Wednesday, December 31, 2014

If It Isn't Scottish, It's Crap: Special Beach Boys New Year's Eve Edition

From November 1964, and their epochal Christmas LP, please enjoy the incomparable Brian, Dennis and Carl Wilson, Al Jardine, and the humongous dickitude that is Mike Love and their incomparable a cappella rendition of that Scottish New Year's eve song whose title escapes me.

With an extra special holiday message from Denny at the end.

And if you're out tonight, please drink responsibly. Or not. After all, you guys can do anything you want -- you're college students!

Coming tomorrow: We revisit a PowerPop New Years Day classic. Coming Friday: An absolutely brilliant new Weekend Listomania's Greatest Hits.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town (Special Existentially Bummed Out German Edition)

UN ambassador Hans Beinholtz is kind of depressed this season..

That's my old Greenwich Village pal Erik Frandsen as Hans, of course.

Seriously -- I always thought of him as a sort of old school folkie; I had no idea he was one of the funniest mofos alive.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

No Rim Shots in Hell

German ambassador to the UN and world's most existentially depressed man Hans Beinholtz...

...doing his stand-up tragedy act.

Hans, of course, is the alter-ego of my old chum from my Greenwich Village days Erik Frandsen, although I didn't discover this until a couple of days ago. In any case, it blows my mind that a guy I thought was merely an entertaining old school folkie is also something of a comic genius.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Let Us Now Praise Famous Men

So last Friday I had lunch with Peter Spencer...

...a friend of mine from my early 80s sojourn in Greenwich Village as a member of legendary obscure pop combo The Floor Models.

Pete's a brilliant singer/songwriter/guitarist and a heck of a nice guy (who I hadn't seen in at least a quarter of a century), and as you might expect, we got to reminiscing about the old days. And at one point I asked about another mutual musician pal I'd lost track of, the very very funny old school folkie Erik Frandsen.

(That's Erik in the photo on the left, and yes that's the late great Dave Van Ronk on the right.)

The song below, which I post here to give you an idea of Erik's work, is his hilarious ode to the holiday just past, "Christmas in Brooklyn." (Which, by the way, is even better than my other favorite New York themed yule classic, "Christmas In Hollis" by Run-DMC. So there.)

In any case, Pete replied that Erik has had a whole new career as an actor, and that for the last year or so he'd been playing a recurring character on The Colbert Report. Why I hadn't gotten the memo on this is beyond me, but in any case here's Erik as Hans Beinholtz (the existentialist and aggressively depressing fictional UN ambassador from Germany.)

I should add that Erik also showed up on last week's Colbert finale, but as the unicorn Abraham Lincoln...

...which was almost too disturbing for words.

I should also add that I recently mangled one of Pete's best songs in the recording studio, and that after hearing the results, Pete graciously declined to throw his drink in my face.

More on that musical crime against nature later in the week.

Friday, December 26, 2014

It's So Nice to Be Home For the Holidays

From 1995, please enjoy The Pretenders -- featuring world's coolest sentient person Chrissie Hynde -- and the Duke String Quartet and an absolutely gorgeous performance of "2000 Miles." Or as we here at Casa Simels like to call it -- the greatest Christmas song written in English in the second half of the 20th century.

That's from the Pretenders wonderful DVD "The Isle of View" which, in case you missed it, is a sort of semi-unplugged concert set of the band's greatest hits and stuff; it's still in print and as you can plainly see behooves behaving.

Seriously -- what are you waiting for? Get the hell over to Amazon and buy the damn thing as a Christmas present for yourself over HERE now.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

It's Christmas Time

[Okay, I'm going to get a little self-indulgent here for a minute, so cut me some slack if you can. And yes -- I've posted a slightly different version of this on several previous Christmases; consider it one of those internet traditions you've heard so much about. -- S.S.]

Ahem. So. Way back in December of 2007 -- when the world, myself and this here blog were young -- I found myself, quite improbably, falling in love. And the Christmas song I kept hearing in at least two TV commercials at the time was the ineffably touching "All That I Want" by The Weepies.

Which, as it turned out, was, improbably, about the improbability of somehow finding the right person to fall in love with.
Above the rooftops
The full moon dips its golden spoon
I wait on clip clops
Deer might fly. Why not? I met you
Seven years later, I still can't hear the thing without getting a little misty, sentimental old fluff that I am. So I thought I'd share it again as sort of a Christmas card to you all. And to a certain Shady Dame let me just say, and for the record -- I love you.

Anyway, Happy Holidays -- and here's hoping that what the new year brings you makes you as happy I've been since I first heard that song. However improbably.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Blecccchhhhh. Seriously.

Let's just say I've been better.

