Friday, December 29, 2023

'23 Skiddo: Adieu! (And a Very Happy Power Pop New Year to All)

Okay kids, get ready to see out 2023, a truly rotten year, with the greatest holiday song I've heard in ages -- George Nipson's "Happy New Year! (Cheers to You!)."

That absolutely slays me; everything about it -- particularly the drily laconic lead vocal, the glorious harmonies, and all those 12-string guitars -- hits me on some genetic cellular level, and lyrically it's uplifting and generous of spirit enough to make you forget that we've just lived through 12 months that were possibly suckier than any in memory. And I say that as somebody who was around in 1968, i.e. with Richard Nixon, the Vietnam War, and the assasinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy. Or 1970 and Kent State, when Joseph's Heller's great line in Catch-22 -- the bastards really were trying to kill us -- seemed newly and frighteningly relevant.

In any case, the song above showed up in my e-mail unbidden the other day, and as I so often do, I realized how much I love my phony-baloney job sometimes. As you won't be surprised to learn, I knew nothing about the artist previously, so allow me to share the bio he enclosed with the track. It turns out the song isn't actually new, and that George Nipson isn't actually his real name, but read on:

Mark Horn is an American singer, songwriter and guitar player. In 1978, he produced an album in Seattle titled Mark Horn/Someday, containing 10 of his original songs. Since that time, it has become rather collectible, selling for as high as $91 on eBay in 2012. An unopened copy is currently listed on eBay for $49.95.

In the late 1990s, while teaching 6th grade, Mark produced three CDs of camp songs to provide needed scholarship funds for 6th grade campers. At one point, eight of those song recordings were being played at every McDonalds play area in the country! However, until now, Mark has not released any recordings of his original material since 1978. About two weeks ago, that changed.

"Happy New Year! (Cheers To You!)” was written on January 1, 2000. Now, after 45 years since his last original release, and currently a substitute teacher in central Florida, Mark has finally released the first of his many songs that will be archived in the next few years. With engineering by Andy Anderson of VRS Studios in Ocoee, FL, this uplifting song is being very well received by all ages, due to its positivity and terrific production [You betcha -- S.S.]

Mark’s alias of George Nipson came about because there were already too many Mark Horns and Mr. Horns streaming their music, and he needed a nom du disque. He remembered that his father’s nickname was Nip, so he thought of Nip’s Son… which turned into Nipson. Then, he recalled that his mother referred to him as George or Pete as much as she called him Mark. Hence, George Nipson was born.

Okay, I'm not gonna belabor the obvious any more; we all know just what an appalling epoch we're barely surviving so far, both in this country and the world in general. But I will say that I have despaired of late of seeing any kind of hopeful light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. Mark/George's song, however, has touched me enough to keep me off the hemlock; at the very least, it's a reminder of the power of art to heal and inspire. Or, if you will, Noel Coward's observation that there's something extraordinarily potent about cheap music.


Bottom line: Here's hoping 2024 isn't as sucky as 2023, and enjoy the forthcoming holiday weekend, even if you have to party like it's 1999.

Hang in there, everybody!

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Your Thursday Moment of "I Know the Feeling"


I think we all can relate.

But seriously, folks -- obviously, that's pretty funny (and yeah, Charles Schulz was one hell of a cultural observer, which is why we're still chortling at his stuff all these years later) but I was wondering...

What song affects you like the one in the cartoon affects Mr. Brown? I mean, I have a whole bunch of them (don't worry -- I won't inflict my personal problems on you this late in the game) but I'd be curious to hear from you guys on the subject.

So -- what's the tune that massages your tear ducts the most reliably?

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

My Two Cents (An Occasional Series): Special "Kids Today, With Their Loud Hair and Their Long Music" Edition

Okay, that was a cheap shot (I seem to be taking a lot of those of late) but on a more serious note, I think it behooves me as a rock critic and a cultural commentator to say a little something about Ms. Swift, which I have not done previously..

So here goes: Basically, I like her (or at least the idea of her) a lot; she seems to be a genuine mensch, if I may use that word for a nice goyishe girl, and the fact that she makes MAGA-types heads explode goes a long way with me.

That said, the idea that she's contributed anything significant to the art of popular music or songwriting is pretty silly. Basically, her whole aesthetic is the apotheosis of a half-time show at the Super Bowl; if that's your thing, god bless you, but don't tell me she's got anything more than competent craftsmanship and wicked marketing skills.

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

The Blog By Numbers: Special Post-Christmas/Hangover Edition

[In which we catch up with a bunch of brief and/or dumb stuff that I've been meaning to post about for a while, but hadn't gotten around to for whatever reasons.]

1. Question: Is "Canadian Supergroup" a Contradiction in Terms?

Okay, that's a cheap shot. Meanwhile, please enjoy this hilarious KTel-esque infomercial for my second favorite album of 2023.

