Alan Haber's Pure Pop Radio is the premier website covering the melodic pop scene with in-depth reviews of new and new-to-you releases. Pure Pop Radio plays the greatest melodic pop in the universe 24 hours a day.
Join Ameripopacana Musical Mirth Makers The Taters and Your Humble Halloween Host for a Booriffic, Very Special Pop Tunes Deejay Show Halloween Party!
Join ameripopacana musical mirth makers The Taters and me, your humble Halloween host, tomorrow afternoon at 2 pm ET for a very special, booriffic edition of Alan Haber’s Pop Tunes Deejay Show, first broadcast on October 26, 2015.
The Taters and yours truly, dressed to the nines in our spooky garb, will be in our scary, spooky haunted broadcasting house complete with living skeletons, booing ghosts, and your favorite pun-wielding, joke-telling, pop culture fanatical Taters, sitting in front of our orange (hey, it’s Halloween!) microphones, for a really fun time. Join us, won’t you? Costumes optional!
To get you in the ghostly spirit, The Taters have recorded a very special Halloween greeting for you, our treasured Pop Tunes fans. Press the button, if you dare!:
That’s right–Craig Evans, Brad Tucker and Chris Mendez from the jolly ameripopacana band The Taters are my special guests tomorrow afternoon at 2 pm ET, talking about their scary good EP, Don’t Scream! Songs to Keep You Up at Night! (Get it here!) The boys, puns ‘n’ jokes ‘n’ pop culture references at the ready, help me, in between the greatest puns and jokes ever told, to play some well and not-so-well-known Halloween tunes. Who from? The late, great Zacherle, The Tremblers, Caravan of Thieves, Jackdaw 4, Groovie Goolies, Blue Ash, Jamie and Steve, and, of course, The Taters! The tunes, the laughs and the scares come fast and furious in this 90-minute holiday spook-a-thon!
Gather ’round the Halloween radio receptacle for a blast through our musically-appointed haunted house for a very special rebroadcast of Alan Haber’s Pop Tunes Deejay Show’s Halloween Party! Tune in at 2 pm ET tomorrow…that’s Halloween! Scare you there!
It’s release day for The Legal Matters’ new album, Conrad, who, by the way, says “Hi!” There certainly has been no lack of attention paid to this tremendous long player; this is for good reason. Conrad is quite simply a winning achievement.
My in-depth review, originally published here on October 4, is reproduced below for those of you who missed it the first time around. In the review, I state that “The Legal Matters have set a new standard for vocal harmonies in melodic pop music.” If ever there were a case to be made for musicians being drawn together because it had to be, this album is it. This is the audio proof. Don’t miss this one. – Alan Haber
The Legal Matters | Conrad (Omnivore, 2016)
A review by Alan Haber
On the inside left panel of the gatefold sleeve of The Association’s 1970 double album “Live”, a list of the band members, titled The Players, fed into a section titled And Their Instruments, which named usual suspects such as guitars, drums and bass guitar along with suspects that were perhaps not so usual for a rock ‘n’ roll album: soprano recorder, tenor recorder, and pocket trumpet.
And, in the manner that cast credits for a film or television show might spotlight a particular actor–and Kiefer Sutherland, for example–the following was noted, perhaps as an afterthought to some: “and the human voice.” As a 15-year-old, music obsessed boy whose world turned around rich vocal harmonies, this was the most important piece of information on offer for an album that was, for me, a monumental achievement.
My young world, as informed as it was by my favorite comic book artists–Neal Adams, Gil Kane, Berni Wrightson–my stamp collection, my dedication to the television shows that defined my generation–The Twilight Zone,The Flintstones,I Dream of Jeannie–and my transistor radio, which connected me to broadcasts both local and far away, was moreover defined by the sound of the human voice singing the songs that were written by my favorite recording artists.
The Beach Boys were certainly important to me for that very reason, as were The Four Seasons and The Association, whose records I cherished (no pun intended) and played probably more than those of any other artists in my collection (don’t tell John, Paul, George or Ringo). A committed vocal, with just the right amount of heart and soul, could stop me in my tracks, but a two- or three- or four-or-more-part rich harmony was something else again; it was something magical, something quite amazing.
Thankfully, the melodic pop music I have devoted my life to championing these past 21 years, in reviews and on the radio, very often continues to put the spotlight on the vocal harmonies that I so cherish. Bands like Kate Stephenson’s Myrtle Park’s Fishing Club carry on that vocal harmony tradition in a way that mirrors the many hours I spent as a child listening to music playing on my stereo and coming out of my transistor radio.
Another band that carries on the vocal harmony tradition and, indeed, practically redefines it, is The Legal Matters out of Detroit, Michigan, a long-standing, storied music town whose favorite musical sons are many and varied and legendary. It wouldn’t be out of line to include Andy Reed, Chris Richards, and Keith Klingensmith in that group, such has been the level of acceptance of their wares on the part of fans of melodic pop music.
Their list of credits, spanning more years than probably any of them would care to acknowledge, is long and celebrated and includes a variety of solo and group releases. Just mention The Reed Brothers, An American Underdog, Chris Richards and the Subtractions, The Pantookas, and The Phenomenal Cats to those in the know and see what kind of a reaction you get.
As often happens in storied partnerships, the coming together of Andy, Chris, and Keith ignited a fertile spark that resulted in them recording together. 2014’s self-titled Legal Matters album was a warm, 10-song affair that was crafted in the dead of winter inside Andy’s Reed Recording Company studio in Bay City, Michigan, with drummer Cody Marecek and guitarist Nick Piunti, a top-flight pop artist in his own right, in tow.
Their musical sensibilities clicked from the start as the cold weather whipped around them, and songs such as the melody-rich, uptempo “The Legend of Walter Wright” and the pretty ballad “Mary Anne” were born. “Mary Anne,” in particular, was something of a triumph, in that its rich vocal harmonies showed the heights that Andy, Chris, and Keith could reach as a unit.
A second album was inevitable. Its name is Conrad; the cover art depicts a mouthless, seemingly silent, colorfully shirted koala bear. The 11 songs are a natural progression from the 10 on the first release, taken at a slower, but not slow, pace; the harmonies are more intricate and deeply felt. The vocal harmonies are more up front and alive. This is the sound of a band that has come into its own, that has benefitted from time spent feeling each other out, turning complex vocal structures into seemingly simpler constructs that aren’t at all simple.
The rich, finely detailed vocal harmonies are the collective star of Conrad’s show, but by no means the only performer; the instrumentation, supplied by Andy, Chris, and Keith, with Donny Brown and Andy Dalton handling drum duties, is peerless, and the songs are sweetly realized, from the opener “Anything,” not the first track on this album tipping its hat to the much-loved Beach Boys vocal vibe, to the upbeat, single-worthy “Short Term Memory,” which tips its drumsticks to Ringo Starr in a delightful fill and puts forth some top-notch electric guitar playing.
But it’s the rich vocal harmonies that set Conrad apart from a slew of other, recent melodic pop music releases. Nowhere is this more evident and true than on the short, coda-like, penultimate track “Lull and Bye,” a virtually a cappella, powerful slice of emotion-filled vocalese that is a thrilling testament to the power of the human voice that The Association so aptly included in the list of instruments played on their “Live” album. Other than the beautiful harmonies, the only instrument in evidence is a ghostly, spare piano, barely heard, that acts as really nothing more than a light, percussive underpinning. This track is so powerful that it recalls Brian Wilson’s “One for the Boys,” a majestic cut included on his first, self-titled solo album.
In order to truly appreciate the power of “Lull and Bye,” one must listen to the vocals-only mix available to purchasers of Conrad as a download bonus. For this experience, the piano part is gone and only the lovely vocal harmonies remain. To listen to it is a thrilling experience, along the lines of listening to the most vibrant of The Beach Boys’ recordings, stripped of instrumentation.
The vocals-only mix of Conrad should be considered an important part of the total listening experience, especially for musicians and students of how-it-is-done, although, of course, you can and will enjoy the album proper without ever setting the bonus tracks into motion. In fact, forget I said anything; Conrad is just fine–perfect, really–as it is.
This year has been particularly rich–there is that word again–with strong albums released by both heritage artists and artists new to the melodic pop world stage. As always, artists who stress vocal harmony as a key element of their musical makeup rise to the top of the heap for me. In just 11 lovely songs, The Legal Matters have set a new standard for vocal harmonies in melodic pop music. Andy Reed, Chris Richards, and Keith Klingensmith are the players, and their human voices are their instruments.
Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: “Anything,” “I’m Sorry Love,” “Hip Hooray,” “Minor Key,” “Short Term Memory (Radio Version),” “She Called Me to Say,” “The Cool Kid,” and “Lull and Bye.” When and Where to Get It: Kool Kat Music, Amazon, iTunes, CD Universe.
Terry Draper’s sparkling new collection, the wonderfully expansive Window on the World: The Lost 80’s Tapes, will be released this Friday, October 28; Terry will be speaking with me about it on a special edition of Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation next Tuesday, November 1 at 8 pm ET.
The use of the word world in the title of this fine collection is as apt as apt can be. The world that Terry is inviting listeners into is uniquely Draperesque, and not only contains the 10 previously unheard songs from the 1980s that make up the album proper (presented in no less than three formats), but also a pair of songs crafted in the Europop style, five of Terry’s songs sung by female vocalists, five completed songs designated by Terry as “not yet finished,” two videos, and a digital booklet containing photos and both technical and personal annotation. Also included is a letter from Terry that draws on his musical history, from his first band to the release of this album.
But that’s not all. Most exciting, perhaps, is that this expansive Window on the World is presented not on a shiny, silvery compact disc, but on a USB flash drive disguised as a guitar. Since so many people listen to music on their computers these days, this is a particularly appropriate and, yes, fun offering. The guitar drive will be available in four designer colors, including red (see illustration at right). You will be proud to show this guitar to your fellow music aficionados.
The previously unheard songs from the ’80s on the album proper range from tremendously affecting ballads (“I Have a Dream,” “You Don’t See Me Laughing”) to cleverly realized upbeat pop songs like “More.” It’s nothing less than the usual fine fare you get from this ever-creative musician. Pure Pop Radio is now playing many songs from Window on the World, three days ahead of the release date (see below for titles).
Terry talks with me on In Conversation about the creation of Window, from the spark of the idea to revisit some of his previously unheard songs from the 1980s to adding newly-played instrumentation and releasing the collection in an unconventional way (not the first time an album has been released in this manner). You’ll also hear Terry waxing poetic about some of the songs, including a demo for perhaps the most infectious one he has worked on, a lively love song about Terry’s wife Anna, called “Anna Bella.” And, of course, lots more of the in-depth back-and-forth In Conversation famously presents.
From a personal standpoint, I am thrilled to be able to talk with Terry about Window on the World. Like so many others, I have been listening to Terry’s music for a very long time–40 years, in my case. Now, as his solo career continues providing so much pleasure to fans around the world, I am honored to help spread the word on this wonderful collection.
Join me as I talk to Terry Draper on Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation next Tuesday, November 1 at 8 pm ET. And don’t forget to visit Terry’s website this coming Friday, October 28 and purchase a copy of Window on the World. You’ll be glad you did.
Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: “I Have a Dream,” “Get You Alone,” “Still the One,” “Song for a Lady,” “More,” “You Don’t See Me Laughing,” “I’ll Be There,” “Window on the World,” and “Anna Bella.”
When and Where to Get It: Terry Draper’s website, beginning Friday, October 28.
A fun mix of sun, sand, weird and wonderful, and big-beat blasts power this week’s lineup of Pure Pop Radio specialty shows.
We kick off the excitement tonight at 8 pm ET with an all-new episode of Ken Michaels’ Every Little Thing. On this week’s show, Ken talks to Jude Kessler, author of a series of books, written as historical narratives, covering the life of John Lennon. In addition, a theme set of songs with the word road in the title, a variety of top Beatles and solo Beatles tracks, and a cover of “You’ve Got to Hide your Love Away” by Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder are played.
Tonight at 9 pm ET, Jammin’ James Riley negotiates the sun-drenched waves for another set of fabulous summer sounds on Catching a Wave. You’ll dig a set of Beach Boys numbers, a pair of classic tracks from Glen Campbell, and tunes from the Rivingtons, Santo and Johnny, Surfer Joe, Duane Eddy, and many more of your favorites.
Scott McPherson’s got your midweek lunchtime festival of pure pop sounds to go along with your soup and sandwich combo on the latest get-together known as The Weird and the Wonderful. This Wednesday, October 26 at 1 pm ET, heritage sounds from Florapop and Klaatu mix with tracks from Eric Barao, Prefab Sprout, Frank Bango, Nilsson, Pop 4 and lots more. Plus: Scott remembers back to his first show, on which “Sammy Davis, Jr.” made a memorable visit…
Coming up this Thursday at 8 pm ET on Things We Said Today, Ken Michaels, Steve Marinucci, Al Sussman, and Allan Kozinn gather around the Beatles roundtable for a fun discussion with Lefty and Zeek Weekling, aka Glen Burtnik and Bob Burger, respectively, from the fabulous Weeklings. Lefty and Zeek speak with our panel about the Weeklings’ new album, Studio 2, which is full of big-beat fun and releases on November 18. (We’re all about the Weeklings here at Pure Pop Radio; this is the second interview with Lefty and Zeek that we’ve aired; Alan Haber’s chat with the boys on Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation ran on October 18.)
Gather ’round your Internet radio receptacle for this week’s specialty shows. Pure Pop Radio is the place to be this week!
A quartet of fine songs from some of our favorite artists, just scratching the surface of music being added to our playlist…
Tommy Lorente | “Supernova” A trip back in time for the French guitar maestro, combining the engine of a 1960s mid-tempo beat charmer with the warmth of a much-loved folk standard. Beautifully played by Tommy, who sings and strums the guitars, Ralf Köhler, who plucks the bass, and Peele Wimberley, whose drums and percussion provide the expressive backbone. Sweet. Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio.
When and Where to Get It: Bandcamp.
The Universal Thump | “Middle Life” What a treat! From Brooklyn, New York’s favorite melodic pop duo comes a dramatic, soulful pop stirrer, featuring Greta Gertler Gold’s electric piano and charged, emotional, Kate Bush-like vocal. Strong-willed orchestration and Greta’s husband Adam D. Gold’s instrumental dexterity and engineering prowess take this one to the finish line. Support the Thump’s efforts to create everlasting, beautiful music by supporting them at Patreon. Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio.
When and Where to Get It: Bandcamp.
The Lunar Laugh | “Work in Progress” Another lovely, melodic wonder from Oklahoma City way. Laughers Jared Lekites, Connor Anderson, and Campbell Young, supported by Nathan Mickle and Tommy Harden, deliver a delicious number about the fragile nature of living and the course corrections put in place along the way that hopefully result in a graceful life. Joyous. Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio.
When and Where to Get It: Bandcamp,iTunes.
Ed Ryan with Orbis Max | “Other Plans” After appearing separately on Ice Cream Man Wayne Lundqvist Ford’s Brain Freeze compilation, Orbis Max’s Craig Carlstrom contacted Ed about working together on a pop song he had cooking. From that germ of an idea comes the catchy, feel-good pure popper “Other Plans,” the bridge of which is sung by Ford. An international coming together of inspiration. Bonus add: Orbis Max’s equally catchy, straight-ahead pop-rocker “Hope You Love Me Too,” co-written by Carlstrom and Dennis George, who sings the lead vocal. More Orbis Max on Pure Pop Radio is always a good thing. Groovy. Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio. When and Where to Get It: “Other Plans”: Bandcamp. (Check back for more links.)
The Legal Matters | Conrad (Omnivore, 2016)
The countdown is on for a number of career-defining, musical paragons set to release within the next few weeks. These meticulously crafted recordings not only prove their worth by being accepted with open arms by knowledgeable, discerning listeners, they further prime the field by suggesting that if someone is going to love what they’ve done, they’ll likely love a whole lot more, too.
Much has been written and said about The Legal Matters’ second album, Conrad, which will be available in just 10 days from now on October 28, all of it good (my in-depth review is here). The chatter on social media points to a prosperous melodic pop universe that has so much to offer from artists whose talent turns heads because their work is that good. I’ve got much more to say on this matter in the coming weeks, but for now let me reiterate my love for these 11 songs, showcases for as-close-to-perfect-as-is-possible, deeply felt harmonies, wonderfully realized songwriting, and career defining performances.
Released by the well-respected label Omnivore, whose lovingly curated sets by Big Star and NRBQ, among others, are helping to define the state of the art, Conrad is one of this year’s best new albums, and, speaking the absolute truth, one of the best albums released by a melodic pop group in a very long time. That Pure Pop Radio is, as of today, playing all of Conrad’s songs in heavy rotation, should come as no surprise.
These songs arrive at a time when the pop community needs heroes to help it fight the good fight, to show the world that is defined by a hard-to-quantify number of genres and genre offshoots that melodic music is not only an extremely viable concern, it is, quite frankly, where it’s at.
The Legal Matters’ Conrad is where it’s at.
Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: The entire album: “Anything,” “I’m Sorry Love,” “Minor Key” “Short Term Memory (Radio Version),” “More Birds More Bees,” “Pull My String,” “She Called Me to Say,” “The Cool Kid,” “Hip Hooray,” “Lull and Bye,” and “Better Days.” When and Where to Get It: Kool Kat Musik, Amazon, iTunes.
Seth spoke to Alan about how his career accomplishments have brought him to his most recent compositions; Seth takes a look at three of Circles and Squares’ songs in particular and peels back the layers of emotion that define them.
We have three copies of Circles and Squares to give away. Simply fill in the form below and send it to us by this Thursday, October 20 at 12 noon ET. Don’t forget to include your email address and type “Circles and Squares” in the Comments box. Only one entry per person.
This week’s lineup of Pure Pop Radio specialty shows provides the swinging backbeat for your evening entertainment.
What’s shaking? Lefty and Zeek Weekling provide the Beatlesque backbeat for this week’s all-new edition of Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation, Scott McPherson spins some underappreciated sides on the latest edition of his lunchtime smash, The Weird and the Wonderful, Jammin’ James Riley talks to Pure Pop Radio favorite Randell Kirsch on a first-run Catching a Wave, and our regular panel of Beatles experts, along with Dr. Kit O’Toole, looks at the reinvention of George Harrison in the 1980s on the weekly Beatles roundtable, Things We Said Today.
This week’s big event, airing at 8 pm ET this Tuesday, October 18 on Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation, finds Lefty and Zeek Weekling (aka Glen Burtnik and Bob Burger) talking to Alan Haber about The Weeklings’ upcoming second album, Studio 2, being released by Jem Records. Recorded in Abbey Road’s Studio 2, the exciting long player features eight Weeklings originals and four rare Lennon and McCartney compositions, three of which even dedicated Beatles fans might not even know about. You’ll hear three songs from Studio 2 and listen to Lefty and Zeek recount their London, England adventures and the stories behind their new recordings. It’s a Fab hour-and-a-smidge you won’t want to miss.
Back to the Beach
Tonight at 8 pm ET, Jammin’ James Riley kicks off our specialty show week with an all-new trip to the sun-soaked land of summer-drenched tunes on Catching a Wave. Jammin’ James talks to Pure Pop Radio favorite Randell Kirsch and spins some of his songs, plus classics from Al Jardine and Friends, The Legendary Masked Surfers, Papa Doo Run Run, and many more of your favorite artists.
The Weird and the Wonderful Scott McPherson checks in this Wednesday, October 19 at 1 pm ET, with another all-new edition of his lunchtime hit, The Weird and the Wonderful. Scott’s playlist is chock full of songs that have been underappreciated by the masses; cuts from Millard Powers, Kevin Moore, and Andy Thompson are the order of the day. Join Scott for the musical accompaniment to your weekly soup and sandwich combo. A splendid time, etc.
The 1980s Reinvention of George Harrison
This Thursday night, October 20 at 8 pm ET, the weekly Beatles roundtable, Things We Said Today, takes a look at George Harrison’s reinvention in the 1980s with Dr. Kit O’Toole, who makes a return appearance on the show. The panel also talks about the new film, The Lennon Report, a fictional look at that fateful night, December 8, 1980. Steve Marinucci has seen the film, and gives his on-the-spot report.
