Archive for the ‘MTV’ Category


Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

Listen: The Witch Queen Of New Orleans / Redbone RedboneWitch.mp3

Just a hunch here, but having worked at Columbia, Epic’s sister label, I’m betting the culture at those two companies in the 90′s and early 21st century was one that had prevailed back when Redbone were signed and molded for success. Keep it commercial. Even when they didn’t think they were doing just that….they were.

The marketing angle of a Native American band, named Redbone, was probably a bit risky, but could go off. Just polish it and get it onto the radio….it can happen. Now admittedly, the band’s music incorporated R&B, cajun, jazz, tribal, and Latin. Still, it always had a safe sheen to it.

Opinions on this will be extreme, but I’ll go to my grave believing that’s how the company saw The Clash. Punk that could be polished. It sure is how I saw them.

I recall when MTV had a daily interview/music show for a while. This would have been around the late 80′s, maybe early 90′s. No, I don’t recall it’s name. But one afternoon, The Ramones were the guests so I went along with them to the taping (Marc Almond was on that day as well). Band plays song, sits for interview like on Leno or whatever, then plays another song. That was the program’s format. It was quite good fun and really loud, with the audience full of fans.

One of the questions they asked Joey: “So you brought punk to England in ’76 and met the The Clash?”, implying that something about that meeting inspired The Ramones. His response was quick and simple “No, they met us”.

Sums it up perfectly, including my outlook on The Clash: corporate punk. Perfect for the CBS Records group.

And likewise, I’m sure Redbone would have, could have been way more earthy and dirty in the recordings, packaging and imaging if left to their own devices. Pick up an early album or two and just look at those song titles. They tell it all.

I’ve never met Redbone, or had conversation about them with anyone even remotely connected to the band. But my speculation is they were produced in every sense of the word, until the band, through the years, just gave in and went along. Eventually it paid off, hitting it out of the park with ‘Come And Get Your Love’, which I do love by the way, good pop single. Nonetheless, sadly the thing that was special about them was gone, and they comfortably blended into the assembly line of mainstream formula rock, which in two short years, would start to crack and crumble.

But the early singles, ‘The Witch Queen Of New Orleans’ being one, hint at a much darker sound and cryptic lyric that was still allowed to spill through a bit in the beginning.

Shonen Knife

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

ShonenKnife, Shonen Knife

Listen: Twist Barbie / Shonen Knife ShonenTwistBarbie.mp3

I saw them first on 120 Minutes, that buried after midnight on Sundays MTV show, where they played all the left of center stuff. Their pictures were fantastic, remember all the colors and outfits? The video was a riot. Soon after, they came to NY – they had supported The Ramones in Japan and Joe was raving about them – we couldn’t get there fast enough. What a blast – a Japanese Revillos. We hung backstage later. They just gawked in awe of Joe and I fell I love three times in under 15 minutes, while we both ate more than our share of the red velvet cake the promoter had gifted the band.

‘Twist Barbie’ is absolutely one of the best singles ever. Still sounds brand new.

Bob Seger System

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

Ramblin' Gamblin' Man / Bob Seger System

Listen: Ramblin' Gamblin' Man / Bob Seger System BobSegerRamblin.mp3

In ’68 this bordered on garage rock. Caught my ear the very first time it came on the air. I forever associate it with The Choir’s ‘It’s Cold Outside’, a terrific single despite it’s overflowing power pop sweetness. Probably Bob Seger’s finest moment. Mind you, this is coming from someone who never listened beyond to his other work, except when he got real traction years later and his stuff couldn’t be avoided. I would always cut him a break though, his heart seemed in the right place and despite his appearance, it appeared he loved to ‘rock’.

I was equally impressed when he showed a true card: even he wanted to be like The Cramps. His ‘Old Time Rock And Roll’ is the perfect corporate rock, cleaned up, MTV friendly version of the pure primal blueprint: The Cramps ‘God Damn Rock And Roll’. What a compliment. He got film usage, mainstream American ‘Rock’ radio play and a license to print arena tickets out of it – while The Cramps resided happily in the tunnels beneath hell. Yet another example of Lux Interior’s lyrical genius:

Jill’s bucket Jack had to hold,
Humpty dunked it ’til it done explode,
Even before Van Gogh had art
Adam & Eve did it in the park

They did that Goddamn Rock n Roll
The kind of stuff that don’t save souls
Ain’t nothin’ good about it that I know
I dig that Goddamn Rock n Roll

(lyrics reprinted without permission)

Listen: Goddamn Rock And Roll / The Cramps CrampsGodDamn.mp3

The Pogues

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah / The Pogues UK

Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah / The Pogues UK

Listen: Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah / The Pogues PoguesYeahmp3.mp3

Somehow I ended up working with The Pogues at Island. It all happened so quickly, I honestly can’t remember much about the deal. I was going through one of those blurry stages – spending a bunch of time in London during the acid house days so…..
But definitely a fun, fun bunch. Their managers at the time, Frank Murray and Joey Cashman (who’s still with them), were as big a riot as the band. Never hassled the label to get them airplay, or do anything really, just make sure the records were in the stores and the press was covering it. Piece of cake. The reputation of the band did the rest. Their live business was always through the roof – still is. Seeing them in a few weeks and as always, it’ll be a great night out.

When this single was delivered, I thought it might get some play. We scheduled it straight off – not a usual response when a track isn’t part of an existing or upcoming album. Conveniently, US alternative radio was going mainstream then (’89) – and indeed it got some attention. The video deserved more looks but MTV was changing, and not really representing the street. Never mind, they did fine without it.

That’s Frank Murray introducing them:


Monday, November 3rd, 2008

Take The Skinheads Bowling / Camper Van Beethoven

Listen: Take The Skinheads Bowling / Camper Van Beethoven Take The Skinheads Bowling.mp3

Do you remember 120 Minutes in the 80’s? It was on around midnight, Sundays, back when MTV still played videos. I’d been lazy and hadn’t bothered to go see Camper Van Beethoven although they were a bit of a buzz. The clip for this came on, and even more than the footage I immediately loved the song. Couldn’t get a copy fast enough the next day. Went right down to Tower and there was the 7″. This was just before actual vinyl singles started to be phased out by the labels, like their album counterparts – replacing them with cds. A great way to make everyone buy all the music they already owned again for twice the price. Sounded like an impossible plan, but it worked. Anyways, Tower on 4th & Broadway was the place for singles during the 80’s. The whole south wall of the shop was lined with 7’s. All the big titles, which included many, many acts not getting play but filling the Ritz and other big venues had their releases racked (as many as 50 copies) right next to the chart hits. You had to check the place about twice a week because once say, the new Smiths/kd Lang/Cult singles sold through, there would be the new Sisters Of Mercy/Replacements/Del Fuegos taking their slots, and on and on. Plus they stocked even more obscure bands – and imports as well. These would exist in 10 count amounts tops, all in bin rows just below the wall racked quantity titles described above. So you had to stay on your toes. Good fun though.

I quickly made my way to a few Camper Van Beethoven shows, where ‘Take The Skinheads Bowling’ was the absolute highlight for me every time. The record sounds a bit thin nowadays, but it has such a great pop chorus, kinda silly lyrically maybe, but who cares. Years later the band evolved into Cracker. Just for the hell of it, fate dealt a coincidental card: their bass player Sal lives in the building right across the street from me. I was well pleased when he told me he’d been a member of Sparks, even playing on their BIG BEAT album. We’ve since played and traded many singles. He’s another record nut. We figured we live on one of the few blocks, maybe only blocks, in the solar system where 2 copies of The Syn’s ‘Created By Clive’ exist. Again, small world.