Thursday, March 31, 2016

It's Brinsley Schwarz Week: Part Three -- Your Thursday Essay Question

Q: Nick Lowe's "What's So Funny 'Bout Peace Love and Understanding?" has become the de facto 21st century equivalent of "We Shall Overcome" or any of the Civil Rights/Anti-war anthems of the 60s.

On the basis of this 1974 video clip, did Lowe write it essentially tongue in cheek? And does the fact he received a million dollar royalty check for the song (for its appearance on the soundtrack LP of The Bodyguard) thus make him the luckiest cynical bastard on the planet?


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

It's Brinsley Schwarz Week: Part II -- Special Heroes are Hard to Find Edition

From 1973, and Britain's Old Grey Whistle Test, please enjoy the incomparable Brinsley Schwarz, totally live, in a fabulous performance of one of Nick Lowe's early signature tunes, the infectious and poignant "Surrender to the Rhythm."

I first posted about that clip in 2007, back when both this blog and YouTube were young; at the time it was a major revelation for me, since I had never had a chance to see the Brinsleys in person (their only American performance, which I missed, was a legendarily disastrous gig at the Fillmore East that almost destroyed their career). In any case, as I said at the time, I think we can all now agree that the presence of this clip on YouTube is conclusive proof that YouTube is the most important thing that's ever happened in the entire history of humanity.

Incidentally, there's a lovely story about Bob Andrews, the Brinsley's organist (seen here grinning insanely and covering himself in glory with some of the most lyrical keyboard work imaginable). Seems he was a huge fan of The Band's Garth Hudson and was constantly updating his gear in emulation of the Great Man Himself; if there was an effects pedal or amp Hudson used, Andrews would immediately add it to his arsenal, trying to get that elusive Hudson sound. Only problem was, no matter what he did he couldn't quite achieve total Garth-ness and it drove him nuts.

Anyway, sometime in the early 70s The Band toured the UK and at one point wound up rehearsing at the Brinsley's studio and using their equipment. Garth turned everything on, put fingers to the keys, and immediately sounded just like himself.

Andrews, who was lurking in a corner too awed to say hello to his idol, literally wept.

Monday, March 28, 2016

It's Brinsley Schwarz Week: Part I -- Buddy Holly Lives!

And speaking as we were last week of Nick Lowe, from 1972 and the wonderful Silver Pistol album, please enjoy the Brinsley's Mark II and Nick's absolutely delightful "Unknown Number."

I was a Brinsley's fan from jump -- I actually LOVE their first two big-budget albums, which predate the group's reinvention as the first of the great Brit pub rock bands -- but Silver Pistol, recorded on a portable eight track more or less at home, is one of the most wonderfully unpretentious artifacts of its era, and the songwriting (fifth Brinsley Ian Gomm emerged on the album as a formidable talent) is consistently strong throughout.

"Unknown Number," of course, is Nick obviously channeling "Words of Love," and I recall playing it over and over obsessively when the LP first crossed my desk.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Your Saturday Moment of Zen

A. Whitney Brown, on SNL sometime in the early 80s:

"And what is the American Dream?...Maybe I can best express the American Dream in a story. It's about a kid who grew up in Tupelo, Mississippi in the 1950s. He was a poor kid, but he had a rockin' guitar, a wiggle in his hips, and some flashy clothes -- and he had that certain thing called 'talent.' Of course, he never made a nickel
because he was black, but two years later Elvis Presley made a fortune doing the same thing."

Sometimes I really miss AWB -- in many ways, he was the Stephen Colbert of his day.

Friday, March 25, 2016

We Come From the Land of Ice and Snow

From their forthcoming album The Great Northern, please enjoy the incomparable Swedish Polarbears and their second single "Sun of a Gun."

I first gushed about these guys back in January, and if anything this new song makes me love them even more. Essentially, this is The La's meet the The Byrds and The Beach Boys and then they all go out to Starbucks to have breakfast. Beyond that words fail me.

