Monday, February 27, 2017

It Came From New Haven!!!

And speaking as we were on Friday of The Easybeats, commenter mainuh had this to say:

[In the late 60s] I roadied (lol) for a hometown band signed to Buddha records -- Jennifer's Friends. Their first single was written by Vanda and Young -- "The Land of Make Believe". They opened for Neil Young and Crazy Horse in a basement made into a music venue (The Stone Balloon). I was lucky enough to sit 6 feet to Neils left that night and got to hang out with the band in the green room later.

The song mainuh's referring to is a terrific sort of post-Sgt. Pepper psychedelic pop ditty that appeared on the Easy's great second album Vigil in 1968; it's been covered a lot, actually (in Britain and Europe), as so many Vanda and Young songs were back in the day.

Here's the original (as it appeared on the B-side to the Easy's epochal "Good Times."



And here's the Jennifer's Friends version.



Not as good as the Easy's, but totally credible, IMHO. Producer Lewis Merenstein, incidentally, is best known today for having been behind the console for the recording of Van Morrison's Astral Weeks, so obviously he had something on the ball.

Mainuh didn't say it, but apparently Jennifer's Friends were from the New Haven CT area. He did, however, inform me that JF's keyboard player Mark Lipson is now a cantor.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Weekend Listomania: Special Best-Of Lists Are Bullshit, So Here's a Best-Of List! Edition

Well, it's Friday, and you know what that means.

Yes, yours truly and my Asian Pussy Magnet for Donald Trump gal Friday Fah Lo Suee are off to play golf at Mar-a-Lago with President Bullshit McGee (thank you, Keith Olbermann).

That said, posting will be irregular until our return. Safely, one assumes.

But in the meantime, here's a fun little project for all of us to wile away the idle hours until regular stuff resumes.

POST-ELVIS POP/ROCK/SOUL SONGS THAT SHOULD BE ON EVERY CRITIC'S LIST OF THE GREATEST THINGS OF ALL TIME BUT FOR WHATEVER REASON RARELY ARE!!!

No arbitrary rules of any kind, you're welcome very much, but if I disagree with your picks I will be more sympathetic to them if they were actual singles rather than album cuts. I should also add that all of these song choices are obviously subjective and based on my own incredibly ancient sensibilities. I mean, shit -- I'm a zillion years old; who cares what I like.

And so, without any further ado, here's my totally top-of-my-head top twelve.

12. Kirsty MacColl -- They Don't Know



One of these days, if I'm ever diagnosed with a fatal disease, I'm gonna find the shithead tourist who ran their speedboat over Kirsty while she was vacationing with her kids, thus killing her. And then blow their fucking brains out with a pistol. Seriously -- there's a special circle in hell reserved for that jackass.

11. The Move -- Tonight



I believe this was the very last thing Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne recorded before they transmogrified into ELO. In any case, an all but perfect power pop record.

10. Shocking Blue -- Serenade



I love these guys (and their late lead singer Mariska Veres) big time. This song, by genius auteur Robbie van Leeuwen, is particularly amazing; consider the intro, which features finger-picked acoustic guitar over scratchy electric rhythm and goes on for almost a minute before the vocals enter.

9. Prince -- Guitar



Have I mentioned that the only upside to the tragic early death of Prince last year is that all his stuff is finally available on YouTube? This one, which dates from sometime in the 'aughts, is sly, funny, and features great -- quel surprise -- guitar work. Why was this not a hit?

8. Marvin Gaye -- Ain't That Peculiar



This is technically an r&b record, but like lots of Motown stuff, it's pretty much indistinguishable from straight-ahead rock-and-roll. One of the most exciting singles of the Sixties, no matter how you classify it.

7. Elvis Presley -- Ain't That Lovin' You Baby



This is an outtake, which didn't surface till the 80s (I believe) on a posthumous compilation LP celebrating Elvis as blues singer. The previous officially released version has a lot of extraneous stuff (lame background vocals, etc.) but this one is just great kick-ass rock by the King and a tough as nails little supporting band.

6. The Easybeats -- Heaven and Hell



Vanda and Young's 60s masterpiece.

5. Marcus Hook Roll Band -- Natural Man



Vanda and Young's 70s masterpiece.

4. The Byrds -- Lady Friend



David Crosby's swansong with his pioneering folk-rockers, and possibly the best song he ever wrote (this is the 80s remixed version with overdubbed drums by the guy in Crosby's then touring band -- Byrds purists don't like it, but I do.) The Flamin' Groovies, who have good taste in these matters, did a very nice cover of it, BTW.

3. The Beach Boys -- Trader



The genius of Carl Wilson. May I just say, and for the record, that if anybody tells me the Beach Boys were white bread bullshit then I'm gonna take a hostage? Thank you.

