Wednesday, February 28, 2024

The Blog By Numbers: Special "There'll Always Be an England" Edition

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

1. Les Cahiers du Wolfman Jack

Live from London in 1973 -- it's your hosts, Procol Harum, plus fellow Brits Humble Pie, Alvin Lee, and the simply astounding Steeleye Span. BTW, if you don't watch all the way through to the end of the video to see the Span (and kvell) I really don't want to know you anymore. I should add that Procol fans will recognize the line-up performing here as the one which made Grand Hotel, and boy do they sound magnificent.

Also -- have I mentioned that Steeleye's divine Maddy Prior could have had me if she'd played her cards right?

2. It Came From Queens

Queens -- get it? Okay, I'm really stretching to make this fit today's theme. So sue me.

3. Who Knew Benny Hill Was Funny?

Actually, now that I think of it, Stinky Feet would have made a great Stones album title.

4. Noted Without Comment

5. Fat Bottomed Girls

I gotta say, when I was looking on YouTube for a clip of Queen at Live-Aid, I was expecting to find something else.

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Song of the Year. Okay, Song of the Year So Far, But Still...

...and also Video of the Year, and I'm pretty sure I can state that with no fear of later qualification.

In any event, from his his recently released album Armageddon, please enjoy (the previously unknown to me) Marc Ribler's Story Road, and their (co-written with Steve Van Zandt) drop dead hilarious and wonderful ode to everybody's favorite talk show host "Dick Cavett."

In all seriousness, that is so great on every level I lack the words.

On a personal level, however, I should add that I actually attended a Cavett taping back in the period most of those clips derive from. The special guest was...

...Raquel Welch, who was as, er, fetching as you might have heard. I think it was 1972, and I have no idea why I was there, but I seem to remember thinking that Bobby Rosengarden and the house band were really good, especially in their version of Leonard Bernstein's Candide overture, which was Cavett's theme song.

I should also add that I discovered the Ribler song a few weeks ago over at our pal Sal Nunziato's invaluable Burning Wood blog. So if you've already seen/heard it, mea culpa, but I just had to share. Thanks, Sal!

Oh, and I should also also add that you can snag a physical copy or stream Armageddon over at Amazon HERE.

Monday, February 26, 2024

Songs I'd Forgotten Existed, Let Alone Loved: Special "Millions of Blood-Poisoning Migrants Illegally Entering Our Country From Insane Asylums" Edition

From their way underrated eponymous 1985 debut album, please enjoy héroes anónimos of power pop Katrina and the Waves and their traitorous ode to the menacing hordes scurrying like insects across our Southern border -- "Mexico."

I hadn't heard that song, or thought about the band, in ages, but "Walking on Sunshine" (which may be overexposed, but I still love) popped up the other day on the sound system at my local watering hole, and I suddenly flashed on "Mexico." What a great track, and doesn't Katrina sing the hell out of it? (Answer: Yes. Yes, she does.)

I should add that the song was a radio hit in Canada in 1984, which I had not previously known until yesterday.

I should also add that a) the whole thing is about as infectiously catchy as can be, and (more important) b) that former colleague of Robyn Hitchcock (in the Soft Boys) Kimberly Rew is one hell of a lead guitarist,

Friday, February 23, 2024

La Fin de la Semaine Essay Question: Special "Skinny Ties Rule, Okay!" Edition

From 1986, and liver (heh) than you'll ever be, please enjoy utterly fab gear quartet The Real Impossibles and their totally kick-ass meditation on what happens "Since You've Been Gone."

Long time readers will doubtless recall my enthusiasm for these guys, but if you're new here, this is the backstory as it first appeared in 2020.

...The Real Impossibles, fronted by Marc Platt [stage left in the video] were a mid-80s Los Angeles punkish power pop band, and a compilation of their stuff (entitled It's About Time) came out on Zero Hour Records a few months after the 2013 Zero Hour release of Floor Your Love. Which made us labelmates, of course. I had never heard of the band until the CD, but it knocked me out, and Marc and I struck up a long-distance friendship, with me mostly telling him "I'm not worthy! I'm not worthy"!, that persists to this day.

