Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christina Perri - Distance + Lyrics on screen and in description + Guitar chords

Ela Rose Ft. David DeeJay - Lovely Words (Unofficial Music Video)

Ela Rose feat David DeeJay - I Can Feel (Official Radio Version)

Shirley Bassey, DON'T CRY OUT LOUD

Natalie Imbruglia - Shiver

"The Man You Love"- Il Divo

Akon - Beautiful ft. Colby O'Donis, Kardinal Offishall

Michael Jackson & Akon - Hold My Hand

Pitbull - Give Me Everything ft. Ne-Yo, Afrojack, Nayer

stereophonics more life in a tramps vest

Natalie Imbruglia - Torn

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Howie D - Back To Me

'Back To Me' is the debut solo album by American Pop/R&B singer-songwriter Howie D. He is a member of American boyband Backstreet Boys. The album was released on November 15, 2011 and features the singles '100' and 'Lie To Me'. I highly recommend this album, it's very danceable. Listen/Buy the album Here.

Howie D Official Website


01. 100
02. Back To Me
03. Going Going Gone
04. Lie To Me
05. Pure
06. Sleepwalking
07. Stay
08. This Is Just What I Needed
09. Dominoes
10. Over My Head
11. Shatterproof
12. Way To Your Heart

Do you want it?
Check our twitter to get it!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Review: Vegas with Randolph, Above the Blue

As the weather cools and I realize that holy-crap-fall-is-over-and-I-haven't-accomplished-a-thing, I'm looking back on what I've been listening to over the fall and see that, overwhelmingly, it's centered on 2 CDs: the breathtaking Sky Full of Holes, and Vegas with Randloph's Above the Blue.

I've obsessed about VWR here before, and all the songs mentioned here are indeed on the CD, which was released at the end of the summer.

But Above the Blue is a lot more than that: the title itself references a conscious decision to turn away from the traditional melancholy of power pop (see: Shoes, no The), and the title track is a soaring anthem, or as much of an anthem as power pop can have:

The CD is, somewhat ironically, set up like an old-school vinyl album, with a clear side 1 and side 2. Side one consists of, say, the first ten songs: "The Better Part;" "Above the Blue" (above); "Some Time to Live;" the catchy commuter love song "Supergirl;" a duet with Liverpool songstress Maxi Dunn, "The Lesser Fool;" "She Does it for Me" (the only one of these without a YouTube accompaniment; more on that below); "Summertime," which makes me want to drive around in a convertible in a beach town (something, I hasten to add, I have never done, but I imagine it feels just like this song); the totally understandable chronicle of obsession, "Marisa" (that's Marisa Tomei, for those of you playing along at home); the seasonally-appropriate, take-the-guesswork-out-of-it "Lagavulin for Christmas" (below); and the ethereal, beautiful "Tree Song," which reminds me uncannily of "India Song," and if someone could explain why, I'd be grateful. (Title? Feel? Unusual instrumentation (orchestrated by Win Oudijk)? All of the above?)

If we define the parameters of power pop as being, roughly, Big Star on one end and the Ramones on the other (and I'd claim both of them, though there's obviously a ton of debate to have on the relative positioning) then VWR really runs the gamut, with "Tree Song" on one end and "Some Time to Live" on the other. But they're not just adhering to the formula, there are some genuinely clever lyrical moves in some of these songs--the kind of "minutiae of life" Gummo mentioned last time we talked about this band--and some terrific, understated stylistic flourishes as well. (For example, you know that moment in Fountains of Wayne's "Mexican Wine," at the end of the first verse, where Chris Collingwood says, almost under his breath, "Yep"? Well, in VWR's "Supergirl," there's a similar moment when, blown away by the hot girl in the next car, left behind at a stoplight, John Ratts whispers a single, awed "Damn." I love that kind of thing.)

What I take to be side two of the CD aspires to an almost operatic scope, in the mode of--okay, I'll go there--side two of Abbey Road. They call it "Double Play," the six songs vary in length from :30 ("Alone") to 3:09 ("Even Though"), and all together tell the story of a far-from-perfect relationship and its aftermath. (One particularly vivid moment occurs in "End of the Party," where the obviously ambivalent, but stoically-trying-to-talk-himself-into-it protagonist, says "you've got something I can't deny/ you get the quarter in the cup every single time." I've been at that party; have you?) It's kind of unusual in power pop, unless you're say, Guided by Voices, in which case you just let the fragments fly. This is a little more cohesive than GBV tends to be. And though "Double Play" is not completely successful, it's ambitious and interesting, and worth a bunch of listenings.

I saw and met VWR at the beginning of this month, when they played IPO in New York. They were really tight, pulling off harmonies completely without monitors and playing a taut, intense set. Live, Brock Harris's guitar rips even more than it does on the recordings, and his liberal use of the pick-slide touches my geeky little heart. Nice guys, too.

A completely nuts-and-bolts observation: VWR seems to have really mastered the idea of using the tools of the web for marketing purposes. Note that pretty much all of the songs on Above the Blue have YouTube videos: that's what you need now, to make sure that people can link you easily. In addition, VWR have come up with an online press kit: the same set of interviews that used to be sent out with record albums in a three- or four-page flyer. Pretty nifty. Are these common? I've only seen a couple of them.

And to inaugurate the holiday season, I'll close by mentioning VWR's Christmas song, "Lagavulin for Christmas," which answers the perennial conundrum with the simplest answer possible: single-malt Scotch.

In short, Above the Blue is highly recommended. Enjoy it with your Langavulin!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Something There Is That Doesn't Love a Weekend Listomania

Hey -- it's the Thanksgiving weekend, and I pretty much had my hands full the last day or two getting a holiday dinner together for my Maternal Unit. So no Listomania today, but have no fear -- the List will return next week, all tanned, rested and ready.