Look forward to this coming week’s worth of top-flight specialty shows here on Pure Pop Radio. We’ve got your evening entertainment covered!
Roll over, Beethoven and tell Tchaikovsky the news: The world’s most popular Beatlesque foursome, slinging their guitars over their Merseybeat shoulders and bringing the swinging backbeat to the front lines of today’s melodic pop universe, will be spinning and talking about tracks from their forthcoming new album, Studio 2, next Tuesday night, October 18, at 8 pm ET on Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation.
Lefty and Zeek Weekling (aka Glen Burtnik and Bob Burger, respectively), the collective heartbeat of The Weeklings, will be in conversation with me to talk about this amazing long player, presented in glorious monophonic sound, to be released by Jem Records on November 18. Studio 2 is a rocking collection of electrifying big-beat recordings from New Jersey’s fabulous foursome, which also features the pumping performances of Rocky (John Merjave) and Smokestack Weekling (Joe Bellia). Twelve vibrant tracks–seven Lefty and Zeek originals, one Rocky and Zeek co-write, and four rare Lennon-McCartney songs never released by the Beatles–take center stage on this classic platter, one of the very best releases of the year.
Chief songwriters Lefty and Zeek go deep inside the making of Studio 2 with me, giving listeners a virtual backstage tour of their time spent making Beatlesque magic while recording in Abbey Road’s Studio Two; talking about loading their new songs up with Fab “easter eggs,” and telling me how they see The Weeklings’ future unfolding. Plus, I make a rather strong case that I am indeed The Fifth Weekling, despite the possible objections of Little Nicola.
You’ll hear three songs from Studio 2, presented in glorious monophonic sound, including one of the previously unreleased Lennon-McCartney numbers, a smashing uptempo bopper called “You Must Write,” and you’ll hear from Lefty and Zeek about some of the rather ingenious lengths they went to, thereby ensuring that this second album was the very best it could be.
And it is, of course; look for my review soon, and get ready to win a copy of Studio 2. In the meantime, roll up, roll up for a tour of The Weeklings’ new album, being released on November 18 by Jem Records. Join Lefty, Zeek and yours truly for an electrifying hour pounding out the infectious beat on an all-new, rocking edition of Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation. The Beatlesque hits just keep on coming right here on your 24-hour-a-day home for the greatest melodic pop music from the ’60s to today. See you on the radio next Tuesday, October 18 at 8 pm ET!
David Myhr and Jimmy Lagnefors, whose soundtrack graces the time travel-themed film Flykten till Framtiden, co-wrote this rather authentic sounding and eminently catchy Jeff Lynne/Electric Light Orchestra homage that plays over the film’s credits and is due to be released as a single in Sweden and the rest of Europe on Lojinx this Thursday, October 14.
David, handling acoustic guitar, piano, bass, and lead and backing vocal duties, works with Jimmy, who plays guitar and sings, and drummer Andreas Dahlbäck to pack all of the hallmarks of an ELO-sounding track into the joyous “Spellbound.” It’s all here: the sweeping melody, strings (arranged by Hans Hjortek and David), horns (sounding as if they’d come straight from ELO’s “Livin’ Thing”), and sweet harmonies. It’s quite marvelous, and we’re honored to bring it to you on the radio.
David and Jimmy collaborated on “Vänta inte på mig” (“Don’t wait for me”), which appeared in last year’s film, Micke and Veronica, and is also playing in rotation here on Pure Pop Radio. David has been recording songs for his next album; we’re looking forward to hearing them soon (for a report on David’s trip to Los Angeles, Nashville and New York, during which he wrote a good number of songs with pop visionaries such as Brad Jones, Blue, Swan Dive’s Bill DeMain (pictured with David at right), and The Davenports’ Scott Klass, click here).
Meanwhile, enjoy David Myhr’s latest smash, flavored and savored with ELO goodness. Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio. When and Where to Get It: iTunes and Amazon. Listen on Spotify.