Friday, December 16, 2011

Rodney Bingenheimer's English Disco Top 10 Winter 1973-74/"Star Rated Singles"/Motorboat! with Steve McDonald

I grew up listening to Rodney and his top ten lists in Flipside were always a kick (as well as the celebrity photos accompanying those lists). I always wondered what the top songs played at his English Disco were. In Bob Gruen's essential "All Dolled Up"(or is it the original 30 minute film?), we have a brief, tantalizing clip of the New York Dolls at the club dancing to the Velvet Underground (c.f. Television goofing to the Dolls in the Terry Ork video from the same year!) Well, here you have the very first of Rodney's published lists in the 70's from Marty Cerf's always entertaining Phonograph Record Magazine. Did Barry Blue's 45 even get a US release? I have to say I was surprised to not see the Jimmy Jukebox "Motorboat" 45 on here. As far as I am concerned that song is Kim's origin of the title to the Quick's "Mondo Deco" lp? I have chosen to highlight the lesser known numbers in the states. Based on Suzi's and the Sweet's placement TWICE, they ruled the roost at Rodney's - small consolation I guess as the Dolls ARE rock royalty as much as the Stones and Bo Diddley. Jimmy Jukebox shoulda been on there and because I really enjoy Steve McDonald channeling Uncle Kim to maximum effect, I have included that as well in the mix. Love that opening beat of Suzi's stomper.

Roy Wood at his Wilsonian finest:

Not quite up there with Legs & Co.'s take on Be Bop Deluxe's on "Maid in Heaven" seen here, but not bad Pan's People:

Speaking of all things Red Kross, one of the best powerpop songs of the 90's hands down and fantastic guitar (RIP Eddie) and bass playing. Nice keys by Gere and check out her 70's Runaways styled band in Japan here:

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

"What the Velvets Never Were, and What Dylan Never Could Be, All This and More is Television" - Alan Betrock, 1974

Rummaging in the barn, I never know what may turn up. This is what I found out today: by early 1974, Alan Betrock had already identified the greatness of Richard Hell-era Television and its historical import during the band's initial residency at CBGBs. Writing in the May 1974 issue of Phonograph Record, in a multiple-page spread featuring at least 15 writers discussing local venues and clubs, Betrock manages to give the highest praise possible to Television, as well as giving ink space to Andy Shernoff of the Dictators! Mind you, none of the other writers provide band commentary except for Betrock or even feel it appropriate. Somehow I think Betrock knew what kind of easter eggs he was planting for future historians - the man knew it all along as we have written about before here and here! Pantsios unfortunately does not score too well as I sit with cup of tea in hand scratching my beard in late 2011. Sadly, she gives no mention to either Rocket from the Tombs or Mirrors in the CLE write-up, though she manages to slag Left End not once but TWICE in the issue. Though this is the shortest of excerpts, Betrock says enough about Television and CBGBs:

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Little Diesel and the Weasels/"5 Powerful Punks on a High-Energy Hellride"/Where is the Ratz Vein Band?

I ask you, how many minor league, private press, hard rock lps from the 70's does one need to hear to match the proto-punk greatness that is found on Little Diesel's "No Lie"?" Sadly, you are in denial friends. You can listen to those boring but collectible releases which you have to impress your friends, but it is a fool's game to even glean the slightest influence of ANY high energy combo on those grooves. They don't exist no matter how hard your record dealer grafts on the adjectives. On the other hand, try to imagine yourself in early 70's Winston-Salem, North Carolina going to R.J. Reynolds (Tobacco) High School and having a band influenced by (and even knowing about) the MC5, Move, Big Star, Blue Ash, Bowie, the Stooges, the Velvet Underground and the New York Dolls. That band is Little Diesel and it is time to set the record straight. Right out of Waitakere Walks central casting, "No Lie" is a teenage take on Kama Sutra-era Flamin' Groovies and "Back in the USA," mixed in with just the right progressive FM covers. Just dig the "I Can Hear the Ants Dancing" vibe offa this great photo from July 4, 1974.

Yes, Mojo (sic) had a proto-punk feature but where was Little Diesel? Little Diesel was Bob Northcott, Peter Holsapple, Will Rigby, Phil Thomas, Tommy Eshelman, Chris Chamis and Chris Stamey. Some of the those names should be familiar to you. Will Rigby says he remembers Little Diesel's "slow-Stooges version of "Yo-Yo" (Osmonds) with Bob (Nothcott) oozing down the stage steps, Ig-like . . . and Bob's suggestion to call us the Hard-ons." That is NOT unfortunately on the lp. One of the last shows I saw before leaving the USA was Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey in LA. I have been following what those two have been doing for three decades now. What may have escaped you is that while the dBs and Let's Active - hell even Rittenhouse Square and Sneakers - gather all the press, here is ground zero.

Little Diesel were omnivorous rock animals similar to those that were springing up in small burgs coast to coast prior to the 1977 punk history re-write. According to Peter Holsapple:
We were all into music as listeners at some depth, devouring Creem and Phonograph Record magazines whenever we could get them. Will was a consummate Beatles collector for a long while. He and Bob loved Dylan, who I saw as a singles artist. Bob listened to Lenny Bruce, Streisand, the Velvet Underground, and the Stooges. We all adored the MC5, who performed in Winston-Salem at a legendary show the year I was away. My tastes were in the Roxy Music/Eno/Can school, with a nascent fascination with Fairport and Richard Thompson. We saw lots of shows together in Greensboro, like Alice Cooper/Free/Todd Rundgren. I think we went to see the J. Geils Band every time they played in NC.
The tracks that comprise "No Lie" (Telstar Records) were originally "released" in 1974 on homemade 8-tracks in a total run of 20. Here is the great Dolls homage of "Kissy Boys" and a cover of "American Ruse":

Check these great photos from the band's page showing them playing and setting up at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds.

