Wednesday, September 27, 2023

It's Rocking All Over the World Week: Part III -- Los Shakers Rule, Okay!!!

From 1968, please enjoy The Beatles del Rio de la Plata -- better known as Los Shakers -- and their becomingly Pepper-esque psych stunner "Una Forma De Arco Iris."

I've been a fan of these Uruguayan guys earlier stuff for ages, or at least since Kid Charlemagne turned me onto them in 2007(!), but I hadn't heard the above until friend of PowerPop Sal Nunziato posted it last Sunday at his invaluable Burning Wood blog over here. Apparently, it derives from an album -- La Conferencia Secreta Del Toto's Bar -- which Sal has described as a genre masterpiece; on the basis of the above, I'm obviously gonna have to track it down.

And in the meantime, from 1965 -- and what looks like an utterly charming period teen film en espanol -- here's the slightly younger Los Shakers at their most sublimely Merseybeat-y, with "Always You."

Damn, when that Harrison-esque electric 12-string comes in on the second verse, I'm a goner.

I've said it before and I'll say it again -- of all the songs I've discovered while doing this here blog, this is the one that means the most to me.

Coming tomorrow -- those Moscow girls make me scream and shout!

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Hey -- It's Turning Into Rockin’ All Over the World Week!

From 1986, please enjoy Spanish superstar band Hombres G and their kick ass hit single "El Ataque De Las Chicas Cocodrilo"...

...which translates -- as you, doubtless, have already concluded -- as "Attack of the Crocodile Girls."

And here they are with a wonderful live version (from 2018) with assistance from killer Argentinian guitar band Enanitos Verdes -- Little Green Men to you.

Faithful readers will no doubt recall that I'm a fan of the aforementioned Enanitos, who are responsible for "Tu Carcel," one of the most gorgeous rock songs written in this century, and who I have bent your ear about here previously.

By the way, those Hombres guys seem to have a real flair for titles generally. As witness this one for their 1986 album...

...which, depending on who you ask, translates either as "You screwed up..." or "You fucked up...Burt Lancaster."

Apparently it's a tribute.

Coming tomorrow -- the Beatles of Uruguay!!!

Monday, September 25, 2023

The French They Are a Funny Race. They Fight With Their Feet and...

..well, good taste and propriety forbids me from finishing THAT one.

In any case, from 1969 and somewhere on la Rive gauche, please enjoy gallic Yé-yé rocker Jacques Dutronc and his charmingly proto-garage pop hit single (in his homeland) "Le responsable."

Dutronc is apparently very well known in France and England, where he's had a number of hits in a variety of styles over the years, as well as being a highly regarded film actor.

I should add that he's been married for all those years to superstar French chanteuse/megababe Francoise Hardy...

...and thus deserves considerable respect from mere mortals like you and I.

In all seriousness, I think the song itself is just killer; I've got some left-over studio time booked, and I'm actually considering recording my own version, although I haven't decided whether the original French lyrics or an English translation is more appropriate to my limited, if charmante vocal stylings. I'll keep you posted as this develops, of course.

I should also add that I was totally unaware of both the song and its auteur until the other day when I heard it in this episode of the wonderfully droll Britcom The Cleaner...

...which I heartily recommend.

You're welcome.

Friday, September 22, 2023

La Fin de la Semaine Essay Question: Special "You Talkin' to Me?" Edition

From 1972, and their sole really good album The Night is Still Young -- featuring lotsa terrific originals and a killer cover of "In the Still of the Night" that shreds the hit oldie version -- please enjoy Sha Na Na and their hilarious and poignant ode to the invention of corrective lenses, the Jeff Barry-produced "Glasses."

Written, played and sung by nice Jewish boy Jon "Bowser" Bauman. A prince.

I bring this up for a reason that is both convoluted (it refers back to yesterday's post) and topical.

Basically, as you may have heard, Jann Wenner -- the former editor/publisher/groupie-in-chief of Rolling Stone magazine -- just got kicked off the board of the Rock Hall of Fame for compiling a book of his interviews with the people he considers the greatest of the great figures in rock history, all of whom are, a coincidence I'm sure, white guys. And then adding insult to injury by titling the thing -- wait for it -- The Masters. Which is not a reference to the golf tournament, obviously.

In any case, speaking of interviews, I was lucky enough to sit down with Bowser around the time the aforementioned Sha Na Na album came out, and although the word master did not immediately spring to mind at the time, it was nonerheless one of my favorite journalistic experiences ever. Dude showed up for our chat out of greaser drag, looking like a second year theology major at Yeshiva University, and proceeded to down a corned beef sandwich and a can of Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray while we talked. Needless to say, I was utterly charmed.

For some reason, I haven't been able to find a copy of the interview as it ran in The Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Review, but one part of our conversation is etched in my memory. Specifically, I asked him what product his band used to slick back their hair into those '50s ducks-ass hairdos.

His answer? K-Y Jelly, which despite being designed (or so I've heard) for other purposes makes perfect sense, when you think of it, as it's completely water soluble. To this day, I can't figure why the band never did commercials for the stuff.

But enough of my encounters with greatness. We have an essay question to get to.

So now to business. To wit:

If you could interview any post-WWII rock/pop star, living or dead, who would it be -- and why?

Arbitrary rule: No groups need apply -- only solo performers, or one person from a larger ensemble.

Sorry -- you get to pick either Simon OR Garfunkel, not both of them.

And BTW, in case you're wondering, my choice would be any one of the real people impersonated in this classic SNL bit. I mean, shit -- who wouldn't want to talk to the auteur behind "Me So Horny"?

Okay -- and your choices would be?


And have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Songs I'd Forgotten Existed, Let Alone Loved (An Occasional Series): Special "An Early Clue to the New Direction" Edition

From 1980, please enjoy obscure and (for me, unclassifiable) Brit rockers Interview and their majestic and haunting ode to "Adventurers."

I knew -- and know -- next to nothing about these guys, except for the fact they made two albums, they were on Virgin, and I absolutely adored (and continue to adore) this song.

Still can't make out who they sounded like or what style this is supposed to be; closest I've ever come to being able to describe them is late-period Procol Harum with a sort of New Wave-y frontman, but who knows? I'd be curious to hear what you guys think. (And if anybody has any info about them beyond their Wiki entry, I'd be grateful.)

In any case, a coveted PowerPop No-Prize© will be awarded to the first reader who gleans the tune's relevance to the theme of tomorrow's Weekend Essay question.

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

It Came From the Basement (Part the Infinity)

Okay, I first posted this back in 2011(!) but I'm re-upping it because a) I had forgotten how much I liked the song and b) the audio clip that accompanied the original antedeluvian posting has long since vanished (inexplicably) into the ether.

Hey, it was a long time ago. You know -- before digital streaming services put indie musicians out of business. (Just kidding.)

In any event, faithful readers will recall that I have, for more years than I care to think about, been toiling with some old high school garage band pals on various recorded musical follies. Specifically, making defiantly low-fi DIY albums in a dank Jersey basement, beginning about two decades before Guided By Voices honcho Robert Pollard did something similar in the late 80s/early 90s and thought he was so cool.

And we called ourselves The Weasels, which is a better fricking name, too.

