New on Pure Pop Radio 4.19.18: Gilbert O’Sullivan’s “Where Did You Go To”

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alan headshot from schoolBy Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Spins and Reviews | 4.19.18

Gilbert O’Sullivan | “Where Did You Go To” | Gilbert O’Sullivan, 2018

All it takes is a song, not necessarily new but often so, to bring me back to my youth, back to my days listening to records in my bedroom, one after another after another still, closing my eyes and feeling each note and change and anticipating, because that’s what you did, the song’s fade. I swear that I could pick up the tone arm of my Symphonic all-in-one turntable without even peering ever so slightly through my closed eyelids and drop it at the beginning of a record to start the listening process all over again with hardly any effort at all and, it should be said, 100-percent accuracy.

gilbert o'sullivan 2018 albumSuch was the memory that overtook me after listening to the lovely first single from the brand-new, self-titled album from veteran singer-songwriter Gilbert O’Sullivan, releasing August 10. “Where Did You Go To” finds Gilbert in peak form, sounding all the world like he always has, singing warm melodies atop his singular piano playing and, this is the most important part: sounding like no one else in the whole wide world.

As “Where Did You Go To” was ending, and the sustained organ note at the close was coming to a full stop, I shut my eyes and remembered the feeling of listening to Gilbert’s first album, the one with “Alone Again (Naturally),” which I’d gotten from the Columbia Record Club. I became obsessed with that album, with that big hit single that graced the top spot on Billboard’s Hot 100, that was all over the radio back in the day.

But it was another song on that first album that captured my imagination even more. “Houdini Said,” a bonanza of melody and clever, stream-of-consciousness wordplay about anything and everything (and then some) seemed somehow otherworldly, yet completely relatable. I continue to play it frequently today. It is, as are so many of Gilbert’s songs, part of me.

I look forward to Gilbert O’Sullivan, to a dozen new songs that will undoubtedly capture my imagination in the same way that most all of the artist’s work has. In anticipation, I will close my eyes and sing to my inner self the opening lines of “Houdini Said”: “Doctor in love who is above/All others close to you…”

black box Where to Get It: Pre-order Gilbert O’Sullivan in various bundle configurations in Gilbert’s store. Pre-order CD, vinyl or cassette at Amazon. Pre-order the digital download and/or purchase “Where Did You Go To” immediately at Amazon.

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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.

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I Love that Song! #16: “Your Smiling Face” by James Taylor

alan headshot from schoolBy Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

It’s just five or maybe six notes ascending and pounded out to merge into traffic at the start, a way of getting to what amounts to a chorus of a sort, except it’s more a verse, really, and there really isn’t a chorus to speak of in this uptempo pop song that is all about love.

james taylor your smiling face 45 labelNo, there really isn’t a chorus to be heard in James Taylor’s uptempo charmer “Your Smiling Face”–just verses and bridges, building blocks sliding in and out of each other as an entrancing melody glides almost effortlessly above them. It’s quite a bold choice, eschewing choruses instead of a more conventional pop music songwriting approach, but it’s a solid choice because those five or six notes signal the start of the show and put the audience in their seats.

The opening song on James Taylor’s JT album, his eighth release, almost 41 years old, is a classic piece of melodic pop songwriting and performance, however you look at and classify the art. It’s under three minutes long and doesn’t waste a note, it’s supremely catchy and it’s played to perfection by ace musicians familiar to anyone who read liner notes or Rolling Stone, for that matter, back in the day–guitarist Danny “Kootch” Kortchmar, drummer Russ Kunkel, and bassist Leland Sklar, of whom more in a moment.

“Whenever I see your smiling face/I have to smile myself/Because I love you/Yes I do/And when you give me that pretty little pout/It turns me inside out/There’s something about you baby/I don’t know,” Taylor sings to start the song proper, and it’s a mouthful, I know, but all of those words are necessary to start the show.

“No one can tell me that I’m doing wrong today/Whenever I see you smile at me,” he sings at the song’s end. It’s that universal feeling that is the ultimate panacea; it’s what you think and say when just the right person stops you in your tracks on a day that seems purposeless and soulless because of this or that happening and makes you smile, telling you that everything will be alright.

It’s all about that smiling face. Who doesn’t love to meet one of those? So Taylor sings about the smiling face effect within the framework of a catchy, upbeat pop song that has not a single whiff of a chorus. Such a feat of legerdemain!

