Tall Poppy Syndrome / Come Some Christmas Eve (or Halloween)

Tall Poppy Syndrome

Come Some Christmas Eve (or Halloween)

https://tallpoppysyndrome.bandcamp.com/album/come-some-christmas-eve-or-halloween

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and there is no better way to celebrate than with a song by a certified supergroup. 

Comprised of guitarist Vince Melouney (who held membership in The Bee Gees during the late sixties), drummer Clem Burke (Blondie, the Romantics, the Empty Hearts), bassist Alec Palao (The Sneetches, Magic Christian, Strangers In A Strange Land, current version of The Seeds and music historian), Jigsaw Seen multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Lea and singer Paul Kopf (Strangers In A Strange Land and the revamped Seeds), Tall Poppy Syndrome not only looks good in print, but as a whole, they really lock it altogether.

Originally recorded in 1968 by The Bee Gees and initially titled Come Some Christmas Eve Or Halloween, Tall Poppy Syndrome cut a cover of the song in October that set the indie airwaves alight. A holiday mix of the number was suggested, and so here it is, garnished with a festive flair.

Sparked by a drizzle of glistening sleighbells, Come Some Christmas Eve  proceeds to wrap itself in a brightly-colored package of radiant designs and textures. Pithy power chords, anchored percussion, the trill of a Mellotron flute and harmonious rhythms rise to the occassion. Classic garage rock vocals, relaying just the right blend of raw saltiness and melodic muscle, serve to be a faultless fit.

Tapped as Tall Poppy Syndrome’s official debut disc, Come Some Christmas Eve catches the band getting off to a great start. Each individual brings his own special touch to the table, leading towards a smashing display of psychedelic-ringed pop rock. One can only imagine how fantastic an entire album by Tall Poppy Syndrome would be. So give your support to Come Some Christmas Eve and encourage the band to keep at it. 

KISS

In the mid-’70s, I was a pop-obsessed teenager in love with my AM radio.  I was old enough to remember Beatlemania, and my affection for ’60s rockin’ pop remained undimmed:  The Beatles.  The Dave Clark Five.  The Animals.  The Monkees.  The Hollies.  Paul Revere & the Raiders.  Over time, those stalwarts had been joined (but never replaced) by irresistible ’70s radio fare by Badfinger, Alice Cooper, Slade, The Raspberries, The Sweet.  Somewhere in there, I developed an insatiable taste for The Kinks.  And in December of 1976, I went to my first rock concert.  I went to see KISS.

I was not all that much of a KISS fan at the time.  I knew a few songs from WOLF-AM in Syracuse–“Rock And Roll All Nite,””Beth,” “Shout It Out Loud,” maybe “Detroit Rock City”–and these were all certainly songs that I liked.  But the KISS concert experience made me a fan immediately.  I never quite joined the KISS Army, but I bought the KISS comic books from Marvel, and I received a copy of the Rock And Roll Over album as a high school graduation gift from my sister.  I was particularly taken with “Calling Dr. Love,” and wanted to march in for graduation to that tune rather than “Pomp And Circumstance.”  Man, I NEVER get my way…!

That period of late 1976 through the end of ’77 saw a huge transition in my musical tastes. Or did it?  As I bought more records, as I burrowed through used records stores and flea markets, as I learned about exciting new stuff in Phonograph Record Magazine, as free-form FM radio drew my attention away from the increasingly disco-dominated AM airwaves…as all this was going on, I still loved The Beatles.  And everything else I loved was an extension of that.
And that included KISS.  KISS was a pop band, and a very good pop band at that.  The best KISS records were infectious in a way Led Zeppelin wasn’t, accessible in a way Pink Floyd and ELP could never be, thrilling in a way that The Bee Gees would never even understand.  KISS, though certainly not a punk band, was also my gateway to punk, a whole new world that nonetheless still drew inspiration from the prevailing and pervasive appeal of 45 rpm records played loud and distorted over a tiny transistor radio speaker.  I saw KISS in December of ’76; a year later, I wrote my first-ever piece of rock criticism, an emeritus contribution to my high school newspaper, drawing a line forward from the greatness of The Beatles to the virtues of The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, Blondie, The Rubinoos…and KISS.  Punk.  Pop.  Rock ‘n’ roll.  For me, it was all part of the same continuum, and I loved it all.  I still do.

