Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Let Us Now Praise Famous Men

And almost in time for Passover, here's friend of PowerPop (and moi) Marc Jonson and his (dare I say infectious?) musical response to our current crisis, "Crank Up the Marshall."

Seems like good advice, I think.

Long-time readers know who Marc is, but just to reiterate, he's kind of a genuine power pop legend/cult figure. He's written songs that have been covered by The Roches, Dave Edmunds, and Robert Gordon; a little closer to home, he also wrote this song for The Floor Models back in the day...

...and graciously contributed the astounding background vocals when we finally got around to recording it last year.

I should also add that his album 12 in a Room...

...is an absolute genre masterpiece that should be in everybody's collection.

And that he will always be aces in my book for having sung the background vocals on Willie Nile's classic first album.

Oh, and have I mentioned that in 2018 he did this transplendent song in honor of the late great Pat DiNizio of The Smithereens?

I've said it before and I'll say it again -- I have been blessed over the years to have ridiculously talented friends.

And if I haven't said it before -- thanks Marc. For everything.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Consumer Notes From All Over

Finally, a ray of sunshine amidst the darkening gloom of life in the time of the Trump Virus.

The Floor Models new (but recorded in 1982) live album is now available pretty much everywhere, including YouTube (if you want to listen free) or for download at Amazon, Spotify, iTunes and the rest of the usual suspect digital platforms.

I only wish our late great good friend and drummer Glen Robert Allen, who passed in February, was still around to have seen/heard it.

BTW, in case you were wondering why it's taken this long to get the damned thing out, it's totally my fault; when I submitted it for digital distribution to CD Baby (where it's been solely available for over a month) the date I gave for its official release to other platforms was 3/29/20 -- in other words, a fucking typo on my part. I actually yelled at CD Baby about this, but there was nothing they could do, and like I said -- it was totally my fault.

I should also add, and I've told this story before, that The Records' classic in the clip was one of the first songs the Floor Models played as a group. In fact, we used to do it so often in our club shows that everybody in Greenwich Village thought we wrote it. A notion that, if memory serves, we did less to disabuse people of than perhaps we should have.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Weekend Listomania: Special "Goodbye Rosie, the Queen of Corona" Edition

Well, it's Friday, and you know what that means.

Yes, my Oriental Germ Dispensary Supervisor FAH LO SUEE and I will be heading off to fabulous Wuhan, China to take advantage of the new low prices offered by local Wuhan restaurants on their legendary bat's head soup.

That being the case, here's a fun project for the rest of us until our return:


For obvious reasons, obviously, and no arbitrary rules whatsoever.

And my totally top of my head Top Six totally is:

6. Casey Abrams and Puddles Pity Party -- Smells Like Teen Spirit

Somewhere, Kurt Cobain is laughing out of his ass over this one.

5. Andrew Gold -- Lonely Boy

I fucking love that song and always have. And I forget who said it, but every time you get a hit single based on the chords to "La Bamba," an angel gets its wings.

4. Paul Anka -- Lonely Boy

How do you say "dreck" in Canadian?

3. The Beatles -- Nowhere Man

I predict a bright future for those youngsters from Liverpool.

2. Neil Diamond -- Solitary Man

Yeah, yeah, I know Neil's 70s stuff is mostly over-produced kitsch, but his 60s folk rock/Brill Building stuff is out of this world and I'm not ashamed to admit it.

And the number one all time ode to angst-ridden solipsism simply has to be...

1. Simon and Garfunkel -- Sounds of Silence

Ah, one can never be as alone as one is in the subway. One can only hope that the gazillions of dollars S&G subsequently earned after this record turned them into superstars took some of the sting out of their deep personal generational hurt.

Alrighty then -- what would YOUR choices be?

And have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, March 26, 2020

An Early Clue to the New Direction: Special "Passover in the Time of Corona" Edition

Don't know who photoshopped this, but it cracked me the fuck up, I'll tell you that for free.

In any case, a coveted PowerPop No-Prize© will be awarded to the first reader who gleans its relevance to the theme of tomorrow's Weekend Listomania.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Reasons to Be Cheerful

Well, despite the fact that we're living in Poe's "Masque of the Red Death," here's some actual good news.

To wit: One of my longest-time musical heroes, Graham Gouldman -- he of 10CC, "Bus Stop," "Heart Full of Soul," "Look Through Any Window" fame -- has a new, and terrific, album out.

Charmingly titled Modesty Forbids.

That particular song really does it for me. And it reminds me that one of my favorite things about Gouldman's songwriting is that you can often tell that he's of Russian-Jewish extraction simply by listening to the music.

In any event, you can -- and should, as I just did -- download the album over at Amazon HERE.

And a big tip of the Simels chapeau to our pal Sal Nunziato -- of the invaluable BURNING WOOD BLOG -- for alerting me to the release of this gem.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Monday, March 23, 2020

Today We Are a Video (Part Le Troisième)

From our just released (but recorded in 1982) live album Floor by Four, please enjoy the fabulous Floor Models and the official video for our prescient ode to urban paranoia "What's Wrong With This Picture?".

The above is from the same show as the videos for "Free Advice" and "Shadow of the Flame" I posted recently. And as with those clips, the audio -- in glorious stereo -- was dubbed from a performance at the same venue taped five months earlier (the video shoot, alas, was in mono). And once again, kudos to our pal Steve Schwartz for synching the two more or less flawlessly.

I should add that the song itself is by our late great 12-string ace Andy "Folk Rock" Pasternack, who's singing it, and I believe it was his idea to put the quote from Paul Revere and the Raiders at the end of the instrumental break.

Oh, have I mentioned that you can and should download the album over at CD Baby HERE? Or that it will be available at all the usual digital platforms -- Amazon, iTunes, Spotify et al -- by the end of the month?

POSTSCRIPT: Friend of PowerPop Capt. Al, who shot the original video footage, asks me to tell you guys he wasn't drunk at the time. He was, instead, trying, heroically, to deal with a primitive early 80s video camera that was, shall we say, not well suited to the low light available at the club. So cut him some slack. :-)

Friday, March 20, 2020

Weekend Listomania: Special "All Children From Now On Should be Named After Prescription Drugs You See Advertised on TV" Edition

Well, it's Friday, and you know what that means.

Yes, my Oriental Disease of the Month carrier FAH LO SUEE and I will be heading to Mount Sinai Hospital for an organ removal of some sort or another. Perhaps that pesky appendix thingie I should have had extracted years ago.

In any case, while we're gone, here's a fun little project for the rest of you all:


No arbitrary rules whatsoever, and obviously this was inspired by our current health crisis.

And my totally top of my head Top Five are:

5. Emerson Lake and Palmer -- Brain Salad Surgery

In the immortal words of Mel Brooks (as The 2000 Year Old Brewmaster) -- "Hey, THIS is bad."

4. Dr. Feelgood and the Interns -- Doctor Feel-Good

Obviously, we could have just as easily posted something by the Brit Dr. Feelgood featuring the amazing Wilko Johnson, but for some reason I felt like a historical purist today.

3. The Young Rascals -- Good Lovin'

Uh, doctor? Doctor? Mr. MD?

2. The Rolling Stones -- Dear Doctor

You knew this one was gonna be in here, right? Of course you did.

And the number one prescription medicine song in rock history, it isn't even a contest, quite definitely is...

1. The Beatles -- Doctor Robert

I should add that I can't even imagine how the Fabs got away with this without a lawsuit from the actual doctor Robert, who apparently was a genuine celebrity in hep circles in NYC at the time.

Alrighty then -- what would YOUR favorites be?

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, March 19, 2020

An Early Clue to the New Direction: Special "Professional Expertise" Edition

From sometime in the early 70s, please enjoy the late great Jim Croce and a lovely live version of his hit "Operator."

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

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

The Folk Process At Work

And speaking of Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer" as we were the other day -- from 1976, please enjoy Stu Daye and the damndest cover of it you'll ever hear.

I honestly have no idea what I think of that; I suspect that if I'd never heard the original, I might think it was the greatest thing ever, but I really can't make up my mind.

And in case you're wondering, the melody Stu substituted for the S&G version is from this old Burl Ives folk song cover.

The backstory:

I knew Stu when he was the frontman of a fantastic New York City new wave band called The Mix (I had no idea he had ever done a solo album).

In any case, The Mix were managed by Leber & Krebs, who also handled some loser band called Aerosmith (the Mix's album -- American Glue -- came out on L&K's custom label in 1980 and has never been on CD), and they were a genuinely exciting live act. Stu, in particular, was as annoyingly talented and natural a rocker as anybody I've ever seen -- think Steve Marriott with Pete Townshend's guitar moves.

Still, although they were quite a big deal in the New York area for a while, they never broke through; if I had to guess why, I'd say it's because the record didn't really do them justice. For which I blame rather lackluster production by the late Felix Pappalardi.

That said, please enjoy my personal favorite track from the album (for reasons that will become apparent shortly), the sublimely Beatle-esque "Forever."

Incidentally, the band's drummer was the great Corky Laing, of Mountain fame. The bass player (who wrote and sings "Forever") was David Grahame, an old bandmate of mine who I haven't heard from in a while but who's apparently become something of a power pop cult figure over the years. It thus pains me to mention that to (perhaps) his eternal shame, his major credit remains co-writing the soul-destroying Mr. Big hit "To Be With You."

I should also add that the guitar riff that intros and outros "Forever" was composed by yours truly, and I'm still waiting for my damned writers credit and/or royalties.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Love in the Time of Cholera

From 1961, please enjoy Hugh Barrett and the Victors and the greatest rock/r&b song ever written that sort of references a dangerous medical contagion -- "There Was Fungus Among Us."

I'm posting this for obvious reasons, obviously.

That said, a coveted PowerPop No-Prize will be awarded to the first reader who comes up with an actual song that includes the word "virus." Frankly, I couldn't think of one.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Your Monday Moment of And Speaking of Gorgeous

From 2019, please enjoy guitarist Mike Daly -- from his album Renascence -- and British pedal steel god B.J. Cole and a transplendent version of Richard Thompson's "Dimming of the Day."

You can learn more about Mike (who incidentally is a different guy than the New Jersey rocker Mike Daly I've raved about on previous occaasions) over at this link HERE.

You also can -- and should -- get a copy of Renascence over at Amazon HERE.

Incidentally, if you're not familiar with B.J. Cole, who basically has been THE pedal steel guy in England during the early 70s country rock, pub rock and early punk days -- and still is -- you should check out the album this little beauty is from.

Ravel on pedal steel. It doesn't get more exquisite.

And also, if you're unfamiliar with the often covered Thompson song, here's my favorite version of it.

It occurs to me I haven't had anything to say about Any Trouble and Clive Gregson recently, which is an oversight I will remedy tomorrow.

You're welcome very much.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Your Friday Moment of "Hey, This is Bad!"

From 1983, please enjoy (unlikely) Elvis Costello and Count Basie collaborating on "Lil' Darling."

It guess it sounded good on paper, but in real life -- not so much. BTW, I think Costello's country album is pretty awful too.

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Ain't Gonna Play Sun City

From 1965, please enjoy South Africa's The Staccatos and their cover of The Byrds' "He Was a Friend of Mine."

A pleasant enough version -- the strings are a nice touch -- although not as good as the original, obviously. I also find it somewhat odd that a bunch of South Africans are singing about how President Kennedy was their friend.

Interesting historical note: Gram Parsons quit the Byrds over their decision to play some shows in South Africa.

BTW, if you want to hear the rest of the Staccatos output, you can download a CDs worth of it (for free) over HERE.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Greetings From Forest Hills New York

And speaking of Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer," I had forgotten how funny this is.

In any case, I posted that the other day at a political website I hang out at -- don't ask -- and one of the regulars mentioned that she had heard a very funny parody of it by Cleveland based comedian/singer Michael Spiro. So I thought I'd share.

And yes, it's a hoot, especially the line about how his sex life hasn't been the same since he sprained his wrist.

You can find out more info about Spiro -- including where to get some of his CDs -- over at his website HERE.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Your Tuesday Moment of the Worst Fucking Thing Ever

From 2019, it's the horrible Satanic evil that is Maroon 5 and their inexplicable (and inexplicably awful) hit single "Memories."

Seriously -- as you can hear, it's a version of Pachelbel's fucking Canon(!) with incredibly stupid lyrics(!!) and A FUCKING AUTO-TUNED VOCAL BY THAT UNCTUOUS SCHMUCK ADAM LEVINE!!!

I was fortunate enough not to have been exposed (I use the term usually associated with the coronavirus deliberately) to that song until last week. And I'm gonna be ranting about these putzes a lot more in the next couple of days/weeks, but let's just establish the bottom line:

This is the absolutely worst fucking "rock" band who ever sold 120 million plus records. And the fact that an asteroid didn't hit them on-stage at their most recent concert, wherever that was, is proof positive of the non-existence of God.

Oh by the way, they stank it up on Saturday Night Live as well. Even though they were, unlike some other musical acts (ahem) on the show, at least technically performing live.

By which I mean that they weren't dead.

Seriously -- in my entire professional career as a music listener, there has never been a worse hugely successful band than these shitheads. Who are utterly lacking in charisma, originality, personality, charm, sex appeal, body odor, or anything else that should make them interesting to any sentient mammal.

Monday, March 09, 2020

Today We Are Another Video

From our just released (but recorded in 1982) live album Floor by Four...

...please enjoy the fabulous Floor Models and the official video for "Shadow of the Flame."

The above is from the same show as the video for "Free Advice" I posted last week. And as with that clip, the audio -- in glorious stereo -- was dubbed from a performance at the same venue taped five months earlier (the video shoot, alas, was in mono). And once again, kudos to our pal Steve Schwartz for synching the two more or less flawlessly.

I should add that the song itself is by lead singer/guitarist Gerry Devine, and it was an absolute gas to perform. I must admit, BTW, that I had not recalled it came in at a concise two and a half minutes. Apparently we really were a pop band.

Oh, have I mentioned that you can and should download the album over at CD Baby HERE? Or that it will be available at all the usual digital platforms -- Amazon, iTunes, Spotify et al -- by the end of the month?

Friday, March 06, 2020

What's In a Name?

As promised, please enjoy power pop god John Wicks...

...as opposed to Keanu Reeves , in one of those stupid movies featuring a character called John Wick...

...and a gorgeous studio version of his (the popstar, not the movie character's) song "Her Stars are My Stars."

Attentive readers will recall that I have been a fan of John since his days in The Records (who I saw in person on several occasions, including on the fabulous Live Stiffs tour where they were essentially the house back up band.)

In fact, my old colleagues The Floor Models covered John's classic "Hearts in Her Eyes" as part of our club shows...

...so often that everybody in Greenwich Village thought we actually wrote it. But that's another story.

In any event, I got to meet John in 1995, at a record release party for this album...

...which featured the above "Her Stars are My Stars." Where he and his then band did an absolutely transcendently great set. A genuine thrill on a million levels.

After his performance was over, I screwed up my courage, and went over and introduced myself.

And to my utter amazement, he went "Steve Simels? You're the guy who wrote a very nice review of Smashes Crashes and Near Misses...

...in Stereo Review in 1988. Thank you so much."

To quote Cristina Applegate on Married With Children -- you could have knocked me over with the weather.

In the meantime, you can -- and definitely should -- order a copy of For the Record, the new tribute to John's stuff that I raved about yesterday...

...over at Kool Kat Musik HERE.

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, March 05, 2020

Operators are Standing By

From 2020, and the just released For the Record: A Tribute to John Wicks...

...please enjoy singer/songwriter Bill Berry and his killer version of Wicks' hilarious "1-800-Colonoscopy."

For the Record is not, strictly speaking, a tribute album; Wicks was about to record his vocals for his latest batch of songs right before his passing in late 2018, and so a terrific bunch of his peers and admirers -- including Carla Olson, Don Dixon, Al Stewart, Peter Case and Jamie Hoover (of Spongetones fame, who produced the project) -- were recruited to sing lead on the unfinished tracks. In any case, the results are sensational, and yes, the rest of the songs are more in what you'd think of as Wicks' jangly power-pop style.

In any case, "1-800-Colonoscopy" is my new favorite song of all time, and not just because my doctor has been hocking me to get one.

I actually met Wicks -- a lovely man -- once, and therein lies a tale, which I'll save for tomorrow.

In the meantime, you can -- and definitely should -- order a copy of For the Record over at Kool Kat Musik HERE.

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Your Wednesday Moment of I Have Ridiculously Talented Friends

From just a few moments ago in 2020, please enjoy The John Sally Ride -- featuring friend of PowerPop and proprietor of the invaluable BURNING WOOD blog Sal Nunziato -- and their new single "Putting It Off."

From their forthcoming -- and obviously ridiculously good -- new album.

I've written about these guys before, including the release of the previous single from the aforementioned album..

But to make a short story long, this new one is so cool in a hybrid power pop/hard rock kind of way that at this point I'm starting to get really annoyed with them.

Seriously -- curse you, Sal, for making music this good.

In any event, when the album itself is actually available I'll post a link.

Have I mentioned these guys are so good I'm getting really pissed off?

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Today We Are a Video

From 2020, and our new live album Floor By Four, please enjoy the fabulous Floor Models -- featuring some asshole whose name rhymes with Sleeve Nimels on bass and lead vocals -- and (a song I like to dedicate to Jewish moms everywhere) "Free Advice."

The song, of course, was written by our late-great 12-string ace Andrew Pasternack, who is doing the wonderful impressions of Roger McGuinn from stage left.

A technical note: The sound for that clip, which as you can hear is in very good real stereo, was actually recorded at a different gig (at the same venue) than the video (which was only in mono). A coveted PowerPop No-Prize© is hereby awarded to our chum Steve Schwartz, who synched the two pretty much flawlessly. Your check is in the mail, pal.

I should add that you can -- and definitely should -- download the album...

...at CD Baby over HERE. It will also be available on all the usual digital platforms -- Amazon, Spotify, iTunes, etc. -- by the end of the month.

Monday, March 02, 2020

Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them

From 1965, please enjoy The Untamed -- produced by the great Shel Talmy -- and a fabulous cover of a song from the first Who album.

I had never heard, or even heard of, these guys until I stumbled across their stuff over the weekend, but they're a pretty nifty cross between the Georgie Fame jazz-keyboard--inflected school of mid-60s British rock and the harder edged guitar driven sounds of the aforementioned Who and the Kinks/Creation axis (speaking of Shel Talmy productions).

The had The Look too, obviously.

In any event, "It's Not True" is one of my favorite sort of obscure Who songs, and the Untamed version is now my new favorite thing (until tomorrow and Wednesday, when...well, you'll just have to wait to hear the cool stuff I'm posting then).

In any event, you can download a CD of the Untamed's complete works (for free) over at the link HERE.