Friday, May 31, 2019

Weekend Listomania: Let Us Now Praise Inexplicably Not Famous Men (and Women)

Okay kids -- in an attempt to distract us from the latest outrage perpetrated by President Mediocre Columbo Villain, here's a hopefully entertaining diversion:


No arbitrary rules, thank you very much, but if you cite some local band from your hometown, I will come to your house and slap you silly.

And now, here's my totally Top of My Head Top Eight:

8. The Rising Sons

Featuring Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder, before either of them got famous. They were apparently a shit-hot live band who couldn't really get it together recording-wise. This unplugged session track is spine-tingling, obviously.

7. Evie Sands

This gal had it all -- except, unfortunately, the hit records. She's still at it, BTW, and if you're ever in Los Angeles when she's gigging, don't miss her.

6. Autosalvage

Psychedelic folk/rock band from New York City; the bass player was the brother of The Lovin' Spoonful's Steve Boone. Stole a copy of their sole LP from my college radio station in 1968 and have played it obsessively (in its CD version) ever since. The concensus is that if they had moved to San Francisco they could have been huge.

5. The Poor

Future Poco and Eagles member Randy Meisner's first band; the song was written by either Brewer or Shipley. They were managed and produced by the guys who did Buffalo Springfield, and that song got a fair amount of airplay, at least in my neighborhood in the Tri-State Metropolitan Area. I actually owned the 45.

4. Bob Lind

Yeah, yeah, I know -- "Elusive Butterfly" is one of the goofiest artifacts of a goofy era, but the B-side, as you can hear, kicks genuine ass. So much so that The Blues Project, unquestionably one of the best American bands of the day, did a killer cover of it.

3. Chrysalis

Absolutely wonderful NYC folk/rock psych band with a girl singer to die for and, as you can hear, some really beautiful songs. One album and out, alas.

2. Lothar and the Hand People

Yeah, the band with the theremin. I saw them live, opening for The Byrds, and they were incredible; very charismatic (and snazzy dressers to boot), musicianship to burn and terrific tunes. This one has been a fave of mine for decades, and I find it almost painfully poignant (as well charmingly melodic).

And the number one shoulda-been-household-words act of the Sixties, it's not even close, obviously is...

1. The Nightcaps

Five kids from Dallas who were among the first white punks to get down to the heart of hep. Their sole album, released in 1960, is the kind of thing that The Rolling Stones and The Yardbirds would be doing three years later, and although nobody outside of Texas ever heard of them, they were remarkably influential; Jimmy Vaughan idolized them, and both his brother Stevie Ray and ZZ Top recorded their songs.

Alrighty then -- what would YOUR choices be?

And have a great weekend, everybody!!!!

Thursday, May 30, 2019

An Early Clue to the New Direction: Special Amnesia For The Amnesiacs! Edition

From 1962, please enjoy Don and Juan and their classic ode to short term memory loss "What's Your Name?"

A coveted PowerPop No-Prize© will be awarded to the first reader who gleans the song's relevance to the theme of tomorrow's Weekend Listomania.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Closed for Monkey Business

Long and productive night in the studio; barring objections from my producer, Reg Thorpe, I think I finished my cover of The Byrds' classic "I Come and Stand at Every Door."

In any case, regular posting -- including a clue to the theme of Friday's Weekend Listomania -- resumes on the morrow.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Your Tuesday Moment of Death Metal, John Cage Style

From the Open Culture web site:

When we think of silence, we think of meditative stretches of calm: hikes through deserted forest paths, an early morning sunset before the world awakes, a staycation at home with a good book. But we know other silences: awkward silences, ominous silences, and—in the case of John Cage’s infamous conceptual piece "4’33” -- a mystifying silence that asks us to listen, not to nothing, but to everything. Instead of focusing our aural attention, Cage’s formalized exercise in listening disperses it, to the nervous coughs and squeaking shoes of a restless audience, the ceaseless ebb and flow of traffic and breathing, the ambient white noise of heating and and the suspended black noise of death metal….

We're used to seeing "4’33” performed as a classical exercise, with a dignified pianist seated at the bench, ostentatiously turning the pages of Cage’s “score.” But there’s no reason at all the exercise -- or hoax, some insist -- can’t work in any genre, including metal. NPR’s All Songs TV brings us the video above, in which -- 64 years after its debut performance by pianist David Tudor -- death metal band Dead Territory lines behind their instruments, tunes up, and takes on Cage: “There’s a setup, earplugs go in, a brief guitar chug, a drum-stick count-off and… silence.”

Pretty hilarious, not to mention hands down the best death metal I've ever heard.

[h/t Rebecca Littman]

Monday, May 27, 2019

Memorial Day 2019

From 1969, The Zombies' "A Butchers Tale (Western Front 1914)." Still, for my money, the most powerful anti-war song of them all.

And speaking of war, I note without comment that President Mediocre Columbo Villain had the good grace to not, as he had threatened, pardon any war criminals criminals today.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Holy Crap -- Yet Another Song by Bram Tchaikovsky!!!