The cd version even contains a "hidden" bonus cover of "Sweet Emotion."

Check out the correspondence where a teenage Holsapple is trying to get some writing work with Bangs. Ah, how the pretenders have cashed in with their own place in hagiographic movies about their LOW energy careers. Surely you too gagged at the five minutes you spent watching "Almost Famous" on the telly at the bar. I know I did. Also, we MUST hear the Ratz Vein Band! Nice logo in an Imperial Dogs fashion.

Now for the video, some notes. When the MC5's "Babes in Arms" cassette came out in '83, it registered that Peter Zaremba of the Fleshtones did the artwork. I played that tape incessantly in 1984. I also watched the Cutting Edge all the time. The start of the feature on Let's Active totally made me move as the band is playing "Shakin' Street" outside their barn with Zaremba. I had not seen it since the original broadcast but always remembered it. Now that Little Diesel's material is out, it makes total sense that Mitch Easter would cover it. I will also argue that this may be the FIRST time any MC5 material was played on ANY network prior to various "history of rock" type shows in the 2000s. Readers, correct me if I am wrong on this.

You also get the Osmands doing "Yo-Yo" though we need the Stooges-bubblegum version. Lastly, the MC5 as Little Diesel would have seen them in 1970 in W-S. Note that Holsapple was at boarding school at Andover that year (at the same time as Benmont Tench of Tom Petty's Heartbreakers) and missed it!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving 1974/"Whatever Gets You Through the Night"/Mister Pop (2009)

I was able to see the Clean last night for the second time this year. Easily one of the best live acts on the planet, with three equally great and compelling frontmen/singers. Is Hamish not one of the best singing drummers outside of Don Henley, Rubin Fiberglass, Dennis Wilson and Ringo when he takes his turn? Which had me thinking about other great Thanksgiving shows. Thanksgiving of 1974 should probably remind you of the second to last live appearance of John Lennon. Madison Square Garden on November 28, 1974 to be exact, joining Elton for an encore after losing a bet that "Whatever Gets You Through the Night" which Elton played on would hit number one. Also the night that Lennon began his reconciliation with Yoko. Heavy night on multiple fronts. See photo below. How do you describe Elton's favourite outfit during this era? Take a boiler suit, cut off the shirt part, add sequins and suspenders and an optional sequined beanie cap without a shirt?

This dude smuggled in the 8mm camera thankfully and you can see it here though he really needs to do a proper sound synch to the bootleg of the show and not the cheap and obvious dub of "Funeral for a Friend." Which had me thinking about the Beatles/Elton connection, which of course leads to Ringo's involvement in Born to Boogie, and then the Elton/Bolan connection. And of course, is there a better Beatles/VU-inspired act that has been together for more than thirty years than the Clean. I need to write up a buyers guide to post-1990 Clean recordings (one on Robert Scott's equally great and monumental Bats is in the works as well as David Kilgour's solo work). The Clean's most recent record, 2009's Mister Pop is a great listen, and features a nice 12-string Harrison/McGuinn homage in "In The Dreamlife You Need A Rubber Soul," which still sounds like nobody other than the Clean. If you have been asleep, Mister Pop, Mashed, Syd's Pink Wiring System and Getaway need to be acquired post haste. At the bottom is a video for "Too Much Violence" from 1994's Modern Rock, another gem in the back catalog you may have passed on to your detriment due to the release date.

At the Born to Boogie premiere December 14, 1972. Some days I am partial to the Mick Rock photo of Lou/Iggy/Bowie and some days to this one. Back Off Boogaloo!

I may be partial to the Mickey Finn version below:

Dig Ringo's "Back to Mono" button as well as his monstrous 'do.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

"One Set of Words For Me and One Set of Words for Mummy"/Roy Harper "How Does It Feel" live 1970

Who knows how the LA singer-songwriter scene would have played out if people paid attention to Roy at the height of his powers instead of sitting back at the bar. Who did he play with in February of 1970? Flat Baroque and Beserk from that year just sounds better and better as the years roll on and is probably the Harper lp I have revisited most often in the past ten years - the underrated Valentine probably comes next. There is a biting edge to Flat Baroque and Beserk which is few and far between other lps from the same year, and it sits nicely on the shelf with yer other faves from '70. So it is a nice surprise when live footage from the era finally turns up after over 40 years:

Harper's Valentine from 1974 features one of the the most rocking, high energy tracks which Jimmy Page performed on in the 1970's, "Male Chauvinist Pig Blues." Not too dissimilar to The Who's appearance without Daltrey on Mike Heron's solo lp Smiling Men With Bad Reputations on the track "Warm Heart Pastry." Just raises the energy level up a notch. Nobody has posted the actual lp version of the track but here is a live version which does not do the studio version justice though has some excellent work from Page and Harper. GREAT cover on the bootleg, no?

"Commune" from Valentine:

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

International Hello/Monoshock's "Walk to the Fire" in Mojo/"Steel Wheels" Revisited

Fifteen years goes by quick don't it? Fifteen years between "It's Only Rock n' Roll" and "Steel Wheels." Fifteen years between "Walk to the Fire" and "International Hello." Driving around West Auckland is about as close to an experience of driving around Van Nuys or Reseda as I can get these days. I distinctly remember blaring an early cassette of what became for the most part, "Walk to the Fire" as I drove around the valley on an oven hot day around '95. So when I hear "Someone's Coming" from the International Hello (Holy Mountain) lp blaring on the car deck as I cruise down Railside Avenue on a hot, spring day, it is like having old friends back again - not unlike when you first heard "Mixed Emotions." So, does it surprise me when Monoshock makes the recent Mojo with the George Harrison cover? No, not really - I only wish it was a Macca cover.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

"One of America's Outstanding White Guitarists" [sic]/John Fahey in Rock Scene 1973/Blues on Acid: Blind Owl Blues

Can we break down this great photo? Entire case of Dewars White Label Scotch, Schlitz can (or possibly glass tumbler) and a pack of hand roll smokos. Early 70's Takoma logo revamp t-shirt which definitely needs a short run re-screen if we have the time. Ricky? Clothesrack and holding what - a drumstick? Nice setting possibly in Santa Monica? Barry Hansen's place in the Valley? Note talks about Reprise but we all know that "Fare Forward Voyagers (Soldier's Choice)" was about to be unleashed.

On another note, late last year I finally got around to reading Rebecca Davis Winters' great bio of Alan Wilson of Canned Heat entitled "Blind Owl Blues." Let's just say that for Faheyologists, it is an essential entry in the canon. The Blind Owl is there in the critical early to mid-60's era with John (Boston, UCLA, etc) and there are heaps of Fahey-related anecdotes.

Anyone familiar with Fahey's contribution to "Parthenogenesis" on "Living the Blues" will want to check it out. Winters digs out that Fahey wanted to put out Wilson's solo record on Takoma and recorded a bunch of it in 1966. Harmonica master Wilson had recorded a bunch of ragas on chromatic harmonica. Here is the great photo from "Voice of the Turtle" of from left Fahey, Rev. Rubin Lacey, Wilson and David Evans, Ridgecrest, CA 1966 - more on the background to the photo in the book.

Winters also digs out that on Fahey's "Old Girlfriends and Other Horrible Memories" from 1982, that Wilson's harmonica playing is on there uncredited. Winters fails to note which track so I will do it for ya: "Fear & Loathing at 4th & Butternut." I will post that track when I get some time. Now Glenn Jones was assistant engineer on the lp so maybe he could describe the circumstances of the use (which is truly because Fahey loved the guy). When Winters asked Fahey about the lack of credit, Fahey stated in typical John fashion that "I didn't think Wilson would mind." Here is a choice excerpt from the book:

While they were living together, Fahey felt the need to make Wilson improve his level of cleanliness. 'Wilson refused to take baths very often,' he explained. 'And he usually stunk. When he lived with me, I had to frequently fill the tub with water and soap, and then threaten him, force him to take his clothes off and take a bath. And I'd buy him clothes and underwear and stuff. But he didn't smell too good. Very bad . . .

This is only scratching the surface of what is really a great piece of research for the unacknowledged true masters of the era. Maybe we can kickstart the Fahey bio or Dr. Demento can publish his 50-70's memoirs which would be a goddamn hoot.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Captain on American Bandstand 1966 . . . who knew [repost]

Faster than you can say Dick Clark productions, the clips get taken down from the net. I am not sure how long this one will be back up for:

And all this time I have been waiting for the performance of Sparks on American Bandstand from 1972 to materialize.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Gun Club Interviewed 3/11/82 Madison, WI/"a silver lame type dinner jacket over his small beer belly"/Coolest Retard May/June '82/Misfits at Misfits

Coolest Retard was one of the more comprehensive punk zines to come out of the Midwest. Some of the coverage was a bit dodgy in a "new wave" way, and the ghetto-ization of the nascent hardcore coverage reeked of condescension to my teenage eyes. What snagged my interest at Tower Records was its pro-Black Flag coverage (no doubt influenced by the return of the Effigies back to their Chicago mothership). The review of Damaged below states that "it's so hard to put a Black Flag record or show into words." I also would have noticed the contemporary reviews of Bad Religion, Huskers, Hell Comes to Your House, Wild in the Streets and the Misfits live - all bought and listened to obsessively in real time. Did I really sell back my post '74 Who lps to get store credit to get some of these. I only managed to put my mitts on one copy of Coolest Retard in real time which is the May/June '82 issue excerpted below. Did all those records come out in such a short, six month time frame? A GREAT time period for American music for sure given all the Vegas punk from the UK being churned out and covered in the US zines for some reason. It seemed that any band on Punk & Disorderly could come out to LA and headline Godzillas. Gun Club coverage is pretty fascinating to see how they were received outside of LA. Record collector rock ("RCR") is maligned for some reason. The Cramps and the Gun Club are progenitors of two strands/genres of music that one could say did not exist previous to their existence and is in part due to their record hound excavations. See also John Fahey, Tim Gane and Thurston Moore for similar RCR genre-creation. Medals all around.

