Friday, March 29, 2013


[cross-posted from Floor Your Love]

By popular demand, after a two-year disappearance from the intertubes, here's the fabulous Floor Models, savage and live at JPs, on October 15 1982.

The early show. I sing the third song, alas.

I should add that the club in Manhattan where this was shot is now a biker bar called American Trash, although obviously the phrase biker bar has a different meaning on the Upper East Side than it does anywhere else in the world.

I should also add that the first thirty seconds or so, the footage of the padlocked refrigerator, is included as my tribute to Andy Warhol.

[h/t ROTP]

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Present Day Bohemian Poseur Refuses to Die

Well, now I've seen everything. Or something like it.

In any case, please behold in breathless wonder a recently unearthed film, shot on the night of June 22, 1983, that documents the first annual Greenwich Village Bob Dylan Imitators Contest at a now-defunct club called the Speakeasy.

Friend of PowerPop Peter Spencer is the guy who wins "Best thank-you," incidentally.

I should add that I lived around the corner from the Speakeasy, and played there a couple of times, but never -- to my lasting regret -- got to see any of the Dylan imitators shows over the years. So this tape (which apparently aired sometime on Danish television) is a particular treat for me.

I should also add that one of the times I played the Speak, I looked out into the audience and seated directly in front of me was notorious New York City subway shooter Bernhard Goetz. To quote the old joke, I figured I had better be a hit that evening or I'd be hit tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Glengarry Glen Campbell

First of all, before we go any further, I would like to apologize for the title of today's post.

Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

That out of the way, over the weekend I saw HBO's Phil Spector movie, which as you may know was written and directed by David Mamet -- a horrible horrible person who has gone, apparently irrevocably, over to the Dark Side of the Force, but Jeebus H. Christ on a piece of melba toast, can that evil SOB ever do dialog.

Short version: Al Pacino's great, Helen Mirren is even better (seriously -- she's completely unrecognizable in the part of one of Spector's lawyers), and the whole thing is terrific fun, even if it plays, shall we say, somewhat fast and loose with the facts of Spector's actual murder trial. If you have HBO, I highly recommend you check it out, and if you don't, I'm sure it's streaming somewhere.

That said, this bit, from the L.A. Times review of the film, written by one of the paper's legal reporters...
"Our culture's relationship with fame is ripe for comment, but it's unclear why Mamet chose Spector as his vehicle. When his case first went to trial in 2007, Spector wasn't exactly Kim Kardashian. He hadn't produced a hit in decades and was less a celebrity than a tricky "Jeopardy!" question."
...and which was echoed by just about every other piece I read about Phil Spector, kind of took me aback.

Because it's just plain wrong.

First of all, the Spector-Kardashian comparison is really stupid; Spector is a major figure in post-war pop music history. It's like saying Elvis Presley is the equivalent of Honey Boo Boo.

Secondly, in point of fact in late 2003, just before the murder, Spector had charted with a new song -- specifically, this characteristic production of Starsailor's "Silence is Easy" (Spector's daughter is apparently a big fan of Starsailor).

Which went Top 10 in England.

Okay, it's not "Be My Baby," but it's actually a pretty nice record if you like crappy earnest post-Coldplay Brit bands.

In any event, a hit is a hit. Just saying.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Your Monday Moment of "Words Fail Me" (An Occasional Series)

I should add that this is probably what you and I actually sound like when we attempt to perform Beach Boys songs and adult beverages are involved.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Okay, I Lied -- Sue Me.

From 1967, please enjoy -- if at all possible -- The Fifth Estate and their flop follow-up to their hit version of "Ding Dong etc."

As in, "Heigh-Ho," i.e. that song from Disney's Snow White.

And how did this recording actually happen?

While performing at a Christmas party not long after, Askew reportedly cracked that given the proper production and promotion, any song could become a hit; his bandmates took the bait, and Askew and Wadhams set to work on adapting the Wizard of Oz chestnut "Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead," basing their arrangement in part on Michael Praetorius' dance suite "Terpsichore." Jubilee Records heard the demo and quickly signed the group, with "Ding Dong!" falling just shy of the Billboard Top Ten in mid-June 1967; the Fifth Estate spent the summer touring as part of a package headlined by Gene Pitney and the Happenings, and in August released the follow-up, the Lovin' Spoonful sound-alike "The Goofin' Song." The record went nowhere, as did the subsequent "Heigh Ho!"

I'm reminded of Nick Tosches' immortal phrase.

"Even though it was a bad record, it failed to sell."

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Ding Dong the Fricking Witch is Fricking Dead, Mofo!

Okay, Disney -- THIS is how it's supposed to be done. Not that Oz the Great and Powerful with cute CGI crap.

