Monday, October 21, 2019

Closed for Birthday Monkey Business

They say it's my birthday, and by golly it is!

So I'm taking the day off.

Regular posting -- including reviews of some new albums -- resume on the morrow.

Friday, October 18, 2019

From their 1994 album While You're Down There, please enjoy The Interesting Guys and the most sinister sounding cover version of The Carpenters' "Close to You" you're ever likely to hear.

The specific interesting guy singing that, BTW, is Athens GA. legend the Reverend Connor Tribble, who I knew before he was ordained.

You can find out more about him over HERE.

Have a great weekend, everybody.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

World's Coolest Living Human Tells All

From 2004, please enjoy the incredibly great Ian Hunter and his rendition of the venerable "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square."

A song I'm beginning to think it may be impossible to do a bad version of.

Oh, and BTW, the reason I'm bringing all this up is because I heard Dennis Day sing it on an episode of the old Jack Benny radio show the other night.

Yeah, yeah. I know.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

A Boy Needs a Hobby

Mine, as you may be aware, is spending vast sums of money I don't have on various musical projects in an expensive New York City recording studio.

Including, ridiculously enough -- given my lack of anything resembling a passable singing voice -- a forthcoming solo single.

Right. The masses have been clamoring for that, comrades.

In any case, Monday night I did an almost final mix -- a few tweaks will be forthcoming later in the month -- for the B-side of the aforementioned single.

The song, BTW, is by friend of PowerPop Peter Spencer, who I have written about here on several previous occasions.

I should add that Pete heard an earlier version of the above track and graciously refrained from hitting me. I think he mostly liked the handclaps near the end.

Oh -- the people responsible for this colossal folly include myself (vocals and keyboards), Glen Robert Allen of the Floor Models (drums), Joe Benoit (guitars), and my pals from The Weasels Allan Weissman (bass), David Hawxwell (guitars and harmonies), and Glenn Leeds (more keyboards). Please don't hold any of that against them.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Closed for Monkey Business

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

Regular postings -- including the result of that session -- resume on the morrow.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Your Monday Moment of Words Fail Me

From 2015, please enjoy the still criminally underrated Tom Jones and his mind-boggling version of "Elvis Presley Blues."

Oh, and once you've absorbed that -- here's the song's author, Gillian Welch, with more or less the original version of the song in 2001.

I was thinking that night about Elvis
Day that he died, day that he died
I was thinking that night about Elvis
Day that he died, day that he died

Just a country boy that combed his hair
And put on a shirt his mother made and went on the air
And he shook it like a chorus girl
And he shook it like a Harlem Queen
He shook it like a midnight rambler, baby
Like you never seen, you never seen

I was thinking that night about Elvis
Day that he died, day that he died
I was thinking that night about Elvis
Day that he died, day that he died

How he took it all out of black and white
Grabbed his wand in the other hand and he held on tight
And he shook it like a hurricane
He shook it like to make it break
And he shook it like a holy roller, baby
With his soul at stake, his soul at stake

I was thinking that night about Elvis
Day that he died, day that he died
I was thinking that night about Elvis
Day that he died, day that he died

He was all alone in a long decline
Thinking how happy John Henry was that he fell down and died
When he shook it and he rang like silver
He shook it and he shine like gold
He shook it and he beat that steam drill, baby
Well bless my soul, bless my soul

He shook it and he beat that steam drill, baby
Well bless my soul, what's wrong with me?

They're both great, obviously, but the Jones version? Good lord.

That couldn't be any further from "It's Not Unusual" if you put a gun to its head.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Let Us Now Praise (Should Have Been) Famous Women

From 2013, please enjoy the inexplicably obscure Foxes and Fossils, at what appears to be a parking lot outside a suburban Applebees, with an incredibly swell live cover of "I Can't Let Go."

And if I may digress for a moment, I should add that I'm kind of baffled by the sudden Linda Ronstadt nostalgia that's afflicted a surprising number of my critical colleagues of late.

I mean, yeah, her medical problems are very sad and I wouldn't wish them on anybody, but she is and was vastly overrated, and her albums -- with the exception of the trio stuff with Dolly and Emmylou, or the Mexican things -- are mostly sterile and over-produced LA crap. IMHO.

Basically, she was The Eagles' Women's Auxiliary. And I say it's spinach and the hell with it.

Okay, I'm exaggerating to make a point, but let's be clear here: Despite the credit on that video, this is not a cover of a Linda Ronstadt song.

It's a cover of a song written by the great Chip ("Wild Thing") Taylor and originally made famous by Evie Sands (who is far more deserving of household word status than Ronstadt)...

...and then popularized by The Hollies.

As for Foxes and Fossils, apparently they broke up a few years ago without ever achieving the success they clearly deserved.

