The Braam Brothers, Greg Lato & Nick Frater

The Braam Brothers

Swan Swan

https://braambrothers.bandcamp.com/

Chicago’s Braam Brothers have experienced a noticeable burst of activity lately. Their 2021 Lp, Landscapes, found its way onto this critic’s year-end-best list, standing stoic in contrast to the Midwest’s (and even their own) power pop traditions. Fans of the genre will remember them as the fine Swingset Police, once signed to Shoes’ famous Black Vinyl Records imprint.

These days, however, Scott and Tom Braam deliver a more moody and melancholy strain of pop. Fables Of The Reconstruction-era R.E.M. is an easy general comparison, but they’re definitely mining their own ground here. Indeed, Swan Swan sounds like Landscapes’ logical follow-up, as the brothers seems a bit more sure of themselves this time around.

Velvet Heart is a beautiful song about longing, in particular, longing for the company of parents that have departed this Earth. If you can get through this track without tearing up, your heart is stronger than mine. Still Missing You is similarly as somber, with thwacky drums giving it a haunting dirge-like vibe. My fave of the set, however, is Silent Joan, which sounds like a lost track from Matthew Sweet’s Altered Beast. Very Well done.

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Greg Lato

Adults These Days 

https://www.amazon.com/Adults-These-Days-Greg-Lato/dp/

Rhode Island’s Greg Lato is a bright star in the genre of family/children’s entertainment. I won’t bother to recount his numerous accolades, as they aren’t the reason that he should be on every parent’s radar. His wonderful songs are.

Lato must be listening to a lot of Fountains Of Wayne & The Cars lately, because their influence is all over these tunes. Indeed, New Lunch Box and My Birthday Party, are both full of enough synth hooks to make Greg Hawkes blush. To me, incidentally, that’s a very good thing. These days, songwriters who focus on the family market must take care in grabbing the ears of the big person driving the minivan, as well as the tiny passengers.

The previously mentioned New Lunch Box is a definite feel-good, even going so far as to remind me of the joy of choosing a new lunch box at the beginning of the school year when I was in grade school. The track Adults These Days takes a wistful look at remembering childhood as an adult, which many of us parents of a certain age find ourselves doing. Extra points awarded for name-checking Marty McFly. Highly recommended.

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Nick Frater

Aerodrome Motel

https://nickfrater.bandcamp.com/album/aerodrome-motel

Nick Frater’s latest is nothing short of an absolute pop masterclass. If they’re not referring to this dude as The Pride Of Croydon, his hometown, they damn-well ought to be. The ten tracks that make up Aerodrome Hotel are as close to pop perfection as one can achieve.

The bouncy goodness of The Pleasure Is Mine and Stuck In My Ways are strong enough to raise Glenn Tilbrook’s eyebrow, in a “Are those mine?” kind of way. Frater impeccably creates a vibe here that evokes the best of English pop, roughly 1977-1982. For goodness sake, the rollicking Rough & Tumble could be a Wings’ outtake, and not a weak outtake, an outstanding one.

It’s also worth noting that we’re barely a year away from Frater’s last release, the brilliant Earworms, and its baby brother, The Rebutles. Most singer-songwriters would be lucky to hit a high-water mark like this once in a lifetime, and Frater has done it two years in a row. Consider this gob officially smacked.

By Dan Pavelich

COME ON LET’S GO!

In 2019, the British label Ace Records (via its Big Beat imprint) released a compilation CD called Come On Let’s Go! Power Pop Gems From The 70s & 80s. I was so enthused about the set that not only did I buy it (of course!), but I also imagined a series of sequels that should have been. 

Those four hypothetical sequels–It’s Cold Outside!Kids Just Wanna Dance!Gotta Have Pop!, and the UK-centric Do Anything You Wanna Do!–never really existed, but Big Beat did eventually release two real-world sequels, Girls Go Power Pop! and Rockets Of Love!, and the latter disc did indeed fulfill my wish of including a track from Syracuse’s own power pop power house the Flashcubes.

But I don’t think Big Beat has yet used many of the tracks I suggested in my own individual flights of fancy; maybe just the Producers‘ “What’s He Got?,” the Go-Go’s‘ “We Got The Beat,” and Candy‘s “Whatever Happened To Fun…”. To avoid duplication with the real-life Big Beat CDs, we’ve subbed out those two tracks in favor of selections by the CynicsRonnie Spector (with Marshall Crenshaw), and Shoes. Otherwise: for posterity, and mostly just for whatever-happened-to fun, today’s post collects my 2019 ramblings about Come On Let’s Go! and the subsequent power pop collections I thought Big Beat oughtta do next. I tell ya, the ideas are still pretty good. Somebody get Big Beat on the phone! 

For now, though: are ya ready? Come on. Let’s GO!!!

