Thursday, November 30, 2017

And Speaking of Gorgeous...

From his 2007 solo album Gravy...

...please enjoy friend of PowerPop Gwil Owen and his absolutely fricking beautiful "Mississippi Moonrise."

Gwil was nice enough to send me a copy of Gravy and its 2009 follow-up Ahab's Birthday -- both of which you can obtain over at CD Baby HERE -- and I've been listening to them obsessively for the last week. As I told their auteur, theoretically they're a little too Not Rock for my taste (Ahab's Birthday is actually kind of a blues and bluegrass record) but the songwriting and the performances are just so strong that I don't remotely mind.

I should add that he sent me a link to another song of his that recalls nothing so much as guitar-driven Revolver-era Beatles, and which I'm gonna put up next week. Just because.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Closed for Monkey Business

Had a long, highly productive but completely exhausting evening in the studio last night adding a 12-string guitar part to a new (old) Floor Models song.

Kudos to the great J.D. Goldberg [below] for his stellar work on the session.

Regular and totally relaxed postings resume on the morrow.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Paul Buckmaster 1946 - 2017

The greatest orchestral arranger in rock history -- hands down -- has passed.

Buckmaster is best known for his collaborations with Elton John, and with David Bowie on "Space Oddity," but he also worked with just about anybody who was anybody in pop music, from Taylor Swift to country (Dwight Yoakam) and jazz greats (Miles Davis).

Here's what I think is his masterpiece, however. The transcendently beautiful string arrangement at the end of The Rolling Stones' "Moonlight Mile."

I get chills just thinking about that, to this day. For me, anyway, it's always suggested what Ralph Vaughan Williams might have come up with if he'd ever collaborated with a British rock band.

Monday, November 27, 2017

And Speaking of Gorgeous...

From 1979, and the just released collection -- on Omnivore, where it belongs -- of the complete Sire recordings by The Searchers...

...please enjoy this exquisite cover of Tom Petty's "Lost in Her Eyes."

The two original LPs anthologized on this new set are among the very best pop-rock artifacts of their era; they've been collected before, on an Australian label if memory serves, but this new one has superior remastered sound and some interesting bonus tracks.

Highly recommended, and if you haven't heard the cover (on disc two) of "September Gurls" your life is the poorer for it.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Tommy Keene 1958-2017

From 1984, please enjoy genuine power pop deity Tommy Keene and his astounding "Places That Are Gone"

And he had scads of songs as good as this.

Seriously, Keene should have been a household name and a gazillionaire.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

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.

As long-time readers may recall, this song 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 22, 2017

Closed for Monkey Business

Had a long, productive but ultimately exhausting night in the studio yesterday putting drums on a new Floor Models track.

Kudos to the great Glen Bob Allen (seen above) for his yeoman work.

Here's an even better look at the session.

Regular and refreshed posting resumes on the morrow.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Annals of Manhattan Nightlife (An Occasional Series)

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 this evening, Ronnie -- backed by the aforementioned Lemon Twigs -- will be performing some of that stuff at my favorite NYC club.

Specifically, I assume, material from his fabulous new CD career retrospective.

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.

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

And, of course, if you're in the Big Apple tonight, hie thee over to Bowery Electric to hear Ronnie and family. It's just down the street from where CBGBs used to be.

And tell 'em PowerPop sent you.


I'm gonna be on friend of PowerPop Captain Al's intertube radio show Lost at Sea today, starting at 11:00 am EST. Or maybe 11:15 or 11:30. Depending on traffic.

You can listen to the show over at Area 24 Radio HERE>. We'll be taking requests and death threats -- I'll announce the e-mail address on the air.

It's a theme show -- I won't give it away till later -- and a splendid time is guaranteed for all.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Weekend Listomania (Postscript): Special Rock is Here to Stay, But Nobody Tells Me Where -- I Don't Have the Room Edition

So as you may recall, we ended last week with a Listomania whose theme was THE GREATEST COVERS THAT NEVER WERE!!!

I.e., some really fabulous song(s) you'd really like to hear some favorite artiste -- solo or group -- perform or record, but so far they haven't gotten around to it (the bastards!!!).