I'm sure you recognize at least a couple of those guys, and I should add that Moe Berg (who's my personal fave member of the band) once did a very nice thing for me, and one of these days I'll tell that story. In the meantime, be sure to watch the whole thing -- it's 17 minutes long, and fabulous throughout.

2. Is It Warm in Here Or Is it Just Me?

Seriously -- the above is obviously very funny, but who knew how good looking Sue Ann Nivens, AKA the Happy Homemaker, actually was?

3. Okay, I'm Not Advocating Kiddie Porn, But This is Ridiculous

Oh fer cryin' out loud.

Nirvana ‘Nevermind’ Cover Art Lawsuit Revived by Federal Judges

A panel of federal appellate judges has reversed the dismissal of a child porn lawsuit filed against the former rock band Nirvana by the man who was photographed as a four-month-old baby for the cover of the famous 1991 album “Nevermind.”

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of 31-year-old Spencer Elden, argued that the album cover was similar to a “sex worker grabbing for a dollar bill” and that its legacy had dealt trauma to Elden as an adult. The lawsuit was dismissed in September 2022 by a Los Angeles federal district judge, who ruled that the suit against several record labels, the band’s surviving members and the estate of late guitarist Kurt Cobain was barred by a 10-year statute of limitations.

But a new ruling from a three-judge appellate court filed Thursday and obtained by TheWrap, ruled that since each new publication of the “Nevermind” cover may constitute personal trauma, the lawsuit was not bound to the statute of limitations.

“Elden’s complaint does allege new injuries, stemming from the Defendants’ redistribution of the album cover during the ten years prior to the action, within the limitations period,” read the ruling from George W. Bush appointee Judge Sandra S. Ikuta.

Since its release more than 30 years ago, “Nevermind” has become one of the bestselling and most influential rock albums ever released with more than 30 million copies sold. Elden’s family was friends with the photographer who shot the album cover and received $200 for allowing him to use the newborn Spencer Elden for the picture.

While Elden recreated the album cover in 2016 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of “Nevermind,” he filed a lawsuit against the band in 2021, arguing that by not covering his genitals on the cover with a sticker — something that Kurt Cobain staunchly refused — Nirvana had failed to protect him from sexual exploitation. The lawsuit was dismissed but with the opportunity to refile left open. Elden did so with the current lawsuit in January 2022.

Uh oh -- wait till they get a gander at the cover to the new EP by my old bandmate from The Floor Models.

Anybody know a good lawyer who works cheap?

4. Oy Gevalt, Not Another Stones-Related Post!

That was the B-side of "It's Only Rock 'n Roll" in 1974, and its one of my all time fave Stones obscurities; for years, I was trying to figure out a way to cover it live with whatever band I was in at the time. Oh those harmonies, oh those guitars...

5. And Speaking of Cheap Shots...

Regular relatively serious posting resumes on the morrow.

Monday, December 25, 2023

And a Very PowerPop Christmas to All

Well, it's that time again.

And because I love you all more than food, here's a little piece about former teen sensations Hanson that's a) become something of a tradition around this here blog over the years and b) one of the funniest things written in English in the second half of the 20th century.

It's by Jon Stewart -- yes, him -- and it originally appeared in his 1999 collection Naked Pictures of Famous People.



December 15, 1996


Greetings and happy tidings to all, in this the beautiful season to celebrate the Savior's birth. The tree is up and the Christmas Ham is awaiting my apricot glaze, so once again it's time to check in for our yearly Hanson Family update. A promise from the heart to keep this year's news-letter as brief as possible (I hear you sighing, Uncle Jack! Just kidding, I can't hear you!). It's hard to believe that a year has passed since my last correspondence. Time sure flies when Jesus is flying the plane! It's a crisp afternoon here in Sooner Country. Gary and the boys are off hunting snow rabbits so the girls and I broke out the old Smith-Corona to fill everyone in, Don't worry, Peg, there's a Pumpkin Pie waiting for my men when they return -- hopefully with a fresh kill.

We're awaiting a wonderful Christmas. As is our family tradition, no gifts are exchanged but all the children will prepare a drawing, poem or play. This year's theme is Genesis. The girls are painting a beautiful mural of God's creation of man, using only the juices of fruit they grew themselves. Isaac and Taylor are preparing a heartwarming skit on the Garden of Eden (Taylor makes a beautifully innocent Eve) and little Zach, well, let's just say shouting "Let there be light" and Clapping the Clapper on and off doesn't show great inspiration. It doesn't matter. We love all our children equally, and still believe greatly in last year's Christmas theme, "Abortion Is Murder."

