Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Brits Just Knighted Raymond Douglas Davies!!!

From The Guardian:

Kinks frontman Ray Davies, 72, said he felt a mixture of joy and embarrassment on being awarded a knighthood for services to the arts. Despite The Kinks parting ways in 1996, Davies forged a solo career and two years ago collaborated on Sunny Afternoon, the Olivier-award wining musical based on his music and lyrics.

“This is for the people who supported my music over the years,” said Davies. “I’m kind of reluctant to collect rewards. I usually back out of ceremonies. I’m kind of a shy person.”

To which I can only add -- WHAT TOOK THEM SO FUCKING LONG?

Ladies and gentlemen, the most beautiful song written in English in the second half of the 20th Century.

Congratulations, Sir Ray.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Hey, It's Been a Rough Week or Two

Drunk Donald Trump.

I particularly like when he says that everything is "rosy dory."

Regular music posting -- possibly New Years Eve themed, but I make no promises -- resume on the morrow.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Love, Doggie Style

I hadn't thought about this song in years, but it was playing at the supermarket yesterday and I gotta say -- it blew my mind to be reacquainted with it.

Ladies and germs, please enjoy -- if that is the word -- Gilbert O'Sullivan and his 1973 hit "Get Down."

Or as we call it at Casa Simels, the most reprehensible metaphor in the history of pop music.

It also occurred to me that Spinal Tap might have been thinking about it when they wrote their immortal "Bitch School."

A subject for future research, obviously.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Closed for Monkey Business

Are the holidays over yet?

Regular tanned and ready postings resume tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Programming Notes From All Over

Yes, ladies and germs, yours truly is going to be on friend of PowerPop Capt. Al's radio show Lost at Sea today, starting at Noon, EST.

You can listen by clicking HERE, you're welcome very much.

I should add that it will be a theme show, and here's a clue. The fabulous Cheap Perfume performing the venerable "Boys."

A coveted PowerPop No-Prize© will be awarded on air to the first reader who divines said theme. And we'll be watching our e-mail -- for requests and death threats during the show.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Who Says the Contemporary Musical is Dead?

So apparently Radio City Music Hall's famed Rockettes are being required to perform -- and for most the members of the troupe, who seem to share my low opinion of the president-elect, under duress -- at the Inauguration.

That being the case, and with a hat tip to a certain Shady Dame of my acquaintance, here's my suggestion for the perfect number for the occasion.

Incidentally, I had forgotten that Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick had predicted the outcome of the election on the Jimmy Kimmel Show earlier in the year.

I gotta say, that last clip of Trump making stupid noises would be the funniest thing ever if it wasn't absolutely real.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Comes But Once a Year (An Annual Series): Part IV -- Special The Golden Age of Television Edition

From CBS TV -- originally broadcast live in 1956, but here recorded in the studio -- please enjoy Basil Rathbone (what a singer!) and "Mankind Should Be My Business," one of the big numbers from The Stingiest Man in Town.

Which I believe is the first ever musical adaption of Dickens' A Christmas Carol.

I was nine years old when this was first aired, and I remember it made a humongous impression on me. The ghosts were particularly scary, albeit not as much as Rathbone's atonal groaning in the songs. I also had the soundtrack LP, because an uncle of mine worked for Columbia Records at the time, and for some reason I played it obsessively for years.

You can actually order a DVD of the original special over at Amazon here.

I should add that the show was remade as a Rankin/Bass animated special in 1978, which is also available at Amazon if you're an insane Walter Matthau completist (he sings the part of Scrooge at least as well as Rathbone, for what it's worth).

And have a wonderful Christmas day, all. Especially you Jews -- enjoy the Chinese food.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Comes But Once a Year (An Annual Series): Part III -- In Which I'm Revealed as a Sentimental Old Fluff Edition

[I originally posted this little confessional back in 2013; I'm reposting it now not because I'm trying to make it a tradition or anything, but because Sam Anderson -- a very fine staff writer for the New York Times Sunday Magazine -- recounted an almost identical story last week; you should READ HIS VERSION HERE after mine, because his is much funnier. -- S.S.]

This is, as I have been wont to say here on many previous occasions, a very sad story, so please try not to laugh.

It also has a certain relevance to tonight's festivities, which will be revealed later in the narrative. Please be patient.

Anyway, so the other day I was in a cab heading down the West Side Highway in a snowstorm, and the driver had the radio tuned to whatever soft-rock Lite FM station they inevitably have on when they don't have WINS News Radio blasting or some guy from Queens yelling about sports.

I wasn't particularly paying attention, but suddenly some soft-rock Lite FM staple song came on, and immediately I knew three things.

1. I had definitely heard it before.

2. It was probably from the 70s or the 80s, although I couldn't rule out the possibility that it might have been more recent, and it had that whole California soft-rock vibe, which I usually detest, in spades.

3. I had no idea who the guy or the group singing it was, although I was painfully aware that when and if I found out I was gonna kick myself. Because pretty much everybody in the world, at least of a certain age, would have been able to recognize it instantly.

The truly insidious part was that there was something about the damn thing that grabbed me. Yes, the vocals had that laid-back L.A. Mr. Sensitive shtick that usually makes my gorge rise. But the tune was charming, the voicings of the harmony parts in the chorus were really quite lovely, and -- try as I might to deny it -- it was getting under my skin.

