Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Beatles Week: Part II -- The Rhythm Section Vanishes

Well, I think we may have discovered the all-time absolute bottom of the barrel in terms of Beatles tell-all books.

Ladies and germs, the biography of Jimmy Nicol, the guy behind the drum kit in the photo below...

...whose fifteen minutes of fame only lasted only about as long as a couple of paradiddles.

I don't know which is more amazing -- the fact that somebody actually took the time and effort to write a book about a guy whose claim to history is that he subbed for Ringo while he (Ringo) was having his tonsils out, or that the book comes with a foreword by "former Beatle Chas Newby."

Who is, apparently, a real person, albeit one whose name could have been invented by Monty Python. Seems he played four shows as the Fabs bassist immediately after the departure of Stu Sutcliffe.

All I can figure is that both of those guys must be really pissed they weren't even mentioned in Good Ol' Freda.


[h/t Todd Everett]

Monday, September 29, 2014

Beatles Week: Part I -- The Walrus Was Orlando

Well, here's one you may have missed.

Actually, I found the above while looking for something else online over the weekend; yes, I know it's stupid, but it made me laugh out loud anyway.

Apparently, the original idea for the Fabs' second film was centered around their heretofore unsuspected enthusiasm for the avuncular host of a certain beloved TV program.

Or perhaps not.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Rich Asshole of the Millenium

From whenever, please endure Madison Square Garden owner and complete jerkoff poser James Dolan...

...and a video of one of his "hits."

No kidding -- this yutz actually booked himself as the opening act for The Eagles at the Garden on September 19th. Thus proving that, yes, money really CAN'T buy you class.

Seriously -- I sing worse than this guy and my backing musicians aren't nearly as good. So why aren't I opening for One Direction?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

If You Drink, Don't Twerk

If the video doesn't show up immediately, give it a couple of seconds -- it's there, trust me.

And make sure you watch this all the way through to the surprise ending.

[h/t Gregory Fleeman]

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

More Proof, As If Any Was Needed, That Sweden is the Most Advanced Society in the World

Attentive readers may recall friend of PowerPop Wayne Lundquist Ford, the proprietor of an intertube radio show from Sweden called...

Wayne was good enough to play a Floor Models tune on the show last year (as well as one by my high school garage band The Plagues).

More to the point, he's just put together the greatest power pop download album in the history of the world.

But I'll let him tell you about it.

Ok, here it is the best free download in the world right now, 63 of the best artists around right now. 200 free downloads a month, after that it goes to paid until the new month, if anyone buys the album at that time, I will donate every penny to a music charity. Please share and support all the bands by liking their Facebook pages, buying their music and going to their concerts, this is what this is all about. Many thanks to all the artists involved.

I should add that Wayne was kind enough to include a track by Gerry Devine and the Hi-Beams...

...the successor band to the Flo Mos, and also featuring a bass player whose name rhymes with Sleeve Nimels. It's a pretty nifty song, if I do say myself, although frankly I haven't heard a bum track among the other 62. It's really a great album, is what I'm saying, and if you have the slightest interest in the genre this blog is devoted to, it behooves downloading.

So what the heck are you waiting for? -- get thee over to the album page and check it out posthaste.

I should add that Wayne's show today -- which you can find online at RADIO ANDRA -- will be featuring tracks from the album; it airs at 6pm UK time; I have no idea what the translates to here on the east coast of the USA, but I'll try to find somebody who can figure it out for me and get back to you.

You're welcome.

UPDATE: I am informed that Wayne's show will air at 1pm EST this afternoon. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

He Who Does Not Remember History is Condemned to Repeat It. Or in Some Cases, to Make It Up.

Well, well, well.

It seems that U2 has been giving their stuff away if you bought the latest gizmos ever since 1980. Who knew?