Some Hanson Highlights: Gary's working on a book about our methods of teaching the children called All I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, at Home with My Parents; Who Taught Me Better Than Any Government-Run Public School That Denies Prayer Could. The girls once again won the yearly Hanson Home School Science Fair. They devised a method for testing the bacterial content of foods using only Litmus Paper, Paper Clips and a homemade Centrifuge. These girls are going places! The boys did well too. They built a mobile depicting the fallacy of evolution. As for Zach, well, let's just say sneaking something into our dinner and waiting to see if anyone would eat it and become ill didn't impress these judges. But we love all our children equally and hope one day Zach will tell us what it was, and why I can no longer hold down solid foods.

In Hanson Sports News, it was a very good year. The Hansons played a very strong schedule, going head to head with the only other Home School Team in the area, the Jurgensons. It was great fun.

Oh, before I forget, the boys continue with their little music project. They recently played the Devlin County Pan-Asian Wet and Wild Jamboree for Vietnamese Exiles. I don't want to go into too much detail, in this, the season of good tidings, but the crafty little Asian gentleman who organized the fair tried to cheat the boys out of their $50 performance fee. We nearly came to blows over the matter, but eased off when both parties quoted the same piece of foreboding scripture at the same time. I can't say I condone the boys' interest in this pursuit of popular music, but as I always say, "Encouragement is next to Charity, which is next to Faith, which is next to Cleanliness... and we all know what that's next to."

Jesus loves you,
Eileen and Gary Hanson and the Hanson Family

P.S. Any donations to the charity to help that poor boy in our neighborhood with the cleft lip would be greatly appreciated. We've raised some money, but he still looks odd when he eats in public, which is often. Remember, Charity begins at home, which, as you know, is where we have our school.

December 25,1997

Dear Hanson Super Fan Friends and Family,

Hey everybody! It's that time of year again! And what an amazing year it's been. I apologize for the Fan Club stationery, but it's all I could find. Normally I would just ask Carmen where she put the newsletter paper, but I gave her the day off. Most of her family is somewhere in South America, but bless her heart, she still seemed set on not working the holiday. Although I'm sure you could make a case that that's when I would need her most.

I feel bad about the stationery even though I'll bet none of you care. I'll bet you're just impressed that with all the amazing things happening to our family I still make a point of personally sending out the yearly holiday update. I agree! That is exactly what I told Gary, who was of the mind that if you all really need information, you can visit our official Web site like everybody else. But that's crazy. Being stars doesn't mean we can't take the time to stay in touch with our friends and family. By the way, the unofficial sites are not sanctioned and contain a great deal of fabricated information. I can't stress that enough. Our official site has received over two million hits to date!!

You're probably saying to yourself "Wow, that must be making them a fortune!" You would think!! Although perhaps you are not taking into consideration a poorly negotiated contract that paid a one-time up-front fee and neglected any back end or merchandising considerations.

But you know our Gary. I think when the Lord was passing out business acumen, Gary was downstairs getting good hair. Of course you can't tell that to Gary. I guess he figures his year and a half of technical school and previous work experience selling homemade knickknacks at mall art fairs qualifies him to manage a world-famous band.

A big "I'm sorry" on behalf of Gary, the boys and myself for not being at Ned and Irene's annual family reunion picnic. The girls told Carmen it was a hoot. Unfortunately that was the weekend before the Grammys and as you might imagine we were swamped. While the boys were sad to miss Irene's annual mock apple pie, their dinner with Fiona Apple softened the blow. I had heard through the grapevine that Irene was a little bent out of shape. I'm sure that's not true because Irene and Ned are God-fearing people and very aware that envy is a sin.

Ooops! Please excuse the sloppy penmanship. I'm jotting this update from the back of a Limousine the boys bought me for Christmas, and the slick leather interior doesn't offer great stability. Lincoln, my driver, and I have developed a very funny joke where he calls me Miss Daisy and I pretend that's my real name.

Well, enough chatter, I better have Lincoln take me home. The boys and Gary are in Dnsseldorf, but Zach still likes me to spend at least six hours a day in his room, cleaning the shag carpet, strand by strand, with my teeth. Anything for my little angel, because, as I always say, I love all my three boys equally.

It's been a wild year. The Lord sure works in mysterious ways, or as I like to say, "What a long strange trip it's been!"

Jesus loves us,
Eileen, Gary, Zach, Taylor and Isaac
(collectively known as Hanson)

P.S. You can stop sending money for the gimp boy with the Cleft Lip. It turns out we had enough money left over from just one mall show to ship him and his entire family off to Nebraska.

December 28, 1999

To Whom It May Concern,

HO, HO, HO! Zach has Herpes. There. Are you Happy now? You try controlling an eleven-year-old multi-millionaire with a hard-on for strippers. For those of you wondering about last year's newsletter, there wasn't one. If you must know, I was at a retreat in Hazelden, Minnesota, and they didn't allow pens, pencils or any other sharp implements for that matter. It's been quite a ride... quite a... I sit here, alone in my Hotel suite. Pen in one hand, bottle of Glenlivet in the other. A gun at my feet. Darkness all around me...