2. Stealer's Wheel -- Everyone's Agreed That Everything Will Turn Out Fine



The incredible single version (psychedelic power pop doesn't get any better). Avoid the album re-make like the plague

And the number one best post-Elvis (should be an acknowledged classic and if you disagree with this assessment I will come to your house and fart in your general direction) song quite obviously is...

1. Nazz -- Open My Eyes

The first time I ever heard this -- which I bought on the recommendation of a Jon Landau review in Rolling Stone (yeah, I know) I felt like my head had been split open. I still think it's the perfect rock record.



Alrighty then -- what would YOUR choices be?

And have a great weekend, everybody!!!

[h/t and inspiration by our good pal Sal Nunziato]

Thursday, February 23, 2017

School's Out!

From last week, in Brisbane, Australia, please enjoy Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band with a kid in the audience who was skipping school. And a quite wonderful impromptu version of "Growin' Up."



I've said this before and I'll say it again -- Bruce is a genuine living saint.

And if this doesn't bring a smile to your lips or a tear to your eye -- please seek medical attention.

My favorite comment over at YouTube: "If there was a Nobel Prize for bringing joy to the world Bruce would win it every time."

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Programming Notes From All Over

The Lemon Twigs -- i.e., the rock star kids of my old bandmate Ronnie D'Addario (it is he who sings the divine harmonies on the Floor Models "Letter From Liverpool") -- are the musical guests on tonight's Late Show With Stephen Colbert.


This, of course, is yet another reason to watch Colbert ce soir (the first being to enjoy his making merciless fun of whatever stupid thing President Money Boo Boo did or said today).

In any case, I hate those two kids, for obvious reasons, but that said -- the last time they were on TV (with Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show, a couple of months ago) they were using the restored 1961 Fender Bassman amp I gave them on permanent loan...


...and perhaps they will be using it tonight as well. Look for it, won't you?

Hey -- I'll take any bit of reflected glory I can get.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Your Tuesday Moment of Words Fail Me

From 2015, please enjoy British sibling act The Staves and their utterly astounding cover of Bruce Springsteen's "I'm On Fire."



My favorite comment over at YouTube: "These girls could make dogshit sound incredible."

Seriously -- I know sisterhood is powerful, but this is ridiculous.

[h/t Stoat]

Monday, February 20, 2017

Great Faces for Radio

From 2016, please enjoy the incomparable (if less than prepossessing) Miles Nielsen and the Rusted Hearts and their quite kick-ass "Heavy Metal."



I gotta say -- I've seen much cuter bands. On the other hand, this is a very very cool song.

And in case you're wondering -- yes, Miles is power pop icon Rick Nielsen's kid.

[h/t dmark]

Friday, February 17, 2017

Pretty Fly for a Bunch of White Guys

From sometime (possibly) in the early 80s, please enjoy the incomparable Graham Parker and the Rumour and their pretty terrific studio version of the Jackson 5 classic "I Want You Back."



I'm not sure when this was actually released; there's a live version from 1979 that can be found on the bonus disc on the reissue of Squeezing Out Sparks, but I'm a bit confused about the provenance of this one and what album it originally appeared on. If anyone can enlighten me, I'd be your best friend.

I should add that Graham Parker is the only pop star...


...that I ever looked like.


Okay, that's not strictly true. As you can also see, Gary Lewis (son of Jerry) of The Playboys fame...


...looks pretty eerily like me in high school.


I always wanted to be the Jewish Keith Richards, but it's pretty obvious from those pictures that it was never gonna happen.

Have a great weekend, everybody.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Why Isn't This Guy a Household Word? (An Occasional Series): Special Can't We All Just Get Along? Edition

From 2010, please behold in breathless wonder star of the week Robbie Fulks and his quite astonishing cover of...Michael Jackson's "Black or White."



I say this a lot, but this time I really mean it -- words fail me.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Why Isn't This Guy a Household Word? (An Occasional Series): Special Everybody's Working for the Weekend Edition

From 1998, this week's star Robbie Fulks proposes -- in interesting power pop terms -- "Let's Kill Saturday Night."



And from 1979, the angry young Graham Parker suggests this is unnecessary because "Saturday Night is Dead."



Already, obviously.

Wow -- I'll bet you guys can't possibly guess whose music I'll be posting tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Why Isn't This Guy A Household Word? (An Occasional Series): Special Is This Turning Into Robbie Fulks Week? Edition

From 1999, please enjoy Robbie's ode to another pop icon -- "That Bangle Girl."



"I'd play her my records," indeed, Robbie. Indeed.

Although, I must admit -- for me the Bangle girl was, and always will be, Michael Steele.


A redhead. And a bass player. I mean, c'mon.

BTW -- I'd forgotten who played the chauffeur in this great Bangles video.




Damn, all of a sudden I really miss the 80s.

[h/t Matt Mitchell]