In any case, the album itself (including a version on snow-white vinyl) drops (as the kids say) on April 15; I'll post links and stuff when we get closer to the date. In the meantime you can find out more about these guys over at their website HERE.

And I just have to say, as somebody who spent many years toiling in a band working more or less the same sort of genre stuff (and well, I think), that these guys are so good I want to kill myself.

Seriously -- I give up. Just shoot me now.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

I'm Here to Tell You That Dick's a Liar

And speaking of Rick Astley as we were yesterday, how come I never saw this video before?

Ah, Nick Lowe. As was said of Keith Moon, the British really should have nationalized him.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Annals of Our Noble Democracy (An Occasional Series)

Hey -- it's no sillier than any of the choices in the Republican primary. Granted, Rick's not an American citizen, but then neither is Ted Cruz.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Closed Due to Monkey Business

Regular peppy posting -- including an absolutely gorgeous new song by a young band so good you could plotz -- resumes on the morrow.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Monday Pop Quiz

Okay, kids: What's wrong with the following paragraph from an appreciation of roots-country singer Margo Price in in the New York Times a few weeks back?

"Hurtin’" is the first single from Price’s album Midwest Farmer’s Daughter, which will be released by Jack White’s Third Man Records on March 25. She’s being rolled out with the fanfare appropriate to the next big thing out of Nashville, as the appearance on [The Late Show with Stephen] Colbert suggests, but she’s not on country’s standard ingĂ©nue track. At 32, having weathered lean times and near misses, she’s more of a hard-bitten classicist. Her album title evokes Loretta Lynn’s "Coal Miner’s Daughter".

Hint -- the album title clearly evokes something wholly other than Loretta Lynn.

P.S. As you can see below, Price really is good, by the way.

In any case, as usual, a coveted PowerPop No-Prize™ will be awarded to the first reader to post the correct answer. And remember -- no Googling.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Sometimes the Good Guys Win

As you may recall, my old college chum Tony Jannelli -- filmmaker, musician, and all around cool guy -- is making a movie about the time in 1965 that the Velvet Underground, in their first paying gig, played a show at his New Jersey high school. An experience that, as you can imagine, changed a bunch of lives.

And yesterday came the amazing news -- the film's $30,000 pledge mark on Kickstarter was reached, practically at the very last minute, but reached nonetheless. I can't tell you how happy this makes me on numerous levels.

In any event, congratulations to everybody involved in the project -- I've seen rough bits of the animation and it's amazing -- and I'll keep you posted on the progress of the film as it develops.

In the meantime -- have a great weekend, one and all.

Closed Due to Technical Difficulties

Normal Friday/weekend posting resumes later today.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Your Thursday Moment of Words Fail Me: Special OH LADY!!!!!! Edition

The great Martin Short, obviously.

I should that add that the real Jerry Lewis -- or, as the French so reverently call him, L'Idiot Stupide -- turned 90 yesterday. There's probably a lesson in this, but I'm not sure what it is.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Guilty Feet Have Got No Rhythm

From 2014, please enjoy retro-jazz sax guy Dave Koz and friends doing to George Michael's execrable "Careless Whisper" what should have been done to it years ago.

I usually don't care for this sort of po-mo camp pastiche lounge music, but I must concede that this one is actually pretty cool, especially when they do the genre-switching stuff during the solos. My only complaint is that they didn't do one of the breaks as Klezmer.

[h/t Ollie Sakhno]

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Monday, March 14, 2016

Your Monday Moment of Words Fail Me: Special Walk of Life Edition

To quote Matt Novak over at PALEOFUTURE:

Even if you don’t know the Dire Straits song “Walk of Life” by name you’ll recognize it immediately when you hear it. Fun fact: It’s the perfect song to end any movie.

