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.
Our 11-day-long Eight Days a Weekling marathon, celebrating the release (today!) of Studio 2, the latest beat-o-riffic album from New Jersey’s fabulous foursome, the Weeklings, has come to a close.
But we’re still celebrating! Every track from both Studio 2 and the Weeklings’ first fab album, lovingly called Monophonic, and select solo tracks from Glen “Lefty” Burtnik and Bob “Zeek” Burger, will continue to spin in rotation on our air.
During the last 11 days, we’ve brought you command performances of Lefty’s 1997 appearance on the old, weekly Pure Pop Radio show, during which he performed live in the studio, and Lefty and Zeek’s appearance on Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation, during which the duo chronicled their adventures recording Studio 2 in London’s famous Abbey Road studios. And don’t forget those Weeklings Double Shots that were rocking the airwaves every hour during the marathon!
We also ran a contest: Up for grabs were two Weeklings Prize Packs, containing the Studio 2 CD and the cassette version that features three, count ’em, three extra tracks–covers of the Beatles’ “It Won’t Be Long,” “All I’ve Got to Do,” and a screaming version of “I’m Down” that will leave you absolutely, positively breathless!
We’re pleased as Merseybeat punch to announce that James Rosen and Patricia Rossi are the winners of our latest contest. James and Patricia will each be receiving a Weeklings Prize Pack in the mail. Congratulations!
Thanks to everyone who entered. And extra-special thanks to the Weeklings–Glen “Lefty” Burtnik, Bob “Zeek” Burger, John “Rocky” Merjave, and Joe “Smokestack” Bellia–for making such great music. More contests are coming soon. Keep enjoying Pure Pop Radio, your original 24-hour source for the greatest melodic pop music in the universe! Listen online or on the go! And keep coming back to these pages for reviews of the latest and archival releases, articles, columns, and station updates.
The Weeklings ‘ Studio 2 captivates with Beatlesque charm
The Weeklings | Studio 2 | 2016 (Jem Records)
A review/essay by Alan Haber
Who would ever have thought, who would ever have dreamt that, in the 60 minutes that passed between eight and nine o’clock on Sunday, February 9, 1964, everything, every single hope and dream poised to define so many of the youngsters sitting only a short distance from their family’s television sets would change or at least be significantly altered?
During those historic 60 minutes, a mixed bag of performers paraded onto and then off of the stage on the ground floor of what was originally known as Hammerstein’s Theatre and came to be known as the Ed Sullivan Theater. Families, gathered together in front of their television sets in their living rooms as they usually were on Sunday nights, watched the cast of the Broadway show Oliver! (with future Monkee Davy Jones, then only 19, in tow) sing “I’d Do Anything.” Comedian and impressionist Frank Gorshin, soon to become famous as the Riddler on the Batman television show, also performed, as did Welsh entertainer Tessie O’Shea and acrobatics ensemble Wells and the Four Fays.
Also performing that fateful night was a group of youngsters called the Beatles. They hailed from Liverpool, England, which seemed to be a world and a half away from just about anywhere anyone could imagine. Parents were befuddled with the attention their kids paid to the four mop tops, who would obviously constitute the proverbial flash in the pan, gone in sixty seconds, or at least the sixty minutes it took for Ed to open and close that night’s show.
History tells us that the Beatles’ performance that night, five songs strong, was anything but a flash in the pan. Indeed, there was plenty of flash on the Ed Sullivan Theater stage, but not a single pan in sight. That night, as referenced in Vinyl Kings’ song “A Little Trip,” was responsible for convincing legions of kids that they could do just what John, Paul, George and Ringo were doing, if only their parents would buy them a guitar and let them grow their hair long.
Written by Vinyl Kings’ Josh Leo, “A Little Trip” begins by recounting a conversation a father has with his son about what the son wants to be when he grows up. The answer is clear to the son as Ed Sullivan’s 2/9/64 show, a really big show, carries on. “I promise to send you a letter/When I am a big jet-setter,” the son sings. “Just say you believe in me/And send me all your love.”
Beyond the spectacle of the pomp and circumstance of rock and roll is the song, without which the flash means nothing. One of the innumerable characteristics that distinguished the Beatles throughout their career and beyond was, and continues to be, their mastery of melody, their ability to create songs that resonate with listeners and, in their own way, help to change the world.
