“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.