But it in its stead, and given some of the current events of the last couple of weeks, please enjoy -- along with your leftover turkey and stuff -- The Call and "When the Walls Came Down."

Still the best political/protest rock record ever made, IMHO. Certainly the catchiest and the most sadly prescient, in the sense that's it's as depressingly relevant in 2011 as it was when it was recorded in 1983. And certainly the one that occasioned the most exciting video.

Well they blew the horns
And the walls came down
They'd all been warned
And the walls came down

They stood there laughing
They're not laughing anymore
The walls came down

Sanctuary fades, congregation splits
Nightly military raids, the congregation splits
It's a song of assassins, ringin' in your ears
We got terrorists thinking, playing on fears

Well they blew the horns
And the walls came down
They'd all been warned
But the walls came down

I don't think there are any Russians
And there ain't no Yanks
Just corporate criminals
Playin' with tanks
Okay, the reference to the Russians dates it a bit, but other than that....

And yes, the mad professor on keyboards is Garth Hudson.

Many Happy Returns!

We at Power Pop would like to wish a very happy birthday to John Murphy of Shoes!

Murphy was a scrawny, quiet kid with killer art skills and a massive record collection (which he shared with his younger brother) when the guy sitting next to him in sophomore English, a tall jock he didn't know named Gary Klebe, looked over his shoulder and saw the caricature he was absent-mindedly drawing of the teacher. Gary asked him if he wanted to draw pictures for a satirical high-school magazine he and some of his friends were putting together, and John agreed. Nothing came of it immediately, but when junior year began, Gary walked up to John and handed him a copy of the magazine, Lime.

The friendship between the two blossomed, and by the time they were headed to college, they'd decided to have an imaginary band. They had a name, Shoes, and they drew comics to each other fantasizing about how famous they'd be, though they didn't have instruments, let alone any idea how to play them. An idea it stayed, until Jeff, John's younger brother, bought himself a TEAC-3340S four-track recorder. He needed a band to learn how to use it, and so John and Gary buckled down and actually tried to figure out how to play for Jeff, and with him, and the three moved forward together.

Now, John and his bandmates are finishing up an
as-yet-untitled record
(link goes to their new website), due sometime next year, probably about the same time I finally get my book, Boys Don't Lie, a History of Shoes, out into the world. It's the first new Shoes music in 17 years, and they're giddy as hell about it, I can tell you that much. (No, I haven't heard anything, in case you're wondering, but I heard plenty about it.)

Over the last two years, I've logged a lot of time with John Murphy, and he's a warm, funny guy I like a lot. Warmest greetings from all of us here to him.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

And Speaking of Unsettling....

Saw Ray Davies in concert over the weekend -- a lovely show, including the stuff with the Dessoff Choir, which worked far better than I had frankly expected it to. And of course, the "and then I wrote..." format isn't really hard to take when the person who's singing the songs has the sort of back catalog that Ray has.

But here's a song of his -- from the early 80s -- that he didn't do on Sunday, and I'm kind of glad. "Art Lover."

Which is not to say that it isn't a great song -- it is. But it's either about a pedophile or a divorced dad who's being prevented from seeing the young daughter he adores by a horrid ex-wife, which is to say that it's kind of heartbreaking and kind of creepy at the same time. In fact, its deliberately calibrated ambiguity is probably even more fine-tuned than Henry James' The Turn of the Screw and Ray's own "Lola" combined.

It's also infernally catchy, with -- given the aforementioned thematic ambiguity -- an emphasis on the infernally.

Monday, November 21, 2011

And Speaking of Gorgeous....

From 1968 and German television, please enjoy Procol Harum's original classic lineup with the quite astonishing "Quite Rightly So."

This is by far the best video clip I've ever seen of the original 5-piece PH, and I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say they're actually playing live, given the differences between Gary Brooker's vocals and Robin Trower's guitar from the album track (although if memory serves, the single version was a little different, and perhaps they're lip-synching to that). In any case, this is exactly what PH sounded like in concert.

I've taken a fair amount of ribbing over the years in these precincts due to my enthusiasm for these guys, but I've said it before and I'll say it again -- I have never heard a more magnificent sound emanating from human beings on a stage than the one I encountered at various shows performed by Procol Harum (Mark 1) during their approximately three year run. I will further add that the group's seamless fusion of J.S. Bach and Ray Charles made them the only progressive rock band that ever mattered. So there.

Incidentally this was the first single from the group's sophomore LP (Shine on Brightly), as well as -- in its 45 incarnation -- the first music in stereo anybody heard by PH.

[h/t Laura G]

The History of White People in America (An Occasional Series)

Wayne Cochran and the C.C. Riders on The Jackie Gleason Show, sometime in the late 60s. Words fail me.

The thing is, as ridiculous as the idea of a Caucasian James Brown might seem in the abstract, Cochran actually was kind of the real deal. He wrote "Last Kiss," too, which means he deserves respect from mere mortals like you and me and Eddie Vedder.

Apparently he's found Jeebus in his old age, which of course isn't all that big of a shock.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Weekend Listomania (Special The Dogs Breakfast Audio/Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental biohazard Fah Lo Suee and I are off to lovely Zuccoti Park in downtown New York City, where we are hoping to pick up a case of scabies. Hey -- Mayor Bloomberg promised us we could get one, and he NEVER lies.

That being the case, and because as you might expect things are going to be fairly quiet around here until Monday, here's a fun and morally uncompromised little project to help us wile away the empty hours until our return:

Best or Worst Post-Beatles White-Boy Blues Performance!!!

