Reviews: 3.5.19: The Big Believe Meets Tania, Kenny Herbert is the Luckiest Man in the World, and the Well Wishers are Feeling Fine

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

The Big Believe | “Tania Was a Truth Teller”
b/w “Girl With Cassettes” (2018)

A paean of four-on-the-floor Blondie in 2018? That’s the engine driving the intrigue-laced “Tania Was a Truth Teller,” the first of the two top tracks that make up The Big Believe’s late-2018 pop blast; both were mixed in you-are-there stereo by Fritz Catlin of the band 23 Skidoo. (Dig the pop art cover by Peter Quinnell.)

Meeting by the bridge in the dead of night, Tania has the answers to the questions at hand. But can she be trusted? “Tania was a truth teller,” the narrator notes. “She liked to dress like a feller.” She lives “on and on and on and on,” but is she the real thing? “I thought I saw Tania on the high road/But it was just the sunlight in my eyes.” Hmm… A mystery in song, and a catchy one at that, featuring The New Pornagraphers’ Todd Fancey on guitar.

Fancey also features on “Girl With Cassettes,” a fast, fizzy and loud pop-rocker about the girl who dazzles her way to point b from point a with nary a care (“She drives through the red/She stops at the green/Is blinded by everything in between”). She’s the girl “in the green t-shirt” who’s got her eyes transfixed on the one who can make things happen: “Oh if only they knew what a boy can do/To the girl who collects cassettes, cassettes, cassettes.” OMD meets Duran Duran in this grand, imaginative romp.

The Big Believe, aka Amanda Thompson, is working on the band’s second album, Juggernaut, to be released later this year. You’d better…believe we’re psyched.

Where to Get It: 7-inch with mp3 download: The Big Believe’s website; iTunes, Amazon

Kenny Herbert | “The Luckiest Man in the World” (2019)

I have been absolutely delighted and enriched to have the music of Kenny Herbert in my life for going on 15-plus years. His melodic prowess is virtually unequaled. Everything he releases speaks directly to my heart.

“The Luckiest Man in the World,” just released, is another classic creation from up Edinburgh, Scotland way–a beautifully realized mid-tempo ballad about the love he shares with his beloved wife Caroline. With music surrounding them, they are charmed, and so is the listener.

Produced by Bob Heatlie and featuring Rab Howat singing backgrounds, “The Luckiest Man in the World” expresses Kenny’s thoughts through clever lyrics, such as this clever verse invoking the Chairman of the Board: “Feel like the luckiest man in the world/
I’ve got my music and my beautiful girl/Feel like Sinatra playing the Sands/I’m gonna love you like no other man.”

The cover art for this truly wonderful song, among Kenny’s best, says it all, really; it depicts Kenny and Caroline in dreamy silhouette and was lensed this year in Liverpool, home of the Fab Four.

Enjoy a lovely, live acoustic version of “The Luckiest Man in the World,” performed by Kenny at the water’s edge in St. Fillans in Scotland’s central highlands:

Add this song to your collection? By all means.

Where to Get It: iTunes

The Well Wishers | “Feelin Fine” b/w “Second Hand News” (2019)

Jeff Shelton’s outfit returns with a snappy, poppy, upbeat, guaranteed-to-please popper that keeps the beat going with pure joy on its mind. “Feelin Fine” raises the stakes with a very R.E.M.-ish feel, a catchy chorus, and some widescreen harmony touches. The Wishers’ take on Fleetwood Mac’s “Second Hand News” is basically a reverent tip-of-the-hat to one of those Lindsey Buckingham earworms that takes up permanent residence in there. Must’ve been fun to record.

Where to Get It: Bandcamp

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Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio is the premiere website covering the melodic pop scene with in-depth reviews of new and reissued recordings, and a wide variety of features. We’ve been around since the first weekly Pure Pop Radio shows, which began broadcasting in 1995, and the 24-hour Pure Pop Radio station, which ended last August.

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

Win Something Cool from Pure Pop Radio!

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Or should that read somethings? Because we’ve burrowed deep into the Pure Pop Radio prize closet for a three-pack of melodic goodness on CD, and you can win. It’s Friday giveaway time, people!

