Saturday, January 31, 2009

Saturday Glam Rock Blogging- American Division

To say that the New York Dolls were not a huge influence on the punk rock scene on both sides of the pond in the mid to late 70s would simply be ignoring history. One need only check out Steve Jones' guitar solos on any of a number of Sex Pistols singles to hear his shameless rip of Johnny Thunders unmistakable guitar sound. The Dolls had the punk attitude and the amphetamine-laced hooks down when their eponymous first record hit the streets way back in 1973. Shambolic and raw, they sounded as if their entire operation could crash and burn at any moment, but their sound perfectly meshed with the zeitgeist of the burgeoning punk movement.

Here's exhibit A, the Dolls' Personality Crisis, which has always sounded to me like Chuck Berry on crank. Cheers!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Weekend Songcrush

WTF do you mean "embedding disabled by request"?

In any case, enjoy Leeds band Kaiser Chiefs "Never Miss a Beat." I dare you not to sing it all weekend.

Weekend Listomania (Special Casey Kasem, We Hardly Knew Ye! Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental groinal consultant appointment secretary Fah Lo Suee and I are off to France, home of the Ignoble Frog, for the tenth annual "'Allo, Sailor!" festival. It's a reunion of the surviving crew of Jacques Cousteau's ship The Calypso, and as usual, we'll be touring the colorful waterfront bars and late night establishments of Marseilles.

As a result (and also because I'm thoroughly embarrassed at having recycled that joke yet again), posting by moi will necessarily be somewhat fitful for a few days.

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


Self-explanatory, I think. The original idea here was to list either records that actually charted, albeit not as highly as they should have, or else historic commercial flops along the lines of "River Deep, Mountain High" (which is practically its own category and way overfamiliar, which is why it's not included here). Non-chart records that just should have been hits but have otherwise been lost in the dim mists of rock history are, of course, also acceptable.

In any case, my top of my head Top Eleven is --

11. The Poor-- She's Got the Time (She's Got the Changes)

Future Eagle Randy Meisner on bass; song written by either Brewer or Shipley (of "One Toke Over the Line" fame); group managed and produced by the Greene-Stone team that also managed and produced the Buffalo Springfield. I know for a fact that this got a fair amount of airplay in the NYC area in 1966 because I used to hear it a lot on WMCA-AM and, in fact, was moved to go out and buy the damn thing at Sam Goody. Apparently not big in the rest of the country, however.

10. Stealers Wheel -- Star

The barely successful followup to "Stuck in the Middle of You," and like that much bigger hit, written by group member Gerry Rafferty. As a solo, Rafferty would have better luck a few years later with "Baker Street," but in any case, this is quite adorably Beatle-ish, I think.

9. The Detroit Cobras -- Cha Cha Twist

If there was a sexier rock record released in this decade I haven't heard it. Singer Rachel Nagy rules, obviously.

8. The Easybeats -- Heaven and Hell

The followup to "Friday on My Mind" and an even more epochal masterpiece, I think. Yet despite brilliant production by Glyn Johns and keyboard work by Nicky Hopkins, the record stiffed in the U.S. -- because, or so it has always been said, radio stations were offended by the line "Discovering someone else in your bed." Ah, the Sixties....

7. Shocking Blue -- Never Marry a Railroad Man

The followup to "Venus" was a major hit in Europe, but only barely Top 40 in the States. I think it's gorgeous, myself. You can find it, along with the even lovelier Serenade, which stiffed in 1973, on their wondeful third album, available at Amazon here. Both songs are also available on iTunes, for those who care.

6. The Raspberries -- Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)

A record about desperately wanting to go Top Ten which only barely cracked the Top 40, despite being pretty much the band's masterpiece. The ironies abound, obviously.

5. Lorraine Ellison -- Stay With Me Baby

One of the last great baroque flowerings of classic soul, but after its brief appearances on the nation's radios in early 1966, it was largely forgotten by all but a devoted cult. It's been often covered since, of course, but I think the original remains definitive.

4. The Left Banke -- Desiree

(No video on YouTube, alas. Although you can watch and listen to a fan-made Sims video version here.)

This was the eagerly awaited followup to "Walk Away Renee" and "Pretty Ballerina." It took six months -- and cost $35,000, an enormous amount of money at the time -- to produce, and its progress engendered reams of breathless speculation in the then nascent rock press (those liner notes on the rear sleeve of the single address them, as you can see). Unfortunately, when it was finally released in late '67, it barely scraped into the bottom reaches of the Hot 100. Was it too ambitious? Too complex? I didn't hear it that way at the time -- I thought it was a knockout, actually -- and on balance I still think it's their best record.

