Friday, July 30, 2010

Weekend Listomania (Special Better Late Than Never! Audio/Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my beautiful Oriental pneumaticist Fah Lo Suee and I are off to...

Sorry. Given the weather here in the Paris of the Tri-State Metropolitan Area, once again I just don't have the energy to make the obligatory joke about the Rightwing Shithead du Jour.

Although the guy who wrote that piece in in the current issue of TIME, which says Rush Limbaugh may have a point about the Gulf oil spill not being such a big deal, should really rot in hell. IMHO.

In any case, supposedly the weather's going to be nicer over the weekend. And while we wait, here's a (hopefully) fun little project for us all, and for a change I'm almost positive I've never done anything exactly like it before.

Post-Elvis Album/Album Track/Song/Single You Discovered Long After the Fact and Immediately Wondered How You had Lived Without It!!!

And my totally top of my head Top Six is...

6. Sonic's Rendezvous Band -- City Slang

SRB, of course, being a sort of Detroit supergroup featuring ex MC5 guitarist Fred Smith and several other worthies. I'd heard of the single, which came out in 1978, for years, but didn't get around to listening to it until fairly recently. Needless to say, the damn thing is pretty much hard rock at its most intense, and god only knows what I was waiting for.

5. Candy Butchers -- You Belong to Me Now

The most seraphically beautiful love song of the last decade; it came out in 2002, but I didn't hear it until Kid Charlemagne clued me in here. Have I mentioned that the production on this is stellar as well? That I would kill to have come up with the bass part? That the guitar solo is to die for? And that Mike Viola's singing just breaks my heart?

This is a perfect record, is what I think I'm hinting at.

4. Los Shakers -- Always You

The Beatles of Uruguay, and every bit as good as anything by their role models, IMHO. I got hipped to this one courtesy, once again, of Kid Charlemagne, and I have to say -- of all the great songs I've discovered since NYMary gave me the spare set of keys to this place, this is the one that means the most to me.

3. You Am I --Mr. Milk

First heard this one (which dates from 1996) sometime around 2003, over the sound system at NYCD, the late lamented (and still the coolest in history) indie record store on Manhattan's upper West Side run by our pal Sal Nunziato (currently the proprietor of the indispensable Burning Wood). How the best Australian band since the Easybeats had previously gotten by me remains a mystery I may never solve, but I am in forever in Sal's debt for having played this one loud.

2. Sam Cooke -- Night Beat

It sounds, deliberately, like a late night blues/soul/gospel jam session at a small smoke-filled club, and it's probably the greatest pop music album of the last fifty years that most people still don't know about. Cooke cut it for his own label in 1963 and it went out of print pretty much immediately; the American CD reissue from 2001 (which is when I first heard it) got pulled due to legal wrangling (love that Allen Klein) almost as quickly.

And the Numero Uno Where Have You Been All My Life? classic actually has to be...

1. The Cat's Meow -- La La Lu.

Just found this 1966 garage rock gem (which definitely should have been a radio hit) the other day; apparently, it's fairly well known in Nuggets circles, but I'd never run across it before. In any case, a simply wonderful piece of Revolver-ish bubblegum punk; the band was from Staten Island, if that's at all germane, and you can read a fun interview with their lead guitar player and catch some cool period photos over here.

Alrighty, then -- what would your choices be?

[Shameless Blogwhore: My parallel Cinema Listomania -- theme: best dramatic film with a plot line ripped from the headlines -- is now up over at Box Office. As always, I would take it as a personal favor if you could shlep over there and leave something snarky in the comments section. Thanks.]

Thursday, July 29, 2010

An Early And Somewhat Dismissive Clue to the New Direction

From 1969, please enjoy post-hippie wiseguy Dan Hicks (along with His Hot Licks) and his old-timey kiss-off classic "How Can I Miss You When You Won't Go Away?"

To be honest, I was never much of a Hicks fan -- gimme his original band, The Charlatans, any day -- but this song tickles me none the less. And if you're interested, you can download the entire album this is from, free and quite above board, over here.

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

True Confessions

I do not now get, and have never gotten, the late Stevie Ray Vaughan.

By which I mean, I don't get why I was ever supposed to be more impressed with him than, say, an average hot blues guitarist of the sort you can find at an average blues bar anywhere in the country on any given night 24/7.