Okay, the above ad -- which went viral earlier this week -- is a photo-shopped fake, but the schadenfreude over their recent and much reviled partnership with Apple is still a lot of fun.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Wails From the Crypt (An Occasional Series)

[Attentive readers will perhaps recall that I have from time to time, since NYMary first gave me the metaphorical spare set of keys to this here blog, reprinted various pieces I originally wrote for the Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Review. If truth be told, however, I've done it less often than I originally anticipated, mostly because a lot of my old stuff -- especially from the '70s -- kind of creeps me out for various reasons (god, I could be an annoyingly opinionated blowhard back then -- as opposed to now, hah!) but also because to a large degree the pieces are simply dated. Also, I really hate transcribing the damn things.

That said, I chanced across this column...from the February 1977 issue...

...and upon re-reading it I decided it wasn't totally embarrassing and decided to share. I've done a little rewriting to eliminate a couple of really egregious dumb pronouncements, but by and large this is how it appeared back in the day. I should add that the photo of Graham Parker is the very same one that ran with the essay originally; god bless the intertubes for the picture's easy accessibility. I should also add that I do not stand by my assessment of the George Harrison song in question, although in my defense, I was prematurely correct about George's ultimate artistic renaissance. In any event, enjoy if possible. -- S.S.]

It's a strange time right now for pop music. Oh, sure lots of interesting things have been going on -- the remarkable return of Brian Wilson, the Led Zeppelin film, the second (and I hope the last) Rock Awards TV show, and punk-rock festivals in (where else?) France -- but it's a hard to get a fix on what it all means. A new sensibility seems to be emerging out of the ashes of the slowly sickening Seventies, but there's a vagueness about it, a tentative slippery kind of feeling that resists analysis. For myself, I find that most of the records I'm listening to now are retrospectives of one kind or another -- the Faces Snakes and Ladders, a lovely memorial to a band that never really got it together the way the could have; Leo Kottke's 1971-1976; even the latest reissue of Phil Spector's sublime Christmas album -- and that's got me muddled even more. So rather than try to make sense of all of this, I'm cribbing an idea from Simon Frith, who cribbed it from Charlie Gillet, who cribbed it from god-knows-who. Here is this month's Big Six.

1. Patti Smith Group: Radio Ethiopia

Before Patti's new album came out, I was fortunate enough to stumble across an excellent live bootleg featuring some of her new songs, as well as to catch an unannounced low-profile gig she did at a bar in SoHo, and I think I've finally figured out why she gets to me: As knowingly as she comes on, she really is an innocent. It doesn't matter that most of the criticisms that have been leveled at here are true. Sure, her singing is fairly limited, her band isn't virtuoso, her poetry is at times laughably overripe -- but she's still open enough to fit Smokey Robinson and Dolly Parton in there among the fever dreams. Radio Ethiopia, different as it is from Horses, has just as many problems, but she's getting closer to whatever it is she's chasing, and for the moment at least the ride she's taking us on is the most exhilirating one in rock.

2. George Harrison: "This Song" (from 33&1/3)

That little old cringe-maker is back, but with a difference. Not only has he shaved his beard and started eating meat again, he seems to have regained both his sense of humor and his songwriting chops. I have not yet heard the whole album, so I will have to restrain my enthusiasm, but on the basis of the single -- inspired by his recent loss in court, it's his first rocker in ages and works both as a novelty tune and a love song -- George may finally be able to demonstrate that his work with the Beatles was not the fluke the intervening years have indicated it might be.

3. Graham Parker and the Rumour: Heat Treatment

R&B lives! No sooner had I speculated that Southside Johnny's passion for Sixties Soul might be contagious than Mr. Parker and a fine group of refugees from the London pub-rock scene show that the English might have caught it too. The Rumour isn't quite as flashy as the Asbury Jukes, nor is it as purist, but the groove is similar and Heat Treatment might just be the best original soul revivalist album since, oh, let's say the Beach Boys Wild Honey.

4, Elton John: Blue Moves

Gosh, but it must be lonely at the top! It seems that it isn't enough for poor Elton that his records sell by the zillions, that he's adored by both the fans and other pop stars -- those nasty old rock critics just keep picking on him, and its ruining his breakfast. Insensitive bastards. The odd thing is that although Blue Moves is, if anything, more numbingly turgid than anything he's done previously, it's also, in a peculiar sort of way, the most honest; it's full of the peeved petulance he demonstrated when, in a recent radio interview, he vented his spleen at a poor New York Times reviewer who had confessed to being only moderately enthused over his last concert. The Rock Star Self Pity Syndrome claims its least likely candidate; can Peter Frampton be far behind?

