Friday, June 24, 2022

Records I'd Forgotten Existed, Let Alone Loved: An Occasional Feature (Special "The Four Seasons" Edition)

From 1967, please enjoy The Hollies and (the b-side of "Carrie-Anne") their gorgeous (Clarke-Hicks-Nash penned) "Signs That Will Never Change."

The song itself first saw the light of vinyl in 1966, on The Everly Brothers Two Yanks in England LP, on which the Bros were backed by The Hollies. But this rendition has some vaguely psychedelic touches that to my ears make it definitive. In any case, a genuine overlooked classic.

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Records I'd Forgotten Existed, Let Alone Loved: An Occasional Feature (Special "The Band That Died For Your Fins" Edition)

From their 1982 Album -- Generic Flipper, please enjoy the aforementioned Flipper and their toe-tapping classic "Sex Bomb Baby."

These guys made an idiosyncratic brand of punk rock that was simultaneously hilarious and disturbing. I must admit that I was kind of late to the party where they were concerned, but the first time I heard the song above I knew I would never be the same.

I should add that Flipper's 1993 masterpiece (American Grafishy) sported the greatest album title in history.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Records I'd Forgotten Existed, Let Alone Loved: An Occasional Feature (Special "Follow the Money" Edition)

From 1974, and their sophomore album Sheet Music, please enjoy 10cc and their mordant, ironic (and obviously still relevant) ode to rapacious greed "The Wall Street Shuffle."

Like most of the early 10cc stuff, it was too hip for the room (i.e., it was a hit in the UK but bombed here).

I should add that it was co-penned by Graham Gouldman, who in my humble opinion is the greatest British rock songwriter of his day whose last name isn't either Lennon or McCartney.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Records I'd Forgotten Existed, Let Alone Loved: An Occasional Feature (Special "The Poor Are Always With Us" Edition)

From early 1967, please enjoy Los Angeles country-folk-pop-garage-psychedelic band The Poor and their terrific minor hit single -- okay, it made the Top 40 in New York City, and I actually owned a copy of the 45 seen below when it came out -- "She's Got the Time (She's Got the Changes").

The short version: These guys were bassist Randy Meisner's band before he joined Poco (and later The Eagles), and they were managed by the guys who handled Buffalo Springfield. Also as you can hear and see...

...the song -- which is terrific -- was written by Tom Shipley, later of the duo responsible for "One Toke Over the Line." Okay, I've forgiven both of them.

I should add that the comp album above is one of the coolest artifacts of the just-pre-San Francisco rock era, and well worth checking out.

Monday, June 20, 2022

Records I'd Forgotten Existed, Let Alone Loved: An Occasional Feature (Special "Snoopy -- the Comic Strip Dog, Not the Rapper -- Would Have Flipped For This One" Edition)

From late 1966, and the B-side to their deserved hit single "Hello, Hello," please enjoy the vastly underrated Sopwith Camel and "Treadin'," one of the great lost folk-rock records of all time. Sort of a cross between the original Byrds and middle-period Zombies.

Don't get me started on the Camel; those guys were historically important for being the first of the Fillmore era hippie San Francisco bands to score a hit single, and their album pictured above -- which didn't come out for a year or so after their breakthough success for reasons that have been murky ever since -- is an utter masterpiece. God knows it's vastly superior on every level to both the debut LPs by their contemporaries the Grateful Dead and the Jefferson Airplane.

I should add that it was produced, brilliantly, by Erik Jacobsen (who helmed the records of the Lovin' Spoonful, Norman Greenbaum and Chris Isaak) and that to the best of my knowledge "Treadin'" did not appear on any actual version of the Camel album back in the day, nor was it available in a stereo mix previously. Discovering this version has been one of the biggest surprises I've had since I woke up in 2016 and learned that a mediocre James Bond Villain had mysteriously become president of these United States.

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Records I'd Forgotten Existed, Let Alone Loved : An Occasional Feature (Special "You Be Bad, Girl" Edition)

From their eponymous 1985 debut album, please enjoy should-have-been-bigger LA band Lone Justice and their terrific -- written by Tom Petty and Mike Campbell -- single "Ways to Be Wicked."

If memory serves I first became aware of these kids when they did the song above on Saturday Night Live; in any case, I remember flipping out over the album and raving about it in the pages of The Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Review. Haven't heard any of the rest of the record in years, but this one -- which I rediscovered last week -- holds up, I think.

Trivia Note: lead singer Maria McKee is the half sister of the late Bryan Maclean, the Brian Jones blonde look-alike in Arthur Lee's Love.

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Friday, June 17, 2022

Records I'd Forgotten Existed, Let Alone Loved (An Occasional Feature)...

...will return tomorrow, and the song in question is a doozy. Trust me on this, and sorry for the delay necessitated by real world concerns.

See you Saturday.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Records I'd Forgotten Existed, Let Alone Loved: An Occasional Feature (Special "Who Were These Guys, Anyway?" Edition)

From 1965, please enjoy Brit popsters Unit Four plus Two (featuring future Argent drummer Bob Henrit) and their quite lovely Beatles/Beach Boys-esque take on the venerable pop hit "When I Fall In Love."

The song itself -- co-written written by celebrated film composer Victor Young -- was originally featured in a 1952 Robert Mitchum Cold War thriller, and has been covered innumerable times, including by Linda Ronstadt and Rick (It Was Ghastly) Astley.

The version above, however, was the B-side of the international hit "Concrete and Clay," and as a teenager I used to play it obsessively. I mean more than the A-side; it had a Dion and the Belmonts doo wop vibe that somehow connected with the pre-college me.

A lovely record, in any case, and nice to be re-acquainted with it after all these years.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Records I'd Forgotten Existed, Let Alone Loved: An Occasional Feature (Special "Alan Turing" Edition)

From 1982, please enjoy first generation greaseballs The Capris -- of "There's a Moon Out Tonight" fame -- and their fabulous modern day doo wop cult hit "Morse Code of Love."

The short backstory:

As attentive readers are no doubt aware, I'm a sucker for doo wop. Apparently so were some people at Sony Music -- a couple of rock critics, if memory serves -- who ran, briefly, a low budget label subsidiary called Ambient Sound, which was devoted to doo wop old and and new.

In any event, I was vaguely aware of all this, but for some reason never bothered to listen to the stuff Ambient released when their vinyl crossed my desk at the Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Review. But then sometime in the late 80s I happened to hear "Morse Code of Love" for the first time on WCBS-FM (our local oldies radio station) while travellling home from a weekend long recording session in Delaware, and practically leapt out of the car in joy at the innocent gorgeousnesss of the song. And when I looked it up and found out that it was a actually a contemporary track, my little heart danced in ways I find difficult to describe.

