Monday, November 30, 2015

Your Monday Moment of Words Fail Me

From 2012, please enjoy Brooklyn's alt-indie bluegrass phenoms The Punch Brothers...

...and their absolutely astounding live take on The Cars' classic hit "Just What I Needed."

The musicianship here is astounding, obviously, but I had forgotten that (as the lead singer says in the video) "Just What I Needed" is such an absolutely awesome song.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Pining for the Fjords

And speaking of the not dead Procol Harum, as we were yesterday, from somewhere in Denmark in 2006, here's the group in concert -- with their orchestra and chorus(!!!) -- with perhaps the most extraordinary performance of "A Salty Dog" ever heard by sentient mammalian ears.

Words, as I am wont to say, fail me, and especially over that chorus ensemble; I don't know what they're singing exactly, perhaps Keith Reid's lyrics in Danish, but whatever it is, it kicks the song into a whole new galaxy. And somewhere, I suspect, the ghost of Carl Nielsen is smiling.

[h/t Peter Spencer]

Thursday, November 26, 2015

It's Turkey Day!!!

From 1969, here's the original classic lineup of Procol Harum...

...and their utterly gorgeous "Pilgrim's Progress."

Pilgrim -- get it? It's not rocket science, kids. Actually, if memory serves (and if it does, I hope it washes its hands) I think this is something of a Thanksgiving tradition around here by now.

In any case, enjoy the cranberry sauce and stuffing, kids.

Also -- Matthew Fisher is god.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

From the Land Down Under

A new song -- "Good Advices" -- by You Am I. Who in case you didn't know are quite literally considered gods in their Australian homeland.

I've been a fan of these guys since I first heard "Mr. Milk"...

...blasting from behind the counter at NYCD, the world's greatest record store, courtesy of friend of PowerPop Sal Nunziato, who now does business over at Burning Wood.

In any event, this new You Am I album was actually recorded in Bushwick, which for some reason tickles my fancy. And if it's as good as "Good Advices" it should be a hot one.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Hey -- These Guys Are Good!!!

Elvis Costello, Richard Thompson, the late Allen Toussaint and the later Levon Helm have some live fun with Toussaint's "A Certain Girl."

As reader Matt Mitchell, who passed this along to me, said in his e-mail:
Great version, even with botched vocal by Elvis. Great RT solo.
Of course Toussaint is without peer.

I think that pretty much sums it up.

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Last Time I Saw Paris

Caught the incomparable Willie Nile (and band) at the Highline Ballroom in NYC last Friday night.

Apart from the best live version of "Sweet Jane" ever heard by sentient mammalian ears, the high point of the show (for me, anyway) was, alas, a newly relevant rendition of "Holy War," from the great 2013 album American Ride.


Sending this out as a prayer for humanity. God Bless France.

Posted by Willie Nile on Saturday, November 14, 2015

I shot some video at the show on Friday, but it didn't turn out to be watchable -- the live version of "Holy War" above, done under more professional conditions, makes the point, however.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Help Me Obi-Wan Kenobi -- You're My Only Hope

Paul "The Shrill One" Krugman, in the NY Times today:

Erick Erickson, the editor in chief of the website, is a serious power in right-wing circles. Speechifying at RedState’s annual gathering is a rite of passage for aspiring Republican politicians, and Mr. Erickson made headlines this year when he disinvited Donald Trump from the festivities.

So it’s worth paying attention to what Mr. Erickson says. And as you might guess, he doesn’t think highly of President Obama’s antiterrorism policies.

Still, his response to the attack in Paris was a bit startling. The French themselves are making a point of staying calm, indeed of going out to cafes to show that they refuse to be intimidated. But Mr. Erickson declared on his website that he won’t be going to see the new “Star Wars” movie on opening day, because “there are no metal detectors at American theaters.”

It’s a bizarre reaction — but when you think about it, it’s part of a larger pattern. These days, panic attacks after something bad happens are the rule rather than the exception, at least on one side of the political divide.

Consider first the reaction to the Paris attacks. Lightsabers aside, are Mr. Erickson’s fears any sillier than those of the dozens of governors — almost all Republicans — who want to ban Syrian refugees from their states?

You know, I'm getting really fucking tired of pant-wetting right-wing cowardly assholes and the Democratic jerkoffs who enable them. Just saying.

By the way, that version of the Star Wars theme -- done a la The Ventures, the way it was always meant to be done -- is from the great What Really Happened to the Band of '59 album by Big Daddy.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Closed for Monkey Business

Regular posting, including a killer new tune by an artist previously unknown to me, resumes tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Steve Deaton is Not Fucking Around

From their eponymous and just-released (yesterday, in fact) album, please enjoy Mississipi's finest, The Steve Deaton Three, and the killer lead-off track "Duke of High School."

