Friday, March 24, 2017

Ars Gratia Pecuniae

[I first posted this piece back in 2009 -- when this blog and I were young -- but I'm reposting it now for reasons that will be obvious when you get down to the last graf. Enjoy! -- S.S.]

Sometime in late '73 or early '74, a large and mysterious package addressed to me arrived at the offices of the Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Review, with a label that said "Trademark of Quality Records," and a postmark from San Francisco, but no return address. When I opened it, I found, to my surprise, a stack of 30 or 40 LP albums. All bootlegs. Each more amazing than the next, including these two --

-- which featured cover illos by a (then unknown to me) comic book artist named William Stout.

And when I say amazing, I'm not kidding; there was Dylan stuff up the wazoo, including the Albert Hall concert, another Yardbirds package (on colored vinyl!) featuring liner notes where the bootleggers interviewed singer Keith Relf about each track in detail, Pete Townshend's home demos, tons of Stones, including the '72 Garden show in glorious off-the-board stereo and a seven-inch EP of live at the BBC r&b covers -- The Beatles fan club Christmas records, and blah blah blah.

In other words, just ridiculously great and in some cases -- a '66 acoustic Dylan set from Australia in perfect sound -- life changing stuff.

And a note: "Dear Steve -- we've been reading you and we think you might like some of this. Enjoy!"

I never found out who had sent me the package, but over the years I followed Stout's career with interest, and was perhaps inordinately pleased when he moved over into movie work; I remember in particular how tickled I was when I saw he'd done production art on the Invaders From Mars remake and the Masters of the Universe flick. (He has slightly tonier stuff to his credit, BTW; more recently he worked on Pan's Labyrinth, and cooler than that it does not get).

Anyway, the other day, while researching an obscure David Carradine movie -- The Warrior and the Sorceress -- I discovered that Stout had a writing credit on it, so with the intention of picking his brain about it and some other stuff (figuring this was as good an excuse as any to finally get in touch with him) I gave him a holler.

Turns out he's a thoroughly charming guy with a lot of (as you might imagine) interesting stories. But just before I hung up I told him about the package that had arrived at SR all those years ago, and how much I've always wanted to thank the people that sent it, whoever they were.

He laughed, and then finally said "I'll tell them."

I think there was an implied wink, but I'll probably never know.

Meanwhile, when you get a minute, go over to Bill's OFFICIAL WEB SITE, which has lots of other cool art and reminiscences, and definitely behooves beholding. You'll thank me.

UPDATE: So Tuesday, after concluding my appearance on friend of PowerPop Capt. Al's intertube radio show, the good Captain presented me with this piece of original William Stout art work.

You could have knocked me over with a feather. Needless to say, I'm having it framed toot sweet, and it will be occupying a prized place on the wall of the home of a certain Shady Dame of my acquaintance as soon as possible.

In the meantime -- have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Know What I Mean, Girls?

From 1945, please enjoy the incredible Spike Jones-- NOT the guy who made that John Malkovich movie -- and the ultimate feminist anthem "Serenade to a Jerk."

Played this on Capt. Al's radio show Tuesday and I'm now convinced it's the greatest record ever made.

I shouldn't love him, he's lazy
He sits around while I work
But when he's near me my heart sings
A serenade to a jerk

Sometimes he's stupid and hazy
Sometimes his brain doesn't hurt
Still the guy plays on my heart strings
A serenade to a jerk

Oh maybe I'm a little fool
For loving the guy the way I do,
Wonder why I'm stuck with him

Leaving him would drive me crazy
I'm sure that it wouldn't work
So I'll pour my heart out by singing
A serenade to a jerk

C'mon -- did PJ Harvey ever do anything this good? I think not.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Closed for Monkey Business

Busy day yesterday (thank you, Capt. Al).

Regular well-groomed and peppy postings resume on the morrow.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Programming Notes From All Over

Gonna be on friend of PowerPop Captain Al's intertube show over at Area 24 Radio today starting at 12pm EST.

Just click HERE and then hit the LISTEN NOW button for the latest episode of the Captain's Lost at Sea.

We'll be giving out an e-mail address throughout the show, so feel free to make requests. Or threaten us. We're pretty flexible.

In any case, a splendid time is guaranteed for all.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Charles Edward Berry 1926-2017

And this message was just received from a distant star, as reported in today's edition of TIME:


Friday, March 17, 2017

A Concept By Which We Measure Our Pain

Holy shit -- it's Robbie Fulks day again!