3. Del Amitri -- Not Where It's At

From the staggeringly gorgeous twelve-string sound to the ache in Justin Curry's voice to the definitively world weary lyric, this is my candidate for Great Lost Power Pop Single of the 90s.

2. Danny Wilde -- Isn't it Enough

This got a lot of play on MTV in 1986, but the album it's from -- The Boyfriend -- is all but forgotten and has never been on CD. Go figure. In any case, despite an occasionally ridiculous lyric (that crap about "your fire," for instance) and a certain Aroma de Big 80s, I think it's a genuinely poignant song with killer hooks and guitars. Wilde, of course, did much better years later as a member of the Rembrandts, of "Theme From Friends" fame.

And the number one coolest record that millions of people should have bought but didn't, it's not even a contest so why are we even arguing about it for crissakes, is obviously --

1. The Byrds -- Lady Friend

Their absolute creative peak, but it totally went over the larger pop audience's head in 1967, a fact which irked composer David Crosby no end, especially after Roger McGuinn declined to put it on their then current album The Notorious Byrd Brothers. At which point Crosby either quit the band or was fired; he was replaced on the album cover photo by a horse, which he also reportedly found irksome.

Awrighty then -- what would your choices be?

[Shameless Blogwhore: My parallel Cinema Listomania -- theme: Movies You Loved As a Kid That Turn Out Not to Be So Hot -- is now up over at Box Office. As always, if you could see your way to going over there and leaving a comment, it would help get me in good with management. I thank you!]

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Oh Good Grief, It's Another Early Clue to the New Direction

From 2006, here's irrepressible gay twin brothers Jacob and Joshua Miller, a/k/a Nemesis, and their actually kind of catchy dance pop anthem "Number One in Heaven."

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

Rotsa ruck, though.

Turn on the A.C.

As you know the PowerPop crew is absolutely bananas about the New Pornographers, so it was wonderful news to hear that NP majordomo A.C. Newman has a new solo disc out. Released last week on the mighty Matador label, it's another blast of his trademark baroque pop.

Of course, I just ordered a copy of Get Guilty, so I have not listened to it in its entirety, but the clips I have heard have been very encouraging. It's been a long wait since his 2004 release Slow Wonder, but it appears the wait has been worth it.

Thursday Videocrush: "The Sky is Falling"

With our compliments, please enjoy the latest vid from ultra-cool Chicago pop punksters (and friends of PowerPop) The Safes. The song, of course, is from their new, and killer, Sight of all Light EP.

Incidentally, although I get the whole Puppet Theater thing, I would like to go on record as saying these guys are lot better looking than the characters in the video. As you can plainly see from what is, IMHO, the cleverest and most artful rock group photo of the last twenty years. (Note Brian Jones and friends in the background. Heh heh.)

For more about these guys -- including links to where you can either download more of their music (from iTunes et al) or buy the actual CDs, go here. You'll thank me, I'm sure.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ain't Gonna Worry No More

Why Obama's Election Was a Historical Imperative, Part XXXVII:

Former Plimsouls frontman turned mesmeric contemporary blues guy Peter Case is recovering from emergency open heart surgery.

Like a lot of folks, including too many artists, Case has no health insurance, of course.

On his blog Sunday, Case, 55, posted "The surgery was successful, but I am now on a long program of recovery. In other words, I'm glad to be alive, but it really kicked my ass."

We here at PowerPop wish him all the best, obviously.

[h/t Madame Rosa]

Magic Christian Music

What happens when you put together ex-members of the Flamin' Groovies, the Plimsouls, and add a drummer who's been in every powerpop band that has ever existed? You get Magic Christian! Their sound veers more toward 60's garage punk and R&B, but they can put a nice melody together when they want to. They have one disc out now on Repeat Records, with a new one in the works that will come out on the Cynics Get Hip label.

Here are the boys performing live at SXSW:

Fun With Audio

Ever wonder what an ABBA song might sound like if it was done by a really cool powerpop band? By which I mean one with guitars?

Exhibit A: From 1996, how about The Wondermints (featuring members of Brian Wilson's current touring band) doing a killer "Knowing Me, Knowing You"?

Okay, as you may have guessed, this is actually an excuse for me to check out a new audio link thingie I just got turned on to -- and if it works, there'll be LOTS more interesting music around here in the future. The bottom line, however, is you should be able to download the MP3 by clicking on this.

