Friday, March 29, 2019

Weekend Listomania: Special Where's My Walker? Edition

[Okay, I originally posted a version of this back in 2010 which kind of amazes me. In any case, I have re-written it and swapped in several different songs, just to keep you from dismissing me as the slacker I obviously am. --SS.]

Hello, fun seekers.

Here's a hopefully enjoyable little project for us all:

Best or Worst Post-Elvis Pop/Rock Song/Record About Growing Up And Its Attendant Issues!!!

No arbitrary rules at all for this one, and if I've done something similar in the past I crave your forgiveness.

In any case, my totally top of my head Top Eight is:

8. The Pussycat Dolls -- When I Grow Up

Say what you will about this piece of crap, but it's actually so bad it makes me kind of appreciate the total garbage I've been seeing on Saturday Night Live for the last year or two.

7. Big Star -- 13

It doesn't get any more sad and beautiful than this, I'll tell you that for free.

6. John Hiatt -- Your Dad Did

Screamingly funny and oh so true. It also doesn't hurt that the backing band is the greatest ever.

5. 7. Gary Puckett and the Union Gap -- Young Girl

I don't know what's creepier -- the nudge-wink sleaze the song is selling or Puckett's sub-Michael McDonald baritone.

4. Mad "Twists" Rock 'n' Roll -- When My Pimples Turned to Dimples

From 1962, the ultimate Clearasil classic, and I don't care that it's a genre parody -- it works taken straight as well. By the way, there are a lot of surprisingly great songs on that album; I've always been particularly fond of "Nose Job."

3. The Byrds -- Going Back

Perhaps the loveliest Goffin-King song of them all.

2. The Beach Boys -- When I Grow Up

THE masterpiece from what may just be my favorite album of all time. And no more profound pop tune has ever snuck into the Top 10.

And the number one song about what we all have in store, it's not even a contest, obviously is...

1. The Godfathers -- Birth School Work Death

Thoroughly depressing and yet it totally rocks. Quite an accomplishment, now that I think of it; one of these days, I really should check out the rest of these guys oeuvre.

Alrighty, then -- what would your choices be?

Have a great weekend, everybody.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Your Thursday Moment of Guess Who?

No, not Guess Who the band. New music from another artiste that readers of this here blog are familiar with, but I'm not gonna give their name.

So please enjoy the infectious rockabilly rocker "Flat Cat" by...?????

I'll give you a hint: an 80s guitar hero, and no, it's not Brian Setzer.

I should add that the good folks at KOR RADIO-- an internet station out of Bath in the U.K. -- played this on a show yesterday in the company of two(!) tracks from an album featuring a bass player whose name rhymes with Sleeve Nimels...

...for which I thank them from the bottom of my rapidly aging rock-and-roll heart.

Obviously, a coveted PowerPop No-Prize will be awarded to the first reader who correctly identifies the auteur of the track.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Closed for Monkey Business

Regular postings -- including, if you can believe it, a fabulous Weekend Listomania on Friday -- resume on the morrow.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Scott Walker 1943 - 2019

As people have been saying, loneliness was the cloak he wore.

I'd be less than honest if I didn't admit that the more experimental music, upon which his reputation now rests, was not really my cup of tea, although it's undoubtedly impressive stuff.

That said, if you haven't seen this utterly amazing documentary on his life and career... need to run over to Amazon and grab the thing HERE immediately.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Nobody Likes a Wiseguy. Oh Wait -- Yes, They Do

Attentive readers may recall that, back in 2017, I raved about the eponymous debut album by Jersey boys Mike Daly and the Planets, which featured this haunting love ballad.

Great stuff, obviously, and as you can hear, to paraphrase Jack Nicholson's famous description of Bob Dylan, these guys are a riot.

Now the band has a new album...

....which, like the debut, is guitar-driven power pop and general rock-and-roll of a very high order indeed. Only this time, improbably enough, even more assured, melodic and hilarious.

Exhibit A: The kick-ass opening track, "Slack."

I mean "Comfy in my jammies, polishing my Grammys" -- that's freaking genius.

Oh, and Mike -- thanks again for the t-shirt. I shall continue to wear it proudly.

Meanwhile, you can find out more about the band, and -- more importantly, acquire the new record -- over HERE.

You're welcome.

Friday, March 22, 2019

He's an Adult Now

Moe Berg...

...the brilliant auteur behind the greatest Canadian band of all time The Pursuit of Happiness...

...turns 60 today.

Happy birthday, you Canuck genius.

On the off chance you don't know who Moe is, here's the review I wrote for his band's debut album (from whence that song derives) at the Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Review back in February of 1989.

Given America's preoccupation with sex, it's ironic that our pop culture -- specifically the movies and rock-and-roll -- deals with the subject so superficially and dishonestly. Actually, rock-and-roll is particularly deficient in that regard, not very surprising when you consider how much of it is pitched at fourteen-year-old boys. Nonetheless, it's disappointing in a music that, at least theoretically, is supposed to have something to do with honesty and freedom.

