Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Closed for Monkey Business

Had an extremely productive -- but relatively late -- night in the studio yesterday.

Working on the rediscovered Floor Models song by our late great bandmate Andy Pasternack (which should be finished next week, at which point I'll share. It's turning out gorgeous, BTW).

Regular posting resumes on the morrow.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Your Tuesday Moment of NRBQ

I swear to god I did NOT know this was coming when I posted about the album two weeks ago.

From the Omnivore press release:

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — The New Rhythm and Blues Quintet, better known as NRBQ, formed more than 50 years ago. After playing together for a few years, the band began recording with Eddie Kramer and inked a two-record deal with Columbia Records. Their eponymous 1969 debut featured wide-ranging originals peppered with versions of songs from diverse sources, from Eddie Cochran to Sun Ra, including a co-write between the band’s Terry Adams and jazz experimentalist Carla Bley. It was, and is, a wildly original and influential release.

Crawdaddy once noted, “It was filled with first class rock & roll, but there were a number of strange and wonderful songs that indicated something was happening on a higher aesthetic plane …" John Sebastian says: “The Lovin’ Spoonful closed down about 1969 … To me, it's always as if NRBQ kind of took the ball at that point for the original American Music Band.” And AllMusic sums it up: “A tremendously important record by a furiously eclectic and always wonderful band.”

For all of its stature, it’s hard to believe that in the recording’s 49-year existence, NRBQ has never been reissued, in any format. That changes on March 16, 2018 when Omnivore Recordings will make NRBQ available once again, on CD (for the first time), Digital, and as a gatefold LP.

Combining elements of the original, with additional photos and new liner notes from Jay Berman, the package has never looked, nor sounded better.

As Berman writes in his notes: “This historic and monumental recording has been remastered, and finally authorized for re-release. This album is a great reminder that NRBQ is on a mission, one that holds steady to its original inspiration to this day. For those fans who missed it the first time around, it Hasn’t Aged A Bit.”

According to Adams: “We did this album on a 12-track recorder at the Record Plant with Eddie Kramer engineering. We didn’t believe in doing a song more than once. This was how the band sounded on the night it was recorded. A couple of days later it would’ve been a whole different record. I like what they did with this new EQ remix. It sounds like how we felt.”

Indeedy. Hey -- I've got my copy reserved. What are YOU waiting for?

Monday, January 29, 2018

I Don't Think This Was What President Malevolent Chauncey Gardiner Was Thinking About When He Dissed the Leader of North Korea

And speaking, as we were on Friday, of sci-fi themed rock -- from 1962, please enjoy The Spotnicks (aka The Shadows or The Ventures of Sweden) and "The Rocket Man," a fairly bizarre adaptation of the old Russian folk-song "Meadowland."

I forget when I discovered these guys -- sometime in the late 60s, I think, because a friend had one of their import LPs -- but I am occasionally of the opinion that they were the all-time snazziest dressers in rock.

I was also amused to learn that English drummer Jimmy Nicol -- the footnote to history who filled in for an ailing Ringo Starr for a few shows at the height of Beatlemania -- had been briefly a member of The Spotnicks at some point.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Weekend Listomania: Special Do Not Attempt to Adjust the Picture Edition

[I originally posted this listomania back in 2008, when this blog and the world were young. Just so I don't come across as a total slacker, I've rewritten some of it, added a different song in one slot, and swapped out a couple of the videos. Hopefully you'll enjoy. -- S.S.]


Sorry about the arbitrary post-Beatles thing, but otherwise we'd have to include Billy Lee Riley's "Flyin' Saucers Rock and Roll," "Purple People Eater," "Telstar," et al, and this blog already skews way too old. And speaking of arbitrary, I was going to explicitly ban the nomination of either David Bowie's "Space Oddity" or Elton John's "Rocket Man," but I figure one of you SOBs will nominate them no matter what I say, so go ahead. I will, however, taunt you mercilessly for your bad taste when you do.

Okay, here's my totally top of my head Top Eight:

8. Flight of the Conchords -- Robots

As you can see, the world is very different since the robotic uprising of the '90s.

