Monday, June 30, 2014

Working on a Building

Sorry to have been such a slacker last week (in terms of posting) but as I hinted, I was helping a certain Shady Dame relocate to her new digs in Forest Hills (just a block away from the Boulevard of Death, if you know what I mean).

Word of advice: If you're ever thinking of moving, don't. God, it sucks. Let's just say that at the moment there isn't an inch of my body that isn't in intense physical pain.

That said, regular and hopefully more entertaining posts resume on the morrow. But in the meantime, I have been informed that apparently I have a son who is playing bass in a very good soul revival band.

Honest to god, I don't know the kid...

...and my '90s girlfriend tells me she "doesn't have any children that she knows of." Heh.

Still, I couldn't be more proud. I mean, those guys are really good.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Why I'm Not Committing Suicide Quite Yet

MISS FISHER'S MURDER MYSTERIES is coming back for a third season. With the complete original cast.

Shooting begins in October. I am over the moon about this.

And here's my favorite period song from the show's soundtrack album (so far).

Sailing on a sunbeam, bitches!!!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Whipped Cream!

I saw this trending on my FB the other day, and it amused me mightily. It's from 2012. Enjoy!
You don't know her by name — maybe as the "Whipped Cream Lady" — but certainly by the album cover on which she is featured: the 1965 Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass' "Whipped Cream & Other Delights."
There she is, seemingly naked but covered in what is supposed to be whipping cream looking at YOU.
Whenever a list of the most memorable record covers is put together, that album is right at the top

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Be True to Your School


From my old college, please enjoy the sheet music for the C.W. Post Alma Mater, written by boring (but nice guy) academic serialist Stefan Wolpe and super nice guy head of the English department Julian Mates.

In the early 1960s, Dr. Mates collaborated with the celebrated composer Stefan Wolpe, then chairman of the C.W. Post Department of Music, on the campus alma mater, “When Evening Falls.”

“The years pass quickly by/ And steal our youth and hopes/ But even time will die (and beauty fly)/ Ere we forget our Post,” goes the chorus of the song, which is played on the carillon atop Pell Hall every day at 8 a.m. and noon."

“The purpose of our song was not just to be sentimental, but to come up with an idea that made some sense," Dr. Mates said in an interview during the 50th anniversary of the Campus. "The idea that even time can die, but nothing will diminish our recollections of the school, made sense.”

And then, from 1970, please enjoy one of Beach Boy auteur Brian Wilson's most brilliant pocket symphonies (2:13 minutes) -- "This Whole World."

Lyrics and music (plus production and arrangement) by Brian.

Which do you think is a more important piece of 20th century art?


Monday, June 23, 2014

Literary Notes From All Over

Before we go any further: I'll be on hiatus until next Monday, due to an insane schedule (it involves a certain Shady Dame, who I will be assisting in moving to her new digs).

Have no fear, however; NYMary -- the proprietor and creator of this here blog -- will be posting in my stead, and there may even be a special appearance by the redoubtable Kid Charlemagne.

Okay, with that out of the way, I would just like to note (and for the record as it were) that I have recently devoured veteran scribe Joel Selvin's study of the life and work of '60s writer/producer Bert Berns (1929-1967)..

...and it is, without question, the best rock book I've encountered since Kevin Avery's Paul Nelson bio/anthology. (Or Boys Don't Lie, but that's a given.)

In case you don't know who Berns was, here's just a partial list of the songs he either wrote or produced, or in some cases both.

"A Little Bit of Soap" The Jarmels (1961)
"Twist and Shout" The Isley Brothers (1962) / The Beatles (1963)
"Cry to Me" Solomon Burke (1962)
"Tell Him" The Exciters (1962)
"Cry Baby" Garnet Mimms (1963) / Janis Joplin (1971)
"Everybody Needs Somebody to Love" Solomon Burke (1964) / Wilson Pickett (1967)
"I Want Candy" The Strangeloves (1965) / Bow Wow Wow (1982)
"Hang on Sloopy" The McCoys (1965)
"Down in the Valley" Solomon Burke (1964) Otis Redding (1965)
"Piece of My Heart" Erma Franklin (1967) / Big Brother and the Holding Company (1968)
"Twenty Five Miles" Edwin Starr (1968)
"Nobody but Me" The Isley Brothers (1963)
"Under The Boardwalk" The Drifters (1964)
"Baby Please Don't Go" "Here Comes the Night" Them (1965)
"Baby I'm Yours" Barbara Lewis (1965)
"Make Me Your Baby" Barbara Lewis (1965)
"Brown Eyed Girl" Van Morrison (1967)

I mean, sweet Jeebus -- but talk about a work ethic.

