Saturday, April 30, 2016

A Desperate Weekend Cry for Help!

Hey good people -- like a putz, I neglected to download that free official mp3 of Springsteen covering "Purple Rain" that was posted during the week.

And they seem to have pulled it from the website.

If any of you out there managed to grab it, could you please send it to me?

I'll make it worth your while, if you know what I mean.


Friday, April 29, 2016

When Schmucks Cry

[From our Department of Why Conservatives Make Lousy Rock Critics: This originally appeared, in a slightly longer version, on Wednesday over at Roy Edroso's invaluable ALICUBLOG. The subject is a thumbsucker about Prince by a loathsome piece of shit named David French, who scribbled it in crayon for the National Review website. The stuff in blockquotes is French; the running commentary is by Edroso. -- S.S.]

But French just keeps finding new ways to be wrong. Take his Prince column. Yes, seriously, this horrible wingnut Jesus freak wrote one.

Prince died last week, and America overreacted. No, I’m not diminishing Prince’s talent. He was one of pop music’s most gifted songwriters and musicians. As millions shared his more memorable performances, I realized I’d forgotten what a great guitar player and showman he was. He could write hit songs like few others, and he shared his talent freely, “gifting” songs to other artists. In short, he was one of the few pop stars whose fame was fully justified.
You can really feel his pleasure at Prince's work, can't you? You can't? Well, of course not; this is exactly the sort of thing I would write about a NASCAR driver ("I had forgotten what a great NASCAR driver he was... he could turn left like no other") if I were trying to pretend I liked him as a way to win the confidence of someone whose intelligence I didn't respect.

But to spend time on the mainstream and left-wing Internet last week — or to listen to some of the web’s more popular podcasts — you would have thought America lost a national hero, and not merely an immensely gifted artist.

You heathens didn't cry like this when Andrew Breitbart died!

...In our post-virtue culture, we worship celebrity and talent not for its own sake but for ourselves. Their talent is all about us. Their fame is for our amusement. Pop music fills the hymnals in the temple of the self. We are the stars of our own biopic, and we just lost someone who wrote part of the score.
Can't you see how selfish, how narcissistic it is to enjoy music? I mean, music that isn't hymns?

The sentimentality is understandable, given the millions of people who could remember some significant moment in their lives that happened to the sounds of “Lets Go Crazy” or “When Doves Cry.”
(You know he had to look them up.)

Our country doesn’t lack for heroes, but our true heroes certainly lack for fame. Even on the Left’s terms, valorizing Prince for his transient activism disrespects those who spent their lives in the trenches, fighting for their vision of “social justice.”

Hmmm -- I don't remember "the Left" telling me not to mourn Prince; maybe I missed a meeting... but hold on, brother French has taken up a snake:

For conservatives, Prince was ultimately just another talented and decadent voice in a hedonistic culture. He was notable mainly because he was particularly effective at communicating that decadence to an eager and willing audience.

...I don’t say any of this to denigrate Prince or his talents.
Fuck you.

And I don’t say this to shame people out of listening to music they enjoy, though not all music is worth hearing.
You heathens ever hear Three Doors Down?

Rather, it’s time for a dose of perspective. Music has its place...

...and gifted musicians undeniably enhance our lives...

You know, like air conditioning or wall-to-wall carpeting.

...but if our hearts are given to these songs and those who make them, then our lives are unnecessarily impoverished.

And then it hits you -- French isn't just ignorant of Prince, or even just of music -- this poor, twisted freak literally doesn't know what art is. He doesn't know its place in human history, or why human beings invented it, or why it persists even when it doesn't make money or is suppressed. He thinks it's upholstery. He thinks it's some sort of trivial comfort. And he thinks so because he's been taught that all you need are Jesus and Bill Buckley and the pleasure you can take from the suffering of your inferiors, and anything else that has a claim on the human soul, whether it's justice or sex or art, must be crushed lest it steal their thunder.

[I would like to add, at this juncture, that Edroso is a genius; on my best days I couldn't have come up with something as hilariously snarky and perceptive. In any case, regular self-penned postings resume on Monday, including a long over-due video roundup. Have a great weekend everybody!!! -- S.S.]

Thursday, April 28, 2016

And Speaking of Gorgeous....

From 1967, please enjoy the original incarnation of The Kinks and the stereo backing track of their classic "Waterloo Sunset."