First up in our prize pack is Caper Clowns’ latest album, their sophomore collection entitled A Salty Taste to the Lake. Eleven tasty melodic morsels, including top tracks like the poptastic “Sacre Bleu,” tell the tale of a band that is turning heads from sea to shining sea.

Next up for offer, we have America’s Heritage: Home Recordings/Demos 1970-1973, which presents embryonic versions of such top tracks as “Riverside” and “Ventura Highway.”

And finally, we’re offering up the CD reissue of Laura Nyro’s classic Eli and the Thirteenth Confession, which features Nyro classics like “Sweet Blindness,” “Eli’s Comin’,” and “Stoned Soul Picnic.” Three demos complete the package.

You can be the winner of this Pure Pop Radio prize pack by filling out the form below and sending it to us so that it reaches our mailbox by tomorrow, Saturday, February 23, at 2 pm ET. US residents only. Type “Prize Pack” in the Comment field, and don’t forget to include your email address where noted.

Good luck! Coming up next week here on the Pure Pop Radio website: Reviews and more!

 

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Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio is the premiere website covering the melodic pop scene with in-depth reviews of new and reissued recordings, and a wide variety of features. We’ve been around since the first weekly Pure Pop Radio shows, which began broadcasting in 1995, and the 24-hour Pure Pop Radio station, which ended last August.

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

Reviews: 2.14.19: Valentine’s Day Special: I Heart Bertling Noise Laboratories’ … into thin air

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Bertling Noise Laboratories | … into thin air (2019)

Multi-instrumentalist Nick Bertling, who makes and records the noise in these laboratories, is a marvel. His previous work, covering favorite pop and rock songs on 2017’s A Little Touch of Bertling in the Night and waxing his own creations on 2015’s the flehmen response, stands proudly beside his instrumental backing for Andy Bopp and Gretchen’s Wheel’s Lindsay Murray. Nick is back with a four-song EP, EPs being the more common musical currency in these wackadoo times.

This new collection brings together four songs–three very Nickian interpretations of tunes from other artists and one rollout of a brand-new tune written by Bertling himself. It’s a different way to express creativity–Nick’s way of putting his stamp on other people’s envelopes, so to speak.

Nick’s new song, “Perfect Paragraph,” was written in Chicago and recorded at home, where all four of … into thin air’s songs were captured in perpetuity. This song really is pretty perfect, just like the paragraph referenced in the title, a pretty piano ballad beautifully sung in which the perfect moment is in the spotlight and the influence of Todd Rundgren can clearly be heard.

“Whisper Softly” was the opening, popping salvo on Myracle Brah’s 1998 album, Life on Planet Eartsnop. Nick basically sticks to writer and performer Andy Bopp’s original plot, although he does up the ante with a more pronounced drum beat. “Awry,” a cover of an Aimee Mann-type song from Gretchen Wheel’s 2017 EP, for which Nick provided some percussion, undergoes some reinvention and is now cast as a weightier alternative number, shot with sound effects and an electric guitar solo composed of sometimes stretched and bent notes.

“As One Again,” a midtempo ballad painted with full-on Rundgren colors, has an interesting history. It was originally essayed by Nick and
Chris Catalfo in the late 1990s. Building on Chris’s previously-recorded keyboard part (all that remained from their efforts), Nick finished the song. The song is Chris’s, the recording Nick’s. And it’s a beaut.

It continues to be my pleasure to be able to put the Pure Pop Radio spotlight on melodic pop’s great practitioners. Nick Bertling is certainly one of them, and … into thin air is his latest release.

I heart Bertling Noise Laboratories’ …into the air.

Where to Get It and Listen: Bandcamp

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Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio is the premiere website covering the melodic pop scene with in-depth reviews of new and reissued recordings, and a wide variety of features. We’ve been around since the first weekly Pure Pop Radio shows, which began broadcasting in 1995, and the 24-hour Pure Pop Radio station, which ended last August.

