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. Welcome to the number one home for coverage of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe.
Handmade Pop Tunes logo, crocheted by Pure Pop Radio Station Manager Janet Haber
Tonight’s fourth edition of Pop Tunes, Alan Haber’s popular deejay show on Pure Pop Radio, is off and running at 9 pm ET (6 pm PT) with a whole lot of melodic pop lovin’, hooks galore, and catchy melodies that sing!
Kicking off with a “hairy” blast from the past from the Cowsills, tonight’s show delivers a set of “beautiful” songs from such artists as the Rascals, Parthenon Huxley, and Pop 4. An extended set with five classic songs from Emitt Rhodes and artists that have covered his tunes is next; Emitt’s great cover of the Bee Gees’ “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart,” released last year on Record Store Day, is first out of the box.
Pugwash leads a powerhouse pack of new and nearly-new songs now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: Scot Sax and Susie Brown, the Universal Thump and Nick Piunti are also spinning in this set. A set of songs that were playing when Pure Pop Radio first signed on three years ago is up next, featuring the catchy sounds of David Myhr, Phenomenal Cat, Fun of the Pier, and Graham Gouldman.
The weekly Beatle Blast, from Stackridge, and a blast from the past from Glen Campbell close out this edition of Pop Tunes. Alan hopes you’ll join him for another 75 minutes of the greatest melodic pop in the universe, topped with a healthy smattering of deejay patter! See you on the radio!
Alan Haber’s Pop Tunes is a cool deejay show playing the greatest melodic pop music from the ’60s to today. The show airs every Monday night at 9 pm ET (6 pm PT) on Pure Pop Radio, and repeats on Thursday afternoons at noon ET (9 am PT) and Sundays at 3 pm ET (noon PT). Please like us on Facebook by clicking here.
New releases, you will not be surprised to note, have once again been making their way into the sumptuous studios of Pure Pop Radio. We’re frankly up to our ears in catchy melodies and harmonious harmonies, which means we had better get to telling you about some of the latest adds to our ever-growing playlist, now nearly 7,500 songs strong.
So, here we go. Feast your ears on the following fine platters, songs from which are now playing in rotation:
Pugwash | Play This Intimately (As If Among Friends) With this wonderfully-titled album, one of the most treasured melodic pop bands in the world is finally face to face with its first internationally released studio record, and what a gloriously lovely record it is. From the joyous, electric guitar-fueled, melodically-rich, blessed-with-a-surprising-psychedelically-charged-bridge “Kicking and Screaming” and the intoxicating, beautifully sung ballad “The Fool I Had Become” to the bouncy “Hung Myself Out to Dry” (with more than a hint of ELO in the background vocals) and the dramatic, Roy Orbison-styled emotional ballad “All the Way from Love” (which begins with a slowed down drum part, a la the always fashionable “Be My Baby”), it is readily apparent that this is the disc melodic pop fans will be spinning on constant repeat.
Featuring guest turns from the likes of Ray Davies, Andy Partridge and, yes, Jeff Lynne, Play This Intimately (As If Among Friends) is without question Thomas Walsh and company’s finest hour, a hall-of-fame-worthy record, and one of this year’s best releases. We’re playing 10 of the 12 songs on offer, including “Kicking and Screaming,” “Lucky In Every Way,” “Feed His Heart With Coal,” “Just So You Know,” “The Fool I Had Become,” “You Could Always Cry,” “Hung Myself Out to Dry,” “Silly Love,” “Oh Happy Days,” and “All the Way from Love.” Quite the treasure.
Tommy Keene | Laugh in the DarkA strong collection of tuneful medium- and fast-paced pop rockers, Laugh in the Dark announces itself as a top-flight release more than three decades after 1982’s Strange Alliance, which will come as no surprise to Keene fans. Is there a heritage artist that’s hitting the catchy song bullseye in a more spot-on fashion? This album has it all: the hard-hitting “Out of My Mind,” the tuneful toe-tapper “I Want It to be Over Now,” the acoustic-meets-slide charmer “Go Back Home,” and many more. We’re playing these three numbers in rotation, along with “Last of the Twilight Girls,” “All the Lights are Alive,” and “I Belong to You.” No surprise that this is another great Keene platter.
The New Trocaderos | Thrills and ChillsTough as nails, with a decidedly melodic pop heart, this meeting-of-the-musical minds between the Connection’s Brad Marino and Geoff Palmer and the equally dynamic Kurt Baker thrills, chills, rocks and pops–it’s an album that keeps listeners on their toes. Hitting hard with driving rockers one minute and softer, pop gems the next, this album never fails to delight. Of course, we’re primarily drawn to the less manic numbers like the mid-tempo delight “Crazy Little Fool” and the Byrdsian “Like an Angel,” but we also break out our air guitars for the early rock ‘n’ roll raver “Business to Tend To” and the Rolling Stones-inspired “I’m So Bad,” which rocks with this finely-honed quip: “Well the babysitter/Felt so bitter/Trashed my name/All over Twitter.” We’re playing the aforementioned modern-day classics, plus “She Don’t Know,” “Love Anymore,” and “Midnight Creep.” These songs will collectively shake your windows and rattle your walls. Absolutely essential. Don’t miss this one.
The Allrightniks | Two Places at One TimeRoanoke, Virginia’s own band of pop-rocksters brightens up the musical landscape with this new release that draws on influences far and wide. Meeting somewhere in the middle, the Allrightniks deliver an album’s worth of catchy songs that place strong melodies and hooks above all else. We’ve been playing this band for awhile; we’re happy to be able to add more songs of theirs to our playlist. Now playing in rotation: “Nice to Know,” “I Can’t Wait,” “The One,” “Vacation,” “You Can’t Be Right,” “Today is the Day,” and the title cut. Allright!
Scot Sax and Suzie Brown | Our Album Doesn’t Like You EitherInstantly charming and inspiring, this husband and wife duo cook up an alluring stew of roots-pop, rock, country, gospel, and, yes, doo-wop that will be hard to resist when it comes time to tally up the winners in this year’s best-of sweepstakes. The airy, countrified “Heaven Forbid,” sung by Scot, bops along with more than a hint of Paul Simon from his There Goes Rhymin’ Simon days; the entrancing “Jury’s Still Out,” sung by Suzie, mixes country, gospel, pop and a dash of doo-wop; and the gorgeous ballad “Two Babies,” also sung by Suzie, bathes itself in the joy of contentment and love that family brings. These songs, and “Good Everything,” “I Could Write a Book,” and “Everybody’s Following their Dreams” are now playing in rotation. We love this album, and you will too.
The Jigsaw Seen | “Have a Wonderful Day” For whatever reason, we’ve been remiss in reporting on the addition of this classic slab of rockified pop, drawn from a Cream-drenched well. So here we make amends: The Jigsaw Seen does it again, to no one’s surprise. Dig the lovely bridge, swimming in ’60s haze. Love, love, love it.
Herb Eimerman | Five Dimensional Man We’ve been playing the great Herb Eimerman’s music on Pure Pop Radio almost since the old, weekly show began in 1995. We instantly fell in love with his sweet, lyrical sound, and have frankly been in love with it ever since. Which is why we were thrilled to find that Herb has released a brand-new EP, produced by the equally great Joe Algeri. So greatness ensues and, to prove it, we’re playing four songs in rotation, like the gentle, Roger McGuinn-esque folk-pop of “Believe that I Do,” heard during last week’s Pop Tunes deejay show; and the fragile ballad, “Something.” Also spinning: “Live to Tell” and “Sentimental in Berlin.” Essential.
(l to r) Steve Somerset and Dave Gregory
Steve Somerset’s Shadow Kabinet | “The Acid Test” This delicious nugget, written by our old friend Steve Somerset and finished off on an upright piano in Birmingham, England, is a late-inning surprise. Steve sent his demo to ex-XTC man Dave Gregory, who created the gorgeous, Beatlesque arrangement. Cue Steve, who sang the lead and backing vocals and, voila, mission accomplished. This song sings; we’re proud to have it on our air. Top of the pops.
Miami Dan and the Hayes Street Band | “Broken Shells” This lovely song, which will be included on Miami Dan’s next album, is a gentle breeze of a tune with sweet lead and backing vocals and a beautiful melody. It’s the perfect song for the late summer, and we’ve got it playing in rotation.
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We’ve also added music that we’ll be reporting on next week, including nearly the entire new album from Dana Countryman (Pop 3! Welcome to My Time Warp!); the lion’s share of a terrific album from Nick Bertling, recorded under the band name Bertling Noise Laboratories; a fun trip back to the ’80s from Dan Pavelich; and new songs from Jules Shear (“The Words”), the Bye Bye Blackbirds (“Let Your Hair Fall Down” and “These Blues”), Laurie Biagini (“Try Our Luck Today”), Clay Bell (“Mood Ring” and “The Weather in Our Way”), Prix (“Ordinary Life”), Tommy Lorente (“B.B. (Tu Me Plais Tant)” and “Un Certain Savoir Faire”), and Lee Gregory.
Until then, enjoy the melodies and harmonies on Pure Pop Radio, the original 24-hour-a-day Internet radio station playing the greatest melodic pop music from the ’60s to today. Click on one of the listen links below to enjoy!
Back in the mid 2000’s, we started a popular website called buhdge. buhdge, with an accent on the “h,” was designed to support the weekly Pure Pop Radio Show on WEBR in Fairfax, Virginia, and for many years, it did. For various reasons, however, it lay dormant for periods of time–some short, some regrettably long, and in March 2012, it ceased to be updated at all. It sorta, kinda morphed into a dormant, online catalog of melodic pop music reviews, audio interviews and articles. After nearly two years of inactivity, it will be going away forever, having done its time entertaining at least millions.
Because the content on buhdge is worthy of a second, or even a third, look, we have decided to post some of the best of the reviews and such here. The audio interviews will be ported over to our PodOMatic podcast page. This has, in fact, begun and will continue throughout this year.
So, here’s the first of a goodly number of reviews that first appeared on buhdge. First up: our review of Pugwash’s 2008 album, Eleven Modern Antiquities, as fine a record as Thomas Walsh and company have put out. Enjoy the review, and add the album to your collection if, for some odd reason, it doesn’t already claim pride of place.
Pugwash’s Eleven Modern Antiquities
Pugwash | Eleven Modern Antiquities (1969 Records)
I remember reading a review of Pink Floyd’s The Wall in which the reviewer described the Floyd as a band that never throws an idea away. The idea of a creative force so keenly tuned into their vision being able to use their every idea to bring that vision to life instantly intrigued me. And today, thinking about the idea of using ideas in such a complete way, I thought of Thomas Walsh, the Dublin songwriter whose ideas and vision fuel the musical engine that is Pugwash the band.
I believe, as the reviewer of The Wall believed about Pink Floyd almost 30 years ago, that Walsh is an artist who never throws an idea away, for he knows a good idea when he hears one. Even more, I believe that Walsh couldn’t throw an idea away if he wanted to, because his ideas are that good. Walsh is a pop pundit who fuels his ideas with his deep-seated love of the pop form, whose admiration of the classic pop sound brought forth by bands like the Move and the Electric Light Orchestra and XTC knows no bounds, who lives and breathes what lies at the heart of great pop music and knows how to mix all of that up and create songs steeped in ideas that sing with melodies and harmony and the odd musical quote, and has the good sense, thank God, to share it all with the world.
This fourth Pugwash album, appearing three years on from the richly-defined Jollity, is a high-water mark in a career defined by such milestones. The title of the album, Eleven Modern Antiquities, is ironic, for how can “modern” creations be antiquities, “relics or monuments… of ancient times,” as the word is defined by Merriam-Webster? Walsh suggests that he is a songwriter writing pop songs today, not as if he were plying his trade in, say, the 1960s or 1970s. His is not a retro art, but a modern art that references and is informed by what has come before–a contemporary art, if you will, that is clearly created in the present. If you get a chill up your spine listening to Walsh’s music–if you’re of a certain age or you’re simply wired to swoon under the spell of a clever chord change, sumptuous melody, or a genuinely inspired lyric–you owe it to yourself to become immersed in this absolutely wonderful music. Top of the pops, in fact.
These eleven modern antiquities are really of a piece, so well do they fit together and alongside each other. The first single, “Take Me Away,” a bright and cheery-sounding, straight-ahead pop song of immense charm, is informed musically by Jason Falkner’s expressive, chunky rhythm and otherwise guitars, and bandmates Keith Farrell and Johnny Boyle’s spot-on musicianship, not to mention Walsh’s beautiful voice, an instrument most certainly to treasure.
Treasure, also, Walsh’s particular, knowing way with a lyric. If the catchy and quite appealing music is the yin of “Take Me Away,” the words are the yang. Walsh sings of a person who doesn’t figure the fairness of those “rich in love” coming in last. It’s “…an answer not to be found,” he sings, leading the person to pray for someone to take him away. To the place where questions have answers? Walsh doesn’t venture a guess, but it’s an important question at the heart of a great song.
Taking stock of one’s own self seems to be a recurring theme in Walsh’s writing. A Psychology Today article titled Love Needs, posted on Yahoo! Health, discusses “…the difference between limerance and love.” “Limerance,” the article states, “is the psychological state of deep infatuation.” But it isn’t love. Is it a component of love, or does love transcend limerance? It’s another question for the ages, deftly handled by Walsh in the song “Limerance,” against a hypnotic, dreamy, piano-infused arrangement.
In the epic closer, “Landsdowne Valley,” Walsh recounts a childhood spent playing, sliding on “snow and ice every winter’s day,” only one of the grand adventures that one can look back on when taking stock of one’s growing up. “I played in Landsdowne Valley every single day,” Walsh sings. “I feel those voices are calling me back.” And then, the turn of phrase that so populates Walsh’s work: “My mind’s achilles heel.” The music is sumptuously realized, mellotrons expressing the depth of memory, until the song implodes on itself and finally collapses under a cacophony of sound, the sound of memories colliding in the haze of remembrance. It’s a remarkable song, and a remarkable achievement.
But all is not implosion on Eleven Modern Antiquities. Two songs, co-written with XTC’s Andy Partridge, stand as two of the highlights of an album steeped in them. The jaunty, wildly imaginative “At the Sea” affectionately recounts the imagination of youth at the seaside, the plans formulated that are rained upon for the purpose of spoiling the fun, at which point kids will be “posing with hankies” on their heads, “sipping our tea at the sea.” The sprightly theatricality of the music, complete with whistles and kazoos and a manic acoustic guitar solo by one Mr. Partridge, bring the song to a plateau that is a joy to behold. It’s the kind of catchy tune that, eyes closed, will transport you happily away.
“My Genius,” another Walsh-Partridge co-write, is one of this album’s most affecting treasures. A nostalgia-tinged, supper club pop song with a sweet melody, about a person whose “genius is out of a bottle,” “My Genius” features pretty background vocals by Walsh and the Divine Comedy’s Neil Hannon, who also plays keyboards throughout this album, and neat percussion played by the incomparable Nelson Bragg. Dig the instrumental section, which pairs Hannon’s delicate piano lines with a decidedly-sixties, Beatlesque guitar part.
If there is a centerpiece to this collection of modern antiquities, it is the grand, destined-for-a-Broadway-musical ballad, “Here.” Following on the heels of the gorgeous folk-pop number “Cluster Bomb,” featuring the deftly-performed strings of the Section Quartet, arranged by the invaluable Dave Gregory, late of XTC, “Here” is a simply luminous creation, driven by Hannon’s emotional piano, near to Walsh’s heart of hearts. Here, he wrestles with a question similar to that posed in “Take Me Away”: What do you do when what you long for is just out of reach? To wit, the chorus: “Ever wanted someone but your mind is telling you you’ll fail? Ever needed loving but you come up short again… again… again.”
Special mention must be made of Dave Gregory’s genius that shines like the brightest of lights on “Here.” Gregory’s guitar solo and haunting string arrangement, once again brought to lively life by the Section Quartet, reflect Walsh’s love of all things ELO. This nod to what has come before becomes an integral part of the song’s whole and contributes mightily to what will surely be looked upon by those in the know as a standard for the ages.
That’s what you get with these eleven modern miracles, these eleven modern antiquities that so resonate with the human condition. The whole of this album is a remarkable achievement that will be followed by more remarkable achievements from one of contemporary pop music’s most talented artists. That he speaks to the masses, to the hearts of one and all, is an idea whose time has come. And not a moment too soon.
March 31, 2008
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