Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Have I Mentioned That Bob Lefsetz is a Huge Idiot?

From 1968, please enjoy Johnny Rivers' gorgeous -- and surprisingly post-modern -- "Summer Rain."

"All summer long we spent grooving in the sand
Everybody kept on playing Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"

Mr. Rivers speaks for me in this regard.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A Few Words on the Sgt. Pepper 50th Anniversary Remix Package

I got my copy on Friday. I'd like to thank the EMI Group of Companies for sending me the actual original master tapes for review.

I kid, I kid.

That said, I've listened to the new stereo version of the album, which is, as today's youngsters say, the bees knees. Haven't heard any of the bonus material yet, but the Making Of documentary is pretty cool. George Martin -- you were the greatest.

And I should add that -- yes, it's official.

Bob Lefsetz...

No one listened to “Sgt. Pepper” and immediately pronounced it a classic, it was just too different. a fucking idiot.

Seriously, read his piece at the link above. There's clueless, there's Clueless, and then there's him.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Long Weekend Listomania: Special No Climate Change Deniers Aloud! Edition

[Okay, it's Memorial Day, i.e. the official kick-off to summer, so I'm recycling this (I originally posted it in 2009) for obvious reasons. I should add that I've changed a couple of the song selections, and re-written it slightly, just so as not to appear an even bigger slacker than I am. -- S.S.]

Best or Worst Post-Elvis Summer Song -- Which is To Say Either a Song About Summer or One With the Word Summer in the Title!!

Self-explanatory, I think, and in the interest of holiday comity, I'm imposing absolutely no arbitrary rules of any kind.

And my totally top of my head Top Nine would be...

9. Two Live Jews -- Oy, It's So Humid

"Doesn't Myrtle have air conditioning?" "What -- you mean Octagenarian Mutant Ninja Myrtle?..."

8. Graham Gouldman -- Bus Stop

"Bus Stop, wet day, she's there, I say, please share my umbrella...All that summer we enjoyed it, wind and rain and shine..."

And don't tell me about that Rihanna "Umbrella" shit, because I don't want to hear about it.

7. Smashing Pumpkins -- Summer

It occurs to me that Billy Corgan's pretentious cueball noggin has been absent from these precincts for far too long; unfortunately, it's not on display in this particular video. Actually, a pretty nice song, though.

6. The Jamies -- Summertime, Summertime

An arifact that has irked me since the late 50s. It's like a Chimpmunks record, but done straight. Or something. In any case, words can not express how annoying I think those harmonies are.

5. Billy Stewart -- Summertime

The Gershwin song, of course. This is the uncut version of Stewart's soul glossolalia hit, which I had never heard before yesterday. Kudos to whoever the drummer is, BTW.

4. Eddie Cochran -- Summertime Blues

No better rock-and-roll song has ever been written, and no cooler rock singer/guitarist has ever worn shoe leather.

3. Chad and Jeremy -- A Summer Song

I only found out relatively recently that they actually played all the beautiful guitar stuff on this one themselves. Just as sweet and lovely a pop song as there is, so naturally, my crappy high school rock band used to sing it as "Planes, crashing into mountain sides, with the loss of many lives...."

2. Bananarama -- Cruel Summer

Because, frankly, you just can't have too much Bananarama, even with crappy synth drums.

And the most memorable summer song -- summer being defined as hot, sweaty and fly-infested -- obviously is....

1. Mick Farren -- Let's Loot the Supermarket Again (Like We Did Last Summer)

Typical first generation 70s Brit-punk snarl, although Farren himself had been through one or two too many youth cultures by the time he conned Stiff Records into releasing this. Not in itself a particularly fabulous record, but you gotta admit -- the title's brilliant.

Awrighty then -- what would YOUR choices be?

Friday, May 26, 2017

It's Friends of Mine Week: Special From Jersey It Came Edition

Going to see the incomparable Smithereens tonight at B.B. King's.

Which will probably be the zillionth time I've seen those guys in a club, but this is obviously a good thing. Especially as original bassist Mike Mesaros will be rejoining the band for the show.

That's him on the right of course. He was always the 'Reen with the most teen appeal.

Well, with the possible exception of drummer Dennis Diken, seen here back in the day with some asshole whose name rhymes with Sleeve Nimels.

Meanwhile, have I mentioned that, on top of everything else, The Smithereens are the greatest cover band of all time?

Have a great weekend everybody!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

It's Friends of Mine Week: Special Whaling Songs Were Invented in New Jersey Edition

From (we think) 1974, please enjoy Belleville, New Jersey's finest, The Hounds -- featuring lead vocals, Rickenbacker 12-string and songwriting by my old college chum Tony Forte -- and their remarkably Byrds-ian "Dirge of the Wayward Seafarer."