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

Reviews: 2.7.19: Caper Clowns and Sons of Morning

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Caper Clowns | “Second to None” b/w “Verboten” (2019)

The hits just keep on coming! The fourth single from Caper Clowns’ fantastic sophomore long-player, A Salty Taste to the Lake (one of our Favorite Records of the Year: Stars of 2018), is a double dose of delight. The album’s catchy, uptempo popper, “Second to None,” is supported by the previously-unavailable “Verboten,” a truly astonishing slice of pop complexity composed of three distinct sections, all circling a decidedly Beatlesque-by-way-of-the-Rembrandts beacon. The first section lays all of the song’s catchy cards on the table; it’s followed by a lovely, wordless, 30-second bridge, and the third piece of the puzzle, similar to the first but, perhaps, a bit sweeter.

Caper Clowns’ b-sides continue to marvel, in much the same way that their a-sides do. Odense, Denmark’s favorite sons continue to prove that they can do no wrong.

Where to Get It: Amazon (Releases February 11)

Sons of Morning | “Cold and Blue” b/w “Evangeline” (Big Stir, 2019)

Sounding as if they were plucked from the set list of a band playing school dances in the late 1950s or early 1960s, Connecticut popsters Sons of Morning’s latest songs are of a piece. “Cold and Blue” is a dreamy ballad about hopeful, forever love, and “Evangeline” is a rather stark statement of amour.

The 11th in the ongoing series of digital singles being released by the fine folks at Big Stir, this is pop balladry like it used to rock the house. Savory, sweet joy.

Where to Get It: Purchase and preview at Big Stir Digital Singles

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Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio is the premiere website covering the melodic pop scene with in-depth reviews of new and reissued recordings, and a wide variety of features. We’ve been around since the first weekly Pure Pop Radio shows, which began broadcasting in 1995, and the 24-hour Pure Pop Radio station, which ended last August.

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

Reviews: 1.29.19: Rogers & Butler, and Coke Belda

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Rogers & Butler | Diana Dors (Zip, 2019)

Edward Rogers teams up with Smash Palace’s Stephen Butler for a smashing four-song EP full of rock and pop swing, anchored by the pretty title song, a love letter to the English actress Diana Dors, “forgotten to the past.”

Rock and pop collide in the mid-tempo “Seven Hour Man,” which features a nifty psych-infused instro section, and “Witness Tree,” a toe tapper about guilt and innocence and the truth that lies in between that sounds like a second cousin to Wings’ “Deliver Your Children.” The big number–the should-be radio hit–is the closing, catchy pop-rocker “Possibilities,” about letting colors bleed into a black-and-white view of the world in order to see the light.

Guitars are crisp and up-front throughout this EP; melodies are catchy, and the Smithereens’ Dennis Diken supplies the sturdy beat. Solid stuff.

Where to Get It: Amazon (releases on February 8)

Coke Belda | “Can I Stay With You” (2018)

It’s always a great day when Pure Pop Radio favorite Coke Belda releases one of his magical recordings. Until his next original collection of tuneful pop songs, we have this sweetly-realized cover of Nick Garrie’s “Can I Stay With You,” which originally appeared on Garrie’s classic 1969 album, The Nightmare of J.B. Stanislas.

That Coke turns Garrie’s tune into something that sounds like it could have been nailed by the Bee Gees should come as no surprise–Coke released a wonderful collection of Gibb brothers covers on Futureman in 2017. Snap this up pronto; it’s a free download. And, as you will hear, it’s wonderful.

Where to Get It: Bandcamp

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Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio is the premiere website covering the melodic pop scene with in-depth reviews of new and reissued recordings, and a wide variety of features. We’ve been around since the first weekly Pure Pop Radio shows, which began broadcasting in 1995, and the 24-hour Pure Pop Radio station, which ended last August. Welcome to your number one home for coverage of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe from the ’60s to today.

Reviews: 1.16.19: Berlin Horse Rides a Psych Pop Road

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Berlin Horse
After The Headrush (2018)
First off, the question shouldn’t be what comes after the headrush, but rather what exactly is the headrush? And the answer? It’s simple, really: the headrush is what you get listening to this outstanding collection of songs from Brit Adam S. Leslie, working primarily on his own (save for drumming from Simon J. Turner). You’re not likely to know Mr. Leslie before now, but you will.