5. Boston: "More Than a Feeling"

This song, of course, has been the left-field smash of the year, coming seemingly out of nowhere from a first album by an unknown group of musicians who have only just quit their day jobs. It really is good; a soaring riff out of Lou Reed by way of Joe Walsh, stunning playing and production, and the best job of adapting the George Martin/Beatles approach to heavy metal that anyone has come up with in ages; Todd Rundgren, not to mention Eric Carmen, must be reaching for the razor blade every time they hear it. But, like most left-field smashes, it's a one shot. There isn't another song remotely as memorable anywhere on the rest of the album, and, unsurprisingly, the group's singing is as faceless as all the rest of the metal bands. Still, in a period when imaginative rock-and-roll hit singles are getting harder to find than practicing Druids, it's nice they're around. File with "The Boys Are Back in Town."

6. Bruce Springsteen: "Rendezvous"

It's been over a year since Born to Run put the Bard of Asbury Park on the covers of Time and Newsweek, and Springsteen, embroiled in a lawsuit with his old manager that prevents him from recording anything new, must be wondering if rock stardom is all it's cracked up to be. He doesn't act like it, thought, or at least he didn't during a recent six-night stint in New York City. Instead, he put on the most sweeping, ambitious and deceptively spontaneous shows I have ever attended, including one that reduced several extremely skeptical friends of mine to actual tears. Two of the new songs he introduced are obviously still being worked on, but the third -- a hypnotically compelling teenage lament called "Rendezvous" (that is also the most English-sounding thing he's ever done) -- is clearly a Bruce Springsteen Song for the Ages. Incidentally, he dedicated a tune at each performance to Patti Smith, and actually pulled her onstage during one version of "Rosalita." If Springsteen is the New Dylan, does that make Patti the Baez of the Seventies? Well, why not? -- though I admit to being a little uncomfortable with the idea of Revelations taking place in New Jersey.

UPDATE: The video for the Harrison track.

Amusing enough, I suppose, but as for the song itself -- all I can say is "what was I thinking?"

Friday, September 19, 2014

Weekend Listomania's Greatest Hits: Special Carpe Diem, Bitches! Edition

[I first posted this one back in 2008, which is apparently four centuries ago in dog years. In any case, I've substituted a couple of new entries and done some minimalist re-writing, just so you won't get the idea that I'm resting on my well-apolstered laurels in my old age. Enjoy! -- S.S.]


Completely arbitrary rule: The word "season" is allowed. Also days of the week.

Okay, that said, here's my totally top of my head Top Ten.

10. Six O'Clock (The Lovin' Spoonful)

For my money, their best record -- a great song, stunning production, and the crack in Sebastian's voice is almost a metaphor for their good time vibe running headlong into the heart of darkness of the late 60s.

9. Time of the Season (The Zombies)

I know, I know, I've never posted this song before.

8. Quarter to Three (Gary US Bonds)

Some of our younger readers (by which I mean those born between the invention of the blowdryer and the premiere of the television series Manimal) may not believe this, but back in the day, my buddies and I killed hours playing the opening few seconds of this over and over again in a fruitless quest to discern the rumored dirty words. Think of that as a sort of hormonal adolescent version of the myth of Sisyphus.

7. Midnight at the Oasis (Maria Muldaur)

I have from time to time over the years been surprised by the intensity of the loathing this song evinces in so many of even my most mild-mannered friends. I gotta say, I don't quite get it -- to me, it's always been just a mildly annoying Adult Contemporary novelty tune, almost rendered listenable by a spectacular guitar solo from the underrated Amos Garrett. On the other hand, after re-hearing it, for the first time in ages, for the purposes of this post, I have to admit I have no desire to ever fucking hear it again ever.