What a great song -- wonderful harmonies, a witty lyric about a guy everybody knows, big ringing guitars and a cowbell (heh) on the solo. This should be blasting out of every car radio in America, frankly, and the rest of the album (which is one of ny top five faves for the year) is just as terrific, including an obviously heartfelt ode to the former frontman of The McCoys (from whence I cribbed the title of today's post) and a blistering cover of Steve's cousin Jumpin Gene Simmons' "Peroxide Blonde."

You can -- and very definitely should -- order the album (in physical or download forms) from any of the fine musical delivery systems listed below.

Apple Music:
Amazon MP3:

You're welcome.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

P.F. Sloan 1945 -- 2015

If he had done nothing more than co-write this gorgeous folk-rock anthem, he would deserve to be immortal.

And don't even get me started about "Secret Agent Man."

Monday, November 16, 2015

Monday Video Roundup

[As I have noted here on previous occasions, it is perhaps a wonderful testament to the essential goodness of human nature that there are still publicists at various video companies who continue to send new product to an undeserving scribbler at an obscure blog. Herewith, then, in an attempt to justify this largesse, are my thoughts on a a couple of the more interesting cinematic and television artifacts to have crossed my desk of late; unless otherwise noted, I viewed them all on DVD. -- S.S.]

1. Murdoch Mysteries Season 8 (Acorn)

If you've never seen this show, which is world famous in its native Canada, it's essentially CSI: Toronto, set at the tail end of the Victorian Era. Which is to say it's tons of fun -- the period detail and history stuff in particular are a hoot (the titular Murdoch, a brilliant police constable with a penchant for inventing all sorts of forensic gizmos, is constantly encountering real life figures, including in season 8 W.C. Fields, Thomas Edison, and Teddy Roosevelt). It's currently running on American cable (Ovation -- check your local listings) under the odd title The Artful Detective, but Acorn Video's DVD version looks significantly better. Trust me -- watch any episode from this most recent set and you'll want to go back and watch all seven previous seasons, which are also available from the good folks at Acorn. As will, one presumes at some point, the 9th season, which is currently in production. [18 episodes on five discs]

2. The Code (Acorn)

[The Magnificence That is] Lucy Lawless proves once again that there is life after Xena, Warrior Princess in this sharply written cyber-political thriller series. The official synopsis: "Deep in the Australian outback, two joyriding teenagers are involved in a deadly crash, setting off an escalating chain of events that could unravel some of the government's darkest secrets." I miss Lawless's ululating, but other than that, highly recommended, and in case you get hooked, they've commissioned a second season that will air Down Under next year. [six edisodes on two discs]

3. Sullivan's Travels (Criterion Collection)

From the great writer/director Preston Sturges, one of the best film comedies ever made in the English language (and there are moments, particularly butler Eric Blore's speech about the evil of poverty, that approach Shavian levels of eloquence and wit). This first Criterion Blu-ray version features a brand new, and excellent high-def restoration (a significant improvement on Criterion's 2001 edition), along with audio commentary from that earlier version (featuring Chris Guest and Michael McKean), plus an interesting PBS documentary on Sturges that originally aired on American Masters. Incidentally, the trailer above doesn't look anywhere near as good as the new video transfer. [Blu-ray, one disc]

4. Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries: Series 3 (Acorn)

The Divine Essie Davis (I mean that quite literally; I am convinced the show's producers crucified her and she then rose three days later) stars as the titular sleuth, a rich, alarmingly liberated woman in 1928 Melbourne, who assists the local police (including a chief inspector with whom there is, shall we say, sexual tension), shows off her skill as an aviatrix, and fucks around quite shamelessly. Essentially it's a smuttier version of Miss Marple, with drop dead gorgeous clothes, and Davis, of course, is quite a dish (know what I mean, guys?). Alas, it appears that the series will not be returning for a fourth season, but hope springs eternal, at least at Casa Simels. [eight episodes on three discs]

5. Broadchurch: The Complete Second Season (Entertainment One)

An amazing police procedural, set in (and revealing the complex web of lies and secrets at) a small resort town in England. If that sounds familiar, it's because there was an American remake (Gracepoint) set in California, and in fact star David Tenant is in both of them. This second series picks up almost exactly where the first one (the Brit version had a different ending than the American) left off, and if anything it's even more despairing and grim. Highly recommended, if not for the faint of heart; the video transfers here are spectacular (and this is a very handsome show, with amazing location photography). Season three airs in the UK next year, and I for one plan to check it out. [eight episodes on three discs]

6. Ron Jeremy: Life After the Buffet (Breaking Glass)

For those readers who have led more virtuous lives than your humble scribe, let me explain upfront that Jeremy is the world's shlubbiest porn star; entire generations of men have grown up watching his movies and thinking "If this guy can get laid, why can't I?" In any case, he had a major health scare in 2013, and this documentary -- in part -- follows him "on his spiritual awakening and personal journey to discover the existence of a greater power than what is here on earth." Okay. Jeremy comes off as a nice enough guy (and to give him his due, he's done amusing work as an actor in non-porn films, my favorite being Detroit Rock City in 1999), but let's just say that I'm profoundly uncomfortable using the words "Ron Jeremy" and "spiritual awakening" in the same sentence.

7. Toy Story That Time Forgot (Disney)

A short (22 minute) Christmas special from 2014, with most of the regulars from the previous installments in the franchise reprising their voice roles. It's not the masterpiece that Toy Story 3 was, but it's still completely delightful, and in no way feels like a direct-to-video quickie. Bonuses include some deleted scenes, and a Karaoke-style sing-along (my personal favorite). Disney's Blu-Ray version looks absolutely astounding, and Michael Giacchino's score (I guess Randy Newman was busy) is gorgeous and sounds great when cranked up in a decent home theatre system. [one Blu-ray plus digital HD download]

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Kids Are Alright -- NOT!!! Part Deux: Those Youngsters From Akron Were Right -- Things Really are Devolving

So I finally figured out why that Echosmith song I posted the other day irks me so much. Apart from the fact that the singer has, in the immortal words of Shelly Fabares on The Donna Reed Show, all the sex appeal of a damp mop.

It's because it's basically this piece of shit, which has been a pop culture annoyance for way too long already...

...updated with a Disney Channel style vocal. And as the guy says in the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre -- there's no need for that.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

There Must Be Something in the Water

The front page of one of the Cleveland papers the Friday we arrived at the Hall of Fame.

I think what puzzles me most is not that these people are fond of U2's lead singer, but rather that this is apparently an annual event.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Allen Toussaint 1938 -- 2015

If he had done nothing else but write (under a pseudonym) and produce this one record he would deserve to be immortal.

And he did much, much more than just that.

Damn, there were giants in the earth during our lifetime.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Kids Are Alright -- NOT!!!

Saw the video below -- Echosmith's "Let's Love" -- in a movie theater the other day while waiting for the feature -- Truth (also known as All The President's Men 2.0) -- to unspool.

Let's just say that after enduring it, I wanted to find every one of the youngsters in this band and smack them upsides the head with a dead mackerel.

For starters, the song itself is just too cute for words, and not in a good way IMHO. Ditto the kids in the band, particularly the vocalist, who -- apart from the fact that she can't sing a single line without ending it with a sort of annoying lame cry in her voice -- is way too enthused about her own sex appeal.

I mean, I understand that I'm not even remotely the right demographic for this sort of thing, but if this is what passes for pop-rock these days, I say it's spinach and the hell with it.

Monday, November 09, 2015

The Family That Plays Together

My long time chum Ronnie D'Addario (who most recently added the angelic harmony vocals to that "new" Floor Models song I promise not to flog again any time soon) performs his splendidly melodic "Time Will Tell On You" at last Saturday's INTERNATIONAL POP OVERTHROW show in Green Point, Brooklyn. Sorry the performance isn't complete, but I initially pressed the wrong button on my iPad. Let's face it -- Martin Scorsese I ain't.

Incidentally, the guitarist on the left and the drummer (who I couldn't get a clear shot of) are Ronnie's teenage offspring. Words obviously fail me.

Meanwhile, here's a quite wonderful studio version of the song.

You're welcome.

Friday, November 06, 2015

Friday Entertainment News

Forgot to mention that all around swell guy, friend of PowerPop and frequent commenter (under the moniker Phil Cheese) Phil Cheesebrough is kicking off (as promoter) an interesting concert series for those of you lucky enough to live in Paris, France Dayton, Ohio ce soir.

Phil's the guy who hipped me to the incomparable Liz Longley, so I trust his taste implicitly; if he says the two performers in the flyer above are great, I have every confidence that they are (actually, I've heard one song by Ken Yates, and I was shall I say highly taken with it). In any event, god bless Phil for being a patron of the arts in his hometown.

