Thursday, October 31, 2013

Le Grand Retournement!

Finally back from (the real) Paris, and once again safely ensconced in our ancestral home in the Paris of the Tri-State Metropolitan Area, aka beautiful downtown Hackensack, NJ.

Regular blogging will resume after a day of sleep and jet-lag decompression.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Farewell to the City of Lights!

Off to the airport and thence to the Land of American Exceptionalism (USA! USA! USA!!!!).

But until our return, I leave you with this disturbing image, as seen in the Paris Metro station earlier this week.

I mean, Jeebus -- the fricking Nazis occupied the fricking place. Haven't the Frenchies suffered enough?

Travel Notes, Odds 'n' Ends and Other Stuff

Getting ready to head back to the USA -- where, as you know, and as Chuck Berry informed us, the hamburgers sizzle on the open grills night and day -- so, given the rigors of international flight and the inevitable decompression upon our jet lagged arrival, posting will probably be fitful until Friday.

In the meantime, let me simply say and for the record that although Bruges is on balance NOT, as Colin Farrell observed in the magisterial In Bruges, a fuckin' hellhole, it IS one weird wacky town. As evidence, I give you the following photos taken by moi during our weekend there.

This painting, in an apartment window, was the first thing we saw on arrival

And of course, this. Because nothing says 15th century Cathedral town like a nose ring.

Also, in Floor Models news, our Australian mogul over at Zero Hour Records has posted two songs from Floor Your Love on YouTube. Please enjoy the sublimely Beatles/Buddy Holly/Byrds pastiche that is "Spin Cycle"....

...and then what we used to refer to as a dark psychedelic song in e-minor, AKA "Fade Into Grey."

And a final programming note, which completely floors me (no pun intended): A total stranger in Sweden will be playing one of our songs on the radio tonight.

"Tomorrows "Ice Cream Man Power Pop and More" show on Radio Andra brings you musical delights from: The Singles. The Stairs, The Movements, RAF, Robby Allen and The Kite Collectors, Glenn Robinson, The Zags, Phenomenal Cat, The Early Hours, The Sadies, The Barry Holdship Four, The Chords, The Brigadier, Exploding Hearts, The Frowning Clouds and The Floor Models.

Listen in online at 7pm CET here."

Ain't that a kick in the pants?

Monday, October 28, 2013

His Life Was Changed By Rock 'n' Roll: Lou Reed 1942 -- 2013

I am deeply saddened by Lou's death, and I will have more to say about him -- including a great me and Lou story (hey, who doesn't have one?) -- upon my return from the land of the Ignoble Frog.

But in the meantime, I gotta say -- I've always loved "Your Love," the 1962 single in which he did business as Lewis Reed and tried to market himself as the next...well, I'm not sure who, actually. Some teenage idol, I suppose.

Hard to believe that the same guy who made the first Velvet Underground LP four or five years later -- probably the most avant-garde album ever released by a major pop music record label -- was already a seasoned Brill Building type music biz hustler before he was even out of high school.

I should also add that the old reprobate actually outlived Lester Bangs by more than two decades. And who the hell saw THAT coming?

Friday, October 25, 2013

Friday Essay Question (Special "Live From Paris!" Edition): Can the French Rock?

From 1979, please enjoy -- if that is at all possible, given the Ignoble Frog's perennial problem as suggested in the question above -- the charmingly monikered first generation French punk band The Stinky Toys...

...and their equally charming "Birthday Party."

I know what you're thinking -- who knew there even was a first generation French punk band? Well, in point of fact, these kids actually shared bills with the likes of The Clash, The Damned, The Buzzcocks and even, yes, The Sex Pistols. They never made much of an impact in the States, unfortunately; back in the day I actually bought an import copy of the album this is from strictly because I thought their name was just hilariously representative of what a bunch of Frenchies would think was cool and punk.

Incidentally, adorable ST lead singer Elli Medeiros went on to star in a host of flicks since the late 70s, including, most recently, Pablo Trapero's powerful 2008 Argentine slice of prison life Leonera. After that, or so Wiki informs me, the rest is silence.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

L'Enfer Arrivez a la Ville des Grenouilles

Touched down in the land of the Ignoble Frog safe and sound this morning.

Some sort of possibly Gallic themed posting resumes tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

We'll Always Have Paris

Well, a certain Shady Dame and I are off for our sixth annual sojourn in the land of the Ignoble Frog.

As a result, posting will be fitful and oddly Gallic for the next couple of days.