7. Bjork -- Pluto

Let's be honest -- this broad has been in space since day one.

6. Marilyn Manson -- Mechanical Animals

Apparently, this song is about mechanical animals. Kind of Philip K. Dick-ish, I guess.

5. The Byrds -- Mr. Spaceman

A way too obvious choice, I know, but I wanted an excuse to post this video, which I had never seen before today. And yes, that's Gram Parsons pretending to be David Crosby.

4. Roky Erikson -- Creature With the Atom Brain

Why is he acting so strange? A question that may never be answered, Roky.

3. They Might Be Giants -- Particle Man

Well, it's sorta sci-fi. He's a particle -- get it?

2. King Crimson -- 21st Century Schizoid Man

This is one of those prog songs that just strike me as hilariously funny, albeit unintentionally. Fripp really was a pretentious bastard even back in the day, wasn't he?

And the number one sci-fi song, gimme a break it's not even a fricking contest so don't bug me, is

1. The Rolling Stones -- 2000 Man

A song so good even Kiss covered it.

Awrighty then -- what would your choices be?

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

And Speaking of Gorgeous...

...from 2013, and their Songs From the Basement CD...

...please enjoy The Regulars, featuring friend of PowerPop (and moi) Joseph Benoit....

...and their quite spectacularly beautiful ballad "Oceans and Waves."

I was lucky enough to do a studio session with Joe last night (for a rediscovered Floor Models song, about which more later) and I gotta tell you -- this kid is a great guitar player and sings like a bird. I should also tell you that his lovely and charming wife does a foodie blog over at Facebook, and that she won my heart forever for coining the term The Frills for our mutual neighborhood of Forest Hills.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Your Tuesday Moment of What's the Point of It All?

It's a miserable rainy day in the neighborhood.

Regular -- and less depressed -- posting resumes on the morrow.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Dr. Shithole, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

From 1950, please enjoy folksinger/marine biologist Sam Hinton and his hit recording of Vern Partlow's anti-war classic "Old Man Atom.”

This was the first non-classical record I can remember my parents owning when I was just a tadpole...

...although I have since learned that it was originally released on the much smaller ABC label and that Columbia picked it up for distribution once it started to get a little airplay. It was also rather controversial in its day; both the Hinton version and a slightly bowdlerized cover by The Sons of the Pioneers on RCA Victor were briefly banned from radio.

My favorite lyrics come at the end:

"So the moral is this, just as plain as day
That Old Man Atom is here to stay
He's gonna stick around, that's clear to see
But, ah, my dearly beloved, are we?

So listen, folks, here is my thesis:
"Peace in the world, or the world in pieces!"

At which point, some genius producer -- and this is before digital recording, mind you -- dubs in the sound of an A-bomb detonating.

That said, I bring it up because over at the leading journal of the Right a major asshole conservative pundit is saying that there's nothing to worry about, potential ICBM attack on Hawaii-wise.

As noted by the great Roy Edroso over at ALICUBLOG:

“If a Missile Alert Sounds,” headlined David French of National Review, “Prepare to Live.”

Hmm, I thought when I first saw that, some people are so jaded they need apocalypse porn to get excited; but it turns out French wants to convince readers that, despite what the nervous nellies say, they could happily survive a hail of H-bombs.

Prepare to live. As tempting as it may be, don’t spend the precious minutes between missile alert and missile impact texting family, sending tearful goodbyes on Snapchat, or attempting to reconcile old grudges. Don’t do it.

Your family will respect you more, knowing that in the final hours you didn't go all wobbly and tell them you loved them.

First, you have to understand that the odds are overwhelming that you’ll survive an initial blast. Nuclear weapons are devastating, but it’s a Hollywood myth that any individual strike will vaporize an entire American city, much less the suburbs and countryside…

Hollywood always exaggerates these things. For instance, they never show you the parts of Hiroshima that were open for business the next day.

You can read the rest of Edroso's epic stupidity smackdown over here.

In the meantime, re: French -- to paraphrase Gene Hackman in Superman, it's amazing his brain generates enough energy to peck out that drivel on his computer keyboard.

