Whelp, here we are again. I realized that I never got back to blog about the second night of the Brooklyn Power Pop Festival which was INCREDIBLY FUCKING WONDERFUL, but such is the life of the busy. They shouldn't have held it the week before classes end, is my point. But Brooklyn Vegan (one of the best NY music sites out there) gave a report and got some pix. (That's my arm there behind the merch table. Try not to get too excited.)
Collins was terrific as always: his years on the road really show in his tight, expert performance. I got to catch up with him a little as well: good guy.
And Shoes were, well, Shoes. They played a scorching 97 minutes (I know this because someone sent me a complete set list with times: I myself was not counting the time at all) from all through their career, including a delightful (and unexpected!) Black Vinyl Shoes medley. ("Boys Don't Lie," "Do You Wanna Get Lucky?" "She'll Disappear")
And the crowd was electric. I've only seem them live once before, and it was kind of like this: they're so legendary and private that people have a hard time believing they're really there. And apparently, that's always been true: Chris Morris wrote something quite similar 24 years ago: "The audience reacted with disbelief, then pure glee."
So here I sit, eating hotel breakfast in Valparaiso, Indiana, waiting for them to play again tonight. (Why do not all hotels have waffle makers? They make travelling worthwhile!) Why did I drive ten hours to do this? Well,I have books to sell, but there's more to it than that. There's this.
[I originally posted this one in 2010, which I look back on, for other reasons than this, as one of the worst years ever. In any case, I repost it here with some rewriting (I deleted the gratuitous David Bowie references out of deference to friends who know who they are) and substitutions, as is my wont. You know -- just so I won't be accused of being a slacker. -- S.S.]
Okay -- here's a fun little project for us all:
Best or Worst Post-Beatles Pop/Rock Song or Record With the Words "Change" or "Changes" in the Title or Lyrics!!!
Self-explanatory, I think, and as a result no arbitrary rules of any kind here, you're welcome very much.
And that said, my totally top of my head Top Eleven is:
11. John Legend -- It Don''t Have to Change
Because, as you know, we like to have something recorded in this century. Other than that, what a bag of gas, and more proof -- as if it was needed -- that our friend's Sal Nunziato's assertion that "average is the new great" is right on the money.
Seriously, and I've said this before, but if you're gonna give yourself the last name Legend, you damn well better be pretty fricking incredible.
10. The Zombies -- Changes
From the gorgeous Odessey and Oracle album, obviously. One of my favorite tracks from said album, not so obviously.
9. John Mayer -- Waiting On the World to Change
Rory Gallagher dies, yet this embarrassing poser gets to play his crappy song in a party scene on CSI. I don't get it.
8. The Hollies -- Signs That Will Never Change
The B-side of Carrie Anne, and its own poignant way, almost as good. The Clarke-Hicks-Nash songwriting cartel was really at the peak of its game at this point. BTW, there's a very nice cover of this on the Everly Brothers' wonderful TWO YANKS IN LONDON album.
7. Sugar -- If I Can't Change Your Mind
The great Bob Mould, at his most ecstatically Byrdsian.
6. The Poor -- She's Got the Time (She's Got the Changes)
Randy Meisner's pre-Eagles psych garage band; the song is by either Brewer or Shipley (of "One Toke Over the Line" fame) but all these years later I'm too lazy to look it up. This was actually a minor hit, at least in NYC; the 45 was on the Atlantic custom label run by the same Greene-Stone management team that mishandled the Buffalo Springfield.
5. Jim and Jean -- Changes
The Phil Ochs song, obviously, which was cloying enough on its own, but here given one of the lamest folk-rock arrangements of the 60s. Any similarity between this duo and Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara, as Mitch and Mickey, in A Mighty Wind is purely coincidental, I'm sure.
4. Jefferson Airplane -- Spare Chaynge
And just think -- years later, Slade and Prince thought they were sooooo cool for deliberately using dopey misspellings in their song titles.
3. John Waite -- Change
The video is embarrassing, and some of the lyrics are cringe-worthy, but everything else about this, including the arrangement and Waite's vocal, just kicks all sorts of ass. Perhaps my favorite guilty pleasure of the Big 80s era.
2. Sam Cooke -- A Change is Gonna Come
Sublime on every level.
And the Numero Uno track delineating how life differs from the rocks is, no question about it, the one and only....