And commenter J. Lewellen came up with this brilliant idea (amongst some others -- check the Friday post for the rest of them).

To wit:

Jerry Lee Lewis's "High School Confidential"...

...should be assaulted by The New York Dolls.

You know, the guys who did this affront to musical dignity.

I should add that I actually saw Jerry Lee -- before his big country comeback, after being disgraced as the Roy Moore of his generation -- live in 1965, at Waukegan (Illinois) High School.

There were maybe fifty or sixty of my fellow college hippies in the audience, as well as maybe another 100 angry greasers. It was the most exciting rock show I had ever seen up till that point in my young life, and very few I've seen since then have even came close.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Weekend Listomania: Special Hey, a Boy Can Dream, Can't He?

[I first posted a version of this in 2007, back when this blog and the world were young. I've rewritten parts of it, and made some substitutions, just to prove I'm not a complete slacker; please enjoy. -- S.S.]

Okay, fellow kids -- here's a fun project to contemplate:


You know -- some really fabulous song you'd really like to hear some favorite artiste -- solo or group -- perform or record, but so far they haven't gotten around to it (the bastards!!!).

And my totally off the top of my head Top Nine is/are:

9. The Hold Steady -- The Boys Are Back in Town[Thin Lizzy]

They've probably jammed on it a thousand times -- it's about time they go public for gosh sakes.

8. The Posies -- Carrie Anne [The Hollies]

They already proved they were genetically bred to do Hollies songs with their version of "King Midas in Reverse" -- just think what they would bring to the sunniest of the Clarke-Hicks-Nash classics.

7. The Pretenders -- Every Little Bit Hurts [Brenda Holloway]

My fave 60s soul ballad/torch song would be a natural for Chrissie Hynde, I suspect. Fun fact: This was written by the same guy who wrote "Dirty Water."

6. Neko Case == The First Cut is the Deepest[Cat Stevens]

Because she'd do it better than Sheryl Crow, duh.

5. Steve Earle -- Street Fighting Man [The Rolling Stones]

C'mon -- this is the job he was born for.

4. Bob Mould -- Calvary Cross [Richard and Linda Thompson]

On the 1994 Thompson tribute album Beat the Retreat, Mould turned the rockabilly tinged "Turning of the Tide" into a killer piece of buzz-saw punk. I swoon to imagine what he could do with Thompson's most intensely doom-haunted song.

3. Emmylou Harris -- Withered and Died [Richard and Linda Thompson]

Actually, now that I think of it, this song is so intensely heartbreaking, if Emmy sang it we might not survive the hearing.

2. The MonaLisa Twins -- Excuses, Excuses [The Floor Models/Gerry Devine and the Hi-Beams]

Because I've always wanted to hear gals covering this one. And my new favorite group seems like just the ones to do it.

And the number one cover I'd love to hear is....

1. Wilco -- Get Out of My Way [Paul McCartney]

This is one of my favorite sort of obscure McCartney tracks. And if you've ever heard Wilco blowtorching its way through "Monday" you'll understand why I think they're the right band band for the job.

Alrighty, then -- what would YOUR choices be?

And have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Your Thursday Moment of I Can Now Die Happy

And why you ask? Because the Australian Broadcasting Company is going to air a two-part bio-pic about my heroes The Easybeats, and it looks like they've done it right.

A joint production between the ABC, Playmaker, Screen Australia and Screen NSW, Friday On My Mind stars Christian Byers as Stevie Wright, Will Rush as George Young, Mackenzie Fearnley as Harry Vanda, Du Toit Bredenkamp as Dick Diamonde and Arthur McBain as Snowy Fleet.

Directed by Matthew Saville (Seven Types Of Ambiguity, Please Like Me, The Slap) and written by Howzat and Paper Giants scribe Christopher Lee, the series is set in the 1960s and follows the story of the five musicians and young immigrants, who meet in a Sydney migrant hostel before taking up instrumental arms together and ultimately changing the face of Australian rock on an international level.

Here's a teaser.

I'm not sure whether the band is lip-synching to the actual Easybeats song in that clip or not, but if the music is being provided by sound-alikes, they're dead on the money.