Anyway, I (hopefully) haven't inflicted too many Weasels songs on you guys over the years because, if truth be told, most of them don't really fit into the powerpop template as such, but today I'm going to make an exception with this one because I think it does. In fact, when we were recording it -- which was somewhere around 1973-74 -- I definitely thought of it as our big Badfinger move.

So -- from that long ago vanished era -- please enjoy "Only You (Nobody)." Written by long-time Weasel Glenn Leeds and recorded on the four-track Teac reel-to-reel then recently acquired by fellow Weasel David "Jai Guru Dave" Hawxwell for an album aptly titled Crimes Against Nature.

For the sake of the historical record, the personnel here is me (the guitar solo), the aforementioned Dave on vocals and acoustic guitar, the aforementioned Glenn on the out-of-tune upright piano in Dave's living room, Allan Weissman on bass, and Mike "The Drummer" Sorrentino on one of those rare occasions when he graciously consented to keep the beat for us. I should add that the overdriven and highly compressed sound of my solo was achieved by plugging my 1957 Les Paul into a Pioneer cassette deck with a built-in limiter; where the interesting tape delay (or whatever the hell it is) came from has been lost in the mists of memory.

Oh, and the flutes at the end, in emulation of the Mellotron stuff from "Strawberry Fields," are in fact actual flutes also played by Glenn, talented multi-instrumentalist that he is.

You're welcome.

[h/t Steve Schwartz]

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Songs I'd Forgotten Existed, Let Alone Loved (An Occasional Series)

And I never saw the 1994 video until last week, either.

The above is, of course, D.C.-based Nineties alt-rock/power pop faves Velocity Girl and their indie hit "Sorry Again." Those guys were on Sub-Pop, which meant they were cool by definition back in the day, and I used to play the thing obsessively when it was new; how I lost track of it in recent years is beyond me. Probably just another symptom of old age.

In any event, the reason it impinged again on my decrepit consciousness is that VG will be performing the second of two reunion shows this coming September 30. If you're in the neighborhood of the Bowery Ballroom in Manhattan that evening, you might want to check 'em out.

I should add that "Sorry Again" figures prominently in a Great Lost Singles of the Nineties mixtape I put together in the 'aughts and recently rediscovered on my computer. It's a pretty fab compilation, if I do say so myself; ask me nicely and I could probably be persuaded to put it in a zip file and send it to you.

Monday, September 18, 2023

Man, I Can't Wait to Hear Micky's Version of "Radio Free Europe"

From 2023, and the about to be released (November 3) EP Dolenz Sings R.E.M., please enjoy Micky Dolenz, a/k/a the last surviving Monkee, and a version of the aforementioned sons of Athens' 1991 hit "Shiny Happy People"...

...that has lodged a near permanent smile on my kisser since the moment I first heard it a few days ago.

Not sure who's playing on it, but the album is produced by Christian Nesmith, son of Monkee Mike, who did such a (similarly) spectacular job on the 2021 Dolenz Sings Nesmith album.

In any case, the above is utterly fab. The song itself has never been my fave R.E.M. thing -- it always sounded a little self-consciously ironic/hipster for my taste -- but this version is pop heaven; it could pass for a late Monkees track, and higher praise than that I can not bestow.

Friday, September 15, 2023

La Fin de la Semaine Essay Question: Special "And the punchline is..." Edition

...practice, man, practice.

Hey, you'll get it in a minute.

From 1947, directed by the great Edgar G. Ulmer (one of my all-time heroes), please enjoy (complete, uncut, and in a very good print) the astoundingly star-studded celebration of the practioners of classical music in the 20th Centruy (and the building that hosted them) -- Carnegie Hall.

Yeah, yeah, I know, I know -- the above has pretty much dick to with the mission statement of this here blog. But I'm posting it for a couple of very good reasons. 1) It's pretty amazing and 2) I'd be very surprised if any of you guys had ever seen it or even knew it existed. I certainly hadn't and didn't.

And dig this cast list.

Walter Damrosch (conductor)

Olin Downes (music critic)

Jascha Heifetz (violinist)

Harry James (trumpeter)

Vaughn Monroe (band leader)

Jan Peerce (vocalist)

Gregor Piatigorsky (cellist)

Ezio Pinza (vocalist)

Lily Pons (vocalist)

Fritz Reiner (conductor)

Artur Rodziński (conductor)

Arthur Rubinstein (pianist)

Risë Stevens (vocalist)

Leopold Stokowski (conductor)

Bruno Walter (conductor)

I mean -- wow. And that doesn't even count a very young Cloris Leachman as a dancing nightclub patron.

Also, and most important, it's a perfect illustration of the theme of today's brain teaser.

So now to business. To wit:

...and your favorite (or least favorite) post-Elvis pop/rock/soul/country/jazz-themed movie is...?

Arbitrary rule: no straight concert films need apply. We're talking either fiction films, or bio-pics. Oh, and documentaries too.

BTW, in case you're wondering, I'm voting Performance.

Okay -- discuss.

And have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Andrew Pasternack 1955-2013

It was ten years ago today that I got the news of my friend and bandmate Andy Pasternack's passing.

Here's Andy at a NYC club in 1982, and one of my favorite songs of his, "What's Wrong With This Picture?"

And here's a studio track he wrote and played the Rick on. "Excuses Excuses." If there is a better ballad -- by anybody -- from the last four decades, I have yet to hear it.

I have joked in these precincts, on several occasions, that a Rickenbacker 12-string guitar, well played, is the most beautiful sound occurring in nature. Thanks to Andy's genius and generosity, I was lucky enough to stand stage left from that sound on more occasions than I can count.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Okay, It’s Not as Cool as the Jewish Space Lasers, But...

Found this by accident the other day, and I just couldn't resist sharing.

The definitive Red Sea Pedestrian version of "Old Man River."

Laugh, I thought I'd plotz.

But seriously, folks, come to think of it, there's a bunch of more recent songs I'd absolutely love to hear sung with a Jewish accent.

Starting with Train's "Hey Soul Sister."

I mean, c'mon -- the chorus alone would be the most awesome thing ever. I mean, it would give me such shpilkes.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Tuesday New Music: The JEEN Genie

From her forthcoming (February 2024) album Gold Control, please enjoy singer/songwriter/alt-rocker JEEN and the aforementioned platter's second single, the ominously titled "Making Me Mad."

The album in question first impinged on my consciousness back in July (I was not previously familiar with its young auteuress) when its first single, "Just Shadows," grabbed me right away, despite a certain chaotic over-production and a vocal that under normal circumstances might have struck me as mannered. But as I said back then, by the time the chorus came roaring out of my newly acquired Klipsch computer speakers, I was convinced; this was a record that really sounded like what it meant, which is what you want (and these days don't so often get) from your rock-and-roll.

Ms. J. describes the genesis of the new one thusly:

"There was so much bad shit in the news when I wrote this last spring. Everything kept grinding me down and making me mad. It was all pretty straight forward with this one."

To which I can only add that my description of "Just Shadows" is equally apt for "Mad." Seriously, that's like the hugest chorus I've heard in ages, and it just kills me.

In any case, you can (and should) find out more about JEEN (including where to get her previous releases) over at her official website here.