What puts this song over the top and makes it the perfect album opener are the individual elements that combine to bring the song to life. Taylor’s sweet and measured vocal, not to mention but hey, let me do it anyway, his on-the-mark falsetto (“No one can tell me that Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii’m doing wrong today”) is the top draw here, but even still, one can’t discount Russ Kunkel’s dutiful drumming, short on flash but long on what the song needs–a steady beat, although there is a swishy roll in there just because.

Holding court with his fluid, inventive bass lines is Leland Sklar, who breaks out of what the song probably expects of him starting at about a minute and 28 seconds in; he punctuates his bass notes with short, sharp stabs, coming in right before Kunkel’s snare hits. And then Sklar is off to the races; his bass appears louder in the mix and, at the two minute and 10 second mark he channels Paul McCartney, sliding up and down his fretboard for just two blessed acrobatic, melodic seconds, but those two blessed seconds nearly make the whole song.

james taylor jt album coverAs the song fades out, confident in having fulfilled its mission as JT’s album opener and table setter, you are feeling as though the song has ended prematurely, or you at least want to hear it again, as I have since first hearing it upon its release.

And I have heard it again and again while I was writing this piece. I have loved looking under the hood at the various elements that make the song tick. It’s fun to poke around to see how a verse is not a chorus even though it kind of is, and so on.

It’s nice also, sometimes, to meet up with a smiling face and, you know, smile back.

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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:

 

New on Pure Pop Radio 4.3.18: Secret Friend’s The Divorce Album

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By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Spins and Reviews | 4.3.18

secret friend divorce albumSecret Friend | The Divorce Album (2018)
This third Secret Friend album, whose vibe falls somewhere between 2013’s Linus of Hollywood-produced Time Machine and 2015’s sound expansive Sleeper, could well be the ultimate breakup record, but with a pop twist. In any case, it’s terrific.

Which is to say that these songs cut right to the bone lyrically while also sounding happy and peppy and poppy. You might also say that there are two sides to Secret Friend pal Steven Fox’s new songs. Indeed, there are two sides to them–each song (there are six in all) appears as both a Fox production and as produced by another artist painting with a differently colored brush.

With the two approaches, one labeled “Mine” and the other “Yours,” you get different takes on the art of the breakup and snapshots of the forlorn from familiar pop voices who anchor Fox’s latest creations. Welcome, then, the supporting talents of Rooney’s Taylor Locke, Jellyfish’s Roger Joseph Manning, Jr., Jimm McIver, Willie Wisely, Linus (of Hollywood) Dotson, Christian Nesmith, Wyatt Funderburk, Karla Kane, and a mysterious female vocalist mysteriously known as “K.O”. Welcome, also, Rich Hinman, whose lyrical pedal steel playing elevates every song he plays on.

“Every songwriter has at least a few break-up songs tucked away,” Fox writes in the accompanying digital booklet’s introduction. Within The Divorce Album are just a few of them, including the opener, “Castaway,” a bright burst of ’80s pomp, happily sounding like a cross between early Wondermints and Haircut 100. Powered by Taylor Locke’s spirited vocals and electric guitar, and Roger Manning’s inventive keyboards, this tale of an unloved and unhappy drifter pining for companionship is the perfect opener.

The differing versions of “Difficult” perfectly illustrate The Divorce Album’s “Mine” and “Yours” concept. The “Mine” version, sung with fervor by Jimm McIver, and played by, among others, Roger Manning and Linus Dotson, barrels forward as a questioning of a partner’s attitude (“Why do you have to be so/Difficult”) and a sad assessment of faulty character: “You can be sentimental/When you’re not so judgmental/You can be fascinating/When you’re not calculating/I will be damned if I knew/What I did to deserve you.”

The “Yours” version of “Difficult” turns the tables on the song’s concept with a decidedly softer sound and a rewritten lyric espousing the female point of view. This, and there is no other way to say it, lovely version, co-written by the Corner Laughers’ Karla Kane and Steven Fox, takes a more mannered approach to sizing up the situation: “When I get your attention/You call me a drama queen/But you’re thriving on the tension/Of me wondering what you mean.”

