Friday, February 28, 2014

Welcome to My Nightmare Mid-Life Crisis

You have may have heard that Bruce Springsteen -- who, to be fair, has always fronted the best cover band in rock history -- has been playing some, shall we say, unexpected songs by other people on his current Australian tour.

Ladies and germs, please enjoy The Boss and Eddie fricking Vedder in the land Down Under doing "Highway to Hell" last week.

And if you don't find that confounding, wait till you see the song I'm gonna post on Monday.

I should add that this was taped in Melbourne. Let's just hope they gave Miss Fisher...

...a backstage pass.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

It's Been a Good Day So Far -- Why Should I Tempt Fate?

To my knowledge, no musician or pop culture figure whose work I admire and enjoy has died today. So I'm taking the rest of Thursday off.

We'll take our chances together with something new on Friday.

Also -- somebody asked about that Remains documentary I mentioned yesterday. Here's the trailer.

I can't seem to find a download site for the whole thing, so if you want to watch the rest -- and believe me, the film behooves beholding -- you're gonna have to buy a bootleg copy somewhere, as the official DVD seems no longer to be available.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Chip Damiani 1945 -- 2014

Oh hell -- I just learned that Damiani, the drummer of garage punk gods The Remains died unexpectedly last Sunday.

Here he is, kicking major ass in 1966, on my favorite track from the band's legendary live in the studio album.

And if you don't know who the Remains are, go watch this fabulous documentary about them. The title says it all: America's Lost Band.

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

P.S.: I forgot to mention this -- possibly because it still sort of blows (heh) my mind -- but it is worth noting that Remains keyboardist Bill Briggs III (the band's preppy heartthrob) is the brother of legendary first generation porn star Marilyn Chambers.

Hey -- they don't call rock-and-roll the Devil's music for nothing.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Harold Ramis 1944-2014

I keep saying this, but je repete: This death shit is really beginning to piss me off.

Seriously -- if Egon Spengler can die, why should the rest of us even bother?

"I collect spores, molds and fungus."

I should add that Ramis' Groundhog Day is one of the greatest American comedies of all time. And one of the sweetest -- the protagonist (Bill Murray, never better) is a horrible SOB who is ultimately redeemed by love.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Your Monday Moment of Words Fail Me: Special Gentlemen, Start Your Air Guitars! Edition

So the other day over at YouTube I chanced across part 1 of a series of video guitar tutorials that original Beach Boys' guitarist David Marks had done at the band's old stomping grounds -- Hawthorne High School. (The whole series is highly recommended, BTW -- entertaining, informative, and if you're a novice guitarist, a terrific teaching tool. But I digress.)

In any case, the big revelation of the video for yours truly was Marks' claim that the Beach Boys stole most of their original guitar sound from a song heretofore unknown to me.

To wit -- this 1958 single by the great Duane Eddy.

Which, as you can hear, they clearly did. (Incidentally, that track also appears on Duane's debut album of the same year -- Have 'Twangy' Guitar, Will Travel. Apart from everything else, 1958 was apparently the Golden Age of Album Titles.)

But later that same day, I stumbled across the real mindblower -- an equally unknown to me collaboration between Duane and The Ventures on an instrumental version of Bobby Fuller's classic "I Fought the Law"...

...which, IMHO, has guitar textures that wouldn't have been out of place on albums by Television.

Seriously, the stuff going on during the song's first bridge might as well be a late night jam session between Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd. Okay, not quite that good, but pretty close and quite beautiful.

Have I mentioned that the intertubes are a truly wondrous thing?

BTW, I have no idea whether that track is some kind of a one-off or whether Duane and the Ventures ever did an entire album together; if anybody can enlighten me on this, I'll be their best friend.

Friday, February 21, 2014

I Think We All Know the Feeling

Went to see Bryan Cranston as Lyndon Johnson on Broadway last night -- great show, and highly recommended if only for Michael McKean's unbelievably creepy performance as J. Edgar Hoover -- but it ran much longer than I expected, I got home late, and completely forgot that I had nothing to post for Friday.

In that spirit, then, enjoy one last little bit by the late great Maggie Estep.

Regular and better planned posting will resume on Monday.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Great Composers Borrow, Mediocre Composers Steal: An Occasional Series -- Special We're Trying to Suck Up to a Special Someone So We're Recycling This From 2009 Edition

So...from Dave Edmunds' Rockfield Studios in gorgeous Monmouth, Wales, please enjoy the equally gorgeous "It's Too Late," a true power pop classic you might not have heard from The Searchers' fabulous eponymous 1979 comeback album.

And when you're done, take a moment to check out "If I Ever Get Another Chance," from the 1995 album illustrated below (featuring a bass player whose name rhymes with Sleeve Nimels)

Sounds like the same song to me -- can't imagine how that happened.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Vinyl is a Cult. Sorry.