Oh wait -- actually this is by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

I regret the error.

In any event, the musicians on that -- which dates from 1962 -- are a bunch of L.A. session cats including the great Earl Palmer on drums; the record was a hit in both the US of A and the UK.

I should add that Emerson, Lake and Palmer did quite entertaining live and studio covers of that back in the '70s, but which will not be included here due to our eminently sensible long-time policy of never posting clips involving any member of that band unless it's Keith Emerson doing Meade Lux Lewis' "Honky-Tonk Train Blues."

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Holy Crap, It's Turning Into Bram Tchaikovsky Week!

From 1981, and his Funland LP...

...please enjoy the aforementioned Mr. Tchaikovsky as he asks the musical question "Why Does My Mother Phone Me?"

Why does my mother phone me?
Just to tell me that she doesn't like me?
Why does my mother phone me --
Why doesn't she just disown me?

Why when I run away
Do they send the police to get me?
Why when I run away
Do they pretend that they just can't catch me?

If life is just a game
Why isn't anyone smiling?
And if life is just a game
There shouldn't be rules and there shouldn't be blame

Ooh la la la la la la la la
Ooh la la la la la la la la

Why am I always happy
When everybody else is scowling?
Why am I always pleased
When everybody else is down on their knees?

Ooh la la la la la la la la
Ooh la la la la la

When I sound like some kind of fool
Do I sound like I'm the only one sane?
Do I sound like I'm a fool
Because I've nothing to lose and nothing to gain?

Ooh la la la la la la la la
Ooh la la la la la

Why does my mother phone me
Just to tell me that she doesn't like me?
Why does my mother phone me --
Why doesn't she just disown me?

Ooh la la la la la la la la
Ooh la la la la la....

This is one of those where-has-it-been-all-my-life? songs; NYMary actually burned me a CD of the Funland album some years ago, and I know I listened to it, but somehow it just never registered at the time. And then more recently another friend played it for me and I felt like I'd been smacked upside the head with a 2X4.

It's about madness, rather obviously, but from a very writerly perspective; you don't get the feeling, as you do with, say, certain Syd Barrett songs, that you're hearing a cry from a genuinely troubled psyche, although it's still completely believable. In any case, the way the lyrics proceed from basically mundane, albeit funny, observational head-scratchers to existentially scary and rather profound non sequiturs is quite brilliantly managed, I think, and the production and arrangement, as the vocal layering piles up while the track moves along, reinforces the general feeling of dislocated wigginess as well, up to and including the almost surreal Spanish bullfight music finale (those castanets and trumpet just fricking slay me -- you can practically see the guys in mariachi outfits materializing out of nowhere.)

In sum, a fabulous and inexplicably moving record, IMHO. And I can't believe I'm saying this, but the whole thing -- and particularly that ending -- makes me sorry, for a change, that this is one 80s song that never occasioned a music video, although I can't for the life of me think of a director back then who could have done the record justice.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Your Wednesday Moment of Words Fail Me

And continuing in our tribute to the shoulda-been-a-household-word Bram Tchaikovsky, from 1979, please enjoy his astounding version of what New Yorkers of a certain age refer to as the theme from the Milford Plaza.

Okay, it's actually "Lullabye of Broadway," from Gold Diggers of 1935, and this rendition is pretty much the most amazing thing I'd never heard until yesterday.

[h/t Brett Milano]

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Guys and (Inflatable) Dolls

From sometime in the late 1970s, please enjoy Bram Tchaikovsky and an insanely great live rendition of his best known song, the transplendent "Girl of My Dreams."

On Don Kirshner's Rock Concert, of all places.

I had never seen that clip until last weekend, and I must confess I had no idea that these guys were such a kick-ass live band. The song itself, obviously, is one of the most magnificent slices of the music that provides the raison d'etre for this here blog ever heard by sentient mammalian ears.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Your Monday Moment of Words Fail Me

From last week, please enjoy Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey, as they join Jimmy Fallon and The Roots, in a beyond cosmic live performance of "Won't Get Fooled Again" on classroom instruments.

Apart from being absolutely the greatest thing in the history of greatest things -- make sure you stick around to the very end of the clip, so you can the genius move that Pete makes.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Born to Pedant

As attentive readers are aware, I've been in the studio lately working on a re-make of this classic by The Byrds (for a Steve solo single. I kid you not.)

Since I haven't put my lead vocal on yet, it sounds great, but imagine my surprise when I realized that I had misheard one of the lyrics for all these years. The line in the first verse is "but no one hears my silent tread," not "silent prayer," which neither makes sense nor rhymes.

Glad I learned that in time.

Have a great weekend, everybody. And apologies for not having time to have gotten a Listomania ready for today. Next week for sure!

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Closed for Monkey Business

Traces of mercury have been found in Nutella.

Seriously -- regular postings, starting with a Weekend Listomania, will resume on the morrow.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Your Wednesday Moment of Words Utterly Fail Me

An obituary from Monday's Times completely gobsmacked me.