And my totally top of my head Top Seven is:

7. Pussy Galore -- Stop Breaking Down

Jon Spencer's low budget, low-fi cover of the Stones' Robert Johnson cover, recorded in a hallway somewhere before there was a Blues Explosion in his pants. I've heard worse, but then again I've been around an awfully long time.

6. John Mayall -- Room to Move

I'm sorry, I know it's not supposed to be funny, but I can't listen to this without cracking up.

5. Wilderness Road -- The Authentic British Blues

"I've got just the thing
To liberate your mind
Some asshole on a sitar
Playing 'My Darling Clementine'"
"Now wait a minute!!!"


4. The J. Geils Band -- Serves You Right to Suffer

From their great debut album, and this track has been giving me chills for over forty years now. Well, not continuously, of course; that would be rather debilitating, now that I think of it. But a great performance any way you slice it.

3. The Rolling Stones -- Good Times, Bad Times

Astoundingly authoritative -- Keith's acoustic 12-string work almost beggars belief -- and even more remarkable when you consider they were, not to put too fine a point on it, a bunch of pimply post-adolescents when they recorded it.

2. Steppenwolf -- Disappointment Number (Unknown)

From their 1968 sophomore LP, which is one of the most underrated hard rock records of the decade, here's a sort of history of the blues in a concise four minutes.

And the Numero Uno "They've Suffered for Their Art -- Now It's Your Turn" bluesola of them all simply has to be...

1. West Bruce and Laing -- Slow Blues

A performance as emotionally compelling as its title is imaginative.

Alrighty then -- what would your choices be?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

An Early (And Alarmingly Sloppy) Clue to the New Direction

Keith Richards and Johnny Depp jamming on "Key to the Highway" last month at the premiere party for The Rum Diary.

Which, by the way, is a pretty great little flick. And I can't believe that it's the first thing that writer/director Bruce Robinson -- who did Withnail & I, hands down the best film ever about the '60s counter-culture -- has been hired to helm in close to two decades.

In any case, as always, a coveted PowerPop No-Prize will be awarded to the first reader who gleans the clip's relevance to the theme of tomorrow's Weekend Listomania.

[h/t Gummo]

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Well, Here's One Andrew Sarris Never Called "The Citizen Kane of Jukebox Musicals"

So I was casually browsing that making of A Hard Day's Night book I wrote about last month and something I had somehow overlooked absolutely jumped out at me.
One of the first film offers the Beatles received was to do a cameo in a movie called The Yellow Teddy Bears, a lurid drama about teen sex and pregnancy set in an all-girls school in the English suburbs. The boys were asked to play a band that backs up one of the film's male characters, who dreams of being a pop star. Because director Robert Hartford-Davis wanted to write all the music the Beatles were meant to play in the film himself, they declined (another Beat group called the Embers took their place).
To which I can only add -- wow. Which is to say that, obviously, history might have been changed in unfathomable ways had the Fabs actually gotten involved with this project.

The film itself appears to be pretty much of a sexploitation period piece -- director Hartford-Davis seems to have had a rather undistinguished career, save for the 1965 sci-fi musical classic Gonks Go Beat -- but if you're curious you can order it from Amazon over here.

As for the Embers, the pop combo that took the place of the Beatles in the film, I can find no information whatsoever.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Instrumental Backing Tracks of the Gods (An Occasional Series)

Interesting Rolling Stones news -- apparently the expanded Exile on Main Street reissue did well enough to occasion a similar deluxe edition of Some Girls, with live bonus tracks.

Here's Britain's The Guardian with the details.

And on a related note, here's something that just blew me away -- one of my favorite tracks from Between the Buttons -- "Yesterday's Papers" -- without the vocals. Recorded sometime between the 3rd and the 11th of August, 1966 at RCA Studios in Los Angeles, with the late great Jack Nitzsche on harpsichord

Words, as they often do, fail me.

[h/t Eric C. Boardman]

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Monday Video Alert: Special Spores R Us Edition)

Terrific news from the good folks at the MGM Limited Edition Collection -- a first-rate version of The Quatermass Xperiment (aka The Creeping Unknown in its American incarnation, but either way one of the creepiest and most original sci-fi thrillers of the 50s) is just out and at a quasi-bargain price.

Tautly directed by Hammer Films stalwart Val Guest (who also did The Abominable Snowman and The Day Earth Caught Fire, two equally memorable B-movie genre classics) the 1958 Quatermass stars Brian Donlevy as the titular driven scientist who shoots the first manned rocket into orbit, only to find the crew inexplicably disappeared -- save for one, who's suffering from some degenerative disease nobody can explain -- after the spaceship crashes in the British countryside. And after that...well, I don't want to spoil any of the film's still effective low-budget shudders, although I will say that the original story for the film is by the great Nigel Kneale, who might be described as the Rod Serling of Britain.

Here's the trailer for the American version.

As you may know, the Limited Edition Collection discs -- burned as DVD-R's on a by request basis -- don't feature film restorations per se; instead they're re-mastered from whatever was the most recent video transfer lying around the studio vaults, and are thus rather hit or miss. In the case of The Quatermass Xperiment, the print/transfer is the same one currently being aired on Turner Classic Movies, which is to say by far the best version of the film I've ever seen. In fact, it looks well nigh pristine, with negligible scratches and dirt and absolutely razor sharp black-and-white images.

You can -- and if you're any kind of a sci-fi buff really should -- order the DVD over at Amazon here. You'll thank me, honest.

Incidentally, The Quatermass Xperiment -- like the two film sequels Hammer later unleashed -- was based on a wildly successful Kneale-penned BBC-TV live mini-series. Alas, the kinescope for the first of them has not survived, but the other two have. Even better, you can watch (or download) both, in very high quality print/transfers, totally for free over at the invaluable Internet Archive.