6. A tie:

Yesterday (The Beatles)

IIRC this is the world's most covered song. No further point to make about that; I just think it's interesting.


Yesterday's Gone (Chad and Jeremy)

I should add that I was surprised to learn Chad actually played the cool acoustic guitar stuff on their records. Hey -- it was a big deal for me!

5. Good Times (Jimmy Barnes and INXS)

The great and often covered Easybeats classic, obviously. None of the covers has ever come close to the original, IMHO, and I was never particularly an INXS fan, but finding this clip on YouTube the other day reminded me that the late Michael Hutchence really was one charismatic SOB.

4. Monk Time! (The Monks)

Pussy Galore is coming down! Fifty years later the world STILL hasn't caught up with what these crazed ex-GIs stranded in the land of the Hun were doing to the noble muse of Music.

3. Time Has Come Today (Chambers Brothers)

More cowbell!!! True sad story: My skinny tie band had a sort of year-long residency at a club in the Village in the 80s. It was several weeks before I realized that the maître d' was the guy singing this song.

2. Business Time (Flight of the Conchords)

For NYMary, obviously, but also because I wanted something recorded in this century. Plus it's a great song.

And the absolute coolest 4th dimensional ditty, it's so obvious why the frick are we even arguing about it, is --

1. She Don't Care About Time (The Byrds)

Genius songwriting by Gene Clark and Roger (nee Jim) McGuinn playing "Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring" on the break. It doesn't get any better.

Awrighty then -- what would your choices be?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Your Thursday Moment of Words Fail Me

Unsightly box troll master of the obvious rock "critic" Bob Lefsetz went to a One Direction show at the Rose Bowl a couple of days ago and posted this report.

It was incomprehensible.

Furthermore, if you weren’t there you probably didn’t know it happened, despite the act selling out two dates and nearly a third, on a Thursday, a school night.

And that was who were there. Students. Girls. Wanna get laid? Go to a 1D show. You won’t see odds this good at the prison of “Orange Is The New Black.” An endless sea of barely pubescent girls, screaming their heads off. You’d think it was the new Beatles.

Only it wasn’t.

I would like to remind you all, at this juncture and for the record, that the guy who wrote the above is in his early 60s and looks like this.

Jeebus, what an asshole.

You can read the rest of it here if you have the stomach.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Your Wednesday Moment of NO GOOGLING!!!!!

From 2013, please enjoy the appropriately titled "The Man Who Never Was" by...well, actually I'm not going to tell you who it's by, which is why it's appropriately titled.

In any case, it's a great kick-ass rock song by people you've probably heard of, and the whole point is for you to guess who it is.

Have I mentioned no Googling?

Anyway, if you already know please don't give it away in comments.

I should also add that if you didn't know in advance and still managed to guess right strictly because you're too cool for school, you will win a coveted PowerPop No-Prize and all the gloating privileges that entails.

You're welcome.

UPDATE: For those of you who didn't cheat, that track is, of course the more interesting than I thought Rick Springfield collaborating with Dave Grohl and company, from the soundtrack to the quite splendid music documentary Sound City, which I had somehow missed when it came out last year. A terrific movie, BTW, and I highly recommend it. Here's the trailer...

...and you can stream the whole thing at Amazon.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Closed for Monkey Business

Sorry, a certain very old person is making me homicidal today, so no posting. And praise Jeebus New Jersey doesn't have an open carry law.

Regular, debonair, stuff resumes on the morrow, and yes -- Friday will bring us the return of Weekend Listomania's Greatest Hits.

You're welcome.

Monday, September 15, 2014

A Lion is in the Streets

From the 2006 PBS Legends of Jazz series -- specifically, the episode entitled "The Golden Horns" -- please enjoy Clark Terry and his spirited ode to utter incoherence, the incomparable "Mumbles."

That's great, obviously, but nowhere near as great as a certain hand puppet...

...lip-synching it on a kids TV show of yore.

You know, there are days when I think that Pookie the Lion is my favorite fictional character of all time.

This is one of those days, obviously.

I should add that those of you in the New York City and Los Angeles areas can see more of Pookie, Thursday night's at 8:30pm and five days a week(!) during the afternoon, on basic cable's Jewish Life TV channel. Those of you elsewhere should consult your local listings.

You're welcome.

Friday, September 12, 2014

I/You Gotta Move Week, Part III: Special Istanbul or Constantinople? Edition

From 1970, and their misunderstood and perhaps unfairly maligned album Looking On, please enjoy the incomparable The Move -- featuring the first appearance of Jeff Lynne in their saga -- and the remarkably hard rocking "Turkish Tram Conductor Blues."

I've always loved this song, not least because of the coy "Oh yes" Roy Wood interjects just before the guitar solo begins, but also because the combination of Zeppelin riffage and oboes or saxes (or whatever the hell the woodwind instruments are on the track) is just so wonderfully bozoid.

I should also add that, back in the day, my old garage band chums The Weasels used to warm up by playing this as an instrumental, sans the lyrics. It sounded like some kind of mutant surf song, and it always used to crack us up.

We were easily amused, obviously.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

We Interrupt This Move Week Already in Progress to Bring You a Special Message

You know, when people ask me what my all time favorite band is, I usually default to the Holy Trinity of the 60s -- Beatles/Byrds/Beach Boys.

But then I see something like this the other night on Jimmy Fallon's show....

...and I think -- maybe its The Replacements.

Seriously, that's everything rock-and-roll should be in one four minute package. Words otherwise fail me on how great it is.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

I/You Gotta Move Week, Part II: Special Visionary Heavyosity Edition

Live'r than you'll ever be, from 1968 at the legendary Marquee Club, please enjoy in breathless wonder the original five-piece incarnation of The Move and a blistering cover of Eddie Cochran's "Something Else."

Okay, I'm not sure it's the five-piece -- guitarist Ace Kefford was discharged from his duties in the group around the time this was recorded -- but to my ears it sounds like he's there.

In any case, the track is fricking great.

I actually owned a copy of this EP -- found it in some mom and pop record store in Jersey circa 1972-- and for years, it was among my proudest possessions. If truth be told, BTW, I probably hadn't even heard of the Eddie Cochran original until I bought it.

And in the interest of full disclosure, I should also add that I hadn't heard a note by The Move until I read John Mendelssohn's 1970 review of Shazam in Rolling Stone, and was motivated to seek out the rest of their oeuvre as a result. With life-changing results.

In case I haven't said it before -- thanks, John.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Closed for Monkey Business

Sorry, I need a day off to work on my forthcoming memoir -- "Unusual Matricides."

Could be a hot one!

Move Week postings resume tomorrow.

Monday, September 08, 2014

I/You Gotta Move Week, Part I: Special Perils of the Jungle Edition

From 1968, please enjoy the incomparable five-piece original edition of Brit pop-rock deities The Move...

...and their smash hit "Wild Tiger Woman."

And by smash hit we mean, of course, solely in the UK -- these guys couldn't get arrested on American Top 40 radio, the Flying Spaghetti Monster only knows why.

I hadn't thought of the song in ages, actually, but it popped into my head unbidden, for obvious reasons, while compiling our most recent Weekend Listomania. I should also add that this bunch had scads of records just as good if not better; IMHO, The Move deserves to be ranked in the the same strata with the other obviously greatest Brit rock groups of the era, i.e. Beatles/Stones/Who/Kinks. And that's even before Jeff Lynne joined up.

In any case, tune in tomorrow and we'll bat this idea around some more.

Thank you.

UPDATE: Turns out this was actually recorded by the first four-piece version of the band, after the departure of apparently unhinged bassist Ace "The Singing Skull" Kefford (he's the blonde guy in the photo with the vid). I regret the error.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Weekend Listomania's Greatest Hits: Special Masculin Féminin Edition

[I originally posted this one back in 2008, which is so long ago that my testicles hadn't even descended at that point. In any case, I've done some rewriting and added a couple of new entries, just because at my age I need to keep my brain occupied. Enjoy! -- S.S.]


