Monday, April 23, 2018

Cover Versions I Haven't Made Up My Mind About: An Occasional Series

From 2008, please enjoy the great Lindsey Buckingham and his version of The Rolling Stones' anthemic "The Singer Not the Song."



This was originally recorded for Buckingham's Gift of Screws solo album, but didn't surface untill a bootleg version of the album appeared years later. In any case, I hadn't heard it until last week, and I still haven't decided if the song works at such a glacial tempo.

That said, I relistened to the Stones original recently, which I dearly loved (actually sang it in a band back in the '70s), and it suddenly struck me as an unholy mess.

Funny, that.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Weekend Listomania: Special Song Crushes Edition

[The original version of this went up back in 2008, which totally floors me for any number of reasons. However, I have mostly rewritten it, and added two new entries, to keep you guys from thinking I'm the slacker I obviously am. Please enjoy. -- S.S.]
Okay, kids -- it's Weekend Listomania Time. Today's theme:

Post-Elvis Album/Album Track/Song/Single You Discovered Long After the Fact and Immediately Wondered How You had Lived Without It!!!

No arbitrary rules of any kind, you're welcome very much.

And my totally top of my head Top Seven is...

7. The Grateful Dead -- Box of Rain



It's no secret that I'm not remotely a Deadhead; they were my least favorite San Francisco band back in the day, and I have never much liked any of their albums with the exception of Working Man's Dead and American Beauty, neither of which I ever owned. (Caveat: I love Garcia's bluegrass stuff; if you haven't seen Grateful Dawg you're really missing something.) That said, about six months ago, for whatever reason, I sat down under the headphones with this song and pretty much lost it. How fricking gorgeous.

6. Sonic's Rendezvous Band -- City Slang



SRB, of course, being a sort of Detroit supergroup featuring ex MC5 guitarist Fred Smith and several other worthies. I'd heard of the single, which came out in 1978, for years, but didn't get around to listening to it until when I first wrote this post. Needless to say, the damn thing is pretty much hard rock at its most intense, and god only knows what I was waiting for.

5. Los Shakers -- Always You



The Beatles of Uruguay, and every bit as good as anything by their role models, IMHO. I got hipped to this one courtesy of a long time reader, and I have to say -- of all the great songs I've discovered since NYMary gave me the spare set of keys to this place, this is the one that means the most to me.

4. You Am I -- Mr. Milk



First heard this one (which dates from 1996) sometime around 2003, over the sound system at NYCD, the late lamented (and still the coolest in history) indie record store on Manhattan's upper West Side run by our pal Sal Nunziato. How the best Australian band since The Easybeats had previously gotten by me remains a mystery that may never be solved.

3. Sam Cooke -- Night Beat



It sounds, deliberately, like a late night blues/soul/gospel jam session at a small smoke-filled club, and it's probably the greatest pop music album of the last sixty years that most people still don't know about. Cooke cut it for his own label in 1963 and it went out of print pretty much immediately; the American CD reissue from 2001 (which is when I first heard it) got pulled due to legal wrangling (love that Allen Klein) almost as quickly. But you can still find copies on Amazon; thank you Jeff Bezos.

2. The Cat's Meow -- La La Lu.



Found this 1966 garage rock gem (which definitely should have been a radio hit) courtesy of a reader back in the day; apparently, it was fairly well known in Nuggets circles, but I'd never run across it previously. In any case, a simply wonderful piece of Revolver-ish bubblegum punk.

And the Number One great song I can't live without that I hadn't heard before I wrote this piece -- it's not even remotely a contest -- absolutely has to be...

1. The Weepies -- Gotta Have You



So approximately eleven years ago, I found myself falling in love with a certain Shady Dame, and it was happening to the soundtrack of a Weepies song, which was running in a TV commercial at the time, called "All That I Want." I was later hipped to another Weepies song that I dearly love, called "Nobody Knows Me at All." But for some reason, I was never moved to research more of their stuff. And then yesterday somebody sent me a link to "Gotta Have You," which is about the most gorgeous and ineffably touching thing I've ever heard in my life. Seriously -- these guys are now The Beatles, as far as I'm concerned. And Deb Talan is the single greatest girl singer in the history of pop music.

