The Zen of Off Brand Soda


The Doctor Is In

Greetings all.
This will be a short one today.
This week has been crazy busy, and after work today I have to run home, shower and then drive up to Brooklyn to DJ, so I expect to be exhausted for most of the weekend.
As I was wasting time this AM, I happened upon a chart listing the caffeine content of a wide variety of sodas. As I am a prodigious abuser of this most legal of chemical life enhancements, my interest was piqued.
Well, after registering an initial level of shock that my chosen poison (Diet Mountain Dew) was not at the top of the list, the lotus unfolded a little bit more when I scrolled down to view the other categories of soft drink, where my tired brain was jolted back onto the tracks by a veritable cornucopia of wildly named off-brand sodas.
I’ve always gotten a chuckle at the sorry lack of imagination that is apparently at work when big chains “create” their own knock offs of Dr. Pepper, especially WalMart’s Dr. Thunder. However, I had no idea that the faux-Doctor industry was so widespread.
Take a look at the list below and marvel at the field of unaccredited physicians crowding the shelves in the race to quench your thirst.

Diet Dr. Wham
Dr. Wham
Pibb Zero
Pibb Xtra
Diet Dr Pop
Dr Pop
Dr K
Diet Dr K
Dr Topper
Dr Publix
Dr Bob
Mr. Pibb
Diet Dr Bob
Dr Thunder
Dr Chill
Diet Dr Thunder
Dr Chek
Diet Dr Chek
Dr Lynn
Dr Perky
Diet Dr Lynn

Personally, I’m the most intrigued by Dr. Perky, which I’m guessing comes with a nipple instead of the standard cap.

The real treat for me was the list of Mountain Dew knock offs, which reads like a bulletin from the DEA on newly created, high-powered strains of marijuana and/or Ecstasy.

Diet SunDrop
Vault Citrus
Faygo Moon Mist
Chek Kountry Mist
Ramp Red
IGA Spring Mist
Publix Citrus Hite
Mountain Chill
Chek Red Alert
Mountain Holler
Mountain Yeller
Clover Valley Citrus Drop
Sam’s Mountain Lightning
Chek Diet Kountry Mist
Mountain Lion
Laura Lynn Mt. Moon Drops
Big K Citrus Drop
Big K Diet Citrus Drop

Not much of substance I know, but something to mull over while you’re grilling, chilling, but hopefully not illing.

Have a great weekend.




The Montanas – That’s When Happiness Began


The Montanas

Listen – That’s When Happiness Began – MP3

Greetings all.
I hope everyone had a mot excellent weekend, and the beginning of a new week finds you ready for some fuzz.
Today’s selection has long been a favorite song of mine, as well as yet another unsolved musical puzzle.
I first heard ‘That’s When Happiness Began’ back during the 80’s garage revival days as performed by a mid-60’s LA group called the Grains of Sand (I thought it was on one of the ‘Highs In the Mid 60’s’ comps but research reveals that to be mistaken). I fell in love with the song, and it became a staple on mix-tapes (remember those, kids?) for a long time.
Then (there’s always a “then” isn’t there?) one of my Anglophile pals hepped me to the version of the song you’re downloading today, that being the one by the Montanas.
The Montanas were denizens of the Beat era who persisted on into the days of Freakbeat. They had some hits in the UK, but never really hit it here in the states (though they did have records issued here on Warner Brothers and Independence).
Anyway, as is often the case, I noticed that the song had been written by neither the Grains of Sand nor the Montanas, but by the Addrisi Brothers, a name that was familiar to me. I didn’t realize why until I dug a little deeper and discovered that they had written ‘Never My Love’ for the Association.
I assumed then that they must have recorded the original version of ‘That’s When Happiness Began’, so I started to look for it.
This proved to be a fruitless search. Despite the fact that the Addrisi Brothers had a recording career, starting with a string of 45s for Del Fi records in the 50’s and on into their own soft rock hits in the early 70’s, it appears that they never recorded ‘That’s When Happiness Began’ (at least for public consumption).
How the song got to the Grains of Sand and the Montanas is a mystery, as is which of those bands recorded it first.
My suspicion is – and if you know different please drop me a line – that the song was making the rounds as a publisher’s demo, and both the Grains of Sand and the Montanas got a hold of it separately (I think the GOS version predates the Montanas, but as it was released on the tiny Valiant label, I don’t think the Montanas grabbed the record and decided to cover it).
Either way, both versions are rife with kick-ass-ery, with the Montanas winning out by a nose, if by nose you mean a wild fuzz guitar solo.
While the Grains of Sand is a powerful slice of West Coast garage pop, the Montanas kick up the energy level significantly, dragging the song into Freakbeat territory.
I’m not going to go into a detailed definition of what Freakbeat was (because there’re probably a bunch of anoraks out there who are just waiting to explain to me exactly how I’m mistaken), but I will say that the high energy, ever so slightly psyched-out vibe of the Montanas recording is a pretty fine example thereof.
There is a comp of all the Montanas singles available in reissue. I’m not sure if anyone is currently offering the Grains of Sand version (though it did appear on the original Nuggets LP set).
I hope you dig it.