Also no word yet whether the thing will be broadcast on an American network, or if there will be a video release, but at the risk of gloating, I have a friend down under who's gonna record it for me. Nyah nyah nyah.

I'll keep you posted.

[h/t Peter Scott]

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Closed for Monkey Business

Had some dental problems yesterday, so no posting today.

Regular posting, with my chompers choogling at peak efficiency, resumes on the morrow.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A La Recherche du Floor Models Perdu

[Okay, herewith an update of a post from August. Trust me, there are two audio clips at the end that will make it all worthwhile. -- S.S.]

So as long time readers are aware, back in the early 80s I toiled in a 12-string pop band called The Floor Models. And also that Andy Pasternack, one of our principal songwriters (and our Rickenbacker ace), passed away unexpectedly in 2012.

I should add that apart from being immensely talented, Andy was also one of the sweetest guys who ever wore shoe leather; as Gerry Devine (our singer and other principal songwriter) put it to me recently -- Andy never got the memo that if you're a genius you're supposed to be a dick to other people.

In any case, there was a song of Andy's called "You Can't Tell Me Anything" that I particularly loved, and which we used to do live for ages, but for some reason never demoed, which has been a sort of sore point with me for all these years. So recently I decided that we should record it for a possible posthumous EP as a sort of tribute.

Only problem was nobody could remember the lyrics. Ack.

Then a month or so ago I discovered a crude live version, taped by someone with a boom box in front of the band at one of our legendary weekend gigs at The Other End (bless you, Pat Kenny!). We edited it -- removing a duplicate verse and a brief instrumental solo section that didn't really work -- and presto! We had a click track for a concise three minute song that seemed to encapsulate the entire esthetic of the band.

So then ace drummer Glen "Bob" Allen, myself, my old 70s bandmate Tony Forte (on Rickenbacker 12-string), and brilliant guitarist J.D. Goldberg (who came in for Andy in a later incarnation of the band) headed into the studio to recreate the song from the ground up. (Gerry did his vocal at home and then intertubed it to us.)

And here it is in completely finished form..

With all due respect, I think it's fricking gorgeous.

BTW, if you want to hear the 1982 live version... can check it out HERE.

I should add that the EP -- which will be titled (per Andy's concept) 4 X Floor -- will also include a raga-surf instrumental written by Andy and Gerry, a new recording of a recently rediscovered Andy song that is about the most sad and beautiful thing I've ever heard, and a new recording (with strings, yet) of a song that power pop great Mark Johnson wrote for us -- and will hopefully be ready for release early next year.

Although if I've learned anything since I've started working on these projects, it's that it always takes longer than you think.

Monday, November 13, 2017

I'll Have What They're Having

From 2017, and their just released album Orange, please enjoy the fabulous Mona Lisa Twins and their new single "Waiting for the Waiter."

And yes, the mysterious Man in Black at the bar playing the familiar sounding blues harmonica is in fact former Lovin' Spoonful frontman (and personal hero of mine) John Sebastian.

Most of the Twins' stuff is considerably more Beatles influenced (their Fabs covers, like this one, are to die for...)

...and closer to the subject of this here blog, but "Waiter" does it for me anyway.

In the meantime, you can -- and should -- order Orange over at the Twins website HERE.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Friday Video Roundup

[As some of our long-term readers may be aware, I am still on the mailing lists of various video companies, who -- inexplicably but generously -- continue to send me freebie copies of their new releases. Herewith, a brief consumer guide to the most recent discs that have crossed my desk; unless otherwise noted, I viewed all of them on DVD. Enjoy. -- S.S.]

1. Murder on the Orient Express (ACORN)

From the Poirot tv series, this remake from 2010 is considerably darker and less fun than the Sidney Lumet-directed '70s version, and it takes liberties with the source material in terms of back story that not everybody will dig. Still, the period detail is smashing, David Suchet remains the definitive Poirot, and Eileen Atkins as Princess Dragimiroff (the role played by Wendy Hiller in the original) is absolutely sensational. I await the new version with Kenneth Branagh (in theaters today) with breathless anticipation.

