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.