Or as I like to call it, perhaps the most beautiful song written in English in the second half of the Twentieth Century. And, as you've just heard, spine-tinglingly gorgeous even without vocals.

Also, how did those guys ever get the reputation for being sloppy? I mean, that track is all but perfect.

And yes, that was me a few years ago enjoying an actual Waterloo sunset. One of the most transplendent moments of my life.

[h/t Gummo]

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Your Wednesday Moment of Words Fail Me: Special Apparently It's Prince Week Edition

The Kid in Osaka, Japan in 1990. Fooling around with Gershwin's "Summertime" at a soundcheck.

This guy was so abundantly talented it's almost unbelievable.

[h/t Steve Schwartz]

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

And Speaking of Saints...

A friend writes:

Clyde Stubblefield was James Browns's drummer and is considered one of the best in the world. Clyde has also been a friend for over 30 years. Back when he was 60 and battling cancer, he and [wife] Jody racked up nearly $80K in medical debts. Then he was approached by Prince's "people". They told Jody that Prince's favorite instrument was drums and he considered Clyde to be a mentor. He offered to wipe out Clydes's medical debt, which he did. His one proviso was that it remained anonymous. 16 years later, Jody finally told the story.

Stubblefield, who was born in 1943, is, I am happy to report, still with us.

I should add that his drum solo, from Brown's 1970 "Funky Drummer" single, is perhaps the most sampled 20 seconds in music history.

And good for Prince, obviously, is the point of the story. Apparently on top of all his other talents, he was a mensch.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Your Monday Moment of Words Fail Me: Special Bruce Springsteen -- Living Saint Edition

This has gone viral, so you've probably already seen it, but in good conscience I have to post it anyway.

Ladies and germs -- The Boss, in Brooklyn last Saturday night, with the Prince tribute of your dreams.

Actually, I was betting he'd do "Little Red Corvette," but on balance this one was probably a more appropriate choice. And my god, is Nils channeling the song's auteur on guitar or what?

For what it's worth, this has never been my favorite Prince song; the actual record (i.e., the track he's lip-synching in the movie of the same name) is a great performance, but (for me, anyway) the central lyric metaphor of the thing is dodgy enough that its repetition gets a little annoying. Which may explain why most of the earlier covers I've heard don't quite work (there's a live Hollies version, for example, that while well sung just seems kind of silly).

But this one...well, let's just say that if it doesn't raise the hair on the back of your neck you probably are not somebody I want to know.

And have I mentioned that Nils is clearly channeling the guitar solo from the Great Beyond?


Friday, April 22, 2016

Prince Rogers Nelson 1958 - 2016

You know, this death shit has really jumped the shark.

I was gonna post one of my fave Prince songs -- "Guitar," maybe -- but of course The Artist famously pulled everything of his off YouTube ages ago. Fortunately, his "Baltimore" -- from 2015, and maybe the most powerful politically-themed topical song since CSNY's "Ohio" -- is still up. What a great, and moving, record.

And here's my favorite Prince cover (I'm only half kidding about this).

And I'll give my cartoonist pal Dave™ the last word.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Harriet Tubman's Gonna Carry Me Home

In case you didn't hear -- Andrew Jackson is moving to the back of the twenty dollar bill. To be replaced by on the front by abolitionist Harriet Tubman starting in 2020.

Truly wonderful news on several levels, and I only wish I'd had the stomach to listen to hate radio yesterday after it was first announced. The sound of Limbaugh/Hannity/Levin/et al's collective heads exploding over this must have been absolutely glorious.

[h/t Brett Milano]

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Your Wednesday Moment of Words Fail Me

From 2008 and somewhere in the Mystic East, please enjoy in breathless wonder the incomparable OreSkaBand...

...and their mysteriously catchy "What a Wonderful World."

An all-girl Japanese ska band? And a terrific one to boot? As Christina Applegate famously said on Married With Children -- the mind wobbles.

BTW, the music in the clip doesn't start until 43 seconds in, so feel free to fast forward. In any case, this is about the cutest thing I've seen in years.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Closed for Monkey Business

Totally exhausted (for obvious reasons). But the medical news for a certain Shady Dame of my acquaintance is all good.

Regular dressed and peppy postings resume on the morrow. On my honor, as unreliable as that may be.

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Best Stones Song in Years?

Well, actually, it's not the Stones. It's 7Horse, and a great track from their new album Livin' in a Bitch of a World.

