Friday, April 26, 2013

Why Isn't Cheap Trick In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame? "Way Of The World" (Bonus Video Friday)

I missed last week's Bonus Video Friday while I was out road managing Why Isn't Cheap Trick In The Rock & Roll Of Fame? - Colin Gawel of Watershed and The Lonely Bones' latest exercise in rock & roll dedication/obsession.  (For much more on the Why Isn't Cheap Trick In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame? experience, check out www.pencilstorm.com.)

The band played Cleveland's Beachland Ballroom (easily Ohio's coolest rock club, by the way, Cindy and her staff are THE BEST) on Thursday April 18th, the actual date of the Rock Hall induction ceremony.  That ceremony isn't held in Cleveland, of course, it's held in Los Angeles, so all the bigshot Music Business assholes can pat themselves on the back and eat shrimp cocktail and foie gras without ever actually having to set foot in Cleveland or any other real rock & roll city in the Great Midwest.

Which is exactly why Cheap Trick ISN'T in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame; because they're from the Midwest and because they're FUN.  The Rock Hall loves 'em some Important Artistes (Randy Newman, James Taylor) and some New York City and L.A. acts.  Billy fucking Joel is in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Cheap Trick isn't?  That talentless fuckhead David Crosby has been inducted THREE SEPARATE TIMES - with The Byrds, Crosby, Stills & Nash and as a solo artist - and Mott The Hoople HAS NEVER EVEN BEEN ON THE BALLOT?  Ian Hunter of Mott tours the U.S.A. and England to this day (at 73 years old, mind you) spreading the gospel of the rock & roll AND he wrote "Cleveland Rocks," for Chrissakes, putting Cleveland on the rock & roll radio map and HE can't get a look-in? 

And don't even get me started on The Pride Of The Midwest - Detroit's MC5.  Abba, The Hollies and Heart are in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and The MC5 aren't?  Can anyone honestly tell me those three acts were more important to rock & roll than The MC5?  The Stooges were inducted in 2010 and they may never have gotten a gig if it wasn't for their Big Brothers in The Motor City 5 putting them on as their opener at the Grande Ballroom.

Folks, I'm not asking for obscure (but incredibly influential) acts that maybe only me and a few thousand other dedicated rock & roll fans love - The Modern Lovers, Elliott Murphy, The Dictators - to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  I'm asking that a band that has sold MILLIONS of records and toured the PLANET since 1976, continuing right up until today in 2013 - Cheap Trick - get their due and the respect they deserve. 

Alright, alright, alright, I could blather on like this all day but that's already more than 400 words and you 21st century kids have the attention span of a meth-addled Chillicothe, Ohio resident, so I'm just gonna turn it over to Colin and the guys......



inspirational verse; "You say it's over / But the world keeps turnin' 'round
It's the way of the world" - Rick Nielsen & Robin Zander, 1978 

Pundits are always saying that rock & roll is over (and I hate to admit sometimes I feel that way, too)
but somewhere tonight, red-blooded American boys & girls are singing & playing their hearts out in 
little bars all across the U.S.A.  But the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame don't care about that.



© 2013 Ricki C.






Saturday, April 13, 2013

I Love Distortion (a rock & roll novel in 12 chapters) - April


(previous installments of I Love Distortion appeared in January. February & March 2013)


I Love Distortion - chapter four

"That girl, she moves just like a daydream
Her style, Sunday ballerina sheen"
- Sean Richter, 1978

April 1978 is when things really started to get interesting.

I had started hanging out with Billy Ray and his band right after seeing them the previous February (see blog entry I Love Distortion - chapter 2, February 2013).  It was ostensibly a journalistic pursuit, so I could write about them in my fanzine and get them some publicity but really I was just trying to find a way in to insinuate myself into the organization.  Even at that early juncture I could tell Billy Ray was my best way out of the West Side and into the more lucrative campus music scene, if only so I could play originals without being ignored, patronized or crucified.

