Monthly Archives: April 2010

T.G.I.F. – Ten Powerful Pub Rockers

Seems like everybody was sick of the radio as the mid-70s approached. Some went underground. Others got back to their roots, whether it was nihilistic and chaotic (punk) or traditional (roots rock). Some literally hit the UK corner bars for an evening of well-played r&b/country blues and rock’n’roll; hence pub rock.

Strip away the nomenclature and you’re back to upbeat, rhythmic, toe-tapping, air-guitar slinging music that will put a smile on your face whenever you slap it on. If there is such a thing as Friday music, this is it.

Perhaps a slight bit of liberty on my part if a few of these tracks are from outside the immortal era; if so, at least the musicians performing the material have validated roots.

So here are ten powerful pub rockers to start your weekend off!

01. Graham Parker and the Rumor:   “Empty Lives

02. Dr. Feelgood:   “Roxette

03. Mickey Jupp:   “Georgia George

04. Eddie and the Hot Rods:   “Quit This Town

05. The Inmates:   “I Thought  I Heard a Heartbeat

06. Ducks Deluxe:   “Coast To Coast

07. The Motors:   “Dancing The Night Away

08. Brinsley Schwarz:   “Surrender to the Rhythm

09. Bram Tchaikovsky:   “Girl of My Dreams

10. Rockpile:   “If Sugar Was as Sweet

Yeah, I know that last band is only one-quarter Brit (two Welsh and a Scot), and for all their related efforts only have one proper album. But pub rock is about the music, not birthplace, and Rockpile was a pub rock supergroup.

Besides, if it was about being in pubs, these would all be Faces tunes, yes?

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Another Alex Chilton Tribute

A week ago Saturday, Adam Marsland’s Chaos Band performed an Alex Chilton tribute show at a club in Marina del Rey and were astute enough to have some cameras rolling.

Marsland, one of the most seasoned DIY tour rats of the past decade plus, has always been a fan of whipping out some great cover songs (he’s been known to take the stage in a variation of Stump The Band, which always produces some eclectic choices). And a few years back he issued an excellent album of Carl Wilson and Dennis Wilson songs – live – called Long Promised Road.

Absolutely one of my wish I was there moments, but I’m on the Wrong Coast. And if you also were unable to attend, fear not – enjoy Adam, Evie Sands, Kurt Medlin and Teresa Cowles pay homage to the late, great Alex Chilton via You Tube…

Video: “Soul Deep

Here’s what’s available to enjoy so far; more songs might be forthcoming.

The Ballad of El Goodo (Adam and Evie co-lead)
Soul Deep (Evie lead)
Give Me Another Chance (Teresa lead)
Thirteen
When My Baby’s Beside Me
You Get What You Deserve
September Gurls
Kizza Me
Alex Chilton (Replacements cover)
Jesus Christ
The Worst Thing (That I Ever Did) 

Although that last title is an original, Adam refers to it as an Alex-influenced song. Close enough for me. Here is the link to the video tribute page .

The first post-mortem tribute happened at SXSW, of course, in place of the originally scheduled Big Star show. And just this past weekend another was held at The Living Room in NYC; dozens of others sprang up everywhere as musicians felt the need to tip their musical caps to one of their era’s defining artists. And although essays from famous musicians are turning up in newspapers and magazines as well, praising Alex Chilton is nothing new.

Alex won’t be forgotten because his songs won’t be forgotten. Simple as that.

And yes, it *rocks*.

Hurry up! There were less than five hundred copies made in this limited release of Adam’s newest album, Hello Cleveland. And if you never picked up Go West,  I behoove you to do that as well. All of Adam’s albums can be purchased at the usual outlets or through his website merchandise page.

Adam on MySpace

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Corvette + Gore Girl = Gorevette

Ladies, lock up your sons and husbands.

As if it isn’t great enough that Nikki Corvette and Amy Gore (The Gore Gore Girls) have hooked up to form Gorevette, they just release a new EP (Lustfully Yours), finished a tour with The Donnas and are heading out this summer with Blondie!

