Night Music: The Sweet, “Ballroom Blitz”

When I was in high school, when this song came out, we thought it was sooo stupid. And we were right. But it was a huge hit and plumbed some ideas about glam and rock and theater that were oh so courant in 1973. And, of course, it was out of these ideas that punk erupted, in its many forms, shortly thereafter.

And it was this song that bounces back in my head when I’m thinking, Hey Ho Let’s Go from the Ramones.

It is this song that reminds me that I’ve not ever seen Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Night Music: Beck, “Loser”

Beck made five often great albums to start his career. He was omnivorous in those days, eating up all music and spitting it out as Beck. The song that earned him big attention was a novelty tune, a slacker hiphop ditty he co wrote with Carl Stephenson called Loser.

The first time I saw Beck, at Lallapalooza in NYC in 1996, he played his show hiding behind the Marshall stacks, because the kids were hurling bottles at him. He seemed to be egging them on.

This was weird behavior, and kind of funny, which for me pegged Beck as an antic funster who happened to have a grandfather who was a leading light in the art world’s most antically fun movement, Fluxus.

Beck has since adopted Scientology and made a maddening string of clever but dull records, but I saw him in the Summer of 2013 and the live show rocked. Lots of dance tunes from the early days, the crowd pleasers, and not so many rueful confessions, as has been his wont in many recent years.

Having finished second in the ADL by one half point, I give you Loser:

Happy Birthday To Me

Going to see Bryan Ferry at the Tower in Philly on my birthday Saturday and this is the probable set list:


Kiss and Tell
Slave to Love
If There Is Something
Oh Yeah
Stronger Through the Years
Loop de Li
Johnny and Mary
Take a Chance with Me
More Than This / Avalon
Love Is the Drug
Virginia Plain
Editions of You


Let’s Stick Together
Jealous Guy​

I’m not as old as Bryan but I’m every bit as sexy.

Lots of good ones here, but I’ll leave you with my favorite (out of these):

Song of the Week – The Rhythm of Love, The Pooh Sticks


The Pooh Sticks were one of the most confounding bands of the 90s. The Welsh group, led by Huw Williams, came out of the C86 scene with their own brand of power pop; or maybe bubblegum to use a genre title from the 60s. But be careful what you read about them because they famously fed the media fabrications about their background. (One story, still found all over the internet, claims that Williams is the son of drummer Terry Williams (Man/Rockpile/Dire Straits). Hmmm?

The band openly and unapologetically lifted song/album titles, lyrics, melodies and even solos and recycled them into something all their own. They didn’t “sample” them, they reproduced them, note for note. At the time, people were puzzled by their approach. One group thought it was a stupid gimmick and sneered at their twee notions. Others felt like they were in on an elaborate private joke and embraced the whole concept. I was in the latter group and bought three of the (now out of print) albums.

Let me explain a little further. The group was a sort of make believe band like many of the 60s bubblegum acts – The 1910 Fruitgum Company (“1, 2, 3 Red Light”, “Simon Says”), The Ohio Express (“Yummy, Yummy, Yummy”), The Archies (“Sugar, Sugar”). In fact, on their Great White Wonder album, the artwork was drawn by Hanna-Barbera’s Alan Forbes. (The title of the album was itself homage to the first commercially successful bootleg of the rock era – the unauthorized release of Dylan and The Band’s basement tapes.)

Song titles on the album include “Sweet Baby James”, “Pandora’s Box, “Desperado” and “I’m In You.” Sound familiar?

The SotW is “Rhythm of Love.” This a little different than most of the songs on the album since it is a cover of The Strangeloves song that was the B-side to their 1965 release, “Night Time.”

But this is no straight up cover – it’s done the Pooh Sticks way. It opens with the motif from Smokey Robinson’s “Tracks of My Tears.” It adds a little more power pop crunch than the original. Then at about a minute and a half in, they slip in the guitar intro from Neil Young’s “Powderfinger.” You’ll recognize it when you hear it.

