Friday, October 31, 2008

Weekend Listomania (Special Sweet Emotion Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday, and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental rentboy amanuensis Hop-Sing and I have returned, exhausted, from the land of the Ignoble Frog, and are consequently going to spend the rest of the weekend in bed.

Hey, I mean sleeping. Seperately. Get your minds out of the gutter.

But in any case, posting by moi will be completely not happening until Monday.

Thus, in my absence, here's a little project for us all:

Coolest Post-Elvis Song or Record Referencing The Emotion of Happiness or the Word Happiness Itself (Title or Lyric!!!)

No arbitrary rules this time -- just smile, please! And please remember: Our ongoing project to insert Billy Corgan's pretentious cueball noggin into every Weekend Listomania will resume next time.

And my totally top of my head Top Seven is:

7. The Rolling Stones -- Happy

A/k/a "Keith's Song." Obvious, I know, but what can you do.

6. The Edwin Hawkins Singers -- Oh Happy Day

If memory serves, John Lennon's favorite record of 1969 (along with Dave Edmunds "I Hear You Knockin'," which of course has no thematic connection whatsoever).

5. Neil Innes --How Sweet to Be an Idiot

A/k/a "The George W. Bush Song." Okay, a cheap shot...

4. Dashboard Confessional -- Standard Lines

"Hope you're happy." Not a particularly great song, but included just so we can have something recorded in this century...

3. Small Faces -- Happiness Stan

My second favorite song on the third greatest concept album of the 60s.

2. The Who -- Happy Jack

"I saw ya!"

And the number one coolest song about that up and positive feeling, there's not even a contest you MFs, so don't bug me, obviously is --

1. The Beatles -- I'm Happy Just to Dance With You

As with "I Want to Hold Your Hand," the title may not be 100 percent honest about the singer's intentions, but a delightful song and sentiment in any event, don't you think?

Awrighty then -- and what would your choices be?

[Shameless Blogwhore: My parallel Cinema Listomania [theme: great female ensemble casts] is now up over at Box Office. As always, if you could see your way over there to leave a comment, an angel gets its wings.]

Thursday, October 30, 2008

An Early Clue to the New Direction (Special Just Back From Paris! Video Edition)

From 1966, here's the original backing track of "Mrs. O'Leary's Cow," from the Beach Boys' Smile, a/k/a the Most Famous Lost Album in Rock (Nay, Music) History.

Incidentally, while in the land of the Ignoble Frog, I was reading Catch a Wave: The Rise, Fall & Redemption of the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson, by Peter Ames Carlin, which has all the amazing backstory on the above and much more, and is highly recommended.

As always, a coveted PowerPop No-Prize will be awarded to the first reader who gleans the track's relevance to the theme of tomorrow's Weekend Listomania.

And boy, am I not holding my breath on THIS one.

[h/t Kerrin L. Griffith]

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

We'll Always Have Paris

Homeward bound, but here's one last shot from our trip.

Who knew the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles was actually in Dayton, Ohio?

Oh, and sorry for the shameless blogwhore, but over at Box Office please enjoy a wonderful 1979 video by the charmingly monikered first generation French punk band The Stinky Toys.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

More Fun With Photoshop

Our first day in Paris: Here I am posed under the actual coat Napoleon Bonaparte wore during his career as a CPA in Dayton, Ohio.

Anybody heard from the Chinese Aviator today?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Greetings From Dayton, Ohio

Noted over at Eschaton the other night:

Simels is in Paris like I am a Chinese aviator.

Give me a break.
me | 10.25.08 - 3:35 pm | #

Hey Allen -- how's the air up there?

I Get Email...

Happy Monday!

From Ray at

On November 4, the fine folks at Numero Records (the same people who brought us Yellow Pills: Prefill) will be releasing a 2 CD set that chronicles the legendary, most excellent, Kansas City-based power pop label - Titan Records!