Fortunately, because of the roar of traffic, I couldn't really hear the lyrics, although one word -- "architect" -- jumped out. "Hmm," I thought. "There's a word you don't hear in a pop song everyday."

Anyway, I then went about the rest of my weekend, but I knew with an absolutely dread certainty that I was gonna break down sooner or later and look the song up on the Intertubes.

So, late on Monday, I googled "Soft Rock song with the word architect in it" and up it popped.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you...and my fingers are shaking as I type these words....Dan Fogelberg (the horror, the horror!) and his 1980 smash (which I had apparently put out of my mind, probably deliberately, ever since its original vogue) "Same Old Lang Syne."

Well. In case you're wondering, no -- I have no interest in revisiting the rest of Fogelberg's body of work, and yes, I still basically can't stand the whole genre he represents, but goddamn it -- this damn song works and it gets to me. Like I said, it's melodically quite charming, and now that I've actually deciphered the lyrics, it turns out that -- despite a certain smugness that kind of rankles -- they actually make a pretty good little short story.

And the record's not even a new guilty pleasure, to be honest, because I don't feel particularly guilty about liking it.

Sticks in my craw a bit, though.

As I said, this is a very sad story, so please try not to laugh.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Christmas Comes But Once a Year (An Annual Series): Part Deux

From last year, please enjoy my pals The Mockers and the greatest Christmas rock song of this century.

"There's No War on Christmas (When Christmas is in Your Heart)."

Seriously -- if you can listen to this song and still take Bill O'Reilly seriously, you need to have it looked at.

For more on this obviously fabulous band check 'em out at their official website HERE.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Christmas Comes But Once a Year (An Annual Series): Part I

From some time in the 80s or 90s (I have no idea which) please enjoy (if possible) my all time favorite Xmas rock record.

"Silent Night."

By Rudolf's Nightmare (produced and splendid guitar by old bandmate Lars Hanson and featuring my musical director Glen Robert Allen on drums Somebody's playing bass and singing, but I have no idea who. Hopefully, I'll be informed before the end of the week.)

In any case, why this isn't a Dr. Demento standard is beyond fucking me,.

More Xmas weird shit tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

New Orleans Confidential: A Photo Essay

So as you may have heard, a certain Shady Dame and I spent a few days recently in the bosom of the Old South, specifically in the French Quarter in The Big Easy. We had a splendid -- or perhaps splendide -- time, but I must confess I found the place a little odd, despite a lot of really great food.

Herewith, a visual record of our trip, with commentary. [Click on all photos to enlarge]

Apparently people in New Orleans, despite their reputation, have a real work ethic. These musicians in Jackson Square were kicking out the jams at 10:30 in the morning, fer crissakes.

We also learned very early that prehistoric reptiles are big in this burg.

It's a strange town in other ways, too. For example just about everybody is heavily armed and drunk. Seriously, there was a shooting a day within blocks of our hotel the whole time we were there.

I just KNEW that The Perfidious Jews figured in New Orleans history! [see second paragraph]

Dead chicken earrings, as seen at an antique store in the Quarter. Words fail me.

This is the famous Lafayette Cemetery (site of the notorious acid and hookers freakout scene in Easy Rider). Who knew it was also the final resting place of The Fugitive?

The subject matter of museums in NOLA is surprisingly specific. There's actually a Museum of Death, for example, but I forgot to take a picture of it.

Have I mentioned that the natives really seem to love alligators?

Now we see the violence inherent in the system!

Fats Domino's piano, as it was recovered from his living room after Hurricane Katrina. (This is at the Katrina Museum, by the way, which is devastating).

And finally, here's the cab that took us to the Louis Armstrong airport. The door guy at the hotel who hailed it for us insisted that some people refuse to get in it.

Regular music postings resume tomorrow.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Closed for Post-NOLA Monkey Business!

Got home late from the Big Easy, and I'm incredibly wiped from how much fun the trip was.

Regular posting -- including a New Orleans photo essay -- resumes on Wednesday.

Friday, December 16, 2016

The Good Times Are Rolling and So Am I!

Arrived safely in New Orleans and having way too much fun to write.

Regular posting resumes late Monday.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Fuck Trump -- We're Gonna Party Like It's the Mid-19th Century!

Yes, me and a certain Shady Dame of my acquaintance are headed to the Big Easy today.

Excuse: Vacation!

I suspect at least one more posting this week will reflect that eventuality. Or perhaps not, since I forgot to take the auxiliary keyboard for my iPad. So if there's nothing new here until our return -- scheduled for Monday -- please be understanding.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Programming Notes From All Over

In the immortal words of Southside Johnny -- this time it's for real.

Yes, yours truly will be heard today -- at 1pm EST -- on the Sirius XM music trivia game show 70s 80s 90s Now.

I'm also told that the show will be re-run at various times throughout the week and the weekend.

If you have Sirius, please -- tune in have a cheap laugh at my expense. Seriously, the show is very funny and host Jim Shearer is a real mensch.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Today We Are an Album

[Cross-posted at Floor Your Love -- S.S.]

And they said it would never happen.