Here's a representative track, which also happens to be the coolest Neil Diamond cover since the heyday of The Monkees.

That absolutely kills me; I think comparisons to The Plimsouls are not implausible (which is about the highest praise I can give anything), and for my money the whole CD is just freaking great guitar driven rock-and-roll.

I should add that the good folks at Rum/Bar Records have recently reissued It's About Time, completely remastered and with bonus tracks, and the damn thing is better than before. If ever there was a Great Lost Album of the 80s, this is it. (Grab it at Amazon over HERE.)

Which inevitably leads us to today's business. To wit:

...and the '80s New Wave pop/punk artist/band(s) that you think should have been much better known/more commercially successful than they were is/are...???

No arbitrary rules, but if the act you posit actually started recording in the late 70s -- like, for example, The Records -- we'll let it slide.

And I mention The Records because they'd be my nominee, to the surprise of no one who's ever hung out here.

Discuss/have fun.

And have a great weekend, everyody!!

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Closed for Monkey Business

Taking a Slacker Thursday. Hey -- I'm a senior citizen, cut me some slack,

That said, I can assure you that tomorrow's Weekend Essay Question is gonna be worth the wait and a lotta fun. Hint: It involves, for a change, a particular genre and historical period that has some serious relevance to the theme of this here blog.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

The Blog By Numbers: Special "This Pudding Has No Theme" Edition

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

1. Big Time Professional Rock-and-Roll

Ronnie Wood and friends, live at some London dive two weeks ago, celebrating Ben Waters' birthday. I'd never heard of Waters, but he's apparently highly regarded in Brit music circles as a boogie woogie pianist non pareil. In any case, these folks aren't exactly over-rehearsed, but they're having fun and it's infectious.

2. Compare and Contrast

Veterinary office heartworm display or legendary King Crimson album cover? YOU make the call!!!

3. I Had No Idea George Gershwin Ever Made a Video

Live at the Manhattan Theater in 1931, and absolutely amazing and ahead of its time. I've said it before and I'll say it again -- the greatest tragedy to befall American music in the 20th century was Gershwin's way too early death at the age of 37.

4. Are Those Two Famous Rock Stars or Just Friends of My Dad?

Graham Nash plays chess with some old Jewish guy from Queens who used to sing with Paul Simon, What I wouldn't give to have the knish concession.

5. Noted Without Comment

Heh.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Let Us Now Praise Famous Women

From 1988, please enjoy the irrepressible Cyndi Lauper and her fabulously New Wavey shoulda-been-a-huge hit "Hole in My Heart."

Which would make a fabulous segue into "Turning Japanese," doncha think?

In any case, that's from Vibes, the largely forgotten sci-fi/adventure/rom-com Lauper did with Peter Falk and Jeff Goldblum; I loved it when I first saw it, even if very few other people did, but I'm planning to stream it tonight to see if my younger self had taste as good as I gave myself credit for.

Reason I bring both song and film up, however, is that a certain Shady Dame and I just watched the Netflix documentary on the making of We Are the World, in which Lauper features quite prominently, and I fell in love with her all over again. I don't know if I've ever mentioned it, but why Lauper didn't have Madonna's career is a question that has plagued me all these years.

As for the WATW flick, which Lauper more or less steals, I highly recommend it; it's far more interesting and entertaining than I'd anticipated, and seeing all those 80s pop celebs in one room together being all nervous, insecure and star struck (unlike the older veterans amongst them) is kind of a hoot. It's also fascinating about the logistics and technical challenges involved in the production of the titular song, and I must confess that with the passage of time I've become far less critical of said song on an esthetic level; back in the day, it struck me as insufferably self-congratulatory, but today -- not so much. It kinda works.

I should add that Paul Simon is credited with a joke during the session that had me rolling off my couch in hysterics, I'm not gonna give it away, so there's one more reason to stream the movie yourself.