That's one reason Love Junk, the debut album by a group called The Pursuit of Happiness, is such a pleasant discovery: At last, here's a band that actually has the guts to confront sex with realism, maturity, and, occasionally, wicked humor. Of course, sex isn't the only thing on their minds (growing up, another subject all too rarely dealt with in rock, is the album's second major theme), but it's refreshing to hear it sung about by someone other than the usual heavy-metal morons - which these five musicians most emphatically are not, despite a crunch-guitar attack as hard as any you've ever heard.

The band's principal weapon in their attack is singer/songwriter Moe Berg, probably the first important Moe in rock history and a guy who seems to have a remarkable grip on the muddled state of relations between the sexes as the Eighties wind down. "I'm looking for someone with a voice that's true," he declares in "Looking For Girls," "and I'm going to be nice to her - maybe she'll be nice too." A lovely sentiment, to be sure, and one I'm sure we can all relate to, but it's followed, significantly, by, "Then I'm going to do it to her four hundred and eighty-seven thousand times." Take that, Prince!

Elsewhere, Berg deals with unrequited love ("Man's Best Friend"), jealousy ("Hard to Laugh"), the joy of seeing the object of your desire in the altogether ("Beautiful White"), the destructive uses of sex as a substitute for communication ("Down on Him"), and even the difficulty of writing about relationships when you're past a certain age. "I don't write songs about girls anymore," Berg confesses on the hilariously self-revealing third track, "I'm An Adult Now." "I have to write songs about women."

The gratifying thing about Love Junk is the way the music sounds like what it means. The tunes and the band's execution of them are every bit as smart, heartfelt, and funny as Berg's corrosively sane versifying. The idiom, for want of a better term, is pop metal, all ringing guitars, aggressive drums, and angelic harmonies. Here, in the hands of people who obviously have artistic aspirations beyond growing their hair just right, the genre finds something of an apotheosis. And the cream of the jest is that a number of these songs - the wistful "She's So Young," for example - could easily be radio hits.

Add to all this a first-rate production job by Todd Rundgren (easily the equal of his recent work with XTC), and you have a record that will doubtless outlive the dismal musical and political season of its release. Don't miss it.

BTW, not only do I stand by that review, but in retrospect, I think I sort of sold the album short. Honest, it's a masterpiece.

I should add that an expanded and remastered version of it -- with bonus tracks -- came out last year. Order it over at Amazon HERE. And I mean right now.

And happy birthday Moe, you magnificent bastard.

Have a great weekend, everybody.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Hey -- These Guys are Good!

Did I mention that a certain Shady Dame and I saw The Yardbirds Monday night?

I went in expecting a pretty good tribute band, but as you can see -- these guys actually are the fucking Yardbirds, even if drummer Jim McCarty is the only original member left.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, the aforementioned Shady Dame and I were sitting just off camera stage right.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Walk on the Respectable Side

It's been a fairly hectic couple of days, and I just realized I forgot to post about the most fun I've had in ages.

To wit, attending -- last Friday -- the opening celebration for the Lou Reed Archive at the New York Public Library at Lincoln Center.

The ostensible focus of the event -- which was the swellest press party I've been to since my Stereo Review days -- was the 30th anniversary of Lou's New York album; as you can see in the above photo, among the artifacts that Lou donated (with the help of his wife Laurie Anderson, who spoke at the party, and was as charming and funny as one could have hoped) was the script for an (alas) never made film version of that album's "Dirty Boulevard."

Which would have been directed by Martin Scorsese(!) and starring Johnny Depp(!!). Words fail me.

I should add that part of the evening's festivities was being able to get a limited edition NYPL library card with the iconic Mick Rock photo of Lou.

A certain Shady Dame of my acquaintance stood on line and snagged one, I might add.

For information on exactly what is in the collection -- which I guarantee will blow your mind -- check out NYPL.ORG/LOUREED. I should also add that stuff like this is why you pay the big bucks to live in New York City.

[h/t Rebecca Littman]

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Closed Due to Exhaustion

Out late last night seeing What's Left of the Yardbirds©.

Regular posting, including some thoughts on the show, resumes tomorrow.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Your Monday Moment of the Coolest Songs in the World

From 2019, please enjoy...

...The Weeklings (featuring Peter Noone) and a very sharp cover of The Easybeats classic "Friday on My Mind."

And also from 2019, it's The Tearaways (featuring the great Clem Burke on drums) and their tribute to "The Wrecking Crew."

The above was recorded before the passing of the great Hal Blaine last week, BTW (Hal actually got to hear it before he went to the great recording studio in the sky).

I should add that in the last two weeks, both of these tracks got the nod as Coolest Song of the Week over at Little Steven's Underground Garage Sirius XM radio show. Which is itself the coolest thing of the week in perpetuity.

For more on The Weeklings, head over to their website HERE.

For more on The Tearaways, their website is HERE. And you should immediately check out their fantastic CD Anthems and Lullabies, which can -- and very definitely should -- be previewed and ordered at iTunes Music HERE.

[h/t Marc Platt]

Friday, March 15, 2019

Your Friday Moment of Words Fail Me

From 2011, please enjoy power pop gods The Left Banke (and the NYU Choral Society) and the damndest version of their masterpiece "Desiree" you'll ever hear.

