Friday, August 22, 2014

Your Friday Moment of Words Fail Me

From 1958, please enjoy in breathless wonder a STEREO version of Ritchie Valens' classic "La Bamba." A record that Greil Marcus rightly called one of the most exciting in 50s rock, and in this incarnation is even more exciting.

I must confess that I did not know that this existed until I heard it Tuesday as a guest on my chum Allan Rosenberg's intertube radio show (I'll put the archive link to the show up as soon as the station posts it).

In any case, a mindblower -- you're conditioned to think of 50s rock in mono, in sort of the same way you're conditioned to think of World War II in black-and-white, so when you discover something like this the effect is almost psychedelic.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Reverend Charles M. Young 1951-2014

A hell of a nice guy and probably the last amusing prose stylist at Rolling Stone.

He also played bass in the hilarious punk band Iron Prostate, whose CD can still be found over at Amazon HERE

Here, however, is their masterpiece -- the single "Bring Me the Head of Jerry Garcia."

Produced by Jim Steinman, of all people.

You can read more about Chuck's life and work over here at ROCKCRITICS.COM

And may I just add, and for the record, that this death shit is really starting to piss me off.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Your Wednesday Moment of Words Fail Me

From 2014 and her most recent album, please enjoy in breathless wonder farm-girl turned punkette prodigy Lydia Loveless -- or, as I like to think of her, the Anti-Taylor Swift -- and the best damn version of Kirsty MacColl's sublime "They Don't Know" ever.

To my considerable embarrassment, I was unaware of Ms. Loveless until last night's appearance on my pal Allan's internet radio show (which was a lot of fun, BTW -- I'll post a link to it as soon as it's archived, which should be by Monday). In any case, when Al played the above it blew my tiny mind -- let's just say that this gal is the genuine article.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Who Listens to the Radio?

A reminder -- I'll be on my pal Alan Rosenberg's intertube radio show (Lost at Sea) today between 3-7pm (East Coast time).

You can listen to it simply by clicking over HERE and then clicking on the LISTEN NOW button.

Hey, it's not rocket science.

And yes, this song IS a clue to the theme of the second two hours of the show.

I would also be remiss if I didn't add that at 6pm we will be visited by the incomparable Long Distance Comedian...

...and that hilarity will doubtless ensue.

I should also add that we will be taking your comments and/or requests via the e-mail.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Monday Programming Notes From All Over

Just thought I'd alert you guys that I'm going to be appearing on my chum Allan Rosenberg's intertube radio show tomorrow, over at fabulous AREA 24 RADIO, between 3-7pm East Coast time.

To tune in, just click on the link for
Lost at Sea; you'll see a button saying Listen Now! and you can take it from there.

For the first two hours of the show, Allan's going to be playing all sorts of esoteric stuff that he likes but that I've never heard before, and we'll just bat it around and insult each other's presumed lack of musical taste. During the second two hours, I will begin sipping elitist chardonnay, and cueing up all sorts of stuff that I like and/or have currently been obsessing about. Could be a hot one!

The final hour of this affront to decency will also feature a presumably hilarious appearance by The Long Distance Comedian...

...who will be sharing his revered wisdom with us starting at 6pm. Here's a clip of him at an earlier stage of his career, in 1990, just to give you an idea.

I'll harangue you guys more about this on Tuesday, just so you don't forget. And yes -- we will be taking your requests and comments via the intertubes during the show.

I thank you.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Weekend Listomania's Greatest Hits: Special Just Put Your Lips Together and Blow Edition

[I first posted this one in 2008(!), back when the world and this blog were barely removed from diaper-wearing, but with the sad passing this week of Lauren Bacall (nee Betty Perske -- she was a nice Jewish girl, 'natch) it seemed at least tangentially relevant, so here it is again. As is my wont, I've done some rewriting and added two new entries, just so you don't find me unduly indolent. Enjoy. -- S.S.]


By "best," we mean either in a blues or non-blues idiom, just to keep it totally wide open. And by "solo" we mean anything of any length, even if it's just a riff.

Totally arbitrary rule: Don't even try to nominate something by that fat guy from Blues Traveller. The Hendrix of the Blues Harp my ass....

Okay, that said, here's my totally top of my head Top Thirteen:

13. The White Stripes -- Hello Operator

Just because we needed something actually recorded in the 21st century.

12. Jimmy Reed -- Honest I Do

The very definition of sly concision. (Hey -- I made a couplet!!!!)

11. The Pretenders -- Middle of the Road

Chrissie Hynde -- first she growls, then she makes her harp sound like a stray cat in heat. Can we just admit she's the greatest female rocker who ever was or will be and be done with it already?

10. The Prostitutes -- Down Below

A great New York City rock band in the tradition of the Velvets and the Heartbreakers, and some of the most fabulously blues-wailing harp (courtesy of NYC fixture Jon Paris) on a sort of Doors-Meet-the- Smithereens song you'll ever hear.

Incidentally, Prostitutes bass player Steve Early, the guy on the left in the picture, is also my favorite bartender of all time; stop in at the Broome Street Bar (363 West Broadway in fabulous downtown SoHo) before it shuts down (yes, it's closing after 42 years, alas) on a Wednesday or a Thursday and he'll be happy to pour you a drink, even if you mention my name.

9. Bruce Channel -- Hey Baby

That's Delbert McClinton playing the harmonica stuff. I seem to recall it was a huge influence on a certain four-piece band from the UK.