And if it doesn't work -- will somebody please tell me how to post a link from a Zip file already?

I thank you.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Orchestral Manouevres Up Your Nose

From 1984, here's Freur and a live version of their astonishing "Doot Doot."

I have absolutely adored this song since the day in the late 80s I heard it on somebody's mix tape at a bar I frequented. So I am thrilled beyond words to finally find this video and see what the band looked like.

Seriously, this is pretty much the only synth pop record of the era that I think really holds up. It's like an aural dreamscape combining the baroque magificence of a Bach chorale with the pop simplicity and guitars of a Buddy Holly song. Only thing keeping it from being an absolute unqualified masterpiece is -- IMHO -- the singer, who has a bit more of that affectless (then fashionable) croon than is really healthy. On the other hand, he seems to be having an infectiously good time in the clip, so I'm willing to cut him some slack.

Anyway, a great song, unjustly forgotten. I would have put up an audio clip of the studio version but I don't know how to link to a zip file (hint hint). In any case, if you want it, e-mail me and I'll send you the mp3.

Our National Pastime

Hating on Billy Joel.
All this came to a head in my freshman year of high school when I discovered Elvis Costello, who, a friend informed me, "writes songs about why people like Billy Joel are just so bad." I didn't want to believe it; surely, I told myself, it was possible to be a fan of Costello and Joel, both of whom, after all, had a way with a tune. Later that year, I went to my first Costello concert. Midway through the show, Costello sat down at an electric piano and began playing a series of cheesy cocktail-jazz chords. "I'd like to sing a Billy Joel song for you now," he said dryly, as laughter rippled through the audience. "It's called 'Just the Way You Are.' " When I returned home that night, all the Joel albums got stuck away in the back of a closet.


I admit I did have a brief Joel phase, when I had a pointless crush on a lovely young man who played piano at a bar (of course). But I outgrew it, even without the snark of Elvis Costello.

Now Linda Ronstadt: her I'll go to the mat for.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Sincerest Form of Rock 'n' Roll

In answer to a little throwaway question in the Weekend Listomania just passed, faithful reader TJWood got it right. The cover of a certain mid-60s Kinks album was indeed appropriated, and quite cleverly, for the cover of a CD by a certain mid-90s indie rock icon.

To wit:

The Kinks, 1965

Sleater-Kinney, 1996

BTW, Sleater-Kinney are one of those bands I've filed under the general heading of "Lord Knows I've Tried." Critics, including "holy" Greil Marcus absolutely loved 'em, and they had a devoted and (by indie standards) huge following, but for me, they were just another one of those annoying groups without a bass player. I mean I know they were all about female empowerment and all that stuff, and people whose opinions I respect claim they were transcendent live, but they never made much sense to me.

Here's a video of them on tell me.

Oh well, I still think their Kinks cover pastiche is very cool. Which reminds me -- apart from The Clash's London Calling, which was lifted (not quite so specifically) from a 50s Elvis album, can anybody think of another example of something similar? It would seem like much too good of an idea for it to have been used only twice, but nothing's springing immediately to mind.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Saturday Glam Blogging...

In which the oboe makes its first appearance in the Glam milieu...

Cheers! Happy Weekend!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Weekend Listomania (Special Land Ho! Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental in-house strumpet appointment secretary Fah Lo Suee and I are off to Washington, D.C., for the first annual Biblegate Conference at the private chapel of Fox News anchor Chris Wallace. Something to do with our president actually being the Great Horned Beast/Angel of the Bottomless Pit (whatever that means -- I'm vague on the details).

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:


Self-explanatory, I think, so no arbitrary rules this time -- anything about naturally ocurring phenomena, i.e., streams, rivers, mountains, deserts, forests or whatever, should work just fine. But if you try to slip something man made by me -- like a highway or a dam -- I will come to your house and slap you silly.

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

7. Ike and Tina Turner -- River Deep, Mountain High

A two-fer, obviously, and Phil Spector's magnum opus. Incidentally, has there ever been a decent cover version of this? The two that spring immediately to mind -- Eric Burdon & the Animals and The Easybeats -- aren't their auteurs best work by any means. In any case, that video is to die for, don't you think?

6. The Bonzo Dog Band -- The Canyons of Your Mind

The late great Viv Stanshall on unctuous lead vocals, with Neil Innes performing The Worst Guitar Solo of All Time as a bonus. This clip is a new one on me, BTW, and a major mindblower.