Since then, I've binge-listened to it every couple of years, and last week I went nuts over it all over again. Hopefully, you guys will have the same reaction to it as I did.

Oh and BTW -- I should add that Manhattan Transfer did a drop dead great cover of it (billed as "Baby Come Back") that is the perfect capper to the saga, especially since it actually charted.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Closed for Repairs

Fabulously groovy stuff, including a photo essay about the new Lou Reed exhibition at Lincoln Center, will appear tomorrow through Friday. But you'll have to take my word for that.

Monday, June 13, 2022

Records I'd Forgotten Existed, Let Alone Loved: An Occasional Series (Special "When's the Mummer's Day Parade This Year?")

From their brilliant (and aptly named) 2000 album Kids in Philly, please enjoy the City of Brotherly Love's finest, aka Marah, and their haunting and kinetic "It's Only Money, Tyrone."

Alas, these guys make publically consumable music only occasionally these days (although they all seem to be alive and well, knock wood).

In any case, as you can hear from the above, nobody's ever done a more accomplished mashup of Bruce Springsteen and The Replacments.

Friday, June 10, 2022

And Speaking of Rock en Espanol….

...as we were the other day (over here), from 2010, please enjoy the pride of Guadalajara, Mexico -- AKA Maná -- and their gorgeously Police-y ballad "Rayando el Sol."

In all seriousness, these guys are rapidly turning into my favorite band, despite the language barrier.

Incidentally, the title translates as "Reaching for the Sun."

Have a great weekend, evertybody!

Tuesday, June 07, 2022

Les Enfants Vont Bien

From just the other day, please enjoy everybody's favorite sisters from Liverpool (or wherever the hell they're from) doing a fabulous unplugged version of The Who's classic early single.

(Look at the bookshelf top right, BTW).

From Mona and Lisa:

"When tlhe legend himself, Pete Townshend, got in touch with us a few years ago, simply to write some encouraging words to us, it felt like a circle was closing and real life got elevated to some surreal fairy tale."

I'll bet, gals. I'll freaking bet.

Saturday, June 04, 2022

Your Weekend Moment of "How Do You Say Backstory?" in French: Special Today We Are Le Vinyl Edition

So anyway, the short version.

Sometime last year, I got an e-mail out of the blue from a lovely gentleman from Canada (specifically Quebec) previously unknown to me named Martin Tremblay. Turned out Martin ran an indie label -- Mean Bean -- which specialized in late 70s/early 80s power pop and punk reissues on vinyl. Martin -- god only knows how -- had heard of The Floor Models, asked me if I would like to contribute a track, and specifically asked for our "Enough's Enough," which is the song I would have picked myself. He had previously issued two volumes of this stuff, beautifully packaged -- liner notes about each band, an insert map poster showing where each band was based -- and, flattered beyond belief, I told him I was in (duh), and sent him a remastered version of our song.

In any case, the album was released earlier in the week -- as promised, a 12-inch LP like the good old days -- and it's absolutely fabulous on every level (love the cover, for example).

Anyway, here's a couple of representative tracks, beginning with the opener -- The Tearjerkers' Beach Boys-esque "Syracuse Summer" (bet you can't guess where those guys were from)...

...plus my favorite track (for obvious reasons) -- The Floor Models' "Enough's Enough," featuring yours truly on bass...

...and The Toasters' hard-rocking, melodic and funny "Stuck On You."

To my surprise, I had only previously heard of a couple of the bands on the record; here's the complete song and artist listing...

...and you can -- and should -- order the album at the link HERE.

Act now, because only 500 copies are gonna be available to the anxiously awaiting public, and when they're gone, they're gone baby gone.

And a tip of the Floor Models hat to Martin Tremblay, who made it all happen.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I am so gassed about this release that I am leaving the blog post up for one more day. Regular new stuff resumes tomorrow.

Friday, June 03, 2022

Okay, What Do We Have Here?

Hint: It's an old fashioned 12" vinyl LP, and it just became commercially available.

And what is all this stuff...

...that seems to be inside the package in the first picture?

Trust me, all will be revealed tomorrow in the backstory we might title The Musician Whose Name Rhymes With Sleeve Nimels -- Call Home!

The Coolest Thing Ever is Coming Later This Afternoon!

Check in for the details, won't you?

Thursday, June 02, 2022

Out Out, Damn Schmuck!

So as I mentioned recently, a certain Shady Dame and I went to see the Daniel Craig Broadway revival of Macbeth last Tuesday...

...and if you were wondering, with the exception of Craig, who has presence and charisma to burn, it, er, sucked eggs.

I mean, it was godawful -- miserably acted by a large, surprisingly amateurish ensemble cast, and directed by some putz would-be avant-garde auteur who makes a justifiably forgotten asswipe along the lines of Tom O'Horgan seem like Orson Welles.

Basically, it was the contemporary equivalent of a pretentious "experimental" college production of a Shakespeare play from the early 70's. I.e., incoherent trendy cringe-inducing bullshit trying to rip-off the mercifully (lost in the mists of history) Living Theatre. You know -- the kind of crap it was de riegeur to subject yourself to at some downtown dive like La Mama.

And when I say that, I know what I'm talking about, i.e. I was in a couple of those shows back in the day.

In any case, it's all but unwatchable -- if you're in the neighborhood of Broadway, save your money.

Wednesday, June 01, 2022

Your Wednesday Moment of Disarmament

So as you may have noticed, last weekend I couldn't come up with songs that seemed appropriate to the horrendously tragic recent events in Buffalo and Texas.

Typically, now I just did.

This one, by the great Ian Hunter (who comes from a country where they don't have the problems that we do) seems blindingly apt.

As does this one from Little Steven's first album. (BTW, that's the cosmically great Dino Danelli -- of Rascals fame -- on the stupendous drum part.)

In any event, two superb and obviously relevant tunes, although (granted) a day or two late, and a bitcoin short.

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

I'm Sorry, Mr. King, But I Don't Believe We've Been Introduced

So a certain Shady Dame and I are going to see a certain venerable theatrical classic on Broadway tonight; let's see if you can guess which one it is.

Here's a hint.

You know, it's funny -- I don't think I've ever seen a stage production of Shakespeare's Scottish play. My first exposure to it was on live TV, in 1954, in a celebrated NBC Hallnark Hall of Fame version starring Maurice Evans, who shall we say had a whiff of pork about him...

...but it nevertheless made a profound influence on the young me.

I should add that, obviously, the version I'm gonna see tomorrow -- which stars Daniel Craig, of James Bond fame -- will probably blow my aging mind as well.