Quatermass II, aka Enemy from Space, can be found right here.

Check out the remarkably Lovecraftian Quatermass and the Pit, aka 20 Million Miles to Earth, here.

I should also add that these TV versions, for a variety of reasons, are actually even more atmospheric and creepy than the films. Which is really saying something.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Weekend Listomania (Special No Matter Who You Vote For, The Government Always Gets In Audio/Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental palm pilot Fah Lo Suee and I are off to...and at this point I was going to write [Insert Penn State/Joe Paterno joke here] except that...well, except that the whole business really isn't funny.

At all.

So -- because things will nonetheless be quiet around here, as is customarily the case, until Monday, here's a fun and hopefully otherwise relevant little project to help us all wile away the idle hours till my return:

Most or Least Fatuous Post-Beatles Politically Themed Pop or Rock Song(s) Ever!!!

And my totally top of my head Top Six is/are:

6. The Butthole Surfers -- The Shah Sleeps in Lee Harvey Oswald's Grave

These guys were such kidders...

5. Freda Payne -- Bring the Boys Home

A terrific piece of pop/soul with a message that resonated quite powerfully at the height of the Vietnam War, and still does alas. Of course, given that "Band of Gold," Freda's previous hit, had been about her husband's inability to cut the proverbial mustard when it counted, one did have the feeling listening to this one that her pining for the boys' return might be an example of the personal as political. If you know what I mean.

4. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young -- Almost Cut My Hair

Yeah, Dave -- that'll show 'em.

3. John Lennon -- Woman is the Ni-clang of the World

Honorable mention: Patti Smith's "Rock 'n' Roll Ni-clang." Hey -- I'm sure everybody involved with those songs meant well, at least.

2. Graham Nash -- Chicago

Sorry, I can't take a political song that rhymes "change" and "rearrange" seriously. YMMV.

And the Numero Uno Total-Victory-is-Ours-Comrades! ditty of them all simply has to be...

1. Sha Na Na -- The Vote Song

The Nixon reference dates it, obviously, but it's still pretty relevant and pretty funny. Incidentally, while it's true that one of the Sha Na Na gold suit guys has turned into a Teabagger, it was nice to see lead singer Jon "Bowser" Bauman on Tuesday night celebrating the unions win in Ohio.

Alrighty then -- what would your choices be?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

An Early "Teach Your Grandchildren"-ish Clue to the New Direction

So grizzled old DFH's Graham Nash and David Crosby showed up at Zuccotti Park last Tuesday to show solidarity with the OWS protesters, and our pal Watertiger, of Dependable Renegade renown, caught this image via her cell-phone camera.

Actually, if you were watching Keith Olbermann on Current TV Tuesday night, he had video footage of this where you could clearly glimpse El Tigre in front of the stage taking the photo; unfortunately, that part of the segment isn't included in the clip on the Current website, so I couldn't grab a screen cap of her getting the shot, meta as that would have been.

In any case, a coveted PowerPop No-Prize will be awarded to the first reader who gleans the theme of tomorrow's Weekend Listomania from the above.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Kitty With the Atom Brain II

Well, I'm afraid there's some breaking bad news in the saga of Ollie, the World's Most Radioactive Pussycat©.

If you were with us a year ago, you may recall that we told you that the little fella had come through his thyroid therapy with flying colors.

That was true enough at the time; however, as you can see from this just taken photograph, there seem to have been late-developing side effects of a devolutionary nature.

Surgery to remove that weird growth on his head is scheduled for next week; we'll keep you posted, and please keep your fingers crossed.

You're Not Getting Older, You're Getting MUCH Older

Did I mention that Garland Jeffreys was on the David Letterman show last month?

Damn, he sounds good.

By which I mean, in part, much better than he did on that 1970 ersatz Band record I posted about yesterday....

Monday, November 7, 2011

Monday Mystery Track

From (well, I won't tell you when, just to be difficult) please enjoy (I won't tell you who, either) and their apparent homage to all things The Band and Music From Big Pink entitled "And Don't Be Late."

The short version: The group in question made exactly one album (which sank like a stone, unheralded) although they also backed John Cale on his first post-Velvets LP. And the band's lead singer/frontman went on to be a well-respected New Wave phenom and scenester. He's still active, too; in fact, he was on Letterman just last month.

In any case, the Woodstock-ian country rock on the commercial flop album in question doesn't seem to have a lot to do, style-wise, with what the lead singer/frontman has done subsequently.

As always, a coveted PowerPop No-Prize will be awarded to the reader who first guesses the band and the lead singer/frontman's identity. And no Googling!!!!

I should also add that I was able to score the album courtesy of our chum Leonard over at the estimable Red Telephone 66; once you've figured out who's responsible for the track, please head over there and give him and the site some love. Or money, via the fundraiser now in progress.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Aqua - MegaloMania

Megalomania is the third studio album by Danish-Norwegian Euro/Dance/Electro/Pop group Aqua. The album was released on September 30, 2011 and features the singles 'How R U Doin?', 'Like A Robot' and 'Playmate To Jesus'. It's comes after 11 years of the release of their previous studio album, Aquarius in 2000. The album is totally amazing and peaked at number two in Denmark. I highly recomend it. Listen/Buy the album Here.

Aqua Official Website
Aqua Official Facebook
Aqua Official Myspace


01. Playmate To Jesus
02. Dirty Little Pop Song
03. Kill Myself
04. Like A Robot
05. Viva Las Vegas
06. No Party Patrol
07. Come ‘N Get It
08. Sucker For A Superstar
09. Be My Saviour Tonight
10. How R U Doin?
11. If The World Didn’t Suck (We Would All Fall Off)

Do you want it?
Check our twitter to get it!