COME ON LET’S GO! Power Pop Gems From The 70s & 80s

The British label Big Beat is set to release a new power pop compilation next month. Come On Let’s Go! Power Pop Gems From The 70s & 80s collects 24 tracks, mixing familiar favorites by the Raspberriesthe RomanticsShoes, the Flamin’ Groovies, and Big Star with lesser-known treats of the same vintage. Cover boys the Rubinoos are represented by “Rock And Roll Is Dead,” the single most rockin’ track on that group’s rockin’ debut album. Here’s the compilation’s complete track listing:

THE PALEY BROTHERS & THE RAMONES: Come On Let’s Go
THE RASPBERRIES: I Wanna Be With You
THE ROMANTICS: What I Like About You
DIRTY LOOKS: Let Go
DWIGHT TWILLEY BAND: Looking For The Magic
THE TWEEDS: I Need That Record
THE FLAMIN’ GROOVIES: Shake Some Action [first version]
THE SPONGETONES: (My Girl) Maryanne
THE SECRETS: Radio Heart
ROBERT JOHNSON: Kerri
NASHVILLE RAMBLERS: The Trains
20/20: Nuclear Boy
THE TOMS: Better Than Anyone Else
BILL LLOYD: Nothing Comes Close
THE BOYS: (Baby) It’s You
WIRE TRAIN: It’s Only Dark
VAN DUREN & JODY STEPHENS: Andy, Please [first version]
THE ROOKS: Glitter Best
THE SHIVVERS: Teen Line
BIG STAR: September Gurls
GARY CHARLSON: Not The Way It Seems
SHOES: Tomorrow Night [first version]
THE RUBINOOS: Rock And Roll Is Dead
UTOPIA: One World


Looks like a nice set, and kudos for including the Spongetones‘ fabulous “(My Girl) Maryanne” and Dirty Looks‘ pumpin’, peerless “Let Go,” and more kudos for saluting the Shivvers (even though I would have gone with “Please Stand By” instead of “Teen Line”). As always, I wish there were something by the Flashcubes on here, but I gotta give credit to the Big Beat brigade for putting together a ’70s/’80s power pop sampler that has hits for the dilettante and buried treasure for the faithful. Sure, I already have most of these, but there are a few I don’t own yet, and getting the Dirty Looks and Paley Brothers/Ramones cuts on CD seals the deal for me. Come On Let’s Go! Power Pop Gems From The 70s & 80s is due out on July 26th.

IN THE MEAN TIME, though, I think I’ll see what I would slap together if I were in charge of a sequel. SPOILER ALERT: it would include a track by the Flashcubes. Stay tuned.

IT’S COLD OUTSIDE! More Power Pop Gems From The 70s & 80s

Yesterday, we talked a little about Come On Let’s Go! Power Pop Gems From The 70s & 80s, a promising little pop compilation due out in July from the good folks at England’s Big Beat label. Today, we move on to AN ENTIRELY FICTIONAL sequel to that disc.

(Well…maybe not entirely fictional. The songs themselves are all real tracks recorded in the appropriate time frame. The compilation is itself a fabrication, but I could slap it together as a real-life playlist and listen on my iPod right now. It would make a great CD.)

It’s Cold Outside! More Power Pop Gems From The 70s & 80s

1. STIV BATORS: It’s Cold Outside
2. THE MOSQUITOS: That Was Then, This Is Now
3. THE FLASHCUBES: No Promise
4. THE KNACK: Good Girls Don’t [single version]
5. THE REAL KIDS: Now You Know
6. DOLENZ, JONES, BOYCE & HART: You Didn’t Feel That Way Last Night (Don’t You Remember)
7. THE LAUGHING DOGS: Get ‘Im Outa Town
8. FOTOMAKER: Come Back
9. HOLLY & THE ITALIANS: Do You Say Love
10. PAGLIARO: Lovin’ You Ain’t Easy
11. APRIL WINE: Tonight Is A Wonderful Time (To Fall In Love)
12. RAY PAUL & RPM: How Do You Know
13. THE SHIVVERS: Please Stand By
14. VAN DUREN: Oh Babe
15. FOOLS FACE: Even Angels Fall
16. SORROWS: Teenage Heartbreak
17. THE RESTLESS: I Wanna Know
18. EMITT RHODES: Fresh As A Daisy
19. THE DWIGHT TWILLEY BAND: You Were So Warm
20. GARY CHARLSON: Burning In You
21. THE SCRUFFS: Teenage Girls
22. TUFF DARTS: Who’s Been Sleeping Here
23. THE NOW: He’s Takin’ You To The Movies
24. THE ROMANTICS: Little White Lies [first version]
I’d buy that! We lead off with former Dead Boys singer Stiv Bators‘ incredible cover of the Choir‘s 1966 pop classic “It’s Cold Outside” (featuring Blue Ash guitarist Frank Secich), and we close with the Romantics‘ debut indie single (one of the best tracks they ever did, and it’s never been given any legit reissue). In between we have a mix of simply stellar pop cuts made by North American acts in the ’70s and ’80s. This make-believe set would be the first-ever CD appearance of anything from the original lifespan of Springfield, Missouri’s phenomenal pop combo Fools Face, and the first time the Restless (great ’80s Buffalo group whose one album for Mercury Records is in dire need of reissue), the Mosquitos (original version of a song covered by the Monkees), the Flashcubes‘ “No Promise” (my all-time favorite power pop track), or Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart‘s fabulous “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” rewrite “You Didn’t Feel That Way Last Night (Don’t You Remember)” has appeared on a various-artists pop CD.

