Friday, July 29, 2022

Weekend Listomania (Special "In the Summer When It Sizzles, And I'm Not Even in Paris" Edition)

Well, it's late July and we've got our air conditioning turned up to the max. That being the case, here's a little fun project for us all -- Top Best or Worst Pop/Rock Songs about This Time of the Year.

And my Top Seven nominees are...

7. Chad and Jeremy -- A Summer Song

Glorious harmonies and acoustic guitar work that reduces you to tears.

6. Brian Hyland -- Sealed With a Kiss

Utter dreck. In my high school, we used to sing it as "Kissed by a Seal."

5. The Jamies--Summertime Summertime

I still don't know if that song sucks or not.

4. Eddie Cochran -- Summertime Blues

C'mon -- rock 'n' roll doesn't get any cooler.

3. The Kinks -- Sunny Afternoon

I'd never seen that clip before, but that's about as sublime as it can be.

2. The Tearjerkers -- Syracuse Summer

"The California sun shines all the time/but East Coast Summer's are a different kind/They don't last as long so they mean a little bit more..."

And the all time great pop song about the beauty of summer is...

1. The Beach Boys The Warmth of the Sun

C'mon -- who else?

Okay -- and who would your choices be?

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!!

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Closed for Good News/Bad News Monkey Business

The Bad News: Nothing today.

The Good News: A brand new Weekend Listomania on Friday. See you then.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Reasons I Don't Always Miss the Sixties (An Occasional Feature): Special "Get Out Out of My Face Flaky Canadian Lady " Edition

From 1968 and her debut album Song for a Seagull, please enjoy everybody's sometimes favorite charmingly pretentious Southern California singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell and her nonetheless quite genuinely gorgeous "Marcie."

I bring this up for two reasons.

Number 1, apparently Joni made some kind of triumphant comeback at the Newport Folk Festival over the last weekend, and god bless her, obviously.

And number 2, recording-wise, she completely lost me after Blue, which is an inarguable freaking masterpiece of its sort of thing.

The rest of her ouevre not so much.

With the exception of her confessional autobiographical Laurel Canyon double LP Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, of course.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Closed for Monkey Business

Yesterday's Rex Reed item took a lot out of me -- regular more interesting music stuff resumes on the morrow.

Monday, July 25, 2022

Putzes I Have Known Professionally

So as attentive readers are aware, for the longest time -- twenty or thirty years, beginning in 1973 -- I scribbled off and on about music and pop culture for a magazine best known as Stereo Review. Let's just say that a cooler post-collegiate gig was pretty much unthinkable -- the money was great, I was living in an affordable rent-controlled one bed-room apartment in lower Manhattan, and I got to see A-list rock bands and movies pretty much five nights a week. For free. Plus I got to write about them, which people seemed to enjoy.

I should add that a book version of my literary greatest hits is coming out some time at the end of the year...

...and you might find it amusing.

In any case, there's a back story, which I will make as short as I can. The bottom line is I had read said magazine religiously -- by which I mean with a yarmulke on my head (heh) -- for most of my adolescence; it had been published under a variety of names since approximately 1958, and over the years I learned a great deal about all sorts of music from some of its writer/contributors, including jazz critic Nat Hentoff, opera buff George Jellinek, and classical polymath and PBS host Martin Bookspan.

Be that as it may, some time around the fabled Summer of Love, Stereo Review -- like many other magazines of its type -- was starting to hire younger scribes to give themselves a patina of hip, regardless of how undeserved. And so they hired a guy named Rex Reed, who at the time was sort of a celebrity -- he'd had cameos (usually as himself) iin a number of major Hollywood flicks, he'd produced a few books on movies, he reviewed for a couple of prestigious newspapers (including the NY Times), and he was considered a sort of happening New Journalist in a class with Tom Wolfe. Which he manifestly wasn't. And I found his writing, shall we say, cutesy. and the work of somebody who was trying way too hard. But what the hey -- I was a kid, what did I know?

