August 31, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Dexter Gordon

Dexter Gordon was born in Los Angeles on February 27, 1923 and took up the clarinet at the age of 13. In 1940 he joined Lionel Hampton's band on tenor saxophone and after leaving Hampton in 1943 he made his first lengthy solo recordings. Later Gordon moved to New York and joined a pioneering orchestra that included Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Fats Navarro and many other innovators of the new bebop music.

Throughout the 1950s Gordon performed and recorded very little due to his personal struggle with drugs and alcohol. In 1961 he burst back onto the scene with his Blue Note recordings. In May of 1961 Dexter recorded for Blue Note, Doin' Allright and Dexter Calling.

A little over a year later Dexter went back into the studio to record two quartet albums with the same rhythm section, Go! and A Swingin' Affair. Both records featured Gordon with Sonny Clark on piano, Butch Warren on bass, and Billy Higgins on drums.

Go! is not only Dexter's personal favorite but also one of the greatest jazz albums ever made. Dexter's blowing on Go! is nothing short of pure genious. Included in the six songs are two tremendous gems, his take on "Love For Sale" and his original "Cheesecake".

Dexter moved to Copenhagen shortly after this and his next album, Our Man in Paris, is considered one of his greatest and was recorded in Paris 1963. Our Man In Paris is unique because it features all bebop covers, including Charlie Parker's "Scrapple From The Apple" and Dizzy Gillespie's "A Night In Tunisia". It was during these years as an ex-pat that Gordon recorded the song here, "Le Coiffeur" featuring Bobby Hutcherson on vibraphone, it appeared on his 1965 record Gettin' Around, and has been underrated ever since. The song is superb, with its late night vibe, though much more loungy than most of Gordon's catalog. Listening to it is like sipping an ice cold martini. The chill quickly warms you in all the right places.

Gordon spent most of the 60s and 70s in Europe and didn't return to the states until the late 70s. He gained more recognition in the mid 80s when he starred in the feature film Round Midnight (1986) for which he received an Academy Award nomination. He died of cancer shortly after making the film.

Dexter Gordon -- Le Coiffeur

August 30, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Records

The Records wrote and recorded one of the greatest power pop songs ever written: "Starry Eyes."

The Records - Starry Eyes

August 29, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Naz Nomad & The Nightmares

Original punks, The Damned, were avid fans of sixties garage rock and psychadelia. In 1984 Dave Vanian and Rat Scabies formed a one-ff side project called Naz Nomad & the Nightmares and published a single album, Give Daddy the Knife Cindy, that featured mostly covers. They did the songs straight, as they were meant to be played, for all the world sounding just like a 1966 garage punk outfit. They covered Paul Revere and the Raiders, The Human Beinz, and the Seeds among others, and also contributing two original tracks, both of which I've got here. The band did a handful of shows throughout the 80s, and the Damned have covered several of the same songs in live shows over the years. They're coming to Seattle soon so I'll finally get a chance to see them live and see if they're still flirting with getting in touch with their mod side.

Naz Nomad & The Nightmares -- Just Call Me Sky

Naz Nomad & The Nightmares -- (Do You Know) I know

August 28, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Tranzmitors

Out of Vancouver BC comes The Tranzmitors, dressed like Mods and sounding like power poppin', new wavin' punks of 1982. A potent combination to be sure. Their debut release on Deranged Records was so good that the new wave label of the 80s, Stiff, resurected itself just to release the disk in Europe. Along with The Briefs and The Cute Lepers, The Tranzmitors are one of the best bands that hearken back to that original punk sound. The song here, "Danicn' In The Front Row" is catchy, so much so you'll find yourself playing it again and again. And again. And probably again after that.

The Tranzmitors -- Dancin' In The Front Row

The Tranzmitors - Last Night

August 27, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Count Basie

William "Bill" Basie. The Count. The little man with the big band sound. He may not seem like much of a mod, but he was suave, suave, suave.

