Clap Your Hands and Scream “Yay!” We Have Winners!

winner

Here at Pure Pop Radio headquarters, we love, love, love to give stuff away, and by stuff we mean today’s hottest albums and such. We love to go the post office and send this free stuff on its way across the country, across the waters, to waiting arms in whichever city or country might be appropriate. We say it loud and we say it proud: We love to give stuff away!

And so we shall. Up for grabs this time around were two copies of the smashing debut album from pop music super group, the Legal Matters. The winners, each receiving a Legal Matters CD, are Ellen Considine and Henry Laura, two pop music fans who deserve to own the latest and greatest sounds.

Congratulations, Ellen and Henry. Your CDs will be winging their way to you shortly.

Stay tuned for more Pure Pop Radio giveaways. You might be the next winner!

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

I Love that Song #6: “European Rain” by the Big Dish

big dish 2Three albums and six years was all it took for Scotland’s The Big Dish to create a few ripples and take its final bow. Centered around Steven Lindsay’s lovely melodies and gorgeous,velvety voice, the group should have fared better, but for some reason never built up enough of an audience to convince their label, Virgin Records, to think long-term. The label released the incredible Swimmer in 1986 and Creeping Up on Jesus two years later. A third album, Satellites, helmed by Deacon Blue’s producer Warne Livesey, showed up in 1990 on Warner-Elektra-Atlantic’s EastWest imprint. And then…poof.

Which is a shame, because exceptional, catchy songs like Swimmer’s “Prospect Street” and “Christina’s World” and Satellites’ “Miss America” and “25 Years” don’t come along at every turn around the pass. Neither do songs like “Waiting for the Parade” or the miraculous pop song’s pop song, “European Rain,” both from Creeping Up on Jesus.

“European Rain” is the kind of song a writer wishes for and hopes desperately to bring into the world–a song that, without question, will make his career. It’s the kind of song that seems borne perfectly formed, a golden creation whose melody is almost God-like, whose construction is without a single shred of excess. A perfect specimen, if you will–a lucky strike for a writer adept at the best, most lasting kind of song craft.big-dish-1

This is the kind of song that invites–no, demands repeat listens. Ushered in with a quick, commanding mash of snare drum, the enchanting verse melody leads naturally into the quick, hooky chorus. Come to think of it, the verses are as hooky as the chorus, the second instance of which is followed by a lovely horn part that slides into a tasteful electric guitar reiteration of the main melody. And so it goes–more verse, more chorus, and more instance of the hook. The pizzicato guitar notes that ever-so-gently play atop the hook near the end of the song add another layer of mesmerizing charm. If it’s true that great songs sometimes fall from out of the sky into the laps of waiting artists, this is more than ample proof. It’s another example of the perfect pop song.

People whose lives are pretty much defined by music hear all manner of great song. It’s hard, over so many years and so many spins, to latch on to a number that rises above all others, a song that the memory can call up with just a whiff of a trigger. But when such a song comes about–a song such as “European Rain”–it’s easy to let the memory take you to another place. The best songs–the greatest songs–do that.

 

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

“Hello, I’m Ken Michaels!” Ken Horses Around with the Beatles on Tonight’s Every Little Thing

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!

Tonight’s edition of everybody’s favorite Beatles radio show, Every Little Thing, finds host Ken Michaels horsin’ around during his weekly thematic set, spinning a John Lennon two-fer, and playing a song from Apple artists Lon and Derrek von Eaton. Sounds like we’ve stumbled upon another great hour of fabness!

Ken opens up tonight’s show with classic songs from Wings, the Beatles (two tunes!), Paul McCartney, and the aforementioned von Eatons. Segment two pairs the Lennon two-fer (featuring two bands you certainly wouldn’t think to be played on a Beatles show) with a couple of songs from the Beatles and Ringo Starr. And in segment three–Ken’s thematic set–he plays a quartet of numbers with horse-related titles. Pretty sweet!

