Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Closed for Monkey Business

Hey, as you may have heard, I've had a busy couple of days in my real life due to some medical mishegass, so cut me some slack, jack. In any case, new music posting resumes on the morrow.

Monday, February 27, 2023

Great Bands Steal, Mediocre Bands Borrow

And speakng as we were last week of the fabulous Any Trouble, please enjoy -- from their 1980 debut album (on Stiff, natch) -- my personal favorite track, the ska/pop charner "Second Choice."

And from 1982, dig the equally fab The Floor Models and their equally insinuating live confection "She'll Make Up Her Mind."

As you will notice, those two tracks sound suspiciously similar, which is totally my fault. When our late great 12-string genius Andy Pasternack first presented us with the song, I immediately commandeered the arrangement, knowing that the guys had not yet heard the Any Trouble album and thus would have no idea I was pilfering from it. Later, after the resemblance had been pointed out to them, they looked at me and basically said, oh well, in for a penny, plaigarism-wise.

I liked them for that. I mean hell -- it wasn't like we were gonna be sued a la George Harrison.

Friday, February 24, 2023

La Fin de La Semaine Essay Question: Special “Most Beautiful Sound Occurring in Nature” Edition

From 1986, please enjoy Fire Town and their beyond glorious neo-folk rock jangle anthem "Carry the Torch."

The indie album that's from crossed my desk at Stereo Review unbidden one afternoon back in the day, and it will surprise nobody to learn that the main reason I gave it a spin right away was due to the Vox guitar posed so enticingly on the right hand side of the album cover.

As for Fire Town, they got signed soon after to Atlantic, who re-released the album; alas, it still refused to sell despite my raving about it in the pages of SR. Two of the band members, however, went on to form Garbage with Shirley Manson, and the rest, as they say, is history.

But now to business! To wit...

...and the most memorable use of an electric twelve-string guitar on a rock record is...?


Have a great weekend everybody!

Thursday, February 23, 2023

An Early Clue to the New Direction

From 2007, please enjoy the great Any Trouble and their infectious and inspirational ode to "That Sound."

On Stiff Records, where they (and it) belong, I hasten to add.

Meanwhile, a coveted PowerPop No-Prize© will be awarded to the first reader who gleans the song/video's relevance to the subject of tomorrow's end-of-week essay question.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

When the Moon Comes Over the Mirren

Dame Helen on Conan O'Brien, 2008.

Okay, its not the greatest Keith Moon story ever, but I had never heard it, and it's pretty damn funny anyway. And, of course, Mirren.

In any case, I forget who said it, but it's true -- the Brits should have nationalized Moonie.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Die Lieden des jungen Dave Davies

From 1965, please enjoy Sir Ray's little brother Dave and his gorgeously weepy folk-rock lament "Wait 'til the Summer Comes Along."

I've been cryin all winter

I've been waiting for some good to come my way

But I'll wait tll the summer comes along

Dear lord have I done so much wrong

I've adored that song since forever for lots of reasons, not the least of which is that it's a wonderfully callow/pretentious Sensitive Kid's blues. Dave all but sobs the song's opening line, and the clear implication is that his life has been nothing but endless heartache, self-lacerating guilt and tragedy, and frankly what's the point of going on?

We note here, in passing, that the author of those Woe is Me! miserabilist lyrics was all of 17(!) at the time he wrote them. Not to mention a pop star fighting off hordes of adoring teenage girls.

Monday, February 20, 2023

Scenes From a Misspent Life

The following little trivia challenge has sort of gone viral at La Livre du Visage Facebook, or at least in the precincts I haunt there, so I thought I'd put my two centimes in and share it with you guys. Obviously, I'm curious about how you'd respond in the same categories, so please -- comment away!

The Beach Boys, Asbury Park Convention Hall, July 10 1965. Glen Campbell(!) was standing in for Brian, and they premiered(!!) "California Girls," which wouldn't get released to radio for another couple of days. I should add that this was the only Teen Scream show I ever attended.
Robert Plant and Allison Krauss at Forest Hills Stadium, summer of 2022. I'm a fan, but the show struck me as a bit of a snooze. Maybe it was the humidity.
Queen, the Beacon Theater (I think), 1973, touring the first album. The band arrived in NYC trailng clouds of hype; I had been moderately intriqued by the kitchen sink over-production of the debut record, and went into the show ready to be convinced. But boy, did they stink. The sound was heavy metal aural sludge (with a yowling lead singer up front who was way too impressed with himself) that resembled the album not at all. Every song sounded like every other song, and the whole act was massively headache-inducing; if there hadn't been a reliable headliner (can't remember who) on the bill, I would have fled the theater in mid-set. Obviously, I mellowed about Queen over the years as the radio hits kept coming, but it wasn't until the Bohemian Rhapsody film that I finally became a raving fan, mostly because of the memory of that 1973 live show. Boy, did they stink.
Blue Cheer, the Fillmore East, April 1968. Wall to wall Marshall amps (turned to eleven) employed as a weapon of torture by a trio of speed-freak-skinny biker punks who thought they were doing something socially valuable by transforming the surrounding air into cottage cheese. I endured their sonic assault from an 8th row center seat, and it was the only time I ever wished the Fillmore's justifiably celebrated sound system wasn't so good.

The best single concert in a concert-going lifetime? Really?

Not really sure, but if I had to guess, it would be either Springsteen, Southside Johnny, or The Smithereens (who used to play all the time at a club across the street from where I lived). It's a Jersey thing -- you would't understand.

The MC5, Lincoln Park, Chicago, August 1968 during the Democratic Convention and its attendant police riots. Never got to see the 5 anywhere else either, alas.
Buffalo Springfield. I had tickets to see them at (I think) a Murray the K extravaganza in ' 67 or '68, but I got sick and missed it (one of the great regrets of my adult life). Runner up: The Bangles.
I have no idea. What am I -- Kreskin?

Friday, February 17, 2023

La Fin de la Semaine Essay Question: Special Chairman of the Board Edition

From 1967, and produced by the incomparable Glyn Johns, please enjoy The Easybeats and one of the great lost singles of its decade -- "Heaven and Hell."

And now to business. To wit...

If you had a band, and could have your band produced and/or engineered by any producer or engineer in rock history, it would be....who?


(I think you can guess from the producer credit above who my choice would be. Heh.)

Meanwhile, have a great weekend, everybody!

PS: I'm bringing this whole subject up because I just started Johns' autobiography Sound Man, which is a smashing read with more rock celebrity stories than you can shake a tape reel at; I highly recommend that you order it Amazon now.

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Canadian Air Space Alert

Given how our neighbors to the north are suddenly in the news of late, I thought this might be an oldie worth revisiting.

Seriously, I'd forgotten how funny that is.

Meanwhile, fear not -- a fin de la semaine essay question on a non-Canuck related subject will close out the week tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Closed For Monkey Business

Regular posting resumes tomorrow.

But while you're waiting, go check out a fabulous new Lemon Twigs video over at friend of PowerPop Sal Nunziato's invaluable Burning Wood blog right HERE.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

The Greatest Thing in the History of Things

Okay, I may be over-selling it. But there's no question that what you're about to see and hear is a) transplendent and b) an artifact that defines the mission statement of this here blog better than anything I've encountered in what seems like ages.

So, without any further hoo-hah, from 2023 please enjoy The Weeklings and their near-genius power pop reimagining of The Beatles' classic "I've Just Seen a Face."

Face it, if that doesn't bring a smile to your lips and/or a tear to your eye, there's no hope for you. How do I love this? Let me count the ways. For starters, rhythmically it's pretty much straight ahead punk, albeit overlaid with gloriously inventive harmonies, and unlike the Rubber Soul original, which had a vaguely bluegrass feel, it rocks, and irresistably. I was also gobsmacked by how cleverly the band appropriated the Beatles' original guitar intro to serve as a new instrumental break. And then those women in the vid -- particularly the one doing the McCartney impression -- are too loveable for words; for the first time ever, I think I understand what it must have been like to be a teenage girl losng their shit over four adorable moptops back in the day.

Incidentally, if you're not familiar with the Weeklings (as I wasn't, really, until a week or so ago), they're a bunch of rock lifers fronted (sort of) by Glen Burtnik (the guy on the left with the hat), who's a former member of Styx, a fixture on the Asbury Park music scene (he's worked with Little Steven, Bruce and all those folks), and a songwriter whose stuff has been recorded by the likes of Randy Travis, Patty Smyth and Don Henley. I don't know who the women guesting in the video are, but you can bet your bippy I'm gonna find out.