And it cries out for another sequel! And I have just the thing in mind. In the mean time: Hey, Big Beat Records! Get to work! And send my finder’s fee here.

KIDS JUST WANNA DANCE! Even More Power Pop Gems From The 70s & 80s

Can’t stop the pop!

We’ve already followed the announcement of the British Big Beat Records label’s forthcoming (and cool) real-world ’70s and ’80s power pop compilation Come On Let’s Go! with my own fictitious sequel It’s Cold Outside! That was fun! Let’s do another!

Kids Just Wanna Dance! Even More Power Pop Gems From The 70s & 80s imagines another 24-track collection of North American cuts from that area. The title tune is an effervescent, Who-influenced 1977 B-Side by the Fast (and we’re definitely using the single version here; the group’s subsequent Ric Ocasek-produced version sounds less like power pop and more like the Cars). The rest? The rest rocks! To overstate the obvious: THIS COMPILATION IS FICTIONAL! It doesn’t exist. But it should! As always, I invite Big Beat Records to just send me my finder’s fee and take it from there. 

Kids Just Wanna Dance! Even More Power Pop Gems From The 70s & 80s
1. THE FAST: Kids Just Wanna Dance [first version]
2. PHIL SEYMOUR: Let Her Dance
3. PEZBAND: Love Goes Underground
4. THE MOSQUITOS: I Know A Secret5. BLUE ASH: Abracadabra (Have You Seen Her)
6. THE RASPBERRIES: I’m A Rocker [single version]
7. RONNIE SPECTOR WITH MARSHALL CRENSHAW: Something’s Gonna Happen
8. BULLET: White Lies, Blue Eyes
9. THE RAMONES: Babysitter
10. PIPER: Drop By And Stay
11. NEW MATH: Die Trying
12. FOOLS FACE: Nothing To Say
13. GREG KIHN: Hurt So Bad
14. SCREEN TEST: Sound Of The Radio
15. THE MARSHALLS: AM
16. NIKKI & THE CORVETTES: Just What I Need
17. ARTFUL DODGER: Follow Me
18. QUINCY: Turn The Other Way Around
19. THE DIODES: Tired Of Waking Up Tired
20. VANCE OR TOWERS: Do Whatever We Want
21. THE SCRUFFS: Revenge
22. THE POPPEES: Jealousy
23. THE NERVES: Hanging On The Telephone
24. SHOES: The Things You Do

Power pop compilations! One real, two fake. AND IT’S NOT ENOUGH! Let’s do one more North American set, and then…well, rule Britannia!

GOTTA HAVE POP! Still More Power Pop Gems From The 70s & 80s

One more time!

We’ve discussed the new compilation CD Come On Let’s Go! Power Pop Gems From The 70s & 80s, due in July from Britain’s way fab Big Beat Records label. We’ve already added two imaginary sequels, It’s Cold Outside! More Power Pop Gems From The 70s & 80s and Kids Just Wanna Dance! Even More Power Pop Gems From The 70s & 80s. Let’s slap together one more faux collection of vintage North American pop (with one UK ringer) before we finally finish up this exercise with a set of jangle ‘n’ buzz from the British Isles.

Our final set of American and Canadian pop from the ’70s and ’80s commences with ex-pat American (and current Canadian resident) Bob Segarini, who was a member of the Wackers before going solo. Segarini’s call-to-arms “Gotta Have Pop” serves as the kickoff for yet another stunning array of pop music from this classic era. We wish this compilation really existed, but alas, it does not. Nonetheless: pretty good for a fabrication, I say!
Gotta Have Pop! Even More Power Pop Gems From The 70s & 80s

1. SEGARINI: Gotta Have Pop
2. THE SMITHEREENS: Strangers When We Meet
3. PAUL COLLINS: Walking Out On Love
4. STANLEY FRANK: S’cool Days
5. THE NATIVES: Tell Me A Story
6. THE VERTEBRATS: Diamonds In The Rough
7. THE PLIMSOULS: A Million Miles Away
8. COLOR ME GONE: Lose Control
9. LET’S ACTIVE: Blue Line
10. THE MOD FRAMES: I Don’t Want To Cry
11. THE NUMBERS: Can’t Sleep At Night
12. DAVID WERNER: Too Late To Try
13. TEENAGE HEADS: Tornado
14. THE EUCLID BEACH BAND: There’s No Surf In Cleveland
15. THE TEARJERKERS: Syracuse Summer
16. THE VIPERS: Tears (Only Dry)
17. THE SPONGETONES: Have You Ever Been Torn Apart?
18. THE CYNICS: Girl, You’re On My Mind
19. THE CICHLIDS: Did You Ever
20. THE ROMANTICS: I Can’t Tell You Anything [first version]
21. THE BANGLES: Silent Treatment
22. THE OHMS: Chain Letter
23. GREEN: She’s Not A Little Girl 
24. TODD RUNDGREN: Couldn’t I Just Tell You

While we could certainly continue to concoct irresistible collections of ’70s and ’80s North American power pop for, oh, forever or so, we’ll conclude the week with just one more set, hopping across the pond for a compilation of ace pop tracks from the British Isles.