Unfortunately, very little of the Pooh Sticks repertoire is available on either Spotify or YouTube. But if you want to understand a little more, check out this link to a website posted by band member Trudi Tangerine that is running down The Pooh Sticks Top 50 Songs. The list is so new that she hasn’t even finished it yet – she’s just getting to the top 10.

The Pooh Sticks Top 50 Countdown, 50-11

Just about every song on this list has made its way into a Pooh Sticks recording in some fashion. It’s a strange, eclectic and crazy fun list.

Enjoy… until next week.

Last Truth From Tony Kinman

No more after this, I promise.

“There was a lot of garbage, but there’s always a lot of garbage. There’s a lot of garbage now. My basic rule of thumb when it comes to anything, whether it’s movies, music, or books is at least 90 percent is going to be shit. At least, and sometimes it will get up to 99 percent shit. Only a tiny fraction of anything at any one time is going to be really good.”

I’m pretty sure we’re at the 99 percent threshold right now.

Night Music: Hot Chocolate, “Everyone’s A Winner Baby”

I’m in first place tonight in the American Dream League. By two-and-a-half points. But it is far from over. At best my odds of winning are 50-50. The Burn Bags have, in Texas Hold Em parlance, lots of outs.

For me this would be less interesting if I’d ever won the league, but I haven’t. It has been 20 years of not winning, and now with three days left I have a chance. I wrote a piece on last year about the meaning of winning, and the math of it. The upshot, that we’re looking at small numbers, is obvious but not very interesting.

This year I have a better story. I tried harder, and it worked. But that’s bullshit. Hot Chocolate knows that.


Can’t Help It

More former Dil Tony Kinman from the really good read Left Of The Dial:

“I would not compare the Ramones album to what I consider the single greatest moment of rock ‘n roll history. It’s in Little Richard’s recording of Lucille. Little Richard is screaming so loud that he overdrives his mic. On the hit version, there’s actually distortion recorded on that. I don’t care if you are even recording for a shitty indie punk rock label. Punk rockers would not let that happen, nowadays. That was a major hit song by a major hit performer of the time. I am speechless just thinking about it. To me, that is the single greatest moment because of what it is, which is incredible, how it sounds is great, and because of the context. He’s overdriving the mic, but the way things were back then was, ‘C’mon Richard, that sounds good enough. We’re done here. Let’s go, man, I’m thirsty, or whatever, or we better get to the gig.’ The era, the primitive rock era and the way those guys worked back then. . .And to this day, that song still has more truly astonishing passion and emotion in it, real terrible energy in it, than anything that has come since.”

I can’t hear distortion in this, but I think I know what he means. Maybe it’s shitty youtube or something. I especially like watching the drummer here. He amuses me:

Then, it occurred to me that Little Richard reminded me a lot of a character out of my childhood. Cesar Romero’s Joker (always will be my favorite Joker). The wild eyes, the hair, the maniacal smile. If Romero’s Joker wasn’t at least partially influenced by Little Richard, it’s a helluva coincidence. Even the moustache (which I always loved that Romero kept even under the Joker makeup).

Night Music: Little Richard, “I Don’t Know What You’ve Got (But It’s Got Me)”

More making-dinner music. Sort of. I was cooking tonight and put on Little Richard’s Essentials album, because Moyer mentioned him the other day.

I love Little Richard. I know I’m piling on, but for me he’s the quintessential Ur-rock guy. Others played rock before. Others were trying to play it at the same time. But at that point Little Richard was better than all of them. Maybe put together.

But while making dinner, totally blown away again by Rip It Up and the Girl Can’t Help It, I kept trying to remember the name of the soul tune of Richard’s that first made me realize that he wasn’t just a rock n roll oldies guy, but was instead a rock giant. (No slight to him, that was my mistake.)

This is is. And sometimes I even moan.

I think we could hear any number of soul masters perform this excellent tune just fine, but I would bet not one could match Little Richard when the day was done.

He’s hardly an overlooked genius, but I think the towering of his talent and style and achievement is often overlooked.

Oh, and it turns out the guitarist in this band is the young Jimi Hendrix.