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Tony Powers: Press

"From the wispy shadows of the Brill Building comes Tony Powers and a masterpiece album, "Who Could Imagine," that demands to be heard. It is not for everyone, but those who get Powers' spiky, acerbic wit and rich atmospheric music will become instant ardent devotees. He inhabits these songs like a great character actor -- think Bruce Dern, Alan Arkin, even Sydney Greenstreet -- and makes every note count. "Cartoon" is a stone classic waiting to be discovered. The entire "Who Could Imagine" is a wealth of treasures, but not for the faint of heart. Powers is strong medicine. But I'm thinking some of you will like it a lot."
-- Joel Selvin, pop music critic San Francisco Chronicle

--"I tossed on your CD this morning and I must admit I was stunned. I don't know where to begin -- exquisite production, extrordinary songs, I love the vocals. Way out shit that feels comfortable on the first listen. Wicked point of view." - Joel Selvin

--"Anyway, big cheers to you. "Cartoon" is fucking brillant. "How Do Ya" is like a scary Brian Wilson outtake. "This is a Heist" killed me. "Lorraine" was dear." -Selvin
Joel Selvin - Joel Selvin Pop Music Critic San Francisco Chronicle (Dec 9, 2014)
By: Manq -- Rate Your Music Blog<> <>
Here is the disclaimer right here. Let’s just get this out in the open. This is my review of Who Could Imagine from Tony Powers. An album that contains a reworked, rerecorded version of a song so great, that if I wound up on deserted island dodging Komodo Dragons and busting open coconuts I would want it with me by whatever means available, IPOD, cd, cassette tape, etc. That song being, "Don’t Nobody Move (This is A Heist)." It’s just become a part of me. No matter how many times I hear it, it makes me laugh, it makes me sing, it makes me shake my tookus around, and damned if it doesn’t make me think abut shit too. Could you ask for more in a five minute pop song?

I came across this song around 2001 or 2002 while hooking up with a pal in Vegas. He graciously offered to let me hook up my IPOD to his laptop and click and drag as many songs as my little portable hard drive would hold. So, I proceeded, asking a ton of questions about this artist and that. When I asked about Tony Powers, he laughed and said that DNMTIAH was an old classic that they would sometimes throw on at bar time in First Avenue after the club music, perhaps to chase the sheep out, perhaps to celebrate the end of the dance music madness and to usher in whatever the after hours may hold for those willing to seek out more for themselves. Well, I took to the song like a shark to chum and haven’t released my grip ever since. It’s a a keeper. It’s a fave. You get the point.

So, not long after that Mr. Powers name would come up in my conversation tween me and my pal. He became an enigma of sorts. Every once in awhile. after hearing my song, I’d go on a manic search. But each time I didn’t get very far. I usually wound up on some long neglected message board with a few other fans of the man and his music looking for more info, more music, a copy of a video that had been played on USA’s “Up All Night” program, etc.... Perhaps it was the time. Because this was a time before youtube, before myspace became a thriving musical tour de force. Perhaps I was one or two digits from finding the info I was looking for. I did learn that Tony established a niche for himself as an actor in some notable TV shows and films such as Goodfellas. But all this was an after taste for a meal I hadn’t sat down to eat yet. Sheesh.

Well, fast forward to 2008 and please extend my gratitude for the umpteenth time to Al Gore for ahem..inventing the internet. In some kinda weird Truman Show-esque turn of events I actually got a a hello notice from one Tony Powers right here on RYM. I was a little blown away. And happy to find out that he is alive and well right here in sunny Los Angeles, CA. It gets better...he is still creating music. A little care package arrived in the post for me. And I promised Tony that I would write something about him and his new opus right here.

The new opus being 2007’s Who Could Imagine on Virtual Goose Records. 17 songs....I’m not really into numbers but I’ve always had a thing for 17. But I digress and that’s for another time kids. I’ve been a busy little buddy lately mostly with the jobby job keeping me glued to my chair and being stressed out over the usual mundane workplace madness. If you read up Tony Powers at tonypowersmusic.com or what have you, you will learn that he is an established songwriter from back in the day. So, I was very curious to hear what has been cooking up on this new full length collection.