In the meantime, while we endure the cramped trans-Atlantic flight and the horrible traffic on the way to our bohemian hotel, please enjoy our also annual presentation of the Denny Laine (non-cosmic) edition of The Moody Blues and their oh so sad and beautiful Parisian-themed ballad "Boulevard de La Madeleine."

It's a sad day in Paris
With no girl by my side
Got to feeling so badly
Like a part of me died
It would have been
So good to see her
I never thought
She wouldn't be there
There's no girl standing there
And there's no one who cares
And the trees are so bare
On the Boulevard de la Madeleine

Ah. What can I say after that except -- 'allo, sailor!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Your Tuesday Moment of Words Fail Me: Special THIS is Brit Pop! Edition

From German television in 1967, please enjoy the original five piece lineup of The Move...

...with astounding performances of "Walk Upon the Water," "I Can Hear the Grass Grow" and "Night of Fear."

I think I may have posted this here six or seven years ago, but it had apparently vanished from YouTube for a while, so when I stumbled across it the other day I figured it was time to re-up.

About the band, I can only say a) it's a major cultural crime that these guys never played in America (or got any airplay) at this point in their history and b) they're fucking fantastic. The only group of the day I can think of with this much raw talent and a front line with four strong voices was Moby Grape.

On the other hand, watching lead singer Carl Wayne's stage shtick, with the benefit of hindsight, it's not really a surprise he nudged, briefly and disastrously, the band onto the cabaret circuit or that he eventually wound up doing musical theater and more or less disavowing his rock career.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Your Monday Moment of Words Fail Me: Special Maximum R&B Edition

From 1964, please enjoy The High Numbers... at the Railway Hotel, performing The Miracles "I Gotta Dance to Keep From Crying.'

These guys later changed their name to something else, if memory serves. Have no idea what happened to them, of course.

[h/t LG]

Friday, October 18, 2013

Slacker Friday (Special Advertisements for Myself Edition)

Getting ready to head off to the land of the ignoble Frog next week, so innocuous blogging till then.

In the meantime, from our department of ME ME ME!!! department, here's a shot of the Boys Don't Lie mafia -- the proprietress of this here blog, Moira McCormick and ME ME ME!!! -- at Tuesday's book reading in darkest Hepsterland (actually The West bar in Williamsburg.)

And it's finally happened; the deluxe reissue edition of Floor Your Love, featuring ME ME ME!!! on bass, has finally been released. Here's the revised front and back covers. I still haven't seen the new inside art, by the way, and it's driving me crazy.

In any event, you can, and should, order the darn thing over at the website of ZERO HOUR RECORDS in Australia. Have I mentioned that Zero Hour is the world's greatest record label?

Thank you.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Total Destruction to Your Mind.

So I was reading a profile in last week's Sunday New York Times magazine of Nicolas Jaar, a young techno-dance music auteur who apparently today's kids think is just the bees knees, when the following passage sort of jumped out and bit me on the nose.

When Nicolas Jaar was 17, he e-mailed a piece of electronic music, which he made on his laptop, to a record label in Brooklyn. He’d heard an interview with the owner of the label, Wolf + Lamb, who was going on about house music and “elasticity.” Jaar felt he knew exactly what the guy was talking about. Wolf + Lamb agreed to put out Jaar’s first E.P. and invited him to perform at a somewhat sketchy space called the Marcy Hotel in Williamsburg. At the time, Jaar was a senior at the Lycée Français on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

So on the evening before the last day of school, he went to his family’s apartment in SoHo, changed out of his school uniform, took the subway to Brooklyn and played a set that ran strongly against the grain of the techno of the time. Back then, Jaar says, everything D.J.’s were playing was 128 beats per minute. The stuff he was doing was almost half that speed, with improvised piano haunting the tracks. And it really resonated with the crowd at the Marcy, which happened to be quite high. “Everybody was on ketamine,” Jaar recalls. “They all kept coming up to me and telling me how amazing my music was.”

You know, that techno-dance stuff is not my cup of tea, but I have no doubt its as valid as any other genre, and I had every intention of checking the kid's stuff out when I started reading the piece.

That said, I've come to the conclusion I really don't need to listen any music that sounds particularly good when you're on horse tranquilizers.

Thank you.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Review: Boys Don't Lie

After a super-fun reading last night, I woke this morning to find that Terrence Flamm at Broken-Hearted Toy had posted his 2-part review of Boys Don't Lie.

Part I

Part II

Some highlights:

It’s a safe bet that most Shoes fans are pretty much familiar with how the Zion, Illinois-based band overcame the inept policies of their major label and became legendary pop stars who started and ended up with their own record company. Boys Don’t Lie: A History Of Shoes, written by Mary E. Donnelly with Moira McCormick, fleshes out that story via extensive research and interviews with the band members, music biz insiders, and people from the media. 


