Tag Archives: Johnny Thunders

Not A Good Rock Birthday…

You can search just about every day on the calendar and find a plethora of musicians and actors who share a birthday. On occasion I’ll run a column blogging about a few when some noteworthy ones share the day. And when looking over the lists last night, I discovered something.

July 15th is cursed.

If you’re going to light a candle for these birthdays, they are probably in church rather than a cake. Johnny Thunders was born in 1952 and left us back in 1991; his last recordings possibly were the sessions he did right in my town along with The Chesterfield Kings.

Ian Curtis, the poster boy for depression, was born four years later and left Joy Division behind in 1908. Even Artimus Pyle, born in 1958 and still alive, went down in flames with Lynyrd Skynrd and survived only to be tossed out of the band afterwards.

So maybe before anyone else born on July 15th sings “hope I die before I get old” they might want to think twice.

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T.G.I.F. – Ten Free Digital Samplers

They say you can’t get something for nothing. Wrong

Having grown up on 45 singles and gatefold albums, I’m still a tactile music lover. I’m being dragged kicking and screaming into the digital distribution world, even though I realize that it’s more convenient and less expensive. Can’t help it. Old habits die hard.

So since I’m not constantly surfing iTunes and Rhapsody and other music services, I sometimes miss out on titles that come out exclusively for the digital market, be they music or comedy. Hell, it’s hard enough to keep track of everything and I’m proactively looking…I can imagine how hard it is to find everything passively. And record companies – small and big – realize this also.

There’s nothing new about samplers, but pressing and distributing vinyl and CD platters cost money and couldn’t be offered for free in large quantities. Warner Brothers used to sell them for two dollars through the mail, which probably was a break-even point for them, although it wasn’t that much cheaper than a normal retail priced album at the time. When CDs became deceptively cheap, the market was flooded with indie samplers, although most would up in dollar racks. It would have been nice to try to discover new bands, but with the plethora of CDs in the store, who had the time and the money to experiment?

So here’s one thing digital got right – free albums, a click away from wherever you happen to be. The purpose is the same – hear some new bands, hopefully find someone you like, become a fan and buy their product. It’s the try-before-you-buy policy that is the new paradigm for a fractured industry. I’ve stumbled across several by pure happenstance; I’m sure you’ll find tons of others. Many bands are happy to give their albums away hoping you will come out to the show and support them on tour.

So here are Ten Free Digital Samplers that I found worthwhile; no-risk free records for the taking. Imagine – a money back guarantee!

01) Ike Reilly digital sampler – one of the best songwriters around and a dynamic performer, a cutting edge Dylan-influenced poet. I’ve got his whole catalogue and if you don’t know him, trust me, you will love this guy.

02) Americana Music Awards Sampler – featuring cuts from John Hiatt, Buddy and Julie Miller, Steve Earle and James McMurtry to draw you in, you’ll come away as fans of Jason Isbell and The Avett Brothers.

03) Wicked Cool Coming Attractions – A great sampler from Little Steven’s label (and Underground Garage playlist) including The Chesterfield Kings, The Breakers, The Cocktail Slippers and contenders for 2010’s best album, The Len Price 3.

04) Merge Records 2010 Sampler – Indie wonderland, featuring Destroyer, She and Him, Clean, The Clientele and The Shout Out Louds.

05) Alive Records 2009 Sampler – Not dated in any way, this runs the gamut from re-released gems from The Nerves to great cuts from The Buffalo Killers, Left Lane Cruiser and Outrageous Cherry.

06) ROIR: So Indie It Hurts Jackpot! New York Dolls, Johnny Thunders, Suicide, The Mekons, The Fleshtones, James Chance and the Contortions…NYC punk bonanza!

07) Ryko: Flash of Light – Worth it for the acoustic Gary Louris tune alone, but this is filled with great singer-songwriters like Will Hoge and Justin Currie (from Del Amitri).

08) Barsuk Records 2009 Sampler – OK, so I wish that Nada Surf was on here, but otherwise this is a killer collection featuring Death Cab For Cutie, Menomena and Ra Ra Riot.

09) CMJ 2009 Sampler – I imagine there will be a 2010 version floating around soon, but this is stuffed with lesser known bands so what difference does a year make? I already liked  The Black Hollies and The High Strung and came away discovering The Generationals and The Bloodsugars.

10) Best of Yep Roc Singles – This is an absolute steal. When you’re one of the best labels of the past twenty years, of course your roster boasts Nick Lowe, Todd Snider, Dave Alvin, The Apples In Stereo and Reverend Horton Heat.

