Friday, September 27, 2013

Nick Lowe "I Knew The Bride" (Bonus Video Friday)

Saving the best for last: I suppose if I Love Distortion ever got made into a movie I would want Nick Lowe (or Dave Edmunds) singing "I Knew The Bride (When She Used To Rock & Roll)" to play over the opening credits.  I don't think it's gonna really come as a surprise to anyone who's reading it - since the story is essentially told in flashback - that Distortion is not gonna end well for the protagonist, and "I Knew The Bride" pretty neatly sums up the story.  And what could possibly be better than a Chuck Berry tune that Chuck Berry forgot to write to open a rock & roll movie?

inspirational verse;
"I can see her now, drinkin' with the boys / Breakin' their hearts like they were toys /
She used to do The Pony, she used to do The Stroll / I knew the bride when she used to rock & roll /
I knew the bride when she used to rock & roll" - Nick Lowe, 1977 

© 2013 Ricki C.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Blasters "Marie Marie" (Bonus Video Friday)

Week three of "The Four Best Chuck Berry Songs That Chuck Berry Forgot To Write" brings us to The Blasters and "Marie Marie."

The review of The Blasters reproduced below originally appeared in New York Rocker circa 1980.  It was written by Don Waller, who under the nom de plume "Doc Savage", was one of the creators and driving forces of Back Door Man, the greatest fanzine EVER in the history of American rock & roll.  (By the way, I get the feeling that if Waller/Savage ever caught me using a frou-fou French term like nom de plume in a post about him, he'd kick my ass.)

Back Door Man was the inspiration and biggest influence on my own mid-to-late 1970's fanzine, Teenage Rampage, some reprints of which we will be running later in September or early October in Growing Old With Rock & Roll.  (Running those reprints was the idea and request of reader Christopher Stigliano in response to my September 1st blog, asking what my audience would like to read about.  Thanks, Christopher.  Any other requests, readers?)

I view with interest that there is currently an issue of Back Door Man listed on e-bay for $45.  (Issues cost 35 cents to a buck, back in the day.)  Ah, rock & roll inflation.......

inspirational verse; "I said, 'Hey, pretty girl, don't you understand? /
I just want to be your lovin' man.'" - Dave Alvin, 1980

appendix to The Blasters "Marie Marie"

(Note that Waller employs a variation of my buddy Dave's "the best Chuck Berry song
that Chuck Berry forgot to write" in his review.  Great minds really do think alike.)

© 2013 Ricki C.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Reading Library Books About The Rock & Roll part two - Richard Hell and The Runaways

"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 are streaming movies on their totally cool new iPad.  I, however, have loved libraries ever since I was a hopelessly shy, backward, book-loving child and I love them to this day.  And since lately I find more & more that I would rather READ about rock & roll than LISTEN to rock & roll (not a good situation), here's the second installment of Reading Library Books About The Rock & Roll.  (Part one appeared April 6th, 2013.)

1) I Dreamed I Was A Very Clean Tramp by Richard Hell.  Truthfully I was never all that crazy about the band Television.  I know other music aficionados love 'em, think Marquee Moon was a masterpiece and all that, but my favorite Television artifact is the first article I ever about them, by Patti Smith in the October, 1974 issue of Rock Scene magazine, LONG before they had a record deal.  (And in those days, rock kids, there was no Internet or YouTube where you could see & hear bands before they were signed, you had to actually GET IN A CAR AND DRIVE TO SEE A BAND AT A CLUB OR AN AUDITORIUM in order to experience a their music.)  (Said article is reproduced below, complete with period ads for "Incense Magic," which, I believe, was purported to be sufficiently aromatic so as to get you laid.  Classic 1974.)

Anyway, my original plan for this book was to sit at Barnes & Noble and read the the parts about Television.  I wasn't all that interested in Hell growing up as Richard Meyers in Kentucky and all that - as Holden Caulfield would term it - "David Copperfield kind of crap."  I was fairly well-briefed on Hell's departure from Televison at the hands of Tom Verlaine and the formation of The Heartbreakers with former  New York Doll Johnny Thunders.  (Has there EVER in the history of rock & roll music existed a more underperforming, lackadaisical, waste-of-talent of everybody involved band than The Heartbreakers?)  And Hell putting together The Voidoids with Bob Quine was fairly well-covered in the rock press of the 1970's.

