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“Sorry Girls, He’s Married!” Joe Sullivan Strikes a Rock Star Pose and It Comes Out Pop

sullivanJoe Sullivan | Schlock Star | Reed Recording Company, 2014

Review by Alan Haber

If this were another time and place and Sullivanmania had hit our shores in 1964, it would have been Joe striking a rock star pose on the stage of the Ed Sullivan Theater with the legend “Sorry Girls, He’s Married!” jittering lazily at the bottom of our television screens. The idol of millions, a musical matinee bon vivant, and a consummate rock ‘n’ roll craftsman? “Surely such a creature does not exist!” the ubiquitous they would have screamed, hands flailing around their heads. The whole package. The goods.

In today’s world of momentary chart toppers and web site photo bombs, Joe Sullivan emerges upon first listen as the real deal. Don’t let the tongue-in-cheek album title and cover fool you. A portrait of the artist as an animated object, rendered in permanent marker and surrounded by an under-strung guitar and crayons used to color in a couple-plus-three musical notes, adorns the canvas, suggesting that the music inside might have been written and performed for a Saturday morning kids show in Tuscaloosa or a traveling ice show with skating bears and tree trunks. Nothing could be further from the truth, for this is pop and rock music created by an adult for other adults, and adults who are kids at heart. And it hints, every so cautiously, at the humor and pathos contained within. And, of course, the talent. So much talent.

Sullivan, who plays in the live shows of sterling musical conclave An American Underdog, considers himself to be a songwriter that plays guitar, as opposed to a guitar player who writes songs. His craft benefits from his exposure to a “huge collection of records” from the fifties and sixties he had access to in his youth. His life experience turns those sounds on their heads for a contemporary musical knockout punch you won’t soon forget.

This is absolutely the stuff of a legend who rolls out his barrels beginning with song number one, the hooky “Conspiracy Radio,” armed with an opening salvo in the form of an affectionate nod to the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby.” A slightly agitated roll on that song’s opening drum beats raises the flag and spreads the word about the wonderful, still-vital world of radio. With a sweet Ramones glaze and Brian May-like guitar solo, Sullivan pleads with people to be overtaken by the power that finds him “hanging on every word.” “Haven’t you heard?” Sullivan wonders, and you know you have as you’re reaching for a dial to turn to your favorite station rocking your favorite tunes.

sullivan 2If there is a recurring theme within Schlock Star, it’s the plight of girls and boys of various stripes. A powerful portrait of the artist as rock star pulling the rug out from under a girl who thinks her boyfriend is “insane” and plays music that’s “kind of lame” is at the center of the tongue-in-cheek “Rock Star Boyfriend.” “She don’t care,” the narrator sings, perhaps matter-of-factly. The heck with cool tunes: it’s all about guitar shredding and posing for shiny web site splash pages for this girl. In “Girl Next Door,” a guy, with his heart presumably in the right place, trains his telescope on the bedroom of a new next door neighbor from parts unknown. It’s really a sweet story, as the narrator sings: “I’ll be her Gilligan, she’ll be my Mary Ann, she’ll be my Lois Lane, I’ll be her Superman.” And in the bluesy guitar crunch of “Love in Every Bite,” the emotion is all-consuming and flavorful, and in every way just as tasty.

Aided more than ably by producer, engineer and multi-instrumentalist Andy Reed and drummers Donny Brown and Cody Maracek, Sullivan makes tracks that stick and stack up for imminent replay. You can tell the whole bunch of these crackerjack musical minds are having a blast. The explosions are infectious and more than that you can not ask for. This is Sullivanmania, attended by screaming fans who dig the sounds of one of the best records of 2014.

This is the whole package. These are the goods. This is Joe Sullivan, and he is the real deal.

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Win a factory-sealed copy of Joe Sullivan’s Schlock Star! Simply fill in the form below, making sure to put “Joe Sullivan rocks!” in the Comment field. Only one entry per person. Deadline for entering is 12 noon ET on Wednesday, September 10. Good luck!

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The Radio Life. “Road, Ho!” (Part One)

radio-1by Alan Haber

He’d made it look so effortless and somehow magical, but there really wasn’t much magic to it; the index and middle fingers on his right hand rose through the stuffy air in the boxy booth, sailing delicately through the muck until they pointed at the engineer on the other side of the glass. Sheets of paper littered the floor around him. A half-smoked cigarette stubbed carelessly in the ashtray to his left still smoldered silently. The hardly-adequate light from the overhead bulbs made the room seem sinister and silent.