2. Wonder Woman (WARNER BROS., two discs, DVD and Blu-ray)

I haven't liked a superhero/comic book movie since the original X-MEN, and Zeus knows this adaptation of the (frankly, quite silly at times) DC superlady franchise was fraught with peril (by which I mean it could easily have been an unintentionally funny camp piece of crap).

Against all odds, however, the thing works like a charm. Backdating the story to World War I was a brilliant idea, and the chemistry between stars Gal Gadot (hubba hubba) and Chris Pine is sizzling. Yeah, it runs out of steam with a cliched climatic super battle (David Thewlis in a devil costume? Seriously?) but until then Wonder Woman is old school Hollywood storytelling at its most entertaining.

3. Rumble: The Indians That Rocked the World (KINO LORBER)

AKA the secret history of Native Americans and what we refer to as the rock-and-roll field. Fantastic stuff, and not just because of the Link Wray footage. Nobody interviewed in the thing says it, so I will: Play this film loud.

4. The Lost City of Cecil B. DeMille (RANDOM MEDIA)

The true story of a magnificent obsession: one man's quest to find the sets for DeMille's 1923 silent version of The Ten Commandments, which were buried in the California wilderness no one knew precisely where. The fact that this is an actually real thing boggles the imagination, and if the film's ending doesn't make the hair on the back of your neck stand up you probably need medical attention.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Your Thursday Moment of Words Fail Me

From 2014, please enjoy the remarkably monikered Kaki King and ETHEL ambling (I keed, I keed) through the most powerful instro piece I've heard in ages.

This absolutely blows me away. Seriously, it sounds like what might have happened if Bernard Herrmann had ever decided to rock out.

[h/t Capt. Al]

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Closed for Monkey Business

Had some dental problems yesterday.

Regular non-tooth related postings resume on the morrow.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

From 2001 and the soundtrack CD to TV's Crossing Jordan -- a show I must admit I never watched -- please enjoy the reliably astounding Richard Thompson and his cover of Donovan's venerable “Season of the Witch.”

A version that -- as the friend who hipped me to this last week observed -- makes all previously recorded performances of this song sound like "The Monster Mash."

Good lord, this

[h/t Matt Mitchell]

Monday, November 06, 2017

The Return of Chet Catkins

From 2017, please enjoy power pop god Richard X. Heyman and a hilarious feline-themed video -- from his latest album Incognito -- of the utterly infectious "So What."

You can read more about Richard over HERE, specifically my review of his 2007 masterpiece Actual Sighs. Plus you can listen to an Mp3 of my favorite song from the record. Prepare to have your mind blown at the sheer gorgeousness of it.

And you can -- and definitely should -- order the new album over at AMAZON. You'll thank me.

[h/t Brooklyn Girl]

Friday, November 03, 2017

There's a "Boy, Did I Get A Wrong Number" Joke in Here Somewhere

Amd speaking, as we were yesterday of The Thieves (featuring Gwil Owen) and their fabulous 1988 Marshall Crenshaw-produced album Seduced by Money...

...please enjoy the haunting rocker "All the Lines are Down."

Damn, that's a great song and a great performance. I'm really gonna have to cover that one of these days. In the meantime, see if you can find a copy of the album -- just about everything on it is that good.

Have a great weekend, everybody.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

In honor (late, alas) of Halloween, please enjoy the criminally underrated Gwil Owen...

...and his fabulous country rocker "Haunted House."

I first encountered Owen when he was the lead singer (circa 1988) of alt-rockers The Thieves, who made an absolutely sensational album -- Seduced by Money -- that was produced by none other than Marshall Crenshaw. If you can find a copy, grab it immediately; it's a classic. The song above, if I recall, was from the follow up album Phoenix, which I believe Gwil self-released.

In any case, I lost track of the guy over the years, but I just Wiki'd him, and he's done really well for himself since then, including an Oscar nomination for a song he wrote for the soundtrack of The Horse Whiseperer.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Closed for Monkey Business

The pipe under my kitchen sink has come apart, and I'm waiting for the guy above to come fix it. No joke, except the monkey part.

Regular and hopefully well flowing posts resume on the morrow.