Monday, December 31, 2018

The Present Day Pop-Rocker Refuses to Die

Attentive readers may recall that last year I waxed enthusiastic about the debut album by the charmingly monikered indie band The John Sally Ride, featuring friend of PowerPop (and proprietor of the invaluable Burning Wood blog Sal Nunziato on drums.

Here's what I said about the CD at the time.

The short version:
The whole album is pretty much the most delightful surprise I've had so far this year.

And now comes their sophomore effort Nothing Doing...

...and in many ways it's an even better pop-rock confection -- more assured, sonically sleeker, and just terrific on every level.

And if you doubt me, dig this video for one of the best tracks on the record.

There's a digital version of the album up at Amazon, and if it isn't at Bandcamp, Spotify, et al, right now, it will be momentarily. In any case, get over to Amazon and stream it or download it toot sweet.

Sal also informs me that there will be a vinyl release sooner rather than later, and possibly a CD, but in the meantime -- what are you waiting for?

Oh, and have I mentioned -- Happy New Year everybody! This blog is a labor of love, and obviously I love you all more than food!!!

Friday, December 28, 2018

We're All Spartacus, But Some of Us Are More Spartacus Than Others

From 1960, please enjoy the greatest movie title sequence of all time. Spartacus.

Music by the brilliant Alex North, visuals by the equally great Saul Bass.

Incidentally, North's score for the entire movie is equally brilliant, particularly in the fight scene between Kirk Douglas and Woody Strode, which is practically a concerto for gladiators and orchestra. In any case, I'm posting that sequence for a variety of reasons, starting with the fact that my 13 year old self was totally blown away by this when I saw it on a big screen in six-track stereo in New York City back in the day; I still consider it the greatest mating of kinetic art and music in history (I had the soundtrack album and probably played it more than any LP I had until the arrival of The Beatles). The other reasons I'm posting it mostly involve a certain moron and anti-Semite I occasionally make fun of on-line, but I won't bore you with the details of that.

In any event, some absolutely fabulous music that is far more relevant to the mission statement of this here blog will be up on Monday.

Have a great weekend, everybody.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Conservatives Make Lousy Rock Critics (An Occasional Series)

Case in point: smarmy and inexplicably employed New York Times Op-Ed weasel Bret Stephens...

...has come out in favor of Led Zeppelin's Physical Graffiti as the greatest album ever.

Okay, I'm exaggerating Stephens' enthusiasm for PG, but my point remains. I mean, jeez, will we next have to endure Ross Douthat's thoughts on Madonna?

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Surf's Up!

From 1973, please enjoy The Beach Boys and the instrumental track -- with some acapella group vocals at the end -- of their fabulous "Sail On, Sailor."

Just spine-tinglingly beautiful; I should also note that I had never heard this particular version until friend of PowerPop Capt. Al played it on his (400th) intertube radio show yesterday.

I should also add that I'd forgotten that Tandyn Almer had a co-write on this. Almer is perhaps best known for having penned "Along Comes Mary" for The Association, which would be credit enough for a lifetime for most mere mortals, but he also had a hand in "Marcella," the other truly transplendent Beach Boys song of the early 70s.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Old Capt. Al is For Real

Okay, it's Christmas.

But more important, friend of PowerPop Capt. Al is doing his 400th edition of Lost at Sea -- his award-winning intertube radio show -- today.

That's the 4000th in dog years, by the way.

In any event, it airs at Area 24 Radio...

...starting at 11am East Coast time and going till whenever.

You can hear it by clicking on the Listen Live! link OVER HERE.

I should add that the Captain informs me that he'll be playing lots of wild and wacky rare stuff on this special anniversary show, including music that yours truly has been involved in over the years.

Speaking of which, my old high school garage band chums The Weasels did the Lost at Sea theme song. It's a sea shanty, obviously, and no, I'm not playing on it, alas, but you'll hear it at the end of the show.

In any case -- congratulations, Captain, and here's to 400 more!!!

Monday, December 24, 2018

Oh Crap -- Simels is Starting to Post Christmas Songs: Special Smashing the Sound Barrier Edition

From some time in the '80s, please enjoy the incomparable Rudolf's Nightmare and their hilarious and increasingly speed-punk version of "Silent Night."

That indie 45 rpm slab of vinyl was the brainchild of a sometime bandmate of mine from the old days named Lars Hanson, who both produced it and played the way cool guitar stuff. Glen Robert Allen, drummer for The Floor Models and my musical director for the last 50 years, is the dude pounding the pagan skins.

If memory serves, Dr. Demento actually aired that a couple of times on his show. And if he didn't, he should have.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Oh Crap -- Simels is Starting to Post Christmas Songs: 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 should add that the show was remade as a Rankin/Bass animated special in 1978, which is interesting 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).

I was nine years old when the live version 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.

I believe Amazon has a CD version of the soundtrack LP of the original; the complete live version and the cartoon are similarly available on YouTube last time I looked.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Oh Crap -- Simels is Starting to Post Christmas Songs: Part Deux

From 2016, please enjoy power pop wiseacres The Dollyrots and their fabulously punked out update of "All I Want for Christmas is You."

I am chastened to admit that I had never heard the Mariah Carey original of this -- which dates from 1994, and which has a delightfully Phil Spector Christmas Album vibe to it -- until two weeks ago. Hey, I slept through the 90s, what can I tell you.

In any case, this cover version impinged on my consciousness a few days ago when I heard it on a certain intertube radio station which also plays The Floor Models.

In the meantime, you can find out more about these delightful kids and their music over HERE.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Oh Crap -- Simels is Starting to Post Christmas Songs

Okay, but I have a good reason for posting this one, apart from the fact that it's fabulous.