There are some great quotes from JLP. Fer instance:
"I can't stand [45 Grave]. It has nothing to do with Rob [Ritter]. I just think horror rock is a waste of time." Three words come to mind on looking back when I saw JLP live: Screaming Lord Sutch.

"[The Fire of Love] is not produced well enough. Not enough balls." Uh, thanks Chris and Tito. I kinda remember Danzig saying something along the same lines with Walk Among Us though probably he insinuated using violence. Best representation of either band IMHO.

"I knew [Kid Congo Powers] before the 'punk rock thing'."

"[Chis Stein and Debbie Harry] knew me before any bands." True though a nice understatement JLP - you were Los Angeles PRESIDENT of the Blondie fanclub c. 1977. Thank you Chris and Debbie for Animal Records and Miami and The Las Vegas Story. Not unlike the patronage of Ocacek on the Bad Brains and Suicide. At least they tried.

Lastly, a excerpt from a Black Flag interview in an earlier Coolest Retard from 1980. I am guessing the same tour that gives us the great Flag rehearsal photo on a Chicago day off - what a work ethic - on the second edition of the essential Rock and the Pop Narcotic. I would have liked to have been a fly on the wall the first time Dez and Chuck got to rap with the Kirkwoods and Bostrom over their shared affinity for the great Tres Hombres lp. Also, some interesting comments on their influences and early LA scene:

JOHN: Do you guys consider yourself a second generation band from LA?
GREG: No, well that may have been kind of how it worked out. We've been aroundfor a long time. Since it had started in LA. We come from the suburbs of LA and we were kind of shut out of the scene in the city.
CHUCK: You weren't a punk if you're from the suburbs.
GREG: They wouldn't give us gigs.
DEZ: We were written up in all the LA magasines when all the second generation bands were getting written up--doesn't mean you're a second generation.
GREG: We were around since early '77.
DIANE: Who would be considered a first generation band and who would be considered a second generation band?
GREG: In LA? The Weirdos would be first generation. The Zeroes, the Germs, the Bags.
KAREN: Are they still together?
GREG: Some of them are.
JOHN: If you were looking for converts. What kind of crowd are you looking to play for?
GREG: We think everybody should be subjected to us, if they like it or not. A lot of bands and people have an attitude of, "OK we're going to have our little crowd here and we're gonna keep certain people out...We're gonna have our own private club," and that's bullshit. Everybody should be dragged in and subjected to it. Go out and make an effort--hitting people on the head, whether they like it or not.
DEZ: For years and years they've been saying in LA that our scene is this and our scene is that.
GREG: Allow everyone in.
CHUCK: That's just like a bogus punk attitude they have in LA which I think is garbage. If the band is for change, then they can have an effect in varying degrees on all kinds of different people. If you're gonna change anything you're not gonna by sitting in your living room, no matter how big it is.
GREG: For example, this club here is great right now. No age limit.
JOHN: How long is it going to stay like that?
GREG: Well now you see.
DEZ: That's what kept it alive from where we're from.
GREG: That's important if someone in Chicago should make sure there's a place without an age limit that anybody can go to. No restrictions, you don't have to look a certain way. Open to any kind of taste which means putting up with some assholes.
JOHN: Do you think a lot of energy you have up on stage is put down on record the way you like it?
GREG: We think it's been done good on record and it could be done good on video.
JOHN: What kind of bands did you listen to before you got into this?
CHUCK: Years ago, I use to listen to Black Sabbath, Iggy Pop all kind of bands
DEZ & GREG: All kinds of bands.
CHUCK: Alice Cooper
DIANE: What do you think of them now?
GREG: We like them. Ha. Ha. Ha. We don't have to agree with their stuff to listen to their records.
JOHN: Would you buy their latest stuff?
GREG: No, like Iggy Pop, people should listen to his early stuff. Raw Power. Fun House. Metallic KO. I Got a Right. Since then he's got really burnt out stuff out. It's kind of a sheme alot of people would consider Iggy Pop by his later stuff.
CHUCK: It's an excuse for new wavers to be like that. He still has some type, sort of personality.
KAREN: Reminds me of Johnny Thunders.
GREG: Someones who's off in that kind of quasi-adult burnt out world. He can support that fantasy. People are captivated by his personality rather than the emotion he use to put out.
DIANE: A lot of press releases that I've seen said you were coming here "straight from the Tomorrow Show" like that's your only claim to fame. What do you think of that?
CHUCK: That was ten minutes
GREG: The promoter, I guess, picked up on that. It has very little effect on people coming to see us.
CHUCK: It was just me speaking my mind.
GREG: It was not something we went out to do. They asked to talk to us and said they have the best intentions.

Friday, October 21, 2011

"Hard Attack" '78/"C'Mon Hilly More Senders, Erasers, Feelies, Mars, Teenage Jesus"/You Geeks! Part 2

Review of MX-80 Sound's classic "Hard Attack" in real time from NYC, USA circa 1978. Issue Number Three from the barn archive of J. Gorton's Beat It! Heavy Stiff Records/pub rock coverage but also great NYC punk coverage as well. That is Eddie and the Hot Rods singer Barrie Masters in the middle of the review. The MacManus cover is a bit misleading as there is a more rockist angle to the whole zine than the cover would indicate. Handwritten note on the back cover indicates a run of 300 copies. There is a mention of a Mumps television news clip (with photo stills in the article from a TV set - those were the days) that I have been trying to track down for a couple years with no luck.

