Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Eve Day Essay Question

If you don't like the following four singles written (and sometimes sung) by the often maligned (by hepsters) Neil Diamond...

...you don't like rock 'n' roll as a form.


Monday, December 30, 2013

Now THIS is More Like It!!!!

And speaking as we were of The Hollies last week, please behold in breathless wonder said band, with Graham Nash in 1967, running through their magisterial "On a Carousel" at Abbey Road Studios.

Words mostly fail me, but I should mention three things in particular.

For starters, a big thank you to guitarist Tony Hicks for letting us see exactly how he plays the song's great signature riff, including that little harmonic at the very end.

For another, if Bobby Elliott wasn't one of the coolest drummers of the British Invasion, than I'm Marie of Rumania

And finally, don't turn off the clip at the song's conclusion, or you'll miss about 30 seconds of the group a capella that will make the hair on the back of your neck stand completely erect.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Four Well Respected Men

The original Kinks -- featuring the great Pete Quaife on bass -- on French TV in 1965.

Interesting on all sorts of levels, and I never knew they covered "Bye Bye Johnny."

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Total Victory is Ours, Comrades!!!

The Hollies on TV in Croatia, some time in 1968.

Three things immediately come to mind.

1. It is actually possible that The Hollies were staying at the same hotel as Mel Brooks, who was filming The Twelve Chairs in Yugoslavia at approximately the same time.

2. The Hollies probably had nothing to do after the show because Tito had the car.

3. This performance, although musically impeccable, is really kind of embarrassing. I mean, I had no idea that The Hollies were so totally a cabaret act at this point. No wonder Graham Nash was so hot to jump ship to Crosby Stills and Nash.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Your Christmas Day Moment of Oh Steve, You Sentimental Old Fluff, You!

Six years ago this week, "All That I Want" -- the preposterously touching Christmas song by The Weepies you can hear below -- was all over TV as part of an ad campaign for something or other.

And, coincidentally and utterly surprisingly, I found myself falling desperately in love with a certain Shady Dame at the same time.

With that song as the soundtrack.

Up on the roof tops
The full moon dips its golden spoon
I wait on clip clops
Deer might fly
Why not? I met you

I am pleased to report that here in late 2013 the song -- especially that quoted bit -- still makes me cry.

And, even more unlikely (and luckily), that I'm still desperately in love.

And that the aforementioned Shady Dame is still putting up with my bullshit.

Here's hoping all of you guys are as blessed.

And have a great Holiday season.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Your Christmas Eve Moment of Words Fail Me!

Eddie Vedder on Jeanne Tripplehorn:

"She has this incredible ability to sing any Rolling Stones song as Julie Andrews."

And a Merry Christmas to all our long-suffering faithful readers and friends!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Classic Rock From an Alternate Reality: An Occasional Series

In case you missed my post a week or two ago -- about the WSJ 70th birthday interview with Keith Richards -- here's an mp3 of the song that's the big revelation in the article: The original version of The Stones "Street Fighting Man."

With totally different non-political lyrics and some interesting differences in the mix (that's Dave Mason on that weird Indian oboe you can hear if you listen hard enough.)

It's still great, and I'm sure it would have sounded equally good on Beggar's Banquet as the more familiar version, but obviously Mick and Keith and the gang were absolutely right to revise it. Incidentally, according to Keith, he came up with the line "What can a poor boy do?" and Mick took that and ran with it.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Okay, My Absolute Last Post About the Hall of Fame Nominations. Seriously. No Kidding. Not Another Word After Today.

Sorry, but this just pissed me off.

The odious little Golem...

...whose more or less daily droolings about pop and rock I took exception to LAST WEEK has just weighed in on the Hall of Fame nominations thusly:

""No questionables like Patti Smith, everyone is deserving and it’s about time."

Patti Smith questionable? The same Patti Smith who among other things smashed the gender gap in rock for all time? The Mother of Us All? That Patti Smith?

To which I can only respond -- go fuck yourself, fella.

And request that everybody who reads this post go click on the YouTube below...

...and dedicate Patti's delivery of the line "We don't need that fucking shit" to you, Bob.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

More Proof, As If Any Was Needed, That John Lennon Was Right: God Actually IS a Concept By Which We Measure Our Pain

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees got announced yesterday. KISS is in, but the most unique band of the British Invasion, i.e. The Zombies...

...got hosed agaim.

You know, I don't have a problem with the HOF basically, but there are some bands that deserve to be in it. And there are some bands that deserve to be in it before some other bands.

If The Zombies aren't one of them, then I'm Marie of Rumania.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Geezer Rock Rules

Taking a day off...

...to work on guitar parts for tomorrow's recording session with my high school garage band chums. They're not IN high school, of course; we met back then.

Anyway, you get the idea. Normal posting resumes on Wednesday.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Your Monday Moment of Words Fail Me

Christopher Lee has a heavy metal Xmas single out.