Perhaps that’s too grandiose a thought, but perhaps not: Music has always had the power to affect listeners in many ways, some tangible and others less clearly defined. Good music, even great music, has the power to charm and captivate, to wash the blues away, to make us think, to make us smile.
The Weeklings, the Beatlesque, New Jersey big-beat foursome who know all about the power of music, are Glen Burtnik, Bob Burger, John Merjave, and Joe Bellia, music veterans all. They go by the nom de plumes Lefty, Zeek, Rocky, and Smokestack, respectively. By any measure, their passion and dedication to the art of making music would tower above most practitioners’ efforts. It would not be wrong to say that they are fab.
Studio 2, the Weeklings’ second record, about to be released, follows the quartet’s first, self-titled album, affectionately known as Monophonic, which combined covers of six songs that John Lennon and Paul McCartney gave away to other artists with six Beatle-flavored originals penned by Burtnik and Burger. Studio 2 takes somewhat of a different tack than Monophonic: this time around, eight original songs share real estate with four rare Lennon/McCartney numbers not given away to other artists, none of which were released by the Beatles and are unknown to all but the most fervent Beatles fans.
Monophonic and Studio 2, both presented in mono, spring from the same DNA, even though they take slightly different approaches. What they share, more than anything else, is an intrinsic love of Beatles music, more so the sound of the group’s earlier albums than the later ones. Even the cover of Studio 2 is a knowing nod to the Beatles, affectionately modeled after the frontispiece of The Beatles’ Second Album, right down to the legend The Monophonic Sound placed at the top, the album title subhead (NEW HITS BY THE WEEKLINGS Plus 4 Rare Lennon/McCartney Songs), and the short list of featured tunes and Jem Records legend on the right.
The details count, and that counts for the music on Studio 2 as well as the wrapper it’s contained within. So it will come as no surprise that the original songs, seven of which are co-written by Burtnik and Burger (“You’re the One” is a Burger/Merjave composition), and the more or less unknown Lennon/McCartney numbers are top-notch and injected with the spirit of the early Beatles records and other musical touchstones, for an overall sound that is uniquely Weeklings-esque. The whole affair is inspired, and the effect is akin to taking a lovely walk in the park on a beautiful, warm summer’s day. Listening to these songs is nothing less than a delightful experience.
Speaking of delightful, you get to play everyone’s favorite musical game, Spot the Reference, also known as Suss Out the Easter Eggs, while you listen to Studio 2. The band has woven a good number of musical and lyrical quotes into the fabric of these songs; it’s a blast to try and uncover them. I wouldn’t propose to totally spoil the fun for you, so I’ll only note a few: the sustained piano chord at the end of the rocking “Little Elvis” not only echoes the end of the Beatles’ “A Day in the Life,” it was played on the actual piano used on that song in the actual Studio 2. (By the way, Studio 2, the album, was recorded in the actual Studio 2 at London’s Abbey Road Studios, a fact which I’ve neglected to mention so far because I’ve covered it in detail here. Lefty and Zeek talked about it at length on a recent edition of Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation, which re-airs tomorrow night at 8 pm ET; click on any of the listen links below to dig in.)
Here is another tasty Studio 2 Easter egg: The Weeklings’ take on Paul McCartney’s “Love of the Loved,” essayed most assuredly by Cilla Black, is recast as a lovely lullaby with rich vocal harmonies; it is ushered into the sound field with a recreation of the chord thrash that welcomes in “Her Majesty” on the Beatles’ Abbey Road album. And here is another one: The guitar stabs that open the unreleased Lennon/McCartney number “You Must Write” are right out of the kick off to the Beatles’ version of Chuck Berry’s “Rock and Roll Music”; the end section is a musical quote from the group’s “The Ballad of John and Yoko.”
There is more, of course–much, much more. There is the opening, mid-tempo, harmonica-rich charmer “Morning, Noon and Night”; the energetic rocker “Don’t Know, Don’t Care,” which rolls through to its conclusion like a wild, runaway train; and the lovely harmony-drenched “Melody,” which sounds like it could have been plucked from the soundtrack of A Hard Day’s Night (plus, it has a quite satisfying key change near the end, which is always a plus in my book).
Records are time capsules, audio snapshots of the years in which they were conceived. At the same time, they are also snapshots of the times that influenced them. Burtnik and Burger have studied the Beatles’ music inside and out, soaking up every aspect that made it great and everlasting. The Weeklings’ Studio 2 and, for that matter Monophonic, are not only passionate love letters to the music that continues to inspire Burtnik and Burger, but also a demonstration of how that inspiration manifests itself in their own music. The result is a wonderful, memorable experience for listeners–an experience that will last a lifetime.
Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: Every song: “Morning, Noon and Night,” “Little Elvis,” “Don’t Know, Don’t Care,” “Love Can,” “You’re the One,” “Next Big Thing,” “Stop Your Running Around,” “Melody,” “You Must Write,” “Because I Know You Love Me So,” “Some Days,” and “Love of the Loved.” Plus three bonus tracks from the limited edition cassette version of the album: “It Won’t Be Long,” “All I’ve Got to Do,” and “I’m Down.” When and Where to Get It: Beginning November 18 at the usual locations. Links to purchase this wonderful album are coming soon.
It’s the biggest promotion Pure Pop Radio has ever done because, well, The Weeklings!
The Weeklings, New Jersey’s Beatlesque big-beat combo playing original songs that echo the sweet sounds of the Fab Four’s recordings and rare Lennon and McCartney compositions, take over the Pure Pop Radio airwaves beginning this Monday, November 7 at 6 am ET. The Eight Days a Weeklingmarathon continues through Friday, November 18, the day that The Weeklings’ smashing new album, Studio 2, will be released. (Please join our Facebook event page by clicking here.)
What will you hear during the Eight Days a Weekling marathon? Here’s your official schedule; cut it out and affix it to your refrigerator and next to your Internet radio receptacle so you don’t miss a single moment:
Pure Pop Radio’s Eight Days a Weekling Marathon Schedule: Clip and Save!
Beginning this Monday, November 7 at 6 am ET, Glen Burtnik, Bob Burger, John Merjave and Joe Bellia, collectively known as the fabulous modern, Beatlesque beat combo The Weeklings will take over the Pure Pop Radio airwaves for a total of 11 toe-tapping days.
What will you be listening to, Weeklings wise? Here is everything you need to know:
* Monday, November 7, 6 am ET-Friday, November 18: Weeklings Double Shots begin airing hourly, with one Weeklings track from either the band’s forthcoming album, Studio 2, or the debut, Monophonic, plus a solo song from either Glen Burtnik or Bob Burger
* Wednesday, November 9, approximately 12 noon ET: Alan Haber’s in-depth review of The Weeklings’ Studio 2 album is posted on the Pure Pop Radio website (http://purepopradio.com)
* Wednesday, November 9, 9 pm ET: Glen Burtnik’s 1997 in-studio session with Alan Haber on the old, weekly Pure Pop Radio show is heard for the first time in nearly 20 years! Includes two live acoustic performances by Glen and lively conversation
* Thursday, November 10, 8 pm ET: Glen “Lefty” Weekling and Bob “Zeek” Weekling visit with Alan Haber on a repeat airing of Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation. The boys go in-depth on the recording of Studio 2 in Abbey Road’s Beatles sanctuary, and talk about a few of the album’s songs, which you’ll hear in glorious monophonic sound!
* Friday, November 11, approximately 11:45 am ET: Enter our Eight Days a Weekling contest to win Studio 2 CDs and an extra special surprise! Pure Pop Radio website link to follow.
Pure Pop Radio’s Eight Days a Weekling marathon, beginning Monday, November 7, features:
* Weeklings Double Shots;
* An in-depth review of The Weeklings’ upcoming album, Studio 2; * A repeat of Lefty and Zeek’s recent appearance on Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation on Thursday, November 10 at 8 pm ET;
* An in-studio live performance and interview with Glen “Lefty Weekling” Burtnik that hasn’t been heard in nearly 20 years (airs Wednesday, November 9 at 9 pm ET),
*And much more!
Preview by Alan Haber
Roll over, Beethoven and tell Tchaikovsky the news! Beginning next Monday, November 7 at 6 am ET, Lefty, Zeek, Rocky and Smokestack Weekling, the fabulous Weeklings, the hot four-piece big-beat band bursting across the universe with their soon-to-be-released, smash hit-bound album Studio 2, take over the airwaves here at Pure Pop Radio during our high-energy Eight Days a Weekling marathon, a 12-day explosion of Beatles-inspired sound.
The Weeklings‘ second album, Studio 2, recorded, as was the band’s initial long player, in majestic monophonic sound, is being released to the world on Friday, November 18 by Jem Records (the album will be available on CD, on vinyl, as a download, and, get ready…on cassette with three extra tracks. How cool is that?!).
