Reviews | 9.6.18: Nick Piunti and Phyllis Johnson

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Nick Piunti | Temporary High (Jem, 2018)
nick piunti temporary high album coverThe guy in the salmon-colored sneakers about to teeter off the ledge high up off the ground on the cover of Nick Piunti’s new album is just kidding, right?

I mean, oh, the horrors! Stay put, my friend, get back inside and crank up the stereo for the latest high-energy, ultra-satisfying tour de force from Detroit, Michigan’s ace guitar-and-keyboard-toting purveyor of pop, rock and roll.

Working with kindred collaborators Donny Brown, Andy Reed and Chris Richards (from the Legal Matters), Geoff Michael (who co-produced with Nick), Ryan Allen (Extra Arms), and Plink Giglio, Piunti lays down a mix of melody-rich, guitar-centric jams that keep the beats pumping and speak to the hearts of power pop fans everywhere.

Whether breathlessly rocking (the four-on-the-floor title track about boxing life’s possibilities into a corner and “Keep Me Guessing,” about a second chance at love with conditions on the table) or ruminating about a disconnected romance (“If This Was Right”), Piunti hits the mark every time with this tip-top 10-song collection.

Another popping platter from Marty Scott’s Jem Records.

black box Where to Get It: Kool Kat Musik, Bandcamp, Amazon, and iTunes

Phyllis Johnson | “Foolish Girl” (2018)
phyllis johnson foolish girlPossessor of one of the great, most expressive and powerful female voices in pop and roll, Phyllis Johnson returns with one of her too infrequent releases–a song, tinged with sadness, about the perils of missed opportunity. A seductive melody and a wide stereo soundfield draw the listener in. Phyllis tackles keys, bass and drums; husband Stefan turns in a deft, George Harrison-like slide part and plays the electric guitars. A free download from Phyllis’s Bandcamp page, this is a must-get and cause for celebration. Don’t miss it.

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp

radio1Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio is the premiere website covering the melodic pop scene with in-depth reviews of new and reissued recordings, and a wide variety of features. The 24-hour Pure Pop Radio stream ran from 2013 to August 25, 2018. Welcome to your number one home for coverage of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe from the ’60s to today.

Klaatu Celebration Week Concludes: John, Dee, Terry (and Alan) Pick Favorite Klaatu Songs

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By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Picking your favorite songs by your favorite artists can sometimes be a fairly unreliable exercise, because your three favorites today might be totally different tomorrow.

Nevertheless, John Woloschuk, Dee Long, and Terry Draper were happy to play the favorite songs game when I spoke with them recently. Each of them chose three Klaatu favorites, and here they are, along with three of my favorites because, well, I wanted to play, too (my choices appear at the bottom of this page) (right-click on the audio streams to save them to your computer).

And with today’s post, we wind up our weeklong celebration of Klaatu’s Sir Army Suit, released 40 years ago this month. It’s been a lot of fun walking down memory lane; we hope you’ve had as good a time as we have.

John Woloschuk talks about three of his favorite Klaatu songs

Dee Long talks about three of his favorite Klaatu songs

Terry Draper talks about three of his favorite Klaatu songs

Alan Haber: Proud Music Geek!And now, without further ado, here are five of my favorite Klaatu songs (“Sub-Rosa Subway,” from 3:47 E.S.T., resides in its own little exalted corner of my brain and so does not appear here):

  1. “Blue Smoke” | Magentalane (1981)
    Originally titled “The List of Endangered Species,” this blazing rocker from Klaatu’s fifth and final album features particularly perky piano, John Woloschuk’s sitar, and Terry Draper’s stylish slide trombone, and rocking guitars too (crunchy and otherwise), all dressed up in the band’s usual fanciful wrapping. (John talks about this song here.)
  2. “All Good Things” | Endangered Species (1980)
    Short (under two minutes) and particularly sweet, this wistful, acoustic song, last in the running order on the Endangered Species album, also has an interesting story (John tells the tale here). Surely one of John’s prettiest melodies.
  3. “Hope” | Hope (1977)
    The glorious second Klaatu album’s closing and title song sports another of John’s prettiest melodies and offers up as positive a message as anyone could summon. Note the creative bass line that perfectly complements the melody. John told me that when he wrote this song, he was working above his pay grade. “When faith gives way to fear/When motivation disappears/All is lost if one abandons hope,” he sings. Words for every beating heart.
  4. “Calling Occupants (Of Interplanetary Craft)” | 3:47 E.S.T. (1976)
    This signature song, a grand statement if ever there was one, leads off Klaatu’s eclectic first album. Anything I could say here would be superfluous, especially since John and Terry, who co-wrote the song, speak so eloquently about it in their interviews posted above (Dee also talks about it). I will say, however, that any song that preaches friendship–even friendship across the galaxies–is okay in my book.
  5. “Perpetual Motion Machine” | Sir Army Suit (1978)
    Dee Long’s sprightly toe-tapper about the gift you didn’t know you needed is one of four solo written numbers on Sir Army Suit (he cowrote “Silly Boys” with John). What it’s really about, though, is anyone’s guess, but its lyrics speak to the collector in me (“You can have one today just send right away/We deliver right to your home”), so I’ll go with that.