From 1978-1981 the Titan label issued only eight records, but over the years their tiny catalog has crawled to the top of power-pop want lists worldwide and appeared on scads of bootleg cassettes, building a legacy to rival L.A.’s Bomp or New York’s Ork. Located in fly-over country, Titan was forced to start their own scene, import their own skinny ties, and scour Missouri for their own talent. This is a brilliant 2 CD set that chronicles the legendary, most excellent, pop label! 42 tracks by artists like The Boys, Gary Charlson, Arlis, The Secrets, and Scott McCarl (of the Raspberries) will be featured. Consisting of two digipack sleeves housed in a slipcase, it also comes with a detailed, 40 page booklet that tells the whole Titan story.

I have several singles from Titan and they are all uniformly wonderful, especially the great Gary Charlson. Seriously, if you are a fan of late 70s skinny-tie powerpop, this is a treasure trove of hooks. I am really looking forward to this as it has been in the works for a long time! To sweeten the deal, if you pre-order from Kool Kat, they are throwing in a couple of bonus discs of material that didn't make it on the compilation.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sunday Songcrush: Could Be Anything

Thers played me this the other night. (More on his discovery process later.) From 2004, it's The Eames Era with "Could Be Anything":


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Saturday Glam Blogging...

Ciao Kids,

I don't remember if I've featured the King of Glam Marc Bolan yet, 'cos I guess it seemed so bloody obvious. Nonetheless, here he is wearing his regal hubcap diamond star halo. This is without doubt one of the crunchiest riffs of the late 20th Century and I hope you enjoy it!
Cheers, mate!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Weekend Listomania (Special Deja Vu All Over Again Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental manservant Hop-Sing, a certain shady dame and moi are spending a week in Paris, walking cheek by jowl with the Ignoble Frog down the City of Light's historic byways.

It's all very romantic, and we'll be posting all sorts of photos between now and our return, but in the meantime, here's a fun project for you all to contemplate:

Best Post-Elvis Song or Record Which Specifically Quotes Another Song or Record, Lyrically or Musically!!!

BTW, sampling really doesn't count as a quote, at least most of the time (see the Tone Loc entry below). So, for example, that Neneh Cherry song -- "Trout"? -- that uses the actual riff from Steppenwolf's "The Pusher" is right out. Just to be clear -- what we're talking about is somebody playing an instrumental snippet of another song's melody, or working a bit of another song's lyric into the narrative of a new one. Or...well, you get the idea.

Okay, that said, here's my strictly off the top of my head Top Seven:

7. Tom Petty -- Running Down a Dream

"It was a beautiful day, the sun beat down
I had the radio on, I was drivin'...
The trees went by, me and Del were singin
Little Runaway, I was flyin'"....

6. Cream -- Sunshine of Your Love

Clapton starts his solo by playing the opening line of "Blue Moon."

5. Tone Loc -- Funky Cool Medina

"And like Mick Jagger sang 'I can't get no satisfaction'." And that's a sample of Charlie's drums, BTW.

4. The Velvet Undeground -- Sweet Jane

The studio version, from Loaded (and in my opinion, Lou's best vocal performance ever): "Just watch me now!" Obviously, from the Contours "Do You Love Me."

3. The Beatles -- Glass Onion

"The Walrus was Paul."

2. Jimi Hendrix -- Wild Thing

In the version from Jimi Plays Monterey he starts his solo with the opening line of "Strangers in the Night."

And the number one coolest song/record quoting another song/record, it's so fricking obvious I'll smack you if you give me a hard time about this, is --

1. The Beatles -- All You Need is Love

"The Marseillaise," "Greensleeves," "In the Mood"....and then, in the all-time conceptual masterstroke, their own "She Loves You." Post-Modernism begins here.

Awrighty then -- and your choices would be...??????

[Shameless Blogwhore: My parallel Cinema Listomania (theme: cool cult movies) is now up over at Box Office. As always, if you could see your way over there to leave a comment, an angel gets its wings.]