Normal, upbeat and germ-free, posting resumes tomorrow, including a traditional PowerPop Christmas message.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Joe Cocker 1944--2014

The inimitable blues-rock stylist has passed.

Wait a sec -- did I say inimitable? Clearly not, since that's actually John Belushi.

In any case, rest easy Joe. You made music history in your own weird way.

And may I just say again, and for the record, that this death shit is REALLY starting to piss me off.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Lord of the Fly

This clip -- whose existence I was unaware of until last Friday -- has absolutely nothing to do with the mission statement of this here blog.

That said, you will not see a funnier six plus minutes any time in the foreseeable future, so I thought it appropriate to share in the spirit of the Holidays. I should add that bringing out Pavarotti at the end -- you may not believe it even as you watch -- is a particularly inspired touch.

You're welcome.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Okay, I Couldn't Resist

Tom Lehrer rhymes "Shavuous" with "East St. Louis" in honor of the Jewish holidays.

This actually may be the last new recording Lehrer made; it first saw the light of day on Rhino's essential 2000 box set The Remains of Tom Lehrer.

And I hate to admit it, but until I heard this, it had never even occurred to me that Lehrer was a fellow Red Sea Pedestrian. Which is really kind of funny, because in retrospect his whole esthetic has a fairly obvious scent of the Borscht Belt, and always has, the Gilbertian word play not withstanding.

In any case, Happy Hannukah, Tom and in the immortal words of Gov. Scott Walker -- molotov!!!!

Friday, December 19, 2014

I'm Spending Hannukah in Santa Monica

Actually, no I'm not -- and in fact that's a Tom Lehrer song that for some reason isn't in my iTunes library -- but in any case, please enjoy the incomparable Gefilte Joe and the Fish and their anthemic "Hannukah Rocks," which has the same seasonal feel.

I actually had the colored Star of David vinyl edition of this back in the day, if truth be told.

In any case -- Mazel Tov till next week.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

M is For the Million Things You Gave Me.....

Taking another day off.

You can probably guess why.

Back on the morrow, with a Weekend Listomania of some sort, assuming I'm not incarcerated first.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Taking the Day Off... work on my memoir/self-help book Unusual Matricides.

Back tomorrow, the authorities permitting.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Cry the Beloved Country

From 1996, please listen -- more in sorrow than in anger, if you can do it (at the moment I can't) -- to Iris DeMent and the greatest (or at least most prescient) protest song of the last several decades "Wasteland of the Free."

I hadn't thought about this one for ages, but the events of the last several weeks brought it suddenly to mind for some reason (heh).

We got preachers dealing in politics and diamond mines
and their speech is growing increasingly unkind
They say they are Christ's disciples
but they don't look like Jesus to me
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

We got politicians running races on corporate cash
Now don't tell me they don't turn around and kiss them peoples' ass
You may call me old-fashioned
but that don't fit my picture of a true democracy
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

We got CEO's making two hundred times the workers' pay
but they'll fight like hell against raising the minimum wage
and If you don't like it, mister, they'll ship your job
to some third-world country 'cross the sea
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

Living in the wasteland of the free
where the poor have now become the enemy
Let's blame our troubles on the weak ones
Sounds like some kind of Hitler remedy
Living in the wasteland of the free

We got little kids with guns fighting inner city wars
So what do we do, we put these little kids behind prison doors
and we call ourselves the advanced civilization
that sounds like crap to me
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

We got high-school kids running 'round in Calvin Klein and Guess
who cannot pass a sixth-grade reading test
but if you ask them, they can tell you
but if you ask them, they can tell you
the name of every crotch on MTV
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

We kill for oil, then we throw a party when we win
Some guy refuses to fight, and we call that the sin
but he's standing up for what he believes in
and that seems pretty damned American to me
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

Living in the wasteland of the free
where the poor have now become the enemy
Let's blame our troubles on the weak ones
Sounds like some kind of Hitler remedy
Living in the wasteland of the free

While we sit gloating in our greatness
justice is sinking to the bottom of the sea
Living in the wasteland of the free
Living in the wasteland of the free
Living in the wasteland of the free

Like I said, prescient. She got everything except cops getting away with the murder of black people with impunity and torture as merely a question of semantics.

God, I barely recognize this place lately. Which may merely be a tribute to my own naïveté, but still...

Monday, December 15, 2014

I've Seen Fire and I've Seen Rain

So a certain Shady Dame of my acquaintance was going through her closets a few weeks ago -- the moving process never seems to end -- and she found this towel tucked away with some other household stuff she had forgotten about.

And yes, it's from the renowned McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts, the loony bin immortalized by James Taylor in which he was institutionalized in 1965 and consequently introduced to the delights of Thorazine.

I don't know why I find this souvenir so hilarious, or whether thinking it is makes me a bad person. But I do.