If that sounds calculated, it was.  I had been in bands ten years at that point, and if I faced facts I hadn't  gotten a really good band to a stage in four years, since losing Danny Summers (see blog entry The Apartment, March 2012).  Forming a band in Columbus, Ohio in the 1970's was not like it is today.  You couldn't just write three songs and get half a million hits on your first YouTube video.  There was no internet to connect to like-minded people to start a band with, you just had to be lucky and observant.  You had to go up to people in a music store who had cool boots on, or up to somebody in a record store who was wearing a button on their jacket of a band you thought nobody else in town had heard of, start a conversation with them and hope for the best.

Most of all you needed song material, a LOT of song material.  If you had any hope of playing bars you had to have three 45-minute sets of songs worked up.  That meant a minimum of 36 to 40 tunes.  Most bands, of course, just played covers.  They threw together a bunch of Allman Brothers, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and/or Bad Company songs, stuck in a fuckload of interminable guitar solos and hit the stage for beer and cash.  (If they were really adventurous they'd throw in a Pink Floyd tune, but certainly not "See Emily Play.")   

Being around Billy Ray and his bandmates changed all that for me.  I can't convey to you or stress enough how much I learned from Billy Ray in those months between February and April; about songwriting, about rehearsing a band, about just plain rock & roll hustle.  Billy Ray was EXPLODING with ideas and I just went along collecting up the shrapnel and applying it to my own situation.

The first thing I determined for Nicole's and my projected band was NO MORE WEST SIDE BAR GIGS.  I had been having the rock & roll life sucked out of me for six years playing those thankless shows and enough was enough.  (Plus, at 18, Nicole was too young to legally play those bars.)  My plan was to become the "little brother" band of Lovely & Sonic; The Stooges to their MC5, Television to their Patti Smith Group, The Standells to their Paul Revere & the Raiders.  Wherever Lovely & Sonic played, we would open.  I'd tailor the band to complement what they were doing without directly competing.  (Which truthfully, I couldn't really do anyway, Billy Ray was simply just too good to directly compete with.)

The second part of the plan was all new material.  I threw out every song I had written to that point - ten years worth of material - and started from scratch.  It was Year Zero to me; everything I had known previously was wrong, every decision I had made had been flawed, every move I would make from then on would be brand new.  "That Girl's a Daydream" (quoted above) was the first song I completed for the new band, and it was great.  I took everything I had learned from Billy Ray - hooks, forward propulsion, crafting truly memorable intros and interesting exits, THINKING about the song instead of just writing it - and applied it to my writing method.

"Teach me to dance in the dark
Give me soul flash/flame/spark
I love the touch of your perfume on my hand
And I love it when you wind up
With your eyes all shined up
And your eyes don't throw out that doubt
I always hear people shout
But I've never heard a quiet girl sing"
- Sean Richter, 1978

More songs followed quick & easy: "Homemade Rock & Roll," a set opener that detailed our intention to  dismantle, destroy and render quaint & useless the dreaded "corporate rock" that was then infecting my beloved rock & roll; "They're A Lovely Couple," about two street people (now we call them homeless) who used to pass the parking lot where I worked years earlier when I was in college at Ohio State, a song not considered "heavy" enough for any of my previous male lead singers to essay; "I've Never Heard a Quiet Girl Sing," about Nicole's initial shyness about singing for me back when we were still just casual cafeteria friends.

"Realize I find a place in you
I'm fine and full of grace for you
I shine my secret face for you
Sad Sundays without you"
- Nicole Page, 1978

I took two poems complete and intact from Nicole's workbooks - "I'm Only Funny In The Comics" and "Sundays Without You" - wrote music to them, and had six finished songs in the first week.  I hadn't written six songs in a week since high school and, truthfully, those weren't that good.  Nicole and I collaborated on two more - "Lonely Lonely Rock & Roll" (whose chorus, "Who is your god / Who owns your soul / Lonely lonely rock & roll" came straight out of the poem quoted in the March's installment of I Love Distortion); and "Rise From The Suburbs," a song about Nicole's aching desire to be more than a housewife & mom that would later come back to haunt me.