Monday, February 19, 2024

I For One Welcome Our New A.I. Overlords

Billy Joel's excellent new song, as performed by various computer-generated younger iterations of himself?

Sure -- why not?

Look, strictly as a technical achievement, that video is freaking flawlessly brilliant, and as a fan, I'm glad to be reminded of those halcyon innocent days when Joel did not look so eerily reminiscent of the late evil Roy Cohn.

That said -- does anybody else also find this thing kind of terrifyingly creepy? I mean, if they can do that, can a convincing adnroid replicant of the young Donald Trump be far behind?

Asking for a friend.

Friday, February 16, 2024

La Fin de la Semaine Essay Question: Special "It Was Sixty Years Ago Last Week" Edition

Ah yes. On Friday last in 1964, those four adorable mop tops from Liverpool first arrived on these shores and changed everything on earth forever blah blah blah/won't you boomers fucking give it a rest already/blah blah blah.

In any case, in honor of that whatever the hell it was, let's get immediately to business. To wit:

...and your favorite (or least favorite) cover of a Beatles song is...?

No arbitrary rules here, obviously, However, if you wanna broaden the question slightly to include covers of stuff by the individual Fabs in their solo careers, go for it.

In case, here are my top two, and one of each. I'll leave it for you to guess which is my most or least fave. Sneaky hint: I'm NOT fond of the one with B.J. Wilson on drums.

Heh.

And heh again.

Discuss/have fun.

And have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Your Thursday Moment of Anti-Climax

I can't believe somebody guessed it.

Specifically, reader John K, the now proud recipient of a coveted PowerPop No-Prize©.

In any event, here's the answer in question, i.e. to "what is my favorite Paul Revere and the Raiders song?" -- the delightful Phil "Fang" Volk written and sung slice of proto-hippie idealism that is "In My Community."

I should add that said song is, obviously, from the Raiders Spirit of '67 album, which is for my money as good as any 12-incher done that year by any American band, and I include Moby Grape in that assessment, so you know I'm not kidding around.

I should also add that reader J.K.'s award was dispatched to him via Owl Express™, the mail service supervised by the great Flaco (seen below checking out somebody's apartment on Manhattan's Upper West Side recently).

Oh, and coming tomorrow -- a Weekend Essay question with an at best tangential relationship to any of the above, so I'm not gonna make you guess. You'll enjoy it, though -- trust me.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

The Blog By Numbers: Special Post Over-Hyped Non-Blizzard Edition

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

1. It's the Only Way to Travel!!!

In case you're wondering, that's my old friend David Achelis and his band 8Ace doing a home-recorded version of my second all-time favorite Paul Revere and the Raiders song. Pretty darn fabulous, if I'm any judge of horseflesh. Also: A coveted PowerPop No-Prize© will be awarded the first reader who guesses my number 1 fave Raiders song. Hint: It's not one of the hits.

2. Jann Wenner May Be Gone, But His Assholery Lives On!

You'll note that celebrated rocker Sade (or Sadie, as we call her around Casa Simels) gets a nod this year, but Warren Zevon, Procol Harum and The Monkees are still decidely Non-U -- as Nancy Mitford used to say down at the pub -- in RHOF circles.

3. I'll Take "the British Invasion" for One Hundred, Alex!

An actual screen cap from last Monday's Jeopardy. Damn, I'm gonna have to start watching that show again.

4. Rock en Español is Here to Stay!!!

Heard that one for the first time at my fabulous Forest Hills watering hole the Keuka Kafe yesterday (thanks, Itzel!). Juanes was previously unknown to me, and when that video popped up on my Shazam, I immediately figured there must have been a large Spanish speaking contingent of the Seattle Grunge community of the early 90s. But nooooo -- turns out the kid was born and raised in Colombia, is a big Metallica fan, and the song itself dates from 2004. Cool stuff, in any case. BTW, the song's title translates as "See You Again."

5. Songs I Only Wish Had Been Played on MTV

Heh.

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Closed for Winter Wonderland Monkey Business

The Weather Guy is threatening eight inches of snow. I'm taking it easy, just in case.