Thursday, October 23, 2008

An Early Clue to the New Direction Goes to Paris

From 1975, here's Bob Dylan and his lachrymose ode to Jakob's mom, "Sara."

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

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

We'll Always Have Paris

Well, in case you haven't heard, I'm off tonight for a week's vacation in the City of Lights. I'll post pictures when appropriate, mostly to annoy a certain fat Aggie transvestite in Georgetown, TX, but both Kid Charlemagne and NY Mary will be picking up the musical slack around here on those occasions when I've ODd on rich foods with heavy sauces. So by all means, keep stopping by (especially this Friday, when there'll be a particularly droll new Listomania).

In the meantime, I thought I'd say "au revoir" for now with my all-time favorite piece of British French-inflected pop rock.

From 1966, then, here's the next to last single the great Denny Laine recorded with the original, cool Moody Blues -- the ineffably lovely "Boulevard de la Madeleine."

She said she'd come, she didn't
I'm the one in love, she isn't
There's no girl standing there
And there's no one who cares
And the trees are so bare
On the Boulevard de la Madeleine

Ah, that accordion. So sad and beautiful. Bonjour tristesse, bitches!!!

Incidentally, to my knowledge, this is NOT on CD at the moment. I had it on an import LP collection back in the day, and I think I scored it from the old Napster a few years ago, but at the moment it seems I no longer have an audio copy. Bottom line: If anybody has an MP3 they can share, I'd be their best friend. Or ami.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Hello, Budokan!

Once again, unexpectedly, today I've found myself with time on my hands and have used it to continue programming my mix-tape masterpiece in progress -- Great Lost Singles of the 90s. Here's the latest entry.

From '93, that's Cheap Trick lead singer Robin Zander's killer, and obviously relevant to our current political situation, "Reactionary Girl." A great song and record to be sure, but we should mention that it also appeared on Wonderwood, an absolute masterpiece by its composer, should-be-a-household-word power pop god Rob Laufer. It's currently out of print, but if you have a little disposable income, you could spring for it here. Trust me -- you won't be disappointed.

Monday, October 20, 2008

When World's Collide

The Grateful Dead meet Hugh Hefner on Playboy After Dark in July of 1969.

Rumor has it this was cut short because the Dead had dosed everybody's martinis and the Bunnies began taking off their clothes.

[h/t Brooklyn Girl]

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Levi Stubbs 1936 -- 2008

Billy Bragg, from March 4th, provides a slightly premature eulogy for the Great Man.

Before I go, I hope somebody writes a song that good about me.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Weekend Listomania (Special I Came to Casablanca For... Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental manservant Hop-Sing and I are off to join Sen. John McCain in scenic Holland, Ohio, where we'll be doing a weekend tour of area Roto-Rooter franchises in the company of Joe "The Plumber™" Wurzelbacher. The high point of the weekend happens Sunday afternoon, at the local Hooters, where Joe will be returning his Social Security checks. With Special Guest Star: Joe "The Unemployed Truck Driver Thinking About Calling the Sean Hannity Show™" Wurzelbacher, JTP's developmentally challenged older brother.

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

But in my absence, here's a fun project for us all to contemplate:

Best Post-Elvis Song or Record Whose Title References Water in Some Way!!!!!

No arbitrary rules here. Just stay wet, I guess.

Anyway, here's my strictly off the top of my head Top Eight:

8. Creedence Clearwater Revival -- Walk on the Water

From the first album, if memory serves, and wonderfully spooky. I think Richard Hell and the Voidoids covered it in the 80s, and quite well.

7. Bruce Springsteen -- Lost in the Flood

"And everybody's wrecked on Main Street from drinking unholy blood
Sticker smiles sweet as Gunner breathes deep, his ankles caked in mud
And I said, "Hey, gunner man, that's qucksand, that's quicksand, that ain't mud
Have you thrown your senses to the war, or did you lose them in the flood?"

Early Bruce too wordy by half? How the heck did that impression ever get around?

Honorable Mention: "The River."

