Friday, July 31, 2020

Weekend Listomania: Special "Nobody's Perfect" Edition

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental Pandemic Princess Fah Lo Suee and I are off to the president's Mar-a-Lagofuckyourself resort to shoot several holes of golf while unmasked. Could be a hot one!

That being the case here's a fun project to help us all wile away the idle hours until our return -- assuming we're not hospitalized -- on Monday:


No arbitrary rules whatsoever, you're welcome very much, but if you nominate Rod Stewart, who went Full Bullshit in the mid-70s and never came back, I will come to your house and smack you silly.

And my totally Top of My Head Top Five is:

5. The Ramones

Yes, they're the greatest, but not to put too fine a point on it, literally everything on that psychedelic covers album they made... utterly awful. Both conceptually and in execution. And they made several other dog albums.

4. Billy Joel

I became a sort of Born Again Billy Joel fan after seeing one of his Madison Square Garden shows a few years ago. That said...

...if you didn't want to hunt him down and kill him after the first time you heard this song, there's no hope for you.

3. Stevie Nicks

Great with Fleetwood Mac, considerably less so on her own.

Just like a white winged dove my aunt Fanny, babe.

2. Patti Smith

I have loved this woman since before she made her first indie single back in 1973, but boy can she be pretentious sometimes. And in the case of this little ditty from her second major label album --

--- in need of somebody to say to her, uh Patti -- what the hell are you thinking?

And the number one great artist with an unfortunately high percentage of bovine fecal matter is:

1. Joni Mitchell

Let's just say that Joni's good stuff is out of this world, but that a lot of the self-important humorless crap she's been responsible for over the years is frankly impossible to ignore.

Seriously, you would need a heart of stone not to laugh at the unintentional silliness of the above.

Alrighty then -- who would YOUR choices be?

And have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, July 30, 2020

An Early Clue to the New Direction

From 1971, please enjoy Neil Diamond and the classic(?) shout to the world HEY NOTICE ME! that is his "I Am I Said."

Okay, in the interest of full disclosure, that video is actually from 1988. The song, however, dates as I said to to 1971.

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

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Your Wednesday Moment of Amazing True Fact: Special "Up Up and Away!" Edition

The opening and closing theme from the Adventures of Superman TV series.

As iconic music as Rossini's William Tell Overture as used on The Lone Ranger, right?

Well, yes and no. And here's why.


I'm not kidding about this.

Apparently, and most of this is guesswork, the people who made the Superman show relied exclusively for their background music on a company called Mutel, that licensed stuff from 40s B-movie soundtracks that had originally been generated by vastly underpaid folks toiling mostly uncredited at what studios that were then called Poverty Row -- Republic, Monogram, etc.

In any event, the Superman music is officially credited to a guy named Leon Klatzkin, who was an arranger, not a composer.

According to Gary Grossman's fabulous history of the show -- Superman: Serial to Cereal, there is a rumor that the theme was written, uncredited, by the great Miklós Rózsa.

But the bottom line remains: Nobody fucking knows who composed a total fucking masterpiece.

Words fail me.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Your Tuesday Moment of Why Isn't This Guy a Freaking Household World?

From 1990, please enjoy the genius that is Peter Blegvad and the greatest story song ever written by anybody "King Strut."  
I'm not kidding about this -- if there's a better song of its ilk than this, I haven't heard it. And I've been around. 

 I should add that apart from being a brilliant songsmith, Blegvad is a hot guitarist -- that's him playing lead on the above, which should give you an idea -- and he's had a separate career as...wait for it...a cartoonist. 

 Nobody should be allowed to be that talented,is what I'm getting at.

Monday, July 27, 2020

And Then I Wrote...

Chanced across this pan I did of an Eagles album for the Magazine Formerly Known as STEREO REVIEW the other day, and it completely cracked me up.

THE EAGLES: The Long Run.

Performance: They gotta be kidding

Recording: Expensive

I really don't believe this record. Yes, against all expectations (for this they labored three years?), here is still more monied angst, lame social commentary, and overproduction from the Eagles, who apparently are convinced that what the world needs now is a tuneless, turtle-tempoed essay on the human condition from the perspective of five very rich, very bored Angelenos.

Here, for example is a potentially good idea for a song about a mass murderer at Studio 54 ("The Disco Strangler") that makes the most obvious points imagineable about loneliness and alientation. Here's an unbearably smug attempted dissection of the casting couch mentality ("King of Hollywood") rendered in a manner so laid-back it approaches the catatonic. Here's a song about the good old days of hanging out at the Troubador Bar ("Sad Cafe") that is guaranteed to be of absolutely no interest to anyone outside the Eagles immediate circle of friends. Here's a watery love song pasted together from snippets of old George Benson records ("I Can't Tell You Why") and the most tired-sounding bit of blues-based rock ("Heartache Tonight") they have yet essayed. Here's a vaguely funny evocation of mid-Sixties frat-house partying ("The Greeks Don't Want No Freaks") that is supposed to be a throwaway yet ironically has more life than anything else in the package. Here are tedium, a total waste of the not inconsiderable talents of Joe Walsh, and the sound of a band with nothing to say, but saying it at incredible length ("King of Hollywood" runs more than six minutes).

In sum, the Eagles' The Long Run is the most pointless vinyl extrusion of 1979, with the possible exception of The Georgie Jessel Disco Album, which I understand A&M is readying in the wake of their success with a similar venture by Ethel Merman. Like I said, I really don't believe this record. -- S.S.

Wow, Steve -- don't mince words, tell us what you really think.

And yes, in case you were wondering, that's gonna be in my forthcoming greatest hits book, which -- pandemic permitting -- will be available in some format early next year.

Friday, July 24, 2020

The Miraculous Hump Returns From the Moon

And speaking as we were Wednesday of the fabulous Sopwith Camel and their brilliant 1967 hit "Hello Hello," from 2020, please enjoy indie band Hat Without Men and our (by which I mean my) cover of the piano introduction to that song.

As performed on our recently acquired electronic keyboard here at Casa Simels.

BTW, visually I think I'm doing a pretty good impression of Glenn Gould in that clip.

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Your Thursday Moment of The Greatest Thing Ever

Mrs. Peel meets The Kinks.

I don't know who's specifically responsible for that montage, but wow -- is that fantastic or what?

[h/t Steven D. Garner]

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Stereo Mixes of the Gods (An Occasional Series): Special "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" Edition

From January of 1967, and the b-side of their fabulous hit "Hello Hello," please enjoy criminally overlooked/underrated first generation underground San Francisco band the Sopwith Camel and their utterly brilliant folk-rock b-side "Treadin'."

I bring this up for a number of reasons, but the main one is that said song has never appeared in stereo anywhere to my knowledge, including every previous CD reissue of the Camel's original album., of which there have been several, both domestic and imported. I don't know the provenance of that, but as Cristina Applegate famously said on Married With Children, you could have knocked me over with the weather when I discovered it on YouTube quite by accident over last weekend. I have literally been waiting 53 years to hear it, and I'd say I can finally die happy except that I have no intention of shuffling off this mortal coil any time soon, or at least till I hear some other heretofore unknown to me stereo versions of records I fetishize (a subject for another posting).

A brief historical note: As you can hear, "Treadin'" is quite a little masterpiece of its era -- those classically influenced guitars on the instrumental break just blow me away -- but the Camel, as I said up top, is one of the most criminally overlooked bands ever, important both historically and musically. Short version: They were the first underground San Francisco band (they were huge on the ballroom circuit, right up there with the Airplane, the Dead, et al) to score a Top 40 hit (the aforementioned "Hello Hello").

I should add that the aforementioned "Hello Hello"...

...was also the first Top 40 rock hit featuring a bass solo, let alone a great one.

I should also add that their follow up single -- which actually was a minor radio hit -- is another folk-rock masterpiece. Seriously, if this doesn't make you swoon check your meds.

Okay, I'm obviously a little obsessive on this subject, so I will simply close with this live version of "Hello Hello,' from 2011, featuring the Camel's great lead singer Peter Kraemer (or as I like to refer to him, the sardonic sounding American version of Colin Blunstone).

Damn, I would kill to be as cool as that guy at his age.

More hump related stuff tomorrow. Hey, like I said -- I'm getting obsessive on this subject.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Closed for (Dental) Monkey Business

Sorry to be slacking, but hey -- gotta keep my chompers choogling.

The good news is that I'm posting some shit tomorrow that will blow your collective minds.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Emitt Rhodes 1950 - 2020

Has there ever been a better double-sided single that wasn't by The Beatles or Creedence Clearwater Revival?

I should add that I was lucky enough to see Emitt in person back in the day; he played my old college in support of his masterpiece debut solo album.

I should also add that this death shit is really starting to piss me off. As is 2020 as a year.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Songs That Are Impossible to Ruin (An Occasional Series): Special Australian Edition

For some reason, I had completely forgotten that INXS had covered The Easybeats' classic rocker. And well.

BTW, there's a great story about the original Easys version of this.

Apparently, Paul McCartney was driving somewhere in England in 1968, when this was new, and when it came on his radio he got so jazzed by it he pulled his car off to the side of the road until it was over to find out who it was.

I should add that yes, that's the late great Steve Marriott screaming along with the band on the choruses.

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Your Thursday Moment of Yes, Steve is a Schmuck

From 19981, please enjoy -- from Tattoo You -- the official video for The Rolling Stones' "Waiting on a Friend."

Okay, this is a very sad story so please try not to laugh.

Short version: Back in July of '81, I was toiling at The Magazine Formerly Known as STEREO REVIEW, and somebody from the Stones PR firm -- I should remember their name, but I don't; hopefully one of my Facebook ex-publicist friends will -- called me up on a Thursday and invited me to be an observer at a video shoot for a Stones song that was going to be done in the East Village on the following Friday in the late afternoon after work.

Bottom line: It was the beginning of a summer weekend, and I figured, big deal -- so I'll be hanging out in the street watching the filming. Which is basically an incredibly boring process, and it's not like I had never seen the Stones up close before. Hell, I was actually outside for this one in 1975, so I was pretty jaded.

So instead I went home and watched TV, had a few drinks, and went to bed.

In any event, when I got back to work on Monday I was informed that, had I bothered to show up, I would have been one of the extras sitting at the bar (the St. Marks Bar and Grill, specifically), and that the Stones actually did a song or two live when the shoot was over. (BTW, the place was at the corner of St. Marks and First Avenue, and yes, it's long gone.)

As I said, this was a very sad story, and thank you for not laughing.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Living in the Past

And speaking as we were yesterday -- from medieval England in 1174, please enjoy Hildegard von Blingin'...

...and the original version of her masterpiece of sacred monophony "Jolene."

Truly, it has been said -- they don't write 'em like that anymore.

[h/t Rebecca Littman]

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Your Tuesday Moment of the Coolest Thing Ever

From 2020 -- two aspiring hip-hop/rap youngsters listen to Dolly Parton's "Jolene" for the first time and totally get it.

I'm not sure who those kids are, or the provenance of the video; I discovered it over at Digby's Hullabaloo, (which, if you're not familiar with it, is primarily a lefty political blog that does occasional arts coverage), but the clip is absolutely inspirational and I just love those dudes.

In any case, this is proof, as one of the YouTube commenters notes, of what Quincy Jones famously observed -- there are just two kinds of music.

Good and bad.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Annals of Interior Redecorating

I love the title of this album. Wallpaper of Sound indeed.

The music, as you can hear from this representative track, is another story, alas.

Not The Searchers finest moment obviously, but if it came on my car radio, I wouldn't turn it off.

Here's the complete track listing -- I must admit, I'm kind of curious about the Long John Baldry thing.

1. To know her is to love her / Robb Storme & The whisperers
2. Spanish harlem / Jimmy Justice
3. First Teast Of love / Migil 5
4. Some Kinda Wonderful/ Johnny Sandon
5. I’m Counting on you / Petula Clark
6. Bless You / Peter London
7. I love How you love me / Marie Gordon price
8. Twist And Shout / Searchers
9. he Knows I Love him Too Much / Glo Marcari
10. Ecstasy / Oliver reed
11. He’ a rebel / Breakaways
12. Up on The roof / Jimmy Justice
13. Chapel of love / Cadets
14. Da Doo Ron Ron / Searchers
15. Here She Comes/ Breakaways
16. Be My Baby / Searchers
17. Goodnight Baby / Searchers
18. You baby / Jackie Trent
19. You’re lost that loving feeling / Barbra Ann
20. The coldest night of the year / Twice as much & vashti
21. Born to be together/ P.P Arnold
22. Is this what I get for loving you baby/ Twice as much
23. Home of the Brave / peanut
24. I’ll take you where the musics playing / Pat Lynch
25. Hungry / 5 A.M. Event
26. Goin Back / Jackie Trent
27. River deep Mountain High/ Long John Baldry

You should be able to download the album for free over HERE; if it doesn't work, you can get it at AMAZON for a reasonable twenty bucks or so.

Friday, July 10, 2020


From 1988, please behold in breathless wonder the great Material Issue (featuring the sadly departed too young Jim Ellison) and an absolutely transplendent cover of The Sweet's bubble-gum/verging on power pop/70s classic "Little Willy."

Moah cowbell!!!

As you can guess, I'm a big Material Issue fan, and for the life of me I don't understand how I missed this one until yesterday. Oh well, such is life.

In any case -- have a great weekend everybody!!!

Thursday, July 09, 2020

Bring Me the Head of Arthur Godfrey

From 1952, please enjoy(?) Godfrey show regular Janette Davis and her crime against nature novelty hit from hell "Hold the Phone."

I have to say that -- and I find this terrifying -- I'm old enough to have listened to Godfrey on the radio in his heyday (I think tomorrow I'll post his 1967 appearance with Moby Grape -- I'm not making this up). But until yesterday, I'd never heard the song above.

BTW -- this was Davis' other big hit.

Ain't life grand?

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Your Wednesday Moment of Words Completely Freaking Fail Me

The Japanese ambassador to the United States straps on a Fender Stratocaster and performs a credible version of the Jimi Hendrix arrangement of "The Star Spangled Banner."

I know rock-and-roll is a universal language, but this really takes the cake.

[h/t Peter Spencer]

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Who Listens to the Radio?

A quick programming note: Friend of PowerPop Capt. Al makes his triumphant return to the intertube airwaves beginning at 11am EST over at AREA 24 Radio today.

I believe this is his first Lost at Sea broadcast since the beginning of our current medical crisis, and all I can say is -- welcome back, big guy. Play some Floor Models if you get a chance.

To check it out, simply click on the link above and then the LISTEN HERE icon.

Monday, July 06, 2020

Girls! Girls! Girls!

A documentary on The Go-Gos?

Hey, this could be interesting.

Premieres on Showtime end of the month.

For what it's worth, as self-contained 80s girl groups go, I'm way more of a Bangles fan. But these gals were undeniably great and the film looks terrific.

Apparently they're gonna have a new single drop right before the movie as well -- I'll keep you posted.

Friday, July 03, 2020

It's Independence Day in the Time of Corona!!!

And in its honor -- a PowerPop tradition since 2018 -- please enjoy Bill Pullman, the greatest president of the United States who was never president of the United States..., wait, in the era of President Syphilitic Dementia that's not even a particularly good joke anymore.


What I meant to say was please enjoy the late great Ben E. King and his gorgeous cover of Bruce Springsteen's "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)."

I should add that the existence of that clip -- in the immortal words of Cristina Applegate on Married With Children -- makes my mind wobble.

I mean -- can you imagine how cool for Bruce it must have been to learn that one of the singers you idolized back in your youth had actually beautifully interpreted a song you had written?

I think the word is wow.

Have a great socially distanced weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, July 02, 2020

Your Thursday Moment of Speaking of Gorgeous

[I originally posted this back in 2017, but I had forgotten how great the song in question is until I stumbled across it in my iTunes library the other day, so I thought I'd repost. Thanks for indulging me. -- S.S.]

This is an oh so tragic story, so please try not to laugh.

A long time ago (no Spanish American War jokes, thank you) I was going through a really painful breakup, by which I mean I was at the beginning of a three year depression that made me all but impossible to hang out with because of my annoying habit of saying things like "What's there to live for?" in response to questions like "Would you like fries with that?"

As you can imagine, my emotional state was impacting my listening habits, and at one point the then new 1991 album Anything Can Happen, by Nashville alt-pop rockers The Questionnaires, happened to cross my desk.

One song from the album in particular -- the (I decided) ragingly beautiful breakup ballad "In the Back of My Mind" --

-- hit me pretty hard and I began listening to it obsessively, to the point where I think I basically ignored everything else on the record, the rest of which could have been Lithuanian grindcore for all I knew.

Anyway, one day a critical colleague of mine -- toiling at Entertainment Weekly, as I recall -- happened to ask me what I was listening to of late, and I recommended said Questionnaires album, rather heartily, as I also recall. A few weeks later he called me up about a review assignment, and he finally said "Uh...Steve? You know that Questionnaires thing you made me listen to? It...really sucks."

To be honest, I didn't see the point in arguing, and I'm sure I figured that my own judgement probably wasn't all that reliable anymore, for obvious reasons. So I put the CD away out of earshot, and eventually mislaid it somewhere, probably while moving to a new apartment a year or two later.

Cut to the present and, for whatever reason the song popped into my head unbidden. So out of curiosity, I went through my iTunes library and checked out "In the Back of My Mind" for the first time in at least two decades. And guess what -- I still think that it's ragingly beautiful in a sort of Brian Wilson/early Association/lotsa harmonies kind of way.

Okay, no larger point, but you can listen to it above and make up your own mind about whether or not I'm the biggest pathetic wimp who ever lived.

Incidentally, the guy who wrote the song is big band jazz great Woody Herman's grandson. What Woody would have thought about any of this, of course, is anybody's guess.

POSTSCRIPT: You can get a brand new copy of the Questionnaires CD -- which I just listened to for the first time in years, and which is really really good -- at Amazon, for a lousy six bucks, over HERE.

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Your Wednesday Moment of Words Fail Me

Apparently, this is an official video for George Harrison's gorgeous "What Is Life."

I have no idea who is responsible for this, or when it's from, but I must confess I completely lost it yesterday when I stumbled across it at YouTube.

Seriously -- if this doesn't reduce you to a puddle of tears, I don't want to know you.