Friday, January 14, 2022

Weekend Listomania: Special "Cover Me, Baby!” Edition

So anyway, good friend of PowerPop (and moi) Sal Nunziato ran something like this over at his invaluable Burning Wood blog the other day, and I thought I would steal the concept with some slight tweaking.

And here it is.

BEST OR WORST COVER VERSIONS OF POST-ELVIS POP/ROCK/COUNTRY SONGS YOU REALLY REALLY LOVE!!!

And my totally Top of My Head Top 10 is...

10. Loudon Wainwright III -- Daughter

I first heard this on the soundtrack to Knocked Up, a film I don't dislike as much as a lot of people. In any event, I was instantly taken with it, despite the fact I had no idea that it was written and first recorded by the estimable Peter Blegvad.

9. Any Trouble -- Dimming of the Day

An utterly gorgeous Richard Thompson song, and one of the rare covers of his stuff that -- IMHO -- surpasses the original.

8. The Floor Models -- 5D

Our Celtic remake of the great psychedelic Byrds original, and I'm not ashamed to claim that it just might be an improvement over the hit version.

7. The Beatles -- Words of Love

Buddy Holly's original 50s track is, of course, a meisterpiece, but The Beatles remake -- and I think a lot of it is down to George Martin's amazing production -- is clearly an improvement.

6. Linda Ronstadt -- Tumbling Dice

Oh yeah right, Linda. Jeebus H. Christ on a piece of burnt challah toast, but that's awful. Especially considering you're supposed to be a great interpretive artiste.

5. Sandy Denny and Linda Thompson -- When Will I Be Loved

Quite possibly the greatest female pop vocal duet of all time.

4. Mick Jagger and David Bowie -- Dancing in the Street

Quite possibly the worst male pop vocal duet of all time.

3. The Smithereens -- Girl Don't Tell Me

The Beach Boys classic of course, and the 'Reens do it better. Heard it live at a 'Reens gig in the late 70s, and have been forever jealous

2. Miley Cyrus -- Heart of Glass

I generally like Cyrus -- her cover of "Jolene" is absolutely transplendent I think -- but god, the above is just awful.

And the number one cover that improves upon a great song is without question...

1. Ronnie Spector -- Say Goodbye to Hollywood

Posted that yesterday on the sad occasion of her death, but I think it's even more relevant now.

Awrighty then -- what would YOUR choices be?

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Ronnie Spector 1943 -- 2022

As I've said here on mumerous occasions, this death shit is really starting to piss me off.

BTW, I've got a really cute personal story about Ronnie -- from back in the late 70s, when she was doing guest appearances on Bruce Springsteen's lawsuit tour -- but unlike that Shawn Colvin anecdote I recounted the other day, you'll really have to get me drunk in person before I share it with you.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Lifestyles of the Vapid and Creepy: 2022 Edition

[I originally posted this back in 2008 at the website of Box Office Magazine, where I happily toiled for two years. I'm posting it here, despite the fact that it has absolutely nothing to do with the music that is the raison d'etre of this here blog, because the Box Office archive site is kind of a pain in the ass to access, and I just love this enough to want it more readily available. Also a) it's going to be in the forthcoming book version of my literary greatest hits and b) for some reason known only to Satan himself, they've actually rebooted the TV show. I mean, sheesh. -- S.S.]

My thoughts on the Sex and the City movie: It's longer than Parsifal and with fewer laughs.

Okay, not really, but in all seriousness, about halfway through the thing it finally dawned on me exactly what has always bothered me about the whole SATC phenomenon. The movie itself, of course, is just a garden variety shoddily made romantic comedy. I mean, forget the fact that Sara Jessica Parker looks like she was lit by Stevie Wonder, or that the men are all unlikeable weenies, or that the funniest joke in the whole interminable two hours twenty two minutes is about diarrhea, or that what little sex is actually on screen is utterly joyless. What you're left with is still no better or no worse than another recent by the numbers flick like, say, What Happens in Vegas.

No, the real problem is that the film (and, looking back, the show) is, essentially an obnoxious 80s Reagan Era yuppie consumerist glitz fantasy run amok, and then dropped down, inappropriately, into the 21st century, where it pretends (against reason) to be hep and now and cutting edge.