Monday, September 11, 2023

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words -- Especially the One in the Bottom Left Corner

Okay, sorry, I just couldn't resist.

Real music posting -- starting with an absolutely killer rock track (in a style you wouldn't necessarily think might be up my alley) by a new young artiste -- resumes on the morrow.

Trust me, it'll be worth the wait.

Friday, September 08, 2023

Weekend Listomania: Special "It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time" Edition

[I originally posted the following Listomania back in September of 2009, but let's not bring the whole burning of Atlanta thing up after all these years. In any event, I think it's still a kind of interesting topic to ponder; as is my wont with these vault plunderings, I've done some rewriting and substituted a new entry or two. Enjoy! -- S.S.]

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

Yes, my Asian quota-hire sex worker/martial arts consultant Fah Lo Suee and I are off to fabulous Black Rock City, Nevada, where we plan to go scavenging for high quality drugs in the left-behind muck at this year's Burning Man Festival.

Regular posting will therefore be somewhat fitful for the next couple of days.

But in the meantime, here's an interesting and alarming topic to help you wile away the hours in our absence while you consider it.

To wit:

Best or Worst Post-Elvis Rock, Pop, Soul or Country Concept Album!!!

Self-explanatory, I think, but for purposes of clarity, when I use the term "concept album" I simply mean a record in which some overarching theme, however tenuous, is discernible. As a result no arbitrary rules this time, although I should think you'd be ashamed to nominate a generic greatest hits package.

And my totally top of my head Top Seven is:

7. Sam Cooke -- Night Beat

A collection of Sam's personal favorite blues, soul and gospel songs, recorded for Cooke's own label with the cream of Los Angeles session guys as his backing band, this was designed to sound like the coolest live late night jam session in a smokey bar of all time, and boy does it ever. For reasons known only to the Lord, it went out of print amost immediately after it first appeared in 1963, and despite a CD reissue in the 90s, to this day it remains without question the greatest album by a major artist that most people don't know ever existed.

6. Marty Robbins -- Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs

From 1959, a genuine crossover classic; "El Paso" is the best known cut, but the whole album works. That's Robbins on the cover, BTW, and in case you didn't notice he's doing Richard Boone as Palladin from TVs Have Gun, Will Travel.

5. The Turtles -- Present the Battle of the Bands

The concept here is that the Turtles play each cut in a different style, from surf to country to hard rock, in post Sgt. Pepper guise as other bands. It's not really pursued all that rigorously, but since it features "Elenore" and the above gorgeous version of the early Byrds outtake "You Showed Me," I've always cut them a little slack.

4. Fucked Up -- David Comes to Life

A sort of post-modern rock opera set in England in the '70s and '80s.

You know, I rather like the idea (rather than the reality) of this band, and I once saw Damian Abraham, the lead singer, interviewed on my orthicon tube and found him surprisingly funny and politically very astute.

That said, I'd rather have my eyes gouged out with a melon-baller than watch the guy shirtless in a live gig.

3. Garth Brooks -- the Life of Chris Gaines

Brooks in his bizarre incarnation as a supposedly legendary 90s alt-rocker. I don't care if the damn thing sold two million copies -- it's a prime contender for biggest What the Fuck Was He Thinking? album in music history.

2. The Beatles -- Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

Yeah, yeah, yeah -- I know it's over-exposed (so is Bach's B-Minor Mass) and some people think it's a period piece (those people are just being difficult.)

Sorry, it's the tits. Deal with it.

And the most memorable, for whatever reason, High Concept album of all time obviously is --

1. The Paragons and The Jesters -- The Paragons Meet the Jesters

The very first (after the fact) thematic rock compilation (1959), and thanks to the brilliantly art-directed leather bar juvenile delinquent cover photo -- let's face it, Lou Reed based an entire esthetic on it -- still one of the most iconic.

Alrighty then -- what would YOUR choices be?

And have a great weekend, everybody!!!

[h/t Joy Brodsky Thurston]

Thursday, September 07, 2023

Thursday Shameless Filler: The Fab Three — and Me!!!

Courtesy of a certain Shady Dame of my acquaintance, here I am at the Paul McCartney photo show at the National Portrait Gallery in London last week.

I am extraordinarily fond of that shot, as you may well imagine.

(Incidentally, in case you were wondering, the original b&w Beatles pic was taken by the Fabs' longtime roadie and pal Mal Evans, who was watching the show from the wings and using Paul's 35mm camera.)

Coming tomorrow: The triumphal return of Weekend Listomania!

And don't even try to guess the theme, 'cause there's no way you'll get it!!

So there!!!.

Wednesday, September 06, 2023

Why Didn't I Get the Memo? (An Occasional Feature): Special "I Don't Think This Relationship Can Be Saved" Edition

From his 2016 album Happy Accidents, please enjoy power pop Renaissance dude Ken Sharp and just the cutest damned cover of the Beach Boys' semi-obscure gem "Girl Don't Tell Me."

I must confess that I was totally unaware of Sharp until a couple of days ago, when the video above was featured over at the invaluable Digby's Hullabaloo, but apparently he's made several albums and written a couple of music books. In any case, the first time I played the thing, in the immortal words of Christina Applegate (on Married With Children) you could have knocked me over with the weather.

The Beach Boys original, of course (and as I'm sure you all are aware) first saw the light of the day on the group's classic 1965 Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!) LP, and apart from being just a great song, it's notable for being one of the few BBs tracks of the period where the only musicians on it are the actual guys in the band; Dennis is on drums, Brian is on bass and keyboards, and Carl is responsible for the vocals (fabulous) and guitar. Brian apparently wrote it as an homage to "Ticket to Ride," which you can plainly hear.

I should add that up until now, I thought The Smithereens version, from their 1980 debut indie EP, was the ne plus ultra cover of the thing...

...but I think now I prefer Sharp's version. In any case, I'm gonna have to check out some of his other stuff; I'll get back to you when I do.

[h/t Dennis Hartley]

Tuesday, September 05, 2023

Annals of the Normally Occurring

From 2023, and their drolly titled EP Decriminalized, please enjoy Jay Allen and the Archcriminals and their kick-ass garage punk remake of Sir Tom Jones' classic "It's Not Unusual."

These guys are highly regarded in their home base of Boston, where they're considered, rightly, to be on a stylistic continuum between the Nerves and the Replacements, and on the basis of the above I can see why; Allen has an endearingly snot-nosed wiseguy voice and the band as a whole takes no prisoners. I'm not 100-percent convinced by their adaptation of this particular song, which takes a smidge more liberties with the original chord changes and melody than I would have done personally but, as they used to say in Philadelphia, the overall results have a good beat and you can dance to it, so let's not carp about minor details.

In any case, you can -- and should -- download or stream the EP in question over at the Bandcamp site of their label Rum Bar Records HERE.

Coming tomorrow: One of the coolest Beach Boys covers ever heard by sentient mammalian ears.

Monday, September 04, 2023

Critical Heresies (or You'll Never Work in This Town Again): An Occasional Series

[I first posted this in 2011, but I'm reposting it (in honor of Labor Day, for reasons I won't bore you with) because the original video links have long since vanished into the ether. Thank you for your indulgence. -- S.S.]

