From the wispy shadows of the Brill Building comes Tony Powers and a masterpiece album, "Who Could Imagine," that demands to be heard. I tossed on this CD this morning and I must admit I was stunned. I don't know where to begin -- exquisite production, extraordinary songs, I love the vocals. Way out shit that feels comfortable on the first listen. Wicked point of view.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. Anyway, big cheers... brillant. "How Do Ya" is like a scary Brian Wilson outtake. "This is a Heist" killed me. "Lorraine" was dear. Powers is strong medicine. But I'm thinking some of you will like it a lot. -- Joel Selvin, pop music critic San Francisco Chronicle” - Joel Selvin

Joel Selvin Pop Music Critic San Francisco Chronicle

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, re-recorded 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 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. 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....” - Manq

Rate Your Music Blog

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” - Ed Grant

— Media Funhouse

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?” - Jan Raczycki

CD Baby review site

...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 ( 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, 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.” - Ed Grant

Media Funhouse NYC cable TV

Subject: Who Could Imagine CD Date: Monday, October 22, 2007 2:45 PM Your new CD, WHO COULD IMAGINE is absolutely incredible! I've been listening to it over and over again-- and it gets better and better. This is first class in every way; words, tunes, vocals (quite amazing), musicianship, production, sound quality. I love the first song, "How Do Ya". It's a big important song, and the refrain has me singing it all the time. I want everyone in the world to hear it. The song "Lorraine" is what I've always yearned for in my life. This song has the most touchingly beautiful words and music. It should be a major hit with all romantic touched my heart in a way few songs do. "Sadly" is a great wake up call with great solos from Peter Andrews. He's a terrific guitarist--as evidenced by his virtuosity on other songs on the CD as well. It's a treat to hear him. Congratulations to you on this major CD, and to the fabulous musicians as well. Andrews' solos on several tracks are stunning. Ray Herman does a superb sax solo on Cartoon. Doug Lubans' bass, percussion and keyboards make the great songs "Disposable", "Goin Into Space" and "Rondonia" exceptional. Chris Palmaro's piano on "Joe's Theme" is beautiful, as is the song. A loud bravo to all the other incredibly talented musicians, David Wheatley, Marty Celay, George Young, Garry DeBerry, Byron Benbow, and especially to your co-producer, the great drummer/percussionist, Roger Laroque-- bravo. And to you-- for this amazing body of music, lyrics, and your wonderful performance-- I give kudos to the moon and back a million times. Everyone should hear this CD, and I hope everyone will treat themselves to it. Thank you, thank you. A fan forever, Melissa Kleinert, Chicago, IL” - Melissa Kleinert

