Yessir there’s plenty of Christmas pop and rockers, do-wop-a-doers, and soul twisters. They never stop coming, every year brings more remakes and holiday pastiches and original turns, a few good uns too; the rock and pop Christmas tune never going out of sight or out of style. Had a million different favorites myself, liked ‘em serious, solemn, sexy, soulful, antic, blasphemous, tawny, jazzy, woeful, sarcastic, folkifized, solo Beatle, real Beatle, Beatle-like, corny, powerpoppish, reflective, heartfelt, satirical, rebellious, preachy, old school, trad, subversive, and even sweet.
Right now, today, this December, my current absolute fave rave, the one spinning repeatedly on my internal holiday season turntable, the current Tops of the Christmas Pops is The Sonics 1965 “Santa Claus.” It’s a propulsive and molten stomp all over the still ruddy cheeked Santa archetype, a plaintive holiday yelp with a backbeat (signaling “Farmer John”) where the lead vocalist (with a truly glorious garage rock guttural howl) asks Santa for no more than “a brand new car, a twangy guitar and a cute little honey with lots of money.” The cool daddy holiday surprise is that this early 60’s version of Santa lays the shattering truth on the entitled-mondo- boot-wearing-rebel-with-a-bleat–it’s-always-about-me-shaking-my-hair-budding-protest –kid with a stark indifference, as the dumbfounded singer exclaims in the chorus:
“And he just say nothing,
You've read about them
in Time, Newsweek, The New York Times.
HERE'S the big beat sound of that
fantastic, phenomenal foursome:
In these depressive and indifferent times, we should remember a time when the magical genre of Power pop held the airwaves--as well as the critics' ears.
The Knack's Get the Knack, released in 1979, had nothing to do with the music of another band called the Knack, which had four singles, also on Capitol, back in '67-'68. 79's Knack was not an echo. The Knack certainly borrowed their name from Richard Lester's film, The Knack...and How to Get It, which he directed between working with the Beatles on A Hard Day's Night and Help!. But the Knack did not share the mod kookiness of Lester's film.
The Knack had TEEN SCREAM written all over their PhisoHex-scrubbed mugs. Listening to the Knack made me feel younger than the audience at which it is aimed. The reason for this is that during my teen years carnal knowledge was not obtained through the AM/FM: all formulaic pop records (especially those great sons of Jerry, Gary Lewis & the Playboys) were presumed to contain a subtext of sexual innocence.
Get the Knack, however, was a sexual tease, exactly what polished pop music needed then. 'My Sharona', their Top 40 smash, is what kids would play on their car 8-tracks as they licked each others' inner thighs. That Power pop could provoke a kind of sexual tension gave it a certain oomph--beyond Beatlesque nostalgia.
STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER
1. Penny Lane (3:01) Magical Mystery Tour [2009 Stereo Remaster]
2. Baby You're A Rich Man (3:01) Magical Mystery Tour [2009 Stereo Remaster]
3. Only A Northern Song [Mono] Yellow Submarine [2009 Stereo Remaster]
4. Magical Mystery Tour (2:50) Magical Mystery Tour [2009 Stereo Remaster] 5. The Fool On The Hill [Take 4] (3:45) Anthology 2 [Disc 2]
6. Your Mother Should Know 2:28 Magical Mystery Tour[2009 Stereo Remaster]
7. Flying (2:16) Magical Mystery Tour [2009 Stereo Remaster]
8. Blue Jay Way (3:55) Magical Mystery Tour [2009 Stereo Remaster]
9. I Am The Walrus (4:36) Magical Mystery Tour [2009 Stereo Remaster]
10. All You Need Is Love (3:50) Magical Mystery Tour [2009 Stereo Remaster]
11. Hello Goodbye (3:29) Magical Mystery Tour [2009 Stereo Remaster]
12. Strawberry Fields Forever (4:01) Magical Mystery Tour [2009 Stereo Re]
29 years later and it's still news.
Next year is Lennon's 70th birthday. Well, we know what his old compatriots are up to these days--Mick is still preening on stage like a scrawny banty rooster, and Dylan's doing a demented Santa. (Paul and Ringo are off limits today.)
Pete Hamill, in his long article published in New York Magazine just weeks after Lennon's death, writes that Lennon imagined himself at 60 writing children's books. (Of course, he'd already written several books by the time he was 30.)
And, of course, if he'd lived on and was still walking the streets of New York today, there would be some snarking at his efforts. We are deprived of that privilege.
Eight In The Pants.....