Buy – The Montanas You’ve Got To Be Loved – at

Beau Brummels – When It Comes To Your Love


The Beau Brummels

Listen – When It Comes To Your Love – MP3

Greetings all.
Today’s selection is another one of those numbers that I happened upon during my days in the 80’s garage revival.
My band, the Phantom Five had played at a VFW near Harrisburg (I think it was in 1987) with the Secret Service (Long Island mod R&B killers) and locals the Cool Italians. It was a great gig with lots of folks making the drive out from the NY area.
Following the show we all headed back to the house of one of the guys in the Cool Italians for a party, where I managed to consume the better part of a case of really (REALLY) crappy beer (can’t engage in that kind of tomfoolery anymore…no sir). It’s a wonder I have any recall of the incident at all, considering the condition I was in by the end of the night (and for the next couple of days (ugh…).
Anyway, back in the day there was a lot of bootleg video changing hands on the garage band scene. This included everything from TV appearances of obscure bands (how about the 13th Floor Elevators performing ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me’ on Where the Action Is???) to teen flicks, many of which also included performances by bands of the era.
Among the videos played at this particular bash was a pretty nice copy of the 1965 teen-exploito flick ‘Village of the Giants’.
‘Village of the Giants’, which had what in retrospect was an all-star cast including Beau Bridges, Toni Basil, Ronny Howard, Disney stalwart Tommy Kirk, Tim Rooney (son of Mickey) and Johnny Crawford (of the Rifleman), was the bizarre story of a teen scientist (played by Howard) who creates a serum that when ingested caused a group of teens to grow to immense size.
Absurd plot aside, the film features some great music, including Freddy Cannon (doing ‘Little Bitty Corinne’, which I think Untamed Youth covered in the 80’s) and the Beau Brummels doing a song that I had never heard, and instantly fell in love with. That song is today’s selection, ‘When It Comes To Your Love’.
I loved the tune so much I ended up getting my own bootleg of ‘Village of the Giants’ and dubbing the version of the song on the movie’s soundtrack (which was different from the studio release) to audio tape (I wish I knew where that was…).
Not too long after that I grabbed a Best of the Beau Brummels which included the original version of the song.
‘When It Comes To Your Love’ is absolute folk-rock perfection with a great guitar riff and excellent harmony vocals by the band. If you’re not hip to the Beau Brummels, you ought to pick up one of their reissues, as they were a great band, who aside from ‘Laugh Laugh’ (remember John Candy and Laurie Metcalf dancing to it in ‘Uncle Buck’?) don’t really get much play on oldies radio these days.
Dig it, and I’ll see you next week.



Buy – The Best of the Beau Brummels – at

Emitt Rhodes – Really Wanted You (and some other stuff..)