“And that’s how it’s done,” he said, rising from his rickety chair. “You have any questions?” The engineer had left his perch behind the small, simple sound board. Had he even been there? The whole scene seemed somehow like a broadcasting mirage. The newscaster, dressed casually in a sports shirt and jeans, slid his coat from the back of his chair to the sure grip of his right hand. “I mean, that’s why you came, right? What did you think?”

tomatoThe newscaster’s process seemed somehow less than the sum of its parts. He had just delivered the latest live news report to ABC Radio affiliates in his commanding, dramatic, professional radio news voice, but there was no building to a crescendo–there was only the introduction to the quick, down and dirty national newscast, and then short, snappy synopses of the latest happenings of note. Bullet points, really. A digest of sorts. A short commercial recorded on a bulky radio station cartridge, sent on its way by the engineer, followed. A final story preceded the newscaster’s wrap-up, a light and perhaps quirky short and sweet little thing that could have been ripped from the Paul Harvey playbook–something about some man or woman in the mid-west who grew a tomato the size of a barn or lived past the golden age of 100 and could play checkers like nobody’s business. The beep-beep-beep of the underlying outcue played as a quick “This is ABC News” stinger sputtered and some commercials played and then nothing you could dance to came next. Silence, and nothing more than that, filled the room.

“So what did you think?” It was kind of a let down, I thought, overdressed in a suit and tie and spit-polished shoes, every hair on my head combed perfect and still. “It’s like a dream come true,” I heard myself say, but probably I was, in reality, less celebratory than that. “I thought it was fantastic. It’s very different hearing a newscast at home.” We walked toward the elevator bank, every step deliberate. “I’ll make a call for you and we’ll see what happens from there.” He shook my hand. “I’ll give your mother a jingle as soon as I know something.” He smiled. “Thanks for coming. I’m glad you enjoyed yourself.”

This was the big time and I knew it. I probably was just scared. The newscaster was married to a distant relative. My mother, knowing I wanted to be a big-time disc jockey who could spin the platters that matter, made a phone call. The distant relative, surprised to hear from someone in her extended family who never called, said she’d ask her husband if it was okay if I came to ABC Network’s studios in Manhattan and watched him do his thing. The husband said sure. With the shadow of Lincoln Center behind me, I walked a short distance to see how it was done. How the magic happened. I was relieved to discover that you didn’t have to wear a tie to be a magician.

*****

radio-towerThe newscaster had worked, at the beginning of his career, at a tiny radio station in Dover, Delaware, the state that was once characterized on Saturday Night Live as the length of road you passed through on your way to Florida. WKEN-AM had once been a thriving, local top-40 outlet, but changed to a strange amalgam of tired middle-of-the-road vocal and instrumental sides and gospel cuts. All of the records in the music library, such as it was, were scratched and sounded horrible on the air. Even in this pre-CD era, it was hard to imagine a collection of music that had been kept in such poor shape.

The building in which the station operated couldn’t have been a less inviting structure, but it was what it was and it was radio of a sort and it was all very exciting. The newscaster from ABC News arranged for me to go to WKEN and meet with Stu Wayne, the station’s president and head of everything that was holy. I remember my mother trying to set up a flight for me so I could see what kind of prospects WKEN held in its hip pocket, but there were no flights. There was no airport to fly into–at least no commercial airport. So I drove from Long Island to Dover, past so many empty fields and scenery that seemed to blend into one hazy vision, on my way to become a big-time radio disc jockey. I might have to deliver the news, but my main thing would be spinning happening tunes.

deliI had wanted to be on the radio in the worst way, but I was willing to settle for a life on Long Island, where my life’s progress was suffocating and draining. If I had to. But first, there were some soul-sucking detours. Right out of college, I worked in the deli department at the local Waldbaum’s supermarket which was located a couple of blocks away from where I lived. The deli manager, a wide and irritable man with an eternal stain on his weathered, white smock, taught his employees to cut meat that was past its shelf date–meat that had the smell of death about it–and place it under a few slices of fresher product, hoping that shoppers wouldn’t notice. But they always did. The manager let the kids working for him in his department take the heat, ensuring that he would never get in trouble. And, in fact, he didn’t–he was one of the top-grossing deli managers in the Waldbaum’s chain.