DO ANYTHING YOU WANNA DO! 70s & 80s Power Pop Gems From The United Kingdom

At last, we reach the end of our short series of fabricated power pop compilations inspired by the real-world Come On Let’s Go! Power Pop Gems From The 70s & 80s, due out in July from England’s Big Beat RecordsBoppin’ (Like The Hip Folks Do) responded with three fictional sequels–It’s Cold Outside!Kids Just Wanna Dance!, and Gotta Have Pop!–each offering 24 more tracks of fab North American pop from the ’70s and ’80s.

We close with one final disc, moving our spotlight across the water to the British Isles. Eddie and the Hot Rods‘ “Do Anything You Wanna Do” is one of the defining singles of power pop, so of course it opens this set of primo pop from England, Scotland, and Ireland. There are old wave names (the Searchers, plus former Herman’s Hermits leader Peter Noone fronting the Tremblers), international teen stars (the Bay City Rollers, represented by a post-mania track, originally credited to the truncated name the Rollers), and a variety of other pop, punk, and new wave acts of the era.

Do Anything You Wanna Do! 70s & 80s Power Pop Gems From The United Kingdom
1. EDDIE AND THE HOT RODS: Do Anything You Wanna Do
2. THE JAM: I Need You (For Someone) [single version]
3. THE KEYS: I Don’t Wanna Cry
4. BLUE: Danger Sign
5. ADVERTISING: Ich Liebe Dich
6. THE SEARCHERS: Hearts In Her Eyes
7. THE BUZZCOCKS: Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)
8. THE BAY CITY ROLLERS: Who’ll Be My Keeper
9. THE PLEASERS: The Kids Are Alright
10. THE TIMES: Whatever Happened To Thamesbeat?
11. CHICORY TIP: Good Grief Christina
12. THE ZONES: New Life
13. THE LAMBRETTAS: Da-a-a-ance
14. GENERATION X: Ready Steady Go
15. THE RECORDS: Starry Eyes [album version]
16. SQUIRE: The Life
17. THE TREMBLERS: I’ll Be Taking Her Out Tonight
18. THE RICH KIDS: Rich Kids
19. STARRY EYED AND LAUGHING: Chimes Of Freedom
20. DOLLY MIXTURE: Everything And More
21. KIRSTY MacCOLL: Terry
22. THE BARRACUDAS: Summer Fun
23. SQUEEZE: Pulling Mussels (From The Shell)
24. THE UNDERTONES: Get Over You
I don’t wanna get over this! And I don’t have to. Music has no expiration date, no limit, even when it’s cold outside. Kids just wanna dance. Do anything you wanna do. Gotta have pop. Come on, let’s GO!

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This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio with Dana & Carl airs Sunday nights from 9 to Midnight Eastern, on the air in Syracuse at SPARK! WSPJ 103.3 and 93.7 FM, and on the web at http://sparksyracuse.org/ You can read about our history here.

I’m on Twitter @CafarelliCarl

Anton Barbeau / Power Pop!!!

Anton Barbeau

Power Pop!!! (Big Stir)

https://bigstirrecords.bandcamp.com/album/power-pop

According to the definition printed on the back sleeve of Anton Barbeau’s latest album, power pop is “a guitar-based form of self-limiting pop music created primarily by/for unrequited men who wish The Beatles had never invited Dylan up to their hotel room.” And while Anton has certainly fathered a fair share of tunes grounded in the genre, he has always avoided restricting himself to a solitary style. So, therefore, calling the album “Power Pop!!!” Is merely a stroke of the singer, songwriter and multi-faceted instrumentalist’s sardonic wit. 

After thirty-plus years of making music and recording an equal amount of discs to match, Anton – who originally comes from Sacramento, California but currently lives in Berlin, Germany – still has plenty of petrol to spare. In fact, “Power Pop!!!” is possibly the musical mad scientist’s best album to date, as the collection seamlessly reinforces his remarkable shapeshifting techniques for composing and playing strangely addictive songs.

The first cut on the album, “Entrez-Vous Dans Les Maisons” punches in at just a little over a minute in length and is a piano instrumental featuring an ominous church type timbre. Then there’s “The Sound” that namechecks The Byrds, The Beatles and XTC, and climaxes to a squall of fizzy psychedelic loopings. Fired by a super speedy clip, “Hillbilly Village” blows in as a demented country-salted ditty, and “Free” is a tight and bright trance-inducing hip hop/electro-pop number. 

On the vigorous title track of the album, Anton proclaims, “Put down your guns, you culture cops, there ain’t no crime like power pop” and “the kids get high on power pop,” where “Running On The Edge Of The Knife” is an action-packed rocker, smirking with mischief and menace. A tribute to one of Anton’s main inspirations, “Julian Cope” dials in as wiggy pop piece, and the swift and bubbly jitters of “Never Crying Wolf Boy” five-fingers a couple of kicks and tricks from The Cars.