And what the hell – it’s free one from Sub Pop containing Blitzen Trapper, Wolf Parade, Beach House…even a clip from comedian David Cross!

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Corvette + Gore Girl = Gorevette

Ladies, lock up your sons and husbands.

As if it isn’t great enough that Nikki Corvette and Amy Gore (The Gore Gore Girls) have hooked up to form Gorevette, they just release a new EP (Lustfully Yours), finished a tour with The Donnas and are heading out this summer with Blondie!

From their bio… 1978 saw the birth of Nikki Corvette’s career with the release of the Nikki Corvette and the Convertibles single “Young and Crazy” b/w “Backseat Love” and “Criminal Element”. This was all happening in Detroit during the punk rock explosion, where Nikki would see herself sharing the stage with The Ramones, Johnny Thunders and The Romantics. By 1980 the band name was changed to Nikki and the Corvettes. They would release their legendary debut album on BOMP! Records, an incredible mixture of 60’s style girl group vocals, twangy guitars and teenage pop with plenty of punk rock attitude, with songs about cruising for boys and fun in the sun. The album and band would influence everyone from The Go-Go’s (to go for more of a “pop” sound) all the way to The Donnas (see the lyric “I wanna be like Nikki Corvette” from Gimmie My Radio).

Amy Gore was born in Detroit, Michigan and in 1997 she founded the Gore Gore Girls, the first of few all-female bands of the garage rock genre. Along with other bands such as The White Stripes, The Dirtbombs, The Detroit Cobras and others, the Gore Gore Girls helped establish the modern American garage rock scene of the 1990s in Detroit.

Hear Gorevette on MySpace

Check out this video for “Lustfully Yours”!

Gore Gore Girls website

***

Wait a minute.

Are you telling me that Ann-Margaret, Penelope Cruz, Jessica Alba, Bridget Moynahan and Elisabeth Rohm were all born on the same day? And no one has started planning late July conceptions hoping their daughter would also get the April 27th good looks gene?

And since all five of those ladies are out celebrating tonight…keep those sons and husbands locked up even after the Gorevette video.

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Under The Radar: Teenage Frames

Rock out Knockout

Rock out Knockout

I first discovered this Chicago band during a late night trolling session on CDBaby (a highly recommended exercise to discover many bands flying under everybody’s radar). I was intrigued by the name-dropping of the Dolls, Stones and Stooges, and plunked my money down. Well, the comparisons were accurate – More Songs, Less Music was reminiscent of  Cheap Trick and Mott The Hoople strained through a  Ramones filter (albeit with traces of Beach Boys and bubblegum glam). Twelve years later, I’m still playing their discs.

Now listed on MySpace as being from Hollywood, a December 2008 post teased a new recording in progress. But their last blog entry says “permanent vacation”, which wither means (1) they want you to know they’re not coming back to Chicago, (2) they really like that Aerosmith album, or (3) they’re toast.

The Teenage Frames have released six CDs to date. Give them a try – most of their releases are EPs you can pick up for five bucks! Unlike so many bands who think they have to fill out every nanosecond of the CD with sound, these guys know enough to get it, hit hard and get out. Here’s a review of 1% Faster, their second release, that will give you a good snapshot of their sound.

If you like the Stooges and the New York Dolls as much as I do, then you’re going to have a big smile on your face when you hear these guys. Now don’t get me wrong – glass won’t shatter and I don’t see a high heel shoe anywhere – but vocalist Frankie Delmane was spawned from the same muck. And hell, with song titles like “Drug Power,” “Teenage Letdown” and “Back To The Motor City,” what do you expect? The Teenage Frames kick ass, pal! “I’m Going Home” has more swagger than Jagger, and if that ain’t Keef ripping those rhythm chords it’s Dan Baird fronting the Quireboys.

When they slow it down, it’s Johnny Thunders sipping margaritas (“Living It Up”), but when it cranks I hear echoes of The Ramones (“I Want To Go Out Tonight”), The Boys (“Just Can’t Seem To Take It”), The Black Crowes and The Sex Pistols. Once in a while, Delmane’s rasp slides off the chart, but so what? With three seventies-named cats like Eric Vegas (who co- writes everything with Delmane), Jim Holiday and Ted (Don’t Call Me Johnny) Cougar as the power trio, I don’t care. The last record is called 1% Faster. I think they underestimate themselves.