But yes, the reissue...remastered to a fare-thee-well at great personal expense (and with five bonus tracks -- three studio and two live)...of our 1995 masterpiece (originally on Gadfly Records) is now a reality.

The song above is, as you will immediately notice, our attempt at a contemporary tune in the mold of Buddy Holly, and I think a very successful one.

In any case, the other 15 songs on the record are all on YouTube. If you want to purchase them, you can do so at CD Baby, Amazon and iTunes; the album can also be streamed on Spotify, Pandora, and pretty much all of the other usual suspects.

I should add that this reissue has been about two years in the making (and a dream come true -- the 1995 version had vastly inferior sound). And I would like to say to my bandmates -- Gerry (obviously), J.D. Goldberg and Glen "Bob" Allen -- that you should be damned proud of the work you did, both two decades ago and more recently.

I should also add that an absolutely sensational video for one of the songs -- "A Drop of Rain" -- will be viewable on-line probably by the end of the week.

Friday, December 09, 2016

Your Friday Moment of Words Fail Me

Milburn was in his thirties when he recorded that. I love the guy, but really.

Have a great weekend, everybody.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

How Is A Rolling Stones Blues Album Without Bill Wyman Even A Thing?

So I just gave a listen to Blue and Lonesome. If it was a homemade CD by an obscure bar outfit from Bumfuck, Texas it would be okay.

For the Greatest White Blues Band That Ever Lived, not so much. Basically, 12 tracks of meh.

Here's what a Rolling Stones blues album SHOULD have sounded like.

1. "Bright Lights Big City"

2. "Cops and Robbers"

3. "Down in the Bottom"

4. "Good Times Bad Times"

5. "Little Red Rooster"

6. "I"m a King Bee"

7. "Love in Vain"

8. "Stop Breaking Down"

9. "Stewed and Keefed"

10. "Honest I Do"

11. "Confessin' the Blues"

12. "Down the Road Apiece"

Period. Full stop. End of story.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Closed for Monkey Business

Been a crazy week -- regular tanned, rested and ready posting resumes on the morrow.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Programming Notes From All Over: This Time It's Personal

Oops -- ignore previous deleted post.

My game show appearance got bumped to NEXT Tuesday.

PowerPop regrets the error.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Your Monday Moment of Nyah-Nyah-Na-Nyah-Nyah!

Going to see Steve Earle and the Dukes do Earle's debut album Guitar Town in its entirety tonight. At Town Hall in New York City.

Never seen Earle live before, so I am totally stoked. And of course he will also be dueting with Shawn Colvin on songs from their great new record.

But what I didn't know until just now is that yet another special guest at the show will be...wait for it...Graham Nash.

Attentive readers may be aware that I'm a psychotically enthusiastic Hollies fan and I've never seen him live before either

If I live, less hyperventilated postings will resume on Tuesday.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Friday Encounter With Greatness

Guess who I ran into last night while taping a music game show at Sirius XM Radio.

Yup -- the one and only "Cousin" Brucie. I went into total "I'm not worthy" mode.

He couldn't have been nicer, BTW, and when I told him he was great in his guest starring role on Babylon 5, he grinned from ear to ear.

I should add that two of the kids I did the show with had no idea who he was or why I was so excited to meet him.

Have a great weekend, everybody.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Closed For Monkey Business

Regular postings -- including photographic evidence of an Encounter With Greatness -- resume on the morrow.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

2016 Continues to Suck on Ice

Just heard that Michael Wackford -- drummer for Starry Eyed and Laughing, the greatest Byrds influenced band ever -- has passed away.

I saw SE&L a couple of times -- interviewed frontman and Rickenbacker ace Tony Poole, hung out with them after a gig on Long Island -- and they were a) absolutely great and b) thoroughly lovely unpretentious guys.

The band was preparing a collection of unreleased stuff when Wackford died in October; you can -- and should -- order it over at their official website HERE.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Your Tuesday Moment of Words Not Only Fail Me But I Have Completely Lost the Power of Articulate Speech

Please enjoy -- courtesy of my old friend Gregory Fleeman -- the astounding John Daker and a performance for the ages.

What can I say about Greg?

Well, for starters -- his mainstream claim to fame is that he wrote the vastly entertaining 1986 action thriller F/X, which starred Bryan Brown and Brian Dennehy and spawned a sequel and TV series.

But back in the day, he fronted without question the most hilarious rock act I ever witnessed, the genius-monikered Gregory Fleeman and the Fleewomen. I encountered them, initially, while researching a piece on the neo-folk scene that was briefly resurgent in Greenwich Village in the early 80s; here's what I wrote at the time (in The Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Review).

...Fleeman is a young ex-actor with one of the most warped sensibilities likely to be sprung on an unsuspecting public. His band is a motley collection of aging hippies, refugees from underground S-&-M clubs and punk/jazz fusion players, and his songs are about the funniest I've heard since...oh, since Tonio K. Take "Touching Myself But Thinking of You," which asks the musical slash cosmic question "If we're all one, who needs you?" Or his children's lullabye about the little men who come out when you're asleep ("They massage your heart/and your private parts/and throw parties in your mouth"); his impassioned love song about the Tappan Zee Bridge; a 40s swing tune called "Wisconsin Moon" ("There's too much!"); not to mention his soon-to-be-immortal production number, "the song, nay metaphor" he calls simply "Showbiz" (although it's better known to his fans as "Sucking My Way to the Top").