From their bio… 1978 saw the birth of Nikki Corvette’s career with the release of the Nikki Corvette and the Convertibles single “Young and Crazy” b/w “Backseat Love” and “Criminal Element”. This was all happening in Detroit during the punk rock explosion, where Nikki would see herself sharing the stage with The Ramones, Johnny Thunders and The Romantics. By 1980 the band name was changed to Nikki and the Corvettes. They would release their legendary debut album on BOMP! Records, an incredible mixture of 60’s style girl group vocals, twangy guitars and teenage pop with plenty of punk rock attitude, with songs about cruising for boys and fun in the sun. The album and band would influence everyone from The Go-Go’s (to go for more of a “pop” sound) all the way to The Donnas (see the lyric “I wanna be like Nikki Corvette” from Gimmie My Radio).

Amy Gore was born in Detroit, Michigan and in 1997 she founded the Gore Gore Girls, the first of few all-female bands of the garage rock genre. Along with other bands such as The White Stripes, The Dirtbombs, The Detroit Cobras and others, the Gore Gore Girls helped establish the modern American garage rock scene of the 1990s in Detroit.

Hear Gorevette on MySpace

Check out this video for “Lustfully Yours”!

Gore Gore Girls website

***

Wait a minute.

Are you telling me that Ann-Margaret, Penelope Cruz, Jessica Alba, Bridget Moynahan and Elisabeth Rohm were all born on the same day? And no one has started planning late July conceptions hoping their daughter would also get the April 27th good looks gene?

And since all five of those ladies are out celebrating tonight…keep those sons and husbands locked up even after the Gorevette video.

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New Album! The Pantones


Infectious and accessible, the Pantones juggle several influences with sleight of sound.

An impressive blend of great ingredients, The Pantones at various times tap the DNA of The Jayhawks, Ben Folds, The Byrds, R.E.M., Wilco, The Beach Boys and—perhaps most impressively—guitar licks that Ron Wood tossed out like confetti in the ‘70s.

Video: “Circus Freaks

Read my review of Inside the Sun’s Wild Flame at PopMatters.

Hear some clips at Amazon.

Visit The Pantones website.

Warm up to The Pantones.

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Under The Radar: Cartoon Factory

So many pop bands, so little time…

Ten years ago I came across a Greenville, South Carolina band called The Cartoon Factory on a late night surfing expedition; I was attracted to their energy and knack for a good powerpop hook. I thought their debut album was pretty good, and although it doesn’t appear they they ever issued a follow-up album (a 2002 release featured songs from an earlier configuration of the band under a different name), they’re still around and playing gigs, although Chuck Chapman seems to be the only original member still standing.

Powerpop is a broad term, so what do they sound like? Their website has some free downloads of pop covers like “Ah Leah”, “I’m a Believer” and “(I Want To) Rock and Roll All Night” as well as handful of great originals written in that same vein. Good harmonies, pop crunch; I’d say their self-appended comparison to Fountains of Wayne and Weezer is a decent starting point, as are the references I make below. If those names put a smile on your face, give these guys a listen.

My original review ran in Cosmik Debris in 2000…

Although the name might connote animated characters (or Jim Carrey’s short-lived sitcom debut), this quartet is a high-energy power-pop band that sets its sights on harmony and melody. You can’t be taking things too seriously when you have a track called “Monkey Girl” lead off your record. Factor in a band that has two Bay City Rollers fans paired up with two guys leaning more towards classic rock, and the combinations can get pretty interesting. For example, the melody of “Tongue Tied” sounds like The Cars taking a stab at Joe Jackson‘s “Is She Really Going Out With Him?.”