And just like that we had a working repertoire of ten new original songs.  Ten really good new original songs, I couldn't believe it, my head was swimming with possibilities.  It was time to find a rhythm section.

My first call was to Jeffrey Jay, the bass player from my band The Survivors from around 1976.  He was blonde, quiet and knew how to take directions.  He also liked staying in the background, which was perfect for this group incarnation.  All of my bands to that point had been straight-up copies of The Who - bass player, lead singer, guitarist across the front, drummer in back.  In this configuration Nicole and I would be upfront - side by side in the middle - the bass player and drummer would be relegated to the second line, as it were.  Somewhere in the midst of our first writing sessions I discovered Nicole was actually a much more than serviceable guitar player.  She couldn't write any of her own parts, but anything I showed her on guitar she could play straight through without fail her second try.  This opened up any number of new onstage possibilities.

The entire time we were writing songs and putting the band together I was starting to roadie for Lovely & Sonic.  I think my first job was running lights at the Columbus Agora, a 1300 capacity venue, when Billy Ray and the guys opened for some small time national touring act I don't even remember.  (Later Lovely & Sonic would open shows for The Ramones, David Johansen and The Talking Heads, those shows I remember.)  I had never run lights anywhere, let alone at a huge ballroom-like venue, but Billy Ray's reasoning was that I knew all the songs and could compliment the changes from verses to choruses to bridges and pick out the solos, so I was appointed to be the lighting guy.  I was petrified, but damn if I didn't nail the assignment.  It was just another of those charmed sets of circumstances that happened on those April nights, circumstances that gave me the confidence to believe I could do no wrong at that point, that indeed, anything was within my reach.

All through that period Nicole and I had started to go out.  It was touch and go at first; she was certainly aware I was married, I was wholly cognizant of the fact she was engaged.  At the beginning we just (somewhat childishly) refused to admit or confront the situation, we just simply ignored it.  Guilty as we were, we felt like innocents.  We existed in a bubble of poetry, rock & roll and romance.  We pretended we were the only two inhabitants of our precious, precarious, private little planet.

All of our early writing sessions took place at Drake Union on the Ohio State campus.  The building sat right on the river; we would loll on the couches passing my acoustic guitar and our writing notebooks back & forth, watching the water flow past, lost in the music and in each other.  I make no excuses and ask for no forgiveness for our actions during that period - Tommy was an abusive asshole who deserved no better and Melanie and I had been on totally divergent paths for most of our marriage.  Nicole and I were two people who fell in love at an extremely inopportune time, but that timing didn't make it less real or any less heartfelt.

Nicole's and my first kiss was on the bridge right outside Drake Union.  Later, in the summer of 1979, in a grand romantic pyrrhic gesture I threw every letter, poem & song I had ever gotten from Nicole, all the tapes of our songs & live shows and every picture I had of her off the exact same spot on that bridge, into the dark waters of the Scioto.  (Otherwise we might have had SoundCloud postings here instead of lyric quotes.)  Do I regret that action?  Not really, because at that moment in time all of those words and all of those memories were killing me alive.

But on that warm April evening - at the very first moment Nicole's lips met mine on that bridge - all I could feel, all I could sense, all I could taste, all I could see was six lanes of open freeway to the future.  We walked over that night from Drake Union to a High Street bar called Cafe Rock & Roll to see Brownsville Station - a band I had loved since high school and desperately wanted to show to Nicole - and right there, in the opening band, was Jake, the drummer we would eventually talk into being the fourth piece of our little rock & roll puzzle.

It was just that kind of night.  We had a band.  We had our band.


© 2013 Ricki C.

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Peter Dayton Band "Stuck On The Same Refrain" (Bonus Video Friday)


(This blog is partially reprinted from one of the very first entries I posted - January 13th, 2012 -
accompanying a video by The Neighborhoods, but the text fit so well with today's selection I decided
I couldn't really improve on it.  I'm not running out of  material, I just thought it was a good fit.)


I have this matchbook. 