Count Basie's legendary status in jazz is no accident. He quite simply was the greatest of the big band leaders. Ellington, Goodman, the Dorseys, all had good big bands, and each was spectacular in its own right, but none had the incomparable grace that Basie lent to his big bands over the years. Count Basie got his start in Kansas City in the late 1920s playing Mississippi blues influenced jazz with Walter Page's Blue Devils. Having come from New Jersey playing in a vaudeville/jazz act, Basie was anxious to play with a band like the Blue Devil's who were considered at the time to be one of the best in the Midwest. However, Basie first had to overcome a serious battle with spinal meningitis. After his recovery he was forced to take work accompanying silent pictures -- a talent he learned from one of his early mentors Fats Waller. In 1928 Basie got his chance to play with Walter Page and began touring with the Blue Devils. Soon though, Basie jumped ship and went back to Kansas City where speakeasies, gin joints and wild jazz were everywhere.
"Oh my, marvelous town, Kansas City. Clubs, clubs, clubs. I mean that was all Kansas City was made up of. The cats just played. They played all day and tomorrow morning they went home and went to bed. The next day the same thing." -- Count Basie
It was from the ashes of the Moten Orchestra and the Blue Devils that Basie first formed his own big band in the early thirties. Basie had played in an orchestra that over time had come to be comprised of numerous members of both Walter Page's Blue Devil's and Bennie Moten's Orchestra. In 1933 Moten split Kansas City and band members elected Basie to lead the orchestra. They opened for a new Kansas City club called the Cherry Blossom under the name Count Basie and his Cherry Blossom Orchestra. Eventually Basie organized another band under the title of Count Basie and his Barons of Rhythm. Throughout, the rhythm section of Jo Jones on drums, Walter Page on bass, and Basie on piano stayed together, beginning one of the legendary combinations of early jazz. Joining the band at this time was the incredible young saxophonist Lester Young, just in time for their radio broadcasts in 1935. Those broadcasts led to the national discovery of Count Basie and a recording invitation in 1936. Basie knowing next to nothing about recording contracts agreed to record 12 records a year for Decca records for $750 a year outright for the whole band. No royalties.

By the time the band toured Chicago and New York in late 1936 it was up to thirteen members, now including tenor saxophonist Herschel Evans who had a heated on-stage rivalry with Lester Young. In 1937 in New York the Basie big band picked up its longest tenured member, guitarist Freddie Green who played with the band even after Basie was gone, right up until the time of his own death in 1987. In 1937 Basie spent a night barhopping through Harlem and met Billie Holliday. Instantly he fell in love. With her voice. Soon Holliday began to sing with the band, staying long enough for a legendary run at the Harlem Apollo Theatre. Through the late thirties and forties the Count Basie Orchestra swelled to 15 members, and gained national recognition as one of the most swinging jazz bands in the land. From classic hits like "One O’clock Jump" and "Pennies From Heaven" to a string of great Basie band jazz such as S"top Beatin Around The Mulberry Bush", "Jumpin at the Woodside", "Mama Don't Want No Peas 'N Rice 'N Coconut Oil", "Cherokee" and "Oh Lady Be Good", Basie grew to be a legend in those early years.

Over the years Basie's bands were always filled with swinging soloists. Guys on trumpets, guys on trombones, and especially guys on saxophones, all who could belt out a swank tune that literally rocked the hall. Into the late forties and early fifties Basie worked with much smaller bands and his wave of popularity seemed to ebb. But in the late 1950s Basie simply reincarnated the Basie big band and began to have a significant impact on the world of jazz once again. From the swingin' devil may care sounds that had so infused Basie's early recordings he moved towards the swinging, slightly rocking, cool and hip jazz that was tearing up the clubs of the 1950s and 60s jetset. In 1966 he even succumbed to what everyone else was doing, covering The Beatles, producing Basie's Beatle Bag with swingin' covers of the fab four's biggest hits of the day.

Billed as The Atomic Band, Basie's group once again was at the forefront of American jazz, swinging and playing harder than anyone else. They backed some of the great singers of the day such as Frank Sinatra, Mel Torme and Sammy Davis Jr. and became permenant fixtures in Las Vegas. Basie's bands at this time were loose, and played together in a fashion that shows the ease they had with each other’s styles. The band was at its biggest ever with 16 people including Joe Newman, Snooky Young, Freddie Green and of course Basie on the ivories.