Anyone unfamiliar with the story of Shoes would probably assume while reading Donnelly’s account of the band working with producer Richard Dashut of Fleetwood Mac fame in Los Angeles, that a major commercial breakthrough was imminent. But Tongue Twister proved to be more heartbreaking for Shoes than its predecessor. Once again, Elecktra’s decisions, particularly refusing to bankroll rock videos for songs fromTongue Twister even though MTV was urgently requesting them, seemed hard to fathom.


Boys Don’t Lie: A History Of Shoes is bound to please not only Shoes fans but also anyone with an interest in what Joni Mitchell once called, “the star maker machinery behind the popular song.”   

Thanks, Terry!

The Greatest Composer Nobody's Ever Heard Of?

[Editor's Note: This, obviously, has absolutely nothing to do with the mission statement of this blog, for which I beg your indulgence. However, it IS about a subject I've wanted to write about somewhere at some time for ages, but it wasn't until I actually heard some of the music for the first time -- last week -- that I felt the time was right. Also, for reasons I needn't get into, it pisses off a certain Sparky. I thank you. -- S.S.]


I got interested in this guy 40 years ago, at the Magazine Formerly Known as STEREO REVIEW, when I chanced across his entry while browsing the office copy of Grove's. Alas, I had never heard any of his music -- none of which as far as I can determine has ever been commercially recorded -- until last week, when I discovered an 11 minute excerpt from one of his oratorios apparently recorded live, somewhere, by who knows who...

...and assuming it is, actually, what it's attributed to be, I must say it has a certain Gothic austerity and atmosphere that I find compelling, although obviously it's too brief an excerpt to really make an informed judgement on the guy's oeuvre.

However, it really doesn't matter whether Raimondi's stuff is major or merely contrapuntal wallpaper, because he attempted something so wonderfully grand and/or meshugenah he deserves respect no matter what. That aforementioned oratorio was the second of a cycle of three, which were designed to be played sequentially, in three nights, and than SIMULTANEOUSLY ON THE FOURTH. This was actually done in 1852 (apparently the only time) and the audience reaction on the fourth night was apparently tumultuous , with the composer -- who conducted -- fainting dead away from excitement.

This is a folie a une all but unprecedented in the history of Western art; the only thing I can think of to compare to, for its sheer outsized audacity and scale, is D.W. Griffith attempting to create a film fugue with Intolerance.

And if I was a rich person, I would stage performances of the Raimondi oratorios with the best musicians money could buy, and record the whole thing in Dolby 5.1. for both CD and video.

My god, can you imagine what a glorious noise this would be...

UPDATE: Turns out that second Oratorio is available on a 2009 CD that I've just ordered over at Amazon HERE. I'm dying of curiosity.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Boys Don't Lie: Live in Williamsburg!

OK, NYC scenesters, here we come.

Tomorrow night, at The West, a coffee shop/liquor bar in Williamsburg, Mary & Moira and yes, Steve Simels will be in the house with Boys Don't Lie: A History of Shoes.

We had a run the other day in Boston, and we expect things to be pretty tight: an hour or so of reading (commencing at about 7pm), maybe a half an hour Q&A, and then selling & signing (we have plenty of books with us).

It's the Metropolitan exit off the BQE!  It's where the L & G intersect!  It's where you want to be!

See you tomorrow night!

Your Monday Moment of Words Fail Me

From 1997, please enjoy Jason Falkner, a gentlemen whose work I have somehow managed to miss heretofore, with a jaw-droppingly great power pop version of Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now."

I am informed that this is from an Australian b-side, and that it differs from the version on Falkner's 2001 Everyone Says It's On album. Whatever its provenance, however, it's just a brilliant performance -- the way each verse builds in intensity over the previous one, and those harmonies. Wow. You can hear "Both Sides Now," at last, as nature intended -- as a classic pop/rock song, finally stripped of any vestige of kitsch hippie sentimentality or artsy-fartsiness. (Yes, I'm looking at you, Judy Collins. And I like Judy Collins, but still).

In any case, our good pal Sal Nunziato from BURNING WOOD passed this along to me last week, and I am forever in his debt. Sal says it's pretty much his favorite cover version of anything ever; I won't go quite that far, but it's certainly now my favorite Joni Mitchell cover of all time (the previous champ in that regard, BTW, was a tie between The Byrds' "For Free" and Nazareth's "This Flight Tonight.")

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Babes in Beantown!

