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Get This EP: Hey! It’s The Pandoras (2018) March 28, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Music.
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Holy crap! A reconstituted Pandoras, recording for the first time in 29 years (eek!) under the name, came out this week!

It leads off with a cover of “It’s Getting Harder All The Time,” an old Wayne Fontana tune, and then launches into a mini-set of songs penned by original Pandora’s founder Paula Pierce, who died in 1991.

Kim Shattuck and Melanie Vammen, who had left the original Pandoras long ago to form The Muffs, a great band Shattuck has been fronting since, team up with bassist Karen Basset and drummer Hillary Burton for what’s basically an album side of some great power pop/punk-ish stuff. Shattuck tones down her Muffs’ style screams and growls a bit here, and Vammen’s farfisas underscore throughout.

The Pandoras got less pop/punk and more hard rock after Shattuck & Vammen departed, and the songs they do here are from the earlier (and better, imo) period.

Listening to this was a nice reminder of ’80s music I liked a lot.


So is it a rebirth of the band? Will they go on to produce new material? Or is it basically a mini-reunion and tribute to Pierce?

It’s a great 22 minutes, but I hope it’s the beginning of new material getting produced.

Get it here!  Yeah yeah, it’s also on iTunes and Amazon and all the rest, too.


Let’s Hear It For Cris Shapan February 25, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, Art, Movies, Music, Television.

Perhaps while surfing online,  you’ve come across some amazingly campy magazine cover, or album cover, maybe it was a pulp book from a long-ago celeb and couldn’t believe it existed…

Well, that’s because it probably doesn’t, except in the work of graphic artist Cris Shapan.

I highly recommend following Shapan’s Facebook Page where he regularly posts this stuff, as well as his Funny Or Die page.

The style of humor reminds me a lot of Drew Friedman, who loves to pick out his favorite childhood celebrities and illustrate them all too realistically in bizarre settings. Check out “Jimmy Durante Boffs Young Starlets” for example.

I’m surprised he doesn’t maintain some sort of regular website containing all this stuff, it looks like he’s content to use Facebook. My other theory is that this guy clearly gets his jollies posting this stuff & then kicking back to watch people repost it thinking it’s real. Shapan’s handle on the recognizable & realistic graphic designs of the stuff he’s goofing on from yesteryear is amazing. The colors, fonts, details of wear & tear, etc. are absolutely wonderful. Look at the wax paper lighting effects on that Avery Schreiber bubble gum pack (I wish I had one of those!) giving it real texture and depth. Great stuff.

Nice to see he gets work in Hollywood, hopefully they’ll let him apply his comedy genius somewhere.

“They don’t write like that anymore…” – Greg Kihn


Welcome to all the B3TA people who found this post on your board!

Feel free to look around the rest of this blog. Check out the topic menu. Or just keep scrolling & enjoy. Lots of film & TV articles on everything from film noir to Punk Rock Quincy to The Oscar, cat pictures, stupid jokes, you name it.

And MOST DEFINITELY click on the “Buy My Books” tab and check out my comic detective novels on Amazon. Help feed me, or so help me God, I’ll summon the spirits of Karl Malden and George Kennedy to wreck YOUR toilet. You’ve been warned.

Get This Album: The Excitements “Too Much Is Never Enough” (2013) January 4, 2014

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frontcover300The second album from the Barcelona R&B line-up is a good’n, with a series of catchy tunes evoking the best of early James Brown, Ike & Tina Turner and the like from the old STAX record days, fronted by the great vocals of Koko Jean-Davis, who seems to be channeling Etta James.

These folks would fit right in to a 1965 episode of Soul Train or the line-up of The TAMI Show.

Check out the new single:

Sample & Get the album here

A New Favorite Band I Never Heard Of Until The Fabulous Internet: The Refreshments October 3, 2013

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It goes without saying that the current state of rock formatting on commercial radio. as my old Rhode Island comediac pal Rudy Cheeks would phrase it, “blows dead puppies.”

I’ll listen to the Little Steven show via the web, or put some Direct TV music channel on now and then, but mostly I’m playing stuff off the spiffy new iPod I got for my now-longer commute. While looking around the web for stuff I might like, a “Chuck Berry” related searchin’ safari led me to the truly amazin’ band The Refreshments.

No, no, no! NOT the American band called the Refreshments, the SWEDISH one. Don’t you know if you want true American rockabilly you have to go to Scandinavia?

They’ve been accurately described as Sweden’s answer to Rockpile & The Blasters, although they’ve put out more material than either one of those other Wagstaff faves – 20 CDs in all, including a few live ones, but mostly original rockabilly/bluesy rock material spiced with covers of Berry-esque material thrown in. Their most recent CD is a salute to Berry, mostly of Berry covers along with tribute style songs.

Did I mention that after hearing them I got all 20 of their CDs? Yeah, that’s how much I went nuts over these guys.

Here’s a taste:

The band went through a few minor incarnations since 1995 or so – early records feature former Rockpile guitarist Billy Bremner, and after that the music features possibly the best boogie-woogie pianist I’ve ever heard in any band, Johan Blohm.