Alrighty, then -- what would your choices be?

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Local Boy Makes Good

Scotch Plains, N.J has just named a street in honor of the late great Pat DiNzio, homeboy and leader of The Smithereens.


I have been smiling from ear to ear since I heard the news.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Beauty May Be Skin Deep, But Ugly is to the Bone

Okay, I know this portrait of Jared the K has absolutely nothing to do with the mission statement of this here blog, but if you haven't seen it, you need to.


And yes, this was painted by Jim Carrey, who turns out to be one of the greatest caricaturists alive. Google his rendering of a certain Fox News shithead as a manatee; it'll make your day.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Bright Lights....

The story so far: Marc Platt used to front one of my favorite lost bands of the 80s, L.A.'s The Real Impossibles (seen here...ohmigod...with Martha freaking Quinn)...



...whose music was a canny mix of power pop, garage and New Wave energy; I usually compare them to the Plimsouls and Peter Case, which I do not think is overblown at all. Bottom line: They were a killer band and they should have been household words.

Cut to 2018, and Marc is still making great music. To wit: His just released solo album...


...which is in more or less the same style as his previous work, although a little rawer and more garage...


...and in this case including three really fabulous covers -- a dark, menacing take on The Stones' "The Last Time," a spooky stomp through Elvis Costello's "You Belong to Me," and a straight-ahead version of The Flamin' Groovies' "I Can't Hide" that may rock harder the original.

Have I mentioned that Marc has thoughtfully included a bunch of his new songs that are instantly addictive?

To wit, the sort of folk-rockish "High Road"...



...and the moody jangle-fest "Feelin' the Heat."



Plus lots more, and the whole thing adds up to one of the best albums of the year so far. You can (and very definitely should) order it Amazon over HERE.

I thank you.

Friday, April 13, 2018

My Friday Moment of Words Fail Me

Fabulous singer/songwriter Jenn Bostic, out of the great goodness of her heart, does a killer cover of The Floor Models' "Excuses Excuses."



I had no idea this was in the works, and when I first heard it last week I will confess I was reduced to a puddle of tears. I only wish my late great bandmate Andy Pasternack (who wrote it) had lived to hear Jenn's version, but I think he's smiling about it in heaven. And thank you for doing it, Jenn, from the bottom of my rapidly aging rock-and-roll heart.

BTW, there's a backstory to all this, involving longtime reader/friend of PowerPop Phil Cheese and my abject failure to write about Jenn's CD Faithful...


...after he kindly sent an autographed copy of it to me a while back. But let's not get into my myriad moral failings.

In any case, here's a track from said CD, and if it doesn't make you grin from ear to ear, consult your physician.



You can (and should) buy Faithful over at Amazon HERE. Jenn's new album, which comes out in May, can (and should) be pre-ordered, also from Amazon, OVER HERE.

And may I say once more -- thank you, Jenn.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Annals of Post-Hippie Revisionism

From 2009, please enjoy Top Loader's totally infectious modernization of the venerable "Dancing in the Moonlight."



I gotta say, I've always liked this song, but neither of the more familiar versions -- the 1972 Top 40 hit by King Harvest...



...or the 1969 original FM staple by Boffalongo...



...completely did it for me.

The Top Loader remake, however (which I hadn't heard till yesterday, courtesy of a Pandora channel at my local watering hole), kinda knocks my socks off. Despite the fact that they're pasty-faced Brits who used to open for Coldplay.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Headlines For Stories in Today's New York Times That Did Not Motivate Me to Read Further: An Occasional Series

From World's Most Irksome Rock Critic© Jon Caramanica:

Cardi B Is a New Rap Celebrity Loyal to Rap’s Old Rules on ‘Invasion of Privacy’

Cardi B? Seriously? Hey, I saw her the other week on SNL...



...and she's got, as Peter Blegvad famously said of Madonna, at best a teaspoon of talent. And her music is about as interesting as watching paint dry.

If you want to read the piece, here's the link. If you do, however, and if we meet in the future, I will be loathe to shake your hand.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Wails From the Crypt: An Occasional Series

Okay, here's the greatest archaeological excavation since Heinrich Schlieman unearthed the city of Troy.