Okay, I'm sort of kidding here, but I figured that since last week's cheap shot at Frank Zappa unexpectedly generated beaucoup de comments, I should perhaps try something similar.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Way of All Flesh

Okay, this is actually a little cruel of me, but I can't help it.

By way of preface, if you were around for last week's Listomania -- theme: unsavory pop music trends -- you may recall that somebody (I won't name names) felt compelled to post a link to the following video, of a song I had (up until Friday) mercifully blocked from my memory.

That is, of course, the 1972 smasheroo "How Do You Do?" by the Dutch duo Mouth and MacNeal, and pretty hideous stuff, obviously. After I watched it, however, it struck me that, although I couldn't really give a rats ass about what might have happened to Mouth(!), his partner was actually kind of hot in a 70s/ABBA-ish porn star sort of way. So I went looking for a more recent video.

And found this, from 2008. MacNeal, now toiling in a new duo called the Dutch Divas.

I think the words that immediately come to mind are "oy" and "gevalt."

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Contempt For the Audience -- That's What Killed Dennis Day

Just to clear the air a bit after last week's little Frank Zappa brouhaha -- no, I don't hate the guy or his music.

Actually, and for example, I think that the 1966 "Trouble Every Day," from the Mothers' debut album, is a great rock-and-roll record.

No snark intended here -- that's one genuinely kick-ass piece of apocalyptic blues, and (alas) the lyrics are, if anything, even more to the point than they were when Zappa wrote them.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Compare and Contrast: Extremely White People Sing Motown...

...specifically, two covers of Mary Wells' sublime "You Beat Me to the Punch." Co-written by Smokey Robinson, who, as you may recall, was called America's Greatest Poet by no less an authority than Bob Dylan.

First, from late 1964, here's a Merseybeat take by ex-Searcher Tony Jackson's ill-fated followup combo.

Jackson was the bassist (and frequent lead vocalist) of what's considered the classic Searchers lineup, and as you can plainly hear, there's more than a hint of his old band's "Needles and Pins" in this track.

And now from 1976, here's Nutley, NJ's finest The Hounds (featuring myself on inadequate guitar and background vocals) with a slightly more traditional rendition.

Those little piano-and-organ flourishes are, of course, very echt 60s, and in fact straight from the Ruby and the Romantics playbook. On the other hand, you'll notice that our version is a good twenty seconds shorter than Jackson's, due to our following the inviolable rule for white punk kids attempting classic R&B -- if you don't have much soul to speak of, speed the damn song up.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Weekend Listomania (Special Terribly Trendy Trendiness Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental gal pal/morphine drip administrator Fah Lo Suee and I will be heading off to lovely Brentwood, California and the home of Andrew Breitbart [R-Unbelievably Despicable Shithead]. Specifically, to a high-tech video editing suite in his basement, where we'll be assisting Andrew and a crack team from Fox News as they doctor outtakes from D.W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation.

That being the case, and since things will be otherwise quiet around here til until then, here's a hopefully amusing little project for us all:

Post-Elvis Pop/Rock Music Trend You Either Fervently Wish Hadn't Caught On or Are Glad That Actually Didn't!!!

Totally self-explanatory, I think, and no arbitrary rules of any kind, you're welcome very much. And if we've done this before, mea culpa, but basically I just wanted an excuse to follow up the Mary Schneider clue.

And my totally top of my head Top Five is

5. Manufactured Boy Bands

Seriously -- with the exception of this song, which I think is a gorgeous piece of modern day doo-wop, I can say pretty safely that if the Backstreet Boys, N'Sync, New Edition, New Kids on the Block and any of the rest of their ilk had never existed, the world would be, on balance, if not a better place than certainly no worse than it is now.

Oh, and of course they're not actually bands. Thank you.

4. Sensitive Soft-Rock Singer/Songwriters

You know, I really like James Taylor, and I still listen to the Sweet Baby James album for pleasure, but jeebus -- does he have a lot to answer for.

3. Electronica

This was the most over-hyped trend of 1996 -- declared The Next Big Thing here even before the records showed up -- and if memory serves it actually never materialized as a result. Although I'm told today's kids really dig some up-to-date form of it.

2. Hassidic Hip-Hop

Anybody else think this bespeaks some really serious identity issues? Can you imagine an entire school of this guy? Yuck.