The pertinent info:

The song was released as promo only 7″ and 12″ double-A sided single in December 1981 to promote the charity album, “In Harmony 2” which was released at the same time. This recording was of a live performance from December 12, 1975 at C.W. Post College in Greenvale, NY.

It should be noted here that C.W. Post is my old school, and that I was in attendance at this performance along with fellow Postie and friend of PowerPop Kerrin L. Griffith.

Less up-lifting Christmas fare continues for the next several days.

Thursday, December 20, 2018


So as I mentioned yesterday, a certain Shady Dame and I were lucky enough to secure tickets to see Bryan Cranston in the Broadway version of Network...

...and the short version is that Cranston was absolutely brilliant and the adaptation works like gangbusters as a stage play.

But for me, the really big news is that they played this track by The Sonics as exit music.

I'm not hundred percent sure if it was the above version or a remake by somebody else -- I actually found a web page that has like about 30 covers of the thing by all sorts of other bands, but I'm still confused. In any case, it was a blast to hear the thing really loud over the Belasco Theater sound system, and kudos to whoever was involved with the production who came up with the idea to do it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Closed on Account of Being Mad as Hell

No, it's got nothing to do with the criminal in the White House.

But I've got tickets for today's matinee of Network, starring the great Bryan Cranston...

...and thus I've been too distracted to get a music-themed post together.

Business as usual resumes on the morrow.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Break on Through to the End of Some Book

Jimmy Fallon channels Jim Morrison, and much much more.

Unfortunately, the clip where he actually fronts The Doors on the Ed Sullivan Show seems to have been removed from YouTube.

[h/t Joe Benoit]

Monday, December 17, 2018

Your Monday Moment of Words Fail Me

Jack Black and Jimmy Fallon and...oh, just see for yourself.

To quote from the old Mighty Thor theme song -- you behold in breathless wonder.

[h/t Joe Benoit]

Friday, December 14, 2018

Your Friday Moment of Why Didn't Somebody Think of This Before?

From 2010, in a dank Australian basement, please enjoy JONESEZ and one of the funniest videos ever made.

I mean, yeah, it's a cute song, but the visual gimmick is such sheer genius that I want to kill myself for not having come up with it on my own.

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

[h/t Peter Scott]

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa (A Slacker's Prayer)

Lost the song I was gonna post today.

Fortunately, the one I am gonna post tomorrow by a certain Friend of PowerPop is ready to go.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Your Wednesday Moment of Clarke-Hicks-Nash

From the just released Teensville Records compilation WISHYOUAWISH: The Hollies' Compositions by Others 1965-1968...

...please enjoy The Searchers and their quite fetching cover of "Have You Ever Loved Somebody."

The original of that one is from the Hollies wonderful 1967 album Evolution, which is sort of their Revolver, but the Searchers cover dates from late 1966. I don't think it's as good as the version its composers did, but it was sprightly enough to go Top 50 in England. It got some airplay in America too, if memory serves, at least in the New York City area. In any case, a terrific song.

BTW, that new comp has some real doozies that I had never heard before; Amazon has it, but you can also order a copy from the fine folks at Teensville over HERE.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Your Tuesday Moment of Why Didn't I Get the Memo?

So yesterday I was listening to an intertube radio station out of the U.K. called KOR, which is always pretty cool, but more specifically because I got word that they were gonna be playing a song by one of my gazillion old bands (in this case, Gerry Devine and the Hi-Beams).

Anyway, right before our song was scheduled, they played this track by a band previously unknown to me called The Speedways...

...and it blew my tiny mind. Let's just say that it's the kind of thing that's so damned good it makes me even angrier than usual about the crappy musical guests on Saturday Night Live.

In any event, those guys are on Facebook, and you can also find out more about them -- and more important, buy their music -- over HERE. And tell 'em PowerPop sent you.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Closed for Really Old People Monkey Business

My back is freaking killing me. To the point I just couldn't sit in front of the computer for any length of time.

Regular posting -- including a rave for some new music by a friend of PowerPop -- resumes on the morrow.

Have I mentioned my back is freaking killing me?

Friday, December 07, 2018

Daryll Zanuck, Eat Your Heart Out!

From the Bohemian Rhapsody soundtrack, Brian May and Roger Taylor do the 20th Century Fox fanfare.

Seriously, the minute this came over the speakers at our local Hell Octaplex, I just knew I was gonna enjoy the movie.

I'll have more to say about the film on Tuesday, but in the meantime -- have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Your Thursday Moment of Simels’ Folly

Yes, I'm actually releasing a solo single next year.

And kudos to a certain beautiful and brilliant Shady Dame, who did the picture sleeve art direction and who, frankly, is working way too cheap.

This is not a joke, BTW. The A-side of this thing is gonna be a cover of the absolutely gorgeous anti-war classic by The Byrds (from 5D)...

...which we haven't recorded yet. But will be doing in early January.

The B-side, however, is a cover of a wonderful song by my pal from my 80s days in Greenwich Village Peter Spencer, which is done....

...and which I think sounds great.

Hey, what can I tell you guys -- a boy needs a hobby.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Kosher Queen

Finally saw Bohemian Rhapsody; short version, to my surprise, I liked it a lot.

I'll have more to say about it on Friday, but in the meantime, to help you all celebrate the Festival of Lights, here's the Jewish version.

In the immortal words of CeeLo Green -- ain't that some shit?

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Swingin’ Tuesday

From who knows when -- and frankly, who cares about time? -- please enjoy Metallica's smooth jazz version of "Enter Sandman."

Okay, obviously that isn't real -- and frankly, who cares about reality? -- but kudos to whatever wiseguys faked it. Good job!

