Tag Archives: The Clash

The Ballad Of Mott The Hoople

Times like this it pays to be British – or at least have a region-free DVD player!

The long-awaited DVD release of The Ballad Of Mott The Hoople is finally upon us – October in the UK (followed by a November US release). Much like with the Bill Hicks documentary, I’m not waiting.

Video: Trailer for the film

The feature-length documentary also features Mick Jones of The Clash (who cites Mott as a huge influence) and Roger Taylor of Queen (Queen opened for Mott during their famous Broadway residency). It tells the story of the band from beginning up to the original implosion, plus includes the bittersweet coda of the 2009 Hammersmith Apollo reunion gigs.

Amazon UK has it here.

The official film website.

Official Mott website

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Games People Play

Beatlemania hit fast and it hit hard.

Of course, you know that, and if like me you were there for the seismic shift, you remember the Ed Sullivan Show, and the screaming girls and the absolute dominance of the pop charts. You remember the cheeky interviews and the Christmas Fan Club singles and even debating whether some Canadian musician was standing in Paul McCartney’s Beatle boots.

There were lunch boxes and posters and trading cards. There were even cartoons. And then there was Flip Your Wig.

I remember buying this for my neighbors Fran and Janet and probably even playing it once. But if you thought it was demoralizing to watch girls moon over Beatles picture sleeves while not giving you the time of day, imagine playing a board game with them where every roll of the dice involved kissing a cardboard cut-out of a Beatle. And you wonder why most guys were Stones fans.

But Doc, that’s old school shit my grandpa babbled about. I’m a ’77 punker and I hate The Beatles. I grew up on cool bands like The Clash.

No problem, young whippersnapper

My buddy Angelo over at Power Pop Criminals went to great pains to scan and reassemble the free game that the rock weekly Sounds gave away. Angelo describes it as a Snakes and Ladders type game covering events in the band’s early career, complete with playing cards and cut-outs of the handsome quartet.

So click here to visit PPC, get your scissors, tape, glue (no sniffing!) and cardboard and have at it. It’s a White Riot!

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Under The Radar: The Shys

Most bands get all sorts of undeserved comparative hype. While I am usually guilty of “sounds like” relationships in my reviews, I feel that without them it would be more difficult to communicate the specific sound or direction of the band (if limited to more general terms). But I am flooded with press releases that make such outlandish comparisons that they are merely laughable. The new variation on that theme is to be so patently obscure in your references to appear hip. But the downside of that is communicating so little worthwhile information that the bio is of no use whatsoever.

But you have to admit that a band billed like this is worth a listen:

“California’s Shys are a blistering four-piece featuring Iggy style vox and hints of all the Stones: the Rolling Stones, Stone Roses, and Sly And The Family Stone.”

I really liked this album, as well as their follow-up You’ll Never Understand This Band The Way I Do. I’ll save the references for that one for another time, but here’s my review of Astoria from Pop Culture Press in 2007:

The opening track “Never Gonna Die” kicks off with a blast of ringing guitars and Keith Moon-like drums, transporting the listener to England circa 1977. But although a comparison to the melodic pub punk of bands like The Boys wouldn’t be out of line, these sounds are being made by a band in their early twenties…from California? Vocalist Kyle Krone wraps his throaty Iggy vocals around an album full of strong material, albeit heavily influenced by a myriad of other bands.

“Call in the Cavalry” brazenly swipes a riff and drumbeat from the White Stripes but grows it from there, ditto “Alive Transmission” (“Search and Destroy” meets “Undercover of the Night”) and the Ian Hunter drenched “Waiting on the Sun”. The title track is a Clash-like stomp that builds and recedes like a violent tide. And while they may cop some modern bands, the guitar work is steeped in seventies rock, which makes tracks like “The Resistance” much more than a nod to Oasis. A very, very strong debut.

Listen to clips at Amazon.

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T.G.I.F. – Ten Worthwhile Weblinks

Yes, I know…I’ve got to get an alliteration editor…

I’m in the midst of finalizing the countdowns for comedy CDs and DVDs (starts tomorrow!) and as usual have stumbled across a few things worth sharing. One of the drawbacks of the Internet is that there is so much out there, it gets harder and harder to maintain a good filter. I hope the Prescripton is part of your formula (just like most of the Blogroll – lower right column to you – helps me navigate oceans of content).

So today, a veritable potpourri of links – satire, movie trailers, MP3s of great songs…Ten Worthwhile Weblinks that will each take only a few minutes of your time. In this wireless age, perhaps this is the future of “bathroom reading”, a browser window in place of a paperback novel that has likely been handled by suspicious people with questionable hygiene. Assuming you are the master of your laptop, feel free to click away…

(01) Stewart Lee on Harry Potter – Lee is erudite, sarcastic, incisive, brilliant and one of the funniest people on the face of the Earth. This bit is but a gnat’s pimple of his recorded work, all of which is worth your immediate pilgrimage.