And the Numero Uno too-trendy-for-words pop/rock trend that ever was or was not is...

1. Yodelling!!!

Turns out the world really wasn't ready for a prog-rock version of Slim Whitman.

Alrighty then -- what would your choices be?

[Shameless Blogwhore: My parallel Cinema Listomania -- theme: (inspired by Roger Corman's Galaxy of Terror) best and worst big screen performances by actors originally associated with TV -- is now up over at Box Office. As always, if you could see your way to going over there and saying something pithy, I'd be deeply in your debt. Thanks!]

Thursday, July 22, 2010

An Early (and Oddly High-Pitched) Clue to the New Direction

And speaking of "Stairway to Heaven," as we were downstairs...

From I'm not exactly sure when (although it's from some Morning Zoo-ish radio show from somewhere, obviously) please enjoy Mary Schneider, the self-proclaimed Yodelling Queen of Australia, and her yodel version of the Led Zeppelin classic.

As you may have guessed, I prefer Mary's take on the tune to Zappa's, but then again, as Chuck Barris used to say -- what do I know? I like cold toilet seats.

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

My Frank Zappa Problem (And Yours)

One of these days I'm gonna post the Stereo Review interview I did with the head Mother in 1975. Let's just say that I've got issues with the guy, and he wasn't nuts about me either.

But -- and I understand that he's a genuinely important musical figure of the late 20th century blah blah blah -- if you want to know why he gets up my nose (and not just as a guitarist), this apparently popular live cover of Zep's "Stairway to Heaven" is exhibit A.

Mother of Invention - Stairway to Heaven .mp3
Found at bee mp3 search engine

Jeebus -- it's like a bad Holiday Inn band with an attitude.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

It Takes a (Little) Village: Part Deux

I swear to god, I had no idea there was such really good live video of these guys.

From 1992, it's Little Village -- featuring John Hiatt, Ry Cooder, Nick Lowe and Jim Keltner.

Taped on a day when they just might have been the greatest rock-and-roll band in the world. Or as Hiatt told MOJO last month,
"It came apart and I'm not sure how. Nick says he's not sure either...I was scared. I think we all were. We were thrust out there when we were just finding our legs. Some shows were magic, you could levitate, the whole place was vibrating..."

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

RIP: Andy Hummel

It's been a tough year for Big Star fans. Now original bassist Andy Hummel has died.

The legendary Memphis pop band Big Star has lost another member, as founding bassist Andy Hummel died Monday afternoon at his home in the Fort Worth, Texas, area after a long battle with cancer. He was 59.

Hummel had been receiving treatment for the past couple of years, but recently went in for a hip operation and was informed that the cancer had spread and that his condition was terminal.

“At that point,” said Hummel’s friend, Ardent Studios owner and Big Star producer John Fry, “Andy elected to accept hospice care and spent the last couple weeks at home with his family.”

We at Power Pop offer his friends and family our most sincere condolences.

If I Play the Same Three Chords...

From 1996 and the Stunt album, please ponder perhaps overly grinning Canadian power popsters Barenaked Ladies and "It's All Been Done," their undeniably catchy ode to the truth best elucidated by the great Nick Tosches.

To wit -- that the illusion of newness is pop culture's biggest sucker racket.

Barenaked Ladies - It's All Been Done .mp3
Found at bee mp3 search engine
This is a really good record, I think, with a sunny Beatle-esque chorus melody, a tasty guitar solo, and a lyrical conceit -- including a truly memorable opening line ("I met you before the fall of Rome") -- that's beautifully fleshed out. Plus it, you know, rocks. But like just about everything else I've ever heard by these guys, there's something about it I find off-putting, and I've never been able to figure out exactly why.

Something about the band's aggressively everyday-ordinary-normal-guy shtick, I suspect.

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Quick One...

Oh, get your mind out of the gutter; we're talking about The Who.

Specifically -- and as part of what seems to be turning into a continuing series of Previously Unheard Stereo Mixes of the Gods -- an absolutely astonishing remixed and remastered version of "So Sad About Us," one of the band's earliest power pop masterpieces. From the 2008 Japanese deluxe edition of the 1966 album referenced above.