Hey all you citizens of  Red Sox Nation!

I and my co-author Moira McCormick, will be reading Boys Don't Lie: A History of Shoes at the seminal rock club Middle East in Cambridge tomorrow (October 13) at 3pm in the Corner. (We've obviously been naughty; dunce caps optional.)

- - - - -   Your Humble Narrator

                                       The exotically lovely Moira McCormick - - - - -

We'll be reading a little, answering your questions, and signing copies of our book.  There's some sort of sporting event in the evening, I am given to understand, but we'll get you out in plenty of time for the big game.

Come hang out with the gang for a relaxing Sunday afternoon!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Searching for a Decent Backup Group

Saw Rodriguez at Radio City Music Hall last night and was not disappointed. The guy is a little frail at 71, but he has charisma to burn -- he ambled on stage wearing a long black leather coat, shades and a top hat, looking for all the world like a sort of zen version of Slash crossed with Cousin Itt...

...and he's a terrific interpretive singer to boot; high points of the show, for me anyway, were absolutely gorgeous covers of "Fever," "I Only Have Eyes for You"(!) and "Love Me or Leave Me"(!!).

However, unlike his performance on Letterman earlier this year...

...his stage band sucked on ice. Really. Not enough to sink the show, but close.

In any event, the songs from his two albums were still riveting, and Rodriguez himself -- which you already know if you've seen Searching for Sugarman -- is a very funny guy, in a wryly ironic way; at one point he told us that he "wanted to be treated like an ordinary legend."

I should also add that during the aforementioned covers, it finally dawned on me who the guy most reminds me of.

It is, of course...

...the incomparable Chris Montez. Their voices aren't all that similar, but the phrasing is.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

My New Favorite Band in the World (An Occasional Series)

From Albany, NY, please enjoy power pop weisenheimers The Charlie Watts Riots' fabulous new video for their fabulous new song "Bottom."

From their fabulous new album A Break in the Weather. Which can -- and most definitely should -- be downloaded over at Amazon HERE

Seriously, when I first heard their name I practically plotzed. What a pleasure that their music lives up to it. I mean, to paraphrase what Jack Nicholson famously said of Bob Dylan -- these guys are a riot.

I should also add that I think you'll detect a salutary Cheap Trick influence on the band, both musically and sartorially. I'm also rather tickled by the homage to the Palmer Girls toward the end of the clip.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Okay, Yes, It's Television Week: How Disarming!!!

The astoundingly great Television and "Venus de Milo" live in Brazil in 2005.

It is one of the great regrets of my life that I have never seen these guys perform.

Well, actually, I saw an early CBGBs gig when Richard Hell was in the band, and boy did they suck.

But the incarnation of the band in the clip above is beyond transplendent.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Oh Hell, Let's Just Make It Television Week

The band in question, on Jools Holland's program, in 1992, doing "In World" (probably my favorite song from their reunion album of the same year).

I hadn't seen this clip before, but it's very hard to watch it without concluding that these guys may have been the greatest live rock band ever. Jeebus, what a sound and what a groove.

Monday, October 07, 2013

The Intertubes Are Truly a Wondrous Thing (An Occasional Series): Special Sing Along With Television Edition

Splendid singer/songwriter/guitarist and dear old chum from the Floor Models Greenwich Village days Peter Spencer...

...explains it all to you.

By which I mean, of course, he shows you how to play the cool riff and chimey guitar licks that Richard Lloyd does on Television's "See No Evil."

I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy.

However, I plan to be sitting in front of the computer learning how to do this myself for a good part of next week.

Woo hoo!!!

Friday, October 04, 2013

Songs I Wish I'd Played Live in a Band (A Mini-Series): The Final Chapter -- Dream On, Pal, Like THAT Was Gonna Happen

From 1977, please enjoy Television and one of the most exciting rock records of all time, the incomparable "See No Evil."

The Floor Models absolutely loved -- nay, lurved -- Television, and we actually did a pretty good version of "Ain't That Nothing," from their second album, but "See No Evil" was the song we would have KILLED to cover. The reason we didn't is because we couldn't figure out how to play the signature riff Richard Lloyd is doing on the right channel, and frankly I've never met a guitar player who could do it, either. The rest of the song is pretty great as well, including that gorgeous Tom Verlaine solo on the left channel, and of course the whole thing just rocks like a mofo.

It was received wisdom among rock critics back in the day that Television was essentially The Grateful Dead of punk, because they, y'know, featured long guitar jams. But that was always hooey, IMHO.

