Archive for the ‘Seymour Stein’ Category

The Ramones

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

Listen: I Wanted Everything / The Ramones

SPIN magazine put it perfectly when they named The Ramones the #2 Best Band Of All Time: “Punk exists because of the false assumption that The Ramones can be imitated”.

Or as Seymour Stein said, “A band like The Ramones don’t come along once in a lifetime, they come along once”.

We all remember how the mainstream and the old guard laughed down at The Ramones in the 70′s, accusing them of being limited to three chord simplicity. ‘I Wanted Everything’ was just one of the songs being played in the offices of WYSL when I stopped by for my weekly drill, plugging MCA’s product. My job at the time being the label’s New York State local promo guy and I just loathed most of those moronic programmers who fought hard to keep punk off their airwaves. These guys were spot checking their way through the newly released ROAD TO RUIN album, having a laugh, their self appointed intelligence wrongly assuming it was superior to the band’s.

None of them have jobs in the business now. They were yesterday’s version some of today’s musicians who dismiss electronic music for not being real or from the heart, fooling themselves into believing that their tired guitar rock sludge is. Doesn’t anyone learn from the past?

The nice thing about many of The Ramones’ singles through the years were the songs chosen for B sides. I mean, every song they ever did was single worthy, and it’s nice to discover the unexpected when playing their flips.

‘I Wanted Everything’ was coupled with ‘Needles And Pins’ and has way more than three chords. Besides not having their finger on the pulse, those 70′s radio programmers apparently couldn’t count either.

Jerry Lee Lewis

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

jerryleelewissmashep, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bob Dylan, Sirius

Listen: High School Confidential / Jerry Lee Lewis JerryLeeLewisHigh.mp3

“Sounding as good as the day it was recorded”. Bob Dylan thinks so. Me too.

Have you ever listened to Bob Dylan’s THEME TIME RADIO program on Sirius? It is the best radio I have ever heard. Honestly, right up there with a lot of the BBC’s output through the years. Mind you, he has an army of researchers helping out, and credit is due there as well. For true, THEME TIME RADIO is simply worth the price of a Sirius subscription.

So yeah, he played this one the other day – well I heard it the other day – it could’ve been a repeat. I always hoped The Cramps would cover ‘High School Confidential’. They would have shredded it.

This is from a precious, four song, promo only 7′, sent round to radio and press when Smash signed him, and licensed some of his original Sun sides for a GOLDEN HITS package. It’s a beauty, right?

But can you imagine seeing Jerry Lee Lewis in his prime? I saw him play New York about fifteen years ago, he’d signed to Sire at the time. I always say either you’re the real deal or you’re not, therefore age doesn’t really matter. Think, Little Richard vs Candlebox. And Jerry Lee Lewis is clearly the real deal. Obviously the stage show was not as physically chaotic as in the aforementioned heyday, but still he radiated a kind of ‘higher form of life’ glare.

Next day he turned up in the office to see Seymour Stein, who was just down the hall. The glare is even more intense up close, strange odor (not bad, but strange) and his skin was a grey-ish, lavender color. It was all just fantastic.

The Ramones

Saturday, April 10th, 2010

RamonesBonzo, The Ramones, Joey Ramone, Johmmy Ramone

Listen: Bonzo Goes To Bitburg / The Ramones RamonesBonzo.mp3

No one said it better than Seymour Stein: “A band like The Ramones don’t come along once in a lifetime, they come along once”.

Somewhere on the west side, either 14th or 23rd Street, they were recording a few songs. Damn if I can remember where.

As I recall it, there was a single to do between albums for the UK and the band had a song they figured would work. Well not John, but the others that is.

Around 10 pm, the phone rang. It was Joe. Did I wanna go to The Ritz for a drink and oh, could you pick me up? Couldn’t have come at a more boring moment, I was alone for the weekend. Got in the Honda, and headed over.

I remember this as clearly as looking in the mirror. He jumped into the front seat. There was definitely something about the expression on his face, eyes almost bugging and kind of panting, breathing anxiously. “You gotta hear this song, can I play it, it’s a rough mix but you gotta hear it”. Ah – yeah!

In went the cassette. I guess I was luckily the first person to hear it outside of the studio walls. Joe kept watching for my reaction, beaming at the same time. How could he not. The Ramones had just finished recording one of the greatest singles of all time.

