Friday, August 26, 2022

Literary Notes From All Over

From 1964 in The New Yorker, please enjoy Nat Hentoff's brilliant profile of Bob Dylan as he was recording his fourth album. You know -- the one with "Chimes of Freedom."

And you can read it over at the link HERE.

I should add that when this was written, Hentoff was also a jazz and pop critic at the Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Reivew, and when I got my gig over there, I was briefly Nat's editor. Very nice guy.

I should also add that the Floor Models did a bunch of demos in that same CBS studio in NYC, which was a helluva thrill.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

[h/t Eric Boardman]

Thursday, August 25, 2022

See the USA in Your Chevrolet

From nobody knows exactly when, please enjoy the funniest rock-and-roll photograph of all time...

...and then from 1977, dig the greatest live rock recording of all time, juxtaposed here for obvious reasons.

You're welcome,

[h/t Arthur Kramer]

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Records I'd Forgotten Existed, Let Alone Loved: An Occasional Feature (Special "Schmucks in White Satin" Edition)

From 1966, please enjoy the original version of The Moody Blues, with the great Denny Laine, and their glorious almost hit single "Stop."

I should add that Laine -- who found greater fame and fortune as a member of Paul McCartney's Wings -- wrote and sang that. Jeebus, he was the real soulful deal.

But speaking of the post-Laine Moodys, I have a story, and its not really a funny one.

The short version -- I went to see the mellotron version of those guys -- with the insufferable irony-free Justin Heyward fronting -- at the old Fillmore East, circa late 1968. They were opening for whatever the edition of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers was, and apparently the Moody's thought it was somewhat demeaning to be paired with them..

And when the crowd didn't respond with the enthusiasm they thought their whey-faced British prog-rock deserved, Moody's flutist Ray Thomas looked at the audience and sneered-- and I quote verbatim -- "We're not doing any 12-bars tonight. Too complicated."

What a fucking snob asshole.

Monday, August 22, 2022

Records I'd Forgotten Existed, Let Alone Loved: An Occasional Feature (Special "More Cow Bell" Edition)

From 1987(!) and his sophomore studio album Lord of the Highway, please enjoy the incomparable Joe Ely and his killer ode to public rowdiness "Everybody Go Hammered."

That's just a great genre-bending rock song -- you can hear why Ely was credible collaborating with The Clash back in the day -- and what a pleasure it was to revisit it after all these years.

I should add that I bring it up because a publicist friend of mine (for decades) just sent me Ely's forthcoming album (of unreleased lullabyes he did for his daughter in their respective youths) is coming out on my birthday (Oct. 21) and its freaking great. But I'll have more to say about that when the time comes.

Friday, August 19, 2022

Records I'd Forgotten Existed, Let Alone Loved: An Occasional Feature (Special "50s Ballad Pastiche" Edition)

From 2014, please enjoy everybody's favorite pop tart Lydia Loveless and her spine-tingingly gorgeous cover of "They Don't Know."

Seriously -- that's just great. I think it's legitimately better than both the hit version by Tracey Ullman AND the original by the song's composer, the late great Kirsty MacColl. I mean, forgetting the vocal, which is about as well sung as you can get, but the backing band track is just outrageously cool in a jangly folk-rock way.

BTW, first time I heard that was when I was a guest on the much missed intertube radio show Lost at Sea formerly hosted by friend of PowerPop Captain Al.

Thanks, Captain.

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Fantastic Cat? Yeah, I Would Agree!

As you may have heard, a certain Shady Dame and I welcomed a new furry friend into our home on Saturday.

And in honor of his arrival, please enjoy estimable power pop rockers Fantastic Cat -- featuring wise guy New York City raised front man/singer songwriter Brian Dunne -- and their hilarious video "Nobody's Coming to Get You."

Ah, irony is so ironic.

PS: Given that our new feline buddy was rescued in the Bronx, we have named him Mickey. As in Mantle.

Monday, August 15, 2022

More Rock en Español: Special "Mi Casa, Tu Casa" Edition

From 2020, please enjoy my current favorite band Maná and a live remake (in their respective homes) of their 2011 hit "Huele a Tristeza."

Attentive readers will recall I discovered these guys recently on the sound system of my latest watering hole -- a Mexican restaurant in Forest Hills. The short version is that they're from south of the border, they've been around for a couple of decades, and they've sold a gazillion records (including in the good old USA, where one of their albums went platinum when I wasn't looking).

As you can hear, they're world class fucking great, and I can't believe I hadn't been aware of them before a month or so ago, despite the fact they're superstars in much of the Spanish-speaking world.

I should add that this update of one of their biggest songs was obviously done as a response to the isolation occasioned by the onset of the COVID pandemic, and the cohesiveness of it is a wonder to behold.

I should also add that the cute little dog at the lead singer's feet is a thoroughly charming touch, and that the tune is so good it kills me even though I have no idea what they're yowling about.

