Tag Archives: The Photos

Under The Radar: The Lovelies

According to a promo blurb, The Lovelies formed in Austin, Texas in the 90’s, headed up by Liv Lovely (aka Liv Mueller). The band saw a few lineup changes and garnered a lot of attention following a move to Milwaukee. The group disbanded with the last lineup as Barb Enders on bass and Damain Stringes playing drums. You might come across a Euro band with the same name, but these Lovelies were a female fronted band.

I first caught up with them years ago with White Leather, their album on the Force MP label. In addition to the references below, if you’re into bands like The Eyeliners, The Gore Gore Girls or even 80s bands like The Photos, you’ll probably like a lot of this.

Here’s my review from Yeah Yeah Yeah in 2003:


Okay, so sue me; upon first look at Liv and Barb Lovely I thought “Blondie times two!” before I even slipped the cd into the player. (Bulletin to whomever designed the user-unfriendly digipak that almost caused me to snap the cd in half – what were you thinking?) But it turns out that I’m not so far off the mark – maybe Veruca Salt with better chops?

White Leather is a good balance of stripped-down alterna-pop and catchy three-chord rock and often captures the same juxtaposition of pouting sexuality and power pop chops that made Ms. Harry and company instantly accessible. Occasional clunkers (“Tommy”) aside, many strong cuts like “In Over My Head”, “Constellation” and “I Want Your Love” stick on first listen, and Liz Lovely’s pipes can sell just about anything. Nothing overtly commercial, good versatility and obvious conviction.

Maybe this is the record that Liz Phair fans thought they were going to get?

Listen for yourself at Amazon.

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Blast From The Past – Jack Green!

Life is like a bowl of tangents.

No, Forrest Gump didn’t say that. But it’s true! After writing about the Pretty Things I saw that they were now playing dates with other musicians filling in around Taylor and May. That started me thinking about bands who eventually have other players come through their ranks  in later years, from Bad Company to Foghat to Steppenwolf, so I decided to look up everyone who had been a Pretty Thing. And although I knew that Jack Green was in the band for a bit, I had totally forgotten it.

I didn’t discover Green from his tenure in the Pretties (even though I played Silk Torpedo and Savage Eye a lot) or as a member of T.Rex, either. My first conscious exposure to him came on an album that came out thirty years ago called Humanesque. Released at the cusp of the post-punk, corporate rock days, this fell into a group of refreshing albums with catchy songs, great guitar and a bit of a New Wave edge that this new channel called MTV would soon try to jump all over. But Jack Green wasn’t about posing and synthesisers and bullshit – he had crafted an album equal parts powerpop and Ziggy Stardust.

At the time I was both managing a small club and writing for an arts weekly called The National Rag, so I was fortunate enough to get pitched on bands from both angles, but his label never mentioned Jack Green. I was struck by the album cover – any veteran bin-browser has discovered many a favorite this way – and I think I remember reading a small clip comparing his voice to Bowie’s. I saw, I bought, and was conquered.

Green was a great guitar player but didn’t flash out just to show off; his solos (“Babe” is a great example) were tasty without wanking. He sounded as comfortable with pop-reggae (“Life on The Line”, “So Much”) as with more raspy rocking (the Bryan Adams-ish “I Call, No Answer”, featuring some Ritchie Blackmore axe work). “Thought It Was Easy” is a very pretty slow-tempo rocker that showcases his knack for a hook and his very appealing voice; ditto “Valentina” which features some nice tempo changes. And  “Murder” should have been as big a hit as Foreigner’s “Hot Blooded”.

Video: “Babe

“Factory Girl” starts out is a pretty straightforward pop rocker – fat chords, short sharp chorus – but morphs into a nice guitar workout. And the hypnotic closer, “This is Japan”, cleverly integrated Oriental arpeggios with a churning rock beat. (When I moved to Rochester a local band making good named Duke Jupiter covered it on their album; I’m pretty sure someone else had a minor hit with it as well). Frankly, there’s really not a duff track to be found here.