A much needed re-post of the great Rich Stim Esq. "rock star" ad from an old Gulcher in the barn. Other than the waaay, way off comment re Rich's vocal abilities - one he hopefully cringes at in 2011 - Gorton really nails the review without having heard the "Big Hits" ep at the time he reviewed the lp. Beefheart, Beefheart, more Beefheart, with a little VU, humor and some Lumpy Gravy. C'mon, in my mind, Stim's vocal styling is droll, sleepy, funny and laconic all at the same time. Try that on for size. "Catch the usual (for the mid-west it seems) Velvet's touches on 'Summer 77' and 'You're Not Alone."

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

"I Wanna Bite Your Hand"/"The Essence of Teenage Pre- or Post-Wasteland American rock 'n' Roll"/Rendezvous!

The last time I saw Andy Paley, he was playing keys with the Patti Smith Group at the Santa Monica Pier a few years back. Leigh was last heard playing bass live with Blondie. The Sidewinders eponymous debut from 1972 had so much going for it. Great songs that hearkened back to the golden age of rock and roll, the first band to have a residency at Max's since the Velvets and signed by RCA around the same time as Bowie, the Kinks and Lou Reed. Not enough promotional dollars to spread around to the Sidewinders, eh? Some nice cover snaps from the Chelsea Hotel below.

With a very sympathetic and warm production from Lenny Kaye and no lack of positive ink - see Bangs' glowing 1972 review from Creem and Billy Squire-era article in Rock Scene (though Squire is not mentioned other than as Billy) from the barn archive, we can only ask why the album didn't really chart. I know Joey Ramone wondered that as well. A short, positive review of the Sidewinders debut from the May 24, 1972 issue of Billboard:

One of the best tracks from the lp, "Told You So," with some slight (to my ears anyway), Flamin' Groovies influence?

Here is the great Spectoresque production of Bonnie and the Treasures' "Home of the Brave," no doubt a big regional hit in the Boston area. A favorite of Andy Paley and a great showcase of the Wrecking Crew.

And lastly, here is Lester's favorite, "Rendezvous" off the lp. There is rumbling we may yet get to hear the live 1971-1972 Sidewinders that Lester was so fond of. Really essential as we have two first hand accounts here that the Sidewinders were the equal of the Yardbirds and/or MC5 live !

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Welcome to the Faabulous Seventies!

One of the best and most influential record reviews of the 1970's by Nick Kent. Holds up to this day. Archived by thirteen year old Steven Morrissey and reproduced in his slim tone on the New York Dolls originally published in 1981. From the 25 August 1973 NME.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

All the Hipsters Go to the Movies/"his sense of space and time was slightly science fiction"/Sandy Bull 1974-75 NYC

On the Richard Dreyfuss-inspired backyard Mount Rushmore of 1960’s American guitar explorers that I am making, Sandy Bull stands as my Abraham Lincoln - Fahey as Washington and Basho as Teddy Roosevelt? Who other than Sandy Bull could be there playing with the original Patti Smith trio and then sitting in with the Don Cherry Group within the span of about six months in late 1974 to mid 1975. Who says the mid-70's were the lost years for Sandy? Not lost, just undocumented.

Lets pick it up in 1972 with Patti's review of the great "Demolition Derby" entitled "Keeping Time" from a 1972 issue of the NYC Metropolitan Journal. The whole thing is worth reading for the context/scholarship of what Sandy deems his "homecoming . . . a resurrection":
Maybe I'm a sap. Who can say for sure? When I was 18 I was living in a cabin down south. All the people played was Bach or Bartok. A slew of classical B's. Even the opera was Madame Butterfly.

No rock 'n roll ya understand. And no Billie Holiday. No blues at all. And what better B is there?

Christ how I craved a radio. 3 miles down there was an all night diner. The jukebox there just drove me insane. It ate up my quarters like some carniverous bird, chomp chomp. To me it was money never wasted; you can never get enough--music.

One rainy sunday I found some weird record stuck behind some Beethoven. Sandy Bull. Well it was B. It wasn't rock 'n roll it wasn't. Well I could run all night and say what it wasn't. But I couldn't say nothing on what it was. Fantasias. On Vanguard. Well I played the shit out of that record but the boy on the cover was completely foreign.

Sandy Bull. Some said he was dead, car crash. 3 notches under James Dean. Some say his end was more decadent. More Paris in the twenties. Slain in some alley. A fizzled goofball brain.

Well either way the record was a refuge and as about as elaborate as a Frankie Lymon fan could take. By mistake I left it down south when I headed for the big city. Often I regretted it. But like any fickle fan I soon forgot. Lost in the stars. Bob Dylan. The Doors. Smokey Robinson. The Empire State Building. The Soft White Underbelly...

And now. Outta nowhere. Seven years later he's back. I first seen him in a bar. Him and Bobby Neuwirth. He was recruting lucky suckers to check out the Latin stuff at the Cheeta. It's hot he said. Latin whoo whee it's next. you'll see, sex. he kept spinning words out around. juicy Lucy. got to be. Tennessee cream.

I just couldn't handle Latin night. I went to a spanish bar instead and drank tequila and a few bloody marys. That was about as hot blooded as I was feeling.