Of course, “Castaway” and “Difficult” only scratch the surface of the power of The Divorce Album. And it should be said that not every song on this record chronicles the art of the breakup. In fact, “Undeniably Blue,” a beat-driven pop-rocker anchored by Roger Manning’s vocal and instrumental prowess, Reade Pryor’s insistent drumming, and Rich Hinman’s fluid pedal steel, offers a welcome, positive outlook–a lifeline for the sad and lonely: “Undeniably you will see/The world is quite forgiving (Yes it is!)/Even when you’re down/The sky above is undeniably blue/With a little time you’ll see/The end of undeniably blue.”

secret friend steven foxSteven Fox, who plays instruments on every one of this album’s songs, is a bit of a musical maverick, in that each of his albums exists on a different plane, even as they are connected as repositories for beautifully written, melodic songs. I always look forward to his offerings, and marvel at their ability to surprise and delight in equal measure. You, I suspect, will too.

Steven Fox guests tomorrow night at 9 pm ET on Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation. (9 pm ET on Pop that Goes Crunch Radio.)

black box Where to Get It: A wide selection of online retailers. Links to all are here on the album’s website. Dig in!

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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:

 

New on Pure Pop Radio 1.16.18: XTC’s Colin Moulding and Terry Chambers Return as TC&I

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By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio alan 5 small

Spins and Reviews | 1.16.18

TC&I - Great Aspirations (cover)TC&I | Great Aspirations (2017)
On this delightful, ruminative and playfully earnest four-song EP, Colin Moulding, clever, melodic bassist, singer and warmhearted songwriter, ex of XTC, continues his earthy exploration of human exploits and foibles, joined by equally ex-XTC drummer and brother-in-arms Terry Chambers.

Moulding’s observant treatises, examining life’s travails amidst lovely melodies powered by his tender singing and playing and Chambers’ meaty percussive bottom end, ring true as they offer topics for discussion and hints of next, explorative and mindful steps on the road to sorting things out. Slotting comfortably into Moulding’s body of work as essayed joyfully during his XTC years, these songs beg sisters, brothers and cousins more on future EPs and albums.

“Scatter Me” plays its pure melodic pop card at the start with percussive piano and Moulding’s familiar, yearning vocal, quickly topped by his pumping bass and Chambers’ assured drums. The narrator’s plea for his ashes being scattered into the open air celebrates life (“Then live on/Bang a gong/Sing a song/For the land of the living”) and posits the possibility of sticking around in some ethereal fashion to underline the notion of some measure of afterlife in and around this mortal plain (“And if one day it cuts up rough/I’m at your window/Be careful where you tread/It might be me swept in”).

TC&I - Photo credit Geoff Winn 2

(left to right) Colin Moulding and Terry Chambers

The playful “Greatness” begins with a heavenly-sounding statement of purpose (“Greatness/It’s where I wanna be”) at the start of a journey toward achievement, ostensibly in the arts. Name checking such high artistic watermarked figures as Hitchcock, Spielberg, Gershwin and McCartney, the narrator expresses hope that his parents will be able to experience his cultural ascent (“When I’m sold a lemon/I’ll just make lemonade/Show my daddy I’m no dope/As he waves me down the road”). Aspiring to greatness, however, is hardly assured, although commitment and confidence are collectively half the battle (“Just you wait”).

The deterioration of the playgrounds and lands of neighborhoods as so-called progress marches on is explored in the upbeat pop-rocker “Kenny.” And in the spoken-word-over-faintly-military-backing closer “Comrades of Pop,” harsh realities are conveyed to musicians aspiring to ascend to the top of the pop charts. “Comrades of pop turn away/In love and war all is fair,” Moulding notes. But the title of this number is hopeful–comrades, after all, being brothers-in-arms in sync with each other, always join together with their eyes on some sort of prize.

Great Aspirations comes at a time of increased visibility and group hugs for XTC’s legacy, what with the documentary celebration This is Pop and Mark Fisher’s lovingly-assembled, exhaustive book The XTC Bumper Book of Fun for Boys and Girls currently finding love and affection among fans. Moreover, this EP sits as proof positive that melodic pop music is alive and well in the hands of a couple of pros by the names of Colin Moulding and Terry Chambers.

black box Where to Get It: Burning Shed

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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:

 

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

hall of fame
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. *

cherry parkes man of the moment cover-small

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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