Archive for the ‘Duane Sherwood’ Category

Tiny Tim

Monday, November 25th, 2013

tinytimgreatballs, Tiny Tim, Reprise, Richard Perry

Listen: Great Balls Of Fire / Tiny Tim

This was the more familiar version to me than Jerry Lee Lewis’, given I was a toddler when the latter one was current. Like everyone, I was amused by Tiny Tim, and took for granted how something so different and seemingly novel could be heard by the masses. Our present anything-goes society does not, as you know, apply to radio programming. Well, in the 60′s it was different. So I heard this a few times and thought it was pretty rocking. I still think so today. His falsetto, even his hair and shape, all were brought forward twenty years and filled arenas, this time under the coincidentally similar guise of Robert Smith and The Cure.

tinytimmickey, Tiny Tim, Reprise, Richard Perry

Listen: Mickey The Monkey / Tiny Tim

Tiny Tim revered the music of the early 20th century, with a reputed encyclopedic knowledge of the work. He certainly seemed a kind and gentle fellow when he turned up at a surprise birthday party Joey Ramone had in the late 80′s. Joe knew everyone, and was right at home having a long conversation with him upon arrival. I was in flying mode, but Duane paid him more attention. I wish now I had too. ‘Mickey The Monkey’ is one of many fine, and by then, ignored follow ups to his Top 40 hit ‘Tip Toe Through The Tulips’. It’s a great example of his authenticity to ragtime ballads.

Ron DeBlasio, who managed X, also worked with Tiny Tim for a while. I recall him telling me that after shows, he would order large, lavish room service meals, and sit eating his serving while carrying on a complete conversation with the invisible person across the table whose meal would logically remain uneaten. A good eccentric indeed.

tinytimwhy, Tiny Tim, Reprise, Richard Perry, Joe Wissert, Miss Vicki

Listen: Mickey Why / Tiny Tim & Miss Vicki

His televised marriage to Miss Vicki is rather well known, but their single ‘Why’ is not.

Jah Lion

Sunday, October 21st, 2012

Listen: Soldier & Police War / Jah Lion

Next time you scan a list or read an article spotlighting reggae’s masterpiece recordings, guaranteed you’ll find COLOMBIA COLLY by Jah Lion omitted. Despite being amongst Lee Perry’s most revered Black Ark productions during ’76 – ’77, along with albums such as The Congos HEART OF THE CONGOS or The Upsetters SUPER APE, it really is surprising this one is consistently overlooked.

My recollections of 4am listens, waiting for Corinne to get home from her night shift all those years ago, are as plain as day, or night, I suppose I should say. COLOMBIA COLLY was probably the most haunting record in my possession. At times, even in an only slightly paranoia state of pot and speed combination, my regular cocktail as a college kid, I’d seriously need to suddenly take it off the turntable. Combined with the eerie stillness coming through our un-air conditioned windows during those summer nights, the album occasionally gave me the creeps. It was, and still is, that powerful.

I was both shocked and thrilled when Howard Thompson included a newly released Jah Lion single in one of those early Island packages he’d regularly send from his London office. I mean, who exactly thought Jah Lion would sell singles? Chris Blackwell is my guess. God, those were the days, weren’t they?

So hot off the heels of the Lee Perry produced ‘Police & Thieves’ by Junior Murvin came this, his dub variation of that original track, retitled ‘Soldier & Police War’ and released as a British A side by Jah Lion.

But wait, there’s more. Island’s US reggae subsidiary, Mango, also issued this non-LP track as a single. Now this was surely not destined for big things on American radio, but instead released to serve the small but active Jamaican music buyers pocketed in various US cities.

In fact, I’ve never seen another domestic copy, bar the one pictured above, accidentally discovered in the New York Island mailroom amongst a long buried and very dusty 25 box of assorted US Island and Mango reggae 7′s during my years in A&R at the label, late 80′s. Yes, I froze in that discovery position for a good minute or two. And it wasn’t only this record that nearly had me leaving on a stretcher.

Apparently, for US consumers, the somewhat easier to remember title of ‘Police And Soldier’ was afforded it’s very own pressing.

In some ways though, this only further confused the situation, one whereby despite Lee Perry being pictured as the artist on the aforementioned COLOMBIA COLLY album, was indeed not. Jah Lion was actually Jah Lloyd, as Duane taught me. Apparently, as with artist identities, Lee Perry often shuffled songs titles as well.

Vicki Wickham / Earl Van Dyke & The Soul Brothers

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

Listen: The Flick (Part I) / Earl Van Dyke & The Soul Brothers

Listen: The Flick (Part II) / Earl Van Dyke & The Soul Brothers

Of Earl Van Dyke & The Soul Brothers’ six Soul/Motown single releases, ‘The Flick’ is one of the lesser known.

Sounding very much like the casual late night jam at 2648 West Grand Boulevard that it probably was, Motown’s house band, as they were, or The Funk Brothers, as they became known, got to record some instrumentals under the name Earl Van Dyke & The Soul Brothers. These guys really didn’t like the commercial records they were required to make by day, preferring jazz instead. So not surprisingly, these dabbles sound not unlike the Jimmy Smith and Jimmy McGriff soul jazz releases from the period, and make for great jukebox ambience.

Let me tell you, there’s nothing like a late Sunday afternoon spent digging through a few hundred Motown promos. Happened yesterday, so I can attest.

This all started at the Brooklyn Bowl 60′s Music & Memorabilia Show. One dealer displayed a Motown white label, and it set me off. To be honest, I’d been waiting a few years to start filing these, Vicki Wickham’s Motown singles, into my wall shelves. It suddenly felt like that moment had arrived.

Yes, Saint Vicki. This woman has performed many miracles in my world. As if giving me her record collection several years back wasn’t miracle enough, she out of the blue rang a few days before Thanksgiving 2010, announcing another multi-box discovery in storage. About a thousand singles from her READY STEADY GO days, completely forgotten about for decades.

“Might you want them?”

I nearly had to make the trip over to hers in an ambulance.

There they were, several white boxes, all stacked, labelled and waiting for me to collect. Plus perfectly separated out, a Vicki VIP section: two boxes of Oriole/Stateside/Tamla/Motown. All organized chronologically by label, then catalog number.

Now I have tripped out on these many times, even let a few friends have a look through, well Phil and Eric, and that’s about it. Duane wasn’t interested.

Yesterday began the process of folding these into the master collection. Playing many and nearly blacking out a few times.

No drug has ever gotten me this high. Not ever. Not any.


Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

Listen: So Long / Fischer-Z

One of many records proving my lack of instinct when it came to picking songs that could blow up mainstream. ‘So Long’ was a no brainer, I’d thought. A few listens, and the world was going to find their new anthem. Seriously, I didn’t have a doubt.

