Tag Archive | Todd Rundgren

Video Clip of The Week: Photo Ops, “Memories That Glow”



Music: if it isn’t about some kind of catharsis, it isn’t about anything. This week’s spot-on Sunday Morning Music clip, from Nashville-based Photo Ops, is “Memories That Glow,” a sublime, dream-pop tune that — like so many great,  deceptively Pop-sounding songs — is deeply rooted in the desire to transcend lingering emotional pain through an effective aural medium. It hurts so good, as they say.

The video for “Memories That Glow” is pleasingly seductive and visually abstract in a way that fully evokes warm waves of haunting nostalgia. Aurally, vocalist/songwriter Terry Price recalls both Brian Wilson and 70s-era Todd Rundgren (whose enduring “Hello, It’s Me” manages to be both sweetly uplifting and profoundly melancholy simultaneously). And with its simple, one-line lyrical hook, “Leave me Alone,” Price creates a 4-minute gem that would have fit perfectly among the track listing of the The Beach Boys‘ masterpiece, Pet Sounds. Listen and tell me you don’t agree.

“Memories That Glow” can be found on Photo Ops‘ sophomore offering, Vacation, just released on February 11th via Bad Friend Records. Vacation is available now on iTunes and Spotify. Enjoy!

Photo Ops Screen Shot

Recommended Listening: The Sheepdogs

Sheepdogs Self Titled Album Cover

Back when I used to eek out a few bucks writing about music, one particularly hard ass editor accused me of being “not a real Rock Critic.” This was likely due to my unwillingness to indulge in the widespread practice of pondering the sociopolitical leanings of a band in the context of a record review rather than just basing my critique on how the music sounded to me. I never really got that approach. I’m not interested in reading paragraphs of turgid, impenetrable prose and rock-crit wankery. Just tell me how the music sounds so I know if I want to buy the record.

Along those lines, The Sheepdogs are a band that’s easy for me to write about, because their music sounds amazing. This Canadian Classic Rock quartet (who in 2011 won a contest making them the first unsigned act ever to appear on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine) have three independent albums under their belts and an EP released on Atlantic last year, but this record is their major label debut (produced by Patrick Carney of The Black Keys), and it’s beyond impressive.

“Laid Back” and “Feeling Good,” the first two tracks on the disc set the tone for the entire album: This is an exceptionally great feeling album of groove heavy tunes performed by a band that embraces an extremely lyrical approach to their playing. Lead singer Ewan Currie (whose voice has been compared to The Guess Who’s Burton Cummings) delivers the kind of quietly confident, effortlessly powerful vocal performance that is the mark of true natural talent. Guitarist Leot Hansen is doing wildly innovative stuff on the guitar while paying homage to tone masters such as George Harrison (“Never Gonna Get My Love”), Duane Allman (“Javelina!”) and of course Jimmy Page (“Sharp Sounds”). He’s amazing. Drummer Sam Corbett varies his drum feels to serve the song and his rhythm section partner, bassist Ryan Gullen holds down the bottom end while layering in adhesive hooks. This means that The Sheepdogs are just as vibrant and tight live as they are on disc, and you can’t say that about many acts these days.

What’s most impressive about The Sheepdogs is the band’s ability to integrate their influences so seamlessly that the songs are instantly familiar without sounding derivative. “Is Your Dream Worth Dying For?” feels pleasantly infused with tiny reminiscences of Todd Rundgren’s “I Saw The Light”, “While We’re Young” comes off like a revamped version of “Shapes of Things” and “In My Mind” captures the same kind of transcendent, euphoric quality as a song like Cream’s “Badge” without sounding anything like that song. As an aside, at least half these tracks indicate that The Sheepdogs should have a ready-made fan base in anyone who ever cited The Grateful Dead as a favorite band.

In their review of The Sheepdogs, Rolling Stone wrote, “Listening to the Sheepdogs is like having good luck finding classic rock stations on a long road trip.” I agree with that sentiment, but to me it feels fresher than that: as if it were possible travel back in time and actually hear new songs from a ‘70s band. It’s a refreshing reminder that the most vital benchmark of what constitutes good music is (or should be) that the music just sounds good.

Grade: A

Ringo Starr Exhibits Original Art at Pop International Gallery

Ringo Arrival at Pop International Galleries
Ringo Starr Arrives for his Exhibit at Pop International Gallery, Soho (All Photos By Gail)

There’s a wickedly humorous story in Beatles’ legend that goes something like this: when asked by a journalist if Ringo Starr was the best drummer he’d ever heard, John Lennon replied, “Ringo isn’t even the best drummer in the Beatles.” As hilarious as that joke is, I think that Ringo Jokes exist for the same reason that Blonde Jokes exist: because people are jealous. I mean, Ringo Starr was in The fucking Beatles, and The Beatles invented everything! As far as I’m concerned, he has carte blanche to do whatever he wants. Ringo Starr!

Ringo Starr Art Exhibit Card

In addition to currently being on a national concert tour with the most recent incarnation of his All Starr Band, Ringo is also touring his original artwork. On Monday, June 25th, he made a pit stop in Soho to host a VIP reception at Pop International Gallery on West Broadway. The packed-to-capacity gallery space was filled mostly with “VIP” patrons who had previously purchased signed copies of the drummer’s colorful, school of Pop art, but plenty of Music Biz celebrities and Ringo supporters were on hand as well.

Ringo Is It Time

We spotted the legendary Todd Rundgren (a current member of Ringo’s All Starr consortium) as well as previous RASB contributors like drummer Greg Bissonette and MTV-Generation rocker Billy Squier, who has been flying below the radar lately but still looks fantastic.

Ringo Peace Sign

As celebrity artwork goes, I have seen work by Academy Award Nominated Directors and Tabloid-Fodder Rock Has-Beens that did not impress me much, but Ringo’s work is vibrant and accessible. It’s easy to see the influence of modern Pop innovators such as Peter Max and Andy Warhol in Starr’s work, but he also has his own whimsical style that is distinctly Ringo.

Ringo Pink Olives

Part of all proceeds from sales also go to support The Lotus Foundation, a charity founded by Ringo and his wife Barbara Bach. The foundation’s primary objectives are to offer financial aid and assistance to facilitate family and child welfare, women’s issues, animal protection, addiction recovery and education.

Ringo Green Face

We had a fun time at the reception and really enjoyed Ringo’s art work. And while it was a minor thrill to be in such close proximity to THE Ringo Starr, it was a wee bit of a bummer to be actually unable to meet him, due to his giant body guards and the mob scene-generating essence of the situation (i.e. Live Beatle in Person) in general. So close, and yet so far, as they say.

Pop International Galleries is Located at 473 West Broadway, New York, NY 10012

Pop International Gallery Sign

Pop Gallery Private Reception

Recommended Listening: Patti Smith, Outside Society

Patti Smith made a name for herself as a pioneer of NYC’s seminal punk scene, most notably as it relates to the birth of the legendary CBGBs rock club on Bowery, and she has continued to evolve through a career that’s lasted over three decades. Along with her original band, The Patti Smith Group (Guitarist/co-songwriter Lenny Kaye, Drummer Jay Dee Daugherty, Bassist/co-songwriter Ivan Kral and Keyboardist Richard Sohl (RIP) – each a phenomenally talented musician and creative force) with whom she recorded her first four albums, and later as a solo artist, Smith is undeniably one of the most unique and influential artists to emerge in the late 70s. As both a versatile artist (poet, musician, author) and an outspoken activist, Patti Smith is a Woman Who Rocks in every sense of the word.

Smith’s impressive music catalog has already been afforded three compilations culled from her studio recordings, but record labels know when the public is ripe for a new offering. With her having recently won multiple awards for her book, Just Kids, Sony Legacy has put together an album to catch the attention of those who may just now be getting hip to Patti Smith, or fans who are ready for rediscovery. Outside Society – the title taken from a lyric in the refrain of Smith’s arguably most powerful and emotionally charged composition (and my personal favorite), “Rock & Roll Nigger” – is an 18 song, single-disc compilation covering Smith’s recordings from her ten studio albums between the years 1975 to 2007. The disc not only includes many of Smith’s “Greatest Hits” – such as her recorded-live version of “Gloria,” her collaboration with Bruce Springsteen, “Because The Night” and the transcendent “Dancing Barefoot” – but it also features an indispensable selection of deep album tracks that casual fans will likely be unfamiliar with. If you are seeking an introduction to Patti Smith or a way to flesh out owning just one or two albums of hers, Outside Society is must own collection.

In addition to always surrounding herself with highly talented musicians and collaborators, Patti Smith has also worked with a cache of rock music’s most accomplished and legendary producers, including Jack Douglas, Jimmy Iovine and Todd Rundgren, who helped to sculpt her sound, allowing her to remain authentic no matter what genre she tackled. From the raw punkinesss of “Gloria” to one of her most polished pop songs, “Frederick,” (one of the many love songs she wrote for her husband, the late Fred “Sonic” Smith of the MC5) she absolutely owns every performance. Each song on this record, and consider that the styles presented are extremely diverse, sounds amazing and fresh, like it was just recorded.

Patti Smith has covered many rock classics in her storied career – from “Gloria” (a song first made popular by Them as fronted by Van Morrison) to the Byrds’ anthemic “So You Want to Be a Rock & Roll Star” and, most recently, Nirvana’s breakthrough, genre-defining hit, “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” With each interpretation of compositions that many would consider untouchable, Smith makes the song her own with the infusion of her poetry and her inherent ability to tap into the creative essence of each song. Adding further value to an aurally sublime compilation, Outside Society includes Patti’s insightful, autobiographical notes and personal commentary on each track. Her own remembrances of the circumstances surrounding the writing / recording of each track are not only profoundly moving, but often heartbreaking, revealing her to be a woman who has coped with her share of life-changing loss while unfailingly championing individuality and the triumph of the underdog.  God Bless Patti Smith.

Remastered by Greg Calbi and Tony Shanahan, Outside Society will be released on Arista/Columbia/Legacy on August 23, 2011 as a single-disc digipak CD and on vinyl as a Double LP set. Track Listing is As Follows:

1. Gloria

2. Free Money

3. Ain’t It Strange

4. Pissing In A River

5. Because The Night

6. Rock N Roll Nigger

7. Dancing Barefoot

8. Frederick

9. So You Want To Be A Rock N Roll Star

10. People Have the Power

11. Up There Down There

12. Beneath The Southern Cross

13. Summer Cannibals

14. 1959

15. Glitter In Their Eyes

16. Lo and Beholden [radio edit]

17. Smells Like Teen Spirit

18. Trampin’

GRADE: A+

Happy Birthday, Todd Rundgren

Todd is God

You can’t have grown up in the seventies and not dig at least a few Todd Rundgren albums. Rundgren turns 61 today. Fave Todd song: “Real Man.”