Tag Archives: Phil Spector

Twenty Years Without Doc Pomus…

But not without his songs.

Timeless. Classic. Doc died twenty years ago today but his legacy is vibrant.

Still fresh now, and just the quality of the material can lift an average band onto a new level. Hell, just a cursory glance at Wikipedia lists “A Teenager in Love”; “Save The Last Dance For Me”; “Hushabye”; “This Magic Moment”; “Turn Me Loose”; “Sweets For My Sweet”; “Go Jimmy Go”; “Can’t Get Used to Losing You”; “Little Sister”; “Suspicion”; “Surrender”; “Viva Las Vegas”; “(Marie’s the Name of) His Latest Flame”…just a smattering of the hits he wrote with Mort Shuman, Phil Spector and others.

That would have sealed the deal right there. But later in his life he was collaborating with people like Dr. John and Willy DeVille, giving life to stories about people on the fringe – the loners, the night walkers, characters that would fill a film noir casting session.

I love tribute albums and Till The Night Is Gone is one of my favorites. Of course, when your songs are covered by Bob Dylan, Brian Wilson, Dion, Dr. John, Irma Thomas, Solomon Burke, John Hiatt, Shawn Colvin, Aaron Neville, Lou Reed, The Band, B. B. King, Los Lobos and Rosanne Cash…it’s hard to make a bad album.

Doc lives on in my heart and mind. But mostly in my ears.



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Single x 3 = Thringle

And that’s just what The Love Me Nots have tossed out there as a taste of their upcoming album, The Demon and the Devotee. Available right now on CD Baby, Thringle whets the appetite with a 1-2-3 punch of the Spector/garage hybrid that this Arizona band has consistently excelled at.

Once again working with the legendary Jim Diamond, the band combines catchy but meaty pop songs with a sonic wallop that’s at once retro and current. Vocalist Nicole Laurenne is the personification of sultry, but she can pounce as well as she can purr. And while I’m enamored with her presence front and center, the whip-crack trio standing alongside her (Michael Johnny Walker, Kyle Rose Stokes, Jay Lien) are equally critical cogs in this machine.

Video: “You’re Really Something

The Love Me Nots have dropped three albums in recent years, and with each one they get better. I’m already smiling at the ringing twelve string chiming on “The Girl Lights Up“, but I’ll save my thoughts on these three tracks until the full length comes out.

The Demon and the Devotee will soon be available in Europe on Bad Reputation Records, with a US release on Atomic A Go Go Records shortly afterwards. So drop the two dollars now and get your Thringle on. And if you haven’t already done so, I recommend that you grab those other three albums to help hold you over.

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Under The Radar: Codeine Velvet Club

The name is almost an oxymoron, jacked up yet smooth. But that’s a pretty accurate description of the charming and infectious retro-pop served up by the band, a collaboration between Jon Lawler of The Fratellis and Lou Hickey, an heretofore unknown cabaret singer from Glasgow. The eponymous album was released in 2009 and failed to chart any singles but did have a video nominated for an award by MTV Europe; the album was released in the US almost a year ago, adding a bonus track cover of a Stone Roses classic.

Video: “I Am The Resurrection

Video: “Hollywood

Reportedly the pair came together when Hickey received a grant from the Scottish Arts Council and asked her friend – Lawler’s wife – for advice. The Fratellis were taking a break and Lawler was looking for something to do between albums. Lawler is a fan of James Bond film scores; Hickey an old-school type geeked about swing, big band and Lee Hazlewood-Nancy Sinatra. What are the odds that these two would find each other and mesh so seamlessly, from vocals to songwriting skill? Timing is everything.

I was pretty floored considering the image that The Fratellis present in their music; CVC is a much more sophisticated set of songs. The Codeine Velvet Club most often mixes Cabaret-style posturing with cinematic pop; Hickey’s voice is perfect and she’s a great visual focal point as well. Lawler slides into this other persona with ease, and the assembled backing band adds punch and atmosphere. No wonder that there’s a little John Barry in there; trumpeter Derek Watkins has played on every Bond soundtrack to date.

Video: “Little Sister

Sadly, they’ve disbanded already. Let’s hope that like many great side projects, the principals decide to reanimate it from time to time. In the meantime, if this means a new Fratellis album is on the way (although Lawler is hinting about going solo), that would be more great news.

Listen to clips on Amazon.

Codeine Velvet Club official website and on MySpace

The Fratellis website

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Layla at 40

One hit wonders, iconic albums, career peaks…you could file Layla under every one of those categories.  And while words like classic and timeless are tossed around too often, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs – the sole studio effort by supergroup Derek and The Dominoes – fits that bill.

I’ve worn the damned thing out in almost every conceivable format; I’ve heard several boots of outtakes and demos and even spent many an hour sifting through the live albums (both official and not) over the years. But the twin guitars of Eric Clapton and Duane Allman, the piano section from Bobby Whitlock that even Goodfellas couldn’t rob, the constant battle over which of the four sides (that’s album talk, kids) was actually superior…these are memories and images that have stood the test of time.