First of all, to all you Nosy Parkers in the crowd, I did not embezzle money from my family, I don't give a rat's ass what that judge says. I am their manager... co-manager... was their co-manager. I had every right to that money. I gave birth to those boys. What did Gary do? His three minutes of dirty business? Foreplay?! Please. Whispering "The Bible says be Fruitful and Multiply" before ejaculating and passing out isn't foreplay. Seven times I allowed that man to sully me... seven times.

I'm tired ... so very tired. Someone had to have some fiscal responsibility. Christ! Do you know what Taylor and Isaac did on their big "Africa Tour"? Sat in a hotel restaurant ordering Lasagna made from 1,000-dollar bills and White Tiger's Blood. Not all the time, of course. No, sometimes they would lock themselves in their hotel rooms doing what looked and tasted like high-grade Brazilian Heroin. Where was their father, you might ask? Oh I don't know, maybe shacked up in some Backwater Indonesian Fuckee Suckee bar. Maybe it's just me, but I still believe in a thing called Statutory Rape Laws.

You think I'm bitter? You think I'm beaten? You think I might take the pills I have in my hand, wash them down with Scotch and glide off into a world of euphoria where all my pain will cease? HA! No, this old girl has some fight in her yet. Believe it!! I know things. Things that would be worth a lot of money if they got out. And not the usual bullshit, the "Taylor is fucking Naomi Campbell" shit. I could put a lot of people in jail... Think I'm bluffing? Try me... I dare you... I... I miss my angels. I just want to talk to them. To tell them Mommy loves them... to ... tell them... I could fucking kill Gary with my bare hands and not blink. I could stare into his eyes as he begged for my mercy and forgiveness and I could snuff out his life and then go back to my lunch as though nothing happened. I miss them so much. Do they care? Of course not.

Hey, some crude garage mix of the little bastards rehearsing Christmas music just went to Number 1 on the Holiday Charts. Think Kenny G is choking on his own cock over that one? I believe these tiny ingrates, who I gave life to, could sing into a bag of their own shit and ten million girls whose life ambition is to someday get breast implants would spend their hard-earned abortion money just to cradle it in their arms.

But hey! It was a great run, huh? Better to burn out than fade away! What do I care? I still have more money than any of you will ever have in a lifetime of being paid by the government not to grow corn.

Merry Fucking Christmas,
God is dead,
Eileen Hanson

And to think -- I actually wanted to be a pop star when I was younger.

Friday, December 22, 2023

La Fin De La Semaine Essay Question: Special Hardcore Pre-Xmas Edition

From 1988, please enjoy So-Cal political roots-punkers Social Distortion and their absolutely brilliant re-imagining of The Rolling Stones' "Backstreet Girl."

The above just slays me, frankly; I mean, in a million years, I would never have thought to transform the Stones' original gently ironic chamber ballad (it fatures a lead French cabaret accordion, fer crissakes!) into a raging guitar rocker, but hey -- Mike Ness and company did, and god bless 'em.

But in the meantime, now to business. To wit:

...and your favorite (or least favorite) cover of a Rolling Stones song by a solo artist or group is...?

Self- explanatory, so no arbitrary rules of any kind.

Please, discuss.

And have a great weekend everybody!!!

Also -- sleep well in the knowledge that next Monday, i.e. Christmas, you will wake to the return of a beloved PowerPop tradition, which -- as always -- will be there to add some joy to your otherwise parched and pathetic lives.

Thursday, December 21, 2023

And a Belated Happy Birthday to Count Dracula!

Okay, I stole the Dracula thing from Marianne Faithfull, who noted Keith's transition from a Byron-esque romantic figure to King of the Undead in an interview around the time her pornographic 1979 album Broken English came out.

In any event, and continuing this week's Rolling Stones-themed posts, please enjoy brand new octogenarian (he turned 80 last Monday) Keith Richards and the A-side of his 1978 debut solo single, i.e. a pretty much definitive cover of Chuck Berry's pretty much definitive rock Christmas song "Run Rudolph Run."

BTW, in case you're wondering why Chuck doesn't appear to get a writer's credit on the above, it's because the two Jewish fellas who wrote "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" in 1949 had the foresight to copyright the use of the name "Rudolph" against any future appropriation of their income-generating fictional character. (Sorry, Chuck. Hopefully you still got the record royalties.)

In the meantime, a coveted PowerPop No-Prize© will be awarded to the first reader who guesses today's post's relevance to the theme of tomorrow's Weekend Essay Question. Although I should warn you in advance -- this one's a toughie.

PS: Speaking of Keith's birthday, the inimitable Tom Waits has penned a fabulous poem in honor of the occasion; you can -- and should -- read it at Friend of PowerPop© Sal Nunziato's invaluable Burning Wood over HERE.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Songs I'd Forgotten Existed, Let Alone Loved: Special "Power Pop is Where You Find It" Edition

From his eponymous 1979 solo album, please enjoy legendary Rolling Stones guitarist Mick Taylor and the goose-bump inducing lead-off track "Leather Jacket."