At least that’s the contention of The Walk of Life Project, the brainchild of Peter Salomone, a freelance video editor and writer. And I’m inclined to agree with him. Slap “Walk of Life” to the end of any movie and it immediately becomes 400 percent better. That’s just science.

The Matrix, Chinatown, The Dark Knight Rises --they’re all better if you replace the soundtrack to their final scenes with Dire Straits’ “Walk of Life.”

And guess what -- he's right. Here are two of my favorites.

The Strangelove ending is particularly droll, for obvious reasons, but that Graduate clip is actually almost better than the original sequence with Simon and Garfunkel's "The Sound of Silence."

In any case, you can behold (in breathless wonder) more of Salamone's work in this regard (including a deeply disturbing makeover of the finale of John Frankenheimer's Seconds) over at the Walk of Life Project website HERE.

You're welcome.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Sir Ken Adam 1921-2016

Okay, I know this has nothing to do with rock-and-roll per se, but these set designs Adam did are some of the most iconic images of the 60s.

Besides -- this death shit is really beginning to etc.

Have a great weekend, everybody.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Closed Due to the Will of Landru

Having computer trouble, obviously.

Man, I really need to get to the Geek Squad next week.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Monday, March 07, 2016

Your Monday Moment of Words Fail Me

The Rolling Stones meet The Temptations...

...and then, presumably go down to the Chelsea Drugstore for breakfast.

Yeah, I know, these things are essentially stunts, but this one really is clever. I particularly like the sample from "Gimme Shelter" at the end. Not to mention hearing "The Beatles new record's a gas" on a Stones track.

[h/t Mark R]

Friday, March 04, 2016

Great Lost New Wave Singles of Whenever

I first posted this song back in 2010, when the world and this blog were young, but as you may have noticed, a huge number of mp3s I've put up here over the years are now vanished, due to (I assume) Divshare having gone belly-up. In any event, I'm putting up new links for some worthy songs that have gone MIA, and this is one of my faves.

So -- from sometime in the late 70s or early 80s, please enjoy original Late Night With David Letterman writer and (more recently) creator of TV's Monk, the drolly amusing Andy Breckman, and his should have been an anthemic MTV hit "I Had a Good Day."

Breckman had (and continues to have, actually) a sort of parallel career as a sardonic solo folkie, and to my knowledge this unreleased demo is the only time he ever did one of his songs with a rock band. An acetate 45 was on the Folk City jukebox for years, which is where I first heard it; this digital version comes from a 1996 CD sampler on Gadfly Records, a Vermont indie label near and dear to my heart for reasons that I won't bore you with at the moment.

In any case, "Mr. Greenblatt died/I had a real good day" never fails to lift my spirits.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

They're Gonna Put Me in the Movies....

...specifically in the 30th anniversary performance montage film The Smithereens are showing on-stage on their current tour.

That's me sometime in the 80s with drummer Dennis Diken, When I saw the 'Reens at B.B. King's earlier this year, the guys were kind enough to give me a shout-out advising me of my cameo; unfortunately, the people I was sitting with all blinked at the same time and thus missed seeing it.

Ah, the price of fame.

In any event, I vaguely recall posing for that photo -- and I wore that Smithereens t-shirt for ages -- but for the life of me, I don't know where specifically it was shot. Somewhere in the Village, I suspect.

Here's the whole film -- my on-camera moment is at exactly the 33:09 moment, right after a shot of Radio City Music Hall.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Closed Due to the Vulgar Talking Yam (An Occasional Series): Special Super Tuesday Edition

A guy I knew originally posted this parody Trump ad in 1999. Obviously, as yesterday showed, things have changed very little in the intervening years, and certainly not for the better.

I will now proceed to get drunk for the rest of the day. And you can read the rest of the ad over HERE in my absence.

Regular apolitical and peppy postings resume tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Closed for Monkey Business

Real world concerns beckon. Regular posting -- i.e., the usual puckish satire of contemporary mores -- resumes on the morrow.