Meanwhile, to glom lots more Weeklings stuff, including how to check out more of their music, you need to head over to their official website HERE.

Oh, and have I mentioned that the first time I watched the vid, I immediately played it five more times in a row?

Monday, February 13, 2023

Burt Bacharach: The Brill Building Meets Les Six

A great musician (not to mention, as a friend of mine once oserved, a rather spectacular advertisement for what used to be called the Good Life) has passed.

Given the breadth of his body of work, the following Bacharach Top Five -- songs or performances or both -- is not meant to be definitive; in fact, it's wildly subjective, and, depending on the weather, I could easily change my picks on any given day. As of right this moment, however, these are my faves, and my life would be the poorer without any of them.

5. Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach -- I'll Never Fall in Love Again

Yeah yeah, it's from Austin Powers and it's self-consciously campy. I still say it's a gorgeous performance of a gorgeous song.

4. Dusty Springfield -- Wishin' and Hopin'

A lot of people consider Dusty to be Bacharach's premier interpreter, and I wouldn't necessarily disgree. Obviously, the sexual politics of this one are problematic for some killjoys of late, but the combination of innocence and yearning Springfield projects here remains a marvel.

3. Sandie Shaw -- (There's) Always SomethingThere to Remind Me

The great Sandie, and this one just screams Swinging London, IMHO. Hell, it's such a terrific song it survived the soulless 1983 synth-pop cover by the justly forgotten Naked Eyes.

2. Aretha Franklin -- I Say a Little Prayer

Dionne Warwick, who is the singer most closely identified with Bacharach, had the hit with this song, deservedly, but Aretha adds a gospel piano that takes it somewhere else. Just great, in any case.

And speaking of...

1. Dionne Warwick -- Trains and Boats and Planes

That electric piano/twangy guitar riff just slays me. And for my money this is one of the most haunting pop records ever made.

Oh -- and just because...

BTW, my titular reference to Les Six has to do with the fact that -- before he became one of the most awesome pop songwriters of the second half of the 20th century -- Bacharach studied composition with Darius Milhaud, the de facto leader of a group of simpatico French post-Impressionist classical guys who hung with the likes of Jean Cocteau; I suspect the subtle Gallic tinge you can detect in some of Burt's orchestral arrangements -- particularly his use of winds and horns -- is largely attributable to Milhaud's tutelage.

Friday, February 10, 2023

La Fin de la Semaine Essay Question: Special Genre Confusion Edition

Once again, let me send out a huge thank you to everybody who visited this newly reactivated blog last week. I love you guys more than food.

But now to the business at hand. To wit:

Is the above Spoonful classic -- "You Didn't Have to Be So Nice" -- (proto)power pop or not?


PS: Some venerable readers may recall that I first raised this question to NYMary, shortly after she gave me the metaphorical keys to the car around here. But I can't recall what conclusion we reached at the time. I will say, however, that this is the first song the Floor Models played live before an unsuspecting audience, and that -- up on the stage at least -- it sure as hell struck my ears as power pop.

Okay, now that we've got that clarified, thanks again for stopping by --and have a great weekend, everybody!!!

PS: The great Burt Bachrach's passing caught me by surprise; I'll have nore to say on the man and his work on Monday.

Thursday, February 09, 2023

George Santos Still Hasn’t Found What He’s Looking For

Words fail me.

In case you're wondering, the clip above is from the legendary 2011 flop Broadway, er, musical Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark, a show which almost achieved its apparent goal of destroying the careers of genius director Julie Taymor (of The Lion Kng fame) and U2's Bono and The Edge, who wrote the alleged score.

Let me repeat -- words fail me.

In any case, it has long puzzled me how this turkey -- which cost 75 million(!) -- ever made it past the first cold reading of the script. I mean, a Spiderman musical-- really? But the mystery may at last have been solved.

To wit: Gorgeous George Santos.

Yup, him, the freshman Republican congressman from Long Island with the vivid fantasy life. I know, I know...I didn't have him pegged as a patron of the arts either, but apparently during his 2020 campaign George (AKA Milli Brazilli) told people he had been one of the producers of the aforementioned extravaganza. Like so many of George's claims, this can't be verified (for obvious reasons, everybody who actually saw the show burned their Playbills shortly thereafter) but I'm gving him the benefit of the doubt on this one. After all, it seems weirdly appropriate that George (if that is his name) has the theatrical equivalent of a black thumb.