I’m not a big fan of these highly priced reissues that expand original albums beyond belief; for some they are a true testimonial of respect while others are a transparent cash grab. But that’s not my wallet in your pocket; I’m just here to pass the word. Looks like there will be a two-CD edition and a fully loaded motherlode version which includes books, vinyl, DVD-audio and more. I’m probably shooting for the former, since it contains some great live material on the second disc as well as a remastered version of the original masterpiece. From the press release:

THE 2CD DELUXE EDITION features:

 • Six exciting performances from what was to be Derek and the Dominos’ second album, all remixed by the original session engineer, Andy Johns. The highlight of the six tracks is “Got To Get Better In A Little While” – the group’s last recording – presented in this collection both as a mesmerizing jam version and as the first-ever release of the fully produced studio version, finally completed by founding member Bobby Whitlock on keyboards and vocals.

 • All four audio performances from Derek and the Domino’s sole, historic television appearance on The Johnny Cash Show, November 9, 1970 – including Clapton’s famous jam on “Matchbox Blues” with Cash and rockabilly legend Carl Perkins.

 • The two tracks produced by Phil Spector in early summer 1970 that amounted to the first release by Derek and the Dominos: “Tell the Truth” and “Roll It Over,” the A- and B-side of a single that was quickly pulled from circulation by the group.

 • The Layla session out-take “Mean Old World”: the legendary acoustic duet performed by Eric Clapton and Duane Allman.

 The SUPER DELUXE EDITION additionally includes:

 • Newly remastered and expanded 2-CD set of Derek and the Dominos: In Concert, recorded at the Fillmore East and remastered from the original master tapes.

 • Audio only DVD featuring DTS 5.1 and Dolby Surround 5.1 versions of Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs mixed by legendary engineer Elliot Scheiner.

 • High-fidelity, 180-gram reproduction of the original vinyl double album, remastered directly from the original UK album masters, featuring slightly alternate mixes of some songs.   

 • A hardcover book, artfully designed with rare and never-seen photographs, and featuring four meticulously researched essays by noted music historian and author Ashley Kahn fashioned from new interviews with Bobby Whitlock, Allman Brothers drummer Butch Trucks, engineer Ashley Kahn , producer Albhy Galuten, guitarist Derek Trucks; plus historic interviews with Eric Clapton, Duane Allman, and producer Tom Dowd.

 • Facsimiles of Derek and the Dominos concert tickets and various promotional items, including the famous “Derek is Eric” button created to assure fans of the identity of the group’s lead singer and guitarist.

 • Pop-up 3-D artwork and a high quality Layla art print based on the oil painting that graced the original album cover – “La Fille Au Bouquet” by Emile Theodore Frandsen de Schomberg – which has achieved cultural significance in its own right.

 

Or maybe all you really need to do is pull that old vinyl album off the shelf…there’s nothing wrong with that. But either way, one listen will remind you that they just don’t make ’em like they used to.

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T.G.I.F. – Ten 2010 Bridesmaids

Putting together a “best of” list is hard for me, because there’s so much out there to enjoy every year and many albums appeal to me in different ways. Lists are subjective, of course (despite what Rolling Stone may insist) and try as I might I can’t put six pounds of stuff into a five pound bag. So while I consider the Top Ten an honor, the near misses – Bridesmaids, as I’ve been calling them – are no slouches either.

To beat the tired drum again, anyone who is claiming that there is no great music being made simply isn’t trying hard enough to find it. I’m out there beating the bushes constantly and I can’t keep up with it; certainly even a cursory attempt to widen one’s horizons would be richly rewarded (there’s a bunch of links at right for starters). And as always I welcome the emails from readers that start “have you heard…” as they often open new doors for me as well.

So this week, in no particular order, let me present Ten 2010 Bridesmaids – albums that didn’t make the Top Ten but weren’t far off. When I post the full “best of” lists in January these will certainly be there, so give a listen and be rewarded! (Amazon links included – many on sale right now!)

And on this TGIF Friday I’m especially thankful.

01) Peter Wolf – Midnight Souveniers…Like fine wine, Wolf just gets better and better with age. A far cry from his kinetic J. Geils frontman image, Pete has quietly entered the small plateau of artists perpetuating organic, honest music for the ages. A musical archivist flexing his talents.

02) Smash Palace – 7…If the cover art’s nod to Revolver doesn’t tip you off, let me. Smash Palace is in the upper tier of powerpop bands with traces of Cheap Trick, The Beatles, Tom Petty and Badfinger in its mix but a fresh and original sound. Solid songwriting, incredible vocals, songs that are pure ear candy. Radio’s loss; your gain.

03) Paul Thorn – Pimps and Preachers…”If I could be a tear/rolling down your cheek/and died on your lips/my life would be complete”. Holy shit. I’m new to Thorn’s world, but this is a gritty brew of John Hiatt, Warren Zevon, Bob Seger and Alejandro Escovedo. I am on board now.

