From his brilliant 2021 album The Day The Earth Stood Still, please enjoy friend of PowerPop/hardest working man in show business/non pareil singer-songwriter Willie Nile and the latest (hilarious) video from the aformentioned album, "Off My Medication."
IMHO, absolutely priceless.
I should add that, in other jaw-dropping Willie news, he will be (sit down please) opening for none other than The Who in Bethel NY on May 28.
This is not as unpreceded as it sounds -- Willie toured Europe as the opening act for The Who in 1980 -- but still. How cool?
So as I've mentioned before, friend of PowerPop, occasional Floor Model, father of The Lemon Twigs, and indie-pop eminence griseRonnie D'Addario has a gorgeous new solo album out.
And here's my favorite track -- a glorious one-man version of the Left Banke's always delightful "Walk Away Renee."
Ronnie's been releasing this sort of stuff, beginning in the pre-CD era, for as long as I've known him, which is going back to our late 70s days in the Village. But this current album is just spectacularly good.
Hey -- get yourself over to Amazon and stream the damn thing already, won't you? You'll thank me.
From 1959, and what was called a flexi-disc -- a pliable, detachable cardboard/plastic hybrid phonpograph record attatched to the binding of a magazine -- please enjoy the utterly hilarious "Meet the Staff of Mad."
Flexi-discs were all the rage in the late 50s and early 60s; The Magazine Known as Stereo Review did several, including an absolutely hilarious parody of baroque music -- authored by Glenn Gould -- entitled "So You Want to Write a Fugue?". I should add that I had that Mad disc for years and played it obsessively when it first came out.
PS: Yeah, yeah, I know I promised on Friday to post a bad song referencing what had happened to my foot recently, but I figured that would have been self-indulgent even for me.
...sings the lead vocal on "Holy Man," a Dennis Wilson solo track left unfinished at the time of the Beach Boys legend's tragic death.
Being a Southern California surfer dude himself, I guess Hawkins kind of related to Dennis. In any case, a beautiful job (originally released on the 2008 Sony reissue of Wilson's 1977 masterpiece, Pacific Ocean Blue).
As of this writing, we don't know the circumstances or causes of Hawkins' passing; all we know is that now both of them are gone. And as I usually say in these circumstances, this death shit is really beginning to piss me off.
I should stipulate up front that I was never more than a casual Sparks fan back in their 70s heyday, and I haven't seen the current movie documentary tribute to them (although I hear it's terrific). But damn -- that's the coolest soundtrack album cover art I've encountered in ages.
I mean, seriously -- that could have been done by Jean Cocteau or Salvador Dali.
From 1960, please enjoy the Ray Bryant Combo and a semi-official video for their wonderfully infectious regional hit the "The Madison Time."
The song itself is probably best known for being featured in John Waters' Hairspray, which is one of the best movie dance sequences of the last few decades, but the above -- which was I unaware of until last weekend -- just knocks me out.
I should add that the two dancers are named Joan Darby and Joe Cash. The question now before the court is whether the sobriquets were adapated by the late Darby Crash, lead singer of the legendary LA punk band The Germs, for his more familiar nom de rock.
I should add that I was lucky enough to see Dolly at a small club in the mid-70s. Also, my then girlfriend -- who was relatively short -- acquired one of Dolly's stage costumes from the period (one of those one piece bell-bottom jumpsuits with the mirrors running down the side of both legs) at a charity auction, and it fit her like the proverbial glove.
From 1989 (and Dwight's album at the time) please enjoy the dream pairing of Mr. Swivel Hips and the incomparable K.D. Lang and their goose-bump inducing duet on the Gram Parsons'/Flying Burrito Brothers classic "Sin City."
Pretty freaking great, I'd say if I was any judge of horseflesh.
Starting Monday -- genuine new music, some of which is by people I know personally and some isn't.
And speaking of Dwight Yoakam, as we have been for some reason this week, from 1997 and his fabulous Under the Covers album, here's the man hisself and a drop dead great version of The Clash classic "Train in Vain."
I don't know if the song's authors, i.e. Joe Strummer and Mick Jones, ever heard that version, although I presume they must have, but I'm pretty sure they would have dug the hell out of it if they did.
From 1999, please enjoy the great Dwight Yoakam and his sensational cover of Queen's "Crazy Little Thing Called Love."
I honestly don't know how I missed that at the time -- Yoakam directed the clip, BTW -- given that it was a top 20 hit on the American country charts, #64 on the pop charts, and used in a Gap commercial.
In any case, I've been a Yoakam fan since forever -- for those boots alone, if truth be told -- and better late than never.
[As attentive readers are aware, I'm in the process of putting a book of my literary greatest hits together. The following piece -- which I had forgotten about untill yesterday -- was originally written for the comments section of this here blog back in 2006, which is a year before NYMary gave me the metaphorical keys to the car. The essay was occasioned by NYMary's surprise that I rated the Beach Boys as high as I did in the American 60s pantheon; she didn't agree, obviously, but after she posted it, she was gracious enough to change her mind about Brian Wilson and company.
Enjoy, and have a great weekend, everybody!]