My favorite was the three-minute killer “Bout That Girl”, which did indeed sound like a Ziggy outtake. Great vocal, punchy guitar and a chorus that I found myself humming immediately. I played that song over and over; I thought it might be the greatest hook I had heard in years. The cassette player in my old Pontiac got quite a workout in those days, and anytime I had anyone in the car I would play it for them and blast the chorus…and to a person I’d get that nod of agreement: indeed, this is a hit record!

That was until the day I was giving Ed Hamell (yep, Hamell on Trial) a ride home. The first time through he stared intently at the tape deck (why do people stare at radios and tape players?) before breaking into a wicked grin. When the chorus came around the second time he sang loudly, and in perfect rhythm…the first line of the chorus from The Byrds‘ “Chestnut Mare”. 

Damn. “Somebody should have told me about that girl“…”I’m gonna catch that horse if I can“…that was a perfect fit.

Reeling, I let buzzkill Ed out of the car, probably as amazed that he nailed the reference so easily as I was that I missed it in a hundred listens. No wonder that one line struck me so immediately – it had been in my brain for years! But lest you think I’m accusing Mr. Green of deliberately swiping a hook, I’m not. The rest of the chorus, let alone the rest of the entire songs, are as different as night and day. The Byrds never said anything, and I never heard anyone else but Ed make the connection. Just another happy accident in rock and roll.

But that anecdote is as fresh in my head as if it happened yesterday, and whenever I think of that song I think of Ed and that Pontiac and that time of my life. It’s just one more occasion where a song and a time and an experience are linked together and burned in my memory. And those are the things that will continue to put a smile on my face as long as I live.

Video: “This Is Japan

Copies of this album are going for ridiculous prices on Amazon; I have no idea what the situation is regarding ownership of the masters or whether anyone even cares enough to try to re-release them again. Lord knows there can’t be a ton of money in that. But I’ve got a rack full of albums from that 3-4 year period surrounding 1980, and it’s a gold mine of greatness. Gary Myrick, The Sinceros, Phil Seymour, The Photos, The Fabulous Poodles, Pearl Harbor and The Explosions…trust me, it’s a long list of people who mostly had two albums before having the plug pulled.

I own both Humanesque and Reverse Logic; I never saw the other two or I would have snapped them up in a heartbeat. His later efforts provided a hit for Roger Daltrey and an association with John Mellencamp, and he’s enjoyed a successful artistic career in and out of music.

Some of the CBS artists have been lucky enough to have their work re-issued as 2-fers, giving a new generation an opportunity to discover albums that didn’t get their due. It would be really great if whatever conglomerate owns these RCA albums would do the same for him to remind the world how special these Jack Green albums are.

The Jack Green Appreciation Society

Don’t confuse him with this guy.

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Two Old Dogs

Absolutely Fabulous

One was a group of happy canines, the others apparently upper-crust full-bred purse pups. Maybe we were running out of names as the 70s drew to a close, but I remember both these bands well. Kudos to Collector’s Choice and American Beat for reissuing 2-fer gems…fans will be very happy with the value while those taking the initial plunge will find that the music holds up very well…

Although they sound markedly different, the Fabulous Poodles and the Laughing Dogs share much beyond their canine nicknames. The Fab Poos hailed from the U.K. where their music drew heavily upon pub-rock and classic Brit rock. Famous for their whimsical stage antics and humorous songs, they were musically tight and lyrically clever to the point where comparisons to the Kinks were more than a coincidence.

The Laughing Dogs, on the other hand, came up through the New York City scene, playing CBGB’s and Max’s alongside Blondie, the Ramones, and Patti Smith. Musically, however, they were much more smooth and polished with a classic power-pop sound that was a lot closer to the Rubinoos and the Producers than their punk contemporaries.

Both bands had limited success in the U.S. charts and were gone after their second albums (for Epic and Columbia respectively) as were the Sinceros, the Photos, and dozens of others whose chum was similarly tossed into the same radio shark tank.

Continue reading the full review over at PopMatters.

Get em outta town

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