‘So Long’ came into my head on Monday, overhearing the slogan during Duane’s birthday dinner at Benny’s Burritos. As NEW YORK MAGAZINE describes it, the restaurant serves grub not food, emerging one into a world of pink walls, lava lamps, and 60s artifacts. Who can resist and consequently, been eating here since the 80′s, dependable and maybe even better than ever. An additional bonus, the corner location with it’s large open windows doubles perfectly as a panoramic, non stop visual of every nut in New York, while they strut their eccentricities proudly along Avenue A.

So when overhearing the old school exchange of “so long”, the Fischer-Z track popped instantly into my head. And to be perfectly honest, had me immediately sitting straight up, slightly concerned I’d not seen the record in ages. No worries, there it was on the shelf back home a few hours later.

Roger and I played this religiously back in 1980, and all things stopped from it’s very first note, consistently anticipating the subtle production dub splash on the snare at 4:45. That was the song’s payoff to us, and we’d laugh with joy every single time we played it. Nice memory that.

The Move

Saturday, May 12th, 2012

Night Of Fear / The Move

Listen: Night Of Fear / The Move

I think I first noticed The Move in the UK charts section of BILLBOARD. In the 60′s, they used to print Hits Of The World over one page, Top 10′s from all the countries, but always a Top 30 or 50 from the UK. This was of course, during the tail end of the British Invasion, December ’66 to be exact. My local shop, Smith’s Records, in Oneida NY, would save their week old BILLBOARD for me, and on Fridays, when my Mom & Dad would do their shopping, they’d drop me at Smith’s. I’d get to play the new releases in their listening booth and read BILLBOARD at the counter. Basically studying it, especially the Bubbling Under The Hot 100 section. That was always a goldmine for me, ever changing, probably bought mentions by the labels of their new records, all hoping to help them jump into the proper Hot 100 chart. Missing a week meant you might not be aware something was out. Then later, back home with last week’s issue, I’d really comb it over for details.

I still remember seeing ‘Night Of Fear’ by The Move progressing #17 to #2 up that British chart. At this point I had watched it since debuting at #42 the previous week. The Move was simply the best name for a band ever. I needed to hear this group, and see photos, which luckily, I quickly did. Both their sound and look represented the black and white, rainy England that we heard about as kids, an exotic place with the greatest bands, a new perfect one emerging almost weekly.

My loyalty to The Move was blind, only lately can I admit by ’69, they went downhill slowly but steadily, eventually bringing Jeff Lynne in to grind them to a Beatles influenced halt. But their beginning was never to be repeated for me. A week or so later, Dick Clark played the single on his weekly AMERICAN BANDSTAND Rate A Record, two song competition. I have no recollection of the other single played, or which came out on top, but I still have my reel to reel recording of ‘Night Of Fear’ off the TV. I dove for the red record button, mike and recorder permanently positioned by my bedroom TV set. Technically I was a criminal then, that era’s version of file sharing I suppose. I listened to that tape hundreds of times.

You couldn’t buy ‘Night Of Fear’ anywhere. London, Deram’s parent company, clearly wasn’t promoting or payola-ing it at radio and hence the one stops weren’t inclined to stock it. In small town America, the stores all bought from one-stops, so they primarily sold the hits.

It always pissed me off when I’d read in the Melody Maker back then that The Move weren’t big in The States. They weren’t played. Kids here didn’t get to decide.

So my record company letter writing continued. Someone at London in NY had a deal with me, I’d send him $1.50 per record, which was extortion in those days but he’d send whatever I needed. He was basically selling promos through the mail, genius. Worked for both of us. The stuff I bought off this fellow: The Cryin’ Shames, The Attack, The Syn, World Of Oz, The Honeybus, non-hits by Them, The Small Faces, Unit 4 + 2, The Zombies. Even then I knew I should get extras, but I didn’t have the cash. On this particular occasion he sent me the stock copy above of ‘Night Of Fear’, not easily found then or now.

Over the years, I’ve acquired many copies, US and UK. The Dutch picture sleeve above, Roy Wood signed when I got to meet him during Wizzard’s first and only US tour. Then there was the time ten or so years ago, somewhere on Long Island where Duane and I were garage sale-ing very early one Saturday morning. Walking up the driveway I see a pile of singles on a table. The top one is on Deram. Probably White Plains or Procol Harum I think to myself, but it was ‘Night Of Fear’. I froze. I said, “Duane you need to buy this”. I just couldn’t handle the high.

Denny Cordell produced this perfect record. The mp3 post is from my overplayed original $1.50/extortion copy.

The Move 1966

The original lineup of The Move, who played on ‘Night Of Fear’, are pictured above. If there’s a better shot of a band anywhere on earth, go right ahead and send it to me.

The above is a repost, originally from June 8, 2008.

The Status Quo

Monday, March 5th, 2012

Listen: Technicolor Dreams / The Status Quo

It’s still there, my favorite hotel in the whole wide world. Amsterdam, Holland’s American Hotel. Don’t let the name trick you into thinking it’s some home away from home for US citizens. Instead, the place has weathered nearly a century at Leidsekade 97. Just gander at the wall photos in the Bar American and try not letting your heart freeze. Good luck.

A cocktail lounge in the true European sense of the word, Bar American overlooks one of the city’s main squares, the center of Amsterdam as I know it. When time has permitted, I’ve sat for hours from mid afternoon sipping champagne, preferably as drizzle turns to sleet, watching the world go by. Seldom have I been been happier. Dare I say, some of my best times ever have been had in that hotel, other than when Corinne convinced me to eat one too many hash cakes in The Bulldog a few blocks away. Even the walls of our room, when throbbing with dripping colors, become a warm and fuzzy memory of The American Hotel, where, by the way, they serve free champagne at the breakfast buffet.

Somewhere in that bar, right next to a signed, framed shot of The Status Quo, hangs a similar photo of The Herd. I know, I know. Have mercy.

But I can see them both, clear as day, and it does remind me of Andy Bown’s haircut. Undoubtably the best haircut in 60′s pop. Seriously, who had a better haircut than Andy Bown? Go ahead, I dare you to challenge that one.

Bless those Status Quo guys. By the mid 70′s, they’d made him a member of their band, where he still remains today.

The Status Quo’s third US single, ‘Technicolor Dreams’, has been forever overlooked, given it’s one of the five greatest psychedelic pop records from that sparkling era. Other equally worthy tracks are consistently spotlighted, but never this. Although, THE RECORD COLLECTOR PRICE GUIDE could convince you otherwise. Withdrawn just after release in the UK, ‘Technicolor Dreams’ booked for £1000 a few years back.

Having gotten my original in the day, let’s fast forward to ’94, while on a Dallas business trip with Duane, I picked up another for $9, then rather pricey. Constantly needing safety copies helped in making an incredibly valuable investment. Don’t ask me exactly where it is though, but definitely somewhere in the black hole of unfiled 7′s, lining up for wall shelf seniority.