I pulled over on 2nd Ave. I had too. This sounded so fantastic it was almost unbelievable. We listened a few more times really loud. It was warm, windows open, perfect until more than a few kids, awestruck at seeing Joey Ramone sitting in this car, started to clammer. God bless him, Joe had time for everyone, autographs, pictures, you name it. It often took us half an hour to go a couple blocks from his place to eat – every walk of life stopped him on the street, fans, foreigners, even cops, always. So after a bunch of hellos, it was time to drive along.

You see, one of The Ramones biggest fans was Joe himself. So he had no problem with my insistence we drive a bit and keep listening. We went round and round town, up the east side, through the park, down the West End Highway, playing this for at least an hour, probably two. No exaggeration.

Does life get any better than a memory like that?


JoeyJukebox, Joey Ramone, The Ramones, Jukebox Tab

Above: Jukebox Tab signed by Joey Ramone

Below: One of the few clips that actually captures their sheer power.

Captain Sensible

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

CaptainSensibleWot, Captain Sensible, A&M, The Damned

Listen: Wot! / Captain Sensible

As Seymour Stein once loudly yelled down the hall to a certain snooty A&R guy, “Don’t lie to me you liar”.

The action never ended on that 21st floor of 75 Rockefeller Plaza, home to the Warner labels for decades. Our Medicine office was conveniently smack dab in the middle of a long hallway anchored on one end by the Warner/Reprise A&R staff and at the other, Seymour and the Sire staff. Duane and I had the best seats in the house.

And anyone who tells you they never liked The Damned is also a liar. Not mentioned as often as they should be, the band were easily an equal to The Sex Pistols when it comes to the UK punk crown. A tie.

Captain Sensible never could, never will, do any wrong. He’s hysterical, a fantastic entertainer, front man, side man, guitarist, bassist, songwriter and an all around good guy. He was a big friend of Joey Ramone’s, and it was The Damned who were the only UK band that flew themselves over from England to honor his life at Hammerstein Ballroom a month after he passed away. His Mom, brother and all his close friends never forgot.

Sometimes the good ones do get their just rewards. Who wasn’t pleased when Captain’s first solo single ‘Happy Talk’ topped the UK charts? Captain Sensible at #1! Yes.

The followup, ‘Wot!’, also a chart success, was even better. It was pure Sensible humor. Hearing it is seeing him in that two piece pink shag rug suit. Great records make you visualize the artist. Here’s the proof.

CaptainSensibleGlad, Captain Sensible, A&M, The Damned

Listen: Glad It’s All Over / Captain Sensible

Two years later, when it was looking like the solo Captain Sensible moment had passed, ‘Glad It’s All Over’, with it’s mischievous Kid Creole & The Coconuts fake intro, barreled to a UK #6. Great song, great production, great news. Again, hats off to the Captain.

This was ’84 and towards the end of a six year run, late night weekly FM radio specialty show I co-hosted with Roger McCall. We both found ourselves to be so sick of the ghettoized midnight to 2 AM life sentence of a time slot that the WCMF programmers inflicted on music which should’ve been heard all day. And so we’d end every show with ‘Glad It’s All Over’. They were so in the dark, they never did catch on.


Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

Miss Chatelaine (St. Tropez Edit) / kd lang

Listen: Miss Chatelaine (St. Tropez Edit) / k. d. lang

Never have I known k. d. lang to deliver anything less than a stellar live performance. From her very first New York shows, at The Bottom Line, that vocal stamina was jaw dropping. Initially, she claimed to be the reincarnation of Patsy Cline. Couple that with an outfit not unlike Granny Clampett and it reeked of novelty. Undoubtedly the reason Howard and Krasnow weren’t interested when I brought her into Elektra as a signing consideration. I was too inexperienced to see her potential, and as this was early ’85, I’d just started my A&R career, hence had no clue about fighting to get an act signed.

I feel foolish recalling the day she and her manager, Larry Wanagas, came by my office, only for me to tell them I was passing. What a idiot.

Deservedly, Seymour Stein, then a floor below me at Sire, saw her potential very differently and brought her greatness to the world.

She has many essential singles, most in classic picture sleeves. ‘Miss Chatelaine’ was a big hit in the UK, and it was fantastic hearing it on Radio 1 at the time. A particular hard one to find, it’s B side, the appropriately titled ‘St. Tropez Remix’ is equally vital, effortlessly bringing the tropics to your speakers.