Friday, December 12, 2014

How They Did It (An Occasional Series): Special Saving the Best For Last Edition

From 1978, prepare to have your mind blown by the original instrumental track to Elvis Costello and the Attractions' indelible rock masterpiece "Pump It Up."

Words fail me, except to add that if Nick Lowe, as producer, had never done anything else in his career besides slathering this track in the most wonderfully cheesy compression ever heard by sentient mammalian ears, than he would still deserve to be considered one of the immortals.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

How They Did It (An Occasional Series): Special Punk Karaoke Edition

From 1979, please enjoy in slack-jawed disbelief the original instrumental backing track for The Clash's anthemic "London Calling."

You know, listening to this with the benefit of several decades of hindsight, you almost have to wonder how these guys ever got mistaken for a punk band, especially given the scope of their influences. In any case, this is an absolutely perfect rock 'n' roll record, as fresh and powerful as the day it was committed to magnetic tape.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

How They Did It (An Occasional Series): Special Stop -- What's That Sound? Edition

From 1967, please behold in breathless the instrumental backing track for the Buffalo Springfield's epochal "For What It's Worth."

Two things immediately come to mind. 1) Yes, that's pretty much the greatest bass and drum production in the history of recorded music. And 2) It occurs to me that I have no idea whether it's Stephen or Neil playing the lead guitar.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

How They Did It (An Occasional Series): Special The Funk Brothers Rule! Edition

From 1969, please enjoy in breathless wonder the instrumental backing track to the Jackson 5's debut single "I Want You Back."

Jeebus, listen to that piano player -- baby, that is rock-and-roll.

Monday, December 08, 2014

That Nasty Bug That's Going Around.... still kicking my ass.

It's been a hellish week, if you must know.

In any case, I hope to resume normal -- hacking cough free -- posting on the morrow, although I make no promises.

I should add that I find it kind of hilarious that you can actually buy action figures of the little pests.

Christmas is coming, is all I'm gonna say. Word to your mother.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Chrissie Hynde Explains It All To You

From the promo material to her 1994 single "Night in My Veins."


1. Don’t moan about being a chick, refer to feminism or complain about sexist discrimination. We’ve all been thrown down the stairs, and f—ed about, but no one wants to hear a whining female. Write a loosely disguised song about it instead and clean up. ($)

2. Never pretend to know more than you do. If you don’t know chord names, refer to the dots. Don’t go near the desk unless you plan on becoming an engineer.

3. Make the other band members look and sound good. Bring out the best in them; that’s your job. Oh, and you better sound good too.

4. Do not insist in [sic] working with “females.” That’s just more b.s. Get the best man for the job. If it happens to a woman, great – you’ll have someone to go to department stores with on tour instead of making one of the road crew go with you.

5. Try not to have a sexual relationship with the band. It always ends in tears.

6. Don’t think that sticking your boobs out and trying to look f—able will help. Remember you’re in a rock and roll band. It’s not “f—me,” it’s “f—you”!

7. Don’t try to compete with the guys; it won’t impress anybody. Remember, one of the reasons they like you is because you don’t offer yet more competition to the already existing male egos.

8. If you sing, don’t “belt” or “screech.” No one wants to hear that sh–; it sounds “hysterical.”

9. Shave your legs, for chrissakes!

10. Don’t take advice from people like me. Do your own thing always.

Yes -- she IS the coolest woman on the planet. Now and eternally.

[h/t Capt. Al]

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Ian McLagan 1945 -- 2014

From the BBC:

Ian McLagan, keyboard player for the Small Faces and the Faces, has died aged 69, due to complications from a stroke suffered earlier this week.

"It is with great sadness and eternal admiration that we report the passing of [a] rock and roll icon," read a statement on his official website.

McLagan, known as Mac, played on such memorable Small Faces tracks as Lazy Sunday and Itchycoo Park in the 1960s.

The band became the Faces when Rod Stewart and Ron Wood joined in 1969.

McLagan went on to record and perform with the Rolling Stones and also worked with Chuck Berry, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen.

The Hounslow-born musician was about to embark on a North American tour, supporting label mate Nick Lowe, at the time of his death in his adopted home town of Austin, Texas.

"I am completely devastated by this shocking news and I know this goes for Ronnie and Rod as well," said Small Faces and Faces member Kenney Jones.

As I've said here on far too many occasions, this death shit is really starting to piss me off.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

There's a Nasty Bug Going Around...

...and apparently I've got it.

Assuming I live, regular posting resumes tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Your Tuesday Moment of Words Fail Me

And speaking as we were last Friday of people who should be household words but aren't (thus conclusively proving the non-existence of God), from the 1992 EP Lone Green Valley please enjoy alt-country pioneers The Blood Oranges -- featuring bassist/vocalist Cheri Knight -- and their absolutely devastating "All the Way Down."