I mean, Macbeth played by a guy who looks good in a tux? Wow!

Friday, May 27, 2022

Given the Tragic Events in Buffalo and Texas, I've Got Nothing Appropriate to Post This Weekend

Have as good a Memorial Day as you can under the circumstances, everybody.

With luck, regular musical stuff resumes on Tuesday.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

The French They Are a Funny Race. They Fight With Their Feet and They....Well, You Know.

From sometime in the mid-Swinging 60s, please enjoy Ye-Ye girls Eileen and their charmingly Gallic cover of the Nancy Sinatra/Lee Hazelwood S&M classic "These Boots Are Made For Walking."

I can find no information about these babes whatsoever, but whoever they were and whoever produced that record they're alright with me.

For les raisons évidentes.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Separated at Birth?

Roger Corman/American International Poe film icon Vincent Price...

...and Nobel Prize winning voice of a generation and this week's 81st birthday boy (May 24th) Bob Dylan.

Come to think of it, if I recall correctly, they co-starred in the 60s drive-in classic The Fall of the House of Gary Usher.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Your Tuesday Moment of "And Speaking of Gorgeous"

From his brand new 2022 album Harry's House, (released just last Friday, actually), please enjoy former boy band behemoth Harry Styles and his lovely (and 70s singer/songwriter influenced) ballad "Matilda."

Seriously, that's a really pretty record. I gotta say, to my delighted surprise, that this Styles kid is really talented.

Who knew?

Friday, May 20, 2022

Got Live if You Want It. Finally!!!

Wow.

Dig a club version of Chuck Berry's "Around and Around." The studio version of which originally opened The Rolling Stones' 1964 12 X 5.

And (originally) from their It's Only Rock 'n' Roll album in 1974, please enjoy a killer live take on Jagger/Richards' oh so cool, catchy and funny reggage-influenced "Luxury."

Okay, the backstory in case you've missed it

In 1977, the Stones put out a double LP in-concert album called Love You Live...

...that pretty much nobody (including me) liked; most of it was recorded in arenas, with lousy sound, the Andy Warhol cover art was lazily tossed-off crap, and the performances were way less than stellar.

LP side three, however, derived from a small club show the Stones had done in Toronto as a warm up for the tour that produced the other sides of dreck, and that club stuff was fricking amazing. And for years, people have been pining for an official release of that whole intimate show.

Et voila! The two tracks above, which derive from said intimate show, and are now from the Stones' new-found (and previously unreleased) masterpiece Live at the El Mocambo 1977.

I should add that said artifact is now one of my two favorite Stones live albums of all time, and -- even more impressively -- one of my four favorite live albums of all time by anybody. (I leave it to you to guess what the other two are).

Have I said wow? Okay -- wow!!!

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Tales of the Great Replacement Theory

From 1984, please enjoy the greatest band ever out of Minneapolis -- AKA The Replacements -- and their sensational cover of The Grass Roots' "Temptation Eyes."

Okay, I'm going to hell for that joke.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Karma is a Bitch

Anti-vaxx shithead Eric Clapton has Covid.

This clip seemed appropriate somehow.

Heh.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Songs the Proprietor of My Groovy Local CD Store Turned Me On To (An Occasional Feature)

From their 1996 album Hourly, Daily, please enjoy second greatest (after The Easybeats) Australian rock band You Am I, and their power pop masterpiece "Mr. Milk".

The short version: Sometime after that song was released, I happened to wander into NYCD, the fabulous record emporium on Manhattan's Upper West Side that I lived a few blocks away from. The above song was playing on the store sound system at the time, and I had no idea what it was or who had done it and it flipped me fucking out. (I mean -- is that 12-string riff the coolest or what?)

Fortunately, friend of PowerPop and proprietor of the invaluable Burning Wood blog Sal Nunziato was behind the counter at the time, and was able to provide me with the track's backstory.

Bottom line: Thanks, Sal!

Monday, May 16, 2022

As My Dad Used to Say, People Are No Damn Good and They Never Will Be

The news of the world this weekend has been too dispiriting for me to do any work whatsover.

Regular upbeat music posting resumes tomorrow. Honest Native American.

Friday, May 13, 2022

Rock Meets Optometry (and Then They Both Go Out to Le Bernardin for a Seafood Lunch)

From just now in 2022, please enjoy incomparable singer/songwriter (and friend of PowerPop) Cait Brennan and her fabulous new cover version of the hard-rock classic "Open My Eyes," (written by Todd Rundgren, who was doing business at the time with The Nazz).

Attentive readers will recall that I first wrote abouve Cait -- who, BTW, has an interesting backstory; let's just say she's quite a gal -- on the occasion of the release of her fabulous first album back in 2017, and that I later raved about her upon the release of her sophomore album, which was recorded at the same Ardent Studios where her idols Big Star plied their trade.

I should add that, since then, I was fortunate enough to have her sing back-up vocals on a track -- "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere" -- from the recent Floor Models tribute to The Byrds.

I should also add -- as if you couldn't tell on your own -- that she's just great, and that the above Nazz cover -- the original, which I adore, came out back in the antedeluvian days of 1968 -- and I'm delighted that Cait (collaborating with her long time producer and multi-instrumentalist Fernando Perdomo -- did such a wonderfully radical re-imagining of it.

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (and Women)

So please indulge me while I reminisce a little.

As attentive readers may know, I went to college at a place called C.W. Post -- a subsidiary (if that is the right word) of Long Island Universary, whose actual, i.e. physical, campus is located in lovely Brookville, N.Y. This was between, approximately, 1968-1972, in case you were wondering.

In any event, the place was lousy with great musicians, and one of said great musicians was a guy named Michael Sternberg. Same age as me, and like moi a nice Jewish boy from the tri-state area. But unlike me, a fucking tremendous guitar player. Mostly a blues guy -- he could do Mike Bloomfield better than anybody I ever encountered, but he was also a super British Invasion afficianado. To this day, one of the most amazing things I've heard was Mike's casually tossed off version of the lead guitar part from The Beatles' "And Your Bird Can Sing."

A part, I might mention, that on the original Beatles record is played by TWO (count 'em) two musicians simultaenously. I.e., George Harrison and Paul McCartney. I mean, my jaw still hasn't stopped dropping after all these years.

I should add that Michael's a wonderfully talented visual artist as well; here's a self-portrait he did back in the day, and that's just what he looked like.

In any case, I stayed in touch with Michael after college; like me, he moved to Manhattan in the 80s, and I remember jamming with him and some of the Floor Models on at least one occasion during that decade. Since then I've also become Facebook buddies with him for at least ten of those years.