Sounds like a great time for fab-minded folks who tune into Pure Pop Radio this evening at 9 pm ET for this week’s edition of Ken Michaels’ Every Little Thing. Enjoy!

 

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

A Starr at Every Turn: Ringo Remastered!

(Originally published on the buhdge website in 2007)

photographRingo Starr | Photograph, The Very Best of Ringo (Capitol, 2007)

Fab sticksman Richard Starkey M.B.E.’s best sides finally get a first-class remastering with Photograph The Very Best of Ringo Starr, a most welcome release that earns Capitol Records a back-off-boogaloo’s-worth of goodwill from fans.

For one thing, Abbey Road’s Steve Rooke has given this collection a bright-sounding, widescreen, wide-stereo retooling. For another, Capitol has doubled the number of tracks found on the 1976 compilation, Blast From Your Past. And what’s more, the deluxe edition of Photograph comes with a DVD, resplendent with six Ringo videos and a commercial for the Goodnight Vienna album, which features Spaceman Ringo and Harry Nilsson in his bathrobe.

Featuring no less than eight top 10 hits, and Ringo’s spirited duet with Buck Owens on the well-traveled “Act Naturally,” Photograph is a fun listen from start to finish. You get great tunes driven by Ringo’s Ringo-esque vocals and his always stellar drumming. What’s not to love?

In addition to the usual suspects, such as the mondo title track “It Don’t Come Easy,” “You’re Sixteen (You’re Beautiful and You’re Mine),” “Back Off Boogaloo,” and “No-No Song,” you get the audio-verite confessional “Early 1970,” the b-side of “It Don’t Come Easy”; “Weight of the World,” a most Beatlesque tune from the fine 1992 album, Time Takes Time; and the off-kilter, very-uncharacteristic-for-its-writer George Harrison, but wholly-appropriate-for-Ringo song, “Wrack My Brain.”

The collector’s edition of Photograph also nets you the aforementioned DVD. Said DVD might skimp on quantity, but it delivers on the quality front. The videos are fun–“It Don’t Come Easy” and “Back Off Boogaloo” feature very Beatlesque clowning-around in the manner of Harrison’s video for his “Crackerbox Palace”. The animation technique used for the “You’re Sixteen” film is very nice and imaginative, and probably ahead of its time for its time. And the video for Ringo’s duet with Buck Owens, “Act Naturally,” set on an old western film set, is a humorous gem. Look for guest stars Vic “Alice” Tayback as a bartender, and ex-Saturday Night Live player Brad “Mr. Julia Louis-Dreyfus” Hall. Don’t miss the cheesy spaceship prop in the video for “Only You” and the commercial for Goodnight Vienna–the string from which the ship hangs is clearly visible. Shades of Plan 9 from Outer Space!

So it’s all down-down-down-down-down-down to Goodnight Vienna for your friend and mine, Ringo Starr. This Photograph really sings.

Alan Haber/2007

 

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

The Legal Matters: Equal Parts that Warm a Cold and Snowy Michigan Winter

legal-matters-largeThe Legal Matters | The Legal Matters | Futureman Records (2014)

(Win one of two copies of the Legal Matters’ self-titled  debut album by filling in the form below!)

The next time you rise on a cold and dreary winter morning to find that your overnight brought you two or three inches of snow, and you are moved to mumble “Just what we needed…more of that soul-killing white stuff,” think about the three members of the Legal Matters, who hunkered down in the Reed Recording Company studio this past January to make happy music against a weather-beaten Michigan backdrop. Even in the face of pounding white stuff, the show must go on.

As the snow fell fiercely around them–as a foot or two rolled into more than the sum of a record Michigan winter’s snowfall–Andy Reed, Chris Richards and Keith Klingensmith, equal parts of the same enterprise and veterans of various bands and solo tracks and whatnot, turned what started out as a new Phenomenal Cats record into a brand new enterprise, a song cycle informed by music that was made perhaps a lifetime ago by bands such as the Beatles, the Kinks, the Who, Big Star, Fleetwood Mac, the Beach Boys and who knows who else. When all was said and done, 10 songs were completed in six days, a veritable hop, skip and a jump of sorts that very possibly deserves some kind of knighthood or at least a pat or two on the band’s collective back.