radio1Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio is the premiere website covering the melodic pop scene with in-depth reviews of new and reissued recordings, and a wide variety of features. The 24-hour Pure Pop Radio stream ran from 2013 to August 25, 2018. Welcome to your number one home for coverage of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe from the ’60s to today.

Klaatu Celebration Week Continues: John, Dee and Terry Wax Poetic About Sir Army Suit

alan headshot from schoolBy Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

This week, we’re celebrating the 40th anniversary of Klaatu’s momentous third album, Sir Army Suit, because, as I often say, history is important. With each song, with each collection of songs that we treasure from our favorite artists, we strengthen the musical foundation that we build upon.

klaatu sir army suit coverIt is important to know where things come from. Klaatu’s Sir Army Suit came after the group’s eclectic first album, 3:47 E.S.T., and the follow-up, the orchestrated concept long player Hope. Sir Army Suit was an attempt to build on Klaatu’s strengths with shorter, radio-friendly songs sporting indelible melodies, clever chord progressions, picturesque lyrics, and creative production for the purpose of increasing the band’s marketplace footprint.

Shorter, radio-friendly songs. No problem! From the opening classic “A Routine Day” to “Perpetual Motion Machine,” a sprightly tune about acquiring the gift you didn’t know you needed, this is what Sir Army Suit delivered. Moreover, the album served up a diverse musical experience that continues to resonate with fans today.

Klaatu’s John Woloschuk, Dee Long and Terry Draper spoke to me recently about Sir Army Suit, an album they look back on fondly. Click on the photos below to hear what they have to say about one of the great melodic pop albums of our time (then right-click on the stream graphic to download each interview).

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John Woloschuk looks back at Sir Army Suit

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Dee Long looks back at Sir Army Suit and ahead to new music

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Terry Draper takes a look at Sir Army Suit

In the spirit of our ongoing celebration of Sir Army Suit, on the occasion of the album’s 40th anniversary, we return this Friday with John, Dee and Terry each talking about three of their favorite Klaatu songs. Don’t miss it.

radio1Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio is the premiere website covering the melodic pop scene with in-depth reviews of new and reissued recordings, and a wide variety of features. The 24-hour Pure Pop Radio stream ran from 2013 to August 25, 2018. Welcome to your number one home for coverage of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe from the ’60s to today.

I Love that Album! #3: Klaatu’s Sir Army Suit (1978)

alan headshot from schoolBy Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

klaatu sir army suit cover“We all rose to the challenge,” Terry Draper says about “Calling Occupants (Of Interplanetary Craft),” Klaatu’s momentous signature song that opened the band’s debut album, 3:47 E.S.T., but he might as well have been referring to Sir Army Suit, the Canadian trio’s triumphant third album, released in August 1978 and now celebrating its 40th anniversary.

klaatu juicy luicy 45 labelThe challenge Terry, John Woloschuk and Dee Long were faced with, as they gathered to work on Sir Army Suit–really no challenge at all–was to write and record relatively short radio-friendly songs that would increase Klaatu’s marketplace footprint. And with wonderful nuggets such as “Juicy Luicy,” a catchy disco parody; “Tokeymor Field,” a hummable soft-pop romantic romp inspired by the music of the Young Rascals; and “Older,” a rocker about making time count before it’s gone, success should have been a fait accompli. And it was, for fans who held 3:47 E.S.T. and Hope, Klaatu’s previous two albums, dear.

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(l to r) John Woloschuk, Dee Long, and Terry Draper

John, Dee and Terry’s mandate was always to write and record songs that were different from each other, and for Sir Army Suit, they came up with their most diverse set yet. Songs about long getaways (“Everybody Took a Holiday”), the gift you didn’t know you needed (“Perpetual Motion Machine”), falling in love from a berth on the high seas (“Dear Christine”), and leading a humdrum existence (“A Routine Day”) were brought to life with fanciful, creative arrangements. Working with producer Terry Brown, the band’s George Martin, Klaatu delivered exactly what was called for– an album stocked full of unique treasures that is as enjoyable today as it was 40 years ago.