I should add I'm informed that the music the show's attendees will have to listen before the concert begins and during the intermission will include three Floor Models tunes (including "Letter From Liverpool"), something by the original Byrds, and a track by our mutual chum Peter Spencer, which means the show's already good before any of the live stuff even starts.

Seriously, if you're somewhere in the mid-west this evening, stop by the show. You can find out all the pertinent details about tonight's performance (and future ones) over at the official concert series link HERE.

[P.S. to Phil: Dude, the Dayton/Paris thing is a major in-joke that I don't want to bore everybody here with; I'll explain it to you on the day we finally meet in person.]

The Kids are Alright

My old chum Ronnie D'Addario -- who, most recently, sang the angelic background vocals on that "new" Floor Models song I've been inflicting on you all of late -- is doing a rare solo gig tomorrow afternoon as part of the fabulous International Pop Overthrow festival. Show time is 2:45.

For those of you unfamiliar with IPO, it's essentially Coachella for pop geeks Woodstock for people who like the kind of bands that provide the rationale for the blog you're currently reading.

Oh, and I should add that Ronnie will be backed by his frighteningly talented teenaged offspring, who normally do business as The Lemon Twigs.

I should also add that Ronnie has a fabulous new album out, and that it's available from CD Baby, Amazon and iTunes.

In any case, if you're in the vicinity of Brooklyn tomorrow, please stop by (and look for me and a certain Shady Dame in the audience -- I'll be the one wearing the Power Pop Movie t-shirt). I haven't been to the venue previously, but I'm told the bar food is good and that they serve elitist Chardonnay. You can find directions to the place HERE.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Cleveland Rocks: Special Words Fail Me -- Clothes Make the Whoever Edition

More cool togs (and other stuff) seen at the Hall of Fame last weekend.

This one, of course, needs no introduction.

The dress below was worn by Petula Clark, presumably while singing "Downtown" somewhere. The home-made bass guitar and Hohner electric piano to its left, BTW, were used in the recording of The Zombies "She's Not There." Talk about jaw-dropping.

Since you'll never guess, I will note that this is a stage outfit and a pair of roller skates belonging to the late great Ritchie Valens. The amp head bottom left was the property of Duane Eddy. How cool is that?

Perhaps my favorite thing in the whole museum -- Keith Richards' sweater, the one he wore on the '69 Stones tour and which can be seen in Gimme Shelter. One suspects he ripped it off from Anita's clothes closet.

And last but not least -- when I first saw this, I thought "They let Mr. Rogers into the Hall of Fame"?

Actually it was worn by Sam Cooke, presumably in an attempt to get a piece of the lucrative Perry Como market.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Cleveland Rocks: Special Words Fail Me -- The Offending Instruments Edition

Some more artifacts glimpsed at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame over the weekend.

Carl Wilson's 1964 Rickenbacker 12-String -- the guitar he played with the Beach Boys in The T.A.M.I Show. That one literally took my breath away, and not just because I hadn't expected to see it. (You can see Dennis Wilson's 1962 Gretch drum kit, also familiar from the aforementioned film classic, at the bottom of the frame, but I couldn't get a clear shot of it. Sorry.)

A saxophone played by the great Louis Jordan. Caldonia!!!

The custom built (in 1968) amp stack (and psychedelically adorned Gibson) of John Cippolina (the criminally underrated guitarist for Quicksilver Messenger Service). I can now totally believe that Cippolina was the loudest guitarist on the San Francisco Scene.

And yes, that's really Ringo's drum kit, the one he played at Shea Stadium in 1965. You can actually walk around it. (In the second shot, you can see the head of a certain Shady Dame of my acquaintance, who was looking at something else).

More amazing stuff from the hall tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Cleveland Rocks: Special Your Tuesday Moment of Words Fail Me/Folk Rock Fashion!!! Edition

You know, it's very easy to be cheaply cynical about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I get it.

I mean, two words -- Jann Wenner.

But I gotta tell you -- walking through the exhibits over the weekend and suddenly coming across iconic articles of clothing from the album covers of two of my all time favorite LPs was...a mind blower.

To wit -- David Crosby's leather poncho from The Byrds' Turn Turn Turn...

...and Skip Spence's fringed jacket from Moby Grape's eponymous debut.

Swear to god -- these two alone were worth the trip and the price of admission.

More stuff from the Hall tomorrow.

Monday, November 02, 2015

Cleveland Does Indeed Rock....

...but no "real" new posting until Tuesday, after we've decompressed from our return trip.

Lotsa cool photos TK, however.