1. Godfrey Daniel -- Them Changes
The often-covered Buddy Miles annoyance of the early 70s, performed (rather drolly) here in the manner of some late 40s blues shouter or...well, actually I'm no quite sure who this is a pastiche of. Roy Brown or Wynonie Harris, maybe. In any case, clearly the definitive reading of the song.
Saw the new Godzilla over the weekend. The short version: Vastly better than the 1998 version, vastly better than just about all the CGI monster/sci-fi movies of the last ten or so years, but the script was still epressingly by the numbers. That said, young Brit director Gareth Edwards has a really great eye for shadows and fog.
In any case, a bit under the weather today, so no serious posting. But until tomorrow (and a Weekend Listomania on Friday) you can download the soundtrack music from the original 1954 version of the Big G (the one sans Raymond Burr)...
From the Fillmore West in April of 1969, please enjoy the original five-piece line up of Procol Harum (with the great Matthew Fisher and Robin Trower) and a quite astounding live version of the title track from their amazing second LP "Shine on Brightly."
Objectively speaking, these guys may not have rocked as hard as anybody else of their era, but hands down nobody had a more majestic sound. And nobody ever achieved such a seamless mashup of Ray Charles and J.S. Bach.
That whole bootleg pictured above, BTW, is astounding. I've got a link for it somewhere; be nice to me and I'll find it and post it later today.
From 1971, please enjoy Procol Harum live in the studio with the incomparable "Memorial Drive."
Because nothing says "Let's pay tribute to the brave men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the defense of our noble Democracy" like a mid-tempo piece of blues-rock played by a bunch of whey-faced Limeys.
Incidentally, that track is from an often-bootlegged radio broadcast on the old WPLJ-FM. It's a really good show from Robin Trower's last tour with the band, and you can download it in its entirety over HERE.
[This was one of the very first Listomanias I posted -- back in 2007 -- and to be honest, I had totally forgotten about it until the other day. In any case, I think that thematically it's pretty cool; I've expanded it and made a couple of substitute nominations, as always, just to keep my hand in. -- S.S.]
Sophomore Albums That Surpassed (Artistically) The Really Good Debut Albums That Preceded Them!!!
You know the cliche -- you have your entire life to write your first album, and then you have six months to write your second, which is why a lot of followup albums disappoint. Perhaps the most obvious example is Pretenders II; an estimable work with some terrific songs, but small beer compared to the epochal first one. (More recently, think of the second Hootie and the Blowfish album, or rather, please don't think of it, as Hootie sucked right out of the gate. Although Fairweather Johnson was a really great title...)
In any event, what do you think are the albums that best avoided the usual sequel slump?
Submitted for your approval, my Top Seven would be......
7. MC5 -- Back in the USA
The 5's debut -- recorded live -- was often impressive as a political and musical template, but the songwriting was inconsistent and the whole thing ultimately devolved into aural sludge at some point. However, the followup -- despite the fact that Jon Landau's production sucks hippo root -- featured short concise songs that totally rocked and got the band's revolutionary message over with a surprising level of wit and irony. A great record, from stem to stern.
6. The Byrds -- Turn! Turn! Turn!
Not perhaps so staggeringly innovative as the first album -- which, after all, invented an entire new genre and sound -- but some of the songwriting and performances (the above Gene Clark masterpiece, for example) clearly surpassed the debut.
5. Marah -- Kids in Philly
Their indie debut was promising, but this one is one of the great records of the 90s -- an all but perfect mashup of Bruce Springsteen and the Replacements. They've never even come close to equaling it, alas. I should add that it is one of my longtime dreams to play the song above at very high volume in a band onstage somewhere.
4. Buffalo Springfield -- Buffalo Springfield Again
Not a dud song in the bunch, and production-wise it makes their first album sound like it was recorded on Edison cylinders.
3. Amy Winehouse -- Back to Black
Because we like to have something recorded in this century.
But seriously, folks -- Winehouse's debut album was the work of a talented journeyman with a lot of great influences. The followup, however, was the work of a fully formed artist.
2. Bruce Springsteen -- The Wild, the Innocent and the
The Boss's first album had its moments and changed a lot of lives, my own included. But this one? It sounds, still, like the kind of music that contains multitudes, the kind of rock-and-roll you only vaguely remember from the best dream you ever had.
And last but definitely not least....