In case you're wondering, however, the song's title loosely translates as "Smells of Sadness." Which is kind of interestingly poetic, now that I think of it.

Friday, August 12, 2022

Nuclear Holocaust Week (Part Le Fin): Celtic Folk Meets Some Weird Levantine Poet

Okay, so here's the story about my obsession with this anti-nuke song which inspired the last couple of postings.

The melody is from an old Scottish folk ballad (supernatural variety) called "The Silkie." It was on the first album by Joan Baez, and say what you will about Joanie, when I was a kid, her achingly pure soprano knocked me out, and this particular track was a revelation. For some reason a junior high school teacher of mine played it for my class one day, and I went bonkers.

I mean, I really went nuts. I actually spent hours trying to write a piano fantasia based on it, which I ultimately did; my old friend and musical colleague Allan Weissman informs me he can still play it from memory.

Anyway, cut to 1966 and The Byrds Fifth Dimension album. I'm listening to it for the first time, and suddenly this song -- with the same tune as the Baez thingie but with absolutely brilliant lyrics about a 7 year old who was fried at Hiroshima (gorgeously sung by Roger McGuinn and David Crosby, I should add) -- comes on. And I totally lose it. Where the hell did that come from?

So I look it up, and -- short version -- the lyrics are an anti-nuke poem by a guy named Nâzım Hikmet, a Turkish-Polish political writer and general activist artist guy, who was famous for his problems with the regime in his home country. The lyrics were apparently notorious in his day -- in a good way -- and folk genius Pete Seeger was savvy enough to graft them onto the melody of "The Silkie." And The Byrds were inspired to cover it, magnificently.

It still reduces me to tears, and many years later, I was moved to record a version of it myself -- with what success I leave you to decide.

Makes me weep still, despite my mediocre vocal.

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Nuclear Holocaust (Fun For the Entire Family): Part Deux -- It Couldn't Have Happened Here

So as I've mentioned for the last two days, this week marks the anniversaries of the 1945 nuclear devastation of the Japanese cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

That being the case, and because music speaks a million words, please enjoy -- from the 1982 EP of the same name -- wise guy folk/metal/punk rocker Tonio K and his cautionary Ritchie Valens remake "La Bomba."

Which seems a) relevant and b) has a good beat and you can dance to it.

Ah, yes, 1982. The Reagan Era. When nobody was worried about Republicans blowing up the world.

Tomorrow: a somewhat more profound musical exegis of the same themes we've been discussing.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Nuclear Holocaust: Fun for the Entire Family!

So as I mentioned, yesterday was the anniversary of the annihilation of the Japanese city of Nagasaki (in 1945). Forgetting your opinions of the morality of the United States' actions in that matter, it inspired a really sarondically cool song -- "Old Man Atom," the 1950 hit version of which by folkie Sam Hinton I was a huge enthusiast of as a kid, and hence I posted it yesterday.

That said, there was a competing version -- by Roy Rogers' country backup band The Sons of the Pioneers -- which I had never heard previously, and offer here in the spirit with which it was recorded.

You usually don't associate that kind of black-humor irony with early bluegrass outfits, but hey -- this is America. Anything can happen.

Tuesday, August 09, 2022

Peace in the World or the World in Pieces

Today is the anniversary of the World War II atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan (August, 1945), which I think we can all agree was one of the most morally reprehensible things ever done by this country.

Here's a reminder -- Sam Hinton's classic talking blues "Old Man Atom."

That was released (and a hit) in 1950, when I was three years old; my parents must have had a copy, because by the time I was in early elementary school I can remember obsessively playing it on the phonograph in my bedroom -- that red Columbia label is one of the most vivid images of my childhood. (I'm informed that The Sons of the Pioneers also did a version for RCA; I'll have to check that out).

In any case, given what's going on in Ukraine the song has lost none of its relevance. I should also add that the explosion at the end is a nice macabre production touch.

Monday, August 08, 2022

Ah, to Be Fifty Years Younger

Okay, I know this has nothing to do with music, but this DIOR ad on the back cover of the current issue of Vanity Fair is the most adorable thing I've seen in ages.

An actual song goes up tomorrow.

Thursday, August 04, 2022

Hey -- This Kid is Good!

From his recently released album, please enjoy Harry Styles and his charmingly melodic and McCartney-esque "Matilda."

He's a good looking boy, too. In fact I have a theory about Styles -- when he gets a little older, he's gonna be cast as the next James Bond. Just you wait.

Wednesday, August 03, 2022

Odes to Air Conditioning

So as you may have have guessed by my absence since the weekend, I've had a couple of rough days lately, but by way of making it up to my beloved readers, please enjoy ewverybody's favorite sisters from Liverpool (by way of Austria) The Mona Lisa Twins and a lovely cover of Don McLean's "Vincent."

I've said it before and I'll say it again -- those gals have really got it.

I should add that McClean is not particularly in fashion these days (for reasons I neeedn't go into in a family blog) but that's still a really good song.