In any case, Reed was responsible for this review of The Beatles early middle masterpiece Revolver in SR, and I remember thinking at the time that it made me ill. Please take a moment and read it now, to enjoy its full bullshit quotient and level of bad writing and ignorance that characterizes it.

I mean, seriously, that sucks. Big time.

So like I said, early in 1973, I wound up with a gig as pop music editor at SR -- how that happened will be explained in that book I mentioned -- and for a brief period (perhaps a month or two) I was Rex's editor. And one month into my tenure as his sort of boss, he was late with his copy. So I called him up and said -- "Rex, dude, we need your reviews immediately -- I've got a messenger standing by, so let me know when I can send him."

And Rex said -- swear to god, this is a true story -- "give me half an hour; as soon as I plug in the adjectives I'll be done."

Reed went on to a very lucrative career as a TV film critic and contributor to that little pisher Jared Kushner's pink-tinted New York newspaper/cat litter box filler The Observer, and he's apparently still alive and well. What he's doing otherwise, I have no idea.

More Stereo Review anecdotes will be forthcoming as the mood strikes me.

[h/t SteveS]

Friday, July 22, 2022

Records I'd Forgotten Existed, Let Alone Loved:: An Occasional Feature (Special "We Were Talking About These Guys Yesterday" Edition)

From 1965, please enjoy incomparable Brit Invasion rockers The Hollies and their killer single "Don't Run and Hide."

For years, I thought this was a b-side to something or other, but I was delighted to discover recently that it's actually an album cut from the Bus Stop album. A great fucking song in any case, and what a delight to hear it in stereo.

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Records I'd Forgotten Existed, Let Alone Loved: An Occasional Feature (Special "Feets Don't Fail Me Now" Edition)

From 1975, please enjoy The Hollies' brilliant lead singer Allan Clarke and his way-before-its-time cover of Bruce Springsteen's immortal ode to cultural freedom "Born to Run."

I've been trying to figure out just how earlier than Bruce's version this came out -- it was definitiely the same year, but beyond that I remain confused -- and in any case it was pretty hep of Clarke to record it.

I should add that I've got an absolutely hilarious true story involving Springsteen, the Hollies, and me at a club where the Hollies were performing. Get me drunk sometime and I'll tell it to you.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Cover Versions of the Gods (An Occasional Feature): Special "Transparently Great" Edition

From 1995, and his album Train a Comin', please enjoy the incomparable Steve Earle and his sublime take on The Beatles' classic "I'm Looking Through You."

I had completely forgotten that one until last weekend, when our friend Sal Nunziato, proprietor of the invaluable Burning Wood blog, posted it along with some other really cool covers. I'll think you'll agree that it's totally exquisite.

Thanks Sal -- I owe you one.

Monday, July 18, 2022

Records I'd Forgotten Existed, Let Alone Loved: An Occasional Feature (Special "Three Chords But They're the RIGHT Three Chords" Edition)

From 1968 (and the b-side to the utterly sublime "Days")...

...please enjoy The Kinks' and their rockin' return to form "She's Got Everything."

Take my word -- this was a real breath of fresh air in the context of its time. Holds up too, obviously.

Friday, July 15, 2022

Records I'd Forgotten Existed, Let Alone Loved: An Occasional Feature (Special "Great Demo Discs of the 20th Century " Edition)

From 1959, with guest sideman Neil Sedaka on piano, please enjoy Bobby Darin's transplendent original studio take on his glorious "Dream Lover."

I believe I first heard this version when it appeared on a fabulous Darin reissue CD anthology called "Aces Back to Back" in (I think) 2004, although the song remains itself best known from the 1961 hit version by Dion. In any event, it's been covered over the years by all sorts of other artists in a variety of genres and I suspect it's pretty much impossible to do a bad performance of it.

Enjoy the weekend everybody!

Thursday, July 14, 2022

I Don't Need No Doctor

Well, actually I do... I'm heading into Manhattan for some tests, the prospect of which do not, shall we say, thrill me.