Have I mentioned that words fail me?

Wednesday, February 08, 2023

Unknown Blues Singers Rule!!

Swear to God -- odious rightwing Brit tabloid rag the Daily Mail headlined Bonnie Raitt's upset Grammy win for Best Song as the work of "an unknown(!) blues singer."

Hey Daily Mail -- give your headline writer a bloody raise!

That said, if you were around these precincts on Monday, you may have gathered, correctly, that I am not now, nor have ever been, a fan of the Grammys. And as for Raitt in particular, although cognizant of her unquestionable natural gifts -- she's a great singer and guitarist -- I've always been kinda meh where her records are concerned. I mean, I wouldn't change the station if the stuff from Nick of Time came on the radio back in 1989, but none of those songs really spoke to me. And don't get me started on "Angel From Montgomery"; frankly, if I ever hear THAT again I'll take a freaking hostage.

But damn, girl...

...that's a stunning, heartbreaking adult piece of songcraft, and a great performance; Raitt thoroughly deserved the award for it.

And fear not -- I won't be posting that 50 Pastel Shades of Banal Dear Diary Faux Confessional Teen Pop crap (by Taylor Swift) that Raitt was up against by way of comparison.

Lest it die of inadequacy, obviously.

Tuesday, February 07, 2023

Worst Ever Album Track by a Major Artist/Band: (An Occasional Series): Special “The Sound of Your Brain Pan Frying” Edition

I dunno -- is it too soon?

I mean, I was as saddened by David Crosby's death as the next guy. But this, er, song was born dopey. As the saying goes, one would need a heart of stone not to snort derisively if it came on the radio.

Monday, February 06, 2023

“All They Do In This Town is Give Awards. Best Fascist Dictator — Adolf Hitler!”

In case you're wondering, no, I didn't watch last night's Grammy Awards.

If truth be told, I have something of a fraught relationship with the Grammys. I actually attended the 1978 ceremony, on the theory that you should never pass up the chance to get into a show at Radio City Music Hall for free; I don't remember much about the proceedings except that surprise guest Neil Diamond joined Babs Streisand for a rousing "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" and that I mostly fidgeted in my seat thinking "what the fuck am I doing here?" the whole time.

Then, a couple of years later, I threw caution to the winds and did a snarky meditation on the Grammys (for Stereo Review, natch), the tone of which can be gleaned from the opening question it posed --

Q: Why are the Grammys named after the obsolete gramophone rather than the contemporary phonograph?

A: Because otherwise they would have to be called the Phonies.

I went on to describe the awards -- perhaps intemperately -- as "spectacularly corrupt," which, it turned out, struck Mike Greene, the then president of the Recording Academy, as objectionable; he threatened to sue SR if we didn't take it back, so I dutifully penned a craven mea culpa which ran in the next issue and demonstrated the flexibility of my convictions. Heh.

Oh well. Meanwhile, from a 2008 episode of Family Guy, here's the funniest parody of the Grammys ever

I should also add that Warren Zanes, of the Del Fuegos, had a very nice Grammy op-ed piece in last Saturday's Times that is, commendably, less cynical than I would have been, and it's well worth reading. Which you can do over HERE.

Friday, February 03, 2023

La Fin de la Semaine Essay Question

Let me start with a huge thank you to everybody who stopped by this here newly active blog in the last two days; I really lack the words to express my gratitude, and I'm getting verklempt so I'll just leave it at that.

Meanwhile, FYI -- for reasons I won't bore you with, I have to type this (and the next few weeks' posts) with one finger on an IPad Mini, so I can't really insert graphics or music links. Thanks in advance for your patience until this is, er, resolved.

That said, it's time to move on to the business at hand, to wit --

And Your Favorite Cover of a Chuck Berry Song (That ISN'T by the Beatles or the Stones) is...?


I should add that a Coveted PowerPop No-Prize™ will be awarded to the first reader who picks the one I'm thinking of.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Wednesday, February 01, 2023

Watch This Space!

We've been MIA due to health problems, but we should be moving and grooving with our normal panache by the end of the month.

Thanks for your patience, and stay tuned for more Power Pop goodness...we've got tons of stuff to share with you.