From Waldbaums, I went to work at a rather shady company that sold chemical products to police chiefs, fire chiefs, golf pros and various other people in charge. I used a fake name and delivered prepared pitches to people who didn’t want to hear them. Ostensibly, one hour was for selling and the next for writing up orders. But we never got many orders because the products we sold didn’t really work and we never sounded all that convincing. “Need to get rid of graffiti on stop signs in your town? We’ve got the spray for that!” Because we never had many sales, we used our alternate hours to make prank phone calls to information operators all over the country. We’d ask the operators to look up numbers for people with last names you couldn’t spell if your life depended on it. “May I have the number for Herman Meccccchhhhhellllllll?” We used fake accents and were highly amused at our inventiveness working in a highly, mentally toxic environment. It was a horrible job. I got fired for being a poor employee. I was relieved.

car-and-roadAnd then WKEN came into my life. I took, and passed by the skin of my filling-filled teeth, the Federal Communications Commission’s third class license test at their office in downtown Manhattan, went home, packed a bag or two, and headed off toward Dover, Delaware. I was secure in knowing that, should I not get a job at the station, I already had one at a specialty publishing company on Long Island. I had interviewed a few days earlier and they hired me to be a first reader on the morning of the first day of the rest of my life. The drive to Dover was long and tiring (I wasn’t then, and I’m not now, fond of driving long distances, especially by myself). When I finally made it to Delaware’s state capitol, I was amazed to find that it didn’t much look like a seat of power. It looked more like the town of Mayberry, with even fewer cars and no Barney Fife.

I rolled into town hungry and just about out of gas. The first stop I made, before going to my motel, was at the local Arby’s. I parked my white AMC Gremlin in the parking lot and went in. A nice roast beef sandwich will do me good, I thought. I was greeted by a pretty young girl with a smile on her face.

arbys“Welcome to Arby’s,” she said. I gave her my order. She collected my sandwich and side and drink. “So you’re from New York, huh?” I laughed. “How did you know?” The girl had one of those looks that said it all, a look that frankly set the stage for the adventure that was about to change my life, for better or worse.

“Saw your license plate.”

(To be continued…)

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Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber's Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes

Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes

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We’re Goin’ Fishin’ Starting Next Week

bye-for-nowWe’re going to be taking a hiatus from all things Pure Pop Radio beginning next week. The kickoff of our New Songs for Your Late Summer Vacay event is being postponed to a range of dates to be, as they say, determined at a later date.

Pure Pop Radio will continue to spin the greatest melodic pop music in the world during our hiatus, so have no fear: a couple of mouse clicks will still bring you the sounds that make your ears, and your heart, take notice (your handy listening links can be found below). And remember: You now can listen on the go with our new mobile apps for Android and iOS devices (Click here for all of the information you need to know).

See you back here in a while and before you know it, even. Be good to yourselves, hear?

Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber's Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes

Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes

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Groove to the New Tunes on the Pure Pop Radio Playlist While Doing the Late Summer Vacay Thing at the Seaside or Anywhere!

Take a late summer vacay! Get away!

Take a late summer vacay! Get away!

Whether you’re spending your late summer vacay flexing your water sports muscles (see right), relaxing at the seaside or you’re all set up with a chaise lounge and a refreshing, ice-cold beverage in the backyard, the hundreds of new songs being added to the Pure Pop Radio playlist from August 18 through August 31 will provide your groovy melodic pop soundtrack.

And remember that you can listen at home, or on the go with our new mobile apps for Android and iOS devices (click here to find out more and download).

We’ve carefully curated a group of the finest, catchiest pop songs to add to the playlist. Your favorite artists. Your new favorite artists. Songs that speak to you. Songs that sing to you. Songs that make you tap your feet. Songs that bring out the award-winning air guitarist in you. Songs that will become some of your new best friends.

We’ve whipped up a fun Facebook event page to help celebrate our end-of-summer, adds-to-the-playlist campaign. Would you please visit this event page and join your friends in support of our efforts? We’d sure appreciate it! Click here to be magically transported.

So, what are you doing to while away the hours during the late summer days and nights? We’ll be adding hundreds of songs to the playlist, of course, but we can’t say that hanging out on a comfy blanket on the sand by the seaside doesn’t sound appealing, too. It’s hard to put into words, especially when Queen have already done it in such an appealing, poppy way. Press play below and sing along if you know the words! And we’ll see you on August 18!

 

Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber's Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes

Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes

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Don’t Let Ken Michaels Down! Listen to His Fab-o-Riffic Every Little Thing Show Tonight!

Ken Michaels' Every Little Thing...For the Beatles Fan Who Craves All Things Fab! Airs Every Monday at 9 pm ET on Pure Pop Radio!

Ken Michaels’ Every Little Thing…For the Beatles Fan Who Craves All Things Fab! Airs Every Monday at 9 pm ET on Pure Pop Radio!