I don't have the CD in front of me, and I can't remember if this is written by Knight or one of the other guys in the band. Whatever, it's brilliant on every level, and if it doesn't nail you to the wall you definitely need to have it looked at.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Closed For Monkey Business

Totally stressed and taking a much-needed mental health day.

Regular posting -- including a song that will knock your frigging socks off -- resumes tomorrow.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Weekend Listomania's Greatest Hits: Special They Coulda Been a Contender! Edition

[I originally posted this one back in 2008, and frankly I can't remember anything else I did that year; I assume I was having fun and being reasonably productive, but I can't prove it. In any case, as is my wont, I've changed a couple of entries and done some cosmetic re-writing, just so you don't confuse me with Marlene Dietrich singing this.

Enjoy, if possible. -- S.S.]

Best Post-Elvis Pop/Rock Band or Solo Act That Should Have Had a Mega-Career But For Whatever Reason Didn't!!!

Okay, we're talking one-hit wonders, groups or acts who had a couple of records that may have been critically acclaimed but sold negligibly, or just people that nobody ever really heard of but were fricking fantastic anyway. This is, admittedly, even more subjective than usual. Do the MC5 count? Everybody knows they were great, but they never sold that many records and broke up after three albums. How about Nick Drake? Until that car commercial made him a sort of household word, he'd been basically an obscure dead guy for decades.

Like I said, it's subjective. For me, then, I think the pornography standard applies -- i.e., I know a beautiful loser when I see one.

And that said, my top of my head Top Ten would be:

10. The Monks

These guys only made one studio album, which wasn't even released in their home country until 25 years after the fact. But as the above live clip from their fabulous 1999 reunion show demonstrates, they invented Blank Generation punk rock when Richard Hell was still in junior high school.

9. Brinsley Schwarz

The Band with pop songs, and, as you can see, one hell of a live act. IMHO, of course, they should be considered gods for no other reason than giving the world the original version of "What's So Funny About Peace Love and Understanding".

8. The Records

It is perhaps not an exaggeration to say that if it wasn't for these guys and this song the blog you're reading now wouldn't exist.

7. Kevin Salem

My favorite hard-rocking guitar-wielding singer/songwriter of the 90s. Why he remains obscure when, say, a nit like John Mayer walks the streets a free man is, frankly, beyond me.

6. The Wonders

Let's be honest -- if these guys had been an actual band rather than a fictional construct for a movie, they would have made the Hall of Fame years ago.

5. The Merry-Go-Round/Emitt Rhodes

Another power pop god who inexplicably slipped through the cracks. Fortunately, one of the best tracks from his 1970 solo album featured prominently in the soundtrack of The Royal Tennenbaums, thus reminding people (besides the Bangles, who covered one of the songs above) of just how good he is.

4. The Rising Sons

Featuring the rather awesome talents of Ry Cooder and Taj Mahal before they got famous. The fact that this track languished unreleased in the vaults of Columbia Records for nearly three decades before it was finally unleashed on the world is pretty convincing proof of the non-existence of God, IMHO.

3. Marah

Their template was The Replacements doing Bruce Springsteen covering the entirety of Exile on Main Street. It is not an exaggeration when I say that I would cheerfully cut off both of my testicles for the chance to have played on a song as great as the above. And almost everything on the album it's from is as good, BTW.

2. Moby Grape

They all sang (gloriously), the all wrote (brilliantly), their lead guitarist was one of the most innovative American players of the decade, and their debut album is a timeless masterpiece that deftly mixes rock, country, blues, gospel, and psychedelia. So why aren't these guys as famous as, oh, Crosby, Stills and Nash?

And the number uno band that time forgot and should be currently relaxing on the Riviera inhaling cocaine and Cristal absolutely is....

1. The Floor Models

Come on -- like I really have to explain this?

Alrighty, then -- what would YOUR choices be?

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving From WKRP in Cincinnati

Because this never, ever gets old.

My favorite line: "It was almost as if they were...organized."

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Image of the Day: Fort Knox Rocks!

From 1968: Please behold in breathless wonder The Trends, an all-gal Louisville band that -- in the words of drummer and pal of mine Alanna Nash -- "broke out" only as far as Fort Knox."

Alanna has written for just about every media outlet on the planet, beginning with the Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Review (in point of fact, I think she got her byline in said rag even before I did). Later, we toiled together for Entertainment Weekly.

Alanna also wrote the Jessica Savitch biography that became the basis, however loosely, for the 1996 Robert Redford/Michelle Pfeiffer vehical Up Close and Personal.

I would also like to say, and for the record, that my favorite thing about this photo -- apart from the obvious -- is that Alanna, ever the rebel, declined to wear the admittedly very cool striped jackets that the rest of the band sported.

