Reviews: 4.11.19: Brad Marino Makes a Rock, Pop and Roll Connection

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Brad Marino | Extra Credit (Rum Bar, 2019)

The Connection’s Brad Marino serves up a dynamic and breathless 11-song rock, pop and roll romp on his beat-driven solo album, Extra Credit, paying homage to a group once dubbed “England’s Newest Hit Makers,” Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds, Elvis Costello and, well, Rockpile with the gloves on. The guitars are plugged in and raving, and, oh yeah, the guitars are plugged in and raving.

It’s that kind of album, about a minute and a half shy of a half-hour long, with most songs dressed in tight-fitting get-in-and get-out-before-they-overstay-their-welcome ensembles, which is as it should be. These songs take no prisoners and make no apologies.

From the hit-the-road-running “Broken Clocks,” a breakup song in which the girl’s the bad guy and the breakneck-paced solo channels Chuck Berry, to “C’mon, C’mon, C’mon,” about a girl who plays hard to get (“The girl who plays so hard to get / Is always worth the score”), Marino hits the mark with rockin’ and rollin’ spirited performances (he plays all of the instruments other than the keyboards, which were essayed by sometime Connectioner Kris Rodgers). The album comes to a close with a four-on-the-floor, there’s-a-speed-limit? cover of Berry’s “Bye Bye Johnny”.

Last month, we waxed poetic about previously-released-as-singles songs “What Comes Naturally” (“…extols the virtues of a rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle in a song that portrays a Rolling Stones-meets-outlaw country vibe”) and “Broken Record” (“…an upbeat pop-rocker with teeth, very catchy and singalongable…”). Not a bad way to kick off an upcoming album, right?

Well, that upcoming album is almost here (mark your calendar for April 19). With six songs scribed solo by Marino, a co-write by Pure Pop Radio favorite Kurt Baker, two songs written by Michael Chaney (another is a co-write with Marino), and a well-chosen Chuck Berry cover, Extra Credit, produced by Marino and Rodgers, is this season’s breathless hit platter.

Cue the guitars and get that snare a-drummin’…Brad Marino’s pumped and ready to rock, pop and roll.

Where to Get It (Releases on April 19) (Pre-order Now): Bandcamp, Amazon

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Alan 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. We’ve been around since the first weekly Pure Pop Radio shows, which began broadcasting in 1995, and the 24-hour Pure Pop Radio station, which ended last August.

Welcome to your number one home for coverage of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe from the ’60s to today.

Reviews: 3.26.19: Terry Draper Invites You Into His Garden, Brad Marino Does What Comes Naturally, and Popdudes Channel the Cookies, the Beatles and Roy Orbison

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Terry Draper | In My Garden (TerryTunes, 2019)

How you got here from there really isn’t all that important; it’s that you wound up here that really matters. Many, if not most of you will, while flying your Klaatu flags high, proudly note that you were here from the very beginning (some of you will have been here even before the beginning, which is quite a feat of legerdemain).

In any case, you are here now because the music of Terry Draper has spoken to you through the years, since Klaatu burst on the music scene in 1976 or even before (kudos to you). Think about that: Terry Draper has been making music for at least four decades plus. That is a very long time to be putting smiles on people’s faces.

So, kudos to Terry. The thing is, though, that some of you will have come to this new album, a gathering of earthly delights picked from previous releases and featuring two new songs, without having experienced the wonder that is Klaatu. For you, this new album, In My Garden, is perhaps the perfect introduction to the music that Terry Draper has released during his solo years–music that looks at life and how to negotiate it.

Released on 180 gram vinyl with 11 tracks for old-school enthusiasts and on CD with three bonuses for everyone else, In My Garden is a veritable cornucopia of musical joy–something for everyone and then some, bringing together a community of been-there-all-alongs and hey-I’m-new-heres to celebrate the music of one of melodic pop’s most important practitioners. (Purchasers of either the vinyl or CD from Terry’s website also get a download with WAV files of the songs, a digital booklet, and nine videos.)

Whether you’ve been following Terry’s music all along or have just been hipped to him, you will find much to admire and enjoy here. Some personal favorites that may well be yours too, regardless of your starting point: “When I Grow Up,” from Civil War… and Other Love Songs, which contains one of Terry’s prettiest melodies; it’s a wistful song about holding on to one’s youth as a way of tempering the less-than-happy shades of one’s life. And “Jules and Me,” from Searching, a pretty, multihued song about getting lost in good books–in this case those written by Jules Verne–and being taken away to far-off lands because how cool is that.