I must confess I find it a little odd to be writing this -- the Beach Boys music is pretty much my lingua franca, and the idea that they need defending feels weird to me given how much I love them (although I understand your skepticism, at least in the abstract. After all, Mike Love sucks).
In any event, here's why I think they deserve respect from
mere mortals like you and me.
TEN REASONS THE BEACH BOYS ARE SELF-EVIDENTLY ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT
AMERICAN BANDS OF THE SIXTIES. IF NOT THE MOST IMPORTANT.
1. They invented an instantly recognizable sound of their own,
one that practically defines a genre. Very few rock artists can make that claim. (Chuck Berry with "Johnny B Goode", The Byrds with "Tambourine Man," the Ramones, and maybe U2). That alone should guarantee the Beach Boys immortality.
2. What Raymond Chandler did for California in prose the Beach Boys did in music. They reflected a place and a time and made a kind of poetry out of it. They were not fake.
3. Five part harmonies, astoundingly gorgeous. And Brian's conception -- mating progressive jazz voicings a la the Four Freshman with classic doo-wop -- was totally unique. Here's a 1965 live clip that proves the point -- and if this a capella version of the Freshman's "Their Hearts Were Full of Spring"doesn't put a lump in your throat, you need to check your meds.
4. From their inception in the early 60s, they were pretty much the only self-contained rock band in America. Wrote all their own songs, produced their own records. Who else was doing that?
5. Kick-ass live act. If you doubt it, listen to "Beach Boys Concert," get a video of their closed-circuit show from '64, or find "The TAMI Show" video, in which -- performing on the same bill with the Stones, James Brown and most of the Motown acts, they tear the audience to shreds. Carl Wilson was a killer surf guitarist, and the rhythm section was as good as anybody in rock at the time.
Here's their British TV debut on Top of the Pops -- from 1964, totally live versions of "I Get Around" and "When I Grow Up."
6. Contrary to myth, they were not white bread at all. Carl and Dennis Wilson were as soulful singers in the r&b sense as anybody else working in the mid-Sixties. And that includes Stevie Winwood or Felix Cavliere.
7. The car and surf songs are actually quite brilliant. Who else ever conceived of writing love songs to a carburetor? And has any rock song ever conveyed as much sheer teenage elan as "Fun Fun Fun" or "I Get Around"?
8. Brian's best songs from the early period anticipate the confessional singer/songwriter LA genre. "Don't Worry Baby" may be as nakedly emotional and self-revealing as anything Joni Mitchell ever wrote. Ditto "Warmth of the Sun" or "In My Room" or "When I Grow Up."
9. The albums that preceed the sainted "Pet Sounds" and "Smile" are masterpeices. "The Beach Boys Today," Brian's first real studio concept album, is masterly; "When I Grow Up" isn't even the best song on it (try "Don't Hurt My Little Sister" or the astounding Sinatra goes r&b of "The Back of My Mind" sung by Dennis). It's every bit as good as "Rubber Soul." in terms of consistency and melodic invention. The follow-up --"Summer Days and Summer Nights," of which "California Girls" is simply the icing on the cake, is even better -- it's every bit Brian's "Revolver." He never used the studio more impressively than "Let Him Run Wild" or emulated the Beatles with the riffy brilliance of "Girl Don't Tell Me."
10. The album that follows the sainted "Pet Sounds" and
"Smile" is another masterpiece. "Wild Honey" is one of the handful of great white r&b albums of the period, and if you doubt it check out the title song or Carl's gorgeous reading of Stevie Wonder's "I Was Made to Love Her." And in it's back to basics way, it's very much of a piece with the Beatles "White Album."
I could go on about the Beach Boys early 70s output -- you could make a fabulous comp album with songs like "Marcella" (one of their best ever rockers), "This Whole World" (Brian's canniest pocket symphony), "All I Wanna Do"(the most glorious use of reverb in history), "Bluebirds Over the Mountain" (progressive rockabilly, if you can believe it), "Do It Again" and any number of others up through "Trader" on HOLLAND.
The decline after that was a drag, to be sure, but you get my point....the Beach Boys have a huge body of really transcendent work, and Brian wasn't the only big talent in the
So power pop deities The Left Banke have a sort of new album out called Strangers on a Train, and here's the title song.
Haven't heard much more of it, but so far so good. I'll keep you posted.
In the meantime, from the late 80s or early 90s, please enjoy The Souvenirs -- aka The Floor Models 2.0 featuring some schmuck whose name rhymes with Sleeve Nimels on keyboards -- live at the late lamented Kenny's Castaways doing the Banke's great "She May Call You Up Tonight."
From 1972, and the flip of their massive hit "My Love," please enjoy Wings and their definitively rockin' live version of "The Mess."
The 45 of this crossed my desk at The Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Review back in the day, and I remember thinking -- and possibly writing about -- that as sappy as "My Love" was, at least this proved that Macca could still rock authoritatively. And I played it pretty much until the vinyl wore out.
I should add that there's a studio version of this (that was originally gonna be included on Wings' Red Rose Speedway) that's available on YouTube, but the above concert version is much better.