Here's their gopher website if you want to know more about them.

Have a great weekend, everybody.

[h/t Jai Guru Dave]

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Your Thursday Moment of This Way Madness Lies

Attentive -- and perhaps unusually forgiving -- readers may recall that of late, for reasons we needn't get into, I've been using old episodes of the Jack Benny radio show as a sleeping aid.

And that I have unaccountably developed a huge fondness for the Irish tenor song stylings of Dennis Day as a result.

Okay, I know I said I wouldn't inflict another Day song on you again, but I heard this one -- from a 1942 show -- last night and found myself thinking it was really sweet and really funny.

I hope you agree.

And okay, this time I PROMISE YOU I WON'T DO IT AGAIN.

I'm not kidding, honest.

I should add, BTW, that the song was co-written by the great Jule Styne, who had more substantial success writing "People" and the entire score of Funny Girl. Just saying.

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Ginger Baker 1939 - 2019

I was never particularly a Cream fan, and Baker's drum style left me cold more or less from day one.

That said, these two Cream songs are on my Great Jukebox in the Sky in perpetuity. I would have cheerfully covered these in any band that deigned to have me as a member.

I should add that "Tennis," which I had as a single...

...was actually the theme song for The Savage Seven, a really cheesy 1968 B-movie biker flick.

And the lyrics, by Clapton collaborator Martin Sharp, are absolutely fabulous.

Twice upon a time
In the valley of the tears
The auctioneer is bidding
For a box of fading years
And the elephants are dancing
On the graves of squealing mice
Anyone for tennis?
Wouldn't that be nice?

And the ice creams are all melting
On the streets of bloody beer
While the beggars stain the pavements
With fluorescent Christmas cheer
And the Bentley-driving guru
Is putting up his price
Anyone for tennis?
Wouldn't that be nice?

And the prophets in the boutiques
Give out messages of hope
With jingle bells and fairy tales
And blind providing scopes
And you can tell that all they're saying
Underneath the pretty lights
Anyone for tennis?
Wouldn't that be nice?

Yellow Buddhist monk is
Burning brightly at the zoo
You can bring a bowl of rice
And then a glass of water, too
And Fate is setting up the chessboard
While Death rolls out the dice
Anyone for tennis?
Wouldn't that be nice?

I should also add that in the rock-and-roll circles I liked to think I ran in, the whole idea of Ginger Baker was something of an insult at some point in the 70s.

As you can see by this actual Village Voice musicians classified ad for Bruce Springsteen's E-Street Band.

Finally, I should mention that word is that Baker was too obnoxious for Satan, to the point where he was just thrown out of Hell, and is now actually making an unholy racket in Heaven.

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Who Listens to the Radio?

Hopefully you guys, as I'm gonna be on friend of PowerPop Capt. Al's show Lost at Sea this morning on fabulous Area 24 Radio.

True to my word, I'm gonna be playing music by somebody other than me -- specifically another friend of PowerPop, Joe Benoit, who had a record release party and gig over the weekend that I attended and dug the hell out of.

(Yes, I'm really tired -- rocking out two days in a row really takes it out of me.)

In any case, the show should be a lot of fun; it starts circa 11am EST (I'll be making my appearance around 11:30) and you can listen to it over HERE by clicking on the link that says Tune In.

Oh -- and you can (and should) download Joe's gorgeous new album Too Old to Be a Rock Star over HERE.

Monday, October 07, 2019

The Floor Models: A Night to Remember

The short version: The Floor Models reunion show was, to quote Shelley Duvall in Annie Hall, "transplendent."

And thank you to everybody who attended or was involved in it in any way.

Yeah, yeah; I know that performance is raggedy, but it's great anyway and if those four guys aren't having fun, I'm no judge of horseflesh.

Also: My dear friend Laura Giantonio -- who in an earlier life was a big time rock photographer -- took these. Words fail me.

In case you were wondering, it really felt like the old days. Just a fabulous time.

And here's hoping Andy was watching it from rock-and-roll heaven and giving it a big thumbs up.

Okay, starting tomorrow -- posts about music I am not personally involved in. I promise.

Friday, October 04, 2019

It's Floor Models Week: Part V -- Rehearsals for Retirement

In preparation for tonight's sure to he historic reunion of the Floor Models Mark II (aka Gerry Devine and the Hi-Beams), we got together last night in the same room at the same time for the first time in 33 years.

As you can see, the room in question was, shall we say, somewhat cramped, but hey -- we've always been a low budget operation.

In any case, the big show is tonight at SESSION 73, on the corner of 73rd street and 1st Avenue in Manhattan. The band hits the stage at 8pm.

Pray for us, everybody, and we're looking forward to seeing you there.