5. Bruce Springsteen -- Meeting Across the River

Filmed live in 1978 at the Capitol Theater in New Jersey during Bruce's "South Passaic" tour.

4. The Beatles -- Rocky Raccoon

"Now somewhere in the black mountain hills of Dakota..." I don't know who's responsible for the vid, but it's pretty cute.

3. The Kinks-- I'm on An Island

One of the first of Ray's languid odes to genteel solipsism. Extra points to any reader who recognizes the album cover's relevance to a 90s indie rock icon.

2. Arcade Fire -- The Woodlands National Anthem

Just to have something recorded in this decade, obviously.

And the number one Stuff You Can See on a Map song of all time, it's not even close so just shut your festering gob, you tit!, obviously is --

1. Paul Simon -- Peace Like a River

I know I used this in another recent Listomania, but I've been kind of obsessing over it lately, so forgive me. From Paul's eponymous first solo album, which Graceland notwithstanding remains his masterpiece, I think. A perfect fusion of folk, blues and Brill Building romanticism -- just a gorgeous, gorgeous song. Simon's version seems to have disappeared from the intertubes, but this live cover by Spoon gets it just about right, I think.

Awrighty then -- what or who would your choices be?

[Shameless Blogwhore: My parallel Cinema Listomania -- theme: NYC flicks -- is now up over at Box Office. As always, if you could out of the goodness of your heart see your way to going over there and leaving a comment, it would definitely get me in good with management. I thank you.]

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Oh Lordy, It's Another Early Clue to the New Direction

From 1974, here's helium-voiced Jon Anderson and the rest of the miscreants in Yes with the regrettably classic first movement of their Tales From Topographic Oceans.

Reviewing the album at the Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Review, my late colleage Noel Coppage remarked that this was a primo example of the adverse effect that becoming one with the Cosmos has on syntax.

In any case, and with apologies to any fans of 70s prog rock out there, if there was ever a reason why first generation punk was a historical imperative, this is definitely it.

And as always, a coveted PowerPop No-Prize will be awarded the first reader who gleans the clip's relevance to tomorrow's Weekend Listomania.

[h/t Laura]

Why I'm Boycotting the Oscars This Year

Bruce Springsteen's magnificent title song for The Wrestler, perhaps his best work in years, did not get nominated for Best Original Song.

This is utterly inexplicable. To paraphrase Lou Reed's famous put-down of Lester Bangs, it goes beyond assholishness and into some kind of urinary tract.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Joker Sings!

From today's New York Times:

A coming album paying tribute to the British singer-songwriter Nick Drake will include a song performed by the actor Heath Ledger, Billboard reported. The track, a cover of Mr. Drake’s “Black Eyed Dog,” was recorded by Mr. Ledger in 2007 for an art installation; Mr. Ledger died the following January from an accidental drug overdose. Mr. Drake, the gentle-voiced folk-rock singer of “Pink Moon” and “Things Behind the Sun,” struggled commercially but became a critical and cult hit after his death from an overdose of antidepressants at age 26 in 1974. Other performers on the tribute album, which was announced at the MidemNet music industry conference in France, include Eddie Vedder, Dave Grohl, Norah Jones and Jack Johnson.

If truth be told, the weird thing in this item, for me anyway, is the idea of Dave Grohl singing a Drake song. Doesn't seem his style. In any case, the idea of Ledger crooning isn't any more unlikely than Pierce Brosnan singing ABBA.

Busy Doing Nothin'...

Ok, I've been goofing around with the widget at the website here. Any other ideas?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Move On Up...

Here's a man I wish could be in Washington, D.C. today:

Best wishes President Obama!

Inauguration Day, 2009

Okay, okay, I know we're all feeling warm and fuzzy about what's happening over in D.C. right now, but at the risk of being the skunk at the garden party, I think it's worth remembering the magnitude of the bullet we just dodged with Obama's election, at least for a moment.

Want a glimpse into the soul of the contemporary Republican Party? Okay -- from 1984, here's the sociopathic Ronald Reagan, constantly invoked patron saint of today's GOP, getting a stiffy over the idea of nuking the Russians. As set to music by the horrified Jerry Harrison and Bootsy Collins.

Okay, now that I've harshed your mellow -- and with apologies to a certain frequent commenter here who I consider that rarest of rare birds, i.e., a principled, humane Conservative -- allow me to return to the Kumbaya Already in Progress with a song by the great Sam Cooke that seems, well, applicable.