The ghost of Buddy Holly and a lady who doesn’t realize she is a cartoon character are referenced on “The Drugs,” which offers some sweet and gentle piano work and baroque pop orchestration before turning a corner, and letting loose a barking rap admirably emulative of Bob Dylan. On a far more traditional plane, “Whisper In The Wind” and “Rain, Rain” are lovely synth pop sentiments, glowing with hypnotic hooks, feathery harmonies and catchy and insistent rhythms. 

Anton’s British-inflected vocals and phrasing – reflecting a melding of John Lennon, David Bowie and of course Julian Cope – are perfectly tailored for the peculiar poetry and inventive sonic operations he so enthusiastically binges on. Cloaked in novel arrangements, off-center melodies and wonky ruffles, “Power Pop!!!” presents a wealth of interesting and exhilarating moves celebrating various art rock fashions, rather than the tongue-in-cheek moniker of the album. Good for Anton, forever following his muse and unraveling riches in the process. 

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. 

Main Street Records, Brockport, NY

For every moment of celebration or heartbreak, there has always been a song.  There was an artist to create the song.  There was a DJ to play the song, and a pop journalist to tell us about the song.  And, if we were lucky, there was a kind, knowing soul at the record store to sell us the song, so we could take it home and listen to it over and over again.  In that role, there were no kinder souls than Bill and Carol Yerger, and there was no safer haven than Main Street Records in Brockport, New York.

When I went off to college in Brockport in August of 1977, Main Street Records did not yet exist.  I was already a vinyl hound, with a little stack of records scored at flea markets and retail outlets in Syracuse and Cleveland (where my sister lived).  I needed music, in any shape or form.  There were two record stores in Brockport in ’77, both on Main Street:  the tiny Vinyl Jungle, which did not survive through 1978, and the larger (but hipper) Record Grove, which was managed by Bill Yerger.  My first Record Grove purchase was a pair of 45s:  “God Save The Queen” by The Sex Pistols, and a record I’d read about in Phonograph Record Magazine but had not yet heard, “Sheena Is A Punk Rocker” by The Ramones.  SWOON!  My life changed as soon as I played it the first time.  And there would be much more of that to come.

When Bill left The Record Grove to start Main Street Records in 1979 (with his wife Carol, an elementary school teacher fond of Bruce Springsteen, The Kinks and The Beach Boys), my allegiance followed him to his new digs.  Without Bill Yerger, The Record Grove lost its groove.  Though a smaller store, Main Street Records was cool beyond compare.

What did I get from the Yergers?  Man…dozens and dozens and dozens of albums, with titles like Marquee Moon, Raw PowerImagineMr. Tambourine ManDamn The TorpedoesL.A.M.F., and Pure Pop For Now People; various-artists sets like Hard Up HeroesEar Piercing Punk,The Motown StoryBattle Of The GaragesWanna Buy A Bridge? and Beatlesongs!; LPs and singles by Blondie, Cheap Trick, Little Richard, Love, Radio Birdman, The Chesterfield Kings, The B-52’s, The Left Banke, Devo, Them, The Five Americans, Joe “King” Carrasco & the Crowns,  Herman’s Hermits, The Tremblers, The Damned, The Village People, Hendrix, Boston, Billy Joel, The Bongos, Earth, Wind and Fire, Led Zeppelin, Josie Cotton, Public Image, Stars On 45, Joy Division, The Laughing Dogs, The Boomtown Rats, Robin Lane & the Chartbusters, Blue Oyster Cult, The Crawdaddys, Dave Edmunds, Elvis Costello, Elvis Presley, The Knack, The Holy Sisters Of The Gaga Dada, The Doors, 20/20, The Cucumbers, Queen, Quincy, Blotto, Dylan, Phil Seymour, The Revillos, The Searchers, Graham Parker & the Rumour, Holly & Joey, The Rattlers, Great Buildings, Shrapnel, Gary Lewis & the Playboys, The Dead Boys, The Lords of the New Church, Roxy Music, Cherry Vanilla, Tommy Tutone, The Vapors, Kansas, Blue Angel, The Hypstrz, The Fast, Pete Shelley, The Quick, Soft Cell, Pat Benatar, The Cars, Gary Numan, Mott the Hoople, The Dictators, Squire, AC/DC, Kim Wilde, The Invictas, Alice Cooper, The Outsiders, The Music Explosion, and then all of the records listed on the playlist below.  And then still more stuff, and more after that.   I was voracious.  And I was satisfied.