You guys rarely play by the rules, so let me simply say anyway that songs with the titular words "boy" or "girl" are clearly Non U for the purposes of today's discussion. With the exception of number 5, for obvious reasons.

Okay, here's my totally top of my head Top Eight.

8. Richard X. Heyman -- Masquerader Man

A great song, obviously, but included here mostly because we like to have something recorded in this century. Also, he gets bonus points for having the word "man" in his last name.

7. Bo Diddley -- Say Man

Bo and (I believe) his maraca man Jerome Green talking trash. It took over 50 years for Samuel L. Jackson's "Go the Fuck to Sleep" to top it.

6. Deep Purple -- Woman From Tokyo

Were these guys the worst dressed major band of all time or what?

5. Urge Overkill -- Girl You'll Be a Woman Soon

From the Pulp Fiction soundtrack, obviously. These guys took a load of shit back in the day for not being sufficiently ironic when covering Neil Diamond. You know what? It's a great song...unironically.

4. Black Sabbath -- Iron Man

This clip is better than the Robert Downey movie of the same name. I'm not kidding about this!!!

3. Gene Pitney -- The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

I prefer the John Otway version, but this will do in a pinch.

2. Helen Reddy -- I Am Woman

This may be not only just the worst song with the word "woman" in the title, but in fact the worst song with any other words whatsoever in the title. In fairness, however, I've always loved the story about Mary Travers being offered the song first; she ultimately turned it down because whenever she tried to record it, she inevitably wound up convulsed in hysterical laughter. Usually at the "I am invincible" part.

And the bestest ever song with man or woman in the title, it's not even close so don't bug me already, is obviously --

1. Peter and Gordon -- Woman

At the height of Beatlemania Paul McCartney gave this to P&G under a pseudonym, the idea being to see if it would be a hit even if nobody knew it was written by a Beatle. Sure enough, it was, although if memory serves the secret didn't stay secret for long.

Awright then -- what would your choices be?

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Your Thursday Moment of Words Fail Me

I have three things to add about this.

1) This is the greatest thing ever.

2) It kills me that if I was 55 years younger, that girl STILL wouldn't give me a tumble.

3) My favorite moment: When the birds fly because she puts out such a heavy vibe. It's sort of a Goth version of the scene at the bunny ranch in El Topo.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Closed for Monkey Business

Real world mishegass has been overwhelming of late, sorry.

Regular and highly debonair postings resume tomorrow, and with luck Friday will include another of Weekend Listomania's Greatest Hits -- bringing the promise of joy and fulfillment in its most primitive form (ten bonus points if you know where I stole that line from).

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Slacker Tuesday: Special New Orthopedic High Fidelity Fifties Stereo Edition

And speaking as we were last week of 1950s rock classics in multi-channel audio -- from 1959, behold in breathless wonder the original basic track (sans the later over-dubbed orchestra and what John Sebastian used to call "crying yeah-yeah girls") of "Dream Lover."

In stereo, as nature intended.

Written and sung by the astonishingly great (despite that Kevin Spacey movie) Bobby Darin.

Darin, of course, was the missing link between Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley, but he was even more talented than that description suggests; I've probably posted the above mp3 before, but given our recent discussion of Ritchie Valens and "La Bamba" in stereo, I figured nobody would bitch if I hocked you about it again, especially given the fact that the damn thing is just seraphically lovely. Also, I have only recently learned that the piano on the track is by none other than Neil Sedaka.

Of the single's b-side, however -- the alarmingly yclept "Bullmoose" -- I know nothing and, frankly, am disinclined to research further.

You're welcome.

Monday, September 01, 2014

It's Labor Day, Bitches!!!

Neil Young goes all solidarity on our asses, and good for him.

I should add that, traditionally, I post "Part of the Union," by The Strawbs on this holiday, but last year a Brit reader informed me that in England the song has been read as anti-, rather than pro-, the labor movement. I can't hear it myself, but I'll take his word for it.

In any case, I was gonna dedicate Neil's song to a certain 2008 Democratic presidential candidate who vowed to walk the picket lines in support of workers rights whenever they were being threatened.

I wonder what happened to that guy?