in to the new X-Files movie.

Uh, maybe.

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:


No arbitrary rules for this one, except if anybody tries to use the word "knows" as a pun on "nose" I will come to your house and slap you silly.

Okay, that said, here's my totally arbitrary Top Six:

6. Foot of Pride (Bob Dylan)

God, it must have galled Lou Reed to sing this at the Dylan 30th anniversary show. Come to think of it, he used a teleprompter, if memory serves. Bitch.

5. Fingertips, Pt. II (Little Stevie Wonder)

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Prepubescent. And "What key? What key?" is the coolest ad-lib on a live record ever.

4. Bette Davis Eyes (Kim Carnes)

Written by Jackie DeShannon, who also wrote the power pop classic "When You Walk in the Room." She also married Randy Edelman, who I went to high school with. How's that for bogus name dropping?

3. Back in My Arms Again (The Supremes)

Pretty much my favorite Motown song ever, and "Flo, she don't know, that the boy she loves is a romeo" remains one of the cleverest self-referential lines in pop music history.

2. Hand in Glove (The Smiths)

Morrissey doing an impression of Michael J. Nelson doing his Morrissey impression. Seriously, I like the Smiths, and I think Johnny Marr is one of the two or three most interesting rock guitarists of the 80s, but there are times when you listen to these guys and frankly you would need a heart of stone not to laugh.

And the number one niftiest -- please, it's not even a contest -- song with a body part in its title is.....

1. Creature With the Atom Brain (Roky Erickson)

For the longest time, I had a fantasy of producing a supergroup featuring nutso rock stars. I figured it could star Syd Barrett, Brian Wilson, Skip Spence, Jim Gordon (the Derek and the Dominos drummer who heard voices telling him to kill his mother, so he did) the guy from Fleetwood Mac who gave away all his money, and Roky. I was going to call it the Unravelling Wilburys.


In any case, it's nice to know that Roky is these days not only alive and well but busy playing before hordes of fans who genuinely appreciate his work.

Awrighty then -- what would your choices be?

Thursday, May 01, 2008

An Early Clue to the New Direction

From some time this century (I'm too lazy to look it up) here's the extremely irksome Saturday Night Live fave "Dick in a Box."

I know a lot of people think this is a riot, but for my money Jim Breuer's Heavy Metal Guy Singing the News routine had the sophistication of a patter song by Gilbert and Sullivan by comparison.

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 tomorrow's Weekend Listomania.

Kiss Me Cutely

Those who know me best -- by which I mean a couple of ex-wives and some commenters at Eschaton who I've never actually met in person -- are aware that I have a huge and completely inappropriate potential stalking problem crush on actress Zooey Deschanel. So I was of course delighted to discover that She and Him, her alt-folkie band with M. Ward turns out not only not to suck, but is actually rather charming.

That said, I watched that clip a couple of times and something struck me as familiar, although I couldn't immediately place it. Untill it dawned on me....