Yeah, I know that Sam's deeply moving "A Change is Gonna Come" is the de facto anthem of the incoming Obama administration, but unfortunately there's no video of it because Sam was killed before he got a chance to perform it on TV. In any case, I figure "Ain't That Good News" sums up the stuff that's happening today rather well.

Pretty damn good news, indeed.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Just Like Ronnie Sang....

Via my pal Glen "Bob" Allen, drummer extraordinaire, I am pleased to report that a genuinely significant and heretofore overlooked chapter in recent music history has been rescued from undeserved obscurity: Ronnie Spector's New Wave album Siren, which has never been available on CD, is at long last available for download.

Produced by veteran scenester/Woman in Rock pioneer Genya Ravan, the album was originally released in 1980 on Ravan's indie label Polish Records; to this day I don't know if that was supposed to be pronounced "Polish" as in the ethnicity or the stuff you use to shine shoes. In either case, Siren's a kick ass pop/rock record and the bridge between Spector's work with Little Steven and various Springsteen associates in the late 70s and her eventual return to the charts in the late 80s vamping Eddie Money on "Take Me Home Tonight."

From Glen:

"Hey Steverino: I co-wrote "Hell Of A Nerve" (track 6) and play with my band, Diamond Dupree on tracks 6, 7 and 9. Enjoy!"

For those of you who weren't around Manhattan at the time, Diamond Dupree were highly regarded CBGBs stalwarts who should have been bigger, blah blah blah, but who now, with the return of the Spector album to availability, may get something of the due they deserve at last. [Full disclosure: I played bass with them in a much, much later incarnation; Glen, of course, has been my my musical director for the last forty years.]

In any case, you can download the Diamond Dupree tracks -- or the entire album, which behooves behearing -- from Amazon here.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Underground History

Here's a great piece on Ardent Pop, where Chris Bell got his start. Eventually, it turns into a kind of history of Big Star, but it's a really interesting history.

I sat in a car in 20 degree below zero weather to finish listening to this. You will, too.

Weekend Listomania (Special United In Group Harmony Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental fille de joie appointment secretary Fah Lo Suee and I are off to Washington, D.C., and the house of conservative bow-tie model George Will, who will be auctioning off plates and silverware used by President-elect Obama at a dinner earlier in the week. I believe there will be alcoholic beverages served during the proceedings, so posting by moi will necessarily be somewhat fitful for a few days.

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


Self-explanatory, I think, so no arbitrary rules this time. Extra points, however, if the example you pick features just one guy overdubbing himself. And BTW, I am quite insufferably pleased with myself that there are actually two songs on the list recorded in this decade.

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

8. Shoes -- Too Late

You knew this was going to make the cut, right?

7. Joan Osborne -- Hallelujah in the City

From her 2008 album with the guys from the Hooters, the same creative team that did Relish. A spine-tinglingly gorgeous song, I think, and the harmonies on the middle section strike me as what the Byrds would have sounded like if they were girls.

6. The Byrds -- I Come and Stand at Every Door

And speaking of The Byrds. Examples too numerous to mention, obviously, but this one -- to my mind, still the greatest anti-war song ever -- has always turned me to jelly. David Crosby has often said he was born to sing harmony, and lord, does he prove it here. He only chimes in on one line, at the very end, but when he does the song opens up almost psychedelically. (For another, similar, example of Crosby's absolute genius at this sort of thing, check out his one line contribution on "5D," from the same album.)

5. Fairport Convention -- Percy's Song

It starts acapella and then gets even more gorgeous as it goes along. Funny how so many Dylan covers have such great harmony, now that I think of it.

4. Smokey Robinson and the Miracles -- The Tracks of My Tears

As perfect a record as has ever been made.

3. The Beach Boys -- All I Wanna Do

Again, Beach Boys examples are too numerous to mention, but if you can hear the "My moon and stars shine nightly" part without the hairs on the back of your neck going bolt upright, seek medical attention. And is that the greatest echo/reverb you've ever heard? Yes, I think it is....

2. Fountains of Wayne -- Stacy's Mom

A band to which the phrase "Beatle-esque" has never been applied, of course.

And the number one Mormon Tabernacle Choir record by a pop artist or group is obviously, and I mean OBVIOUSLY...

1. The Beatles -- Because

The acapella version from Anthology. On top of being ridiculously talented in just about every other area imaginable, these motherfuckers were capable of the most gorgeous harmonies ever heard by sentient mammalian ears. Disgusting.