Beginning next Monday, November 7, Pure Pop Radio, during our smashing Eight Days a Weekling marathon, will be playing all 12 of Studio 2’s tantalizing tracks as part of our hourly Weeklings Double Shots (Studio 2 was recorded in Abbey Road’s Studio 2, the historic studio in which the Beatles made their magic). During our hourly Weeklings Double Shots, you’ll hear a Weeklings track from either Studio 2 or the first, self-titled album, along with a solo track from either Lefty (Glen Burtnik) or Zeek (Bob Burger), from albums such as Glen’s Palookaville and Bob’s The Day After. Weeklings Double Shots are cool!
But that’s not all, Weeklings watchers! During the week of November 7, and leading up to the release of Studio 2 on November 18, we’ll be rocking and rolling with more big-beat fun: an in-depth review of Studio 2; a repeat airing of Lefty and Zeek’s recent big-beat appearance on Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation on Thursday, November 10 at 8 pm ET ; an in-studio live performance and interview with Glen “Lefty Weekling” Burtnik from 1997 from the archives of the original run of Pure Pop Radio shows on Wednesday, November 9 at 9 pm ET (see separate story tomorrow), and much, much more.
We’re thrilled that The Weeklings are taking over our airwaves beginning Monday, November 7 at 6 am ET. The crowds are bulging as Weeklings fans take to the streets (see photo at right) to welcome back Lefty, Zeek, Rocky (John Merjave), and Smokestack (Joe Bellia) with hourly Weeklings Double Shots, featuring tracks from their exciting new big-beat album, Studio 2, to be released by Marty Scott’s Jem Records on Friday, November 18. Don’t miss a single minute!
We’re your radio home for Weeklings excitement this November! Gather ’round, kids: It’s Eight Days a Weekling on Pure Pop Radio!
They shook with delight and didn’t want to leave! The story behind the Weeklings recording their second album at Abbey Road Studios airs three times on Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation this Wednesday, July 13 at noon, 4 pm and 8 pm ET on Pure Pop Radio. Read on for all the details…
by Alan Haber
If you’re the Weeklings, what do you do after album number one proves itself a big hit? You start thinking about album number two. You gather the boys and their suitcases and axes and such and fly across the pond and through the proverbial woods and check into your accommodations and then you walk up to the front door of Abbey Road Studios, make your way to the famed Studio Two and set up your gear and your wherewithals and plug in and belt out two or sixteen songs, the cream of the crop of which will make it to album number two, which will follow up album number one in a big way, and look out kids, here they come, walking down the street…no wait, that’s that other band.
This past June 8 and 9, Lefty and Zeek and Rocky and Smokestack Weekling,* surrounded by all kinds of authentic period gear and feet planted firmly inside one of the world’s most famous, well-known recording studios, stood in front of microphones as their adrenalin-fueled wits took charge and they recorded what will surely stand out as one of the most anticipated pop albums of the year. The Weeklings’ second album, looking good for a late-October-to-early-November release, is in the can and currently undergoing post-production work to make it the best that it can be, which is a sure thing, no doubt.
And you can hear all about it, straight from Lefty and Zeek Weeklings’ mouths when they talk to me this Wednesday, July 13 at noon, 4 pm and 8 pm ET (three times to listen!) on a very fab, very special edition of Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation. You will hear all about the Weeklings’ second album and the group’s trek to Abbey Road Studios in London, England, which swings like a pendulum do.
What was it like to record in Abbey Road’s Studio Two, where the Beatles made so much everlasting magic, or hang out in the well-appointed control room with engineer Toby Hulbert (see above photo)? How many songs did the Weeklings cut? Is this new album going to follow the structure of the first? Which equipment did they use? Was said equipment used back in the good old days of the sixties? And, last but certainly not least, what is the album’s provisional title? Lefty and Zeek have the answers!
Energized in Abbey Road’s Studio Two, the Weeklings shook with delight and didn’t, under any circumstances, want to leave, which will come as no surprise to anyone. Find out what it’s like to record an album where the Beatles stood and waxed poetic and had wonderfully brewed cups of tea by tuning into Pure Pop Radio this Wednesday, July 13 at noon, 4 pm and 8 pm ET. All will be revealed and, hey, why not say it–a splendid time is guaranteed for all.
The Weeklings are Lefty (Glen Burtnik), Zeek (Bob Burger), Rocky (John Merjave), and Smokestack (Joe Bellia).