6. Lou Christie -- Rhapsody in the Rain

The dirtiest top 40 song of 1966.

5. Smashing Pumpkins -- Porcelina of the Vast Oceans

Okay, that song title is even stupider than the title of the album it's from, but it does prove yet again that there is no Listomania subject so obscure that we can't find an appropriate video featuring Billy Corgan's pretentious cueball noggin.

4. Led Zeppelin -- When the Levee Breaks

For obvious reasons, not the least being the musical onomatapaiea.

3. Joni Mitchell -- River

Said it before and I'll say it again, but if this song doesn't make you weep I don't want to know you. BTW, I posted Joni's version last week in another context, so I thought this one by Robert Downey Jr. -- from an episode of Ally McBeal (it's on the soundtrack CD) might wake you up. Seriously -- apart from being one of the two or three most interesting actors of his generation, the sonofabitch is also a great singer.

2. The Velvet Underground -- Ocean

Because a watery Lou Reed is a terrible thing to waste.

And the number one H20 related song, it's not even a contest you knuckleheads so if you contradict me on this I'll come to your house and hurt you real bad, obviously is ---

1. Julie London -- Cry Me a River

A brilliantly written song, an amazing minimalist production (that guitar! that echo at the fade out!), and (as directed here by Frank Tashlin in his hilarious The Girl Can't Help It) perhaps the first and greatest music video ever.

Awrighty then -- and your choices would be...??????

[Shameless Blogwhore: My parallel Weekend Cinema Listomania (theme: Great Gimmick Films!) is now up over at Box Office. As always, if you could go over there and leave a comment, an angel gets its wings.]

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Get Your Kicks!

Programming note for those of you in the Tri-State Metropolitan Area this weekend --

The legendary Doughboys -- featuring powerpop god Richard X. Heyman -- will be appearing at my all time favorite club, Kenny's Castaways (157 Bleecker Street, between Sullivan & Thompson Street, in the heart of Greenwich Village) this Saturday at 9pm. These guys are seriously great, and if you play your cards right they may even play this.

For more on the Doughboys, including their fabulous new album Is It Now?, click here.

An Unusually Early Clue to the New Direction

From 1960, here's The Drifters and one of my favorite songs by the late great Doc Pomus -- "I Count the Tears."

Obviously, this was the song that got ripped off big time for the Grass Roots hit "Let's Live For Today." But now is not the time to point the finger of blame, my friends.

In any case, a coveted PowerPop No-Prize will be afforded the first reader who divines the clip's relevance to tomorrow's Weekend Listomania.

Not holding my breath, though. Heh heh.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Kicking Ass With My Own Pipe Wrench

Speechless, truly.

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

Je Ne Regrette Rien

Actually, I regret a lot. This week, mostly, I have come to terms with the sad fact that, because of my advanced age, I will almost certainly never have sex with a biker chick or a goth girl.

Then I remember that Lucinda Williams has a new album out and I feel better.

No video yet, but here's a great performance from '98.

In a word -- wow.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Ah Yes, I Remember It Well

That's Miss Jackson if you want your ticket money back!

From today's NY Times:

Janet Jackson has to reschedule another performance on her erratic “Rock Witchu” tour after cancelling a concert scheduled for Monday night at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona, N.Y. According to the resort’s Web site,, the cancellation was based on doctors’ orders, and tickets will be honored for a date not yet announced. This is the ninth show that Ms. Jackson has missed on the tour since Sept. 27, including a performance scheduled for Sept. 29 at the Bell Center in Montreal, which was canceled when she was briefly hospitalized hours before the show. According to Ms. Jackson’s Web site,, a concert planned for Madison Square Garden on Oct. 16 has also been postponed, until Nov. 1.

Oh well. At least she has better teeth than Amy Winehouse...

Monday, October 13, 2008

Through the Courtesy of Fred's Two Feet

Once again, this morning I've found myself with a little unexpected free time and have used it to continue programming my mix tape work-in-progress masterpiece -- Great Lost Singles of the 80s. In this case, the latest addition is Bruce Springstone's hilarious version of "Meet the Flintstones."