I should also add that I don't quite understand the concept of smooth jazz. Does that mean there's something called bumpy jazz?

Monday, December 03, 2018

Your Monday Essay Question: Is This Complete Crap or What?

First -- read this thumbsucker from Sunday's NY Times about the guy from Migos....

... over HERE.

And then watch this song by him...

...and then tell me that he has anything more than, at best, a teaspoon of talent.

I've said this before, but the big problem with taking pop culture seriously is that if you do, you've got to take ALL of it seriously. Including this transparent horse hockey.


Friday, November 30, 2018

Short People Got No Reason to Live

From 2018 and the just released Paul Williams tribute album White Lace and Promises...

...please enjoy the incomparable Cait Brennan and her fabulous one-person cover of "An Old Fashioned Love Song."

Faithful readers will recall that I was lucky enough to discover Cait's music...

...back in 2016, upon the release of her genius debut album Debutante.

This new track, which as I mentioned features Cait performing all the instrumentals and vocals, can (and should) be pre-ordered from indie label Curry Cuts over HERE.

And BTW, if you can't get the player to work, here's a link that should work:

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Your Thursday Moment of Totally Awesome

From 2018, please enjoy Jeff Matthews and the most incredible song of all fucking time -- "SelfieDeathPlunge."

I think we've all known the feeling.

BTW, a big tip of the PowerPop hat to our good friend Sal Nunziato, who posted this at his invaluable BURNING WOOD blog on Monday, and from whence I stole it.

Jeebus, that's hilarious.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Your Wednesday Moment of H2O

From I'm not exactly sure when, please enjoy the utterly incredible Lydia Loveless and "The Water."

Hadn't been aware of this one till yesterday, when friend of PowerPop Capt. Al played it on his intertube radio show, but sweet jeebus -- everything I hear from that Loveless kid just knocks my socks off.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Your Tuesday Moment of Extended Metaphor

From 2007, please enjoy genius wisenheimer Todd Snider and a great live performance of "Ballad of the Kingsmen."

And may I just add that I really really hope Marilyn Manson and Jack Ely (the guy who sang "Louie Louie") have heard that song.

[h/t WGG]

Monday, November 26, 2018

Three Part Harmonies and a Cloud of Dust

An excerpt from what appears to be a very cool documentary about Graham Nash and The Hollies and the late 60s.

If I haven't mentioned it, the original Hollies are pretty much one of my top five bands of all time. The Floor Models used to cover "Bus Stop," and really well, and I've always said that playing it in front of an audience was one of the greatest thrills of my adult life.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Yet Another Reason Roger McGuinn is Totally Cool

From an interview with McGuinn in the current edition of MOJO (the one with the White Album on the cover, and the magazine's 300th issue):

Q: What is your favourite Saturday night record?

A: Well, I'll probably be watching Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries on Netflix. It's Australian, a period piece – the music is 20's jazz, speakeasy flapper music/

Here's my favorite song from the show, as heard on the first of its soundtrack albums.

"Sailing on a Sunbeam," by Des Toohey and Frank Coughlan.

Corny as hell, obviously, but there's something ineffably appealing about it anyway.

Oh, and if the player doesn't work, here's the share link:

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

[h/t Peter Scott]

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Walking in Memphis

Because nothing says Happy Thanksgiving, Everybody! like a deeply embarrassing Elvis Presley song... by Ed Wood Jr.'s girlfriend Delores Fuller.

True story: The 45 of this...

...was actually on the jukebox at my college snack bar, and one night I loaded it up with two dollars worth of dimes and played the song 20 times in a row. As an experiment to see how fast I could clear the place. Pretty damn fast, if memory serves, BTW.

In any case -- Happy Thanksgiving, Everybody!!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

It's Never Too Late to Say You're Sorry

From his just released album Tambourine Alley, please enjoy the annoyingly talented Marc Platt...

...and his should be a hit single "Make Your Amends."

Marc, who by the way is a genuine mensch, used to be in an absolutely sensational 80s L.A. band called The Real Impossibles, who were in the same general vein as The Plimsouls and every bit as good; I got to know him when Zero Hour Records, the Australian home of the fabulous Floor Models, put out a Real Impossibles compilation (which I highly recommend and you can and should order it over HERE). I should add that it is a source of some pride to me that he and I are labelmates.

I should also add that you can -- and very definitely should -- download Tambourine Alley, which is so good that it makes me want to quit trying to make music, over at Amazon HERE.

You're welcome.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Closed for Monkey Business

Computer problems.

Regular posting -- including a fabulous new song by a friend of PowerPop who's initials are MP -- resumes on the morrow.

Monday, November 19, 2018

This Getting Old Shit is Really Starting to Piss Me Off

Singer/songwriter/guitar virtuoso and all around great guy Peter Spencer...

...a genius friend of mine from our old days in Greenwich Village, is in the hospital awaiting triple bypass surgery after a heart attack on Thursday.

Here's "Casanova's Waltz," one of my favorite songs from his quite amazing catalogue.

Yes once I had money and lovers
Once I had teeth in my jaw
But why have adventures except when you're old to tell stories
That fill your companions with awe?

I shall die here of boredom
I shall die here of boredom

Get better soon, Pete. We here at PowerPop are lighting multiple metaphorical candles for your speedy recovery.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Your Friday Moment of Why Didn't I Get the Memo? (Special The Queen of Soul Edition)

From 1970, please enjoy the late great Aretha Franklin and her astounding version of "Son of a Preacher Man."

I am embarrassed to confess that I hadn't heard that until last week, when friend of PowerPop Capt. Al played it on his intertube radio show.

I should also add that, like any right-thinking sentient humanoid, I am a huge fan of Dusty Springfield, and think that her hit recording of that song is one of the greatest things ever.