But can you imagine this one with Mick, Keith and Charlie?

As a rule, I have a problem with bands who lack bass players, but jeez -- this is some seriously cool shit.

[h/t Mark]

Friday, April 15, 2016

More Great Moments in Medicine: Friday Dietary Advice

From Mad's 1962 Dr. Kildare parody.

I asked a certain hospitalized Shady Dame of my acquaintance how her lunch was yesterday and she replied "Gummy." So the above seemed relevant.

It's been a long week, folks. Here's hoping normal posting resumes on Monday, and have a great weekend one and all.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Great Moments in Medicine: Presenting the Bill

The great Frank "Kelly" Freas in MAD Magazine.

Hey -- a loved one is in the hospital. I'm exhausted.

Regular more peppy posting returns on Friday. Or maybe not. I'm making no guarantees.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Your Wednesday Moment of Words Fail Me: Special Song of Norway Audio/Video Edition

From 2007 -- and her album The World Famous Hat Trick -- please enjoy the incomparable Vibeke Saugestad and the adorable video of the album's lead-off track "He's Peculiar."

A kind reader hepped me to said video two weeks ago, and I pretty much flipped my lid after about twenty seconds into it; obviously, Vibeke's easy on the eyes (love those white boots!), but she's also a great singer -- a kind of improbable cross between Debbie Harry and Karen Carpenter -- and a terrific pop/rock songwriter. I immediately got a copy of the CD from Amazon -- it's still available there last time I looked -- and as my correspondent had observed, there's not a bum track on it, i.e. everything is damn near as good as "Peculiar."

Anyway, I was looking around YouTube for anything else by Ms. Saugestad, and I chanced upon this song from an earlier album (2003).

Once again, my jaw-dropped. How something this infernally catchy and lyrically sharp (the kind of make-it-sound-easy pop smarts I thought had gone out with the Brill Building Era) wasn't a world-wide hit is frankly inexplicable to me. I mean, c'mon -- among other things, it's the best "More cowbell!!!" song of the 21st century so far.

Alas, the album it's from -- Overdrive -- seems to be out of print (Amazon doesn't have it) and Ms. Saugestad suggested that I might be able to find a copy if I flew to her native Norway and looked around some Scandinavian thrift shops. That being out of my price range, she kindly sent me a computerized copy (thanks, Vibeke!!!!); let's just say, the music did not disappoint. If you like what you've heard, send me an e-mail and (weather permitting) I'll burn you a copy for your very own.

In the meantime, a special tip of the Hatlo Hat to both my anonymous benefactor and to friend of PowerPop and great Swedish internet deejay Wayne Lundqvist Ford...

..for putting me in touch with the auteur herself.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Your Tuesday Moment of WHY DIDN'T I GET THE MEMO?

From 2010, please enjoy Sara Bareilles and "King of Anything," AKA the best fricking FUCK YOU -- I DON'T REALLY NEED YOU RELATIONSHIP BREAKUP SONG (FROM A FEMALE PERSPECTIVE) since "No Guilt" by The Waitresses. (Which was written by a guy, come to think of it. But I digress.)

In any case, I don't know how this one slipped under my esthetic radar until last weekend, but damn, girl -- that is just an amazingly great song and production.

For the handclaps alone, actually. And by the way, the fact that this lost the Grammy to Lady Gaga's drecky "Bad Romance" is reason in and of itself to nuke NARAS.

UPDATE: It just occurred to me that Bareille's song is rather obviously inspired, arrangement wise, by the only Annie Lennox record I ever loved.

Which I don't mean as a criticism, BTW. You know the saying -- great composers steal, mediocre composers borrow.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Closed By Doctor's Orders

A certain Shady Dame of my acquaintance is in the hospital.

She'll be fine, but no regular posting till tomorrow.

Friday, April 08, 2016

The Return of Weekend Listomania: Special Were These Jokes Predicted By Nostradamus? Video Edition

Well, it's Friday, and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental fille de whoopie! housegirl Fah Lo Suee and I are off to beautiful Gainesville, Florida (birthplace of PowerPop fave Tom Petty) where we're going to find the woman who told Governor Batboy Rick Scott to go fuck himself at a local Starbucks...

...and buy her several adult beverages in appreciation.

In any case, as a result, posting by moi will necessarily be somewhat fitful for a few days.

But until then, as always, here's a fun project for you all to contemplate:

Best "What if?" Switcheroo on the title or lyrics of a post-Elvis pop/rock/soul/song!!!!