Any clerk can sell you a damn record.  Bill and Carol could help you find the record you didn’t even know you needed.  They could–and would–make recommendations:  “You’ll like this.  I don’t think you’ll like that.  This one might be good.  Have you heard this?” Direction transcended the verbal; maybe it wasn’t all that unusual to find a magazine like Trouser Press at a record store, but how many small shops in small towns also carried Bomp! magazine, or The Pig Paper?  How many little village stores had such a wealth of popular favorites and obscure nuggets available in such great supply, whether new releases, cutouts or used LPs (often from Bill’s own collection)?   Main Street Records was a business, and it needed to turn a profit, but Bill and Carol had loftier goals alongside the necessity of making a buck.  “Carl,” Bill told me, “we’re gonna make a Beach Boys fan out of you yet.”  Carol asked me what my favorite Beach Boys song was; when I answered “Sloop John B,” she was appalled, and muttered as she turned away, “Who’s favorite Beach Boys song is ‘Sloop John B’…?!”  I had a lot to learn.  I loved every minute of learning it.

(As a further illustration of how much I owe the Yergers, consider my cherished Flashcubes live tape.  The Flashcubes were my favorite power pop group; if you think it’s silly that my three all-time fave raves are The Beatles, The Ramones, and The Flashcubes, then go get your own radio show.  But The Flashcubes only released two 45s before imploding in 1980, and that certainly wasn’t enough to sustain me.  I borrowed a cassette of a 1978 Flashcubes live show from a pal, I brought it to Main Street Records, and I asked Bill to copy it for me.  He did so, and that tape was the only long-form Flashcubes document I had for years and years.  It wasn’t something Bill had to do, but he did it anyway.  To me, that was the most important cassette I ever owned, a tape I only had because of Bill’s kindness.)

I moved out of Brockport in the summer of 1982, though I still visited sporadically for a couple of years thereafter, always making sure to stop at Main Street Records and add to my collection.  The very last time was in the summer of 1988.  Our friends Brian and Lisa were visiting my wife Brenda and me in Syracuse; on a whim, we decided to hit the highway and visit Brockport for the day.  Naturally, we had to check in at Main Street Records.

Bill recognized us immediately, and we chatted as if we were still regulars there.  Brenda talked about her apprehension in starting a new job as a preschool teacher, and Bill offered words of encouragement, just as teacher Carol had offered Brenda similar encouragement years before.  The talk turned to The Monkees, and I mentioned that I had never seen the group’s then-rare 1969 TV special, 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee.  Well, Bill owned a copy of it, and he promised to make a dub and mail it to me in Syracuse.  We chatted a bit further, we made our purchases–okay, MY purchases–and we said our goodbyes.

The VHS tape of 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee arrived in the mail some time thereafter, filled out with miscellaneous clips from Shindig and Hullabaloo, plus The Monkees’ 1970 promo clip for the single “Oh My My,” a fave track of Brenda’s.  I still have the tape, and I still have the note that Bill sent with it:

“Dear Carl & Brenda,
Here’s a tape full of hits–but I got carried away and the “Oh My My” clip isn’t totally complete.  Anyway, someday I’ll put it on another tape in full for you.  Okay?
Brenda, for what it’s worth–I think you’d make a GREAT teacher, and I can speak with some authority on it because I’ve been married to a great teacher for years!
Anyway, I hope you both had a nice day in Brockport.  Your friend, Bill”

I only corresponded with Bill a couple of more times after that, via e-mail in the ’90s.  He told me that he had sold Main Street Records because it wasn’t fun any more.  I told him that, if nothing else, his long-ago efforts had finally paid off, for I was now a huge Beach Boys fan.  When I wrote a history of power pop for Goldmine magazine in 1996, I acknowledged Bill & Carol Yerger, and Main Street Records, among my primary inspirations; Bill e-mailed me his appreciation, and signed his note “Fuzz Bass Willy.”

 It was the last contact I ever had with Bill Yerger; he passed away not very long after that.  He was younger then than I am now.  It’s too late to mourn, but I still feel sad.  And I’ve grown so weary of feeling sad.
There are places I remember all my life. That line itself comes from one of Bill Yerger’s favorite songs.  There has been a song for every place and every face, for each lonely teardrop, for each smile that’s ever bust out at full speed.  Bill Yerger was the man who sold me records; he was a friend, and he was a mentor.  I learned so much about pop music just from shopping at Main Street Records, and that is one of the foundations upon which this show is built, the foundation upon which my brief career as a pop journalist was built.  It is a debt I can never fully repay.  But I believe that I do pay it back, just a little, whenever I play records…especially when I play records for someone else.  It was Bill Yerger’s gift to me, and it’s my own lasting legacy of the best little record store there ever was.

It’s time for some songs.

This edition of THIS IS ROCK ‘N’ ROLL RADIO with Dana & Carl is a tribute to Bill and Carol Yerger.  Every one of the tracks we played this week, including the 27 song-snippets heard in our opening medley, is a tune I got from the Yergers at either The Record Grove or Main Street Records.  It could have been a thirteen-hour show.  Bill and Carol, I thank you for the days.  And I turn it up loud, so that everyone can hear.

THIS IS ROCK ‘N’ ROLL RADIO with Dana & Carl streams live every Sunday night from 9 to Midnight Eastern, exclusively at www.westcottradio.org.