From approximately 1988, at Kenny's Castaways in fabled Greenwich Village, please enjoy The Souvenirs -- aka Gerry Devine and the Hi-Beams aka The Floor Models 2.0 -- covering The Left Banke's great "She May Call You Up Tonight."



That's from a previously presumed lost VHS tape featuring our entire opening set, and at some point I'm gonna post some more from it, including a blistering cover of Paul Revere and the Raiders' "Him or Me (What's It Gonna Be?)."

And yes, that's some asshole whose name rhymes with Sleeve Nimels on keyboards.

[h/t Brian Smith]

Monday, April 09, 2018

A Different Miami Sound Machine. No, Seriously -- a REALLY Different Miami Sound Machine.

Okay, ladies and germs, please enjoy a terrific song -- "Two in Love" -- by fabulous Miami power pop band The Tomboys.



And why do I bring this up?

Well, if you're not remembering who these guys are, here's what I wrote about them last year:

The story so far: Last week I got an e-mail from a band -- called, as you may have now guessed, 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.

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.

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 their 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.)

You can find out more about these guys, and download their new EP...


...for free, at their website HERE. As well you should, since the whole thing is every bit as good as the single

Have I mentioned that it's things like this that really make me dig my phony baloney job?

Seriously -- these guys are obviously great, so go over to their fan page and give them some love. And tell 'em PowerPop sent you.



Friday, April 06, 2018

Annals of Steve's Bucket List: An Occasional Series

So a certain Shady Dame of my acquaintance just scored fantastic tickets for the latest incarnation of Ringo's All-Star Band at Radio City.

And guess who's one of the guys in the band.



If he does "Bus Stop" I can die happy.

Have a great weekend, everybody.

Thursday, April 05, 2018

The Machine Stops


Actually, computer trouble.

Back tomorrow with a new song by an old band you might not have heard of featuring one of the greatest living singers in the popular music field.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Annals of Critical Confusion: An Occasional Series

From 2003, please enjoy latter day folk-rock/power-pop icons The Shins and their fabulous cover of a song -- "We Will Become Silhouettes" -- by a band -- The Postal Service -- I had never heard of until the other day.



The Shins are one of those acts that, on paper at least, are designed with my mind in mind, and that I should theoretically like a lot. But in reality have always left me cold.

That track is great, however, and I'll have more to say about both bands tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Closed for Monkey Business


Slightly harried, so I'm slacking today.

Regular posting -- including a hopefully amusing rant about a certain classic song -- resumes on the morrow.

Monday, April 02, 2018

A View From the Bridge Revisited

So long time readers may recall that back in 2007(!) -- shortly after NYMary gave me the metaphorical keys to the car around here -- I chanced across a highly primitive live clip on YouTube of Brit cult figure Terry Reid doing The Kinks' "Waterloo Sunset" (which I have been known to refer to as the most beautiful song written in the English language in the second half of the 20th Century).

And that as a result I was moved to write a long and passionate essay about why I found the clip so astoundingly and deeply moving. (It was a piece I was as proud of as anything I had ever written and, to my vast relief, the comments on it at the time were nothing but favorable. But I digress.)

I've reposted it on a couple of instances subsequently, but you can find it in its initial appearance over here, including a still working link to the video in question. I think both the video and my essay hold up, but obviously I'm prejudiced.

In any case, as I said, the video itself -- which was shot on an obsolete format called MiniDVD, in live-from-the-audience mono sound -- was technically primitive, but as I argued in the essay, it was emotionally devastating despite all that, or perhaps partly because of all that. Nonetheless, I was later able to get in touch with various people who had been there when it was shot, including the band's drummer, and I have subsequently lived in hope that a better quality version of the performance might surface someday.

Long story short, that's not gonna happen, for a variety of reasons.

But now there's this -- a fabulous (albeit not quite as unexpected and surprising) performance of the song by the same folks at the same LA club in vastly superior quality. Although still shot by somebody in the audience, this time with (I presume) a cell phone camera (it's actually stereo, though).



Bottom line: It's fucking great and I can now die happy. Enjoy.

Have I mentioned that when Reid goes into doo-wop falsetto as the song rides out that I swoon?

[h/t MJConroy]