I remember adoring that song when it first came out -- giving it countless repetitive spins under the headphones in my office at the Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Review (yes, I had the best job in the world!) -- and I also think I didn't much care for the rest of the record, although it's possible I simply never got past the gorgeousness of the above and didn't give it a fair shake. In any case, I don't believe I reviewed the album, although I'm gonna research that.

Bottom line: "Leather Jacket" is a minor classic -- lyrically poignant, and exquisitely played (those inter-weaving guitars!) and sung, the more so because stylistically it's far afield from the kind of music you would have expected Taylor to make. I mean, it could pass for Big Star or Nick Lowe, fer crissakes.

BTW, the album is still available, by which I mean you can stream it at Amazon, and I plan to listen to it toot sweet. Hell, I just discovered that Lowell George is playing featured slide guitar on one track, so what am I waiting for?.

I should add that apparently the song itself dates back to Taylor's early days with the Stones; here's an unfinished instrumental track of it he did with Keith and the rest of the gang...

...which is pretty damn good in its own right. Why didn't they finish it? I leave that to Stones scholars to elucidate, but if I had to take a guess, it would be that they didn't want to give Taylor a writing credit on whatever album they were working on at the time.

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Songs I'd Forgotten Existed, Let Alone Loved: Special "Like Sand Through the Hour Glass" Edition

So over the weekend, a certain Shady Dame and I were watching writer/director/hero of mine Nicholas Meyer's wonderful 1979 fantasy/romance/thriller Time After Time, which neither of us had seen in ages.

You know, the one where the Victorian Era H.G. Wells (a hilarious Malcom McDowell) actually invents a time machine, and then chases down Jack the Ripper (David Warner, at his most fabulously creepy) while succumbing to the charms of a young and beyond adorable Mary Steenburgen in 1979 San Francisco.

The film holds up great, in case you're wondering, but, more to the point, during its first act audio/visual time travel montage, the chorus of the following 1974 song by The Rolling Stones...

...pops up between other historically significant soundbites, including FDR's "A day that will live in infamy," speech, a hit by The Andrews Sisters, and a newly relevant news clip of the murder of Israeli athletes by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

In any event, I can't remember the last time I heard that song, but I'm kinda blown away by it -- have I mentioned that Mick Jagger is one fucking brilliant lyricist? -- and I think it may be time to re-evaluate the usually underrated It's Only Rock 'n Roll album that it appears on.

Coming tomorrow: a Stones related obscurity that I think will give you a genuine thrill.

Monday, December 18, 2023

The Blog By Numbers (An Occasional Series): Special "Mariah Carey-Free" Pre-Holiday Edition

[In which we catch up with a bunch of brief and/or dumb stuff that I've been meaning to post about for a while, but hadn't gotten around to for whatever reasons.]

1. Duets -- I've Had a Few

So as you may have heard, John Fogerty has a new album due first thing next year -- Wrote a Song for Everyone -- which, like that Dolly Parton thing I mentioned here last week, is your basic I Sang With a Celebrity concept record. As a teaser, here's John, with Keith Urban, doing perhaps my fave Fogerty song ever.

My verdict = nice, but not transplendent.

I should add that there's a version of "Born on the Bayou" with the mega-loathsome Kid Rock on the album, but don't worry -- I'm not gonna inflict that one on you.

2. Hey, I'd Go See Those Folks in Concert!

The one on the left is the cutest, doncha think?

3. Today's Moment of Cahiers du Cinema

My younger brother recommends a video version of what sounds like an interesting 2023 indie film.

THE UNKNOWN COUNTRY (2022, 85 mins.) is a blend of fiction narrative and documentary and, for that reason alone, it's recommended to movie lovers at Power Pop. 20-something Tana, played by Lily Gladstone, drives alone to South Dakota, to visit her soon-to-be married cousin. There, she reconnects with her native American Indian roots and then decides to find the sacred spot in Texas where her recently deceased grandmother posed for a photograph that she has held onto since her grandmother's death.

Available on DVD, from Music Box Films, with extras, including a Q & A with director Morissa Maltz. You can stream it at Amazon over HERE. -- Drew Simels

Thanks Drew -- could be a hot one!

4. Lady Sings the Blues

This is real.

Words fail me.

5. The Song She Was Born to Sing

Miley Cyrus, from the 2018 country Elton John tribute album Restoration, which I was totally unaware of till a few weeks ago.

Pretty hilarious, no? I should add that the whole album is great fun, and that the Emmylou Harris/Rosanne Cash duet on "This Train Don't Stop There Anymore" is a thing of major beauty.

