Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Beyond the Valley of the Canyons of Your Mind

From 1968 and their mindblowing psych-garage masterpiece The Mystical Powers of Roving Tarot Gamble, please enjoy the pride of Garfield, New Jersey The Queen's Nectarine Machine and their album-opening should have been a hit "Where Are We Going?"

The story of how I discovered this little obscurity, although interesting, must await another time, but until then two pertinent factoids need be mentioned. The first is that the song was produced by bubblegum auteurs Kasenetz and Katz, of "Yummy Yummy Yummy" fame. The second is that the album -- as you can see if you look at the top left of the cover -- bears the ABC Records catalogue number 666.

Coincidence? I think not.

I should also add that the song itself, which I think is infernally catchy, immediately reminded me of another tune that I couldn't for the life of me place.

And then today it dawned on me -- it's a ringer for a certain contemporary jingle for a well-known restaurant chain that's been haunting my dreams, literally, in recent weeks.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tuesday Pop Quiz

Irving Berlin, who knew something about the subject, offered the following advice (paraphrased) to songwriters:

"You should never be ashamed of writing a song that sold a million copies."

"The Greatest Love of All," which has sold quite a few more than a million copies, was written by Michael Masser and Linda Creed and includes, among others, the lines
The greatest love of all
Is easy to achieve
Learning to love yourself
It is the greatest love of all

Should Masser and Creed take Berlin's advice?


Monday, March 29, 2010

I Got the Blues

You know, it has just dawned on me that there have been far too many Rolling Stones-themed posts in the last week or so, so this is the last one for the forseeable future, I swear. Well, at least until I find that tape of me singing "Singer Not the Song" with my crappy 70s band. Which, actually, yes, does exist, but don't worry, I wouldn't be that cruel to you.

In its place, however, here's something that, depending on your perspective, may be even worse.

From 1986 and their ultra-rare cassette-only stem-to-stern remake of the Stones classic Exile on Main Street, please enjoy assaultive noise-punk provocateurs Pussy Galore and their take on "Stop Breaking Down."

Pussy Galore, for our younger readers, was one of those artsy late 80s downtown NYC outfits that were far more influential than their actual accomplishments may have deserved, and their limited edition, deliberately unrehearsed low/no-fi take on Exile was an underground sensation that was much more talked about than actually heard by anybody. I, for one, was never able to find a copy back in the day, and not for lack of trying, but -- and god bless the intertubes -- I chanced across a download link for it just the other day.

The question, of course, is whether the thing was some sort of brilliant semiotical demystification/deconstruction of The Blues/rock stardom/blahblahblah or merely a load of obvious dogshit dished out by the band in the certain knowledge that credulous critics and assorted hepsters would lap it up no matter what. Turns out to be a bit of both, IMHO; most of the album is more or less unlistenable, to varying degrees, but some of it is actually kind of funny or at least has a vibe. The above "Stop Breaking Down" probably represents its high point, although I'm not sure that's quite the right phrase in this case.

In any event, Pussy Galore's frontman went on to form the eponymous Jon Spencer Blues Explosion in the 90s and enjoy quite a bit of commercial success with a slightly more polished version of the approach pioneered on Exile. So I guess ultimately the joke was on us.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Weekend Listomania (Special You Can't Always Get What You...Whatever Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my V is for Vavoom! consultant Fah Lo Suee and I will be off to beautiful downtown Dayton, Ohio for a weekend at the private tanning salon of Rep. John Boehner (R-Protozoan). Seriously -- doesn't anybody else think it's worth noting that the current face of the Republican Party is an angry orange guy? I mean what's up with that?

In any case, further posting by moi will have to be sporadic for a day or two as a result.

In the meantime, then, here's a hopefully fun little project for us all:

All-Time Best or Worst Rolling Stones Covers!!!

No arbitrary rules here, but just so we're clear -- we're talking about covers of songs by the Stones, not songs that the Stones covered. Jagger/Richards tunes, in other words, as interpreted by other artistes or miscreants.

And my totally top of my head Top Seven is --

7. Melanie -- Ruby Tuesday

You know, I get a little annoyed sometimes by uninformed anti-Baby Boomer snark from younger friends, but then sometimes I remember -- shit, my generation actually bought this dingbat's records.

6. Rage Against the Machine -- Street Fighting Man

This one totally misses the point, I think, but of course nothing says "Total victory is ours, comrades!" like an album marketed by the Sony Corporation.

5. Bette Midler -- Beast of Burden

Miss M's finest recorded moment, no question. Certainly it beats "Wind Beneath My Wings" all to hell.

4. Social Distortion -- Back Street Girl

I had mixed feelings about this one for the longest time -- the original is, IMHO, one of the Stones' genuine (if mostly overlooked) masterpieces, and SD's punkish take lacks a certain depth and ambiguity. On balance, though, I think it's effective on its own terms.

3. The Dirtbombs -- No Expectations

I'm a huge fan of these guys, but I have to admit, in theory I didn't figure this one was going to work. Frontman Mick Collins' trademark punk-with-soul turns out to suit the song to a T, however (as does the mashup with another Stones classic).

2. Supersuckers with Steve Earle -- Before They Make Me Run

The band is a little clunky, but if anybody has a right to sing Keith's outlaw blues classic it's Earle.

And the Numero Uno, so unbelievably bad it's amazing they were able to go out in public after it was released, Stones cover has got to be...

1. Grand Funk Railroad -- Gimme Shelter

Seriously, this is worse than that kid on American Idol doing "Under My Thumb" last week.

Alrighty then -- what would your choices be?

[Shameless Blogwhore: My parallel Cinema Listomania -- theme: Most Amusing or Alarming Movie Titles! -- 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 make all the difference vis a vis sensitive negotiations between me and management. Thanks!]

Thursday, March 25, 2010

An Early Clue to the New Direction -- Not!!!

From 1970, please enjoy the incomparable Godfrey Daniel and their hilariously retro take on Sly and the Family Stone's classic "Dance to the Music."

This has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the theme of tomorrow's Listomania, BTW. To be honest, I couldn't come up with a musical clue that wasn't a blindingly obvious giveaway, so I'm putting the above up solely for your amusement and mine.

I'll say this, though -- the topic has something to do with some stuff we've discussed here in the last couple of days.

As always, a coveted PowerPop No-Prize will be awarded to the first reader who figures it out, and if you get it you're good, I'll tell you that for free.

Oh, and for more on Godfrey Daniel, just click here; it's a pretty interesting story in case you missed it the first time.

Songs I've Just Realized I Can't Live Without: Don't Believe a Word

From 1965 (and, more specifically, the 2002 deluxe stereo reissue edition of their classic debut album) here's The Who and the heartfelt but possibly suspect declaration "It's Not True."

Inspirational verse:
“I haven’t got 11 kids
I weren’t born in Baghdad
I’m not half-Chinese either
And I didn’t kill my dad”
I hadn't even thought about this song in ages, but it turned up yesterday in the latest (characteristically brilliant) entry in my pal David Klein's Numerology series over at the invaluable Merry Swankster and now I can't stop playing it. Sneakily insouciant, to be sure, and like "A Legal Matter," from the same album, it does perhaps provide an insight into an earlier (just pre-The Pill) generation of young hipster guys' anxieties. The Baghdad reference also seems rather prescient, now that I think of it.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Words Fail Me (An Occasional Series)

From 1968, and their debut album Will Grab You (swear to God), please enjoy SoCal (flower) power trio The Hook and their heartfelt ode to "The Garbage Man."

I had never heard of these guys, but this was actually released on a real label and it's just the damndest thing. Really, the whole album (save for a fairly straight heavy rock cover of John Lee Hooker's "Dimples") is, for want of a better word, wacky; download it, if you dare, over at the invaluable Redtelephone66.

There's a second Hook album over there as well; apparently it adds Hammond organ to the band's distinctive mix, but I'm not completely sure I'm ready for it.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tuesday Pop Quiz

"Sleeping With the Television On," from Billy Joel''s "New Wave" album Glass Houses (1980): A great record?


Extra credit: Are Billy Joel...

and Worst Human Being of the 20th Century Roy Cohn...

...the same person?

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Damned Cry Out

Those who know me even slightly are aware that if I was asked about the Fox television program American Idol, a show that I am reliably informed has captivated our fair Republic in recent years, it would come in on a list of things I'm interested in somewhere lower than...oh, molds and slime perhaps.

That said, a friend recently insisted I watch the video below, which aired on Idol last week. The theme of the episode was, apparently, songs of The Rolling Stones.

That poor clueless bastard singing "Under My Thumb" is a kid named Tim Urban -- not, alas, the brother of Nicole Kidman's beard. In any case, the clip is simultaneously one of the funniest and most appalling things I've ever seen; Urban's little interjected "Ain't it the truth, babe?" is right up there with Lili Von Shtupp's "Right, girls?" in Blazing Saddles.

And speaking of American Idol, I should also add that a certain dingbat law professor obsessed with that asinine show was allowed to pen four (count 'em -- four) Op-Ed pieces in the New York Times in 2008. But that's perhaps a subject for another time.

[h/t bayeuxkanga]

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Paul Westerberg Speaks

Wow. On the Op-Ed page of the NY Times, no less.

Those of us not lucky enough to get to Big Star the first time around--and those who did were a pretty small cadre--generally got there through a group we liked. For me, it was Shoes, of course, who always cited Big Star and Grin as their main influences. For others, it was The Replacements. But most of us got there indirectly.

The outpouring of grief and respect Chilton's death has caused owes more than a little to Paul Westerberg. Mr. Westerberg, we salute you for it.

(h/t Otto Part)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Weekend Listomania (Special Hanging's Too Good For Them! Audio/Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Cialis Museum curator Fah Lo Suee and I will be off to...oh hell, just insert GOP anti-HCR congressperson du jour joke here. I haven't got the energy to write one myself at this point.

That being the case, further posting by moi will have to be sporadic for a day or two while I try to recharge my batteries. That GQ spread (heh!) on Rielle Hunter might do the trick, of course.

In the meantime, then, here's a hopefully fun little project for us all:

The Rock and Roll Hall of Shame -- Most Embarassingly Awful Moments Ever Perpetrated in the Name of the Music We Love By People Who Really, Really Should Have Known Better!!!

And my totally top of my head Top Seven is --

7. Don Johnson -- Heartbeat

Honorable mention: Eddie Murphy and Bruce Willis. Oh, and I was going to include that astoundingly awful "Just the Way I Planned It" video by Johnson's Miami Vice co-star Philip Michael Thomas but I figured that would be like shooting the proverbial ducks in the barrel.

6. Beyoncé -- Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)

Apart from being one of the most gratingly ugly songs in music history, this video is just...well, words fail me. About as sexy as an exit wound, perhaps. The whole thing is just hideously embarrassing on every level.

5. Elvis Presley -- Dominic the Impotent Bull

Granted, picking just one of the appalling Elvis songs from his movies is a tad daunting...

4. Bob Seger -- Old Time Rock and Roll

You know, I really like Bob Seger, but even apart from the whole Tom Cruise Risky Business thing, I have never forgiven him for this philistine reactionary piece of shit.

3. Paul McCartney -- Let 'Em In

"Someone knocking at the door/Somebody ringin' the bell/Someone's knocking at the door/Somebody's ringing the bell/Do me a favor -- open the door and let 'em in." Jeebus, compared to this crap, "Silly Love Songs" was A Dance to the Music of Time.

2. Rod Stewart -- Downtown Train

From Rod's Songs I Learned In the Limo On the Way to the Studio collection of 1990. Seriously, I'm glad composer Tom Waits made a boatload of money on this, but jeebus could this version be any more clueless compared to the original?

And the numero uno Not Even So Bad it's Good moment in rock history has to be, without any question whatsoever...

1. The Beach Boys -- Here Comes the Night (Disco Version)

I'm not completely sure which of the Beach Boys thought this hideous dance remake of one of the most perfect Wild Honey songs was a smart idea. I'm going to blame Mike love just on general principles, however. Fuck you, Mike. As Hurley said on Lost the other week, you're a tremendous douche.

Alrighty, then -- what would your choices be?

[Shameless Blogwhore: My parallel Cinema Listomania -- theme: Best or Worst Drug Movie, Pro or Con -- 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 convince management that my exorbitant freelance fee is totally justified. Thanks.]

Thursday, March 18, 2010

With Sadness, An Early Clue to the New Direction

I'm still kind of in shock over the Alex Chilton news.

However...given Pete Townshend's sage advice -- that rock 'n' roll won't help you forget your troubles, but it will help you to dance all over them -- please enjoy The Stooges, with Scott Thurston(!) and James Williamson(!!!), along with a whole bunch of other interesting people, at their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction on Monday.

Words fail me over how fabulous this is, even if the video itself was made with somebody's cell phone in front of the TV. The official clip doesn't have an embed code, but here's the link to a high quality vid version.

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

RIP: Alex Chilton

As we've probably all heard by now, Alex Chilton died yesterday, very unexpectedly, in a Texas emergency room.

He was down there to play SXSW.

You know, I started this post, but I find I have no words. For we who love this genre, Big Star was a waystation between the Beatles and Shoes, and the loss is incalculable.

Children by the millions grieve for Alex Chilton. He was only 59

UPDATE: The United States Congress weighs in.

Happy Polish St. Patrick's Day!!!

Okay, I confess: I totally had planned to run this item yesterday, when it was obviously particularly relevant. But then I...forgot.

I regret the error.

In any case, herewith my new favorite song. By an Irish ensemble who apparently have been around and making great music since forever, although I'd never heard a note of theirs until last week.

From their 1992 album Deserters, please enjoy where-have-they-been-all-my-life? folk rockers the Oyster Band and the gorgeous "All That Way For This."

What we wanted was chain lightning
What we wanted was 8 miles high
What we wanted was free fall and our turn to fly

What we wanted was more fireworks
Everlasting 4th of July
What we wanted was more stars in a bluer sky

All we wanted was something worth it
Worth the labour, worth the wait
Then they take you up to the mountain
And you see too late...

In the middle of a good time
Truth gave me her icy kiss
Look around, you must be joking
All that way, all that way for this?
That's about as close to actual poetry as pop music gets or should get; certainly, it sums up the whole existential dilemma of life thing as well as any song I can remember off the top of my head. Not to mention the band absolutely kills in a Celtic modal rave-up sort of way.

[h/t Eric C. Boardman]

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Longest Cocktail Party

Brian Jones and Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones have a drink in the sun at the Jack Fort Harrison Hotel in Clearwater, Florida, late 1964.

Just two young guys who have realized that yes, they're about to rule the world, sitting around the pool. Amazing.

In case you're wondering, that shot -- which says so much about how the Sixties were about to unfold it's kind of frightening -- is part of a not seen for over 45 years cache of Beatles and Stones photos taken by American tour manager Bob Bonis, who apparently stashed them in a duffel bag and forgot about them. They're currently part of a London gallery show -- you can look at a bunch more of them over here.

And speaking of the '64 Stones -- and a certain famous ode to a highway we were discussing earlier this month -- I just discovered this quite astonishing live performance (in stereo!) of said ode from around the same time the above photo was taken.

What was I saying about young guys who have realized they're about to rule the world? Seriously -- you can hear that realization and that confidence in every note here.

[h/t Kerrin L. Griffith]

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

It Came From the Basement!

Okay, and at the risk of getting even more self-indulgent than I usually do around here, I have a confession to make. At some point in the 90s, when I started hearing about Guided By Voices, and their whole recorded-at-home-on-a-Portastudio, low-fi esthetic, I got pretty cheesed off, frankly.

The fact is, my high school garage band chums and I -- under a variety of different monikers, although we finally, and I think appropriately, settled on The Weasels in perpetuity -- spent most of the 70s making defiantly low-fi DIY powerpop albums in a dank Jersey basement. I mean, really -- Guided By Voices were great and all, but The Weasels had already accumulated a massive body of poorly recorded work years before that Robert Pollard poseur even had his first beer hangover.

Credit where credit is due, for crissakes.

Anyway, as I've sort of been hinting in this space for a while, I recently re-hooked up with my Weasel colleagues (who I hadn't seen or worked with in at least two decades) and as a result I came into possession of a digitized version of Crimes Against Nature (1975), our first "official" album -- and by official, I mean the first one not recorded under completely primitive circumstances, i.e. on Edison wax cylinders. I hadn't heard it in I don't know how long, but to my relief I found most of it quite charming, so I thought I'd share.

Here's the title tune, sung (and written) by our multi-instrumentalist genius Glenn Leeds. The inspiration for it, as the lyrics suggest, was the purchase of a (then quite pricey) Teac four-track reel-to-reel tape deck by rhythm guitarist/vocalist David Hawxwell. Apparently, Glenn saw this as somewhat ironic given Dave's technical and musical skills, or the implicit lack thereof.

Hey friend
I remember you back when you couldn't find the money for a cheap cassette
It wasn't long ago that you'd never stuck your ears between a headphone set
Then you went two-track
It started innocent like that
Now you're audio addicted and you're never coming back

And it's a crime
Crime against nature
To put equipment in your hands
Crime against nature
You blew your act when you went four-track
And you're never coming back again

I remember when you couldn't even sing on key in the days back then
Now your voice is always perfect and you sing your vocals in a four part plan
And I wonder now and then
Has your talent so emerged?
Or are you sound dependent
On the money that you splurged?

And it's a crime
Crime against nature...

In case you're wondering, the hopelessly inadequate attempted Abbey Road-ish electric guitar fills and solo are by yours truly. Our intrepid drummer Mike Sorrentino is absent from the song; I can only assume that's because it was recorded around the time that Mike -- the only member of the band with what might remotely be described as Teen Appeal, by the way -- had informed us that "rhythm is an outmoded Western conception."

I should also add that The Weasels continued to record even more prolifically after I left the band, and they are still in fact at it. But don't worry -- I'm not going to inflict any of THAT stuff on you.

Not for a while, at least.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Trophies for the Dispossessed

One of the things I really like about my weird little genre is that we are never called upon to "take sides" as it were. "Power pop" as a term may have come from Pete Townshend, but there's no question that--in its 1978-82 incarnation, at least--it was the bastard child of both the British Invasion and the punk movement.

Thus there's no real reason to take sides in tonight's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction dilemma: here at PowerPop, we recognize both The Hollies and The Stooges as our progenitors and are glad to see them both get the recognition they deserve.

Legends of Cowbell

From 1981, and his eponymous solo album debut, please enjoy the late and heartbreakingly great Carl Wilson of the Beach Boys and "Hold On."

I was fortunate enough to see a club show on the tour Carl did in support of this album; it was just him and the small band you hear on the above track, and they totally kicked it. The album itself, alas, has never been on CD, and since it's never developed a retroactive cult following like brother Dennis Wilson's Pacific Ocean Blue, I suspect it never will. Yet another reason to give thanks to the intertubes, from whence I found the mp3s.

As for "Hold On," I have only two words for anybody who claims that Brian was the sole significant talent in the Beach Boys, or that said band was white bread and devoid of soul.

Pardon my French, but I believe they are "bite me."

Friday, March 12, 2010

Weekend Listomania (Special Post-Oscar Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Make a Wish Foundation director Fah Lo Suee (wink wink) and I will be off to lovely Corning, New York and the palatial estate of former Congressman Eric Massa [D(?) -Embarrassing Loon]. Not really sure what the occasion is, although we've been invited to go snorkeling. I presume he has a really big indoor swimming pool.

That being the case, further posting by moi will have to be sporadic for a day or two.

In the meantime, then, here's a hopefully fun little project for us all:

Best or Worst Use of a Post-Elvis Pre-Existing Pop/Rock Record in a Film or Flick!!!

No arbitrary rules whatsoever this time out, you're welcome very much. And, yes, you can also include the record you'd love to hear used in a film or flick that in fact hasn't done duty yet.

And my totally top of my head Top Seven is:

7. George Thorogood and the Destroyers -- Bad to the Bone

This song became a major annoyance within days of its first release in 1982, but by the time it showed up in the bar scene from Terminator 2 in 1991 it had long since crossed over into full blown Please Kill Me Now territory. Since then, I've lost track of how many times it's been used on the big or small screen, and to say I never want to hear it again is to severely understate my loathing of it.

6. The Beach Boys -- Don't Worry Baby

From the finale of the otherwise unmemorable Drew Barrymore romantic comedy Never Been Kissed. The song's better than the movie deserved, obviously, but I got kind of misty the first time I saw the scene anyway.

5. Mott the Hoople -- All the Way From Memphis

From Scorsese's Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, with Alice's bratty little kid lying between the speakers of his portable stereo blasting Mott's glam anthem. Forever fabulous, as they say.

4. Rob Laufer -- Do You Fly in Your Dreams?

This song just fricking slays me, and has since the moment I first heard it on Beatlemania alumnus Laufer's major label debut in 1996 (that's him as Paul on the left); to my ears, it's what prog-rock always should have sounded like but, alas, never did. I'm not sure what particular kind of film it would work best with, but if ever a rock record deserved the phrase "cinematic," this one is it.

3. Harry Nilsson -- Jump Into the Fire

As heard in the above scene from Goodfellas (along with "Magic Bus" and "Memo From Turner" and "Monkey Man"). Seriously, I never particularly even liked the song, but it's simply perfect here -- by the end of the sequence, you feel as jumpy as Ray Liotta's coked-out mobster.

2. Dion -- King of the New York Streets

Why this one (from Dion's amazing Dave Edmunds-produced Yo Frankie album in 1989) hasn't been used in a movie already is beyond me; frankly, I can't listen to it without visualizing a credit sequence. "People call me the Scandalizer/The world was my appetizer/I turned gangs into fertilizer/King of the New York Streets -- we walked tall..."

And the numero uno (in this case unfortunate) celluloid singalong, there's no getting around this I'm afraid, is...

1. David Bowie -- Cat People (Putting Out Fire)

David Bowie - Cat People .mp3
Found at bee mp3 search engine
As heard recently in a crucial scene in Inglourious Basterds. It's no secret I'm not much of a Bowie fan, and I didn't particularly like "Cat People" in the movie of the same name back in the 80s. But for me, anyway, its use in IB was incredibly jarring; Tarantino is usually really good with found music, but I think this was a serious miscalculation on his part.

Alrighty then -- what would your choices be?

[Shameless Blogwhore: My parallel Cinema Listomania -- theme: Best or Worst Movie Mad Doctors!!! -- is now up over at Box Office. As always, if you could find it in your heart to go over there and leave a comment, snarky or otherwise, it would help bolster my argument with management that I'm working pretty damn dirt cheap. Thanks!]

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Oh, For Heaven's Sake, It's the Umpteenth Fricking Early Clue to the New Direction

From 1963, please enjoy Buck Owens and the Buckaroos with the original version of a song that loomed large in Ringo Starr's legend -- "Act Naturally."

