- Herman’s Hermits —
Blaze (Herman’s Hermits album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
one of the ’60s British Invasion bands that really didn’t get its due. They had a couple of little inoffensive novelties (“Mrs. Brown You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter,” “I’m Henry VIII I Am”) that somehow overshadowed what was really a series of masterful pop songs, including the rocking “My Reservation’s Been Confirmed,” “No Milk Today,” and the plaintive, angry, proto-punk “Where Were You When I Needed You.” The album “Blaze” is just a wonder, beginning to end, and should have cemented them as a serious band that was in for the long haul, one that was graduating from covering the songs of others. It didn’t.I don’t know another British Invasion band that has so many songs people just don’t know and should. (The Stool Pigeons’ album of Herman’s Hermits covers is, by the way, fantastic.)
- Speaking of Herman’s Hermits covers: The Bangles covered “Where Were You When I Needed You,” which of course wasn’t by anyone in HH, but the songwriting duo of Sloan and Barri.
Speaking of The Bangles, where was I when they needed me? Not paying attention to their reunion album from last year, “Sweetheart of the Sun.” I should have been. Heard Susanna Hoffs on the Adam Carolla Show recently, promoting her new solo album. I’ve been a massive fan of her “Under The Covers” albums with Matthew Sweet — under her spell I’ve come to love songs that I have disliked nearly all my life. Turns out Mr. Sweet had a hand in this Bangles album, too, and it’s really quite wonderful.
- Oh, are we just doing music for this Top 10? Okay. Check out Amanda Rogers, whom we’ve seen a couple of times at Troy Night Out. Like lovely, emotional piano and a sweet, strong voice? She’s seriously good. So is her band, The Pleasants.
- Another, more local discovery from Troy Night Out: Oobleck. Funky. Possibly non-Newtonian. Check they out.
- Speaking of Troy: Design It Together. These guys have turned a process into an art, and an art into a business. Their designs are excellent. I wouldn’t consider a special occasion card from anyone else — especially weddings, anniversaries, or people who need a wonderful image of the Green Island Bridge.
- Christopher Moore’s “Sacre Bleu: A Comedy d’Art.” If you hold the Impressionists and their world as sacred, this may not be for you. Or perhaps it is. It’s a romp, like all Christopher Moore books, but it’s an even more entertaining one than usual.
- “Canada” by Richard Ford. I’ve only just begun this one, but I was hooked by the end of the first page. For some reason Richard Ford speaks to me, even though he’s writing of people and places that have nothing to do with me. There’s something about the emotional state of his men that fascinates (or perhaps worries).
- Like highly embarrassing coming-of-age sort-of teen pregnancy class conflict comedies? Got Hulu? Then I highly recommend “Pramface.” It’s British, of course, because I really don’t think American producers could hit these notes right.
- Noise-cancelling headphones. Why have I denied myself this absurdly necessary travel luxury for so long? Thanks to a loving family that takes birthday hints/threats to buy it for myself seriously, I know have a pair and really don’t know how I got by for so long with earbuds gouging my aural canals. you might think they’re mostly good for drowning out the roar of the plane, the rumble of the train, and the screaming of children. And it’s all of those. But I’m especially thankful for their power to completely mask the sound of crashing golf bores detailing their last 37 boozy golf outings, complete with what they think are subtle descriptions of the attractiveness of the brew pub waitresses and hostesses.