Friday, December 15, 2023

La Fin De La Semaine Essay Question: Special "You Know, Mary Travers Really Could Have Had Me If She'd Played Her Cards Right" Edition

From a suburban North Jersey living room sometime in the early 70s, as captured on a primitive home two-track stereo reel-to-reel tape recorder, please enjoy The Weasels -- featuring some Zal Yanovsky-wannabe whose name rhymes with Sleeve Nimels on electric guitar -- and their quite lovely version of Tom Rush's folkie classic "No Regrets."

And I should add that the piquant lead vocal is by friend of PowerPop Jai Guru Dave. Take a bow, Dave.

Rush, BTW, was one of my favorite of that generation of folkies, and we should note that he was also pretty much the first of them to go, as they used to quaintly say, electric (on the wonderful 1966 album Take a Little Walk with Me, where he covered the likes of Buddy Holly and Bo Diddley(!), with the help of notable musicians including Al Kooper. It's still in print, and you should hie thee over to Amazon and snag a copy HERE immediately.

But now to business. To wit:

...and your favorite (or least favorite) traditional or contemporary folk song as re-interpreted by a rock solo artist or group is...?


Meanwhile -- have a great weekend, everybody!!!

[h/t Steve Schwartz]

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Twangs for the Memories

From 1983, please enjoy country-rockers The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and a very nice cover of power pop god Marshall Crenshaw's classic "Maryann."

That's pretty much flawless, doncha think? Although I do confess to a certain surprise that the Dirt Band apparently saw no need to countrify the thing at all. Good for them, I guess, although it might have been interesting to hear it with steel guitars and such.

Anyway, I bring the whole thing up because a) I had never heard that version prior to being hipped to it on Tuesday by reader Bob in IL (thanks, Bob!) and b) because somebody also just reminded me that in my amusing and perceptive June 1982 Stereo Review take on Crenshaw's epochal debut album...

...I had predicted that "what is clearly one of the great rock records of the Eighties might have its initial success on country radio -- the crossover potential is there."

Good call, Simels!

Oh, and I should add, for no other reason that it's a dumb joke I've been saving for years, that The Crenshaw Melon would be the best title for a John Grisham novel ever.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Compare and Contrast

From their soon to be released (next month) first full-length album Inside Out & Backwards, please enjoy estimable Detroit garage-rock punks The Incurables and their hilarious (and perhaps more introspective than intended) single "When I Grow Up."

I must confess to being previously unaware of that band, but I think you'll agree with me if I paraphrase Jack Nicholson (who was talking about Bob Dylan) when I say -- those guys are a riot.

And now from 1964, here's The Beach Boys and their immortal classic on a similar theme (and with almost the same title) -- "When I Grow Up (To Be a Man").

Incidentally, I can't believe how absolutely great a live band the BBs are on that clip, the botched opening notwithstanding (have I mentioned that Mike Love is a colossal dick?).

I mean, jeebus -- I expected the harmonies, but Carl's Rickenbacker 12-string sounds about as close to heaven as I'm likely to ever get.

But enough of my yakking about impending mortality; you can -- and should -- find out more about The Incurables over at the official website of Big Stir Records HERE.

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Wish I'd Said That! Oh Wait -- Actually, I Did

Reader dommyluc writes:

You almost lost me with your 1983 rave about the ABBA "Singles" album, but in the same issue you reviewed a Yoko Ono album with a line that won you my heart:

“All right, all right, I feel sorry for the poor woman—but I feel sorry for Jackie Onassis too, and if she made records I wouldn’t take them seriously either.”

Heh. I had completely forgotten both of those reviews.

Here's the ABBA. (Like the Yoko, it appeared in the May 1983 issue of The Magazine Formerly Known as...).

And I stand by every word of it.

Granted, if I was writing the Yoko review today I probably wouldn't be quite so snarky.

Oh, okay, I probably would.

Monday, December 11, 2023

The Blog by Numbers (An Occasional Series): Special Pre-Holidays Odds and Sods Edition

[In which we catch up with a bunch of brief stuff that we've been meaning to post about for a while, but hadn't gotten around to for whatever reasons.]

1. Your Monday Moment of Words Fail Me

That's right -- there's a blogger (a very good writer, as it turns out) who has been putting up tributes to the Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Review, and critiquing my stuff along with stuff by the rest of the SR gang from back in the day.

I really am having trouble processing this, but in the meantime, you can check the blog out over HERE.

2. My New Favorite Christmas Song

I don't know how I missed that previously, but a coveted PowerPop No-Prize© is hereby awarded to reader Anonymous for turning us on to it.

3. Today's Moment of Cahiers du Cinema

My younger brother recommends a new video version of an unjustly obscure Marlene Dietrich vehicle.