That's without question the funniest piece of rock criticism of the decade (originally released in 1982), but up until today, I had labored under the misconception that it was the work of a journeyman bar band from Delaware. Not so; a Google search turns up the info that it was the brainchild of Baltimore writer, illustrator and cartoonist Tom Chalkley, who conceived of combining The Flintstones and The Boss and provided the raspy Bruce Springsteen vocal as well. I also learned that the thing sold 35,000 copies -- a huge number for an indie single -- before Hanna-Barbera pulled the plug with a cease-and-desist order based on the cover artwork. Even more interesting, the guitar is provided by power pop god Tommy Keene.

You can download the thing (including the B-side, a Springsteen take on "Take Me Out to the Ballgame") here; if you have some kind of bizarre moral qualms about filesharing, you can simply listen to it via the YouTube below.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Weekend Listomania (Special Three is the Loneliest Number Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental houseboy Hop-Sing -- you know...THAT one -- are off to a weekend vigil outside the Austin, Texas home of dog-burning enthusiast Toby Petzold. Apparently the poor lad is on some kind of suicide watch brought on by depression over the current presidential polling results, and we're going to camp outside his miserable hovel humble apartment with chicken soup and Oxycontin in case he does something rash.

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:

Post-Elvis Pop/Rock Band or Solo Act With At Least Three Genuinely Great Studio Albums To Their Credit!!!

Totally arbitrary rule: The 60s Holy Trinity -- Beatles, Stones, Dylan -- need not apply. Anybody else -- Ross Bagdasarian, Mrs. Miller, anybody -- is eligible. But not those guys, for the obvious reason that they're too obvious.

Incidentally, I was somewhat surprised while putting this together that there are lots -- and I mean lots! -- of artists I think have at least two masterpieces to their credit (the Kinks, the Clash, and the Beach Boys come immediately to mind). Artists with three? Not so many.

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

7. The Who

Sell Out, Who's Next, and either Tommy or Quadrophenia, depending on my mood.

6. Elvis Costello

My Aim is True, This Years Model and Armed Forces are pretty much unarguable, nest-ce pas?

5. Smashing Pumpkins

Okay, just kidding, but as I promised last week, it's time to resume our project of working Billy Corgan's pretentious bald noggin into every Listomania from now till doomsday.

4. Joni Mitchell

Ladies of the Canyon, Blue, and Court and Spark are all indispensable. And I think you can make a case for Hissing of Summer Lawns or Hejira. Or even Clouds, for crying out loud. Incidentally -- if "River" (the YouTube clip above) doesn't make you cry, I don't want to know you.

3. Stevie Wonder

Talking Book, Innervisions, and Songs in the Key of Life. A genius, obviously.

2. Neil Young

Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, Harvest, and After the Gold Rush -- all great, no? And arguably several others since, of course. Incidentally, Buffalo Springfield didn't make the cut because their third and last album, wonderful as it is, is patchy compared to their first two. IMHO.

And the coolest artist with at least three masterpieces under his belt, please, it's not even a contest because the guy's never made a bad album, so don't even think about bugging me with somebody else, is ---

1. Richard Thompson

Liege and Lief (with Fairport Convention), I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight, and Shoot Out The Lights. Each totally different, each totally brilliant.

Awrighty then -- what would your choices be?

[Shameless Blogwhore: My parallel Cinema Listomania [theme: battle scenes!] is now up over at Box Office. As always, if you could see your way over there to leave a comment, an angel gets its wings.]

Thursday, October 09, 2008

An Early Clue to the New Direction (Special Lord of the Dance Video Edition)

From who knows when, here's some dork spazzing out to Three Dog Night's 1973 hit "Shambala."

I actually really like this song, especially the backing track (the non-singers in Three Dog Night have always been underrated, I think) and I don't even mind that it's being flogged of late in a Michelob Pale Ale commercial.