But here's the thing -- what I did NOT know about Michael, until a few days ago when he posted these photos over at his FB feed -- was that his mom was a big shot actress in the Yiddish theater back in the day.

I mean, are those pictures the coolest things you ever saw?

Shoot, I'm willing to bet a bunch of my relatives attended performances by his mom, on stage live, at some point.

Wow. And I'll say it again -- wow.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Monday, May 09, 2022

Ballad of the Sad Kafe

From 2021, please enjoy the incomparable Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats and their magisterially gorgeous "The Future."

I think we can all safely agree that the above is the most convincing emulation of vintage period Robert Zimmerman -- circa, say, Blonde on Blonde -- any of us has heard lately.

But a little backstory.

As attentive readers are aware, my local watering hole is a joint called the Keuka Kafe, a few blocks down Queens Boulevard -- or as the regulars call it, the Boulevard of Death, due to the sadly high number of little old lady traffic fatalities -- from our digs in Forest Hills.

Apart from the splendid food and drink available there, and the hospitality of its proprietors Oleg and Olga Sakhno, the Kafe is also notable for the high quality of the music played on its sound system; I've been frequenting the place for six or seven years now, and hardly a visit goes by where I'm not hipped to some cool song previously unknown to me. The Rateliff tune above, which I heard for the first time this past Saturday, is just the most recent example.

I should add that if you're in the neighborhood, another reason to check the place out is their splendid selection of Ukranian beer, the sales of which are all donated to charities benefiting that beleaguered country. And tell 'em PowerPop sent you.

Friday, May 06, 2022

Weekend Listomania: Special "All the World's a Zither" Edition

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

Yes, my aleatoric Asian sidewoman and I are off to a Balinese temple somewhere to hear those gongs gonging.

But in our absence, here's a fun and obviously relevant little project for you faithful readers to wile away the time until our return:

BEST OR WORST POST-ELVIS SONGS REFERENCING MUSICAL INSTUMENTS IN THEIR TITLE OR LYRICS!

And my totally Top of My Head Top Six is:

6. Cheap Trick -- Mandocello

I'm, as they say, classically trained, but I gotta admit -- until I heard this record I was unfamiliar with the titular axe. In any case, a great song.

5. The Blues Project -- Flute Thing

Without question, the greatest lyric-less record of the hippie-rock era, and god bless Andy Kulberg, who performed it along with the rest of the Jewish Beatles.

4. Tommy Emmanuel -- Guitar Boogie

I forget who did this originally, but Emmanuel's version totally rocks.

3. Roy Montrell--That Mellow Saxophone

Without question, the greatest use of the proper name Davy Crockett in the history of popular music.

2. The Floor Models -- Chimes of Freedom

Stolen from The Byrds, who stole it from Bob Dylan, but still pretty good.

And the numero uno greatest song about somethng you play music on obviously is...

1. The Beatles -- While My Guitar Gently Weeps

C'mon -- you knew that was gonna be it, right?

Alrighty then -- what would YOUR choices be?

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, May 05, 2022

An Early Clue to the New Direction: Special "Double Entendre Help Me Rhonda" Edition

From 1965, please enjoy the wonderfully smutty "Baby Let Me Bang Your Box," by the splendidly yclept The Bangers.

A coveted PowerPop NoPrize© will be awarded the first reader who gleans the track's relevance to the theme of tomorrow's Weekend Listomania.

BTW, the song has been covered on numerous occasions; I tried to find the 70s version by porn star Robin Byrd, which New Yorkers will doubtless remember as the theme from her appalling Manhattan Cable TV show, but alas it was not to be.

Wednesday, May 04, 2022

Songs I Loved But Had Forgotten Ever Existed (An Occasional Feature)

From 1973, please enjoy the great John Cippolina, doing business as the frontman of Copperhead, and their eponymous album's opening track "Roller Derby Star."

Copperhead was the (short-lived) band Cippolina formed after his exit from Quicksilver Messenger Service, and when their album crossed my desk at the old Stereo Review, I remember laughing my posterior off at the song, and playing it obsessively (the fact that I had been a huge Quicksilver fan probably had something to do with it). In any case, in the intervening years I forgot all about the track.

Until the other day, when for some reason I was thinkig about Cippolina's slightly surreal custom built amplifier stack, which I had marvelled at a few years ago when I saw it at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame museum in Cleveland --

--- and suddenly the song popped into my head. Kind of Proustian, when you think of it, but a lot louder than Proust would have enjoyed.

In any event, I haven't heard the album in decades, but I am pleased to report that it is available in multiple formats over at Amazon HERE.

You're welcome very much.

Monday, May 02, 2022

Friday, April 29, 2022

Weekend Listomania: Special "Up Up and Away!" Edition

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Asian girl wonder amanuensis Fah Lo Suee and I are off to the West Coast for a long overdue vacation. And I mean LONG overdue. Shit, it's been three years since this damn pandemic first reared its appalling head and the furthest I've been away from home in all that time is down the street a few blocks.

But in the meantime, here's a fun litle project for us all to participate in.

BEST OR WORST THEME SONG TO A SUPERHERO MOVIE OR TV SHOW!!!

And my totally Top of My Head Top Five Is:

5. Theme from Superman (feature film 1978)

John Williams, obviously. Or as he was referred to back in the 50s, Johnny Williams.

4. Batman

The work of the splendidly monikered hepster jazz guy Neal Hefti. He probably was able to retire on the royalties from the TV version alone.

3. The Green Hornet

Rimsky-Korsakov and "The Flight of the Bumblebee." Classical composers could have made a fucking fortune back in the day if they'd had better management.

2. The Shadow

Camille Saint-Saens was wracked with pain, when people pronounced it as Saint-Sains. (That's an Ogden Nash joke). I should add that the music in question is Camille's "Omphale's Spinning Wheel."

And the Numero Uno toe-tapper for a caped or maked crusader is....

Theme from Superman (TV Show 1951)

The best superhero theme of them all, and believe it of not, nobody has a clue who wrote it. It's officially credited to a dude name Leon Klatzkin, but apparently he wasn't a composer -- he was an editor who helped license obscure b-movie scores to early TV. There's been some informed speculation that it was the work of the great Miklós Rózsa, of Ben-Hur fame, but it's never been reliably confirmed.

Alrighty then -- what would YOUR choices be?

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!!

Thursday, April 28, 2022

An Early Clue to the New Direction

Los Angeles City Hall.

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, April 27, 2022

Closed for Monkey Business

Gotta kill a day preparing for a long overdue vacation.