The disc starts out on a serious note with the opener How Do Ya. I was driving down Sunset one nite drinking it, coming up with my own meaning. You know..making it all about me. As, it stands I gave the companion video a viewing just hours later and saw the intended message behind the song. It’s a reality sammich for all of us. Served up cold. Tony’s grave, nearly speaking voice lets you draw your own conclusions. But the video is a compelling piece, a state of the nation address. Shame on George Bush. Shame on You. It’s a song to be absorbed more than enjoyed. A ballsy first song. But it sets the tone and let’s you know that there is some serious shit up ahead.

Song # 2, Cartoon, jumps head first out your speakers. It’s got the big band swing and beat. David Lee Roth never had it so good. It’s the street smart Tony we know we know from DNMTIAH, calling us all baboons and asking is this the feature or is this a cartoon? Ha Ha. Funny stuff and toe tapping good. You got themes of the everyman in Disposable. What’s up with this guy...has he been spying on me? It’s equal parts espionage and admonishment...“We simply toss and replace.” Disposable times indeed. The song has a straight ahead rock feel but cleverly morphs into a near circus parade sendup as the outro.

We get a reworked Don’t Nobody Move that is fuller sounding. A little snappier. Damn. Maybe even ....better? It’s pretty faithful to the original. Still among the finest songs ever written. I had it on one day at work and one of the twenty somethings sauntered in while the sax solo was blowing. “What is that? The closing music to SNL?”, he piped. Move along youngster!!!

You won’t find any Political Correctness on “The Old Right Winger Blues” as Tony Powers drops the “N” word. Holy shit. He said it. I doubt many of today’s young tatted up wannabe hipsters have the stugatts to pull that off. But damn it you’ll hear it right here in this fine blusey send up.

The sweet ballad Lorraine contains something. Some slight smidgen of melody or something, maybe the pretty acoustic guitar solo that totally reminds me of Willie Nelson’s September Song off of Stardust. Beautiful.

The barrel house swagger of Etiquette is another golden nugget with a lot of quotable lyrics about farting in elevators and KY jelly while the drunken background sing along pleading for “Abby” of Dear Abby fame is priceless.

Sadly is another reflective ballad with a sweet electric guitar solo from Peter Andrews. It’s good thought provoking albeit heavy stuff. No punches are being pulled here. And sadly it is an apt description of where the USA finds itself on unsavory footing these days.

Man...Goin’ Into Space...if there was any justice this would be played n MTV all day long. Does MTV even show any videos anymore? I ditched my TV four years ago and haven’t looked back. Tony’s voice so suits this music. Kriminey.....is that samba???? It’s party music carrying on the desolate theme. “It’s great day for the human race. We are all done here. Let’s go fuck up some other place. La La La La.....” Fooking classic. And how fooking sad of me to say so.

The existential, “The Answer” is pure poetry. All I can say is that you are not alone Tony!!!! Joe’s Theme and Cradle To Grave continue on with some fine balladry and Tony really exercises his pipes on Joes’ Theme. Who Could Imagine concludes with a simple yet grand statement with Nothin’ But My Time. I read the lyrics and I think I learned something. Now to just hold on to that lesson every single day..... Ha. I’ll have to play this over and over.

I’ll wrap this up with saying that this is a very cohesive record, it’s got sharp insights and grand statements, it’s got melody, it’s got a range of musical styles spanning the pop spectrum, it’s got a unique vocalist with quite a lot to say. And speaking of vocalist...Tony’s got an interesting style. He’s no doubt got the pipes to be a crooner of the standards from a time before I was born. But...when he intones with that Leon Redbone like warble laying it down like a wizened alley cat, man......he’s the best.

Yeah baby....
Thursday, May 8, 2008
Powers That Be: New album and videos on YT from Tony Powers

A few weeks back I wrote a blog entry about my decades-long fascination with Tony Powers’ great song and video ”Don’t’ Nobody Move (This is a Heist).” I should note that Tony’s latest album is a welcome return for this “mystery” figure whom I had thought of as a “character actor who occasionally makes music,” but is really a one-time million-selling pop tunesmith who has been doubling as both an actor and a singer-songwriter who’s equal parts bright and literate, and streetsmart wiseass.