Emitt Rhodes

Listen – Really Wanted You – MP3

Greetings all.
Sorry for the delay in posting but it was a very busy weekend.
I’ve been busy with all manner of family stuff – generally fun and rewarding but time consuming nonetheless – and haven’t had a lot of the kind of downtime I need to get my head together and write.
First off, the wife and I actually got to see a couple of movies this weekend (one on video and the other in an honest to goodness movie theater, which when you have two small children and limited babysitting options is a rarity indeed).
The video half of the deal was ‘Hot Fuzz’, the latest pic by the gang that did ‘Shaun of the Dead’. It was a truly funny and imaginative exercise in turning genre convention on its head, smartly written and played.
Second was the new Judd Apatow film ‘Superbad’, which was genuinely hilarious (if a tiny bit overlong). We’ve been big fans of Apatow and Apatow-related product since the ‘Freaks and Geeks’ days (if you’re not hit, get…hip that is), right on through ‘Undeclared’, ‘The 40 Year Old Virgin’, bypassing (temporarily) ‘Knocked Up’ and right on into ‘Superbad’.
Apatow has become something of an auteur of awkward adolescence, and though his is the name that most critics go to immediately when discussing these TV series and films, it’s important to note the contributions of writer/director Paul Feig (who’s stories made ‘Freaks…’), Seth Rogen (who co-wrote ‘Superbad’) and the actors (enough of whom make repeat appearances – Rogen included – to constitute a kind of Apatow Repertory) that populate them.
That Apatow is a major connecting thread between these productions suggests (rightly) that he has a “sensibility”, and that it touches a nerve with a large portion of the population, across age groups. Let’s face it, if you’re not currently an awkward adolescent, chances are that you were one once.
Not to mention that ‘Superbad’ features and excellent soundtrack with incidental music created by a who’s-who of James Brown alumni including Clyde Stubblefield, and Bootsy and Phelps Collins.
In a completely unrelated note, I’m in the midst of Neil Gabler’s excellent (and extremely thorough) biography of Walt Disney. I recommend it highly to fans of animation, as the information about how Disney’s early days in Kansas City, where he intersected with Ub Iwerks, Hugh Harman, Rudolf Ising and Carl Stalling (all important names in the animation and in Stallings’s case, cartoon music) is fascinating.
Anyway, I can’t ramble on like this without posting some music, so post I shall.
I first became aware of Emitt Rhodes via the Bangles 1984 cover of the Merry Go Round’s ‘Live’. Oddly enough, for those that only remember dross like ‘Walk Like an Egyptian’, the Bangles – starting out as the Bangs – were part of the LA Paisley Undergound garage/mod revival, and some of their early work (especially ‘Real World’, and ‘I’m In Line’) is a marvelous evocation of 1966 Sunset Strip pop. Part of this ongoing homage was that Merry Go Round cover, originally recorded in 1966 when Rhodes (lead singer of the band) was only 16.
Prior to the formation of the Merry Go Round, Rhodes had been in a band called the Palace Guard (who had a very minor hit with a tune called ‘Falling Sugar’). Even the Merry Go Round – who recorded a single self-titled LP for A&M – weren’t around all that long*.
Following his tenure in the Merry Go Round, Rhodes retreated to his home studio (quite the rarity in the late 60’s) and started to make his own music. Though his was heavily influenced by the Beatles, Rhodes had his own sound and was an outstanding songwriter. Today’s selection (a fave of mine since I first heard it more than 20 years ago) hails from his second LP for ABC/Dunhill, ‘Mirror’.
‘Really Wanted You’ sounds like someone got ahold of Big Star and cleaned them up. Rhodes was nothing if not poppy, and ‘Really Wanted You’ has hooks to spare. Unlike so much of the Beatle-influence pop being made at the time, it also manages to rock, with some exceptional guitar.
After his third LP for ABC Rhodes pretty much ceased to record (at least for public consumption) and began his second career, as a power pop cult figure whose music is cherished by musicians and hardcore fans, and known by few (if any) others.
Unfortunately it appears that none of Rhodes’ solo work is currently in print (at least in affordable, domestic issues). If you’re the type that spends time in flea markets and garage sales, the actual records (remember those) turn up from time to time.
I’ll be back later in the week with some more sounds.


* They were around long enough for Fairport Convention to cover ‘Time Will Show the Wiser’ during a 1968 session for the BBC

The Attack – Magic In the Air


The Attack

Listen – Magic In the Air – MP3

Greetings all.
Here’s hoping that the middle of the week finds you well.
Today’s selection is one of those tunes that I first encountered during the declining years (one might say that these were post-decline, but that is a moptop hair to split another day) of the 80’s garage revival.
By the time the first Attack anthology was released in 1990, my days fuzz, acid etc were already behind me, but although I had ceased to participate in what was left of the “scene”, my love for the music had declined not a whit.
I first heard the Attack on comps like ‘The British Psychedelic Trip’ and ‘Rubble’, but it wasn’t until ‘Magic In the Air’ hit the racks that the truly monumental title track (which had been unreleased back in the day) first found its way past my ears and blew my mind.
Formed from the ashes of a group called the Soul System, the Attack – which included vocalist Richard Shirman and guitarist Davy O’List (later of the Nice) – released four 45s on Decca (as well as a number of tunes that never made it to vinyl).
They were among the finest UK psyche outfits, alongside groups like Kaleidoscope, the Syn and the legendary one-off Tintern Abbey, and if they hadn’t fragmented a few times on the way to oblivion they might be better known today.
As it is, the sounds they made are cherished by psyche-heads like myself, and can be found in various reissues.
Today’s selection ‘Magic In the Air’ is one of the unissued tunes, and is rumored to have been shelved because it was “too heavy”. I don’t know about “too”, but ‘Magic…’ is undoubtedly heavy in a very groovy way, and like the Open Mind’s ‘Magic Potion’ suggests the existence of a previously unknown/unrecognized bridge between the halcyon days of UK psychedelia and the Jurassic assault of Black Sabbath and their ilk a few short years later.
Though I’ve always dug the Sabs, I far prefer my heavyosity seasoned with a dash of pop flash. That, offered up in Shirman’s upper-crust accent – all tea, scones, ruffled sleeves and LSD – comes off like a candy flake steamroller, forcing you to leap from your enchanted toadstool for a vigorous bout of air guitar. The sounds of the Attack are remedy indeed for those that feel the UK psyche pop era was drowning in treacle.
If ‘Magic In the Air’ were all they ever recorded, they would be justly legendary, but their brief discography is loaded with dynamite, including ‘Neville Thumbcatch’, ‘Freedom For You’, ‘Lady Orange Peel’ and their version of ‘Created by Clive’, which was also recorded by the Syn (featuring a young Chris Squire).
Fortunately RPM has assembled all of the Attack’s studio recordings, as well as some live BBC sessions for ‘About Time: The Definitive Mod Pop Collection 1966 – 1968’, which replaces (and then some) the long out of print comp from which this tune was ripped.
Dig it.