In any case: Eat your heart out, Go-Gos. Bite me, Bangles.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Image of the Day: I Don't Need No Doctor

And speaking as we were last week of the great Patti Smith -- a certain Shady Dame and I have been binge-watching The Killing, the extremely grim forensic crime series based on, apparently, an even grimmer Danish original.

And in episode one of the final fourth season -- what to our wondering eyes should appear the other day but said Patti Smith emergency room surgeon(?!).

It was barely one step above a cameo, but Patti was nevertheless a total natural; I'm surprised she hasn't done more acting.In any case, Patti and the divine Joan Allen in the same episode -- it doesn't get any better than that.

The series, of course, is on Netflix, and I recommend it (with reservations). The Danish original -- charmingly monikered Forbrydelsen (which apparently translates as Wolf Who Stands in Grape Juice) is available on DVD over at Amazon, but only on European format discs.

Okay, I made up that bit about the title translation.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Image of the Day: Oh, the Felinity!

Please, everyone -- share this picture to raise awareness of the plight of cats trapped in a folk music environment.

[This was originally posted on the Facebook page of Janis Ian, of all people. Heh. -- S.S.]

Friday, November 21, 2014

Mike Nichols 1931 -- 2014

In the pre-Beatles era, these guys were my rock stars.

Seriously -- I memorized every single word of that album. I can still probably do huge chunks of it, if pressed.

A true story (all dialogue guaranteed verbatim):

In December of 1975, I was invited -- along with the rest of the New York rock press -- to a screening at the Ziegfeld Theater of Stanley Kubrick's new film Barry Lyndon (the reason being, of course, that there was a concurrent soundtrack LP featuring music by The Chieftains). For whatever reason, I was in no mood to run into anybody I knew that night, and so I deliberately sat myself as far back in the vastness of the Ziegfeld as possible, i.e. there was nobody within thirty or forty rows of me.

Until just a few minutes before the lights dimmed, when -- you guessed it -- Mike Nichols (and a young blonde woman who I now realize must have been Diane Sawyer) -- sat down in my row a couple of seats to my right.

I was kind of jazzed by this, but more to the point, there was a rumor around in those days (the truth of which I have no idea) that Nichols suffered from some weird illness that rendered him completely hairless, and that any hair on his head, including the eyebrows, was artificial. So, unobtrusively as possible, I kept shooting glances his way, and eventually I guessed he noticed.

The following conversation ensued.

NICHOLS: That hot dog you're eating looks very good.

ME: It is.

NICHOLS: Where did you get it?

ME: At the snack bar.

NICHOLS: Where's that?

ME (pointing): Down those stairs and to your right.

NICHOLS: Thanks.

Okay -- how's THAT for an encounter with greatness?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Silly Love Songs R Us: Part Deux

So as I said on Tuesday, I shnorred a copy of the new McCartney tribute album.

And as I said at the time, like most tribute albums, it's wildly uneven, existing on a scale somewhere between complete crap, meh, what were they thinking?, alright but what's the point?, and okay, that's actually pretty good.

Here are two kind of cool examples -- you can rate them for yourselves.

Dion essaying "Drive My Car" (and brilliantly, in my humble opinion)...

...nd the godlike Toots Hibbert (with Sly and Robbie) doing to Badfinger's "Come and Get It" what always deserved to be done to "Come and Get It"...

Like I said, some of this is actually pretty good.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Closed for Monkey Business

Taking a day off to work on my forthcoming true crime book/memoir -- "Unusual Matricides."

Regular, less homicidal, posting resumes tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Silly Love Songs R Us

Just shnorred a copy of the new Paul McCartney tribute album.

Like most tribute albums, it's wildly uneven, existing on a scale somewhere between complete crap, meh, what were they thinking?, alright but what's the point?, and okay, that's actually pretty good.

Haven't had a chance to really digest the whole thing, but at this point here are my two faves.

1. Bob Dylan -- Things We Said Today

2. Jeff Lynne -- Junk

The Dylan cover, obviously, is pro forma except for the fact that Bob sings it in his current raspy death rattle voice; I can understand why some people might have a problem with that, but I find it weirdly compelling.

The Lynne track, however, is just exquisite; "Junk" is one of Macca's most beautiful (and inexplicably underrated tunes) and I think this version does it total justice.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Il Papa's Got a Brand New Bag

From Rolling Stone:

Patti Smith will be among the performers at the Concerto di Natale, the Vatican's annual Christmas concert held in Rome since 1993, next month, according to The Independent. The concert will take place at Auditorium Conciliazione, a venue located about a 15-minute walk from the heart of Vatican City, on December 13th. The Italian-language newspaper Il Corriere della Sera suggests that Pope Francis invited Smith, according to International Business Times. The program – which will also feature DJ Bob Sinclar and the singing nun who won this year's edition of The Voice of Italy, Sister Cristina Scuccia – will be broadcast on Christmas Eve in the country.