That said, Aretha's take on it is just on a whole other level.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Smells Like...Well, Okay, It Just Smells

Paul Anka sings Kurt Cobain.

Say what you will about it, but it's better than that Pat Boone heavy metal album from the 90s.

I should add, that while I hate "You're Having My Baby" as much as the next person, Anka always had more on the ball than any of those other post-Elvis pre-Beatles teen idols of the Happy Days era. For starters, he was a good enough songwriter to have written this genuine classic.

And he was also the subject of the first great rock documentary film, Lonely Boy...

...which is an artful and genuinely perceptive meditation on the price of stardom.

But don't worry -- I still hate "You're Having My Baby."

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Closed Due to Extreme Pain

Had a nightmare last evening and threw myself out of bed, whacking the shit out of one side of my head. Which aches like crazy. This is the fourth time in as many months, BTW.

Regular non-throbbing postings resume on the morrow.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Your Monday Moment of Guess Who!

No, not THE Guess Who.

But a coveted PowerPop No-Prize© will be awarded to the first reader who identifies the artist doing the very interesting cover of The Who classic above.

[h/t Capt. Al]

Friday, November 09, 2018

Your Friday Moment of Words Fail Me (An Occasional Series)

Mike Viola, doing business with The Candy Butchers, and their stunning "You Belong to Me Now," live on Conan O'Brien in 2002.

Apart from the song being about as drop dead gorgeous as it gets, that's some pretty amazing guitar playing too.

And have I mentioned that Viola's a fricking genius?

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, November 08, 2018

This Guy's a Fricking Genius

Mike Viola, ladies and germs.

I've been a fan since his work on Tom Hanks' That Thing You Do, but this one, which I hadn't heard till recently, is really really amazing. And for some reason, it seemed oddly relevant to the events of this week.

[h/t Frank Burrows]

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Closed Due to Emotional and Physical Exhaustion

Between dealing with doctors and the election results, yesterday has left me too pooped to pop.

Regular more jaunty postings resume on the morrow.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Chris Isaak Goes to a Record Store

I've always liked this guy, but this is particularly charming.

And I've said it before, but I'll say it again. Why the fuck wasn't Isaak...

...ever cast in a bio-pic about jazz great Chet Baker?

[h/t Matt M]

Monday, November 05, 2018

Bach is Dead and Hardy Fox Isn't Feeling So Good Himself

According to the New York Times, Hardy Fox (one of the founding members of the San Francisco music and multi-media collective The Residents -- maybe) has died at age 73.

The above song is one of the most accessible tracks(!) from the Residents' 1977 EP Duck Stab, which is where I first took notice of them, and which apparently was their first brush with above-ground success, albeit on a limited scale. Apart from the music itself, one of the things I most loved about the record was it was one of those 7-inch vinyl artifacts that could have been pressed at either 33&1/3 or 45 rpm, and there was no indication anywhere in the packaging as to which speed was the correct one. In fact, it sounded good either way.

I should add that, thanks to the Times obit, I have just learned two fun facts about the band.

The first is the origin of their name. It was chosen after sending a demo tape, anonymously but with a return address, to Warner Bros. Records. The tape was rejected (quel surprise) and returned, addressed to “Residents.”

I was also flummoxed to discover that their 1986 version of Hank Williams’s “Kaw-Liga,” which sampled Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean”...

...sold over 100,000 copies, which is pretty darned astounding for a bunch of avant-garde provocateurs on an indie label.

In any case, RIP Hardy Fox. Now resident of a better world, one hopes.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

The Cheese Stands Alone

Anthony Lane has long been my favorite film critic, but this meditation on the just released Bohemian Rhapsody may be his masterpiece. I am reprinting it, in toto, for those of you unfortunate enough to lack subscriptions to The New Yorker.

Take it away, Anthony!

Extra teeth. That was the secret of Freddie Mercury, or, at any rate, of the singular sound he made. In “Bohemian Rhapsody,” a new bio-pic about him, Mercury (Rami Malek) reveals all: “I was born with four more incisors. More space in my mouth, and more range.” Basically, he’s walking around with an opera house in his head. That explains the diva-like throb of his singing, and we are left to ponder the other crowd-wooing rockers of his generation; do they, too, rely upon oral eccentricity? Is it true that Rod Stewart’s vocal cords are lined with cinders, and that Mick Jagger has a red carpet instead of a tongue? What happens inside Elton John’s mouth, Lord knows, although “Rocketman,” next year’s bio-pic about him, will presumably spill the beans.

“Bohemian Rhapsody” starts with the Live Aid concert, in 1985. That was the talent-heavy occasion on which Queen, fronted by Mercury, took complete command of Wembley Stadium and, it is generally agreed, destroyed the competition. We then flip back to 1970, and to the younger Freddie—born Farrokh Bulsara, in Zanzibar, and educated partly at a boarding school in India, but now dwelling in the London suburbs. This being a rock movie, his parents are required to be conservative and stiff, and he is required to vex them by going out at night to see bands.

If the film is to be trusted (and one instinctively feels that it isn’t), the birth of Queen was smooth and unproblematic. Mercury approaches two musicians, Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy) and Brian May (Gwilym Lee), in a parking lot, having enjoyed their gig; learns that their group’s lead singer has defected; and, then and there, launches into an impromptu audition for the job. Bingo! The resulting lineup, now graced with John Deacon (Joseph Mazzello) on bass, lets rip onstage, with Freddie tearing the microphone from its base to create the long-handled-lollipop look that will stay with him forever. Queen already sounds like Queen, and, before you know it, the boys have a manager, a contract, an album, and a cascade of wealth. It’s that easy. As for their first global tour, it is illustrated by the names of cities flashing up on the screen—“Tokyo,” “Rio,” and so forth, in one of those excitable montages which were starting to seem old-fashioned by 1940.