An early clue to Friday's new Weekend Listomania will be up on Thursday.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Honesty is the Best Policy (Except When It Isn't)

So speaking as we were yesterday of Greenwich Village (and briefly Top 40) faves Every Mother's Son, please enjoy their minor 1967 hit single "Pony With the Golden Mane."

I think we can all agree that's a truly lovely piece of folk rock. I remember liking it a lot when it was originally released, but to be honest I hadn't listened to it in a gazillion years. Or more specifically, until the weekend just past.

But when I did, you could have knocked me over with the weather. Because that instrmental intro section is indistinguishable in any meaningful way from the instro intro to a song from another 1967 sophomore album by a group from Greenwich Village.

I refer, of course to "Steve's Song" by The Blues Project."

Yeah, yeah, I know -- in the immortal words of Igor Stravinsky, mediocre composers borrow, great composers steal. But still -- I can't believe I never noticed it before. And hell, I can't believe nobody else in the rock crit racket or music bizness never noticed it before either.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Honesty is the Best Policy

From their vastly underrated eponymous 1967 debut album, please enjoy local NYC faves Every Mother's Son (of "Come On Down to My Boat" fame) and the best Monkees song the Monkees never recorded.

Apart from the above being a great piece of garage pop, I should add that it was actually written by two of the guys from the band, unlike "Boat," which was the work of the same Brill Building pros who earlier penned "Hang On Sloopy."

I should also add that Bruce Milner, the band's keyboard player (that is he far left in the cover photo), went on to be an extremely successful dentist with a practice on the upper West Side, and that his patient roster had a high percentage of mid-level rock stars. A very nice guy -- he hung out at one of my old watering holes, and apparently he is still plying his toothy trade to this day.

Coming tomorrow: A song from the band's second album that is the most blatant piece of plagiarism to ever achive minor hit single status.

Friday, April 22, 2022

Weekend Listomania: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Says "Math is SOOOOO Gay!" Edition

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Asian multiplication table Tsarina Fah Lo Suee and I are heading off to beautiful (and not at all heterosexually challenged) Key West, where we'll be buying up bootleg copies of trigonometry textbooks so that we can sell them later to trans kids in schoolyards in downtown Palm Beach.

But in the meantime, and ripped from the headlines, here's an obviously pertinent fun little project for all of us:

Best or Worst Post-Elvis Pop, Rock or Soul Songs Referencing Arabic Numerals in Their Titles or Lyrics

And my totally top of my head Top Ten (heh) are:

10. The Byrds -- 100 Years From Now

My favorite song on Sweetheart of the Rodeo, and possibly my favorite song written by Gram Parsons period.

9. Wilson Pickett -- 99&1/2 Won't Do

This guy had soul. I think we can all agree on that.

8. The Beatles -- Eight Days a Week

Have I mentioned that I'm a huge fan of the Procol Harum cover of this?

7. Love -- Seven and Seven Is

Proto-LA punk rock, and it was one of the great thrills of my life that I got to see the latter day version of the band covering it live some time (90s) at a NYC reunion show.

6. The Lovin' Spoonful -- Six O'Clock

You know, the older I get the more I think these guys were the best NYC band ever.

5. The Vogues -- Five O'Clock World

A bunch of greasers from Pittsburgh, of all places, and a glorious slice of Brill Building pop despite their home town.

4. The Youngbloods -- Four in the Morning

A late night blues classic from one of the all time great folk-rock albums. God bless Jesse Colin Young.

3. Jefferson Airplane -- Triad

A great song, musically, and really icky when it's sung by its composer David Crosby. So thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster that this version is sung by Grace Slick.

2. The Beatles -- Two of Us

Say no more (I can say no more).

And the number one song featuring what might be a Roman Numeral in its soubriquet is -- A TIE!!!

1. Harry Nilsson -- One

...and...

U2 -- One

I think you can guess which of the two songs is my favorite.

Alrighty -- what would YOUR choices be?

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, April 21, 2022

An Early Clue to the New Direction

From 1966, please enjoy the (then Young) Rascals and their glorious breakthrough hit "Good Lovin'".

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

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Hey -- These Guys is Good!

The Fabs in their prime.

Not exactly sure where or when this was shot -- looks like 1964, and it's obviously from some place where English is the national language -- but in any event, baby this is rock 'n' roll.

[h/t that Al the Captain]

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Two Characters in Search of an Author

Groucho Marx and Alice Cooper. A couple of icons chewing the fat.

Sometime in the early 70s, is my guess, and probably in Los Angeles at some press party somewhere.

Damn -- it's like looking at me talking to me.

PS: I should add that the fact Groucho is wearing a Groucho t-shirt is about the coolest thing ever.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Springsteen: "Songs" (Barnes & Noble.com, November 1998)

[Yet another entry from the Springsteen chapter of my forthcoming book of literary greatest hits. I originally wrote this for Barnes and Noble on the occasion of the release of that humongous coffee table book...

...of Springsteen's lyrics; the book seems to be out of print, and B&N has scrubbed the essay from their website, but because I love you all more than food, here it is as it originally appeared back in the day. Enjoy!]

THE WILD, THE INNOCENT, THE E STREET SHUFFLE AND ME

That Bruce Springsteen changed a lot of lives is both a truism and a cliché, although at this moment, if one is feeling uncharitable, it may be a rather naive and adolescent cliché. After all, 25 years after his first album, Greetings from Asbury Park, Bruce is an institution (he's now eligible for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, if you can believe it), and his music has changed in ways few of us expected (although we probably shouldn't be surprised about it). Springsteen now resembles a plainspoken populist like Merle Haggard far more than a generational spokesperson/poster boy like, say, Kurt Cobain. And the people whose lives Bruce most radically affected are, of course, now comfortably middle-aged, with more on their minds, understandably, than rock dreams. Face it: To paraphrase an early Springsteen song, it's hard to be a saint in the city when you're worried about making your mortgage payments or finding a good preschool.

Still, cliché or not, Bruce did impact more than a few lives, and if you want to know why, at least part of the reason can be found in the just-published Bruce Springsteen: Songs, a massive tome featuring the complete lyrics to every song found on every one of his albums (save the simultaneously released Tracks—more about that later) as well as Bruce's reflections on what he was thinking at the time. What's most surprising about Songs -— for me, at least -— is just how well the stuff holds up on the page. It's a given, of course, that Springsteen is a great storyteller. Back in 1981, I noted, in a review of his Nebraska album, that the song "Highway Patrolman" would probably make an interesting film someday, so I was not exactly shocked when Sean Penn adapted it as The Indian Runner a decade later. Still, given Springsteen's penchant for overheated, fuel-injected romanticism, I was pleasantly struck, seeing these lyrics in cold type after all this time, by how even the least of them are redeemed by flashes of humor and wordplay. I was particularly taken reading "Thunder Road" (from Born to Run): Bruce has gotten a fair bit of feminist flak over the years for the line, "You ain't a beauty but hey, you're alright," but such complaints seem misguided in light of the line that immediately follows: "Oh," he adds, in what strikes me as an ineffably funny, apologetic attempt to deflect that very criticism, "and that's alright with me." What a gentleman.

