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.
* Brian Ray sits in with Alan Haber on Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation
tomorrow night, Tuesday, May 9, at 9 pm ET
Fans of Sir Paul–Paul McCartney, of course–will be familiar with Brian Ray’s work in Paul’s band, a position he’s held for the past 15 years. A pretty good gig, we would say! But did you know that Brian is also a solo artist, with a couple of long players to his credit?
Did you also know that Brian has a new band with Oliver Lieber, son of rock royalty classic songwriter Jerry Lieber (of Lieber and Stoller fame)? Well, he does, and the band’s called The Bayonets. Their smashing new album, Crash Boom Bang!, an exciting expansion (two extra tracks!) of the 2014 self-released collection, comes out on May 17 on JEM Records. The packaging, by the way, is also smashing.
Brian sits in with me tomorrow night, Tuesday, May 9, at 9 pm ET to talk about how he met Oliver and decided to form The Bayonets. Brian also waxes poetic about songwriting and, in particular, lyric writing. You’ll hear two -pop-rockin’ songs from Crash Boom Bang!, “Sucker for Love” and the Rolling Stones-y slow burner, “Cotton Candy.” Hooks galore are in store. (We’re currently playing both of these songs, plus many others, in rotation; check our review and song list coming soon.)
Don’t miss Brian Ray on Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation tomorrow night at 9 pm on Pure Pop Radio. What’s that you hear? Crash Boom Bang!
Spins and Reviews 12.7.16
Alan Haber — Pure Pop Radio
(Originally posted on 12.07.16)
Jacob Panic | Jacob Panic (2016)
Picker extraordinaire Jacob Panic traverses his banjo’s fretboard with a sure-footed sense of purpose on five tunes borne from fertile ground rooted in pop and bluegrass. This self-titled EP finds the Baltimore-Maryland singer-songwriter’s multi-instrumentalist clothes, which he wore for 2012’s Pop Grass, in storage; for this release, he concentrates on the banjo as a crack team of players backs him up on his ace originals.
Recording in Nashville with producer Randy Kohrs (Grammy® winner for Jim Lauderdale’s The Bluegrass Diaries), Panic paints with a baroque brush on the four-on-the-floor stomper, “The Lie that You Told,” and takes a second, loving look at one of the top tracks from Pop Grass, the beautiful, lyrical “Hold Your Freight Train.” Panic recently opened for Ricky Scaggs and Kentucky Thunder, which says a thing or two about how good this masterful player is. Jacob Panic is always welcome here at Pure Pop Radio.
Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: The entire EP: “The Flame,” “Drown,” “A Lie that You Told,” “Hold Your Freight Train,” and “Hocus Opus”
One Like Son, “Disconnected” Historic platter recorded direct to disc via the Voice-o-Graph by Stephen Poff in the Record Booth at Third Man Records in Nashville, Tennessee. The booth is a “refurbished 1947 Voice-o-Graph machine that records up to 2 minutes of audio and dispenses a one-of-a-kind 6″ phonograph disc to the user,” according to the Third Man Record Booth web page. The skip at the end, an otherworldly thing, occurred during the recording, adding a certain charm to the proceedings.
A song about trying to break through to what the heart yearns, “Disconnected” originally appeared on One Like Son’s 2001 album, Goodbye. Poff’s intimate, updated reading of this number into the Voice-o-Graph is a whisper of a melodic moment in time; close your eyes and you are there with the artist, in the Third Man Record Booth, singing along at least in spirit. We are proud to be playing this recording on Pure Pop Radio.
Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio
Where to Get It: Not currently available
Also recently added to the Pure Pop Radio playlist:
– Bread and Butter, “Desperation”
– Paul McCartney, “In the Blink of an Eye”; Carl Davis, “Walking in the Park with Eloise”; The Shadows, “Foot Tapper”; Dave Berry, “Little Things”; Rupert’s People, “Reflections of Charles Brown” (all from the soundtrack for the animated film, Ethel and Ernest)
– Gerry Beckley | Carousel (“Nature’s Way,” “Minutes Count,” “Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying,” “Lifeline,” “To Each and Everyone,” “Serious,” and “Carousel”)
– Teenage Fanclub | Here (“I’m in Love,” “The Darkest Part of the Night,” “I Have Nothing More to Say,” and “It’s a Sin”)
– The Dots | Island in the Sun (“I’ve Been Looking for the Time,” “Wilford Lane,” “Here With You,” “The Stars are Bright Tonight”)
– Tony Low | Rendezvousing (“Do the Mikey,” “Eternal Dawn,” “Hey Now,” and “Should’ve Known”)
– Mike Daly and the Planets, “Never Too Late”
– Louise Goffin, “(You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Woman”
– Sir Video | Live at Ardmore Hall (“Take My Breath Away,” “This Magic,” and “Do What You Wanna”)
– The 1957 Tail-Fin Fiasco | The 3 Song Drive EP (“Kiki vs. Alice from the Breakers,” “Big Yellow Box,” “Byron Bay,” and “Blended”)
– Tony Valentino of the Standells, “Is This What U Want?”