Yes, as you'll see, it's that ridiculous and that simple. So no arbitrary rules necessary. I should add that if you feel the need to include a song in a non-rock related pop genre, that's fine too.

And now, without further ado, here's my totally top of my head Top Six:

6. What If People Were Actually Kind of Normal When You're a Stranger?

Of course, if the people were all wearing leather pants that might still be a little odd.

5. What If This Was the Start of Something Small and Insignificant?

You know, if truth be told, I've always really liked this song, and the clip is amazing; shot in one long continuous unedited take, like the opening of Touch of Evil.

4. What If the Streets Actually Had Names and as a Result, Bono Found What He Was Looking For?

He'd still be a wanker, of course. But it's interesting to think about.

3. What if Bruce Springsteen Was Born in Sweden?

Res ipsa loquitur, as we say in the rock critic biz.

2. What If Olivia Newton-John Had Wanted to Get Cerebral?

Actually, I always wanted somebody to remake this one as "Metaphysical," but I'm obviously disturbed.

And the number one, if you even think about disputing this I will come to your house and spin donuts on your lawn, thoroughly silly revisionist take on a well known song simply has to be...

1. What If Luka Lived on the Third Floor?

Alrighty then -- what would YOUR choices be?

Thursday, April 07, 2016

An Early Clue to the New Direction: Special Yipes, the Clothes in the 70s Were Really Hideous Edition

From 1975 somewhere, please enjoy -- yeah, right -- the infernally cutesie Olivia Neutron-Bomb Newton-John as she asks the musical question -- "Have You Never Been Mellow""?

To which I can only reply, in the immortal words of Woody Allen in Annie Hall: "If I get too mellow, I ripen and rot."

In the meantime, a coveted PowerPop No-Prize© will be awarded to the first reader who guesses its relevance to the theme of tomorrow's Weekend Listomania.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

No Wonder The Hounds Never Got Signed!

Does anybody know what year this is? I'm trying to figure out if I ever reviewed him.

[h/t Tom Peckman]

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Tuesday Skeletons in the Closet

If you were around yesterday, you will recall that I confessed to stealing -- with some inadequacy -- Dave Edmunds' "Let It Rock" Chuck Berry licks on various occasions.

Here's one of them -- the 1975 B-side to my then band's indie single. That's me on most of the guitars, including all the echo-laden leads. It was recorded under extremely primitive circumstances, and it's pretty much of a mess, but hey -- it's a B-side. In any case, as Edmunds imitations go, I think it retains a certain naive charm.

And because I love you all more than food, here's the A-side, which I think is a pretty snazzy pop-Stones pastiche. It was recorded, on the fly, at Electric Lady, so it sounds considerably better than "On the Road," thank heaven. For those of you playing at home, I'm the guitar on the right channel.

In any case, please be kind.

Monday, April 04, 2016

It's Brinsley Schwarz Week: The Postscript

From 1975, and Subtle as a Flying Mallet (his second solo album), please enjoy the incomparable Dave Edmunds, backed by the five piece incarnation of Brinsley Schwarz, and an absolutely fabulous live version of Chuck Berry's classic anthem "Let It Rock."

This is, without question, my all-time favorite Berry cover that wasn't recorded by The Beatles or The Rolling Stones. What an absolutely tremendous groove, and I can't tell you how many times I have stolen (or attempted to steal, with some lack of success) Dave's licks from this version in various contexts.

In any case, non Brinsley-posting resumes on the morrow, including some of the most amazing music to have emerged from Norway since the heyday of Edvard Grieg, and -- on Friday -- the triumphant return of Weekend Listomania.

Friday, April 01, 2016

It's Brinsley Schwarz Week: Special The Post Without a Sub-Title Edition

From 1970, and their eponymous debut album, please enjoy the original four-man lineup of Brinsley Schwarz and Nick Lowe's uncharacteristically non-ironic "Mayfly."

This, of courses, verges on the dreaded prog-rock territory (specifically early Yes) but what saves it is the fact that the song itself is quite pretty (in a folkish sort of way) and, more important, the characteristically lyrical organ playing of Bob Andrews; if you ever saw the band I toiled in on keyboards after the demise of the Floor Models, you may notice that I pretty much stole everything I ever played from Andrews' work on this one song. Just gorgeous.

In any case, enjoy -- and have a great weekend, everybody.