Friday, March 29, 2024

La Fin de La Semaine Essay Question: Special "Pound Those Pagan Skins, Daddy-O!" Edition

Secret Agent and The Prisoner star (and coolest man who ever lived) Patrick McGoohan -- on drums?

Say what?

I'd forgotten that clip until I posted about that Prisoner-themed song by The Times last Monday. It derives, in case you're wondering, from Brit director Basil Dearden's 1962 feature All Night Long, which is a fabulous jazz reimagining of Othello. McGoohan is the film's Iago, no surprise there, and apparently that's really him playing in the clip.

I should add that said film -- which also features musical performances by Dave Brubeck and Charles Mingus -- is available in a budget DVD set with three other equally astounding Dearden flicks -- Sapphire, The League of Gentlemen, and Victim -- from Criterion subsidiary Eclipse. It makes a great gift for any cineaste of your acquaintance and you can -- and should -- order it over at Amazon HERE.

Which brings us to today's business. To wit:

...and your all-time favorite (or least favorite) drum solo/break on a post-Elvis pop/rock/country or soul record is...???

Arbitrary rule: No jazz records need apply, for obvious reasons. Although if it's one that actually got played on Top 40 radio, a la Cozy Cole's "Topsy Pt II," I'll allow it.

Also -- there are no time/length constraints, so you can endorse something as brief as my nominee, which is the couple-of-measures long drums-and-handclaps fill B.J. Wilson graces on Procol Harum's "The Devil Came From Kansas" (which you can hear below at approximately the 2:46 mark).


And have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, March 28, 2024

I'm So Old I Remember Nick Lowe When He Was a Hippie

From 1970, and their insufficiently critically celebrated eponymous debut album, please enjoy the incomparable Brinsley Schwarz and their exquisite Nick Lowe-penned and sung "Mayfly."

I bring this up for two reasons. For starters, because Nick turned 75 over last weekend, and so just shoot me now.

And secondly, because it's always tickled me that Nick is usually name-checked with subsequent currently hipper musical trends -- pub rock and wise-guy New Wave -- even though, as you can hear from the above, he initially came to public attention with a characteristically counter-culturish blend of psychedelic-prog rock-and country-meets-CSNY.

I mean, the Brinsleys of "Mayfly" would have gone down an absolute storm at Woodstock. Seriously.

And just to prove the point, here's my favorite of several songs from their stylistically similar followup album, also from 1970.

How's this for inspirational verse?

Just like tomorrow/We were divided

You on your side/And me on mine

Lovely lady/Of the wildwind

May our branches/Still intertwine

Wow. The smell of incense and patchouli oil really is all over that one, n'est-ce pas?

In any case, I absolutely love both of those records -- have I mentioned that Brinsleys keyboardist Bob Andrews is right up there as an organ guy with his hero Garth Hudson? -- and have from the minute I first heard them. Which was, in case you were wondering, as a fledgling rock critic at my college (CW Post) newspaper, where I was fortunate enough to be on the mailing lists of all the major labels. Those were the days, BTW -- when I write my memoirs there's gonna be a big chapter about that shit.

In any case, you can -- and should -- get those two LPs in a terrific CD package also featuring all the Brinsleys other studio albums save, alas, for the last (the one with the original "Peace, Love and Understanding") over at Amazon HERE.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

These Kids Today, With Their Loud Music and Their Long Acronyms!!!

From 1965, please enjoy Paul Revere and the Raiders, featuring criminally underrated lead guitarist Drake Levin, and their killer instrumental "B.F.D.R.F. Blues."

That was the b-side to the Raiders epochal hit "Just Like Me," BTW. And if you've ever wondered what an a-list early '60's northwest proto-punk band sounded like live, listen no further.

More to the point -- a coveted PowerPop No-Prize© will be afforded to the first reader who can identify what B.F.D.R.F. stands for. Without looking it up, of course.