Buy – About Time: The Definitive Mod Pop Collection 1966 – 1968’ – at

The Return of Popeye the Sailor


I come to you following a busy week/weekend, during which my son Miles and I have been digesting – three shorts at a time – the newly released boxed set of classic Fleischer-era Popeye cartoons.
As I am often reminded, there’s a large portion of the adult population that spends little or no time watching cartoons, and this – like many similar ying/yang-ish situations makes me both happy and sad.
I am of course always happy to know that I operate outside of the cultural status quo, but I am saddened that so many folks either consider themselves to old to enjoy cartoons, or (God forbid) consider them to be somehow “beneath” them and unworthy of their attention.
These people remind me of that nasty Eva Braun-ish principal in Uncle Buck who rails at Buck’s niece because she considers her actions to be frivolous, after which the mighty (and mightily missed) John Candy gets up and reads her the riot act about how she’s out of her mind and kids ought to be allowed to be kids (i.e. frivolous in all things).
I couldn’t agree more, and would like to add that I consider myself basically little more (at least spiritually) than a rather large kid (wasn’t it George Carlin who once said that old people are just bent kids?) and despite the shackles of adulthood (working for a living, bills and the like) I can still take time to enjoy some of the things that I liked when I was a kid, as well as watching my own kids dig these things as well.
Part of this is based in my own dislike for a lot of what passes for juvenile entertainment these days (though there are some cool things, like the ‘Upside Down Show’, ‘Jacks Big Music Show’ and the upcoming ‘Yo Gabba Gabba’ which looks insane).
Some of it is also the need to recharge via laughter, derived from things almost entirely free of irony or subtext, and I don’t think you need to be reminded that such things are in short supply these days.
Such a thing is the original Popeye cartoons.
Back in the day, when the Fleischer brothers (Max and Dave) pulled Popeye from EC Segar’s pages and whipped him up onto the screen, the character grew in popularity to a point where he rivaled even Disney’s Mickey Mouse (oh, that it were so today….).
The best thing about the 1930’s Popeye cartoons is that they aren’t just funny on a gag level, but like the best cartoons, animated and otherwise, they look funny as well.
All of my favorite cartoonists (a profession to which I once aspired) have always been able to tickle the funny bone with images as well as words. Sure there are cartoons out there that lean more on the verbal side of humor (which kind of defeats the purpose of having illustrations, n’est ce pas??), but the best – at least in my eyes – are those that are able to get laughs via the drawings as well.
The Popeye cartoons mixed memorable stock characters/situations (is there a single short that doesn’t cumulate in a fight between Popeye and Bluto?) with a really unusual drawing style (which was reflected in the 1960’s underground, especially R. Crumb). The animation of the characters is brilliant, especially Olive Oyl who’s wild, rubbery movements are a marvel.
The good folks at Warner Brothers have gone back and taken these cartoons (many of which languished in the public domain, and sub-sub-standard video issues), and reissued them with an eye toward quality (the prints are immaculate). There are also tons of extras including documentaries and early silent animation.
We’re about halfway through the set, and I look forward to a planned second volume (post-1938) coming in the Fall.
I’ll be back later in the week with some more music.