This mix of superlative psych-tinged, folk-peppered pop comes under the nom de plume Berlin Horse for reasons unknown but that most likely have to do with the aforementioned headrush. Speaking of a headrush, Mr. Leslie, back in the altogether heady days of Pure Pop Radio the radio station, put together a single, smashing hour-long program, manning the board and the microphone, and that was unfortunately it.

Adam S. Leslie (aka Berlin Horse)

Adam reenters our universe so many years later with this 12-song headrush of an album sporting so many highlights it’s hard to pick a favorite. Well, they’re all favorites, aren’t they? Well again, if they’re not right here and now, they soon will be.

Our favorites–our standout picks to click–are the very melodic Andy Partridge-meets-early-Pink Floyd “Lucidity Hazard of Celebrity,” brought to life with a variable, inventive arrangement–complete with a few brief sound effect side trips and spoken word bits–that swirls around the listener’s head. Introduced by a gaggle of giddy youngsters, it’s a marvel. “Have You Ever,” our second favorite, is a short, sweet uke flower blooming before your ears that brings to mind some of Donovan’s catchier confections.

And there is more, of course, from the Bo Diddley-meets-Buddy Holly organ-fueled stomper “Coming Up the Stairs” to the atmospherically sweet instrumental “Electric Bataleur,” spiced with backwards guitar and deft electric and acoustic guitar playing. (A bataleur, according to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, is “a short-tailed African eagle.” And from that you can plan your next flight of fancy.

Released in the waning days of 2018, After the Headrush will likely and fairly quickly be followed by a sequel; Leslie is already hard at work on that eventuality. Meantime, snag a copy of this masterwork at the ever-popular Name Your Price dollar amount and, well, you’re welcome.

Where to Get It:  Bandcamp

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Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio is the premiere website covering the melodic pop scene with in-depth reviews of new and reissued recordings, and a wide variety of features. We’ve been around since the first weekly Pure Pop Radio shows, which began broadcasting in 1995, and the 24-hour Pure Pop Radio station, which ended this last August. Welcome to your number one home for coverage of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe from the ’60s to today.

Reviews: 1.10.19: Addison Love’s Energetic Two-Tune Single

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Addison Love
cover“Endless” b/w “Unsolicited Phone Calls” | (Big Stir Digital Single #10, 2018)
The youthful Orange County, California singer-songwriter builds on his growing reputation as an ace popster (his album Thoughts on Lunch has made pop people sit up and take notice) with this energetic two-tune single that gives the word breathless a whole new meaning.

Imagine you’re a determined locomotive tootling downwind toward your destination and you can’t keep your pace level… That’s how you’ll feel listening to these two vigorous tunes, each boasting varied tempos and stuffed with imagination on fire.

Addison Love

“Endless,” an uptempo kind of twisted relationship song, and “Unsolicited Phone Calls,” a clever melodic narrative about dealing with those pesky folks who just know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you need enhanced health insurance and the mother of all wants, something else, blast into your listening room with passionate delivery.

You’ll dig the clever musical doodads delivered in both songs, such as the double-time (at least!) electric guitar rave-up and lead vocal gymnastics in “Endless” and the push-button dialing sounds in “Unsolicited Phone Calls” that play melody lines. And let’s not forget “Unsolicited Phone Calls”‘s snappy opening, a zippy intro that recalls the beginning to the Beatles’ “Get Back.”

This concluding 2018 entry in Big Stir Records’ series of digital singles is a catchy keeper. You’ll love Addison Love’s latest.

Where to Get It:  Big Stir Digital Singles (third entry on page)

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Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio is the premiere website covering the melodic pop scene with in-depth reviews of new and reissued recordings, and a wide variety of features. We’ve been around since the first weekly Pure Pop Radio shows, which began broadcasting in 1995, and the 24-hour Pure Pop Radio station, which ended this last August. Welcome to your number one home for coverage of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe from the ’60s to today. Happy New Year!