Jean Gabin plays the title character in the produced-in-France period drama, Martin Roumagnac (1946, 108 mins.). Roumagnac, a hard-working building contractor in a rural area of 1930s France, meets by chance Blanche Ferrand (Dietrich), at a local boxing match. Their ensuing relationship is the bulk of this beautifully acted and crafted movie. The film originally played in the U.S. as The Room Upstairs, some two years after its debut in France, and now, thanks to Icarus Films, it's no longer a forgotten movie.

Recommended to movie lovers at Power Pop. You can stream it from Amazon over HERE. -- Drew Simels

Sounds like fun -- thanks, Drew.

4. Slowly I Turned...

Okay, it's not as funny as the Credibility Gap's "Who's on First" routine...

...but it's pretty good.

5. Today in Cheap Shots at Prog Rock and Our Neighbors to the North

Just because.

Regular posting resumes on the morrow, lord willing.

Friday, December 08, 2023

Weekend Listomania: Special "A Good Joke is Worth a Thousand Guitar Riffs" Edition

[I originally posted a version of this in 2008(!), back when the world and this blog were young. I'm reviving it now primarily because given the appalling times in which we currently live, we could all use a hearty laugh. And also because one of today's subjects was just featured in Rob Reiner's wonderful new Albert Brooks documentary, which is available for streaming at various brand name outlets, and is highly recommended. In any case, I've done some rewriting and inserted some new choices, just to prove I'm not the senile slacker you all (justifiably) think I am. You're welcome very much.--S.S.]

Well, it's Friday, and you know what that means. Yes, I don't have a vaguely smutty topical joke, so let's get directly to business:


You know -- the funniest, the silliest, the one that best punctures somebody's pomposity, or however you define it.

Okay, here's my totally top of my head Top Ten:

10. Robbie Fulks -- Fountains of Wayne Hotline

Everything about that is priceless, although my favorite bit is "Oh -- that Gerald." Anyway, I don't know for a fact, but I'd like to think the late Adam Schlesinger thought this was as funny as I do.

9. Albert Brooks -- Party From Outer Space

From Brooks' 1975 A Star is Bought album, which is one of the all-time comedy masterpieces. The track, of course, is a tribute to the Buchanan and Goodman flying saucer break-in records (see below); the gimmick here being that Albert used fake records he himself had written to ensure he got the royalties.

8. Little Roger and the Goosebumps -- Stairway to Gilligan

Led Zep's management got this record banned back in the day, but in 2000 Robert Plant decided it was funny, so it's now on CD.

7. Bob and Doug McKenzie -- Take Off

Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas meet Geddy Lee, and then they all go out for a Molson.

6. Steve Martin -- King Tut

It's rarely said, but nonetheless true -- Steve Martin is a great dancer.

5. Weird Al Yankovic -- Dare to Be Stupid

A Devo parody that's actually better than the real Devo. "Mashed potatoes can be your friend." Indeed.

4. Napoleon XIV -- They're Coming to Take Me Away (Ha-Ha!)

An obvious choice, I know, but hey -- some high school friends of mine can be heard yelling in the background on this one. True story -- buy me a drink sometime, and I'll tell it to you....

3. The Diamonds -- Little Darlin'

These guys were actually a bunch of jazzbo snobs who thought the song (previously a minor doowop hit written by Maurice Williams, of "Stay" fame) was moronic crap and were goofing all over it. It is one of the great ironies of our time that the result is simultaneously one of the most exciting rock records ever AND an outsiders parody of the genre.

2. Buchanan and Goodman -- The Flying Saucer

The original break-in record, and an amazing technological feat in the days before sampling.

And the number one You Gotta Be Kidding comedy record of the rock era is, it's not even close, so don't gimme any crap about this is ---

1. Linda Laurie -- Ambrose (Part 5)

This record haunted my childhood, and at the time I assumed it was a monster national hit. Later, of course, I discovered it was only a local phenom -- I've never run into anybody who remembers it who wasn't also from the Tri-State Metropolitan Area. Perhaps not such a surprise, given Ms. Laurie's vintage New Yawk delivery and the single's subterranean subway milieu.

Oh, and as a special bonus, because I love you all more than food, I'm including here Ms. Laurie's utterly charming 1959 appearance as a contestant on TV's To Tell the Truth. She's really cute, no? And stick around till the end of the clip -- she actually does the Ambrose voice.

Man, that just kills me.

Anyway -- alrighty, then -- what would YOUR choices be?

And have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, December 07, 2023

Is it Warm in Here or Is It Just Me?

So as you may have heard. noted goyishe mensch Dolly Parton has just released an album of classic rock covers featuring all sorts of interesting guest stars. Here's her "Satisfaction" with Brandi Carlisle(!) and Pink(!!!)

Okay, like the rest of the album, I doubt I'll ever feel the need to listen to that again, but the first time you hear it, it's an inoffensive time waster at worst, and good for Dolly for having the cojones to attempt such a project in the first place, especially at her age.