1. Elvis Costello and the Attractions -- This Year's Model
Inarguable, I think, and thus further exegesis on my part would be surperfulous.
So. On May 16, I was being tortured at the House of Pain that is the Friday New York Times crossword puzzle (Friday, of late, being the most difficult puzzle of the week) when I chanced upon this clue on 38 Across.
1959 hit with the lyric "One day I feel so happy, next day I feel so sad"
And I was immediately gobsmacked -- I mean, I knew what it was, but for the life of me I couldn't nail it exactly.
So, after hours and hours of pondering, on Saturday I finally had one of those AHA moments, and I realized that it was this.
And then, of course, it dawned on me that -- no, of course not, it wasn't.
For one thing, the Velvets song was from 1969. For another thing, Lou sings "Sometimes I feel so happy, sometimes I feel so sad." Not "One day" etc.
So anyway, finally, I had no recourse but to cheat over at the crossword solving site of the incomparable REX PARKER...
...and realized the mystery song was the thoroughly obscure 0NOT) "A Teenager in Love." By the totally unknown (heh) Dion and the Belmonts.
Here's the bottom line -- I'm a huge Dion fan, and how many fricking times over the years have I heard "Teenager in Love"?
From June 16, 1965 (at Columbia Studio A, 799 Seventh Avenue in New York City) please enjoy Bob Dylan's epochal "Like a Rolling Stone."
Without that awful yowling by the song's composer heard on the hit single version of the same summer.
In case you've forgotten, the personnel on this is Bob (rhythm guitar and harmonica), Mike Bloomfield (lead guitar), Paul Griffin (piano), Al Kooper (Hammond B-3), Joe Macho Jr. (bass guitar) and Bobby Gregg (drums). Tom Wilson was the producer.
That's Bob listening to a playback. Not sure who everybody is in the photo, but manager Albert Grossman is sitting far left, and Danny Kalb of the Blues Project stands to Dylan's immediate right.
Two things come immediately to mind at this point. First of all -- who the fuck was Joe Macho Jr.?
And secondly -- I have always found it hilarious that by the time Dylan played this song live in Britain -- as chronicled on various bootlegs and official releases of the deservedly legendary Royal Albert Hall concert (which, by the way, was not actually recorded at Albert Hall) -- the guy playing drums was Mickey Jones.
Better known today, to film and tv audiences, as this guy.
Oh, and in case you're wondering -- the actual track as heard here derives from the recent Mike Bloomfield box set compiled by Sony.
[I riginally posted this one in 2008, back when your humble scribe and the world were young, but I thought it behooved re-upping. In the interest of full disclosure, I should add that I've made a couple of changes and/or substitutions -- goodbye, Smashing Pumpkins -- just to keep my hand in. -- S.S.]
Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental amanuensis and dumpling consultant Hop-Sing and I are off to the beautiful mall in Washington D.C., along with ten or thirty million other patriots (weather permitting) for the big American Spring Break. We are very irked with the current regime, and we plan to make our displeasure known with the most powerful means at our dispoal -- i.e., the usual crudely lettered and misspelled signs.
Incidentally, I don't know what bathroom facilities are being provided, so if you can let me use those at your place, give me a call on my cell. I thank you in advance for your courtesy.
But for those of you who won't be attending (and we know who you are, commies) here's a fun little project to occupy your time till we come for you:
Most Memorable Post-Elvis Song or Record Whose Title or Lyrics References High Temperatures or Combustion!!!!
No arbitrary rules this time. Unless you don't have AC, in which case just have a drink.
In any case, my totally top of my head Top Seven would be....
7. Shoes -- Hot Mess
Because a) we like to have something recorded in this century; b) it's a great fucking song and c) I saw these guys for the very first time last Saturday and I was blown away.
6. A tie:
Jimi Hendrix -- Fire
The Crazy World of Arthur Brown -- Fire
I personally prefer the Arthur Brown "Fire," but that's mostly because he wore a bunsen burner on his head when he sang it.
5. Another tie:
Dwight Twilley -- I'm on Fire
Bruce Springsteen -- I'm on Fire
Funny that both of these are rockabilly-inflected. I have no idea if that has any larger meaning, I just think it's interesting.
4. The Move -- Fire Brigade
I've said it before and I'll say it again -- these guys were right up there with the greatest Brit bands of the 60s. I'm talking Beatles/Stones/Who/Kinks great.
3. Bubble Puppy -- Hot Smoke and Sassafrass
The first heavy rock band in Texas, and a surprisingly good song if you can get past the really dopey lyrics and the awful group name.
2. Sly and the Family Stone -- Hot Fun in the Summertime
The political irony of this song is less apparent in 2014 than it was back in the day, but on its other, less fraught, level it remains as joyous and uplifting as ever.
And the number one HOT HOT HOT!!!! song, don't contradict me because frankly I'm dying here and I don't have the energy to smack you, is....
1. The Beach Boys -- The Warmth of the Sun.
Brian Wilson has said this was inspired by the Kennedy assassination, although I've never really gotten the connection if truth be told. In any case, there are days I think it's the most beautiful song he ever wrote, regardless of what prompted it.
So the other night -- at the big Shoes/Paul Collins show in Brooklyn, and more about that transplendent event later in the week -- the deejay played a killer cover of Buddy Holly's "It Doesn't Matter Anymore" that I assumed was an obscure early New Wave version from the late 70s/early 80s.
Turns out it was a 1970 version by a long running Michigan band I'd never heard of called The Kingtones.
Jeebus, that's good, and I should add that it sounds even better when played -- from vinyl -- at high volume over a rock club sound system.
I should also add that I searched for it, in vain, on the web, only to discover that a dear old friend of mine had an mp3 in her personal collection. I have very hip old friends, is what I'm saying. I should also also add that another friend actually saw the Kingtones back in the day, and she assures me they were great live.
You can find out more about them -- and listen to samples of some of their other records -- over at their official website HERE.
They still perform, apparently, so if you're in the Grand Rapids area...
And stuck out like a sore thumb. I came straight from work, and thus was dressed in my (admittedly comfortable) adult clothing, down (up?) to pearls and dress shoes. There was also a guy there in a bow tie, but his might have been ironic, since he also had an urban man-purse.
It was a good night. I got there just as the opening act began, a group called 1-800-BAND from Cleveland (I believe, based on a shouted and possibly misheard conversation with the guitarist, Rob). They were a tight four-piece, with a synth and a drummer who played like he was on fire. I got to introduce Rob to Gary Klebe and John Murphy, who he said he idolized, and had a nice encounter with the lead singer Al out by the merch table. (There is photographic evidence of this somewhere.)
1-800-BAND played mostly originals, and played the crowd like a harp. Any doubters were soon won over.
Then the scene shifted to another Midwestern pop band, the venerable Pezband. Performing as a three-piece, they played for well over an hour, old stuff, new stuff, covers. They talked about their trip to Japan this year, and played like the devil.
Here's some footage from last year:
And then The Man took the stage: Dwight Twilley:
I've been listening to Twilley most of my life, from the early stuff with Phil Seymour, through this song (I have the video recorded on VHS thankyouverymuch: he plays a football coach) and up through The Green Blimp.
And yet I've never seen him live, never met him (still too shy to last night) and am simply in awe. It was a wonderful show: he's a total pro.
And as an extra, added bonus, his regular bass player got sick and Ron Flynt (!!!) took his place. I was gobsmacked (and noted that, had I been Twilley, I would have worked "Jet Lag" into the set, because I am that kind of dork). If you don't know Flynt's solo stuff (and to be fair, his 20/20 stuff is enough to make his rep), definitely seek out LA Story.
Another great night is coming tonight! See you there! (But probably not in pumps and pearls...)
Hey there, you beautiful people! Long time no see! Not for any interesting reason, just that work is being kind of a monster.
But I'm taking an end-of-the-semester breather this weekend to go and see the Brooklyn Power Pop Festival at the Bell House in Park Slope.
Tonight, I'm going to do my level best to catch the incomparable Dwight Twilley and Midwest stalwarts Pezband. Twilley, of course, has been setting the house on fire for going on 40 years, and Pezband were one of those lost gems identified by two of the greatest talent scouts of the 1970s: Greg Shaw and Ira Robbins.
(That's Susan Cowsill singing backup, I'm fairly sure)
From 1959, please enjoy guitar slinging Ray Sharpe...
...and his slyly infectious and verbally challenging "Linda Lu."
In last week's Listomania, both Sharpe and the song were name-checked by a lucky reader who had seen him perform it on a Dick Clark tour (also from 1959). I must confess I had never heard of either artist or record previously, but it turns out to be a genuine rockabilly cult classic -- the list of people who've covered it includeds The Flying Burrito Brothers, Delbert McClinton, The Kingsmen, Johnny Kidd and the Pirates, and Tom Jones.
Hell, even the Some Girls-era Rolling Stones took a shot at it.
It remains unreleased, however, although it's not bad at all.
Our good pal Sal Nunziato over at the estimable BURNING WOOD blog had a particularly droll rant up yesterday about the current hipster infestation of Brooklyn.
I had a conversation with my friend Michael on Saturday night...with me taking down anything in skinny jeans and ironic frames, sipping kale smoothies and $12 cruelty-free lattes.
It should be easy enough to just laugh off seeing a 24 year-old with a Smith Brothers beard and Lew Wasserman frames, weighing 68 pounds soaking wet, walking his cat on a leash while sporting a "Brooklyn: East New York" tee shirt, except if this kooky kat had actually been walking along Lefferts Avenue, the odds are slim that he would have survived the stroll unscathed.
Let me simply say, and for the record, that Sal knows from whereof he speaks.
For example, in my girlfriend's for the moment still wonderful neighborhood of Cobble Hill [Official Motto: Where All Your Shit's in Walking Distance], we are currently being overrun by hordes of Trust Fund Cyborgs and their hellspawn.
Hey, everybody's gotta be somewhere, right?
However, up the street from said girlfriend's apartment, there is a just opened clothing store that sells ironic togs for pre-K yuppie larvae. [True fact: A friend of mine overheard one of the moms in the nabe talking to her five-year-old daughter Ariadne. You heard that right -- Ariadne.]
In any case, here's the shop's current front window.
"Brooklyn is My Playground" your ass, little Bratleigh and Snotleigh.
But on closer observation, this is the one that really gets me.
Note the mannequin in the ironic Fedora, hipster shades and Strokes tee shirt.
I repeat -- a Strokes tee shirt.
And let me also simply say, and again for the record, that if I ever saw an actual kid dressed in that outfit there's no doubt in my mind that I would immediately take a hostage.
[I first posted this one back in 2007 -- which in and of itself fucking amazes me -- but I'm re-posting because we probably have some readers who were mere toddlers at the time. In any case, please try to enjoy. Especially the Larry "wide stance" Craig joke. -- S.S.]
Well, it's Friday, and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental valet Hop-Sing and I are off to some airport in Minnesota, where we will be checking out the facilities at one of the popular public restrooms. It's some kind of trendy tourist spot, apparently -- can't imagine why. In any case, posting by moi will necessarily be sporadic until our return.
Meantime, here's a fun project for you all:
YOUR FIRST ROCK CONCERT EVER!!!!!
Be it horribly uncool, be it sublime, be it whatever -- as long it's the first one you ever personally experienced.
Okay, mine would be -- and no "he's so old that" jokes, please --
The Beach Boys.
Asbury Park Convention Center, June or July 1965.
(If there's a Beach Boys scholar out there, I'd love to know the exact date)
An amazing day. My friend Ritchie Brenner and I drove from Teaneck to Asbury Park with the top down on his MG convertible on a glorious summer afternoon with history's best ever Top 40 blasting from the AM radio. When we got to the Boardwalk, we made it over to the Convention Center to see where the show was going to be, and suddenly up on the roof there were the Beach Boys themselves, turning the letters over on their name on the marquee. The fan in me went absolutely mental, especially at seeing Carl Wilson, who was 17 like me, and thus my favorite guy in the band.
As for the show itself, it was pretty amazing. I didn't know it at the time, but the guy subbing for Brian Wilson was Glenn Campbell...
...and they played a great hour or so set pretty much like the one on the "Beach Boys Concert" album, but with more hits. They were really loud, but the vocals were crystal clear, and Carl and Dennis played brilliantly.The big surprise was a song we hadn't heard before -- the premier of "California Girls," which would be released to radio as a single a week later. Blew us away (I recall Carl switched to a Rickenbacker twelve-string for it, which was the first time I had ever heard one live).
Incidentally, the girls in the audience were already going bonkers an hour before the show even started. Total raving Beatlemania style hysterics when the band hit the stage, of course. It was the only Teen Scream concert I ever actually attended, and it was a weird marvel to behold.
On the ride back, I think I felt high for the first time in my life. Unforgettable.