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Songs I'd Forgotten Existed, Let Alone Loved (An Occasional Series): Special "I Am Not a Number!" Edition

From 1983, please enjoy Brit power pop/punksters The Times and their fab gear single "I Helped Patrick McGoohan Escape."

Mashups between The Beatles and The Spencer Davis Group ("Keep On Running") don't get any better, I think you'll agree.

BTW, as long-time readers are no doubt aware, that song looms large in my legend for extra-musical reasons. As in -- here I am, a few years ago, in London in front of the actual apartment McGoohan escaped to.

As for The Times, although I remember plugging the single in the pages of TMFKAS at the (er) time, I know little about them, although my research staff on crack informs me that an apparently well-regarded guy named Ed Ball (that's him on the single picture sleeve) was also the man behind several other period bands of note, including Television Personalities and Teenage Filmstars. Recommendations for future listening gratefully acceped.

Monday, March 25, 2024

Your Monday Moment of "Why Didn't I Get the Memo?"

From 1959, please enjoy Bob McFadden (and Dor, whoever that was) and his Rod McKuen-penned ode to "The Beat Generation."

Seriously -- am I the only sentient mammal on the planet who didn't know that the above was from where Richard Hell cribbed his 1977 comic/nihilist punk anthem?

I'm not kidding about this -- I had never heard the McFadden single until the other day and had no idea Hell was paying tribute to it.

That said, the original is a lot funnier, IMHO.

In case you were wondering, however, McFadden spent most of his career doing the voices for animated cartoon film/tv characters; that's he as the voice of Milton the Monster and Snarf the Thundercat.

He looms largest in my legend, however, as the frontman for this hilarious novelty record (also from 1959).

Again written by Rod McKuen (yeah, him) and featuring that Dor thingie. If anybody has the skinny on him/her/it, BTW, let us know and you'll be awarded a coveted PowerPop No-Prize©.

You're welcome.

Friday, March 22, 2024

Friday Album Plugola: Special "Thanks -- I Needed That!" Edition

Okay, this one really IS special.

From his just released debut CD (and my current nominee, however early, for Album of the Year), please enjoy Lance Cowan and the opening and closing tracks of his soul-solacing So Far, So Good.

Frankly, the record had me from the minute I heard the delicately chiming (mostly acoustic) guitars on the lead-off title track...

...and I remained enthralled all the way through its closing ode to "Mr. Ben McGhee." (An old guy I think you'll recognize/relate to; I certainly did.)

A little backstory: Lance's day job is as Nashville's savviest music publicist. I've known him in that capacity since the '90s, and over the years (both when I was a small bigshot at The Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Review and, more recently, as a poor scribbler at this here blog) he's hipped me to a lot of great stuff I might otherwise not have heard (thanks, Lance!). Ironically enough, however, I only vaguely knew that he also had an out-of-the-office secret identity as a singer/songwriter.

Which leads us to his new album. It will surprise no one to learn that it is without question the quietest thing I've flipped over lately, which is to say it ain't a rock record. But however you categorize it-- folk/country/Americana/whatever -- it's still affected me on a gut level more than anything of its ilk I've heard in ages. The songs (which are all as wonderful as the two above) are literate, melodically memorable, poignant and often surprisingly funny, and they're sung by Lance in a deeply affecting Bruised Everyman voice that I'd kill to have. And the backing instrumentals -- by some of Music City's finest, including the legendary "Dangerous" Dan Dugmore on various guitars -- are so gorgeous you can float away on them, even when the subject matter gets a soupcon gritty. Not to mince words, but I've really really needed to hear something as honest, lovely, well crafted and touching as SFSG for far too long. And even without the loud backbeat I normally gravitate to, it's actually restored my faith in music generally (a feat I absolutely didn't expect).

Have I mentioned this is a freaking great album?

You can find out more about Lance over at his website HERE. And you can (and should) purchase (and stream) So Far, So Good over at Amazon HERE.