Of course, apart from the hits, Berns was also a fascinating example of a certain kind of New York City music biz character from the Golden Age; intensely driven (by a justifiable fear of dying young, due to a childhood bout of rheumatic fever), he was also not above using his Mafia ties to get what he wanted, both from artists and industry moguls (not for nothing was the label he helmed called Bang Records). In any case, Selvin does full justice to both the man's music and to the dark side of the street he lived on. It's an absolutely smashing read; order it over at Amazon HERE

BTW, here's a representative Berns song and production (a little more obscure than some of those listed above, but no less great): Freddie Scott and "Are You Lonely For Me Baby."

Ah, there really were giants in the earth in those days.

See you next week.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Weekend Listomania's Greatest Hits: Special Great Thoughts of Western Man! Edition

[I originally posted the following Listomania back in September of 2009, but let's not bring the whole burning of Atlanta thing up after all these years. In any event, I think it's still a kind of interesting topic to ponder; as is my wont with these vault plunderings, I've done some rewriting and changed an entry or two. I should add that I find it curious that back in the day I did not even attempt to slip in a Smashing Pumpkins album. -- S.S.]

Best or Worst Post-Elvis Rock or Pop Concept Album!!!

Self-explanatory, I think, but for purposes of clarity, when I use the term "concept album" I simply mean a record in which some overarching theme, however tenuous, is discernible. As a result no arbitrary rules this time, although I should think you'd be ashamed to nominate a generic greatest hits package.

And my totally top of my head Top Six is:

6. Marty Robbins -- Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs

From 1959, a genuine crossover classic; "El Paso" is the best known cut, but the whole album works. That's Robbins on the cover, BTW, and in case you didn't notice he's doing Richard Boone as Palladin from Have Gun, Will Travel.

5. The Turtles -- Present the Battle of the Bands

The concept here is that the Turtles play each cut in a different style, from surf to country to hard rock, in post Sgt. Pepper guise as other bands. It's not really pursued all that rigorously, but since it features "Elenore" and the above gorgeous take on the early Byrds outtake "You Showed Me," I've always cut them a little slack.

4. Fucked Up -- David Comes to Life

A sort of post-modern rock opera set in England in the '70s and '80s.

You know, I rather like the idea (rather than the reality) of this band, and I once saw Damian Abraham, the lead singer of this bunch interviewed on my orthicon tube a few years ago, and found him surprisingly funny and politically very astute

That said, I'd rather have my eyes gouged out with a melon-baller than watch the guy shirtless in a live gig.

3. Garth Brooks -- the Life of Chris Gaines

Brooks in his bizarre incarnation as a supposedly legendary 90s alt-rocker. I don't care if the damn thing sold two million copies -- it's a prime contender for biggest What the Fuck Was He Thinking? album in music history.

2. The Beatles -- Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

Yeah, yeah, yeah -- I know it's over-exposed (so is Bach's B-Minor Mass) and some people think it's a period piece (those people are just being difficult.)

Sorry, it's the tits. Deal with it.

And the most memorable for whatever reason High Concept rock or pop album obviously is --

1. The Paragons and The Jesters -- The Paragons Meet the Jesters

The very first (after the fact) thematic rock compilation (1959), and thanks to the brilliantly art-directed leather bar juvenile delinquent cover photo -- let's face it, Lou Reed based an entire esthetic on it -- still one of the most iconic.

Alrighty then -- and who would your choices be?

[h/t Joy Brodsky Thurston]

Thursday, June 19, 2014

And Speaking of Gorgeous...

...from 2006, please enjoy the great Graham Gouldman and his beyond transplendent remake of "Bus Stop." Which he wrote, obviously.

You know, there are some days -- and this is one of them -- when I think this is the single most magnificent song of the original British Invasion that wasn't written or performed by The Beatles.

Incidentally, there really isn't a CD called The Graham Gouldman EP. That version of "Bus Stop" (along with equally wonderful remakes of Gouldman's "Heart Full of Soul," "No Milk Today" and "For Your Love") were actually done for a 10cc Greatest Hits collection.

You can download all of them over HERE, you're welcome very much.

[h/t Willard's Wormholes]

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Chrissie Part Deux

The incomparable Ms. Hynde flirts with Stephen Colbert (who started it) and then does an astoundingly great version of her new single.


I'm sorry -- if you don't get her or the song, you need to have it looked at.

Colbert: "The work is nice but if you don't get an award for it all you have is what you've created."

