Friday, November 17, 2017

it's the FRIDAY'S BEST POP SONG EVER Podcast Episode 2!

As the first episode of the FBPSE podcast was met with little to no rancor, I am boldy venturing forth with a second one. This one focuses on one of my all time favorites, "Pretty Please" by The Quick, and includes an illuminating interview with Quick/3 O'Clock drummer Danny Benair. As this is something of a novice effort on my part, any comments you may have are welcome, rancorous or not.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Wednesday! POP OFFENSIVE returns!


It's been a couple months now since I took on solo hosting duties of Pop Offensive, and I dare say that I'm settling into the role quite well. Not that any of you should give a rat's ass about that, because, at the end of the day, Pop Offensive, is all about the music. The music and, second to that, my heroic efforts week after week to make my ego secondary to the task of finding and playing a unique array of unusual pop nuggets from around the globe. How do I do it, you ask? Why not dial in to kgpc969.org at 7pm PT this Wednesday, November 15, and stream the show live for your edification. There will be a test.


Saturday, October 21, 2017

A Petty Offense

The spirit of the late Tom Petty hung heavily over last Wendnesday's Pop Offensive. Not only was Petty one of America's most iconic rock stars, but he was also one of it's greatest pop songwriters. He had a gift for stripping a song down to it's barest elements, and then letting that song stand or fall on the basis of its melody, arrangement, and performance alone. There are few examples of a Tom Petty song that is over-embellished to any degree or even a second too long. May he rest in peace.

Alongside paying misty-eyed tribute to Mr. P, we rolled out another show filled with percolating pop prizes, including a suite of tunes from Poland, an amusing story of a Eurovision songstress who absolutely despised the number two placing song she was charged with singing, and the debut of my long awaited Friday's Best Pop Song Ever podcast.

Per usual, the episode can be streamed in its entirety from KGPC's Pop Offensive Archives. And if my mush-mouthed delivery garbled any ot the song titles or artists' names beyond recognition, you can read the full playlist here. Enjoy!

Friday, October 20, 2017

It's Friday's Best Pop Song Ever--the podcast!

Today I'm debuting a mini-podcast of sorts based on Friday's Best Pop Song Ever. Not that it will replace that feature, mind you; I just thought it would be cool to occasionally delve into a song in more depth than to simply present it to you without comment. If you think this is something you might enjoy, please give it a listen and let me know what you think in the comments.

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Guard's Daughter, aka Bint Al Hares (Lebanon, 1968)


The Guard’s Daughter (aka Bint Al Hares) was one of three feature films to star the Lebanese singer Fairuz, who to this day is considered one of the most popular singers in the Arab world. Making her debut at the International Festival of Baalbeck in 1957, she went on to be a force to be reckoned with in Lebanese popular culture, as well as a personification of mid-century Lebanon’s burgeoning modernity.

Judging from the songs she performs in The Guard’s Daughter, Fairuz’s music is classically Arabic in terms of both melody and composition, and performed by her with an almost ritual solemnity. You might think this would make her an odd fit in the Lebanese pop cinema of the day, which was typically light hearted and colorful. But The Guard’s Daughter serves her well, as it is a film with many faces: a musical, in which Fairuz performs almost a dozen songs, a comedy that presents an affectionate view of small town life, and a cold-eyed political allegory about income inequality and the callousness of the moneyed classes--oh and, finally, a romantic adventure featuring an elusive masked bandit.


The film takes place in the beautiful seaside town of Kfar Ghar, where Abboud, the father of young Nejmeh (Fairuz), is employed as a night watchman to protect the city from thieves. At the film’s opening, he and his partner are summoned before the town’s municipal council, where they are summarily fired, despite having served the city for dozens of years. The reasoning for this is that no thieves have threatened the town in the last five years. The mayor staunchly resists the good sense of those few members of the council who argue that this fact is testament to the guard’s effectiveness rather than their redundancy. The truth is that the move is really a penny pinching measure intended to further line the pockets of the city elders, who are also among the town’s most wealthy citizens.

Abboud, who has struggled to provide Nejmeh and her baby sister with a life of moderate comfort, soon finds himself facing financial hardship and, following his partner Saleh’s lead, heads off to Damascus to work in a shipyard. Actor Nasri Shamseddine plays Abboud with a fierce dignity (he reminds me a lot of the Indian actor Sanjeev Kumar.) You get the sense that he took a lot of pride in his work as the town’s protector. Thus, when Nejmeh visits him on the job at the docks, she is appalled by what she perceives as his diminished condition. She determines that she must get him his guard job back, and comes up with a pretty novel way of doing so.



The next time we see Nejmeh, it is in the guise of the Kafir Man (it’s translated as “Turban Man” in the subtitles, but what she’s wearing is a kafir, and 'kafir" is what the characters are saying), a rifle toting bandit who terrorizes the town’s wealthy and comfortable. While her primary goal is frightening the authorities into rehiring her dad, she can’t resist getting a little payback against the venal fat cats who have made life so hard for hers and the families of her neighbors. As such, she emerges as a kind of Robin Hood figure, cheered on by the common folk and hated by the rich as she carries out a forced redistribution of wealth. This is especially gratifying for us in the audience, as, throughout the film, we have been treated to a series of episodes presenting these villainous cretins at their worst.

Of course, since Nejmeh’s face is covered—but for Fairuz’s piercing and heavily made-up green eyes—everyone assumes that the Kafir Man is, well, a man. And, given this is the Middle East of the 1960s, why would they think otherwise? In any case, this makes things rather complicated when Nejmeh’s dad is rehired and tasked with bringing the Kafir Man in dead or alive.


Directed by Henry Barakat, one of the Middle East’s most acclaimed directors, The Guard’s Daughter is a charming crowd-pleaser. Some viewers might find it a little light on action, but I think that what action there is is handled well—and that Fairuz’s iconic appearance as the Kafir Man provides enough of a comic book thrill to make up for that. It also looks great, highlighting one lush, Technicolor composition after another--a sumptuous look that is perfectly complemented by Assi and Mansour Rahbani’s songs. It was the Rahnbanis who discovered Fairuz and guided her career, as well as composed many of her tunes. That they knew how to write for her voice is evidenced by the numbers in this film, which, as given voice by Fairuz, are hummable at worst and, at best, downright beautiful.

It also should be said that the film’s sometimes whimsical tone is offset considerably by the serious tenor of its populist politics. It’s a credit to Fairuz that, with the help of Barakat, she was able to smoothly traverse these conflicting tones. The woman was obviously a pro, and The Guard’s Daughter serves as a diverting, even winning, showcase for her talents. Whether the film struck any lasting blows for the proletariat is no doubt lost to history.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Friday's best pop song ever

Hoist your glasses. Pop Offensive 2.0 is GO!


Okay, maybe it's too early for celebration. But the fact remains that I made it through my debut as the official host of POP OFFENSIVE without a hitch. Well, that's not true, really. There were several hitches, although I did make it through the entire episode without breaking anything. And by "breaking", I mean "beyond repair", rather than "to the point that it had to be rebuilt virtually from scratch", as may have been the case.

Anyway, what I can say without qualification is that a lot of great music was played, and that there were a couple surprises--a new theme song! A double shot of Eurovision!--which means that you owe it to yourself to give it a listen. It's what Kathy and Hoda would want...those drunk bitches.

Pop Offensive #39 can be streamed from the Pop Offensive Archives.

Download the complete playlist at the Pop Offensive Facebook Page.

Please be advised that some of the streaming links are being removed from the P.O. archives, so if you want to listen to any episode(s), it's best you do so pronto.