Oh, and BTW, if you happen to be in the vicinity of Nashville tonight, stop in at the album release party. It's at the Music Makers Stage at Delgado Guitars...

...and the festivities start at 7:30pm.

Needless to say -- tell Lance that PowerPop sent you!!!

Meanwhile, have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, March 21, 2024

The Creative Process at Work

Paul Simon on the Stephen Colbert show last week.

In case you missed it, the funniest and most rewarding half-hour or so of teevee I've seen in ages. In particular, Simon's droll deadpan explication of what he was thinking as he wrote "Darling Lorraine."

Which is a song I must confess having been heretofore unfamiliar with, but am now quite enthusiastic about.

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Keep Those Chompers Choogling!!!

Okay, I couldn't resist. From 1968, please enjoy "Toothy Ruthy," the b-side of that dental-themed Fire single I mentioned yesterday.

Your basic "Hang On Sloopy" rewrite, obviously, but I have a perhaps genetic predisposition to dig any record -- and especially one by Brits, for obvious reasons -- implying you should pay particular attention to your oral hygiene.

Coming tomorrow -- that retrospective on Spooky Tooth I've been threatening for years!!!

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Your Tuesday Moment of Why Didn't I Get the Memo?

From 1968 (like you couldn't tell from the video) please enjoy brief-lived (and heretofore unknown to me) mod/freaakbeat Brit power trio Fire and their minor UK hit "Father's Name is Dad."

As I hinted above, I had never even heard of those guys till last Sunday (St. Paddy's Day), when another clip of "Dad" popped up on a couple of Facebook pages I follow; I figured maybe it was because they were Irish, but no -- they're Brits, and it was just a coincidence.

In any event, a fabulous record in that sort of eratz Who/Creation style that was all the rage back then. I should add that the band's leader/songwriter/guitarist Dave Lambert went on to join better known folk-rock hitmakers The Strawbs, with whom he played on a few records I actually HAVE heard of, including the great working class anthem "Part of the Union."

I should also add that Fire's other single that year was "Round the Gum Tree" backed with "Toothie Ruthie."

To my knowledge, the only two-sided dental-themed record in rock history.


Monday, March 18, 2024

If It's Monday, It Must Be Musician Jokes

Q: What is something you never hear in the music business?

A: "There's the banjo player's Porsche."

Q: What do you call a trombonist with a pager?

A: An optimist

Q: What do you call a drummer in a three-piece suit?

A: The defendant.

Q: How do you get a bass player off your porch?

A: Pay for the pizza

Hey -- I'm laid-up with a cold. Regular posting, involving actual writing and real music, resumes tomorrow, Benadryl permitting.

Friday, March 15, 2024

La Fin de la Semaine Essay Question: Special "Ampersands Rule!" Edition

From 1973 and their album Louisiana Rock & Roll, please enjoy unaccountably little-known Southern Rock stalwarts Potliquor and their cautionary on-the-road tale "You Can't Get There From Here."

Those guys were, as you can hear, a killer two-guitar band, but unlike their better known and indulgently verbose genre/geographical blues-based brethren (Skynyrd, The Allmans) they actually have more in common on a sonic and compositional level with the likes of later, punkier avant-gardists like Television. I also hear a lot of the kind of mutant/metal stylings reminiscent of Brit contemporaries like The Move. And I can't think of another American act of their day who sounded so interesting production-wise.

Ooh -- I just remembered that not only have I written about these guys before, but that I actually had some interraction with people in their orbit. You can check that out OVER HERE,

I should also add that the aformentioned LR&R (I love the &), from whence the above song derives, is no longer officially available (although you can hear the rest of it on YouTube). Its predecessor, Levee Blues, however. remains available for streaming at Amazon and is highly recommended.

But now, of course, it's time to get to the business at hand. To wit:

...and your favorite obscure '70s rock/pop/country/folk or soul album by an equally obscure band or solo artist is...???