Buy  – Popeye the Sailor 1930-1938 – at

Two from Fairport Convention…


Fairport Covention circa 1968

(top l-r) Iain Matthews, Ashley Hutchings, Richard Thompson,

(bottom l-r) Simon Nicol, Martin Lamble, Sandy Denny

Listen – Meet On the Ledge – MP3

Listen – Tale in Hard Time – MP3

Greetings all.
I hope that everyone is well and that you all had a chance to dig the Walker Brothers tune in the previous post.
I’ve been on quite the reading jag over the last few months (I’m in kind of perpetual reading jag, but having two little kids, and two blogs doesn’t always leave me conscious enough to read). In addition to the Phil Spector bio I mentioned in the previous post, I just finished Joe Boyd’s memoir ‘White Bicycles: Making Music in the 1960’s’.
If the name doesn’t ring any bells, get to Googling, because Boyd was kind of the Zelig of high quality music, starting out as a tour manager for blues, folk and jazz artists, co-founder of the UFO club in London, producer of Pink Floyd’s first 45s, and producer of the leading lights of late 60’s UK folk rock, including John Martyn, Nick Drake and today’s artists, Fairport Convention.
Boyd is an excellent writer, and though I picked up his book due largely to my longtime love for Drake and Fairport, I came away with an interest in exploring artists that I’d never heard of before, especially the interracial South African jazz group the Blue Notes. I started listening to Fairport Convention in the mid-80’s thanks to an ex-coworker, who over the years turned me on to a wealth of great music, books and films. This cat made me tapes (remember those???) of Richard Thompson’s solo albums, and I moved on from there working my way backwards when I realized that Thompson and Fairport were contemporaries of Nick Drake, who I was already a huge fan of.
Oddly enough, many years before, my father – via a coworker who had spent time in the UK in the mid-60’s – brought one of Sandy Denny’s solo LPs into the house. It was years before I made the Fairport connection, but the seeds were certainly there.
The first Fairport LP I bought was the US (A&M) issue of the UK LP ‘What We Did On Our Holidays’, which had a different cover here, and was retitled simply ‘Fairport Convention’ (not the same as their UK debut with vocalist Judy Dyble, also called ‘Fairport Convention’) . Initially, the record didn’t make much of an impression on me, probably because I went into it expecting something much more rustic, filled with Morris dancing and balladry, when what I got was much closer to Jefferson Airplane and the Band working out of a London bedsit.
Some years later, when I had explored the Thompson-era Fairport discography in its entirety, and was able to place them in the context of late-60’s English rock, ‘What We Did On Our Holiday’s’ became a favorite album of mine.
This had a lot to do with the presence of the two songs I’m posting today, ‘Meet On the Ledge’ and ‘Tale In Hard Time’ (both written by Thompson).
I first heard – and was blown away by – ‘Meet on the Ledge’ via Thompson’s mid-80’s live album ‘Across a Crowded Room’, where he performed a solo acoustic version of the tune. His performance was intense, but hearing it done by a full band, with Iain Matthews taking the lead vocal was something else.
Both songs feature somewhat dark lyrics, especially ‘Ledge’ (see below) which is an extraordinarily pessimistic confrontation of the 60’s hippie vibe, but any darkness is masked by the glimmering harmonies of Matthews and Denny, as well as Thompson’s brilliant guitar playing. In the end it’s an extremely powerful song that also manages to sound like it was written as an anthem for stadium full of people who’ve just been confronted with the cold, hard truth about life.
‘Tale in Hard Time’ isn’t quite as dire (nor is it a lullaby) but it’s shimmering harmonies, along with Thompson’s monumental guitar solo makes it one of the great lost treasures of folk rock.
Both recordings are very powerful, and if you haven’t already, they ought to serve as motivation to seek out those first four Fairport albums (their first UK album, Fairport Convention, What We Did on Our Holidays, Unhalfbricking and the seminal Liege and Lief).


Meet On the Ledge

We used to say
That come the day
We’d all be making songs
Or finding better words
These ideas never lasted long

The way is up
Along the road
The air is growing thin
Too many friends who tried
Were blown off this mountain with the wind

Meet on the ledge
We’re gonna meet on the ledge
When my time is up I’m gonna see all my friends
Meet on the ledge
We’re gonna meet on the ledge
If you really mean it, it all comes round again

Yet now I see
I’m all alone
But that’s the only way to be
You’ll have your chance again
Then you can do the work for me

Meet on the ledge
We’re gonna meet on the ledge
When my time is up I’m gonna see all my friends
Meet on the ledge
We’re gonna meet on the ledge
If you really mean it, it all comes round again

Meet on the ledge
We’re gonna meet on the ledge
When my time is up I’m gonna see all my friends
Meet on the ledge
We’re gonna meet on the ledge
If you really mean it, it all comes round again


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