Best description of why I do this blog I've ever heard, BTW.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Casey Kasem 1932--2014

Via hilarious terrorists satirists culture jammers Negativland, please enjoy the late Casey's finest moment.

"These guys are from England and who gives a shit?"


"A little dog named Snuggles."

Heh and heh again.

The above aural montage derives, of course, from Negativland's eponynmous U2 cd. Which got them sued big time by those Irish assholes. I don't particularly recall if Casey got involved as well.

BTW, you can read more about the whole U2 (the band) versus Negativland law suit by ordering a copy of their (Negativland's) fabulous book Fair Use over HERE. Haven't read it in years, but I recall it as quite a hoot (and thought provoking, obviously).

Monday, June 16, 2014

Your Monday Moment of "That Old Broad's Still Got It!"

"Dark Sunglasses." The first single off of Chrissie Hynde's new solo album.

Jeebus, that's just great. Melodic hooks, a sense of humor, and a vocal with enough sex appeal to induce cardiac arrest in a yak.

And here she is doing it for Jimmy Fallon. Unless my eyes deceive me, she's using a tiny little vintage Ampeg amp. If so, she really IS the coolest human being alive.

Have I mentioned that "Dark Sunglasses" is just great?

[h/t Sal Nunziato]

Friday, June 13, 2014

Weekend Listomania's Greatest Hits: Special Zounds, What Sounds! Edition

[I first posted this one back during the Spanish American War -- okay, actually late 2008 -- but the topic has always been one of my faves. As usual, I've rewritten some of it, and changed one of the nominees to reflect the fact that I no longer feel the need to include something by Smashing Pumpkins in every Listomania. You know, just to keep my hand in. -- S.S.]

Best/Most Inventive Use of a Non-Traditional Rock Instrument on a Post-Elvis Pop or Rock record!!!

Arbitrary rule: By "non-traditional," we mostly mean any instrument outside the original 50s rock instrumental template -- guitars, bass, drums, piano, organ, and sax. Other non-trad keyboards (mellotron, anybody?) will be vetted at my discretion, but don't try to pull any of that 70s/80s synth shit. Other than that, I think this is wide open.

Okay, that said, my totally top of my head Top Six is:

6. The Beatles -- Norwegian Wood

George on sitar, natch, and the first and still probably best use of the instrument on a pop song.

5. The Wackers -- Oh My Love

A Japanese koto, appropriately enough, on a gorgeous version of the John Lennon ode to Yoko that first appeared on Imagine. In fact, this sounded so much like a Beatles track that it was widely bootlegged as a John demo; in reality, of course, it's by an excellent and still inexplicably underrated Canadian power pop band and can be found on their Hot Wacks, one of the very best rock albums of 1972. Buy it on CD here; you won't regret it.

4. The Association -- Pandora's Golden Heebie Jeebies

More koto (Gary Alexander, the guy who wrote and sang this, was of mixed Japanese-American heritage, I belive) on an absolutely fabulous and unjustly forgotten slice of LA psychedelia.

3. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds -- Red Right Hand

T.Rex only WISHED it had banged a gong as cool as this one.

2. The Blues Project -- Flute Thing

The late great Andy Kulberg, first electric flautist of note. A lot of awful hippie shit (not to mention Jethro Tull) followed in the wake of this, but if you ever saw them do it live, the effect was quite mesmerizing, believe you me. According to Kooper, it's based on a riff on an old Kenny Burrell jazz record, BTW.

Okay, and the coolest use of a non-trad instrument (at least on a rock record), there's no question about it so just cut me some slack already about this, obviously is --

1. The Rolling Stones -- You Can't Always Get What You Want

Al Kooper's French horn intro really has no precedent on anything by the Stones. Flawlessly played, too, and it's hardly even his main instrument. The Beatles had the world's greatest living classical horn player -- Alan Civil -- on "For No One," but this is every bit as good.

Awrighty then -- what would your choices be?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Literary Notes From All Over

No regular posting today -- on a deadline. Have to finish the last chapter of my forthcoming book.

Unusual Matricides.

Normal stuff resumes tomorrow (specifically a new old Weekend Listomania.)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Glory of the Human Voice: Special What is With the Hollering, Already? Edition

Led Zeppelin -- "Whole Lotta Love." The vocal track.

I'll grant you Bob is pretty good, but he's no FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS.

Hey guys -- tighten up the instrumentals and you might just have a hit.

[h/t cahuenga]

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Casual Tuesday

Being nice to myself today.

Including, later this afternoon, a recording session with my old high school garage band chums.

Regular posting resumes tomorrow, so cut me some slack.

Monday, June 09, 2014

À La Recherche du Great New York City Broads Perdu

So if you were here last Friday, you'll recall that I posted a photo from a late '70s bash thrown by The Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Review, and that I realized that (with a couple of exceptions -- Lester Bangs, for example) I couldn't remember or identify most of the assembled revelers. Industry types, I assumed, but most of them lost in the mists of memory, or whatever else is left of mine.

That said, at the top left of the photo (excerpted below) was a rather statuesque frizzy-haired woman...

...who started to look familiar as the day wore on; she was some sort of Manhattan underground celebrity of the period, it occurred to me. Possibly a drag queen, but on the other hand possibly not.

And then the name Brenda Bergman popped into my head.

A quick Google search revealed that she was in fact a lovely and talented actress/singer of that name (and forgive me, Brenda, for the drag queen speculation) and that she's had a long and shall we say interesting career.

Exhibit A in that regard: Here she is in a hilarious live performance from 2008 at a Neil Diamond tribute concert.

God, she's funny. "Hey, get outta my way -- I can't see the air."

I should add that Brenda -- who is still active (as witness this appearance from last year on THE MAURY POVICH SHOW) -- can also be glimpsed co-starring in the 1983 punk satire Geek Maggot Bingo...

...alongside Richard Hell and my personal hero John "The Cool Ghoul" Zacherle, which can -- and should -- be ordered on DVD over at Amazon HERE.

And -- for those of you in the New York Metropolitan Area -- she will be performing downtown this very evening.

If you catch the show (previous committments prevent me from attending, alas), be sure to tell Brenda that PowerPop sent you.

As for most of the rest of the people in that party photo...

...including the Bailey Quarters look-alike talking to Lester -- I haven't a clue.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Theatrical Notes From All Over

Via ROCKCRITICS.COM, interesting and alarming news for those of you in the Los Angeles area:

June 6, 2014 By swOOds

Based on the life and words of Lester Bangs, "How to Be a Rock Critic" is by Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen, the husband-and-wife team behind The Exonerated, a play based on interviews with death row inmates. The play will be staged by the Center Theater Group in Culver City, California from June 17-28, 2015.

To write the play, Blank and Jensen went through 50,000 pages of Bangs published and unpublished work, which appeared in Rolling Stone, The Village Voice, Creem and elsewhere. Bangs died of an overdose in 1982 at the age of 33.

A one-man play, Jensen performs as Bangs — who was memorably portrayed by Phillip Seymour Hoffman in "Almost Famous" — with a mustache, a leather jacket and “a little padding”.

Could be a hot one.

Meanwhile, from a party thrown by The Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Review, here's Lester (kneeling, center, with the hat) and yours truly back in 1976.

I no longer remember most of the people in that shot (except my then girlfriend -- the perky gal in the center, holding the drink, directly above Lester) but I think you'll have to agree that is perhaps the most spectacularly unflattering photo of me ever seen by sentient mammals.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Fun With Mp3s (An Occasional Series): The Godfrey Daniel Experience -- The Finale!

And, as promised, herewith the concluding three cuts from Godfrey Daniel's 1972 deconstruction of all that was sacred in Classic Rock.

Track 10: Buddy Miles' overexposed irritant "Them Changes," performed in the style of late 40s jump blues shouters like Roy Brown.

Track 11: "Mercy Mercy." Rendered in a manner that will, in fact, have you begging for same, i.e. re-imagined as something that might have been heard on the soundtrack to an American-International beach film.

Track 12: A reprise of "Hey Jude." For those of you playing at home, you may recall that Take a Sad Song opened with a doo-wop version of the Beatles tune; here the band bids you goodbye in the style of those two white guys who worked with Phil Spector.

Coming tomorrow -- I haven't a fricking clue, frankly; this whole series has exhausted me.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Fun With Mp3s (An Occasional Series): The Godfrey Daniel Experience -- Part III

And as promised yesterday, the third installment of "Take a Sad Song," the brilliant 1972 deconstruction of classic rock by the incomparable Godfrey Daniel.

Track 7: An interestingly sleazy period take on "Honky Tonk Women."

Track 8: A doo-wop group steals "Whole Lotta Love" back from cat burglar Jimmy Page.

Track 9: And the masterpiece. My greatest fantasy in life is that Joni Mitchell heard this version of "Woodstock" and -- probably around the time the Musitron solo kicked in -- had to be hospitalized.