One of Sir Army Suit’s most engaging slices of songcraft is the cinematic number that opens the album. John’s majestic “A Routine Day,” about a man living possibly the most humdrum existence imaginable, offers up exquisite and complex chord progressions, one of the loveliest, most seductive melodies in Klaatu’s catalog, and a surprising Twilight Zone-esque ending, in which the hapless narrator waits on the pier, as one does, for Charon, the ferryman of Hades.

Then, there are the tremendous songs written by Dee Long, charming, melodic wonders all: the aforementioned “Everybody Took a Holiday” and “Perpetual Motion Machine,” and “Older,” “Mr. Manson,” and “Cherie” (Dee also cowrote the wild sci-fi closer, “Silly Boys,” with John). “Cherie” may well be the loveliest of all of Dee’s creatures on this album:

Of course, a band is more than just one member’s vision; Sir Army Suit wouldn’t be the creative triumph it is without John Woloschuk, Dee Long and Terry Draper working together to fuse their ideas into a successful whole. And, it cannot be said often enough that the trio, working together with Terry Brown, were collectively a tremendous close-knit, creative force.

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Sir Army Suit’s Back Cover

All of this sterling work came wrapped inside Hugh Syme’s beautiful, imaginative cover art that finally provided visual proof that the members of Klaatu had never been Beatles, even if the band members and fellow travelers depicted didn’t come with names attached. That would have to wait until Klaatu’s next album, Endangered Species.

Klaatu produced five albums in their relatively brief lifetime; all of them offer slices of hope and a little courage, but Sir Army Suit is perhaps the most courageous of all.

radio1Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio is the premiere website covering the melodic pop scene with in-depth reviews of new and reissued recordings, and a wide variety of features. The 24-hour Pure Pop Radio stream ran from 2013 to August 25, 2018. Welcome to your number one home for coverage of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe from the ’60s to today.

Klaatu’s Sir Army Suit Turns 40: A Pure Pop Radio Celebration

Pure Pop Radio celebrates the 40th anniversary of Klaatu’s Sir Army Suit with a weeklong celebration

alan headshot from schoolBy Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

You could pretty much claim that every year–go on, pick one!–was a good year for music, and regardless of your preferred genres, you would be right.

klaatu sir army suit coverWelcome, then, the year 1978, in which a number of influential, or simply beloved, albums were released, from the Who’s Who Are You, Warren Zevon’s Excitable Boy, and the Police’s Outlandos d’Amour to the Talking Heads’ More Songs About Buildings and Food, the Cars’ self-titled debut, and Bruce Springsteen’s Darkness on the Edge of Town. For melodic pop fans, and especially for fans for whom the Beatles are dearest, Klaatu’s diverse, thoroughly enjoyable third album, Sir Army Suit, was also king upon its release in August.

Sir Army Suit, which, on its cover, depicted Klaatu’s mysterious members as they walked with fellow travelers toward an equally mysterious destination, was the band’s third and perhaps best album, and one that came with a specific remit: increase Klaatu’s marketplace footprint with more radio-friendly songs. Different, in other words, from the band’s second album, the orchestrated conceptual collection, Hope (although the beautiful title song would have made a great single).

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(l to r) John Woloschuk, Terry Draper, and Dee Long

Tomorrow, as part of Pure Pop Radio’s very special weeklong celebration of Sir Army Suit on the occasion of the album’s 40th anniversary, I will take an in-depth look at Klaatu’s timeless third release in the latest edition of our popular feature, I Love that Album! On Wednesday, you will hear Klaatu’s John Woloschuk, Dee Long and Terry Draper talk about Sir Army Suit in all-new audio interviews. On Thursday, the trio will talk about three of their favorite Klaatu songs. And on Friday, I will return with my list of Klaatu favorites.

I leave you now with Sir Army Suit’s brilliantly-written and performed opening salvo, “A Routine Day,” John Woloschuk’s story of a man who leads a humdrum life and is rewarded with a visit from none other than the ferryman of Hades. A neighborly tale, in other words.

Join us all this week, won’t you?

radio1Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio is the premiere website covering the melodic pop scene with in-depth reviews of new and reissued recordings, and a wide variety of features. The 24-hour Pure Pop Radio stream ran from 2013 to August 25, 2018. Welcome to your number one home for coverage of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe from the ’60s to today.