Words fail me. No kidding -- I've never heard any version of this before, on vinyl or CD, that sounded remotely as glorious.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Alison East: Trash and Vaudeville

Just a little postscript to my tribute the other week to pioneering punk-rock (should be a legend) girl guitarist Alison East of The Swinging Madisons:

As you may recall, in said tribute I lamented the fact that no footage of Alison (who died at age 19 shortly after her stint with the band) performing seems to have survived. Apparently, that may not be strictly true.

Turns out that the Spicy Bits, a band she was in before the Madisons, appear in Punk Rock, a 1978 soft-core porn flick shot the year before by director Carter Stevens.

There's a brief flash of what may be the Bits in the Punk Rock trailer on YouTube, and damned if this screen cap from it...

...doesn't look an awful lot like Alison in this Madisons photo circa 1980.

Punk Rock is currently available (along with Pleasure Palace, another Stevens classic) on DVD. Personally, I don't feel like shelling out twenty bucks for the disc just to see if Alison is actually on it, but if you want to -- and feel like lending it to me afterwards -- you can order it over at Amazon here.

Here's the aforementioned trailer on YouTube.

I should also add that Jaimie Gillis, who plays the private dick(!) in Punk Rock, was a very famous porn star at the time, and a house-sitting friend of mine once actually boinked him on my couch while I was out of town.

Hey, it was the 70s -- we were all a little over the top.

Anti-Isolation Drills

Since steve is taking the weekend to work on the intro for the in-the-editing-stage, definitive history of the band Shoes, I'll pop up here and post something from NPR this week.

Paul Collins has been doing yeoman's work using social networking tools to unite the power pop community. His Facebook group The Beat Army is more than a usual FB group: it's an advocacy organization, a coffee clatch, a band of brothers and sisters. Its goal is to make people aware of their pop opportunities, to support bands at the club level, and to bring us together. And it's starting to get some attention.

On a recent episode of Mississippi Edition, Collins speaks about his history, his current project, and why he formed the Beat Army. (There's no time code on this link, but he begins about halfway through.)

In a similar mode, Bruce Brodeen, who has long protected the power pop flame through his label, Not Lame Records, has formed his own social networking site, The Rock and Roll Tribe. The intent here, as Brodeen and his mates describe it, is to create a community for "Kick-Ass Grown-ups" and connect us nationwide. I spent more time than I should have yesterday ruminating on the discussion about how to raise kids with good taste in music, for example.

So see? There's no need to be alone in your geeky musical tastes: there's places to find your fellow geeks! Thanks to Paul & Bruce and the intertubes for these possibilities!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Here It Comes...

...if not quite the Holy Grail, then at least something I've been trying to track down for quite a while now.

From 1966 -- if not THE mixed to perfection stereo version of The Rolling Stones' "19th Nervous Breakdown," then at least a pretty good stereo version.

If truth be told, I've always kind of considered this the single most exciting song the Stones ever recorded, so it's been something of a thorn in my side for lo these many years that it's only ever been available in mono.

Okay, granted, there are more pressing issues in the world, but still...

POSTSCRIPT: In case anybody is wondering why I haven't posted a clue to tomorrow's Listomania yet...

Just didn't have time to get one together this week. Instead, I'm taking a break to work on the introduction/foreword/preface (or whatever it turns out to be) to a certain eagerly awaited literary endeavor by somebody else whose name is on the masthead here.

Listomania will return next week, however -- tanned, rested and ready as I'm wont to say. And I'll be posting the occasional odds and sods between now and Monday, time and weather permitting.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Not So Great Unreleased Singles of the 60s

Meant to post this back in May, along with that cool Lou Reed/John Cale b-side from 1965 by The All-Night Workers.

But here's Lou (then doing business as Lewis Reed) in attempted teen idol mode, from 1962, with his self-penned "Merry Go Round." I forget which small label honcho he cut this for, but whoever it was apparently decided that even though it was a bad record, it would fail to sell. (Stole that joke from Nick Tosches, if you must know.)

The track has a certain something, I think, but I'm not quite sure what.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Right Tool For the Job

Here's one I've read about/been aware of for ages without ever actually having heard it. From 1962, and the Harry Belafonte album of the same name, it's Bob Dylan's first appearance on a commercially released LP, playing harmonica on a cover of the venerable "Midnight Special."

