Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tuesday Shameless Self-Indulgence

From a forthcoming work in progress -- tentative title Blame the Victim -- please enjoy The Weasels and the charmingly jangly "Beautiful Day."

The Weasels, of course, are the garage band chums I toiled with throughout most of the 70s, prior to the Floor Models getting together, mostly in a dank basement in suburban New Jersey, where we recorded countless shall we say iconoclastic songs on a primitive four-track tape deck.

I recently hooked up with the guys, and it turns out they still have a studio, only this time in an attic in rural New Jersey. There, plugged in to a laptop, we recorded the above (almost finished) track, with me on guitar (for the first time in 30 years). That's me on the right and left channels, plus the solo (of which I'm button-busting proud). Enjoy, if at all possible.

P.S.: The Floor Models CD project continues apace; the art work will be finalized before the Xmas holidays, and after a bit more tape research is concluded, the mastering for the CD itself should happen no later than early January. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tuesday Shameless Cross-Blog Whoring

Perhaps our earliest demo -- a home four-track of Gerry's "Wheel Comes 'Round."

From the circa 1981 David Grahame sessions.

This won't be on the forthcoming Flo Mos reissue album -- a superior live version will -- but I think it's adorable, especially the handclaps on the solo.

In any case, some other amusing stuff tangentially related can be found over at PowerPop.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Saturday Classical Music In-Joke Posting

From 1597, please enjoy Giovanni Gabrielli's quite amazing and beautiful Renaissance hit single "Sonata Pian 'e Forte." As performed in 1959, in a glorious arrangement for contemporary orchestral horn section, by Leopold Stokowski and the Symphony of the Air.

This has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the mission statement of this blog, but let's say I have my reasons for posting it.

Incidentally, in a sense the Gabrielli piece actually IS kinda proto rock-and-roll, in that it's tuneful, extremely concise (at about five and a half minutes, it's suitable for Top 40 radio play) and depends on tremendous volume to make its point. Plus, it makes very sophisticated use of that whole loud/soft thing that everybody thought was a big deal when Nirvana ripped it off hundreds of years later.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Monday Shameless Cross-Blogwhoring

The post-Floor Models (Gerry, Glen Bob, and me plus guitarist extraordinaire Doug Goldberg) can be heard rehearsing a pretty nice stereo version of The Tremeloes 60s classic "Here Comes My Baby" over at PowerPop.

Or you can simply listen to the mp3 below.

In any case, enjoy.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tuesday Shameless Cross-Blogwhoring

Another of the recently exhumed early Flo Mos home demos -- in this case, a really bitchen version of our most blatant Byrds rip-off, "Fade Into Grey" -- can be beheard over at PowerPop here.

Those backwards guitars just slay me, I must say.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Album We Never Made

Here's a rough version of the back of the CD tray.

It'll probably have a pale blue, rather than white, background to match the front cover. But I'm not giving that particular design away quite yet.

In any case, we're on schedule to have the album off to the CD duplicator by the end of October.

Monday, August 15, 2011

"The Indiana Jones of Vault Preservationists"

Okay, as previously mentioned -- and as already documented over at PowerPop -- that missing in action cassette of the first 4-track home demos we did has been rescued and transferred to the digital domain at last.

There turned out to be six songs on the cassette -- four more than I even remembered we had done -- and they are, as it turns out, of variable musical interest, although to my relief all of them survived completely intact, i.e. without tape dropout or any noticeable degradation of the original recordings. In any case, "Enough's Enough," which can be heard at the link above, is killer, and is definitely going on the forthcoming Flo Mos CD. Of the rest, this one -- Andy's epic and genuinely poignant "The Hand That's Strong" -- is the only other one in contention, although I still haven't come to a definitive decision about that.

It's a shame we never did a proper studio recording of the song, but I think this version still tugs at the heartstrings. In the meantime, the perhaps interesting technical details of how it was produced can be found at the aforementioned PowerPop link.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tales From the Crypt

The Holy Grail has been found.

Okay, actually the first five home four-track demos we did, a high-quality cassette of which was discovered in a storage facility in the wilds of the Bronx two Sundays ago.

In any case, they will be transferred into the digital domain later this week, and then the final sequencing for the forthcoming The Floor Models: The Album We Never Made project will begin in earnest. Still shooting for a final product by Christmas, if not sooner.

And here's something else that surfaced recently.

Unless I'm very much mistaken, that's the rehearsal studio where we recorded the bass and drum tracks for the aforementioned home demos, circa 1980-81. Note the incredibly cool Burns of London bass I was using at the time, courtesy of demo producer David Grahame.

Great looking bass, although it didn't sound as good as it could have on stage.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Songs I Wish We'd Covered. Oh Wait a Minute --- We Actually Did.