A certain coolness flowed from Basie during these years. A hipness that fit perfectly with the times. The band was smooth as could be, the rhythms beat hard, their songs cool and their concerts hot. Las Vegas was alive with Basie sounds like: "Corner Pocke"t, "Cute", "Indian Summer", and an absolute perfect arrangement of "Goldfinger" that was too cool even for Bond. The Count continued leading his band through the 1960s and early 1970s. In 1976 he suffered a heart attack, and though he recovered, Basie performed only when his health permitted. In 1984 he died of cancer. His band has continued on under the leadership of Thad Jones and then Frank Foster, both longtime members of the Basie Orchestra.

Frank Sinatra with Count Basie & his Orchestra -- Come Fly With Me [1966-Live from The Sands]

Count Basie Orchestra -- Swingin' The Blues (938)

Count Basie Orchestra -- Corner Pocket(957)

Count Basie Orchestra-Whirly Bird

August 26, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Now People

The Now People are a blast of sunshiney goodness on an otherwise gloomy day. The band is a sort of supergroup of L.A. pop underground players from The Wondermints, Single Bullet Theory, Arthur Lee and Love, and Brian Wilson's Band to name a few, so you won't be surprised to hear some nice melodies, vocal harmonies, and otherwise great pop music when you spin up this disk. Their 2006 release, The Last Great 20th Century Love Affair , will stir up memories of past pop icons like Burt Bacharach, Harpers Bizarre, and especially The Beach Boys, and more recent pop acts like Love Jones and Tahiti 80. The song here, "Trust" is a cover of Paul Williams, but really captures the essence of The Now People's overall sound.

The Now People -- Trust

The Now People -- A New Life For Us

August 25, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Aces

The Aces were one of dozens of mod revival bands that left behind few traces of their existence. Rising out of punk band Menace, The Aces adopted a mod sound and image. Just one single was recorded, the song here "One Way Street", which has since appeared on several mod compilations. The Aces had a nice tight sound, blending power pop with sharp vocals and nice songwriting.

The Things -- Can't Get Enough

August 24, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Blacklight Chameleons

The Blacklight Chameleons were a mid-80s psychadelic garage band from New York. Their 1986 self-titled debut was a tour de force of garage revival with fuzzed out guitars, swirling organ riffs and shimmering vocals. The song here, "Door" was probably the best track, and one of the band's most popular. Even better than their sound was the band's ability to generate press coverage. They garnered national attention with a photo and write up in Vanity Fair of all places, and managed to keep on for several years. They went through a number of line up changes and later releases like 1988's Innermission, while solid, didn't have the raw intensity of that first record.

Blacklight Chameleons -- Door

Blacklight Chameleons Theme

August 23, 2009

Modcast #138: The Mod Time of the Night

Welcome to Mr. Suave's Mod Mod World. It was a good week to put this particular show together. I got to dig out some old friends, like The Untouchables and Madness, and make some new ones like The Brigadier and Tony Cox.

Madness and The Untouchables were two of the first mod/ska bands I discovered in the early 80s when I started getting into the mod scene. At the time there were prescious few local mod bands, even in Southern California, and there was little or no general awareness of mod/ska from around the world, in particular the UK. It was quite the effort to unearth the records, requiring long drives to Hollywood or Orange County to indie record shops. There was something special about having to expend such effort.

Now days you hop online and in seconds you know the history of most bands, you've downloaded practically their entire discography, and you have more pictures and videos than you even want. And still, if you asked any member of the general public about The Untouchables they'd think you meant the movie, and if they remember Madness at all it's only because of the constant radio play that "Our House" got in 1983.

So, I'm hopeful that when people hop online they stumble across this site and hopefully are introduced to some interesting music that they can then track down more of elsewhere. This modcast is packed with fantastic tracks, if I do say so myself, so listen in and enjoy. Then take a drive down the information superhighway for more.