To be honest, I could have cheerfully gone the rest of my life without having listened to this had I not chanced on the following amusing anecdote about it from an interview with the venerable singer/actor/activist in the current issue of MOJO. Here's Belafonte recalling the session for the song:
It was supposed to be Sonny Terry, but he got grounded by a thunderstorm in Memphis and couldn't make the date. My guitarist Millard Thomas said, "Well, there's this I kid I see all the time down in the Village, and he does that whole Sonny thing...he sleeps and dreams it." So I said, "We don't have a choice I guess. Go find him."

And this skinny kid appeared, and he had a paper sack with him full of harmonicas in different keys. I played the song for him and he pulled one out of the bag, dipped it in water, and played through a single take, and it was great. I loved it. I asked him if he wanted to try another take and he said, "No." I asked him if he wanted to hear it back, and he said, "No." He just headed for the door, and threw the harmonica into the trash can on his way out.

I remember thinking 'Does he have that much disdain for what I'm doing?' But I found out later that he bought his harps at the Woolworth drugstore. They were cheap ones, and once he'd gotten them wet and really played through them as hard as he did, they were finished...


Monday, July 12, 2010

Hugh Barrett and the Victors Explain It All to You

You know, sometimes I think that if titles were everything, this would be the greatest rock-and-roll record ever made.

On the other hand, after listening to it again, I think maybe it is.

Incidentally, of these guys history a casual Google search has turned up next to nothing other than that it was recorded in 1961. Nevertheless, to Hugh and all the Victors, wherever they are -- kudos, my friends. And rest secure on well-earned laurels.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Weekend Listomania (Special Well, On the One Hand... Audio/Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental fertile crescent manipulator Fah Lo Suee and I will be heading off to beautiful Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where we'll be attending a combined Sunday Mass and Gun Show at Saint Aloysius Parish in the company of Governor Bobby Jindal [R-Kenneth the Intern From 30 ROCK look-alike].

That being the case, and since things will be otherwise quiet around here till for a few days, here's a totally irrelevant but hopefully amusing little project for us all:

Best or Worst Post-Elvis Pop/Rock/Soul Song With the Word "Same" or "Different" Featured Prominently in the Title or Lyrics!!!

Totally self-explanatory, I think, and no arbitrary rules of any kind, you're welcome very much. And yes, I'm making an exception and allowing songs that use the word "difference" as well. Because you guys are going to nominate some of those no matter what I say anyway.

And my totally top of my head Top Six is:

6. Sly and the Family Stone -- Thank U Falletinme Be Myself Again

From whence the phrase "Different strokes for different folks" entered the language, obviously.

5. David Bowie -- Always Crashing in the Same Car

Still not much of a Bowie fan, and I don't even particularly like this song. Fabulous title, though, I'll give the whey-faced poseur that for free.

4. The Four Tops -- It's the Same Old Song

"It's the same old song/with a different meaning since you've been gone." The obvious choice, obviously. But it's a twofer, and thus unavoidable.

3. Panic at the Disco -- The Only Difference Between Martyrdom And Suicide Is Press Coverage

Because, as you know, we like to have something recorded in this century, and for once, this one's actually kind of haunting.

2. Michael Nesmith -- Different Drum

The composer's more or less unplugged version, rather than the more familiar Linda Ronstadt take. From Nesmith's And the Hits Just Keep on Coming collection and still the best back porch folkie record ever made, IMHO.

And the Numero Uno am I being well balanced or merely wishy-washy? song of them all almost certainly has to be, I think, possibly....

1. French, Frith, Kaiser and Thompson -- The Same Thing

A fabulous, if somewhat obscure, Willie Dixon blues tune given an appropriately simmering reading by the sort of avant-garde supergroup.

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

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Oh For Heaven's Sake, It's Another Designed-to-Throw-You-Off-the-Trail Early Clue to the New Direction!

From 1997, please enjoy (if that's the word) the late and famously depressed Elliott Smith and his poignant ode to Hamlet-ian indecision, "Either/Or."

To be honest, I never really got Smith on any level, although perhaps that's merely a reflection of my own essentially sunny disposition.

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

Now, THIS Is Why Al Gore Invented the Internet

Last night, Radio City Music Hall. Paul McCartney sings "Birthday" to Ringo Starr. And we all get to be there.

Jerry Todd Explains It All to You

The Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young clip you've always wanted to see.