And later that week I checked him out. Live at Max's Kansas City. I went there with Tony Glover. Master of the harmonica and hard edged humor. That night he was real respectful. It was was more than just a gig he told me. It was a homecoming. A resurrection.

Sandy rose up and faced the music. It was the strangest thing I ever saw. His sense of space and time was slightly science fiction. A left over junk space. Passing of several moments never bothered him. And what I seen was so insane. He had this tape playback system all set up. It looked like a million tape recorders. They were all set up to spin out pre-recordings of himself. Track after track of rhythm guitar and percussion. He'd set them off and grab up a "live" instrument and play along like mad. Maybe I'm naive. But I just never seen nobody do that. What if Smokey Robinson came onstage with a cassette of the Miricles singing back-up vocals.

It seemed like he was bootlegging himself. I really dug it understand. I was just amazed. I got real nervous that everybody would feel cheated or think he was nuts. But the room was filled with fans. Tony was at the bar and I didn't want to act like I never seen Sandy before. But I didn't and everybody else was caught in his slow motion swirls and long-winded latin rags.

I gotta admit I was having trouble getting the beat. But the kid totally fascinated me. I mean nothing bothered him. Nothing meaning time and silence. If a tape snapped or a string broke he'd take his time. He'd fiddle around with the machines til he figured the problem out. A slightly mongoloid handyman. On the audience's time. And no one seemed to mind.

Me I couldn't relax. Having a speeded up city pulse, I kept looking around at everybody. Wondering what they were thinking. True to his night at the Cheetah he was playing some quick hot latin stuff. But all that party beat was coming from one long necked blond and ten machines. Sandy Bull and his robot band.

Finally I settled down. Remembering my early southern upbringing I pumped a little southern langor in my veins. Then, after a rather textured swim in the Bull brain, I got real effected. He done two things that just knocked me out. Hit me so deep I nearly got sick. Knee deeep in the heart.

Ya know when somebody strikes a chord in you that brings up your past like puke? Real human memories. Not just nostalgia or bringing up baby stuff. The creepy memories that lurk behind your brain like dogs. Well Sandy started hitting all those chords in me. I felt I was some drowning singer going through all the greatest hits of his past. The greatest hit flops that is.

Sandy cut with the fancy stuff and moved into the Floyd Cramer classic "Last Date." I don't know if you remember that song. It was an instrumental and I hated it when it was out. It made me feel like a creep. They used to play it at dances. I was a real wallflower. Nobody ever asked me to dance, I'd wait all night for a "ladies' choice." But when a boy boy saw me coming for him he always got lost quick. Or else he'd bend down to tie his shoes (even if he had loafers on). Even worse, some guys would pretend they didn't hear me. I'd stand there waiting for a yes or no until the silence was so deadly I'd be forced to slink away.

Well I hated that music. "Last Date." It was real square. And I hated the word "date" Especially cause I never had any. Plus the last time I remember hearing that song was one hot summer night in Camden, New Jersy. It was at the Roxy Ballroom and as usual I wasn't dancing. I was standing near the window blending in with the wallpaper.

Anyway two South Philly guys pulled knives on a few Camden greasers. A fight broke out. Chairs were flying as well as screaming girls and limp corsages. Some guy named Chico threw a chair my my way. I started picking up the pieces. At that moment a bumblebee flew in and stung me in the neck. I fainted. I came to but nobody had even noticed. Pointed shoes were ripping round my head. The bumblebee was hanging out of my neck but the music playing was no Bumblebee Boogie. It was "Last Date" droning on and on. Like forever.

All that shit was floating around me while Sandy Bull was twanging it up on that little red-light stage. But I liked it a lot. I was feeling queezy and suddenly "Last Date was my favorite song. It reminded me of what will be never again.

After he finished that one he started wandering around the stage. Sorta mumbling to himself. Then he picked up an acoustic guitar, sat down at the apron of the stage, and without warning started singing "The Tennessee Waltz."

Well I nearly fainted. First cause he was singing. See I don't know much about his history so I never knew he had vocal chords. It shocked me like it must of shocked people when their silent film heroes started talking. Valentino or Nureyev. You just don't expect it. He sang neat and Dylan singing "Corinna Corinna" in 1965.

But it wasn't just that he was singing. It was what he was singing. "The Tennessee Waltz."

Now I done time, in my youth, down in Chattanooga. I got two favorite memories. One was Daddy Frank knocking out "Star Dust" boogie-woogie style from his tin-pan piano. The other was Aunt Ethel Maye.

Good ole Aunt Ethel. Ethel of the fire engine red hair and the electric movements.. The little honey that shocked the entire south by pinning 100-dollar bills in the cups and cleavage of her showy imitation leopard skin bathing suit. Everyone said that she had once spent a rather turid night with Hank Williams in a road side motel. Out of wedlock!!!! When she was out the door she was wild. But the reason I loved Ethel Maye so much was because of those nights she'd stay in, turn up the victrola, and cry herself to sleep.

She always listened to the same song "Tennessee Waltz" I think it was Patti Page singing it. It was nearly worn down. The grooves were getting slick. God how she played that song. Over and over til her heart would break. Her dyed henna hair spilling all over Grandma's baby blue satin comforter. I was too young to understand why she played that song and why it made her cry. It was a sweet pain I just hadn't learned.