Regular droll posting resumes on Wednesday, assuming Casa Simels is still above the precip line.

Monday, February 12, 2024

Give the Drummer Some!!!

Longtime readers will recall my late great friend and Floor Models bandmate Glen Robert Allen...

...who passed away four years ago last Friday.

Glen Bob was one of the most talented, funny, and all around mensch-y people it has ever been my privilege to know and work with. And as I've said on previous occasions, he enriched my life in so many ways I couldn't begin to enumerate them.

I will say, however, that I still really haven't come to terms with the fact that he's gone. Truth is, these days when I go into the recording studio, I inevitably look to the back of the room and expect to see him sitting on the couch yelling at me about tempos.

So you'll understand how delighted and moved I was when I awoke the other day to discover that our brilliant mutual friend Steve Notis had just written, performed and posted this tribute in his honor.

Wow.

Je repete -- wow.

That's just so heart-tugging and beautiful I lack the words.

Except "thank you, Steve!" of course.

But seriously, even if you didn't know and love Glen personally, I guarantee you can't hear that song without getting, intuitively, that it sums him up perfectly.

So -- thanks again, Steve. You did what us Red Sea Pedestrians call a mitzvah.

And I guarantee that, somewhere in rock-and-roll heaven, Glen is taking a break between sets and going "Thanks, guys. And yes, I deserved that."

Friday, February 09, 2024

La Fin de la Semaine Essay Question: Special "How Do You Say 'Comme C’est Prétentieux !' in Yiddish?" Edition

From 1993, please, er, enjoy (if that is the apt word) Anglo-French poseurs Stereolab and their nonetheless somewhat infectious ode to a "Lo Boob Oscillator."

Did I say enjoy? Jeez -- that track starts well in a sort of punk-Monkees way, but the instrumental second half is painfully unlistenable and seems to go on for about six hours.

In any event, I bring it up because I heard it for the very first time the other day -- in a TV commercial for Hotels.com, of all things...

...and it grabbed me immediately. Not knowing its authorship, however, I then did the research, and you can easily imagine my disappointment when I heard the song in its entirety.

Anyway, then it struck me -- I used to joke that I slept, musically speaking, through the '90s. And there was more than a grain of truth there, which is to say I was not hugely fond of most of the stuff on the radio back then (hell, I didn't decide I liked Nirvana till about ten years ago). And Stereolab was one of those bands I just couldn't be bothered with at the time.

Hey, I'm old and cranky. So sue me.

Anyway, that leads us to this weekend's business. To wit:

...and the critically well-regarded and/or commercially successful post New Wave-pre 21st century artist or band you most completely don't get on any level is...?

No arbitraary rules here, but obviously by post-New Wave we're talking about the mid-to-late '80s. So our time frame here is roughly from The Thompson Twins to Y2k.

Discuss/have fun.

And have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, February 08, 2024

Closed for Monkey Business: "My Mean Readers" (Taylor’s Version)

Some of the comments on Tuesday's Joni Mitchell post hurt my delicate fee-fees, so I'm taking a day off to sulk.

Hey -- I'm a sensitive guy...cut me some slack, you stony-hearted shits.

Regular posting -- including a pretty funny/cool Weekend Essay Question -- resumes on the morrow.

Wednesday, February 07, 2024

The Blog by Numbers: Special "Crass Post-Grammys Commercialism" Edition

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

1. Verrrrrrrry Interesting!!!

Okay, I had never seen those clips before (h/t to faithful reader Jai Guru Dave) but they're pretty funny. I should add that a) I don't remember the black gal, who is so adorable I can't stand it, and b) I particularly like the gag featuring Jeremy Lloyd, the tall skinny blonde actor from A Hard Day's Night.

2. The Golden Age of New Jersey Television

Ah, Uncle Floyd. I actually owned the 45rpm disc reproduced above; it came in very handy for clearing the room when a party at one's apartment had gone on too long.