Teenage Frames website

Teenage Frames CDs on CDBaby

TF live, too wild for The Jenny Jones Show
teenage frames

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NEW ALBUM! New York Dolls

I was a punk before you was a punk

I was a punk before you was a punk

 The news five years ago was simultaneously exciting and daunting – not only were the New York Dolls going to perform at the Meltdown Festival per Morrissey‘s invite, but they would record some new songs together for the first time in over thirty years! Exciting because let’s face it – the Dolls were Too Much Too Soon and had their legs knocked out from under them by bad management, drugs, worse management, more drugs, and the curse of being the dead body that followers could cross over like a bridge. (Oh, and even more drugs.)

Johnny Thunders recorded L.A.M.F. with The Heartbreakers, an almost perfect punk album. David Johansen did what he does best – survive – releasing some solid solo works before being tempted by the (not Walter) lure of Buster Poindexter.  Sylvain Sylvain quietly issued a couple of killer solo albums that really let his knack for catchy pop songs shine. (Syl is the Keith Richards of The Dolls – he runs the band and he keeps the lead singer honest). Listening to all that great music being made separately made one wonder what might have been

And then, in 2006, we sorta knew. One Day It Will Please Us To Remember Even This was a statement album from the remaining members of the band, supported by ace replacements like Sami Yaffa from Hanoi Rocks and a 21st century Thunders in Steve Conte. Somehow the band defied time and captured the irreverance, the girl-group anthems, the humor and the punk swagger and forged it through a modern, literate filter to at once sound current and classic. Even the most skeptical Dolls fan had to be impressed. Combined with the DVD of the Meltdown performance and the poignant documentary on Arthur Kane, the New York Dolls were not only relevant again, but they were great. The album translated well to the stage, where a more polished band delivered the goods old and new night after night after night.

Now, three years and another live album later, we have Cause I Sez So, the new studio album. But as much as I’d love to say it’s a step forward, I can’t…

Read my review in Blurt Magazine.

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Blast From The Past: David Johansen Group

If I’m going to continue to pace the room in breathless anticipation of the upcoming New York Dolls album ‘Cause I Sez So (produced by Todd Rundgren), I might as well dance.

Yeah, we took the ferry, whatchagonnadoaboudit?

Yeah, we took the ferry, whatchagonnadoaboudit?

A few months after the release of his first solo record, David Johansen packed the Bottom Linein NY for a three-night stand, the middle night being simulcast on WNEW-FM. A limited edition 9-song promo was released after that, but the full 18 track set didn’t surface for another fifteen years. And fifteen years after that, it still holds up.

The band, like Johansen, were Staten Island natives, albeit younger; to them Johansen and the Dolls were icons. Guitarists Johnny Rao and Thomas Trask, bassist Buz Verno and drummer Frankie LaRockawere a tight band in need of a singer, and after some relentless pursuit Johansen agreed to join in, bringing Sylvain Sylvain in tow. The sound of The David Johansen Groupbore a strong resemblance to the Dolls, but the campy chaos was now a streamlined soulful rock attack, with three guitars dancing atop a formidable but not-flashy rhythm section. In other words, rock’n’roll that could appeal to a much wider audience – more punk than the classic rockers and more structured than the punk bands. And since it was 1978, it was another validation that disco did suck.

The set was killer, featuring solo and Dolls tunes as well as the usual bevy of great covers, ranging from Motown (“I Found A Love“, “Reach Out I’ll Be There” and “Love Child“) to bubblegum pop (“Build Me Up Buttercup“) and even a whack at Bonnie Tyler’sIt’s A Heartache”, sandwiched within “Personality Crisis” just to keep the crowd honest.  They kicked it off in high gear with “Cool Metro” and peppered the crowd with rave-ups, swinging r&b and the usual cocky/funny shtick from David as front-man. When Johnny Thunders jumped onstage to close it all out with “Babylon” it must have been absolute bedlam.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have seen The New York Dolls several times in their original incarnation, and when they broke up it was a sad but inevitable occasion. But I was thrilled when Johansen rebounded with several good albums, and during this phrase of his career I saw the band six or seven times. They never failed to light the place on fire, and thankfully a couple of those are captured for posterity; both Live It Up and this album are highly recommended. I was not a Buster Poindexter fan and liked, not loved, The Harry Smiths. But having seen the 21st century version of the New York Dolls a few times already, I can vouch that they are in prime ass-kicking form.

So until that new album drops, to quote “Frenchette“…let’s just dance!

david-johansen-live-it-up

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