Friday, January 19, 2018

It's Music By People I Actually Know Week: Part IV -- Special The Joker is Wild Edition

From 2017 and their eponymous CD.......

...please enjoy David Achelis & 8 ACE (that's Dave in the middle, BTW)...

...and "August," one of the coolest hard-rock instrumentals I've heard in ages.

Who is this guy? In his own words:

As an independent recording engineer / producer, Dave worked with artists as diverse as Dave Brubeck, The New York Dolls, Sonny Rollins, The Misfits, Elvin Jones and Rod Stewart just to name a few out of hundreds.

Not too shabby, I would say.

I should add that although I have known David since forever, and jammed with him on numerous occasions over the years, I had no idea he had such a cool guitar sound in the studio. I should also add that he can sing all the lyrics to Marty Robbins' hit recording of "El Paso," the behearing of which once caused me to literally roll on the floor in helpless gales of laughter.

Have a great weekend, everybody.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Closed for Monkey Military Maneuvers

Fortunately, the missile alert was a false alarm.

In any case, regular posting -- in this case, of music by people I actually know personally -- will resume on the morrow.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

It's Music By People I Actually Know Week: Part III -- Special Going for Baroque Edition

From 1983, please enjoy the fabulous Floor Models -- featuring a bass player whose name rhymes with Sleeve Nimels == and their quite amazing Roger McGuinn/J.S. Bach pastiche "Enough's Enough."

That's written and sung by an old bandmate, the late great Andy Pasternack, and the video was put together by a fan in Spain, who I didn't know, out of the great goodness of his heart; he sent it to me unbidden approximately 6 years ago, which still boggles my mind.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

It's Music By People I Actually Know Week!: Part II -- Special It Came From Jersey! Edition

From last Saturday night, at the fabulous Count Basie Theater in glorious Red Bank, New Jersey -- please enjoy Robin Wilson (lead singer of the Gin Blossoms) fronting the surviving members of The Smithereens in a fabulous performance of the 'Reens breakthrough hit "Blood and Roses."

This, of course, is from the official streamed version of a concert in memory of the 'Reens great frontman/songwriter/hero of mine Pat DiNizio. Hopefully the rest of the show -- which featured performances by Marshall Crenshaw, Steve Van Zandt, and Freedy Johnston, among other worthies -- will be up on YouTube shortly. Or somewhere else officially.

I watched the whole thing at home in real time, and trust me -- it was fricking fabulous.

I should add that the guys have established a music scholarship program in memory of Pat (which I think he would have loved). And you can find out more info about it (including a link where you can contribute) over HERE.

Monday, January 15, 2018

It's Music By People I Actually Know Week!: Part I -- Special Frankenstein Meets Larry Williams Edition

From 2016, please enjoy my chum and depressingly accomplished multi-instrumentalist Frank Burrows...

...and his droll one-man band version of the venerable rock-and-roll classic "Dizzy Miss Lizzie."

Who is this guy?

In his own words:

Frank Burrows is a guitarist/singer/songwriter who has performed with Carlos Santana/ Narada Michael Walden/ Premik Russell Tubbs/ Larry Coryell/ Mellisa Manchester/ Debbie Gibson/ Dee Snider in addition to leading his own bands. Born in NYC and raised in the Bronx, his earliest musical influences were an interesting combination of pop music and 1930s and ‘40s film scores. He has composed in diverse styles, from pop/rock to jazz and classical. He has also written for television, creating songs for the animated character Moose A. Moose on the Nickelodeon/Noggin channel (renamed NickJr.). These songs have enjoyed a post broadcast popularity on YouTube, some of them generating over 3,500,000 Youtube hits.

I've said it before and I'll say it again -- I am lucky enough to have encountered some preposterously talented people over the years. But Moose A. Moose? I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy!!!

Tomorrow -- a clip from last Saturday's Pat DiZio tribute concert.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Your Friday Moment of NRBQ

And speaking as we were the other day of NRBQ's 1996 live album Tokyo...'s that astounding version of "I Want You Bad" I couldn't find on Wednesday.