In case you're wondering, this also features inadequate rhythm guitar by that guy on the right in the photo wearing the Wings t-shirt (whose name rhymes with Sleeve Nimels).

But don't hold that against Mr. Forte. I think this is a genuinely great song and a terrific performance overall.

Of course, it still kinda cracks me up that a bunch of mooks from the land of Tony Soprano would be performing sea chanties, but hey -- rock 'n' roll.

POSTSCRIPT: The cutest thing about all this? Check out the tall guy in the photo looking down at the beautiful blonde. After the band broke up, they wound up getting married, having a fabulous life, and being responsible for some incredible kids. The next person who tells me that rock is the devil's music, swear to god I'm gonna take a hostage.

Tomorrow: More music by people I actually know personally, and yes, they're ALSO from New Jersey.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

It's Friends of Mine Week: Special Ars Gratia Pecuniae Edition

From 2014, please enjoy Foglizard (featuring pal of PowerPop and frequent commenter buzzbabyjesus)...

...with a live in the studio performance of their not-at-all prog-rock "Pigs on a Cracker." That's BBJ with the hollow-body guitar, BTW.

And here's the almost pop "Almost July," the lead-off track from Viva Le Foglizard. Pretty snazzy, I think.

A word from the auteur:
"I posted "Viva Le Foglizard" as a weekend mix over at Burning Wood. Someone posted anonymously "No, Thanks". I wrote back that out of 7 billion people on the planet that weren't interested in my music, only one needed to point it out. I promised his brave honesty would be rewarded by his being the subject of our next song. It became a blog post."

I should add that you can hear more Foglizard tunes and read BBJ's complete history of the band over HERE. Pretty funny stuff.

Tomorrow: some more interesting if not world-renowned music, only this time from a friend I have yet to buy a drink for.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

It's Friends of Mine Week: Special It Takes a Village Edition

From (originally) 1972, please enjoy power pop legend/old chum Mark Johnson and his haunting "Rainy Dues"...

...a track from the just released reissue of his 1972 Vanguard LP Years.

Short version of a very long story: Mark all but ruled the Greenwich Village music scene in the late 70s/early 80s; about fifty percent of the reason The Floor Models got it together was our seeing Mark's band The Wild Alligators tear it up at Kenny's Castaways on numerous occasions (the other fifty percent was seeing The Smithereens do the same thing at the same venue).

In any case, at that time, I kept hearing from various Village types that Mark had this earlier album to his credit, but for some reason, nobody -- not even Mark -- would make me a cassette dupe of it. I eventually chanced across it, a few years ago, at some obscure download site via a vinyl rip. And was surprised at how different it was, stylistically, from the kick-ass pop/folk/New Wave rock he was doing when I met him. Years, in fact, was more or less the last flowering of the whole post-Sgt. Pepper baroque/orchestral/psychedelia album esthetic of the late-60s; think early Tim Buckley or something that could have been produced by Van Dyke Parks.

Oh well. Moving right along, let me just mention that this reissue -- splendidly remastered with bonus tracks -- on Real Gone also features definitive liner notes (including an extensive interview with Mark) by yours truly...

...and that you can (and should) order this remarkable artifact over at Amazon HERE.

You're welcome.

Tomorrow: More interesting music by somebody I've actually shaken hands with.

Monday, May 22, 2017

It's Friends of Mine Week! No, Seriously -- It's Friends of Mine Week! I Really Mean It This Time!

From a 2003 tribute to The Who, please enjoy Seattle legend Jim Basnight and an absolutely wonderful cover of "I Can See For Miles."

I've never actually met Jim, but he's been a Facebook friend for a while now, and I always loved his work.

In case you;ve never heard him before, among other things, he used to be the front man of two absolutely fabulous and influential New Wave/power pop bands called, respectively, The Moberlys and then The Rockinghams.

That being the case (and it is), you can -- and very definitely should -- order a retrospective of 25 years of his music...

...over at Amazon HERE.

You're welcome. Oh, and incidentally, Jim informs me that Pete Townshend was pleased by the cover of "Miles." Much cooler than that it does not get.

Tomorrow: More interesting music, but by someone I actually HAVE met.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Your Friday Moment of I'm a Little Choked Up

Attentive readers may recall that I posted tracks by The Sevens -- aka The Rolling Stones of Switzerland -- a week or two ago, which I found at a terrific download site (from Germany) called All We Need is Pop Music.

Anyway, by way of saying thank you, I sent the proprietor of the site copies of The Floor Models CDs (featuring some asshole whose name rhymes with Sleeve Nimels on bass), figuring he might get a kick out of them.

And this is the note I just got in response.

Hello Steve, this morning your gift arrived. And it's a little difficult to describe (also because my not so well english language) the emotions because of your gift. At first, you have paid ten bucks only to send two cds to a guy you don't know personally 5000 km across the ocean. That was the first time where i asked myself consciously: What kind of man is Steve and why he do this? And than i began listen to the album and after the first time i was very impressed. Naturally it meets my taste of music.But some songs have (imho) an extraordinary good songwriting and wonderful fitting arrangements. What i also like is the difference of the tracks.The whole album never sounds like one song cutted in 10 or 15 pieces. And it always sound very much agile (or alive?). One critical point is S.O.S in original by swedish band ABBA. To me it sounds a little weak without the particular kick.
The whole album is a great Pop rock/Jangle/Power Pop album and i think if the band had it released in the early eighties who knows what had happened. Steve you can be very proud of your band The Floor Models and the musical legacy of the band. I make music myself for more than forty years and know the meaning what particular experiences in music and making music with friends are really worth.(I hope you understand despite my english language try to say)
And now i come back to the question i asked myself: why do Steve this? I began to read the liner notes by you. And there is a lot what touches my feelings. After i read the liner notes completely two times i believe i have the answer for my question. The kind how you write about the times then, the band, friends, people you've met and the experiences you've made tells me that you are a human being who do the things he like with passion. And passion is an important characteristic for artists of any kind. Okay Steve i stop here my hobby psychology :-). I just can say that i thank you very much for the gift that you've gave me. I really appreciate it! And i want quote an sentence by you from the liner notes where is a kind of humour inside i really love. ''...I look back on the whole experience these days as pretty much the most fun i've ever had with my clothes on.''
Thanks for all and i hope we stay in touch from time to time

Kind regards,

I honestly don't care that we never sold a million records and got big rich and famous. Stuff like this makes the entire thing worthwhile.

Have a great weekend, everybody.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Chris Cornell 1964-2017

Swear to god, I was just listening to the album that song is from when I heard the news.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Closed for Monkey Business

Had a long, extremely productive but exhausting, night in the recording studio yesterday.

Friends of Mine Week, complete with blow your mind music. resumes on the morrow.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

It's Friends of Mine Week!!!

Attentive and/or long term readers of this here blog may recognize the name Ronnie D'Addario for two reasons.

First, because out of the great goodness of his heart, he sang the angelic McCartney-esque background vocals on Letter From Liverpool, a song featuring a band with a bass player whose name rhymes with Sleeve Nimels.

And, secondly, because he's the proud dad of the hippest young band on the planet The Lemon Twigs.

But even coooler than that, Ronnie's also been producing exquisite Beatles-influenced pop/rock -- both as a one-man band (a la Emitt Rhodes, who is probably the figure he most closely brings to mind) or in various group contexts going back for decades.

And now, at last, he's got a CD set showcasing some of that work.

Here are two songs from the collection (the second is one of my favorite indie singles of the New Wave era) that should give you an idea of just how terrific he is.

In any case, I think we can agree that First Songs is one of the most impressive early career retrospectives ever heard by sentient mammalian ears.

You can -- and definitely should -- order it over at Amazon HERE or at You Are the Cosmos HERE.

You're welcome.

Monday, May 15, 2017

I'll Be There For You

As you may know, The Zombies just completed an American tour where -- to rapturous applause -- they performed their masterpiece Odessey and Oracle in its entirety.

You may be able to guess from the Odessey song above how the rest of the week here is gonna go. No coveted PowerPop No-Prizes if you do, however.

I should add that, to my delight, another Odessey track is now the unlikeliest radio hit of the current century..

Friday, May 12, 2017

Your Friday Moment of A Tail for Which the World is Not Yet Prepared !!!

From 1995, please enjoy Canadian (don't hold it against him) singer/songwriter Jay Semko...

...and his brilliant avant-garde screenplay masquerading as a pop record/absolutely flat out fabulous on every level "Mouse in a Hole."

I must confess that prior to a few weeks ago I knew nothing about either this guy or this song. And if truth be told, I was hipped to him/it by possibly the most offensively stupid/anti-Semitic/douchebag it's ever been my misfortune to have to deal with via the intertubes.

That said -- blind squirrel/nut. I mean, this is really great.

Have a terrific weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

I Deny Everything

New Procol Harum album is out; I must confess that it mostly leaves me cold -- i.e., it doesn't sound much like vintage PH -- but this track is really pretty and wouldn't have been out of place on one of their lesser mid-70s LPs.

Plus the title appeals to me for several obvious reasons.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

He Puts the Pluto in Plutocrat

Donald Fagen and Todd Rundgren nail our latest national nightmare.

And you gotta love that they did this before Trump went Nixon on steroids yesterday.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Here Comes the Night

Saw BANG!: The Bert Berns Story over the weekend.

Bottom line: If it's playing anywhere near you, run do not walk.

