The Tor Guides

Archive for the ‘Classic pop’ Category

A truly good year!

In Classic pop, Classic rock, Don´t miss this, Okategoriserade on 9 April, 2013 at 19:20


Been listening to Eric Barao´s fantastic album all day long. Made me realise that this is gonna be one great, great year – starting today, if not earlier!

The soundtrack to another great year, is this fab Grays song Very Best Years, below in a rarely seen video.

So let´s all cheer for the summer of 2013!



Adam Schlesinger podcast interview

In Classic pop, Classic rock, Podcast interview, Powerpop on 25 January, 2013 at 15:48


Here´s a brand new WTF podcast interview by Mark Maron with power pop renaissance man Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne and Tinted Windows fame – as well as the winner of Emmy, Grammy and ASCAP Pop Music awards nominee for Oscar, Tony, and Golden Globe awards!


Pet sounds revisited

In Classic pop, Classic rock on 24 January, 2013 at 10:18


When Pet Sounds was released in May 1966, Beach Boys had already released ten previous albums. Still, no one of the gave a real hint of what was to come.

The background story is history by now. Brian Wilson quit touring with the band in order to concentrate on writing and recording. He was helped out by advertising copywriter Tony Asher, whom he not worked with before.

Asher has described the couple´s co-working methods: “The general tenor of the lyrics was often Brian’s, however the actual choice of words was usually mine. I was really just his interpreter.” In the end the two co-wrote eight songs on the album. The musicians assembled for the recordings consisted of the famous Wrecking Crew, though it´s now debated whether they actually were called that at the times. In any case, they all had vast experience from working with big names such as Phil Spector and the creation of his walls of sounds.

Below is a link to a BBC revisit to the album – fab!



Much better than being worst

In 10cc, Classic pop, Don´t miss this on 22 January, 2013 at 15:19


1974 was a great year for pop music and the pop song. It was the year of Seasons In The Sun by Terry Jacks, Benny And The Jets by Elton John and the marvellous When Will I See You Again by the Three Degrees, one of my all time favourites. But it was also the year when 10cc released their second album Sheet Music, an album that is a very evident leap forward compared to their self titled debut album from the previous year.

Sheet music was recorded at Strawberry Recording Studios in Stockport Cheshire, simultaneously with Mike McGear´s album McGear, produced by his well known brother Paul McCartney and the same drum kit was actually used for both recordings.

Billboard concluded that the album had “some of the most innovative vocal techniques and instrumental arrangements around” and that is maybe most evident from the first single, the stiff but equally marvellous The Worst Band In The World. It´s fabulous to see how the band uses small, small means to create great and stunning effects – just listen to those bass lines!

Even though the single was a great failure, it´s one of the 10cc songs that has best stood the test of time. And those flares…


Taking it easy

In Classic pop, Classic rock, Don´t miss this on 17 January, 2013 at 16:24


One of my all time favourite songs is Take It Easy by  Eagles , elegantly written by Jackson Browne And Glenn Frey. It´s all quality, from the jangly guitars in the beginning to the silky vocals later on.

I can fully understand why Eagles today often are mentioned with contempt – their later output is often too cheesy and speculative. But had they only recorded one or two albums, they would be looked upon as mere gods by now. I tried to give Gram Parsons yet another chance the other day but – no, his music doesn´t do anything to me. Early Eagles, on the other hand, now that´s something else.

The recording below is from Central Park in 1972 – even though the screen is dark for a while in the beginning, your wait will be rewarded. Splendid!