(02) Brighton Rock – Yes, they’re remaking the classic Graham Greene tale (the first starred a young Richard Attenborough in the role of “Pinky” – worth chasing down). Ominous music, looks cool.

(03) The Filthy 42s – they put out one album (the subject of an upcoming Under The Radar feature) and this great song didn’t make the cut. “Ain’t Nobody Gonna Hold Us Down” cross-breeds The Clash and The Rubinoos.

(04) Louis CK and Robert Smigel – as dog whisperers (before that was cool) in a sketch on a 1993 Conan O’Brien episode. Two words: Hair Triumph!

(05) Social Distortion – hey, SD has a brand new album!! Here’s a very Faces/Black Crowes sounding “Hustle and Flow“…

Living Candle, Zsa Zsa 2011, Black Drew Carey

(06) Paul F. Tompkins recaps American Idol – Talk about taking a bullet for a buddy! Why watch this if Paul is willing to do it for you?

(06) Gainsbourg – Obviously, I was born too late, in the wrong country, and with the wrong instincts.

(08) The Cynics – Any Sonny and Cher cover is fun, but these garage giants not only nail “I Got You Babe” but light the video on fire.

(09) Gilbert Gottfried Death or Ugu? Umm…not safe for work, home, public, careless forwarding…do you have headphones?

(10) Ricky Gervais – In case you’ve been living under a rock, here’s Golden Globe host Gervais ripping Hollywood a new one in 2010 and again in 2011. Savor the moment(s).

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Top Ten Albums of 2010 – #1

(No TGIF today as we conclude the 2010 countdown…)

When all is said and done, rock’n’roll is supposed to be a release, whether that’s from the pulsating rhythm of the music, the depth of the lyrical message or the sheer enjoyment of playing the damned thing loud. It’s hard enough to compare the apples and oranges of music, but when I was finalizing the list I asked myself… which album brought me the most pleasure? Which did I play the most often? Which did I look forward to playing, even if I had heard it thirty times?

And so I give you Pictures from The Len Price 3.

Video: “Mr. Grey

Recalling the great kinetic music of  The Kinks, The Creation, The Small Faces and the early Who, the trio blends in irresistible pop vocals (think Sire-era Searchers or The Records) and punk energy (The Jam and The Clash being obvious influences). The result is a baker’s dozen of explosive three-minute singles; kudos to the production of Graham Day (The Prisoners, Graham Day and the Gaolers).

The album launches itself with the title track (led by Keith Moon drum fills) and follows that jab with the right cross of the celebretard anthem “Keep Your Eyes On Me“, one of 2010’s absolute classics.

Free Download (while it lasts!): “Keep Your Eyes On Me

By the time I got to the third track, “I Don’t Believe You” I already knew I was gobsmacked…and then it just got better. Music like this is the epitome of what the Underground Garage is going for, so it’s no wonder that Little Steven signed these guys onto his Wicked Cool label. I really liked their first two albums Rentacrowd and Chinese Burn, but Pictures is a leap forward even from those. I had it pegged as a best-of contender when it came out in January, and sure enough,  it held off all comers to finish as the best album of 2010.

Listen to clips at Amazon

Video: “I Don’t Believe You

Len Price 3 on MySpace

The Prisoners heritage is clear

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Semi-Semisonic

The law firm of Wilson-Munson-Wilson is back!

Doesn’t seem like that long ago that Semisonic was a staple of our radio diet. “Closing Time” – both song and video – seemed to spool in an incessant loop for about a two year period. Fortunately the band had both chops and songs. Like the Gin Blossoms, they seemed like they’d pump out pleasing melodic pop rock for a long time, and then – like the Gin Blossoms – they were yesterday’s hot band.

Before there was Semisonic there was Trip Shakespeare, where the Wilson-Munson-Wilson axis was firmly in place. Now those three are involved in related projects as artists and producers (damn, Minneapolis is a fertile ground!). And Jacob Slichter? Well, he only wrote one of the best books I’ve ever read about being a musician and getting tossed into the star-making machinery. I heartily recommend you go read So You Wanna be A Rock And Roll Star as soon as possible – it’s literate, funny and poignant.

But on to these two records; a semiSemisonic, if you will.

One of the things I liked about Semisonic was that even when they weren’t really rocking (“FYT”, “Brand New Baby”, “Across The Great Divide”, “If I Run”, etc.) they had a punch to their songs. Sure, much of it was powered by piano and acoustic guitar; maybe it was the way Dan Wilson’s vocals soared above it all that hooked me. The slower paced songs (“Secret Smile”) seemed more fragile by comparison. I could listen to something like “Falling” all day long.

Well, if you like great vocals, those of John Munson and Matt Wilson as The Twilight Hours are stellar. Stereo Night kicks off with the ambitious “Dreams”, weaving hook and melody between foreground and background like a delicious hypnotic dance. But after ten tracks I was in serious need of something more uptempo, although the closing track “Never Mine To Lose” is a solid exit.