In any case, as always, a coveted PowerPop No-Prize will be awarded to the first reader who divines its relationship to the theme of tomorrow's Weekend Listomania.

I'm not holding my breath, however. Heh heh heh...

The Golden Age of Bad Haircuts

The other day reader Anonymous asked the poignant question "Speaking of great lost singles of the 80s -- what ever happened to The A's "A Woman's Got the Power?"

Well, Anon old pal -- here it is.

Funny thing is, I don't remember this song at all. Which is odd because I'm pretty sure I reviewed these guys first album -- which featured the tender ballad "Teenage Jerkoff" -- and I'm almost positive I saw them live around the same time, probably at the Mudd Club (the then tragically hip downtown joint that was documented in the appalling New Wave horror film Liquid Sky, perhaps the quintessential pretentious artifact of its era).

In any case -- I think they were from Philadelphia, which probably explains their fashion sense.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Pretenders Rule

Saw Chrissie Hynde and company (original drummer Martin Chambers plus some kids, all excellent) last night at the Highline Ballroom in NYC. The short version: Totally awesome. Chrissie looked incredible -- tight red t-shirt, jeans, and her 1978 hairdo -- and as usual just dripped sex appeal and charisma. She was also in great voice (so what else is new?) and the couple of songs they did from the new album (which I haven't heard yet) were every bit as involving as the old stuff, including blistering versions of "Message of Love" and "The Wait."

If there's a new video I couldn't find it, but I love the "Talk of the Town" above, and not just because it's a great song. True story: The white Gibson SG Chrissie is playing in the clip was purchased, not too long after, by a friend of mine who leant it to me for a demo session I played on at the old CBS studios. The producer of the date was Paul Atkinson, guitarist for the Zombies.

Okay, I'm namedropping, but at least it's B-list namedropping.

Incidentally, the divine watertiger took a bunch of photos during the show, but this one -- of one of a bunch of guys who were sitting in front of us -- was all that came out. As you can see, certain elements of the crowd tended toward the overweight; at times, I felt like I was trapped in a reunion of the 70s classified ad staff of The Aquarian.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Tales From the Great White North

Yesterday, having some unexpected spare time on my hands, I started putting together a mix-tape entitled Great Lost Singles of the Eighties, and I was moved to include the following guilty pleasure.

That's the 1982 hit (in Canada) "Your Daddy Don't Know," by the hit (in Canada) band Toronto (named for a city in Canada). To my ears, it's the greatest Rick Springfield song Rick Springfield never recorded, but for those of you inclined to dismiss it as merely vintage 80s cheese, I should note that in recent years it's been covered, note for note, by the New Pornographers (also from Canada). With Neko singing lead, 'natch.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Monday Art Blogging

Totally off our usual subject, but I thought I should alert readers in the Tri-State Metropolitan Area:

You really need to check out an exhibit of "Black and White Nudes Photography" by the estimable Rick Poston, which opens tomorrow night at Jadite Galleries, 413 West 50th Street in Manhattan. I believe tomorrow is invite only (call the gallery to be sure at 212 315 2740) but the pics will be there until Oct 29th (Tues-Sat.12-6pm). This is Rick's first solo show and it would be nice if you could stop by and show him some love.

As you can see, Rick has a heck of an eye, and this promises to be a really interesting couple of weeks.

How good a photographer is he?

He can make little old me look like the mad doctor/arch criminal in a silent Fritz Lang serial.

And no, that shot isn't in the show, thank goodness.

Play It As It Lays

Courtesy of the most recent MOJO magazine, it has come to my attention that there is now some kind of subculture devoted to reworking classic album covers in Legos.

A few of my favorites --

The Fabs' first...

A certain decadent bunch from NYC...

And a Reagan era classic (it was all about the tush)...

You can see more here.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

New Pretenders Record

Saw this nice write-up of Chrissie Hynde and the first Pretenders record in six years, "Break Up the Concrete," in the NYTimes (and it's not by steve's fave, that Saleh fellow).