Not just the quiet one

In Classic pop, Don´t miss this on 1 December, 2011 at 17:03

Sunrise doesn’t last all morning
A cloudburst doesn’t last all day
Seems my love is up and has left you with no warning
It’s not always going to be this grey
All things must pass
All things must pass away
There are many different ways to appreciate good music. Many prefer experiencing the artists and musicians in live performances, “being there” when it actually happens, whereas others are more comfortable in the sofa, enjoying the rich sounds of a vinyl record. Myself, I have acquired a special taste for the DVD portraits – maybe I´m too old to watch music live?
The other day I saw Martin Scorsese´s excellent portrait of the quiet beatle, George Harrison – Living In The Material World. If you´re only slightly interested in Beatles or 60s pop culture in general, the film is an absolute must!
Scorsese´s film is a distant relative to Peter Bogdanovich´s equally excellent career-spanning portrait of Harrison´s fellow compadre  Tom Petty from 2007, Running Down A Dream. In that film Bogdanovich lets Petty lead us through his whole career, all blended with the finest of music! In both of those films, the focus is on the artists – and the reporting film maker is only indirectly to be seen.
Harrison, by the way, could also have been qualified as “The Funny Beatle” or “The Contemplative Beatle” – there are so many sides to Harrison besides him being just quiet…The is for example a hilarious clip in the extras, where Harrison interviews friend and racing ace Damon Hill – that clip is in itself worth the price!
Of course Scorsese was somewhat limited by having the object of his film only indirectly present for “new” comments. On the other hand, he had access to private movies from the Harrison home that previously haven´t been seen.
The new interviews with Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney and Eric Clapton – and many more – also lights some aspects of  Beatles that at least weren´t known to me. In a new interview Ringo claims that “if it wasn´t for Paul we wouldn´t have made as many records” and continues to describe how McCartney called him and John Lennon to have them return to the studio for recordings. The descriptions of his drug abuse and the not always sunny relation to his wife Olivia seem credible, although maybe not flattering to Harrison.
The film is indeed long, longer than three hours, but no one who is interested in such an artist portrait will hesitate a bit due to that fact. My recommendation is simple – Buy. And watch!
Below is a great clip with Paul McCartney, playing Harrison´s – in my opinion – best song All Things Must Pass.

For the love of Harry – the great Nilsson!

In Classic pop, Classic rock, Don´t miss this on 10 August, 2011 at 14:12

One is the loneliest number

Do you remember the old EMI singles from the 70s, where the flip side of the sleeve listed other EMI singles to purchase? My immediate association to names like Tony Joe White, Badfinger and Cilla Black is the listings on the flip side of those sleeves. Some years later notorious Stiff Records adopted the same – good – habit and duly recommended good music from other labels on one of its inner sleeves – I specifically recall a recommendation to by an old ABBA album. Anyway, for a pop music nerd – most likely with some kind of disorder! – those old sleeves were a great resource for knowledge and acquaintances.

A name frequently listed on those sleeves was Harry Nilsson, who nowadays seems to be name dropped by todays´s artists every other week. In the early 70s I didn´t know much of his music but some years ago I decided to listen through his back catalogue – and there are some great, great stuff there to be found!

Nilsson was born in 1941 i Brooklyn. His grand parents were circus artists from Sweden and he later dedicated his album Aerial ballet – their speciality – to them. In the early 60s he worked both as a bankman as well as a singer and a tunesmith, all with improving success. His vocal range was extraordinary; is was hardly a coincidence that Mariah Carey was to cover “his” top hit Without You and it has also been said that Little Richard one time thrusted ”My! You sing good for a white boy!” when he heard him sing. During these early years he wrote music together with Phil Spector in the latter´s pop factory as well as music for Monkees – their hit Cuddly Toy is easy to recognize as a Nilsson song.

His first album was released in 1967 by RCA, namely Pandemonium Shadow Show. One duly impressed by the album was Derek Taylor, Beatles´ press manager, Taylor soon linked Nilsson with the four Beatles´who all took a liking to each other. On the press conference when the establishing of Apple records was disclosed, John Lennon was asked about his favourite US artist and Paul McCartney of his favourite US band – they both replied Nilsson! Taylor made it possible for Nilsson to come to London where he actually came to participate on the recording of Beatles ´great White Album.

1968 then saw the release of his album Aerial Ballet. The album included the Fred Neil cover Everybody’s Talkin´ who became a huge success. However, the best song on the album is One, later a hit for Three Dog Knight. Aimee Mann has made a great cover of that song on the tribute album For The Love of Harry: Everybody Sings Nilsson but no other version can match his own.

During the stormy year of 1973, when he, John Lennon and Keith Moon led a sturm-und-drang life on the US west coast, he recorded the album Pussy Cats, with Lennon as the producer. His life during that and other periods is a life full of storeys and anecdotes, many of them told over and over. Some has also been written about his stay in the 2 room flat in Mayfair London, previously owned by Ringo Starr. The flat was lent by Nilsson to Mama Cass Elliot, who tragically died in the flat in 1974. Four years later, his old drinking buddy Keith Moon also died in the same flat!