The album, called Who Could Imagine, finds Powers working in a number of pop genres, from old-fashioned ballad (“Lorraine”) to proto-Calypso (“Goin’ into Space”). As such, the album functions almost like an actor’s “demo reel,” showing how Tony the songwriter can channel his talent to fit a number of different moods. In reading about Tony online, I found that some of the songs were in fact written a few years back (and, yes, the classic “Don’t Nobody Move” gets an ever-so-slight update here), but they fit right in with these ever-so-fucked-up times. In line with the current era, Powers aims for the jugular with a few socially-conscious songs, including “Sadly.”

Powers is working in the same vein as Carole King, Leonard Cohen and (especially) Tom Waits throughout, but I have to aim my focus squarely one more time on his ability as an urban sketch artist. His “Cartoon” offers a very nice and quite accurate review of livin’ in this very burg (although I hear that now TP inhabits the car-choked climes of L.A.): “The train is late 'n the/air-conditioning’s broke./And I’m wedged between/these two fat fucks whose/clothes are soaked./Is this the life?/All the people in Commercials/have so much fun,/a bunch of happy baboons/Is this the life?/Or are we just in rehearsal?/Excuse me — is this the feature/or is this the cartoon?”

Powers is a cult figure and, from what I’ve been reading, a “musician’s musician.” As such, I guess Who Could Imagine confirms that he is indeed a very cool tree falling in a very hip forest. Yez all should give a listen — the lyrics are on Tony’s site, and you can hear the first 2 minutes or so of each song on via the CD Baby site.

And just because this is a visually-oriented blog, I’m happy to report that the other two music-vids that Powers made back in the Eighties are up on YouTube. The first is a whole ’nother slice of NYC location shooting: Tony in a romantic mood with actress Lois Chiles on the Staten Island Ferry for the song “Odyssey” — which was later covered by KISS!



“Midnite Trampoline” is a two-part gem (at least on YouTube) that finds Powers playing a gigolo who isn’t quite… up to the demands of his profession (check out his ginzo buds, one of whom is played by a very young and svelte John Goodman). The video may not be as much of a shock to the system as “Don’t Nobody Move,” but it’s a nice piece’a lightly comic filmmaking that harkens back to the time when videos could be unpredictable in wonderful ways
Who Could Imagine
author: Jan Raczycki

What adjectives are left beyond those already employed above to describe this sonic tour de force of a madcap cabaret performance? This disc belongs in every thinking person's CD collection, no exceptions. Mr. Powers delivers his keen insights into the social ills of of our modern world through a spectrum from suave, nuanced urbanity to up-front, in your face, ballsy Noo Yawk swagger. The lyricism is infused with unparalleled wit and the musicianship is tight, crisp and uber-cool. If you don't comprehend the message after just one or two listens you just aren't paying attention to the real world. Do yourself a favour and buy this record and then play it for all of your friends. Is it too late for you folks in the USA to nominate Mr. Powers as an independent presidential candidate?
"...recalls the collaborations of Kurt Weill and Berthold Brecht, and later, Randy Newman..."
Ken Emerson - New York Times
<> <> Let us all bow down to Tony Powers
For those who weren't around NYC in the early '80s, I humbly recommend this awesome bit of music video, which has been burrowed into my brain since I saw it in the late 1980s on U68, a UHF music-video channel in the NYC area that had a helluva playlist (Ramones, Kate Bush, Jimmy Somerville).

Powers is a character actor — you might remember him as "Jimmy Two-Times" in a bit at the beginning of Goodfellas — who blew me outta the water with this song and video. It has the sense of humor I like, some catchy damned lyrics, and a great bizarre vocal performance. I thought Powers was simply doing this on the side, but was surprised to see on his website (www.tonypowersmusic.com) that he actually co-wrote two hits for Phil Spector ('Today I Met the Boy I'm Going to Marry," "Why Do Lovers Break Each Other's Hearts?"), the terrific doo-wop ditty "Remember When," the blissful "Lazy Day" by Spanky and Our Gang (damn, float me back to my childhood!), and one of my ALL-time fave one-hit wonder songs (dig those horns, man), "98.6" by Keith. Tony indeed is a multi-talented person whose face is familiar but whose name sadly isn't. He's got a new CD out (at www.cdbaby.com), and I eagerly await any and all film/video projects he may attempt in the future.