Yes, THAT Christopher Lee.

If this isn't a sign of the End Times, I don't know what is.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Weekend Listomania's Greatest Hits: Special And In Conclusion, National Rifle Association -- Bite Me! Edition

[Still too woefully busy and over-extended to do any lengthy new writing for a while -- sorry, RXH -- but in the meantime given the recent anniversary of the horror at Newtown, I thought it would be relevant to re-up this posting from 2010. It's been slightly edited for content and there's a new selection in there as well. -- S.S.]


Self-explanatory, so no arbitrary rules, but by firearms I mean the obvious, i.e. handguns, rifles, etc. In other words, if you try to sneak in something like Bruce Cockburns' otherwise quite splendid "If I Had a Rocket Launcher" I'll make merciless fun of you.

And my totally top of my head Top Nine is:

9. Terry Reid -- Bang Bang

Written by Sonny fricking Bono, and covered here to within an inch of its "my baby shot me down" life. Reid, of course, is the man who passed on Robert Plant's gig in Led Zeppelin, thus altering history in unfathomable ways. A certain Shady Dame and I were privileged to see Reid in a tiny club a few months ago, BTW, and it was in a word transplendent.

8. The Connells -- Get a Gun

From 1990 and a long-time fave of mine. Utterly gorgeous on every level, I think, but to this day I haven't the slightest idea what it's about. These guys are apparently still a going concern, however, and if I ever run into them maybe I'll ask.

7. Warren Zevon -- Jeannie Needs a Shooter

Thought I was gonna say "Lawyers, Guns and Money," didn't you?

6. Mission of Burma -- That's When I Reach for My Revolver

Yeah, it's a great song. Still, and I forgot who said it, but there comes a time in everybody's life when they look at their CD collection and realize that those three Mission of Burma albums are basically just taking up space.

5. Hackamore Brick -- Zip Gun Woman

From the 1971 cult album. These guys are supposed to be some kind of proto-something -- punk, powerpop, I don't know what -- and people I know whose opinions I respect actually like the record. All I know is, I pull it out once every year or two to see if it makes sense to me yet, and it never does.

4. Webb Wilder -- The Devil's Right Hand

Written by Steve Earle, natch, and still the best anti-gun song ever. From Wilder's brilliant 1986 debut album, and recorded live obviously.

3. Bruce Springsteen -- Held Up Without a Gun

The Boss Goes Punk, and (at a breathless 1:22 seconds) just a total pleasure. This is the studio version from The River sessions, which has never been on legit CD to my knowledge.

2. The Sevens -- Seven

Apocalyptic garage rock from the Rolling Stones of Switzerland. Actual gun shots -- a starter pistol, actually -- fired in real time in the studio, courtesy of producer Giorgio Moroder (in his pre-disco days, obviously).

And the Numero Uno ode to the joys of blowing stuff up real good simply has to be...

1. The Guess Who -- Guns, Guns, Guns

This is one of the Guess Who tracks I usually pull out when people make fun of my obsession with the band. I'd actually forgotten it was a single; I mostly think of it as one of the best cuts from Rockin', the 1972 LP that's not only their masterpiece but one of the most unjustly overlooked albums of its decade. The song itself is sui generis; slash-and-burn guitars, a chorus for the ages, and a lyric -- at a historical moment when corporate greedheads are trying to convince us that fracking is good for you and the NRA and their Supreme Court enablers won't rest until every American can walk into a bar carrying a Stinger missile -- that's obviously depressingly prescient.

Alrighty, then -- what would your choices be?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Hell is Other People

Superchunk, from their new album I Hate Music, and "Void." Heh.

This is simultaneously one of the funniest and one of the most depressing things I've ever seen. Especially the fat guy crying in the bathroom.

And, of course, "It's like a punk rock Chuck E. Cheese."

[h/t Kid Charlemagne]

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Your Wednesday Moment of Words Fail Me

Okay, he's not Otis Spann, but what the hey -- he's pretty funky for a pachyderm.

Ladies and gentlemen -- please enjoy Peter the Elephant.

I'm reminded of a great New Yorker cartoon from a few years ago; a bunch of bears are walking out of a movie theater that's showing a film called The Salmon, and one of the bears says "Gee, I didn't realize they had feelings too."

[h/t Gregory Fleeman]

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Well the Weather Outside is Frightful...

...and my schedule today is NOT delightful.

Let it snow, blah blah blah. I have to go to the city to talk to my opthamologist.

Have I mentioned blah blah blah?

Monday, December 09, 2013

A Date Which Will Live in Infamy! Oh Wait -- Actually Not.

Had to postpone today's scheduled Richard X. Heyman album review for a day or two -- way to busy at the moment to actually write something longer than a paragraph, alas.

