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.