I'm not gonna go into a long harangue about this -- and I certainly wouldn't mention that I used to toil at a stereo magazine or that I've actually been to recording sessions where they did A & B comparisons between digital and analog feeds.

But the other day I mentioned a certain Sha Na Na album...

...that hadn't been transferred to CD until very recently. And that I had a vinyl rip of it that was done from a pristine, never played LP copy by a highly regarded engineer.

Here's the aforementioned LP version of the concluding track...

...and here's the new CD transfer from the master tape.

If you tell me the vinyl version is better on any level I will mock you mercilessly.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Snowed In

Okay, I'm getting sick of this.

But too bummed out by the weather to post today.

Regular un-bummed posting returns tomorrow.

Monday, February 17, 2014

A Doo-Wop President's Day!

From 1972, and their vastly underrated -- no kidding, it's a brilliant pop record -- The Night is Still Young LP...

...please enjoy Sha Na Na and their poignant ode to politics in your their own self-interest "The Vote Song."

(Subtitle: "Vote for Me.")

Produced by the legendary Jeff Barry, and written by SNN keyboard guy "Screamin'" Scott Simon.

The album wasn't on CD until last year; I have a very clean vinyl rip which I'll be happy to share, if anybody's interested, but I think I may just head over to Amazon and order the damn thing.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Two Takes on the Same Theme

The late great Maggie Estep.

And The Rolling Stones.

As good as the Stones song is, it lacks that "I'm doing circus tricks with forks."

BTW, I'm not sure why Estep's death -- she died on Sunday at the ridiculously young age of 50 -- has hit me so hard.

But it has. Damn.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Joni of the Cows


In August of 1966, Joni Mitchell recorded several songs for a Canadian television series called Mon Pays, Mes Chansons. After the music was recorded in the studio (with David Rea backing her on the second guitar), Mitchell was filmed lip-syncing in color against the mind-boggling natural beauty of Canada, the show being a part of a musical salute to the Canadian Centennial of Confederation.

This isn’t the earliest TV footage that exists of Joni Mitchell, but it’s surely the earliest footage of her performing that’s in color.

I know some people simply can't abide Mitchell, but I'm a fan. The clip, however, notwithstanding its historical value, is kind of unintentionally funny.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Maggie Estep 1963-2014

Okay, this death shit is really starting to piss me off.

I had a poster of the cover from Estep's 1994 album No More Mister Nice Girl...

...on the wall of my office at The Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Review for years; I was vastly taken with her from pretty much the moment I heard the first word on the record.

And yes, I was obviously aware that she wasn't technically my type, if you know what I mean and I think you do, but I just didn't care.

God, she was cool. From New Jersey too, as I just learned over at Wiki.

In any case, she died of complications of a heart attack last Sunday. RIP, you fabulous emotional idiot.

Your Wednesday Moment of Words Fail Me: Special I Got This Ukelele and I Learned How to Make It Talk Edition

From 2010, please enjoy in breathless wonder Philadelphia-based power pop singer/songwriter/guitarist and stone musical genius Jim Boggia with the most jaw-dropping performance of Bruce Springsteen's "Thunder Road" ever witnessed by sentient mammalian bipeds.

I don't even know where to begin about just how brilliant this guy is. But I would be remiss if I didn't append this more recent performance -- from last Friday's Mad Dogs and Dominos show... the Highline in NYC -- of him dueting on "Bell Bottom Blues."

Let's just say that when Boggia hit the stage for the first time, I turned to a certain Shady Dame and anoounced that I really, REALLY, want that suit he's wearing.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

One Joke Over the Line™

So an old bandmate of mine -- who must remain nameless, for obvious reasons -- has for many years (when not supporting himself in what we refer to as the rock-and-roll field) been quite literally phoning it in under the nom de comedy The Long Distance Comedian.

Here he is, circa 1990, on a show with a talk radio host in Florida, with what I think is one of his funniest appearances.

Lewd Yids on the Dock.

Words fail me.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Your Monday Moment of Words Fail Me: Special THIS is How It's Done Edition

Solomon Burke's "Cry to Me" (written by the late great Bert Burns).

As performed last Friday night at the Mad Dogs and Dominos show at the Highline Ballroom in New York City.

Guess how old the woman singing it is?

P.S: I was seated directly in front of the area of the stage where Lulu was performing. Fortunately, a certain Shady Dame was able to physically restrain me, or else the back of my head would have been visible in the clip throughout.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

My Two Cents (Special Beatlemania Edition)

If you claim not to have enjoyed that Beatles 50th anniversary thing on the Orthicon tube just now, you're just being difficult.

PS: Dave Grohl (and to a lesser extent Jeff Lynne)... a living saint.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Misery (Special Beatles Anniversary Weekend Edition)

Now it can be told -- on Sunday, February 9, 1964, I was the only teenager in America who DIDN'T see The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show.