In the meantime, check out "Don't Nobody Move (This is a Heist)." The guest stars are all over the place (the oddest being a thin John Goodman, whose ass ends up in Powers' face), but the finale (Tony just sitting there, making mouth noises in the middle of Times Square at night)... well, that's what NYC music is all about.
sonixmusic 5 months ago

Wow, cool, a personal reply to both my comments :) As the great Brian Wilson said: "Genius is the ability to make something simple sound clever, and something clever sound simple." All the music I really love, whether its Bach and Beethoven, or Genesis and ELO, manages to fuse very straightforward elements to vey sophisticated ideas, without ever sounding overly simple or self-indulgently smart, and your music has that particular mix, too. And I love a nice theatrical arrangement :)
Sonixmusic - Youtube (Jan 2, 2013)
..."the 15 song set contained a blend of jazz and blues with rock highlights. However the lyrics were the forte of the show...the dissonance of Powers' strong but rough voice against the haunting melodies imparted a distinctive quality."
Starr Arning - Billboard Magazine
'Best Music Video of the year. Don't Nobody Move (This is a Heist)"
Details Magazine
"...your video is one of my favorites...I thought your performance was perfect...I've become a fan."
Waylon Jennings in a personal letter.
"This is music for our time and beyond."
Frankie Crocker Program Director WBLS FM New York
"I am sending you this letter to make you aware of the overwhelming reaction we have experienced regarding your video of Tony Powers.It has reached number ten in a country wide over all popularity poll, and number seven in it's category. This is a first for an unknown artist without an album release. Phone calls have been pouring in from various individuals, clubs, and even record stores wanting to know how they can see and hear more of Tony Powers..."
Ed Steinberg - Rockamerica
Tony Powers has composed, scored, performed and produced a strikingly original and powerfully rhythmical collection of new songs. Powers is surely modern-day America's own version of Kurt Weil and Bertotl Brecht. We were amazed by the breadth of musical styles, compelling lyrics, and diverse melodies, all performed with a gusto of absolutely first-rate backup musicians, that made this CD unforgettable. "Unique" is one of the most overused and trite adjectives in the English language. However, in the case of "Who Could Imagine," the word "unique" is the only one that perfectly fits this CD. Two thumbs up. Way up!!!
This is exceptional in every way; words and music, as well as phenomenal musicianship. Tony reminds me of Leonard Cohen, Kurt Weil, Brecht, and Dylan as well as the Beatles. They are all different from each other, and everyone else, but unique and exceptional in every way. Tony has all that going on and this CD is as good as it gets. It stands up with the best of the best. All the crazy assorted and sundry fans of Tony are going to love the new songs and updates of his classic great stuff on this. Bravo to the musicians who are EXCELLENT!!!
Tony Powers can sing and write and listening to his cd, Who Could Imagine, he is demonically crazy. No. Better his cd is crazy. Mad. In the
original sense of the word. Mad meaning original.
Power's searing lyrics puts heart in the ache. This is something only the rare artist can do, but
this listener is richer for Powers having mined such depths.
author: Mike Parker
re: Who Could Imagine
Yes, I'm one of many who got into Mr. Power's work from seeing his videos on USA Network's Night Flight program, then rediscovering him on YouTube. Back when I first heard it, HEIST was one of those songs that took a few listens to get ahold of me, but when it did, it never left my memory and I've loved it ever since. Besides, if you're anything like me, your favorite songs/artists are the ones that take more than one listen to appreciate. Listening to 'Who Could Imagine' sounds like Mr. Powers picked up where he left off more than 20 years ago without losing a step. The difference is that he now has a much more scary world, and numb-skull society to write about. Stinging sarcasm, wit, and intellectual cynicism adorn this CD from start to finish, along with a lot of humor that had me laughing. Add brilliant words and music to some of the best sounding musicians around and you've got one of the most brilliant releases in well over a decade. Would I like to try for more??? YES I WOULD!!! LOL!!!
*
Who Could Imagine
author: Rob Lewine

This is a clever, delightful collection of tunes.
Musically and lyrically sophisticated, funny, unsentimental, sardonic and smart!
*
Who Could Imagine
author: Jan Raczycki