Still, as I sat in Barnes & Noble that Sunday I had to admit Hell had a certain writing style: poetic but relentlessly factual at the same time, not something that's easy to pull off.  The Television segment of the book was painfully brief, even terse (I get the feeling it's touching WAY too many nerves for Hell to talk about that band even now, 39 years later) but I was interested enough to get the book out of the library to determine if I was hooked enough to buy it.  (My typical book-buying modus operandi.)

In the end there's a little too much "Well, I wrote poetry in my crummy New York City apartments and took a bunch of drugs and then I was in rock & roll bands in my crummy New York City apartments while taking a lot of drugs and then I was briefly an actor while taking a bunch of drugs in my crummy New York City apartments before I became a writer taking drugs in my slightly nicer New York City apartments" to sustain the narrative over 293 pages.  I will say this, though, either Hell has an astonishing memory for details given all of the drug-taking or else he kept a KILLER set of journals & notebooks that he's managed to hold onto over all these years and all those moves between crummy New York City apartments.

Here's my two biggest takeaways from this book: 1) Richard Hell HATES Tom Verlaine TO THIS DAY - probably for very good, sound reasons, and hates him in the scorching, searing way you can only hate someone whom you once truly loved as a best friend - for breaking up the band that was the early Television that Patti Smith writes about below, and 2) I would LOVE to have witnessed that band first-hand.

2) Queens Of Noise - The Real Story Of The Runaways by Evelyn McDonnell.  The subtitle of this book - The Real Story of The Runaways - derives largely from author McDonnell attempting to dispel a lot of the misinformation delivered by director Floria Sigismondi's 2010 film, The Runaways.  And there's certainly no shortage of misinformation to be dispelled from that trainwreck of a movie.  I wrote a little bit about that picture in blog entry The Best Of Everything - part 2, January 22nd, 2012, but to synopsize: It just might be the worst rock & roll movie ever made.  It manages to take a fairly interesting subject - rock & roll's first all-girl teenage rock band - and make the entire project so abjectly BORING that it boggles the mind.  EXCITEMENT is the lifeblood of the rock & roll movie.  Ms. Sigismondi, please take note of Almost Famous and Rock & Roll High School.

Author McDonnell makes the same mistake here.  At 342 pages, Queens Of Noise is the rock bio equivalent of a Quentin Tarantino film - entertaining, with a lot of really good ideas, but too long by at least a third.  A myriad of points get belabored.  The joy of reading is the first casualty of tedium.  I'm starting to think all rock books should be capped at 209 pages.  If you can't pack in all your stories and exposition in that length, you don't get to write rock & roll books.  Authors, you are writing about a genre built on the three-minute song, you do realize that, don't you?  (editor's note; Ricki, take a look at the length of some of your blog entries.  Physician, heal thyself.)

So, to recap: If you're wearing a beret while you're reading this and like stories of poetic abject pain & misery, get yourself the Richard Hell book.  If you like stories about little girls running amok with rock & roll under California sunshine, grab The Runaways (no pun intended).  Either way, read a book.  Would it kill ya?

(ps. It boggles my mind that Runaways bass player Jackie Fox (nee Fuchs, who I always thought was the cutest member of the band) and President Barack Obama were classmates at the Harvard University Law School.  Did they ever cross paths?  Did they ever have a conversation?  Did Obama ever say, "Hey Jackie, I always loved your bass lines on 'Neon Angels On The Road To Ruin'"?  As I said, mind-boggling.)  

appendix to Reading Library Books About The Rock & Roll - part two

from Rock Scene magazine, October 1974

© 2013 Ricki C.


Friday, September 13, 2013

Bob Seger "Get Out Of Denver" (Bonus Video Friday)

Van Morrison has a lot to answer for in the Ricki C. Rock & Roll Universe.

Don't get me wrong, I like Van Morrison, especially the early stuff.  (Much like Woody Allen movies.)  "Gloria" is, of course, a genius rock & roll song.  "Brown Eyed Girl" was the theme song for my high-school majorette girlfriend (from social pariah to a majorette girlfriend in less than six months time, THAT'S what rock & roll could do for you in 1968 & 1969) and presently for my lovely wife Debbie.  The Blowin' Your Mind album (that "Brown Eyed Girl" was taken from), Astral Weeks, and Moondance were all great discs.