As a film, “Bohemian Rhapsody” is all over the place. So is “Bohemian Rhapsody” as a song, yet somehow, by dint of shameless alchemy and professional stamina, it coheres; the movie shows poor Roger Taylor doing take after take of the dreaded “Galileo!” shrieks, bravely risking a falsetto-related injury in the cause of art. Anyone hoping to be let in on Queen’s trade secrets will feel frustrated, although I liked the coins that rattled and bounced on the skin of Taylor’s drum, and it’s good to watch Deacon noodle a new bass riff—for “Another One Bites the Dust”—purely to stop the other band members squabbling. The later sections of the story, dealing with Mercury’s AIDS diagnosis, are carefully handled, but most of the film is stuffed with lumps of cheesy rock-speak (“We’re just not thinking big enough”; “I won’t compromise my vision”), and gives off the delicious aroma of parody. When Mercury tries out the plangent “Love of My Life” on the piano, it’s impossible not to recall the great Nigel Tufnel, in “This Is Spinal Tap” (1984), playing something similar in D minor, “the saddest of all keys,” and adding that it’s called “Lick My Love Pump.”

The funniest thing about the new film is that its creation was clearly more rocklike than anything to be found in the end product. Bryan Singer, who is credited as the director, was fired from the production last year and replaced by Dexter Fletcher, although some scenes appear to have been directed by no one at all, or perhaps by a pizza delivery guy who strayed onto the set. The lead role was originally assigned to Sacha Baron Cohen (a performance of which we can but dream), although Malek, mixing shyness with muscularity, and sporting a set of false teeth that would make Bela Lugosi climb back into his casket, spares nothing in his devotion to the Mercurial. The character’s carnal wants, by all accounts prodigious, are reduced to the pinching of a waiter’s backside, plus the laughable glance that Freddie receives from a bearded American truck driver at a gas station as he enters the bathroom. With its PG-13 rating, and its solemn statements of faith in the band as a family, “Bohemian Rhapsody” may be the least orgiastic tribute ever paid to the world of rock. Is this the real life? Nope. Is this just fantasy? Not entirely, for the climax, quite rightly, returns us to Live Aid—to a majestic restaging of Queen’s contribution, with Malek displaying his perfect peacock strut in front of the mob. If only for twenty minutes, Freddie Mercury is the champion of the world.

Needless to say, a certain Shady Dame and I are going to see this tomorrow.

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Steve's Movie Reviews (An Occasional Series)


Gaga is adorable, and she does a killer Edith Piaf cover in act I. But the original songs -- with the exception of this one --

-- are totally generic/mediocre, and eventually it dawns on you that the theme of the film is "When will the Bradley Cooper character finally wash his hair?"

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The Kids Are Alright. Okay, Maybe Not.

From 2016, please enjoy Micah Tyler and his wickedly funny ode to the young generation.

I'm actually friends with exactly one Millennial, so I don't know if that's a fair or accurate parody. But speaking as a Boomer who gets culturally stereotyped all the time, I gotta say -- frankly, I don't give a shit.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Drugs Have Done Great Things (An Occasional Series)

So why do I love a certain Shady Dame's neighborhood in Forest Hills?

Well, among many other reasons, because yesterday we walked a few blocks from her apartment and got to participate in a ceremony renaming a street in honor of the late great Walter Becker, of Steely Dan fame.

He grew up on that block, BTW. I was totally unaware of that until a few weeks ago.

I should also add that, as estimable as Becker's Steely Dan work is, I think his finest accomplishment is his first solo album, 11 Tracks of Whack, from 1994. And this song from it in particular.

""You take their money just like you take mine." Ah, what a sentimental old fluff Becker was.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Atoms for Piece

From their new album Contra Mundum, which dropped -- as the youngs say -- last month, please enjoy Nashville pop-rock band Tall Dark Stranger and perhaps the smartest retro-70s song I've heard in eons.

"Love in Chernobyl."

I'm not sure exactly what this reminds me of -- Steely Dan, maybe, or Jackson Browne, or somebody else I'm forgetting -- but it's really just great; melodically addicting and with a central lyrical metaphor I would have killed to come up with.

In any case, you can find out more about these guys, and buy their album, over at their official website HERE.

I should also add, as I did when last I wrote about these guys, that this is the kind of terrific locally based band -- and I know from my experience at this here blog that they're all over the place -- that the people who book the music on Saturday Night Live should be showcasing, rather than the Migos/Cardi B/Nicki Minaj utter commercial crap they mostly foist on us.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Great Lost Singles of the Sixties (An Occasional Series)

So the other day, I was reading a piece by Charlie Pierce about Governor Scott Walker -- or, as Pierce refers to him, "the goggle-eyed homunculus hired by Koch Industries to manage their midwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Wisconsin" -- when for some reason this song by the Nashville Teens, which I hadn't thought about for years, popped into my head.

Jeebus, that's adorable. Incidentally, it was written by the great John D. Loudermilk, who also provided the Teens with their international smash hit "Tobacco Road." As for the Teens themselves, their real claim to fame is backing up Jerry Lee Lewis on his Live at the Star Club, Hamburg album, which is arguably the greatest live rock record ever made.

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Closed for Ka-Boom!

This week's news has exhausted me.

Regular posting resumes on the morrow.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Your Wednesday Moment of Where Has This Song Been All My Life?

From 1984, please enjoy The Textones, featuring Carla Olson and Phil Seymour (of Dwight Twilley Band fame) and "No Love in You."