It’s from the Terrace Motel, 1650 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, Massachusetts.  I used to stay at that motel on weekends all through the early 1980’s when I worked at Ross Laboratories in Columbus, Ohio.  Ross Laboratories was simultaneously the highest-paying AND easiest job I ever had.  It was so high-paying I used to fly to Boston on weekends just to see bands.  (Plus I'd just gotten divorced somewhere right along in there, so I had a LOT of free time on my hands.)  I’d leave my stockroom job on Friday afternoon, go directly to Port Columbus, fly into Logan Airport in Boston, grab the Red Line subway, transfer to the Green Line, and settle in at the Terrace Motel, my home away from home.  (In retrospect I find that extravagance and sense of motivation amazing.  Nowadays I sometimes find it INCREDIBLY difficult to get myself off the couch to see bands at clubs as close as six miles away.  Sometimes I hate growing old with rock & roll.)

But I digress, let me repeat; I USED TO FLY TO BOSTON ON WEEKENDS JUST TO SEE BANDS! 
Fortunately, during that time an airline called People’s Express had one-way fares to Boston for $38.  YOU COULD FLY ROUND-TRIP TO BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS, FOR $76.  ON THE WEEKEND! Life was good.  Admittedly it wasn’t exactly luxury travel, more like Greyhound if buses could fly.  (People's Express didn't even have chairs in their boarding area, you just had to sit on the floor or lean against the wall.  Even Greyhound has chairs in their terminals, though you might not necessarily want to actually SIT on them.)  One Friday night, and I swear to God I am not joking or making this up, a gentleman of middle-eastern persuasion tried to bring a live chicken on the plane.  After much animated discussion (not very much of which was conducted in English) he was dissuaded.  He left the waiting area, went out to the parking garage for about two minutes, returned sans chicken and boarded the flight.  I don’t know to this day what happened to that animal and I don’t want to know.

Anyway, this was one of the bands I saw on one of those weekend trips, and have never forgotten.....




inspirational verse; "There's a girl left all alone / So I let my spirit roam /
Knowing I'll always be in her heart / 'Cause I loved her" - Peter Dayton, 1981



© 2013 Ricki C.



Saturday, April 6, 2013

Reading Library Books About The Rock & Roll part one - The Ramones and The Smiths


(This piece, in a slightly different form, originally appeared on Colin Gawel's Pencilstorm blogsite.
You should check out that site at your earliest convenience, it's pretty cool.)


"I've been inside of more libraries
Than I have dope houses"
- from the song "A Life Of Rock & Roll" © 2009 Ricki C.


People don't go to the library enough anymore.  I suppose that's because everybody has a computer for research, a Nook or something similar for reading and Netflix for renting movies.  I, however, have loved libraries ever since I was a hopelessly shy, backward, book-loving child and I love them to this day.

Back in the 2000's, when I was on the road with Hamell On Trial for at least 100 dates a year (God, how I miss those days), many of my daylight hours were spent trying to find creative ways to kill time while Hamell slept in his car.  (Ed very literally kept vampire hours; after gigs he'd stay up 'til four or five in the morning, sleep 'til noon, then we'd check out of the Motel 6 and he'd sleep while I drove to the next town.  Then he'd hunker down in the car in some shady spot to sleep 'til soundcheck.  He just DID NOT WANT to see ANY sunlight.)  As such, bookstores in malls were often my refuge for the daylight hours, but even better were the rare afternoons I could find a library to kick back in.  Libraries had been my salvation since I was little, those days on the road in my 50's were no different.

Anyway, here's my two latest rock & roll library book recommendations:

1) I Slept With Joey Ramone by Mitch Leigh.  This book was published in 2009 but somehow I never got around to reading it until now, and it's really good, I sincerely regret not picking it up sooner.  Written by Joey Ramone's younger brother - Mitch Leigh (who also served as guitarist & co-songwriter in rock critic Lester Bangs' band Birdland)  - it documents, in a really poignant and personal way, how Jeffry Hyman of Forest Hills Queens, New York, reinvented himself, pretty much by sheer force of will, to become Joey Ramone.  