Coming tomorrow: the final three tracks, including the concluding bookend version of that Beatles anthem had it been done by the Selfrighteous Brothers.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Fun With Mp3s (An Occasional Series): The Godfrey Daniel Experience -- Part II

And here, as promised, the next three tracks from Godfrey Daniel's 1972 masterpiece of rock criticism, Take a Sad Song.

Track 4: "Proud Mary," which they start old, and finish REAL old, thus parodying not just the original song, but the later Ike and Tina Turner version.

Track 5: "Let It Be," which somehow sounds less religious than the original.

Track 6: "Groovin'. Stereophonic sound rears its ugly head at last.

More tomorrow, you're welcome very much, including sublime and surreal versions of songs by The Stones, Led Zep and Joni Mitchell.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Once a Juke, Always a Juke

Oh hell, this death stuff is really beginning to piss me off.

Just got word that Steve Becker, drummer for Southside Johnny and the Jukes on their best post-Sony albums, has died. My sincerest condolences go out to all of his family and bandmates.

Steve was probably the nicest guy in the music business I ever met; unpretentious, a great player, and really funny. He ran a recording studio in the swamps of Jersey -- I think maybe in Nutley or maybe West Orange or maybe Bellville -- that was technically state of the art, affordable, and a wonderful relaxed place to hang out at. I did a shitload of demos there, and if you needed a session sax player, somebody from the Jukes or the E-Street band would show up and not even ask for money.

Bottom line -- Steve was a total sweetheart, and he had more great stories about the great and the near great in the field of rock-and-roll than I ever had hot meals. I'm not sure of his age, but unless I'm totally wrong, he was a decade younger than me.

Here's a wonderful song he played on. From their 1979 album The Jukes, live on TV in 1980.

I'm so bummed I can't find the words.

Fun With Mp3s (An Occasional Series): The Godfrey Daniel Experience -- Part I

I posted a song from Godfrey Daniel's Take a Sad Song last week, but since I love all you guys more than food, and because the album is (at the moment) sadly unavailable -- which I consider a genuine cultural tragedy -- I have decided to put the entire thing up in four consecutive installments.

In case you missed last week's column, here's the short version. The album was released, on Atlantic Records, in early 1972, and it came with no band photo or musical credits other than that it was produced and arranged by Dave Palmer and Andy Solomon (neither of whom were known to me). A quick listen, however, made the album's conceptual genius immediately apparent -- what Palmer and Solomon were doing was taking then contemporary (late 60s, early 70s) pop and rock staples and reinterpreting them in, shall we say, other earlier styles. This was an incredibly radical and audacious thing to do in 1972, but more important the album worked equally well both as pastiche and affectionate homage, and the aural evocations of the earlier eras (from 40s jump blues to early rock to Del Shannon and the early 60s) were done with almost eerie authenticity.

Plus, the whole thing was often also very, very funny; my well worn original vinyl copy made a lot of people's jaws drop when I played it for them over the years (although I doubt that the thing ever sold enough to pay for the art director's fee for the cover design).

Anyway, and herewith, as promised, the first three tracks.

"Hey Jude" (the first of two versions on the LP, this one done as your basic street-corner doo-wop).

And then Sly and the Family Stone's "Dance to the Music" as nature intended. (That this was actually deemed releasable as a single is, perhaps, the cream of the jest).

And finally "Purple Haze" like you've never heard it before. Please do not operate heavy machinery after listening to this.

I presumed at the time that Palmer and Solomon were staff producers or engineers at Atlantic (the cover photo is the original Atlantic recording studio, back in the 50s) but I discovered otherwise in 2008, however, when the album was briefly reissued on CD (it is long out of print, alas) and the following clarification was posted over at Amazon.

"The album is only Andy Soloman ('ALL' vocals, and 'All' instruments) and Dave Palmer (Drums). Studio musicians appear on two cuts credited as the Charles Soloman Orchestra. Dave co-produced with Andy, and engineered|mixed as well. The album is mixed in mono, except for the splash cymbal ending on 'Groovin' which is stereo. It was born out of a send up demo Andy made with Dave on a sound-on-sound Sony TC-630 reel-to-reel recorder in 1969. While making The Amboy Dukes last original lineup album 'Marriage' for Polydor records, legendary producer|engineer Eddie Kramer heard the doo-wop version of 'Hey Jude' and totally flipped out. The Atlantic deal soon followed. Dave left the band to become an engineer at Electric Lady Studios with Eddie, and Andy eventually left Ted for a career in commercial music writing. That's the true back story...Dave Palmer is my cousin." -- Ron Christopher

Coming tomorrow: The duo's inimitable takes on songs by Creedence, The Rascals, and The Rolling Stones.

You're welcome.