Brittany Hargest - Love All The Way

'Love All The Way' is the debut solo album by American Christian/Pop singer Brittany Hargest, best known as a member of Christian/Pop group Jump5, which also featured her older brother Brandon Hargest. The album was released on September 23, 2011 and features the singles 'Love All The Way' and 'Slow Motion'. Listen/Buy the album Here.

Brittany Hargest Official Website


01. Critical
02. Love All The Way
03. Slow Motion
04. Miracle
05. You Met Me
06. I Believe in You
07. He Can
08. Like A Fire
09. Bring The Party
10. Put It All Together

Do you want it?
Check our twitter to get it!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday Mea Culpa and Catblogging

Okay, I lied when I said there would be a Listomania this week; the post-vacation jet lag has proven insurmountable, so we'll have to postpone the traditional festivities till next time.

By way of apology, however, let me leave you with -- The Kitten Covers Collection!!!

I'm not sure which one's my favorite, although the kitties in the plastic flowerpot hats cracks me up completely.

[h/t Watertiger]

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Holy Grail

The Beach Boys' legendary 1966 masterpiece Smile -- the real thing, essentially complete -- dropped (as the kids say) yesterday.

I have the two-disc version on order, but friend of PowerPop and all around swell guy Sal Nunziato has the super-deluxe version with all the outtakes and kindly shared this one. Brian conducting (for want of a better word) the sessions for "Surf's Up."

Words fail me.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Eldar & Nigar - Running Scared

'Running Scared' is the debut and only single by the Azerbaijani Pop duo Eldar & Nigar, also know as Ell & Nikki. The duo was formed just to represent Azerbaijan on Eurovision Song Contest 2011 and did well winning that year. Sadly, Nigar Jamal said her primary concern was to pursue a solo career, although she did not rule out the possibility of more joint projects with Eldar Gasimov. I wanted an album of them as a duo. Here you can find a collection of mixes put as a CDM by me, the songs were posted in their official website to free download.

Eldar & Nigar Official Website 1
Eldar & Nigar Official Website 2
Eldar & Nigar Official Facebook


01. Running Scared
02. Running Scared (Acoustic Version)
03. Running Scared (Azzido Da Bass Pop Radio Mix)
04. Running Scared (Niclas Kings In The Air Remix)
05. Running Scared (Azzido Da Bass Pop Club Mix)
06. Running Scared (Odd Remix)

Do you want it?
Check our twitter to get it!

There'll Always Be a France (Part Deux)

Still decompressing from jetlag occasioned by my recent return from the land of the Ignoble Frog, but until regular posting resumes I thought I'd share something I stumbled upon at the fabulous Pompidou Center in Paris while waiting to get into the Edvard Munch show.

From 1963, please enjoy Roger and his Son by remarkable Polish-French modernist Balthus.

And then tell me the son in the painting doesn't look disturbingly like this MTV icon.

Seriously, I have no idea if Mike Judge had this painting in mind when he created Beavis and Butthead, but the resemblance strikes me as too close to be an accident.

I should also add that there actually is another rock-and-roll connection with this painting -- Bono (yes him) sang at Balthus' funeral. Go figure.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

There'll Always Be a France (Special plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose Edition)

Well, we're back from the land of the Ignoble Frog, safe and sound, but still decompressing. Regular, relatively serious, power pop blogging will resume later in the week.

But in the meantime, here's a 1968 painting -- entitled Poverty -- by American surrealist Peter Saul that we glimpsed while wandering around the fabulous Pompidou Center in Paris last week; clearly, it displays a certain prescience where the current activities of Occupy Wall Street are concerned.

If you don't get the joke immediately, click on the image till it increases in size and look carefully at the name of the financial institution the tree figure is holding.

Monday, October 31, 2011


Seriously...we were on the Metro today and there was a street musician in the car -- a bagpiper, actually -- who was blowing a goat.

In any case, flying back to the States today; slightly more serious posting will resume on the morrow.

Friday, October 28, 2011

There'll Always Be an England!!!

No Listomania this week -- I'm on vacation in Paris, for heaven's sake.

Fear not, however -- the list will return next Friday, all tanned, rested and ready after five days of croissants and heavy sauces.

But in the meantime I thought I'd share a bit more from last Monday and Tuesday's sojourn to London.

First -- noted without comment: A street sign glimpsed in the vicinity of Westminster Abbey.

This is the high rent district, apparently.

And then there was this charming establishment, which a certain shady dame and I discovered near the house where Jimi Hendrix and George Frideric Handel once lived (at different times, obviously).

Imagine my amazement when a Google search revealed that it is not, alas, a local aberration, but rather one of 80 similarly titled pubs in the UK. Predominantly situated in London, South East England and the Midlands, but also elsewhere in England, Scotland, Wales and the Isle of Man

Even more alarmingly, I discovered that "4,843 people like The Slug and Lettuce" on Facebook as of this writing.

You know, some days it seems more and more improbable that this was the nation that in the 19th century actually bestrode the narrow world like a collossus.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

London Calling!!!

Well, I had to do it, obviously.

Here I was, on Monday. And you know where...

...watching an actual Waterloo Sunset.

Let's just say Ray Davies got it right.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wednesday Late Travel Notes

Just arrived in Paris, deep in the heart of the land of the Ignoble Frog.

