Pure Pop Radio’s Hall of Fame Inducts Fountains of Wayne’s Utopia Parkway (Atlantic, 1999)

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By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio
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fountains of wayne utopia parkwayWhat Is It?
Pure Pop Radio’s Hall of Fame celebrates unparalleled work in the field of melodic pop music. All kinds of melodic pop are eligible for induction, from soft-pop to power-pop and all points in-between. Country-pop, bubblegum, art-pop and the like are welcome. Singles, EPs, and albums are eligible from the 1960s to today. The only caveat is an inductee must emphasize melody above all else.

Our First Inductee:
Fountains of Wayne’s Utopia Parkway (Atlantic, 1999)

Our first inductee is an album that basically drew the blueprint for all melodic pop albums that followed it. Fountains of Wayne’s Utopia Parkway’s 14 songs, chiming with lovely, catchy melodies, lots of guitars, sumptuous singing, et al., are populated by all sorts of eclectic characters, whose captivating stories are told in the catchiest of musical terms. The bar is set high; each of these songs aims for lyrical and melodic excellence and hits the bullseye every time.

A concept album of sorts, Utopia Parkway can be seen as a snapshot of life in the five boroughs of New York, or in the areas surrounding your town if you prefer, because, really, the themes pursued within this album are fairly universal, even as some of the songs refer to actual living, breathing landmarks and concern people types whom you and I might well know.

Liberty Travel; Coney Island; the Hayden Planetarium; the Long Island Expressway, or as it’s better known, the L.I.E., or as it’s even better known, The World’s Largest Parking Lot; the Jersey Shore; and Long Island Sound get name-checked along the musical journey down and around Utopia Parkway. And then there are the people that populate the area.

Back cover of Utopia Parkway booklet

Back cover of Utopia Parkway booklet

Under the Hood
Take the title song, which takes place on Utopia Parkway, a big area in Queens, New York. The song tells the story of an underachiever who’s “…never turned from boy to man.” The narrator is a budding music star who pledges to staple fliers everywhere to get his “name in front of everyone.” In the end, though, he admits that “they’ll never know what hit them when” he’s “gone.”

The similarly underachieving, clueless-in-love sap of the classic “Red Dragon Tattoo” takes listeners on a virtual tour of his stated objective: to get the girl. He boasts about getting “engraved,” but only after getting drunk. He pines to get a Red Dragon Tattoo slapped on his person, which he believes ought to do the trick. In fact, he seems convinced of it, kinda-sorta, although he does question his viability: “I’m fit to be dyed/Am I fit to have you.”

The Red Dragon Tattoo is going to transform this guy into an alluring figure. “Will you stop pretending I’ve never been born/Now I look a little more like that guy from KorN,” he sings to his intended. “If you came a little bit closer/You’d see it isn’t painted on.” And, by gum, it’s real!

Also real are the emotions felt and communicated by songwriters Chris Collingwood and Adam Schlesinger. The subject of the heartfelt yet sad “Hat and Feet,” a Warner Bros. cartoon come to life, is reduced to being “a spot on the sidewalk/A mark on the street.” And he couldn’t bear to confront the issues at hand: “I started running when I saw it coming/It got faster and louder til I took a powder.”

The unflinchingly sad “Troubled Times” chronicles a relationship whose clock has run out, the end of which is at least guardedly copacetic (“Maybe one day soon it’ll all come out/How you dream about each other sometimes/With a memory of how you once gave up/But you made it through the troubled times.” I cry while listening to this one all the time.

James and Jason, Kirk and Lars, in no particular order

James and Jason, Kirk and Lars, in no particular order

Hold the Gloom
All is not gloomy along Utopia Parkway, however. The kids barrelled into their parents’ car in the goofy “Laser Show” “come from Bridgeport, Westport, Darien/Down to the Hayden Planetarium,” where Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon would play as images were thrust upon the walls surrounding them. But these kids might be after bigger prey: “We’re gonna sit back, relax, watch the stars/James and Jason, Kirk and Lars,” they proclaim. And then it’s time to go home: “We’re gonna make our way cross the galaxy/And then we’ll head back home on the L.I.E.” If they can get out of the “parking lot,” that is.