Seriously, I don't know who's responsible for the graphic, but it's hilarious. However, I bring this up because right before I found it, I happened to be downloading the Fifth Estate's greatest hits album, and I'd forgotten how much I liked their 1967 version of you know what.

It's actually rather nice in a sort of baroque pop Tokens/Happenings sort of way. I'm also taken with their version of "Heigh-Ho," but don't worry -- I won't inflict that one on you.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Your Wednesday Moment of "Mike Love is a Humongous Dick"

Seriously -- this is totally great despite the humongous dickitude of Mr. Love.

The Beach Boys -- in Hawaii, 1967 -- rehearsing their cover of The Box Tops' "The Letter"

Seriously -- I can almost forgive the SOB when I hear stuff like that,

Also -- Carl Wilson was God.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Your Tuesday Moment of "Words Fail Me" (An Occasional Series)

And speaking as we were last week of possibly unfairly underrated 60s pop hitmakers The Association, a reader forwarded me the following clip from an actual network television show of the period.

Warning: Do not attempt to operate heavy machinery after you've auditioned it.

I think there are two things we can all agree on after viewing that.

1: It's no wonder the hippies at Monterey Pop had a problem or two with the Association's performance.


2: Carol Channing had a variety show? Really?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Monday Moment of Feline-Themed Self-Indulgence

[Optional soundtrack for this post: The Kinks' "Phenomenal Cat"]

Ladies and gentlemen, may we please present -- at approximately two years of age and weighing in at sixteen(!) pounds -- the latest addition to the home of a certain Shady Dame of my acquaintance:

The incomparable Eddie ("Big Foot") Cohen.

The aforementioned Shady Dame and I have lost two beloved pussycats in the last five months, so we are truly blessed by the arrival of the Edster.

Normal music posts resume tomorrow, but for today...well, I just had to.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Your Friday Moment of "Words Fail Me" (An Occasional Series)

Okay, and speaking as we were yesterday of iconic 60s bands from elsewhere than the US of A, you need to check out this documentary on Easybeats lead singer Stevie Wright -- and possibly the most obsessed, in a mostly healthy sense, fan in the history of obsessed fans -- immediately.

If not sooner.

This aired on Australian TV a few weeks ago, and I don't even know where to begin to describe how amazing a story it is.

Of course, long-time readers know that I think the aforementioned Easybeats were a world-class band who deserve to be talked about in the same terms as the Beatles/Stones/Who/Kinks, but the story turns out to be even more boggling than I'd imagined. As is some of the archival footage.

Go to this link right now. (427 MB)

Seriously -- do it now. You'll thank me.

[h/t Peter Scott. Man, I owe you one, Pete.]

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Well, Maybe Devo was Right -- Things Really Are Devolving!!!

Okay, I'm about to say something that I've never said to another living soul, and certainly not to another living rock critic, for what will be obvious reasons.


I do not now care, and have never particularly cared, for Van Morrison's Astral Weeks.

Okay, there I've said it.

Which, of course, given the album's status as pretty much the holiest bovine in the entire rock album canon, is more or less akin to confessing you were glad the Greek colonels overthrew King Constantine.

And lest you think I'm just being difficult, or trying to generate some sort of blog-hit controversy, I'm not. I don't dislike the album; it simply doesn't talk to me. Maybe it's genetic, I dunno, but I just find it a little dull. Sue me.

I bring all this up because the other day -- having some more than usual time on my hands -- I finally got around to purchasing a copy of an album called Tax Free that I've been meaning to check out for ages. And therein lies a tale.

Longtime readers are aware of my fondness for a Dutch 60s beat group called The Outsiders (not to be confused with the American greaseball outfit of the same name and era who hit it big with "Time Won't Let Me.")

The Dutch Outsiders never had any of their music released in this country, but they were pretty big in Europe and they've developed a cult following in recent years; some folks claim they're the best 60s band for whom English was not their original language, and while I won't go that far, they were pretty damn good. Maybe not world class, but definitely worth hearing in that sort of Stones/Pretty Things snarling r&b derived rock style that was all the rage back then.

In any case, Tax Free was the band Outsiders singer Wally Tax formed after the breakup of that bunch, and unlike the rest of his previous oeuvre, their eponymous elpee was actually released -- albeit to an utterly oblivious public -- in the US of A.

What I didn't know until recently is that Tax Free's eponymous album has often been compared to Astral Weeks, presumably because it's produced by Lewis Merenstein (who produced AW), it features Richard Davis (who did similar duty on AW) on upright bass, it's in the same pastoral more or less acoustic quasi-jazz style as AW, and because it, like AW, makes me very, very sleepy.

Have I mentioned that John Cale plays viola on the album?