The Brigadier -- This, Is Why . . . (2008)
The Untouchables -- Soul Together (1985)
The Higsons -- Run Me Down (1983)
Makin' Time -- Stop This Cryin; Inside (1985)
Madness -- Rainbows (2009)
Tony Cox -- Jamelia (2009)
The Elements -- Caught In A Storm (2009)
Skypark -- Secret Hideaway (1988)
The Primitives -- Crash (1988)
Acid House Kings -- Mrs. Green (2000)
The Last Shadow Puppets -- The Age Of The Understatement (2008)

The Untouchables -- Free Yourself

The Elements -- Deep Freeze

August 22, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Standells

There are lots of groups that clearly influenced punk rock and garage rock bands the world over. But, The Standells more than any other have earned the moniker of the godfathers of punk rock. It's surprising if you know they started out as a fairly clean cut, beat band in the early sixties, hardly known for pounding out very rebellious music. They were clean cut enough to land one of those corny TV rock gigs on The Munsters where they sang an uninspired, organ driven cover of The Beatles "I Wanna Hold Your Hand".

All that changed in 1966 when they teamed up with Ed Cobb who wrote their biggest hit, the gritty, Stonesy, "Dirty Water", which hit #11 on the charts. The album of the same name featured the song here, "Little Sally Tease" and heralded the beginnings of the Standells punk sound thanks to a number of hard, organ driven songs with distinctive bass lines and fuzzed out guitar. Between 1966 and the end of 1967 the band released four albums, all of which built on their brand of blues laden rock and roll, and solidified their cult status as a primary influence on future rockers of every genre and generation.

The Standells -- Little Sally Tease

August 21, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Hi-Fly Orchestra

The Hi-Fly Orchestra are a super smooth jazz combo from Germany. Playing a mix of soul and jazz, the band is more the latter, but enough of the former to make them one of the best of the acts currently mining the soul jazz mountains. They are decidedly less funky than many of their nu-soul colleagues, and have a more sixties feel, as well.
In their own words:
THFO was founded in 2005 by Jerker Kluge and Florian Riedl. Though played by young musicians, who are influenced by all kinds of todays music, the intent was to create music that sounds as hip as the classic jazz records of the blue note era. Music to dance, without DJ´s, electronics or samples, just pure acoustic music!
The band's sophmore release, Mambo Atomico, is fantastic bit of jazz. Mostly instrumental, they do have a couple of tracks featuring the Swedish soul diva, Miriam Ada. The song here, "Hi-Fly Stomp", is just one of those great pieces of music that no matter who you're doing, what you're drinking, or where you're at, it just seems perfect.

The Hi-Fly Orchestra -- Hi-Fly Stomp

August 20, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Things

The Paisley Underground in Los Angeles in the early 80s was the launching pad for the 80s garage revival, and for The Things (not the Irish garage band). The Things were a psychadelic explosion of soft pop sounds that were pretty far afield of other garage acts of the era like The Chesterfield Kings, The Tell-Tale Hearts, Gravedigger V and so on. Instead of pounding out punk laden, sixties R&B infused garage music, The Things played a mellower, psych heavy and melodic kind of power pop more along the lines of Arthur Lee and Love, or Plasticland, or The Lyres. They produced three excellent albums, the second of which Outside My Window is pretty much the agreed upon best of the trio. This song, "Can't Get Enough", has some sick guitar licks and the vocals are laced with just a hint of reverb making it all a bit surreal sounding.

The Things -- Can't Get Enough

August 19, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Saboteurs

The Saboteurs were a late 90s garage lounge surf rock band. Their single disk, Espionage Garage, is full of somewhat typical loungy surf songs. But the band's tight play and production make this better than most. There's a decidedly sixties vibe here that gives the disk an authentic 1966 sort of feel, complete with cool farfisa organ, reverby guitar and crashing percussion. This song, "Midnight Rendezvous", could have been the theme song to a mid-sixties western TV show, just as a number of the other tracks could have fit easily into any James Bond or, better yet, Our Man Flynt movie soundtrack.

The Saboteurs -- Midnight Rendezvous

August 18, 2009

Mod-A-Day: New Wave

Nice bit of history here about the "new wave". Includes an interview with Danny from The Quick, Rodney Bingenheimer and some clips of power poppers The Zippers onstage at The Whiskey.