I emphasize 70s here, for obvious reasons. And by obscure, we mean something that the average reasonably well-informed music fan probably wouldn't be familiar with beyond perhaps the artist's name or album title. If that.


And have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Songs I'd Forgotten Existed, Let Alone Loved (An Occasional Series): Special "You Can't Copyright a Title" Edition

From 1991, please enjoy Boston alt/folk-rock indie faves Knots and Crosses and their utterly heart-wrenching, gorgeously sung and brilliantly performed look at the relationships that happen to "Creatures of Habit."

K&C were one of those occasional shoulda/coulda music biz sad stories; after a couple of DIY albums that sold a remarkable 20,000 copies in the pre-internet days, they got signed to a major label (Island) and then got dropped almost immediately. Lead singer Carol Noonan, however, went on to release a whole mess of well-received solo efforts of similar quality in a similar stylistic vein and she's also, as I just learned, a big NPR fave and the co-proprietress of the Stone Mountain Arts Center in Maine.

In any case, I bring the whole thing up because I also just learned that Harry Shearer's wife(!) Judith Owen -- who I had never heard of until last Monday morning -- had written and recorded her own "Creatures of Habit" in 2008, and it's pretty damned impressive as well.

I should also add that the bit about not being able to copyright a title is actually true; apparently, if you wanted to publish a novel about a flatulent meteorologist and call it Gone With the Wind you would be completely within your rights. If there are any lawyers out there reading this, feel free to clarify it if I'm wrong.

[h/t Captain Al]

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Eric Carmen 1949 - 2024

The auteur of The Raspberries has passed. I needn't remind anybody that he and they pretty much sum up the mission statement of this here blog.

I should add that a certain Shady Dame and I had our first date at a Raspberries show in Manhattan in 2007; they were promoting the Live on Sunset Strip album from whence the above clip derives. So you can imagine my surprise when said jeune fille told me yesterday that she'd saved the Raspberries button the record company (Ryko) had thoughtfully provided for the industry attendees that night. (Cue: Steve getting a little verklempt.)

I should also add -- just to annoy the less fortunate -- that I also saw the Raspberries in their early 70s heyday. At Carnegie Hall, if memory serves; they were flush from the success of "I Wanna Be With You" (the opening 12-string riff of which is still one of my favorite several seconds of recorded music ever) and, alas, wearing those dopey matching suits that kept them from being considered hip in that far away era. Come to think of it, they were actually the opening act for somebody else (I forget who). But they were very impressive, and in any case, what I remember most about the show wasn't their ability to reproduce the sound of their records live, but rather that they rolled two(!) Mellotrons onstage at some point and proceeded to surprise everybody with a killer rendition of -- dig this -- "Be My Baby."

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

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Karl Wallinger 1957 - 2024

The auteur of The Waterboys and World Party has passed. Damn, I'd forgotten how much I loved this song of his.

I've said it before and I'll say it again -- this death shit is really starting to piss me off.

PS: I'd also forgotten that I reviewed the album from whence that song derives. Here it is, in the September 1990 issue of Stereo Review.

Jeez, I really was a cynical bastard back then. I mean, the digs at XTC and Todd Rundgren strike me as a bit much. Other than that, however, I think I got the album right.

Monday, March 11, 2024

Les Cahiers du Jet Screamer!!!

From some time in the apparently distant future, please enjoy the aforementioned Mr. Screamer and the greatest rock record of all time, "Epp! Opp! Ork!".

Okay, maybe not the greatest rock record of all time, but Judy Jetson's favorite fer sure.

And I think we can also agree that Judy's dad George's opening drum solo rules.

In all seriousnes, I have not been able to determine who actually sang and played on EOE (an uncomfirmed rumor has it that the vocals were by Mel Brooks alumnus Howie Morris), but we do know that it was in fact co-written by the great William Hanna-Joseph Barbera team who created The Jetsons and much, much more.,

I would also be remiss if I didn't post this 1995 cover version by The Violent Femmes.