But then, as Van the Man started getting all Marin County-ized and laid-back along with the rest of his rock generation circa 1971-1972, he (and they) kinda lost me.  Plus, worst of all, Morrison started to drag genuine rockers like Bob Seger along in his back-to-the-country, watered-down wake.  It's hard to remember now - after "Beautiful Loser," after "Night Moves," after "The Famous Final Scene," and especially after innumerable plays of "Against The Wind" on TV commercials hawking Chevy pick-up trucks during football games - that Seger was once a rocker at heart.  I can remember watching Bob Seger & The Last Heard or The Bob Seger System rockin' little Columbus dive-bars like The Sugar Shack with tunes like "Heavy Music" and "Lucifer" from the mid-60's all through the early 70's.

Bob Seger influenced The MC5, my little rock children, not the other way around. 

(Plus it had to be tough for Seger to watch Glenn Frey - a snot-nosed little Detroit high-school kid Bob let hang around the studio while he recorded killer tunes like "2+2+?" and "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man" - move to California, form The Eagles, and go right past Seger on the rock & roll success meter until Live Bullet broke big in 1976.)

But I digress.......

Bob Seger was, once upon a time, a rocker.  And this is one of his five best songs and one the Four Best Chuck Berry Songs That Chuck Berry Forgot To Write.

inspirational verse; "Up walked a Baptist-preachin' Southern-funky schoolteacher /
She had a line on somethin' heavy but we couldn't reach her /
We told her that we needed somethin' that would get us goin' / 
She pulled out all she had and laid it on the counter showin' /
All I had to do was lay my money down and pick it up / 
The cops came bustin' in and man we lit out in a pickup truck" - Bob Seger, 1974 

© 2013 Ricki C.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

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

(I Love Distortion (a rock & roll novel in 12 chapters) appears monthly in
Growing Old With Rock & Roll; January to December, 2013)

I Love Distortion - chapter nine

 "Keith Moon died that year
And something fine had finished
I took over center stage
And everything diminished"
 "My Last Lead Singer" - Sean Richter, 1990

Keith Moon, the pounding genius drummer and - as subsequent rock history has painfully borne out - the heart & soul of The Who, died September 7th, 1978.  I must have heard about it on September 8th, most likely on the noon news during my lunch hour at K-Mart.  I can't say Moon's death was entirely unexpected, and I hadn't bought a Who record since Who's Next in 1972, but a little part of my heart still broke that day.  The Twilight Kids played a gig that night.  Nicole sometimes wore vanilla extract on her throat as perfume.  That night was one of those nights.  I have no idea why I have retained that specific memory, or why those two facts are inextricably linked in my brain, but they are. 

The most immediate effect Keith's death had on the repertoire of The Twilight Kids was the dropping of a song entitled "Old Heroes Might Be Heroes (But They're Old Anyway)."  It was a tune I wrote that simultaneously name-checked and bad-mouthed a number of my old 1960's idols - The Rolling Stones, The Who, Lou Reed - for what I perceived as their descent into a rather quaint irrelevancy in my late 1970's punk-rock reality.

It also solidified our most Who-like creation - "Rise From The Suburbs" - a multi-section mini-opera modeled on Townshend's "A Quick One While He's Away."  It was a song we had been toying and tinkering with since the beginning of the band, but now took on a new urgency with the addition of Nicole's keening middle section, partially inspired by Moon's passing.

Rise From The Suburbs

(Sean wrote this part)

 On a rainy Saturday afternoon in July, somebody's teenage daughter is sitting in the living room of a
 deluxe ranch duplex in a well-to-do Midwestern suburb.  And she's thinking about joints, guitars,
 freeways, Willie Alexander, the kid who sits next to her in algebra class whose eyes are his best
 feature, romance, kitchens and kisses at night like fire.  This girl's thinking, this girl's thinking;

My dad's got a Porsche
My mom's got a new haircut
I'm just out here 
Trying to be a little different

We're out in the suburbs
And we know all of the words
To the top hit tunes on the radio
I want a rise from the suburbs
I want to rise from the suburbs

My uncle's an executive
He works for GM
He's on a big expense account
That he collects per diem

We're out in the suburbs
And we know all of the words
To the top hit tunes on the radio
I want to rise from the suburbs
I want a rise from the suburbs

My sister's got a mirror
The maid's got a Bissell
My brother's in the seminary
Praying to his missal

We're out in the suburbs
And we know all of the words
To the top hit tunes on the radio
I want a rise from the suburbs
I want to rise from the suburbs 