The Weeklings | The Weeklings | Jem Recordings | 2015 |A review by Alan Haber Every red-blooded wannabe rock star gathers his or her tools accordingly: one floor-to-the-ceiling mirror; a tennis racket (real or imagined); hair aplenty (real or imagined); an audience (usually imagined); and a room-busting stereo system to provide the soundtrack to every mother’s son’s transformation from neighborhood lawn mower extraordinaire to working musician with a huge, screaming audience and a rider that makes prominent mention of dishes overflowing with brown M&M’s and red licorice whips tied in the shape of boa knots.
Whether the members of the Weeklings, who draw considerable breath from the sound of the Beatles circa 1963, 1964 and 1965, had their first encounters with try-it-on-and-see-how-they-sparkle rock star outfits and poses is not known. What is known is their collective pedigree: Lefty, who masquerades as recording artist and ace songwriter Glen Burtnik, began his career playing Paul McCartney in the Broadway production of Beatlemania. Zeek, also known as Bob Burger, has performed with McCartney, Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel, co-written songs with Burtnik and played with him in Beatle Bash theater shows. Rocky, aka John Merjave, plays in the house band Liverpool at the Fests for Beatles Fans (as does Burtnik). Ramblin’ Dave, otherwise known as Dave Anthony, makes Ringo Starr’s drumming style come alive when he picks up a pair of drumsticks and begins to bash at his kit.
The Weeklings’ tremendous self-titled, debut album on Jem Recordings–recorded and presented in sweet monophonic sound, as God and nature intended–combines six snazzy and finger-snapping Burtnik-Burger originals, written and performed in the ’63-’65 Fabs style, with another half-dozen songs that Lennon and McCartney gave away. The Lennon and McCartney songs come alive not like Frampton, but as exciting aural calling cards that demonstrate the Weeklings’ retro and shiny beat music sound. The album’s originals all sound as though they were written back in the bygone days of the early-to-mid 1960s, as well they should.
The Weeklings kicks off with the pounding, three-note-into-the-fourth start of the high-energy “Little Tease.” Cheery bop-bop-shu-wahs, a for-the-ages ooh!, energetic vocals, cymbal-heavy percussion, a middle-eight to die for, and a runaway bass line will let loose drops of sweat on your brow, set your feet a-tappin’ and your head a-bobbin’. This is the perfect album opener and introduction to beat music’s new favorite sons.
The easygoing warmth of the mid-tempo toe tapper “Breathing Underwater” spotlights Burtnik and Burger’s more romantic and McCartney-esque sides. “Though we can’t see what’s to come, I know just how it could be,” the Weeklings sing in a song about diving into a relationship head first and surviving through all of the ups and downs. Interestingly, an early recording of this song was broadcast about 18 years ago during a live telephone interview with Burtnik on the original, weekly run of the Pure Pop Radio show (note that on the cassette sent by Burtnik, the “B” in Breathing is the notification of the “B” side of the cassette). A happy cousin to the Beatles’ “Hold Me Tight,” Burtnik and Burger’s driving “Mona Lisa” spirits along as a beat-driven number that begs to be played at an old-fashioned dance party or on the floor of the original Cavern Club.
What is evident is the joy the group projects as they disappear inside these lovingly crafted songs. Burtnik, Burger, Merjave and Anthony play through the Lennon and McCartney covers with heightened spirit and, I’ll bet, wide smiles on their faces. “One and One is Two,” originally released in 1964 by the Strangers with Mike Shannon, is a masterfully rendered, infectious miracle (watch the official video below); “I’m in Love,” the Fourmost’s 1963 top 20-charting record, is given an emotionally-charged reading by the Weeklings with all manner of period-sounding guitar runs. Even “If You’ve Got Trouble,” a Ringo Starr Time number intended for the Help! soundtrack, shines in all its glittery glory in the hands of the Weeklings, with a “Tomorrow Never Knows” foundation and slightly over-modulated guitar lines straight out of the “Ticket to Ride” playbook.
With Lefty, Zeek, Rocky and Ramblin’ Dave at the helm of the good ship Weeklings (catch them live at your local music hall!), the 12 songs on this hall-of-fame worthy album pop with maximum pizzazz. It doesn’t get much better than this. So, clap your hands and count ’em off: one, two, three…fawh!
The Weeklings’ self-titled album drops anywhere and everywhere on March 10.
Watch the Weeklings in the studio in the official video for “One and One is Two”!