— fan letter

Tony Powers’ “Don’t Nobody Move (This Is A Heist)”: Just Keep Moving By Bryan Thomas on April 26, 2015 When pioneering 1981 music video “Don’t Nobody Move (This Is A Heist)” began airing on Night Flight in the early 80s, pre-MTV, we think it’s safe to say most of the viewers watching at home didn’t have any idea who Tony Powers was, but he’d already had an incredible career as a singer/songwriter by that point, and we thought we get a little nostalgic and tell you about it. If Powers sounds like a made-up name, it is. Born Howard Stanley Puris, Powers is a born and bred New Yorker. He grew up in the East Bronx, and lived in Manhattan, and he’d probably be the first to tell you, in a city like New York, you gotta just keep moving, and that’s just what he did. In the late 50s he kept moving by gravitating first into songwriting after the puerile lyrics he’d written to the melody an old gospel tune (“Go Tell It On The Mountain”) were clever enough to get him a meeting with none other than Lester Sims of Bourne Music, known for his sartorial elegance and for having an ear for a good tune. Powers, in his early 20s at the time, soon landed a job at Trio Music, the publishing company of the great Leiber and Stoller songwriting duo, whose offices were located in the famed Brill Building, an eleven-story art deco office block at 1619 Broadway, near 49th Street, in Manhattan. It was virtually a songwriting factory, where mostly young 20-ish songwriters were often teamed up together to co-write songs for artists that the publishers were working with: we’re talkin’ about the great songwriting teams like Gerry Goffin & Carole King, Doc Pomus & Mort Shuman, Burt Bacharach & Hal David, Neil Sedaka & Howard Greenfield, Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil, and Jeff Barry & Ellie Greenwich. In 1962, one of Powers’ earliest co-writes was the nostalgic-tinged doo-wopper “Remember Then,” co-written specifically for a vocal group called the Earls, who were looking for a follow-up hit to their colossal “Life Is But A Dream.” Powers partnered with songwriter Beverly Ross for what turned out to be his first songwriting smash hit. Powers then ended up partnering with Ellie Greenwich for the Exciters’ 1963 hit “He’s Got The Power,” and Jay & the Americans’ “This Is It.” And the hit just kept on coming, for Phil Spector’s Philles productions like “Today I Met The Boy I’m Going To Marry” (sung by Darlene Love), and “Why Do Lovers Break Each Others Hearts,” sung by Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans. Powers kept moving, and transitioned over to Don Kirschner’s Screen Gems-Columbia Music — Kirshner had previously run Aldon Music with co-owner Al Nevin, and had hits with songwriters like Carole King, Barry Mann, and Neil Sedaka, among others, so Powers naturally gravitated towards Kirschner too, and more hits followed. He wrote“Lazy Day” for Spanky & Our Gang, and “98.6” for Keith (those were both co-written by George Fischoff). He even wrote the tune “We’re The Banana Splits” (with Ritchie Adams) which was intended to be the theme song for the 1968 Banana Splits TV series but the television and advertising executives thought the “Tra La La Song,” another Adams composition co-written with prolific songwriter and producer Mark Barkan, was a catchier theme. Powers co-wrote songs with Jeff Barry, Artie Kornfeld, Jack Keller, Al Kooper and Barkan, but he says he finally had to quit powering out the pop tunes this way because he found “writing solely for commercial purposes was far too limiting and restrictive,” and he moved on, once he was freed up to write songs that he felt was closer to his own working-class perspective, tunes that took a look at the human condition from a socio-political point-of-view. "Well, I was in this police station, being booked for garlic breath In the corner was a cripple, they was kicking him to death From a cell somewhere I heard this woman scream ‘You’re hurting me’ On the wall there was this poster: “Holy name society… Oh!..." These new songs were darker, angrier and full of biting wit and sarcasm, and humor, too, and they had the look and feel of New York. They also, of course, were best served by Powers singing them himself — he’d sung demos as a songwriter and was beginning to develop a kind of spoken word rant-rap style that no one else was really doing — and soon he had a club act he’d put together for cabaret and club shows, mostly in New York, performing at big venues like the Savoy Ballroom, and in Los Angeles, at smaller clubs like the Troubadour in what is now West Hollywood. At some point Powers moved to L.A., and he was offered a recording contract with Columbia Records, but in 1971 he decided to release an album of his own material on his own label, Home-Made (the full name of which was Home-Made (My Real Name Is Howard Stanley Puris)), and he also got into acting, which is practically de rigueur if you’re living out in L.A. and performing in clubs. He started appearing in small acting roles in movies and TV in the early 1980s, and he soon began rubbing shoulders with a lot of actors and actresses and creative people of one type or another. Which brings us back to “Don’t Nobody Move (This Is A Heist),” which was conceived by Powers and director Brian Owens as a three-song “MusicFilm” — it was Powers’ description, just one word — which was pretty much a way to combine his various interests, including acting, singing/spoken-word rapping and New York, too, into a kind of miniature film with a narrative storyline, shot on film and then transferred to video. No one else was doing anything remotely like this at the time, and Powers enlisted a lot of actor friends to help him fulfill this dream of being the first to do so. The Heist MusicFilm was shot guerrilla-style (without permits) on the streets of Manhattan, with his actor friends, including a (thin-looking) John Goodman, Treat Williams, Peter Riegert, Marcia Strassman and J.C. Quinn coming out in the middle of the night to appear in cameo roles (Williams had even flown his private plane in from Ohio, where he was doing a play, to climb into Powers’ shower for his scene before climbing back out, hopping back in his plane and flying back to Ohio). For the second MusicFilm, Odyssey, actress Lois Chiles appeared on the Staten Island Ferry for the cold night shoot of Powers’ song “Odyssey,” and the cast and crew experienced a three-hour thunderstorm (the song, by the way, was later recorded by the another former New York-based band, Kiss, for their album, The Elder), and the third MusicFilm, which Powers himself directed, was for his song “Midnite Trampoline,” which features Powers in the role of a small-time gigolo/boy toy named Vito La Cuenta. It was shot in the SoHo loft owned by Powers’ friend award-winning Aussie photograher Gary Heery, who designed and built the sets. By 1982, Powers had created a 26-minute verison of “Heist,” “Odyssey” and “Midnite Trampoline.” On its own, “Heist” won several awards, including the Silver Medal at The 26th Annual International Film and Music Festival of New York, the Gold Medal at The 1st International Music Video Festival of Saint Tropez, and was Details Magazine’s “Video of the Year.” Not only was a regular feature on Night Flight, but it was shown frequently on HBO, and in 1985, Sony released it as a Sony Video Album, and they also released it as an EP. Powers kept moving, and gravitated further into acting, appearing on the TV series “The Equalizer” (1986-1989), “NYPD Blue” (1993-1994), “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman” (1995), “The King Of Queens” (1999-2001), and in small roles in movies too — he’s probably best known to this day for his role as “Jimmy Two-Times” in Martin Scorseses’ Goodfellas, but he also appeared as Captain Mason in Cadillac Man, and one of his last film appearances was as New York Savings bank manager John Modica in Stephen Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can. He’s continued to pursue his musical interests too, releasing the self-produced albums Under The Cover of Darkness in 1996, and Who Could Imagine in 2007." ---Featured music video” - Bryan Thomas

Nightflight +

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


..."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

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