You won’t have to wrack your brain to know where to tune into at 9 pm ET tonight. In fact, you can do so from the back seat of your car or while flying (by using Pure Pop Radio’s brand new mobile listening apps for Android and iOS devices–click here for information).

In fact, it doesn’t matter where you’re listening–it only matters that you listen to tonight’s 28th edition of Ken Michaels’ Every Little Thing, during which there will be the usual mix of fab and gear sounds that make your Monday nights bright!

What’s on tap tonight? Ken kicks off the show with five Beatles and solo Beatles tracks, including George Harrison’s “Love You To,” as waxed by the Fabs themselves. Segment number two pairs one of Ken’s famous two-fers (instrumentally speaking) with a classic interpretation of the Fab Four’s “Two of Us” by Aimee Mann and Michael Penn and an acoustic version of John Lennon’s “God.” Ken’s latest thematic set brings together half a dozen songs with the word “devil” in the title, bookended by two from Mr. Harrison: “Devil’s Radio” and “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea.”

Don’t miss the latest hour-long Beatles missive from Ken Michaels. 9 pm tonight on Pure Pop Radio, your original 24-hour home of the melodic pop hits.

 

Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber's Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes

Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes

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Take Pure Pop Radio On the Go! Download Our Mobile Apps for Android and iOS!

Parent and child are digging the on-the-go listening pleasures of Pure Pop Radio!

Parent and child are digging the on-the-go listening pleasures of Pure Pop Radio!

Do you ever find yourself listening to Pure Pop Radio when suddenly, you realize you need to hit the road to do some errands or meet your BFF for lunch?

On-the-go listening is now a breeze with our handy, dandy mobile apps for Android and iOS. Think what a wonderful world it would be if you could take your treasured Pure Pop Radio listening experience out of the house and into the great, big world. Well, your wish is granted! Simply click on the link below from your device to set things in motion.

Just think: The Beatles and the Spongetones and the Legal Matters and Linus of Hollywood and David Myhr and the Kinks and more than 5,000 melodic pop songs coming at you in glorious stereo…wherever you go! It’s a wonderful world, indeed! Click on the link below from your device for on-the-go, Pure Pop Radio happiness!

Download Mobile App

Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber's Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes

Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes

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The Solicitors Plot World Domination! New Album, Blank Check, is Coming At You in October!

the solicitors - blank check coverWe’ve been in love with the catchy pop of Australia’s The Solicitors since we first heard their delectable, Stiff-inspired tunes late last year. With enough tracks written and committed to wax, and after humming Lee Jones’s top-flight melodious melodies to ourselves, it’s nearly time to greet the group’s first album, Blank Check, set to hit Oz and beyond in October. It’s already Pure Pop Radio approved, and we simply can’t wait.

Australia's The Solicitors

Australia’s The Solicitors

Actually, we don’t have to, because we’ve heard the whole thing and it’s as spectacular as anyone could have hoped. Song after song, melody after melody, Jones delivers the goods with remarkably concise, catchy nuggets that cause the heavens to open up and sing along. The Solicitors’ first single from Blank Check is the crazy good, intoxicating basher “If You Let Me Hold You” that will hopefully take over radio and stereo systems all around the world. Kicking off with an insistent bass guitar thump underpinned by a solid drum beat, the song gets into gear with one of the top hooks you’re liable to hear in the coming months. The verses are as catchy as the choruses, which build on the verses by setting the melody free with delicious harmony vocals. And watch out for one of the best middle-eights like ever.

You can watch Lee, his Energizer bunny-like guitarist Laf Zee and the rest of the band deliver the goods in the video for “If You Let Me Hold You,” handily presented to you right here:

Pretty great, huh? Well, there’s even more great abounding: Pure Pop Radio is proud to be able to bring you an exclusive track from Blank Check, “My Secret is Safe with Me,” a typically energetic Solicitors number with another catchy chorus that will roll around in your head for ages. Listen to it here by clicking on the play button coming right up, courtesy of the great Scott Thurling at the Solicitors’ record label, Popboomerang Records. (You can also hear the song playing in rotation on the air.) Here comes “My Secret is Safe with Me”!

If your desire is to know everything there is to discover about the Solicitors and Lee Jones, click here to listen to Lee’s appearance on our signature interview program, Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation, from earlier this year. It’s a great talk that you won’t soon forget.

So. Mark your calendars. October 2014. The release of the Solicitors’ smashing new album, Blank Check. Listen now to Pure Pop Radio for “My Secret is Safe with Me” (exclusive to us), “If You Let Me Hold You,” “Pretty Penny,” “Quicksand,” and “Help Me Forget.” We’re going Solicitors crazy! And you will too!

Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber's Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes

Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes