Glam punk powerpop alert!
I’ll admit it – I love everything about glam powerpop. The fat guitar chords, the thrashing drums, the foot-stomping beat and the huge hooks are the antithesis of subtle, but there’s a time and place for everything. I love Loudon Wainwright III but I don’t bounce down the street blasting “Your Mother And I” out of the car stereo, windows down, rear-view mirror shaking from the pulse of the woofers. Nope, that’s what glam and powerpop is for.
I missed Smash Fashion’s 2003 release (and have since made up for it) and almost did the same thing with 2010’s Don’t Pet The Sweaty Things. (Thank god for late night “sounds like” tangents on Amazon and CD Baby!) I wasn’t sure what to expect from a group photo that had one guy thrusting a Flying V guitar neck at me while sporting an eyepatch, but at the risk of hearing an album full of Dr. Hook covers I dove in.
Video: “She Goes Down”
Like most powerpop bands, you can play spot the influence. For example:
- “Baby Dancer” and “Blonde Raccoon” are so reminiscent of Dwight Twilley I had to check the credits
- “Hard On Love” is as KISS-like as its title
- “Confessions of a Opium Eater” is the bastard child of “Auf Weidersehen“
- “Proper Way To Eat A Muffin” is T.Rex incarnate
- “Sad Sweet Sick and Beautiful” has Mick Ronson’s fingerprints all over it
- “All Systems Go” is like a mashup of Matthew Sweet and “If I Needed Someone“
- Mott The Hoople, The Sweet, Cheap Trick…and so on.
The title track is as close as you’ll get to a glitter ballad. There are also a couple of covers – the muscle pop rendition of Abba’s “Does Your Mother Know” is really good but “Benny And The Jets” was probably better left alone. Still, this impressive collection of glammy chestnuts is well worth getting and playing loud. These guys know exactly what they’re doing, and they sound like they’re having a blast in the process.
Life is short, stop taking it so seriously. Blast this mofo out a window.
Smash Fashion’s website and MySpace page
Listen/buy at CD BABY.
Smash Fashiion - worth the trip.
Filed under Music, Reviews
As soon as I pulled one of the T.Rex collections off the shelf last week, I knew I’d be doing a TGIF with their songs. Hard to believe that Marc Bolan died at 29, but his music still pumps me up over thirty years later. How one can hear “Bang A Gong” and not get caught up in it, I’ll never know.
A fixture of the glam rock movement, his impact in America was short and sweet but he dominated the UK music scene during his career. Fragile yet headstrong, he dabbled in many arts and performed with many artists across the musical spectrum (never would have expected to see him credited on a Tina Turner track), and if the legacy is to die young and pretty…mission accomplished, mate.
So here are Ten T.Rex Tunes for this week’s TGIF. One and two and bobbidy bobbidy boo boo, yeah – let’s boogie!
(01) – “Children Of The Revolution”
(02) – “Metal Guru”
(03) – “The Slider”
(04) – “Dandy In The Underworld”
(05) – “Bang A Gong (Get It On)”
(06) – “Buick MacKane”
(07) – “Telegram Sam”
(08) – “Jeepster”
(09) – “Raw Ramp”
(10) – “20th Century Boy”
Filed under Film/TV, Music
Most band names don’t communicate the sound of the band. Sugarbuzz does.
Sugarbuzz was a late 90s collaboration between Brian Leach and Brian Reed (they even had a third Brian – Brian Krumm – add some lead guitar parts). Leach has a solo album called The Sunrise Nearly Killed Me, which is among many powerpop fans’ favorites, but frankly after fifteen plus years I’m getting the Leach/Sugarbuzz timeline confused. But I like all his stuff – in his normal vocal range he has a sweet pop voice but slides into a sandy rasp in the upper register. Still don’t know much about Reed.
Submerged is a really solid effort that is heavy on the powerpop but winds in other elements for a nice mix. Occasionally they will recall other bands but Leach’s vocal adds a quality to the mix that gives them a unique sound. Not a lot of power in the powerpop…more of a perfect album for a Sunday morning drive.
“Overthrown” is one of my favorites, strongly recalling T.Rex, while the guitar and chord structure of “Lost Sensation” and “A World Away” recalls Jellyfish (especially the staccato strings and guitar solo). and I hate to use the word “beats” when talking about music, but “Born Again” sounds like the percussion was played by a guy on a street corner with an inverted plastic paint bucket. “The House That Never Sleeps” uses some subtle wah-wah and background string-bending to produce an infectious spacy sound; “Long Hot Summer” takes that ambling psychedelic approach to a point where you almost feel the exhaustion he’s singing about. I really like “On Some Other Day” where Leach (or Krumm?) goes all Joe Walsh for a couple of minutes.
I always lump Leach in with Matthew Sweet and artists from Champaign, Illinois (Velvet Crush, Adam Schmitt) probably because all this came out in the late 90s, although he and Reed really don’t sound that much like them. But if you are a fan of the aforementioned bands, I think you’ll like Sugarbuzz a lot. And like many pop albums that never made a big splash, an enterprising fan could get this for a song.