As for Pink, however...words fail me. As a certain Shady Dame of my acquaintance observed this morning -- can you imagine if Queen had gone out with her as lead singer rather than Adam Lambert? Swear to god -- they would have had to have an emergency medical team on call at every concert.

Wednesday, December 06, 2023

Denny Laine 1944 - 2023

The very great man who wrote and sang this oh so sad and beautiful song has passed.

That's me in Paris, paying tribute at the site of the song's inspiration. A real thrill, I'll tell you that for free.

Oh, and here's a performance of Laine's that I had almost forgotten, which is odd considering it's probably the greatest white-boy James Brown cover in rock history.

I mean, wow. Seriously.

Have I mentioned that this death shit is really starting to piss me off?

Tuesday, December 05, 2023

Your Monday Moment of Cahiers du Cinema: Special "Give the Conductor Some!!!" Edition

So last Sunday a certain Shady Dame and I went to see Bradley Cooper's Maestro.

Which is brilliant on a number of levels, but not at all what I expected and more than a little disturbing.

Short version: It's not a conventional bio-pic. Actually, it's not even really about Leonard Bernstein per se. What it's actually about is Gay Men and the Women Who Loved Them, in a specific post-war American social and cultural milieu (the upper-crust art world) before Stonewall.

I'm gonna leave it at that, largely because I don't want to give away anything if you're planning on seeing it (and you should). However, I would like to add, and for the record, that as much as I loved Sarah Silverman before going in, after seeing her in the film (she's glimpsed in the trailer above as Lenny's sister) I now love her twice as much. I should also add that Kazu Hiro -- the make-up guy who designed Cooper's inexplicably controversial prosthetic schnozz -- gets a big seperate credit at the end, and it's well deserved.

POSTSCRIPT I: I should mention at this juncture that the aforementioned Shady Dame and I are the owners of a framed and autographed (by Lenny) program booklet from the final performance (May 17, 1969) Bernstein made as the music director of the New York Philharmonic. I wasn't at the event myself, but my maternal unit, who was a huge fan -- and earlier in the '60s brought me to see several of the legendary Young Peoples Concerts Bernstein did for television -- was at the farewell show, and went backstage to get Lenny's John Hancock. Thanks Mom!!!

POSTSCRIPT II: A few years ago, the aforementioned (twice) Shady Dame and I printed up a bunch of t-shirts sporting this logo she'd photo-shopped...

...strictly for shits and giggles. This came to the attention of Friend of PowerPop© (and Pulitzer Prize winning critic) Tim Page, who is also a friend of the Bernstein family.

And as a result, one of those shirts is now in the proud possession of Lenny's daughter Jamie Bernstein (played, quite affectingly, in the film by Ethan and Uma's daughter Maya Hawke), who apparently wears it with pride. A fact that I find hilarious.

Monday, December 04, 2023

Artists Whose Later Non-Group Work May Need Reassessment (An Occasional Series): Special "For a Fat Girl You Don't Sweat Much" Edition

Okay, I'm going to hell for that joke. Sorry.

In any case, from her eponymous 1972 solo album, please enjoy the not then Mama Cass Elliot and a simply lovely cover of "Baby I'm Yours."

That came on the sound system at my local watering hole the other day and I couldn't immediately place it, but when Shazam identified it for me I was both pleasantly surprised and intrigued. Granted, it's not as good as the gorgeously sexy Barbara Lewis original, which is one of my all-time fave early 60s soul records, but it's beautifully sung and arranged, and it has a really nice almost sunshine pop vibe. Not surprisingly, I immediately decided to check out more stuff from the album, but don't worry, I have no intention of inflicting that on you; let's just say the side-two version of The Beach Boys' "Disney Girls" sounds uncomfortably like the work of somebody who's suffering from a debilitating disease. That said, I probably should investigate the 1970 album Cass did with none other than Dave Mason, which I recall being ambivalent about at the time, but who knows?

I should add that while researching the above I was gobsmacked to discover that in 1962 Cass had lost out to Barbra Streisand for the role of Miss Marmelstein in Broadway's I Can Get It For You Wholesale, a casting choice that clearly changed history in all sorts of unfathomable ways, and that, later, she did a week as a guest panelist on my favorite afternoon TV show Match Game '73, the videos of which I am gonna have to track down on YouTube immediately.

Friday, December 01, 2023

Sympathy for the Devil?

Uh, no.

"You've got nicer legs than Hitler

And bigger tits than Cher!"


I should add that the above song, nastily hilarious as it is, is nonetheless better than that monster deserved.

I should also add that a certain Shady Dame and I had one of the most surreal moments of our lives a few years ago when, after exiting a Little Steven show at the Beacon Theater in Manhattan, we suddenly witnessed Henry the K. getting into a limousine.

I should also also add -- and I swear this on all that is kosher -- that nothing but serious regular postings related to the theme of this here blog will resume on Monday.

Have a great weekend, everybody!