I can’t understand why this stuff hasn’t made it onto American radio, onto country/rock formatted stations, or anywhere. It’s as purely an American form of music as jazz and it’s been pushed out by Robin Thicke ripping off Marvin Gaye. I DEMAND MUSICAL JUSTICE!!!!

Another reason why I love the internet – I’d’ve NEVER known about this band otherwise.

Anyway, if you’re a fan of REAL rock ‘n’ roll, check these guys out, something to add to the list of Swedish exports along with Volvo, IKEA and ABBA. My own favorite material from them includes (ironically for Mr. Jew) their 2 Christmas themed records and their CD “24-7” which I find myself playing over and over again. They also backed up Rockpile’s Dave Edmunds for a live album that’s a must-listen.

Check it out!

Power Popgasm: Redd Kross “Researching The Blues” March 4, 2013

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These guys were lured out of retirement back in 2007 to play some club dates and came up with some new material that leaves oh so many other bands in the dust. Get it NOW!

No clunkers in the bunch here – one guitar-laden multilayered ’60s style garage rock earworm after another, with hooks and melodies evoking the best and most enjoyable candypop that the early Beatles or Cheap Trick ever came up with. I’d missed Redd Kross a lot since their last album, the excellent 1997 CD Show World – this one is less polished production-wise, but the songs are all winners. “Stay Away From Downtown” is the single, although other radio-worthy material (if radio was worthy of decent rock, outside of Rodney Bingenheimer & Little Steven Van Zandt) like the Byrds-esque “Dracula’s Daughter” or Weezer-esque “Winter Blues” is also quite catchy.

Up there with the aforementioned Show World and Third Eye as their best stuff. Highly recommended.

Smithereens 2011 April 22, 2012

Posted by Jim Berkin in 1980s, Music.
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Oh, this is a good album. A very, very good album.

I’ve been a fan of these guys since their 1986 debut Especially For You, and this recent effort of original material (the first from them after a few years of cover CDs) succeeds admirably in getting back to the sound ‘n’ feel of that first great record of theirs from 25 years (gasp!) earlier, also produced by Don Dixon.

They mix up the rock styles very nicely with layers of Rickenbackers, from blues (“Goodnight, Goodbye”) to rockabilly (“All The Same”) to powerpop (“One Look At You” and my fave track on the album, “Sorry”) to mellow (“Bring Back The One I Love”)… and the songwriting is still strong. Pat DiNizio’s vocals & lyrics continue to sing best about disappointment & heartbreak to catchy melodies & hooks just like back when both of us were a lot younger. Outside of Frank Sinatra at his ’50s peak, I can’t think of another act that consistently sings of wistful male loneliness in the wee hours of the morning like these guys do.

Aww…. don’t cry for me, though. I HAZ A KITTY!!!! (Feel free to click on the “Cat Thoughts” category to see)

Big, big thumbs up! Get it!

A New Treasure Trove October 28, 2010

Posted by Jim Berkin in Art, Blogroll, General, Movies, Music, Television.
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I just discovered this site, The Pop History Dig – loaded with interesting articles on all things American pop culture history.

I’ve been exploring it for a while this evening, and it’s loaded with stuff on silent film, sports, advertising… all sorts of cool stuff, well researched, documented & presented. Big thumbs up!

Wagstaff’s Inner Groupie Returns! July 7, 2009

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Cocktail_SlippersMy favorite new record is the latest from the Cocktail Slippers :St. Valentines Day Massacre, a wonderfully catchy collection of girlband punk/pop tunes that will remind you of the Go Gos (hooks), Bangles (harmonies), Blondie (sultry vocals) and the Ramones (driving beat & guitars) – all a recipe for GODHEAD!

Who knew there were bands like this coming out of Oslo? Evidently Little Steven Van Zandt did when he signed them up for his Wicked Cool Records & produced this album, as well as wrote the title track and one other. They write most of their own material, and throw in a couple of great covers as well, one of Connie Francis’ “Don’t Ever Leave Me” and Leslie Gore’s “She’s A Fool,” two early ’60s girly numbers that blend seamlessly into the new material. Every now and then, a CD comes along where every song clicks, with no clunkers in the bunch at all, and anything seems possible… this is one of them. Highly recommended!

And top of that, I’M IN LOVE! (I’ve discussed this before….)

Now click on this link and sample the rest!

Time For A Musical Break February 23, 2009

Posted by Jim Berkin in Music.
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As Rodney Bingenheimer would say: “Godhead!”

Want more? Here’s the mother lode!

Another Sad Day In Bat-Land October 15, 2008

Posted by Jim Berkin in 1960s, Music, Television.
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Neil Hefti, composer of the 1960s Batman theme, has died. Hefti was a jazz arranger and composer for numerous people, though of us would remember both the Batman and Odd Couple themes more than any of his other work.

In these days of forgettable (or often non-existent) television themes, Hefti will be missed.