04) The Master Plan – Maximum Respect…You were so sure that you didn’t get a record from The Del Lords, The Fleshtones or The Dictators in 2010. Well, you were wrong! The collaborative side project is back for a second album and as you might expect, it kicks ass! If “BBQ” doesn’t get you hopping, you are a zombie.

05) Teenage Fanclub – Shadows…Back after a five-year break and sounding like it was a day. Fannies know what to expect, for the uninitiated, think a sophisticated pop blend of XTC, Big Star and some classic California sunny pop (Beach Boys, CSN). A little subdued for some, I prefer to call it atmospheric.

06) New Pornographers – Together…The phrase “greater than the sum of its parts” sets the bar very high when talking about this collaborative unit, but damned if I don’t find every one of their albums irresistible. Any band that can make whistling as cool as a snapping snare drum is okay by me.

07) Graham Parker – Imaginary Television…Another guy who just defies the calendar and continues to pump out great songs; he’s a better singer, songwriter and guitar player now than in his popular prime. Also be sure to pick up his live set with The Figgs.

08) Deadstring Brothers – Sao Paulo…Imagine the Gram Parsons / Keith Richards sessions in the Stones’ golden era were invaded by Ronnie Wood from The Faces. Wine flowed. Tape rolled. Absolute gospel – rock – country blues bliss.

09) The Hold Steady – Heaven Is Whenever…Just missed…I thought the personnel change would impair their urgency and their passion but they are as good as ever. The first five songs are absolutely perfect and the album would be worth it if it ended there.

10) Nick Curran – Reform School Girl…I wasn’t a follower of Curran but damned if he isn’t channeling Little Richard, Phil Spector, Fats Domino, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and The Sonics on this album. This is a party whittled down and stuffed in a jewel case; besides – how can you not buy an album with a title like this one?

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New Album! Magic Kids

A breath of fresh air, yet from a time capsule.

The minute I heard sleigh bells on “Phone”, the opening cut from Memphis, I thought I had put the wrong disc in the player and wondered how the Phil Spector Christmas Album had gotten in the wrong jewel case. But before that thought even completed, I realized that this irresistible sunshine pop song was not one of those 60s holiday treats, but instead a blend of Brian Wilson, 60s AM radio and contemporary pop artists like Mike Viola and Mark Bacino.

And after Memphis dazzled me with a 1-2-3 peppering of bouncy pop nuggets, the Wilson DNA bleeds into a soul falsetto; the string-laden, handclap-propelled “Hideout”. “Summer” follows, and five songs into an eleven track album you’ve forgotten all about them paying tribute, and realize that Memphis simply used Wilson and Spector for a springboard. The arrangements are intricate, the melodies are infectious, and even when the lyrics might fall a little short, the vocals from Bennett Foster sell them anyway.

But if you do want that perfect mix of Phil and Brian, look no further than “Hey Boy”, complete with call-and-response vocals and…yes, those sleigh bells.

Video: “Hey Boy

I don’t know where these guys came from, nor do I know where they’re headed, but Memphis is certainly going to be on my list of the Best Albums of 2010. Summertime record my ass, this will be worthwhile any time you decide to reach for it.

Listen to clips at Amazon 

 
 

 

Made for summer, but good all year long.

 

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Under The Radar: Sounds Like…?

My buddy Angelo over at Power Pop Criminals has done it again.

Angelo loves well done cover tunes as much as I do, and we probably share the same disappointment that record labels don’t often do a good job assembling tribute albums. PPC’s Beatle album recreations, for example, are works of art (literally – the cover art on their home-crafted mixes is always first-rate!). So like many of us do, Angelo makes mix tapes to compensate. Thankfully, he also offers them as a free download.

Last month also marked PPC’s fifth anniversarycongratulations!

Head on over to PPC. You’ll find a wealth of magic in the archives and hopefully discover a new favorite artist or two; hopefully your interest will turn into support via album purchases and concert tickets. I’ll bet you find a couple of new (to you) bands that will floor you in this collection.

Here are his words on the subject:

“I guess you all remember Dave Edmunds recreating the Phil Spector’s Wall Of Sound, or how many bands have contributed to the Beatlesque history of Power Pop and some other artists searching for the perfect harmonies of Brian Wilson, even The Fab Four did this with “Paperback Writer”. All those bands have something in common, the love and respect for these forerunners. So instead of covering some classic tunes, they wrote original songs, mixed and produced them in the spirit of the bands we all love.

This new 2CD PPC collection is my humble try at compiling the homages recorded by the bands featured here. Of course, some of you won’t hear what i’ve heard, but you won’t deny the L.E.O.’s song might be one of the best songs Jeff L. has never written, or that Marc B., Bob D., Elvis C. can be heard without being really featured. Some other acts have included partial references to their heroes – this is how Roy Wood’s Wizzard can be heard with some glitter stomp in the same song, i could write and on and on, but where would be the fun of discovering the  tributes hidden in the songs. Enjoy.”

Some Soundalikes is available at the PPC website.

 
 

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