The three friends, with pop-star-in-his-own-right Nick Piunti and drummer Cody Marecek and all of the sounds they loved that came before them swirling around in their heads, strapped on their guitars, fired up their keyboards and plugged in with the sole purpose of creating their art. And, with the equipment whirring gently around them, they set to making the magic happen, as only members of the P-Cats and An American Underdog and the Subtractions could do. And, lo and behold, came the Legal Matters first, self-titled album. And the summer music season of 2014 took off with what promises to be one of the best melodic pop albums of this or any other year.

There was a review of a Pink Floyd album–probably The Wall–in which the writer theorized that this was a band that never orphaned a single idea. It’s like when the ubiquitous observer of film says that every penny spent on a particular movie is on the screen. Similarly, the Legal Matters have incorporated a heap of ideas into their musical stew and left not a single one on the cutting-room floor. It’s all there in the music, in the air, in the moment.

It’s in the happy pop of “Rite of Spring,” where deeply-stacked and deeply-felt harmony vocals come together to transform a lovely melody into a rainbow of emotion. It’s in the gentle light country-pop groove of “Have You Changed Your Mind,” in the “Things We Said Today” mode of “It’s Not What I Say,” in the slightly spacey and emotional “Outer Space,” and in the gorgeous, harmony-stacked “Mary Anne.”

It’s in the from-the-heart, quite musical missives that the harmony-drenched law firm of Reed, Richards and Klingensmith have delivered to the ears of melodic pop fans all over the world. Borne in a winter wonderland that caused a populace to stand still yet still allow the creation of what Joan Jett called “good, good music,” these songs are what happens when all is right with the world. “It always feels so good to hear good music,” Joan sang, speaking for all the lovers in the world–the romantics who cradle soothing sounds and feel the elation that good, good music provides.

The Legal Matters’ first, self-titled album is good, good music. It’s good, good music for when the snow falls, for when spring turns to summer, during a light rain, and for when fall signals the end of baseball season and the year moves into its closing phase. It’s good for what ails you, a prescription that works wonders no matter the season or circumstance. The Legal Matters is good, good music. But next time, order up a warm summer’s day, boys.

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Win one of two copies of the Legal Matters’ self-titled debut album by filling in the form that follows. Type “The Legal Matters” in the Comment field. Entries must be received by noon ET on July 30. Good luck!

 

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

5:45, 30 Players and One Majestic Performance: David Letterman Explains the Musical Universe

The Late Show with David LettermanEvery once in a while, a kind of majestic performance of an equally majestic song will play out on one of the late night talk shows. Last night’s blast of majesty happened on the stage of the Ed Sullivan Theater at the end of the David Letterman show, in the typical spot usually inhabited by the musical flavor of the moment–some band shrouded in long hair, barely facing the audience, emoting some hit song that the kids are currently digging.

But last night on the vaunted stage of the Ed Sullivan Theater, approximately 30 players, armed with their cherished string instruments, horns, tympani, and keyboards gathered to amaze and delight and astound the audience with their reverent, energized rendering of Jimmy Webb’s 1968 masterpiece, “MacArthur Park.” Accompanying Paul Schaffer and the ace CBS orchestra, Webb, transfixed by the magical aura in the room, played the harpsichord lines that propel the song into the first and subsequent verses. And, anticipating one of those moments that can not be repeated, the audience settled in.

Letterman used the segment that followed the opening monologue to relate a funny story about driving around town with his son Harry and hearing Richard Harris and Donna Summer sing “MacArthur Park” on “the satellite radio,” at which point Harry screamed “That’s enough cake!” Letterman subsequently asked Shaffer if the song could be done on the show; Shaffer replied that he could get it together.

And boy, did he. After dedicating the performance to Harry, Letterman settled in and Shaffer put the wheels in motion. The sound of the glorious, punctuated harpsichord and the start of bassist Will Lee’s intoning of the first, leading lines –“Spring was never waiting for us girl, it ran one step ahead, as we followed in the dance” happened, the whole orchestra following under and around, the concentration on the faces of the string players assured.

“MacArthur’s Park is melting in the dark, all the sweet, green icing flowing down,” Lee sang, plucking his bass guitar knowingly, punctuating the affair. “Someone left the cake out in the rain. I don’t think that I can take it ’cause it took so long to bake it, and I’ll never have that recipe again, oh no.” The “no” is extended, as it should be, breathing heavily, assuredly, and finally trailing off in a quick, knowing whisk.

The instrumental section, in which the strings and horns and traditional rock instrumentation become one in a musical wind tunnel, energizes the players as they carry forward the melody, the weight of each note, the ample joy that flows through Webb’s masterful melody. Felicia Collins, wailing with a rocking guitar solo, was more than outstanding. Our collective spines start tingling at first light with just a touch of flavor and then, suddenly in gear, it all roars to a crescendo as Lee begins to sing the last verse, now having climbed up the back of a colorful cake, a purely ingenious touch that mirrors the somewhat psychedelic, hippie vibe of the song. The string players join some of the others in a long, protracted smile, which only serves to heighten the love in the room, the magic of song as it swirls around you and takes you to a higher place.

And then, the song completed in what Letterman announces was a pocket of time lasting five minutes and forty-five seconds, the host makes his way over to the stage, overtaken by musicians overtaken themselves with joy, shakes Shaffer and Webb’s hands, and the hand of a string player who rises from her seat, perhaps somewhat fearful that her legs will give way because that’s what happens when the music is in you and doesn’t let go. Letterman suggests, overjoyed, that the band play the song again, and for just a split-second or so, the suggestion seems like a good one, but the show is over and it’s time to go.

Moments like this happen rarely and usually without fanfare. News of this moment, once it hit the Internet, spread like wildfire, which is all at once triumphant and a bit odd, because so many people seem to think so little of “MacArthur Park.” Because it’s a bit weird, perhaps? Because the record is over seven minutes long? Who knows? The record is a classic slice of 1960’s songwriting and record making prowess, and this performance is perfection because it pushes all of the right buttons and–you can see it on everyone’s faces–it is the moment, a great moment, elevated by the strong consideration of all 30 of the players on the stage. And to have Webb there, moving from one keyboard to another in a flawless switcheroo as Shaffer deposits himself at the front of the collective, just makes it even  a better experience.

This performance is like Harry Houdini somehow slipping out of a tightly-closed straitjacket in full view of an audience. How did they do that, exactly? How did 30 people combine to deliver such a piece of musical magic? It’s one of those things that defies an answer. We would guess that when 30 or 50 or 500 people are in the right space, and happily sharing that space, magical things can and do happen. And, as if, this night it did. What a scene!

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

This’ll be the Day! Buddy Holly’s in the Spotlight on Tonight’s Edition of Every Little Thing!

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!

We here at Pure Pop Radio love it when 9 pm ET on Monday night rolls around, because it means that it’s time for another installment of Ken Michaels’ Every Little Thing, every Beatlemaniac’s favorite meeting place!

On tonight’s show, number 25, Ken kicks off the Fab fun with a set chock full of tracks from Paul, John, George and…David Cloyd? That’s right–David rolls in with a cover of Macca’s “Dear Boy.” Then, it’s time for something completely different, as Ken plays a track from Paul’s Ocean’s Kingdom.

This week’s theme set rolls out the welcome mat for a tribute to Buddy Holly, featuring solo Beatles and group Beatles Holly covers and a special appearance from the Crickets–a wonderful song called “T-Shirt.” Nice!

All of this, and Ken’s weekly Beatles trivia question at the end of the show. Sounds like appointment radio for all Beatles fans! Tune in, turn it on and enjoy!

 

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