I grew up on the Fab Four's cover, of course, but in hindsight, after hearing Buck do it, I'm reminded of Bill Hick's famous crack that The Beatles were so high they let Ringo sing sometimes.

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

...of course, of course!

This really has nothing to do with the mission statement here at PowerPop, but the other day I got the following headsup from my old pal Jim Gath (a college roommate, if you must know) and obviously, I had to pass it along.

Jim's been doing something really wonderful for the last couple of years at a place called the Tierra Madre Horse Sanctuary, and the following is both self-explanatory and for a really good cause.

Here's a modest little win/win proposition for you.....

We've put together a real nice DVD called The Horses of Tierra Madre. It's only a few minutes long, but in it, you'll get to meet all the "kids" and hear about a number of them. You'll also learn a lot about this place and how and why we do what we do.

That's a bit of a win right there, isn't it? To be able to spend a few minutes with some really nice horses.

You'll also kind of win by being able to deduct the $20 (post-paid) donation we're asking for it from your taxes. Unless, of course, you enjoy bailing out multi-billion-dollar banks.

We'll win by being able to use your donations toward hay and supplements and medicines and everything else the horses of Tierra Madre need on a daily basis.

It's easy, too. You can simply go to the PayPal feature on our website -- -- and don't worry, there's not a particular place to order the DVD. We'll just know that any $20 is for your DVD and take it from there.

Natch, you can also send a check through the mail.

There are 32 horses -- and one skinny grey-haired guy -- who would appreciate it very much. And I guarantee you'll enjoy it. Or your money back.


Jim Gath
27115 N. 45th St.
Cave Creek, AZ 85331
Here's a little teaser from the aforementioned video. And if this doesn't put a lump in your throat, seek immediate medical attention.

Anyway, go over to the website and give Jim and the horses some love. And tell him PowerPop sent you.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Rise, Bleary-Eyed, and Report: Ray Davies' Old-Time Singalong

Well, I spent last night in the company of the man himself and several hundred close friends: it's a theater I know well, being an old techie. It seats about 1500 people, and it wasn't full. Still, for a Tuesday night in the provinces, it was a respectable showing. But it was rather heavy in the I-used-to-be-a-rocker-but-now-I'm-a-shift-manager-but-I'm-going-to-wedge-myself-into-this-too-tight-t-shirt-and-get-drunk-in-public-anyway contingent: somewhat humorous, given that they were treating the local opera venue as though it were a shitty bar. Well, I guess they were paying opera prices to do it.

I went with my eldest brother, who is, in a very direct way, the reason for this blog: he schooled me from birth in the Beatles, the Stones, and the Kinks. Some of my earliest memories involve him and the music he played for me: for example, the first time I realized that people could share names is when I figured out--I couldn't have been more than 2 or 3--that my brother's name was Paul, and so was Paul McCartney's.

The opening act was The 88, a name which meant nothing to me until they happened across a song of theirs I actually knew, Coming Home. Paul tells me the song in some movie soundtrack, and they were good: energetic and tight and unswayed by the drunken impolite crowd.

But there's a special circle of hell for bad sound guys. It was muddy and low-endy, and not the band's fault at all. The low end was so overwhelming that the toms were a tactile experience: and we were halfway back. I can only imagine what the shift managers in the front felt. Musta bounced some of those women right out of their spanx.

But when Davies played: oh, it was a different matter altogether.

Part of that is just technical. The majority of the set was just he and Irish guitarist Bill Shanley, who does with a guitar what Neko Case does with a voice: you just kinda drop your jaw and watch. (Toward the end of the acoustic set, Shanley was playing some complicated picky thing, and I noticed that he was actually playing with a broken string, but damned if you could tell.) Davies switched off between two acoustic guitars; Shanley between an acoustic and an electric.

The bulk of the show was just the two of them: it appears to have been based on the Storytellers series--he read briefly from his book and told lots of background stories to the songs--but while the low-end issue was no real concern during the acoustic playing, it did grievously handicap the banter, which you had to strain to hear.

Davies played twenty-five songs, well over an hour of acoustic, and the audience was encouraged, expected, cajoled, to sing along, sent back to do it again if he wasn't pleased with the result. Not that anyone minded: most people were singing along anyway, but it was a little odd. I don't think I've ever been to a show where the performer quite so obviously expected that we ought to be that well-versed in his catalog. It worked: he had that crowd, so unruly for his openers, eating out of the palm of his hand.

And just as I assumed that he was finishing up, the upstage curtain opened, and there were The 88, and together they ripped through another five songs with a full band--and the same sound problems--but it was smoking.