TIRnRR # 634, 6/17/12:  A Tribute To Main Street Records

*MAIN STREET MEDLEY:
*THE RAMONES:  “Do You Remember Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio?” (Sire, End Of The Century)
*THE NEW YORK DOLLS:  “Babylon” (Mercury, Too Much Too Soon)
*THE ROMANTICS:  “What I Like About You” (Nemperor, The Romantics)
*BLUE CHEER:  “Summertime Blues” (Philips, Vincebus Eruptum)
*THE ROLLING STONES:  “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” (Atlantic, Sticky Fingers)
*RICK JAMES:  “Give It To Me Baby” (Motown, VA:  25 # 1 Hits From 25 Years)
*CAST OF ROCKY HORROR:  “The Time Warp” (Epic, The Rocky Horror Picture Show OST)
*BOW WOW WOW:  “C30, C60, C90, Go!” (EMI, single)
*BRAM TCHAIKOVSKY:  “Girl Of My Dreams” (Polydor, Strange Man, Changed Man)
*THE BEAT:  “Rock And Roll Girl” (Columbia, The Beat)
*NIKKI & THE CORVETTES:  “Just What I Need” (Bomp!, Nikki & the Corvettes)
*THE VELVET UNDERGROUND:  “Rock And Roll” (Cotillion, Loaded)
*JOAN JETT & THE BLACKHEARTS:  “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” (Boardwalk, I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll)
*R.E.M.:  “Radio Free Europe” (IRS, single)
*CHUCK BERRY:  “Roll Over Beethoven” (Chess, Chuck Berry’s Greatest Hits)
*DAVID BOWIE:  “DJ” (RCA, Lodger)
*DAVID JOHANSEN:  “Frenchette” (Blue Sky, David Johansen)
*GEN X:  “Dancing With Myself” (Chrysalis, single)
*THE MODERN LOVERS:  “Roadrunner” (Beserkley, The Modern Lovers)
*JOE JACKSON:  “On Your Radio” (A & M, I’m The Man)
*DONNA SUMMER:  “On The Radio” (Casablanca, On The Radio:  Greatest Hits)
*KISS:  “Rock And Roll All Nite” (Casablanca, Dressed To Kill)
*JOAN JETT:  “Bad Reputation” (Boardwalk, Bad Reputation)
*SLADE:  “Mama Weer All Crazee Now” (Polydor, Sladest)
*THE GO-GO’S:  “We Got The Beat” (IRS, Beauty And The Beat)
*THE JAM:  “In The City” (Polydor, single)
*THE BEATLES:  “Penny Lane” (Capitol, Rarities)

THE RAMONES:  “Sheena Is A Punk Rocker” (Sire, single)
THE ROLLERS:  “Roxy Lady” (Epic, Ricochet)
THE RUNAWAYS:  “School Days” (Mercury, Waitin’ For The Night)
THE DAVE CLARK FIVE:  “Nineteen Days” (Epic, 5 By 5)
THE PLEASERS:  “The Kids Are Alright” (Arista, single)
SPLIT ENZ:  “I Got You” (A & M, True Colours)

THE ROMANTICS:  “Little White Lies” (Spider, single)
SHOES:  “Tomorrow Night” (Elektra, Present Tense)
THE ROLLING STONES:  “Happy” (Atlantic, Exile On Main Street)
UTOPIA:  “Silly Boy” (Bearsville, Deface The Music)
MARSHALL CRENSHAW:  “Cynical Girl” (Warner Brothers, Marshall Crenshaw)
THE MOVING SIDEWALKS:  “99th Floor” (BFD, VA:  Pebbles Volume 2)

THE 13th FLOOR ELEVATORS:  “You’re Gonna Miss Me” (Sire, VA:  Nuggets)
THE GREG KIHN BAND:  “The Breakup Song (They Don’t Write ‘Em)” (Beserkley, single)
PAUL COLLINS:  “Walking Out On Love” (Bomp!, VA:  Waves, Vol. 1)
THE FLAMIN’ GROOVIES:  “Shake Some Action” (Sire, Shake Some Action)
THE BOBBY FULLER FOUR:  “Another Sad And Lonely Night” (Rhino, The Best Of The Bobby Fuller Four)
THE VELVET UNDERGROUND:  “I’ll Be Your Mirror” (Verve, The Velvet Underground & Nico)

THE MONKEES:  “Love To Love” (Arista, Monkeemania)
DOLENZ, JONES, BOYCE & HART:  “You Didn’t Feel That Way Last Night (Don’t You Remember?)” (Capitol, Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart)
THE SCRUFFS:  “She Say Yea” (Power Play, Wanna’ Meet The Scruffs?)
THE RAMONES:  “All’s Quiet On The Eastern Front” (Sire, Pleasant Dreams)
THE REAL KIDS:  “Now You Know” (Bomp!, VA:  Experiments In Destiny)
THE BEACH BOYS:  “God Only Knows” (Capitol, Pet Sounds)

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN:  “The Ties That Bind” (Columbia, The River)
THE NOW:  “He’s Takin’ You To The Movies” (Midsong, The Now)
DAVID WERNER:  “Too Late To Try” (Epic, David Werner)
EDDIE COCHRAN:  “Nervous Breakdown” (United Artists, The Very Best Of Eddie Cochran)
STIV BATORS:  “It’s Cold Outside” (Bomp!, single)
THE GO-GO’S:  “Vacation” (IRS, Vacation)