The New Wave - Whiskey A Go-Go - 1977

August 17, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Expressos

Sounding like a cross between Chrissy Hynde and Debbie Harry, Expressos lead singer Rozzi, incorporates a soulful, yet girlish, vocal with the band's synchopated power pop and new wave style to produce a tremendous sound. The song here, "Want" is from the band's 1981 disk Promises And Ties, and while not as popular as their single "Tango in Mono", it has always struck me as the superior song.

Expressos -- Want

August 16, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Squire

During the mod revival of the late 70s there were dozens and dozens of so-called mod bands that were little more than punks in suits. The music was fast, infused with some sixties pop overtones, but truly more power than pop. Then there was Squire. A power pop trio that eschewed the power more for the pop. And did they ever pop. Squire's sound, led by front man Anthony Meynell, was one of the most true to the sixties pop of the Zombies, Turtles, and Hollies, lyrical yet with a driving force that made each song a veritable dance floor shaker. Starting in 1978 the band released a handful of singles that moved them more and more towards a pure sixties pop sound and away from the punkified power pop that was so dominant in the mod revival. By the time their first true album arrived Meynell had directed the sound more towards the Beatles with tinges of psychadelia, and creating a raft of wonderful pop songs that stand the test of time nearly as good as those that influenced them. Here's a couple of Squire's classics, "Debbie Jones" and "Every Trick in the Book of Love".

Squire -- Debbie Jones

Squire -- Every Trick in the Book of Love

August 15, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Cool Frog

Cool Frog are a Spanish mod band combining elements of sixties freakbeat, psychadelia, and power pop. Over all of that you can hear an indie rock strain that keeps the band's songs fresh, as well as keeping them from sounding trite or bubblegummish. Here's a very cool bit of funky, modern freakbeat with Jam like power chords and some serious horns. Oh yeah, it's got a lot of cat fightin' chicks too. What's not too like?

Cool Frog -- Move!(To the Main Club)

August 14, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Cola Jet Set

All apologies for the late post today. But, as usual, good things come to those who wait.

I never know what they're saying, but I love it. Cola Jet Set are a Spanish pop band with a bubblegum sound infused with sixties and seventies pop overtones, and all topped off with a twee sort of indie finish. Everything they do is in Spanish, but not metter. I could listen to anything Cola Jet Set produces because the music is simply so good it doesn't matter if you can understand the lyrics or not. Even for a silly mono-language American like me this is pitch perfect pop.

Cola Jet Set has been producing smooth, mod friendly power pop since around 2000, now with two full length releases to their credit. Their first, Contando Historias, dropped in 2004, and was followed --after a number of lineup changes-- earlier this year by their latest Guitarras y Tambores. The latest, not as rockin' as The Lodgers, and not as disco as Acid House Kings, and not as sixties as the Free Design, still has echoes of each of those bands throughout. And, as usual, the band's sound is not that far removed from The Monkees, or The Jet Set, or even contemporaries like The Red Button, The Bicycles, or The Icicles. The song here, "El sueño de mi vida", was the band's entry in this year's Eurovision contest in Spain. This song is just one of the dozen on the new album, which I think is by far their best.

Cola Jet Set -- El sueño de mi vida

August 13, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Datson Four

The Datsons. The Datson Four. The High Dials. Since 2000, three names, one great band. The track here is from their incarnation as The Datson Four, from the album See! this is "Suburban Paradise". The album has loads of Who and Creation overtones, and a nice freakbeat feel to it. The video below is from band's current formation, The High Dials, which is a bit more psychadelic, but still delivering solid sixties styled garage pop.

The Datson Four -- Suburban Paradise

The High Dials -- The Holy Ground

August 12, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Feeling

The Feeling are a British pop band that remind a bunch of the 88. Smooth, radio friendly, seventies styled pop rock with indie overtones. But just underneath the surface there's a cool attitude lurking there, a suave sort of confidence that gives the songs a nice little nudge toward the edgier side of heaven. Their 2006 debut charted three top ten songs and propelled the band to the forefront of pop music in the UK. The band's 2008 follow up seemed overly ambitious with the band stretching to be like Queen, or even The Killers. It wasn't a bad disk, but certainly didn't bring the joy that 2006's Twelve Stops and Home did. The song here, "Love It When You Call" starts with a video game like intro but moves quickly into strong power pop song.

The Feelings -- Love It When You Call

August 11, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Hush Puppies

The Hushuppies -- the french garage rock band, not the US southern rock Poutfit -- since 2004 have been producing a wild and wooly sounding garage rock that is at the same time sharp and polished. Heavily influence by sixties freakbeat and psychadelia, The Hush Puppies nevertheless are not a revival act, or all that derivative of the sixties sound. Their music is modern garage rock that is clearly indebted to these past musical genres, but not overwhelmed by them. The song here, "Hot Shot", is from their second album, 2007's Silence is Golden.

Hush Puppies -- Hot Shot

Hush Puppies -- You're Gonna Say Yeah

August 10, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Jackie Wilson

There's no better way to kick off a Monday than with some sweet soul music, from one of the sweetest voiced soul singers of all time: Jackie Wilson. Wilson was a 50s doowopper and R&B singer that was able to jump full force into the sixties soul sound. He's probably best known for "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher", but his Kent singles were much better -- swingin' harder, and every one smoother than a baby's butt. Especially this one here "Nothing But Blue Skies". Wilson's personal life was plagued with scandals and health problems. He was shot by angry ex girlfriend early in his career, but recovered. Then in 1975 he collapsed on stage and slipped into a coma, never to regain consciousness, dying nine years later. But that smooth soul voice lives on.

Jackie Wilson -- Nothing But Blue Skies

August 9, 2009

Modcast #137: We're All Winners Now

Welcome to Mr. Suave's Mod Mod World. We're all winners when you've got a great day like today, and a great show like this one. The weather in Seattle has been hot, hot, and now cooler with chances of sunspots breakin' out if the picture out my window is any indication of what's in store. That's what's in store for you too -- hot and cool music with chances of sunspots. Lots of cool new stuff from Cornershop, The Bishops and The Rakes as well as a few hot gems from yesteryear by the likes of Backseat Romeos, Patrick Fitzgerald and The Loot. The forecast shows that listeners of this show are indeed the winners.

Cornershop -- Waterloo Sunset (2009)
Backseat Romeos -- Zero Ambition (1979)
Strangeways -- Show Her You Care (1978)
Patrick Fitzgerald -- Improve Myself (1979)
The Rakes -- That's The Reason (2009)
Lucky Fish -- Future Queen (2009)
The Bishops -- Carry On (2009)
The Loot -- She's A Winner (1967)
Spirits of Blue Lightning -- Love Muscle (1967)
The Who -- Heaven And Hell (1969)
Menswear -- Holly Wood Girl (1996)

The Rakes -- 1989

Patrick Fitzgerald

August 7, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Little Murders

The Little Murders were probably Australia first (and most) bona fide mod band, arriving during the mod revival heyday of 1979. Named after an early 70s Jules Fieffer movie starring Elliot Gould, the band wasn't nearly as quirky as their namesake playing straight ahead, sixties influenced power pop thought of as punk rock by many at the time. The lead singer, Rob Griffiths was a Brit, and on a vacation to the UK in '79 fell in love the mod revival already in full force. He brought home a more soulful idea for their sound and the band moved forward producing a handful of hard driving pop singles with obvious sixties roots, all with solid flares of soul, as well. This track, "Take Me I'm Yours",was the flipside of their third single which sold out a 1,000 copies making the band a big local success at the time.

The song is tight, and when you hear the guitar licks and the fast-popping drums it's quite obviously influenced by the Jam. It's a great song, with these trippy horns echoing in the background throughout, and then all of a sudden the chorus sneaks up on you and is both laid back and infectious. C'mon kiss me with your lips/You can touch me with your fingertips/Cuz I'm yours/Yeah I'm yours.

Sadly,the Little Murders never made it big outside of Melbourne. The original band broke up in 1983, although Griffiths revived the band with different lineups a few times in the mid-80s. They never recorded anything other than singles, most of which endedup in the compilation LP Stop released in 1986. It wasn't until 1997 when Griffiths was fronting yet a new version of The Little Murders that they actually released a full CD of new material, ...and stuff like that. A second CD followed a few years later, First Light, which in turn was followed by We Should Be Home By Now in 2001.