Anyhowever, all of this is a very roundabout way of setting up a Compare and Contrast that may prove edifying.

From 1965, it's the angry youngThem (featuring Van Morrison) and "I Can Only Give You Everything"...

...and from 1968, it's the not so angry Van Morrison (from Astral Weeks) and "Cypress Avenue."

Meanwhile, from 1967, here are the savage young The Outsiders (featuring Wally Tax) and "Story 16"...

...and from 1970, here are the far more genteel Tax Free (featuring Wally Tax) and "Along the Shadowed Quay."

Seriously -- do either of those examples strike you guys as some kind of musical evolution? Or at least one worth writing home about?

Because what I hear in both cases -- and yes, obviously I'm exaggerating to make a point -- is more like a failure of nerve.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

He's Still Dead, But We're Not!!!

Posted this over at the Flo Mos site yesterday, but it tickles me so much I just have to share.

In short: Last Tuesday morning I got an e-mail from CD Baby -- we sold another copy of the Floor Models album in Spain!!!

A CD no less, not just a digital download. Good thing I just had some more copies of the CD pressed -- if we sell two more, I'll have to make them available to our "distributor."

Seriously, at this point we're bigger than Generalissimo Franco on the Iberian peninsula. Who could have predicted?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Pilgrimage Completed: Shoes Live!

So I finally did it.

After 33 years of fandom, I made it to see Shoes play live.

It was worth every second of the wait.

Last weekend, with a determined set to my jaw, the spouse and I took off for Racine, Wisconsin, and a small club called McAuliffe's, where Shoes played in 2009 before they headed off to Japan. Here's some video from that show:

You couldn't have shot this video last weekend: it was much, much more crowded. I was sitting about where the videographer was 4 years ago, but as Shoes took the stage, the crowd surged forward. Here was my view for the opening song:

So when the lovely and charming McCormick sisters dragged me out onto the dance floor, I didn't fight too hard. Here's where I ended up by the end of the night, beet-red and sweaty and perfectly, unselfconsciously happy.

Blame away, but see that tall drink of water two rows behind me? The one taking a pic on his iPhone? He was standing in front of my table, and he had to be 6'7" or 8". It was a freakishly tall crowd. (Rumors that he was the illicit offspring of a certain Shoe remain unsubstantiated.) Also, and this surprised me a little, the crowd was young. In this shot, you mostly see oldsters like me (and my co-author, Moira McCormick, just to my left), bu there was a pretty sizable cadre of under 30s, hipsters with spiked hair and clunky glasses, including one kid who had come from Germany for the show.

Set List: Your Devotion/Don't Do This to Me/Say It Like You Mean It/Animal Attraction/Now and Then/MayDay/Too Late/When It Hits/Love Is Like a Bullet/Burned Out Love/Torn In Two/Hangin Around with You/Feel the Way that I Do/Heaven Help Me/Tomorrow Night/Curiosity/Your Imagination/Hot Mess/I Don't Wanna Hear It/She Satisfies. First encore: I Don't Miss You/Hate to Run. Second encore: Capital Gain.

People who've hunted up Shoes on youtube know that they can sometimes be ragged live: bad monitoring makes it impossible for them to fit their voices together the way they do in the studio, mics can be capricious (Jeff's had to be changed out during sound check at this show), and there's a myriad of other issues that can just crop up and cause problems.

None of that happened here. They were tight, the sound was tight, and any mistakes were glossed right over. At one point, John invited us to drink a shot every time they messed up: we would all have been disappointingly sober, had we done so.

The official reason for this show was a warm-up for their first-ever trip to South by Southwest, the massive music and film festival in Austin, Texas. I'm seeing them listed as one of most anticipated acts at the Festival, as here and here.

If this weekend was any indication, they should rock the hell out of the kids in Austin!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Scenes From an Italian Restaurant (Parte Due)

Okay, for those who missed installment one -- I was having dinner at a way cool Brooklyn eatery called Brucie last week and the playlist that was on their stereo included several vintage r&b, blues, reggae and garage punk songs, including three heretofore unknown to me, that caught my ears. And, alas, nobody on the wait staff had access to the computer that was playing them, so I had to do a bit of intertube research to track down the tunes.

The first turned out to be an astounding 1965 Stones rip-off called "So What!!" by a California band called The Lyrics.

The second, however, turned out to be by a familiar auteur, but the song...well, words fail me.

Ladies and germs, from 1960, and his obviously way cool concept album....

...please enjoy man among men Bo Diddley with a jaw-droppingly astounding cover of Tennessee Ernie Ford's classic "Sixteen Tons." A version I had never even suspected existed.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but Jeebus H. Christ on a tuna melt, that's absolutely fantastic.