Awrighty then -- what or who would your choices be?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Yet Another Early Clue to the New Direction

From 1969, here's everybody's favorite possibly insane sister act The Shaggs with their, uh, I have no idea what the hell it is, "My Pal Foot Foot." Animation done years after the fact, of course, but I think it catches the spirit of the, uh, song, rather well, don't you?

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

Not holding my breath, though.

Patrick McGoohan 1928 - 2009

From 1983, here's a premature, if that's the right word, tribute -- post-punk popsters The Times and "I Helped Patrick McGoohan Escape."

What can I tell you -- I thought he was pretty much the coolest guy ever, and he was, in fact, the one celebrity I always wanted to meet. I have more to say in honor of McGoohan over at Box Office today; I wouldn't think ill of you if you were moved to go over there and leave a comment.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Surf's Up

Better late than never and all that, I finally got around to listening to the reissue of Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson's semi-legendary 1977 solo album Pacific Ocean Blue the other day, and yes, it pretty much lives up to the hype. It may or may not be the masterpiece some have claimed, but there's no denying that it's a deeply affecting and sonically quite spectacular piece of work -- mournful, majestic, and soulful in ways that won't surprise anybody who took notice of the odd Dennis track scattered amidst the Beach Boys albums that preceeded it.

In any case, I highly recommend it, but in case you hadn't heard, the song that got the most attention, "Holy Man," wasn't on the original album; rather it was an unfinished track completed last year by, of all people, Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins.

Here's Hawkins with the story, which is actually rather moving in its own right, via last month's issue of MOJO:

My ex-girlfriend's dad is [original Pacific Ocean Blue co-producer] Gregg Jakobson. About seven or eight years ago, Gregg was saying "You know, you should check out this album I worked on with Dennis Wilson." And I fell in love with it; I loved the honesty in it, the aching beauty of his songs and his voice...

Gregg mentioned that there was a bunch of unfinished tracks. With "Holy Man," Dennis had done a vocal and hated it, and made the the engineer erase it. What they had was a scat guide vocal that Carl [Wilson] had done with a rough melody. Gregg gave me a CD of the song and said "Do what you think you can with it."

I didn't listen to it for a while. I just felt really weird about it -- like, I can't fuck with this...But I tried to channel how Dennis would have done it.

Some people may say "What the fuck is the guy from the Foo Fighters doing on this record?" People hold Dennis very dear to their hearts. But there's a lineage; I'm a beach kid, a drummer, and I've been living with Dennis's music for a long time. I meant what I did genuinely."

I think Dennis would have approved, actually; you can watch the official video of the song and listen to it here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

It's Only Money, Tyrone

You know -- it just dawned on me that come this March I'll have been using the spare set of keys to the car around here for two years (thanks, NYMary!). It also just dawned on me that I've been trying to find a high quality video of Marah to post for almost the same length of time.

Well, here one is, finally.

Josephine cracked; her eyes black and bloodied
Screamin'"Gimme back, back all that money Tyrone"
So he snapped her neck back and slapped his lover
Put a bullet in her brain
and threw her body off the

Well nothin' was found
'till the Brown River flooded
And driftin' down, down went a
lifetime of things
Stolen cars; cracked up, handguns and
Given back, back to the world up

Even if you don't want it
Even if you don't want it
Even if you don't want it
Hey baby someday it
comes back

Nick Hornby, who's got pretty good taste, thinks these guys are the best band in the world, and I suspect that on some nights, somewhere, he's probably right. Incidentally, good as that performance is, it doesn't even come close to the studio version; you can find it -- and most definitely should -- on the band's 2000 Kids In Philly, which remains one of the very best albums of the decade now almost completed, and which behooves behearing.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Separated at Birth (Special Those Pernicious Swedes! Edition)

Courtesy of constant reader Nora Charles, I chanced across the photo below amidst a portfolio of publicity shots of Swedish dance bands of the 70s. That's The Claes Lennarth Club, who apparently were pretty hot stuff in the land of Ingmar Bergman and those wonderful meatballs at one time.

In any case, apart from proving that ABBA's fashion sense didn't occur in a vacuum, I was immediately struck by the uncanny resemblance between the band guy in the sweater in the middle (Claes Lennarth himself, one assumes) and legendarily dense TV film critic (I worked with him briefly, so I've got stories for another day) Jeffrey Lyons.

Jeffrey and a really interesting wig obviously had a second career going for themselves back in the day, and I can only say kudos and huzzahs.

In any case, if your heart can stand the strain, you can see more of the type of bands that passed for entertainment dans la terre du Sun de Minuit by clicking here.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

RIP: Ron Asheton

What with one thing and another, we at PowerPop forgot to take our moment of silence for Ron Asheton, discovered dead at his Ann Arbor, MI home last week after being incommunicado for several days.
In 2007, The Stooges reunited and released "The Weirdness," their first album in three decades.

Asked how it felt to be back with The Stooges, Asheton told The News in an interview that year that it was "great to be back on the road."

Here's a quite funny interview with the band from 07.

Autopsy and toxicology results are, of course, pending.

Iggy weighs in, calling Asheton "my best friend."

Be at peace.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Weekend Listomania (Special Are You Going to Eat That or What? Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental manual catharsis manipulation expert social secretary Fah Lo Suee and I are off to New York's fabled Upper West Side, where following traditional Sabbath observances (I just love the yellow bread the Hebes eat) we will be joining Jonah Goldberg and Debbie Schlussel (take THAT, Ashford and Simpson!) as first-nighters at the premier of the fabulous new one man show by Neo-Con scion and meeskeit William Kristol -- Thank You For Everything!

There may be significant quaffing of Kosher wines involved, but I'm sure I can handle it.

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:


Yeah, I know, I sort of did this list before, but this time I'm narrowing it down.

Hence this Totally Arbitrary Rule:

It has to be about something actually edible (or drinkable) in the context of actually eating (or drinking). In other words, "Brown Sugar," although a delightful spice, would not count here because the song is about something else altogether. As you well know. Ditto "The Lemon Song" and others too numerous to mention.

Okay, here's my totally top of my head Top Six:

6. Back in the USA -- Chuck Berry

"Where the hamburgers sizzle on the open grill night and day...."

5. Vegetables -- The Beach Boys

From the abortive Smile project. I can't prove it, but I've always assumed this was in some way inspired by that classic Ernie Kovacs video (not, alas, on YouTube) where he uses celery to punctuate the cannon shots on "The 1812 Overture."

5. TV Dinners -- ZZ Top

I have to admit, I still love the Hungry Man© turkey and mashed potatoes.

4. Kraft Dinner -- Annihilator

Road food for these guys, obviously.

3. Canned Ham -- Norman Greenbaum

Video embedding disabled, but you can link to it here.

2. Maximum Consumption -- The Kinks

You really don't want to eat everything referenced in this song. Just saying.

And the number one song about stuffing your gullet with something, it's so obvious it's not even funny, is --

1. Black Coffee in Bed -- Squeeze

Because it's actually about drinking coffee. As opposed to their "Pulling Mussels From a Shell," which is not in fact about sea food.

Awrighty then -- what would your choices be?

[Shameless Blogwhore: My parallel Cinema Listomania (theme: best and worst films derived from TV) is now up over at Box Office. As always, if you could find your way to go over there and leave a comment, it would get me in good with management and be deeply appreciated by moi.]

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Yet Another Early Clue to the New Direction

From 1984, here's Weird Al Yankovic, on a TV variety show somewhere in the Mystic East, performing his Michael Jackson parody "Eat It." With subtitles.

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

Washed My Feet in Muddy Water

Anybody catch Okkerville River on Letterman last night?

The clip isn't on YouTube yet, but here's the most recent official video.

In any case, I found them...frustrating. Like a lot of current, critically acclaimed bands that seem to be designed with my mind in mind they struck me as just almost good. Everything seems to be there -- attitude, songwriting chops, an attractive overall sound, plus(in Greil Marcus' apt phrase) a hunger for novelty balanced with a reverence for the past -- but there's something indefinable missing.

For me, anyway.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Calling Out For Love (At Crying Time)

I was going through my archives this morning, looking for an interview I did with the redoubtable Southside Johnny , when I remembered this 1978 clip of Johnny, the Jukes and the guy who just wrote the theme for that Mickey Rourke movie.

I'll post that interview as soon as I find it, but in the meantime if that clip doesn't make you smile there's no hope for you.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Let Us Now Praise Famous Ex-Pats

Why I Really Love My Job, Part XXXVII: The Merry Mailman just brought me an advance DVD of director Stephen Kijak's forthcoming documentary on legendary and reclusive pop star Scott Walker -- 30 Century Man. Here's the trailer.

It's hard to believe that the drop-dead good looking teen idol who sang this 60s masterpiece...

...eventually turned into an avant-garde weirdo revered by Brian Eno, but that's what makes him interesting, obviously. I'll be posting a review soon in any case.