I hadn't heard that until yesterday, when friend of PowerPop Captain Al played it on his intertube radio show. I've enjoyed Olson's work over the years, without ever becoming a fan per se, but Jeebus H. Christ on a piece of challah toast, that's fantastic. And yeah, I know its about as Stones-derivative as can be (albeit the Stones if they were fronted by a woman with a vaguely country-ish voice).

But between that fabulous riff and Olson's vocals, that simply kills me.

Thanks, Captain!!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Encounters With Greatness (An Occasional Series)

And speaking as we were last week of The Velvet Underground Experience show I was fortunate enough to attend the opening of...

...I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that my old college pal and friend of PowerPop Tony Janelli, who co-directed an absolutely brilliant animated short about the time the Velvets played at his high school in suburban New Jersey...

...that features prominently in the exhibition, will be a guest speaker at the VUE this very evening.

The exhibition is at 718 Broadway in Greenwich Village. You can get a ticket online at the show's website HERE.

And tell 'em PowerPop sent you.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Literary Notes From All Over

So as you may or may not have heard, certain obviously mentally ill people have decided to issue a book version of my greatest hits, i.e. an athology of pieces about music, film and pop culture in general I have written over the years for various dead tree publications and, more recently, web sites including this here blog and Box This is gonna happen sometime next year, the good lord willing and the creek don't rise.

I am currently in the process of culling all this stuff (fortunately, there is now a pretty complete online archive of back issues of The Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Review). Also, a young, technologically savvy friend of mine has volunteered to digitally scan my 1985 masterpiece quickie rock book Gender Chameleons: Androgyny in Rock n Roll, which has been out of print practically since the day it was first released to a largely uncaring public.

I am also pleased to note that my new friend, Pulitzer Prize winning high-brow critic Tim Page (hi, Tim!) has graciously offered to give me a complimentary blurb upon the book's publication, which is really a mitzvah.

In the meantime, I found this 1975 piece from SR recently, and I thought I would share it with you as a little advertisement for myself, if I may paraphrase Norman Mailer. It's self-explanatory, obviously, and I still love the list, but obviously it's a snapshot in time and if I was writing it today it would be a lot different. Enjoy, if possible.


My younger brother's passion -- or perhaps it's a mania -- for film exceeds even mine for music. I mean, he'll sit through four hours of a Republic serial without even going to the john! But his mania has its uses; not long ago I was browsing through an esoteric film journal in his collection whose basic premise I have decided to crib. Titled simply "Things We Like," it was a completely and openly subjective (what else?) catalog by two film nuts of moments they found memorable in various motion pictures. One moment that stopped me -- and it's the only entry I can remember, by the way -- was the opening: "Mariette Hartley's wedding in Peckinpah's Ride the High Country." Lovely.

Anyway, after worrying away at my own list culled from twenty-odd years of rock-and-roll, I've decided at last to air the dirty linen in public. What follows is simply a random rundown of things that have given me pleasure, rock-wise, over the years -- specific songs, events, brief musical bits. I won't pretend, as much as I'd like to (ought to?), that any of them have any significance other than showing where my own head is at, but never mind. This is strictly for browsing; I'm willing to bet any rock fan could come up with a totally different list that would be equally valid and just as much fun.

So, without further ado, "Things I Like."