A few clips on MySpace
Filed under Music, Reviews
Back when I had that kind of time, I participated in a monthly tape swap, and for a time I had to dub these puppies in real speed. When we finally got to the CD stage and I could burn a disc at 2x I thought I was in heaven. What used to be a serious committment – the group was usually 35-40 people, so imagine the time and money involved – now can be done dirt cheap and at lightning speed. (I still participate in one of these groups twelve years running, although we’re down to one or two trades a year.)
I used to make the cassette art by hand; sometimes a drawing and other times a cut-and-paste job, then type and shrink the set list to fit on the inside flap and print them off on colored paper…cut them along the outline…fold and insert into the J-Card slot on every one. Like I said, I had that kind of time. If I find the original art for this one I’ll upload it someday, but I remember it was a variation on a Powerpoint silhouette image of a man holding a mirror.
I love tribute records, so this mixtape (from March 1997) was a tribute to tributes. It’s a great set and these covers are well worth seeking out. Now I have to find the actual tape, because just reading these names has me jazzed.
And I still miss Material Issue.
you be me for awhile and….I’LL BE YOU
|Dance Dance Dance
||Manitoba’s Wild Kingdom (Handsome Dick and a couple of Dictators) pay homage to Brian Wilson
|Pictures Of Lily
||The ‘oo, done with great passion by that great sideman Ian McLagan and the Bump Band
|She’s Got Everything
||The Droogs, Aussies yet, service Mr.Davies’ classic well. Can’t believe there aren’t more great Kinks covers.
|Time Has Come Today
||Willy (Mink) DeVille from last years fab “Loup Garou” record. This Chambers Brothers song still rules!
|Pictures Of Matchstick Men
||Status Quo song covered by the pre-Cracker Lowery in the late, great Camper Van Beethoven. Respectful yet cool!
||Would have picked a better T-Rex cover if I could have but Sky Blue nailed the Bolanisms better than anyone else did.
||The fabulous DM3 (wow, I’ve already been to Australia twice in seven songs!) absolutely rip this one up! Go Don!
||Miracle Legion from another spotty tribute disc. For all you who remember the Byrds as electric Dylan, try this instead.
|I Can’t Let Go
||Still the best tribute disc ever made, eggBert’s “Sing Hollies In Reverse” featured wall to wall greatness like this Continental Drifters cut.
|My Minds Eye
||Ah, the Small Faces. Northern Uproar did yeoman service on last year’s tribute. A must-have for all true pop fans!
||The Woods, America’s Rockpile, nail this Todd tune. I will not rest until the name Jack Cornell is known far and wide.
||True Story: Frank thought they were cutting “Candyman” for a Sammy Davis tribute. Nah…he loves Otis Blackwell too!
|Sweets For My Sweet
||Doc Pomus gets the Brian Wilson post-sandbox/Landry treatment. And Mike Love is an asshole.
|Love Is All Around
||Christine Ohlman is recording again! If you remember Big Sound Records or Dusty Springfield, Trogg out with this!
|And Your Bird Can Sing
||Weller and company grew tired of “The Jam is just aping The Who” rumors. So they aped the Beatles instead.
|I’m Not In Love
||Chrissie and the Pretenders snapped out two covers for movies/TV – this 10cc track and “Angel In The Morning”
|Town Without Pity
||Gene Pitney covered by Steppenwolf’s John Kay on heroin. Naah..it’s the wonderful Thin White Rope from “Spoor”
||The Monkees tribute is way cool, including this John Stewart song ably harmonized by Man Size Job? Who? Me neither.
|Run To Me
||If there were any doubts that Material Issue could do it all, this will silence them. Haunting BeeGeeutiful song. RIP Jim.
|Hard Luck Woman
||The Kiss tribute is pretty funny, and I gotta admit that when I realized this was THE Garth Brooks I almost had a seizure.
|It’s The Little Things
||And you thought Sonny Bono couldn’t write hooks. He did work with Spector, y’know, so bow down for The Skeletons.
|Listen To Her Heart
||Tom Petty as seen through the eyes of Truck Stop Love, produced at Ardent by some guy named Jody Stephens.
|Don’t Want To Say Goodbye
||Last year the Raspberries tribute came out, chock full of great versions, few better than this homage by The Flashcubes.
|Have You Seen Your Mother Baby, …
||Wow that’s a long title! Believe it or not, this is The Records from a free EP that came with the first run of their LP.
|Build Me Up Buttercup
||David Johansen, post-Dolls and pre-Buster P. David always kicked ass live and paid props to great 60’s soul music.
|When Something Is Wrong With My Baby
||Wow – Sam and Dave voiced by the immortal Herman Brood, who truly is a rock and roll junkie. Live track.
|Back Of A Car
||When you hear this song now you wonder how Big Star wasn’t huge then. This is The Loud Family – same comment.
|Earn Enough For Us
||Freedy Johnston does XTC (who appeared on their own tribute record in disguise!). Love the pedal steel!
|No Matter What
||Closing the set with a song by “the next Beatles” (Badfinger) done by “the next Beatles” (The Knack). Oasis my ass.
As always, play loud, play often.
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 anniversary – congratulations!
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.
Filed under Music, Reviews