But we were speaking of life changes. My own Springsteen moment was in early 1973. At the time, I was a baby rock critic at the old Stereo Review, and Greetings from Asbury Park had just come out, accompanied by reams of Columbia hype, the gist of which was that Bruce was (what were they thinking?) the latest New Dylan. Little did I know, of course, that for the rest of the more jaded rock press, this tag had the sort of negative connotations associated with phrases like "serial killer" or "record company weasel." In any case, in my naïveté I gave the disc a spin, and sure enough Bruce was spewing the sort of freely associative lyrics that could most charitably be described as Dylanesque (if not, more accurately, verbose and in need of a good editor), and I recall being mildly unimpressed. And then suddenly: Boom! A drum beat and Clarence Clemons's near-mystic sax wail announced "Spirit in the Night," and I was a goner.

The music was perfect, like much of Bruce's stuff to come: a sort of Proustian mix of half-remembered licks from rock and R&B oldies that may or may not have actually ever existed, the whole thing sounding simultaneously sublime and absurd, like Van Morrison at his most uplifting, jamming at a South Jersey pizzeria. And the song's lyrics were—and are—the most dead-on evocation ever of what it felt like to be a post-Woodstock 20-something with no direction home. I personally had the eerie feeling that Bruce had been reading my mail, and I later found I was far from alone in that perception.

As it happened, Bruce was making his semi-official New York City debut that week, on a double bill with the similarly debuting original Wailers. (To put this in perspective: This was at Max's Kansas City, a club that sat fewer than 200 people. (I don't want to say, "Those were the days," but frankly, they were.) Every rock critic in town showed up for what would be their first exposure to live reggae, and yes, the Wailers' opening set was rapturously received by all (few bands have ever had two front men as charismatic as Bob Marley and Peter Tosh). After intermission, however, I realized that the aforementioned highly jaded press contingent, having already had their tiny minds blown by a bunch of Rastas turning the beat around, were not about to fall for any "New Dylan" hype and had beaten a hasty exit. This left me in the odd position of being alone in the back of Max's with 30 or 40 of Bruce's buddies from the Jersey Shore. I was, literally, the only stranger there.

And the show was everything I'd hoped for, and more. Bruce and his E Street Band opened with a version of "Spirit..." that made the album take sound anemic. He went on to preview the far richer material he had already written for what became his sophomore masterpiece, The Wild, the Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle, going so far as to use a mellotron on a gorgeous "New York City Serenade" that sounded like a Phil Spector record made flesh. Most memorably, though, I got to witness an early incarnation of the sort of interactive, fan-friendly stagecraft that would soon establish the Cult of Bruce. "Any requests?" Springsteen asked at one point. "It don't have to be one of ours." I blurted out "Route 66," having been listening to a lot of early Stones that week, and to my amazement, Bruce and band immediately launched into the best rendition of that chestnut I had ever heard. Who'd have thunk it: On top of everything, these guys were the bar band of my dreams.

You know the rest of the story, of course. Bruce's live show became legendary, his fans became famous for their missionary zeal (the sort of people who bought tickets for unbelieving friends), and eventually the kid from Asbury Park made Born to Run and wound up, simultaneously, on the covers of Time and Newsweek. Around this time, Bruce also became the second most widely bootlegged solo artist in the history of recorded music; most of those fan favorites are now, finally, officially available on the four-CD Tracks box set, with the conspicuous and peculiar omission of "The Fever," perhaps the most mesmerizing performance Bruce ever committed to tape. So what's the bottom line? Even if you're a lapsed fan like me (mortgage payments and all that), Songs is going to remind you that, yeah, you weren't crazy. Maybe the guy didn't literally change your life, but he sure as hell enriched it. Thanks, Boss.

As career retrospectives go, that's not a bad one, if I say so myself.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Springsteen: "Nebraska" (Stereo Review, December 1982)

And speaking as we were yesterday about another piece from my forthcoming -- end of the year -- book of my collected greatest literary hits...

...please enjoy my review of Bruce Springsteen's follow-up to The River, i.e. Nebraska. Originally released in those long ago far away days of the late 20th century when a mediocre network TV star could actually be elected president.

When times get tough, someone once observed, entertainment gets sloppy, but in the case of Bruce Springsteen, the once and future Bard of Asbury Park, New Jersey, we may have to amend that; when times get tough, entertainment gets grim. At least that's one implication to be derived from Nebraska, Springsteen's new all-acoustic -- dare I say it? -- folk music album. Another is that the record business is in even worse shape than I thought. Since the production costs of what sounds like the bleakest record of the year must have been next to nothing (Springsteen recorded it at home on a four-track Teac cassette deck), you might think Columbia would give us a break and sell it at a really reduced price -- like about two bucks. No such luck.

That's a pretty cynical thing to say about a Bruce Springsteen album, Springsteen being the one mainstream rock star who maintains a genuine give-and-take relationship with his audience, but I'm afraid Nebraska inspires cynicism. It sounds like it was written for critics rather than people. I'm not suggesting a sellout; in a lot of ways a release like this is a very gutsy career move, and I don't doubt that the ten songs on it are as sincerely, deeply felt as anything Springsteen has ever done. In some ways, actually, it's weirdly appropriate that he should mutate, however briefly, into a latter-day Woody Guthrie. CBS originally signed him as a folk singer, things are pretty depressing out there, and somebody's got to do it, I suppose. It's just that most of Nebraska is, well, boring.

I can't fault the stories Springsteen tells here. He seems to have aimed for a sort of contemporary working-class, factory-town equivalent of The Grapes of Wrath, and mostly he's succeeded. As vignettes they're wonderful; one in particular -- "Highway Patrolman" -- is going to make a heck of a movie someday. But musically...my God. The tunes are less than minimalist, the tempos are uniformly dirgelike, and hardly a ray of sunlight breaks through the overpowering miasma of fatalism and gloom. The effect is to trivialize the stories. It's impossible to care about the lives of the people being chronicled when the music is so resolutely leaden.

I suspect that this is not due so much to a lack of inspiration as it is to deliberate calculation. Springsteen has been headed in this direction for some time now. A lot of Darkness on the Edge of Town was all but unlistenable for the same reasons, and in places The River was even worse, the stark dramas inflated to operatic pretentious and unintentional self-parody. Nebraska, with its self-conscious underproduction, achieves the same sad result from the opposite direction. Springsteen must know better -- just listen to the material he gives away to other artists. Heck, his "Out of Work," on the recent Gary U.S. Bonds album, says far more about blue-collar aspirations than anything on Nebraska, and it's also tuneful, danceable and fun.

But Springsteen seems to think that fun is beneath him now. As much as it pains me to say it, I think what we have here is a classic case of a "primitive" artist corrupted by "intellectuals" (well, ex-rock writers, like his producer Jon Landau and official biographer Dave Marsh). How else to explain Springsteen's apparent compulsion to make the Big Statement every time out, the references to film directors -- here it's Terence Malick (Badlands) in the title song -- and the hectoring preachiness of so much of his recent output? Nebraska, its offhand simplicity notwithstanding, is an ambitious work, and, given the thoroughly decadent state of contemporary pop music, it merits respect if only because it aims high. But the fact is, it misses -- by a big margin -- and the reasons suggest that its author has worked himself into what may be an artistic cul-de-sac. Let's hope I'm wrong.

Have I mentioned how tickled I was and am that I predicted, correctly, that somebody -- in this case Sean Penn -- would make a movie out of "Highway Patrolman"?

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Springsteen: "The River" (Stereo Review, January 1981)

From my forthcoming -- end of the year -- book of my collected greatest literary hits...

...(specifically the Springsteen chapter), please enjoy my review of Bruce's first multi-lp set "The River."

The River comes at a crucial juncture in Bruce Springsteen's career. Now indisputably -- in terms of both public perception and critical acclaim -- the pre-eminent American rocker of his generation, Springsteen carries the weight of twenty-five years of dreams and history on his skinny shoulders, and the question is, will he stumble? And so The River is an Event, in the media sense, and the pressure for it to be a masterwork is heightened almost beyond any reasonable possibility. On the one hand, it has to be a significant stylistic breakthrough or its author trivializes all he's accomplished up to now; on the other, it has to be nothing less than the summation of everything vital and important rock itself has ever meant or represented.

This is clearly an impossible task, and it therefore takes nothing away from Springsteen's considerable accomplishment to say that The River falls short in some areas. In its claustrophobic, obsessive way, it is a remarkable album, light years beyond the reach of all but a handful of mainstream rockers. But it is certainly not the definitive statement it sets out to be, and it is not, overall, even its creator's best work, although its finest moments, at least, are worthy of comparison with his earlier peaks.

In a purely technical sense the album can hardly be faulted. While the basic instrumental approach remains recognizable (over-familiar or not), the sound of the E Street Band, with its echoes of middle Dylan, Van Morrison, and urban r-&-b, is still one of the most compelling noises in rock-and-roll, but there is a pronounced Sixties English flavor to the arrangements and production here, and the combination works. "The Ties That Bind," for example, is a great trebly roar of jangly guitars, and the hard rockers in particular have a metallic punch that none of Springsteen's earlier efforts have really approached. What does it is not the Spectorish Wall of Sound of the guitar songs on "Born to Run" but something a bit more down to earth: gloriously raucous frat-party music out of a roadhouse Texas Farfisa band. Overall, the instrumental layering and the extremely compressed dynamic range here remind me more than a little of Nick Lowe's revisionist work on Elvis Costello's Armed Forces. There's an edgy drive to the sound of the album that serves the tunes and the performances well and also gives the proceedings an ambiance that is both timeless and modern.

Of course, as my colleague Noel Coppage is rightly fond of pointing out, production is not music, and when we get to the songs on The River there are some inescapable, unpleasant conclusions to be drawn. The biggest should have been obvious after Darkness on the Edge of Town; on records, at least, the element of surprise has gone out of Springsteen's music. Onstage this has yet to happen (it's one of the reasons his live show remains the most electrifying in rock history), but in his records he's now dealing strictly in secondhand goods. One can't explain this any more by saying that he's a genre writer; fact is, there's not a melody here that isn't in some way recycled, and the stories, for the most part, are not so much overfamiliar as uninteresting. It's a question of focus; Springsteen has narrowed his vision to the point that all the larger-than-life quality has gone out of his work. The song "Jungleland," from Born to Run, for example, dealt with a particular urban landscape, but the treatment had an idealized, generalized romanticism that was cinematic, literary, or operatic, depending on how you wanted to look at it. The new songs on The River, with their detailed depictions of coming of age on the street, are more like journalism, and Springsteen is simply not a good enough reporter to give us the fresh insight that might make the songs and characters come alive, that would make us care about them.

There has been a similar decline musically. What made Springsteen's early songs hit so hard was his flair for melody and structural surprise, his uncanny ear for the sound and spirit of our collective jukebox past. His tunes were wildly unpredictable, crammed to overflowing with glorious hooks and half-remembered fragments of sublime old songs, a dazzling patchwork of rock, soul, folk, jazz, and honky tonk that was tender, vulgar, majestic, and sleazy all at once. A Springsteen album used to be a daring tight rope act. For The River, however, he used a net: many of the songs are deliberately monochromatic and predictable; two verses into them and you've heard all you need to hear. There's no sense of urgency -- they don't go anywhere.

With all that said, the odd thing is that The River still packs quite a wallop. There are, of course, some unfettered delights strewn among the twenty songs in the package; Springsteen may be playing down his pop gifts, but he hasn't deserted them altogether. The single, "Hungry Heart," for example, is an addictive, affectionate tribute to Jackson Browne (if you can imitate me, Bruce seems to be saying, I can return the favor), and several of the rockers, which don't aspire to be more than funny, good-natured swaggerers, are simply wonderful. It's hard to resist the energy and humor in "Sherry Darling," "Cadillac Ranch," "Two Hearts," and, especially, "I'm a Rocker." Then there are a few songs with grander ambitions that rise above the various weaknesses I've detailed. "Independence Day" is as moving an account of a father-son relationship as you're ever likely to encounter, and "Point Blank" and the title song are both, in their rather different ways, top-drawer Springsteen: taut, insinuating, compassionate. But the best things here, the album's centerpieces, together have a cumulative effect all out of proportion to their merits as individual songs, and the reason is that, whatever his failures of imagination in writing them, Springsteen still believes every single word he sings. In the end, the sincerity and heart he projects disarm criticism. In anyone else's hands a song like "Drive All Night" would be a disaster: mawkish, bloated, even faintly ridiculous. Here, however, it gets the kind of performance that makes one forgive Springsteen almost anything, such a tour de force of passion and drama and love that it seems superhuman. When people who've seen him perform talk about his being a "soul singer" in the old sense, this is the kind of thing they mean, and it's good finally to have it on record. If for nothing more than this one transcendent moment, "The River" has to be judged at least a qualified success.

