Monday, November 30, 2020

He's Not Paid to Think. Just Play.

And speaking as we were last week of greatest-pianist-in-rock-history Nicky Hopkins -- from 1967 and their masterpiece album Face to Face, please enjoy The Kinks and "Session Man."

I should add that not only does Hopkins play, brilliantly, on that track but it's also about him.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Its Turkey Day (Special "Matthew Fisher is God" Edition)

From 1969, here's the original classic lineup of Procol Harum...

......and their utterly gorgeous "Pilgrim's Progress."

Pilgrim -- get it? It's not rocket science, kids.

As long-time readers may recall, this song is something of a Thanksgiving tradition around here by now. Although I'll grant you that given we're, thankfully, in the twilight of the President Mediocre Columbo Villain era, it's not quite the same anymore.

In any case, enjoy the cranberry sauce and stuffing, everybody!!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Tickle Those Ivories, Nicky!!!

From his 1966 album The Revolutionary Piano of Nicky Hopkins, please enjoy the man himself and a drop dead gorgeous instrumental version of the The Beatles' "Yesterday."

Hopkins -- who died at the age of 50 in 1994, tragically -- was hands down the greatest piano player in the history of rock, but I must confess that I was unaware of the above album untill last week; Wikipedia doesn't even include it in his solo discography. I should add that it was produced by Shel Talmy, with whom Hopkins worked on innumerable records by The Who and The Kinks , but I have been unable to discover who wrote the fabulous string arrangement.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Your Tuesday Moment of Now I've Heard and Seen Everything

Gunhild Carling. Playing jazz bagpipes.

Normally, that would be a sort of dancing bear thing, i.e. you'd be impressed that it was being done at all, rather than being done well. But that gal really cooks!!!

Meanwhile, you can learn more about her over HERE. And maybe tomorrow I'll post a clip of her playing three trumpets at the same time.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Your Monday Moment of Words Fail Me

From 2015, please enjoy Dawes and "All Your Favorite Bands."

I've been a sort of fan of those guys for a while, but that song -- which I hadn't ever heard until this morning, on the recommendation of a teenage friend of mine who has amazing good taste -- just destroys me.

I mean -- I'm not used to crying before breakfast.

[h/t Bekka Sakhno]

Saturday, November 21, 2020

The Basnight Has a Thousand Eyes

From his just released album of pop/rock covers...

...please enjoy indie rock legend and friend of PowerPop Jim Basnight and his absolutely fabulous version of "So Much in Love."

That is, of course, a Jagger/Richards song that the Stones never recorded; you probably know it from the early '80s cover by The Inmates, which was a minor radio hit in these parts. In any event, it's a long time favorite at Casa Simels.

The bottom line is that Jokers, Idols & Misfits has similarly splendid renditions of classics by all sorts of worthies including The Beatles, The Who, The Sonics, Stories and David JoHansen, and every one of them is worth hearing; you can -- and obviously should -- download or stream the album over HERE. Believe me, you'll be glad you did.

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Friday, November 20, 2020

Coming (You Should Pardon the Expression) Attractions

An absolutely fab song by a friend of PowerPop goes up much later today, and stays up all weekend.

Trust me, it will be worth the wait.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Great Lost Guitar Solos of the 70s (An Occasional Series): Potliquor -- The Final Chapter

[I originally posted this in 2010. Cut to yesterday -- when I got an e-mail from the estimable Alvin Wallace that pretty much cleared up a question the piece raised. Have I mentioned that some days I really love my phony baloney job? In any case -- enjoy. -- S.S.]

From 1973 and the largely overlooked album Louisiana Rock & Roll, please enjoy Potliquor and "H." Their (I think tremendously haunting) ode to...I'm not exactly sure what.

I mean, given the title I have my suspicions, but I've never quite figured it out, despite repeated, even obsessive, listenings.

Anyway, the absolutely perfect not-a-superfluous-note guitar solo at the finale is by the song's author (and singer), Les Wallace. And it's as close to vintage Mick Taylor with The Rolling Stones as anything I've ever heard, I'll tell you that for free.

Amazing production on that, as well; I particularly like the way it's all but impossible to discern where the guitar ends and the clavinet begins. Seriously -- I can't think of another American hard rock band of the same vintage whose records sound as good as that.

Potliquor (I've been a fan since back in the day, thanks to being on a lot of record company mailing lists in college) were an interesting bunch, actually, and definitely worth reappraisal. Their three albums (released between 1969-73) were wildy uneven, but the good stuff was out of this world and there were times they got really close to the sort of mutant blues/metal soundscapes normally associated with Brits like The Move.