Smith...met the Pope last year in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican. She described the pontiff as being "very interesting" at the time and said she "liked him a lot," according to Huffington Post (via CathNews USA)...Smith explained her relationship with Christianity in the context of her song "Mercy Is," which appeared in Darren Aronofsky's film Noah earlier this year. "I have a very strong biblical background," she said. "I studied the bible quite a bit when I was young and continue to study it, independent of any religion, but I still study it."

[Note photographic evidence that I am One Degree of Separation from Pope Francis. How fricking cool is that? -- S.S.]
Words fail me. That's Patti Smith, as in the Patti Smith whose first line in the first song on her first album is "Jesus died for somebody's sins, but not mine."

In any case, quite by coincidence, I'm actually gonna see Patti discuss "Mercy Is" at a screening of Noah at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria tonight. I'll probably be too nervous to ask her a question about anything, but I'll keep you posted.

I should add that I'm liking this pope more and more these days.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Weekend Listomania's Greatest Hits: Special Guided By Voices Edition

[This is one of the very first Weekend Listomanias ever; I originally posted it in early 2007, which as you know is several centuries ago in dog years. As is my wont, I have done some re-writing, substituted some different video clips, and added an extra entry, all mostly to keep you from thinking that I have grown indolent and lazy suckling on the government teat of Medicare and Social Security. -- S.S.]

Okay, kids here's a fun project for you all to contemplate:

Best a cappella Pop/Rock Song (either totally a cappella, or with a cool a cappella section of whatever length!!!)

And I don't just mean doo-wop. Group harmony is group harmony, okay?

That said, here's my totally top of my head top eight:

8 Steeleye Span -- Gaudete

I don't know what's more amazing -- the Spans stunning medeival harmonies on this or the fact that at the time it was recorded, the band were actually pop stars in England with hit records on the charts.

7. Petra Haden -- I Can See For Miles

The Who's power pop classic done solely with mouths turned to eleven. Utterly mind-boggling.

6. Fairport Convention -- Percy's Song

The acapella intro for this is one of my all time favorite things; amazingly enough, the performance gets even better as it goes along.

5. The Beatles -- Because

Of all the reasons to hate the Fabs, the fact that they were -- on top of all their other talents -- absolutely astoundingly good harmony singers may be the most plausible. This may or may not be from the Love mashup album, but I'm too lazy to check. Maybe it was on one of the Anthology sets. Whatever

4. Big Daddy -- Eye of the Tiger

The Survivor song recast as street-corner doo-wop, as it probably always deserved. The traffic noises at the top are a particularly droll touch.

3. Crosby Stills and Nash -- Find the Cost of Freedom

The a cappella at the end is pretty spine-tingling, I think. One of their better songs, although the a-side -- "Ohio" -- sent the same message somewhat more forcefully with loud guitars.

2. The Beach Boys -- Their Hearts Were Full of Spring

A straight cover of the Four Freshmen's original, but if it doesn't bring a tear to your eye, I probably don't want to know you. And this despite the immense dickitude of Mike Love.

And the number one all-time top acapella pop/rock madrigal is ----

1. Imogen Heap -- Hide and Seek

I first heard this in late 2006 when it was used in a montage at the end of an episode of the short-lived Ray Liotta TV crime show Smith, although I'm told it had also figured earlier on The O.C. In any case, I remember practically falling off the couch at the time and thinking it's the most bizarrely haunting thing I'd ever encountered. It's almost a whole new genre -- Android Doo-Wop, anybody?

Alrighty now -- what would your choices be?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Closed for Monkey Business

Too much mishegass going on right now, but regular posting -- including the return of Weekend Listomania's Greatest Hits -- resumes tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Your Wednesday Moment of Holy Fricking Shit

The Records -- the promo video for their brilliant cover of Tim Moore's "Rock 'n' Roll Love Letter."

The song, obviously, is on the power pop Mount Rushmore, and often covered. But this particular version is supernaturally good, and the video -- which nobody has seen in over thirty years -- is, in Woody Allen's immortal coinage, transplendent.

Seriously -- words fail me. These guys -- and I was lucky enough to see them in their prime -- were beyond great.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Image of the Day

Courtesy of the eternally cool Jaan Uhelszki (of CREEM fame and much more): Behold, in breathless wonder, one of the most amazing photos I have ever seen.

From December, 1976, this is apparently the very first meeting of the two great Smiths -- Patti and "Sonic" Fred of The MC5.

The picture was taken in the dressing room of some small club after a Patti show at the Masonic Temple in Detroit; the photographer was Jaan's sister JoAnn, who as Jaan notes "always had the knack of being at the right place at the right time." Jaan herself can be glimpsed at the top right of the image, chatting with MC5 bassist Michael Davis.

In any case, words fail me.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Ineptitude Killed the Radio Star

All four brilliant hours of last Tuesday's edition(s) of my pal Captain Al's intertube radio show -- featuring a guest star whose name rhymes with Sleeve Nimels, cracking wise and spinning some interesting tunes and stuff -- can now be found at the vault section of Area 24 Radio right over HERE.

Just scroll down to Lost at Sea for 11/04 and 11/05 and click on the links to enjoy big time professional broadcasting two guys goofing around (and one of them was swilling elitist chardonnay). I think you'll particularly enjoy the 1943 Albert Brooks Show that closes hour four; as Brooks says in the intro, it's wonderful that some of his pre-natal work has survived.

I should add, however, that my microphone seems to have been set at a lower volume level than that of my host -- I smell conspiracy!

Friday, November 07, 2014


From her 2013 EP Boy Crazy...

...please enjoy big-voiced farm girl next door Lydia Loveless and her jaw-droppingly great ode to the joys of having the sort of domestic dispute that, if videotaped, would have gotten you on an episode of COPS -- the amazingly honest, hilarious and fiendishly catchy "Lover's Spat."

I'm sorry, it just doesn't get any better than this.

Seriously -- this is so great, if I was thirty years younger I'd be trying to weasel myself into this band even if Lydia wasn't the lead singer.

INSPIRATIONAL VERSE: The lyrics to the second stanza and the bridge.

So don’t go running around naked by the side of the road
Honey, you look ridiculous
With that cut on your eye and your dick hanging out
Why don’t you care about us
Well, why don’t you stay for dinner or at least a late-night snack
Oh honey, I can’t relax
To know it’s just a lover’s spat

Oh excuse me, I don't think you know my father

This woman is a stone genius.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Image of the Day

From 1962 -- During one of the first live performances of his hit “Monster Mash," Bobby "Boris" Pickett is backed by a then-unknown teen combo called The Beach Boys."

Words fail me. Seriously -- has anybody ever seen this one before? I know I haven't.

[h/t KLG]

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Closed for Moneky Business

Had a real oool time spinning tunes, craking wise and (if truth be told) sipping elitist chardonnay on my pal Captain Al's intertube radio show yesterday, but four hours of it really tuckered me out -- hence nothing new today.

Regular posting -- inluding a big video roundup on Friday -- resumes tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Who Listens to the Radio?

Well, hopefully you guys.

Because I'm gonna be on my old chum Allan Rosenberg's intertube radio show Lost at Sea today between 3-7pm East Coast Time.

Over at fabulous Area 24 Radio.

You can -- and should -- stream the show over HERE.

We'll be spinning lots of interesting, offbeat and alarming tunes -- including the world premiere of yet another track featuring some idiot whose name rhymes with Sleeve Nimels -- and a real cool time is guaranteed for all.

We'll also be taking your requests and accepting threats via the e-mail, so don't hesitate to contact us (I'll be giving out the addy on the air).

So tune in, won't you?


Monday, November 03, 2014

Your Monday Moment of a Work in Progress

From their forthcoming EP, recorded in a dank attic somewhere in the wilds of New Jersey...

...please enjoy my once and future high school garage band chums The Weasels and "A Lot Like You," the latest masterwork that will probably make their names live beyond eternity.

This isn't quite finished, BTW -- only half of my guitar solo is there, and this is a rough mix -- but I think it sounds pretty cool nonetheless. The song is written and sung by friend of PowerPop "Jai Guru" Dave Hawxwell (who also plays rhythm guitar); the Sting-like bass is by Allan "Al" Weissman; the louder rhythm guitars are by some idiot whose name rhymes with Sleeve Nimels; and the non-human drum track is courtesy of our producer, Reg Thorpe Glenn Leeds.

I should add that when Dave first presented the song to us some weeks ago, we were duly impressed with the progress of his songwriting; heretofore just about everything he had ever written sounded like 70s soft or country rock, whereas with this new opus he had graduated to a convincing impression of Mike and the Mechanics.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Weekend Listomania's Greatest Hits: Special Classical Has No Vocal! Edition

[This was one of the first Weekend Listomanias I ever put together (it originally appeared in in June of 2007, back when both your humble scribe and the world were whelps; I mean, I hadn't even met a certain Shady Dame at that point.) Anyway, if you were around during the last couple of days, you'll understand why I'm recycling it; I've made a couple of new selections and re-written it a bit, just so you guys don't think I'm the laziest gal in town. Enjoy! If possible!!!]