First time I heard that my jaw dropped, and I still find it amazing; initially, it sounds like a sloppy shambolic mess, but if you listen carefully you realize it's actually tight as a drum. Which suggests a question -- how the hell do four human beings with instruments manage to sound so loose without actually being loose? Incredible.

Have a great weekend, everybody.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Your Thursday Moment of NRBQ

And speaking as we were yesterday of those guys -- from 1969, and their eponymous/stupdendous debut album....

...please enjoy the astoundingly great NRBQ...

...and their utterly amazing cover of Eddie Cochran's ground zero rock-and-roll classic "C'mon Everybody."

I got this album when it originally came out (courtesy of Columbia Records, who were, inexplicably, servicing the college newspaper where I was a baby rock critic) and have loved, nay lurved it ever since.

And this track, which devastated me back then, still astounds me.

Seriously, where the hell did they get that intro from? Didn't Terry Adams understand that this is just a simple three chord rock song?

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Your Wednesday Moment of Words Fail Me

So the other day, I was over at friend of PowerPop's Sal Nunziato's invaluable BURNING WOOD blog, perusing a post Sal had put up a week earlier on the subject of NRBQ, who had just torn it up in characteristic form at B.B. King's, much to Sal's delight.

I'm a fan as well (although I've never seen them live -- I would say they are now my pre-eminent bucket list band). And so I went over to YouTube to see if I could find one of my fave NRBQ tracks, the live version of "I Want You Bad," from their early '90s Tokyo CD.

To my shocked surprise, however, it wasn't there, although there were numerous other live versions (mostly shot by fans) as well as the '70s LP version that started it all. And tons of covers of it by other artists, including the Gin Blossoms and the Flamin' Groovies. None of those really measured up, IMHO, although I admit to a fondness for this kick-ass reading by country star Charlie Robison.

And then I stumbled across this clip. Play it loud and have your life changed.

Seriously, that is so amazingly great it almost hurts. And it sounds exactly like what I've wanted every band I ever played in to sound like but never did, I'll tell you that for free.

Sweet jeebus, that's gorgeous.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Gilbert and Sullivan Meet You Know Who

Oh god, words fail me.

I am the very model of a Very Stable Genius.
I have a mighty button and no problems with my penius.
I have no time for television, golf, or social media
Since my brain is way way better than the best encyclopedia.

I like to tweet the lies of racist grievances historical
When Russian ties are mentioned I deny them categorical
I do not feel the sting of words because I am avenious
I am the very model of a Very Stable Genius!

I throw the finest tantrums; I'm repetitive and furious
When CNN airs anything too screwy to be spurious
My crooked doctor tells me I'm a paragon of sanity
And if you don't believe him, you can always ask Sean Hannity...

My speeches are the best: I am the best at slurred meandering
Between extremes of bullying and sychophantic pandering:
If you're not counting Nero and forget who Mussolini is,
I never had an equal as a bigly #stable genius!

Monday, January 08, 2018

Closed for Snowbound Too Damn Cold Monkey Business

Regular, defrosted posting -- including my thoughts on How to Be a Rock Critic, the one-man show based on the life of Lester Bangs I attended last Friday -- resumes on the morrow.

Friday, January 05, 2018

Apocalypse Then

From 1981, please enjoy singer/songwriter Dan Daley...

...and his original version of one of the best written anti-war songs of the last several decades -- "Still in Saigon."

Back in my Village days, Dan and his crack roots-rock/country band were regulars at Kenny's Castaways, where yours truly and the rest of the nascent Floor Models saw him on numerous occasions. If truth be told, we were all a little intimidated by said band, given that they were all stone professionals, rather than snot-nosed dilettante New Wave poseurs like us. Dan is a very nice guy, however, and obviously extremely talented; he was doing "Saigon" for quite a while, as I recall, and it was obviously a great song. So it was not exactly a surprise to me when Charlie Daniels took it into the Top 10 in 1982.

Of course, I'll bet you dollars to donuts that Daniels voted for Trump, so fuck him. Oh well, at least "Saigon" presumably made Dan some serious coin.