But seriously folks...I need to preface this song with a couple of caveats.

First of all, I have dear friends who are, in a phrase I dislike, people of faith.

That said, they do not proselytize, they do not look down on me because I'm not religious, and in all the ways that matter, they walk the walk. Unlike the pious shitheels of the Franklin Graham variety.

I'm also not arrogant enough to say that Martin Luther King or Bishop Tutu were chumps because they were devout.

That said, this song speaks for me.

A world filled with wonder, a cold, fathomless sky
A man's life so meager, he can but wonder why
He cries out to Heaven, its truth to reveal
The answer, only silence, for God isn't real

Go ask the starving millions under Stalin's cruel reign
Go ask the child with cancer who eases her pain?
Then go to your churches, if that's how you feel
But don't ask me to follow for God isn't real

He forms in his image a weak and foolish man
Speaks to him in symbols that few understand

For a life of devotion, the death blow he deals
We'd owe Him only hatred, but God isn't real

Go tell the executioner of the power he can't defy
Go tell his shackled victim of the mercy on high
Then go to your churches, go beg, pray and kneel
But don't ask me to follow for God isn't real

No, no matter how He should be, God isn't real

I should add that I'm mostly posting this because it enables me to stick a metaphorical finger in the eye of a certain smug anti-Semitic idiot I know who thinks we non-believers are the locus of evil in the modern world. So fuck him.

And have a great weekend, everybody! Good yontiff!!!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

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

The great Mark Lindsay (of Paul Revere and the Raiders) and the great Susan Cowsill (of you know who) go all Sonny and Cher on your ass.

Hadn't heard about this one until yesterday, but I think I'm gonna have to buy the CD it's from.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

It's So Crazy It Just Might Work!

I'd forgotten how funny this is.

And not beyond the realm of possibility, in point of fact.

I mean, it's no more ridiculous than paying money to see a holographic Michael Jackson.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Snowpocalypse Now -- Not!!!

The view outside a certain Shady Dame's building right now. New York City, as you can see, only got hit with 4-8 inches.

4-8 inches, of course, is more than enough for a lady, if you know what I mean, but that's a subject for another discussion.

In any case, we were so frightened of the storm yesterday that I quite forgot to get anything together for posting today; normal freshly plowed and clement musical stuff resumes tomorrow.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Baby Pictures of the Gods

The story so far: Last week I got an e-mail from a band -- called The Tomboys -- that I was unfamiliar with (which is far from an unusual occurrence around here, obviously).

And the message of which was -- hey, we're pretty cool, we think we're up your alley, and if you agree, will you write about us?

So having (as usual) far too much time on hands, I gave 'em a listen, and what do you know -- they really WERE terrific. Great early 80s retro guitar driven power pop sound, and very very accomplished; comparisons to Elvis Costello or Any Trouble would not have been inappropriate.

Here's a representative song.

I got back to them immediately and asked who they were and how long had they been doing this?

Drummer Joe Alonso promptly filled me in:

We’re from South Florida – Miami, specifically. The band formed in 1979 and had a nice run thru 1986. We were literally freshmen in high school - very young teens - when we started performing and songwriting. We finally hit the studio in 1982. We had our “moments”, locally and regionally. Several showcases and “label-auditions” later, we were right back in Miami. Power-pop, from Miami, by teenagers… it was a mix they just couldn’t wrap their heads around. Perhaps if we were from the mid-west, already in our mid-twenties, and lived out of a van – then maybe. LOL.

Well, that explained the retro sound, and given that (despite being older than those guys) I had a similar sort of story in my own musical past, I decided to sing their praises. Hence this posting.

Anyway, while getting the piece together I noticed they'd included a considerably longer bio and while reading it I was almost knocked out of my Barcalounger to learn that The Tomboys' bass player was none other than the incredibly great Raul Malo, who'd gone on to be the singer for the also incredibly great (and considerably more commercially successful) The Mavericks. A band, coincidentally, which I'd written about a few weeks earlier after chancing upon this fabulous video.

(I should add that Tomboys guitarist/vocalist Tommy Anthony also has a resume that's not too shabby; in fact, he's been a member of Santana since 2005. But enough about me.)

In any case, you can and should get a free download of their remixed and remastered vintage EP over HERE. Trust me -- you won't be sorry for making the effort.

Have I mentioned that freaking Raul Malo? I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy!!!