More personal favorites: “Pied Piper,” a fun cover of Crispian St. Peters’ top five Billboard chart hit from 1966, which features the great Ray Paul, whose new compilation is about to be released, on harmony vocals. And another fun song, “She’s All Mine,” from Remarkable Women, a joyous, pop-rocking charmer about accepting one’s partner lock, stock and barrel.

Of the two new songs on offer, the beautiful “I Wish I Could Fly” is my pick to click–a gorgeous song that, on the surface, is about the freedom of flight and what it might be like looking down from above as you glide along through the skies. The first song written for an animated cartoon called Sparked (unfortunately never produced) is about the childhood of Nikola Tesla, who was the inventor of, among other things, the AC, or alternating current, motor. What a joy this cartoon would have been to experience!

Making its first appearance on an album (in this case, the CD version of In My Garden; it was previously released as a single track), “Latitude Adjustment,” featuring Ray Paul on backup vocals, finds Terry escaping the cold for the warmth of the sun in Florida. Never has an escape to the Florida Keys been so melodic or catchy. Or sun-tanny.

Helping to bring Terry’s catchy creations to life are Dana Countryman, Bill Nadeau, Brenda Webb, Spitt Passion, and more melodic fellow travelers. Old friend Ted Jones, who brought so many Klaatu album covers to life with his imaginative designs, provides this collection’s captivating cover art.

Welcome to Terry Draper’s garden of earthly delights. However you got here, you are here in this very special place. Track one, here you come…

Where to Get It: Terry Draper’s Album Store (USA), (International), (Canada)

Brad Marino | “What Comes Naturally” (Rum Bar, 2019)

For this rocking new single off the upcoming, highly-anticipated album from the Connection’s Brad Marino (Extra Credit, releasing April 19), the multi-instrumentalist extols the virtues of a rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle in a song that portrays a Rolling Stones-meets-outlaw country vibe.

What comes naturally for a guitar player keeping the beat? Sleeping late, steaks on the grill, breakfast (at a quarter to two), checking the sports scores, celebrating happy hour (but only from 3:30-5), and listening to records. Sounds like a life, doesn’t it?

Tap your feet in time with this top-flight melodic rocker, and look forward to Marino’s album, just a little over three weeks away.

Where to Get It (Single releases digitally on April 1): Amazon

Popdudes | “Chains” b/w “Dream Baby” (Big Stir, 2019)

The 21st entry in the ongoing Big Stir digital singles series is a warm-hearted, joyous double-sided melodic pop hug from Orange County, California’s Popdudes, with up-and-coming popster Addison Love and his pop Tim joining always-and-forever members Michael Simmons and journalist/drummer John Borack.

This million dollar quartet is more than up to the task of celebrating the original recordings by the Cookies and the Beatles (“Chains”) and Roy Orbison (“Dream Baby”). The harmony vocals on “Chains” are quite attractive; Addison Love sings the solo lines and plays lead guitar. On “Dream Baby,” Tim Love steps up to the microphone with a sweet lead vocal–channeling the Big O, no doubt (he also plays electric bass); the equally sweet sha-la-la-la, uh-uh-huh background vocals also shine.

Where to Get It: Big Stir Digital Single No. 21

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Alan 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. We’ve been around since the first weekly Pure Pop Radio shows, which began broadcasting in 1995, and the 24-hour Pure Pop Radio station, which ended last August.

Welcome to your number one home for coverage of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe from the ’60s to today.

Holly? Jolly? Christmas? We’ve Got All Three! And More Melodic Pop Gift-Giving Suggestions

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

We continue with our Holly Jolly Christmas Party here on day four, reviewing the latest and greatest holiday releases that are perfect for gift giving. You’ve still got some wrapping paper on hand, right?

Before we get to today’s gift suggestions, let’s give our last two-pack of holiday presents to one lucky person. Today, Curry Cuts’ White Lace and Promises: The Songs of Paul Williams and Now Sounds’ deluxe expanded edition of the Mamas and the Papas’ People Like Us are up for grabs. Enter below.