When KISS was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014, I read through a lot of complaints that KISS was not deserving of this (or any) honor, and I became increasingly pissed off at such dismissals.  You don’t like KISS?  That is certainly your right.  You think KISS is untalented, insubstantial, too gimmicky?  You think the members of KISS (one member in particular!) are obnoxious jerks?  I guess that’s all fair game, too.  But KISS is important to me, and the band’s impact transcends the mere happenstance of being my first rock concert.  Loud, garish, celebratory, and as infectious as an arena cheer, KISS’s best records make me feel GREAT.  Awright!

The week of KISS’s Rock Hall induction, THIS IS ROCK ‘N’ ROLL RADIO attempted to put KISS in context, to play a few of the best KISS records alongside a bunch of other terrific pop tracks, and to prove that maybe KISS could be discussed with Badfinger, Big Star, The Raspberries, et al., as among the best rockin’ pop the ’70s had to offer.  “Strutter.”  “Comin’ Home.”  Anything For My Baby.”  “Calling Dr. Love.” “Detroit Rock City.”  “Shout It Out Loud.”  “Rock And Roll All Nite.”  These are pop songs, and they sound…well, awesome on rockin’ pop radio.  As one listener put it, “Stop giving me less reason to hate Gene Simmons!”  Turn it up.  Shout it out loud!  And if they tell you that there’s too much noise, they’re too old to understand….

Categories
Pop Sunday

The Toms / Tomplicated

The Toms

Tomplicated (Songgram/Futureman)

https://futuremanrecords.bandcamp.com/album/tomplicated

Not only has all-around musician Tommy Marolda worked with folks such as Cher, Rod Stewart, The Bee Gees and Richie Sambora, but in film and television as well. To power pop fans, however, he is best known as The Toms, which is a vehicle for his own musings.

Tommy staged his debut as The Toms in 1979 with an album simply coined The Toms, that is now regarded as a true blue classic and has been reissued on two separate occasions. Super catchy pop songs – coupled with the fact the project was entirely conceived by Tommy – proved to be seriously impressive and encouraged other musicians to follow suit. Getting signed by a label and relying on professional producers and state-of-the-art studios was not necessary to cut records. Therefore, The Toms stands as an early entry in the do-it-yourself sweepstakes. 

Forty-plus years on, The Toms are still a going concern, and the latest album, Tomplicated, lives up to the star-studded reputation gleaned from previous releases. Lead vocals, multiple instrumentation and songwriting is handled by Tommy, while Catherine Marolda is on strings and Jason Woodney is credited as additional keyboardist.

Recorded in Las Vegas, Nevada, where Tommy resides, Tomplicated marries conventional pop procedures to experimental twitches, forming an ear-gripping soundscape that calls to mind mid-period Beatles knocking knees with XTC and The Cars.  

Comprised of bounding rhythms, punchy guitars, driving percussion and a taunting tenor, Pinball Replay rocks with melodic force, and the instantly infectious You Shot Me Out Of Your Canon keys in as a chipper piece of paisley-laced dance hall whimsy. 

Framed of a moody finish, Marathon features a showing of breathy harmonies and a pretty piano break, and the throbbing title track references the Rolling Stones as portions of the band’s song Complicated, are freely pick-pocketed, capped with a blast of noisy backward guitars. 

A compelling collision of strummy chords and big drums govern One Man Girl Parade, which is subsequently enhanced by a sprightly chorus of “la la la’s,” the nerve-rattling chime of Mini Bomb Girl conveys a psychedelic-flavored new wave vibe, and the closing number on the album, It Doesn’t Matter At All, beams with pure pop bliss. 

Constructed of clever arrangements, unexpected dips and curves, and hooks of every shape, color and size, Tomplicated supplies no shortage of excitement. It’s a given listeners will find much to love about these plucky progressive pop tunes.