The short version: I was sick as a dog, running a 102 degree temperature, and my parents forbade me from leaving my bed. I did get to hear the show, as my bedroom was down the hall from the TV in our den, but still.

It is perhaps an amusing irony of history that George was apparently sick as I was on that evening, but at the time it wasn't much of a consolation.

Have a great weekend and we'll talk again on Monday.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Thursday Essay Question: Special An Ill Wind That Blows Nobody Good Edition

All late '60s/early '70s horn bands -- with the single exception of the original Blood Sweat and Tears with Al Kooper -- suck big time.


I should add that the above song -- which popped into my head, completely unbidden, yesterday -- is what inspired today's post.

God, that song sucks.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Notes From a Winter Fricking Wonderland

Too depressed by all this white crap to post today.

Back tomorrow, presuming the power lines haven't come down.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Thank God John Sebastian Never Hung Out With Mia Farrow

From 1965, please try not to enjoy the Lovin Spoonful and "Younger Girl." You obvious pedophile.

For what it's worth, I should add that I actually thought this song was a tad creepy back in the day. Not as creepy as that creepy Gary Puckett and the Union Gap thing...

...but that one I hated just because it was a bad song.

I should add that while I totally don't believe John Sebastian ever abused anybody, I make no such claim for anybody even remotely associated with The Critters...

...who actually had the hit.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Meaningless Songs in Very High Voices

You know, as I said last week, on the occasion of seeing Barry Gibb perform a wonderful medley of Everly Brothers classics with Jimmy Fallon -- my respect for Gibb has been going through the roof of late. To my considerable astonishment, I might add.

That said, and just to prove to you that I haven't gone totally squishy, the aforementioned respect for Gibb does not as yet prevent me from presenting this hilarious live parody of the Bee Gees from Swedish TV in 1982.

I posted this clip several years ago, but until recently thought it had disappeared from YouTube. In any case, if you've never seen it before, I think you'll have to admit its right on the money. Those immoveable scarves are a particularly nice touch.

I should add that The Hee Bee Gee Bees -- who were in fact fellow Australians -- made three (count 'em three) full length albums, which is a pretty good run for a novelty act.

The first (from whence the song above derives) was the incomparable...

...and the last was the even funnier (IMHO)...

None of them seem to be on CD at the moment, but perhaps some antipodean PowerPop reader can enlighten us otherwise?

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Two Minutes Hate: Phish

So, my spouse has become obsessed with a show called Comedy Bang Bang, which, I admit, has its moments, but not really enough of those moments to warrant the 24/7 attention he pays it: we watch and rewatch episodes (or did, until they were mercifully but temporarily pulled from Netflix streaming), listen to podcasts in the car, and explore all of the side projects and spin-offs the show is related to, including Mr. Show and Upright Citizens Brigade.  Again, I'm not hating on them, but I'm not necessarily interested in living in an all-Comedy-Bang-Bang-and-related-programs world.  (Though Paul F. Tompkin's Andrew Lloyd Weber is piss-fucking-funny.)

Last weekend, as we were caught in a snow- and puke-fueled nine-hour nightmare of a drive, we listened to the entirety of one of these, a CBB spin-off podcast called Analyze Phish, in which writer and comedian Harris Wittels (Sarah Silverman [steve's secret girlfriend!  --ed.] Program, Parks and Recreation) tries to convince CBB host Scott Aukerman that Phish is the greatest band in the world.

This blog usually a pretty hate-free zone: we love what we love, and if you don't that's okay. But the whole premise of this show was that is Wittels could only discover what bothers Aukerman about Phish, what music he does like that could possibly relate to Phish, he could make Aukerman love the band. I long ago gave up trying to convert people to my music; I'm content to find like-minded souls and let everyone else be. But Wittels is on a mission, and he good-humoredly soldiers on through hours and hours of this stuff.

SPOILER: He fails spectacularly.

For several episodes (or maybe one really long one?), he plays samples of their music, and the only Phish Aukerman really likes is when they're cover other people's songs. (Ouch!) In another episode, other Phish-heads (is that their moniker?) call in and harangue Aukerman for his lack of vision (because if he'd only listen to this jam from the Cleveland Civic Center on July 13, 1997, and skip to 13 minutes and 40 seconds into the song, he'd feel it, man!): you can tell even Wittels hates these guys a little bit, and he agrees with them! (There are, of course, no girls.) Eventually, Wittels and Aukerman get spectacularly wasted and go to a show.  It's fun, because, you know, it's a show, but the music is not what makes it fun.

I have always been agnostic about jam bands: nine hours of Analyze Phish made me hate them.

And that is the end of my Two-Minute Hate.  Have a nice weekend!