3. I've Said It Before and I'll Say It Again -- Joni Mitchell Has Never Known Bupkis About Makeup

That wasn't quite the reaction to Sunday's Grammys at Casa Simels. but we'll let that pass for obvious reasons.

4. In the Immortal Words of Christina Applegate -- "The Mind Wobbles!"

Heh.

5. Lust for Housekeeping

Hey Osterberg -- I know the feeling.

Tuesday, February 06, 2024

Joni Mitchell: Blues For Ms. Havisham

[I wrote the piece below late last year, with the New Yorker's "Shouts and Murmurs" section in mind; alas, the New Yorker folks found its satire less droll than I do. It did, however, strike me as newly pertinent today, in light of the artiste's unfortunate appearance at the past weekend's Grammys. At which, inexplicably, somebody who did the booking apparently felt it would be a good idea to let Joni croak like a Marleine Dietrich-esque frog for a couple of minutes in front of an international audience. But read on, please.]

Okay -- that's pretty funny, if I do say so myself. I particularly like the rationale behind the album title.

But look, if the piece strikes you as somehow in bad taste, just chill. I'm a big Joni fan, and have been since her brilliant David Crosby-produced debut album in 1968. When she's on, there's few people better.

I mean, I get all warm and runny just THINKING about "River," let alone hearing it.

But c'mon -- it's also not exactly a secret that she's always had a huge pretentious streak/bullshit quotient, which often leads to embarrassing and unintentionally hilarious moments. Like the entirety of "Coyote," for example. Or, more recently, that cringe stuff at Sunday's awards ceremony.

Feel free to disagree. This is a matter of personal taste, obviously, and as Chuck Barris famously posited, some people like cold toilet seats.

But if you think Mitchell is such a holy bovine in her old age that making fun of her is beyond the pale, then -- well, in the immortal words of that great moral philosopher Mick Jagger -- you should relax is my impression.

Thank you.

Monday, February 05, 2024

Your Monday Moment of Award Show Hangover

Hey -- that Grammy TV special last night was really a bag of gas, wasn't it?

Oh, hell -- the Grammy's have ALWAYS been jive. As witness this piece I did in the Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Review back in May of 1979.

1. What can you say about a twenty-one-year-old music awards presentation that refuses to die? Here are some phrases that spring immediately to mind: Incurably lame. Unblushingly crass. Leisure-suited. Spectacularly corrupt. Totally irrelevant.

2. Q: Why are the Grammys named after the archaic gramophone? A: Because it would be too embarrassingly appropriate to name them after the contemporary phonograph.

3. 1978 was the year album sales of more than ten million units became commonplace, and yet fewer records cracked the weekly Top Ten than ever before. It was the year in which it dawned on people that 80 percent of all the recording artists in the world were signed to either Warner Bros (and its affiliates) and CBS, the year that any rock musician with even a modicum of sensitivity realized that having a hit record on the charts was suddenly, for the first time in pop music history, a less than honorable ambition (what doth it profit a man, after all, to go multi-platinum and yet lose his soul?). It was also the year that disco, Bee Gees style, swept the Grammy awards.

4. For years, the thing that has confused me most about the Grammys is that although sales, by and large, seemed to be the only criterion that counted, rock-and-roll was invariably snubbed. Strange, since whatever you think of rock as music, it does sell; in fact, the first albums to shatter the multi-platinum barrier (Frampton Comes Alive and Fleetwood Mac) were rock records, if relatively safe ones. This year, however, the reason has become clear to me; after sales, the next factor that means anything to the Recording Academy is “recognizability.” (Translation: Any music that is on TV a lot or gets played at said members’ sons’ bar mitzvahs.) This explains the triumph of the Brothers Gibb (five awards) and why the only non-disco smasheroo to win in 1978 was Billy Joel’s “Just the Way You Are,” a mushy ballad that has replaced (woe, woe) “Feelings” in the repertoire of the Merv Griffins of this world. It also explains why a classical record that did not receive a single favorable review from a serious critic – Horowitz’s Rachmaninoff Third Concerto – cleaned up; Vladimir, thanks to the Jimmy Carter Live from the White House show, was a Public Broadcasting celebrity.