Sounding Good!

pure pop radio radioPure Pop Radio’s Melodic Pop Stream Ends on August 25

alan headshot from schoolBy Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Twenty-three years after the start of Pure Pop Radio as a weekly program at Fairfax, Virginia cable radio station WEBR (then WCXS), the Internet’s premiere mix of melodic pop songs from across the decades is calling it a day.

august 25 graphicThis Saturday, August 25, Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio will stream its last set of melodic pop jewels. Through to the last strains of the very last song aired–one of 12,000 added to the station’s playlist since 2013–the bedrocks of the station’s mission will be heard. Melody, harmony, and hooks will be enjoyed, and smiles on the faces of listeners will be logged.

nick piunti temporary high album coverLJX115 David Myhr - Lucky DayIn addition to the latest sounds from (deep breath!) Fernando Perdomo, the Turnback, the Jangle Band, Azwel, Scott Brookman, Lannie Flowers, Danny Wilkerson, McPherson Grant, Optiganally Yours, Jeff Whalen, George Usher and Lisa Burns, Michael Slawter, Jeffrey Foskett and Jeff Larson, Sean Solo, Miami Dan and the Hayes Street Band, Tony Valentino, Deep Six, Nick Piunti, Bubble Gum Orchestra, the Crushing Violets, David Myhr, Michael Carpenter, the Weeklings, Poppermost, William Duke, Caddy, My Little Brother and Farrington (big exhale!), we’re playing, from our exhaustive archives, songs from…

bob of the pops front coverchris von sneidern sight and sound album cover…the Orange Humble Band, Timmy Sean, Bob of the Pops, Garfield’s Birthday, the Kennedys, Larry O. Dean, the Orange Peels, B and Not B, Pugwash, the Corner Laughers, Bill Lloyd, Phyllis Johnson, Pop 4, Gleeson, the Del Zorros, Parthenon Huxley, the Nines, All Day Sucker, Chris Brown, Ed James, Einstein’s Sister, Jamie and Steve, the Spongetones, Mitch Linker, Pop is Art, Cirrone, Longplayer, Tamas Wells, Winterpills, Wondermints, Chris Von Sneidern, Brandon Schott, Gary Ritchie, Blossom Toes, Harpers Bizarre, P.F. Sloan, the Association, the Bee Gees, the Beach Boys, and the Beatles…

…to name but a few!

We’re beaming to your Internet radio receptacle 24 hours a day until late this Saturday, August 25. It’s been an honor and a great pleasure serving you with the greatest pop music in the universe. Since that first day sitting at that board in that radio studio with just a stack of music and my wits, I’ve enjoyed every minute, and I hope you have too.

Next week, new content will begin appearing here on the Pure Pop Radio website. We start with a 40th anniversary celebration of a classic album from one of melodic pop music’s greatest artists, and move on to reviews and more features from there.

Don’t miss a minute!

ppr radio purple background - insetPure Pop Radio plays the greatest melodic pop music from across the decades, 24 hours a day (until August 25). Listen by clicking on the Live365 Listen Now button at left. Hear us once and you’ll be a listener for life. Join us, won’t you? You’ll be glad you did!
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The Latest Hits! Pure Pop Radio is Your Home for the Greatest Pure, Melodic Pop (until August 25)

alan headshot from schoolBy Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

pure pop radio radioThe latest and greatest pure, melodic pop hits are streaming on Pure Pop Radio, but hurry–you have only until August 25 to bop to the catchiest beats in town!

the turnback new album cover august 2018What’s new and now playing in rotation on Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio? “California Moon,” Fernando Perdomo’s new single, featuring Pat Sansone (Wilco, Autumn Defense), is top of the pops, as are four standout, propulsive tunes from the Turnback’s soon-to-be-released album, Spinning the Earth in Reverse.

coverSpeaking of spinning, the Jangle Band’s new single, featuring the Byrdsian “The Guy Who Used to Care,” is playing in hot rotation, as are new songs from Azwel’s latest long player, Phantasmagoria, and new releases from Scott Brookman, Yani Martinelli and Friends; Lannie Flowers (another in his growing line of free songs being released prior to Lannie’s new album coming due in the fall); and McPherson Grant, whose debut album features the Klaatu-ish tune “The Marvelous and Mysterious Adventures of Sir Ollie and His Ox,” supported percussively by Klaatu’s Terry Draper.

wilkerson album coverNew songs from Optiganally Yours, Tsar’s Jeff Whalen, George Usher and Lisa Burns, Michael Slawter, Jeffrey Foskett and Jeff Larson, Sean Solo, Miami Dan and the Hayes Street Band, Farrington, Wilkerson, Tony Valentino, and many more of your favorite artists are also being featured in these last 11 days of broadcasting.

Remember that we will be active as active can be here on the Pure Pop Radio website, even though Pure Pop Radio will be going off the air on August 25. So fire up your Internet radio receptacle, groove to the pop tunes, and we’ll see you on the air.

ppr radio purple background - insetPure Pop Radio plays the greatest melodic pop music from across the decades, 24 hours a day (until August 25). Listen by clicking on the Live365 Listen Now button at left. Hear us once and you’ll be a listener for life. Join us, won’t you? You’ll be glad you did!

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