This is our last post of 2018. As we gather with friends and family to enjoy the holiday season, and prepare our annual Favorite Records of the Year feature (coming in early January), we wish you all the best and thank you for your support. We couldn’t do this without you. Have a Merry Happy and a Gear New Year!

Well then, let’s get to talking about the tunes…

Brad Marino | Almost Here (2018)
The Connection’s Marino, singing all of the vocals and playing all of the instruments, turns in a trio of Christmas musings set to a holiday beat. The title song is an uptempo number about keeping holiday commotion to a bare minimum (“This Christmas is for you and me”). “Merry Christmas, Happy New Year” is another uptempo track celebrating the season (“A time for us to come together/A time for us all to remember/Merry Christmas and Happy New Year”). An uptempo, Rockpile-styled cover of the holiday chestnut “Blue Christmas,” usually delivered in a bluesy frame of mind, caps off a fun EP, perfect for this time of year.

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp

Michael Simmons | “Christmas All Over Again” (2018)
Capping off a really good year in which he released his bravura solo album, First Days of Summer, sparkle*jets u.k.’s Simmons whipped up this bit of holiday joy. Covering Tom Petty’s beloved Christmas tune with good cheer and including Simmons’ best Petty impersonation, sweet background vocals, a nifty electric guitar solo, and bits and bobs of a couple of Christmas classics before the first verse (spot the homages!) is certainly an honest day’s work that we, the listeners, benefit from. Well done, sir.

black box Where to Listen and Get It: Bandcamp

Bob Burger | Christmas Can’t Wait (2016)
This sterling five-track holiday EP shows Zeek Weekling as his actual self, Bob Burger, the long-time New Jersey music man whose solo albums are highly recommended.

Burger helps you celebrate Christmas with, among other top tracks, the upbeat “Gonna Be Christmas,” offering up an enticing melody and attractive harmonies; the humorous, vaguely countryish story song “Santa’s Gonna Crash (Right Through the Ceiling),” which wonders why the big guy can’t just use the front door instead of weighing down the roof, and a knockout version of “Ave Maria,” which features an impassioned lead vocal.

Burger even helps you usher in the new year with the rock shuffle “Happy New Year to Ya.” Whether with the Weeklings or solo, Bob Burger is one of music’s sturdiest artists. Gift this EP to everyone you know, is my suggestion.

Here’s a live version of “Gonna Be Christmas,” with Bob and Jimmy Leahey:

black box Where to Get It: Amazon

The Butties | “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” (from 12 Greatest Carols) (2005)
If the Beatles recorded “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” in their early style and modeled it after their version of “Twist and Shout,” you’d have this classic side, just one of a dozen such clever holiday workouts contained on the album 12 Greatest Carols. The Butties also wrap bits of “Let It Be” around “Let It Snow,” and rework “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” with the spirit of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” Plus many more smile-inducing tracks, perfect for Beatle fans on your gift list. The Butties are really fab!

black box Where to Get It: Amazon, CD Baby

Pop Co-Op | “Wrap Yourself in Christmas Eve” (from Happy Holidays from the Co-Op Communique) (2018)
On this holiday-themed release, a free download, the Co-Op Communique matches the 12 days of Christmas with a dozen holiday tracks that celebrate the season from artists as diverse as John T. McMullan, the Bradburys, Dw. Dunphy, and Pure Pop Radio favorite Super 8.

Pop Co-Op’s quartet of popsters–the Spongetones’ Steve Stoeckel, Mr. Encrypto’s Bruce Gordon, Stacy Carson, and Joel Tinnel–lead the pack with my favorite offering, written by Stoeckel, “Wrap Yourself in Christmas Eve.” This is a clever acoustic number about availing oneself of the warmth of the night before the big day. The deft acoustic guitar figures are truly special.

Give this one as a gift for maximum good cheer.

black box Where to Listen and Get It: Song: Bandcamp The album: Bandcamp

Win a Pair of Presents!

Enter below to win a pair of melodic presents for the holiday season from Pure Pop Radio (Curry Cuts’ White Lace and Promises: The Songs of Paul Williams and Now Sounds’ deluxe expanded edition of the Mamas and the Papas’ People Like Us). Be sure to fill in all fields (type “Curry Now” in the Comment field), and send the completed form to us by tomorrow, Saturday, December 22, at 10 am ET. US residents only. Good luck.