Davies is a treasure--the fact that he's performing (even graciously dedicating songs to his brother ("Two Sisters") and the late Doug Fieger ("The Hard Way"). After all this time, it's no surprise that he's a consummate showman, possessing the rare gift of making even a crowd of drunk shift managers in the provinces feel that he connects with them. Verdict: quite a night.

Great Lost Singles of the 80s: Special Pre-CIALIS® Edition

From Austin, Texas in 1987, please enjoy the Wild Seeds and their hilarious college radio hit "I'm Sorry, I Can't Rock You All Night Long."

I actually reviewed the album above at The Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Review when it first came out, and if memory serves I loved it, especially "I'm Sorry." Nevertheless, I seem to have lost my copy, and until discerning commenter MBowen sent the mp3 my way the other day, I had totally forgotten that the song had ever existed, let alone that it was such a pitch-perfect skewering of 80s hair band machismo.
I'm sorry
So sorry
I can't rock you all night long
It's an interesting idea, baby
But it would be wrong
Lord knows, we've all known the feeling, but it's rarely been expressed so eloquently.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

It's True -- Life IS High School

From 1964, please enjoy the very posh Chad (Stuart) and Jeremy (Clyde), and one of the loveliest records of the British Invasion -- "Summer Song."

Like I said, one of the loveliest records of its day, so it will perhaps come as no shock to learn that my teenage garage band pals and I used to perform it with slightly altered lyrics that didn't quite reflect the song's original spirit. I offer them here (penned by my long time chum Allan Weissman) in the hope that you might sing them along with the track at your leisure.

Crashing into mountain sides
With the loss of many lives
That's what I like

Areas of babies heads
Hit them there and they'll be dead
That's what I like

They say that all good things
Must end someday
Governments must fall
But don't you know
That it hurts me more
When I read in the news
That someone got mugged last night
It serves them right

So when your aunt
Goes and takes her landlord's life
And does it with a butcher knife
That's what I like

That's what I like.
Hey -- we were kids. Besides, nobody told us that Weird Al Yankovic would have a career based on crap like that...

Monday, March 08, 2010

Block That Metaphor!!!

From 1967, please enjoy first generation San Francisco band The Serpent Power and their 13 minute album-closing epic "Endless Tunnel."

Let's say that again...Serpent Power. "Endless Tunnel."

Jeebus, that's about as subtle as Whitesnake covering "Sugar Walls."

Seriously, this song is so hilariously portentous in a kind of sub-Doors way I've always had a sneaking affection for it; I seem to recall that the late great Allison Steele, a/k/a The Night Bird, used to play it all the time on WNEW-FM back in the day, thus occasioning much stoned 2:00 AM giggling at Casa Simels.

It is also worth noting that the blonde guitar player on the bottom left of the cover photo is clearly David Spade. What he was doing in San Francisco during the Summer of Love, I have no idea.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Saturday Glam Blogging...

Ciao Tutti!

Here's an obscure glam artifact from American Brett Smiley who obviously had a major Bowie fetish. This was an Andrew Loog Oldham production and it represents his total official recorded output when it was released as a single in 1974. Tragically, it sunk without a trace. Without question, it is a cracking song and it shoulda been a major hit. If you wanna hear more, you can pick up a copy of his unreleased recordings on the definitive RPM CD entitled Breathlessy Brett.

Cheers, and Happy Weekend!

Friday, March 05, 2010

Weekend Listomania (Special Where's My Walker, Damnit? Audio/Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental pants consultant princess Fah Lo Suee and I will be off to beautiful downtown Fort Thomas, Kentucky and the home of Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Senile Hypocrite), where we'll be objecting to the odious little reactionary just on general principles.

That being the case, further posting by moi will have to be sporadic for a day or two.

In the meantime, then, here's a hopefully fun little project for us all:

Best or Worst Post-Elvis Pop/Rock Song/Record About Growing Up And Its Attendant Issues!!!

No arbitrary rules at all for this one, and if I've done something similar in the past I crave your forgiveness.

In any case, my totally top of my head Top Eight is:

8. The Pussycat Dolls -- When I Grow Up

Say what you will about this piece of crap, but it's actually so bad it makes me kind of appreciate Lady Gaga.

7. Gary Puckett and the Union Gap -- Young Girl

I don't know what's creepier -- the nudge-wink sleaze the song is selling or Puckett's sub-Michael McDonald baritone.

6. Mad "Twists" Rock 'n' Roll -- When My Pimples Turned to Dimples

From 1962, the ultimate Clearasil classic, and I don't care that it's a genre parody -- it works taken straight as well. By the way, there are a lot of surprisingly great songs on this album; I've always been particularly fond of "Nose Job."