Also: a coveted PowerPop No-Prize© will be awarded to the first reader who identifies the source of this item's title.

Thursday, October 03, 2019

It's Floor Models Week: Part IV -- A Clear Sign of the End Times

Well, they said it would never happen, but alas they were wrong.

This Friday evening -- 33 years since we last played together in the same room -- the members of The Floor Models Mark II (aka Gerry Devine and the Hi-Beams) will be performing live in concert.

At SESSION 73, on the corner of 73rd street and 1st Avenue in New York City. A proverbial low dive with continuous entertainment.

Those of you lucky enough not to be members of the group's inner circle may not be aware that this sure to be historic event was preceded two weeks ago by a hugely successful soiree -- at the KEUKA KAFE in Forest hills -- in celebration of our recently released CD Esprit de Floor (available at Amazon, iTunes, Spotify and the rest of the usual suspects).

That's us watching our younger selves on the Keuka's video monitor, BTW.

In any case, tomorrow's show is sure to attract the curious and the kooky, and a splendid time is guaranteed for all. Doors open during the day, the band hits the stage at 8pm, and the drinks will be discounted while we're on.

Be there or be square. For more details, check out the Session 73 website at the link above.

You're welcome, and pray for us.

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

It's Floor Models Week: Part III - Closed for Monkey Business

Had close to a full-fledged anxiety attack thinking about Friday's upcoming reunion gig yesterday.

Regular posting, assuming I can get a Xanax scrip later today, resumes on the morrow.

Have I mentioned we're doing a reunion gig on Friday?

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

It's Floor Models Week: Part II -- Alas, There Will Never Be a Deluxe Criterion Blu-ray Edition of Our 1965 Movie Musical Masterpiece

It was our A Hard Day's Night, but it bombed at the box-office.

And the negative and all surviving prints were recently lost in a fire at Universal.

Fortunately, you can still hear the title song...

...and buy the soundtrack CD over at Amazon HERE.

Monday, September 30, 2019

It's Floor Models Week: Part I -- Outtakes of the Gods

So here's a track that we considered using to close the new album (Esprit De Floor, available at Amazon, iTunes, Spotify, CDBaby et al in both digital and CD form)...

...written and performed by our late great singer/songwriter/12-string ace Andrew Pasternack.

Live on WBAI-FM sometime in the early 80s.

The song, I think, is a real hoot; in the early days of the band, we did a sort of Talking Heads/Devo version of it on-stage, but we ultimately dropped it because it was, stylistically, just too jarringly different from all the other stuff we were doing.

Tomorrow: Cahiers du Cinema.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Bruce Springsteen Birthday Week -- Part Le Troisième

Here's another one I'd forgotten about -- his encore performance at the No Nukes show.

I actually didn't have the heart to look up who the poor bastard that had to follow this was.

Have a great weekend, everybody.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

My Back Pages -- And His

So after posting "You'll Be Comin' Down" yesterday, in honor of Bruce Springsteen's birthday, I realized I hadn't listened to Magic lately, and remembered how much I liked it when it was first released in 2007.

Which led me to look up the review of it I'd written for the Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Review, which I recalled being quite proud of at the time.

A long time ago - May of 1968, to be precise - first-generation rock critic Jon Landau reviewed Bob Dylan's John Wesley Harding in Crawdaddy (which, by the way, has recently been revived - online), and he summed it up with this particularly felicitous and insightful phrase: "Dylan has felt the War."

It is, to say the least, a tad ironic that lo these many years later, a similar phrase could be tagged to Bruce Springsteen's Magic - and not just because Landau has been Springsteen's manager for longer than some people who will buy this album have been alive. But yes, the specter of Iraq does haunt some of the songs here - and not just the explicitly antiwar "Last to Die," a fairly heartbreaking piece of work, it should be noted, albeit more in resignation than in anger.

For example, the opening track (and the album's first single), "Radio Nowhere," evokes the war obliquely. Its resemblance to Blue Oyster Cult's "(Don't Fear) the Reaper" notwithstanding, I think it's an (almost) instant classic, partly because it's such a break from the occasionally overheated street romanticism of Springsteen's 1970s stuff (compared with, say, "Badlands," this is a haiku) and partly because it's got a kind of a sci-fi feel, an eerie depiction of a post-Bush apocalyptic landscape via the metaphor of a late-night DJ wondering if anybody's listening.

"Long Walk Home," another of Springsteen's small-town sketches, comes at the war from a different angle, with the singer's father reminding him that "Certain things are set in stone / Who we are, what we'll do, and what we won't." And then there's "Gypsy Biker," which can be read as a warrior's goodbye to a fallen friend (killed for the same mistake mourned in "Last to Die"), as well as "Devil's Arcade," which might be about a shattered soldier in a V.A. hospital. Or not. (The lyric is, shall we say, ambiguous.)