Pretty fab, and I should add that it derives from the unaccountably forgotten compilation album Saturday Morning Cartoons Greatest Hits, which also features a version of "The Banana Splits Song" by Liz Phair(!) and Material Issue(!!) that really IS one of the greatest rock records of all time. But that's a subject for a future post.

Friday, March 08, 2024

Weekend Listomania: Special "You Can't Get There From Here" Edition

[I posted the original version of this in 2008 -- Hole. E. Shit!!! -- but it struck me as newly pertinent now that our esteemed New York governor, in a ludicrously tone deaf attempt to co-opt the Trumpist Republicans' cynical and stupid THE IMMIGRANTS ARE COMING TO RAPE YOU! campaign, is actually deploying the National Guard into the NYC subway system to do bag checks of little old ladies purses. Genius!!!

In any case I've done a lot of re-writing of the thing, and switched in a couple of new items so as not to seem like the slacker asshole I actually am. That notwithstanding, enjoy.]

And the subject of our new and revised Listomania is...


Totally arbitrary rule: No title utilizing the words "road" or "street" need apply. Sorry.

Okay, that said, here's my totally top of my head Top Eight.

8. Bitchin' Camaro (The Dead Milkmen)

I'm not sure if this is as funny as the DMs thought it was at the time, but you gotta give it this -- it's got one of the longest spoken word intros in rock history.

7. Little Deuce Coupe (The Beach Boys)

Pretty much my all time favorite car song, and I love this clip, from a closed-circuit theater concert which I actually saw in a local (Jersey) cinema when it was first broadcast.

6. Last of the Steam Powered Trains (Ed Kuepper and Mark Dawson)

The original is from the Kinks' epochal Village Green album, of course, and I've always wondered why nobody ever covered it. Turns out Ed Kuepper, the lead singer of the great Australian punk band The Saints, actually did.

5. Chestnut Mare (The Byrds)

Because "A Horse With No Name" is just too stupid for words, and I couldn't find a video for Procol Harum's "A Christmas Camel" that I liked. Heh.

4. A tie!!!

Theme from Route 66 (Nelson Riddle)

George Maharis and Martin Milner come home -- all is forgiven.


Route 66 (Some asshole whose name rhymes with Sleeve Nimels)

I can't think of another rock song that's inspired so many terrific covers in so many styles -- Depeche Mode, anybody? -- but this isn't one of them. Hey -- if memory serves, there were some alcoholic beverages being consumed.

3. Rocket in My Pocket (Jimmy Lloyd)

That's Jimmy Lloyd a/k/a Jimmy Logsdon ("The Man Without a Subtitle" in Nick Tosches brilliant Unsung Heroes of Rock n Roll, still the best and funniest book about roots music ever) and what was for many years one of the rarest and in-demand rockabilly obscurities ever recorded. You might recall it from The Iron Giant soundtrack, of course.

2. My White Bicycle (Tomorrow)

Brilliant Summer of Love psychedelic pop, even if the guitarist is the pre-Yes Steve Howe.

And the number one transportation-themed song, it's not even a contest so don't bug me, is --

1. Trains and Boats and Planes (Fountains of Wayne)

For obvious reasons, of course, not the least of which it's just so gorgeously mournful. Yeah, yeah, I realize the Dionne Warwick version is pretty much the peak product of her Bachrach/David collaboration, but a lot of the covers out there are really good. And I think FOW pretty much nailed it, no?

Awrighty then -- what would your choices be?

And have a great weekend, everybody!!!!

Thursday, March 07, 2024

Closed for Monkey Business: Special "Primary Exhaustion" Edition

Sorry -- Super Tuesday just wiped me out.

Barring the unforseen, regular posting -- and hopefully a Weekend listomania or some such -- resumes on the morrow.

