Saturday, February 20, 2010


It wasn't their fault. They weren't really given a chance. Signed by Sire Records in the U.S., the Saints' first album "(I'm) Stranded" was released in a massive flurry of "let's catch up" marketing. Unfortunately, the push included much more visible acts, the Talking Heads, the Dead Boys, Richard Hell & the Voidoids, and the Ramones, all from the states (the Saints were from Australia). To further their footnote status, one member had the audacity to have long hair and a skinny tie. When record store listening stations and airplay were unheard of at the time, and every record company was playing the same game of catch-up, someone had to fall through the cracks. And people weren't going to part with their hard earned bucks for a band that they knew nothing about, who didn't have the "right" look to boot. So, despite having a chart topping UK hit "(I'm) Stranded" in 1976, the Saints were ignored by just about everybody in the U.S. It's not surprising that later generations of music fiends were late in latching on. That said, it was refreshing to see a post on Licorice Pizza, where the guy had just discovered the Saints first LP and actually did a little homework. (And it was his post that prompted this one. Good going kid.)
A semi-related link below lends a historical perspective to the record industy's initial panic, in an "Oh shit, what will we do now?!" issue of Billboard, they've got several articles on the mysterious punk rock/new wave beast. With headlines like "Assault on This Industry,' "You Call This Rock n' Roll," "Never Mind the Bollocks, Sell Me a Disk," and "Anarchy at the Labels, Does This Mean I'm Out?," it's a real hoot. But then again, watching fat cats squirm never gets old.
The record idustry didn't know what to do:

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Ca-chink, ca-chink, ca-chink....That's what I heard when I was at a stop light, on a wet St. Marks Place, on my way home one night, twenty-odd years ago. Looking down at the feet next to me, well traveled pointed toe shoes, the sort of which were common in Tijuana shoe stores, but not the sort I'd been seeing on the feet of New Yorkers in the mid-eighties. I glanced to my right, and saw the pointed shoe wearer's companion, with a Ronettes style bouffant, and make-up right out of a Diane Arbus photo. Then I looked up at her man. A stoic, timelessly pompadoured, figure gazing straight ahead, waiting for the light to change. It was Willy Deville.
I'd been in New York for a couple months, done a few clubs, did CBGB's, had a group of friends that included a D-list of grafitti writers, artists, drunks, and the drummer on the Heartbreakers "Live at Max's" LP, short, I had all sorts of fringe NY moments. But here was Willy Deville, with his woman, on a wet, rainy night, in the Lower East Side. Now it really felt like New York.
Mink Deville (the band), though loved by critics, were vastly overlooked by record buyers. They first appeared on a lame CBGB's compilation, and likely because of that association, no one was really sure what to make of them. Deville's understated reverence for music that came before him was about as "old wave" as you could get, especially considering his CBGB's stablemates were the Ramones, Patti Smith, Blondie, et al. This was a guy who had a Spector alumni producing his first three albums, wrote with Doc Pomus, hired Elvis' rhythm section for his third album, and recorded in Paris so he could use Edith Piaf's string arranger. It's telling that, while most of his contemporaries can be pegged to a certain era because of their sound, his music is just like his look was that night, timeless.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Friday, February 12, 2010


Whenever I think about what I'd do if music wasn't available online, the answer is actually pretty simple. I'd be back at the record store, for several hours a week, just browsing the different sections. Right before the local Tower Records closed, I'd just become friends with a couple employees. One was a mega-pierced electro-hipster, the other a nu-hippy. They were both well versed in international music, funk, jazz, and soul. (And, like myself, both were readers of the exhaustive Wax Poetics.) Though I never really asked for recommendations, they subtly validated my purchases ('that's a good one"..."oh, you'd like..."). I miss that.

thing that can be said, about online music sources (primarily blogs) is that I can still find the occasional surprise out of nowhere. These two cuts are an excellent example. Would the two guys at Tower ever have steered me towards some singer from Tel Aviv? Maybe, but chances are I never would have heard of Karolina if I hadn't been roaming around aimlessly online.

Monday, February 8, 2010


A few weeks ago I posted a remix of a Billie Holiday song, that had her singing over reggae tracks, and it sounded, if not surprisingly good, at least interesting (depends on which side of the purist fence you're on). Then a few days ago, I just ran into a mash-up of Bob Marley and Soft Cell that works remarkably well. I normally hate it when someone fucks with reggae with mash-ups or remixes because I think of seventies reggae as too organic. But the Marley/Soft Cell thing caught me off guard. So here's the source material and Glories Jones' original version of Tainted Love.
Gloria Jones - Tainted Love mp3 at Balarama Music
Soft Cell - Tainted Love mp3 at Aunt Charlie's Lounge
Bob Marley & the Wailers - Is This Love mp3 at {Some Russian site}
DJ Zebra - This Tainted Love (Bob Marley/Soft Cell Mash Up) mp3 at Popbytes
Billie Holiday - I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm (Yesking remix) mp3 at Life Signs Project

Saturday, February 6, 2010


A few thanks, for friends and strangers. First off, thanks to the regular visitors of this forsaken hack job (all four of you), who have been wondering what the hell was up with the last couple of posts (and this one). Without going into too much more detail, let me just say that these posts have, admittedly, been a little indulgent, but for good reason. The people who I've written about, and those who have left comments, were all part of the embyonic San Diego punk scene, and the house we've been referring to was as close to a non-venue epicenter as there was. Like I said two posts earlier, the sharing of music in the house was amazing, and I'm sure I'm not the only one whose musical interests and tastes developed at a fast clip due to the concentration of shared enthusiasm. In short, we were fucking lucky.

Thanks, too, to everybody from the house, and the friends that stopped by either here or Facebook, I'm still in a daze. I almost feel as if the last thirty years were spent running in place. It's been a fucking crazy couple weeks. As if all the people from the house being active online isn't mindblowing enough, I reconnected with a Hitmaker on Facebook, the same day I got an email from a Dil. Gary Heffern is in town (from Finland) for another few days, and Carl Rusk (now living in New York)and Ron Silva (in San Francisco) just played at a local club, with their side project, the Nashville Ramblers on Friday night. This is all coincidental, but a mindfuck nonetheless.

A few notes about the music: Besides the now head-thumpingly obvious songs mentioned in the comments (of the earlier posts), I threw in a couple that I remember, along with a couple others. One is for Gary. I remember the exact location that Gary first told me I should check out Gram Parsons (outside the "pop art" bathroom, at the top of the stairs.) I never did hear Parsons at Front Street, but, I sure did later. So, here's a very belated thanks Gary. ("I remember something you once told me, and I'll be damned if it did not come true. Twenty thousand roads, I went down, down, down, and they all led me straight back home to you.")

The last song down there is "The Trains." by the Nashville Ramblers, Carl Rusk and Ron Silva's band. You have to hear it. It's a near perfect song. Carl's album, "Blue Period" is some pretty bad ass pop too.


Monday, February 1, 2010


Because the last post about the Front Street house led to thought (and ear) provoking comments, about certain records and their particular moments, new associations souped up already familiar songs. Not only that, all of these other songs came to mind.

Why do you remember that one music related incident, that one moment that is permanently etched? Everything seems to zero in on what is happening right when a particular song is playing. Sometimes, you don't remember it until much later. Sometimes, it stops you dead in your tracks and you give in to it.

One night I was at Margaret & Suzie's apartment on West Lewis Street, right before the move to Front Street. When I'd hang out there, we'd usually smoke cigarettes, drink jug wine (about three dollars, from the store across the street) and shoot the shit. On one certain night, I remember coming back from the store, and walking into a candle lit apartment, with a light haze of smoke, everything in a muted reddish hue. Margaret and Lisa were at the table talking, and Peter and Gordon's "World Without Love" was playing. I stopped and took it all in "I don't care, I won't live in a world without love,...". The whole scene was like something out of a movie, everything fit together, as if directed. I'd heard that song a zillion times, but that was the first time I heard it.

Jacqui mentioned Lisa possibly playing "The Letter" by the Box Tops. After listening to it again last night, it now prompts a visualization of Lisa, leaned over a (probably ramshackle) record player, putting on a scratched up 45, with all the accompanying surface noise. Whether or not the details of the imagined scene are correct, the association is not that of anyone getting a ticket for an airplane, any letter, or anything else lyrically referenced. It's of a moment.

Lisa mentioned a party, and Marc Rude listening to the Doors (even where he was listening and in what format). And thanks to her, after listening to "Respect" last night, the thoughts of punk girls singing along to it made me dig it more, and I'm thankful that that association is there. I dig it more; I didn't think it possible.

I remember that other party that she spoke of, the one that was videotaped. (Though, I remember it being Gary Vitalis who combed his hair, and staring unknowingly into the camera.) Early that night, while the camera was pointed toward the front of the living room and the tape rolling, there was Terry Marine with Traci's daughter, dancing in an empty room, to Tommy James and the Shondells' "Hanky Panky."

I dig that sorta shit. I hope these songs recall moments, whether shared or not. A few things to note: The more obvious Stones song would have been "My Obsession" (because it was played incessantly), but I couldn't find an mp3 of it. And something off of "Arrival" would have been a more appropriate choice for Abba, but that blue album cover of "Voulez Vous" seemed to be inescapable in that house.

Peter and Gordon - World Without Love mp3 at Viajando[?]
Linton Kweski Johnson - Sonny's Lettah mp3 at Le Blog de la Grande Chose
Tommy James & the Shondells - I Think We're Alone Now mp3 at Pop Wreckoning
Marianne Faithful - Broken English mp3 at Disco Workout
Abba - Voulez Vous mp3 at {Some Belgium site}
The Vouges - Five O'Clock World mp3 at Rock Town Hall
The Screamers - 122 Hours of Fear (Pt 1) and (Pt 2) at Zahnarzt
The Rolling Stones - All Sold Out mp3 at the Adios Lounge
Aretha Franklin - Respect mp3 at Skyline Church (really)
The Who - Magic Bus mp3 at Systar
Kurtis Blow - The Breaks mp3 at 8106
The Doors - Break On Through mp3 at Music is Art
The Box Tops - The Letter mp3 at Fantastic Weapon
The Zeros - Wild Weekend mp3 at Last Days of Man on Earth
The Righteous Brothers - Little Latin Lupe Lu mp3 at
Hank Williams - Jambalaya mp3 at
U Roy - Runaway Girl mp3 at Le Blog de la Grande Chose