“I don’t think the world really needs another Pretenders record. But frankly, I was getting embarrassed because we hadn’t made a record in so long. And we were doing a lot of touring, and I just can’t stomach doing those old songs anymore. It’s just torture.”

As she began to work on new songs, she found her direction changing. “Spending more time in Akron, I was getting more of an American feel in my sensibility,” she said. In addition, the Pretenders toured last year with ZZ Top, and Ms. Hynde participated in a tribute concert to Jerry Lee Lewis. When she went to Joshua Tree National Park in California and found where the ashes of the alternative-country pioneer Gram Parsons had been scattered, “I sort of had my epiphany there and I thought, Wow, I think I know how this thing is going to go now.”

Cut live in the studio in less than two weeks, “Concrete” is loose and scrappy, shot through with rockabilly and country. It offers yet another version of the Pretenders, whose lineup Ms. Hynde has continually juggled since the deaths of the founding guitarist, James Honeyman-Scott, and the bassist Pete Farndon in the early ’80s. The drummer Martin Chambers, the other most consistent member, is touring with the band, but the session ace Jim Keltner plays drums on the album. “Chrissie is as subtle as napalm,” Mr. Chambers said in a phone interview. “She’s absolutely uncompromising. She knows when there’s something wrong that needs to be fixed, and she does it.”

Chrissie Hynde channeling Gram Parsons? Sounds like a winner to me. And Chrissie has another message of hope for those of us fretting about next month:

“I have a very good sense of these things,” she said. “Like when I was moving around in the ’70s, trying to get a band together. I went to Cleveland, I went to Paris, but around 1976, I could just sense something was going to happen in London. Sure enough, in 1977 the whole punk thing broke loose. And I have that same feeling right now about America.

“Believe me, I don’t feature any false optimism. I’m very realistic about things. But I can sense that there is this change coming, and a lot of it is because people will have no choice.”

NB. Pretenders appearing at the Highline Ballroom in NYC this week. Get your dancing shoes on!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Weekend Listomania (Special There is No God! Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental batman Hop-Sing and I are off to Alaska, where we'll join Governor Sarah Palin at the Wassilla Public Library for her annual browse of some interesting magazines and periodicals.

In any case, since this will be followed by the traditional Moose Roast and Octoberfest, 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:

The Post-Elvis Pop/Rock Band or Solo Act With a Major Career Whose Popularity Most Remains Mystifying Because They Self-Evidently Suck!!!

No special rules or exceptions here; obviously this is subjective on some level, but in this case all the examples are actually scientifically provable as far as suckitude goes.

Programming note: For those who were wondering, we will return to our ongoing project to work Smashing Pumpkins and Billy Corgan's pretentious cue-ball noggin into every Listomania from now till the end of recorded time with next week's entry.

Okay, that said, my top of my head Top Eight would be:

8. Coldplay

As I said the other day -- are they U2 without the warmth? Spandau Ballet without the sense of humor? Who knows and who cares...if ever a multi-platinum band sucked, it's these guys, and frankly Gwynneth Paltrow should be ashamed of herself for mingling her DNA with that appalling singer.

7. Fall Out Boy

God, these guys are full of themselves. And "This Aint a Scene, It's an Arms Race" is one of the lamest lyric metaphors ever. David Byrne really needs to smack these putzes upside their heads.

6. Celine Dion

Seriously -- I can't even begin to fathom why millions of people actually listen to her CDs for pleasure. Is earnest sexlessness really that much fun? Honest, I just don't fricking get it...

5. Justin Timberlake

For some reason -- that he's funny in movies, or something -- it's now considered plausible in certain circles to defend this nit as an interesting all-around entertainer, like he's the Sammy Davis Jr of his generation, except whiter and with two eyes. I can only conclude it's some kind of weird Gen-Y kitsch thing, like the Tony Bennett on MTV Mania of the 90s.