Okay, I'm about to say something that I've never said to another living soul, and certainly not to another living rock critic, for what will be obvious reasons.


I do not now care, and have never particularly cared, for Van Morrison's Astral Weeks.

Okay, there I've said it.

Which, of course, given the album's status as pretty much the holiest bovine in the entire rock album canon, is more or less akin to confessing you were glad the Greek colonels overthrew King Constantine.

And lest you think I'm just being difficult, or trying to generate some sort of blog-hit controversy, I'm not. I don't dislike the album; it simply doesn't talk to me. Maybe it's genetic, I dunno, but I just find it a little dull. Sue me.

I bring all this up because the other day -- having some more than usual time on my hands -- I finally got around to listening to an album called Tax Free that I've been meaning to check out for ages. And therein lies a tale.

Longtime readers are aware of my fondness for a Dutch 60s beat group called The Outsiders (not to be confused with the American greaser outfit of the same name and era who hit it big with "Time Won't Let Me.")

The Dutch Outsiders never had any of their music released in this country, but they were pretty big in Europe and they've developed a cult following in recent years; some folks claim they're the best 60s band for whom English was not their first language, and while I won't go that far, they were pretty damn good. Maybe not world class, but definitely worth hearing in that sort of Stones/Pretty Things snarling r&b derived rock style that was all the rage back then.

In any case, Tax Free was the band Outsiders singer Wally Tax formed after the breakup of that bunch, and unlike the rest of his previous oeuvre, their eponymous elpee was actually released -- albeit to a largely uncaring public -- in the US of A.

What I didn't know until recently is that Tax Free's eponymous album has often been compared to Astral Weeks, presumably because it's produced by Lewis Merenstein (who produced AW), it features Richard Davis (who did similar duty on AW) on upright bass, it's in the same pastoral more or less acoustic quasi-jazz style as AW, and because it, like AW, makes me very, very sleepy.

Have I mentioned that John Cale plays viola on the album?

Anyhowever, all of this is a very roundabout way of setting up a Compare and Contrast that may prove edifying.

So...from 1965, it's the angry young Them (featuring Van Morrison) and "I Can Only Give You Everything"...

...and from 1968, it's the not so angry Van Morrison (from Astral Weeks) and "Cypress Avenue."

Meanwhile, from 1967, here are the savage young Outsiders (featuring Wally Tax) and "Story 16"...

...and from 1970, here are the far more genteel Tax Free (featuring Wally Tax) and "Along the Shadowed Quay."

And so the question is -- do either of those pairings strike you guys as some kind of musical evolution/progression? Or at least one worth writing home about?

Because what I hear in both cases -- and yes, obviously I'm exaggerating to make a point -- is more like a failure of nerve.

Not meant as a compliment, obviously.

Friday, September 01, 2023

La Fin de la Semaine Essay Question: Special "A Nightingale Sang in Forest Hills" Edition

So a certain Shady Dame and I are back from London town, safe and sound. We had a terrific time, seeing and doing a lot of nifty things, including the way cool show of Paul McCartney's 1963-64 Beatles photography at the National Portrait Gallery, and the equally way cool exhibition of art and poetry by everybody's favorite pre-Raphaelites The Rossettis at the Tate Britain.

Hell, we even slummed it a bit by taking in the London production of the Back to the Future musical which, apart from the onstage Delorean, was just okay, but how often do I get to say I'm seeing a show with music written by the drummer -- Alan Silvestri -- of my high school rock band?

I mean really? How excellent is that?

We did not, however and alas, get to visit this celebrated-in-song-and-story spot...

...which was actually in walking distance of our hotel, but hey -- you can't have everything. Maybe next time.

Anyway, given that we're back in our Queens digs, bonding anew with Mickey, the world's cutest six-toed pussycat, it's time to move on to musical business.

To wit:

...and your favorite (or least favorite, if you have one) post-Elvis pop/rock/soul/country/folk song referencing the idea of home, specifically, or just the larger concept of finding shelter, is...?


In case you were wondering, I'm voting for this one (just to reinforce the Brit theme of the week's previous posts).

I think "wow" is the word for that.

Anyway, have a great weekend, everybody!!!.

And I promise some actual new music, made recently, will loom large in next week's postings!!!

Thursday, August 31, 2023

Son of the Return of the Attack of Closed For Monkey Business

Hey, I just flew in from London, and boy are my arms tired.

Taking a well deserved day off, but fear not -- a fresh as a daisy Weekend Essay Question will go up first thing Friday.

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

A Cat Can Look at a King. A Cat Can Look at Queens, Too… in our hometown of Forest Hills, Queens. The cat doing the looking in this case is, of course, our beloved new pal Mickey Six Toes©, who awaits our return from our London vacation tonight, and who could easily pass for the inspiration for The Kinks classic "Phenomenal Cat."

Regular post-vacation musical posting resumes on Thursday, after a certain Shady Dame and I have had a chance to a) unpack and b) bond anew with the Mickster.

Closed for (British) Monkey Business

Having a great, but exhausting, time here in London.

Genuine English music-themed posting resumes on the morrow.

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Any Anglophile Pervs Out There? Asking for a Friend…

Greetings from London, everybody; BG and I are having a wonderful time and wish you were here too!

Well, most of you, but we needn't get into the specifics of that right now.

Anyway, we need some help here. We were at the National Portrait Gallery on Friday, checking out the quite wonderful exhibition of Paul McCartney's eye of the Beatlemania storm (1963-64) photography, and came across this shot, which was identified as having been taken in Washington D.C.

The only problem being we can't find any record of a smut film/documentary about Ms. Keeler, the British call girl who helped bring down the Macmillan government in the UK, ever having been released in the States.

Or England either, for that matter.

Anybody out there have a clue? It's worth a coveted PowerPop No-Prize© if you do.

Coming tomorrow: Another travel dispatch from your two innocents abroad.

Friday, August 25, 2023

La Fin de la Semaine Essay Question: Special "So What If Boris Johnson is an Idiot?" Edition

Okay, BG and I have arrived, safely, in (unsurprisingly) rainy London town, and we're off to the Royal Portrait Gallery to see an exhibition of Paul McCartney's early Beatles-era photography.

Could be a hot one!

That being the case, of course, I can't imagine a more appropriate song to post in celebration of our good fortune than this one.

Ah, Roger Miller. Incidentally, I'm beginning to think a critical reappraisal of that guy is long overdue. I am reminded of the fact that on his eponymous critically acclaimed but short-lived network variety show (which ran on NBC for 13 weeks between September 1966 and January 1967) there was a full-size train set that featured regularly in the show's musical numbers. Miller blew it up on camera during the final episode, and how cool is that?

But now to business. To wit:

...and your favorite (or least favorite) American post-Elvis pop, country, blues, soul, or rock song British artists covered and then beamed back at USA audiences is...?


Oh, BTW, I'm voting for Bessie.

Meanwhile -- have a great weekend, everybody!!! We should have some interesting pictures and stuff to share with you guys on Monday.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

An Early Clue to the New Direction: Special "Is the Heather in Bloom this Time of Year?" Edition

Hey everybody -- before we go any further, I just wanted to mention that your humble scribe and a certain Shady Dame of my acquaintance will be winging our way across the pond later today.