Meanwhile, the sound of Magic is really, in the abstract, quite wonderful. Brendan O'Brien's production isn't exactly a Spectorian Wall of Sound, but it's a big, dense, imposing construct on its own terms. And you'll be pulling interesting instrumental and vocal moments out of the mix throughout, my own favorite being the church bells and wordless Beach Boys harmonies that sneak up at the end of "Your Own Worst Enemy" - and Bruce's singing right before that, which ranks with the prettiest he's ever done.

The rest of the songs are a fairly mixed bag stylistically. "You'll Be Comin' Down" is a stately bit of folk rock with one of his most appealing melodies, but lyrically it's addressed to a girl whose pretty face is going to hell sooner rather than later, and it's as bleak and depressing as anything that Richard Thompson has ever imagined. "Livin' in the Future" is a throwback to Springsteen's '60s R&B roots; it has a bit of a "Hungry Heart" party groove, but the story it tells might be about some desperate, not-so-distant time when the singer's "ship Liberty sailed away on a bloody red horizon."

But the killer - or at least, the song I keep coming back to - is "Girls in Their Summer Clothes," a Brill Building love song of the kind that Bruce used to toss off effortlessly, and an absolute stunner. It could be the 40-years-in-the-making sequel to Manfred Mann's "Pretty Flamingo" (which Bruce used to cover live), with the singer now older, wiser, but still optimistic against the odds. Which means that the lines "Down here on magic street / Love's a fool's dance / And I ain't got much sense, but I still got my feet" may be simultaneously the silliest and most profound lyrics that Bruce Springsteen has ever written.

--- Steve Simels

Turns out I still am, actually. The stuff about the war in particular.

But in any case, I re-listened to the record, and I had completely forgotten this song, which absolutely blows me away.

You're welcome very much.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Just Shoot Me Now

In case you missed it, Bruce Springsteen -- a man who has changed my life in unfathomable ways -- turned 70 last Monday.

Upon hearing the news, a certain Shady Dame of my acquaintance remarked "And since he's a manic-depressive, I'm sure he's handling it really well."

Obviously, we're both going to hell for that joke.

In any case, Happy Birthday, boss.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Closed for Monkey Business

Had a productive, but long and late, night in the studio.

Regular postings, all tanned rested and peppy, resume on the morrow.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Good Things Come to Those Who Hang Around....

From his just released album Better Late Than Never, please enjoy the ridiculously talented singer/songwriter Tim Jackson...

...and the title song to said album, which I am currently relating to like crazy.

Seriously, forgetting that this song speaks to me on a deeply personal level (for obvious reasons), this simply sounds, for my money, like pop heaven.

Even though, for the life of me, I can't quite put my finger on who it specifically reminds me of -- some Brit New Wave guy, perhaps. Your thoughts?

In any case, you can read more about Tim over OVER HERE.

And you can -- and should -- stream his album over at Spotify HERE.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Live From Some Weekend in 1982

More proof, if any was needed, that the best rock-and-roll is made at two in the morning by people playing at a dive bar -- in this case, the old Other End on Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village -- in front of a bunch of drunken louts.

More specifically -- The Floor Models covering "19th Nervous Breakdown." Shall we say enthusiastically.

Recorded with a boom box in front of the stage; the singer's girlfriend can be heard arguing about the check.

As you can see (and hear, at the end, if you click the link) I was doing my Bill Wyman impression at the time.

We had a more or less two year weekend residency at the aforementioned Other End, and if memory serves I believe I have mentioned on previous occasions that I look back now on the experience as the most fun I've ever had with my clothes on.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Eddie Money 1949 - 2019

On the Letterman show in 1986, with Ronnie Spector. He knows he's being upstaged big time, and he's totally cool with it, which says a lot for him.

He looked almost as good in a suit as Robert Palmer, too.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Closed for Monkey Business

YouTube isn't sharing the embed code of something I wanted to post today. Regular stuff resumes after I get the problem resolved.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Ric Ocasek 1945 - 2019

I had forgotten how funny Ocasek was in this. Strange what pops into your head when you least expect it.

I heard the news of his passing last night and was genuinely saddened. Obviously, like any right-thinking rock fan, I thought The Cars were totally awesome, but as a New Yorker -- well, let's just say that when I lived in the Village, Ocasek was about as approachable a star as you could imagine; you were constantly bumping into him (sometimes with his charming wife) while grocery shopping or at the video store. He was just a neighborhood guy, albeit one who kind of looked like some kind of weird stick insect.

I should add that I have long insisted that someday some very hep country band is gonna cover "My Best Friend's Girl" and have a huge hit with it.