Have a great weekend, everybody.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Theatrical Notes From All Over

So a certain Shady Dame and I are going to see a one man show on the life and work of the late great Lester Bangs tomorrow.

Could be a hot one. I mean, I loved the late great Phillip Seymour Hoffman, who played Lester in Cameron Crowe's wonderful Almost Famous, but he totally didn't resemble the Lester that I knew professionally. The guy in the clip above, however, does.

That said, I think Matt Groening more or less nailed him in 1986.

I mean, that illustration is so on the money it's hilarious.

UPDATE: And in case you think Groening didnt get it right...

Jeez, I can't believe I walked around in public looking like that.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Hey -- How Did This Happen? (Part Deux)

The Hounds are on YouTube!!!

As I'm fond of saying -- a Rickenbacker 12-string guitar, well played, is the most beautiful sound occurring in nature. Kudos to our old chum Tony Forte, who wrote the song and plays said Rick on it.

The album is available at Amazon and CD Baby, by the way.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Closed for Post-Holidays Rehab Monkey Business

Regular postings -- including a very powerful anti-war song by a guy I knew back in the Village days -- resume on the morrow.

Monday, January 01, 2018

Happy New Year (It Could Be Worse -- We Could Have Locusts*)

[I originally posted this little confessional back in 2013; I'm posting it again now not because I'm trying to make it a tradition or anything, but because Sam Anderson -- a very fine staff writer for the New York Times Sunday Magazine -- recounted an almost identical account two New Years ago; you should read HIS VERSION after mine, because his is much funnier. -- S.S.]

This is, as I have been wont to say here on many previous occasions, a very sad story, so please try not to laugh.

It also has a certain relevance to today, which will be revealed later in the narrative. Please be patient.

Anyway, so a few weeks ago I was in a cab heading down the West Side Highway in a snowstorm, and the driver had the radio tuned to whatever soft-rock Lite FM station they inevitably have on when they don't have WINS News Radio blasting or some guy from Queens yelling about sports.

I wasn't particularly paying attention, but suddenly some soft-rock Lite FM staple song came on, and immediately I knew three things.

1. I had definitely heard it before.

2. It was probably from the 70s or the 80s, although I couldn't rule out the possibility that it might have been more recent, and it had that whole California soft-rock vibe, which I usually detest, in spades.

3. I had no idea who the guy or the group singing it was, although I was painfully aware that when and if I found out I was gonna kick myself. Because pretty much everybody in the world, at least of a certain age, would have been able to recognize it instantly.

The truly insidious part was that there was something about the damn thing that grabbed me. Yes, the vocals had that laid-back L.A. Mr. Sensitive shtick that usually makes my gorge rise. But the tune was charming, the voicings of the harmony parts in the chorus were really quite lovely, and -- try as I might to deny it -- it was getting under my skin.

Fortunately, because of the roar of traffic, I couldn't really hear the lyrics, although one word -- "architect" -- jumped out. "Hmm," I thought. "There's a word you don't hear in a pop song everyday."

Anyway, I then went about the rest of my weekend, but I knew with an absolutely dread certainty that I was gonna break down sooner or later and look the song up on the Intertubes.

So, late on Monday, I googled "Soft Rock song with the word architect in it" and up it popped.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you...and my fingers are shaking as I type these words....Dan Fogelberg (the horror, the horror!) and his 1980 (which I had apparently put out of my mind, probably deliberately, ever since its original vogue) "Same Old Lang Syne."

Well. In case you're wondering, no -- I have no interest in revisiting the rest of Fogelberg's body of work, and yes, I still basically can't stand the whole genre he represents, but goddamn it -- this damn song works and it gets to me. Like I said, it's melodically quite charming, and now that I've actually deciphered the lyrics, it turns out that -- despite a certain smugness that kind of rankles -- they actually make a pretty good little short story.

And the record's not even a new guilty pleasure, to be honest, because I don't feel particularly guilty about liking it.

Sticks in my craw a bit, though.

As I said, this is a very sad story, so please try not to laugh.

* old Jewish expression