•George Harrison's last harmonic on the solo from "Nowhere Man."
•Charlie Watts hitting the bell of his cymbal on the final line of "Dead Flowers."
•The opening a capella harmonies on Fairport Convention's version of "Percy's Song."
•The Beach Boys' background ah-ohm-wop-diddits on "This Whole World.
•Smokey Robinson's heartrending wordless vocalizing at the end of "Ooh Baby Baby."
•Keith Richards' guitar solos on "Down the Road Apiece."
•Dave Davies' finger-picking on the fade-out of the Kinks' "See My Friends."
•Roy Wood introducing his solo on "Turkish Tram Conductor Blues" with a coy "Oh, yes."
•All of Bruce Springsteen's "Rosalita."
•Bob Dylan's spoken introduction for "Like a Rolling Stone" on the Albert Hall bootleg.
•The back-up vocals on the last verse of the MC5's "Shakin' Street."
•Steve Marriott's screaming at the end of the Small Faces' "Tin Soldier."
•David Crosby's harmonies on the last verse of the Byrds' "Fifth Dimension" and "I Come and Stand at Every Door."
•The drunken Dixieland band on the Stones' "Something Happened to Me Yesterday."
•Arlene Smith's singing on the Chanels' "Maybe."
•The production (especially the percussion) on Martha and the Vandella's "Dancing in the Street."
•Paul McCartney's bass line on "A Little Help From My Friends."
•Keith Moon's drumming on the final break of "Happy Jack."
•Eric Clapton's lead guitar on the studio version of "Badge."
•Stevie Winwood's organ work on the ending of "I'm a Man."
•Jeff Beck's guitar solo on the Yardbirds' "Train Kept A-Rollin'."
•Keith Richards forgetting to turn on his fuzz-tone during "Satisfaction" on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1966.
•Todd Rundgren's guitar work on the Nazz's "Under the Ice."
•Leon Russell's piano on Dylan's "Watching the River Flow."
•Johnny Johnson's boogie-woogie piano break on Chuck Berry's "School Days."
•Jimi Hendrix's solo on "Little Wing."
•Roger Daltrey's "Yeahhhhh!!!!!" after the instrumental section of the Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again."
•The censored original cover for Beggars Banquet.
•Steve Stills' and Neil Young's guitar duet on the original "Bluebird."
•Skip Spence's mumbled vocal on Moby Grape's "Seeing."
•The rave-up during the Kinks' "Milkcow Blues" (studio and live versions).
•Buddy Holly's version of "Slippin' and Slidin'" with posthumously overdubbed backing by the Fireballs.
•The Stones doing "Under My Thumb" at Altamont, as seen in Gimme Shelter.
•Van Morrison's harp break on "Mystic Eyes."
•Joni Mitchell's long-held notes and guitar work on "Marcie."
•Ian Hunter's primal (what else?) screaming on Mott the Hoople's "The Journey."
•The fact that Bob Dylan is removing Pete Hammil's liner notes from Blood on the Tracks.
•The back-cover in-concert photo on the English EP version of Got Live If You Want It.
•Paul Buckmaster's orchestral evocation of Vaughan Williams at the conclusion of "Moonlight Mile."
•Paul McCartney's vocal on "Long Tall Sally". (Not to mention Ringo's drumming or George's second solo.)
•The out-of-tune twelve-string and falsetto vocal on the Stones' "Singer Not the Song"
•Gary Brooker's scream of "Here I go!" from Procol Harum's "Rambling On."
•Nicky Hopkins' electric piano solo on the Beatles "Revolution."
•Zal Yanovsky's solo album.
•Lou Reed's singing on the last verse of the original "Sweet Jane" on Loaded.
•John Fogerty's blues-wailing harmonica on "Run Through the Jungle."
John Mendelssohn's review of Led Zeppelin II.
•The Move's "Tonight."
•Beatles VI.
•Joan Baez's unintentionally hilarious attempt at soul singing on the Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" (in the 1966 film The T.N.T. Show.
•Almost anything by Dave Edmunds.
•Carly Simon's legs (if not her records).
•The echoed handclap before the ending of the Zombies' "Tell Her No."
•John Lennon forgetting the words to "Help" on the Ed Sullivan Show.
•John Entwistle's bass figures on the "teenage wasteland" portion of "Baba O'Reilly."
•Rod Stewart's "Whooo!!!" on the Faces' "Had Me a Real Good Time."
•Iggy Pop's Ray Davies imitation on "Gimme Danger."
•The Beatles' Shea Stadium Concert film.
•Elvis' weight problem.
•Alan Price's two-fingered organ solo on the Animals' "Boom Boom."
•Jack Cassady's eyebrows. (Also, his bass on the Airplanes' "Other Side of This Life.")
•Steppenwolf's "Born to Be Wild," as featured in the credit sequence of Easy Rider.
•Keith Richards' teeth.
•Carl Wilson's twelve-string break on the Beach Boys' "Dance Dance Dance."
•B.J. Wilson's one-measure drum solo on Procol Harum's "The Devil Came From Kansas."
•Neil Innes' "worst guitar solo in history" from the Bonzo Dog Band's "Canyons of Your Mind."
•West, Bruce and Laing titling a banal slow blues "Slow Blues."
•And, of course, just everything from Exile on Main Street.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Personne Ne Sait

And speaking as we have been for the last couple of days of the fabulous Yellow Pills volume 3...

...please enjoy my third favorite cut from it -- ex-Raspberry Scott McCarl and his infernally catch "Nobody Knows."

And speaking of nobody knows, I have no idea whatever happened to that guy (the track dates from the early '90s). I know he wasn't in the band when they did a fabulous reunion show at the Highline in New York City in 2007.

I should add that a certain Shady Dame and I had our first date at that show. Gee, I wonder why I fell in love with her.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, October 18, 2018

What Do You Call a Drummer Without a Girlfriend?


Thank you, I'm here all week -- try the veal. And please tip your waitresses -- they all have massive drug habits to support.

Oh, and here's Fred Armisen telling some other musician jokes.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

And speaking as we have been for the last couple of days of the fabulous Yellow Pills volume 3...

...please enjoy my favorite track. "Time Will Tell on You" by The Rock Club.

If truth be told, I have sort of personal reasons for loving that song. For starters, the drummer is my colleague in The Floor Models (and my musical director for the last fifty years) Glen Robert Allen. And the song's composer and singer is none other than honorary Floor Model Ronnie D'Addario.

Log-rolling aside, I think you'll admit that's a pretty gorgeous tune. I should also add that Ronnie is currently enjoying being the father to pop phenoms The Lemon Twigs (who, incidentally, now own my 1961 Fender Bassman amp, which is considerably older than they are). And that you can find out more about Ronnie and his own music -- which is a really high quality body of work, if I do say so -- over at his official website HERE.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The Stars Look Down

And speaking as we were last week about the late great John Wicks and his contribution to Yellow Pills Vol. 3...

A really lovely song, if not as great a performance as the stuff on the first Records album; when I saw him do it live, however, at the Yellow Pills record release party in 1995, it was considerably more glorious sounding, as was his entire set. Plus, as I mentioned last time, I got to meet John before he went onstage, which was one of the real thrills of my adult life.

Another song from the Yellow Pills comp -- one that's a little closer to home for me -- tomorrow.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Press Releases I'm Glad I Read

Got this from friend of PowerPop (and a guy who distributes Floor Models CDs, so he has excellent taste) Ray Gianchetti, proprietor of Kool Kat Musik:

Goodbye Kayfabe, the third (and latest) album from British multi-instrumentalist and producer Nick Frater sees a tougher sound, kicking off with sensational power-pop smash “Built To Last”! Featuring guest vocals from Nicolai Prowse (Do Me Bad Things) the song is a joyful blast of Raspberries meets Cheap Trick! "...impressive opener ‘Built To Last’ is one of the best retro-Raspberries singles I’ve heard this year. It’s almost impossible to top!" --

