Thursday, October 21, 2021

When I'm 64 (Plus 10)

Yes, I turned that old today. How freaking weird.

On the other hand, as the man said, we all lose our charm in the end.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Songs I'd Forgotten I Loved By Bands I'd Forgotten I Liked (An Occasional Series): Special "Fidel Baby -- How Are You?" Edition

From 1993, please enjoy Chicago-based hard rock popsters Urge Overkill and their killer single "Sister Havana."

A great song, I think you'll agree, but I bring it up because UO has an album out -- their first in over a decade -- with a single that's a cover of (of all things) a George Michael song.

I'm not crazy about it, but you can check it out at the link HERE.

And don't let anybody tell you I don't post new music here because I do. So there.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Take Out the Papers and the Trash

From 2013, please enjoy Garbage -- featuring the charmingly yclept Shirley Manson (and special guest Marissa Paternoster from Screaming Females) -- and the greatest cover of the Bruce Springsteen/Patti Smith classic "Because the Night" ever heard by sentient mammalian ears.

Words fail me.

Seriously, that song is probably impossible to fuck up, but that version is exceptionally right on.

[h/t dmark]

Friday, October 15, 2021

World Without End Amen

[Okay, kids, please indulge me while I get uncharacteristically serious. And I say this knowing full well that the name of this blog is PowerPop, not Pissed Off Old Leftist Hippie. But the fact is that yesterday I encountered a work of art that affected me profoundly in its terrifying prescience and relevance to our current historical moment, and I would be remiss if I didn't bring it to your attention.

The work of art in question is "September 1, 1939," a poem by W. H. Auden, which I had never previously read (it was posted this week over at the invaluable Hullabaloo blog courtesy of the great Digby), but from which I recognized several references; the line "the normal heart," for example, provided the title for Larry Kramer's great mid-80s play about the Reagan era AIDS pandemic, which suddenly doesn't seem as remote as it once did.

As you can gather, it's about the way the world felt at the time of the title -- Auden actually wrote it a year later, when things were even worse -- which is to say as the forces of global fascism were poised to take over the world. Obviously, anybody with half a brain who wasn't themselves a fascist felt the same as Auden did back then, but because he was an artist he articulated it better than most. As I said, I had never read it before, but because it seemed so familiar, it chilled me to the bone; all I kept thinking after I digested it was a paraphrase of another, earlier and better known, poem: "And what rough totalitarian beast, its hour come at last, slouches toward Bethlehem to be born."

In any event, I'm sharing it with you now for obvious reasons; this, as far as I'm concerned, is exactly how the United States of America and the world feels right this minute. Let's hope we survive, although frankly I'm not betting on it. -- S.S.]

SEPTEMBER 1, 1939 (W. H. Auden)

Have a great weekend, everybody. Heh.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Pre-Rock Pop Songs Covered By Rock Artists (An Occasional Series): Part IV -- Special "Witches? Well, These Guys Were Sort of From New England" Edition

From 1967, please enjoy Connecticut's The Fifth Estate and their left-field hit version of the recurring theme from The Wizard of Oz "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead."

The song itself dates, obviously, from 1939, and it doesn't seem to have been covered as often as "Over the Rainbow." The Fifth Estate's remake, which reached (to my surprise at this point) Number 11 on the Billboard charts, was essentially a novelty record, and not really typical of the band's more garage-y sound.

I should add that when I was researching this I was convinced that I went to college with a guitarist from the group, but it turns out I was mistaken; I had them confused with some other obscure tri-state area group that had a one-off single around the same time. Can't remember who THOSE guys were, but I think one of my old college bandmates may recall; I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Pre-Rock Pop Songs Covered by Rock Artists (An Occasional Series): Part III -- Special "My Glasses Need Cleaning" Edition

From 1975, please enjoy former Forest Hills neighbor of mine Art Garfunkel and his quite lovely lush remake of The Flamingos 1958 hit version of "I Only Have Eyes For You."

The song itself originally dates from the 1934 film Dames, where it was introduced by Dick Powell. The Flamingos version is, of course, one of the great late doo-wop classics. As for Artie's take, which hit Number One in the UK, I must confess that I'm not much of a fan of his solo work, but this particular track is really nice.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Pre-Rock Pop Songs Covered by Rock Artists (An Occasional Series): Part II -- Special "Check Your Timex" Edition

From 1965, please enjoy the wonderful Unit 4 + 2 -- featuring future Argent members Bob Henrit and Russ Ballard -- and their utterly lovely, slightly doo-wop tinged, version of "When I Fall in Love."