Out having a disgustingly rich dinner; normal posting resumes tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tuesday Video Roundup: Attack of the Killer Criterions

I've been a fan of the Criterion Collection's deluxe video versions of interesting and important films from the beginning. And I mean that literally; back in 1984, when I was toiling at the late lamented VIDEO REVIEW magazine, I reviewed Criterion's first two laserdisc box sets, Citizen Kane and King Kong, which featured all sorts of bonus materials (trailers, commentaries, documentaries, alternate endings, deleted scenes, et cetera) and which established the special edition format that has since become the standard for DVD (and now Blu-ray).

In any case, herewith some musings on a bunch of the most recent Criterion releases; I should add that each of them would make an appropriate (and doubtless highly appreciated) Christmas gift for any film buffs on your list. Also, they can all be ordered (or pre-ordered) over at Amazon or at the Criterion website.

1. The Four Feathers (Zoltan Korda, 1939)

Stiff-upper-lip British colonials in the desert adventure epics don't get any better, and with the possible exception of Lawrence of Arabia, they don't get any more visually stunning either. In any case, this is one is world's better than the 2002 remake with Kate Hudson, thanks to a great ensemble cast of actual Brits (including Ralph Richardson and C. Aubrey Smith) and luscious Technicolor photography by Blood of a Poet cinematographer Georges Périnal. The new transfer is suitably eye-popping, and bonuses include a recent interview with Korda's son plus the original theatrical trailer and a short film featuring his old man at work on TFF's set.

2. Island of Lost Souls (Erle C. Kenton, 1932)

Charles Laughton hamming it up in an ice cream suit, Bela Lugosi (all but unrecognizable as the hirsute Speaker of the Law) asking the immortal question "Are we not men?" and some of the most disturbing and believable monster makeup ever photographed add up to perhaps the best American horror film of the 30s that wasn't made at Universal. Criterion's pleasingly crisp new transfer includes some pre-code dialogue scenes that were censored in subsequent re-releases over the years, and you also get an interesting discussion between American Werewolf in London director John Landis and make-up master Rick Baker.

3. The Killing (Stanley Kubrick, 1956)

Kubrick's peerless film noir racetrack heist, a B-movie that transcended its genre, was the commercial breakthrough that put him on the Hollywood map and it's still as taut and suspenseful as ever. Co-written with genius pulp novelist Jim Thompson, and with a dream cast including Sterling Hayden, Elisha Cook Jr. as a sap of a small time crook and Marie Windsor (in the role she was born to play) as the Jezebel/moll who sells him out. Bonuses include excerpts from a French TV interview with Hayden, and -- worth the price of the set all by itself -- a restored high-def digital transfer of Kubrick's somewhat artier 1955 noir Killer's Kiss.

4. Cul-de-Sac (Roman Polanski, 1966)

Polanski's second English language film (and perhaps still his most perversely original) is a one-of-a-kind mashup of film noir crime flick and black comedy of the sexes, with Donald Pleasance (the most neurotic looking actor since Colin Clive) pitted against gravel-voiced (and then blacklisted) vulgarian tough guy Lionel Stander in a weird menage a trois with Francois Dorleac (in real life, Catherine Deneuve's younger and even more ethereally lovely sister). Weirdly funny and suspenseful stuff; Criterion's new high-def widescreen digital transfer comes blessed by Polanski himself, and there's a 2003 making-of documentary and a TV interview with the director from 1967 as bonuses.

6. Orpheus (Jean Cocteau, 1950)

Cocteau's gorgeous re-imagining of the Greek myth as a mix of apocalyptic sci-fi (those black riders on the motor-cyles rock!), pretentious post-war Left Bank Existential reverie and big-budget surrealist F/X film. And worth seeing if only for the reverent way cinematographer Nicholas Hayer's camera lingers on star Jean Marais, a French icon who (in David Thomson's immortal phrase) is perhaps the most fatuously good-looking slab of beef in movie history. Criterion's new digital restoration is sharp as a woodcut; engrossing bonuses include the original theatrical trailer, a documentary on Cocteau, and a 1957 film interview with the great man himself.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday Moment of Bonjour Tristesse!!!

It's vacation time!!!

Which means I'm off to London (and thence) Paris, so posting will be weird and inconsistent for a bit.

But while I'm waiting in an airport lounge, please enjoy something I find I'm rather inordinately proud of -- new music by my high school and 70s garage band chums The Weasels.

Recently recorded on a laptop, in an attic somewhere in the wilds of New Jersey, the song -- a rough mix, to be sure, but getting near the finished product -- is written and sung by Glenn Leeds, who also contributes the jangly guitar stuff up the middle. My old chum Allan Weissman is on bass, and I'm doing the guitars left and right plus the solo mishegass.

I suspect I'm gonna rework the second half of the solo when I return from the land of the Ignoble Frog, and obviously that drum hit before the fade-out needs to be...well, let's just say it's a problem in search of a solution.

In any case, I think this is a very cool track, and frankly I can't quite believe it's us.

I should add that the "album" that will include this is entitled, as of this writing, either Weasels 65 (for obvious reasons) or Blame the Victim.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Bringing Down the House: Adam Marsland

Spent last night at a house concert with Adam Marsland.

Marsland was the frontman of the late 90's critical darlings Cockeyed Ghost, whose truncated career is a tragedy, if not on the level of Big Star, then not far below it. Enjoy here their moody, melodic paean to the twilight state of transition, "Ludlow 6:18."

(Marsland's Best Of is called Daylight Kissing Night, from this song. Review here.)

Marsland then went on to a series of solo projects, including playing keys for Stew's The Negro Problem for a time, and basically just busted hump playing on his own any damn place that would have him, and making a living in the LA scene.