I've tried to track these guys down over the years. Don't know where the aforementioned Les Wallace is, but drummer Jerry Amoroso is on Facebook and has threatened to get in touch with me (hi, Jerry!). Auxiliary bassist and friend of the band Leon Medica (that's him on "H") believes they're all alive and well, and has been in touch with keyboardist (turned Christian singer/songwriter) George Ratzlaff from time to time.

In any case, you can legally download all three original Potliquor LPs over at Amazon HERE.

And if Les Wallace is out there -- dude, give me a holler. I really want to know what the song is about.

POSTSCRIPT: So as I suggested upstairs, the following appeared in my e-mail yesterday, and -- in the immortal words of Cristina Applegate on Married With Children -- you could have knocked me over with the weather.

Hi, sorry its been ten years since you inquired of my older brother, Les. Ran across your post while checking out Van Broussard's obit. Les is alive, doing well at a remote cabin in SW Missouri NE of Springfield. Doesn't get out much these days because of the Covid, and doesn't live in a phone service area. Was still playing in local area around Branson and traveled to annual farm fest in Iowa for two weeks until earlier this year. Has done some great work over the last 40+ yrs, but has never recorded any except what family and friends have been fortunate enough to capture. Shame the greed of the music mafia has negated the work of so many great musicians. Some OD'd, some committed suicide, some spaced out to never return, but most, like Les, quit making people rich but never quit playing. Thanks for asking. -- Alvin Wallace

To which I can only respond a) wow and b) thank you, Alvin.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

The Byrds of Fall Are On Winter's Traces

You know, every now and then I really love my phony baloney job.

Case in point: Last week, when I had the opportunity to phone chat with one of my long time musical heroes, original Byrds bassist Chris Hillman, whose wonderful autobiography Time Between: My Life as a Byrd, Burrito Brother, and Beyond...

...dropped (as the kids say) today.

For starters, this is one of the best rock memoirs ever; as I told Chris, it reminded me of Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run, in the sense that a) Hillman turns out to be a really good writer, and b) that even before he gets around to the music stuff, the chapters on his childhood (in Hillman's case, in Rancho Santa Fe California) are absolutely engrossing and evocative. Note to Byrds fans: Chris gives the true fact lowdown on the real life character who inspired Hillman's great song "Old John Robertson"...

...originally recorded by the Byrds in 1967. Which in itself is worth the price of admission.

I should add that Chris turned out to be as charming and gracious as anybody I've ever interviewed, and that he shared a couple of wonderful stories with me, including a pretty hilarious bit about how he and his wife are dealing with our current trying times; suffice it to say it involves his fellow Byrd Roger McGuinn (and wife), daily Zoom trivial pursuit contests, and cocktails.

In any case, Time Between is an absolutely smashing read; you can -- and obviously should -- order the book (either via Kindle or an actual physical copy) over at Amazon HERE.

Men at Work

Running behind schedule, but that post I promised yesterday will definitely go up later today. Thank you.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Your Monday Moment of I've Gone All Wobbly. And Not in a Good Way.

From 1979, please enjoy the great Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes and their ode to "Vertigo." A condition that has been kicking my ass since Thursday.

Seriously -- I have barely been able to get out of bed for the last couple of days because of that shit. Trust me -- it's the worst.

Going to get this checked by a doctor on Monday, assuming I'm steady on my feet enough to leave the house. In any case, Tuesday's post, which is already written, is going to be a beaut that I have been looking forward to for over a week.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Your Friday Moment of Why Didn't I Get the Memo on this Song?

From 2013, please enjoy the Arctic Monkeys -- a band I've frankly never given much thought to -- and their surprisingly (to me) appealing cover of the 60s classic "Baby I'm Yours."

Yet another song I discovered courtesy of a playlist compiled by the good folks at my local watering hole, BTW.

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Closed For Monkey Business

Annoyingly under the weather -- vertigo, if you can believe it.

Regular postings -- beginning with an Encounter with Greatness that will blow your minds -- resume on the morrow.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

A Theremin Named Lothar

From their just released live album (recorded at Amherst College in 1969) please enjoy New York City underground faves Lothar and the Hand People and a take on their almost hit "Machines" that has a little more energy than the more familiar (to me, at least) studio version.

I saw Lothar open for The Byrds at the Village Gate in 1966 (which is a story in itself, and one that I'll be referencing later in the week for reasons that will become obvious) and was immediately taken with them. Apart from being amazing musicians (and synth-pop pioneers) with terrific songs ("Machines" was originally recorded by Manfred Mann and written by Doc Pomus' partner Mort Shuman) they were also the snazziest dressers imaginable.

The curious and the kooky can order the live album over at Amazon HERE. I should add that if you don't have their wonderful debut studio album, which is also up at Amazon, your life is significantly the poorer for it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Hey -- It Was Manhattan in the 70s and 80s. We Were All a Little Over the Top.

Long time/attentive readers of this here blog are doubtless aware that an ex of mine who's still a good friend is an art director/graphic designer of significant repute who did a lot of rock albums that you may have seen, including the one for Remain in Light by Talking Heads.

I bring this up because last Friday -- which seems a million years ago, before Biden had been declared the winner of our recent exercise in the democratic process -- I was having lunch with my young musician friend Joe Benoit and we got on the subject of the great French composer Maurice Ravel. And I suddenly remembered that the great English steel guitarist B.J. Cole had recorded a version of Ravel's second most famous composition...

...on the Hannibal Records label, which said ex of mine of mine had done a lot of work for.

Alas, she hadn't done the B.J. Cole LP, but I remembered that she and I had collaborated on an earlier Hannibal release, which I don't think I've ever shared here.

That's said ex in the photos on the front cover; I wrote the stupid bad taste jokes.

By the way, musically it's quite a fun album, if you can find a copy.

Monday, November 09, 2020

Oh, to Be 40 Years Younger

And no, I still wouldn't have a shot.

Those are, of course, the fabulous Mona Lisa Twins live at the Cavern Club in Liverpool (yes, THAT Cavern Club) with a medley from their just released double CD...

...titled, appropriately enough, Live at the Cavern Club.

You can -- and obviously should -- order a copy of it from their website over HERE, and yes, for a couple of extra shekels the kids will sign it for you.

Have I mentioned that if I was 40 years younger, I still wouldn't have a shot with either of them?

Friday, November 06, 2020

Your Friday Moment of Words Fail Me

From their forthcoming Byrds tribute album (In-Flyte Entertainment)...

...please enjoy The Floor Models (featuring some asshole whose name rhymes with Sleeve Nimels on bass and synth strings) and their gorgeous cover of the Gene Clark classic "Here Without You."

There'll be a little tweaking of this (which we otherwise finished in the studio last night) when we finalize the album mix -- and it's now looking like the record is gonna come out early next year -- but I think this is just terrific, and god bless our special guests Peter and Caleb Spencer, who did absolutely stellar work on it.

I should add that if you think the front cover is cool (which it is), wait until you see what we're gonna do with the back cover. Heh.

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, November 05, 2020

Post-Election New Music (By People I Know Personally) Part II: Special "I Gotta Get Me One of Those Top Hats" Edition

From his wonderful 2020 album New York at Night,..

...please enjoy the incomparable Willie Nile (and band) and his (holy cow -- post pandemic) new video "Lost and Lonely World."

Willie has been releasing records since 1980, and I have to say -- with the exception of Richard Thompson, I can't think of another rocker of his generation who has been making such high quality music as consistently and for as long a time.

In any event, you can -- and (hey, you know) should -- grab a copy of NYAN over at Amazon HERE.

Wednesday, November 04, 2020

Post-Election New Music (By People I Know Personally): Part I -- And Speaking of Gorgeous

My good friend Joe Benoit has just released the second track from his upcoming recorded-at-home-during-the pandemic album.

So please enjoy the seraphically lovely "There Must Be a Reason." (An apt title for our trying times, now that I think of it.)

I have been on record, so to speak, for quite a while as suggesting that the first thing Joe did during our trying times (back in May, if you can believe it)...

...would be reckoned by history as the most moving artistic artifact created during our long national nightmare. I see no reason to amend that judgement, but "There Must Be a Reason" isn't too shabby either, and I for one can't wait to hear the rest of the album both of those songs are gonna be on. In the meantime, you can -- and should -- buy and stream the new one (along with the rest of Joe's astounding catalogue) over at his website HERE.

What are you waiting for, you knuckleheads? If ever there was a time to be a patron of the arts, it's freaking now.

Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Alice Cooper for President

Hey -- it's no stupider than electing a pscyhopathic racist ignoramus who starred in a crappy reality tv show.

Assuming we still have a country, new music postings resume on the morrow.

And if you haven't already -- go vote.

Monday, November 02, 2020

I Wanna Be Elected

Yeah, yeah, I know -- I was going to start posting really cool new music today.

But given what's going on in our noble democracy at the moment, I decided that it's incumbent on me to at least deal with that for another day or two.

So I promise -- if we still have a country on Wednesday, the really cool new music will begin going up then.

In the meantime, from -- swear to god, their 1972 album masterpiece The Night is Still Young (produced by the great Jeff Barry) -- please enjoy Sha Na Na and "The Vote Song."

I should add that -- again, assuming we still have a country later this week -- you need to go over to Amazon and get that unlikely album masterpiece.

And make sure you vote.