I'm cheating a bit here; the song itself -- written by Victor Young (music) and Edward Heyman (lyrics) and introduced in the film One Minute to Zero in 1952 -- is not technically pre-rock, but what the hell; most of the work that made those guys famous was. In any case, it's gorgeous.

I should add that the above was the B-side of the great "Concrete and Clay"; I had the American 45 version and I'm not ashamed to say I wore it out.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Pre-Rock Pop Songs Covered By Rock Artists (An Occasional Series): Part I -- Special "Climate Change is a Hoax" Edition

From 1965, please enjoy incomparable power pop faves The Zombies, featuring the great Colin Blunstone on vocals and Rod Argent on a keyboard solo to die for, and their haunting cover of "Summertime," by George Gershwin and his lovely wife Ira. (Old joke.)

That's from the first Zombies album (which is a genuine classic) and the song itself, from the Gershwin's opera Porgy and Bess, dates from 1935. It's been covered by countless people over the years, in the rock era most notably by Janis Joplin, but I think this is the definitive version if there is such a thing.

I should add -- and I've said this on previous occasions -- that George Gershwin's early death in 1937, at the age of 38, was the greatest tragedy in the history of American music in the 20th century.

Friday, October 08, 2021

A Tinkling Piano in the Next Room

From his soon to be released (in mid-November, which is not soon enough for me) album At My Piano, please enjoy the great Brian Wilson and a solo piano (no singing, no band) version of his ineffably gorgeous "God Only Knows."

As you can hear, apart from being utterly exquisite, the song is being treated as a little classical piece, as it always deserved.

Fittingly, and I never thought I'd type these words, the album it's on is being released by the classical division of the venerable Decca Records. In the immortal words of Dean Martin, who knew about such things, ain't that a kick in the head?

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, October 07, 2021

Ginger Baker: Symptom or Disease?

The short version: He was, indisputably, a great drummer in his way, but none of the music he made, with any of the myriad bands he played with over the years, save for these two atypically pop-ish tracks by Cream...

...gave me any pleasure whatsoever.

I bring him up at this point in time becaue I had forgotten this 1974 ad from the old Village Voice musicians classified section, which totally cracks me up.

And yes, that's the ad Max Weinberg responded to. Heh.

Wednesday, October 06, 2021

Closed for Monkey Business

Sorry, but do to back injuries -- don't ask -- I lack the energy to post tomorrow. Swear to god, there'll be something utterly delightful up on Thursday.

Tuesday, October 05, 2021

Great Lost Singles of the Sixties: Special "Songs I'd Forgotten I Love" Edition

From 1967, please enjoy Los Angeles folk-rockers The Poor and their minor hit "She's Got the Time (She's Got the Changes)."

That was written by Tom Shipley of Brewer and; the bass player was a pre-Eagles Randy Meisner. The band itself appeared on the label of (and were managed by) the guys behind Buffalo Springfield.

I actually owned that 45 (which got respectable airplay in New York City back in my youth). I have a best-of anthology of their stuff somewhere that I probably should re-research at some point soon.

Monday, October 04, 2021

It Was Two Years Ago Today...

...that my old band, The Floor Models, performed its swansong/reunion gig. Here's the final three songs from said show (okay, we did one other number after this segment, but you get the idea).

Yes, the performances are a little raggedy -- hey, we hadn't played together in 25 years, and I confess to spending more time figuring out what I was gonna wear to the gig than trying to relearn my bass parts -- but they're raggedy in the right way, and if those four guys aren't having fun I'm no judge of horseflesh.

This is hard for me to write about, for the obvious reason that our beloved drummer Glen Robert Allen -- or as I refer to him, my musical director for the last 50 years -- was very sick at the time of the show, and passed away the following February. I will share one anecdote, however, which speaks volumes about him.

As we were getting ready to go home after the performance, I went up to Glen and said, and I was being heartfelt, "Dude -- thanks. You carried me." And he flashed me a big grin, pointed to the other two members of the band, and said "Nope. WE carried THEM."

Friday, October 01, 2021

Sue Thompson 1925 - 2021

Country/pop chanteuse Sue Thompson, auteur of the 1961 hit single "Norman" and much else, has departed this sad vale of tears at the ripe old age of 96.

My dad's name was Norman, and during that song's run on the charts it was probably the only time he was sexy. (Just kidding, dad).

I should add that I'm mostly posting the song because a certain anti-semite hick nitwit from Maine I'm fond of making justifiable fun of commented on it recently in a way that made it clear he doesn't know the difference between counting eighth notes or remembering the lyrics accurately.

I should also add that the song itself was written by the great John D. Loudermilk, who would deserve to be immortal if he had penned nothing more than "Tobacco Road."

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!