I should also add that "You Might Think" is one of my Top Ten favorite records of all time.

And that this bluegrass cover of "Just What I Needed" is one of the greatest things in the history of things.

Have I mentioned that this death shit is really starting to piss me off?

Friday, September 13, 2019

Insert Dental Joke Here!

From 2019, please enjoy The New Pornographers and their utterly delightful "Falling Down the Stairs of Your Smile."

Yeah, it starts -- both musically and visually -- too close to "Billie Jean" for comfort, but it almost immediately develops into its own thing, and I gotta say -- this is now my favorite song of the year that I wasn't personally involved in.

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

[h/t Peter Scott]

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Your Thursday Moment of Words Fail Me

Okay, this has nothing to do with music, but it is my new favorite thing ever and I just had to share.

Regular music postings resume on the morrow, assuming I've stopped laughing.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Annals of the Meaning of Life

This is without a doubt the cutest and/or coolest thing I have ever seen.


Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Monday, September 09, 2019

Esprit De Floor: Andrew Pasternack 1955-2013

Well, the new Floor Models album has finally arrived, and I am beyond stoked that this project, two years in the making, has finally resulted in a disc.

It's especially gratifying because the project originally began as a sort of tribute to our late great 12-string ace Andy Pasternack, who founded the band, came up with the album title, and wrote more great songs than you can shake a stick at.

Here's the one we recorded two years ago to get the album rolling; it was a live favorite of ours back in the day, but for some reason we never even demoed it at the time.

In any event, the physical CDs are wending their way off to our distributor on the morrow, but the album itself can be listened to (for free) over at YouTube.

Or if you wanna be a patron of the arts, you can download/stream it at CD Baby, Amazon, iTunes, Spotify and the rest of the usual suspects.

And I should add that Andy himself gets the last word on the album, via a live solo recording he did on WBAI-FM on a night in the early 80s. It's utterly charming; I like to think of it as our equivalent of "Her Majesty" on Abbey Road.

[cross-posted at FLOOR YOUR LOVE.]

Friday, September 06, 2019

My Back Pages

So me and the Floor Models have been casting about for another project now that our album is done (out on CD tomorrow, if you can believe it -- more details after the weekend).

And we decided that an EP of covers of songs by The Byrds -- particularly ones we never got around to playing live but always wanted to -- might be a lot of fun. Especially since Gerry already had a version of "5D" in the works.

And then coincidentally, I stumbled across this online, which I had never heard before, and it blew my tiny mind.

The instrumental track for Chris Hillman's first great song, which originally appeared on the Younger Than Yesterday album. (Okay, David Crosby's harmony vocal is there on the choruses, but this is 90 percent just instrumental.)

That is, of course, the great Clarence White on lead guitar (uncredited); unless I am very much mistaken, this was his first recording with the band.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, September 05, 2019

Great Lost Singles of the 70s: An Occasional Series

From 1973, please enjoy the unjustly tarred as one-hit wonder Stealers Wheel and two pop-rock masterpieces that should be even more well known than "Stuck in the Middle With You"; the gorgeously McCartney-esque "Star"...

...and the haunting psychedelically revisionist "Everyone Agrees That Everything Will Turn Out Fine."

Those two actually were hits, of course, although primarily in England, but I wore out my 45rpm copies of both of them back in the day; in any case, I think each is a better record than "Stuck." I should add that the single version of "Everyone" differs significantly from the album version, which is a grossly inferior remake, and as far as I know the hit heard above is not available on any Stealers Wheel compilation. Why? No man can say.

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

It's a Smalls World After All

Well, this is the best press release to have crossed my desk in many a moon.

September 3, 2019 - Derek Smalls, the bottom force of the fabled heavy metal band formerly known as Spinal Tap, is premiering the video for his song "Gimme Some (More) Money" ahead of his eagerly anticipated solo tour of West Coast cities this fall. The track, which features in Smalls recent debut solo album Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing), has Paul Shaffer on piano and organ, Waddy Wachtel on guitar and David Crosby on backing vocals. Using a cunning mix of animation and live action, the new video illustrates the noble quest for fair remuneration (cash) pursued by every musician alive. It receives its premiere exclusively through People Magazine.

"I wanted this video to show all the different things musos have to do to get some (more) money, but we couldn't afford to shoot that, so they drew them instead. And it's black and white, except for me, because colors cost more, too," says Smalls

I should add that the "Smalls Change" project was made possible by a major grant from the recently-launched British Fund for Ageing Rockers...

...and that the album... available on CD, vinyl and streaming.

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

The Dog Days of Summer

Their political system is falling apart, their economy is about to crash, and they're being ruled by an ignorant fascist clown who makes our ignorant fascist clown look like Marcus Aurelius [note position of hand on the guitar neck vis a vis the capo]...