Destination: London. Where we'll be doing all sorts of fun stuff for the next several days. Of course, I'll try to keep you guys up to date as to what we're up to, British Isles wise, but posting may be, necessarily, a little erratic until we return next Wednesday.

Hey, give BG and I a break. I mean, the bottom line is -- damn, both of us need and deserve this vacation something fierce.

Okay, with that out of the way...From 1965, please enjoy The Beau Brummels and their spectacular cover of The Lovin' Spoonful's John Sebatian-penned semi-obscure ode to "Good Time Music."

BTW, the Spoonful version, which is also wonderful, if lacking that great a capella choral intro the BBs appended to their arrangement...

...can be found on What's Shakin', the fabulous 1966 Elektra Records sampler pictured above.

Which is, BTW, worth getting for Al Kooper's early solo version of "I Can't Keep From Cryin'" (better known today from the remake he did with The Blues Project) all by itself.

You will perhaps not be surprised to learn that one of the proudest moments of my life was when I learned how to reproduce Kooper's piano solo from it note for note. (I can still play the thing, BTW.)

In any case, a coveted PowerPop No-Prize© will be awarded to the first reader who gleans the relevance of both our current travels AND "Good Time Music" to the theme of tomorrow's Weekend Essay Question.

Which, you're welcome very much, I was thoughtful enough to have written prior to our departure.

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Wait -- Can You Really Say "Surf's Up" When You're Down Under?

And speaking as we were yesterday of wonderful first-generation Australian punk band Radio Birdman -- and boy, was that a big winner with our faithful blog readers(!) -- please enjoy said ensemble's arresting (heh) 1978 single "Aloha Steve and Danno."

As in Jack Lord and James MacArthur, in case you didn't get the teevee reference.

I've been a fan of that song since forever (or when it got reissued in the States on WEA in 1988) but I had never seen the video before last weekend, and I was delighted to find out that it's freaking hilarious.

And I bet The Ventures would have thought so too.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

My New Favorite Song (An Occasional Series): Special "Ignorance and Apathy? I Don't Know and I Don't Want to Know!" Edition

From 2006, but more specifically from their just released best-of album, please enjoy Australian garage-punk-power-pop-New-Wave luminaries Young Modern...

...and their wonderfully snotty-and-jangly single "Do You Care?"

God, what I wouldn't have given to cover that song with the Floor Models back in the day. The nasal vocal, the sort of chiming guitars...just fabulous. And they had lots of other songs as good.

BTW, I must admit I was hertofore unfamiliar with these guys (who hail from Adelaide), but when I read in the press release anoouncing the new CD -- "It's Automatic: The Best of Young Modern" -- that they had made their live debut opening for the great Radio Birdman in 1977, I just knew they had to be cool. Hence, I'm sharing, you're welcome very much.

I should also add that I was also vastly taken with the name of the record company that assembled the package -- Half a Cow -- but I'm easy.

In any event, the collection includes a terrific booklet with a complete history of the band, lots of groovy photos like the above, and 23 songs covering, apparently, YMs entire recorded output. You can (and should) stream the anthology over at Amazon HERE; physical copies of the CD can be ordered at the 50 percent bovine label website over HERE.

Monday, August 21, 2023

Your Monday Moment of "And Speaking of Gorgeous..."

From 1981, and his legendary (at my house) CBS demos cassette, please enjoy power pop genius David Grahame and his sublime tribute to the music that trasformed the lives of everybody reading this here blog.

The aptly named "True Believers."

Words fail me. Seriously.

A bit of backstory: David was one of the original McCartneys in the Broadway cast of Beatlemania. Later, he was a member of a Small Faces-ish NYC band (I've written about them before) called The Mix who made one masterpiece of an indie album in 1980 and who should have been mega-stars. And in 1991, he co-wrote Mr. Big's Number 1 hit "To Be With You" (which I won't link to, you're welcome very much).

David also produced a lot of the early home demos for The Floor Models (some of which showed up on our years later CD debut) and he's about as ridiculously talented as anybody I've ever had the privilege to work with in any field of endeavor. I've kinda lost touch with him personally over the last couple of decades, for reasons I'm a little unclear about. He's still alive and well and making music, however; according to, he's made a whole bunch of albums since I last saw him, including one amusingly titled "Emitt Road," and one in collaboration with another power pop legend (and fave of this here blog) Marc Jonson, which I really ought to get a hold of.

In any case -- hey David, you were, and still are, one of my heroes. And if by some chance you see this post, I hope it makes you smile at the very least.

Friday, August 18, 2023

La Fin de la Semaine Essay Question: Special "The Magic of Cinema" Edition

Oh. My. God.

Look what all of us missed in theatres this week!

A restored version of the Citizen Kane of airborne aquatic predator horror flicks.

I am depressed.

On the other hand, I was previously unaware -- and was immensely tickled to learn -- that the band responsible for the wonderfully Ramones-ish theme song to said flick is named...wait for it...Quint.

As in the character portrayed by the great Robert Shaw in the original Jaws.


Okay, and now to business. To wit:

...and your favorite (or least favorite) post-Elvis pop/rock/soul song either written specifically for, or merely utilized in, a movie is...?


Arbitrary rule: And don't give me any of that Barbra Streisand "Evergreen" shit, 'cause I don't want to hear it.

Oh, and by the way -- I'm voting for Van Morrison's "Into the Mystic" as heard in a heroin-shooting scene in the 1971 cult classic Dusty and Sweets McGee.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Closed for Monkey Business

Had a tiring couple of days; let's just say it involved four -- count 'em, four -- separate injections. (Don't worry -- they were all administered by qualified medical professionals).

In any case, regular posting -- either a Weekend Essay Question or a Listomania -- resumes on the morrow.

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Restraining Orders of the Gods

From their just released album Another Fine Mess, please enjoy The Collyer Brothers and their hair-raising ode to the rustic pleasures of "Otisville."

Who are these guys? Allow me to quote from (IMHO) the greatest press release of all time:


Reunited duo rescues "Another Fine Mess' if only temporarily from the trash heap

In the early 1970s, Glenn Leeds and David Hawxwell, two of the original members of the legendary band The Weasels, got together at FrogDeath Records' Moe's Mountain Studios and recorded a collection of thirteen original songs sans fellow band-mates Allan Weissman and Steve Simels. On hearing the new tracks, an A&R man dismissed the project as "nothing but an ill-conceived, contrived rehash of irrelvent troubadour tropes." The album was quickly shelved and the tapes consigned to a vault.

Fast-forward 50 years...The Weasels are shoo-ins for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Leeds owns the Petomane label, with its stable of very successful so-called "rip-hop"/"gas-rap" artists.

After many years, a chance reunion between Leeds and Hawxwwell leads to a discussion regarding the old recordings. David, long out of the music business and fallen on hard times, prevails upon his former bandmate to acquire the tapes from FrogDeath and release them via Leeds own label. In a remarkable act of generosity, Glenn agrees to distriute the album and donate all the profits to the homeless Hawxwell. The veteran musicians call themselves The Collyer Brothers, a tip of the hat to the legendary New York siblings who never threw anything away.

Will there be a tour in support of the new album? Leeds, now a spry 75, doesn't rule it out. Hawxwell, who is currently involved in resolving some legal issues, says he would happily perform in local venues and he looks forward to a time when he can leave the state.

-----Nick Madascalpo, AlterCocker Press, August 2023

All kidding aside, when I heard that my old bandmate(s) was(were) doing a Glenn solo album, I kinda figured that it would be this huge Abbey Road-ish production, given that Glenn's a) a ridiculously accomplished multi-instrumentalist and b) he's our resident engineer and studio wizard (the gear he's got packed into the Weasels cramped attic facility is truly amazing). So imagine my surprise when the record turned out to be a quiet, contemplative, and understatedly lovely sort of folkie song cycle. I think it's quite wonderful and I think you will too; you can listen to it free (or download it) over at Bandcamp (just type in The Collyer Brothers in the search engine) and it will be available for download or purchase at the rest of the usual suspects -- Amazon, iTunes, Spotify, YouTube et al -- beginning on September 11. I'll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, kudos Glenn and Dave -- you did good.

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Sorry to Harsh Anybody's Mellow, But...Thoughts on the Anniversary of Woodstock

(To paraphrase the immortal words of Ian Hunter, I've wanted to say this publicly for years and years).

1. I didn't go, and didn't regret it at the time or since. It sucked and I knew it was going to suck in advance. Let's just say that I accurately predicted exactly what it was going to be -- three days of rolling around in the mud with lousy sanitation watching vague dots on the horizon providing tribal muzak.

2. What did I do instead? What any sensible person would have done -- stayed on campus, in the air conditioned comfort of my dorm room , getting high, drinking wine, having sex with somebody I had been lusting after for ages, and listening to great music by bands who weren't at the festival on a high end stereo system. Now THAT'S a way to spend a weekend.

3. Oh, and have I mentioned that the movie is the worst concert film of all time? I actually sat through it in a theater, and the three hours plus running time actually felt like three days. If it hadn't been for the five hilarious minutes or so of Sha Na Na towards the end, I would have been the first person in the history of the Paramus UA Cinema ever to open a vein during a screening.

Thank you.

Monday, August 14, 2023

Cahiers du Muswell Hill

From 2023, and the fine folks at the recalled-to-life Jem Records label, please enjoy two absolutely fab tracks off their just released tribute album Jem Records Celebrates Ray Davies.

We begin with Friends of PowerPop The Weeklings having a high spirited go at the sure to be banned in Florida "Lola"...

...and then move on to New Jersey kids The Grip Weeds and their majestically psychedelic take on the haunting "See My Friends."

I haven't heared the whole album yet -- although I plan to momentarily, and I'll get back to you as soon as I do -- but both of the above covers strike me as terrific. I will confess, however, that I kinda miss the power-slide guitar and finger picking from the original Kinks version of "Friends." Then again, I think that's a perfect, once-in-a-lifetime record, so I'm prejudiced.

In any case, you can -- and obviously should -- avail yourself of the album over at Amazon HERE. And toot sweet.

Friday, August 11, 2023

La Fin de la Semaine Essay Question: Special "Controlled Substances From the Mystic East" Edition

From 1966, please enjoy LA pioneers The Poor and their (for my money) totally addictive psych/pop single "She's Got the Time (She's Got the Changes)."

That's Randy Meisner, who'd go on to be a founding member of both Poco and The Eagles, on bass; the song itself was written by either Brewer or Shipley (of "One Toke Over the Line" fame); the group was managed and produced by the Greene-Stone team that also managed and produced the Buffalo Springfield. I know for a fact that this got a fair amount of airplay in the NYC area in 1966 because I used to hear it a lot on WMCA-AM and, in fact, was moved to go out and buy the damn thing at Sam Goody. Apparently not big in the rest of the country, however.

In any case, why it wasn't anthologized on the original Lenny Kaye Nuggets compilation is a mystery that will never be solved. Unless somebody here knows Lenny and can ask him.

Okay, but now to business. To wit:

...and your favorite (or least favorite) Sixties song that could fairly be described as psychedelic -- or just having a noticeable Middle Eastern/Indian influence -- is...?


Arbitrary rule: And don't give me any of that Ted Nugent/Amboy Dukes' "Journey to the Center of the Mind" crap. Hell, Nugent still denies he knew it wa a drug song at the time he recorded it. Putz.

Meanwhile, have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, August 10, 2023

The Gurus: What if They Gave a Love-In and Nobody Came?

From 1966, please enjoy Greenwich Village stalwarts The Gurus and the A-side of the first of their two singles "Come Girl."

From All-Music:

One of the first rock bands to heavily incorporate Middle Eastern music into psychedelia, the Gurus in fact put more Middle Eastern influences into their sound than almost any rock band of the 1960s. Though the two singles they managed to release on United Artists in 1966 and 1967 were somewhat gimmicky, they were pretty fine, adventurous efforts mixing raga-rock with hypnotic melodies and wailing vocals. However, although a 1967 LP release was planned and even advertised, the album never came out, and the band broke up without having made a wide impact.

I will confess that I was completely unfamiliar with these guys. In fact, I only first became aware of them last Sunday, when a certain Shady Dame of my acquaintance discovered the aforementioned 45 single, complete with picture sleeve, in a box of her old vinyl stuff that had been sitting for years in a storage facility in our building in Forest Hills. It was in perfect condition, BTW, but since we don't have a turntable I immediately went to YouTube, which had a lot of the band's material, thus living up to its reputation as the Library at Alexandria of the Modern World.

In any event, the Gurus' album finally saw the light of day (via Sundazed Records) in 2003. You can order the CD version, which includes perhaps the most jaw-droppingly wiggy cover of "Louie Louie" ever heard by sentient mammalian ears...

...or stream it over at Amazon HERE.

BTW, a coveted PowerPop No-Prize© will be awarded the first reader who gleans the song's relevance to the theme of tomorrow's Fin de la Semaine essay question.

Wednesday, August 09, 2023

Les Cahiers du Monica Vitti

Okay, now that I've got that Jelly Roll shit from Monday out of my system, let's contemplate something more pleasant.

From 1972, and the film of the same name, please enjoy Rosanna Fratello and her Italo-hit "Smetti di Piovere."

That's "Stop the Rain," for those of you who don't speak romance languages.

My younger brother Drew turned me on to this the other day; he encountered it as the credit song for that aforementioned film (English title: The Pacifist) and he found both of them interesting in a period sort of way, as did I.

The film, which didn't make much of a splash here at the time, is one of those sort of existential/viva la revolution flicks which were so fashionable during the hangover from the 60s, but since it stars the drop dead gorgeous blonde Monica Vitti... deserves behooving by definition. Cineastes will of course recall the beauteous Vitti as the star of several classics by Michelangelo Antonioni, most famously "L'Avventura."

"Smetti" isn't in that league, alas, but hey -- it's Monica freaking Vitti. So here it is, in a nice print, in its entirety.

As for the theme song, which seems to have been a minor European hit, it reminded my brother of "MacArthur Park"; I hear more of a Bond ballad thing, but your mileage may vary. Ms. Fratello was apparently a fairly well known actress and singer in her homeland for many years (including an obligatory disco period) but don't worry -- I'm not gonna make you sit through any of her other stuff.

Coming tomorrow: a fabulously rare and obscure slice of 1966 vinyl recently discovered in the record collection of a certain Shady Dame of my acquaintance.

Tuesday, August 08, 2023

Great Lost Singles of the '80s: Special "Sirens of the Salon" Edition

From 1981, please enjoy The Fabulous Perms and the lead-off track to their indie EP Good Answer, the delightfully catchy slice of New Wave Girl Group revivalism that is "Touch Me."

The song was written by Jersey Shore stalwart (and Bon Jovi collaborator) Jack Ponti, and produced by WPIX-FM deejay John Ogle; the backing band is a bunch of folks out of the whole Springsteen/Southside Johnny Asbury Park Mafia axis (Betty Perm is actually the ex-Mrs. Southside). And in the interest of full disclosure, I should add that Laura Perm, who's singing lead on the track, is an old and dear friend, although I didn't actually meet her until a decade after this was released.

In any case, a terrific record, I think; for more on The Perms, just click on the clipping below for a more readable (i.e., full-size) version of their story, which behooves beholding.

I'm not sure any of that stuff about Finland is strictly true, BTW.

I should add that the EP has never been on CD, alas, but the rest of it -- including a way cool cover of The Exciters' "Tell Him" -- is equally fab, and I'm gonna put the whole thing up on Bandcamp in the next day or two. I'll keep you posted.

[h/t Steve Schwartz]

Monday, August 07, 2023

Today's Edition of “Short Answers to Stupid Questions”

Uh, no.

You're welcome.

I should add that just about everything about this recent (July 23) op-ed on Nashville's newest superstar Jelly Roll gets up my nose, beginning with the Times' credit...

...which omits the more apt descriptive "putz."

Seriously, in the immortal words of Oscar Wilde, one would need a heart of stone not to laugh at shit like this.

At 38 years old, very heavy and sporting a constellation of facial tattoos, Jelly Roll is no Taylor Swift. He is a recovering addict whose life has been riddled by drug-related loss — a theme that dominates his music and defines his stage persona. He openly swears, drinks, smokes weed and has a history of criminal convictions and substance-abuse problems. Yet Jelly Roll hasn’t become a star in spite of those things, but because of them. And that popularity is as revealing about the condition of the American soul as it is about the artist himself...

On this level, Jelly Rollmania makes perfect sense. In a country riddled with crises — the opioid epidemic, mass incarceration, the mental health crisis and gun violence among them — Jelly Roll’s music is an expression not just of musical tastes, but also of a desperate national hunger for healing and recovery.

Disclosure: Jelly Roll’s music makes me cry, too. I am a long-term recovering addict who will never quite heal. I got sober in an Alcoholics Anonymous clubhouse in Nashville circa 1990, where people traded aphorisms and wisdom that sound a lot like the lyrics on [Jelly Roll's album] “Whitsitt Chapel.” Neither my alcoholic father nor my alcoholic grandfather made it to 50. I lost a brother and two stepbrothers to addiction and mental illness: Bob was killed in a drug-motivated shooting in 1984. Adam died by suicide, overdosing on heroin, in 1991. Jim, a teenage addict, was sentenced at 18 to five years for armed robbery (aggravated robbery is also one of Jelly Roll’s convictions), got some prison tattoos himself and started smoking crack when he got out. He died in his 50s, his body compromised by hepatitis, diabetes and heart disease.

After each death, I got a tattoo, to try to permanently mark myself as them...

Oh, boo-fucking-hoo. Cue the violins.

Oh wait -- there aren't any country fiddles on the Jelly Roll song below.

Now, I can already hear you saying -- don't be so mean, Steve. Sure, Sartwell and Jelly Roll have had rough lives, but what about the music itself?

Well, what about it?

Well, forgetting the fact that when you look up the the word "dreck" in the dictionary this video comes up...

...but sorry -- an embarassing melodramatic poor-poor pitiful-me lyric delivered with a creepily auto-tuned, awkwardly mashed-up hip-hop-with-a-twang vocal? Try THAT on a Jason Aldean record.

Let alone pitching it to the Lord.

I mean, holy manipulative commercial crap, Batman!

And then of course there's this little confessional at the end.

...Jelly Roll says, “I’ve been a drug addict, I’ve been a loser, I’ve been a stealer” and “My friends in recovery, the first thing they learn is that you gotta find something that matters more to you than you … There’s something out there that can help us.”

I like a good [!-Ed.] Taylor Swift tune as much as anyone, but it’s Jelly Roll I turn to for my musical salvation [emphasis mine] these days. Even as I struggle from day to day, it’s good to know I’m not the only one still desperate for reconciliation and connection.

Right. Got it. Absolutely. Jelly Roll has suffered for his art, and now it's your turn.

Okay, I've said my piece, and obviously I'm exagerrating to make a point. And sure, there's no accounting for taste, even if you do claim to be a philosopher.

But here's the thing.

In the immortal words of (actually I forgot who said it, but it is nonetheless true): It is almost always a bad idea to try and figure out your deep personal hurt and other issues in your life based on the lyrics to popular songs.

And that includes when and if the New York fucking Times is paying you handsomely to do it.

Check, please!

Friday, August 04, 2023

La Fin de la Semaine Essay Question: Special "Sing Along With Sam Shepard" Edition

From 1970, please enjoy your humble scribe (on guitar) and the proudly stupid mono instrumental backing track (written by yours truly) for "Prisoners Get Out of Your Homemade Beds."

Je répète: That's an instrumental track -- i.e., no vocal!!!

And therein lies a tale. Here's the short version.

In June of 1970 I was getting some extra credits toward my B.A. in a summer theater program at what I usually refer to as An Unidentified College on Long Island. One of the pieces we were doing that month was a tragically avant-garde 1967 one-act called Melodrama Play by the then not-a-household-word Sam Shepard. The work itself, which I barely remember at this point (many drugs were being consumed that summer) concerned a Jaggeresque rock star, his twin brother, an unscrupulous manager and (I think) a murder of some sort. I got cast as the rock star, which is funny on any number of levels, especially considering that I looked like I do above; Jaggeresque really isn't the word that comes to mind.

Anyway, a song by the show's fictional rock star, the aforementioned "Prisoners Get Out of Your Homemade Beds," figured prominently in the script; Shepard had provided shall we say idiosyncratic lyrics, but the music was apparently up to whoever decided to mount a production. The day we started rehearsals, the director (one of my profs) took me aside and said "Come up with a tune for for this. I've got two hours booked in the college radio station on Thursday, and you'll record it then." Considering I had then never written a song in my life this was rather a daunting challenge, as you can well imagine.

Fortunately, The Who's Live at Leeds album had come out a few weeks earlier, and I had been listening to it obsessively; using that as a template, it turned out to be surprisingly easy to come up with a dopey riff and a moronic three chord instrumental track that sort of fit Shepard's somewhat wayward words. Two of my musician friends from my garage band at home -- including my old pal Allan Weissman, who is a day older than me, and has never let me forget it -- happened to be available, and so, with me doing a woefully inadequate imitation of Pete Townshend on guitar, we eventually found ourselves at the recording facilities of WCWP-FM, bashing out the tune in about as much time as it took to rehearse it once. As I recall, the engineer simply hung a single microphone in the vicinity of the band; there was no overdubbing, obviously. The finished product, however, met with the director's approval, and I wound up yowling along to it, karaoke style, on stage when we did the show a week or two later.

Cut to: sometime in the 'teens. I was reminiscing about all this with another old pal, and he let it drop that years back I had entrusted the original reel-to-reel tape of the song (the only one that ever existed) to him, and that against all the odds he still had it. And still playable, apparently.

So -- at great personal expense (actually, fifty bucks to a good engineer I know), here it is these five decades later, in digital form for all to hear. I also found Shepard's lyrics, which I have appended; feel free to sing them in the privacy of your own home, preferably while playing air guitar. You'll notice three strategically placed screams throughout the clip -- those are your cues for the beginning of each verse.

I should add that a version of this track with a vocal by yours truly has survived as well, but it will be available for public audition at approximately the same time that frozen yogurt goes on sale in Hell.

"Prisoners, Get Out of Your Homemade Beds"

Well early one day you got out of bed
And then you decided to go to sleep instead
So early one day you got back in the sack
And you fell fast asleep in your homemade rack
You don't know how you decided this
And all that you know is there's something you missed
But you don't know what and you don't know where
So you just stay put and go nowhere

Oh prisoners get out of your homemade beds
Oh prisoners get out of your homemade beds

Well early one night you got so very uptight
And you said this sleeping it just ain't right
But you couldn't at all decide what to do
But your eyes stayed shut with their homemade glue
But you couldn't hear your own voice speak
And you couldn't walk 'cause your legs were too weak
So you lay in bed crying to yourself
And your life's just out there hanging on the shelf

Oh prisoners get out of your homemade beds
Oh prisoners get out of your homemade beds

And now the night and the day are just the same
And now the light and the dark have no name
And you just lay in bed without no game
You just lay there sleeping without no fame
But when you awaken from your deep deep sleep
That bed will disappear and you won't even weep
You'll walk right outside without no name
You'll walk right outside from where you came

Oh prisoners get of your homemade beds
Oh prisoners get out of your homemade...heads

I must confess, cheesy as the track is, I still kind of dig the blatant steal from The Kinks at the end.

But now to business. To wit:

...if you were drunk and at a karaoke bar, what would be the song you would most like to sing in public?


Meanwhile, have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, August 03, 2023

An Early Clue to the New Direction: Special "Buddy Should Have Lived to Hear It" Edition

From 2004, please enjoy the original Crickets -- with special guests Tonio K. and Peter Case on vocals and harmonica, respectively -- and their fabulous remake of Buddy Holly's never-to-be-forgotten "Not Fade Away."

I must confess that for whatever reason I totally missed this album when it was released; in fact, I had no idea it existed until last week's Listomania, when it came up in the context of great blues harp performances. I have since acquired the album, which is pretty spectacular overall; thanks for the tip, VR.

In any case, a coveted PowerPop No-Prize© will be awarded to the first reader who gleans its relevance to the theme of tomorrow's Weekend Essay Question.

Hint: It also has something to do with yesterday's post on "There She Goes." And if you guys get this, you're good.

Wednesday, August 02, 2023

Songs I'd Kill to Perform Live Before I Die (An Occasional Series)

From 1999, please enjoy Nashville-via-Texas-based alt-rockers Sixpence None the Richer and their utterly infectious version of The La's' sui generis power pop classic "There She Goes."

I had forgotten that the above actually became a hit after it was used on the soundtrack to the better than you'd expect teen comedy Snow Day, although if memory serves the video itself is a stand-alone. (I love the little girl on cello, BTW).

As for the song, what can one say? It's pretty much perfect on every level, as is the eponymous La's album it derives from, and part of its charm -- beyond that unforgettable guitar riff -- is the misterioso that lurks beneath its sunny melodic surface; to this day, nobody has come up with a convincing explanation for what the damn thing is about. Certainly, its auteur Lee Mavers ain't telling (and Mavers is a kind of a weird character himself, which only adds to the fun).

In any case, a really fabulous cover job (although not as good as the original). And as far as Sixpence lead singer Leigh Nash goes..well, in the immortal words of Steve Forbert, "she shore is purty."

Tuesday, August 01, 2023

Songs I'd Forgotten Existed, Let Alone Loved: Special "In Search of Cohen’s Fashion Optical” Edition

From 1985, and his flat-out masterpiece Rain Dogs, please enjoy Tom Waits, featuring Keith Richards on guitar and wordless (save for one 2nd verse lyric line) backup vocals, and the astounding, it'll-rip-your-heart-out neo-country-blues-rock weepie "Blind Love."

I'm not kidding about Rain Dogs being a masterpieece, BTW; I'd rate it one of the top 10 albums of its decade, and "Blind Love" isn't even the best thing on it. (Actually, that would be "Downtown Train." Or "Jockey Full of Bourbon." Or "Hang Down Your Head." Or...well, you get the idea.)

In any event, I hadn't thought about the song in ages, and after re-listening to it over the weekend, I wound up sitting through the entire album, which blew my tiny little mind something fierce.

Coming tomorrow: an often overlooked cover version of a song that, IMHO, exemplifies the mission statement of this here blog as well as any ever written or recorded.

Monday, July 31, 2023

Your Monday Gynormous Ego Trip

Okay -- last week, I threatened I was gonna post this, and true to my word, here 'tis.

From Crimes Against Humanity, the aptly named greatest hits (hah hah) compilation by my old garage band chums (from Teaneck NJ) The Weasels, please enjoy your humble scribe playing both acoustic guitars (left and right channel) on the all-instrumental "Steve's Song." A title I cribbed, obviously, from The Blues Project, but given that I also composed the music, I think I can be forgiven for my youthful lack of literary originality.

Whew. I'm glad we got THAT over with.

The backstory (you knew there'd be one):

I originally wrote that in my bedroom in Roslyn, Long Island, while attending C.W.Post College in 1969-70; as you can plainly hear, I had been overdosing on various then current Stephen Stills records. (I was also particularly fond of the sound of a guitar with the bottom E-string tuned down to D, this two decades before Pearl Jam thought it was such a big idea). It was at the time the only song I had ever written, and (mercifully) it remains so.

The recording here was done in 1973 on a home portable reel-to-reel stereo 2-track tape machine with detatchable speakers (one of which was used for the playback of the first guitar track while I essayed the second part of the duet). Nobody involved seems to remember exactly what brand of machine it was -- let's just say it was distinctly mid-fi, although pretty good for a home deck of the day in its pre-Dolby way -- but this is probably pretty close.

I should add that the recording was done using the microphones (not pictured, which weren't pro quality either) that came with the machine.

I should also add that the version in the clip above was transferred from the original reel-to-reel to cassette sometime in the 80s, and then re-transferred to digital (at a well-equipped studio) sometime in the 'teens (the cassette had been stashed in the back of a poorly ventilated clothes closet all that time). All things considered it's kinda amazing how almost pro and unravaged the whole thing sounds.

Coming tomorrow: actual music by real musicians I don't know personally.