The Mose Allison Trio

Saturday, March 3rd, 2012

Listen: Baby, Please Don’t Go / The Mose Allison Trio

There are times when we don’t even realize what’s right in front of our eyes. Certainly, that’s the case with me. I must admit, more than once, well more than one hundred times, while riding the London subway system, I kind of scour the car and think, I may be standing next to one of fellows from The Action or John’s Children, or, or, or…..Seriously, this often crosses my mind.

Just prior to Christmas 2011, Lindsay Hutton was over from Scotland for a week’s vacation, and on his final night, we went to the Limerick House down the street from my office. The place shouldn’t exist. It’s a working class pub from the 70′s in the thick of the gentrified, self proclaimed wonderfulness known as Chelsea, yet still with reasonably priced beers and untouched, original down at heel decor.

Amy, a longtime friend of his from here in New York and I were talking when Lindsay inquired about her new album. The conversation turned to various details surrounding plans for it’s release, bits of setbacks during recording etc. Speaking primarily to Lindsay about these fine points, she mentions her Dad played on a track or two, how he hadn’t done much recording for a while, and that he was rather cranky about it or some such thing. Out of polite curiosity, I inquire about his history, only to discover her Dad is indeed Mose Allison.

“What! Say that again! Mose Allison? Are you serious?”

It was true, and oddly enough, in the deep dark dungeons of my mind, I was aware Lindsay knew her, Duane too, but never ever remembered to bring it up.

Out of my wallet came the blank jukebox tab, and into Amy’s it went. Shock over, conversation continued.

Guess what turned up yesterday in the mail. The completed artifact pictured below. Thank you Amy Allison.

Above: Jukebox Tab signed by Mose Allison

Lux Interior / The Cramps

Saturday, February 4th, 2012

How Come You Do Me / The Cramps

Listen: How Come You Do Me / The Cramps
Listen: How Come You Do Me / The Cramps

Lux being Lux. (Photo: Dan Blackstone)

Above: Lux being Lux (The Academy, NYC, 11/25/94) (Photo: Dan Blackstone)

The Cramps, Toad's Place, New Haven, CN. 1998 (Photo: Duane Sherwood)

Above: The Cramps, Toad’s Place, New Haven, CN. 1998 (Photo: Duane Sherwood)

Below: A postcard from John Peel in response to receiving The Cramps FLAMEJOB package.

A postcard from John Peel in response to receiving The Cramps FLAMEJOB package.

It took a bit of coaxing to get me to my first Cramps show. They played a club in my college town of Rochester, N.Y., and I wasn’t particularly into their first album, which they were touring at the time. The argument putting me over the edge was based on logic. There wasn’t really anything else to do that night, a typical problem. Coincidentally, we had mutual friends in Eric and Mel Mache from New York City. Eric recommended we go along, see them and say hello. So why not? Thank you Eric. It changed my life. I’ve never been the same.

Why did any band other than The Ramones even bother to get out of bed in the morning to compete? The truly informed didn’t. The Cramps created a sound and a theater that scared off all the competition. It would indeed be silly to imply any part was bigger than the sum, but these parts were bigger than anyone else’s and hence the sum was historical, seminal, other worldly, untouchable. Like Ivy, Lux was a one off. Many have and are professing him to be the greatest front man ever. I agree. His perfect combination of spontaneity, teetering on the edge but never losing control has gone unmatched.

Did you ever see Lux do or say the same thing twice? No.

Did you struggle to watch his every move yet still need to watch Ivy, Kid, Bryan, Candy or Slim? Yes.

Did you relive every show in your mind for days and even years after? Yes. And we all still will.

If you never saw The Cramps, you will forever live in B.C. I am deeply sorry for you.

I was lucky enough to begin a long personal journey with them after that first show. It floored us all, and we were only too happy to say hello and invite them back to our apartments (another friend lived on the same floor) for some food and record playing.

The first of endless and unique Cramps experiences happened that very night. There was a strange noise in our bedroom where Corinne was trying to sleep, having an early wake up call the next day. She came out to the living room where the band and a few friends were gathered, saying something was making a flapping noise, it was giving her the creeps and could we investigate.

Lux and I went in to check it out. It was a bat. How did a bat get into the bedroom? To this day, we have no idea. At the time, The Cramps image was very graveyard/skull & crossbones/old Hollywood’s dark side. The bat seemed strangely relevant as that aura was rumored to follow them around.

Lux segued into an involuntary mode, capturing it in a glass casserole dish. We all had a look, then he set it free out the kitchen window. This actually tells you everything about him. He was instinctive, logical, fearless, strategic, courteous, kind and gentle all at once, truly a person beyond the beyond. We had ordered two pizzas, they never came, it was a quiet city in the late 70′s. Nothing was open, so The Cramps retreated to their hotel hungry, but content and pleasant.

They came back through town again a year or so later, summer ’81, this time to promote PSYCHEDELIC JUNGLE. Kid Congo was now in the band, it was one of their classic lineups. Duane Sherwood, a friend like myself from their first time through, and I met up with them prior to the show. We were beyond ecstatic at the mere thought of seeing The Cramps that night, not to mention spending some time together. We went to the venue in the late afternoon. It was a gorgeous June day. The equipment was there but the band had wandered off looking for food, so we waited. Soon, edging their way over the hill leading down to the club were, initially, three spiked/halos of hair, two black and one orange, immediately materializing into the full bodies of Lux, Kid and Ivy. Nick followed, sans the big hair. Even when not trying to make an entrance, The Cramps always would.

They seemed pleased to see us, and did some catching up, even though we didn’t really know them that well. Welcomed into the dressing room as they got ready, Lux and Kid were using industrial strength spray from a case they’d brought along to put their hair in order for the show.

This time, the set was even more jaw dropping than the year before. Nothing was compromised, didn’t matter that they were in a small town, the power was unstoppable. Lux was now on stage and his uncontainable gift was unleashed. The ceiling tiles were dismantled, he sliced himself with glass, removed pretty much every stitch of clothing, this was just how it was, nothing fake, pure raw uncensored Lux.

The Cramps were still at their beginning stages then, not playing big venues, often not working with responsible and respectful professional promoters every night. This show was no exception. A local amateur had brought them in this time, offering transportation from New York, then on to Cleveland to begin the originally scheduled tour itinerary. This was a last minute fill in date. Despite selling out the club, and honoring exactly what they been contracted to do, he chose not to be upstanding and return his professional responsibility, therefore unreachable the next day.