Oh, and here's a cool interview with Kijak about Walker and the making of the film.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Consciousness Raising as a Social Tool

You know, I realize that in many ways Beyoncé is a contemporary version of a Sixties Girl Group siren, and that her current hit (and video) should be looked at, basically, as The Ronettes redux.

That said, I still think the song is butt ugly and charmless. With a trowelled-on message.

BTW, a coveted (and unprecedented) non-weekend PowerPop No-Prize will be awarded the first reader to correctly identify the source of this post's title.

No peeking, but if you're stumped you can find it here.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Weekend Listomania (Special You Can't Get There From Here Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental manual catharsis worker social secretary Fah Lo Suee and I are off to...well, I can't tell you where, exactly, but let's just say it involves a hotel suite in Beverly Hills, two leggy blondes, a dog that looks like the one in Marley and Me, and a film crew.

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:


Je repete -- the song has to specifically use the word "road" or "street." Similarly themed songs with the words "avenue," "boulevard," "highway," or any thoroughfare that isn't a "road" or a "street" are right fricking out.

Are we clear on that, fans of "Expressway to Your Heart"?

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

7. The Ballad of Thunder Road -- Robert Mitchum

From the movie of the same name, and an obvious influence on some kid from Jersey. Written by Mitchum and the great Don Raye, who also wrote ---

6. Down the Road Apiece -- The Rolling Stones

Mick and the boys got it from the hit version by Amos Milburn, but I actually think this is even better -- in fact pretty much the best of all their Chuck Berry style rockers. Keith's phrasing on the solos is beyond brilliant, and Charlie swings like nobody's business.

5. Road to Nowhere -- Talking Heads

You know, I really like this song, and I think the Heads were great, but does anybody remember that point in the 80s when David Byrne was being seriously discussed as one of the most important composers of the 20th century? Man, that was irksome.

4. South Street -- The Orlons

Where all the hippies meet, of course. And where the dancing is elite.

3. Street Hassle -- Lou Reed

From Lou's comedy album of the same name.

2. Thunder Road -- Bruce Springsteen

All things considered, if I had to pick one Bruce song for the proverbial desert island, I think this is it. It's been three plus decades since the first time I heard it, and when the drums and guitars come in I still get all wobbly.

And the number one coolest song about that long lonesome highway (not using that word, of course) is obviously -- and I mean, blindingly obviously --

1. Backstreet Girl -- The Rolling Stones

Their prettiest ballad and also probably the most morally reprehensible, which is kind of the point. Featuring the great Brian Jones as the coolest French bistro accordion and recorder player of all time. Incidentally, my actual number one choice was going to be the MC5's "Shakin' Street," but I couldn't find a decent video version.

Awrighty, then -- and what would your choices be?

[Shameless Blogwhore: My parallel Cinema Listomania (theme: post-John Ford westerns) is now up over at Box Office. As always, if you could find your way over there to leave a comment, it would get me really in good with management. Thanks.]

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Rock Power!

I missed this in the holiday rush, but Jim has a consideration of one of those staples of my childhood, the mix album. His looks especially cool, much cooler than the ones I had, certainly.

There's this one, for example:

It contains:
Side A: The Police/Message in a Bottle; Ellen Foley/Stupid Girl; Paul Collins' Beat/Rock 'n Roll Girl; David Werner/What's Right; Live Wire/Money; David Johansen/In Style; The Dickies/Fan Mail
Side B: Nina Hagen/Wir Leben Immer Noch; Joe Jackson/ I'm the Man; Bruce Wooley/English Garden; The Only Ones/Trouble in the World; Squeeze/Another Nail in My Heart; 20/20/Tell Me Why; The Romantics/When I Look in Your Eyes

Damn, now that's a chunk of history.

I also won, once, the vinyl copy of the Weekly Top 40 from my local radio station. Apparently, Casey Kasem made them in LA, they were shipped across the nation, and played by DJs everywhere. The number one song was "Enough is Enough" by Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer.

Which ones did you have?

An Early New Year's Clue to the New Direction

Happy New Year, all.

Assuming you're all recovered from the previous evening's festivities, may I present, from 1999, The Backstreet Boys and their legitimately gorgeous piece of contemporary doo-wop "I Want It That Way."

Say what you will about those kids, but they could, in fact, sing harmony. And I think the song itself is brilliantly arranged.

In any case, and with the hope that it hasn't aggravated a hangover, let me simply add that a coveted PowerPop No-Prize will be awarded the first reader who gleans its relationship to tomorrow's Listomania.