From 1968, and (some say, although I don't) their magnum opus album The Notorious Byrd Brothers, here are the aforementioned Byrds and their glorious version of Carole King and Gerry Goffin's "I Wasn't Born to Follow."

I have to admit, until I saw that picture sleeve I had no idea that this had actually been issued as a single.

In any case, I have loved -- nay lurved -- this one since the very first moment I heard it (through a cannabis haze, doubtless) in my college dorm room, and if memory serves it was one of the first covers I suggested that the Flo Mos work up back in the day. My favorite performances of it took place at one of those Other End gigs I've documented earlier; my long time pal and bandmate Tony Forte used to drop by occasionally to play it with us, thus giving us two Rickenbacker 12-string guitars on one cramped stage. Alas, no tape of one of those renditions has surfaced, but trust me -- it was one of the most glorious noises imaginable.

Incidentally, I talked to Tony about this the other day, and he reminded me that Andy's first axe when the Floor Models got together -- a solid-body El Cheapo that we used to jokingly refer to as "that pig of a Hagstrom" -- was actually the only non-Rickenbacker 12-string he ever played and liked.

Monday, April 18, 2011

In Everyone's Life, There's a Summer of '42...

[I originally posted this over at PowerPop back in September of 2010, but it seems to me it should be archived here, since it's the early history of the band, essentially. Enjoy, in particular if you missed it the first time around. -- S.S.]

...or so said the tag line in the ads for the movie of the same name. But in my case (self-indulgence alert!) such a summer lasted for almost two years, circa 1982-83 (metaphorically, of course). When The Floor Models, the 12-string pop band I played bass for, had a more or less uninterrupted weekend residency at the Other End Cafe on Bleecker Street in fabled Greenwich Village.

The short version is that pretty much every Friday and Saturday night during that period we would arrive at said hole-in-the-wall venue and bash out three hour-long sets (shows at 10pm, midnight and 2am). Essentially, it was our equivalent of The Cavern, and though the schedule was grueling, it never once felt like work, this due to the fact that a) the four of us enjoyed each other's company almost as much as the music we were playing; b) we were rather handsomely paid, if you can believe it; and c) thanks to the weekend traffic on Bleecker Street we almost always wound up performing for an elbow-jostling and appreciative crowd (around 200 well lubricated NYU kids and tourists crammed wall to wall on an average lively night) even when our friends were otherwise engaged. It was a ridiculously ideal environment for a young band getting its stuff together, and as I said, it never felt like work; I look back on the whole experience these days as pretty much the most fun I've ever had with my clothes on.

I should probably also mention that I lived across the street from the club, which meant that moving equipment was a breeze. And that between-set, uh, refreshments and after-hours carousing were rather ridiculously hassle-free as a result.

In any case, here's what we looked like on one of those weekends; as you can see, calling the stage cramped would be seriously gilding the lily. The sound system wasn't exactly state of the art, either.

As I noted earlier, we used to do three hour-long sets an evening, which meant we necessarily had to do a fair number of covers; given that our idea had always been to do the songs that had inspired to us play in the first place (especially ones we'd never had a chance to essay in other bands) this was hardly an odious task, and so we'd bang out everything from The Monkees to Television. (Doing The Hollies "Bus Stop" -- and well, I think -- was something of a dream come true for me.) We also had a lot of musician friends from the neighborhood who'd help us out by dropping in for the late sets; we'd work up little guest spots for them and some of those occasioned among my absolute favorite moments during our run.

Here's one of them: the lovely and talented Jan Melchior (then otherwise mostly toiling in The Roommates, a sort of folkie girl group a la The Roches) as heard with us on Saturday October 9, 1982, sometime (I think) in the third set, in a jangly version of Lulu's "To Sir With Love." The sound is a tad primitive -- like I said, the PA sucked, and this was taped on a cheap cassette player -- but I think the atmosphere and Jan's remarkably authentic vocal come through loud and clear.

I suspect you'll believe me when I say this performance engendered a lot of serious dropped jaws; you really didn't hear a lot of Lulu covers in 1982.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Mona Lisa's Mustache

Apparently Andy "Folk Rock" Pasternack -- who crafted the mockup below -- has some mad Photoshop skills along with his musical talents.

And no, this won't be the front cover of the forthcoming Floor Models CD, although it certainly could have been in the running.

And while I've got your attention, please enjoy a poorly recorded live track which won't make it onto the aforementioned CD, for obvious reasons, but which is pretty cool anyway -- our version of "It's Too Late," the classic power pop single from our heroes The Searchers' 1979 comeback album.

God, what a great song. So great, in fact, that Gerry later shamelessly rewrote it as "If I Ever Get Another Chance," in which form it mysteriously appeared on our 1995 indie album. Heh.

BTW, the mp3 links at that post have long since expired -- if you want to hear the Searchers original or our, er, adaptation, just e-mail me and I'll be happy to send them to you.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Outtakes of the Gods: Kowabunga!!!

Okay, here's a tune that started life as a Flo Mos rehearsal jam version of The Byrds' "Eight Miles High," i.e. a self-consciously tongue in cheek take on the whole raga-rock thing, until one day we realized it was actually...a surf instrumental.

We ultimately called it "Barb Wire Beach."

The version in the clip above was recorded by a later incarnation of the band, after Andy (who co-wrote it with Gerry, if memory serves) had departed, around the same time and under the same circumstances as "Spin Cycle" (see the previous Outtakes of the Gods for more info). We used to play it live from time to time, on those rare occasions we were entreated to do an encore.

It's pretty cool, I think, in a Raybeats kind of way, although if you were wondering why my deliberately chintzy fake Farfisa organ work sounds a little, uh, atonal or Chinese, it's because whatever keyboard preset I was using on the primitive synth we employed for the session had some kind of weird harmonic overtone that nobody noticed until long after the whole thing was in the can. All these years later I still haven't decided whether it sounds kind of interesting or really annoying,

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Songs I Wish We'd Covered (An Occasional Series)

Buffalo Springfield. "Baby Don't Scold Me." In stereo, as nature intended.

This was on the original pressing of the Springfield's 1966 debut LP; when "For What It's Worth" went Top 10, ATCO hurriedly re-pressed the album with the hit in its place. The mp3 is from a vinyl transfer; the stereo mix, alas, has never been on CD (the version that finally surfaced on the Springfield box set a few years ago is the mono). I think the stereo is a lot more vivid, but on the other hand, having it in two-channel means you can really hear how sloppy the production is.

I'd loved the song (one of Stephen Stills' best, and kind of proto-power pop, I think) since forever, and I actually tried to interest the guys in working it up fairly early on. Unfortunately, the only copy I had of it was a wobbly old cassette a friend had taped for me in the early 70s, the woeful sound quality of which may have been why I was ultimately unsuccessful in pitching the tune. In any case, we wound up covering "Go and Say Goodbye" instead, which was okay by me, obviously.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Je Dois Etre Dans L'Amour

Things have been slow around here due to my dealing with an ailing mom, but the Flo Mos CD project is continuing apace. Basically, the track listing is all but complete and I await only the recovery of one rare tape before finalizing it.

In the meantime, Andy mocked up this fabulous cover for the live album we never made and I thought I'd share. I love the import logo.

The mp3 is us at the Other End in October of '82; the sound is just okay, but how many bands can you think of that were doing Rutles covers back then?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Outtakes of The Gods

Ah, here's one that got away. It's "Spin Cycle" -- on balance, pretty much my favorite song of Gerry's ever.

We did this in the Floor Models for the longest time, but for some reason we never demoed it and if there's a live tape of it, it hasn't surfaced. In any case, it has a sort of Buddy Holly by way of Nick Lowe or John Hiatt feel that I find irresistible.

The version above, however, was done by a later incarnation of the band, after Andy's departure; the basic instrumental was done 8-track at some rehearsal studio we were using in the late 80s, and the final overdubs and mixing were done on 16-track at Target Studios in Delaware, with our pal Marc Moss engineering, in what became the sessions for our 1995 indie album as Gerry Devine and the Hi-Beams. I'm including it here because 3/4 of the Floor Models are actually playing on it, Gerry's doing a very nice approximation of Andy's 12-string stuff from the old days and, as I said, I just dig the song the most.

That's me doing the hopefully effective organ stuff; I was trying my best to sound like Bob Andrews of Brinsley Schwarz.

I should add that the track got left off the aforementioned indie album because Gerry, for reasons inexplicable to me to this day, felt it was somehow too lyrically...I dunno, diffuse or something, for the concept of the record. I disagreed vehemently, as you might imagine, but in the interests of intra-group harmony I conceded the point. I still think it should have been on the record, in case you're wondering.

I should also add that I was even more irked about the omission when I heard Replacements' guitarist Slim Dunlap's 1996 album Times Like This, specifically the song "Girlfriend."

Which sounds to me like a punkier and slightly shorter version of "Spin Cycle." But I'm over it now.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Video Gave the Radio Star a Wedgie

Part two of our award-winning concert film Floor X Four.

Filmed at a low dive on Manhattan's Upper East Side on a night when we were, if not the greatest rock-and-roll band in the world, then at least the one most likely to be mistaken for a slightly shady accounting firm.

Seriously, this is a very nice document of a better than average Flo Mos show, and as I've said before, I thank -- on an almost daily basis -- whatever gods there may be that the VHS master survived into the YouTube era.

I should also add that the song I'm singing -- Andy's "She'll Make Up Her Mind" -- not only sounds as if it had been written about me personally (it wasn't) but is heard here in an arrangement lifted rather shamelessly from "Second Choice" by Any Trouble.

All songs copyrighted by The Floor Models 2011©, 'natch

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

How I Met Your Mother

"It was love at first sight. The first time Yossarian saw the chaplain he fell madly in love with him." -- Joseph Heller, Catch-22
That's pretty much what happened when I first laid eyes on my future Floor Models colleague Andy Pasternack.

Seriously. I walked into some dive -- possibly Folk City, although it might have been another joint on Bleecker Street whose name now escapes me -- sometime in 1979 and there was Andy, on a cramped stage, playing acoustic 12-string the way I'd always dreamed of it being played and singing a song of his called "Welcome to the Popular Culture," which struck me then (as now) as one of the funniest and most brilliant things I'd ever heard.

And instantly I knew -- I had to find a way to weasel myself into a band with this guy.

Here's Andy doing the song on WBAI-FM a few weeks later.

When the Floor Models finally got together, this was one of the first songs we worked up; our live version sounded something like Talking Heads having a philosophical discussion with Devo. We dropped it from our stage repertoire very quickly, alas; stylistically it didn't quite fit the Brit Invasion/Folk-Rock template we'd established for ourselves.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

But What Will the Goyim Think?

Okay, herewith an mp3 of a live performance featuring my all time favorite Flo Mos inside joke.

The song, incidentally, is Andy's "What's Wrong With This Picture," which can be heard in a far better recorded version in the YouTube video in the post below.

In any case, as you can hear in both versions, there's a little instrumental section after the bridge in which the band basically goes "Da-dah! Da-dah!" and then the bass and twelve-string guitar play the riff from Paul Revere and the Raiders' "Kicks" before the last verse and the outro.

On this particular night -- at the Other End in 1982 -- Andy was moved to add a little instrumental snippet over the section in question, and I must confess I'd forgotten how hard I'd laughed at the time until Andy sent me the clip late last year.

As you'll note, the tune he's playing is "Hatikvah." I have no idea if Glen and Gerry caught it, but I suspect a few of our Jewish friends in attendance at the time did.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Video Mildly Irked the Radio Star

Part three of our award-winning concert film Floor X Four.

Seriously, this is a very nice document of a better than average set from back in the day, and I never fail to give thanks that the original VHS master tape survived. Granted, the videography looks like it was done by strapping a camcorder and a candle onto the head of a hyperactive seal, but it was the '80s and we were all a little over the top.

I should also add that the songs -- save for our covers of ABBA ("S.O.S.") The Monkees ("Last Train to Clarksville") and The Byrds ("All I Really Wanna Do") are copyrighted by The Floor Models 2011©.

That's in case the Coen Brothers are lurking and want to use a bit of this stuff in their next movie, you understand.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Rickenbacker Variations

"Enough's Enough." Live at the Other End, 1982. Written and sung by Andy "Folk-Rock" Pasternack. The sound quality isn't stellar, but Andy's J.S. Bach-ian 12-string break still kills me, after all these years.

Just an amazing song, too. There's a better recorded very early four-track demo of this in the vaults somewhere, which I hope to exhume for the CD. But in the meantime, I thought I'd share.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I am a Camera


I really want to use the Flo Mos portrait photos below on the forthcoming CD cover, and to give credit where credit is due, obviously. But for the life of me, I can't remember who actually shot them, and neither can the rest of the guys.

I/we do know that they were shot in the hallway at Lucas-McFaul Studios in New York City sometime in 1982 or '83, during a break in our first official recording sessions. And as far as anybody can recall, the only people in attendance that weekend (apart from the band, of course) were producers Dave Immer and Judy Mauer, neither of whom has yet stepped forward to claim the pix as their work.

In any case, I'm going to post a link to this post over at Facebook in the hope it may jog somebody's memory.

Oh -- I still can't believe I ever wore glasses like that, in case you were wondering.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Way We Were

Greenwich Village, Winter 1983. Photo by Irene Young.

This site is very much a work in progress, so the early postings are going to be somewhat tentative and experimental; this first post, in fact, is mostly just a test to see if I know what I'm doing.

It'll get better soon, though. I promise.

In the meantime, these were the savage young Flo Mos on a very chilly day, in front of a wall somewhere near my digs on Bleecker Street. I imagine we were all having fantasies about those black-and-white shots of the Fabs in Hamburg.