BIG STAR:  “September Gurls” (Ardent, Radio City)
THE RAMONES:  “Blitzkrieg Bop” (Sire, Ramones)
NEW MATH:  “Die Trying” (Reliable, single)
THE KINKS:  “Animal Farm” (Reprise, The Village Green Preservation Society)
THE PRETENDERS:  “Stop Your Sobbing” (Sire, Pretenders)
THE JAM:  “That’s Entertainment” (Polydor, Sound Affects)

THE SEX PISTOLS:  “God Save The Queen” (Virgin, single)
THE WHO:  “The Punk Meets The Godfather” (MCA, Quadrophenia)
THE BARRACUDAS:  “I Wish It Could Be 1965 Again” (Voxx, Drop Out With The Barracudas)
THE CLASH:  “Spanish Bombs” (Epic, London Calling)
THE UNDERTONES:  “Teenage Kicks” (Sire, The Undertones)
DAVID JOHANSEN & ROBIN JOHNSON:  “Flowers In The City” (RSO, VA:  Times Square OST)

THE MONKEES:  “Naked Persimmon” (from 33 1/3 REVOLUTIONS PER MONKEE)
THE BEACH BOYS:  “Our Prayer” (Capitol, 20/20)
JOHNNY THUNDERS:  “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory” (Sire, So Alone)
THE RAMONES:  “I Want You Around” (Sire, VA:  Rock ‘n’ Roll High School OST)
THE RECORDS:  “Hearts Will Be Broken” (Virgin, Crashes)
THE FOUR TOPS:  “Reach Out (I’ll Be There)” (Motown, Greatest Hits)
THE FLESHTONES:  “Let’s See The Sun” (IRS, Roman Gods)
THE ZONES:  “New Life” (Arista, VA:  That Summer! OST)
DIRTY LOOKS:  “Let Go” (Stiff/Epic, Dirty Looks)
THE KINKS:  “Better Things” (Arista, Give The People What They Want)
EDDIE & THE HOT RODS:  “Do Anything You Wanna Do” (Island, single)
THE VENTURES:  “Walk–Don’t Run” (Liberty, The Very Best Of The Ventures)
THE BEACH BOYS:  “Pet Sounds” (Capitol, Pet Sounds)

Categories
Birthdays

Ric Ocasek

Born on this day in 1944, in Baltimore, Maryland, musician and record producer, Ric Ocasek. Ocasek is know for being the frontman of The Cars. He also produced records by Weezer, Bad Brains, Guided By Voices and No Doubt.

Categories
Pop-A-Looza TV

The Cars / Hello Again

Released as as single in October, 1984, Hello Again, from The Cars‘ Lp, Heartbeat City. Cracking the top twenty, it was the last single in a slew of hit singles from that Lp, including; You Might Think, Magic, and Drive.

Categories
Pop-A-Looza TV

The Cars / Magic

Categories
Pop-A-Looza TV

The Cars / Shake It Up

Categories
Pop Sunday

The Empty Hearts / Second Album

The Empty Hearts

Second Album (Wicked Cool Records)

 
A true supergroup, The Empty Hearts are Wally Palmar from The Romantics on vocals, rhythm guitar and harmonica, Elliot Easton of The Cars on lead guitar and vocals, Andy Babiuk from The Chesterfield Kings on bass and Clem Burke of Blondie on drums and vocals. 


In 2014, The Empty Hearts released their self-titled debut album, which was expectedly greeted with wild applause. Considering how busy these guys are with their own separate projects, they can be excused for taking so long to deliver a follow-up effort. But it was definitely worth the wait, because the properly coined Second Album is just as fun and exciting as the first endeavor.


Dotted with wailing Yardbirds‘ styled harmonica trills, The Best That I Can crackles and crunches with classic  garage rock fervor, and then there’s Well, Look At You, which includes hip horn arrangements and grooves to a sprightly soulful timbre. 


Hook-laden power pop is the name of the game on fetching numbers such as  If I Could Change Your Mind and Coat-Tailer, where Sometimes Shit Happens For A Reason bristles to a gritty blues pitch managed by tobacco-ravaged vocals and raw-boned emotion.


The band’s good friend, Ringo Starr, lends his fabled tub-thumping prowess to Remember Days Like These, that chimes brightly with Byrds inspired bliss and magical melodies by the mile. An apt statement of the turbulent times we’re currently experiencing, The World’s Gone Insane roars with red hot anger generated by throttling riffs and pulsing punk rock energy. Shaped of a larger than life chorus and a stomping beat, Come On And Try It plugs in as another rousing raver included on the collection. 


Those hungry for a shot of authentic rock and roll will certainly feed their need with Second Album.  The Empty Hearts play their great songs straight from their hearts – pun badly intended –  and their passion for the music is instantly infectious. Equipped with killer-diller chops and the kind of telepathic chemistry found in the best bands, these fellows were destined to be together. Here’s to a standing ovation.