4. Sean Combs (or whatever his name is at the moment)

A credit to his wallet? Perhaps. But as far as music goes, he deserves a special circle in Hell for that appalling remake of "Every Breath You Take" alone.

3. Oasis

Do they have even a remotely listenable singer? Is there a single interesting instrumentalist in the band? Have they ever written even a moderately memorable song? The answer to all of those is "Fuck no," IMHO.

2. Madonna

"Last night I dreamt of some bagels..." The great singer/songwriter/guitarist Peter Blegvad said it best of Ms. Ciccone: "A teaspoon of talent."

And the number one "why the fuck are they huge?" act , it's so obvious it's unarguable so don't even bother to suggest somebody else or I swear to god I'll mess you up, is ---

1. Gloria Estefan

Keith Richards nailed her in an interview some years back: "A Holiday Inn lounge act that got lucky."

Awrighty then -- what would your choices be?

[Shameless Blogwhore: My parallel Cinema Listomania (theme: cool gangster flicks) is now up over at Box Office. As always, if you could go over there and leave a comment, an angel get its wings.]

Thursday, October 02, 2008

A Slightly Earlier Than Usual Clue to the New Direction (Special Garden State Video Edition)

From 1986, and featuring the most obviously tape-spliced modulation in the history of recorded music, here's Bon Jovi and their skull-crushingly annoying blue collar anthem "Living on a Prayer."

As always, a coveted PowerPop No-Prize will be awarded the first reader to divine its relevance to the theme of tomorrow's Weekend Listomania.

But I'm not counting on it this week...heh heh.

Great Lost Singles of the Sixties (An Occasional Series)

Somebody mentioned this the other night at Eschaton, and I'd forgotten how much I liked it -- from 1968, it's Cream and their thoroughly atypical pop masterpiece "Anyone for Tennis."

I think this is an all but perfect record and, heretical as it may be, by far their finest accomplishment in the studio. Those sighing strings, that chiming dive bomb guitar, the lovely mix of bemusement and regret in Clapton's uncharacteristically delicate vocal...and of course, the lyrics.

Twice upon a time in the valley of the tears
The auctioneer is bidding for a box of fading years
And the elephants are dancing on the graves of squealing mice.
Anyone for tennis, wouldn't that be nice?

And the ice creams are all melting on the streets of bloody beer
While the beggars stain the pavements with flourescent Christmas cheer
And the Bentley driving guru is putting up his price.
Anyone for tennis, wouldn't that be nice?

And the prophets in the boutiques give out messages of hope
With jingle bells and fairy tales and blind colliding scopes
And you can tell they're all the same underneath the pretty lies.
Anyone for tennis, wouldn't that be nice?

The yellow Buddhist monk is burning brightly at the zoo
You can bring a bowl of rice and then a glass of water too
And fate is setting up the chessboard while death rolls out the dice.
Anyone for tennis, wouldn't that be nice?

I can't think of a song that so brilliantly evokes the whole post-Summer of Love, what do we do now with the bastards pointing guns at us? vibe of 1968; you can practically hear the Hells Angels revving up their motorcycles for the apocalypse at Altamont to come. Which makes the song's origin -- they wrote it for the soundtrack to a mediocre biker flick -- just that much more ironic.

BTW, did Eric Clapton ever sport a less flattering look than the one in the video? Sheesh...that mustache is really heinous.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Houston, We Have a Problem

From today's New York Times:

Janet Jackson was hospitalized for several hours shortly before she was scheduled to take the stage at a concert in Montreal, the Associated Press reported. A representative for Ms. Jackson (left), 42, told AP in a statement that the singer "got suddenly ill" during her sound check at the Bell Center and was taken to a hospital. The statement gave no further information about her condition...This is the latest stop of Ms. Jackson's tour to be cancelled suddenly; on Friday she dropped two planned shows in Detroit, citing production concerns. Last month she announced that she had parted ways with her record label, Island Records, which released her album Discipline in February.

You know, somehow I think I've heard this story before....