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.