[Arbitrary rule: Joe Satriani, who I otherwise have no problem with, is prog, so don't nominate him. And if you nominate that Focus "Hocus Pocus" crap I'll come to your house and beat the shit out of you for your fucking lack of taste.]

Okay, my totally top of my head Top Ten is/are:

10. Rumble -- Link Wray

If you're of the opinion, as I often am, that the quality of a rock single depends mostly on its resemblance to a gang fight, then obviously this is Ground Zero.

9. Steve's Song --The Weasels (featuring some guy whose name rhymes with Sleeve Nimels)

Written and recorded around 1970 by moi, apparently when I was listening to a lot of Stephen Stills records. Hey, I was young.

8. Beck's Bolero -- Jeff Beck

The tragedy of Jeff Beck - and I mean tragedy -- is that there's not a musician in any genre on earth who can creatively challenge him. Can you imagine the burden? Seriously, If I was him I would have committed suicide years ago.

7. Apricot Brandy -- Rhinosceros

I actually saw these guys -- who were a sort of Los Angeles studio cats supergroup -- live at the Fillmore East. Very impressive musicianship, and they still totally sucked.

6. The Carlsberg Special -- Wizzard

Roy Wood is God. End of story.

5. Perfidia -- The Ventures


4. Sabre Dance -- Love Sculpture with Dave Edmunds

The guys who spun plates on The Ed Sullivan Show should have lived to hear this. Actually, maybe they did.

3. Theme from Star Wars -- Big Daddy

John Williams' most lucrative piece of work as it was always meant to be heard.

2. Like Long Hair -- Paul Revere and the Raiders

What was that argument we were having the other week about these guys?

And the most absolutely phenomenal rock non-prog instrumental ever, it's not even a contest, is ---

1. Cobwebs and Strange -- The Who

I rest my case.

Alrighty then -- what would YOUR choices be?

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Tooth of Crime

Ian McLagan -- keyboard genius of The Small Faces/Faces and much much else -- takes a bite out of a CD featuring a bassist whose name rhymes with Sleeve Nimels.

Words, as they fucking say, fail me.

[h/t Phil Cheese]

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Closed for Drug Abuse Monkey Business

All that instrumental jam shit of the last couple of days has really knocked the stuffing out of me.

Regular non-psychedelic posting resumes tomorrow, including -- unless I'm high -- a Weekend Listomania's Greatest Hits installment on Friday.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

And Speaking of Headache-Inducing Self-Indulgent Jams By Great Bands Who Should Have Known Better... we were YESTERDAY...

...from the Avalon Ballroom in 1966, please enjoy the otherwise fucking amazingly great Moby Grape and their improvised on the spot masterpiece overly-long inducer of psychedelic ennui "Dark Magic."

17 minutes long, I might add. Anybody seriously think the light show really enhanced the experience?

In any case, Television's instro-rock show last weekend sounded far too much like this. Minus the vocals, obviously.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Hey, If I Want to See an Instro Band, I'll Buy Tickets for the Raybeats or the Budapest String Quartet

So this weekend, a certain Shady Dame and I were privileged to attend a show -- at New York University's exemplary new auditorium at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts -- by the legendary Teletubbies. In front of the newly back in action Joshua Light Show.

I must say, the band looked good for their age.

[Left to right: Fred Smith, Tom Verlaine, Billy Ficca and Jimmy Rip]

Okay, actually, we went to see the legendary Television at said venue with the JLS, and since I really hadn't ever seen the band at their peak, I was pretty stoked. Which lasted for about five minutes after the show started; beyond that, not so much.

The reason: Television did not perform a single song from any of their three original studio albums. In fact they did no "songs" per se whatsoever -- the show was completely instrumental-jams-only (I think I recognized one number from Verlaine's early 90s instrumental set Warm and Cool, but I'm not sure).

What was it like? Well, some of the playing was brilliant (no surprise there), and I respect them for trying something a little different. And if the idea was to recreate the experience of hearing a second-tier San Francisco ballroom psychedelic band at one of the Fillmores in 1967 (sans the pungent aroma of marijuana, of course) then the show was a complete success. Unfortunately, I've got old Moby Grape live bootlegs from that period whose free-form, made up on the spot, instrumentals sound pretty much the same as Television did last Saturday night. And the Grape's jams are just as enervating without drugs.

I for one, however found the whole experience somewhere between intensely headache inducing and a really unethical bait and switch.

Very, very disappointing.

UPDATE: A certain Shady Dame reminds me that Television opened the show with a little bit of noodling on the riff of "1880 or So" (from the third studio album); I regret the error. Also, in the interests of total accuracy, I should add that they DID encore with "Little Johnny Jewel," albeit without vocals, but technically that song was a single rather than an album track.