Goodbye Kayfabe continues with the punchy jangle-pop of "Paperchase," with other tracks painting in Frater’s broad sonic palette - tropilia, brass band, vintage synth arpeggiators -- and ending with another trademark Beatle-esque ballad. "An absolute joy of a listen that’s right up our street." – “Frater’s music reminds me of Jellyfish’s incredibly knowing but lovingly crafted meta pop" –

Met with rapturous reviews when digitally released in early 2018, Kool Kat Musik has included three bonus tracks, including “Sara," which brings a hint of yacht-rock to the song’s narrative about witnessing a misguided workplace romance! Final track “The Sombrero Fallout Suite” is a truly staggering musical achievement! It’s an eighteen minute power-pop song-cycle, in nine movements! Imagine if The Flaming Lips had produced side two of Abbey Road

As you can hear from the above, Ray isn't indulging in hyperbole about "Built to Last," and I am here to tell you that his description of the rest of the album is spot on; this is modern pop with power at it's most inspired (although I must confess I haven't quite figured out the reference to yacht-rock).

In any case, you can (and definitely should) order it from the Kool Kat link up top; you can also find out more about Nick's other albums, including Something/Nothing (yes, it's a tribute to Todd Rundgren) over HERE.

Friday, October 12, 2018

9 Lives, 88 Keys

Real life concerns have got me sidelined. While I'm gone please enjoy the most adorable thing I've ever seen.

Regular posting more to do with the mission statement of this here blog resumes on Monday -- I promise.

Have a great weekend, everybody.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Closed For Monkey Business

Regular -- and very cool, because it's a great new song by an artist you may not know -- posting resumes on the morrow.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

I'll Be Your Mirror

So last night a certain Shady Dame and I went to the opening of the brilliant new Velvet Underground exhibition in Greenwich Village.

Boy, was it like old times for me (notwithstanding that the Village is all but unrecognizable from when I lived there in the early 80s). Lights, cameras, loads of press, plus free hors d'oeuvres, an open bar and celebrities.

You can't see them in that clip, but as I was shooting it I noticed John Cale and Laurie Anderson going nose to nose in a corner.

And I was particularly pleased that The Velvet Underground Played at My High School -- a brilliant animated short by my old college chum Tony Janelli -- was playing on a continuous loop.

It's a true story, BTW -- Summit (N.J.) High, in 1965.

In any event, the show runs through the end of the year and it's well worth your attention. I should add that we had dinner at a great Italian place nearby called Bar Primi, which is at 325 Bowery; if you go see the show, you could do a lot worse than try the pasta with pancetta and pecorino.

Monday, October 08, 2018

All Messed Up and Ready to Go

I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of John Wicks, lead singer of the enormously influential power pop band The Records.

And co-writer of one of the most perfect songs of all time -- "Starry Eyes."

The Records first album -- The Records in the US, Shades in Bed in the UK -- is an absolute stone classic; there isn't a less than memorable song on it.

Here's perhaps my faborite. And certainly the most gorgeous.

I should add that The Floor Models were huge fans. Here's our cover of "Hearts in Her Eyes," another classic from that debut album. We used to play it live so often everybody in Greenwich Village thought we wrote it.

I got to meet John at the 1995 record release party for this great power pop compilation put together by Jordan Oakes; John, who was sort of making a comeback, contributed a stunning tune called "Her Stars Are My Stars."

Here's a very nice unplugged performance of it from a few years later.

Some bandmates of mine had a song on the same album as well, but alas, I can't find Mp3s of either of the studio versions of those on my iTunes library or on the intertubes generally. I'll see if I can track them down later in the week.

In any case, you'll have to trust me -- John's performance at the aforementioned show was glorious. And he was incredibly nice when I introduced myself afterwards; he remembered a review of a Records best-of CD I had written in the early 90s, which blew my tiny mind.

End of story -- I've said it before and I'll say it again: This death shit is really starting to piss me off.

RIP John Wicks.

There's Something Happening Here

From 2018, please enjoy friend of PowerPop (and moi) Joe Benoit...

...and the lead off track of his forthcoming solo album Too Old to Be a Rock Star.

Apart from being stone gorgeous, that song seems obviously relevant to our current national trauma, but I won't beat you over the head about that.

In any case, Joe used to front a killer NYC power pop band called The Regulars (you can read and hear more about them over HERE) and he's super talented. He also recently, out of the great goodness of his heart, contributed angelic harmony vocals to a new Floor Models song.

I'll keep you posted as to when his album is coming out. I should add that he's doing a solo gig on October 19th, starting at 8:30 pm, at the fabulous Gutter Bar in Williamsburg... if you're in Brooklyn that evening check him out. Here's the info:

200 N 14th street
Brooklyn, NY 11249

And tell 'em PowerPop sent you.

Friday, October 05, 2018

It's Classical Friday!!!

True thing: For the last couple of weeks, I've been going to sleep nights by listening to old radio broadcasts of Jack Benny over at the invaluable Internet Archive.

Which are hilariously funny, but Jack and company really were meant to be on television, where you could see them too.

I present this clip as evidence.

When you look up "comic timing" in the dictionary, it has a picture of Jack.

Have a great weekend, everybody.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Sometimes Life is Good

Case in point -- I just got a CD reissue of one of my favorite classical LPs of all time. Serge Prokofiev playing his gorgeous 3rd piano concerto...

...which also includes his solo piano version of the gavotte from his Classical Symphony.

Apart from being stone beautiful, that comes in at way less than two minutes -- EMI should have released that as a pop single back in the day.

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

I Knew I Liked These Guys!

Devo reworks their biggest hit as a force for good.

BTW, I saw them in a small club when their first album came out, and I have never seen a band so completely focused on getting every deal of their presentation right. To the point that when the bass player accidentally banged his knee and broke character for a few seconds to make a joke about it, it was almost shocking.