Seriously, folk, I'm speechless.

Have a great weekend everybody.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Got Live If You Want It

Attention Gothamites: If you're in the East Village vicinity of this charmingly monikered club tonight..

...stop in at 7:30 to see friend of PowerPop (and me)...

...Joe Benoit and his combo.

Art direction on the above, BTW, by my beautiful and brilliant girlfriend.

Joe's a ridiculously talented singer, songwriter and guitarist, and if you doubt me, here's a glorious song from that forthcoming EP.

You can hear the rest of the new tunes on Spotify HERE.

Seriously -- get over there now!!!

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Granny Takes a Trip

From 2018, please enjoy pioneering first generation San Francisco band The Ace of Cups and the utterly amazing "Feel Good."

Those ladies were very well known in their hometown back in the day, but they never made a proper album until last year, when they reformed, thus proving that Scott Fitzgerald was wrong -- there ARE second acts in American lives.

In any event, that is pretty much the most fabulous thing I've ever seen, even if I hate the bass player for being way better than me. I can't wait to hear the rest of the album, which is on its way from Amazon as we speak.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Hal Blaine 1929 -- 2018

From January of 1965, please enjoy the instrumental sessions for "Mr. Tambourine Man." With the late great Mr. Blaine on drums.

And after about the 8 minute point, when Larry Knechtel nails the classic bass riff, you have to wonder if these guys knew they had just changed music forever.

I"ll have more to say about the Wrecking Crew tomorrow.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Your Monday Moment of "We've Got Trouble!!!"

Attentive readers with long memories may recall me yammering about pioneering L.A. glam pop band Christopher Milk on earlier occasions, most often in the context of their swansong, a fabulous failed single cover of Terry Reid's "Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace,” which as they say should have been a goddamn hit.

In any case, Milk bass player Kirk Henry... a Facebook chum of mine, and a few weeks ago -- during a discussion of original cast albums of Broadway shows (occasioned by my remarks about seeing Hamilton) -- he let it drop that back in 1987-88, he had recorded a shall we say highly rhythmic version of "Trouble," the classic patter song from The Music Man. As he told me: "I learned that song when I was 8, launched into an angry rapid-fire version of it at the Whiskey in 1972 when Ralph [Oswald, Christopher Milk's guitar player]'s amp blew up, and was reminded of it again the first time I heard rap."

I found this intriguing, obviously, and Kirk was kind enough to share the track with me. Give it a listen, won't you?

Okay, I won't go quite far enough as to say that it too should have been a goddamn hit, but it's, er, memorable nonetheless.

I should add that Christopher Milk's sole album, the charmingly monikered Some People Will Drink Anything, which is splendidly produced by Chris Thomas (of Procol Harum and Pretenders fame)...

...has finally been reissued, and can be streamed (or purchased on vinyl) over at Amazon HERE. Act now.

Friday, March 08, 2019

Because the Night V

Okay, so this has turned -- completely inadvertently, I should add -- into Patti Smith week.

So here's a sort of nostalgic closer, which I first posted about in these precincts back in 2011(!).

Consider, then, if you will, this extremely rare 1976 pamphlet edition of a poem by (then an item) Ms. Smith and Television guitarist Tom Verlaine.

Patti was kind enough to give me an autographed copy of that during the course of the 1978 interview I did with her for the Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Review. And years later -- some time in the early 90s -- a friend of mine, who was working with Verlaine's management, passed it along to Tom, who was equally kind enough to add his John Hancock along with handwritten notes as to which verses were his and which were Patti's.

What can I tell you -- it's one of my most treasured possessions, even if it IS pretentious enough to alternate pages in English and (presumably well-translated) French.

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, March 07, 2019

Because the Night IV

Patti Smith IS the Witch...

...coming soon to a theater near you.

Okay, I'm going to hell for that joke.

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Because the Night III

Gilda Radner apparently found Patti Smith's performance on SNL a tad over the top.

With, as you can see from this 1976 clip, hilarious -- if slightly unfair, in my view -- results.

Rock Against Yeast, indeed.

Because the Night II

And speaking of Patti Smith as I sort of was yesterday, I'd forgotten how kind of adorable she was.

And what a riveting performer.

Monday, March 04, 2019

Because the Night

Comedian John Mulaney -- who hosted a surprisingly funny episode of SNL last weekend -- poses for an update of one of the most iconic album covers of all time.

I had no idea who this guy was until I saw the show, but he's now aces in my book.

Plus, that photo just slays me.

Friday, March 01, 2019

Your Friday Moment of In Vino Veritas

From 2008, please enjoy Norwegian pop tart Ida Maria and her charmingly honest "I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked."

I heard this for the first time earlier this week while hanging out at my local watering hole and dug it the most. A day later, listening to it at home while quaffing a non-adult beverage, I found myself less impressed. I've been going back and forth on it ever since, although mostly I figure that any song that cribs from the theme from The Banana Splits is sort of excellent by definition.

Have a great weekend, everybody!