Nilsson himself died in 1994, leaving a rich heritage of music. A great introduction that his music is the previously mentioned tribute album For The Love of Harry: Everybody Sings Nilsson from 1995, with participation from Aimee Mann, Jellyfish, Bill Lloyd, Brian Wilson and many, many more.

Below is a clip with my favourite Nilsson song – the great One!


The return of the Red Button!

In Classic pop, Don´t miss this, New music on 9 August, 2011 at 14:01

The fabulous Red Button has finally returned with their second album following their extraordinary debut from 2007. As was expected, we get nothing less than a great, great soundtrack to this and all other upcoming summers!

As Far As Yesterday Goes kicks off with adrenaline infused Caught in the Middle, which continues where Cruel Girl from the previous album left off – the jangly guitars and the Mersey beat are still intact!  However this new album is a lot more musically diverse, with more than a nod to Harry Nilsson´s musical landscape and the tone in Seth Swirsky´s sweet sounding album from 2010, Watercolor Day. In that respect, the band has evidently moved on, as opposed to remake their debut.

My absolute favorites of the songs are the exquisite On A Summer Day, She Grows Where She’s Planted and Genevieve but I am sure that my picks will change several times in the future – there are only excellent songs on the album!

Finally, I read somewhere that most – or maybe all? – instruments are played by Swirsky and fellow Red Button Mike Ruekberg and their playing and arranging is truly impeccable and shows both a deep understanding and love for this kind of groovy music. Swellegant I say!

Below is the excellent video with the first single from the album – On  A Summer Day.


World class Posies!

In Classic pop, Classic rock on 30 July, 2011 at 17:07

Posies are currently undergoing a Scandinavian tour and yesterday they visited the Storsjoyran festival in  Östersund, where they went on stage just about an hour before Roky Ericson and an hour after Austins finest, Deadman, who played two consecutive evenings

Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow obviously haven´t lost the slightest bit of their magic touch. Although the theatre was not full, which of course was a shame, the band gave us their best and presented a joy of a show.

The material consisted of old classics as well as songs from the last album – and no doubt there´s lots of more  to be expected from Bellingaham´s finest!

Below is an old video clip with an old favourite song.


Bright summer nights approaching?

In Classic pop, Okategoriserade on 7 June, 2011 at 17:09

All those lonely films

And all those lonely parties
But now the feeling is off-screen
An’ the tears for real not acted, anymore

Even if a sunny winter´s day in Scandinavia is hard to beat, I sometime find my thoughts straying elsewhere to those distant places where the sun always shines and the ladies are…well. The soundtrack to those thoughts is almost always the same, namely Style Council´s formidable single Long Hot Summer from 1983.

After Paul Weller wrapped up Jam with the excellent single Beat Surrender from november 1982 and instead founded Style Council together with organ player Mick Talbot, previously in mod group Merton Parkas, nothing would ever be the same again.

The duo´s first single, also from 1983, Speak Like A Child, was a solid produce but Weller soon found his ways back to funk cramp city with the follow-up Money Go Round (Part 1). At that time I lost all hope. The band´s future would also be a rocky rollercoaster ride, with some extraordinary highs and many, many deep valleys.

Their finest minutes came early with the third single, the before-mentioned Long Hot Summer, the soundtrack to my every summer daydream ever after.

Once upon a time Weller was a close to God as anyone could be, at least to me. I still remember taking the sleeve of Jam´s In The City to my hairdresser, asking her to do my soft teenage hair just like Weller´s.

The first 3-4 Jam albums are still great but sometime thereafter we kinda lost each other. Mostly by habit I´ve bought some of his solo albums and some Style Council stuff but hardly ever listened to them. I also got the impression quiet early on that he´s not a very nice person, even though my position on that issue now may have changed a bit.

Still , he has provided us with some bone fide pop stuff, with Long Hot Summer being maybe the best of the lot. Listen – and feel the summertime getting closer by the minute!



Ps. Someday when I´m old and tired enough, I promise to dive into Weller´s collected works and give it all a fair chance, without presumptions. Perhaps I then will discover something I should have noticed before and feel a bit ashamed of my sometimes biased views? Even Weller has of lately made up with his old pals from Jam and that may of course be a sign…