Blast From The Past: The Montgomery Cliffs

 

I believe "Andiamo" means PLAY THIS LOUD!

I believe "Andiamo" means PLAY THIS LOUD!

“If I were in a band and had to follow these guys onstage, I’d demand to have the room hosed out and a fresh audience brought in. Nuff said.”

 

First of all, that name…The Montgomery Cliffs. How cool is that? When I reviewed Andiamo, the Cliffs’ debut album – my #1 Record of 1997, by the way – I proclaimed it “a low-budget, high voltage masterpiece” and I wouldn’t take back a syllable of that today. If anything, my opinion has been validated by the passage of time.  Produced by the great Andy Bopp (Myracle Brah) and released on the small RPM label, this three piece NYC band understood that The Who were both power and pop, and having a a sense of humor didn’t hurt either. Joey’s voice is occasionally reminiscent of Pat DiNizio (The Smithereens) or Elvis Costello (Ol’ Declan would be smart to cover “If I Were You”), and the songs on Andiamo aren’t far off from the early records by either.

But more importantly, the band and album were pure unadulterated impact. We’ve all been knocked sideways by a great band when we weren’t expecting it…meeting someone at a bar, arriving early for a concert and not knowing the opener, and then… POW…floored! When recapping 1997’s best later that year I added “The Cliffs  parlay the guitar-bass-drum formula into something much greater. Great songs, whip-crack musicianship and a sense of humor that rocks your world and still makes you think. And the best part? They’re better live. This disc kept getting back in the player all year long, and how better to measure your favorite?”

They were better live. They were amazing live. When I saw them at Fletcher’s in Baltimore later that year, I was absolutely gobsmacked and wrote this. (And yes, I know Patsy Cline didn’t write “Crazy”…) It wasn’t just Salvia’s charisma, although the guy had buckets of it; Wayne Thomas Kurz was the only guitar player but sounded like two, and Dennis Carollo mastered the art of propulsion without ego. Truly a power trio.

Joey Salvia might now be better known to some NYC area fans from his work on The Michael Kay Show (along with various appearances on FOX Sports and ESPN).  Salvia engineers and helps produce the show as well as singing songs for guests, wreaking sonic havoc and bantering with the host. He also wrote the theme song and the other original/parody tunes you hear each day. Salvia continues to record under his own name; his latest album Long Lost Weekend features a song that Bostonians will surely hate…”Derek Jeter“. (And to Dennis and Wayne, wherever you are…isn’t it about time for a reunion??)

Maybe this video was recorded for ten dollars, who knows…but I think you’ll get the point.

The Montgomery Cliff’s MySpace page. “Wednesday Girl”  rules.

CD Baby features several Cliffs and Salvia titles here… I also highly recommend the self-titled Cliffs record.

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3 Comments

Filed under Editorials, Music, Reviews

3 responses to “Blast From The Past: The Montgomery Cliffs

  1. I’m gonna have to look into these guys, even if they do write songs about sports.

  2. drbristol

    The sports thing is more related to Joey’s solo work (which can be all over the map)…if they were still together I doubt the Cliffs would perform “Jeter”. But then if you told me Joey would jam with Mike Huckabee, I wouldn’t have taken that bet either. 🙂

  3. Michael Toland, My work as a songwriter allows me the chance to dive into several styles of music. I have never been able to fit myself into a little box for mass consumption. I’ve tried! I love too many types of music. One day I’m digging Brazilian guitar and the next, I’m checking out modern folk, Americana, old country or 70’s sap- pop. So yes, as a solo artist, I can be all over the map. The Montgomery Cliffs gave me the chance to do yet another style of music I love… power pop. If you buy a Cliffs CD, (I hope you do!) you will hear this. I am most proud of that period in my career. Unfortunately, the band could not sustain. But the few albums we did release are worth checking out and new fans have been doing so. If you buy one of my solo cd’s, you will hear my idea of pop, rock, alt country, folk, Americana, old demos…and many of the musical styles I’ve loved for the last 30 years. That’s about how long I’ve been recording and performing my songs. My radio/TV work has nothing to do with my recording career… it’s just another fun way to pay the mortgage. If you search me online, you will hear these little bits I do for Espn, Fox, etc. The media/broadcasting era of my career gives me the chance to meet and jam with some interesting people from all walks of life. My politics/ team allegiance is something that never gets in the way of my making a living or having a good time… and most of all…surviving. As a songwriter, I call life as I see it. I’m a songwriter first…always have been. Everything I do in life springs from this well. Thank you for checking out the article. I hope you find something you like in my many attempts at connecting with others through my words and music. Peace.

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