“My Return”  and “Queen of Tomorrow” are probably the standouts as far as the more energetic tracks go, while “Forgot Me Now” reminds me of Semisonic’s finest slower moments. (It actually reminds me more of a song called “Fall” by The Tender Idols, but that’s really stretching a reference!). And “Winter Blue” is a pretty stunning exercise in twee-pop, with some nice arrangements that will remind you of another guy named Wilson.

It’s pretty, well-crafted and consistent. For me, it’s just lacking that intangible oomph to force its way to the top of the pile. Give a listen and decide for yourself.

The Twilight Hours on MySpace

***

I’m rabid for tribute albums, and by a similar nature, always game when established musicians do cover songs because they want to. That’s a long way from the days when you had to cover the du jour pop tunes in your corner bar to put food on your table, so if you’re going there now, I’ll go there with you.

Thanks to Chan Poling’s piano and Steve Roehm’s natty vibes, the album does swing. I won’t say that their version of “Androgynous” will make me forget Paul Westerberg or Joan Jett, but it’s clever and catchy and retains all of the original playfulness. And there are some loopy jazz moments within “Watching The Detectives” that remind you that Steve Nieve would totally do that if Elvis only let him.

But the bottom line for me  is too many albums, not enough time. The New Standards are great musicians, offer some class arrangements, and John Munson (with Poling) are solid vocalists. There will be moments when this album will be a joy to encounter. But there’s no way I’ll ever play it as loud or as often as The Hot Rats, who were just as inventive but (1) selected better songs and (2) rocked the snot out of them.  (Caveat: I didn’t realize they had a prior album out, and some of those songs look killer, so I’m headed there to check them out myself).

But this album is well worth a listen as your mileage may vary.

The New Standards website and MySpace

***

And let’s not forget Dan Wilson, who has been pretty busy himself.

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Live: Gaslight Anthem

Not my little secret any longer.

Not my little secret any longer.

Last year I wrote about The Gaslight Anthem and their album The ’59 Sound with unabashed fervor. I placed it in my Top 25 last year with a bullet, because I thought I stumbled across the Missing Link between Bruce Springsteen and The Clash. Here’s what I wrote:

I usually have a bone to pick with any CD that starts with the sound of a needle dropping onto a vinyl record, as if to say “we’re old school rock”. But when you back it up musically, like The Gaslight Anthem does with its Springsteen-from-Dublin approach, all is forgiven. Like The Boss, they’re from Jersey, and this energetic, sing-along, punk-tinged quartet bleeds Bruce’s social observations, wanton loneliness and escapist angst without sounding like a wannabe copycat band. Musically they’re closer to a combination of the rhythmic Edge-like guitar chop of U2 and the sonic political energy of The Clash and…well, early U2.

Having “anthem” as part of their name is appropriate; their literate, lyrical songs resonate with importance and are sold with the passionate vocals of Brian Fallon. I can’t listen to “The Patient Ferris Wheel” or “Meet Me By The River’s Edge” without stifling the reflex to pogo up and down, pumping my fist…not the best combination when driving. Of course, once I noticed that former Flogging Molly guitarist Ted Hutt produced it that explained everything. Hard to believe a band gets this good in two and a half years, but this album is so impressive that I’m grabbing their earlier effort on good faith.

Seeing them live tonight reinforced every thought. 

What can I say? Brian Fallon had the crowd in the palm of his hand the moment he walked on stage. The rest of the night? He juggled them. And I’m not certain if drummer Benny Horowitz had an unlit cigarette or a lollipop in his mouth the entire night, but whether he was channeling James Dean or Kojak didn’t matter. He threw the pulse of the band on his back and carried that weight; all chops and no show-off. Bassist Alex Levine is a massive physical presence, especially next to the comparably diminutive Fallon. His bass thundered all night, but who would dare tell him to lower it one notch? The crowd, fixated on every move, clapped when he clapped and sang when he sang, as if he was the official audience conductor.

I was wondering why guitarist Alex Rosamilia appeared shy by comparison, forgoing the front line to remain a few steps back stage right, at times bent in halfas if bowing to the rhythm. I soon realized that the cacophony of sounds (strings here, accordion there… a horn section?) was emanating from his flavored playing. While Fallon was hammering out the path forward with choppy rhythms, Rosamilia was aural popcorn, splattering a Jason Pollack potpourri of soundscape that made no two songs sound alike.

The Water Street Music Hall was packed, and although the crowd skewed pretty young compared to most, this was a revival meeting from the jump. Sing-alongs, fist-pumping accolades, a well-earned four-song encore and a captive audience that left as sweat-soaked and drained as the band. The Gaslight Anthem earned every penny tonight,  and I suspect they do every night. They ripped through most of the new album – half of which are anthems – along with a couple of cuts each from Senor and the Queen and Sink or Swim. They’re bouncing around the US kicking asses one city at a time – don’t miss them!

And somehow I thought they were still my little secret? Oh, foolish mortal!

gaslight anthem 59 sound

Gaslight Anthem MySpace site

Official website

Listen to clips and buy the album on Amazon.

Who wouldn’t like these guys?

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