But in the meantime, as a belated, heartfelt, and possibly in bad taste tribute to last Saturday's historical anniversary (December 7th, you'll recall) please enjoy Pearl Harbor...

...and the Explosions, live on August 24, 1979 in Oakland California, with their Nuevo Wavo classic "You've Got It (Release It)."

Don't think I ever saw these guys live, but this single was one of my all-time faves from what was a very good year for same. Holds up rather nicely, I think.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Previews of Coming Attractions

Long time and attentive readers are perhaps aware that pretty much the first thing I ever posted at this here blog was a rave review of an album by...

...Richard X. Heyman. Back in May of 2007, if you can believe.

Jeebus, where has the time gone?

Anyway, I pretty much said it was a masterpiece, a judgement I still stand behind.

The short version: Richard has a brand new album out...

...which I've just listened to, and I think it's at least as good.

A more eloquent response to it will be here on Monday. Wang Chung till then.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

A Foggy Day...

...not in London, but here in the Paris of the Tri-State Metropolitan Area.

Seriously, here in Hackensack you can't see the hand in front of your face. Weird!

UPDATE: Somewhere in my nabe, an hour ago.

As you can see, it's as thick as sea poop.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

And the 2013 Lou O'Neill Jr. Memorial Award for the Most Irksome and/or Preposterous Writer About Pop and Rock Goes to...

...this homunculus.

Better known as Bob Lefsetz.

In case you haven't been playing the home game, Lefsetz has been an annoying philistine know-it-all for several eons now; he formerly peddled his wares via a subscriber-supported website (who paid to read the stuff is something I do not even want to imagine) but of late his oeuvre has been available on the intertubes, for free, to anybody with a modem and no fear of having their IQ lowered by exposure to it.

I bring all this up because last Friday the proprietor of this here blog commented on Facebook about Lefsetz' latest series of annoying declarative sentences posing as a think piece, calling it -- and I paraphrase but only slightly -- "possibly his most assholish post ever." When the proffered link to the piece didn't work, I asked her what it was about, and she replied -- and again I paraphrase but even less slightly -- "talent doesn't matter and everybody should be like Rihanna."

In any event, I read the thing eventually -- you can find it here if you're strong of stomach -- and as it turned out I concurred: It really WAS his most assholish post ever.

Now, to be fair, the larger point (if that phrase is actually applicable) he was trying to make -- that the record companies are in business to make money, that their idea of quality is simply what they believe will sell, and that artistic content is consequently irrelevant to their business plan -- is inarguable.

On the other hand, if you read the whole piece, it's quite clear that Lefsetz actually approves of this state of affairs. And it occurred to me that some guy whose name rhymes with Sleeve Nimels had said something similar, in the pages of The Magazine Formerly Known as STEREO REVIEW somewhat earlier...

Anyway, that's all an extremely roundabout way of getting to my real worry, which is, simply put, that because the vast sums of money to be made in the record business today have raised the corporate stakes so precipitously that no future performer who is not on some level a clone of an already established star is ever going to get a chance in front of the public again.

...by which I mean in June of 1990.

In other words, Bob -- no shit, Sherlock. How long did you ponder before coming up with that bit of blinding insight?

Oh and Bob -- congrats are in order for your win; that is some truly memorable wanking and I'm proud to bring it a wider audience. Heh.

Although I must admit that my pal Dave Lifton over at Pop Dose does a much funnier number on you than I ever could. Seriously, I'm not worthy.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Another Day in Paradise

Having computer trouble. Blech.

Back tomorrow, assuming we get our issues resolved.

If we do, I should add, tomorrow's post will be a doozy.

Monday, December 02, 2013

When Black Monday Comes

In the spirit of the recent holiday shopping mania just concluded (and, also, as a tribute to the beloved CRASS COMMERCIALSIM segments over at Eschaton), allow me to simply mention again that Floor Your Love --

-- the superb newly re-mastered and redesigned CD by The Floor Models (featuring a bass player whose name rhymes with Sleeve Nimels) can be ordered over at the website of ZERO HOUR RECORDS over HERE.

To paraphrase the old Mad magazine: $9.95, cheap.

Needless to say, they make lovely Christmas presents.

And because I love you all more than food, here's a bonus track that didn't make the cut but which I'm inordinately fond of anyway. (I posted it here a while back, but in case you missed it..)

The song is "Fade Into Grey," a different studio take of which appears on our album. This version was recorded semi-live at WBAI-FM circa 1983; ace 12-string player Andy Pasternack edited out a dramatic, sort of Police-like middle section that worked better on stage and replaced it with sitar samples from The Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows," thus giving the tune a delightfully cheesy faux psychedelic feel.

As I said, I'm inordinately fond of this one, albeit now with a layer of bittersweet; Andy e-mailed me the MP3 of this in May, which was the last time I heard from him before his unexpected and tragic death in September.

In any case, go buy a copy of the CD in his honor. How's THAT for crass commercialism?