You remember that song don't you? About this couple that were dancing to the "Tennessee Waltz" The girls best friend comes up and cuts in. She watches helplessly while her sweetheart and best friend fall in love while they're waltzing. One of those songs that reek of chiffon and clean bare shoulders. A completely white tragedy.

I suspected that Aunt Ethel Maye, in spite of being a hot number, had been burned pretty bad once.

Meanwhile Sandy Bull was still singing. Slow and southern. Tears were running down my cheeks. I thought cause of Aunt Ethel. Me being very sentimental. But not. It was me crying for me. For much the same reason. I was all grown up. Once burned myself. I ordered some mint gin quick.

I was sorry Sandy Bull was no victrola. I could have listened to him sing all night. But he finished it up. People were cheering and he meandered off stage and went to the bathroom. I was getting sloppy drunk. The kind that isn't hip at all. Tony and his girl Sue were talking soft to each other. A lotta people were daydreaming. Some were begging for an encore. I went downstairs and hailed a cab. The cabbie dropped me off three blocks from my house cause I was puking in the back seat. When I finally fell in the door of home sweet home I put on Chris Connor singing "Stella By Starlight" and other lullabies for lovers.

Seven months later his record comes out. His fourth I think "Demolition Derby." On which he plays the guitar, electric guitar, electric bass, oud, cowbell, conga, sandpaper, spare change, bass drum, foot cymbal, Indian bass drum, dumbeck and steel drum. whew.

Theres a lot of Latin in that record. "Sweet Baby Jumper" is my favorite. It's like being at a Puerto Rican block party. "Gotta Be Juicy" is just that. Real sleezy stuff. Sandy Bull is no goody-goody. I ain't hot for long instrumentals. Especially India stuff. I got western movement. That's why I can dig Sandy's stuff. Even at its most "cosmic" its still sleezy...juicy...American. Yeah its a real cool record.

But best of all it's got a pretty haphazard version of "Last Date" and "Tennessee Waltz." Not sounding much better than when live at Max's Kansas City. And just as powerful! Matter of fact. The funny thing about the record is that it seems live. On the spot. Take one only. Sandy Bull and his robot band turning on the switches once, just once.

I'm not too good at reviewing stuff. I don't know any technical shit and as you might have noticed I'm not hot on the adjectives. But the record is neat. No Bullshit.

Its especially good if you've had a heartache like Aunt Ethel. Like Bette Davis. Like Ida Lupino. Like Kim Novak. Like Me. Late at night I put on a black silk slip, smoke a million cigarettes. Just fall to pieces on that baby blue satin comforter that Aunt Ethel sent me when I turned sweet sixteen. I cry and cry. Wondering when my man is coming home. As Sandy Bull is crooning long and southern that "Tennessee Waltz" on my old hi fi.
This is the context in which Patti, Lenny and DNV had Sandy not only open the historic "Rock n Rimbaud III" at the Blue Hawaiian Discotheque at the Hotel Roosevelt in NYC on November 10, 1974, but he joined them as a fourth member (founding member of the PSG?!) on the opener and close of the set.

The early Lenny, Patti and Richard trio recordings need to be released properly! I know there is b&w video footage which has never seen the light of day. The "Rock n' Rimbaud" set itself is awesome, and here they are with Sandy on oud ("All the Hipsters Go to the Movies" - dissertation forthcoming on Patti's "poem") and on bass(?) for "Land"). Does the Bull set exist on tape somewhere?:

Next is a taste of the Don Cherry Group live at the Five Spot in NYC on June 7, 1975. Cherry's "Brown Rice" is possibly the best Can album of the 70's, no? Don't have a track name here but you get Don on trumpet, electric piano and vocals, Sandy (mostly on guitar), Frank Lowe on tenor and soprano, Roger Blank and Ed Blackwell on double drums, Hakim Jami and William Parker on bass, and Selene Fung on ching. Not too far off the line-up on the string of Cherry lps from the era like "Relativity Suite."

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Good News From Beantown/It's the Simple Story of a Boy in All His Glory/Reddy Teddy and Matthew MacKenzie [Repost]

I recently discovered that the May 1974 issue of Creem had a pretty noteworthy item about Reddy Teddy (and the great Sidewinders). Sidewinders as the next Kiss or is that the next Dust? In retrospect, both should be included in the class of '74 winners, no? Another one of those items with a lot of "what if" possibilities. Given how great those demos sounded, the lp would've been a monster. Guys, how about pressing up some tapes of the 1972-74 era? Kinda reminds of what would have happened if the Weirdos did sign with a major label in 1977 instead of telling them to take a hike. Such is life . . .

With that note below, and the re-up of several audio files - including the essential cut of "Teddy Boy" from 1974 - here is the original post on Reddy Teddy from about two years ago.

The early to mid-1970’s greater Boston area music scene was unparalleled by its wealth of proto-punk greatness. The Modern Lovers, the Sidewinders, the Count, Fox Pass, Thundertrain, the Third Rail, the nascent lineups of the Real Kids and DMZ, Willie Alexander and the pre-Cars Cap n' Swing. To my ears, the real unknown gem is Reddy Teddy and the late Matthew MacKenzie. If your idea of classic rock is mid-60’s Who/Kinks/Yardbirds/Pretty Things/Byrds and pretty much every original rock n’ roller who influenced those folks, you get the picture of the Reddy Teddy ethos.