Those SCTV guys really were absolute fricking geniuses. Pop culture satire doesn't come any better, still.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Alison East

Self-indulgence alert: This is a piece I've wanted to write for a long time (and tried to on a couple of earlier occasions, without success). So I hope you can ignore the fact that this is a really awful lead-in to what will be, I hope, a heartfelt tribute to somebody I never actually met, in the saying "hello!" to sense, but who I found absolutely unforgettable nonetheless.

Okay, the short version: Sometime in late 1979 or early 1980, a friend took me to see a band called The Swinging Madisons at some dive or another in NYC. Said band was fronted by a very talented and interesting guy named Kristian Hoffman; he's had a long and estimable career since then (you can read more about it over at his website) but at the time I knew about him only from his tenure in the pioneering power pop outfit The Mumps, with Lance Loud (of PBS-TV An American Family fame).

Anyway, the Madisons turned out to be absolutely terrific. Hoffman affected a sort of drolly ironic Vegas lounge act look, like a sort of party animal Bryan Ferry, but the music was something else -- first-rate hard-rock verging on pop, with a nice mixture of witty original songs (a psychedelic pastiche called "My Mediocre Dreams" that lived up to its title and the hilarious post-feminist anthem "Put Your Bra Back On") plus some wonderful re-imagined covers, including an echo-drenched and hiccup-ed rockabilly version of Donovan's "Hurdy Gurdy Man" that worked simultaneously as send-up and homage.

But the icing on the cake was the Madisons' guitarist. Her name was Alison East and -- barely out of high school -- she remains the greatest rock and roll stage foil (or second banana, if you will) I ever saw, and I mean The Greatest. An utterly improbable cross between Lucille Ball and Joan Jett, which is to say an adorable comedienne with killer comic timing and gunslinger guitar skills, she managed to be compulsively watchable without taking anything away from the band's more traditional visual focal point, although as much as I loved the Madisons' whole act that night, it was East -- mugging shamelessly throughout their too short set -- that just reduced me to mush. In any case, when the show was over, my friend asked if I wanted to go backstage and get introduced, but I was in serious I'm-not-worthy mode and so I declined the offer, a decision I have regretted ever since.

You're going to have to take most of the above on faith, I'm afraid. No video document of the Madisons stage act seems to have survived, and until the photos below (from a gig around the same time as the one I saw) surfaced a few weeks ago (courtesy of ace shutterbug Steve Lombardi, who kindly shared them) I'd never seen as much as a snapshot of Alison. These don't do her justice, necessarily, but I think they do catch at least some of the antic spirit I saw on that cramped stage on the night in question.

And here's a sample of her guitar prowess -- an unreleased demo of another one of the Madisons' priceless covers, in this case a metallic and surprisingly heartfelt take on Janis Ian's "Society's Child". (I'm sorry that it fades out at mid-song, but Kristian has plans to release this and the rest of the Madisons' early stuff at some point, so I thought I should respect his wishes. The bottom line is you can still get a pretty good idea of both the group and Alison's considerable Jeff Beck/Mick Ronson chops from it.)

The postscript to the story, and again, the short version: As I suspected they might, the Madisons soon got signed to a hip indie label, and in 1981 they released a well-received EP (now alas out of print, although if you dig you probably can find a downloadable copy on the net). Said EP, however, was done without Alison, who bailed just prior to the record deal.

And then I heard...well, I'll let Kristian tell it (from his band history over at the website):
I met her [Alison] at CBGB's at a Cramps concert, liked the way she looked, and asked her to be in my planned 'joke' band, but the joke was on me! This chestnut haired, shag-headed, white tux be-clad bon vivant was a glam-metal genius on guitar. So much better than I deserved! She single-handedly lifted my 'joke' into the realms of 'rawk'. She was so good, she turned The Runaways down! (Didn't want to relocate.) My band got popular so quick she started to get leery; it was just supposed to be a goof, a side project. She was already about to quit...when she was stricken with cancer, and died at age 19! What a tragedy! We were so young, it was so unexpected; we all went into shock -- not like a few years later when AIDS rendered the death of a youthful cohort routine, if no less painful.
Like I said, I never actually met Alison East, in the saying "hello!" to sense. But thirty odd years later, it seems to me that she changed my life a little anyway. And so it's nice to finally share this sort of goodbye.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Great Lost...Okay, More Like Pretty Darn Good Lost Singles of the 70s

From Syracuse, New York, please enjoy The (heretofore unknown to me) Ohms and their infectiously kinetic 1979 platter "Teenage Alcoholic."