The question, of course, is how long Springsteen can continue his Poet of the Lower Classes act without degenerating into overripe self-parody. If his working habits remain constant, the answer should be forthcoming sometime around September 1982. I, for one, am willing to wait.

Pretty good review, I think, and it holds up.

I should add that the thing that tickles me about it the most is that I got the release date for Springsteen's next album -- Nebraska -- pretty much right.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes (Special Early 21st Century Edition)

From the beginning of this week, please enjoy Julian Lennon -- who, astoundingly enough, is 59 years old --singing his dad's anthem "Imagine," for the first time (at least in public) in solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

You know, I've never been particularly fond of that song on any level, but that's freaking great and good for Julian for doing it. And fuck that sadistic barbarian Vladimir Putin.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Hello -- My Name is Pwince

In case you haven't seen this recently discovered TV footage of a certain Purple popstar as a pre-teen, this is the greatest archaeological find of the third decade of the 21st century.

Words fail me.

Monday, April 11, 2022

Your Monday Moment of "How Do You Say 'Where Has This Song Been All My Life' in Spanish?"

From 1997, please enjoy Maná -- aka the pride of Guadalajara, Mexico -- and their world class infectiously catchy hit single "Clavado En Un Bar."

The backstory: So here in Forest Hills -- or as we locals refer to it, the town where all your shit is within walking distance -- a new watering hole, of the Mexican variety (called MAS TORTILLA) -- has just opened up two blocks from our apartment on Queens Boulevard. Apart from the best spicy cheesy corn on the cob I've ever had, and wonderful service, they also play some very nice music on the bar sound system, specifically a mix of traditional latin stuff and el rock en español, which I must admit I know less about than my criticial responsibilities call for. In any event, the above song came up in a playlist a few days ago, and it blew my tiny anglo mind. I am informed that the band itsef has been around since the late 80s, and that they are apparently absolutely hugely popular -- 40 million albums sold -- in the Spanish speaking market, and as you can hear they're freaking fabulous. I mean, is that a great record or what?

The answer, of course, is yes, and you're welcome very much from me for turning you on to it.

I should add that the only words I recognized in the lyric were "corazon" and "tequila," and that the title of the song apparently translates loosely as "Stuck in a Bar."

Friday, April 08, 2022

Weekend Listomania: Special Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" Has Been Retitled "Your Call is Important to Us" Edition

Well, it's yet another year in paradise (not counting some weird disease, an insane ex-president, and WW III in Europe), and you know what that means.

That's rignt -- we're gonna argue the Best or Worst Post-Elvis Pop, Rock, or Soul Songs Referencing the Time(s) of the Season!

And my totally top of my head Top Eight are:

8. Pete Hamill -- The Fall of the House of Usher

Fall. Get it?

7. The Jamies -- Summertime, Summertime

Posssibly the weirdest yet most innocent hit song of my formative years. Who were those people and how did they come up with that sound?

6. Simon and Garfunkel -- A Hazy Shade of Winter

Pretty much the closest they ever came to rocking out, which is probably why The Bangles covered it so well.

5. The Beach Boys -- Fall Breaks and Back to Winter

Nah, Brian Wilson's not a genius. No way, Jose.

4. Eddie Cochran -- Summertime Blues

Without question, the greatest song ever written about every teenager's favorite time of the year.

3. Blue Cheer -- Summertime Blues

Without question, the worst version ever performed of said great song. I saw these assholes do this live from a 7th row seat at the old Fillmore, and it was all I could do not to barf on the poor putz in the row in front of me. And I wasn't drunk or on drugs, alas.

2. The Producers -- Springtime For Hitler

Even after all this time, there are still no words for how sublimely offensive this is.

And the unquestionable greatest tribute to a particular few months of the year remains...

1. The Kinks -- Autumn Almanac

Sublime. On every level.

Alrighty then -- what would YOUR choices be?

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, April 07, 2022

An Early Clue to the New Direction: Special All-Tempa-Cheer Edition

From 1995, please enjoy fabulous Southern rocker Terry Anderson and his fiercely Stones-Meet-Power-Pop-Should-Have-Been-a-Hit-Single "Weather or Not."

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

Wednesday, April 06, 2022

The Sophomore Jinx: Inevitably Less Successful Singles That I Vastly Prefer to the World-Wide Smash Hits They Followed Up (An Occasional Feature)

From 1969, and Apple Records, please enjoy the lovely and talented Mary Hopkin and her fabulous "Goodbye." Written and produced by Paul McCartney.

This hit #13 on the Billboard charts, which is more than respectable, but let's face it -- it was not the blockbuster that was "Those Were the Days." (Which Paul produced but did not write).

And I think if you said "Mary Hopkin" to the average pop fan of a certain age, this wouldn't be the first thing they mentioned in reply.

The acoustic guitar riff absolutely slays me, BTW.

Tuesday, April 05, 2022

Your Tuesday Moment of Words Fail Me

Readers my age or close to it have at some point probably seen an (honorary) Academy Award-winng 1946 short film starring the young Frank Sinatra at the height of his teen idol-ness. Directed by Mervyn LeRoy, it features Frankie, looking about as cool as it gets, singing a heartfelt plea for religious tolerance occasioned by a bunch of anti-semitic kids hanging outside a recording studio.

I bring this up for two reasons.

1): Until a few weeks ago, I was blissfully unaware that the lyrics were written (under a pseudonym) by Abel Meerepol, who later adopted the orphaned sons of the unjustly executed atomic spies The Rosenbergs, and who obviously knew whereof he spoke about anti-Semitism.

And 2): As you may have noticed, I have of late been saying enthusiastic things about a recent (end of last year) solo album by friend of PowerPop Ronnie D'Addario, which among other splendid qualities has some very interesting cover songs, including great versions of "Walk Away Renee" and Billy Preston's "That's the Way God Planned It." But what I forgot to mention heretofore, and would be totally remiss if I didn't, is a remake of the above "The House I Live In."

Top of my head I can't think of another song I would have less likely predicted would be successfuly included on a rock record, but damn if Ronnie's version doesn't work like gangbusters.

Hey, you schweens -- what are you waiting for? Hie thee over to Amazon and buy a CD or download it for streaming.

PS: I should add that Sinatra sang the song for decades after this, including at the 1985 Ronald Reagan inaugural(!). It was also covered by Paul Robeson (no surprise there) and Sam Cooke(!).