...but the biggest news story at the moment in the (soon to be called) Country Formerly Known as the United Kingdom is that...Boris Johnson has a dog!

And Bingo is NOT his name-o.

From Buzzfeed:

With the country lurching from one political and constitutional crisis to another, you'll be happy to know that the start of Downing Street's daily media briefing on Monday, was dominated by one thing: Boris Johnson's new dog!

The Jack Russell rescue pup has been the centre of attention since he entered Downing Street this morning, even as the country is bracing for another general election. The BBC Politics Twitter account has also been taking a huge amount of heat for tweeting about the dog and asking for name suggestions.
Words fail me.

That said, this does present me with the opportunity to post my all time favorite song about a pooch.

Say goodbye, Sugar. Say goodbye.

Monday, September 02, 2019

It's Labor Day!!!

From 1982, please enjoy the irrepressible Gary U.S. Bonds and his ironically upbeat ode to unemployment "Out of Work."

Always loved that record, and it remains, to this day, pretty much my favorite of all the songs Bruce Springsteen gave away to other artists.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Eleanor Rigby Picks Up the Mice

From sometime in (I assume) the late 60s, please enjoy the hilarious Spike Jones alumnus Doodles Weaver and his -- shall we say -- idiosyncratic take on The Beatles' classic.

Pretty funny, I think. And I was gobsmacked to learn yesterday that Doodles was Sigourney Weaver's uncle.

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, August 29, 2019

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

From 2010, please enjoy power pop deity Paul Collins and his beyond fab gear "C'Mon Let's Go."

I've always liked Collins, and a few years ago I saw him, live, almost steal the show from Shoes, which was quite an accomplishment. But for some reason I had never encountered this particular song until yesterday.

And my life was clearly the poorer for it.

[h/t FD13NYC]

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Sibling Rivalry Never Goes Out of Style

Courtesy of friend of PowerPop Peter Spencer, here's an interesting documentary about the making of the Everly Brothers' 1984 reunion album that I, for one, had never previously seen.

Or as Pete says --

Attn singers. I mean it. ALL singers should watch this. Music starts at 5:45, the occasional cheesy '80s video interspersed with breathtaking (in more ways than one) footage of them singing together in the studio.

I loved that album at the time, but after watching this, I'm less enthused; the production seems dated to me, which kinda caught me by surprise. The Paul McCartney-penned "On the Wings of a Nightingale," however, remains transplendent.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

I Just Read a Book About Anti-Gravity -- I Couldn't Put It Down!!!

From his just released album The Floating World...

...please enjoy (should be a power pop legend) Rob Laufer and his transplendent ode to (stuff I'm way too young to know about first hand, haha) "Hippie Love."

The back story: in 1993, while toiling at the Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Review, the indie DIY album pictured below crossed my desk...

...and it unexpectedly blew me away. In particular this utterly gorgeous piece of guitar driven power pop...

...which I later learned, after talking to its auteur, had been recorded (like the rest of the album) in a home eight-track studio (which, as far as I was concerned, made its sonic sheen even more remarkable).

Anyway, I gave Swimming Lesson a rave review, and then in 1996 Laufer got signed to a major label and released Wonderwood, another absolutely astounding (essentially) one-man band CD that made a lot of people's Top Ten lists for the year (mine included, as I recall) and which featured these two amazing songs.

Historical note: "Reactionary Girl" was soon after covered, brilliantly, by Robin Zander of Cheap Trick.

Since then, Laufer's become a fixture on the L.A. music scene, most notably with The Wild Honey Orchestra, and The Floating World, which is his first album in nine years, is every bit as good -- in terms of stylistic assurance and overall pop smarts -- as his earlier work. And I must say that being reminded just how great Laufer is turns out to be one of the most invigorating musical experiences of 2019 so far.

Bottom line: You can (and should) order either a physical CD or a digital download of The Floating World over at bandcamp HERE.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Closed for Monkey Business

Family semi-emergency; regular posting -- beginning with a paean to the new album by a power pop figure who should be a household word -- resumes tomorrow.

Friday, August 23, 2019

There's Music in the Air. Well, Maybe.

From an absolutely wonderful meditation on creativity in the current New Statesman:

Why Paul McCartney couldn’t believe that he’d actually written “Yesterday”

One morning in 1964, Paul McCartney awoke with a perfectly formed melody in his head and went straight to the piano. The Beatles were tied to an insane recording schedule and there was enormous pressure to produce new songs, but McCartney kept this one back for over a year.

Why? Because he couldn’t quite believe it was his. He played it to George Martin, to John Lennon, to anyone who would listen, asking them, have you heard this before? Only after everyone shook their head did McCartney finally accept that “Yesterday” had arrived from the place that the good songs come from.

You can read the rest of the piece over HERE.

Have a great weekend, everybody.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Go To Hell(stone)

Attentive readers are aware that a certain Shady Dame and I recently returned from a Scandinavian vacation. Herewith a little documentation of one of the most fun parts of the trip -- the discovery, as we explored Stockholm, of what we have since been informed is the most famous guitar and music store in all of Sweden: Hellstone Music.

I'll be posting more about this incredible emporium -- including some Beatles/Klaus Voormann related stuff that will blow your mind -- next week, as part of a longer photo essay on our travels. But in the meantime -- feast your eyes on this vintage 1952 Les Paul gold top, which as you can see is in utterly pristine condition. And outside MY price range, obviously.

And here I am with the shop's proprietor, Sven Hellsten, who couldn't have been more kind to the loudmouth American poseur who wandered around his place like a kid in a candy store.

Bottom line: If you make it to Stockholm, be sure to stop by the shop. And tell 'em PowerPop sent you.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

A Desperate Cry for Help?

From 1950, please enjoy -- if that is at all possible -- the barber shop stylings of The Sportsmen Quartet and their once-heard-never-to-be-forgotten rendition of "Down in Jungle Town."

The back story: As some of you may know, I've been listening to a lot of old Jack Benny shows as a sleep aid lately, which has been great, but my growing fondness for some of Jack's musical guests is beginning to worry me. I actually broke down recently and bought a double CD of the greatest hits of Dennis Day, a singer I had never previously considered to be anything but a world class cornball, and now I've developed a taste for the Sportsmen, who exemplify a genre that I have heretofore pondered for maybe five minutes out of my life to date.

Really kids -- this way madness lies.

Monday, August 19, 2019

The Best Traditional (Non-Hyphenated) Rock Band in the World?

Currently, yeah, possibly; could be, could be. Although you could, if pressed, describe them as power-pop.

I refer of course to The Tearaways, fueled by the incredible drumming of Blondie's Clem Burke, aka the second coming of Keith Moon. And who will be, you should pardon the expression, tearing it up on a tour of England starting this Wednesday, despite the sudden death of their bass player and manager John Ferriter. (Friend of PowerPop Marc Platt, formerly of The Real Impossibles, has stepped into the tragic breach.)

On a happier note, here's the band's latest video, to give you an idea of what they're about.

Incidentally, that was produced by Ron (Archies/Pat Benatar/Barry Manilow) Dante, who you may recall as the voice of "Sugar, Sugar," so these guys pop/rock credentials are obviously pretty impressive.

More news on the English shows as they develop.

Friday, August 16, 2019

You Haven't Experienced the Kinks Until You've Experienced Them in the Original Norwegian (Part III)

Well, my autographed copy of Veldig Respektable Menn, by Die Musikalske Dvergene and Frode Alnaes arrived yesterday...

...and it's as wonderful an album as I had hoped; there isn't a bum track on it, and it remains astonishing how well the songs of Ray Davies, which pretty much define Britishness, translate into Fjordistan-ese.

Case in point: Perhap's Ray's most definitively English song, and my personal favorite Kinks track of all time, "Autumn Almanac"...

...rendered here as "Når Høsten Setter Inn" and it still works like gangbusters.

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, August 15, 2019

You Haven't Experienced the Kinks Until You've Experienced Them in the Original Norwegian (Part II)

Live, a couple of years ago, from a club in Bergen, Norway (aka Fjordistan), please enjoy, once again, the incomparable De Musikalske Dvergene and Frode Alnaes and their charming take on The Kinks' classic "Daumannsvik" (aka "Dead End Street.")

As I mentioned the other day, I have the CD of their Kinks covers album on order from Amazon -- and it's personally autographed by the band. Frankly, I can't wait.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Closed for Monkey Business

Still a little jet-lagged from our Scandinavian sojourn; regular postings resume on the morrow.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Who Listens to the Radio? (An Occasional Series)

Well, you should. Especially today, when friend of PowerPop Captain Al be holding forth on his Peabody Award-winning show Lost at Sea over at Area 24 Radio.

The show is always transplendent, but it's going to be particularly so because another friend of PowerPop -- brilliant singer/songwriter PETER SPENCER...

...will be performing live, as well as guest d.j-ing.

Pete's an old chum of mine (and The Floor Models) from our days back in the Village; here's an acoustic version -- from his fabulous 1896 album -- of one of my favorite of his songs, "Casanova's Waltz." Which should give you an idea of what kind of a treat awaits you if you tune in.

The show starts 11am East Coast Time; simply click on the Area 24 link HERE and then click on the Tune In button top right to hear it.