But I have a bone to pick with his online biographers. Marsland most certainly did not "grow up in California." He grew up not 40 miles from where I now sit, in chilly, gray upstate New York. We went to the same college (at the same time, for one semester), and the earnest garage band I ran sound for (they called me "Sound Chick" and it never occurred to me to be offended) played all the same venues in the same crappy small town as Marsland did when he was starting, with all the drama and petty politics and grudges that such a scene engenders. The smaller the stakes, the larger the investment. I didn't know him then, or at least I don't think I did, but we knew all the same people at the same time, so it's possible that we met at some point without remembering it. By the time he went to California, he was in his early 20's: still plenty of growing up to do, of course.

In any case, I'd heard his work on and off over the years, and I knew he was My Kind of People, so when I saw somewhat accidentally that he was going to play a house show in town, I leaped at the chance to attend.

House shows by their nature are peculiar affairs, oddly intense and intimate. And Marsland gave an astounding performance, by turns funny and serious, self-deprecating and thoughtful about his experiences. He did what he called "the singer-songwriter thing," providing context and descriptions for every song, welcoming all of us, the people he'd known for years and the ones who only knew his music, into the narratives of his songs and his life. It was pretty incredible.

He did a few songs from the Cockeyed Ghost catalog, like "Ludlow 6:18" and "Big Big Yeah," and a few from 2004's You Don't Know Me, including the incomparable "The Big Bear." (Actually, his performance last night was pretty close to this one here.) There was also a sturdy selection from the double concept album, 2009's Go West. (I was particularly taken with the acoustic rendition of "Half Life.") A further handful from the pissed-off road album Hello Cleveland (written over a few days, recorded in under eight hours), impressed my spouse, who still prides himself on a certain retention of his adolescent sensibility. "That's punk rock," he said, in an awed, serious tone.

I had been excited for this show. Marsland did not disappoint.

And he was pretty damned versatile. As the show wound down, he turned to the piano in the living room, noting jokingly that he has transposed some of his keyboard-based songs to the guitar, not realizing there would be a piano. He asked for requests: not just his songs, anything. Riffing off an earlier performance of Marsland's "The Night I Bought Micky Dolenz a Beer," someone asked for "The Porpoise Song," and damn if he didn't pull it out of his ass. Several Elton John songs followed, and a dreamy rendition of "God Only Knows," back on the guitar.

We hung out for a while afterward, rehashing our small-town scene from 25 years ago with a few other key participants, and talking about his role in the golden bubble of time and energy that was Poptopia. I haven't felt so energized in ages, and my thanks go out to Chris and Crystal, our lovely hosts, for allowing us the opportunity to hear this terrific performer.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Weekend Listomania (Special Got Live If You Don't Want It! Edition)

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Today just happens to be my birthday, and also -- according to the Rev. Harold Camping, whose track record is admittedly less than stellar -- the day the world officially comes to an end. That being the case, to those of you who have already wished me well, I thank you, but assuming the good Reverend is in fact correct this time, I also just want to say that it's been swell knowing all of you. -- S.S.]

Well, it's Friday, and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental fils de woo hoo! Fah Lo Suee and I are off to...

Okay, all kidding aside, in real life what's actually going on is that a certain shady dame of my acquaintance and I are heading to beautiful Paris, France on Monday. This will be our fourth annual sojourn in the City of Lights; this year, however, we're spending a day in London first, and then taking the Chunnel to the land of the Ignoble Frog. Current plans include having our picture taken at Waterloo Station at sunset, so you might want to check back here on Wednesday for the grisly evidence of my unhealthy obsession with Ray Davies.

In any case, what with packing and last minute stuff, things will probably be a little quiet around here until next week, so here's a (hopefully) amusing little project to help us all wile away the intervening hours:

Worst Live or In Concert Album by a Rock/Pop Artist or Group!!!

No arbitrary rules of any sort, you're welcome very much, and yes, you can include bootlegs if you're so inclined.

And my totally top of my head Top Five is/are:

5. The Rolling Stones -- Love You Live

A wonderful club version of Bo Diddley's "Cracking Up" notwithstanding, this was pretty much two LPs worth of total dreck.

4. The Rolling Stones -- Still Life

A very bad live album from possibly the worst tour of the Stones' career.

3. The Rolling Stones -- Flashpoint

A live document of the Steel Wheels tour, and as professional and uninspired as the album that occasioned it.

2. The Rolling Stones -- No Security

Guys -- you're never going to top Ya-Yas. Please stop trying.

And the Numero Uno art-imitates-life-badly artifact of then all simply has to be...

1. Mummenschanz (Original Cast Recording)

A mime show. Recorded on-stage in 1978. You can check out the track listing over here.

Alrighty then -- what would YOUR choices be?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

An Early, Northern New Jersey-Centric, Clue to the New Direction!!!

From the fabulous George's Club 20 (in reality, a tiny little dive) in Hackensack, New Jersey -- the Paris of the Tri-State Metro area, and the current home (and childhood neighborhood) of your humble scribe -- please enjoy Jimi Hendrix (doing business as Jimmy James) with Curtis Knight and the Squires, in a spirited performance of "Driving South."

Recorded live, with better sound than you might expect, on the day after Christmas of 1965.

It is perhaps amusing to contemplate that barely a year after this performance was committed to tape Hendrix was a pop star in England on the cusp of becoming one of the most indelible icons of the 60s.

It is also amusing to contemplate the fact that I was Christmas vacationing in the neighborhood on 12-26-65, and had I had a clue who Hendrix was going to be -- or a little more courage about being the only white teenager in a bar on the proverbial wrong side of the tracks -- I could have attended the gig in question.

In any case, a coveted PowerPop No-Prize will be awarded to the first reader who gleans the clip's relevance to the theme of tomorrow's Weekend Listomania.