What adjectives are left beyond those already employed above to describe this sonic tour de force of a madcap cabaret performance? This disc belongs in every thinking person's CD collection, no exceptions. Mr. Powers delivers his keen insights into the social ills of of our modern world through a spectrum from suave, nuanced urbanity to up-front, in your face, ballsy Noo Yawk swagger. The lyricism is infused with unparalleled wit and the musicianship is tight, crisp and uber-cool. If you don't comprehend the message after just one or two listens you just aren't paying attention to the real world. Do yourself a favour and buy this record and then play it for all of your friends. Is it too late for you folks in the USA to nominate Mr. Powers as an independent presidential candidate?
*
Who Could Imagine
author: david bean

I know what I could imagine, seeing the smooth Mr. POWERS and this terrific ensemble live at, say, Catalina Bar and Grill? Buy this album at your peril, my wife and I did and now we're addicted!! Subversive and delightful.
*
Who Could Imagine
author: Dick Kalich

Tony Powers can sing and write and listening to his cd, Who Could Imagine, he is demonically crazy. No. Better his cd is crazy. Mad. In the
original sense of the word. Mad meaning original.
Power's searing lyrics puts heart in the ache. This is something only the rare artist can do, but
this listener is richer for Powers having mined such depths.
*
who could imagine
author: rick stoff

Finally, something to really listen to. Great music, words, THOUGHTS, politics, angry and funny.
The first thing I played over and over since...in too damn long.
*
who could imagine
author: lisa

great!
*
Who Could Imagine
author: marc thorner

Time has *not* dulled Tony Powers.
*
Who Could Imagine
author: Linda Kraus

This is exceptional in every way; words and music, as well as phenomenal musicianship. Tony reminds me of Leonard Cohen, Kurt Weil, Brecht, and Dylan as well as the Beatles. They are all different from each other, and everyone else, but unique and exceptional in every way. Tony has all that going on and this CD is as good as it gets. It stands up with the best of the best. All the crazy assorted and sundry fans of Tony are going to love the new songs and updates of his classic great stuff on this. Bravo to the musicians who are EXCELLENT!!!
*
Who Could Imagine
author: Jonathan and Maria Klar

Tony Powers has composed, scored, performed and produced a strikingly original and powerfully rhythmical collection of new songs. Powers is surely modern-day America's own version of Kurt Weil and Bertotl Brecht. We were amazed by the breadth of musical styles, compelling lyrics, and diverse melodies, all performed with a gusto of absolutely first-rate backup musicians, that made this CD unforgettable. "Unique" is one of the most overused and trite adjectives in the English language. However, in the case of "Who Could Imagine," the word "unique" is the only one that perfectly fits this CD. Two thumbs up. Way up!!!
"Wow! I've been looking for this video for years! It was one of the best videos...Maybe *the* best! It was aggessively strange!

Is that really you, Tony? Here on Youtube? You were too cool for MTV, dude!"
"WOW! I've been longing for this video since I first heard it many moons ago. I fell in love with Tony and the video then, now I play it ALL the time. Come to Las Vegas and make one here. I teach at UNLV and show it to the students...
Absolutely, no doubt, hands down the best video ever made!"
Whitney Drake - youtube viewer
"So ahead of its time, it's scary. Cool beyond measure."
pensta1 - youtube viewer
What a great video! I remember watching it on Video Jukebox... Luckily a few years ago I bought a copy online. This video influenced the fledgling art of music videos. Back then most music videos were just a new form of marketing. In this case, the video was the product, and a work of art. This helped elevate the concept of videos above advertisement. I wonder if Thriller would have been such a big production if it hadn't been for this. It really was a product of the future.
XjjdX - youtube viewer
"This is one of my favorite songs. I am glad to see you are releasing a new album and I can't wait for the new video."
drunkenblaster - youtube viewer
" I LOVE this video. It stands the test of time. The music is GREAT! Visuals are FUN, HOT and SO COOL. I am happy to see it up here. If you want to hear/see something excellent, give a listen. Watch."
LindaKraus - youtube viewer
"...concerning HBO subscriber feedback received in response to Tony Powers' Don't Nobody Move (This is a Heist)...the reaction was unanimous, highly complimentary of Mr. Powers' musical artistry and craftsmanship...this is one of the largest responses received concerning any performer appearing on Video Jukebox...noteworthy."
R. Militello - HBO
"This video, a superb work of art, portrays the essence of NYC and highlights the hypocrisy of the criminal injustice system with the phrase : " in my court you don't chew gum"
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