And tell 'em PowerPop sent you:

P.S.: I was kidding about the Peabody. Sorry Al.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

You Haven't Experienced the Kinks Until You've Experienced Them in the Original Norwegian

From 2004, please enjoy the imcomparable De Musikalske Dvergene and Frode Alnaes and their charming rendition of "Solen Over By'n" (aka "Sunny Afternoon").

Heard this on the radio during our recent sojourn in Bergen, and was absolutely knocked out when the locals assured us that the language it's being sung in is, in fact, the mother tongue of Fjordistan.

Friday, August 09, 2019

Norway Vacation Update: Coincidentally, While We Were There, We Scored a Vinyl Copy of an Album by Les Paul and Mary Fjord

The view yesterday at the oldest record store in Norway (in Bergen, coincidentally three blocks from our hotel. We heard about it from a travel piece in the NY Times a few weeks ago).

That's me huddling with Einar Engelstad, one of the store clerks, who is also a big shot music journalist who writes concert reviews for the local newspaper.

I should add that the store also is a bar, which makes it doubly cool.

BTW, we picked up a fabulous birthday present for my vinyl junkie friend Joe Benoit. But of course I'm not gonna give away what it is.

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, August 08, 2019

Song of Freaking Norway

Still in computer Hell, which means typing with one finger on my iPad mini. But in the meantime, here’s the cover of my forthcoming album of Norwegian folk songs...

...Pining for the Fjords.

Thank you, I’m here all week.

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Norway Vacation Update

Still in computer Hell, so I can’t post pictures or anything longer than a few sentences; hopefully this will be resolved by tomorrow.

That said, we had a great time yesterday at a museum devoted to that great Norwegian/American country star — Tennessee Ernie Fjord.

Thank you, and try the veal.

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Closed for Computer Problems

Vacation postings from Scandinavia resume on the morrow, the Gods permitting..

Monday, August 05, 2019

Vacation (Part I): We're Off to the Land of Ice and Snow!

So a certain Shady Dame and I are flying to Scandinavia tonight, for some well deserved R&R. Norway and Sweden, baby!

But I got to wondering. Obviously, Sweden has ABBA and Yngvie Malmsteen. But are there any Norwegian rock bands I should know about?

And then I remembered -- a-ha.

Yeah, right. Way to go, Norway.

I should add that, apparently, Norway also has a flourishing death-metal scene, but of course who gives a shit. That said, a-hah was their biggest international rock export, and to be fair -- "Take On Me" is not a totally terrible song.

In any case, first stop: Bergen.

Which happens to be the hometown and final resting place of one of my favorite classical composers, Edvard Grieg. Whose music, back in my younger days, I actually essayed.

Seriously, I used to be able to knock 'em dead with my rendition of this.

For what it's worth, the fabulous Glenn Gould played it more or less the same way I did, which is to say, much slower than Grieg indicated. Which is also to say that both of us pissed off classical pedant/purists (I"m not gonna name names). In my case, of course, it was mostly from lack of technique.

Dispatches from the fjords continue on the morrow.

Friday, August 02, 2019

Annals of Infestation (An Occasional Series)

From Baltimore, Maryland -- a city in which, according to President Mediocre Columbo Villain, "No human being would want to live" -- please enjoy the quite amazing Soft Peaks...

...and their (as far as I'm concerned classic) "Good Luck."

That's from their eponymous debut EP, and I first wrote about it HERE when it crossed my desk unbidden in 2014.

At the time I said, and I stand by these words completely:

God this is great -- corrosively sane cynicism (lyrically) and the groove from "Sweet Jane." It's like the song was designed with my mind in mind. And the rest of the tracks are just as good, BTW.

You can listen to (and download -- which you definitely should) the EP in its entirety over HERE.

Seriously -- if I was forty years younger, I'd be on a bus to Baltimore right now, and trying to figure out a way to weasel myself into this band. Higher praise than that, I can not give.

Have I mentioned that President Mediocre Columbo Villain can bite both me and everybody who lives in Baltimore? Thank you.

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, August 01, 2019

Closed Due to Monkey Business

Having a weird combo of heat stroke and computer problems.

Assuming the power grid is still up, regular musical posting will resume on the morrow.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Plan 9 From Covers Week: Special "Harry Vanda and George Young Are Deities" Edition

From 1986, please enjoy The Hindu Love Gods -- i.e., Warren Zevon and R.E.M. -- essaying one of the greatest rock-and-roll songs ever written, The Easybeats' "Gonna Have a Good Time."

A version that somehow I had forgotten the existence of until yesterday, despite it being one of my all-time fave tunes.

And may I just ask why none of my Australian friends had bothered to remind me of this?

I'm talking to YOU, Peter Scott.