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Alan 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. We’ve been around since the first weekly Pure Pop Radio shows, which began broadcasting in 1995 and ended this past August. Welcome to your number one home for coverage of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe from the ’60s to today. Happy holidays!

The New Trocaderos: Turn ’em Up to 11!

the-new-trocaderosThe New Trocaderos | Frenzy in the Hips | 2015 | A review by Alan Haber

They’re either coming at you with the force of a speeding locomotive riding atop a five-alarm fire, or they’re pushing out the beat at a bit of a slower pace with pop music on their minds. Either way, the New Trocaderos are taking no prisoners and that means you, baby!

Frenzy in the Hips, a collection of previously-released songs from EPs and “Luckiest Man in the World,” a new tune with the usual frenetic Trocs pedigree, is proof positive that this hybrid collective comprising Brad Marino and Geoff Palmer from the Connection and one of pop music’s greatest progenitors, Kurt Baker, is a force to be reckoned with.

Two of these songs, “Dream Girl” and “The Kids,” both fired up with great melodies, solid hooks and airplane-level propulsion, have spent time spinning at the exalted alter of Little Steven’s Underground Garage, where they were designated as Coolest Songs in the World–reason enough to let them loose in your own home.

Even if these tunes didn’t wear the cool song Crown, you would, as power pop fans, welcome them with open arms. The wild-and-wooly “Money Talks” gets arms and legs moving to the four-four-coming-off-the-floor beat. The Ramones-esque “Brain Gone Dead” is even more amped-up at somewhere in the neighborhood of a million beats per second.

new-trocaderosNot everything here is taken at such a frenzy-riffic pace, however. “The Kids” wears its British Invasion clothes with dancing shoes and a strong melody. “Dream Girl” sounds like an Elvis Costello pop number driven by a Jackie DeShannon engine. “Real Gone Kitty” is a cool, 1950s-styled rocker injected with speed to spare and a ginormous-Jerry Lee Lewis-y piano break. The new song, “Luckiest Man in the World,” channels the early Who with appropriate Roger Daltry-ish vocals.

The Trocs’ secret weapon is one Michael Chaney, an attorney by day and pop rocker (and honorary Troc) by night. Chaney either wrote or co-wrote all six songs and shows that he is as important to this band as the force with which it delivers its wares to waiting ears.

Breathless, faster than Superman breaking land-to-speed records to save Lois Lane, and able to hit power chords on electric guitars with a single strum, the New Trocaderos take care of business with this fun, powerful disc. Turn it up to 11 and treat your neighbors to the sound of New. In fact, why not treat yourself right now? Check out “Luckiest Man in the World” right here:

[Frenzy in the Hips is a Kool Kat Musik exclusive]

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

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Win New Trocaderos Downloads! Hey, It’s a Pure Pop Radio Contest!

These are the New Trocaderos!

The New Trocaderos are Brad Marino and Geoff Palmer from the Connection and pop-rocker Kurt Baker.

The New Trocaderos

The New Trocaderos rock and pop!

Have you heard about the latest hot-rockin’ and poppin’ trio making the scene? It’s the New Trocaderos, kids, and they’ve just released their very cool first single. The New Trocaderos are Brad Marino and Geoff Palmer from the Connection, and pop-rocker Kurt Baker. Pretty cool, huh? “Money Talks” is a pounding, beat-driven rocker dressed in pop clothes that will turn your living room into a dance hall. Strap on your guitar and pound out the riffs along with the boys! “The Kids” takes the beat down a notch and places the esteemed Mr. Baker in front of the microphone for a trip down Elvis Costello highway, highlighted by cool, rocking guitar and a melody that only members of the Connection and Kurt Baker could deliver! These are two outstanding numbers that everyone will love!

Want to win downloads of these two great tracks? It’s easy to do! Simply plug your name and email address into the form below and type “New Trocaderos” in the Comment field. That’s it! We’ll pick five lucky winners at random on Wednesday, January 15 at 12 noon ET. Winners’ names will be posted on this site.

Remember: You’ve got to be in it to win it, so enter right away! Only one entry per person, please.

Now, get to it and get the New Trocaderos! Good luck!

 

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

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