In other words, Carrie and her designer shoe and Cosmo obsessed pals are essentially the pathetic, slightly over the hill trendoids of Absolutely Fabulous. Only without that show's knowing irony.

Or to put it somewhat unkindly, the fact is that these women....

...want to be these people...

...whereas they're actually...

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Closed for Monkey Business

Regular posting resumes on the morrow, assuming I don't freeze to death going across the street for lunch.

Monday, January 10, 2022

La Belle Dame sans Merci (The Beautiful Lady Who Doesn't Say Thank You): Une Histoire Vraie

Okay kids, as I have said on numerous other occasions, this is a very sad story, so try not to laugh.

Back around 1980, when I was hanging out in Greenwich Village and performing with The Floor Models, the lovely and talented Shawn Colvin blew into town (from a gig in Berkeley, if memory serves) and quickly became a fixture at both Folk City and the Speakeasy, a club around the corner that was also a haven for acoustic singer/songwriters. Shawn had an amazing voice, was modelly good looking and already had the requisite star attitude, and it was obvious from jump that she was going to get famous at some point, but it wasn't happening fast enough for her, and one night I found myself sitting next to her at the Folk City bar, where she was quite literally crying in her beer over her then lack of a career.

Shawn knew I was a rock critic, and thus on the periphery of the record business, so she asked me if I had any professional and/or musical advice. If truth be told, I thought a big part of her problem was lousy, i.e. predictable and boring, choice in material -- really, what the world needed was yet another cover of "Angel From Montgomery"? (not). And then, being no less full of myself than now, I tried to make that point to her, albeit as gently as possible.

So it suddenly dawned on me that Shawn's voice was not that far afield from a certain British gal singer I loved, and I asked her if she was familiar with the work of Richard and Linda Thompson. And she responded, to my complete lack of surprise, that no, she wasn't. So I explained who they were, and how great they were, and how some of their stuff would be right up her (Shawn's) alley. She seemed interested, and I told her that I would go home and make her a mixtape of R&L stuff that I thought might be appropriate for her pipes and style.

Cut to a few days later, and I gave her a 12 selection cassette with the songs I thought she'd dig and would sound great singing.

Anyway, the brief version of the finale: Fairly soon thereafter, Shawn got a gig singing backup for Suzanne Vega, ultimately wound up warbling on Vega's "Luka" (both the single and the album it was from, if memory serves), got her own record deal, had a hit or two, and ultimately the music biz success she'd been aiming at. I lost touch with her personally at that point, but I followed her career from afar with some pleasure thereafter and was happy for her.

And then, sometime in the 90s, I discovered through the intertubes that she was suddenly singing live onstage with -- you guessed it -- Richard fucking Thompson.(!)

Now look -- I'm not one of those people who carries a grudge forever if I do you a kindness and then you don't respond with what I think is sufficient gratitude. I mean -- honkies, please.

That said -- I don't think it would have been asking too much at some point for Shawn to send me an e-mail or drop me a postcard saying "Dude -- I owe you a solid."

Which she's never fucking done. Heh.

I should add that this song, seen here in a performance from 2015...

...was one of the ones I included on the aforementioned mixtape. As you can hear, it suits her.

Like I said -- this is a very sad story, so try not to laugh.

Friday, January 07, 2022

Return of Weekend Listomania: Special "Thank God for Medicare" Edition

Greetings from the land of the recently unwell!

As attentive readers may be aware, back in September I took a bad spill on the most dangerous and steep escalator in New York City, and to my chagrin I actually fractured my spine. Of course, many of those same readers probably don't even believe I have one, but let me tell you -- don't talk until you've walked a mile in my shoes with a back brace on for several months!

In any case, I had the problem surgically resolved Wednesday, and I am now pain free and movin' and groovin' with my normal geriatric joie de vivre.

But in honor of my recovery, and because I like to give you folks something to do to wile away the idle winter hours for the next couple of days, here's a fun little project for us all:

BEST OR WORST POST-ELVIS POP, ROCK, SOUL OR COUNTRY SONGS OR RECORDS REFERENCING DOCTORS, MEDICINE, BODY PARTS OR HEALTH IN GENERAL IN THE TITLE OR LYRICS!!!

No arbitrary rules of any kind, you're welcome very much. And here we go, in no particular order, with my totally top of my head Top Eight.

8. The Rascals: Good Lovin'

You know the drill -- "Doctor doctor/Mr. MD."

7. Aretha Franklin: Dr. Feelgood

Honorable mention: Dr. Feelgood (the band) and their fabulous "Down at the Doctor's."

6. Major Lance: Monkey Time

"Let your backbone slip." Yeah, tell me about it, Major.

5. Warren Zevon: Life'll Kill Ya

I know the feeling, Warren. I know the feeling.

4. The Rolling Stones: Dear Doctor

From what, on balance, may still be their best studio album, but that's an argument for another Listomania.

3. The Beatles: Dr. Robert

That may be my favorite song on the album, BTW. Go figure.

2. Emerson Lake and Palmer: Brain Salad Surgery

You know, objectively that still sucks, but it is a sign of how much I've mellowed about those guys and 70s prog in general that I now think it's also kind of genuinely funny.

And the number one, it's not even open for discussion, rock song about our beleaguered care givers simply has to be...

1. Humble Pie: I Don't Need No Doctor

C'mon -- you didn't see that coming?

Alrighty then -- what would YOUR choices be?

And have a great weekend, everybody!!!!

Wednesday, January 05, 2022

Had my spine glued today. Seriously.

Seems to have worked. Regular posting -- a new Weekend Listomania, no less -- returns on Friday.

Tuesday, January 04, 2022

Other Than All the Sick and Dying, 2021 Was a Pretty Good Year: My Top Ten Album List for Those Who Care

You'll note that there are a number of entries by people I actually know personally here, which is par for the course with these things, now that I think of it. So sue me.

10. Micky Dolenz: Dolenz Sings Nesmith

The album the above is from is terrific from stem to stern, but if pressed about that "Different Drum"? My single favorite track of the last 12 months.

9. Willie Nile: The Day the Earth Stood Still

Willie, of course, is the among the most still-vital rockers of his generation, with a work ethic second to none. The album the above is from is absolutely the knock-out of the year, and if pressed about that title song? My second favorite track of the past 12 months -- it's as cinematically brilliant as imaginable.

8. Joe Benoit: What Kind of World

The power pop masterpiece of the year. And the above song is without a shadow of a doubt the most relevant artistic reponse anybody in any medium has come up with to the pandemic.

7. Brian Wilson: At My Piano

Just Brian tickling the ivories -- no band, no vocals, and not even particularly well recorded; the album shouldn't work, but it does. It kind of feels like some impossible bootleg of Chopin noodling around in his living room in Mallorca.

6. Starry Eyed and Laughing: Bells of Lightning

The second greatest Byrds influenced band of all time (see below for the first) and without question the comeback record of the new millenium.

5. Doug Hoekstra: The Day Deserved

I first encountered Doug sometime in the mid-90s, when his first (or I think) second album of brilliant somewhat minimalist New Wave folkie singer/songwriter stuff (think Leonard Cohen produced by John Cale) crossed my desk at the Magazine Formerly Known as STEREO REVIEW to my delighted surprise. This new one is a) his first in nearly a decade and b) absolutely insinuating. I.e., the kid's still got it.

4. Robert Plant/Alison Krauss: Raise the Roof

Wow. I mean, REALLY wow. Seriously, is there a better vocal blend in contemporary pop music than these two? Answer: No.

3. Nelson Bragg: Gratitude Blues

If you don't know Nelson, he's the percussionist in Brian Wilson's touring band, and I've been a fan of his since his debut record back in 2007. This new one is transplendent, and yes, it sounds a lot like his boss.

2. The John Sally Ride: Now is Not a Great Time

Melodic guitar-driven power pop a la Cheap Trick doesn't get any better.

And the album of the year is -- no question about it, HAHA HAH...

1. The Floor Models: In-Flyte Entertainment (A Tribute to the Byrds)

I'm prejudiced about these guys for obvious reasons.

Anyway, enjoy all of the above.

More objective postings resume on the morrow.

Monday, January 03, 2022

Slacker Monday

No posting today due to a) medical issues with the Incomparable Eddie© (he's gonna be fine) and (b) because the piece I'm working on for tomorrow is more labor intensive than is my norm. But trust me -- it'll be worth the effort and the wait.

See you then.