The Cramps were stranded with no credit cards or vehicle to get them on to Cleveland. My phone rang around 11 AM. It was Ivy. She said “Kevin, we’re in trouble. Will you help us?” After a quick update from her, I put the phone down, rang Duane and we high tailed it over to their hotel, each in our separate cars to pick them up and figure out the next move. We all came back to my house. I had an American Express card and literally $110 in the bank. I offered them the use of my credit card to rent a vehicle, the look of relief on Ivy’s face will never ever be forgotten. She promised they would pay for the car in cash once they got to Cleveland and hooked up with their crew. I trusted them. And they didn’t go back on their word, I never for a second thought they would. Our friendship was sealed. Little did that promoter know, he did the band and I the biggest favor ever via his unprofessionalism. He did not have the last laugh.

The whole day was not terrible though. Duane took Lux, Ivy and Nick junk shopping. Kid and I stayed back taping the new Siouxsie & The Banshees album. Kid was thrilled that I owned it, as it had just been released. When they returned, Lux spent some time going through my records, trading obscure anecdotes about many of the singles, seeing the sparkle in each other’s eyes as we drooled over the vinyl. His knowledge was frighteningly deep. He was not a fake. The band treated us to a late lunch before heading out of town. We saw them off, and still relive it to this day.

I would travel to New York and Toronto religiously to catch shows over the next few years. Never did this most important band, the true kings and queens of rock and roll, make me or any of their fans feel uncomfortable, or like second class citizens. By ’84 I had relocated to New York, working A&R at Elektra, then Island. I always wanted to sign them, but could never get the green light.

Then in ’92 I started my own imprint, The Medicine Label, through Warner Brothers. Timing is everything and things happen for a reason, it’s true. This was no exception. Had I been able to do a deal with them prior to Medicine, I would have always been struggling to get them the deserved attention within the label. Now I was in charge of the budgets, and could call some shots. The timing was right. Lux and Ivy agreed and we got into business together. It was one of the greatest periods of my professional and personal life. I knew they were all things good and honorable, but to experience their integrity, self respect, flawless instincts, dedication to their art, confidence in their self image, protection of their musical accomplishments, all done with great dignity, taught me much about business and life. Lux and Ivy included myself and Duane, who came to New York to work with me at Medicine, on the making of the eventual FLAMEJOB album. They had never shared this process with anyone before. I am forever honored.

Lux would spill brilliance at every turn, the littlest things had his mark all over them. He once sent along some works in progress on cassette, labeling it ‘The Cramps On Drugs’, crossing out ‘Drugs’ and writing in ‘Medicine’ above it. One of hundreds and hundreds of brilliant ideas constantly flowing from him. Lyrically, his mind was of a higher form of life.

From DRUG TRAIN: “You put one foot up, you put another foot up, you put another foot up, and you’re on board the drug train.”

From INSIDE OUT AND UPSIDE DOWN WITH YOU: “From your bottom to your top, you’re sure some lollipop.”

When the album was finally finished, Lux and Ivy had me over to their house in Los Angeles to hear it. The three of us sat in their meticulously clean and fantastically furnished home, and listened to FLAMEJOB together. They glowed with pride and they deserved to, having made their best album yet, full of all the fire it’s title accurately describes.

The Cramps were never afforded national TV or any radio play of substance. We released ‘Ultra Twist’ as a first single, and when it entered the alternative charts, the band would actually hear themselves on the radio in some cities. Either Lux or Ivy would be sure we knew. And when our publicist Lisa Barbaris, got them on Conan O’Brien, Lux was over the moon. His band was finally going to be on television, a medium he’d been so influenced by as a teenager. Warmed our hearts to deliver this for them, and they always were thankful. He asked if he should tone it down for the broadcast, “God no, go over the top”. Which he did. But to ask first, again proved his respect for others and his responsibility to those he worked with.

It’s impossible to forget the many, many pulverizing moments of Lux on stage, and also realistically impossible to chronicle them all, but here are three:

1 – Playing The Ritz in New York during the LOOK MOM NO HEAD tour, Lux was hit dead center by a hurled high top sneaker. Seamlessly strutting over to it in very high black heels and what was left of a tattered and stage weary matching pair of synthetic pants, he picked it up, filled it with red wine, drank every drop and returned it deep into the shocked audience without flinching or missing a beat.

2 – At Trenton’s City Gardens, where the stage was accessed via a walk from the dressing room through the crowd, usually along the right wall, Lux began the show in a two piece jungle red, thin rubber ensemble, with matching spikes and a string of pearls. As the mayhem progresses, he eventually breaks a bottle of wine, using the glass to slice up his outfit. First of all, the tight rubber pants, although red, had a skin-like implication, so that as he sliced, the unsettling illusion of tearing his own flesh aghast the crowd. As the pants retreated from the damage, Lux was suddenly wearing a few fringes of rubber, much like popped balloons, shamelessly revealing all. Once the sonic annihilation of encore, ‘Surfin’ Bird’, was complete, the band needed to get back to the dressing room. A bit tricky when you’ve now decimated your clothing. Not a problem for The Cramps though. A spotlight suddenly flashes onto that side wall. Lux leads the band through the now parting sea of a crowd, wearing what’s left: the heels and the pearls, and flawlessly returns to the dressing room, Ivy, Slim and Harry, equally beautiful, following behind.

3 – A real feat was accomplished by Lux over a two night engagement in ’97 at London’s Astoria. The second night being the greatest theater I have ever seen by a band in my entire life. And the first night started the process. Lux then slyly began a slow but steady loosening of the stage floor boards near the drum kit via his legendary mic stand iron works. That second night, he continued the process. Even the sight of a shirtless and joyous John Peel being body surfed atop the mosh pit could not top Lux. By the time of the final encore, ‘Surfin Bird’, Lux had chewed up one of Ivy’s boots, teething it puppy style. He picked Ivy’s strings with his teeth, as she lay on her back, arching herself in a yoga stance with Lux between her legs separated only by the guitar, simulating the most erotic oral sex imaginable, all set to a soundtrack of screeching feedback. He had now abandoned all but his g string and heels along the way. Once that sonic crescendo of white noise feedback had been reached, whereby Ivy, Slim and Harry have left the stage, Lux scales the top of the right PA, partial mic stand and 2 bottles of half drank wine in tow. He proceeds to guzzle one, then the other, pitching both onto the stage’s center, where he began the evening. Of course they smash into shards. He then dives from the PA onto the broken glass, microphone in mouth, howling as you would know him to have coined, lands front torso onto the glass, slithers himself snake-like towards the loosened floor, and with mic stand now doubling as a crow bar, proceeds to undo enough of the remaining bits to make his exit into the darkness of his self made floor cave. No one was ready for this. The roar of those 3000 people still makes me tingle. It has to be the ultimate rock and roll moment of civilization, past, present and future. Backstage after the show, Lux is sitting quietly picking bits of glass from himself, and asks humbly, “How was it tonight?”

Lux knew he was an untouchable performer, but he never used his knowledge of this talent arrogantly. He was just the most amazing spirit and always will be.

Marianne Faithfull

Friday, January 13th, 2012

Listen: Losing / Marianne Faithfull

Only in France and Germany did they have the sense to release ‘Losing’ as a single, and on 7″. Well oddly enough, in Spain and Austria too.

If the world were a fair place, and work wasn’t so dirty, ‘Losing’ would have broken all previous watermarks for weeks at #1.

Duane and Howard introduced me to the orchestration and arrangements of producer Angelo Badalamenti via TWIN PEAKS, a television program I hadn’t followed. Immediately taken, I suggested to Marianne they should meet, with the possibility of writing together. She was instinctively in. Angelo had the same response.

Off they went for a few weeks, and in no time, returned with one of her milestone works, A SECRET LIFE.

I’ll never forget that phone call, saying she and Angelo were ready to play me the album. Next day, the three of us sat together in his studio, listening in it’s entirety. The two of them, confidant but humble. Me, near speechless.

If you think this is one powerful track, you’d best fucking duck when she performs it live. The entire room sat frozen, silent and in religious awe a few weeks back here in New York during it.

I was ready, but had an identical reaction. I will never forget it.

The Sensational Alex Harvey Band

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

Listen: Sergeant Fury / The Sensational Alex Harvey Band

Thank you Duane for emailing me tonight with a reminder of how great this band was.

If ever you saw them live, you’ll know, they owned a stage during their ’74 – ’75 heyday. Ok, a year or so later the handful of UK hits came. But even as that happened, their landmark album, NEXT, based around the Jacques Brel song of the same name, from just before they really took off, re-entered the UK charts and England was Sensational Alex Harvey Band mad. That meant we US Anglophiles were in total step.

US Mercury, parent company to the Vertigo imprint, managed to get the band a slot on THE MIDNIGHT SPECIAL, doing the whole Vambo routine, the main character from NEXT. Frustrating thing, and a possible label mistake: the two best tracks from that album were never released as singles and therefore got no radio airplay focus. I’m talking about ‘Giddy Up A Ding Dong’ and ‘Vambo Marble Eye’. This was indeed still the era of an album being a completely thought through project, so the full length benefitted. Pressed on vinyl meant the running time couldn’t exceed forty minutes or thereabouts. Not too long, not too short.

Once compact discs hit, there was suddenly seventy plus minutes to potentially fill. Problem became, most bands would proceed to do just that. Result: loads of weak albums, cluttered up by throwaway tracks. Plus, everyone had less time. As technology progressed there were so many more fun things to do than listen to your favorite band’s B level material when only a few short years prior, these crap songs were simply tossed onto the scrap heap.

Never mind, point being my favorite Sensational Alex Harvey Band single, ‘Sergeant Fury’, is not from NEXT, but instead their followup, THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM. Looking back, I recall my attraction it’s the English vaudeville dancehall element tremendously. The Kinks were swimming knee deep in the genre then too, as was Ian Dury with both Kilburn & The High Roads and a few years later, Ian Dury & The Blockheads.

Mercury brought the band to Syracuse, staging a free concert at the Landmark Theatre in order to film their live show. Why the label chose this town, and not New York or Los Angeles, God only knows. And I mention God, because clearly there is one to drop such a euphoric high into my lap.

What a day that was. We scoured the place from like 11am. Easily meeting the fellows, shocking both Alex himself by talking about his previous soul outfits; and his group, when asking for details about Tear Gas, their previous band. As a result, we were eating, drinking and drugging with them until the early hours.

What self proclaimed Anglophile could make a soft landing after that!


Monday, October 17th, 2011

Listen: Temple Of Dreams / Messiah

Not to be confused with Switzerland’s death metal band, this Messiah formed in ’88 during London’s acid house craze by college friends Ali Ghani and Mark Davies. When the pair met at an Iggy Pop concert, they decided to purchase some electronic equipment and make music for fun. According to the band’s bio, it was then that their musical chemistry became evident, coinciding with the English rave scene. The duo’s brand of techno encompasses the aggression and volume of punk as well, the diva vocals of house music. So there you have it.

By the early 90′s, several of those acid house anthems began to surface into the mainstream, and even found their way onto the occasional US major label. Such was the case with ‘Temple Of Dreams’ in ’92. Rick Rubin’s American Records, then distributed by Warner Brothers and just down the hall from Duane and I at Medicine, picked up Messiah for the US, and issued ‘Temple Of Dreams’ as an initial single on his techno offshoot, WHTE LBLS.

Everyone loved this on the floor. I don’t think any of us could get enough of it, or the various mixes that seemed to be commissioned weekly.

But the back story was as intriguing as the single. In ’83, This Mortal Coil released a cover of Tim Buckley’s ‘Song To The Siren’, a track from his STARSAILOR album (’70), as a UK single. Peaking at #66 in the Pop Charts, the record went on to spend a total 101 weeks in the UK Indie Chart, a run that ranked 4th during the entire 1980′s, after three classic long-selling records: ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’ / Bauhaus (131 weeks), ‘Blue Monday’ / New Order (186 weeks) and ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ / Joy Division (195 weeks).

Messiah actually sampled This Mortal Coils version heavily, adding their own blips and bleeps plus a bunch of new shouty vocal vamps.

Despite having played this white at the time, I hadn’t heard it for years until tonight while doing some therapy filing. It’s on about the tenth repeat play at this point.

Leon Russell

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Listen: If I Were A Carpenter / Leon Russell

Despite rabidly dismissing Leon Russell in his heyday, I always liked his version of ‘If I Were A Carpenter’, turning a blind eye toward the rather embarrassing lyric changes. Actually, it’s surprising Tim Hardin allowed them. He probably needed the money, because heaven knows he didn’t seem to get his fair share.

I never quite knew if Leon Russell’s country hick delivery was serious or an inside joke, right down to his “s” being instead pronounced “sh”.

Over the years, as with many acts, my tastes have changed, particularly when produced by Denny Cordell. He really had it all down when it came to an English fellow loving American delta roots. Besides, Duane Sherwood is such a rabid Leon Russell fan, we’re all forced to sit up and listen or else.

Joyce Bond / The Joyce Bond Review

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Listen: Ob La Di, Ob La Da / Joyce Bond
Ob La Di, Ob La Da / Joyce Bond

Found yet another gem at Academy Records in Brooklyn, hysterically sitting peacefully amongst the 50¢ boxes: Joyce Bond’s version of ‘Ob La Di, Ob La Da’. A song seemingly written for the natural Caribbean bounce, it further validates the lightweight value of The Beatles. Again, I preferred The New Vaudeville Band when comparing equals.

To be honest, I had no idea this even got a Stateside release, so I admit needing to be more humble in my criticisms of the local vendors. But hey, Steel Pulse singles on MCA are not worth $10 guys.

Listen: Robin Hood Rides Again / The Joyce Bond Review
Robin Hood Rides Again / The Joyce Bond Review

Nonetheless, way more fascinating is the B side here. Policy usually meant a straight up instrumental of the single’s A side was the norm, or as the mid 70′s evolved, a dub version. Not so this time. A completely new track, instrumental, and clearly nothing to do with Joyce Bond in any way other than her label copy credit.

Produced by B. Lee. Was it Byron or Bunny? Seems Joyce Bond had musical affiliations with both.

If ever there were an expert on Ska/Rock Steady/Reggae/Dub, it’s Duane Sherwood. He’s the go to on this stuff for all things not previously grooved into my gray matter. Inconveniently in this case though, he’s not big on the pop end of the genres. Add to that, the records recorded in the UK as opposed to down the yard, of which this is one don’t grab his attention. But given, as he pointed out, Bunny Lee produced a version of Otis Redding’s ‘Mr. Pitiful’, released by Joyce Bond and Little John in ’69, one year after this issue, Duane guessed B. Lee to be the Bunny man himself.

A fun, sonically out of place on Decca or any other major label at the time, single. I can only imagine how few were pressed, not to mention, sold.

Marie Knight

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Listen: Cry Me A River / Marie Knight
Cry Me A River / Marie Knight

Hey thanks Vicki Wickham, for keeping this one since the 60′s. Yes, it was part of her 45 collection that I was gifted by Saint Vicki herself last fall.

You know, I love you Vicki Wickham.

Let’s talk about Vicki Wickham. We first met in ’89, when she managed Phranc during her Island days. I remember exactly where we first shook hands: backstage at the Beacon Theater, in the the very stairway where Ahmet Ertegan took his last spill. Phranc had just hired her, and was at that time on tour with The Pogues.

I was actually meeting thee Vicki Wickham. The one that booked READY! STEADY! GO!, managed Dusty Springfield, co-wrote ‘You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me’ with Simon Napier-Bell, produced Labelle. The one who not only booked the infamous Saville Theatre series, brought the Motown Review to England, worked at Track Records with The Who, Thunderclap Newman, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Marsha Hunt, The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown, John’s Children, and yes, The Cherry Smash; but also knew Scott Walker…and Brian Jones. I was nervous and in awe. Vicki Wickham was a higher form of life.

Fast forward. Nowadays, we meet often for lunch, on 9th Ave and 44th Street at Marseilles, possibly her favorite restaurant. She always orders the asparagus omelette and eats about half. I grill her for details: RSG, The BBC during the 60′s, Rediffusion Television, Top Of The Pops not to mention every band and everybody she ever encountered. Did she visit the Immediate Records office, Deram, Philips, Fontana. What was the Ready Steady Go canteen like, did she know Tony Hall, Steve Marriott, Inez Foxx, Joe Meek, Dozy. When did she last speak with Andrew Loog Oldham, P.P. Arnold or Madeline Bell…..we cover, discuss, judge and trash tons of people. Yes, we are guilty. Needless to say, there’s never a loss for topics.

On one such occasion last year, she mentions having just found boxes of 45′s in storage, and the only one she can remember seeing in the whole bunch was the Bessie Banks ‘Go Now’ UK A label pressing. Was I interested in the lot? That’s like asking Alago, Duane, Joe and I if we’d like a free bump in the VIP bathroom at The Ritz in the 80′s. Ahh, yeah.

Vicki, you ARE a saint, and a beloved friend.

And you turned me on to Marie Knight. Praise be.


Thursday, May 5th, 2011

Ah! Shucks Baby / Tiny

Listen: Aw! Shucks Baby / Tiny
Aw! Shucks Baby / Tiny

Not unlike Big Maybelle, Tiny could belt it out. With only a few minor hits to claim, she came and went in relative obscurity. Despite being signed to King/Federal, and touring with, amongst others, Joe Turner, Bo Diddley, Little Willie John, Etta James and Ray Charles, it seems her star never properly shined. From the sound of this single, she was a powerhouse. Originally released in ’57 (she was signed from ’57 – ’60), King decided on reissuing this, her most successful record in ’63 which is pressing above.

I was in Washington DC in the early 90′s, returning to New York on a Sunday. Duane and I were there to see a band for Medicine, my label. Next morning, I scoured the yellow pages for a vinyl shop. One small listing was close by and sounded interesting, claiming doo-wop, gospel and blues amongst it’s specialties, so we gave it a go.

It was in a pretty run down section of town and to be honest, we were the only two white folks in sight. The elderly man who ran the place, as he had for 30+ years, was behind the counter making small talk with a few women his age, all in their Sunday best, fresh from church. The shop was filled with cds and only a small section of 7″ vinyl in a back corner, not at all like he described his stock when I’d called earlier. Even more frustrating, the very vast majority of them were recent reissues. Really dreadful.

But I did notice a few Chess, Checker and King originals amongst them, all of which I selected and eventually made my way up to the counter with them in hand. Duane too had picked out a bunch. When I asked the price, he looked through them and said “They’re usually $4 but I think we should have a half price sale today, seeing as you boys have chosen some really nice stuff here”.

We immediately launched into all kinds of questions – from both sides. “How did we know about these records?” from him, and “Did you ever get to see Inez & Charlie Foxx or Slim Harpo?” from us. That kind of banter. We were having a great old time. Then he says “It’s about time to close but if you’d like, I’ll let you into the basement. I have a lot more records down there and you might find a few good ones”. We were taking the shuttle home, they flew hourly and therefore in no hurry. Seemed a little odd to close your shop midday (it was at that point around 2pm) and invite the only two customers, behind the counter then down to the basement. We took the chance.

Oh my God, the place was heaving with boxlots of 45′s. Loads and loads, mostly Chess and King. He came down and started spinning Sonny Boy Williamson and Hank Marr records, so many others too. We were there for hours, high as kites on the buzz. I still ask Duane, what were we thinking? We should have bought them all. I came home with at least 200, all in company sleeves. Tiny’s ‘Aw! Shucks Baby’ was just one of the endless jems.

After all that, this truly kind, gentle and generous man drove us to the airport in his big old, polished, oversized 70′s car, going way below the speed limit, in true fashion. It was like a little kid’s first ride in a stretch, and the stories about the past, like seeing shows at The Howard Theatre, kept flowing. Duane recalls his name being Christian, but in the high of the moment, we didn’t exchange contact info, a real regret. Still, a priceless memory for life.

King Records Warehouse

Above: A shot of the King Records shipping room. I wonder if any of Tiny’s were being picked and packed?


Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

Listen: Seven Deadly Finns / Eno Eno7.mp3

Eno seemed to release ‘Seven Deadly Finns’ minutes after leaving Roxy Music, or maybe being a kid meant my time perspective was messy. Dissonance, already his calling card, many times verged on suffocating song endings, like here. In a few short years, it would be married to oscillation and the resultant metal clanging made a perfect fit for David Bowie’s Berlin period recordings. In ’74 though, this Eno single was about the hippest form of chaos you could hope to have on a 7″. We stocked and sold many at Discount Records that summer.

Listen: King’s Lead Hat / Brian Eno EnoKings.mp3

I could swear, since ’77, the ‘King’s Lead Hat’ that closed side one of BEFORE AND AFTER SCIENCE was a very different, and superior, version to it’s 7″ counterpart. Mentioning this to Duane a weekend or two back, the comment was met with a slightly confused but assured disagreement. Wrong, they’re the same.

A few hours later, prior to checking, his email arrived with the affirmation. The two versions are the same. It was just enough reason to pull the 7″ and give it a play. He was right.

Probably my favorite Eno track ever, discovering 33 years later this preferred version existed as a single, one which I’ve owned the whole time, was a most pleasing and scary senior moment.

The Chemical Brothers

Monday, September 6th, 2010

Listen: Hey Boy Hey Girl / The Chemical Brothers HeyBoyHeyGirl.mp3

Just to be clear, I started this blog so that the kids would have a diary of a lot of the things Dad did before I eventually drop dead. So occasionally, there’ll be a post like this:

I took Ping to see The Chemical Brothers yesterday. At 14, she was already on a high from iTune’s new social network having her nickname. Her friends were well impressed.

The first song she ever connected with at age 3 was ‘Hey Boy Hey Girl’. We used to go everywhere and I’d say “Hey Boy”, she’d reply with “Hey Girl” and then we’d keep it going thru the rest of the lyrics. In that case, all my friends were impressed that she was into something pretty hip musically. She hated soft rock and teen pop, which were the first things I thought she might like, but as soon as she heard The Chemical Brothers, she lit up, smiled like I’ll never forget. Ask Duane, he was there.

So last night as we struggled our way through not only the crowd, but also three hours of ghastly uninteresting dj’s and acts with not a new idea in sight, we finally made it to the edge of the barrier, literally right in front of where the band were about to be. As always, when their setup was wheeled out, 50,000 kids went berserk – they knew, like me, the rest of the nonsense that had proceeded them was about to be leveled by the real deal.

The Chemical Brothers hadn’t been in New York for three years – how did that happen? Everyone, especially the super crazies in the front, were more than ready. As usual, it was beyond the beyond, absolutely un-topable. And this time, the light show was even a step higher than prior, if those of you who have seen them can believe that. (Proof below, especially around half way through when both lights and lazers really kick in). For true.

One of the greatest moments of my life happened when the first notes of ‘Hey Boy Hey Girl’ started. Ping turned to me and smiled looking exactly like she did at 3 when she first heard it.

A second smile for ‘Hey Boy Hey Girl’ that I will never ever forget.

Unlike when 3, at 14, she had a one word comment, “Epic”.

The Congos

Sunday, June 6th, 2010

Listen: Congo Man / The Congos CongosCongoMan.mp3

As with anyone, once you get into a phase, like my recent reggae one, you probably end up trolling through loads of related records. In the case of reggae/ska here at home, they’re all separated into their own shelfs, both singles and albums, unlike any other genre. Reason: Corinne was such a reggae nut, I preferred to keep them separated so as not to have her pawing through all my other records, misfiling and doing harmlessly exactly as every other person would, being a bit sloppy about how they should be housed. Me: I’m immaculately ridiculous. I admit it.

When I stumbled on The Congos (yes it is misspelled on the label) the other day, I had suddenly remembered how extreme, maybe the most extreme ‘Lee Perry at his druggy-ist production ever’ this one and only Black Swan UK single was. And also what apparent controversy surrounded it (coming later).

All that aside, I cranked it, through the big Tannoy speakers. Truth be told, I’m no audiophile, and happily spin singles on either one of the two portable suitcase players I own. Occasionally, I’ll fire up the two turntable, DJ mix set up with all the speakers, either for an evening of playing records with a shortlist of close friends or for reggae. The bass is still amazing on those massive, and probably by today’s current high brow standards, archaic Tannoys.

So out comes ‘Congo Man’, on goes the big system and loud goes the volume. (The house was empty otherwise I’d have not even made it to :20). Wallop. I had forgotten this record’s power. And at 45 rpm, as with all singles, there’s even that much more bite.

Well, this is easy, I’ve just found my next post.

Listen: Congo Man Chant / The Congos CongosCongoChant.mp3

Having no recollection of the dub B side, then verifying it was never included on ARKOLOGY, the basically excellent Lee Perry anthology Island did back in the late 90′s, this flashback was no let down. This dub version could either convert or scare anyone.

I had thought Island’s rejection of The Congos album, only the above single was pressed as a promo only, never given a catalog number (which would be four digits and prefixed with WIP) was the reason Lee Perry burned down his infamous Black Arc studio. So I went to the expert, Duane Sherwood, for confirmation. It was not. His reply is below:

“Congo Man’ was the only single Island deemed suitable for release from the rejected HEART OF THE CONGOS album.
As far as I know, it’s the only serious blunder Chris Blackwell made in his stellar career (although some claim this was more about a business dispute than the music), sheparding Jamaican music thru Island and its sub-labels. The Lee Perry produced album is now in the Top 5, if not #1, on many of the most knowledgeable reggae musicoloigists all time lists. In Jamaica, the single was preceded by ‘Row Fisherman’, which came out a while before the album. Also, in Jamaica, at least three other singles were released from the album, two of them as extended, speaker burning, Black Art 12″s.

The trio, Cedric Myton, Ashanti Roy Johnson and Watty Burnett, introduced Perry to the beginnings of his rasta faith. They got him taking better care of his health, and that’s when the pictures of him with tiny dreads spiking up in his hair began to show up. Backing The Congos were the classic house rhythm section The Upsetters: Mikey Boo Richards on drums, Boris Gardiner on bass, Winston Wright on organ and Ernest Ranglin on guitar. The trio reunited and went on tour when the UK Blood & Fire label reissued HEART OF THE CONGOS in the 90′s, and played the entire album in front of enthralled old timers who never thought they’d see it.

‘Congo Man’ is a relic from the golden era of Perry’s Black Ark studio. Perched behind his house in Washington Gardens, the cinderblock and wood structure had become the coolest place in Jamaica in the mid-70′s, basically making it the coolest place anywhere in the universe at that time. Various up and coming singers hung around, hoping to be the closest one when Scratch suddenly got an idea and was looking for someone to sing it. The established stars of Perry’s stable, such as Junior Murvin, Jah Lion, Augustus Pablo and The Heptones were always about, adding harmonies and parts.

But there were also a growing population of ‘blood-suckahs, pimps and ‘ooligans’ frequenting the studio. Heavy hitter rastas came calling, looking to induct Perry deeper into their organization, which he resisted. He got fleeced by a promoter, who he invested with for a broadway musical about reggae and rasta. A lot of women were about too, and Lee Perry was a mover, despite his wife and family being around. Some of the more orthodox stars like Gregory Isaacs stopped coming, on account of “too much farn-i-cay-teen” on the premises.

The whole vibe, combined with the copious amounts of ganga being passed around and the rum being sipped, was a recipe for trouble. As Island started rejecting many of the full length releases Scratch was continually submitting, frustration started to build. Perry used to hold up an actual Island record with the island of Jamaica at sunset in the background on black vinyl. “See? Chris Blackwell surround the island” he used to say.

At some point, his wife Isha began an affair with Danny Clarke from The Meditations and that set the collapse in motion. Scratch decided he was done with all the hangers on and rasta theologians. He started acting crazy, put a sign on his front gate saying “I’m a Batty Boy” (JA slang for faggot). He started putting a huge piece of pork on the antenna of his car to keep the rastas away when he went out. It was always surrounded by flies in the hot Jamaican sun. He had been writing all over the walls of the studio for a while now, but he began drawing ‘X’s over the writing and everywhere, even burning them into the large leaves of the garden with a magnifying glass. Around this time, as the news started coming in about Bob Marley’s worsening condition, Scratch began walking around town backwards, stopping every so often to strike the ground with a hammer.

It’s generally believed that this is when he burned the studio down, but in actuality that happened several years later. He had left to America, made records backed by American reggae-rock bands like The Majestics, and returned. There are a few versions of the fire story, my favorite being the German tourist that showed up and wouldn’t leave. Perry got so frustrated, he grabbed one of the glass bottles of petrol in the driveway and threw it on the roof, then set it ablaze to scare the tourist off, which it did. Perry turned on the garden hose to put the fire out, but the local water had been turned off for the night. Scratch is said to have immediately sent his son out to buy a bottle of rum, saying “If Black Ark a g’waan burn, we haffa keep a party!”

Listen: Fisherman / The Congos CongosFisherman.mp3

Listen: Can’t Come In / The Congos CongosCantComeIn.mp3

In 1980, The Beat’s ska based, and generically visual leaning label, reissued the album, pulling two more tracks from HEART OF THE CONGOS as a single. They are above.

The Heptones / The Upsetters

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

HeptonesBook, The Heptones, The Upsetters, Lee Perry, Chris Blackwell, Island

Listen: Book Of Rules / The Heptones HeptonesBook.mp3

Been digging out a lot of reggae stuff lately, combing through the shelves separated out exclusively for the genre, well ska and blue beat are in there too of course.

A few posts back, Justin Hines & The Dominoes to be exact, the story of my initial introduction, basically an unexpected crash course box full of seminal records from Howard, had me pull out a cd compilation I did at Island, created specifically to market, via in store play, the reissue series encompassing most of their classic 70′s reggae titles. Both cd and campaign were called 96º IN THE SHADE. It was good fun, and honestly a piece of cake. I just started with Jimmy Cliff’s ‘The Harder They Come’ – and using the Island master printout (which chronologically lists every single and album by catalog number – if anyone would like a pdf of it – email me – it’s fascinating) picked out the gems.

And I’m proud to say, the comp got such good response from the shops, that we renamed it GROOVE YARD, changed the cover, squeezed on a few more good ones, and released it commercially. It sold well. I’m pretty sure it’s still in print – no wait – I just checked Amazon – out of print but there’s 1 new copy for sale: $142.00. I need to dig out that box lot from the garage this Saturday.

Like the rest of the solar system, I don’t use cd’s much anymore – the Airbooks in the house don’t even have disc drives, so most of those compact discs are boxed and in storage, although some I do keep shelved for long drives. I grabbed GROOVE YARD on my way out to Stony Brook University to see Matt & Kim the other weekend, and found myself reliving the greatness of quite a few tunes from the era, as well as some sentimental memories of those times.

‘Book Of Rules’ is certainly one of my 10-ish favorite reggae 7′s. Fantastic song, nice clean vocal and lovely production. Well done Chris Blackwell.

HeptonesBookDub, The Heptones, The Upsetters, Lee Perry, Chris Blackwell, Island

Listen: Book Of Rules (Version) / The Heptones HeptonesBookDub.mp3

Released in ’73, it seems to have just preceded full on dub, hence instrumentals with decorative sound effects thrown in were then called ‘version’ – and often used as B sides. I’ve always wanted ‘Book Of Rules (Version)’ to be a bit more exciting or interesting or something moving – but it basically isn’t. I’ve posted it to quench curiosity. Plus it’s interesting to see how dub was getting started.

HeptonesSufferers, The Heptones, The Upsetters, Lee Perry, Chris Blackwell, Island

HeptonesSufferUS, The Heptones, The Upsetters, Lee Perry, Chris Blackwell, Island

Listen: Sufferer’s Time / Heptones with The Upsetters HeptonesSufferersTime.mp3

By ’76, with Lee Perry at the controls, The Black Arc in full swing and The Upsetters doing the tracking, The Heptones were in tune with the times. Another classic, ‘Sufferer’s Time’, is basically perfect in every way. I never spin it just once. Can’t. I’ll even be late for something important to hear it that one extra time.

The real fun bit here it that Island US issued it as a 7″ too. I’m guessing there were pockets of Jamaican communities in some of the major US cities that would warrant, say a 1000 – 2000 piece run. Those sales figures are again guesses, and the manufacturing details were very sloppy at Island, so I never did figure out a real number on this and a few other jaw droppers (in that I couldn’t believe they’d been issued in the US on 7″) while at the company.

This I can tell you – there weren’t many as I’ve never seen another US copy of ‘Sufferer’s Time’. Just happened to stumble on this while going through some deeply buried boxes in the mailroom – a process of completion that took a month or two, but I got through ‘em all and it was well, well, well worth the sleuthing, trust me.

UpsettersSufferersDub, The Heptones, The Upsetters, Lee Perry, Chris Blackwell, Island

UpsettersSufferersUS, The Heptones, The Upsetters, Lee Perry, Chris Blackwell, Island

Listen: Sufferer’s Dub / The Upsetters UpsettersSufferDub.mp3

Not only is the A side a killer, but by ’76, proper dub was in serious swing – hence this monster example on the flip, aptly titled ‘Sufferer’s Dub’. Oddly credited only to The Upsetters despite many Heptones vocal drops, it makes for even more excitement in one way – an American single by The Upsetters. Never been another. I get excited by unexpected things admittedly.

HeptonesParty, The Heptones, Lee Perry, The Upsetters

Listen: Party Time / The Heptones HeptonesPartyTime.mp3

When this first arrived in the mail, dependably hot off the presses from HT, I was mildly disappointed. That was stupid. It’s awesome. I had the original UK LP pressing too, but now find only the US Mango copy in my wall shelf. Basically, I know Duane stole it – he always denies it – but it’s plain and simple true. No biggie – at least I know where it is.

But if you try to touch the single Duane, be prepared to pull back a bloody stub.

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.