The Ramones' story has been pretty well documented over the years.  Just in my collection I've got books by Everett True and Monte Melnick (The Ramones road manager for pretty much all of their existence) and I know there's a book by Johnny Ramone floating around out there.  (But Johnny was kind of a dick, so I never bought that one, though I'm pretty sure I read it out of the library.)  (At the same time I find myself calling Johnny Ramone a dick - largely for stealing away Joey's steady girl and then marrying her, maybe just to prove that he could and for running The Ramones like a military operation rather than like a BAND for all of their career - I find myself admitting that if Johnny hadn't run the organization that way, The Ramones most likely would never have played 2,263 gigs over a 22 year span, without ever having anything approaching a hit record.)  (On the other hand, as Colin and I have oft-conjectured on Watershed tours; maybe if The Ramones HADN'T been run that way -  traveling the world crammed together in a van, hating one another and literally not speaking  for years at a time  - two members of the band wouldn't have destroyed their immune systems with accumulated stress and died of cancer and a third wouldn't have OD'd. We have no conclusive medical or psychological proof of this hypothesis, we're just sayin'.)  

But I digress.  You really oughta read this book.  It's simultaneously funny and heartbreaking in all the right ways as we watch Joey Ramone - who, due to various physical & mental problems, more than a couple of doctors declared "would never be able to function in normal society" - transition from existing as a marginalized basket case to being a rock & roll star.  Or are those really just two sides of the same coin? Either way, it's still a truly inspirational human story, told with love, grace & humor by Joey's little brother. (Most telling incident in the book: In 1977, when Mitch Leigh quit as The Ramones' first roadie, after getting a raise in pay from $60 to $70 A WEEK, Johnny replaced Mitch with TWO new guys, each making $250 a week.  In rock & roll, brothers so often get screwed.)  (See The Kinks, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Dire Straits, Oasis, etc.)  

2) A Light That Never Goes Out: The Enduring Saga Of The Smiths by Tony Fletcher.  My lovely wife Debbie and I don't get out much in the winter.  In fact, if we could work it right and ensure that a steady flow of cookies, milk, Lay's potato chips and Mountain Dew would get delivered, we might not ever leave the house in December, January, February & March.  As such, I'll occasionally find myself just trolling the library website for something interesting to read.  That's where I ran across this book.

Now, let's get some parameters straight: I could give less of a shit about The Smiths.  They were the very first band, back in the 1980's, that all of my tastemaker friends LOVED (are you reading this, Curt Schieber?) that I just DID NOT GET.  Finally, I just wound up saying to myself, "I have tried and tried and TRIED to like this band and they just simply suck.  I should not have to work this hard to enjoy music."  (I later repeated that same pattern with Guns 'n' Roses, Nirvana, grunge in general, and most recently with Arcade Fire and Mumford & Sons.)  But something about the library's description of the book hooked me, so I reserved it.

When the reserve came in, Debbie and I were on one of our rare outings together to obtain food and fresh literary supplies, so she ran into the library to grab the book for me while I kept the car running warm in the cold.  She came out lugging a book fully 1/3rd of her diminutive five-foot height and I thought, "What the hell is that?"  It turns out the Fletcher book is 698 PAGES LONG!  ABOUT THE FUCKING SMITHS!  HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE?!? 

Pencilstorm readers, I was looking for maybe 237 pages about The Smiths, tops, not 698 pages.  If I had gone into the library myself rather than sending Debbie I'd have handed that book right back to the librarian for them to pass on to the next reservee - to some pale, wan, winsome Morrissey & Marr fan who might actually appreciate 700 pages about their heroes.  (But they might be too anemic & malnourished to lift it.)

Since it was already checked out and since it was too cold to ask Debbie to walk it back into the library I decided to give it a shot, and damn if it isn't actually pretty good.  Admittedly, I didn't start the book until page 210, chapter thirteen, as it takes Fletcher THAT LONG to get to Morrissey and Marr even meeting for the first time.  (I'm fairly certain Tony was being paid by the word for this tome, BIG MISTAKE for the publisher.)  But from there on the story moves right along.  The book chronicles the birth and growth of a young band in month to month - if not week to week - detail and I'm genuinely enjoying it, way more than I ever would have thought I would.  It's truly well written.  (By the way, I'm 200 pages beyond where I started and they haven't made their second album yet.)

One of the true advantages of reading rock & roll books in the internet age is that virtually any television appearance mentioned in the text can be punched up on YouTube.  (By the way, if Debbie hears the phrase, "Just punch it up on YouTube" from me ONE MORE TIME this long winter/spring, there's gonna be trouble at our house.)  I've found myself doing that more and more while reading this book, and you know what I've discovered?  I've discovered I STILL don't like The Smiths music.  Somehow I like the IDEA of The Smiths more than I actually like The Smiths.  I'm enormously heartened by the idea that Morrissey refused to go on Jimmy Kimmel's show alongside those cracker assholes from Duck Dynasty, solely because of his vegetarian beliefs.  Try to imagine almost any other celebrity or rocker turning down a paycheck or a T.V. appearance these days just because of their principles.  Or, indeed, try to imagine any other celebrity or rocker these days WITH a belief or a principle.  (Let's face facts, people, any one of the Kardashian sisters would fuck a llama in a closet if it meant they could get another reality show out of the deal.)
 
Come to think of, Morrissey probably wouldn't go on that show either.  Thanks, Steven. 


(ps. Best recent pop-culture Morrissey reference: The Colbert Report, Wednesday, March 27th, when an interview-guest pig farmer claimed their pork is made "naturally." Colbert paused, then asked, "At what point do the little piggies decide to naturally meander into the slaughterhouse?  Do you read them Nietzsche, play them a little Morrissey?"  Classic.)


Ricki C. missed The Ramones the first time they played Columbus, Ohio, in March of 1978, at a dive bar called The Sugar Shack because he refused to believe that The Ramones would actually PLAY AT the dive that was The Sugar Shack.  He did see them the second time they played Columbus in July 1978 at a supermarket-converted-into-a-rock-club - Cafe Rock & Roll, by name - and damn, is he glad he did.

He never saw The Smiths play live anywhere, anytime, and is equally glad of that.


© 2013 Ricki C.

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Neighborhoods "Cultured Pearls" (Bonus Video Friday)

It's been awhile since I've regaled readers & fans of Growing Old With Rock & Roll with tales of my devotion to Boston's finest sons, The Neighborhoods (see blog entry The Neighborhoods - Bonus Video Friday, January 13th, 2012, among others), so let's commence.  But first, a few word about computers and the internet.....

I'm not a computer guy.  At all.  In the least.  In fact, it's a minor miracle I've managed to keep this blog going for as long as I have considering my lack of computer skills and/or knowledge.  Without the assistance and support of my lovely wife Debbie - my I.T. department, my editor, often my inspiration - Growing Old With Rock & Roll would not still be a viable entity.  (Also, special thanks to Will Kenworthy for setting all of this up for me, so all I have to do is type.)

I blame computers for a lot of things - for the marked lack of human interaction that has taken place since people pour more & more of their energy into staring at their Smartphones than they do into their lover's eyes; for the fact that children spend a lot more of their time indoors being lulled and/or over-energized by video games than they do outside playing in sunlight; for the decline in audience at rock & roll gigs as increasing numbers of people (young & old alike) prefer their music delivered by I-Tunes or YouTube more than they do by living, breathing musicians at a gig - because I'm old, so desperately old, so hopelessly old, and that's the way I'm wired.

At the same time, I must admit there are times in my existence that the internet has come in pretty handy.  So let me tell you about The Best Present I Ever Got From A Computer; access to The Neighborhoods Universe.  One warm Saturday night in 2006, Debbie and my good friend & fellow music aficionado Kyle Garabadian went to see Kenny Loggins appear with our local Columbus Symphony at the Orchestra's annual summer Picnic With The Pops series.  (You might have something like it in your town.)

Not being the world's biggest "Footloose" fan, I stayed home, downed a couple of Bailey's Irish Creams and bleerily played on the computer.  Debbie had just recently showed me how to use search engines and check out websites.  (Yeah, this was happening in 2006, people, I TOLD you how computer-backward I am).  While I was playing around I happened onto the fan-launched Neighborhoods site www.thehoodsonline.com, which still exists, but I don't think has been updated in quite some time.  (It's still really cool, though, a bunch of REALLY great Neighborhoods back-in-the-day pics, circa 1979-2005.)

Anyway, that site led me to a host of other finds: YouTube videos of The 'Hoods from 1979, 1982 and onwards; tape traders who had literally dozens of live 'Hoods sets from 1979 right up through their "Last Rat" show in 1992 (which wouldn't see official release until 2010).  Two of those traders - Vic from Michigan and Mike from Tennessee - I consider friends to this day for the CD's they've provided to me over the years.  Thank you, gentlemen, from the bottom of my rock & roll heart.

See, here's the deal, it just WAS NOT EASY to come up with Neighborhoods-related material in Ohio in the 21st century.  The 'Hoods were not exactly a household name out here in the hinterlands of the Great Midwest.  I had the Ace Of Hearts "Prettiest Girl" b/w "No Place Like Home" single and the Fire Is Coming, "...the high hard one..." and Reptile Men triptych of LP's that I bought on rock & roll vacations in the 1980's (see blog entry Fighting With Ric Ocasek, February 2012) but that was about it.  (Okay, I also had that Brad Whitford-produced CD from the 90's, but I think we may all agree the less said about that the better.)

By 2006 it had been 19 YEARS since I had heard a new (old) Neighborhoods song.  And a lot of what 'Hoods chronicler Eric Van (easily my favorite Boston rock writer of the 1980's, see below) detailed as David Minehan's finest songwriting moments - "Mr. Reeves," "The Patriot," "Innocence Lost," "Electricity," "Fools," I Am The Witness," "Cultured Pearls" -  I had never heard AT ALL.  So when the live tapes began rolling into my mailbox with all of those tunes and many, many more ("Monday Morning," "Flavors," "One Day Older," "You Can't Go Home," "We Don't Do The Limbo") I was in Seventh Rock & Roll Heaven, my friends.

Later, while I was a roadie for Hamell On Trial, I was lucky enough to make the acquaintance of Mr. Eric Law - Boston rock & roll bon vivant, raconteur and personal friend of David Minehan - who further filled in some Neighborhoods gaps for me.  (Eric, I love ya.)  (By the way, readers, I've still never been able to track down a live set from the short-lived 1982 Tim Green bass-playing period of The 'Hoods.  Hint, Hint.)  

So is this the point in the blog where I'm going to start making extravagant claims regarding The Neighborhoods?  Claims like - 1) The Neighborhoods are the Best Band Ever Out of Boston (keeping in mind the likes of The Remains, Willie Alexander & the Boom Boom Band, The Real Kids, The Cars and 'Til Tuesday).  Yes, I am.  2) The Neighborhoods were the Best Band of the 1980's (keeping in mind The Replacements, REM, and Prince & The Revolution).  Maybe, but Prince might have just edged them.  (And I think we need to keep in mind, no less a rock & roll genius than Paul Westerberg had the good sense to hire David Minehan as his lead guitarist & onstage foil in his first post-Replacements touring band. See blog entry The Paul Westerberg Band, April 2012.)  (Am I stating in print that The Neighborhoods were a better live band than The Replacements?  I saw both bands more than five times each.  Yes, I am saying The Neighborhoods were better live, but that Westerberg MAYBE had better songs, if he just could have kept his band somewhat sober enough to do justice to them onstage.)

I owe all of this to you, my cybernetic internet friends, most of whom I will never meet face to face.  (Excepting Vic from Ann Arbor, with whom I got to have lunch once during a Hamell tour stop years ago.)  To all of you; my sincerest, humblest and most heartfelt rock & roll thanks.




inspirational verse; "It's obvious / Your intelligence / Has been insulted far too long."
- David Minehan, 1981



© 2013 Ricki C.



appendix; some great rock & roll writing about The Neighborhoods by Eric Van
(employ your zoom feature, readers)