Wednesday, March 06, 2024

Great Lost Singles of the (We Think) '80s (An Occasional Series): Special "This is the Big One, Elizabeth!!!" Edition

Okay, hold on to your seats, kids, and please enjoy should-be-a-household-word Richard Orange and his absolutely drop-dead astounding guitar-driven power pop masterpiece "Hole in My Heart."

Words fail me.

So where is that from? And why haven't you heard it before?

The short version: As attentive readers will recall, two weeks ago I had very nice things to say about the cover version done by Cyndi Lauper, which plays over the end credits of her underrated film debut (with Jeff Goldblum and Peter Falk) in the 1988 sci-fi rom-com Vibes.

So anyway, a certain Shady Dame and I watched the flick, and when the song came on I wondered a) why it hadn't been a bigger hit and b) and more important, who wrote it? So I looked it up, and when I found that Lauper wasn't the author, I figured I should track down the original, if there was one. Hey -- never let it be said I don't do the heavy lifting for those of you reading this here blog.

Result:I found the above vid on YouTube, and it blew my tiny mind. Great lost singles of the 80s? Hell, I'd nominate that for THE great lost single of all time, period. I mean, if I was still in a band, I'd want to play stuff that sounded just like that, at the drop of a hat anywhere, and I'd do it for free. I mean, my god -- those layered inter-weaving jangly guitars (there's a 12-string in there, of course), that propulsive and melodic McCartney-esque bass, those killer drums (the production of which is astounding), and the out-of-this-world and hilarious lyrical conceit. And have I mentioned the beyond perfect lead vocal and harmonies? It's like the record of my dreams.

In any case, I still don't know exactly when that was made, or anything about its auteur, other than that he seems to have been active since the 70s, to little or no notice beyond the royalty checks he presumably still gets from streams of the movie. He does, however, have a Facebook page, and after today's post goes up, I plan to go over there and act like the most obnoxious fanboy imaginable.

Hey -- he deserves no less. I'll keep you posted as things develop.

Tuesday, March 05, 2024

The Blog By Numbers: Special "Senior Citizens Rule!" 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. Keith Sings Lou

I think we can agree that this is a song he was born to cover. I'm curious, however -- can you still score a bag of H for twenty-six dollars? Asking for a friend.

2. I Hate This Guy

This good looking sonofabitch turned 80(!) on Saturday. Words fail me.

3. Why Didn't I Get the Memo About This?

Joe Walsh(!) covers the Shirelles(!!). I had no idea this existed until our friend Sal Nunziato at Burning Wood mentioned it over the weekend. Pretty damn good, no?

4. I Really Liked His Solo Work

Harrison Ford, get it? Come to think of it, I could almost see George playing the part.

5. It Seems Like Only Yesterday

Ah COVID, we barely knew ye.

Monday, March 04, 2024

It Came From the Outer Boros (An Occasional Series): Special "Domestic Bliss" Edition

From just last week, please enjoy pride-of-Brooklyn pop/punk youngsters Wifey and their infectious and hilarious debut single "Mary Ann Leaves the Band."

I gotta say, I haven't heard anything quite as cool as as that since the glory days of Fountains of Wayne (who, you will not be surprised to learn, Wifey proudly claims as an influence). Meanwhile, in case you can't make them out amidst the glorious clatter of the jangly guitars and stuff, here are some representative lyrics...

It's mostly men in the marching band/ And not one girl's half as cute

As Mary Ann at her music stand/ My God, that girl knew how to handle a flute

Told her my name at the football game/ And once again when we played the state fair

But ever since she met Johnny K/ Well her priorities have been elsewhere

Mary Ann finds herself a man and then the band starts falling apart

Mary Ann finds herself a man and then the band starts falling apart

Now here she is, skipping practices/ The kids in woodwind are all licking their wounds

I sit alone with my saxophone/ But Mr S won't let me play the blues

The music school don't feel as cool/ The other girls are relieved

But since you quit, we play like shit/ I'm jumping ship for the chess team

Oh Mary Ann, I beg of thee/ I'm pining for you as we plod through Yankee Doodle Dandy

This Becky girl can't play your parts as skillfully as you/ Her breath control is spotty, and I heard that she eats glue

Sure Johnny's got a car, and his sleeve tattoos are cool/ But don't you think it's kind of weird he hangs around the high school?

He's 32 years old and he still lives with his mom/ Pretty sure it's illegal for him to come to the prom

And let me just say, and for the record, that reading the above was the most fun I've had with my clothes on so far this year.

Meanwhile , these kids...

...describe themselves thusly (and be prepared -- this is without question the greatest band promo bio in rock history).

Wifey is a Brooklyn power-pop band formed by Teddy Grey and Carly Kerr, two hot dorks who prove that the theater-kid to punk-rocker pipeline is still claiming innocent victims. After working together on an R-rated Garfield musical (don’t ask), the two bonded over a mutual love of bubblegrunge, emo, and DIY, and began crafting the catchiest songs ever written. They were soon joined in marriage by Mickey Blurr on lead guitar, and Chris Canieso on drums, and the rest is history. The honeymoon phase never has to end with Wifey, thanks to their earworm hooks, enticingly questionable lyrics, and lovely harmonies that could only come from the happiest of marriages. Matrimony never looked so good.

Debut EP “Just A Tease,” (alternate title: “Future Classics”) is the first taste of their ear-candy. Mixed and mastered by Billy Mannino (oso oso, Ben Quad, saturdays at your place), “Just A Tease” features five songs that will remain lodged in your head forever, whether you like it or not. In a scene revolving around confessional songwriting and baring your soul, Wifey has the decency to be tasteless, and are deep enough to be shallow. The hole for loud, dumb pop songs is wide open and Wifey is more than happy to fill it.

With hooky tunes revolving around timeless subjects such as getting drunk, girls whose names end in Anne, and the addictive substance known only as “Candysauce,” Wifey is a power-pop band with real power. Influenced heavily by the melodic punks that came before them (Lemonheads, Green Day, Joyce Manor) and embodying the “Don’t bore us, get to the chorus” ethos, Wifey’s songs are as exciting as a sugar rush, and only slightly less hazardous to your health.

Hey -- they had me at "the theater-kid to punk-rocker pipeline." Absolutely priceless. Anyway, I can't wait to hear more of their stuff -- like that aforementioned EP promised for later this year? C'mon guys, get with it!!!

Bottom line: Wifey is my new favorite band, and I'll keep you posted on what's going on with them as things develop.

Friday, March 01, 2024

Weekend Listomania: Special "Bad Taste is Timeless" Edition

[I first ran a version of this one back in 2009 -- yeah, yeah, I know, that blows my mind too -- but when I stumbled across it for the first time in ages the other day, it struck me as pretty funny and worthy of revival, so here we are. As is my wont, I've added an entry and done some rewriting, just so you don't think I'm a complete slacker asshole. -- S.S.]

Post-Elvis Group, Solo Artist or Song You've Taken the Most Snark For Liking From Folks Over the Years!!!

Self-explanatory, obviously, and no arbitrary rules whatsoever, you're welcome very much. Basically, if anybody's ever looked at you with an alarmed raised eyebrow when you noted that, oh, Filth by The Swans was the record you'd most like to have played at your memorial service, then this category is for you.

And my totally top of my head Top Five is:

5. The Ohio Express -- Yummy, Yummy, Yummy

Bubblegum crap, right? Blah blah blah. Turn in your Rock Writers of the World union card, Simels, you're embarrassing us.

Fuck that shit. I've said it before and I'll say it again -- if you turn off the goofy vocals on the left channel, and just listen to the instrumental stuff on the right, what you'll hear is as tough a rock instrumental track as anybody has ever made. I'm talking Rolling Stones or Velvet Underground tough here.