– Tuns | Tuns (“Back Among Friends” and “Throw It All Away”)
– Baby Scream | Life’s a Trap (“Life’s Better When Ur High,” “Climbing Down,” “We Can’t Go Back to 17,” “Wish You Were Beer,” “Jokes,” and “Midnight Snack”)
By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio (Originally posted 1.23.17)
A wave of sadness passed through my soul as the news emerged Saturday of the passing of Maggie Roche, the sweet songbird from deepest New Jersey whose singular voice intertwined for decades with her sisters Terre and Suzzy as the Roches. Her beautiful songs, imbued with her loving spirit, will live on.
Marrying lyrical poetry and heaven-sent melodies, Maggie wrote about the human condition, about life’s long and winding road and the twists and turns one takes along the way. From “Hammond Song” and “Quitting Time,” both from the Roches’ 1979 self-titled debut, to the playful “My Winter Coat,” from the sisters’ 1995 album, Can We Go Home Now, her magical perspective and way with words always shone brightly.
So did her sense of humor, through which she communicated all manner of emotion. For proof, look no further than the testament to love that is “My Winter Coat.” Sure, it is ostensibly about a coat whose “fit is generous and loose,” a garment with which to keep warm that is “made of a material that will not rust.”
This is a song about love, of course, sewn up in a garment that makes you feel like you’re “walkin’ around in your bed all day.” There couldn’t possibly be anything better to wrap around you, a point that is communicated in verse after verse punctuated by magical rhymes. “I hope you don’t think I’m merely trying to be clever,” the Roches sing to sew up the story. “I wish this coat would last forever.”
In our lives, we gravitate toward artists who can expand the world to allow us to see more clearly the parts of it that we may not fully understand or appreciate. Artists encourage us to be adventurers, to learn more about ourselves, to step out of our comfort zones and in the process find out more about what makes us who we are.
This is a forever journey that we find ourselves traveling. Through her songs, Maggie Roche was a spirited companion and guide. Safe travels, sweet songbird.
By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio
(Originally posted 12.01.16)
So you’re in the jungle, you’re living in a tent, you have zero financial obligations, you have all the time in the world, and you just plain don’t care. Is this a call for celebration?
Right off the bat, I’m probably being too literal, trying to make sense of the lyrics of Band on the Run’s “Mrs. Vandebilt,” one of the great showcases for Paul McCartney’s runaway bass inflections, because that first verse is a slightly-changed, tumbling tip of the hat to British comedian Charlie Chester. Which is really here nor there in the grand scheme of things.
Which is not to say that there is any scheme being practiced within this delicious tour de Macca, other than the crafting of yet another insanely catchy slice of pop and roll by one of the masters of the insanely catchy slice of pop and roll form. “Take things as they come to you!”, McCartney seems to be saying in these lyrics, which might be the case if you’re looking to make a case, but I submit to you that the lyrics could well be carefully positioned red herrings unless you don’t believe in such things and, really, well, that’s kind of getting off the case at hand.
“Mrs. Vandebilt” is a four-on-the-floor, beat-buoyed road trip driven by one of, if not the, world’s most inventive bass players. And don’t argue with me, now! We must not have dissension among the ranks!
“Mrs. Vandebilt” is all about the ever-present, runaway bass line and, of course, the up-and-down, go-high-then-low-then-high-again melody line. The first 72 seconds, and really most of this track, bear this out, painted as they are with just a few aural brushstrokes–rhythmic, acoustic guitar chord stabs, bass, percussion, vocal, and what sounds like some understated keyboard layering close to the first chorus. Then, Howie Casey’s liquid saxophone draws deserved attention for seven punctuated seconds.
A beautifully-rendered electric guitar solo (which recurs later, as does Casey’s sax) is another of the many reasons that this skillfully crafted track, like so many of McCartney’s ingenious constructs, never, ever fails to please; another one is what really is the meat of this four-and-a-half-minute moment: the rip-roaring, get-out-of-the-way, leave-my-kitten-alone close, a let’s-let-loose-at-all-costs, band-on-the-run refrain that plays sweet havoc with what has come before. Above, and for that matter below, the repeated “Ho, hey ho!” cries, McCartney’s runaway bass, sliding up and down the fretboard with determinedly enthusiastic plucks, steals the show, exiting stage right with a quick, descending run of notes before the track fades, clearing the decks for the tour de Lennon that is “Let Me Roll It.”
There is a picture of McCartney in the booklet of the 2010 archive collection reissue of Band on the Run, in which the headphone-appointed artist is decked out in his electric blue shirt, sleeves rolled up, his left arm crossed against his chest, his right arm pointing upward and his right hand resting against his lips, pursed into a knowing smile that says, “Man, just wait ’till you hear what I’ve got up my (rolled up) sleeves.” If a picture truly speaks volumes, this one is akin to the length and breadth of the Encyclopedia Britannica.
If I close my eyes, I can see myself sitting on the edge of my bed in my college dorm room, listening to the Band on the Run album over and over as a long-haired friend sits on my no-speed bicycle, pedaling in place with abandon. “You know, this is a really great album,” my friend says as the memory tape rolls in my brain. And when “Mrs. Vandebilt” comes on, the pedaling stops in its tracks. My attention, as well as my friend’s, is suddenly focused on that insistent bass line, and as the track hits midway, my friend and I are plucking the strings of our Hofner air bass guitars even as the track fades, and without even thinking, I walk slowly to my turntable in somewhat of a daze and put the needle back to the beginning and the air Hofner plucking begins again.