Tag Archives: the New York Dolls

T.G.I.F. – Ten For Todd Rundgren

Might get the chance to see Todd Rundgren again this weekend; he usually breezes through town every eighteen months or so with a different show every time. Being in a secondary market, we don’t always get the premium themed shows. Last time through he bookended a run-through of his Liars album with some classic hits, but bigger cities got a walk-thru of A Wizard A True Star.

This time I was excited to see him because he’s playing the Healing and Todd albums in their entirety…but then found out that our show is called Todd Rundgren’s Greatest Hits. That’s not exactly chopped liver, mind you, but I was looking forward to being part of a cheering throng singing the chorus of “Sons of 1984” and trying to keep up with “Lord Chancellor’s Nightmare Song” (never could, never will). But he’ll dazzle regardless; no doubt alternating ballads and rockers (as I did below).

Regardless, Rundgren is a true rock icon. He turned sixty-three last week and shows no signs of slowing down, let alone stopping. Always a great song interpreter, his upcoming album re:Production will feature covers of songs he produced for other bands. Considering that list includes Meatloaf, The New York Dolls, XTC, Grand Funk, Rick Derringer, The Tubes and The Psychedelic Furs, this could be a lot of fun.

Yet another reason The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame is a sham – one of the most prolific artists, producers and innovators of the last four decades has yet to get an invite.

But he’s in mine, so this week’s TGIF offers Ten For Todd Rundgren

(01) – I Saw The Light

(02) – The Very Last Time

(03) – Can We Still Be Friends?

(04) – Initiation

(05) – Hello It’s Me

(06) – Black Maria

(07) – We Gotta Get You A Woman

(08) – Sons of 1984

(09) – A Dream Goes On Forever

(10) – Utopia Theme

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New Album! Michael Monroe

Holy Crap! This puppy smokes.

If you like glam rock, you already know that singer Michael Monroe has A-list credentials. And when it comes to powering such a band, it doesn’t get much better than a band featuring Sami Yaffa on bass and both Ginger and Steve Conte on guitar. And while even I had to look up a guy called Karl Rockfist – because that’s just too great a last name for a drummer – I soon realized it was actually Karl Rosqvist, skin pounder for The Chelsea Smiles.

So if you think you’d like a band that combines Hanoi Rocks, The Dictators, The Wildhearts, The New York Dolls and The Sex Pistols, this one’s for you. and while the first album, the Jack Douglas produced Sensory Overdrive, isn’t out yet…Another Night In The Sun (Live In Helsinki) is. A combination of old favorites and covers, it kicks ass from the first note and proves that the band is as tight as it is talented. That might mean no Wildhearts or Dolls shows for a while, but I think we’ll survive.

“Me and the guys in the band decided to record a live album – something for the fans to have while they’re waiting for our actual studio album due to be release in the early part of (2011)…”

Video: “Nothin’s Alright”

 

We're coming to your town, we're gonna party it down

 

 

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Under The Radar: The Sleepers

If I were going to start a rock band, I’d want the boozy swagger of The Faces and The Rolling Stones mixed with the glam punch of Bowie and The New York Dolls plus the bombast of AC/DC and the stoner buzz of The Black Crowes and Izzy Stradlin. Looks like The Sleepers beat me to the punch.

Featuring a twin guitar attack over a kinetic rhythm section and an emotive (yet not preening) lead vocalist in Tommy Richied, their album Comeback Special distills all those influences through a combination ’77 punk attitude and a Sunset Strip hair metal glitz. And although it’s hit and miss – largely hit – it has that indescribable sound that wants to make you roll down the car window and blast it so the guy next to you can offer a knowing nod and smile.

I’m not one to fall for hyperbole without a second look, but I must admit that “what would happen if Jerry Lee Lewis married Appetite For Destruction instead of his cousin” is a hell of a description.

If that doesn’t do it for you, how about song titles? Any band that titles their songs “She Is My Drinking Problem” (think Poison amping up a country weeper), “Dirty Cop” and “Jailbait” has a sense of humor, at least, but while song subjects might not call Dylan to mind, they’re vehicles to set the tone for some great back-beats and some guitar noodling.

Tony Manno and Kevin Bannon interplay well on guitars, while Chris Cormier on bass and (I am not making this up) Johnny Action on drums are rock-solid. Kudos also to Elisa Carlson who adds piano and organ on a few tracks; they might want to bring her on full time. (This album came out in 2008; according to their website, Richied is no longer in the band and Bannon has taken over lead vocals).

Sometimes you need to remember that rock’n’roll can be straightforward and simple. I never heard the Chicago based band’s one previous album (Push It Nationwide) but after blasting this one a few times I’ll be seeking it out.

Listen to The Sleepers on Amazon.

The Sleepers on MySpace

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The Lost Weekend

It only ends once

Everything that comes before that is just progress.

***

Speaking of Lost Weekends, I had many of those at The Lost Horizon in Syracuse, New York. If you ever played music or hung out in Syracuse, you knew the place and you knew of Greg Italiano, the man behind the club. Sadly, he passed away this week at 59; he would have been 60 this August.

I never got to know him personally but I did know many promoters and hundreds of musicians who always spoke highly of him. He gave countless bands their first break, and I’m sure the thoughts and well-wishes will pour in from around the globe as the sad news spreads through the music community.

Once Wanda’s and later The Yellow Balloon, Greg started running The Lost Horizon in the 70’s. In my stomping years, the club was anything but the Shangri-La the name implies, but in fairness Syracuse was known for having many clubs where it would be healthier to pee your pants than enter the bathroom.

But what it lacked in decorum it made up in solid bookings. My mind is clouded but a Who’s Who of rock bands played in that room – The New York Dolls, The Ramones, Jason and the Scorchers, The Beat Farmers, and on and on. Every local band worth seeing rocked that stage and probably put a few guitar necks through the low ceiling.

In its recent incarnations it was primarily an alternative and metal club, but ask any touring bands of that ilk where to play and draw the crowd and they’d drop that name. As always, that was Greg – finding out what kids want and providing it for them.

R.I.P. Greg – thanks for everything. 

Condolences here.

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Blast From The Past: The Dictators

Milder title, but the music is still molten lava

An old, live Dictators album? On a Sunday? 

Yeah, I was probably thinking about New York New York because I was writing about Scott Kempner yesterday. Not that I don’t pull this fireball of an album out with regularity, along with all my Dictators albums. But I mention this one again because it was first issued only on cassette with a much better title (Fuck ’em If They Can’t Take A Joke) before finally making it to CD. 

This April 1999 review (below) was one of the first things I wrote about The Dictators since I picked up the pen keyboard again in the mid-90s. Damned if I’m not still fighting the uphill battle eleven years later. Those who know, know, but there are still far too many non-converts. 

Well, fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke

Daddy...what's a cassette tape?

ROIR (Reachout International Records) was founded by former club owner and talent agent Neil Cooper in 1979 to provide a home for the bands that were dominating the New York scene at the time. His roster was incredible – Television, the New York Dolls, Bad Brains, Suicide and The Fleshtones among them. Amazingly, the label was cassette-only releases in an era still dominated by vinyl (the Sony Walkman had not yet debuted, but its arrival soon afterwards saved the label). Perhaps even more amazingly, this man with his finger on the pulse of the imminent musical explosion was 49 years old at the time. 

Now 68, Cooper and his label have been digitally transferring titles to CD for the past four years, and one of the newest re-releases might be the one that put ROIR on the map in the first place. Fuck Em If They Can’t Take A Joke was ROIR’s third release, a sonic atomic bomb from a five-headed street monster that was the perfect bridge between the urban glam of the New York Dolls and the punk edge of the Ramones. The Dictators kicked ass and took names, a dynamic blend of white heat and solid songwriting. 

They were loud and obnoxious, but if you looked closely you could see that tongue planted firmly in cheek. Not too closely, though…Former roadie turned lead vocalist “Handsome Dick” Manitoba prowled the stage like a rabid rhino, keeping time with Richie Teeter’s thunder drums. Ross “The Boss” Funicello played blistering lead guitar while Scott “Top Ten” Kempner held the fort on rhythm and Andy/Adny Shernoff handled bass. A Dictators show was a party and a war zone at the same time, and this night was no exception. 

The show was recorded live to two track in 1981 and contains many of the classic songs – “Two Tub Man”, “Next Big Thing”, “Loyola” and “Rock And Roll Made A Man Out Of Me” among them. The band smokes, but Funicello was especially hot – his solo on “Science Gone Too Far” is a classic that players seventeen years later have a hard time matching. Naturally, there’s a version of the set staple – Iggy‘s “Search And Destroy” (with a hilarious introduction by Manitoba) as well as covers of Mott and Lou Reed (“What Goes On”). Shernoff is a solid songwriter who leans toward the melodic, and “Weekend” is a great example of a pop song turned inside out. 

New York New York expands the original track list by adding three bonus cuts from a show at the Ritz. The soundboard recordings of “Master Race Rock”, “Baby Let’s Twist” and “Faster And Louder” catch the band on another solid night and were mastered by Shernoff last year for inclusion here. Ironically, as the recording date is listed as “the early 80’s”, these could have been from a show after the band’s official demise. 

The Dictators went their separate ways – Funicello to the heavy metal Man O War, Kempner to the late, great Del-Lords, Manitoba to his Wild Kingdom, but through it all they remained Dictators at heart. Always New York legends, recent years have seen them become gods in Spain (where even a tribute record was released) and add to their legend with new singles on Norton. In 1999, the band has finally acquired the rights to their final album Bloodbrothers and have released it on their own, later this year the classic Manifest Destiny may join it. But the best news of all is that there will be a new release in the coming months, so we can all ride their coattails as we face the New Millennium the way it should be – faster and louder. 

In the meantime, whether you have worn out your original ROIR cassette (as I did) or you never had the pleasure in the first place, you are in for a real treat with New York New York. For although Blondie and The Talking Heads made more money, and The Ramones had more imitators, and Television got more credit for being important, let’s set the record straight. Nobody, but nobody, embodied New York rock better than The Dictators

White Light, White Heat...White Castle

The Dictators have done more than release their back catalogue and occasionally regroup – in the last decade they have issued a brilliant new album (D.F.F.D.), a rarities/anthology disc (Every Day is Saturday) and a new blistering live album (Viva Dictators). They formed way back in 1973, but in 2010 The Dictators are still Faster And Louder. Get the albums, hunt down their shows, and when in New York City, visit Mecca.

Stay With Me live in Spain (where they are gods).

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