The incredible music aside, there are so many great stories told in the flick that it would be criminal for me to give any of them away. That said, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that a) the song-writing production team of Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein, and Richard Gottehrer -- better known as the guys in The Strangeloves who pretended to be Australians -- may be the funniest comedy trio since the Marx Brothers and that b) I had no idea that Van Morrison, who gets lots of screen interview time, is so normal.

Oh yes -- the music. Most of the songs in the film -- all either Berns-written or produced or both -- will be familiar to anybody who's listened to pop music in the second half of the 20th century. But one track in particular, for me, was a revelation.

This is one of the most spine-tingling vocal performances I've ever heard, and after you listen to it, I think you'll agree that Freddie Scott deserves to be talked about right up there with the greatest soul singers ever. It's not on the movie soundtrack CD, alas, but there's a comprehensive Scott best-of that you can still find at Amazon.

Have I mentioned that you should run not walk to see this if it's in your neighborhood?

Monday, May 08, 2017

Closed for Monkey Business: Special Vive La France! Edition

Got so emotional watching the scene outside the Louvre yesterday, after the French turned back the forces of darkness, that I was too drained to post anything musical.

Regular non-political pop stuff resumes on the morrow. Now excuse me -- I have to go score some brie.

Friday, May 05, 2017

Your Friday Moment of the Worst Song of All Time

I don't know why this one popped into my head this morning, although it's possible it has something to do with Satan.

I must admit, however, that I had forgotten that one of Liz Taylor's exes was responsible for it.

I should also add that at Casa Simels when I was growing up we used to refer to RCA platters as New Orthopedic recordings.

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Willard's Wormholes 2007-2017

The greatest download site in the history of the intertubes... no more.

If, like me, you were worried that Willard had either had some kind of personal crisis, or had been shut down by the Intertube Police, not to fear: I e-mailed him yesterday and he said that, no, it had been ten years and he figured it was time for him to retire and do other things. I think I speak for many when I say -- good luck with that. You're a mensch, and our music collections would be much the poorer if not for your work over the years.

I'm still pissed that I never got around to downloading the soundtrack to the original Outer Limits, however.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Only the Dead Know Basel: Special It's Just a Shot Away Edition

[I originally posted this back in 2011, but I'm reprising it now for two reasons. First of all, I discovered that my copy of the album -- which I had obtained from a download site that has since been closed down -- had disappeared from my collection (both the CD I burned and the computer file of it), and I was in full panic mode until I found a replacement over the weekend. Secondly, given President Drunk-at-the-End-of-the Bar's speech to the bloodthirsty shitheads at the NRA, also over the weekend, I thought it might have some amusing relevance to our current national circumstances. -- S.S.]

"Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love, they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock." -- Orson Welles, The Third Man (1946)
Cut to 1965, and you'd have to add the eponymous debut album and several singles by Switzerland's The Sevens to the list.

Hands down the greatest rock band out of a historically neutral country. Ever.

Basically, these guys were the Rolling Stones of Switzerland; as you'll hear they might as easily be described as the Pretty Things/Animals/Kinks of Switzerland. In any case, they never had much impact outside of their home turf, where their peak years were 1965-66. I should confess at this point that I'd never encountered them until a few days ago, although I assume they're rather highly regarded in Garage Punk/Nuggets circles.

Here's their first single -- titled, with absolute pop perfection, "Seven," and a more eerily apocalyptic pop record had never been heard by sentient mammalian ears, I'll tell you that for free. Recorded essentially live -- the pistol shots were done in real time, although they never used the gimmick onstage -- and in just one take; if the freakout/raveup at the end doesn't get you going, you probably need to have it looked at.

Oh, and you'll never guess who the producer was.

Wait for it....

Giorgio Moroder. Yes, him.

Here's what they sounded like in stereo -- from the aforementioned album, it's the equally ominous "You Should Know." Which sounds to my ears like a mid-tempo ballad by The Zombies, albeit if that band consumed a case of Italian Swiss Colony before the recording session.

Obviously, the musicianship on both these tracks has a certain...primitive quality, I think is the phrase, but both of them also have a very palpable end-of-the-world vibe that I find remarkable. I should also add that lead singer Pierre Aebischer, who comes across as alternately creepy and amusingly suave, was either a genius or a madman, at least from the sound of this stuff.

Meanwhile, if you'd like to download a copy of The Sevens' album (with bonus tracks) you can find it -- along with lots of other fabulous free stuff -- over here at ALL WE NEED IS POP MUSIC.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Closed for Monkey Business

The good news: The Incomparable Eddie© is back from the vet, and he's suffering nothing more serious than a little tendonitis. Of course, he won't be available for the play-offs.

The bad news: I was too exhausted to do a real post today.

Swear to god, tanned rested and ready postings about music resume tomorrow.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Your Monday Moment of Please Send Good Thoughts

Gotta take The Incomparable Eddie© to the veterinarian for some tests today.

Barring the unforeseen, regular and happier posting will resume on the morrow.