“Deaf Dumb And Blind” starts out like Eric Carmen‘s “Hey Deanie” before sliding into the infectious chorus. Only the closer “I Live For You” falls flat here, a disappointing arena thud-rock entry. The band is tight – David Swift‘s guitar and Louis Sijon‘s power drumming are solid, and the harmonies are spot on. Bassist Chip Anderson and guitarist/vocalist Chuck Chapman (the aforementioned Rollers fans) are also fans of the arena-sized power pop of Cheap Trick and KISS.

However, the production of the self-titled disc muzzles the bombast and goes for a crisp and clear sound; power chords are there, but glass isn’t shattering. “Hopeless” is a very catchy song that opens with a classic guitar riff that deserves to shake the house. But I’d rather have catchy songs than catchy production any day – I’ll bet that “Without You” and “Whirlwind” rock the house live. Keep an eye on these guys.

The Cartoon Factory website.

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Do It Again, Again.

I was privileged to attend the screening of Do It Again at the Independent Film Festival Boston last night. The Somerville Theatre was packed – the film was an advance sellout and the ticket of the weekend – and the audience response was astounding. The crowd was a diverse group, with a huge contingent of traveling Kinks fans (like me!) among some friends and families of the principals and the healthy crowd that the Festival naturally attracts.

I won’t rehash the previous promos of the movie I’ve written, nor will I spoil anything for you today, as there are many warm surprises, but I highly encourage you to get to a screening and see this film. There were at least two dozen moments during the film when the entire audience broke into spontaneous applause or laughter in unison as if operating from one central nervous system.

Blending stock footage, interviews, travelogue, voice-overs and creative graphics, Do It Again’s 85 or so minutes breezed by leaving me exhilarated yet wanting more. There are moments of gut-busting laughter, moments of tender poignancy, musical encounters that will make you cringe and others that will make you cheer…and maybe even dampen that eye of yours.

  • If you are, or have ever been, a Kinks fan…you need to see this.
  • If you have ever had an obsession about a band…you need to see this.
  • If you have ever questioned your pursuit of a goal…you need to see this.
  • If you enjoy a well scripted and superbly edited documentary about a fascinating subject…you need to see this.
  • If you are a Kink and your name is Rayyou need to see this.

Here’s a taste…

I’m writing a larger piece about the film and the principals for Blurt Online and will post an excerpt and a link here in the near future. But I would be remiss if I did not send up a flare within ten minutes of my return from Boston to implore you to do whatever you have to do to see this movie as soon as possible.

Please note that I didn’t say I was happy to see the film or lucky to see the film.

I was privileged.

The Do It Again film website  – trailer, info, etc.

Geoff Edgers interview at the Full Frame Film Festival

Reviews from Nashville Scene and Variety and The Huffington Post

Back the film project on Kickstarter

Dave Davies website

Ray Davies website

Kinda Kinksunofficial website

Kinks fan club forum discussion

Ray Davies fan forum discussion

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Blast From The Past – Jack Green!

Life is like a bowl of tangents.

No, Forrest Gump didn’t say that. But it’s true! After writing about the Pretty Things I saw that they were now playing dates with other musicians filling in around Taylor and May. That started me thinking about bands who eventually have other players come through their ranks  in later years, from Bad Company to Foghat to Steppenwolf, so I decided to look up everyone who had been a Pretty Thing. And although I knew that Jack Green was in the band for a bit, I had totally forgotten it.

I didn’t discover Green from his tenure in the Pretties (even though I played Silk Torpedo and Savage Eye a lot) or as a member of T.Rex, either. My first conscious exposure to him came on an album that came out thirty years ago called Humanesque. Released at the cusp of the post-punk, corporate rock days, this fell into a group of refreshing albums with catchy songs, great guitar and a bit of a New Wave edge that this new channel called MTV would soon try to jump all over. But Jack Green wasn’t about posing and synthesisers and bullshit – he had crafted an album equal parts powerpop and Ziggy Stardust.

At the time I was both managing a small club and writing for an arts weekly called The National Rag, so I was fortunate enough to get pitched on bands from both angles, but his label never mentioned Jack Green. I was struck by the album cover – any veteran bin-browser has discovered many a favorite this way – and I think I remember reading a small clip comparing his voice to Bowie’s. I saw, I bought, and was conquered.