Still trying to unearth the third song, which was in many ways the coolest of the bunch, without success, BTW. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, March 08, 2013

The Stations of the Cross: An Occasional Series

Okay, Blogger just ate part two of "Scenes From an Italian Restaurant," thus wasting a couple of hours of work.

Given that one definition of insanity is repeating the same action in the hope of a different result, I have decided to just -- you know, fuck off for the weekend.

See you on Monday, assuming I don't slash my wrists in the interim.

UPDATE: And speaking of the Stations of the Cross, I thought I'd post the picture below, for obvious reasons. From Nicholas Ray's 1961 King of Kings (or as they referred to it in the trades at the time, I Was a Teenage Jesus) here's the late Jeffrey Hunter, as the Big J, ascending to Calvary in green Italian hushpuppies.

This is one of my all time favorite photos ever; to my knowledge, it only ever appeared in the deluxe movie tie-in book that came with the original MGM King of Kings soundtrack, an elpee which featured prominently on the stereo playlist at Casa Simels back in my youth.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Slacker Thursday

Feh. It's snowing, I just learned that Ten Years After guitarist/singer Alvin Lee has died in a tragic accident with a watermelon truck, and I'm not feeling so good myself.

Regular posting -- including part II of our Scenes From an Italian Restaurant series -- resumes on the morrow, Tex Antoine permitting.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Scenes From an Italian Restaurant (Part 1)

So the other day, I was having dinner (along with a certain Shady Dame) at Brucie, a trendy but nonetheless comfortably inviting joint in Brooklyn...

..., and the music on their stereo, as is often the case, was an eclectic (and largely unfamiliar, at least to me) mix of old blues, reggae, r&b and garage punk. I was immediately struck by three songs in particular, but alas none of the wait staff could access the computer playlist and tell me what the songs were.

Well, praise Jeebus for the intertubes, because a little online detective work led me to two of the three immediately.

Here's the first one, which absolutely slays me, and I suspect anybody with even the slightest fondness for Nuggets era snarl will dig it the most as well.

Ladies and gentlemen, from 1965, please enjoy San Diego California punkers The Lyrics and the absolutely hilarious Stones/blues rip-off that is "So What!!"

Sheesh -- everything about that one is priceless, especially the line about the bomb shelter, and the band really really cooks; why they never scored a national hit (a la, say, the Count Five and "Psychotic Reaction") is a mystery that may perhaps never be solved.

Meanwhile, you can find a very interesting interview with the band's Dan Garcia over here.

And if you're in Brooklyn -- specifically Cobble Hill (or, as I refer to it. Cobble Hill: Where All Your Shit's in Walking Distance©) -- anytime soon, be sure to stop in at Brucie, which can be found at 234 Court Street.

I particularly recommend the spaghetti and meatballs, which is the best old fashioned old folks restaurant spaghetti and meatballs I've had in years.

Song number two goes up tomorrow, BTW.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Left of the Dial (An Occasional Series)

In case you missed it, my appearance on my chum Allan Rosenberg's intertube radio show last week is now available for streaming over at the Area 24 vault here -- just scroll down once you click the link for the February 26th episode.

I'm pretty funny on this one, if I do say so myself, and we play a bunch of interesting 60s and 70s oddities you might enjoy.

Even better, see if you can detect the moment when copious glasses of elitist chardonnay begin to be quaffed by yours truly -- could be a hot one!!!

Monday, March 04, 2013

Someone Left the You Know What Out in the Rain

And speaking as we were last week of 60s Girl Group pop psychedelia, let's just say that you should NOT attempt to operate heavy machinery after watching the clip below.

You've been warned.

No, that it is not a parody, and no, the brunette on the right is NOT, as I immediately assumed, Jo Anne Worley of Laugh-In fame. That is, in fact, a legitimate L.A. girl group called The Cake, who were managed (and conceived, one assumes) by the same Greene/Stone production/management team that handled Sonny & Cher and Buffalo Springfield.

Obviously, as The Cake, they never quite went on to fame and or/fortune, but they did continue to work in music-related areas; two of them went off immediately after the demise of The Cake to become back-up singers for Dr. John, while the third went on to perform with and eventually marry Chris Wood of Traffic.

That said, that clip (which is from 1967) is still utterly confounding. What in god's name were they thinking?

[h/t David Feldman]

Friday, March 01, 2013

Your Friday Moment of Susanna

Heard this one -- for the first time in years -- while grocery shopping(!) in suburban New Jersey yesterday and found myself quite literally swooning in public.

Seriously -- I'd all but forgotten how gorgeous this is, or just how great The Bangles were when they were on.

Mad props to composer Jules Shear, obviously, but Jeebus H. Christ in a chicken basket, can that gal sing.