The Little Murders -- Take Me I'm Yours

August 6, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Groovie Ghoulies

The Groovie Ghoulies were one of the most prolific garage punk bands around. In the course of little more than a decade (1996-2007) the band released nine full length records. From the very beginning they had a clear predilection for fast, furious, pogo-inducing songs clearly influenced by The Ramones. In 2000 the band released their sixth --and last for Lookout Records-- album. In my humble opinion this was their highwater mark. The production was sharp and smooth, a bit less fuzzified and garagey than their earlier releases, and clearly leaning more towards the pop punk sound than their trashy, heavier garage punk sound. This track, "Criswell Predicts" is short, blistering piece of power pop that warns the boys to straighten up or the girls will be blowing them off for each other. With the posting on their website of a cryptic message about internal strife the band broke up in 2007 days after the release of their ninth LP.

The Groovie Ghoulies -- Criswell Predicts

August 5, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Nerves

The Nerves were thee pioneers of the new wave of power pop in the mid-70s, thanks to one of the most enduring power pop songs of all time: "Hangin' On The Telephone". Even though they penned the song and produced a stripped-down version of "Hangin' On The Telephone" it was Blondie that recorded the definitive version.

The band took the power pop sound of the seventies and steered it towards the just emerging punk sound, producing spikey, sharp pop songs that had hooks aplenty. The Nerves short-lived career showed some hint of influence from their 1975/76 classmates Shoes and Cheap Trick and more than a passing nod to the melodic pop of The Raspberries, Bad Finger, Big Star and The Hollies. For all that, the band paved the way for the LA power pop explosion of the latter half of the decade, and set power pop on a collission course with new wave. The collision wrecked the band, and out of its ashes Peter Case founded The Plimsouls and Paul Collins started The Beat.

The Nerves -- Hangin' On The Telephone

August 4, 2009

Mod-a-Day: Power To the Pop Videos

Busy, busy, busy. That defines my days this week. So, today, you get a treat. Here's a link to an absof***inglutely treasure trove of power pop videos from The Jam to The Diodes to The Shoes to Wreckless Eric and everything in between. Although, I have to say that the choice of "Her Head's Revolving" by The Three O'Clock was off the mark. By the time they made that video they'd already left their best garage and paisley underground days far behind them. Still, this group of videos will bring back some great memories I'm sure. Enjoy.

August 3, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Music Explosion

The Music Explosion were a mid-sixties garage rock outfit from the American midwest. In 1967 they scored a huge hit with the catchy, sunny, poppy "Little Bit O' Soul" which finished it's run up the charts just one spot short of the top, but hung in there at 2nd place for 11 weeks and sold a million copies. The band never did manage to repeat that success. However, their first single, "Little Black Egg" from 1966, was in my opinion a grittier, tighter piece of soulful, garage rock. It was a regional hit and helped get the band local notice which led to their being able to record "Little Bit O' Soul."

The Music Explosion -- Little Black Egg

August 2, 2009

Modcast #136: Kickin' It Old School

I'm kickin' it old school in the mod world this week. Gettin' back to when the gettin' was seriously good, along about 1966 and thereabouts. This week's modcast features a nice set of sixties mod, garage, blues, psych pop from the likes of The Small Faces, Powder, Graham Bond Organization, Alan Brown Set, Mouse & The Traps and more. As hot as it's been in Seattle of late, this is a much needed set of super cool music.

Bonus Videos:

Monkees -- Pleasant Valley Sunday

Graham Bond Organization -- Harmonica

August 1, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The School

In the same vein as the Pipettes and a host of other groups bringing back that sweet, Leader of the Pack styled girl group sound, here comes The School. Twee-sters the world over have been atwitter about The School since they dropped their first release "All I Wanna Do", which was soul infused, pop sounding twee through and through. Then last year they released the Let It Slip EP which is less twee like, and more sixtiesish, but not in a been there done that way. It's not truly old school --excuse the pun-- but more of a modern indie sound that owes a debt to the girl groups and pop music of yore. The track here, "I Want You Back" features delicious melodies, catchy hooks, jingle-jangly guitars, and even some great latinesque horn loops.

The School -- I Want You Back