5. Bobby Vee and the Strangers -- Come Back When You Grow Up

This is actually a surprisingly well-written (and beautifully produced) song. Vee gets unfairly lumped in with all those manufactured early 60s whitebread teen idols, but he actually was one of the better Buddy Holly disciples. A genuine, if minor, rocker is what I'm saying.

4. The Pursuit of Happiness -- I'm an Adult Now

Boy, this one just resonates with me more and more the older I get. It's also, IMHO, Todd Rundgren's finest hour as a producer, as heretical as that opinion may be.

3. Any Trouble -- Growing Up

The Springsteen song, obviously; "I swear I found the keys to the universe/In the engine of an old parked car." I think we all know the feeling, but as much as I love Bruce's various versions of this over the years, I've always felt that Any Trouble owned the tune.

2. The Beach Boys -- When I Grow Up

Now and forever, the most heartbreaking farewell to innocence in rock history. And by heartbreaking, I mostly mean that it makes me want to cry when I think that Mike Love had a hand in crafting anything so beautiful.

And the numero uno Getting of Wisdom song, seriously it's not even a contest and I know I say that all the time but this time it's true, is --

1. The Godfathers -- Birth, School, Work, Death

Thoroughly depressing and yet it totally rocks. Quite an accomplishment, now that I think of it; one of these days, I really should check out the rest of these guys oeuvre.

Alrighty, then -- what would your choices be?

[Shameless Blogwhore: My parallel Cinema Listomania -- a review of the totally awesome DVD of the restored The T.A.M.I Show -- is now up over at Box Office. As always, if you could see your way to going over there and leaving a comment or three, it would help me justify my exorbitant freelance rate to management. I thank you.]

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Holy Crap, It's an Early Clue to the New Direction That Totally Alters Our Conception of the Space/Time Continuum!

From 1953, please enjoy (unknown to all but the most devoted cogniscenti) greaseballs Sonny Dae and the Knights and the original recorded version of the song that started it all -- "Rock Around the Clock."

You know, I consider myself fairly knowledgeable about this sort of stuff, but I must confess, until today I had no idea this record existed, although I think I knew vaguely that somebody had cut the song earlier than Bill Haley. Actually, at least according to Wiki, the familiar Haley version is not technically a cover; the Tin Pan Alley pros who wrote the song apparently had Haley in mind when they penned it, but for whatever reason he was too busy to fit in into his schedule until 1954. And the rest, as they say, is bunk (i.e., history).

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

Somewhere in Hell, Screamin' Jay Hawkins is Smiling

"I Put a Spell on You 2010." The latest all-star charity record for the victims of the Haiti earthquake.

Words pretty much fail me on this one, but pay special attention to Chrissie Hynde's entrance toward the end of the song; she remains, not just the coolest rock woman who ever wore shoe leather, but a fricking force of nature.

[h/t Dan McEnroe]

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Great Lost EPs of the 70s: More Songs About Revenge and Detergent

This one arrived in my mail at the Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Review sometime in 1978. The joke may have been an obvious one waiting to happen, but I got a chuckle out of it anyway. And the guys behind the group alias turned out to have an interesting power pop pedigree.

I lost the actual disc of this years ago, and if truth be told the only thing I recall about it is that it featured a very nice, Ventures-styled cover of "Theme From 'A Summer Place.'"

That being the case, a coveted PowerPop No-Prize will be awarded the first reader who can identify the artiste(s) behind the snarky nom du disque (hey -- no Googling!).

And a coveted PowerPop No-Prize and a week in Philadelphia to any reader who's got mp3s handy of any of the songs from the damn thing.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Compare and Contrast: Let Us Now Praise a Famous Ode to a Highway Written By the Guy From Emergency! Who Was Also Married to Julie London

I refer, of course, to Bobby Troup's "Route 66" -- the only song to have been recorded by Nat King Cole, The Rolling Stones AND Depeche Mode. And a song that, as those who know me best are aware, looms particularly large in my legend (both as listener and occasional performer. That last, of course, is a subject for another time).

In any case, "Route 66" has probably inspired more really good covers than any other comparable number in the history of what Casey Kasem refers to as the Rock Era. That being the case, here are two I particularly like, submitted for your listening pleasure.

From 1965, please enjoy the angry young Them (seriously -- that was the name of the album, The Angry Young Them), featuring the dimunitive Van Morrison, and their charmingly snarly version. With an amazing piano part, which I stole early and often.

And from 1977 and one of the great live bootlegs of all time, dig Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers on KSAN-FM radio with their authoritative take on the tune.

The above mentioned bootleg, by the way, is absolutely brilliant from stem to stern. For my money, it was recorded on an evening when TP and company were pretty clearly the greatest rock 'n' roll band in the world, but that too is a subject for another time.