"I'm gonna swim that mountain...I'm gonna climb that sea."

It doesn't get any better folks.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Seven Characters in Search of a Drummer

Pop quiz: What do these two bands...

The Tearaways and "Bash"...

and The Empty Hearts and "I Don't Want Your Love"...

...have in common, other than being a) just great and b) having fantastic new songs/videos out?

Discuss. [Here's a hint -- Clem fricking Burke!]

Okay -- let's get down to cases. The Empty Hearts are sort of what we used to call a supergroup, featuring members of The Cars (guitarist Elliot Easton, for heavens sake), The Romantics, garage legends The Chesterfield Kings and Blondie (some drummer whose name I can't recall but whose initials are Clem Burke). The Tearaways, who hail from Santa Barbara, are also veterans, just not as individually famous; suffice it to say they've been kicking out the garage-rock and British Invasion influenced jams since the early 80s and number such folks as Tom Hanks as fans.

Oh, and they also have some drummer whose name escapes me but whose initials are etc...

You can read more about The Empty Hearts -- as well as ordering their music -- at their official website here. You can do the same for The Tearaways -- and should -- over here.

As for Clem Burke, he is now officially The Hardest Working Man in Show Biz.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Your Friday Moment of Why Didn't I Get the Memo? (An Occasional Series)

From 2000, and their Smile album, please enjoy The Jayhawks...

...and their utterly gorgeous piece of folk-rock/pop/neo-psychedelia "Baby, Baby, Baby."

Friend of PowerPop Capt. Al played this on his intertube radio show last Tuesday, and I nearly fell out of my chair; what a great fricking song. And the fact I had never heard it previously is now a source of some shame to me.

I should add that every time I start to get a little big-headed about some of the musical endeavors I've been involved in over the years, it's good to be confronted with something as awesome as this and develop a little humility.

Have a great weekend, everybody.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

It's Turkey Day! (An Annual Series)

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) this is something of a Thanksgiving tradition around here by now. Although I'll grant you that given we're now in the era of President Engelbert Trumperdinck it's not quite the same anymore.

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

Also -- Matthew Fisher is God©.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Fifty Years of Bad Behavior. Oh Wait -- That's Vanessa Del Rio's Retrospective!

It's no secret that I'm not as rabid a Rolling Stones fan as I once was. Although I will say that I'm planning to enjoy their forthcoming album of sort-of obscure blues covers when it comes out next month.

In any case, got to see EXHIBITIONISM, the Stones' gallery historical multi-media 50th anniversary retrospective show yesterday....

...and it's pretty fricking amazing. I mean, it has the electric dulcimer Brian Jones used on "Lady Jane." My just dropped when I saw it, and that's hardly the only mind-boggling artifact on display.

The show runs through mid-March, and if you're in the vicinity of Greenwich Village any time soon I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

There Are Some Songs It's Just Impossible to Ruin (But This Is Not One of Them): An Occasional Series

From their 1993 covers album Acid Eaters...

...please enjoy -- actually, I don't think that's possible -- the otherwise estimable Ramones and their take on the Jefferson Airplane classic "Somebody to Love."

Seriously -- this is fucking appallingly bad on every level. I bring it up only because I was thinking not so fondly of right-wing asshat Johnny Ramone the other day, and I was wondering why Joey ever put up with his shit.

Okay, apart from the touring money.

Monday, November 21, 2016

There Are Some Songs It's Just Impossible to Ruin (An Occasional Series)

From 1990, and their sort of covers album Fakebook, please enjoy cult favorites Yo La Tengo...

...and a sprightly remake of that Cat Stevens song -- "Here Comes My Baby" -- we were discussing a few weeks ago.

Ira Kaplan, who's the auteur of this band, was originally a New York rock critic who came up professionally more or less the same time as me; a very good writer and a lovely guy (I can't recall specifically which press junkets we were on together, but I think one was The Who on the Quadrophenia tour).

That said (and I know some people whose opinions I respect absolutely LURVE Yo La Tengo) but at my age I have to be honest -- I've always found them a little bit twee, as the Brits say.

That said, this particular interpretation is really quite nice. There was a killer version of John Cale's "Andalucia" on the album too, if memory serves.

Friday, November 18, 2016

A Drop of Rain

Okay, I'm gonna get more than usually self-indulgent today, but please bear with me. I think it'll be worth it.

So -- some of you may know that my 90s band -- Gerry Devine and the Hi-Beams, who were essentially the Floor Models Mark II (we liked to describe our stuff as Merseybeat Cowboy music) -- released an album in 1995 on Gadfly Records, a small but interesting indie label out of Vermont. (They had the entire Tonio K. catalogue, which delighted me).

The album's out of print, and the label seems to be defunct -- in fact, we've been trying to get in touch with Mitch Kantor, the guy who ran it, for a while now with no success. Mitch -- if you're out there....

Anyway, it's a really good record, IMHO, but it was abominably mastered -- in fact, back in the day we were all kind of heartsick about what had been done to our magnum opus. So, having a lot of time on my hands recently after finishing the Flo Mos Letter From Liverpool project, I thought to myself -- let's reissue it and do it right this time.

To which end ace drummer Glen "Bob" Allen, original Hi-Beams guitarist J.D. Goldberg and myself spent the summer re-mastering the record from the original tapes and spiffing up some bonus tracks (live and studio). And the whole thing now sounds insanely good; we'll be releasing it both online (Amazon, Spotify, iTunes etc) and in physical CD form in December.

So why am I bringing this up? Because while listening to the final master in the studio the other night, I was absolutely gobsmacked when I heard this song on big speakers for the first time in a while.

I've always thought it was an absolute masterpiece, and way better than we actually were, frankly. But in the aftermath of the election it now struck me as sadly relevant in a way it hadn't when we recorded it.

It's called "A Drop of Rain." It was written by Gerry Devine (rhythm guitar and vocals) who came up with it after watching Ken Burns' Civil War documentary. I'm on bass and keyboards; Glen and J.D. are on everything else.

On the long road back from Gettysburg
The dust burned in their eyes
And by the time they got through Maryland
There were no more tears to cry
Ghosts out on the Interstate
The cursed and the blessed
The dream that died that hot July
Was never laid to rest

A drop of rain falls on the highway
A tear stain on the stone
There's a long parade of headlights
Trying to find their way back home
All the promises were broken
But the memories still remain
As the cars go flashing by
Like drops of rain

A thousand crosses burned at night
Across this holy ground
And we kept on hearing the same lies
Untill we came around
We're all in this together now
The union is preserved
All these years and waiting still
For justice to be served

A drop of rain falls on the river
Floating down to New Orleans
The melting snows of Canada
Come wash this country clean
All the way from Tupelo
We watched that mystery train
Fade off into the night
Through drops of rain

I hear the Sunday church bells
As the morning lights the sky
And all that I can do
Is throw this thing in gear and drive
Trail smoke down the blacktop
Through the endless miles of corn
These wheels were set in motion
Before I was ever born

A drop of rain falls on my windshield
The wind is in my ears
You can smell the storm that's coming
It won't be long until it's here
I wish I had the words to tell you
But there's no way to to explain
About this wind that drives me
Like a drop of rain

I get chills listening to it, and I think it's amazing simply as a poem.

Anyway, I'll keep you posted on the reissue as we get near to the actual release date.

Have a great weekend, everybody.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

All I Want For Christmas is No More Fucking Hipsters

The first new recording in 30 years by The Washington Squares is a cover of...The Chipmunks.

You know, back in the day. I found those guys is-it-ironic-or-is-it-sincere take on Peter, Paul and Mary as too fucking cute by half. This new song hasn't changed my mind.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Mose Allison 1927 -- 2016

This year just continues to suck on ice.

I'm not much of a jazzbo, but Mose was really something else, including a gigantic influence on the British Invasion via songs like these.

He was also drop dead funny.

Saw him in a hole in the wall club in Greenwich Village in the early 80s. One of the best live music experiences I've ever had.

Have I mentioned that this year continues to suck on ice?

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Closed for Monkey Business

Regular -- and premaaturely early Christmas-themed -- posting resumes tomorrow.

Monday, November 14, 2016

"Yet this claw could only belong to an arboreal creature -- like some impossible tree sloth."

Before we start this post, let me link to the most relevant thingy GARAGE HANGOVER.

Okay, here we go.

Hi Steve,
I ran across your Floor Models website while trying to find info on an old 45 by a band called Arboreal (I'm guessing from the late 1970s). I am wondering if the songwriter Glen Allen is the same Glen Allen from your band? If you could provide any insight, it'd be great. (The songwriters on the Arboreal 45 are Glen and Greg Allen.) I collect records and (a) am curious as to where and when this 45 was released, and (b) would love to get one for my own collection.

Any info would be appreciated. Thanks in advance!
--Jason (Providence, RI)

I gotta admit, this was news to me. In all the years I've known and worked with Glen, this is the first I'd heard of this stuff.



But as it turned out, yup, it was him.

Here's the whole saga, as Glen communicated it to me last week.
My brother Greg and I were raised in a musical household. We lived in Nutley NJ, home of Robert Blake, Martha Stewart, and, once upon a time, Annie Oakley!

Neither of our parents pursued an instrument beyond their grade school years, but as newlyweds they hosted an Upstate NY radio show pithily titled Ad-Libbing With The Allens.

They interviewed (and featured music by) the likes of Stan Kenton and other Jazz and Pop acts. Greg, before I was born, would sit quietly in the studio as the show was being broadcast live. He tells me how he still vividly recalls the lights on the console, and the excitement of knowing his Mom and Dad were "on the air".

Our folks would play Broadway and film scores. Our Aunt Beverly worked for MGM Records, she sent new releases our way. Greg would play LPs by Duane Eddy, Howlin' Wolf, The Ventures, Johnny Cash and more in our room.

Greg and I both started playing the drums in '64. We'd play along to the records we'd spin on our family's massive (15" mono speaker!) Hi-Fi.

Circa '65, Greg played drums in The Revengers. They had quite the cool repertoire, covering The Pretty Things, The Yardbirds, and other British Invasion acts. They even appeared on Zacherle's UHF show "Disc-O-Teen," along with The Cyrkle of "Red Rubber Ball" fame.

My hometown band went through a few names over it's 3 year span -- The Great Unknown, The Unknown Six,and, I kid you not, Admiral Allen & The Permanent Wave.

By the time I was 12, we were performing at teenagers parties and actually making money.

Note of scandal: At one rehearsal in my family's basement, our newly added Go-Go Girls -- 3 of our sixth grade classmates -- tied their blouses up to create a bare-midriff look.

This was well received by five of us in the band. However when our lead guitarist Steve Ucci's Dad showed up, Steve exclaimed, "Dad, the girls were bare!"

A sad farewell was said to the Go-Go girls.

We performed for 3000 people at The Nutley Oval on July 4th in '66. Another, older, band let us use their gear. A third band got stuck in transit, so we had a double set that night of about 90 minutes. We had 'em dancing on the infield to "Good Lovin", and because we had horns, "Batman," "Downtown," and,of course, "Tequila".

That night sealed my fate -- drums forever!

Greg and I had a clunky but good sounding Telefunken tape recorder and, later, a Sony that had sound-on-sound,as it was called back then. We could overdub ourselves. Many Dada-esque tunes were recorded, and some attempts at "real" music as well.

But in '68 I took up guitar, and we wrote and recorded more in earnest. By then our family had been in NYC for about a year. Greg and I decided to record in an actual studio.

An older classmate of mine, Jon Fausty, was working in a studio that specialized in Latin music. The first day in the studio the equipment went south, wouldn't work. I was actually relieved, for although Greg and I had performed in public and had recorded at home, this was A STUDIO! Where RECORDS WERE MADE!

The next day the gear was in working order, and I had shaken off the nerves. After all, I did have long wavy hair, a cool turquoise ring, a Superman-logo'd tee shirt, tie-dyed jeans, and, most of all, my '68 Gold-Top Les Paul Standard on which I had mastered the three essential chords.

I also loved the name we'd devised: Arboreal. We always had a thing for chimps, and we both probably would've proposed to Jane Goodall.

Greg was a metronomic drummer, a better time-keeper than me ('though I keep good time!). But who knew at the time that left handed drummers set up their drums differently than righties? Not us -- we'd only seen righties ever play.

Nontheless, with Greg keeping time and me on guitar, bass and vocals(!), we cut "Our Souls Would See Us Through," which Greg wrote the lyric for, and "Sixteen Years Old," which I wrote.

The chorus on "Sixteen..." was originally "Things are pretty shitty when you're sixteen years old.." But for the sake of mass appeal and radio play, I cleverly changed "shitty" to "sickening". A move of rare genius, though I missed the sheer beauty of the "pretty/shitty" rhyme scheme.

Greg, in true mystical metaphoric mode, came up with "we gazed into each other's eyestreams, until we met each other's dreams." And to think -- "eyestreams"was hardly ever used back then!

We printed 100 45's, sent them out to several record companies, and waited for the offers to roll in. Some of the rejection letters came on very nice stationery. Some with encouraging comments and actual signatures!

As I recall, Pickwick, a budget label, made an offer, but we held out for the big fish. That fish is still swimming merrily out there somewhere....

Greg would eventually quit playing the drums and moved on to a long career as a record reviewer and live performance critic for The Atlantic City Press, The Christian Science Monitor, Cashbox, Trouser Press and other newspapers and magazines. (He and I co-wrote songs for Ronnie Spector in '80 for a band I played in with Rafael Fuentes and that Greg managed -- Diamond Dupree.) He then went into talk radio (he hosted two nationally syndicated shows: "Him & Her w/ Greg And Fran," and "The Right Balance") and now regularly walks the malls and writes poetry (in retirement) on Florida's Gulf Coast.

As for me: Baby Moon (CBGB regulars), Diamond Dupree ( Lone Star Café regulars), The Floor Models (Darlings of the Village Scene), Lucy Kaplansky (ditto, the Village), The Human Condition ("World Beat" before the term even existed), Gerry Devine & The Hi-Beams (Flo-Mo's bastard son) and, for the last 22 years, French Cookin', Doc French's ensemble (B.B. King's Club regulars/Inductee NY Blues Hall Of Fame). I also perform with The Rock Club (featuring Ron D'Addario, proud father of The Lemon Twigs).

Jon Fausty is a Grammy Award winning Engineer/Producer in the Latin music field. He appeared on my wife's Cable TV show "Eddy Coston's Metro Music Scene" years ago to promote the David Byrne LP "Rei Momo," which he engineered.

Of course I've had the pleasure and privilege of being Steve Simels' personal musical conductor/arranger since '82. He promises my fee is forthcoming.......

A final note: I was astonished to discover that somebody stumbled upon Arboreal's one and only record.

More so that they posted it on a cool garage rock site.

Most amazing of all, I didn't cringe nearly as much as I thought I would after hearing this for the first time in 35-40 years.

I hope you don't either. -- Glen Allen

To paraphrase Thelma Ritter in All About Eve: What a story! Everything but the bloodhounds snappin' at his rear end.

But seriously, folks -- I love everything about that essay, and a big tip of the PowerPop hat to Glen Bob for sharing it.

I should also add that a special PowerPop No-Prize™ will be awarded to the first reader who -- without googling -- identifies the source of today's title.

Friday, November 11, 2016

I Am A Whatever For The County....

From their just released CD Close the Place Down, please enjoy The Linemen and their transplendent "Unconditional".

That's written and sung by singer/songwriter/guitarist Jonathan Gregg: I got to know Jonathan back in the late 90s, when he was fronting a band called The Lonesome Debonaires...

...who made three absolutely riveting indie albums that I can only describe, however inexactly, as sounding like country-rock meets Television. Jonathan himself was a great frontman, and he was also perhaps the most amazing not world-famous guitarist I have ever seen; think a slightly more idiosyncratic Richard Thompson, at least in the sense of technical mastery and every note is there for a reason concision.

In any case, The Linemen -- whose other principal singer/songwriter Kevin Johnson is no slouch either -- are absolutely great in a similar vein, and you can and should order the album over at Amazon HERE.

I should add that if you're in the area on Sunday night, you should hie thee over to their album release party show at The Bowery Electric.

Which is located at 327 Bowery (duh), in fabulous New York City. Showtime is 7pm. And tell 'em PowerPop sent you.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

The United States of America 1776 -- 2016

I'm numb. That's all I can say.

Regular posting will resume when some semblance of feeling has returned.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

It's Election Day. Oh Joy.

From their 1972 masterpiece (really, no kidding) The Night is Still Young -- produced by the great Jeff Barry -- please enjoy Sha Na Na and a song that sort of sums up my feelings as we try to save what's left of our noble democracy.

As the lyrics make plain, this song was written and recorded while Richard Nixon was still in the White House. And we survived him. Whether we'll be lucky enough to survive Trump is of course another thing altogether, and frankly, I don't see any good songs coming out of it,

Monday, November 07, 2016

Put On Your Party Dress (Part Deux)

I wrote about fabulous singer/songwriter Cait Brennan on the occasion of the release of her debut album back in February.

But until this past Saturday, I hadn't had a chance to meet her.

This was at a cool club in Brooklyn called Bar Matchless (they have a great brunch on weekends, which I highly recommend). The occasion was Cait doing a blistering (if too brief) live solo set as part of the most recent International Pop Overthrow Festival.

In any event, she was as delightful in person as I had hoped, and she also did an absolutely killer version of this song from the album.

Basically, a splendid time was had by all.

But next time you're in New York, Cait -- bring a backup band!!!

Friday, November 04, 2016

It Came From Upstate New York!

From 2016, and his about to be released (on election day!) album Cherry Springs, please enjoy terrific singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Mike Brunacini...

...and the ridiculously melodic and propulsive "White Noise" (a song that, as you'll hear, is anything but).

Mike informs me that he's based in Jamestown, NY, a little burg south of Buffalo, but I will resist making any shuffle-off-to jokes because that's the kind of guy I am.

In the meantime, you can -- and definitely should -- preorder the album over at iTunes or Amazon.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, November 03, 2016

It Came From Jersey!

From 2016, please enjoy Cinema Star...

...aka the pride of Boonton, NJ, and their fiendishly catchy new single"Attractive."

These guys have been rocking out along those lines since 2000, but I have to confess they had gone under my radar until the other day, so I'm making up for lost time. You can -- and should -- download or stream more of their stuff at iTunes, Spotify and all the rest of the usual suspects.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Programming Notes From All Over

Friend of PowerPop and my long time chum and occasional bandmate Ronnie D'Addario -- father of The Lemon Twigs and singer of the gorgeous harmonies on The Floor Models' sublime "Letter From Liverpool" -- has a song that can be heard tonight on the latest episode of New Girl.

Ronnie informs me that it can be heard, playing at low volume, in a scene set in a bar. He also informs me that it was recorded in 1976, and that the album it derives from can be downloaded from CD Baby over HERE.

Well, I know I'll be watching. Although I have a small problem with star Zooey Deschanel dating back to her performance in M. Night Shamalamadingdong's execrable 2008 The Happening.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Your Monday Moment of Words Fail Me

If you haven't already seen this over at BURNING WOOD -- please behold in breathless wonder The Flat Five and their absolutely gorgeous cover of "Sundays Will Never Be the Same."

You can get their just released album...

...over at Amazon HERE. I just did, I'll tell you that for free.

[h/t Sal Nunziato]

Friday, October 28, 2016

Zacherley 1918 -- 2016

Just when I thought this year couldn't possibly suck any more than it already has -- comes the news that the Cool Ghoul has shuffled off this mortal coil...

...and with him a huge chunk of my youth.

Apart from being by far the best of all the local horror movie TV hosts of the late 50s and early 60s, Zack had a long second career as a progressive rock radio deejay in New York City. He also hosted a local NYC knock-off of American Bandstand -- Zacherley's Disc-o-Teen -- in the late 60s, where apart from cracking wise with the kids who came to the show to dance and hang out, he also introduced said teens to some of the hippest music around. I vividly remember hearing "Substitute" by The Who for the first time on his show.

And of course Alex Chilton showed up, too.

He also had a hit with perhaps my favorite novelty rock record of them all.

He lectured once at my old college in the early 70s; I was delighted to discover that he was charming, funny, and a real gent even out of costume.

Damn, this year has just been stone awful.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Let Us Now Praise Famous (Unsigned) Men

[I originally posted this back in 2012; I'm re-posting it now because a) the original music links have disappeared (and I recently found a superior version of the Hi-Beams track) and b) in the interim I was lucky enough to write the liner notes for a CD reissue of one of Mark's albums that as far as I know is still scheduled to come out sometime soon on Light in the Attic Records (the great label that gave us those Rodriguez discs, among others.) Enjoy. -- S.S.]

Okay, I mentioned this guy and this CD a couple of weeks ago, but I've finally got a copy and...words fail me.

In any case, here's a representative track -- the quite astonishing "That's What I Want." Sounding pretty much exactly like it would have if, like moi, you'd been lucky enough to catch a late 70s/early 80s live performance by genuine power pop underground legend Mark Johnson (doing business with The Wild Alligators) at Kenny's Castaways (which is where and approximately when the album cover was photographed, BTW.)

A postcript: These guys were -- and remain -- the single most exciting never-signed band I ever saw. Drummer Don Costagno was a monster groove player, guitarist Drew Zing was good enough to later join Steely Dan, Johnson himself was a riveting front man, and the bass guy (on the right in the photo) -- well, I thought he sucked, but that was mostly because I was desperately trying to figure out how to weasel my way into the band, which never happened. I've forgiven Mark for that lapse in judgement, obviously, if for no other reason than I wouldn't otherwise have been motivated to join The Floor Models.

I should also add that I caught MJ & TWA countless times back in the day, and they never failed to induce goose bumps; you can't imagine how many great songs they had, and most of them are on the CD. Unfortunately, it seems to be out of print at the moment, but you should head over to Amazon and order a copy of Mark's home studio masterpiece 12 in a Room over here.

I should also add that the aforementioned Floor Models (Mark II, better known as Gerry Devine and the Hi-Beams, featuring a bass player whose name rhymes with Sleeve Nimels) were one of the many Greenwich Village artists who used to cover the above song; here we are, on the radio in Woodstock, with a pretty snazzy live version of it.

Thanks, Mark!!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Closed for Monkey Business

Obviously, this blog is a rigged system. Back tomorrow, unless Trump sues me.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Bobby Vee 1943 - 2016

From (Holy) Greil Marcus' brilliant Mystery Train:

At a DJ convention early in 1973, I sit drinking with Bobby Vee and Brian Hyland, veterans of the Now-That-Elvis-Is-in the Army-We-Can-Cash-in-on-the Vacuum Era. I am interviewing Bob (he has changed his name back to Veline and is a folksinger now) in order to pen six thousand words of liner notes to a greatest hits package, an essay that will no doubt be the only extended critical discussion of his oeuvre. Bob tells me that, yes, for him it all began with Elvis -- and suddenly the whole tone of the conversation is different. Professional cool drops away and we are shameless fans, awed by our subject. Vee and Hyland have met Elvis: he got drunk with Hyland (so Brian says) and was surly to Vee (I believe that). Well, they are outcasts in the rock 'n' roll world now, two very ordinary looking men; for all their triviality as rock singers, they once did their best to live up to Elvis and keep the faith. You can almost feel them gazing at Elvis as he is today, as if in his comback they still see a glimmer of a future for themselves, just as they did when he started out years ago.

The guy died of Alzheimers, which he first was diagnosed with at the age of 67.

This kind of shit is really starting to break my heart.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Randy Newman Wants to Be a Putin Girl!!!

"Here’s a song dedicated to a great world leader. I hope all of you like it. I know he will." — Randy Newman, October 12, 2016

This guy is an American treasure -- as some Brit said about Keith Moon, why haven't we nationalized him?

Incidentally, I didn't think Newman could ever surpass his "A Few Words in Defense of Our Country"...

...but I think he just did.

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Year of Living Miserably

So I think that we can all agree that 2016 has been one of the suckiest years in the history of suckitude. I have personal reasons for saying that, obviously, but across the board the year has been pretty damn horrible on about a zillion levels.

Still, for me anyway, there has been one constant bright spot -- music. I have been lucky enough to be turned on this year to all sorts of great stuff -- largely in the genre that defines the mission statement of this here blog -- to the point where 2016 will be the first time I will find it easy to vote a Top Ten album list in the Village Voice Critics Poll in over a decade. I mean, for The Swedish Polarbears alone, and they're just the tip of the iceberg.

In any case, courtesy of my chum Marc Platt -- and may I just say, and for the record, that the fact I never got to see his band The Real Impossibles in a club back in the day is now the great regret of my adult life -- I've just discovered the incredibly great Nick Piunti.

Holy Cheap Trick, Beatles, Matthew Sweet, Willie Nile et al, Batman!

The above song is from a 2013 album; Nick's newest CD came out at the end of September (on Marty Scott's JEM Records imprint, which I hadn't realized still existed) and it's more of the same and possibly even more infectiously memorable.

You can find out the skinny on Nick -- who's been doing this kind of stuff for years, and why didn't I get the memo previously? -- over at his official website here. You can also order his albums, which I recommend you do posthaste.

Have I mentioned that this guy is so great I hate him?

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

From Our "A Picture is Worth 1000 Words" Department... are two that say even more.

Have I mentioned that Mike Love is an enormous dick lately?