8. The Broadcasters -- Down in the Trenches

One of the great lost singles of the 80s (produced by Wayne Kramer of the MC5, incidentally). These guys should have been superstars. I have a video of me singing "Route 66" and "Gloria" at a party with three of them; get me hammered some time and I might even show it to you.

7. J. Geils Band -- Whammer Jammer

The aptly named Magic Dick. 'Nuff said.

6. Stevie Wonder -- For Once In My Life

As brilliantly structured and performed a solo as you'll ever hear on any instrument.

5. A tie --

The Rolling Stones (Mick Jagger) -- Stop Breaking Down


The Rolling Stones (Brian Jones) -- Good Times Bad Times

Amplified Chicago blues harp in the former, acoustic country blues harp in the latter, both brilliant.

4. Bob Dylan -- I Want You

Short, melodic, and it frames the song perfectly, front and back. Anybody who says Dylan's a crappy harp player really isn't listening....

3. XTC -- Ballad of Peter Pumpkin Head

Blues harp on a revisionist folk rock song. Andy Partridge is god, obviously.

2. Creedence Clearwater Revival -- Run Through the Jungle

John Fogerty channels Howlin Wolf. It doesn't get any spookier, song OR harp part.

And the number one, no question about it, all time coolest harmonica solo on a hit record is --

1. Slim Harpo -- Scratch My Back

Hands down, the down and dirtiest blues performance ever to crack Top 40 radio.

Alrighty now -- what would your choices be?

[h/ts to Brooklyn Girl and John McPartlin]

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Slacker Thursday

My new favorite thing.

Coming tomorrow: The triumphant return of Weekend Listomania's Greatest Hits!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Tears of a Clown

The late great Robin Williams, from his first appearance on HBO, back in 1977.

Hadn't seen that segment in decades, but I remembered it as if it were yesterday. God, he was brilliant.

And please -- if you are in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

More Cowbell! Seriously -- Lots More Cowbell!!!!

An actual street sign for an actual place in Greenwich Village. Apparently there is a patron saint of aspiring recording artists.

And speaking of which, here's the demo of The Marcus Hook Roll Band's "Natural Man" I mentioned yesterday.

If we can agree on anything, I suspect it's that said demo is inferior to the official single release version I posted previously. Despite the participation of Malcolm and Angus from AC/DC.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Good Things Come to Him Who Waits. Well, At Least Sometimes.

Okay, this is a really long story, and I've told some of it before on a couple of occasions, but there's a new kicker at the end, so please indulge me.

First, the set-up.

One of the greatest (and most obscure) lost singles of the 70s -- indeed, in rock history -- is a little number called "Natural Man" by The Marcus Hook Roll Band. The MHRB were actually Harry Vanda and George Young of The Easybeats, then toiling under various aliases in the period before they roared back as the production team behind the first couple of AC/DC albums (AC/DC's Malcolm and Angus, of course, are George's younger brothers).

In any case, the record itself is one of the landmarks of the Glam Era -- a perfect three chord "Sweet Jane" derivative with hilarious topical lyrics, gorgeous layered electric and acoustic guitars, and absolutely brilliant production, including a bass guitar and cowbell breakdown (a la the bit in Free's "Alright Now," but hookier) that sets up a massive series of final choruses that once heard are etched into your auditory canal forever. An absolute masterpiece, is what I'm saying.

Unfortunately, it was not a hit when released here on Capitol Records in 1973. I had a promo copy like the one pictured below at the time, but I misplaced it later in the decade.

Note the misspelling of Harry Vanda's name, which may give you some clue to the record's importance to the braniacs at Capitol. In any case, the only LP it ever appeared on back in the day was an Australia-only release that apparently self-destructed, Mission Impossible-style, approximately two days after it was issued. As for CD, starting in the late 90s you could get a copy of the song on an import MHRB compilation, but unfortunately it was an inferior demo version that lacked all the magic of the single.

You can read a contemporary account of the single -- from the now defunct house organ of United Artists Records -- over HERE. Incidentally, the author of said piece, Martin Cerf, was one of the hipper record company guys at the time, and a friend to numerous rock journalists of the period including the late great Greg Shaw; he may, in fact, have been a partner in Greg's BOMP Records, although I'm hazy on that.

Anyway, as the years flew by down the echoing corridors of time, I pretty much decided that the single version never actually existed and that I'd more or less hallucinated the whole business. But two or three years ago I finally got a pretty good vinyl rip of the 45 (with some surface noise and turntable rumble, but otherwise listenable) and musically it was indeed as great as I recalled.

And that, I figured, was that.

Well, not quite.

Cut to: last month. From Rhino's just released reissue -- which I had no idea was in the works -- of the original MHRB album, please behold in breathless wonder the newly remastered (from the original tapes) version of "Natural Man." Sans pops and clicks and sounding as glorious as it must have been when first played back over the monitor speakers at EMI's Abbey Road studios in June of 1972.

And you will hear no better rock-and-roll song or record any time this year, trust me.

Rhino's reissue comes with several single bonus tracks (both A and B sides) as well as terrific and informative liner notes by original producer Wally Allen (of Pretty Things fame); you can order it over at Amazon HERE. If you're a fanatical Vanda and Young completist, Amazon also has the Japanese import CD version which has two extra bonus tracks.

You're welcome.