4. The Beach Boys

Not so much these days, of course, given that it's now generally conceded by all who walk upright that Brian Wilson is a genius, the Gershwin of his generation, but the Beach Boys have gone in and out of fashion so many times over the last 60(!) years that it's hard to keep track. Back in the hippie days, however -- particularly after the whole debacle of Smile -- the attitude in the counter-culture was that you had to be a hopelessly bourgeois square to take them seriously (in this country, at least; the Brits knew better). In any case, at that point being a Beach Boys fan was essentially the Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name, and I don't mean Mike.

3. The Guess Who

Seriously, back in the 70s, I can't tell you how often I would mention my fondness for these guys, only to notice that the people I was talking to were moving away, ever so slowly but firmly, from where I sat.

The clip above -- a medley called "Hi, Rockers!" -- is my favorite of several true gems from the band's masterpiece album. The transition from the hilarious beer-soaked barroom meeting of the minds that opens it into the seraphically lovely clavinet-driven "Heaven Only Moved Once" and finally the witty mutant rockabilly revenge number "Don't You Want Me" -- complete with faux Jordanaires harmony vocals -- is, frankly, a marvel to behold, and from where I sit one of the very greatest moments in 70s rock. I'm not kidding about this!!!

2. Procol Harum

These guys, although there's still a perception out there that they were one-hit wonders (hah!), actually get a fair amount of respect now -- it's amazing how often I run into people who turn out to be closet fans. So I'm mostly including them here because the luminous NYMary, annotating a piece I'd written about the band in the early 70s for reprint in these precincts, couldn't resist taking a shot at "A Whiter Shade of Pale" (bless her heart). I think the phrase she used was "Dodgiest lyrics ever..."

Naturally enough, then, the clip above is "Repent Walpurgis," a lyric-less instrumental that remains one of my all-time fave Procol numbers. It's a live version, featuring the classic five piece original lineup with Robin Trower and Matthew Fischer (the latter four decades away from settling his authorship suit over AWSOP) at the Fillmore West on April 11, 1969. How do you say "awesomely magnificent" in Yiddish?

And the numero uno artiste(s) or song for whom my enthusiasm has gotten me shunned from time to time is obviously --

1. The Four Seasons -- Marlena

The Four Seasons, despite (or perhaps because of) their metamorphosis into the inspiration for a world-wide hit Broadway/film musical phenomenon, remain somewhat less than hep in certain rock critic circles. I, of course, have said on numerous occasions (including here, if memory serves) that their great run of hits -- spanning the period between "Sherry" in 1962 through, say, "I've Got You Under My Skin" five years later -- comprise the purest pop confections in the history of the genre (the grittier class conscious romanticism of "Dawn" and "Rag Doll," and those songs' influence on Bruce Springsteen, is, of course, a subject for another day).

In any case, my advocacy of "Marlena" (which I think is their most profoundly silly accomplishment, and that's meant as a compliment) has gotten me into trouble on a couple of occasions, most notably sometime in the late 70s, when I -- along with twenty or thirty other folks, mostly writers and musicians -- was asked to make a list of our Five All-Time Favorite Songs by New York City rock colossus WNEW-FM (the station then played everybody's lists over the course of an entire day). I don't remember all five songs I picked -- one was The Who's "Glow Girl" -- but I did nominate "Marlena," and I recall that after the deejay ID'd it as one of my choices, I got at least three frantic phone calls from erstwhile friends questioning my sanity. Okay, I exaggerate just a tad, but you get the idea.

In any case, I think history has vindicated my assessment.

Incidentally, the audio clip of "Marlena" above is the original mono single mix, which I was able to find only after great personal effort and considerable financial expense. This is important because most currently available Four Seasons comps have the song in stereo, and as Pete Townshend famously said about The Who's "I Can See For Miles," the mono mix of "Marlena" makes the stereo version sound like The Carpenters.

Alrighty then -- what would YOUR choices be?

And have a great weekend, everybody!!!