(Nicole wrote this part)

I'm so alone / I'm so alone / I've got so many friends / And I'm so alone
I'm so alone / I'm so alone / I've got so many things / And I'm so alone
I'm so alone / I'm so alone / Everybody's so close / And I'm so alone
I counted the ships on my wallpaper / I'm so alone, I'm sinking
And I can't stop thinking, I can't stop thinking;

It's one-way east
And I'm headed west
I've always been careful
To give you my best

rise from the suburbs / rise from the suburbs

I have this vision
I wanna have a voice
I look in your eyes
And I believe I have a choice

to rise from the suburbs / rise from the suburbs

Can you pull me out?
Can you show me love?
Can you save my sanity
When push comes to shove?


We're out in the suburbs
And we know all of the words
To the top hit tunes on the radio

(Sean & Nicole wrote this part together, and sang it AT, more than TO, each other)

I wanna rise from the suburbs - That ain't no crime
I wanna rise from the suburbs - 'Cause I've done my time
I wanna rise from the suburbs - Get free and clear
I wanna rise from the suburbs - I want out of here!


- Sean Richter & Nicole Page, 1978

It was a pretty great song.  Jeffrey Jay, Jake and I would build to a truly inspiring "Pictures Of Lily"-style crescendo, then drop out for Nicole to deliver a poignantly heartrending "please?" at the song's conclusion.  A little guitar solo I wrote for Nicole to play and we were out of the song.  You should've heard it.  I think Keith would've liked it.

© 2013 Ricki C.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Terry Anderson (w/ The Olympic Ass-Kickin' Team) "Killin' Down In Dillon" (Bonus Video Friday)

The High Concept for Bonus Video Friday this month will be "The Four Best Chuck Berry Songs That Chuck Berry Forgot To Write."  My high-school best friend & bandmate, Dave Blackburn - the person who taught me more about rock & roll than any other individual on the planet - originally coined the phrase "The Fill-in-a-Number Best Fill-in-a-Songwriter Songs That Fill-in-the-Same-Songwriter Forgot To Write."  I believe it might have initially been in reference to "The Five Best Bob Dylan Songs That Bob Dylan Forgot To Write" and included The Jimi Hendrix Experience's "The Wind Cries Mary" and Mott The Hoople's "Backsliding Fearlessly," among three others, I'm sure you get the idea.

ps. Terry Anderson & the Olympic Ass-Kickin' Team are one of the five best live bands that you've never seen.

inspirational verse; "When she went into her bedroom and discovered she was missin' /
She grabbed her sawed-off shotgun and a box of ammunition /
She said, 'If they tie the knot, there'll be a killin' down in Dillon /
If they tie the knot, there'll be a killin' down in Dillon'" - Terry Anderson, 2001

© 2013 Ricki C.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

September 1st, 2013 blog

Today is Sunday, September 1st, 2013.  This blog will end on December 31st, 2013, four months from now.  We're already WAY overdue.  It was supposed to last from January 1st to June 30th, 2012, when I turned 60 years old, but I was without a computer for two of those months, and then on the road with Watershed for all of June, so it got artificially extended.

People who know me well will tell you that I'm always complaining about American TV shows that go on too long, that overstay their welcome.  (The Gilmore Girls, Heroes, and How I Met Your Mother come immediately to mind.)  I've long thought that American TV should be more like British television: where shows have a limited run and there's a beginning, a middle, and an end.  How much better was Ricky Gervais' The Office than that Steve Carrell trainwreck?

And let's face facts, part of the reason this blog exists in 2013 was to force me to get I Love Distortion out of various notebooks and off of various notes on napkins and to get it all written down in some final form.

Therefore, in the four months we have left of Growing Old With Rock & Roll, if there's anything anyone out there would like me to write about, if there are any stories my rock & roll friends & brethren think I've missed, if there are any parts one, two or three that readers think need parts four, five and six: in the words of Terry Reid (by way of Cheap Trick) "Speak Now Or Forever Hold Your Peace."

I suppose it's possible I might begin another blog to follow this one.  (January, February & March get pretty long out here in Ohio.)  Or maybe I'll just write full-time for Colin Gawel's that I occasionally contribute pieces to now, but one way or another Growing Old With Rock & Roll is coming to an end in four months.  Let me know now what you want to read about between now and then.

© 2013 Ricki C.