POSTSCRIPT: George's Club 20 was at the corner of Moore and Bridge Streets in Hackensack, so I took a walk over there yesterday with my new twenty dollar digital camera. Imagine my disappointment at finding that the building no longer exists.

A line from a Joni Mitchell song seems to come to mind, for some reason....

POST-POSCRIPT: The center photo below shows what that corner looked like in 1965. You can't see it in the photo I took, but the house next door is still there, unchanged.

I particularly like that George's is called the "Mecca of Cafe Society."

Everybody's a Critic

A classic exchange in the comments section of a recent CNN/Money article about KISS:

I play in a rock band. KISS songs are easy to cover. Rock N Roll All Night is super duper easy to do. But when we play it, something is missing and all of a sudden it sounds like crap. KISS music is easy and simple, but without KISS doing it, it ends up less somehow. They are the artists that take simple brush strokes and create masterpieces of music. Easy to play the notes, almost impossible to create the music.

And the reply:

Maybe your band sucks worse than Kiss. Ever consider that?

Bad Career Move of the Century

Well, it looks like history could have been changed in unfathomable ways if only somebody had looked in their mailbox.

LONDON Oct. 17, 2011 (AP) -- Somewhere, an aging drummer (identity unknown) is probably still kicking himself. A newly discovered letter found folded in a book at a Liverpool yard sale has shed new light on the Beatles' early days, revealing that Paul McCartney offered an audition to a mystery drummer in 1960, just a few days before the band left for a formative two-month gig in Hamburg, Germany.

The letter, to be auctioned next month by Christie's, has surprised Beatles scholars. It was written two years before the band bounced drummer Pete Best in favor of Ringo Starr, who arrived just in time to help the Beatles' conquer first England and then the world, earning untold millions along the way.

The Aug. 12, 1960 letter handwritten by McCartney offers an audition to someone who had advertised their availability in the Liverpool Echo newspaper four days earlier. The unsigned ad said simply: "Drummer--Young--Free."

McCartney, who was then playing guitar in the band while the late Stuart Sutcliffe handled bass guitar, offered the drummer an audition with the caveat that if he joins the band he must be ready to travel almost immediately to Hamburg. The Beatles honed their musical chops playing at low-rent clubs in the German's city's famed red-light district.

"Expenses paid 18 pounds per week (approx) for two months," McCartney writes. "If interested ring Jacaranda club."

The letter is signed, "Yours sincerely, Paul McCartney of the BEATLES."

It is not known if the drummer came for an audition, and failed to impress McCartney and the others, or if he simply didn't followup. McCartney addressed the letter "Dear Sir," assuming the drummer was a young man, as there were very few female drummers on the Liverpool rock scene at the time.

Christie's spokeswoman Leonie Pitts said the auction house's Beatles experts are certain that the letter was not an early feeler to Starr, who was a successful drummer with a rival Liverpool band, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, before he joined the Beatles.

She said auctioneers had not contacted McCartney to ask if he knew anything about the drummer who had placed the ad.

"We think he's on his honeymoon," she said. McCartney married U.S. heiress Nancy Shevell eight days ago. His representatives did not immediately return an AP request for comment.

Christie's auction house said Monday the letter would likely draw more than 7,000 pounds ($11,000) when it is sold Nov. 15 along with other pop memorabilia.

The letter was discovered by a man from Liverpool who has asked to remain anonymous. The auction house said he is a devoted collector of antique coins who regularly checks yard sales.

Wow, obviously.

But I've said it before and I'll say it again -- it boggles my mind that after all these years, there's still stuff left to be discovered about the Beatles.

[h/t Brooklyn Girl]

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Cries and Whimpers

A couple of interesting and/or alarming social and cultural notes for a Tuesday.

1. I did a phone interview last week with the producers of what looks like a really interesting (and long overdue, obviously) documentary on power pop gods Big Star.

The particular subject under discussion was the band's legendary performance at the notorious Rock Writers of the World convention in Memphis in early 1973, which I attended despite having been a professional rock critic for approximately four days at that point.

In any case, here's the official website for the documentary; if you putter about over there, you can probably find the review I wrote of Big Star's Radio City for The Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Review back in the day.

And here's an early trailer.

2. A few days after posting the second of the restored videos by my 70s garage band The Weasels, I received the following e-mail from a young woman in the former USSR. And I swear this is not a joke.
hello Steve!
my name is Angelina, im from Kiev, Ukraine
just saw your blog - and a band named The Weasels wanted to ask if there is a possibility to download their album somewhere?
i really like them, but i have only two songs and that makes me sad please write me back if you have a chance
thank you very much,
Needless to say, I immediately burned and dispatched three Weasels CDs to Angelina's home address. And I can't tell you how hilarious I find it that the alleged music my now geriatric friends and I made for our own amusement in a basement in Teaneck when we were kids will now be listened to by a 20-something in the Ukraine, i.e. a land where my ancestors spent a lot of time trying not to raped by Cossacks.

3. Thanks to real world concerns -- dealing with an ailing mom, a Paris vacation with a certain shady dame, and the whole holiday hoohah upcoming -- it's now obvious that The Floor Models reissue project I've been bugging you about all year will not, realistically, see the light of day until early in 2012.

In the meantime, here's a cut that won't be on the album -- a recently re-discovered four-track home demo (perhaps our earliest, circa 1981) of "Wheel Comes Around."

A vastly more exciting live version will kick off the forthcoming album, but this one -- produced by Beatlemania alumnus David Grahame -- has its charms, particularly the handclaps on the guitar solo.

I should also add that if you haven't been following the Floor Models saga, the entire history of the band can be accessed over at our semi-official website here.