With the kind of metallic guitar attack you hear on "See No Evil," the only analog that makes any sense is The Yardbirds. It's that kinetic and that great.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Songs I Wish I'd Played Live in a Band (A Mini-Series): Part Four -- Creepy Old Guy on Drums Edition!!

From 1968, it's the surprisingly underrated (and ripped-off by Jimmy Page for crissakes) Spirit and their classic single "I Got a Line On You."

Another more or less perfect record, I think; if memory serves, the Floor Models may have jammed this in rehearsal at some point, but for what ever reason we never worked it up to completion, which is a shame, as it would have gone down a storm on stage, I suspect.

In any event, I've dug the song since the album it was featured on -- The Family That Plays Together -- arrived for me to steal it from my college radio station. I particularly love the guitar solo which -- unless my ears deceive me -- allows Randy California the rare opportunity to showcase his surf music roots.

Saw these guys at the Fillmore in 1969 -- on a bill with The Kinks and The Bonzo Dog Band (and yes, those WERE the days)-- and they were a ferociously good live band. Their secret weapon, of course, was drummer Ed Cassidy...

...a former be-bop jazz guy who was unimaginably older than the rest of the band, having been born in 1923. What an interesting cat he must have been to be able to straddle such different musical and cultural worlds so easily. Wiki informs me that he died just last year, at the ripe old age of 89, which must be some kind of a record for a rocker.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Speed Kills!

So apparently there was some sort of pop cultural phenomenon that came to an end this past Sunday.

And this ragingly beautiful Badfinger classic figured in it prominnently.

This is actually my favorite song of theirs ever, but fuck you, Vince Gilligan -- from now on whenever I hear it I'll be thinking about crystal meth.

But I kid the great Breaking Bad auteur.

Apparently downloads of this song from iTunes and elsewhere have gone through the roof since the weekend, which is fine by me, of course; I just hope the royalty checks are going to the surviving members of the band -- and the families of the late Pete Ham and Tom Evans -- rather than some crooked manager.

I should add that a certain Shady Dame and I were out to dinner a few hours before the episode aired, and the restaurant was serving a special cocktail called The Heisenberg. I was hoping it involved Cristal for obvious reasons, but apparently not.

Songs I Wish I'd Played Live in a Band (A Mini-Series): Part Three -- For What It's Worth, That Quote From "Day Tripper" is Pretty Funny

From 1966, please enjoy the incomparable Buffalo Springfield and the unfairly overlooked pop-psych gem that is "Baby Don't Scold Me."

In stereo, as nature intended.

This was on the original pressing of the Springfield's 1966 debut LP; when "For What It's Worth" went Top 10, ATCO hurriedly re-pressed the album with the hit in its place. The mp3 is from a vinyl transfer; the stereo mix, alas, has never been on CD (the version that finally surfaced on the Springfield box set a few years ago is the mono). I think the stereo is a lot more vivid, but on the other hand, having it in two-channel means you can really hear how sloppy the production is.

I'd loved the song (one of Stephen Stills' best, and kind of proto-power pop, I think) since forever, and I actually tried to interest the guys in The Floor Models in working it up fairly early on. Unfortunately, the only copy I had of it was a wobbly old cassette my friend and colleague Todd Everett had taped for me in the early 70s, the woeful sound quality of which may have been why I was ultimately unsuccessful in pitching the tune. In any case, we wound up covering "Go and Say Goodbye" instead, which was okay by me, obviously.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Songs I Wish I'd Played Live With a Band (A Mini-Series): Part Two -- Why Are There So Few Jews in the Music Business?

From 1965 -- a year that is to pop and rock singles what 1939 was to the movies -- please enjoy The Hollies and the Graham Gouldman penned classic "Look Through Any Window."

One of the first songs I suggested The Floor Models cover was The Hollies "Bus Stop," (also by Graham Gouldman), and the fact that we did it pretty well was one of the hugest thrills of my adult life (although to my chagrin, no live version of it seems to have survived). However, for years afterwards, we toyed with the idea of working up LTAW, which if truth be told I think is the better song/record.

I mean, that classic electric twelve-string riff by the vastly underrated Tony Hicks, those harmonies, and that incredible bass and drums lock on the modulation near the end (BTW, that's Hollies original five-string bass player Eric Haydock; when he departed, much of the band's instrumental fire power departed with him).

Also -- I'm a sucker for hand claps.

In any case, just a brilliant record; for me, at least, it has always seemed like the quintessential British Invasion single that wasn't by The Beatles.

I should add that the stereo version above is from the early 90s remix done for the Hollies 30th anniversary box set; if you have a stereo version that predates it, just delete it now, because it's fricking unlistenable.