I didn't really know Springfield/Beschta, but I was in a band with her for a very short period of time; I'm not sure if it was just for a rehearsal or two or whether we actually gigged. Still, I thought she was an interesting character, but I completely lost track of her after our musical brief encounter, and I had no idea how truly remarkable the arc of the second half of her life was.

Here she is earlier this year. If I had bumped into her then, I wouldn't have had a clue.

You can read the entire Times obit over HERE.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Things I Never Thought I'd Say (An Occasional Series)

I am genuinely looking forward to seeing Rick Wakeman in concert.

Yeah, yeah, I know; I have never been a fan of either Yes or prog in general. However, I interviewed the guy once back in the mid-70s, when he was touring one of those stupid spectacle-rock things that were all the rage then; I think it was something like King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table On Ice. And to my surprise he turned out to be utterly charming, unpretentious and basically the most hilariously funny celeb I ever killed an hour and a half with over drinks and lunch.

That being the case, I will be attending his new show when it comes to my old stomping grounds in Jersey in October; if you'd like more info on the tour, you can get it HERE.

POSTSCRIPT: When I interviewed Wakeman, he let it drop that during his early days as a session guy, he had played on the 1970 album by The Pipkins (although not on their hit single "Gimme Dat Ding").

That's right -- Wakeman is tickling the ivories on THIS immortal classic.

Obviously, it was a long strange trip between that and Tales From Topographic Oceans.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Who Listens to the Radio (An Occasional Series)

From 2019, and their just released EP...

..., please enjoy indie power-pop killers Thrift Store Halo and their quite remarkable "Once."

I was unaware of these guys until last week, when I heard the song above (on yet another internet radio show that was also featuring music by one of my old bands) and it dropped me in my tracks. To these ears it sounds like Graham Parker fronting The Easybeats, which is quite a remarkable achievement.

In any case, it turns out that TSH formed in Chicago in 1994, went on a nearly two-decade hiatus in 1998, and then came roaring back with new music in 2017 (a career arc that I can relate to, for obvious reasons). You can find out more about them, as well as links to download more of their music, at their official website HERE.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Who Listens to the Radio? (An Occasional Series)

From 2018, please enjoy Tad Overbaugh and the fiendishly catchy twang-fest that is "Open Road and Blue Sky."

I was not aware of Overbaugh or that song until yesterday, when I heard it on an internet radio show (that coincidentally featured a song by a band whose bass player's name rhymes with Sleeve Nimels). But it absolutely blew me away, and I can offer no higher praise then to say I would have killed to play on it.

In any case, turns out Overbaugh and his band are long-time faves in Boston, and he's got three records out; you can learn more about him (and download more of his music) over HERE.

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, May 09, 2019

An Ill Wind That Blows Nobody Good

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

But in the meantime please enjoy singer/songwriter Ruthann Friedman and her version of a song she gave to The Association who had a huge hit with it (and hopefully it fattened her bank account commensurately).

I must confess I had never heard that till yesterday; I don't think it's quite as transplendent as the Assocation version, but you can clearly understand why the band pounced on it.

[h/t Frank De Stefano]

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

When We Paint Our Masterpiece

Finished the new, and forthcoming in a month or so, Floor Models album last night.

Here's the last track we worked on. I think it's gorgeous.

I'll keep you posted on the availability of the thing as it develops, but in the meantime, kudos to my bandmates who did stellar work over the two years this project has been in the making.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Songs I'd Forgotten How Much I Liked by Bands I'd Also Forgotten How Much I Liked: An Occasional Series

The Goo Dolls, ladies and germs! The freaking Goo Goo Dolls!!!

I hadn't thought about either of those in some years, if truth be told, but seriously -- these guys were great. I don't care that they got rich ripping off The Replacements -- they freaking rocked!!!

Play both of these really loud, BTW.

Monday, May 06, 2019

Closed for Monkey Business

Had a long weekend -- regular posting, including a Weekend Listomania, resumes on the morrow.

Friday, May 03, 2019

Shine a Light and Get No Answer

From 1994, please enjoy Kevin Salem and "Lighthouse Keeper," the opening track from his debut album Soma City.

I hadn't thought about either song or album for years, but for some reason they popped into my head unbidden yesterday. In any case, let's just say the song is pretty much the greatest Television track that Tom Verlaine and company never did, and that the guitar work is so spectacularly perfect that I'm really glad I had switched to bass before I first heard them. I dig Salem's singing too.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, May 02, 2019

Closed For Monkey Business

A very productive night in the studio, but I'm all tuckered out.

Regular posting of a musical nature resumes tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Sonic Old Age

Off to New York City and a recording studio, to begin work -- with our chum Joe Benoit -- on the A-side of my forthcoming solo single. And no, this is not a joke.

The A-side, of course is The Byrds' classic from 5D; the B-side, written by Friend of PowerPop Peter Spencer is already done. I'll keep you posted as the sessions progress.