But where the truth of this theory really becomes apparent is in the Best New Artist competition. In 1976, the nod went to the Starland Vocal Band (remember them?), because they’d had one big single and their own TV show, rather than to Boston, whose album sales at last count were in the neighborhood of twelve million copies. In 1977, Debby Boone, who has yet to duplicate the fluke success of “You Light Up My Life,” beat out Foreigner (who have now had two multi-platinum albums and five consecutive hit singles) simply because she sang the damned song on every prime-time TV variety special over a six-month period. This year, similarly, “Boogie Oogie Oogie,” guaranteed to be the only non-Australian disco song recognizable to middle-aged matrons from Scarsdale, enabled its creators, A Taste of Honey (gimme their real names, quick!) to triumph over both the Cars and Elvis Costello. This is ludicrous on the face of it – except when you consider that there isn’t a bar-mitzvah band in the land who has yet learned “Moving in Stereo,” and that, despite Linda Ronstadt, Mike Douglass has yet to essay “Allison.”

5. Rona Barrett, who is, granted, hardly a critic to be mentioned in the same breath as, say, James Agee, took notice of this year’s Academy Award nominations, marveled that the three top money-making pictures (Grease, Animal House and Superman) were up for relatively few awards, and announced with some satisfaction that “Oscar has finally come of age.” Assuming that’s true, which is doubtful, given the nine nominations for Heaven Can Wait, one must remember that Oscar is, after all, fifty-nine. What are the odds against anyone’s making a similar claim for the Grammys thirty years hence?

6. Woody Allen to Diane Keaton in award winning Annie Hall: “All they do in this town is give awards. Best Fascist Dictator: Adolph Hitler.”

Hey -- if you were watching on Sunday, I think you'll agree with me when I use the Yiddish expression "plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose."

Friday, February 02, 2024

La Fin de la Semaine Essay Question: Special "Tales of Reflected Glory" Edition

From Wednesday's Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, please dig power pop keepers of the flame The Lemon Twigs and a killer live version of their glorious current single "My Golden Years."

Attentive readers are aware that the two frontmen of the Twigs are the scions of my old friend and occasional bandmate Ronnie D'Addario, and in the case of Michael and Brian, the apples (if I may mix my metaphors) didn't fall far from the proverbial tree. But what really tickles me about that clip -- apart from the utter fabness of both the song and the band's performance -- is that if you look to the far left, you'll notice that they're using the restored vintage (1962) Fender Bassman that I gifted the kids after I, er, retired from the concert stage.

In other words -- MY AMP MADE IT TO THE TONIGHT SHOW, BITCHES!!!

Thank you.

And that, of course, leads us inevitably to today's business. To wit:

...and the piece of vintage musical equipment -- guitar, effects pedal, amp, keyboard, whatever -- you'd most like to have in your personal collection and/or home studio is...?

No arbitrary rules here, but we're talking rock-and-roll obviously, so don't be a wiseguy and nominate a Stradivarius.

In the meantime -- Discuss!!!

And have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, February 01, 2024

Ah to Be In EPCOT When the Heather Is In Bloom

So as alert readers are aware, a certain Shady Dame and I spent a delightful couple of days at Disney World last week. Memorable moments are too numerous to mention, although purchasing this hat...

...clearly rates amongst the top ten.

That said, one of the truly unexpected pleasures of the trip took place at the park's UK simulacrum, where we were treated to a fabulous 20 minute set by Brit-rock tribute band Command Performance. Seen below rockin' out at the picturesque little EPCOT gazebo that is apparently their home base.

I can't find any information online about these guys -- what, no website or homepage? How weird! -- but whoever they are, as you can plainly hear, they're tons of fun. Seriously, I've never encountered anybody doing a credible "Baba O'Reilly" before. I mean, where the hell did they get those samples of Townshend's synthesizer parts?

Coming tomorrow -- a Weekend Essay question that's particularly close to my heart for reasons that may amuse you. See you then!!!