I always thought the girl in the peppy “Lost in Space” was just a well-meaning hippie chick–a little off-center, perhaps. And that’s the way the lyrics portray her, but I always held a bit of caution, thinking that there might be more to her aloofness. A serious undercurrent to an otherwise playful song? Or could she possibly be a lovable pterodactyl or an alien from Mars? After all, according to the song, “…she walks the earth/But she’s not from the human race/She’s a pretty little thing but she’s lost/Yeah she’s lost in space…”

The happy, guitar-centric power pop number “It Must Be Summer” sounds like it’s a celebration of sun, surf and sand, but it’s really a jaunty lament of the girl that got–no, went–away. “…it must be summer/Cause I’m falling apart.”

The album closer, a somber number called “The Senator’s Daughter,” is all about the noise that permeates our conversations. All sorts of people go about their business, from teenage girls to soccer moms, and talk, talk, talk, without the messages getting through: “He say/Sha la la la la la/He say/Sha la la la la la.”

brilliant_mind_cs2A New Look
This isn’t the first time I’ve thought and written about Fountains of Wayne’s Utopia Parkway; it was the subject, on January 19, 2016, of the first entry in my I Love that Album! series (read it here to possibly get some more insight). Obviously, that wasn’t the end of my fascination with this incredible, topically dense album.

Albums such as Utopia Parkway demand your attention and pay off dividends. Through its songs, you learn a little bit more about life in general and, perhaps–just perhaps–a little bit more about your life. Of course, you could just tap your feet and play air guitar as the songs roll, but that would be shortchanging this album’s copious rewards.

Which is why this album–Fountains of Wayne’s Utopia Parkway–is the first melodic pop work to be inducted into Pure Pop Radio’s Hall of Fame.

The Deets

Fountains of Wayne/Utopia Parkway (Atlantic, 1999)

Personnel: Chris Collingwood, lead vocals, guitar, keyboards; Adam Schlesinger, vocals, bass, guitar, keyboards; Jody Porter, guitar, vocals; Brian Young, drums, percussion

The Songs:
1. Utopia Parkway
2. Red Dragon Tattoo
3. Denise
4. Hat and Feet
5. The Valley of Malls
6. Troubled Times
7. Go, Hippie
8. A Fine Day for a Parade
9. Amity Gardens
10. Laser Show
11. Lost in Space
12. Prom Theme
13. It Must Be Summer
14. The Senator’s Daughter

Producers: Chris Collingwood and Adam Schlesinger

black box Where to Get It: Amazon, iTunes

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Pure Pop Radio’s signature shows, Alan Haber’s Pop Tunes Deejay Show, playing the latest and greatest melodic pop songs from today and across the decades, and Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation, the premiere Internet melodic pop talk show, air weekly on Pop that Goes Crunch Radio.

pop tunes disc smallin conversation new graphic blueListen to the Pop Tunes Deejay Show on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8 pm ET (two different shows every week); In Conversation airs every Wednesday night at 9 pm ET. Don’t miss a minute!

Tune in to Pop that Goes Crunch Radio by clicking on the following snazzy-looking button:

 

I Love that Song! #15: “Rockin’ My Life Away” by Jerry Lee Lewis

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

jerry lee lewis 1979 album coverIt’s one of those records that just sounds right. It’s 1979, and Jerry Lee Lewis, with Bones Howe in the producer’s chair, is working his sweaty way through a Mack Vickery romp, banging mercilessly on the keys, a-thump-thump-thumpin’ until his fingers are sore, singing some perfunctory lyrics and assumedly ad-libbing some choice look-at-me-why-dontcha cracks in a kind of wink-of-an- eye way, all for the benefit of platter spinners and air 88s players everywhere.

When I was working country radio back in 1979, “Rockin’ My Life Away” was a favorite record to spin, even when it wasn’t coming up in the daily rotation. I would cue up the Killer’s self-titled Elektra album and, usually out of a station jingle that ended cold, baby, let ‘er rip. I would pretend to be Jerry Lee, beating my fingertips sore, banging my fingers on top of the console, making believe it was me doing those insane piano runs. One of the ad salesmen at the station was a big fan of that record; he would stand outside of the studio and watch me through the glass, a big smile planted on his kisser. And I felt obliged to perform in my own Killer-lite way.

“Rockin’ My Life Away” is a fun number, even if it’s just a sketch of a tune–a basic framework, if you will, of a rock and roll workout, which is all Jerry Lee needs to bend and twist it to suit his purpose, which is to let loose with wild fills that mark his territory. So, he gets to doing the deed, at 1:03 when he sings “Watch me now” and goes off on his way; at 2:10, after warning the band (“Look out now…”); and at 3:00 (“I’ve gotta have one more time! Yeah!”). Look out black keys and the white ones too, he seems to be saying. Here I come!

Along the way, as he makes not-nice with his piano, he makes a play for longevity (“My name is Jerry Lee Lewis and I’m durned sure here to stay”), states the obvious (“She knows how to roll, the Killer knows how to rock”), and, once again, tells you what you should already know (“The Killer’s top class”). Jerry Lee had earned his stripes long before 1979, of course, and earned his shot at celebrating his stature here.

“Rockin’ My Life Away” is an exciting performance that rocks and rolls like a runaway train daring the tracks to keep him on the straight and narrow. It’s over in a breathless three minutes and 27 seconds and it’s chock full of Killer-esque pomp and swagger. It’s also one of those songs the Internet lyric sites have a whole lotta trouble with, but never you mind. Jerry Lee’s just bein’ Jerry Lee, if that helps.

And here’s Jerry Lee being Jerry Lee:

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Pure Pop Radio’s signature shows, Alan Haber’s Pop Tunes Deejay Show, playing the latest and greatest melodic pop songs from today and across the decades, and Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation, the premiere Internet melodic pop talk show, air weekly on Pop that Goes Crunch Radio.

pop tunes disc smallin conversation new graphic blueListen to the Pop Tunes Deejay Show on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8 pm ET (two different shows every week); In Conversation airs every Wednesday night at 9 pm ET. Don’t miss a minute!

Tune in to Pop that Goes Crunch Radio by clicking on the following snazzy-looking button:

Cherry Parkes’ Basement Tapes: A Pure Pop Radio World Premiere

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* Listen to the world radio premiere of Cherry Parkes’ previously-unheard ’60s classic, “The Man of the Moment,” tonight at both 8 and 9 pm ET!
Thanks to the Charlatan Record Cartel. *

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Cherry Parkes | “The Man of the Moment”
(Charlatan Record Cartel, 2017)

“These were in my basement.  Maybe you can do something with them.”

They were words one might expect to hear at a yard sale from a been-in-the-neighborhood-for-decades resident who had finally cleaned out his basement, littered with bric-a-brac and mementos from a life lived generously. “These were in my basement. Maybe you can do something with them.” “How much for this chest of drawers?” “Five dollars. A bargain, if you ask me.” A deal made in the blink of an eye, a treasure successfully transferred to a new home.

Except in this case, “these” were a set of master tapes found abandoned in a basement in Tacoma, Washington that were sent to the progressive Charlatan Record Cartel. All eyes and ears, for that matter, have been transfixed on Jayson Jarmon’s outfit since this past March, when Charlatan began releasing heretofore unheard recordings made by Pacific Northwest practitioners of the pop music art.

charlatan records logoWhereas previous Charlatan releases have come from contemporary artists such as the Sunday Brothers, this latest release is a blast from an unknown past. The treasures received were “badly deteriorated four-track master tapes marked simply as ‘Cherry Parkes, October 1966’ and were accompanied by several photos, a handkerchief marked ‘AP,’ and a gig poster describing a Friday night show at Federal Way’s long defunct Spanish Castle club,” according to the label. And what of the significance of the personalized handkerchief? A mystery likely to remain unsolved, sadly.

After baking the 50-year-old tapes in what we can only assume is the Charlatan lab rats’ version of  the famous childhood kitchen appliance known as the Easy-Bake Oven, and mixing and mastering to improve sonic clarity, Charlatan staff auditioned the four Parkes tracks. What they heard was nothing less than magical. What happened next literally and figuratively knocked the socks off their feet, clear across the floor, until they ran smack into Charlatan’s cherry wood-paneled walls.

cherry parkes-smallAmanda “Cherry” Parkes’ introduction to the world is the first song released from Charlatan’s momentous find. “The Man of the Moment” is reminiscent of the best of Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s output, but also calls to mind various James Bond movie theme songs and classic sides waxed by female vocalists of the 1960s, such as Vicki Carr and Eydie Gorme. One listen to the melody-infused track, about a woman who chooses a spouse who is, perhaps, less than savory and maybe not the right catch (“And do you think she’ll ever wonder how it came to this?/And will she willingly exchange a wedding vow/With such a piece of work as this?”) is all it takes to understand how much gold has been dropped into Charlatan’s considerable lap.

Pure Pop Radio is proud to be presenting the world radio premiere of Amanda “Cherry” Parkes’ “The Man of the Moment” tonight at 8 and 9 pm ET. The track will be available for purchase this Friday, June 30, on Charlatan’s Bandcamp page (check back for the link). It’s not often that a track of such import is imported into our playlist; we urge you to drop everything this evening and hear for yourself this magical musical missive.

Cherry Parkes’ “The Man of the Moment” is but one of hundreds of new and new-to-you songs that have recently been added to the Pure Pop Radio playlist. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for a slew of reviews of just-released classic recordings from such artists of the moment as Richard X. Heyman, Bill DeMain, The Naturals, Carpenter Caswell, and The Junipers’ Robyn Gibson.

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Still Whimsical After All These Years: Ray Paul’s “I Need Your Love Tonight” is Top of the Pops

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Ray Paul | “I Need Your Love Tonight” | This is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio Volume 4
(Kool Kat Musik) 2017

ray paul i need your lovveJust one month shy of a year since the release of Whimsicality, Ray Paul’s glorious, rock ’em, sock ’em return to recording, which in July of 2016 we called “one of this year’s best albums… a delicious mix of originals and well-chosen covers,” Ray returns with another, so-very-catchy slice of pop, and it’s a doozy.

“I Need Your Love Tonight” mines both the sweet and crunchy sides of the Raspberries sound (with just a hint of The Grass Roots) for four minutes of indisputable proof that this heritage artist, whose work passionately promoting indie pop artists is well-known and treasured, is top of the pops.

Ray’s signature, booming bass and strong vocals (stronger than ever, actually), Terry Draper’s drums, tambourine and piano, and Bill Nadeau’s crunchy guitars distinguish “I Need Your Love Tonight,” co-produced in grand style last month by Ray and Terry at Terry’s Swamp Manor studio in Oak Ridges, ON, Canada. The track is certain to be one of the highlights of the much-anticipated This is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio Volume 4 compilation, being released by Ray Gianchetti’s Kool Kat Musik label.

Pure Pop Radio is proud to be the first independent radio outlet to play “I Need Your Love Tonight” outside of Dana and Carl’s This is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio show. The song is now gracing our air and playing in hot rotation. We dig us some new Ray.

black box Now playing on Pure Pop Radio
black box Where to Get It: Coming soon

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Bill DeMain’s Gorgeous, Piano-Based Magic

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Spins and Reviews | 05.02.17
By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

A Pure Pop Radio Exclusive:
Bill DeMain | “Honey Bear” and “Leroy Boy” (from the forthcoming album Transatlantic Romantic, 2017)

bill-demain-photoLast December, I had the great pleasure of adding to the Pure Pop Radio playlist a gorgeous cover of the Beach Boys’ “Wendy,” essayed in grand style by Swan Dive’s Bill DeMain. This glorious cover, stacked rich with harmonies atop a muscular, baroque base, will appear on Bill’s forthcoming, much-anticipated solo album, Transatlantic Romantic. Piano-based magic lies ahead.

Also appearing on Transatlantic Romantic are two songs that Bill has allowed me to play first on the radio: “Honey Bear” and “Leroy Boy.” Color all of us lucky. “Honey Bear” is a lovely meeting of gold-standard influence, blending a distinct Randy Newman/Harry Nilsson vibe with Van Dyke Parks ambiance, pedal steel guitar, played by Jim Hoke, horns, and a sprinkling of Beach Boys’ style percussion. Written with Larry Goldings, this has standard written all over it. It’s beautiful.

“Leroy Boy” takes its cue from Todd Rundgren’s iconic “We Gotta Get You a Woman” (Bill had originally thought to write a sequel to the song, but opted instead to wax poetic from personal experience). Rundgren fans will dig this easy-going number, which draws on the sound of Philadelphia soul; fans of Carole King will be similarly entranced. There’s a bit of a Steely Dan vibe in here, as well. There’s also a beautiful string arrangement topping the bill. You really couldn’t ask for anything more. Or delicious.

“Leroy boy, where you been all this time?” Bill sings as “Leroy Boy” gets out of the starting gate. Well, the answer is it’s Bill DeMain we’re talking about, and he’s been fashioning what promises to be one of the best albums of the year. Certainly, with “Leroy Boy” and “Honey Bear,” and the wonderful cover of “Wendy,” Bill is off to a great start.

black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio

black box When and Where to Get It: Coming soon…

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New on Pure Pop Radio: Dana Countryman’s Girlville! Sparkles!

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Spins and Reviews | (Originally posted 1.10.17)
By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Dana Countryman’s Girlville! New Songs in the Style of Yesterday’s Hits
(Teensville) 2017

dana countryman's girlvilleAnd now for something completely different? Not completely, actually, because this heartfelt, loving tribute to the sounds of 1960s girl groups shares the same depth of commitment and heart that Dana Countryman put into his much-loved pop songs trilogy, concluded in 2015 with Pop 3! Welcome to My Time Warp!.

The only tangible difference here is that the 19 songs on offer are sung by an array of talented female vocalists chosen by Dana because they could match him heartbeat for heartbeat and bring to life his wonderful, period-esque songs, written from the perspective of a 16-year-old girl living in the early 1960s.

Both familiar and perhaps new-to-you vocalists such as Lisa Mychols, Swan Dive’s Molly Felder, Pop 4’s Andrea Perry, Kelly Harland, Lisa Jenio, Julie Johnson Sand, Kathy Hettel, and Tricia Countryman, along with Tana Cunningham and Mary Chris Henry, beautifully communicate the joy that has been woven by Dana and his co-writers into the fabric of this musical homage to the catchy sounds of a comparatively simpler time.

The characters who populate these songs have nothing more in mind than being smitten with boys, being jealous of girls who like the boys they like, true love, loving a Beatle, and twisting at Granny’s house. A simpler time? Most certainly, and certainly a period of their lives during which everything is full of wonder, even if it doesn’t always feel that way.

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(left to right) Dana Countryman and Klaatu’s Dee Long

A sense of wonder permeates the proceedings throughout this delightful album, for which Dana plays most of the instruments and sings backup vocals (guests include the artist’s good luck charm, Klaatu’s Dee Long). And the highlights are many, such as the Phil Spector-y toe-tapper “Chemistry,” sung by Kathy Hettel in the guise of a girl bored in chemistry class until she partners up with the boy who sits behind her for a class project. The pair falls in love, holds hands and sits side-by-side, learning about, yes, chemistry.

“Proud to Be His Girlfriend,” sung with honest emotion by Lisa Mychols, is the simple story of a girl who is proud to be her guy’s gal. It’s a gorgeous mix of ’60s Brian Wilson and Carole King innocence. “My Heart Belongs to One Boy,” sung beautifully by Lisa Jenio, should rule the AM radio charts, and if it were around back in the good old days, it probably would have.

I’ve always felt that Dana’s music would have ruled the charts back in whichever day you might choose to focus on. The reason is simple, I think: His mantra when writing songs is always to entertain, to brighten the listener’s day. You know that feeling you get when something you hear, whether it’s a song on the radio or coming out of your home stereo or computer speakers, takes root in you in just the right way and you feel a certain type of tingling? That’s what happens when you connect with popular art that moves you.

Dana’s music moves me and always has–I’ve certainly written enough about it and played so much of it on the radio. Call it the Countryman Effect or simply accept it into your consciousness, but accept it without question and let it be a part of your life. Girlville! New Songs in the Style of Yesterday’s Hits is a joyful experience that you and I and everyone else will be remembering and enjoying for a long time to come.

black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: The entire album: “Girlville,” “It’s Not Your Fault,” “I’ve Run All Out of Tears,” “My Heart Belongs to One Boy,” “How Do You Know When You Love a Boy?,” “I’m in Love with George Harrison,” “Bom Sh Bom Bom,” “Pretty Good Sign,” “Because I Love Him,” “Chemistry,” “Jealous Girl,” “One Last Dance Together,” “Love Till the End of Time,” “Little Shy Boy,” “Proud to be His Girlfriend,” “Twist Party at Granny’s House,” “I’ll be Good For You,” “Little Bitty Snowflake,” and “Johnny Still Loves Me”
black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp, Kook Kat, iTunes

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I Love that Album! #2: The Roches (s/t) (1979)

by Alan Haber alan 5 small

the rochesIt seemed to fall from out of the sky, so different was it from everything else, its descent to earth slow and determined and harmony bound, as if protected by angels who knew that it was a gift from heaven. So it was, and on into the marketplace it went.

The Roches, Maggie, Terre and Suzzy, clearly a collective gift so pure and honest and true, recorded their first album as a trio with Robert Fripp, who produced the self-titled collection at New York’s Hit Factory in “audio verité,” with engineer Ed Sprigg at the controls. Instrumentation was spare throughout, with only acoustic guitars, synthesizer, bass, triangle, and shaker supporting the sisters’ lovely lead and harmony close-miked vocals, positioned up front where they clearly belonged. These are intimate performances, beautifully realized.

Released in 1979 on Warner Brothers, The Roches was like nothing that had come before in the rock era. It wasn’t rock and it wasn’t roll; it wasn’t folk or strictly pop but, rather, a meeting of the genre minds with glorious harmony singing and lovely melodies. The 10 songs were pretty and clever and, really, pretty clever. Written by the three sisters both separately and as a trio, they were, and continue to be, powerful specimens.

maggie and terre roche seductive reasoningMaggie and Terre had come into view earlier in the seventies; they sang backup on Paul Simon’s There Goes Rhymin’ Simon in 1973, on a wistful song called “Was a Sunny Day,” a lazy kind of summer, slice of life character number. Two years later, the duo released an album called Seductive Reasoning, a collection of astounding songs mostly written by Maggie and with the cleverly-titled “If You Empty Out Your Pockets You Could Not Make the Change,” which was produced by Simon.

phoebe snow against the grainAnd then 1979 beckoned, and The Roches was released. Maggie’s “The Married Men,” a song about women hanging on to the words of cads who promised their secret crushes everything and, in the end, delivered nothing everlasting, was one of the highlights of the album; the song was recorded by Phoebe Snow on her Against the Grain album a year earlier.

But there were other astounding songs on offer. Certainly the opener, “We,” a wry musical introduction to the sisters, was a blast of a melodic calling card, a two-and-a-half minute how-they-got-here song that spelled it all out, including admissions that the Roches didn’t give out their phone numbers, and lived in New York City by way of “deepest New Jersey” (“We better get [outta] there/Before the shit hits the fan”).

Maggie’s glorious “Hammond Song” and “Quitting Time” were highlights, too; the former about keeping from going down the wrong path, and the latter about living the life that makes you happy (“You can go south in winter/Be what you are a goose/Honk all the moon out the ocean/Your clothes can fit you loose”). Clever wordplay was clearly in evidence.

Terre’s “Mr. Sellack” tells the story of a person who pleads with the owner of a restaurant to give her her job back, even though he might not remember her (“O Mr. Sellack/I didn’t think I’d be back/I worked here last year/Remember?”). Melodically strong and full of rich vocal harmony, the lyrical wordplay is clever: “Waiting tables ain’t that bad/Since I’ve seen you last/I’ve waited for some things that you would not believe/To come true.”

train carSuzzy’s atmospheric, practically Hitchcockian “The Train” charts the travels of a narrator who is trying to make it through, but has to endure obstacles (“I spy on the big guy/Sitting next to me/He’s drinking two beers/And reading the New York Post/Trying not to get in my way/Everybody knows the kind of day that is”).

the roches nurdsThe Roches was followed by the otherworldly Nurds in 1980, a different kind of album stacked full of classic songs such as Terre’s examination of the inner psyche, “My Sick Mind,” and Suzzy and Terre’s hysterical, tongue-planted-so-firmly-in-cheek-it-hurts “The Death of Suzzy Roche” (in which the battle for top dog in the laundromat is settled with comically violent results). A sterling, a cappella rendition of Cole Porter’s “It’s Bad for Me” provided, perhaps, some much-needed balance.

The Roches’ rich, natural vocal blend is a collective thing of beauty, just as it was on the sisters’ debut album, which sounds as fresh today as it did 37 years ago. The Roches continue to sound pure and honest and true.

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