Popcorn Blizzard


Band members               Related acts

- Bob Crane -- bass, backing vocals

- Roger Helmer -- lead guitar

- Vic Petri (aka Vic Petrino) -- vocals, drums, percussion

- Nils Salimen (aka Nils Salminen -- keyboards

 

 

- The Floating Circus

 

 

 

 


 

Genre: pop

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Explode

Company: De-Lite

Catalog: DE-2004

Year: 1969

Country/State: Mahwah, New Jersey

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+

Comments: 'DJ' stamp on back cover

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5962

Price: $275.00

 

Yes, yes, yes lots of reviews and reference indicate Meatloaf was a member of The Popcorn Explosion.  Those references are wrong.   Yes, yes, yes Meatloaf was a member of The Popcorn Explosion, though it was a completely different outfit with no links to this quartet.  This Popcorn Explosion was based in New Jersey, while Meatloaf's short-lived group was from Michigan.  

 

Showcasing the talents of bassist Bob Crane, lead guitarist Roger Helmer, drummer Vic Petrino, and keyboardist Nils Salminen, in a weird business move, The Popcorn Blizzard was one of the first acts signed by producer Gene Redd to his De-Lite Recorded Sound Corporate label (best know for it's R&B and soul roster which included Kool and the Gang).  Gawd only knows why De-Lite signed The Popcorn Blizzard, but within a couple of months the band debuted with a single:

 

- 1968's 'Good Thing Going' b/w 'My Suzanne' (De-Lite catalog number 516)

 

The single did nothing commercially, but De-Lite still agreed to finance an album, resulting in the release of 1969's Peter Anders produced "Explode".  So at this point let me issue a word of warning.  I've never seen a detailed description on this one, though at least a couple of high priced dealers have slapped the dreaded 'killer psych' label on it.  Trust me, that's nothing more than hype.  If I had to compare these guys to a better known outfit it would probably be The Association circa-their "Birthday" album.  Exemplified by original songs like '' and '' their 'sound' was focused on top-40 conventional pop, but these guys were also obviously interested in testing the waters with occasional psych touches ('').  The four members clearly had some talent, but judging by the ballad heavy results, they weren't given a great deal of space to show it.  Helmer turned in several tasteful (if brief) solos.  Crane was an innovative bassist, though he was largely relegated to the background.  Similarly, keyboardist Salimen's work managed to salvage quite a few of the songs.  Curiously the big shortcoming in the talent department was singer/drummer Vic Petri.  Petri didn't have a bad voice, rather he sounded like he was asleep through most of the performances.  I've seldom heard a voice with less emotion.  The poor guy literally sounded like he was singing after overdosing on sleeping pills ...   The funny thing is that by 1969 their musical moves (just like their silk scarves) already seemed somewhat dated.  Perhaps that sense of lost innocence explains part of the collection's low-keyed charm. 

 

- Starting an album with 20 seconds of speeded up vaudevillian keyboards was an interesting, if somewhat risky choice.  While the intro didn't do a great deal for me, it certainly made me appreciate the rest of the slightly acid-tinged ballad 'Missing You'.  Kicked along by Roger Helmer guitar and Nils Salimen's rhythmic pounding keyboard, the song had an interesting hypnotic feel with some great sunshine pop harmony vocals.  Shame it faded out so soon.  One of the album highlights.   rating: **** stars  

- 'I Saw a Face' started out sounding like a bland acoustic ballad, before suddenly taking a playful and unexpected turn into a more pop-oriented direction.  Imagine The Association and The Monkees teaming up for a couple of minutes.  One that grew on me every time I played it.    rating: *** stars   

- The mid-tempo 'Looking Glass' offered up a bland slice of sunshine pop; emphasis on pop.  This one served to showcase the band's multi-part harmonies, though I'm not sure if it was simply Vic Petri being multi-tracked.  At least the chorus was catchy and there was some nice Helmer wah-wah guitar in the background.    rating: ** stars      

- 'My Dream' was a conventional, dreamy ballad that simply never kicked into gear.  Pretty and there was a touch of wah-wah guitar in the background, but this one was pretty forgettable.    rating: ** stars       

- One of the more commercial songs on the album, 'I Didn't Mean To Hurt You' had a nice melody and an interesting staggered rhythm, but again never really managed to pick up much steam.  Shame, since this was one of the few performances where the lead singer showed some energy.    rating: *** stars

- Hum, well at least 'Good Thing Going' was short ...  Seriously the best part of the song came at the end with Salimen's pounding, lysergic keyboard and Helmer's sitar segment.    rating: ** stars          

- Relentlessly upbeat and boppy, complete with Brian Wilson-styled vocal harmonies,' Good Good Day' sounded like a mid-1960s Beach Boys outtake.  Some folks will love this one.  Don't include me among them, though I have to admit it would not have sounded out of place on mid-1960s top-40 radio which probably explains why it was tapped as the album's second single.    rating: *** stars  

- A nice, but somewhat anonymous mid-tempo ballad cursed with an amazingly unemotional lead vocal (the lead singer sounded like he'd overdosed on sleeping pills)  'That's the What Your Love Means To Me' was saved by Bob Crane's cool Paul McCartney-styled bass line and some tasty Nils Salimen keyboards.  With a more energetic vocal this one could have been a massive hit.   rating: *** stars  

- At least to my ears 'Take My Love Forever' was the album's dullest song.  Another ballad, this one simply never kicked into gear.  Well, to be honest it did, but not until the final portion of the track when it mutated into a weird, jazzy xylophone-propelled instrumental.   rating: * star

- Equally bland and depressing, 'Lonely River' sounded like an outtake from B.J. Thomas playing around with The Association.   Yech !    rating: * star

- Yet another ballad, 'You Can Make It Right' was just plain strange; the band apparently deciding to take a stab at emulating The Bee Gees, complete to Gibbs Brothers-styled warbling vocals.  Give it an extra star just the weird entertainment factor.   rating: ** stars

 

The album was tapped for a single in the form of:

 

- 1969's 'Good, Good Day' b/w' I Just Saw A Face' (De-Lite catalog number 522)

 

Certainly not the most talented, or original band you'll stumble across, but I'd give them an extra star for trying, to say nothing about being brave enough to wear those neck scarves ...  Still, its another one where the stratospheric value seems to be based on obscurity rather than true artistic merit.  Hum $250 for this or $6 for The Association's "Birthday" LP ...   pretty easy choice for me to make.  Now what to do with the other $244 ?

 

"Explode" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Missing You   (Nils Salimen - Rob Crane) - 2:18

2.) I Just Saw a Face   (Peter Anders - Vini Poncia) - 2:11

3.) Looking Glass   (P.J. Van - D. Lomego) - 2:43

4.) My Dream    (P. Zompa - B. Deceassar) - 2:07

5.) I Didn't Mean To Hurt You   (Nils Salimen - Rob Crane) - 2:30

6.) Good Thing Going   (Nils Salimen - Rob Crane) - 2:39

 

(side 2)
1.) Good Good Day   (
Nils Salimen - Rob Crane) - 2:58

2.) That's the What Your Love Means To Me   (Nils Salimen - Rob Crane) - 3:12

3.) Take My Love Forever   (Peter Anders - K. Vance) - 2:38

4.) Lonely River   (Nils Salimen - Rob Crane) - 3:10

5.) You Can Make It Right   (Peter Anders - Bobby Bloom) - 2:55

 

Salminen went on to start his recording outfit - Nordic Warrior Recorded Sound, working as a recording engineer/mixer on a host of soul and jazz albums.  His company has a website at:

 

www.silentscreammusic.com

 

 

 

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