Green was a great guitar player but didn’t flash out just to show off; his solos (“Babe” is a great example) were tasty without wanking. He sounded as comfortable with pop-reggae (“Life on The Line”, “So Much”) as with more raspy rocking (the Bryan Adams-ish “I Call, No Answer”, featuring some Ritchie Blackmore axe work). “Thought It Was Easy” is a very pretty slow-tempo rocker that showcases his knack for a hook and his very appealing voice; ditto “Valentina” which features some nice tempo changes. And  “Murder” should have been as big a hit as Foreigner’s “Hot Blooded”.

Video: “Babe

“Factory Girl” starts out is a pretty straightforward pop rocker – fat chords, short sharp chorus – but morphs into a nice guitar workout. And the hypnotic closer, “This is Japan”, cleverly integrated Oriental arpeggios with a churning rock beat. (When I moved to Rochester a local band making good named Duke Jupiter covered it on their album; I’m pretty sure someone else had a minor hit with it as well). Frankly, there’s really not a duff track to be found here.

My favorite was the three-minute killer “Bout That Girl”, which did indeed sound like a Ziggy outtake. Great vocal, punchy guitar and a chorus that I found myself humming immediately. I played that song over and over; I thought it might be the greatest hook I had heard in years. The cassette player in my old Pontiac got quite a workout in those days, and anytime I had anyone in the car I would play it for them and blast the chorus…and to a person I’d get that nod of agreement: indeed, this is a hit record!

That was until the day I was giving Ed Hamell (yep, Hamell on Trial) a ride home. The first time through he stared intently at the tape deck (why do people stare at radios and tape players?) before breaking into a wicked grin. When the chorus came around the second time he sang loudly, and in perfect rhythm…the first line of the chorus from The Byrds‘ “Chestnut Mare”. 

Damn. “Somebody should have told me about that girl“…”I’m gonna catch that horse if I can“…that was a perfect fit.

Reeling, I let buzzkill Ed out of the car, probably as amazed that he nailed the reference so easily as I was that I missed it in a hundred listens. No wonder that one line struck me so immediately – it had been in my brain for years! But lest you think I’m accusing Mr. Green of deliberately swiping a hook, I’m not. The rest of the chorus, let alone the rest of the entire songs, are as different as night and day. The Byrds never said anything, and I never heard anyone else but Ed make the connection. Just another happy accident in rock and roll.

But that anecdote is as fresh in my head as if it happened yesterday, and whenever I think of that song I think of Ed and that Pontiac and that time of my life. It’s just one more occasion where a song and a time and an experience are linked together and burned in my memory. And those are the things that will continue to put a smile on my face as long as I live.

Video: “This Is Japan

Copies of this album are going for ridiculous prices on Amazon; I have no idea what the situation is regarding ownership of the masters or whether anyone even cares enough to try to re-release them again. Lord knows there can’t be a ton of money in that. But I’ve got a rack full of albums from that 3-4 year period surrounding 1980, and it’s a gold mine of greatness. Gary Myrick, The Sinceros, Phil Seymour, The Photos, The Fabulous Poodles, Pearl Harbor and The Explosions…trust me, it’s a long list of people who mostly had two albums before having the plug pulled.

I own both Humanesque and Reverse Logic; I never saw the other two or I would have snapped them up in a heartbeat. His later efforts provided a hit for Roger Daltrey and an association with John Mellencamp, and he’s enjoyed a successful artistic career in and out of music.

Some of the CBS artists have been lucky enough to have their work re-issued as 2-fers, giving a new generation an opportunity to discover albums that didn’t get their due. It would be really great if whatever conglomerate owns these RCA albums would do the same for him to remind the world how special these Jack Green albums are.

The Jack Green Appreciation Society

Don’t confuse him with this guy.

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