Regular posting resumes either tomorrow or on Saturday.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Records I'd Forgotten Existed, Let Alone Loved: An Occasional Feature (Special Fuck "Jack and Diane" Edition)

From 1985, and the deservedly smash hit Scarecrow album, please enjoy John Mellencamp and band with their oddly less familiar ode to that 1920s kind of dirty sexual wink-wink automotive accesssory the "Rumble Seat."

I think it's the best song on the record, but hey -- what do I know?

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Slacker Tuesday

Lots of stuff -- mostly good -- happening at Casa Simels, including perhaps a new pussycat in the family -- and I'm exhausted. Regular musical posting, including a brand new Weekend Listomamia, resumes on the morrow, you bastids.

Monday, July 11, 2022

Records I'd Forgotten Existed, Let Alone Loved: An Occasional Feature (Special "Skinny Tie Rock" Edition)

From 1980, please enjoy mistakenly-dismissed-as one-hit-wonders [you know, that song with the phone number and the girl's name in the title] L.A. New Wave rockers Tommy Tutone and their MTV fave "Angel Say No."

Apart from just being a great single with a great groove, this song was a huge influence on me musically. The short version is I learned how to play bass by rocking out to it on an old Pioneer two track cassette deck you could overdub on. (Come to think of it, I got a lot of mileage out of that gizmo; I also recall working out the bass part to "Dance With Me" by Orleans the same way.)

In any event, if you put a gun to my head, I could probably still play this song from memory, so -- hey Tommy Tutone, wherever you are, thanks for the music lessons.

Friday, July 08, 2022

Records I'd Forgotten Existed, Let Alone Loved: An Occasional Feature (Special "From the Land Down Under" Edition)

From his first solo album, in 1974, please enjoy The Easybeats' lead singer Stevie Wright and his definitively rocking hit single "Hard Road."

That was produced and written, unsurprisingly, by Harry Vanda and George Young, also of The Easybeats, and who happened to be the cousins(?) and board twirlers behind AC/DC. Rod Stewart had a minor hit with it in the same year, but it doesn't hold a candle to the above.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, July 07, 2022

Flying Saucers Rock 'n' Roll!!

Fron 2004, live in concert in Mexico, please enjoy Enanitos Verdes and their drop dead gorgeous "Tu Carcel."

The band's name translates loosely as Little Green Men, and they hail from Argentina. They're a very big deal in Latin America, although they're pretty much unknown in the States, which is a shame, as you can hear. (Assuming that the internet is reliable, the song's title translates to "Your Jail.")

I should add that the first time I heard these guys was a couple days ago at my new part-time watering hole, a Forest Hills Mexican joint called Mas Tortilla (try their grilled corn on the cob.) They mostly play tradtional Latin pop over the sound system, although they occasionally blast Rock en español , a genre I'm finding more interesting than I had expected. (As attentive readers will recall, I first paid attention to it after hearing this fabulous Police-ish rocker).

Have I mentioned I love my neighborhood?

Wednesday, July 06, 2022

Back Tomorrow...

...with another example of Rock en español, and one of the most gorgeous mid-tempo ballads I've ever heard. Trust me -- you'll dig it the most.

Tuesday, July 05, 2022

Records I'd Forgotten Existed, Let Alone Loved: An Occasional Feature (Special "Girl Group Songs Remade by Guys" Edition)

From 1983, please enjoy -- from their sadly overlooked reunion album What Goes Around -- the magisterial Hollies and their superb cover of The Supremes' "Stop in the Name of Love."

Apart from being utterly gorgeous, that track is particularly notable for the return of the band's original -- and damn near John Entwistle level good -- bassist Eric Haydock. I had always wondered why he left the band in the first place, but Wiki informs me it had something to do with problems with the band's management. Too bad -- Bernie Calvert, who replaced him for over a decade and a lot of hits, was apparently a nice enough dude and a competent musician, but he couldn't hold a candle to Haydock, who was the first guy in England to play (superbly) a Fender five-string bass.