This came to my attention last week via thoughtful reader John McCauley, and if the information over here is to be believed, it was a 4-track DIY production; if so, somebody involved with it really knew what they were doing. Whatever its provenance, however, I find myself vastly taken with the track. To my ears, at least, it sounds kinda like a slightly punkier Cheap Trick or Eddie and the Hot Rods, and the guitar stuff on the instrumental section in the middle -- by the unfortunately monikered Zenny Caucasian -- is really stellar, I think.

Monday, July 05, 2010

The Shangri-Las Explain It All to You

You know, some times I think that if titles were everything, these gals' 1966 masterpiece "Sophisticated Boom Boom" would be the greatest record ever made.

Even if it isn't, of course, it's still pretty transplendent stuff. And incidentally -- if anybody knows what instrument the solo is being played on, I'd be grateful if you could let me know. Is it a trumpet? A melodica? A kazoo? Somebody singing through their nose? I haven't a clue, honest...

Friday, July 02, 2010

Weekend Listomania (Special White Men Do It on the One! Audio/Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and the beginning of the big July 4th Weekend, so you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental pre-barbecue meat-pounding czar Fah Lo Suee and I will be heading off to somewhere to do something and I wanted to insert a BP/Gulf oil spill joke at this point but the whole thing's just too depressing so the hell with it.

That being the case, and since things will be otherwise quiet around here till Monday, here's a totally irrelevant but hopefully amusing little project for us all:

Best or Worst Use of Handclaps on a Post-Elvis Pop/Rock/Soul Record!!!

No arbitrary rules of any kind, you're welcome very much. And yes, I know that I've probably done this one at some point in the past, but I'm doing it again for two very good reasons. A) The amazing similarity between the two songs in the number 4 entry was unknown to me last time out. And B) I've always wanted an excuse to post yesterday's Bette Midler "Fiesta in Rio and I Had the Clap" song. So there.

And my totally top of my head Top Five is:

5. The Hounds -- Call Me

I have no idea who the guys doing this song are, but damn -- those handclaps totally sell it.

4. The Angels -- My Boyfriend's Back

[Angels] - My Boyfriend's Back .mp3
Found at bee mp3 search engine a tie with...

The Beatles -- I Want to Hold your Hand

The same handclap pattern in both songs -- coincidence? I think not!

3. OK Go -- You're So Damn Hot

Because, as you know, we like to have something recorded in this century, even if it's kind of mediocre and derivative.

2. The Who -- Who Are You

God, I love this video. Plus, you get to see them actually doing the claps beginning at approximately 4:34. And the bit at around 2:28, when Moon starts mugging shamelessly and you THINK they're going to do the claps, never fails to crack me up.

And the Numero Uno if-you're-happy-and-you-know-it-clap-you-hands moment in all of recorded music, frankly, just has to be...

1. The Zombies -- Tell Her No

The single echoed clap, at approximately there a more perfectly positioned sonic detail of any kind in the entire history of rock-and-roll? Obviously not, says I. BTW -- this is the mono version; avoid the stereo mix -- where said single echoed clap all but disappears into the ether -- like the proverbial plague.

Alrighty then, holiday revelers -- what would your choices be?

[Shameless Blogwhore: My paralle Cinema Listomania -- theme: Best or Worst films with a deeply cynical view of America or American democracy -- is now up over at Box Office. As always, I would take it as a personal favor if you could take a moment to go over there and leave a comment, despite the clunkiness of the new posting system. Thanks!]

Thursday, July 01, 2010

An Unusually Early (And Probably in Need of Antibiotics) Clue to the New Direction

Off to the City of Brotherly Love to soak up some much needed culture at The Barnes. And I won't be back until the morrow, although (via wi-fi) I may be checking in from time to time to see how you guys are progressing.

That being the case, and from sometime in the 70s, please enjoy The Divine Miss M, a/k/a the irrepressible Bette Midler, and her touching ode to tropical romance and STDs, "Fiesta in Rio."

Hey, like I said -- it was the 70s; we were all a little over the top.

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