Back in 1972, in Winchester, Mass, Reddy Teddy was causing a NY Dolls styled ruckus that matches anything Clap, Streak, Rags, Milk ‘n Cookies, Shady Lady and the Berlin Brats recorded in a high energy vein. Reddy Teddy shared bills with the Dolls in this period and liked to party with Aerosmith at Kilsyth Manor - a locale with debauched tales that apparently match those of the fabled Canterbury apartment complex in Hollywood several years later. Courted in 1973 to sign a major label deal with the same A&R rep Paul Nelson that signed Blue Ash to Mercury, Reddy Teddy cut some great demos in Boston and went to NYC and recorded an lp that was never released - purportedly due to the oil shortage. The photo of Matthew MacKenzie recording in Boston was taken at the session which gives us the blistering version of “Teddy Boy.” I usually wouldn't repost something but I have noticed that the audio files of several older posts were deleted as well as finding something new to add so here it is again:

Unable to get their tapes, in 1974 they put out a killer pre-punk independent 45 of “Novelty Shoes/Goo Goo Eyes.” I have included my own vinyl rip of the single below:

In 1974, we have Patti’s “Piss Factory” and Crème Soda’s “(I’m) Chewin’ Gum.” If you haven’t registered Reddy Teddy as part of the class of 1974, please do so now. I guess we could have had the major label pre-punk, power pop lp like those of Blue Ash, Artful Dodger, Piper (the VU/Squier connection will be the subject of a later post) but it is all left to rotisserie baseball conjecture. Here is a photo from the "Teddy Boy" session:

Not to get into all the minutia of the 1975-76 era (let the clippings from the barn archive flesh out the story – Gene Sculatti writing to Matthew, Ken Barnes great lp review in Phonograph, the amazing triple bill at Harvard of Patti Smith/Sparks/Reddy Teddy).

While their buddies Aerosmith rose to the top in 1976, Reddy Teddy put out an independent lp. To me the 1976 lp has its moments of greatness. What everyone should track down is the Not Lame label archival dig
that has plenty of the 1972-1976 era and is of the most interest here. Is there a better cut of prime, Dollsian-street punk than “Teddy Boy” and the demos for the 1976 lp are ace as well. Reddy Teddy’s last show in the 70’s was opening for Van Halen in 1978.

Below are two of the better tracks from the '76 lp - "Shark in the Dark" and "Boys and Girls":

The story of Matthew MacKenzie is contained in part in the Not Lame release but lets hope some early 70's live stuff materializes. My guess is that the studio did not do them justice. Reddy Teddy continues today - go check them out on the web and see John, Scott, Joe, Ted and Jeff live.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Very 'eavy... Very 'umble/He Wrote "Chatterbox" All By Himself/The New York Dolls Are the Most Overrated, Dreadful Band I've Ever Heard

The critical reappraisal. So I guess we can all have a laugh that in 1974, Dave Byron of Uriah Heep warranted the cover of Circus instead of the New York Dolls. Other than inspiring Spinal Tap, is Uriah Heep still credited along with Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin as being a source of "very 'heavy" music? When I fist moved to NZ, I found a dusty, Vertigo swirl copy of "Very 'eavy... Very 'umble" at a demo yard in Henderson (along with a VG+ copy of "Burning Up Years" for you record nerds - probably sourced by the yard from some bikers). Snatched both up for under $10 NZD. As you do. At least Gary Thain made it back to NZ and Western Springs with the Heep before the end . . .

I have ridiculed Circus in the past but I seem to find that there was some great coverage of underground favorites. Reproduced below from the barn is a nice feature on the Dolls promoting the second lp. Also included is Janis Schacht's harsh review of "Too Much, Too Soon" from the same issue. As Richard Hell has stated, the New York Dolls were the first pure rock and roll band. Lest we forget as noted in the article that Johnny wrote "Chatterbox" all by himself, is a performance from Gruen's brilliant "All Dolled Up" as the lead in. Is Bob Gruen the only one affiliated with punk other than Bangs to be able to wear a 'stache amongst the punks without derision? Back to Uriah Heep. The famous 1970 Uriah Heep review by UCLA Bruin and Metal Mike pal, Melissa Mills. From the October 1, 1970 Rolling Stone, take it Melissa:
If this group makes it I'll have to commit suicide. From the first note you know you don't want to hear any more. Uriah is watered down, tenth-rate Jethro Tull, only even more boring and inane. UH is composed of five members: vocals, organ, guitar, bass, and drums. They fail to create a distinctive sound tonally; the other factor in their uninteresting style is that everything they play is based on repetitive chord riffs.

According to the enclosed promo information, Uriah Heep spent the past year in the studio, rehearsing and writing songs. No doubt their lack of performing experience contributed to the quality of the record; if they had played live in clubs they would have been thrown off the stage and we'd have been saved the waste of time, money, and vinyl. (RS 67)


On a related note, possibly my favorite proto-punk/glam French combo, the Frenchies, whose lp "Lola Cola" is an all time fave, here on the live slow burn, though not as high energy as the Dolls. Contemporaries with the Dolls, Imperial Dogs, Streak, Daddy Maxfield, Zolar-X, Hollywood Brats and Clap, the Frenchies live:

And lastly, here we have Uriah Heep live at Budakon, 1973, doing their Sha Na Na thing: