24 June 2013

ANDY GEROME, 'I've Got To Hold You' b/w 'Only One More Song (Opaque, 1980)

ANDY GEROME, 'I've Got To Hold You' b/w 'Only One More Song' (Opaque, 1980)

If I’m doubtful that the sins of the awful white-pop-reggae B-side of this single will ever be forgiven, I’m more than confident that the hype-line parenthetical ‘FEATURING FORMER MEMBERS OF BRIAN SANDS’ MILK and MOSES’ will fail utterly to put any proverbial butts in seats other than Clayton Silva’s and my own (and we’d been camped out here for months anyway).

BUT…if anyone is curious about the post-CHOIR/pre-PAGANS-cover doings of BRIAN SANDS and former CHOIR member DENNY CARLETON, I daresay it is well worth a look and a listen (‘TINY TIM medleys, RUDY VALLEE songs, "2000 Man" by THE STONES, baseball cards thrown from the stage along with group photos posing with man-sized shampoo bottles…"Whistle A Happy Tune" and" Getting To Know You" were turned into rock songs and readings were delivered from an old Army joke book during any lulls in the music.  Then there were originals such as Brian's own "Eat The Hot Dog Now, Get Sick Later" and Dennis's infamous "Boy Can I Dance Good”’).

But save your fork, there’s pie:  AMERICAN (NOISE) pie!  ANDY GEROME’s lone single also featured some string-benders and skin-pounders who had previously tolled it down and torn it up with the likes of CIRCUS (‘Feels So Right,’ ‘Stop Wait & Listen’) and sun-shaded city rockers AMERICAN NOISE.  Talk about your Cuyahoga social degree!

…and, really, besides that, there’s not that much more to comment on.  Other than that ANDY GEROME and Co. once opened for THE BALONEYHEADS on a show that was broadcast on Cleveland’s WMMS FM and that GEROME pays the bills these days trading in JOE SATRIANI-instrumental guitar rock/blues/fusion jazz moves.

Oh, and the fact that ‘I’ve Got To Hold You’ is an amazing song – every inch the equal of anything ever released by BLUE ASH, CLUB WOW or DON KRISS and, unlike a lot of the material by those groups – with a terminal vector radio-eye zeroed in on the lead formations of the Top 40 charts.  The arpeggios around the two-minute mark are particularly heart-stopping.

1000 copies pressed on the band’s own Opaque Records (‘Music Denser Than Real Life’) and never issued with sleeve, enjoy then the A-side and thank your lucky stars that I’m not dropping the B.



16 June 2013

SUNDOG SUMMIT, Crude Blasting Rock EP (1978)


It is one of the many positive, residual ripple effects of publications like Flashback and Ugly Things and books such as The Acid Archives, Endless Trip and Galactic Ramble (and even this blog), that, in addition to expanding the canon and increasing access to the available body of musical knowledge, certain notions and dominant narratives, long over-ripe for revision, are held up for scrutiny and exposed as the red herrings they always were.

The false gospel most rapidly approaching its own Jurassic sell-by-date thanks to these works is the entrenched post-punk maxim correlating artistic comportment with qualities of musical output.  …that is, if you wore a leather jacket and were mediocre, you were already automatically better than someone with a mustache who covered PURE PRAIRIE LEAGUE.  …if you believe what you read in the pages of Forced Exposure that is.

Likely to enjoy both PURE PRAIRIE LEAGUE and the feeling of leather on their shoulders are the quintet of Midlothian, Illinois misfits who are to be our focus today:  SUNDOG SUMMIT! 

Mustaches and – worse – cowboy hats aplenty didn’t help the cause of these Chicagoland A-heads.  Nor did the presence of arch Windy City A-hole (that’s A for ART in this case) Lee Groban, the ace-degenerate familiar to some for future JT I.V. infame and long-winded poetry Guinness book-a-world-record-award-winning (and recently passed away).

Dee-termined from the beginning, it seems, to occupy forever the dog house of no-fans-land, SUNDOG SUMMIT (here after, SS) cut a great and frustratingly scarce album in 1976 (‘On Summit Hill’), issued on their own label and described by one keen Ohio ornithologist as ‘the missing link between rural rock and punk.'

…that is, they covered both JOHNNY CASH AND THE VELVET UNDERGROUND on the same record – all before Mike Ness was even so much out of his pork-pie PJ’s!

For their trouble though, SS received no accolades; indeed, it was just the opposite.  Decried as poseurs by the nascent La Mere Vipere in-crowd and as punks by the luded-up Loop FM listening audience, SS made about as many friends as PHIL OCHS at an all-day John Wayne movie marathon.

However, as good as their album was (and it was and it is!), the EP SS cut two years afterwards – in a bizarre attempt at hitching a ride on the rippling new wave – was even better.

Emblazoned on the beyond-primitive paste-on EP front-cover is the masthead ‘CRUDE BLASTING ROCK.’  It is unclear whether or not SS intended to take this epithet as the EP’s title, but, for our purposes, it will suffice as it more than aptly describes the EP’s contents.

It’s little wonder punks at the time weren’t ready for this:  no safety pins, no sloganeering and they queer the deal from the get-go by starting off with a SLADE cover that they somehow manage to dumb-down and make sound even more rudimentary than the original. 

The remaining two musical compositions are equally Giz-worthy, focusing on the plight of underground musicians and floozy trampy girlfriends.  Fans of loser-rock and proto-punk ineptitude alike will doubtless find much to love in the fuzzed-up pop appeal upon which ‘CRUDE BLASTING ROCK’ expounds.  Some known tastemakers tout ‘Underground’ as the pick-hit, but for me it’s ‘Just A Girl’ or nothing.

…which brings us again to Lee Groban.  Your fingers can do the walking for more info on this Nyquil-throated weirdo, but he certainly was one lousy impresario.  Sub-Father Yod sounding here, his poetry, this time, thankfully, is kept much more in check than on SS’ LP wherein he takes up almost an ENTIRE SIDE with his babbling.  Here SS allot the presumptive High Commissioner Of Cyprus but one singular track, in which he raps and moans illogically about whiskers and weed until the crew cut him off.

A rare treat from the true soft white underbelly of the beast and one of the best records I have ever heard.   MOGAN DAVID & THE WINOS, BOLD CHICKEN, FURY and RITTENHOUSE SQUARE all got nothing on SUNDOG SUMMIT; nor do other supposed local luminaries such as EPICYCLE or DV-8 whose auras – when compared to CRUDE BLASTING ROCK’s 40 oz corona – amount to so much kitty litter and tea lights in white paper sacks.




08 June 2013

THE MECHANICS, 'No Brakes' b/w 'Drivin' Me Away' (1980)

Guess who’s back?
Back again.
Sing Sing’s back
Tell a friend.

THE MECHANICS, 'No Brakes,' b/w 'Drivin' Me Away' (private label, 1980)

'Oh, SoCal – so much to answer for...' 

But don’t blame THE MECHANICS for their name OR for the dummies that they allegedly inspired (SOCIAL DISTORTION and TEH ADOLESCENTS or so the legend goes). 

Fullerton’s finest CHEAP TRICK grease-monkeys earned their chops and lubed their gaskets playing in dirt-track/dirt-weed UFO and MONTROSE cover combos with names along the lines of CREAM PUFFY FATTY and THE L.A. BRATS (the latter proving, beyond a shadow of a doubt, to be the most-franchised proto-punk surname in history – literally like a satin jacket Papa Johns).  After poaching spare-parts from other respective bubble-perm and frayed-denim Radio Free Hollywood pit-crews, THE MECHANICS began their ill-starred crusade as street-preacher spokesmen for the Carburation Generation, playing mostly to crowds of bored and brainless Orange County stoners before famously being denounced as ‘waaaaay too metal’ by Brendan Mullen at the band's audition to play at The Masque.

In any event, despite a lengthy life-span ('77 – '81) and TONS of unreleased material, THE MECHANICS lone 1980 45 is the sole skidmark clue as to the band's existence.  With guitarist Tim Racca drawing heavily upon the Ginsu-knife guitar pop/rock attack of Rick Neilsen, both sides of THE MECHANICS' self-issued single, if failing to immediately elevate one to heaven tonight, at least rescues the listener from the mediocre purgatory that is 99.9% of late 70’s L.A. punk rock. 

Yeah, I said it.

Also, I’ve never actually knowingly heard either SOCIAL DISTORTION or TEH ADOLESCENTS so I’ll leave it up to the more pop-punk philistine elements of this blog’s readership to comment upon the sonic verisimilitude.

Come on Vann’s wearers – we're counting on you!

Post-script: the Youtube videos of THE MECHANICS tearing it up at the Starwood are ignored at your own reputation’s extreme peril (fingerless-gloves-related).

Oh yeah honey, (sh)it's all coming back!