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TOP STORIES THIS WEEK 6/13:                                                                                                                               PETER NOONE, THE WHO, ROLLING STONES, SGT. PEPPERS LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND

Back in the 1980s, around 1989 or so, we created Music Business Monthly.  It was a paper edition that was published simultaneously with successful music seminars.  Watch this site as we develop a new Music Business Monthly for 2017.

Editor and Publisher Joe Viglione   June 11, 2017, 11:53 pm  http://joeviglione.com
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+-Man Quincy Porchfest 2017


Alice Cooper – Welcome to my Nightmare

From the Joe Vig Top 40   http://joevigtop40.com/

Welcome to My Nightmare Special Edition cooper 1975-05-16-Poster


Welcome to My Nightmare Special Edition  DVD
Live in Wembley Stadium, September 11, 12 1975  concert film, cinema release
In Concert TV Special April 1975  with Vincent Price 

Review by Joe Viglione
Copyright (C)2017 all rights reserved
Alice Cooper, when he re-emerged from the ashes of the Alice Cooper Group, backed by Lou Reed’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal band, was a major event.
   How do you top the edgy excitement of the original Cooper five which probably felt as abandoned as Big Brother and the Holding Company once Janis Joplin left for the Kozmic Blues tour?   The Cooper clan, like Big Brother, was a special unit, but Hunter/Wagner were their own touring equivalent of the famed Wrecking Crew, perhaps only equaled by Janis Joplin’s Pearl set of musicians, the Full Tilt Boogie Band.   These were the musical equivalent of cosmic storms that come by once in a lifetime.  Cooper had the right combination in mind for this tour, as exhibited on this DVD, it was simply that his change in direction for his fan base that was more of a jolt than Joplin fronting a kinda sorta clone of Blood, Sweat and Tears.
   The Welcome to My Nightmare musicians – Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner  – were a larger-than-life presence, and as potent as Keith Richards / Mick Taylor, making for the two best rock and roll guitar duos on the planet.   And though the Kozmic Blues was to this critic’s ears an amazing transformation for Janis (yes, I’m a huge Big Brother fan too, for different musical reasons,) it was the songwriting on Welcome To My Nightmare that took itself too seriously and veered off from the specialized rock that was generated on the Love it to Death and Killer albums by Cooper, as easy a comparison to make as Jethro Tull’s Aqualung vs Ian Anderson’s concept, The Passion Play.   Do you want to hear Passion Play or Aqualung?  It’s as rhetorical a question as asking if you want to spin Love it to Death and/or Killer over Nightmare.
 Alice Cooper gets an A for effort with both the cinema release of the Wembley Stadium shows and the television movie, but where Lou Reed revisited the Velvet Underground, the tried and true “new” band (as in Lou’s band -Hunter, Wagner, Glan and Prakash John replacing Peter Walsh)  bringing the Killer album  to life on the big screen would have been a sure-fire hit…and far more welcome for this writer/reviewer and millions of fans as well.

As a concept Welcome/Nightmare’s script was the actual misfire in 1975 and this supporter/advocate/disciple of both Cooper and Reed feels the same (semi disappointed) way today as when I first purchased the album and then saw the show at the Boston Garden April 24, 1975.  But having the performances professionally recorded and preserved give that A for effort an A plus for posterity. “Only Women Bleed” shows what a gifted singer Alice is, the ability to play to a rock crowd with growls and screams, and middle of the road radio with a hybrid of Perry Como and Mick Jagger, competing with Kenny Rogers, Helen Reddy and the Bee Gees on the soft rock airwaves.

 This TV special airing three years after Alice’s mesmerizing performance on the very first In Concert ABC special in November of 1972, is – as stated – historic, but lacks the excitement of both that amazing first In Concert special where Cooper’s riveting extended “I’m 18” (as the band was said to have originally performed it before it was truncated for Top 40 radio) certainly ushered in the new ABC concert show on Friday nights with more than a proverbial bang.  It’s just that the Broadway feel of “Welcome to my Nightmare (the song) was not what the fan base expected; it reflects Alice’s love of films (West Side Story in particular, screen version from the 1950’s play of the same name) as with the original Cooper group  invoking Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim’s “Jet Song” (“Gutter Cat vs The Jets,” on School’s Out) – it was outside of their  ”sphere of operations,” if you will, and not what Warner Brothers was promoting to the world.  (Nightmare was released on the Atlantic label rather than Warner, a change of labels but still under the WEA umbrella.)
     As I review this forty two years later the best tracks on Welcome to My Nightmare live are “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” “I’m 18,” “Billion Dollar Babies,” and “School’s Out” as re-interpreted by the Lou Reed band, a group that did the same for the music of the Velvet Underground with Reed in 1973, two years prior. The fluid guitars of Hunter and Wagner on “Billion Dollar Babies” are as eloquent as they were with Reed in Sheffield at Oval Hall, September 9, 1973.  Find the tape on YouTube or Wolfsgang’s Vault, very worth listening to, especially if you want to explore the nuances of this DVD and its musical pedigree.   With two years and a week on the road, the band that was magnificent when it first launched with Reed, September 1, 1973, is efficient, but more restrained by the cinematic and television duties.
My favorite all-time concert today is still the very first gig by this “Rock n Roll Animal” group – the September 1, 1973 Lenox Massachusetts (Berkshire county) show where Wagner/Hunter and Reed put on an explosive, experimental night that was a once in a lifetime experience.  The sun setting at the Lenox Music Inn  (see the Inn’s history here: http://www.musicinn.org/1970s-concert-schedule.html  ) and this band that emerged from the Berlin sessions, augmented with Peter “Pops” Walsh of Seatrain on the bass, Steve Hunter on guitar,  the late Dick Wagner (RIP July 30, 2014) on guitar, the late Pentti “Whitey” Glan on drums (RIP Nov 7, 2017) and – most likely at this show – the late Ray Colcord (Feb 5  2016) on keyboards.  With the passing of Lou Reed October 27, 2013 – (his wake December 13, 2013 at the Apollo Theater)   it is important to get the history of this unique and inspiring / influential crew documented properly. Would John Cougar ever have even put together his 1978 Australian hit “I Need a Lover” in the fashion that we know it without “Intro/Sweet Jane” from the 1974 Rock n Roll Animal album?  (as recorded in New York on December 21, 1973 – two days after the Boston show – see Cougar-Mellencamp information here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Need_a_Lover )
The ultraviolet lamp on Lou’s face as the twilight descended on the open-air venue, folk and slide guitar renditions of “Pale Blue Eyes” and “I’ll Be Your Mirror” from the Velvet Underground, a folk version of “Heroin” which had the band enter and start building over Lou’s simple guitar strums into an explosive unit, so much more exciting and involved (and complex) than when the band returned to Boston on December 19, 1973 – two nights before the recording of Rock and Roll Animal at Howard Stein’s Academy of Music in New York, it was a sort of a let down.  Sure, the concert was great, RR Animal went gold in 1978 (must be platinum now?) – as did Welcome to My Nightmare – which did go platinum as the sales increased. Ultimate Classic Rock notes that the  “Nightmare” critics at the onset weren’t as thrilled about the transition …but have warmed up over the years.     http://ultimateclassicrock.com/alice-cooper-welcome-to-my-nightmare/    This critic hasn’t…it still is not the first Cooper lp I will pull out of the vault to play for fun…

BUT…with so many great Alice Cooper DVDs out there covering his amazing theatrics, having a true Halloween movie such as Welcome to My Nightmare is essential.   Even if the concert footage directed by David Winters comes off somewhat awkwardly like Rollin Binzer’s direction of Ladies and Gentlemen The Rolling Stones (also on Eagle Rock) –  which, as with my first thoughts seeing that film in theatrical release, is good but not great.

So too with Welcome to my Nightmare, more important to me as a moment in Cooper time than something to watch repeatedly, but not to be quibbled with too much: it did inspire Michael Jackson to put Vincent Price on his Halloween film, Thriller, did it not?



Star Wars – the Last Jedi review by Joe Viglione

Rising Tyranny,
a review of Star Wars:The Last Jedi 

From The Joe Vig Top 40 dot com    http://joevigtop40.com/


Rising Tyranny,
a review of Star Wars:The Last Jedi
by Joe Viglione

Space age megalomaniacs with ingenious mechanical marvels and fancy ancient titles, from The First Order to Supreme Leader – facing off against a dwindling resistance, the Rebellion, with odds stacked heavily against the good guys, making for an exciting roller coaster ride of things blowing up, spaceships digitally disappearing and re-appearing at will, with deep colors drenching the screen in a variety of shades. Welcome to the very precise re-shaping of the Star Wars legacy courtesy of the Walt Disney Corporation, a dark, desperate saga that hits the home run the fan base and the general public are both looking for.
The film is a thrilling, looming monster, and that’s a monster in a good way.
This is a movie about the grandson of Darth Vader, and given that there’s no James Earl Jones or Alec Guinness, it is the legacy of the chronicle that sustains the magic featuring the established stars in the series. Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher are, naturally, front and center – their last time together unless computer-generated imagery comes into play for future episodes. Keep in mind that Hamill was 26 when STAR WARS: A New Hope launched in 1977, which makes him 66 as of this writing (December 12, 2017.) The late Carrie Fisher was sixty and two months when she passed December 27, 2016, and that they – along with 71 year old Anthony Daniels (C-3PO,) 73 year old Peter Mayhew as Chebacca, the Millennium Falcon and R2-D2 …and Yoda…are the last remnants of the rebellious first initiates makes for an intriguing passing of the torch to the new personalities being established in the Star Wars canon. Kenny Baker, the original R2-D2, passed in August of 2016, four months before Fisher, and in The Last Jedi Jimmy Vee replaces Baker. Vee is known for performing as Gringott’s Goblin in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone as well as some Dr. Who characters. Nice to keep the fantasy/science fiction fans happy with their treasured heritage.
Rather than bringing in too many larger-than-life stars as Lucas did with Christopher Lee in the prequels, we have Laura Dern (the original Jurassic Park, 1993) playing Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo as well as Joseph Gordon-Leavitt’s voice somewhere in the film. As with Carrie Fisher, Dern’s parents were in the movies while Gordon-Leavitt was a child star, so there is film history in their DNA, but the point is that it is the Star Wars machine itself that is the bright light that all involved get to follow.
There are some historical “Easter eggs,” if you will, from both real life and the film world, as Supreme Leader Snoke channels former Texas Senator Lloyd Bentsen’s immortal JFK line to Dan Quayle: “You’re no Vader, you’re just a child in a mask.”  (“Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy” was a remark made during the 1988 United States vice-presidential debate by Democratic vice-presidential candidate Senator Lloyd Bentsen)

And yes, Andy Serkis is a big star from The Hobbitt, The Lord of the Rings, Ulysses Klaue in the Avengers, Caesar in the Planet of the Apes films, so my comment about not having huge names to keep the fires burning is arguable and welcomes debate, fans of Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac and the rest of Star Wars: The Next Generation. The Easter eggs continue with references to the Matrix and Keanu Reeves – Maz Kanata, the magical little female creature with the glasses, channeling the Oracle from the Matrix with her words, the Rebellion pushed smack dab into the middle of Zion. It could not be any more obvious under Rian Johnson’s direction and script, and it is more intentional science fiction crossover fun than any kind of plagiarism. Heck, in the original Independence Day Bill Pullman gives an exact quote from C-3PO to Brett Spiner of The Next Generation “Exciting is hardly a word I would choose to describe it.” Sci-Fi fans love the nuances tucked in to other films, the trading-card thread that keeps the ball rolling…in a good way.

C-3PO “Is hardly the word I would choose” http://www.tzr.io/yarn-clip/27f5ec77-2ba0-4e27-9447-6cb12de87abb

Amazon.co.uk:Customer reviews: Independence Day
the president’s reply which actually sums up the stupid and unwarranted humour in this film,is as folows:(millions of people are dying: “exciting is hardly the word I would choose!!.)
It’s like masked Kim Jong-un a thousand years from now looking to conquer the universe. That’s the basic premise, anyway, and it hasn’t changed since Star Wars first burst on the scene with A New Hope, the first Star Wars film that they also call the fourth… but putting the upside down chronology aside, the franchise under the Disney company’s direction is tight, polished, with nothing left to chance, and an enormous blockbuster barreling full steam ahead into the Christmas season, 2017.


The Rolling Stones Beating the Bootleggers

stones some girls live

The business of archiving the Rolling Stones’ rich catalog!

By Joe Viglione

Find article here: http://tinyurl.com/somegirlsladiesandgentlemen

Rolling Stone Magazine has an article “Five Essential” Rolling Stones Bootlegs,   which is a good start on the band’s underground recordings, however, with an institution this legendary one can hardly choose 5 boots when there are thousands – if not tens of thousands – out there. And unlike the Beatles who stopped touring, the Stones have always strategically mapped out the release of a new album with tour after tour, so there is beyond a library of material that people will be studying as the millenniums fly by.  It’s quite exciting, actually, thinking of the prospect of future generations cataloguing the music with technology not yet dreamed of.

Which brings us to the re-release of Some Girls Live in Texas ’78, Muddy Waters/The Rolling Stones Live at the Checkerboard Lounge and Ladies and Gentlemen The Rolling Stones.  With twenty-three tracks between Ladies and Gentleman and Some Girls Live, and an additional 11 tracks with seventy-five minutes of music on the Muddy Waters’ blues disc (the DVD has 15 tracks plus bonus material, so the list just keeps on growing…) there are thirty-four slices of Rolling Stones music unleashed at once, which is a very smart move given how Stones’ fans love to collect, be entertained, and study what is out there.  It was forty-seven years ago as a sixteen year old that this writer purchased Liver Than You’ll Ever Be, the amazing bootleg of the November 9, 1969 concert at the Oakland Coliseum released one month later, which I bought in 1970.  Wikipedia has a pretty thorough overview of the underground classic, so go there for further information.  The Wikipedia page also notes that Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! (the response from Decca and the Stones to the bootleg, ostensibly ) was heavily overdubbed which – as much as the purist in me believes in documenting the event as the event unfolded, I have no problem with film colorization (go back to the original print if you wish) or enhancements.  As with “New Coke” the late CEO of Coca Cola, Roberto Goizueta said something about the ability to always go back to the original formula.  Ya-Ya’s could always find the original tapes released some day, but that the album is so very good, and has Liver Than You’ll Ever Be forever as a companion piece to we Rolling Stones fans who lived through the era, we pretty much have found the satisfaction Mick can’t get no of.    Lulu’s best of both worlds, as they say.


So where do Ladies and Gentlemen, Some Girls and Muddy Waters / Stones Live at the Checkerboard Lounge, 1981 fit in?  With McKinley “Muddy Waters” Morganfield having passed away at the age of seventy in 1983, the Checkerboard Lounge is essential and delivers exactly what is promised while documenting Waters on a platform that would bring him to generations of people who can appreciate his artistry: working with Buddy Guy and the Rolling Stones two years before his passing.  The historical importance is obvious.

In my November 28, 2012 review of the DVD I noted “So Some Girls Live in Texas, ’78 is like the tail of a comet, songs from Exile and Sticky Fingers mixed in with the core material from 1978’s Some Girls studio album.  The band was younger, the sensibilities pure rock & roll, the delivery excellent.”   Studying the music in my car – driving around (which is a key way to listen to the Stones, at least for me, anyway…) we get “Tumbling Dice” re-worked – one of my all-time favorite of their songs – and a “Miss You” that is more appealing than the studio version which radio overplays and which the tinge of disco is a curse upon it. But it did go to #1, which was the point of it all. Marketing the album, marketing the tour.  Here we still get the disco groove but with more of a rock and roll edge. The song works better in the live setting and, though I hardly agree it should be in the Rolling Stone Top 500 songs of all time (#498 in 2010, Rolling Stone Magazine by way of Wikipedia,) it has a good groove in this album’s context.  “When the Whip Comes Down” and “Shattered” are lesser Jagger/Richards titles yet in the flow of the album with goodies from Exile on Main St. opening the CD, “Imagination” and the “Brown Sugar/Jumpin’ Jack Flash” closing – and wonderful 8 page liner notes booklet with collectible photos, this is a terrific release.    It doesn’t reach the heights that Ya-Ya’s and Liver Than You’ll Ever Be achieved, but that was a different time during the Mick Taylor / Jimmy Miller era, the fine wine that set a standard that few will ever reach.

The soundtrack album, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Rolling Stones, is more problematic. My memories of the film at the Music Hall in Boston in 1974 were that it was dark as a D.A. Pennebaker Dont Look Back or Ziggy Stardust film – director Rollin Binzer creating a murky document with sound that feels mono and Jagger’s vocals like they are coming out of a box.  45 years ago the band was in its prime and this writer being in the second row in Boston at the 19i72 concert during the famous Mayor White’s “My city’s in flames” speech – well, the movie clouds the memories, if you will, and it is supposed to be the other way around.  Culled from four shows in Houston and Fort Worth -reportedly in 32 tracks, you’d never know it from the mix.  Mick Taylor’s slide guitar in “All Down the Line” provides proof as to why the Taylor/Richard Stones had complementary guitars where Ronnie Wood is Keith’s doppelganger or shadow…sorry, Ronnie.  This is classic Stones music and the hope is that those 32 tracks can be reopened and a better mix eventually can surface. The 1972 tour was essential and Ladies and Gentlemen is sadly lacking. But, for the fans, it still gets a place on the shelf more for the moment than the production.

Eagle Rock’s catalogue of Stones’ releases is stunning http://www.eagle-rock.com/artist/the-rolling-stones/#.WUApHcYpDtQ  and these three releases

Joe Vig’s 2012 review of Some Girls DVD

Some Girls Live in Texas ’78

  • The Rolling Stones
  • DV    Release: 2011-11-21  Catalog No.: 801213039494  Barcode: 801213039494

Live at the Checkerboard Lounge

Mastered by Bob Clearmountain


Stones with Muddy Waters


stones ladies and gentlemen

Peter Noone and Herman’s Hermits Rock the House at Cary Hall, June 11, 2017

A Splendid Time Guaranteed for All: Peter Noone Live at Cary Hall https://www.facebook.com/HermansHermitsStarringPeterNoone/ 

By Joe Viglione

http://caryhalllexington.com/Cary Hall 3 IMG_2549

  a SPLENDID time Guaranteed for ALL – Peter Noone at Cary Hall

    While Beatlemania is spreading across the planet again at the dawn of the summer of 2017 –  thanks to the return of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band, the fellow who sold more records than the Fab Four in America at one point in time utilized his artistic alchemy to transform a bunch of aging seniors into teenyboppers again.     Starting the show off with the immortal Carole King / Gerry Goffin classic “I’m Into Something Good” – the ageless wonder in terrific voice and the audience going crazy.   Now Lexington, Mass. is a pretty town outside of Arlington and Burlington, a lovely little village off of Route 128 with a special charm.  Peter Noone made it clear that over fifty years ago he and his band mates had one dream: to play Cary Hall in Lexington.  The twisted humor more intimate than Mick Jagger’s shout out to Texas on the new Some Girls: Live in Texas ’78  CD that just landed in this critic’s mailbox (love that the Stones are releasing a ton of material on Eagle Rock; I reviewed the DVD of Some Girls Live in 2013 for the British mag Sabotage Times https://sabotagetimes.com/music/some-girls-live-in-texas-78-is-a-chance-to-revisit-the-stones-greatness )  

The beauty here is that Herman’s Hermits are up close and personal when the last time I saw the Stones (was it 1995 with Jo Jo Laine? Yikes!) at the N.E. Patriots football stadium it was “faraway eyes” indeed, the band “so far away” that Carole King probably wrote that song prophesying the stadium concert experience.   That these theaters are popping up in cities and towns around Massachusetts (Regent Theater, Arlington, Stoneham Theater, Chevalier in Medford) is an interesting phenomenon that is snowballing…and most likely happening around America and beyond.   When a Peter Noone walks into the crowd a la guitarist Buddy Guy, it is a special treat for the audience that – for the most part – has much of the Herman’s Hermits catalog as part of the soundtrack to their lives.   “Dandy” followed as did “She’s A Must to Avoid” – two guitars, drums and keyboard / bass is the quartet of Hermits backing up Peter which creates a tight, entertaining quintet bringing music that spans the decades into what is truly a small village miles enough outside of the hustle and bustle of Boston and its surrounding communities. 

    Frankie Ford’s “Sea Cruise” – the sixth song in the set, rocked with sincerity on this smaller stage than Lynn Auditorium’s November 11, 2016 show (see review below.)  Exactly seven months later the band returning to this region to give the faithful a nice jolt on a Sunday night.   The artist known as the rock and roll king of the internet morphs into his alter ego, the Very Reverend Sung Long Noone   (link provided in case you think I’m kidding) the good Catholic boy bringing thousands of followers to Cary Hall and away from church…the pied piper Peter Noone and his Noonatics getting all rowdy, hand-clapping, the over sixty members of the audience engaging in so much fun that it would absolutely outrage a Montana city council.

In my July 23, 1998 interview with Peter at the Hampton Beach Casino you can hear Monkees songs being performed by Davey Jones.  Peter pays tribute to the great Mr. Jones with “Daydream Believer.”  It is beyond superb – only Peter Noone can cover the Monkees and make it as fun and authentic as the original.   Perhaps in the future the brilliant rendition of “Oh You Pretty Things” Peter covered from the other Mr. Davey Jones (David Bowie) can be added to the set…”there’s something happening here and you don’t know what it is…” what the heck, turn Bob Dylan into pure pop as well and add “Ballad of a Thin Man.”  You’ll have the Mr. Jones trifecta.   The Hermits in white shirts, black ties and dark suits – Peter joking that one of the boys got a dress from 1962 that Diana Ross had thrown away …of course if you read Wikipedia you know that the girls were called the “no hit Supremes during 1961-1963 and the guitarist probably wasn’t even born yet, but why quibble with minor details when the show is so much fun!  “Ring of Fire” gives Johnny Cash his due while “Leaning on the Lamp-post” – yes, the song written by Noel Gay from the 1937 film Feather Your Nest. brought a little cabaret to the festivities.

It is here that the Reverend Sun Myung Moon parody evaporates to a rock star holding an album up over his face with an image of himself from decades before.  Truly great dynamics with Peter singing to one guitar and not assaulting this audience in a small room with drums on every song.  Which leads to a tune Peter says he wrote “outside of Petco…” entitled something like “Traveling Light” with the words “I’m at the Cary Memorial Hall in Lexington Massachusetts” which, if you say it five times fast, is a mouthful.  Hope someone has it on a cellphone video!  To the audience’s credit, they actually were able to sing the ludicrous words and did so without skipping a beat. The Rev Sun Myung Noone in full control. 

    “No Milk Today” was sheer magic. Pre-10CC Graham Gouldman’s song an incredible bouquet of melodies with the chorus starting the song off as the verse.   The Hermits cover of the Skeeter Davis classic “The End of the World” (which – appropriately enough, just concluded the bizarre HBO series The Leftovers which makes Patrick McGoohan’s 1967 TV opus The Prisoner look coherent by comparison.)   Noone claims the song was #1 for 15 weeks in the Philippines, a fact which Herman probably heard on The Leftovers or the Prisoner or both. 

    What should not be missed is that Noone’s voice is an amazing instrument hitting all of the notes and as fluid today as it was when he first joined the band – like his contemporary Steve Winwood – at about 15 years of age.  The Hermits outdid themselves on the ballad – the drums keeping it simple but with a grand beat, the string section from the keyboards building the absolutely stunning wall of sound with elegant guitar lines blending into tasteful leads. Incredible.

     A more muted presentation than the November 11th 2016 event in Lynn which had a much wider stage where Noone gallivanted with the teenage energy that this time-machine-obsessed audience not only craves, but draws its power from. The Jagger parody of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” more intense in Lynn, but still effective here as Noone shakes up the show for the sake of his fanatical Noonatics who attend multiple performances.    “Just a Little Bit Better,” “Listen People,” “Ferry Across the Charles River” (replacing Ferry Cross the Mersey,”) “Baby, Baby Can’t You Hear My Heart Beat” – take that Genya Ravan and your Goldie & The Gingerbreads (only kidding, Gen…)  – “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter,” channeling the Ramones for a reworking of the 107 year old song “I’m Henry The Eight, I Am” and concluding with one of the finest compositions in pop music history, “There’s A Kind of Hush.”   The audience is standing at this point, an artist that can bring the senior set out past their bedtime and let their short hair down. So while the Beatles are re-selling “When I’m 64” this month, the phenomenon that is Peter Noone’s Herman’s Hermits bring their magic formula from town to town, that Brother Love Traveling Salvation Show that Neil Diamond identified.  Peter Noone is a show business pro, and he still has the voice, and the magic.  A Splendid Time Guaranteed For All …and tonight Mr. Kite is topping the bill.  


Noone Carolyn Sharp Hegarty Photo 1Photo Credit: Carolyn Sharp-Heggarty

wonderful world

Wonderful World, song 2, photo Joe V.

noone photo 2 carolyn sharp hegarty

Photo credit Carolyn Sharp Hegarty

noone photo 3 carolyn sharp hegarty

Photo Credit: Carolyn Sharp-Hegarty


noone photo 4 carolyn sharp hegarty

Photo Credit: Carolyn Sharp Hegarty




Lady Carolyn of Love and Flame opened for Peter Noone and The Tremblers in 1980 at the Paradise Theater.   37 years is not too long to wait for a reunion!  8:47 pm @ Cary Hall after the show June 11, 2017…Lady Carolyn’s birthday is June 16, 2017, this Friday


Photo Credit: Joe Viglione

noone ticket



BUS STOP from The Hollies cover was not played in Lexington, Mass. but here’s a video from March 15, 2017…a bonus track!






Minute Impressions Peter Noone / Herman’s Hermits LIVE Nov 11, 2016, June 11, 2017

Direct link to this page:  http://tinyurl.com/mbmimpressions   tell your friends!

Fred Gillen Jr.  2 songs reviewed by Ed Wrobleski

1)Prayer for America
2)Where are you tonight, Fallen Angel?


Fred “Dylan” Gillen Jr.
Ed Wrobleski 

June 9, 2017″Prayer For America”, has such powerful lyrics about our ancestors who came to America and made it what it is today, with a hint of George Harrison “My Sweet Lord”,  sprinkled ever so lightly  throughout the song. In this highly charged political climate,  this should be our new National Anthem with the way our world is today.  Mark Schultz of Mark Skin Radio noting the political bent on his 6-7-2017 program when he played Gillen Jr.’s track.

“Where  are You Tonight Fallen Angel” , has a short but sweet story about looking for that special someone in every place you possibly can. This composition also has a few different musical elements that I hear of other legendary artists like Neil Young writing style and Jacob Dylan’s Wallflowers musical flavorings in the mix.  I think Fred Gillen Jr.’s vocals are superb – simply outstandingly – different from anyone’s vocals in today’s music, and both of these tracks should be in rotation on all sorts of radio stations.
Ed Wrobleski
Host/Producer of talking Hendrix on www.bostonfreeradio.com



Artist: Ken Selcer
Album: I Simplify
Review by Craig Fenton

kennyselcer4 (1)

For those of us waiting forever and a day it seemed for new
product from Kenny Selcer the reward for the five or so year pause has ceased!

While Kenny’s touring schedule and musical commitments may have
kept him out of the recording studio there has never been a lessening of
his luminous stage performances.

Kenny’s follow-up to the superlative Don’t Forget About Me called
I Simplify continues his incredible talent to craft tunes that flourish in the
studio and
resonate on the concert stage.  We are gifted with fourteen
tracks that will take you on a musical roller-coaster from multifarious styles
and genres.

When you listen to I Simplify notice the length of time of each
track.  None clock in under four minutes.  This is stated to
solidify Kenny’s commitment to his art and the fans expectations.  It is
never about forcing a radio friendly tune that may win an isolated battle but
would lose the Rock & Roll War.

The opening track I Know It’s Not Too Late conjures up sounds of
early Dire Straits. Kenny not only grabs your attention from the initial notes
but holds it throughout the CD’s sixty-eight minute journey to the past,
present, and future.

It’s All Around You would make Tom Petty proud.  Kenny has
captured the sound and the feel but while paying homage make no mistake it is
still his own voice.
A tune getting a lot of attention is “Without You.” Think Traveling Wilburys  Volume 1 meets Kenny Selcer and it begins to make sense. His ability to  change style and vocal inflection from  song to song is rare in the industry and to achieve desired results without any  notes ever being forced is even more  obscure in today’s lack luster musical  landscape.

It Was You will have fans of Eddie Cochran, Carl Perkins, and Gene 
Vincent engrossed as to how in 2017  Kenny is delivering a knockout blow 
with a cross of Rockabilly and Swing.
Wisely woven in the web is an instrumental Kenny’s Song. Its 
purpose is multi-fold. First it shows his
ability as a guitar-player too long 
underrated in the field. 

Secondly placing it as Track 10 lets us 
digest the lyrical caravan we have been
riding during the previous nine.
Ending the sojourn Kenny is joined by 
a longtime friend Steve Gilligan 
(legendary New England Band The 
Stompers) contributing the bass-lines 
on Stay Awhile. In the realm of the 
recent works of John Mellencamp. A 
flawless finale to the CD or should we 
say beginning as I’m not alone hitting 
the replay button.

All the best,
Craig Fenton
Author: Jefferson Airplane- Take Me To
A Circus Tent 
Jefferson Starship- Have You Seen The 
Stars Tonite

+-Man Salem NH Sayde's  6-17-2017

Sunday June 11, 2017

Herman’s Hermits Starring Peter Noone and Jay & The Americans   noone

Nov 11, 2016 Fri 8:00 PM EDT
Lynn Auditorium in Lynn, Massachusetts
     Six days after his birthday in November, 2016, Peter Noone and Jay & The Americans rocked the house at Lynn Auditorium – and the show brought down the packed arena in the middle of Lynn, Massachusetts
Jay and the Americans with Jay Reincke,  Howie Kane, Sandy Deanne and Marty Sanders
were a perfect match with Herman’s Hermits.  Sporting the American flag – straight out of their name – take that Grand Funk Railroad – behind them as a counterpoint to Noone’s British flag, the complementary USA rock and roll with one of the top British Invasion bands was all about entertainment.   Reincke’s voice is spot on, continuing the “Jay” tradition nicely, while tucked inside the set of their own hits, a Roy Orbison tribute hit the audience from out of left field.  It is hard to understate how splendid and reverent and enjoyable the tribute was.  This writer saw Orbison twice in the 1980s and it is hard to top the legend – but to have a major artist cover the icon and do it so
seamlessly was classic rock at its finest.
Peter Noone, the master showman, is as vibrant and aware onstage as the band was on July 23, 1998  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ou7gwFZArUM   Eighteen years on “I’m Henery the Eighth, I Am” changes – the first time this writer heard the band play a Ramones’ -styled version was at the Mohegan Sun’s Wolf’s Den perhaps a decade ago – refreshing for a song from 1910. According to Wikipedia, Herman’s version of ‘Enery 55 years after its debut was the fastest selling single up to that point in time – hitting #1 and establishing https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I%27m_Henery_the_Eighth,_I_Am  
Tonight June 11, 2017  Peter appears at Cary Hall in Lexington
Here’s an insightful article worth reading:
Cary Hall is located at 1605 Massachusetts Ave, Lexington, MA 02420

Cary Hall is located at 1605 Massachusetts Ave, Lexington, MA 02420From 95
Take Exit 31A for Routes 4/225 (Bedford Street). Drive 2 miles, continuing straight onto Mass Ave. Cary Hall will be on your left immediately after the Lexington Post Office.From Boston/Route 2 West
Take exit 56 from MA-2 W. Drive 4 miles, and turn right onto MA-225 W/MA-4 N/Watertown St (signs for Massachusetts 4 N/Massachusetts 225 W/Lexington/Bedford). Cary Hall is on the right.
Author Joe Viglione
Write to demodeal @ Yahoo.com

Ditto live at David Lynch Park in Beverly, Massachusetts


7/24/16  6:38 pm  One of the best nights of the summer of 2016 was had up at David Lynch Park in Beverly, Massachusetts.   People were playing volleyball in the sand, families  parked in on the huge lawn, and in the hatch shell performed Ditto, the amazing North Shore band promoting their new CD, Unconditional Love, and showing extraordinary prowess in performing hits of the Beatles, James Taylor, the Rolling Stones, America, Neil Young, Carly Simon and more.     

Kimball performed with Simon in the past and when Gary Santarella embraces “You’re So Vain” from a guy’s perspective, it is a thing of beauty.  Perhaps the only singer that integrates hits of the pair that performed a duet on “Mockingbird” (though that song is not in the Ditto set) Santarella’s rendition of “Up On The Roof” blends the Drifters with James Taylor and on the water, with a stunning sunset and the wildlife looking for food from the audience, it made for a terrific Sunday afternoon/evening in the middle of summer.  Also putting the JT spin on Marvin Gaye’s “How Sweet It Is” (to be loved by you,” and a Neil Young spin on America’s “Sandman,” the versatile group treats each cover song from other artist as if it is part of the group’s own original music catalog.

6:57 pm

IMG_0598 (1)


At 6:31 pm the five piece Ditto Band featuring Gary Santarella and Roger KimballIMG_0577



IMG_0560 (1)


Village Tavern review May 21, 2016

Gary Santarella and Roger Kimball are veterans of the New England area music scene, and on Saturday, May 21 they brought their five piece ensemble to the Village Tavern in Salem, where they usually perform as a duo every Saturday from 4 – 7 pm.    Playing their dizzying array of covers – Santarella goes from the Rolling Stones to Neil Young/America and beyond. He embraces everything Beatles (both Lennon and McCartney, as schoolmate Brad Delp of the group Boston did for so many years) and James Taylor – which – if you close your eyes – sounds exactly like James Taylor.

The five piece Ditto band, which is what they are called as opposed to the Ditto duo or duo of Ditto, had the place rocking, and the focus was on the new CD, Unconditional Love.   “Don’t Kick Me When I’m Down,” perhaps the best known of Gary Santarella’s originals having received lots of 50,000 watt airplay in 1986 and heard by many a record executive, to “Rocky” – an irresistible song about a beloved doggy, where the album’s title was drawn from, to “Daddy-O” and what is shaping up to be a regional hit, “Punta Cana.”

“Punta Cana” has all the elements.  Think the vibraphone and joy from Elton John’s “Island Girl” with the fun of “Margaritaville,” but without Jimmy Buffett’s intentional frivolity.  “Punta Cana” is serious, melodic, and the audience responded to it.  Great party which they will hopefully replicate in the Boston area, the group mostly touring on the north shore and the Cape Ann area these days.


roger and gary

unconditional Love Santarella






Welcome to Music Business Monthly.com

Back in the 1980s, around 1989 or so, we created Music Business Monthly.  It was a paper edition that was published simultaneously with successful music seminars.  Watch this site as we develop a new Music Business Monthly for 2017.

cd baby photo

Editor and Publisher Joe Viglione   June 11, 2017, 11:53 pm  http://joeviglione.com

Our Blogspot information http://musicbusinessmonthly.blogspot.com/
MBM Prototype http://mbmprototype.blogspot.com/
The Joe Vig Top 40 http://www.joevigtop40.com

Music Business Monthly
P.O. Box 2392
Woburn, MA 01888
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Copyright (C)2017 Joe Viglione, All Rights Reserved

Check out Gary’s Fanzines Page with photos of some of our original newsletters from the 1970s http://tinyurl.com/garyfanzines


Joe Viglione’s Original History of New England Music


nformation. Remember, To click on any chapter go to this address:

Table of Contents


This information is part of my “life’s work”, the chronicling of the Boston Rock & Roll Scene and its surrounding communities. Between the video taped for my TV shows VISUAL RADIO and
TV EYE as well as the audio from a variety of radio shows I hosted and/or produced to the incredible tape archive I’ve built over the decades, these writings will come to life in audio and visual, a unique history of the scene from one of its documentarians.

2)Ka-Ding Dong – The first days of Boston Rock & Roll
1950s, early 1960s

3)The Sixties – The Bosstown Sound – Orpheus, Listening, Willie Loco, Ultimate Spiniach
The Prince & The Paupers, Barry & The Remains

4) Hallucinations, J.Geils, Modern Lovers, Aerosmith
The sixties to early seventies…

5)J Geils Band
tons of J GEILS Biographies and reviews to posted here:

6)The Early Seventies

1)The Quill 2)The Sidewinders 3)Fat 4)Milkwood (early Cars), 5)Swallow, 6)Duke & The Drivers 7)James Montgomery 8)Stormin’ Norman & Suzy 9)P.J. Colt

7)Andy Pratt
Tons of Andy Pratt reviews on AMG will show up here soon.

Temporary links:


When J Geils & Andy Pratt played together

8)Willie “Loco” Alexander

9)The New Wave – Willie Alexander re-emerges, Reddy Teddy, Fox Pass,
Aastral Projection

10)Into the 1980s

11)Peter Calo, Carly Simon, Pamela Ruby Russell

12)Boston Compilations and more – Live at the Rat, Live at Studio B
Farrenheit, Joe Perry Project, Cowsills, Real Kids, The Outlets

13)More Eighties

Face To Face, The Rings, Jonzun Crew, Robin Lane, Didi Stewart. Rick Berlin, Rubber Rodeo, Mass, Treat Her Right

14)Boston Music Showcase – Harvey Wharfield and the best local music show on radio
The 1990s

15)The 1990s with Grateful Ted of SMUGGLER and more…

16)The New Millennium

17)The Ongoing Process


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2)Ka-Ding Dong – The first days of Boston Rock & Roll
1950s, early 1960s

Joe Viglione’s History of New England Rock & Roll – an ongoing process…

Joe Viglione has written thousands of reviews for The All Media Guide, Allmusic/Allmovie.com Among those are many reviews and biographies of Boston area artists. Keep in mind that this is strictly the reviews and information from his own personal files and is not meant to be a definitive guide to New England music – which is an ongoing and perpetual process. Write to joe at JVBiographies@yahoo.com or mail to Varulven Records/P.O. Box 2392, Woburn, MA 01888 USA

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Chapter 1 1950s and early 1960s reviews

Remember! To click on any chapter go to this address:
The G Clefs
Disc Jockey Little Walter DeVenne
Herb Reed and The Platters
Little Joe Cook
Bobby Hebb
Moulty andThe Barbarians
The Fifth Estate
Eden’s Children
The Beacon Street Union
John Lincoln Wright
Barry And The Remains
Clean Living
Al Anderson
The Modern Lovers
Orchestra Luna
Randy Roos
Incredible Two Man Band – Mickey Spiros
David Maxwell
John Sinclair with Ted Drozdowski
Livingston Taylor
Kate Taylor
James Taylor
Peter Calo
Jonathan Edwards
Arthur FiedlerThis information was uploaded on July 7, 2007. There will be tons of commentary tying these stories together in the coming months including articles written by Mr. Viglione over the years for a number of print publications including but not limited to Discords Magazine (Washington),
The Improper Bostonian, Irish Emigrant, Outlet (United Kingdom), Prize (L.A.), Musicians’ Magazine, The Beat, The Boston Globe, The Real Paper, Boston Phoenix Bandguide, Rockwatch, Preview Magazine, Bang Magazine, Fffanzeen, New England Entertainment Digest, Arts Media Magazine, Artscope, Replication News, Medialine, Metronome, The Gloucester Daily Times, Pepperell Free Press, North Shore Sunday, Medford Transcript, Lexington Minuteman, Belmont Citizen, Arlington Advocate, The Chronicle (Arlington), The Suffolk Journal, Burlington Union, Stoneham Sun, Melrose Free Press, Billboard Magazine, Independent Music Producers Journal, Woburn Advocate, The Woburn Daily Times & Chronicle, The Wakefield Daily Times & Chronicle, Goldmine Magazine, Discoveries Magazine (two national oldies publications), Radioworld, Inside/Out Hudson Valley, his own Varulven Magazine which he founded in 1969 and many others as well as online publications including writer legend Al Aronowitz’s Blacklisted Journal, the All Media Guide (AMG), All Movie.com and the web pages they deliver (or have delivered) content to including Barnes & Noble.com, Borders.com, VH-1.com, MTV.com, Country Music Channel, Rolling Stone.com, Starpulse, Get Music, Artist Direct, Ticketmaster Live, Amazon Canada, Django Music.com, SamGoody.com, Wherehouse.com, FYE, MSN, AOL, Yahoo Shopping dozens and dozens of online sites and in-store kiosks.Between April 17, 2007 and July 1, 2007 Mr. Viglione moved the Archives of Varulven Records
(because of a flood) to a new facility preserving this print, audio, video and other media for use on this site and other related enterprises. In order to get this rolling the reviews from the internet – mostly Allmusic.com, the Medford Trasncript and North Shore Sunday – are collected here via links and text. Unreleased interviews and commentary will be added.Keep in mind there are over 400 hours of interviews from Visual Radio including many Boston rock legends – Victor Moulton, Wayne Wadhams, the G Clefs, Barry Tashian & Billy Briggs of THE REMAINS, Willie “Loco” Alexander, Jonathan Richman, Richard Nolan, Jon Macey, Barry Marshall, Sal Baglio of The Stompers, Andy Pratt and many, many more.This may not be the definitive site on New England music but it certainly is fun, informative and entertaining. (C)2007 Joe ViglioneG CLEFS BIOGRAPHY on DJANGOMUSIC.COM
THE G CLEFS “KA-DING DONG” CD Review by Joe ViglioneIn September of 1956, the first rock & roll hit record from the city that would launch Aerosmith, Boston, The Cars, and J. Geils Band, hit the Top 30 — The G Clefs‘ “Ka-Ding-Dong” on Pilgrim Records. With a career spanning close to 50 years, the hard working Scott brothers created a body of work which deserves recognition. The ambiance of the final track in this collection, “To the Winner Goes the Prize… for more information:
http://allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:0cfixqqhldfeThe above is a review of a 1995 compilation album entitled “Ka-Ding-Dong” released by

The G Clefs. The review can be found on AllMusic.com here:

In 2000 The G Clefs released a second compilation “Then & Now” on the G Clefs label. The AMG link to the review follows its inclusion here.

Then and Now
is a collection of 15 songs by the five musicians who were the first Boston rock and roll band to have a national and international hit with “Ka Ding Dong” in 1956. Then and Now is the follow-up disc to the album Ka Ding Dong featuring the four Scott brothers, Teddy, Llanga, Chris, and Timothy aka Tim “Payme” as in “pay me,” and their friend Ray Gipson, collectively, the G Clefts.
For the complete review click here:

The Biography of THE G CLEFS

Thanks to Little Walter DeVenne for helping me fact-check this G Clef bio after my interview with Teddy Scott.


Biography by Joe Viglione
The G-Clefs is a highly flamboyant, well choreographed pop/soul vocal group which has the distinction of having the first Boston area rock & roll record to chart nationally, their 1956 hit “Ka Ding Dong”. Consisting offour brothers, Teddy Scott (b 2/29/36), Chris Scott (b 2/14/37), guitarist Tim “Payme” Scott (8/23/38), and Ilanga Scott (b 7/22/40), along with their friend and neighbor Ray Gibson (b 9/24/37), the band formed in Roxbury, Massachusetts, an area similar to New York’s Harlem, thirty years before New Edition would bring Maurice Starr and Michael Jonzun’s music to the world, The G-Clefs were the original pioneers from New England’s soon to be important music scene.for more information / entire bio click on: G CLEFS BIOGRAPHY on DJANGOMUSIC.COM


I’ve written a number of stories on Walter and he’s appeared on Visual Radio at least three times, we have about four hours of documentary footage on Walter in his studio and in the clubs spinning discs.

Credits on AMG

AMG has “Little Walter DeVanne” which is, of course, a mis-spelling. AMG takes the information directly from the LP or CD. We hope to correct the AMG site at some point in the future.


Here is their four page credit list for Walter DeVenne:


First there was an article in Medialine, the former “Replication News”.

Radio DJ Remasters Vintage Vee Jay, Sun Catalogs

that is followed by an article I wrote for THE MEDFORD TRANSCRIPT in September of 2006 which a radio chatboard absconded with http://www.websitetoolbox.com/tool/post/bsnpubs/vpost?id=1406752
(the story follows the Medialine story).

Radioworld has picked up the story and we’ve revamped it with more biographical information. It is very thorough and will be published in August of 2007, so keep watching this site.

Radio DJ Remasters Vintage Vee Jay, Sun Catalogs
by Joe ViglioneWhen you walk into Walter DeVenne’s office/recording studio, you have literally walked into a time machine. And “Little Walter’s Time Machine” is the name of his show when he’s on the road, or at WODS-FM in Boston, MA.

On his desk is an order to re-master the entire Vee Jay catalog for the Collectables label, as well as an urgent call to put together Sun Records: The Definitive Hits.

DeVenne doesn’t just master these records.

“It’s going to sound the way the record sounded. I want it to sound the way I heard it when I dropped the needle on it (the record), not the way it was in the studio. There were probably only 12 people in the studio!”

What DeVenne does is make the records “right,” the way people heard them on the radio, or the way the original mastering engineer put the material out to the world.

“I was doing some Chuck Berry stuff for the radio, putting masters together for radio broadcast–not CD release,” he notes. DeVenne’s stereo mix of “Mony Mony” by Tommy James & The Shondells delights listeners of Oldies 103 in Boston. The rest of the world has to hear the mono version on Roulette. DeVenne, who incidentally has the entire Roulette catalog in his vaults, opines that Chuck Berry’s original records “exploded off the turntable. The CDs didn’t explode. It’s the person doing the mastering that’s the key to it. It’s not going to sound the same (if the person mastering tries to go for a ‘clean’ re-master as opposed to making it sound like the record sounded)…I want to hear it (with) the impact that it had. Authenticity!”

Generally, DeVenne prefers stereo mixes when they’re available, but still wants the record to sound as close as it originally sounded on the radio. The worst-case scenario, the mastering engineer points out, is RCA’s reissue of the Sun Records masters by Elvis Presley: “Scratches in glorious stereo…that don’t correspond” (from speaker to speaker because a stereo needle was used from the mono acetate source).

When I walked in, he was playing a hideous source tape from a client–a cassette made from a rare record. The song was “I Love You” by The Shadows. Walter heard a “tick” between second 2:17 and 2:18. He removed the tick and the hiss. He uses his pre-sets with different filters; he seeks the best source tapes. “They haven’t invented anything to take distortion out. You can hide it a little, [but] when they say ‘the distortion is gone’ they’ve found a better source (tape).”

The Doo Wop Box

(Rhino) went gold selling 500,000 units to everyone’s surprise. Everyone but Little Walter.

Of the Vee Jay project featuring early bluesmen, DeVenne comments, “I was in heaven doing the Jimmy Reed stuff. Peter Wolf (lead singer of the former J. Geils Band) was recently in the studio and said, ‘I have these records at home and they just don’t sound like that.'” Wolf was talking about the John Lee Hooker Boom Boom

album from 1959. It will be out in stereo for the first time on the Collectables label through a deal with Vee Jay and Rhino. “Gene Chandler was the last thing I did last week,” says DeVenne, of remixing “Duke Of Earl” in stereo from a better source for the Vee Jay project. DeVenne’s impressive credits include the German label Bear Family Records, for whom he has put together box sets of Little Richard, Fats Domino and The Platters.

The studio’s wall is adorned by record covers. The vibe is further enhanced by the numerous stored CDs, DATs, and master tapes, housed securely in a facility a little north of Boston, and lovingly protected and put “right” by a legendary DJ of Boston radio. When you see “A&R/Mastering by Little Walter DeVenne,” you’ll know you’ve got the right thing.


it is also on Walter’s own site http://www.littlewalter.com/

Time Machine comes back to the future
By Joe Viglione/ Correspondent
Medford (MA) Transcript
Thursday, September 21, 2006

For many years Little Walter DeVenne – legendary Boston disc jockey whose broadcasting creds include WBCN, WROR, WFNX, WMEX, WODS/Oldies 103.3 and Medford’s WXKS-AM 1430, before it turned into Boston’s Progressive Talk – did his mastering from a studio outside of Medford Square. These days, DeVenne and his family are living in Derry, N.H., but he continues to master CDs and create his radio show, “Little Walter’s Time Machine.” Today you can hear Little Walter’s Time Machine Sunday nights on North Shore 104.9 FM WBOQ, from 8 p.m.-12 a.m., on the same station as the Red Sox. The program is syndicated nationally.

DeVenne recently spoke about the radio show, his mastering work for a variety of record labels and his recent (and successful) battle against throat cancer. “We’re on in Chicago, we’re on in Cincinnati, we’re on in Hawaii, we’re all over the place,” the Boston area icon noted, adding he’s also excited about returning to the club scene this Friday and Saturday night at the Terra Marra, near the Outback Steakhouse, off of Route 93 (at exit 47) in Methuen. “I worked on Route 1 for 20 years at a variety of venues. I’ve been doing clubs for 40 years, starting out at the Beach Ball in Revere, opening for Aerosmith.”

DeVenne’s spinning creates an amazing vibe wherever he brings his extensive collection of music. With hip-hop and house music permeating the in-town clubs, the members of the Masspool DJ Association, Disc Jockeys Latinos Record Pool and other collaboratives would be wise to study at the feet of the master. DeVenne was mixing and scratching (well, literally scratching a record that need not be played) before most of the current jocks were even born.

Battle with cancer
Though ever-present on radio, DeVenne was conspicuous in his absence on the club circuit. He was candid about what happened. “I noticed a couple of lumps in my neck and had my first operation in October. Like Dion (DiMucci of “The Wanderer” fame) said, ’If I didn’t have a wife or a mother, I would never have sought medical advice because it didn’t hurt!’” he said. “It was just a couple of lumps in my neck. You gotta have someone to care for you to get these things looked at. It wasn’t going away so my (very worried) wife brought me over to the doctors.

“I went through cat scans and pet scans – none of it said it was cancer, it just said there were a couple of lumps in my throat,” he continued. “They were going to stick a needle in my neck so I told them to operate on me.” DeVenne started doing chemo and radiation, something he still recalls vividly. “They make a form-fitting face mask with netting so you can see through, (and) they screw it down. [That way I got] the radiation treatment in the same place on my neck,” he said. “The chemo is what I really had a reaction to and that’s what put me in the hospital for a couple of weeks. I begged them to let me out, so my wife learned how to give me the IV. At 9 a.m., I’d have to get up, take the IV – they left it in my arm for the two weeks with what looked like an RCA plug.”

Still able to maintain his humor through what he termed a horrific experience, the radio legend declared of his therapy, ” I only fell down a couple of times!” “When they put that radiation on the throat, it is like getting a super duper sunburn. The definitive sore throat, not being able to taste anything” DeVenne said. “It took about six months after the radiation for me to get my taste buds back and be able to swallow. (Though I hear) it’s different for different people.

But now Little Walter is back – on the air, in the clubs and at work with other music acts. “I did a Spike Jones package for Capitol Records which was funny, but not my usual kind of thing,” he said. “Today (Sept. 13), they are going to reissue ’The Knockouts meet the Genies.’” On Sept. 17, DeVenne went to work on a Bobby Darin “two album on one” CD piece, as well as a similar Irma Thomas package for Liberty/Capitol. “It’ll be out soon,” he said of the mastering work. “Irma features ’Time Is On My Side,’ she did the original that the Rolling Stones ripped off from her. She was so mad at them, she didn’t sing the song for years. Note for note identical! She went on that soulful tour that Peter Wolf emceed seven or eight years ago with Chuck Jackson, Percy Sledge, Ben E. King and others.” Obscure music from groups like The Knockouts and The Genies are for collectors, for sure – and DeVenne knows how to put the music back together so that it sounds as authentic as it did when fans originally bought the tunes on vinyl.

“That was fun,” he said in his always uptempo and highly recognizable radio voice. “I did that today, there was only about 14 tracks on the CD. This was for Collectibles.” Collectibles Records is a respected label which reissues music, with DeVenne usually overseeing that reproduction work. “I’m real proud of some work I did with Dion,” he notes. “Collectibles came out with ’Dion & Friends Live In New York.’ This thing could’ve been a one man Broadway show if he had decided to perform more than just the two nights. The new CD’s got all his hits, all his new stuff, a couple of gospel tracks that are very palatable. It was an absolute magic night! You should see his face when he sings ’Teenager in Love.’ I gave him the line, ’If I live to be 200 I’m always going to be a teenager in love.’ He uses that line in concert.”

In DeVenne’s studio, the phone always rings with someone famous on the other line. Nino Tempo of the song, “Deep Purple,” fame was on the phone at one point. Because of this, DeVenne is known worldwide, having done not only exhaustive radio work, but television appearances as well as a long resume of mastered recordings which can be found on Allmusic.com.

The treasures in DeVenne’s archives include dozens of live shows by Little Richard, including the only known live tape of Jimi Hendrix performing with Richard Penniman, Don & Dewey and Maxine Brown (although there is a studio 45 RPM of Jimi with Little Richard that was recorded around this period). Recorded way back when by DeVenne at the Back Bay Theater in Boston, the tape was mentioned when DeVenne was being interviewed for Visual Radio sometime in the 1990s. After the discovery, Experience Hendrix, Jimi Hendrix’s family-owned company, heard the tape as re-played from the original broadcast tape from WTBS (now WMBR), the information landing in Steve Roby’s Hendrix book, “Black Gold.” DeVenne’s work with the PBS Doo Wop shows and the four CD sets of Doo Wop music on Rhino also needs to be mentioned.

When asked who got him back into circulation after the hospitalization, it turns out to be his old friend Dion. “He’s the first one to get me out of my house last month, he was over at the Mohegan Sun in August,” DeVenne said.

On the air…
Looking to listen to Little Walter’s Time Machine? You can log on to find information on affiliated stations on http://www.littlewalter.com/ Check that site for online streaming to hear the show.
For fans interested in sending their best wishes to the radio icon,

More of my writings regarding these icons can be found in the book


These great R & B artists migrated to the Boston area and call it their home.


A compilation on vinyl (later to be released on CD, perhaps slightly altered),
A BLAST FROM THE PAST is an important starting point for the music of
Little Joe Cook



The Top 25 song from 1957, “Peanuts,” leads off this majestic 32-song compilation released by Little Joe Cook’s own Beantown International in 1997. This generous disc is a very easy listen for fans of rock & roll, rhythm and blues, pop, and American music. The falsetto on “Peanuts” inspired Frankie Valli; in fact, the Four Seasons recorded the tune, although it was credited to another songwriter on their disc (and other covers as well, for a very long time).
Complete review here:

In God We Trust

Review by Joe Viglione
Developed in August of 2002 and released some months later in 2003, Little Joe Cook’s 80th year, In God We Trust combines new renditions of previously written songs as well as material culled from 45s, much of it never before available on an album or CD. “Mr. Bush in the White House Chair” was actually written while Jimmy Carter was in office, and re-recorded with new lyrics at Cook’s home studio after the tragedy that was 9/11/2001.

full review here:

Lady From The Beauty Shop

Review by Joe Viglione
This 1996 album comes almost 40 years after his Top 25 hit “Peanuts.” There are six studio tracks, beginning with the title tune, and five live performances from the Boston club the Cantab, ending with “Lady From the Beauty Shop.” In between is classic rock & roll fused with…
Full review here:




Herb Reed, like Little Joe, moved to the Boston area. He has played around New England for decades now. Here is a review of one of the group’s discs that I wrote for AMG:

The New Golden Hits of THE PLATTERS


New Golden Hits Of The Platters was the fourth album and first compilation on the Musicor label which garnered the last two of 23 Top 40 hits for the reconstituted group after they left Mercury. Those new songs, “I Love You 1,000 Times” from 1966 and 1967’s gem “With This Ring,” are included here, along with “Washed Ashore (On a Lonely Island in the Sea).” Those are the three original titles as recorded by the revamped Platters. Like Kenny RogersTen Years Of Gold album on United Artists Records where he re-recorded five of his hits with The First Edition for his new label, The Platters used that same formula ten years before Rogers‘ 1977 release. It is interesting hearing Sonny Turner with his take on some of the original hits, 1957’s “I’m Sorry” ten years after the fact, along with “Only You,” “The Great Pretender,” “You’ve Got The Magic Touch,” “My Prayer,” “Heaven on Earth,” “Twilight Time,” and “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” among others.

Full review here:




When I found a copy of “Judy”, a 45 RPM on Crystal Ball Records (probably purchasing it in Central Square at Cheapo Records in the mid 1980s) I wrote to Bobby Hebb at the address on the disc. He wrote me a very nice letter back.

Fast forward to 1995. After Marty Balin helped me launch Visual Radio as my first guest, Bobby Hebb agreed to appear on show #3. Joe Tortelli wrote a piece in Goldmine Magazine after Bobby appeared on the show while the reviews of his recordings I began writing for AllMusic.com around 2000.

Bobby Hebb bio


There is a ton of information, of course, as I am helping Mr. Tortelli compile the official biography of Bobby Hebb. Go to the above link to read the entire bio:

Biography by Joe Viglione
Bobby Hebb made his stage debut on his third birthday, July 26, 1941, when tap dancer Hal Hebb introduced his little brother to show business at The Bijou Theater. This was an appearance on The Jerry Jackson Revue of 1942 even though it was 1941, “that was how Jerry, a big man in vaudeville in the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s, did things” noted the singer. Harold Hebb was nine years of age at the time and the young brothers worked quite a few nightclubs before Bobby Hebb entered first grade. Nashville establishments like The Hollywood Palm, Eva Thompson Jones Dance Studio, The Paradise Club, and the basement bar in Prentice Alley as well as the aforementioned Bijou Theater found Bobby and Hal dancing and singing tunes like “Lady B. Good,” “Let’s Do the Boogie Woogie,” “Lay That Pistol Down Babe,” and other titles that were popular at that time. Hebb’s father, William Hebb, played trombone and guitar, his mother, Ovalla Hebb, played piano and guitar, while his grandfather was a chef/cook on the Dixie Flyer, an express train on the L&N — Louisville & Nashville railroad. Brother Harold Hebb would eventually join Excello recording artists the Marigolds, documented in Jay Warner‘s biography of singer Johnny Bragg, the book Just Walkin’ in the Rain

Complete bio here:


Review by Joe Viglione
Produced by Jerry Ross and arranged by Joe Renzetti, “Sunny” emerged from a twelve-song disc released on the Phillips label, a division of Mercury records. Although Bobby Hebb is known as “the song a day man,” he only composed three of the dozen titles included on this collection. The title track, of course, which was the song of the summer of 1966, “Yes or No or Maybe Not,” and “Crazy Baby.” The follow-up, “A Satisfied Mind,” was also a Top 40 hit that year, but it wasn’t until 1971, when Lou Rawls had a Top 20 hit with “Natural Man,” did Hebb get another smash. A pity, and a definite statement about the music industry when a man as prolific and talented as Robert Von Hebb constructs and delivers pop tunes with a voice and feeling that crosses genres and ethnic boundaries.


Review by Joe Viglione
The voice and pen that crafted the multi-format standard “Sunny” took four years to create as exquisite an album of adult contemporary R&B as you’ll find. This was recorded a full year before Lou Rawls would hit with the Bobby Hebb/Sandy Baron composition “A Natural Man,” three years before Barry White would begin his reign of chart success, and two years before the O’Jays would help bring the Gamble and Huff sound to the masses.



Review by Joe Viglione
For Bobby Hebb’s first album of the new millennium, executive producer Rüdiger Ladwig wanted to create something that would be unique and new to the veteran’s dedicated worldwide fan base — an overview of the songwriter/performer’s career, generating a different sound with European musicians. It’s an effective move similar to Gordon Haskell‘s reinvention on the Road to Harry’s Bar live DVD. Recorded in Germany the week that the Iraq War began in March of 2003, and originally titled Midnight Adventures by Hebb, the music sounds like an antidote to the troubling situation that was brewing just a few countries away. But that’s the positive attribute of the masterpiece that is “Sunny,” here in duet form with vocalist Astrid North, one of two duets tracked at the sessions (the second is available only on the CD single, with Pat Appleton singing in French). Producer Ladwig keeps a very controlled sound throughout the disc, his ingenuity coming from the song selection and his history as a Hebb fan. There’s a remake of the lost Philips single “Bound by Love,” one of the many follow-ups to the original “Sunny” (which stays close to the original), and a quite wonderful cover of the G. Love & Special Sauce nugget



by Joe Viglione
Victor Moulton, better-known in rock circles and to record collectors as the legendary Moulty of the Barbarians, is an enigmatic figure whose appearance on the Nuggets vinyl and CD compilations only added to his mystique. The Barbarians formed on Cape Cod, MA, in the early ’60s, were touted as America’s Rolling Stones, and with appearances on TV’s Shindig, as well as in the film The T.A.M.I. Show with the Stones, the Supremes, Lesley Gore, Chuck Berry, James Brown, and others, they could have been just that. Under the aegis of record producer/music executive Doug Morris, the band had a couple of songs to go along with their image and sound. After their 1965 release on Laurie, the album originally entitled The Barbarians (now on CD as Are You a Boy or Are You a Girl?), along with the follow-up autobiographical hit “Moulty” (included on the CD re-releases of the album debut), the group switched to Mercury to record a still unreleased album and then disbanded. The single “Moulty” was essentially Moulton in New York with members of Bob Dylan‘s band the Hawks, and Doug Morris at the helm again. The song was written by Morris, Eliot Greenberg, Barbara Baer, and Robert Schwartz, and was released without the consent of the band, a fact that may have led to the defection to Mercury. The Nuggets compilation hinted that it may have been some of the musicians from Levon
Full biography here:
http://allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:jcfuxqugldje%7ET1From THE BAND’s web site, information from the interview with Moulty conducted by Joseph Tortelli and Joe Viglione on Visual Radiohttp://theband.hiof.no/albums/are_you_a_boy_or_are_you_a_girl.htmlThe song “Moulty” from the 1966 Barbarians single “Moulty”/”I’ll Keep On Seeing You” (Laurie 3326) was added to the songs from the original LP on the CD re-release of this Barbarians album. In interviews with members of the Barbarians, they claim that the Hawks (minus the departed Levon Helm) played on the track “Moulty”. This has later been confirmed by the Barbarians’ one-handed drummer Victor “Moulty” Moulton, through his friend, artist and producer Joe Viglione (who in 1998 released the compilation Boston Rock and Roll Anthology #20 on his own label Varulven Records, with two previously unreleased tracks credited to Moulty & the Barbarians.)Here’s an excerpt from an interview Viglione did with Moulton for the July ’98 issue of Discoveries magazine:
Discoveries: Did the Band – then known as the Hawks – play on ‘Moulty’ as rumored in the liner notes to the Nuggets compilation? (Nuggets – Original Artifacts From The First Psychedelic Era (1965-1968), Elektra 7E-2006 1972, two LP set, includes ‘Moulty’.)Moulty: That’s more than just a rumor. A lot of the Hawks – the Bob Dylan band – backed me up on ‘Moulty.’ I stayed in New York with my manager and road manager to try the ‘Moulty’ thing. I sent the rest of the band back to Boston. We were just going to try this thing, so we brought in Dylan’s band, and we put it together. Just to try it. But it worked well, so they kept it. But as soon as the kids started yelling for ‘Moulty’ we had to learn the song.Discoveries: How many songs did the musicians from the Band play on?Moulty: Just ‘Moulty.’ They were great to work with. The harp player was an older gentlemen, a real professional. We had a great session. It went very smoothly because of Doug Morris. I did my thing, rearranged the words, did my talking, making it real. There’s a unique little story about ‘Moulty.’ When that song came out, the reaction we got was odd and unexpected. When we’d play that song, it would do something to a lot of these kids out there. We noticed kids by the droves would come up crying and broken down. Some of the words in the song hit them hard. They would come and say things to me: ‘I wouldn’t have made it through such-and-such a time if it wasn’t for that song.’ They would hug me and break down and cry. The words to the song are true. I didn’t make that up. All young people – all people – are hurting inside, and we have fears and hurts and things we try to overcome. Sometimes we try to cover them up, but they are there. A lot of people would tell me, ‘If it wasn’t for that song I wouldn’t have made it through my senior year,’ or ‘I would have committed suicide.’ They weren’t afraid to break down about it. So I understood it was a little more than a rock ‘n’ roll song for these kids. I hit these kids in the heart. And it still goes on today. I didn’t realize that would happen. I didn’t even want them to release the thing.Discoveries: Was your anger about ‘Moulty’ based on the fact that the Band played on it rather the Barbarians themselves?
Moulty: No. I made a deal with them that if I didn’t want it released, they wouldn’t release it. I said, ‘No.’ Then they released it behind my back. We were mad. But to our surprise, it charted.SEE ALSO MAD SESSION 2/22/05 (The sons of Moulty)


Wayne Wadhams biography



Review by Joe Viglione
In the mid-’60s, Wayne Wadhams performed in a band called the D-Men that evolved into the Fifth Estate. They went Top 15 in 1967 with a novelty remake of the Wizard of Oz tune “Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead!.” Their only hit on Jubilee Records is very misleading. This group should be as sought after as Moulty & the Barbarians. This is a very generous collection of demos: songs they wrote for the Righteous Brothers and Cilla Black, and covers of Buddy Holly‘s “It’s So Easy”” and John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom.” This album really goes across the ’60s spectrum, which makes it so fun and so unique. The rhythm tracks to “I Wanna Shout/Tomorrow Is My Turn” sound like the Ventures performing in your living room; the second portion of the song descends into a dirty “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida”-type riff. With all the cult fascination for Roky Erickson and the Chocolate Watchband, it is amazing what the 64-plus minutes on this disc reveal, and even more amazing that this music isn’t as sought after as so many other bands from that era. A novelty hit, after all, hardly has the lustre of a Standells riff or ? & the Mysterians‘ organ passages. The unreleased 1966 single “How Can I Find the Way” sounds like Barbara Harris of the Toys. The liner notes on the back of the CD call this “A real first: the complete recorded output and memoirs of a group who recorded for four labels between 1964 and 1967.” The demo for their breakthrough hit, the cover from The Wizard of Oz (as well as the hit version) is here, and when you play that next to “Love Isn’t Tears Only,” their demo for the Righteous Brothers, the abilities of these New Englanders comes totally into focus.

full review here: http://www.mp3.com/albums/30631/summary.html




Biography by Joe Viglione
Wayne Wadhams, founding member of the ’60s pop group the Fifth Estate, was born on November 12, 1946, in Stamford, CT. He attended Stamford public schools and later Dartmouth College, graduating in June of 1969. Originally class of 1968, Wadhams took off a year plus to tour with the Fifth Estate after “Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead” was a hit in mid-1967.At age nine, he lit on fire to become a theatrical pipe-organist, inspired by the million-selling LP George Wright at the Mighty Wurlitzer Pipe Organ on the HiFi label. Wadhams’ parents bought him a piano in 1956, then a large Conn electronic organ in 1957. Taking lessons, he began appearing as a “child prodigy” at Hammond Organ Society meetings. He played for silent movies at the New Haven Paramount theater, which had a small Wurlitzer with all the bells and whistles; then concertized on larger pipe organs in Philly, Hartford, and finally once in 1959 at Radio City Music Hall, on their huge four-manual Wurlitzer still used daily before feature film presentations. At age 13, Wadhams was approached by managers, but his parents, fearful that he would miss out on a solid Eisenhower science education and a respectable career, said no more organizing. He was crushed and gave up music until his last term at Rippowam High School, when the Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, a pivotal moment in his career.Wadhams was enamored of early rock from the Everly Brothers and Buddy Holly through Little Richard and R&B on the Motown and Stax labels. He adapted their songs to lively piano and organ arrangements, sneaking out of classes at Rippowam to play the school’s electronic church-style organ in the auditorium.Hooked on the Beatles, Wadhams advertised for musicians to start a group and found Rick Engler, an avid surf music fanatic and soon lead guitarist, working at a nearby Dairy Queen ice cream shop. Doug Ferrara, who re-strung his Strat with bass strings, unable to afford a real bass, was second guitaring to Engler in his basement. Lyricist Don Askew and Wadhams were already writing what would now be called “Shakespearean rap tunes” during classes at Rippowam: “Oh, Baby, you exceed the norm/You’re the glass of fashion and the mold of form.” Wadhams told the All Media Guide a bit about this period: “Don Askew and Bill Shute were among the beat poets of the scene, Bill also playing guitar and mandolin in a folk/bluegrass band whose motto, according to their card, was ‘just a-pickin’ and a-grinnin.’ Ken Evans, jazz drummer, answered one of the ads, showing up at our rehearsal space [Wadhams’ parent’s basement] in a double-breasted black ‘n white checked suit — with beret — like a Hollywood gangster with his moll [actually his ex-wife Shelly] clad in sleek black leather, dangling from his arm.” Wadhams told AMG, “our first gig was outdoors at the Ezio Pinza Theater, Stamford, Connecticut.”The Fifth Estate hit in April of 1967 with a cover of “Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead” adapted from the soundtrack to the film The Wizard of Oz. Released on Jubilee Records, it was translated into German, French, Japanese, and Italian along with the original English. The band was an important ’60s group with more songwriting depth than a novelty hit might indicate. A compilation of their music, Ding Dong the Witch Is Back!, provides evidence of their fun spirit and keen sense of utilizing the pop/rock format to express themselves in an entertaining way.Full biography here:http://allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:wzfpxqrgldke%7ET1EDEN’S CHILDREN 1968

Review by Joe Viglione
Despite production by Bob Thiele, Frank Kofsky‘s horrifying liner notes comparing Eden’s Children to Jimi Hendrix and Cream are the only thing worse than this music. It’s a weak album, for sure, regardless of Kofsky‘s proclamation that Richard Schamach is a better vocalist than Jack Bruce. He isn’t, nor can this Boston band reach the heights of Blue Cheer, never mind Mountain. “Goodbye Girl” is one of the better tracks, resembling very bad Bachman Turner Overdrive. The modulation makes it painfully clear how weak a singer “Sham,” as ABC wanted the non-existent fans to call Richard Schamach, really was. There’s no need for songs like “If She’s Right” with half-baked fuzz guitar, no groove, and drummer Jimmy Sturman all over the map. Emerging from a world where the Beacon Street Union, the Remains, Listening, and the Lost were making musical waves, these poor souls are way out of that league. To be hyped as better than Cream no doubt created expectations this trio could never live up to. “I Wonder Why” is no “White Room,” and “Stone Fox” is a total embarrassment
Full review here:

SURE LOOKS REAL Eden’s Children


by Joe Viglione
Bob Thiele is back producing, this time with Jonathan Whitcup helping out, and the genius photography of Elliot Landy, Bob Dylan‘s cameraman. It is amazing how much more style the band has with Landy‘s photos — stunning on the inside gatefold, buried inside an apple by photographer Norman Trigg on the front cover. The band had no image on their first ABC disc, and the rotten apple being eaten by a fly on the back of the LP pretty much sinks it for the band visually. “Sure Looks Real” and “Awakening,” the first and fifth tracks, actually are listenable. “Sure Looks Real” borrows heavily from the Byrds‘ “Eight Miles High” with vocals taken from the Who‘s “I Can See for Miles.” Richard Schamach‘s vocals are as subdued as the Don Heckman liner notes on this second chapter, but they fall apart, as does the band, on “Toasted,” “Spirit Call,” and “Come When I Call.” It feels like there was no budget here and some of the songs get a better shake than others. Shamach writes nine tracks, bassist Larry Kiley pens two, but it doesn’t matter. “The Clock’s Imagination” is no Strawberry Alarm Clock, the vocals, drums, and barely audible folk guitar are augmented by poor backing vocals. Not only does this sound rushed, some of the material wouldn’t be worthy of inclusion on a soundtrack to filmmaker Ed Wood’s shoddy work. Even bands from the day like Fat and Quill had some merit and spark which Eden’s Children failed to find and embrace. There is no identity in the framework of “Things Go Wrong” and terrible fuzz guitar in the Larry Kiely composition “Wings,” which takes “I Don’t Need No Doctor” and decimates that famous riff, though it is hard to imagine this crew actually listening to blues artists. “Call It Design” has even less imagination. There are moments on Sure Looks Real which indicate better production, and a level of seriousness absent from this mess would have generated a better product. “Invitation” could work in the hands of a Quicksilver Messenger Service because they had direction and desire. “Echoes” has the vibe of a demo done in some basement. Richard Schamach‘s voice destroys a pretty melody and creative guitar playing. A notch above the first album, but the notion that they could have done worse than their self-titled debut is a frightening thought. The music on this record and its predecessor would haunt Boston rock & roll for many years to come, despite the efforts of Aerosmith, Boston, the Cars, the Jonzun Crew, New Edition, Tracy Chapman, and other artists who found fame during the time they played in Boston, MA.


Review by Joe Viglione
Michael Tschudin led the Boston-based band Listening, but it is the contributions by former Velvet Underground bassist Walter Powers and guitarist Peter Malick which make this album historic. Powers performed over the years with keyboardist Willie Alexander as members of Capitol Recording Artist the Lost, the aforementioned Velvets, and on Autre Chose, a live album from Alexander released on New Rose in Paris. Peter Malick is best known for being Otis Spann‘s guitarist and a member of the James Montgomery Band on Capricorn. Their legendary status in Boston rock & roll history brings positive notoriety to the fine music on this Vanguard release. “So Happy” is the poppiest tune, a cross between the Monkees and the Mojo Men, which is quite misleading. The album runs the gamut from pop to blues to jazz. “Baby Where Are You” is some strange fusion of Motown and the Spencer Davis Group which then veers off in a frenzy of effects and musical jam. Eight of the 11 tracks are written by keyboard/vocalist Michael Tschudin, with three titles attributed to the group. “See You Again,” one of the group efforts, is another jam with riffs the Who would greatly appreciate. Phish‘s success validates how ahead of its time Listening truly was. There is certainly an identity here as Tschudin takes the boys through all sorts of styles inside the tune “Laugh at the Stars.” Elements of Jimi Hendrix, the Band, and the Vanilla Fudge swirl around in the pretty decent production by Michael Chechik. Where peer group the Peanut Butter Conspiracy sound forced, Listening is right on target. There’s just no hit single here that could launch these gentlemen from the trap known as “The Bosstown Sound.” “9/8 Song” is definite jazz, kind of like latter-day Rascals, and we know how good that was, and how far it didn’t go. “Stoned Is” sounds like the Velvet Underground performing “Chest Fever” by way of Lou Reed‘s “New York Stars” from Sally Can’t Dance. It would fit perfectly on the ’60s film soundtrack Psych-Out. Listening has punch and creativity which deserved a better fate.



Review by Joe Viglione
The Eyes of the Beacon Street Union is a highly experimental album released around the time of the Bosstown sound. Much better than first albums from Eden’s Children and Ultimate Spinach, the disc, however, lacks direction — and cohesion. Vocalist John Lincoln Wright has the same look that he sports 23 years later on his 1991 Honky Tonk Verite CD, including his trademark cowboy hat, but the similarities between these two albums stop there. The Eyes of the Beacon Street Union is garage rock and psychedelia, and it is a trip. Where Orpheus opted for the serious pop of “Can’t Find the Time,” producer Wes Farrell includes a recitation by the late Tom Wilson, producer of The Velvet Underground & Nico, acting very avant-garde: “Look into the gray/look past the living streets of Boston/look finally into the eyes of Beacon Street Union.” Well, Wilson did a decent job with the V.U., but he’s no Crazy World of Arthur Brown screaming the immortal line “I am the god of hellfire.” The band immediately dips into “My Love Is.” resplendent in Robert Rhodes‘ (aka music attorney Robert Rosenblatt) best ? & the Mysterians keyboard sound, very cool ’60s backing vocals, and guitars that are straight from the Psych Out film soundtrack. In fact, this song would have fit perfectly on that album along with the Seeds and Strawberry Alarm Clock. Had Wes Farrell kept the band on this track, the album might have more collectability. “Beautiful Delilah” is too novel to keep the momentum going, and “Sportin’ Life” is lounge blues. Side two fares a bit better; “Speed Kills” and “Blue Avenue” are classic ’60s psychedelia, a far cry from John Lincoln Wright‘s Sour Mash Boys, and amazing that it is the legendary Massachusetts country artist singing. “South End Incident” refers to the South End of Boston, which has become quite trendy, but in the day Jonathan Richman, Moe Tucker of the Velvet Underground, and George Thorogood would play that part of town — on the same bill! The music to the song might be an old blues riff, but the body of the work is “Heartbreaker” by Grand Funk Railroad, and one wonders if Mark Farner had this album and perhaps nicked this vamp a few years later? The Eyes of the Beacon Street Union slightly misses the mark, but must be commended for its original approach to this genre. The album cover looks like some history textbook that mistakenly got pressed by Mad Magazine. A mushroom next to an atomic bomb’s mushroom cloud ought to tell you enough about MGM’s packaging. A hit single and less cluttered album cover is what these musicians deserved, but what they have is, next to the album Listening by the band of the same name and the hit single from Orpheus, the best work from the Bosstown sound.


Review by Joe Viglione
The Clown Died in Marvin Gardens is an original statement by a Boston group who was musically superior to Eden’s Children and Ultimate Spinach, but not as focused as the Remains, the Hallucinations with Peter Wolf, or the emerging J. Geils Band. Where national groups like the Peanut Butter Conspiracy may have been misguided and sputtered with no direction, vocalist John Lincoln Wright developed into a first-rate songwriter and a country singer with a purpose. Hearing his work on highly experimental tunes, like the title track or the impressionistic “May I Light Your Cigarette?,” is true culture shock. “The Clown’s Overture” seems pointless, yet “Angus of Aberdeen” is inspired and a bright spot in the morass that was the Bosstown Sound. The rave-up version of “Blue Suede Shoes” is great, the guitar funneled through effects and brimming with excitement. Full review link above.

John Lincoln Wright HONKY TONK VERITE’



Review by Joe Viglione
In 1978 legendary Boston area music executive Bruce Patch re-released the even more legendary 1966 Epic album by the Remains on his Spoonfed Records label, augmenting the ten stereo songs from the original LP with four additional mono tracks. With the grooves cut into delicious red vinyl à la the first pressings of the Bloodshot album by the J. Geils Band, this 1978 limited edition is almost as much of a collectors’ item as the band’s Epic debut. For the fans who played that debut into the ground, the addition of “Heart,” “Don’t Look Back,” “Thank You,” and “Say You’re Sorry” expands the experience, something that would happen again seven years later when New Rose Records’ Fan Club subsidiary added even more cuts per side. Jon Landau writes a paragraph of liner notes on the back calling the group “the most exciting American band of their time.” This reissue was produced by Jeffrey Jennings, mastered by Ted Jensen at Sterling Sound, and released at the time Patch was moving the Spoonfed label operation from Boston to Malibu, CA. “Once Before” sounds as lovely and British Invasion as ever, while Billy Sherrill‘s 1965 Nashville production of “Time of Day” features that great separation of tambourine and fuzz tone. Billy Briggs‘ keys add just enough spice to confirm that all the reverence for the group is justified. An October 3, 1978, article in the Boston Phoenix by James Isaacs documents a meeting with Patch and Barry Tashian during the promotion of this release, at which time the singer commented, “I haven’t heard that in 12 years” (regarding the unreleased tracks). Though all this music has resurfaced on compact disc, this special edition is worth seeking out.


Review by Joe Viglione
Released in 1985 on the Fan Club division of the French New Rose record label, this double disc is packaged in bright yellow with a gatefold and superb liner notes/memories by J. Geils Band frontman Peter Wolf along with additional information by Remains bassist Vern Miller. With a whopping 28 tracks, it is seven cuts deeper than the 1991 Epic/Legacy re-release, at least five of those bonus tracks from the Capitol Records demos included here, material released on Sundazed in 1996 as Session With the Remains. The inner sleeve contains songwriter credits as well as the year, studio, and city where each tune was recorded as well as information on who produced each track. It is really exquisite, and sounds great to boot. The eternal debate from those who saw the band in their heyday opening for the Beatles in 1966 is “what if they had been recorded properly.” William Briggs III said that he felt the Session With the Remains CD did capture that spirit. “Talking ‘Bout You” certainly has a groove, while “Hang On Sloopy” is one of those fly-on-the-wall kind of moments, the band displaying much more of that garage aura than is revealed on the cut from the classic Nuggets compilation, “Don’t Look Back,” though that track helped perpetuate their legend. Peter Wolf‘s 1985 letter on the back cover giving the band credit for “power and control” of amplification, comparing them to the Who, is worth the price of admission. Wolf should know; Barry Tashian lived in the same apartment complex and was present when the former Peter Blankfield recorded the famous “bathroom tapes” of his own band, the Hallucinations. The essay by Vern Miller Jr. sheds even more light on the group history, noting that one of the songs here, Gram Parsons‘ “Luxury Liner,” was recorded in Long Island during a brief 1976 reunion. For collectors of vinyl and hardcore fans of the band, of which there are many, this one is essential.


Review by Joe Viglione
As authentic a dozen tunes any fan of the Remains could hope for find a niche in the digital grooves of Movin’ On, Barry Tashian‘s distinctive voice picking up where he left off on the group’s last full album, which was, ah…1966? Almost 40 years in between releases sure beats the two years it took Sly Stone to get a new disc out during his heyday! But it’s worth the wait as Vern Miller, Bill Briggs, Chip Damiani, and Tashian deliver the goods. “You Never Told Me” and “Over You” could easily slip into the Eagles‘ repertoire, which is the dilemma for hardcore Remains fans who always wanted their heroes to sustain that launch that culminated in a tour with the Beatles and Bobby Hebb. And God knows the Eagles needed some real competition. “A Man’s Best Friend Is His Automobile” showed up on Barry & Holly Tashian‘s 2002 release At Home and gets the Remains treatment here. Holly Tashian contributes backing vocals to the album, the group also augmented by Daniel Tashian on vocals, percussion, and B-3 as well as Angelo on backing vocals, percussion, and a co-write on “Don’t Tell Me the Truth.” Speaking of which, for those who loved “Don’t Look Back,” the 45 rpm that ended up on the original Nuggets before getting tagged onto the first Remains disc, opening track “Don’t Tell Me the Truth” will satisfy their needs. “Listen to Me” is lots of fun as is the album closer, “Time Keeps Movin’ On,” resplendent in sounds toward the end of the tune that would make Lothar & the Hand People proud, but the standout and potential hit is “Hard to Find (So Easy to Lose).” “The Power of Love” and “Ramona” both add to the legend, but it’s “Hard to Love” that could open up this band to a larger and well-deserved audience. As the Zombies tour, sometimes with Pete Best‘s collection of early Beatles music, the addition of Barry & the Remains would make a potent trio of artists from an era whose popularity will remain perpetual. TheRemains.com is how to find this music if you can’t locate it in the usual places.


Review by Joe Viglione
Barry Tashian and Holly Tashian look as happy on the front cover of At Home as they sound on this vibrant folk/country album from the veteran couple. The six-page CD insert has notations on each of the 12 selections as well as an interesting essay on how the music was “recorded live with no ‘fixes in the mixes.'” The album’s simple quality makes it very appealing, from Felice Bryant‘s “We Could,” which opens the disc like a girl-and-guy version of the Everly Brothers, to a very interesting “A Man’s Best Friend Is His Automobile.” This is Barry giving the world a preview of a song also recorded for the Remains‘ reunion album, scheduled for later in 2002. Holly only co-writes two of the five originals with her husband, who has a different collaborator on each of his compositions. Holly Tashian calls their “These Little Things” the first shuffle they’ve written, though the couple has played them for years. Her “One More Me (The Cloning Song)” is an interesting take on “Dolly the cloned sheep,” about a housewife who could use some extra help around the house. And who better but a carbon copy of herself? Imagine the possibilities — this duo could duplicate themselves and be a country/folk version of the Mamas & the Papas. Barry Tashian draws from three different arrangements of two traditional tunes, and he blends “Whiskey Before Breakfast”/”Beaumont Rag” together, the CD’s only instrumentals, both tunes “around for at least a century.” Buck Owens‘ “There Goes My Love” has that Everly Brothers feel again, with the couple’s great harmonies and smooth playing. Merle Kilgore‘s “More and More” follows suit, another poppy blues song, as is Barry‘s “The Sound of Your Name.” They cover Connie Francis‘ “My Happiness,” a song from 1933 which charted for half a dozen artists over the years, and the performance is indicative of the album as a whole — warm and enjoyable. Holly sings a version of “My Window Faces the South,” which she’s performed for 25 years but not recorded until now. “Watermelon Time in Georgia” closes the disc, and Barry‘s comments under the song are historically vital. When the guitarist was performing with Emmylou Harris in the ’80s, Merle Haggard sang to them for about two hours at an Indianapolis Holiday Inn. That’s how this Harlan Howard song made it to this CD. At Home is a wonderful document of two important artists being themselves and putting their storytelling on record in a very comfortable setting.


Review by Joe Viglione
Conductor Arthur Fiedler is a revered name in New England music history and his Boston Pops run through gorgeous Richard Hayman arrangements of familiar favorites on Up, Up and Away. A dramatic rendition of 1967 ‘s “Best Song” from the pen of Jimmy Webb starts off the LP, adding sound colors as the 5th Dimension production did, only without the vocals and different instrumentation, of course. Producer Peter Dellheim gives six paragraphs of insight in his liner notes, identifying that he picked up on the Minuet from J.S. Bach‘s Anna Magdalena Bach Notebook after hearing Diana Ross & the Supremes‘ version of the tune “A Lover’s Concerto.” The amusing thing is that the Toys were emulating the Supremes‘ sound, and the Diana Ross version the Boston Pops got its idea from was a tribute to the tribute. When Ferrante & Teicher recorded the song on their Getting Together album, they called their arrangement “A Familiar Concerto,” denying Toys producers Sandy Linzer and Denny Randell the royalties for the updated composition. Arthur Fiedler & the Boston Pops sprinkle their magic on Paul Mauriat‘s hit “Love Is Blue,” along with “Lara’s Theme” from Dr. Zhivago — better known as Ray Conniff‘s Top Ten hit from 1966, “Somewhere My Love.” André Previn‘s (Theme From) Valley of the Dolls is just perfect for this ensemble, majestic movements that bring out the sadness and despair of the Dionne Warwick classic. “Cabaret” is a fun romp through the campy hit, while the Beatles‘ “Yesterday” and “Michelle” melt into the beautiful fabric as easily as the theme from Georgy Girl. Up, Up and Away is the perfection one expects from the Boston Pops, capturing some of the highlights with which 1968’s easy listening community was in tune. The amusing cover photo features an airplane on a runway with Fiedler surrounded by eight beautiful women.

Reviews on E Music.com 1/07/05

Rick Berlin
http://www.emusic.com/album/10816/10816492.htmlPousette Dart Never Enough
http://www.emusic.com/album/10788/10788101.htmlPOUSETTE DART BAND 3

Review by Joe Viglione
Out of the four albums released by the Pousette-Dart Band on Capitol, 3 may be the most satisfying. The only song that received as much attention as “Amnesia,” the title track and minor hit off of their second album, or “For Love,” the David Finnerty of the Road Apples tune from their fourth disc, was the cover of the Lieber/Stoller/Ben E. King 1961 hit “Stand By Me.” It is a good version, and the songs on side one are the usual fare from Jon Pousette-Dart‘s group, top notch country/rock. But it is side two that really is extraordinary. “Louisiana,” “Too Blue to Be True,” and “Mr. Saturday Night” work almost as a trilogy. They are deep, dark, and not as bouncy as Don Covay‘s “I Stayed Away Too Long” on side one. The beautiful, acoustic “Where Are You Going,” which ends this half of the program, sets up the second side nicely, and lends for a seamless flow if listening on compact disc. Pousette-Dart‘s voice is flawless, as is his playing on “Where Are You Going,” which ends suspended in mid-air. As with that tune, all the songs on the second side are written by Jon Pousette-Dart, and along with the sterling performance, this is his best songwriting of these releases on Capitol. “Louisiana” has tension, eerie production, immaculate instrumentation, and just a great vocal walking next to the guitars. While the Eagles and Hall & Oates were enjoying success at this point in time, along with the resurgence of Crosby, Stills & Nash, Pousette-Dart Band’s mellow Buffalo Springfield style on this album really should have garnered a huge audience. “Too Blue to Be True” brings it up a bit, the band cooking with excitement and power. That power continues in the semi-funk of “Mr. Saturday Night,” three powerful statements by this important artist that somehow got lost in the shuffle of the music industry. Jon Pousette-Dart‘s appearance at the Paradise Theater in Boston at the end of 2000 with Jon Hall of Orleans and Jonathan Edwards of Orphan was their first appearance live together as a trio, having previously only recorded “Why Can’t We Be Friends,” the War tune for Rounder. That performance magnified what one of those performers put in these grooves. “Lord’s Song” starts to conclude the album in the same fashion as side one, Pousette-Dart‘s voice and acoustic guitar combined with his plaintive expression, this time the band in the background solidified by co-producer Dave Appell‘s strings swelling, rising up before the group kicks in with precision. An album that truly deserves a better fate than obscurity.

(the same tune as Robin Lane’s WHEN THINGS GO WRONG)


Review by Joe Viglione
The title track of the fourth album from Jon Pousette-Dart‘s band is actually a cover of Robin Lane & the Chartbusters‘ “When Things Go Wrong,” reetitled “Never Enough,” but more than that, it’s a reworking with different lyrics. Lane‘s 3-song EP on manager Mike Lembo‘s Deli Platter Records was a phenomenon in the New England region in the late ’70s. This song was also the title track of her 1980 Warner Bros. debut recorded by Helen Reddy producer Joe Wissert. Pousette-Dart Band’s version reunites them with Norbert Putnam, who oversaw their first two Capitol discs. It is an extraordinary glimpse at how a great melody failed to make the Top 40, recorded differently by two important artists, who themselves failed to make the national Top 40 with any of their discs. Like their contemporary Andy Pratt, these performers contributed much to music and got little in return. The second track, “Silver Stars,” is a wonderful instrumental by guitarist John Curtis, but the album’s highlight is “For Love,” a tune by David Finnerty, leader of Atlantic’s the Joneses, who actually did hit the Top 40 in 1975 with a band called the Road Apples and their tune “Let’s Live Together.” Finnerty‘s “For Love,” as performed by Jon Pousette-Dart, is so commercially viable for this point in time that it is a sin it got only minor airplay. It is as substantial as Orleans or Firefall, more creative and dynamic than what the Eagles were doing in the same format. The first and only Jon Pousette-Dart title on side one is “Cold Outside,” which brings horns into the mix; it, and bassist John Troy‘s arrangement of the traditional “Hallelujah I’m A Bum,” are country funkish numbers — adequate, but not as strong as the first three tracks. Pousette-Dart’s co-write “Long Legs” opens side two, but that honor should have gone to “The Loving One,” a lilting pop tune by Pousette-Dart, with his gifted voice gliding over the keys and percussion. Marc Aramian‘s composition, “We Never Give Up,” thankfully continues the tradition of pop that Pousette-Dart is so comfortable with. The band has a knack for adding polish to these strong hooks, more evidence that this fourth album was a real contender. With management by New England’s legendary promoter Don Law, son of record producer Don Law, Sr., the group had the connections and the talent to really make their mark. “Cheated” is another poppy tune by the band leader, leaning a bit more toward the country side of the group that was their foundation, something they significantly embellished with funk and pop. That is most evident in the John Curtis original “Gotta Get Far Away,” which ends the album. Jon Pousette-Dart performed at the Paradise Theater in Boston towards the end of 2000 with Jon Hall of Orleans and Jonathan Edwards of the group Orphan. It was their first appearance ever as a trio live — promoting their cover of War‘s “Why Can’t We Be Friends” released on Rounder Records that year. The performance highlighted how important the music on this album is, and that Jon Pousette-Dart is viable a couple of decades after creating this and the three other releases on Capitol.


Biography by Joe Viglione
Orphan was the creation of songwriter/singer Eric Lilljequist (born January 1, 1948) who grew up in Massachusetts’ Brockton/Avon area, the ensemble emerging in the mid-’60s, a time when few bands in the region performed their own material. Originally calling the group Orphans, they dropped the plural during the first wave of musicians who worked with Lilljequist on his music. Managed by Ed Mottau, a guitarist who worked with John Lennon prior to the Elephant’s Memory, Mottau was in turn managed by Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul & Mary. There were always famous names coming through Mottau‘s house in Avon, and Eric Lilljequist got to meet them. Local entrepreneur Peter Casperson, instrumental in the careers of the Fools, Duke & the Drivers, and other Boston-area entertainers, picked up Orphan, and they went from playing high schools and armories to landing more prestigious club dates as well as a recording contract with Epic Records.In the late ’60s, while Lilljequist was taking vocal lessons from legendary voice teacher Dante Bavone, the man who worked with Faye Dunaway, Peter Wolf, Steven Tyler and so many others, Lilljequist met his musical partner, guitarist/vocalist Dean Adrien, at the suggestion of Bavone. The group spent an autumn recording nine singles for Epic Records; the CBS building in New York providing a great atmosphere and learning environment for the young artists. The two co-heads of Epic A&R, Sandy Linzer and Denny Randell, performed production duties for Orphan as they had for Barbara Harris and the Toys. Linzer and Randell fostered cover versions of Orphan material; the Bandwagon and the Four Seasons doing renditions of this new sound; Frankie Valli singing on Eric Lilljequist‘s song “He Gives Me Light.”After their stint at Epic and hoping for another deal, the band began recording on spec at Intermedia Studios in Boston where their friend Jonathan Edwards tracked his hit “Sunshine.” They got offers and auditions with surprisingly more notice from Columbia, garnering interest from Clive Davis after leaving Epic. The offer from London Records allowed for more creative freedom so they signed a four-album deal with that label, tracking three albums starting with 1972’s Everyone Lives to Sing, followed by 1973’s Rock & Reflection.During this time, they were performing on record and sometimes live with Jonathan Edwards, and he often with Orphan, the two acts actually living in a big house in the Boston area for awhile. Four Eric Lilljequist compositions showed up on Edwards‘ 1973 Atco release Have a Good Time for Me, the title taken from the song “Have Yourself a Good Time for Me” which also appeared on Orphan’s final London release, More Orphan Than Not. Lilljequist played on Edwards‘ first three Atco albums with the entire Orphan band backing him in Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA, on March 22 and 23 of 1974 for the Lucky Day LP. It’s a fine document of Orphan live working with their folk star friend.Orphan played on many bills with the Castle Music stable of artists, Martin Mull, the McKinney Brothers, Travis Shook & the Club Wow, and, of course, Jonathan Edwards. They played all over the country, opening for the Allman Brothers Band, the Byrds, the New Riders of the Purple Sage, Hot Tuna, and Jessie Colin Young, even recording at Young‘s house. Orphan backed up Chuck Berry at the Cape Cod Coliseum and Lilljequist and Adrien performed with Bo Diddley at Symphony Hall. One special night was at a party for John Lennon in New York’s Tavern on the Greens off of Central Park at the time of Lennon‘s One to One concert. The Beatle arrived at his party while Orphan was performing on-stage.Dean Adrien and Eric Lilljequist appear on Tom Rush, Live at Symphony Hall, Boston, released in 2001 on Varese Sarabande, and have performed over the years in a trio with Rush. Lilljequist‘s music has been recorded by acts as diverse as the Four Freshmen and Bruce MacPherson, the band’s presence an important element of the Boston rock & roll scene during the late ’60s. The entire summer of 1967, the band performed at the Atlantic House in Provincetown, the group performing in one room while the likes of Odetta, John Lee Hooker, and Nina Simone appeared on the larger stage. It was no doubt a magical summer, as Moulty & the Barbarians and the Velvet Underground were also making noise on Cape Cod, the Barbarians sometimes sharing bills with Orphan.


Review by Joe Viglione
Somehow lost in the shuffle of Boston music are the albums by Orphan. Overshadowed by the cult status of Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers, or the ever present Willie Loco Alexander, the songs of Eric Lilliequist may be best represented on this recording. Produced by Peter Casperson at the legendary Intermedia Sound on Boylston Street in Boston, the dark green cover with Dean Adrien — who provides percussion and vocals, and Lilliequist, as well as the mysterious back photo, are welcome fragments of New England folk/rock from the early ’70s. While bandmate Jonathan Edwards was topping the local and national charts in December of 1971 with “Sunshine” on Capricorn Records, he showed up here with a vocal on “Look at Her,” interpreting a Lilliequist original with a hint of Aztec Two-Step. Especially on the title track, and a very Jonathan Edwards-ish “Fisherman,” Lilliequist and Orphan created an intriguing blend of light pop which, in retrospect, should’ve been as big as Orleans, Firefall, and the bands that had tunes and lyrics but not the bevy of hits America garnered. “Daylight Darkness” is like an answer to Jesse Colin Young and the Youngbloods. These 1971 tunes released in 1972 are the best picture of the work of Eric Lilliequist. If Jonathan Edwards gets a much deserved boxed set, perhaps the world will have a chance to discover Orphan and the important work they did in the early ’70s


Review by Joe Viglione
Caught in that netherworld after the Bosstown sound was forced upon everyone, and two years before the new wave would usher Willie Alexander, the Fools, the Rings, Robin Lane and the Chartbusters, and other Boston groups to national attention, only a handful of bands kept Boston on the map. Along with Aerosmith, the Sidewinders, and the Modern Lovers was Orphan. Recorded at Intermedia Sound (a studio that would be purchased by the Cars and renamed Syncro Sound, and where Aerosmith tracked their first album), the album has the distinction of being taped where Jonathan Edwards created his 1971 Top Five hit “Sunshine.” Edwards‘ presence on this album, playing acoustic guitar, harmonica, and providing backup vocals, makes it important historically. Sadly, there is only one original from Jonathan E. Edwards, the tune “Train of Glory.” It is one of the highlights of the disc, along with a very Quicksilver Messenger Service-style rendition of Van Morrison‘s “I’ve Been Working,” a truly unique “What Goes On” — cover of the Beatles, not the Velvet Underground, although Orphan could have done as nice a job with the VU‘s composition as they did with this Lennon/McCartney/Starkey tune — and a couple of really fine Eric Lilljequist songs, “Don’t Go Fooling Me” and “Have Yourself a Good Time for Me.” The group should’ve hit big time on the country charts with “Have Yourself a Good Time,” its Byrds/Flying Burrito Brothers style evident. Perhaps it is the multidimensional focus which kept the band from the success that Edwards enjoyed with “Sunshine.” Certainly ahead of their time, the Van Morrison cover bridges the gap from pop to rock to jam. Artists as diverse as Charlie Daniels and Phish have been able to ride the “jam/groove” wave, and Orphan would have fit in perfectly. Jonathan Edwards teamed up with Jon Hall of Orleans and Jon Pousette-Dart in 2000. They have released one song on Rounder, a cover of War‘s “Why Can’t We Be Friends,” which sounds like a very commercial extension of what was going on with Orphan 16 years prior. Seven of the 11 songs were written by Lilljequist, with “Overtime” the sole contribution by guitarist Dean Adrien. Any band that can boast the late Bobby Chouinard (of Duke & the Drivers, Billy Squier, and Alice Cooper fame) as their drummer deserves to be in the history books. The record was produced by Peter Casperson and Eric Lilljequist, Casperson being one of the men behind Castle Music, a management company that made some noise in the area. Orphan is a chillingly prophetic name for a band who delivered solid music but never achieved the recognition they deserved.


Review by Joe Viglione
This classic recording by the sibling of Livingston and James Taylor offers valuable insight for fans of Carole King‘s landmark album, Tapestry, but Sister Kate is also a great work in its own right. Peter Asher of Peter & Gordon was the guiding hand behind James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt, and to have his vision of Carole King‘s “Where You Lead” and “Home Again” from Tapestry with the musicians who helped King paint her masterpiece is a major treat. Lou Adler‘s perspective on these tunes was what helped reshape music in the ’70s, and to have another successful producer issuing the same music at the exact moment in time is essential study for Musicology 101. “Where You Lead” has a totally different flavor from both King‘s classic album track and Barbara Streisand‘s hit. Vocally, she’s not Chi Coltrane or Jessi Colter, but Kate Taylor is very musical just the same. It’s interesting that she would do versions of two songs Rod Stewart covered. Stewart got some serious airplay with “Handbags and Gladrags,” but he didn’t have Carole King, Linda Ronstadt, Merry Clayton, and most of the Tapestry players on his version of the Mike D’Abo tune — Kate Taylor gets that honor. She also does a fine rendition of the Elton John/Bernie Taupin track which Stewart got FM album airplay with, “Country Comforts,” and takes it a step further by covering “Ballad of a Well Known Gun” from the John/Taupin catalog as well. Beverly Martyn‘s “Sweet Honesty” plays like Donovan‘s “Season of the Witch,” and it works well for this place in time, but the real knockout tunes here are, coincidentally, Taylor’s rendition of Livingston Taylor‘s “Be That Way,” and her takes on James Taylor‘s “Lo and Behold” and “You Can Close Your Eyes.” These three go right out of the park, so you can draw your own conclusions as to how well-schooled she was on the music being made by her brothers. The addition of “Jesus Is Just All Right” somewhat mars “Lo and Behold”; the two form a medley, with “Lo and Behold’s chorus pressing up against the “Jesus Is Just All Right” melody, but once again, the choice of what would become a ’70s standard for the Doobie Brothers two years later shows the intuitive nature of this project. Mort Shuman and Jerry Ragavoy got attention the year before when Janis Joplin‘s Pearl contained her dynamic version of their “Get It While You Can.” Kate Taylor is better suited to their “Look at Granny Run, Run,” and she does a fine job with it here. This is the album that got away, and all serious fans of pop, ’70s rock, and good music in general owe it to themselves to seek Sister Kate out. It’s a very impressive work of art.


Review by Joe Viglione
1971 was the year of “Taylor Mania” with Mud Slide Slim & The Blue Horizon by James Taylor, Sister Kate‘s album on Cotillion, and the equally brilliant Liv by Livingston Taylor, on Warner Brothers. Alex Taylor’s With Friends And Neighbors is a very good album, enjoying the glow of his sibling’s excellent work, and emulating them on the first side. It’s more pop than one would think, which all changes when you flip the disc over to hear the bluesy jams like on Greg Allman‘s “Southbound” on side two. Acoustic guitarist’s Scott Boyer‘s “Southern Kids” is up there with some of James Taylor‘s finest work and with a plethora of guests from King Curtis to Sweet Baby James himself on “Night Owl,” With Friends and Neighbors stands on its own as a very listenable and entertaining project. There’s not one original by Alex, but he does allow his musicians to contribute, lead guitarist Tommy Talton penning “All In Line” while Boyer gets to include a second composition, “C Song” which ends side one. Bobby And Shirley Womack‘s “It’s All Over Now” gets a fun reading, not as classic as The Rolling Stones or Rod Stewart And The Faces, this one is slowed down and funky but has its charm, and utilizes the same band as on brother Livingston Taylor‘s Liv album — Bill Stewart on drums, Tommy Talton on lead guitar, Paul Hornsby on keyboards, Johnny Sandlin providing bass as well as producing the entire disc(Jon Landau was the producer on Liv). With the addition of acoustic guitarist Scott Boyer and Alex Taylor on vocals, With Friends And Neighbors is the bookend album to Liv that Sister Kate is to Carole King‘s TapestryKate Taylor having employed the musicians (and a couple of the songs) from King‘s classic 70s release. What the world needs is a Taylor Family Boxed set with all the work from Liv, Sister Kate, With Friends And Neighbors and any other material from the sessions that gave birth to this trio of exquisite recordings. It doesn’t have the highs of a “Get Out Of Bed” which Livingston Taylor gave us, but it is consistent and highly enjoyable nevertheless.


Review by Joe Viglione
It would be difficult not to compare Livingston Taylor’s self-titled 1970 debut to his brother’s second solo release, Sweet Baby James, as the latter certainly brought attention to the former, but the Jon Landau-produced disc crafted in Macon, GA, is a world unto itself. Ten originals by Taylor along with one cover, the Earl Greene and Carl Montgomery country standard “Six Days on the Road,” make for a pleasant listen. “Sit on Back” is a bright enough opening, with “Doctor Man” bringing in a bit of the darkness. “My time’s at hand” is the same line James Taylor used in the hit “Fire and Rain” and both brothers spent their time in the psych ward: “People with smiles/They talk of a hand that they got from a man called the doctor man.” You would love to hear Lou Reed take this on, and somehow the pretty guitar and arrangement are real paradoxes for what should be a dirge, the lyrics profoundly in need of a few spins to sink in. Because much of this album feels like the producer and the artists were getting their bearings, “Six Days on the Road” becomes one of the more accessible tracks. Versions by Hank Snow, Bloodwyn Pig, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Taj Mahal, and others proliferated, and this is not as ethereal as the artist’s cover of “On Broadway” from the Liv album, but in its simplicity the point still gets across. The LP cover photo is pretty out there, with Taylor looking down from a metal structure of some sort, his hair all frazzled, while the back cover has a darkened room which looks like a recording studio. “Packet of Good Times” is very up-tempo, while “Hush a Bye” brings things right back down and, like most of the project, is understated. It’s on Liv, the second album, that things really come together. Sure, these songs are well constructed, but they still seem somewhat raw and no doubt influenced the way things would be tackled the second time around. Sister Kate and James are referenced in “Carolina Day,” a song with more parallels. “Can’t Get Back Home” follows suit — impressive ditties with “In My Reply” up and “Lost in the Love of You” down again. The obvious yin yang would change on the next album, which should have been a huge breakthrough for this sensitive and special artist. The seeds of future work are here, and Livingston Taylor is a nice start to the singer’s interesting career.


Review by Joe Viglione
“Get Out of Bed” leads off Liv, the 1971 album from Livingston Taylor, and it is a brilliant and exciting slice of pop music which should have been a huge international smash. It is one of those songs that you want to play 50 or 60 times in a row, perfectly written and recorded. Produced by Bruce Springsteen mentor Jon Landau and managed by Don Law, the son of the legendary country record producer Don Law, Sr., this Warner Bros. album had all the elements, and is more endearing than the two Top 40 hits this member of the famous Taylor family eventually garnered in 1978 and 1980. Liv‘s original songs are uplifting and give brother James Taylor a good run for his money. “May I Stay Around” has a vibrant vocal working itself over the elegant acoustic guitar, the bright green colors of the album cover and the laid-back young Livingston sitting in a chair looking aloof just calls back to a time when this sort of music was exploding — Jim Croce, brother James, Harry Chapin, and Carole King, who he is closest to both vocally and sentimentally. The singer picks up the piano on “Open Up Your Eyes,” “Get Out of Bed,” “Be That Way,” and “Gentleman,” as well as the cover of “On Broadway,” and with the understated production of Jon Landau, Livingston’s beautiful heartfelt vocals make this an extraordinary work of art. Most of the tunes are around the three-minute mark, except for “Easy Prey,” which gets over four-and-a-half; “Gentleman shows where the artist’s contemporary (one year younger than this Taylor) Dan Fogelberg found part of his sound, though the performance is not as pronounced as “Easy Prey,” the band kicking in early on that tune, Bill Stewart on drums, Paul Hornsby on electric piano, Tommy Talton on lead guitar, performing breathy, moving stuff. A low-key Quicksilver Messenger Service from the East Coast is what this album is, a musical journey full of delight and surprise. Dave Woodford‘s flute on “Open Up Your Eyes” is perfect and essential, and this serious music is the antithesis of Hugo Montenegro’s Dawn of Dylan tribute album. Liv is the real thing by a troubadour who never really got the acclaim he deserved. Perhaps he was overshadowed by older brother James Taylor, or maybe Jonathan Edwards‘ “Sunshine” going Top Five nationally the year this album was released edged out other music from Boston instead of putting a focus on the region. Politcal reasons for this not making him a huge star aside, what remains is a very strong album which cries out to get played again and again. Exquisite.


Review by Joe Viglione
Man’s Best Friend boasts superb musicianship, high production values, good song selection, beautiful vocal performances from Livingston Taylor, and an impressive cast of guest stars who do not get in the way of the singer/songwriter. Though “First Time Love” broke the Top 40 for a couple of weeks in September of 1980, this album, much like his work on Atco a decade earlier, is superlative and deserved more chart activity. Converging on “Sunshine Girl” are drummer Jeff Porcaro, Jeff Baxter from Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers (it should be noted, a fellow Bostonian), and ex-Turtles Flo & Eddie, just the right touch to knock this one out of the park. “Sunshine Girl” is so sincere, such an uplifting composition and performance, that it makes it frustrating to hear these remarkable sounds and know that Epic Records or whoever couldn’t deliver this to the wide audience it deserved. Covers of Randy Newman‘s “Marie” and the Stevenson/Gay/Hunter classic “Dancing in the Street” are fine, but the collaboration between Baxter and Taylor, “You Don’t Have to Choose,” like the aforementioned John Manchester/Livingston Taylor title, “Sunshine Girl,” gives the listener insight to the artistry at play, insight you can’t find on the fun romps “Ready Set Go” and “Dancing in the Street.” It’s a nice mix, though. Carla Thomas dueting with Taylor while backed up by Steve Cropper and the Memphis Horns is pretty phenomenal. Baxter takes to the keyboards on this cover of the Motown hit, giving Cropper space, but who wouldn’t have loved to hear a guitar duel here? When the earthy dance stuff subsides, Taylor hits you with a co-write his wife, Maggie Taylor, helped him with, “Out of This World,” and not to sound cliché, it is out of this world. Taylor has a sweet, down-home folksy voice perfect for pop radio, and his delivery is magical, from the calypso-style “Face Like a Dog” to the beautiful rendition of Jon Hall‘s 1975 hit, “Dance With Me.” Don Henley is on harmony vocal for the Orleans tune and, as stated above, these big-name artists do a marvelous job of complementing the music, not impeding it with overplaying. From his 1971 Jon Landau-produced LP Liv to this John Boylan/Jeff Baxter co-production almost a decade later (the producers doing their tracks separately, not collaborating), Man’s Best Friend continues the consistent musical saga of a musician who should be a huge star. Where brother James Taylor is the icon, deservedly so, it is too bad room wasn’t made in the pantheon for this bright and talented artist. Livingston Taylor’s albums are refreshingly strong, and enhance radio when they get their chance to entertain. This one’s a contender for lost classic status.


Review by Joe Viglione
Ten years after his Top 30 hit “I Will Be in Love With You,” Livingston Taylor comes up with an album that has all the brightness of that song and the Top 40 “First Time Love” from 1980. The amazing thing about this artist is that he continually crafts top-notch albums that are highly entertaining, but has not connected with an audience on the same level as his brother, James, Carole King, or other mainstream soft rock artists. A touch of jazz for “Louie” is that magical addition to a folk/adult contemporary album which makes for great crossover potential. The tribute to Louis Armstrong is an essential element of Taylor’s ability to put together albums that are extraordinary in their perfection. Robbie Dupree and James Taylor add some vocals to this beautiful Artie Traum production, and though there are no hits, there is also not a bad track here. Released on Critique Records, a label located ten miles north of Boston which had two Top 40 hits in 1995 with Nicki French and 2 Unlimited, Life Is Good is worth seeking out. On “Mary Ann” he does dip into his brother’s domain, but it is just briefly and worthwhile. When they do a boxed set on the work of Alex, Kate, James, and Livingston Taylor, a few tracks from this release would be most welcome.


Review by Joe Viglione
Jonathan Edwards is not considered a “country” artist per se, probably due to the success of “Sunshine” from his 1971 self-titled debut, but on his follow-up to the Jonathan Edwards album, Honky-Tonk Stardust Cowboy, and some of his discs on Reprise, most notably Sailboat and Rockin’ Chair, he is indeed that. Have a Good Time for Me is a departure from Honky-Tonk Stardust Cowboy in that the artist is covering music by three of the songwriters from the Castle Hill Publishing group, a company owned by co-producer Peter Casperson, who also managed Edwards. Without the original compositions that were the bulk of the previous release, Edwards has an opportunity to put his stamp on outside material, which he does so well. There’s an excellent cover of Jimmie Rodgers‘ “Travelin’ Blues,” along with a lively, almost gospel rendition of the traditional “When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder.” The album starts off with longtime collaborator Eric Lilljequist‘s “Have Yourself a Good Time for Me,” which would appear in a different form on Lilljequist‘s More Orphan Than Not album a year later. On that album, Edwards was pretty much a bandmember, his photo on the cover with the other musicians. Here, “Have a Good Time” is lighter and more introspective, a forlorn statement to a significant other who can’t stay true, a perfect sentiment for country radio. “My Home Ain’t in the Hall of Fame” sounds like Bostonian John Lincoln Wright, and one wonders had the two teamed up, how they might have decimated the country charts with hits. David Bromberg shows up on electric guitar, and the tune reappeared on Edwards’ next album, the live Lucky Day, which actually has Orphan backing him up nine months after the recording of this LP. But it is in this context on Have a Good Time for Me where Edwards excels as an interpreter: “Something borrowed from the friends of gold” the singer writes in his poem inside the gatefold of an album. If you’ve had it in your collection for years, you may find strange white blotches appearing on the front and back cover; the singer explained that he demanded and got it released on recycled materials. Along with the poem, it is his calligraphy lettering inside and out, making for a very personal collection of material that didn’t come from his pen, but does! Interesting indeed how he takes Malcolm McKinney‘s “Thirty Miles to Go” and makes it his own. McKinney contributes two titles here; Joe Dolce is represented with three; and Eric Lilljequist has four, including the title song. Dolce‘s “King of Hearts” has more of the pop flavor Edwards’ fans from radio expect, the album working because the musicianship from Al Anderson, Bromberg, Stuart Schulman, Bill Keith, Lilljequist, Bill Elliot, and others blends in perfectly behind the singer. With the success of the Eagles at this point in time, one wonders why this album didn’t do much much more. Perhaps it was too pure in its approach. It remains a very listenable and courageous work by an artist not content to clone past success but willing to follow his instincts.


Review by Joe Viglione
Lucky Day is an important 15-song live document of Jonathan Edwards’ music, recorded at what was a wonderfully intimate little venue in Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA, the late, lamented Performance Center. This perfect live show is enhanced by the presence of Orphan members Eric Lilljequist, Dean Adrien, Dave Conrad, and Bobby Chouinard, along with friends like NRBQ‘s Al Anderson, pianist Bill Elliot, violinist/pianist Stuart Schulman, Lynnie Dall, and Bill Elliot. Though some of the material would naturally show up on other live discs by Edwards — “Shanty” appearing on 1980’s Live and “Lucky Day” on 2000’s Cruising America’s Waterways — these takes have staying power, making this one of Edwards’ most satisfying releases. The title track, “Lucky Day,” works so much better with Orphan backing him, and the violins on M. McKinney’s “Sometimes” flow beautifully next to Edwards’ soulful voice. “Hit Parade of Love” is a hootenanny, while “Stop and Start It All Again” is one of the singer’s best country-pop numbers. There is country-rock all over this folksinger’s repertoire, and “That’s What Our Life Is” deserved to be a country & western hit. The covers of “My Home Ain’t in the Hall of Fame” and Merle Haggard‘s “Today I Started Loving You Again” give a glimpse of the range of Edwards’ artistry. It’s interesting to note that Orphan labelmates the Poppy Family covered this same Merle Haggard tune on Poppy Seeds, along with an Al Anderson number a couple of years before this release. At the time that Terry Jacks of the Poppy Family was riding the airwaves with “Seasons in the Sun,” Orphan and Jonathan Edwards recorded this album (on March 22 and 23 of 1974). The medley of “You Are My Sunshine” into Edwards’ own smash “Sunshine” — including the lyrics he brought on-stage during this era (“Nixon’s got cards he ain’t showing”) — turned out to be a good bit of prophecy. Half the album contains covers and half is comprised of Jonathan Edwards originals, like the country-folk “Give Us a Song,” which begins the disc, and the short and lively “Everybody Knows Her,” which ends side one. The cover of the Chi Lites‘ 1971 hit “Have You Seen Her” is complete parody, and that’s the one downside — a soulful reading of the tune by Jonathan Edwards might have had chart potential. “Don’t Cry Blue,” the other M. McKinney title, brings the energy level up, while C. Dall‘s “Nova Scotia” shows Edwards in that sincere light his fans adore. Reopening these tapes recorded by legendary engineer Jay Messina (who worked with Aerosmith, among others ) to expand this album and create a double CD of the performances would be a treasure. Not only is this a great moment in time for Jonathan Edwards, it displays the many talents of the hugely underrated Orphan and captures an important period in Boston music history at a fun venue which no longer exists.


Review by Joe Viglione
Man in the Moon is one of the most satisfying and beautiful discs by singer/songwriter Jonathan Edwards in a history filled with such work. The title track is simply amazing in its subtlety, but every track on this disc has a presence and deep emotion. The opening track, “Stay Down,” is like an up-tempo take on Simon & Garfunkel‘s “The Boxer,” and it drives with Gary Burke from the Joe Jackson Group on drums and Duke Levine on guitar. The song was used for the credit roll of the film The Mouse, for which Edwards did the soundtrack. The singer/songwriter has anecdotes about each tune printed beneath the lyrics in the generous ten-page booklet that comes with the CD and, historically, those liner notes are almost as important as the music. “Slave for Love” is a tune Willie Dixon co-wrote and wanted Edwards to cover — they performed on a show together in Boston during the late ’60s, and three decades later the song finds its release here. It is tremendous, but so is Edwards’ own “Whatever Gets You Through the Night” and keyboardist Kenny White‘s “To Me,” which sounds like an Edwards original. Burke‘s drums are as lovely as ever, Hugh McDonald‘s bass is right on, and — with Levine, Michael Aharon, and Al Pettiway — the band combines to forge a really impressive sound, a natural progression from what Edwards was doing with Orphan years earlier. Monica Cohen‘s cover art matches the music inside, and though label Rising Records seems to have gone the way of all flesh, the material can still be found at www.jonathanedwards.net. Cheryl Wheeler‘s “Howl at the Moon” is covered here, and Edwards’ own “Break Out of the Blue” is just stunning. Some great artists put out albums with highs and lows; songwriter David PomeranzIt’s in Everyone of Us comes to mind as a work of genius with inevitable filler. Edwards’ Man in the Moon contains no flaws, and must be viewed as a favorite among his many discs even if not considered his best album by the general record-buying public. Man in the Moon is a major effort that deserves massive exposure.


Review by Joe Viglione
This is an interesting recording from veteran artist Jonathan Edwards. With 11 new performances, including “live” versions of “Seven Daffodils” and “Let’s Talk Dirty in Hawaiian,” the album has some quaint and clever moments. “Sailboat,” with solid Jonathan Edwards acoustic guitar, probably should have been the opening track. That honor went to “Lucky Day,” a song with great sentiment, but lacking the expressive lyrics we’ve come to expect from the former member of Boston’s Orphan. A very cool three-way segue happens with the acoustic guitar sound of “Sailboat” into Paul Cooper‘s “This Island Earth” — on which Edwards sings a capella — into the exquisite piano piece “Lady.” The transition from song to song is very well done and shows different dimensions of this artist. A remake of his biggest hit, “Sunshine (Go Away Today),” is in the spirit of things, as are the funny lyrics to Cheryl Wheeler‘s “Is It Peace or Is It Prozac?” Edwards produced this disc with Media Artists Inc. and the liner notes give a bit more of a clue as to the artist’s intent: “The “tunes” are windows through which we glimpse human life…Our lives are the ultimate cruise: filled with sunny days and comforting ports; storms that give way to calm seas; and memories that eventually put everything into perspective.” There are no dates of recording, engineer notes, or even where the three previously released tracks are culled from. “Man in the Moon” is the title track from Edwards’ 1997 previous release on the Rising Records label out of Philadelphia (www.risingrecords.com) and is perhaps the strongest cut on the album. All in all, this is a fun and worthwhile outing from a classy and important singer/songwriter.


Review by Joe Viglione
Clean Living opened up for Lou Reed in Lenox, MA, in September of 1973, the first gig of the Rock & Roll Animal Tour, and to have this country-rock act opening for the debut of a band who would fuse punk and heavy metal, well, the plaid cover featuring a sunrise over a farm gives you an idea how out of place the music was that night. The six bandmembers are so non-descript on the back of the album you could replace it with the back cover photo of 1978’s Stillwater album I Reserve the Right and not know the difference — that long hair, blue jeans, and sneaker wardrobe. But Vanguard thought enough of the group to issue this disc in both stereo and quadraphonic — and musically they deserve it. Few country rockers could pull off the a cappella majesty of Alan B. Rotman‘s “Jesus Is My Subway Line”; it’s a perfect one minute and fifty five seconds, and those vocals swell up behind the medley of Dan Velika‘s “Waterfall” mixed in with David Carron‘s “Killers,” which follows the spiritual piece and ends the album. Paul Lambert‘s steel guitar provides a creative counterpart to those incredible voices and it is a far cry from the party atmosphere of “In Heaven There Is No Beer.” Produced by Maynard Solomon, the album simply known as Clean Living is overflowing with musical ideas and brimming with talent, missing the mark because there is no one song which could publicize them to the mass market. They cover Bob Dylan‘s “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry” with bassist Frank Shaw handling the lead vocals, and it comes off like the Grateful Dead by way of Canned Heat, which is cool; there’s no denying the ensemble had oodles of talent. Rhythm guitarist Robert “Tex” LaMountain does a respectable job on Chuck Berry‘s “Sweet Little Sixteen.” He sounds like Meatloaf. Put that in the mix with the instrumental “Congress Alley” and main singer/guitar player Norman Schell doing yet another spiritual number, “Jesus Is My Thing,” and you have the band covering all the bases, from gospel to rock to country to blues. Schell and Frank Shaw do a nice duet on “Price I Pay,” and despite their being all over the map, the album works better than this band opening for Lou the Rock & Roll Animal. In retrospect, had they combined their Crosby, Stills & Nash leanings with their ability to skillfully do what the Eagles found success with, they might’ve been huge. Without that focus, this remains an impressive work by consummate musicians which got filed in the vaults somewhere.


Review by Joe Viglione
The happy-go-lucky almost Mardi Gras feel of “We’ll Make Love,” the second track on this 1972 solo disc from the man behind the North East’s legendary Wildweeds and their phenomenal Boston-area hit “No Good to Cry” (unfortunately, not on this disc, but an acoustic version might be a perfect addition to a future re-release), carries that distinctive almost gravel voice of Al Andersen. Though he would later join N.R.B.Q., this earthy folk/blues/country platter was recorded between June and September of 1972 and is a wonderful snapshot of an underrated artist at that point in time. “Ain’t No Woman Finer” has Jeff Potter‘s wailing harp that plays off of Andersen’s vocal sustain and snappy guitar work. The colorful and uniquely distorted cover photo of Andersen is almost psychedelic country, but there’s none of that here. His vocal on “You’re Just Laughing Inside” is reminiscent of early Elton John, say the “Amoreena” or “Burn Down the Mission” period. Hank Williams‘ “Honky Tonkin'” is the shortest track, but one of the liveliest. “Don’t Hold the Line” explodes toward the end, and it is one of the few tunes on here that gets really raucous. “I Just Want to Have You Back Again” is a simple two-and-a-half-minute tune — if Jim Croce were more laid-back, he’d probably have sounded like this, melodically it reminds one almost of early Paul McCartney solo — maybe the first McCartney meets Ringo on his Sentimental Journey. The closing title, “I Haven’t Got the Strength to Carry On” with Tom Staley‘s drums and Al Lepak‘s bass, form a nice framework for Andersen’s blues-driven guitar. Also released in “Quadrophonic” in the early ’70s, it remains a sincere work by a veteran American artist.

We have an extraordinary Jonathan Richman interview in Varulven Magazine that we are going to publish here. Stay tuned.

1)Astral Plane
2)Dignified and Old
3)Egyptian Reggae
5)Ice Cream Man
6)She Cracked


Jonathan Richman  
by Joe Viglione
Quasi-mystical Jonathan is what we get on “Astral Plane”, a brilliant compostion of love in the world in-between – “If you won’t sleep with me, I’ll still be with you, I’m gonna meet you on the astral plane”. And how many actually do visit the people who get almost close to us during everyday life, achieving relationship goals in that realm between the “real world” and sleep? Smart underground poetry from Jonathan Richman at his most poignant, lyrics that glide away from the mainstream but are not too obscure for the intuitive underground rock fan. The Modern Lovers kick in after the song begins with Jo Jo’s lonely announcement “Tonight I’m all alone in my room/I’ll go insane” and in less than three minutes he projects his persona into your speakers to declare that his everpresent punk/blues can evaporate with a journey plucked out of Sri Paul Twitchell’s Eckankar teachings. Richman isn’t doing his spiritual excercises, though, he’s traveling through the Twilight Zone with the Modern Lovers bashing out their own statement in a world separate from his imaginary lover. The song remains surprisingly consistent in attitude on the latter Kim Fowley demos (not the earlier ones Fowley did with engineer Dinky Dawson ) as on the more popular Warners tapes which have the aura of John Cale’s finesse. The band resembles The Velvet Underground more than Jonathan sounding like Lou Reed. He comes off like a Bostonian fronting that venerable group, Jerry Harrison copping the riffs of his producer, David Robinson doing his best Moe Tucker while Richman indulges in his wonderfully brash dementia. The record is so fantastic you actually want to break it over the singer’s head for abandoning this jangly guitar confronting keyboard sound, a style that is fresh and exciting years after it was tracked and never duplicated, even by its creator. “Astral Plane” is one of the greatest moments of pop merging with punk, Richman’s eccentricities leading many fans to the conclusion that the singer didn’t even get his wish in the dreamworld, and that, indeed, it was what drove him allegedly insane.

Dignified and Old

Song Review by Joe VIglione
Released on the expanded CD of The Modern Lovers classic self-titled debut along with another rarity, “I’m Straight”, this is the same theme Paul McCartney brought the world on Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band singing “When I’m Sixty Four”, though Sir Paul had the commitment in hand while Sir Jonathan is wishin’ and hopin’ and thinkin’ and prayin’. “My telephone doesn’t ring/will she never call me/blinding miserable sadness” It is the Richman that the original fans know and love, taking charge with The Modern Lovers accentuating his story telling and exposed emotions. A live version appears on Rounder Records compilation of early seventies tracks, Precise Modern Lovers Order, which has more of a disonant jangle – a hollow guitar sound behind JR’s original poetry. Its consistent with his obsessive early mission for companionship, told always with a beckoning wide-eyed hope for a relationship to blossom and grow. The relationship here, however, seems to be like The Turtles unrequited quest in “Happy Together”, a notion that’s foggy and fading fast. The Microwave Orphans cover the tune on the If I Were A Richman tribute cd with a harder edge, a much harder punkier edge, and give further proof that even the material Jonathan may have initially cast aside, tunes not included in the first go round of repertoire that made up the debut disc, was very insightful, clever, and the reason he developed such a strong following of admirers in the first place. It’s just another reason the original Modern Lovers should reunite for a tour to bring these gems back to life.


Composed By
Jonathan Richman  
Song Review by Joe Viglione
Taking a cue from the first Boston band in history to get a Top 40 hit, 50’s/60’s legends The G. Clefs with their reggae flavored Egyptian dance tune “Zoom Gali Gali”, Jonathan Richman delivers superb quasi-flamenco guitar on this gypsy rant mixed with hoofbeats from the old west. “Egyptian Reggae” owes more to other influences than the music from the islands being performed under the pyramids that its title evokes, but its simple shuffle and Spanish flavors smartly speak to Richman’s followers on a level higher than his musical practical jokes.”Egyptian Reggae” is a triumph, a left field underground hit which needs no lyrics or vocals to get the message across. It is one of the best post-rock and roll Modern Lovers concoctions by this eccentric genius. Created with what Richman might consider the fourth or fifth version of The Modern Lovers(though on record it might be the second on the verge of being the third, it gets confusing ) this instrumental softly rocks interrupted by a wonderful gong sound. On live albums as well as the Andy Paley produced 1996 Surrender To Jonathan disc ( Paley was on drums in the third, mid-70’s version of The Modern Lovers which performed live at the Unicorn Coffeehouse in Boston ) its first appearance on record was with Jonathan Richman and future Robin Lane & The Chartbusters Leroy Radcliffe playing guitar, D. Sharpe on drums and percussion withGreg ‘Curly’ Keranen on bass. Backed with “Roller Coaster By The Sea” on one 45 RPM and “Ice Cream Man” on another, the song is also credited to an Earl Johnson as co-author on some of the releases. The two minute and thirty-four second excursion has also been put on singles with “Morning Of Our Lives” and “Roadrunner” as different flips. What is “Egyptian Reggae” anyway? Do Egyptians play the music found in the Caribbean? Only Jonathan knows for sure. The Ready, Steady, Go website notes that this was ” a major European hit” and, thankfully for the fans, it was a departure from unique inventions like “Dodge Veg-O-Matic” which, being committed to record, put Jonathan at risk of being committed. To an institution.”Egyptian Reggae” has some marvelous riffing and musical eloquence missing in the folk/rock of the post-amplifiers Modern Lovers. It is a new permutation of folk/rock, “Astral Plane” all grown up. Sure, Jonathan Richman still has his tongue firmly in cheek, a serious Alfred E. Newman on The Gong Show proving to the world that he can dig deep into his soul and come up with something clever and listenable. Then “I’m A Little Airplane” comes on and true fans start smashing things.
Hospital The Modern Lovers
Composed By Jonathan Richman
Jonathan Richman
Song Review by Joe Viglione
With Jerry Harrison’s dirge-like keyboards this is the underground “Whiter Shade Of Pale”, a solemn slowed down sentiment originated by Lou Reed in “Pale Blue Eyes” off of The Velvet Underground’s first post- John Cale. This track appears on the Cale produced eponymous Modern Lovers album, though he’s not credited as the director of this particular performance. It was tracked at Intermedia Sound on Newbury Street in Boston where Moulty & The Barbarians recorded 70’s tunes, where Aerosmith’s “Dream On” was recorded, and where another Jonathan, Jonathan Edwards, created his Top 5 1971 hit, “Sunshine”. That the eventual drummer for The Cars, David Robinson, is on this lament, and that his future band would go on to buy this fancy studio years later is a touch of irony. It’s also an indicator that had The Modern Lovers kept going in this direction, they could’ve been the landlords of the place where this mood piece came into the world.Jonathan talks about his own eyes as well as the woman he adores here, and the power that resides the eyes of that girl who lives in modern apartments. He’s a real stalker in this one, walking down her street with tears in his eyes. The dark romance is not something relegated to just his songs, urban legend has it Jonathan slept all night on the lawn in the rain outside the window of his future wife while she was married to (and sleeping with) someone else. Not to make this review read like The National Enquirer, it is important to note that this creative artist walked the line between the astral world and reality, truly involved in the romances he was writing and singing about.”Hospital” is a simply great melody from Jonathan Richman, melodies being one of the man’s true strengths. It is the organ that dominates this dramatic soap opera of a young guy going “to bakeries, all day long now, there’s a lack of sweetness in my life” – descending into some twisted self-tortured mental abuse “I can’t stand you”, pathos in dichotomy, emotions splitting like atoms over the ominous and slow mood set up by The Modern Lovers. Talking Heads keyboard player Jerry Harrison donated this tape to the album from his archives, and its position on the compilation release that became that landmark disc is essential. The tone sets it apart from the wild fury of many of the other songs it is included with, Robinson’s powerful drums picking up the tempo in a way that possibly influenced The Talking Heads, and many others. The song is simple, obtaining its power in the attitude and emotions. You can’t help but find this dark essay intriguing, but worry that because it is so well suited to a Psycho film that if a judge and jury got to hear it performed in a courtroom, the singer certainly would have found himself held for observation. This isn’t domestic violence, nor is it verbal abuse, it is the strange thoughts of a man who “can’t stand what you do, but I’m in love with your eyes.” As James Taylor wrote in “Fire And Rain” about his friend at McLeans hospital dying just a couple of years before this episode, one has to wonder what put the subject matter into the “Hospital” in the first place? He knows where she lives. He’s scared once or twice, and he’s on her street late at night. You do the math. It’s where she got her eyes, and he can’t stand what she does because it makes him think about himself. Ok. Totally brilliant, malevolent and you just picture poor Jerry Harrison needing therapy going from this gig to “Psycho Killer” in quick succession. Those who think Lou Reed’s “Sister Ray” was the most twisted thing you’ve ever heard give this another spin.


Song Review by Joe Viglione
Sounding like a song by Fred Rogers of TV’s Mr. Rogers fame, “Ice Cream Man” is Jonathan Richman telling the record industry where to go, his version of Metal Machine Music. The only problem is, where Richman’s hero, Lou Reed, moved on from that moment in his career, Jonathan extended this trip to Neverland for decades. The melodic genius appropriately found one photo of himself upside down and that same picture rightside up in The Boston Phoenix weekly magazine, and for some, speculating on his motives became part of the fun. But for those blown away by the rugged innocence of songs like “Roadrunner” and “Astral Plane”, the departure from Velvet Underground influenced fury mixed with beat poetry to nursery rhymes like “My Little Kookenhaken” and this ditty frustrated fans no end. A personality with an ongoing need to do his music on his terms, that he has been able to survive the changes in the music industry (again, as does his mentor, Lou Reed ) is a testament not to this song of devotion to the dude who brings dessert to the neighborhood but to Jonathan Richman’s absolute brilliance in being able to pull the wool over the eyes of the world. Listen to H.A.R.M. do their cover of this title on the If I Were A Richman tribute cd and see the power of an artist who can influence others to engage in total silliness. It’s a power trip of immense proportions, done with amazing success, but the artist failing to see that timing is everything and – at a certain point – the Ice Cream Man has to pack up and go home at the end of the evening. Sitting in a living room with Richman in the mid-seventies jamming on guitars it was clear being up close and personal how very bright, talented, and creative an individual he is. The simple guitar strums of “Ice Cream Man” and the forcing of great musicians to provide background vocals of “ding ding” is, well, humiliating and a waste of the great gifts God bestowed on all involved. “Do you like the ice cream man?” Richman asks on a live version to thunderous applause before going back into the chorus. The raw passion of the perverted “ding dong” in The Velvet Underground’s “Sister Ray” is warped here to sound like some purified born-again Christian homogenized fluff. One cannot dissect this composition as The Jefferson Starship’s “Miracles” and Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven” demand study and appreciation. Jonathan Richman is clearly capable of composing a song as breathtaking and important as “Miracles” but has opted instead to beating his audience over the head with the same campfire-style approach found on “Ice Cream Man” and replicated in “Back In Your Life”. “Ice Cream Man” is the creation of a Pablo Picasso on a mission to spray paint graffiti all over the important gems that brought him an audience in the first place. Important work that will stand the test of time is tested like nature’s mosquito landing ker plunk in the ice cream cone delivered by the ice cream man. “Fly Into The Mystery” was a work of brilliance, detoured by a fly in the ointment.”Ice Cream Man” is the single greatest argument for Jonathan to phone up Jerry Harrison, Ernie Brooks, David Robinson and Jon Felice and re-create the sound that made his work legend. For his penance for punishing his faithful and devoted fans, present company included, extended twenty minute versions of each song from the first Modern Lovers album at full volume are in order.

She Cracked Jonathan Richman

Song Review by Joe Viglione
One of the six John Cale produced “demos” from the combination of tapes which are the first Modern Lovers album, “She Cracked” is the stuff Velvet Underground fans’ dreams are made of. It is Jonathan Richman mutating the as-yet unreleased Velvets tune, “Foggy Notion”, merging it with a bit of Lou Reed’s “Sister Ray” vocal style (these vocals louder and easier to understand than Lou’s) while bringing the tempo up and adding lyrics that make sense probably only to the singer. He sings these words which tumble forth with such authority that one gets the idea it empowered him to venture forth into the world of Ice Cream Men and nursery rhymes, an obsession which frustrated the faithful to no end.Richman calls himself “almost as good as Dick Tracy” in chronichling a timeline for this music in his liner notes to Bomp’s The Original Modern Lovers, though it is the appreciative who take a song like this and evaluate it’s expressive originality more than the time and place from which it emerged. Piecing together the sounds generated by the early Modern Lovers is more fun than listening to latter day groups who need computers to expand their already limited scope. If Jonathan’s attitude imploded the group, it is that same attitude which makes these performances of “She Cracked” fun and endearing decades after their creation. The Kim Fowley Los Angeles tapes featuring this song (from the Fall of 1973) are a doorway to view that Velvet Underground influenced feel . Jonathan wanted the level of the “radio interference and dial-switching”, as he called it, down in the mix. It works pretty cool on that particular tape while the Cale take on it has more of what FM radio could embrace in its rock and roll infancy. Years later the two productions of this interesting observation of what she did and what he won’t do both stand the test of time. The Fowley supervised garage tapes an interesting blend of the Yule softer Velvet Underground group with the hard edged organ from the days when that band featured John Cale. “It’s all horizontal” Richman calls out, and whether he likes it or not if The Velvet Underground was the rock messiah, this material was certainly the acts of the Apostle. As such, “She Cracked” is highly listenable and valuable to those who like trying to figure Jonathan out in a more traditional basement band setting.

RANDY ROOS Mistral 1978 Spoonfed Records

Review by Joe Viglione
Orchestra Luna‘s guitarist Randy Roos released his first solo album on Boston legend Bruce Patch‘s Spoonfed records, a label which would issue discs by Third Rail produced by Ric Ocasek, Reddy Teddy, the Remains, J.T.S. Flying, and others. “Stew” is a song that has some great wailing guitar behind percussion and rhythms, the early playing of this virtuoso falling somewhere between Pat Metheny and Steve Vai. The plethora of instruments utilized by the guitarist expose the talents he brought to Rick Berlin‘s quirky early work on Epic, the bold and highly experimental Orchestra Luna disc. All those avant-garde notions are stripped away for a smooth and precise coloring of original tunes and collaborations which range from three and a half minutes to nearly eight minutes in length. The instrumentalist notes the different tools he uses to get the sounds on each song, “Platypus” containing more jazz improvisation, while “Inward Stroke” is just a lovely, subdued combination of mellow guitar sounds. “The Hunt” is a bit more driving, allowing Randy Roos the liberty to stretch. “Horizon Game” opens side two and has more exquisite playing, inspired ideas which are the furthest thing from redundant, sounds expanding on “Innisfree” and concluding with the seven-minute-plus “Marcel Marceau (Three Little Things),” the epic track on the Mistral album as “Doris Dreams” was to the Orchestra Luna disc. Released on translucent vinyl (as was a 45 on MCA by local pianist Willie Alexander, it was a bit of the rage at the time), Michael Gibbs‘ liner notes could be more enlightening, though they add some insight — that he first encountered Roos when Orchestra Luna opened for Weather Report at Symphony Hall, and that this is Randy Roos’ first solo album. There would be many more, and it is definitely a gem.



Review by Joe Viglione
The Orchestra Luna album began the musical legacy of Rick Berlin, the composer/singer who goes by his birth name, Richard Kinscherf, on this Epic Records debut in 1974. The seven-piece ensemble was truly groundbreaking in a world that doesn’t take kindly to innovation. Where the Who were content to write rock operas, Kinscherf and his band put opera to rock. This adventurous mix of songs, written as if they were Broadway show tunes backed by a rock band with jazz and classical influences, might sound like a bit much, and 11 minutes and 53 seconds of “Doris Dreams” never had a chance of Top 40 success, or an edit that could get it there, but that idiosyncrasy is part of what makes this album so daring, and special. Co-produced by Rupert Holmes, the man who gave us “Escape (The Pina Colada Song,” a monster smash in 1979, and the cannibal anthem “Timothy” in 1971, the choice might not seem appropriate on the surface. But Holmes‘ unheralded work for Barbara Streisand and the Broadway musical Drood actually makes him a perfect choice to oversee this project. “Miss Pamela” has wonderful Randy Roos guitars blending with Rick Kinscherf‘s pretty keyboards, keyboards that could have inspired Billy Joel, sounding very much like his 1978 hit “Just The Way You Are.” It’s when Kinscherf‘s expressive vocal kicks in that all comparisons to traditional pop go out the window. The cover of the Adler/Ross classic (you gotta have) “Heart” is a standout here, as it was in their live show. Seven of the nine tracks are penned by Rick Kinscherf, and themes that resound in “Fay Wray” (the heroine from the epic King Kong) travel throughout the artist’s career. This album may be tough for some to take, but the Tom Werman liner notes put things in a nice perspective. They opened for Roxy Music in Boston when this album was released, and were even more avant-garde than the legendary headliner. The band dropped the “Orchestra” from their name and became the original Luna, releasing a 45, “Hollywood,” while the rest of their album was held up in litigation. They re-emerged as Berlin Airlift, then Rick Berlin: The Movie. In 2001, the former Rick Kinscherf, known as Rick Berlin, fronted the Shelley Winters Project. That sound has little in common with the early pictures painted by the exquisite “Love Is Not Enough” or musically bizarre “Boy Scouts” off this album (“Back in the boy scout camp/the moon was very full”). These themes, like the references and inspiration from films, continued to flavor Berlin‘s music through the years, although the Peter Barrett narrations would fall away. Moody and impressive in its gamble, this is also noteworthy in that guitarist extraordinaire Randy Roos can be heard in his formative years.



Medford resident Mickey Spiros is one of the original 1960s rockers, a musician from a magical time that is the foundation for the currently vibrant Boston music scene. In 1965 or 66 he joined the band
“Freeborne” in Brookline, Massachusetts back in along with drummer Lou Lipson,
guitarist Bob Margolin, lead singer Nick Carstau and bassist David Codd. They got signed to Monitor Records out of New York city releasing the psychedelic classic “Peak Impressions” which is selling for ridiculous prices on eBay in February of 2005 – from $129.00 to $300.00 almost
thirty years later.

Freeborne would play at The Psychedelic Supermarket, which was a big underground “supermarket” in Boston, and as legendary as The Boston Teaparty. Spiros stayed with Freeborne for two or three years, then went to finish his last year of high school in Los Angeles at Hollywood High School. He joined a band in California called “Freeway”, what he considers one of the best groups he ever played with, but was homesick for Boston. Returning to this area Spiros ended up at the Boston Tea Party
and saw keyboardist/singer Lee Michaels and his drummer “Frosty” as the opening act for Rod Stewart & The Small Faces in the 1960s.

Mickey Spiros was sold on the idea of generating a big band sound with only two players, thus The Incredible Two Man Band, a.k.a. I.T.M.B., was born. Spiros would be the keyboardist/lead singer also playing trumpet, bass pedals, acoustic guitar, and additional drums.

The only drummer available at the time was Lou Lipson from Freeborne – but Lipson didn’t think a two man group would fly. So Spiros walked into Berkelee School of Music and found Bobby Lichtenfels. The owner of a hot nighspot known as “The Mohawk Club” gave them a house to practice in. “We did the right songs”, Mickey said, “not too many originals because we didn’t want to get shut down. We did Bee Gees, Lee Michaels’ “Do You Know What I Mean”, Moody Blues, Emerson Lake & Palmer and some
funky dance music as well. We ended up playing The Frolics, we were one of the biggest draws at the Frolics Ballroom at Salisbury, Beach. Over 1,000 people (would show up), the place was always packed.”

The duo also performed at The Brothers Four in Nashua New Hampshire, Katy’s in Boston, Lucifer’s in Boston, The Boston Club (now The Paradise), the Commodore Ballroom and major bands like Detroit’s Frijid Pink (who hit with “House Of The Rising Sun”) found themselves opening for

According to the website the band toured New England as well as parts of upstate New York, California, Florida, and up and down the East Coast. They released 2 albums, titled “On My Way”, and “ITMB 2″, as well as releasing an 8-track tape.”

Pure & Easy Records label president John Visnaskas did some of the first graphics for the band back in the day. He says of the duo “It was a grand sight to see,at the time they were one of the best live acts
I’d ever seen.” – Visnaskas witnessed over one hundred of the band’s performances, seeing them up at the beach, Mr. C’s Rock Palace, The Turnpike Lounge on Route 3a, and it was “totally packed all the time.”

While artists like Paul McCartney, Todd Rundgren and Emmit Rhodes were recording albums where they played all the instruments themselves, I.T.M.B. was actually going out and doing that routine live with no
multi-tracking. “They were really really good in the day” stated Visnaskas. “What they did onstage was hard to translate to vinyl.”

To translate the sound to record Mickey started writing originals. The biggest name studio outside of Boston proper was Aengus Recording Studio, where the original Cars recorded their obscure collector’s item “Milkwood” album. “We played The Red Barn out in Framingham and the studio was out there. Studio co-owner Bill Riseman came out to see us play and said he had a studio. Our manager, Harry Deshowitz, made a deal with him and maybe through Bill Riseman we met Adrian Barner.

Adrian Barber, engineer for The Velvet Underground and Eric Clapton’s Cream, was producing the band Aerosmith’s first album at Intermedia in Boston, a studio later purchased by The Cars and turned into
Syncro Sound. Adrian Barber and his partner, Buddy Vergo, recorded the “ON MY WAY” disc on ITMB’s label. The title track was also released as a 45. “We hired real string players and musicians, a mini
orchestra, maybe 8 pieces” Spiro noted about the classy touch to his debut album.

The disc featured drummer Bob Licthtenfels. As Ronnie Stewart took over for Lichtenfels he is featured on the cover of the ITMB album. The band then went through a succession of drummers. Some of the
percussionists that made up the other half of I.T.M.B. were Joe Pafumi, Medford’s own Joe Petruzzeli, Jonathan Mover, and booking agent Norman Bloom. Petruzelli and Ronnie Stewart would join The Joe Perry Project (at different times, of course), that Aerosmith connection always in the

Around 1986 or 1987 or a little later Spiros joined show groups like The Joey Scott Band. In the mid 1980s Mickey started recording another album in his own studio – a 45 called “Ya Ya” came out around 1995 or
1996 with Norman Bloom on drums.

Thinking about the performances way back when Spiros said “The expenses of moving the stuff was incredible, you needed a truck and a good sized road crew.

Mickey moved to Medford in 2005 where he resides now, finishing up the newest I.T.M.B. disc and getting ready to play out again.

The webpage is http://www.itmb.org/

Joe Viglione is a rock critic for AllMusic.com and producer/host of Visual Radio, a ten year old
television program which interviews recording artists, authors and other personalities.
He too is a 70’s rocker who has released a compilation “Lifeswork: 2005 and Counting” available on Emusic.com


Review by Joe Viglione
Originally released on the Blue Max label in 2003, with this 95 North Records version appearing in 2005, the gifted David Maxwell’s piano opens this fun and important disc up with the mostly instrumental “Sticky Buns,” which drives like a cross between the J. Geils Band debut and Traffic during their John Barleycorn Must Die phase. That jazz vs. blues battle continues later on the CD with the majestic and grooving “Moving Out of His World,” which absorbs moods from different genres and delivers true modern electric blues. Picture Jim Morrison sitting at the piano in his sixties (though Maxwell is a good decade younger than Jimbo would have been at the time of this release), assuring the woman that the change in partners is nothing to fret over. “Hip-House Rock” changes things dramatically, an entertaining instrumental with plenty of lively space in between. Producer Tino Gonzales does a superb job keeping things crisp and not getting in the way of Maxwell’s arrangements on this material recorded between July and November of 2005. The piano on “Thanks for All the Women” is bright yet still dark in tone, a nice balance as the guitar answers are separated in the stereo mix. With James Cotton, Ronnie Earl, Duke Robillard, Pinetop Perkins, Liane Carroll, and the redoubtable Hubert Sumlin as just some of the marquee guests, Max Attack is an engaging follow-up to 1997’s Maximum Blues Piano. While “Handyman” is pure blues (not the Del Shannon/James Taylor hit “Handy Man” written by Otis Blackwell and Jimmy “Handyman” Jones — this disc is all Maxwell originals), the title track, “Max Attack,” opens jazzy with chirping horns before morphing back into a bluesy showcase — perhaps a nice intro to Buzzy Linhart concerts, as Maxwell is also that legend’s music director. Liner notes by Ted Drozdowski of the Devil Gods and the latter-day Scissormen make for a very nice package on this hour’s worth of music by a superb musician deserving more appreciation.

JOHN SINCLAIR with Boston’s Ted Drozdowski

Review by Joe Viglione
From New Orleans, John Sinclair wrote extensive liner notes to this collection of live performances recorded on mini disc by drummer Eric Austin. The sound quality is pretty good, with Sinclair’s voice booming out over relentless backing. This is not the MC5. “Monk in Orbit” opens the disc, and the poet writes that this is a shorter version of the epic originally released on his 1997 disc with Wayne Kramer entitled Full Circle. Half of the fun of this CD is reading the liners by Sinclair where he tells of how he came to Boston, and the tour which resulted in this project. He also goes over each of these selections giving his insight. After all, the Minister of Information of the White Panther Party can ramble on! Where most artists create and expect the listener to figure it out, Sinclair figures it out for you, which is a different kind of art. “Hellhound on My Trail” is allegedly an “account in verse of the untimely demise of the great Delta blues singer,” and it sounds like borderline revisionist history for blues artist Robert Johnson‘s last days, rife with the F-word and other choice terms. The minister gets so explicit it no longer seems explicit. The band is adequate, called His Boston Blues Scholars, they stay in the background to enable Sinclair to recite his poetry over the bluesy near psychedelic thump of the group. Drozdowski, also a member of the Devil Gods and former music editor of The Boston Phoenix, gets a chance to explode at the end of “Hellhound on My Train,” and he keeps that intensity for what Sinclair calls the “power rock version” of “Louisiana Blues.” It is the only thing vaguely resembling a song here. The artist doesn’t sing, he preaches. He preaches loud. And though this might not be for everyone, if you can get on his wavelength it can hold your attention. Steady Rollin’ Man is a nice document of a political activist with a lot to say…it’s just kind of difficult figuring out what he is saying. But it’s a good record, and definitely unique.


It is Saturday evening, 10:17 PM on July 7, 2007. Having written thousands of reviews for Allmusic.com with hundreds focused on the artists of New England I have wanted to compile these reviews in an online website along with additional commentary. In this age of video on the internet it is also important to remember that my TV show started in 1979 with rock and roll bands from the region appearing on TV Eye. In 1992 I developed a new program when I was about to leave 93.7 WCGY’s Boston Music Showcase and launched Visual Radio in the Spring of 1995.

Twelve years later there are approximately four hundred hours of programming including interviews with Willie “Loco” Alexander, Andy Pratt, Jon Macey, Barry Marshall, Jonathan Richman, Lou Reed (who, while in The Velvet Underground, was the house band at The Boston Tea Party), Channel sound man Dinky Dawson, Sal Baglio of The Stompers, Morgan Huke of WMFO radio, Richard Nolan,
Billy Borgioli of The Real Kids, Little Joe Cook, Bobby Hebb, producer Anthony J. Resta, Leo Black of The Fools, June Millington of Fanny who now resides in Western Massachusetts and many more New England area artists.

Utilizing the AMG reviews I’ve written as a starting point I will fill in the blanks with a variety of articles that have been published over the years as well as new information and unpublished material that we have under lock and key in “the vaults” known as “The Varchives” – the Varulven Archives. We spend over $200.00 a month storing tons of material (literally TONS – thousands and thousands of pounds of vinyl, magazines, tapes and other media), helping to preserve this scene which means so much to many of us. Some of the reviews will be from AMG with new material, some will be truncated with links to the AMG site.

Objectivity is my goal…and with so many recordings to discuss the reader will clearly disagree in some instances… but we do our best…

This blog is going to start with The G Clefs and continue from there. My take on it is not an encyclopedia, it is an understanding of the phenomenon that is Boston Rock & Roll and New England Music from the (here he goes, people, be warned) perspective of one of the people who developed a record label, booked nightclubs from Cantones to The Paradise, produced and hosted radio and TV, managed and booked recording facilities, major record producers, engineers and recording artists… and someone who has chronicled our region in my various writings starting back in 1969 when I first launched Varulven Magazine. Having the worlds record for performances at Boston’s Best Concert Club – The Paradise Theater – over more years than anyone else, 49 starting with June 29, 1978, my experiences are important to get on the web before “bluesheimerz” sets in – Danny Klein of the J. Geils Band’s reference to musician memory loss.

So there you have it. Enough about me for now, let me talk about some of my friends and colleagues…
10:31 PM

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3)The Sixties – The Bosstown Sound – Orpheus, Listening, Willie Loco, Ultimate Spiniach
The Prince & The Paupers, Barry & The Remains

Monday, July 9, 2007

Barry and The Remains, Robin MacNamara

Remember, To click on any chapter in this book go to this address:

First re-release of REMAINS debut album with bonus tracks

Review by Joe Viglione
In 1978 legendary Boston area music executive Bruce Patch re-released the even more legendary 1966 Epic album by the Remains on his Spoonfed Records label, augmenting the ten stereo songs from the original LP with four additional mono tracks. With the grooves cut into delicious red vinyl à la the first pressings of the Bloodshot album by the J. Geils Band, this 1978 limited edition is almost as much of a collectors’ item as the band’s Epic debut. For the fans who played that debut into the ground, the addition of “Heart,” “Don’t Look Back,” “Thank You,” and “Say You’re Sorry” expands the experience, something that would happen again seven years later when New Rose Records’ Fan Club subsidiary added even more cuts per side. Jon Landau writes a paragraph of liner notes on the back calling the group “the most exciting American band of their time.” This reissue was produced by Jeffrey Jennings, mastered by Ted Jensen at Sterling Sound, and released at the time Patch was moving the Spoonfed label operation from Boston to Malibu, CA. “Once Before” sounds as lovely and British Invasion as ever, while Billy Sherrill‘s 1965 Nashville production of “Time of Day” features that great separation of tambourine and fuzz tone. Billy Briggs‘ keys add just enough spice to confirm that all the reverence for the group is justified. An October 3, 1978, article in the Boston Phoenix by James Isaacs documents a meeting with Patch and Barry Tashian during the promotion of this release, at which time the singer commented, “I haven’t heard that in 12 years” (regarding the unreleased tracks). Though all this music has resurfaced on compact disc, this special edition is worth seeking out.

Catalog #3305 Spoonfed Records 1967 LP





Reviewby Joe Viglione11:00 P.M. Saturday is a good title for this recording by the nine musicians who made up Bagatelle, who performed covers as well as originals. It is an anomaly in Boston rock & roll history. Covering tunes from James Brown to The Beatles, the band consisted of three main vocalists, Fred Griffith, Rodney Young, and David “Redtop” Thomas. The fourth singer also played piano and percussion, the influential Willie “Loco” Alexander. Alexander‘s tune, “Everybody Knows,” is included here in a beautiful way. It would be re-recorded by producer Craig Leon for his 1978 debut, Willie Alexander & The Boom Boom Band on MCA Records. The Bagatelle and Larry Fallon arranged this recording, the latter having worked with Keith, The Looking Glass, and producer Jimmy Miller, among others. The vocal harmonies on tunes like “Hey You” mixed with flute remind one of Rare Earth. Coincidentally, they perform Rare Earth‘s first hit, “(I Know) I’m Losing You,” but the version here is influenced by the Temptations 1966 hit. To hear a young Willie Alexander, the man who would usher in the new wave in Boston, singing “Back on the Farm” with horns and Motown style vocals is pretty groundbreaking. An a capella take of the traditional “Every Night” opens side two. Reminiscent of Boston’s the G Clefs with a mix of gospel and soul, it shows the wonderful diversity of this band. Their version of The Impressions “I’ve Been Trying” sounds like a studio take until you hear the applause at the end. The saxophone of Steve Schrell and trumpet of Mark Gould make for a jazzy version of “I Can’t Stand It,” but the lengthy improv disturbs the momentum of the album. Live covers of “I Feel Good” and the medley, including “Please, Please, Please,” “Gloria” (not the Van Morrison tune), “Crying in the Chapel,” “I Only Have Eyes For You,” and “For Your Love,” make this an interesting document, but it is the inclusion of early Willie Alexander which makes it historic.


P.J. Colt

According to Boston area Music expert Count Joe Viglione, this self-titled album from singer P.J. Colt gets into the history books thanks to the participation of Jeff Baxter of The Ultimate Spinach, who later went on to Steely Dan, and many other groups. Some reference guides list this album’s year of release as 1970, others as 1976. There is no copyright on the disc, making 1970 seem like the release date; it certainly looks and sounds like a project from the early ’70s. There are two standout tracks, “Grave Down By The River” and “Growing Old,” although the record is pretty consistent and listenable all the way through. Colt originally released the song “Growing Old” on a single and an album by the Boston band Dirty John’s Hot Dog Stand on Amsterdam Records in 1970. The track has a spacy opening, while PJ Colt’s vocal sounds hauntingly like early Michael McDonald. “Growing Old” follows “Blues Train,” a competent cross between Wilson Pickett’s “Mustang Sally” and the Velvet Underground’s “Train Comin’ Round The Bend.” The musicianship shines throughout; guitarist Baxter emerged a star after his involvement with “The Bosstown Sound” of producer Alan Lorber on the third Ultimate Spinach album, which is a testament to talent winning out. Ray Paret did the production here, listed in the smallest of type. He certainly did not get in the way of the band. Ed Costa’s keyboards and the plethora of backing vocalists are all tastefully combined in the straightforward production and mix. The blues-rock styled set consists of: Once In The Morning; Grave Down By The River; Black Jesus; Crazy Love (Van Morrison song); Leave Me Alone; Blues Train; Growing Old; Someday (Bonnie Bramlett song); I’m Tired Now; and a great version of the Mick Jagger, Keith Richards Rolling Stones hit, Honky Tonk Women.

The Clown Died In Marvin Gardens

The Clown Died in Marvin Gardens is an original statement by a Boston group which was musically superior to Eden’s Children and Ultimate Spinach, but not as focused as the Remains, the Hallucinations with Peter Wolf, or the emerging J. Geils Band. Where national groups like the Peanut Butter Conspiracy may have been misguided and sputtered with no direction, vocalist John Lincoln Wright developed into a first-rate songwriter and country singer with purpose. Hearing his work on highly experimental tunes like the title track or the impressionistic “May I Light Your Cigarette?” is true culture shock. “The Clown’s Overture” seems pointless, yet “Angus of Aberdeen” is inspired and a bright spot in the morass that was “the Bosstown Sound.” The rave-up version of “Blue Suede Shoes” is great, the guitar funneled through effects and brimming with excitement. Therein lies the problem with this album, and this group. The most structured piece is a Carl Perkins cover while “A Not Very August Afternoon” feels like a song wanting to belong to some hippy movie that was never made. Where the Chocolate Watchband rocked with authority, the Beacon Street Union are feeling their way through the times, the business, and their music. Producer Wes Farrell should have nudged them into a more commercial direction and brought more accessible material to their attention. Wright is a major talent and had he the right direction this early in his career, who knows what kind of chart action he could have enjoyed. The tragedy of The Clown Died In Marvin Gardens is that it could have been so much more. ~ Joe Viglione, All Music Guide



The Eyes of the Beacon Street Union


The Eyes of the Beacon Street Union is a highly experimental album released around the time of the Bosstown sound. Much better than first albums from Eden’s Children and Ultimate Spinach, the disc, however, lacks direction — and cohesion. Vocalist John Lincoln Wright has the same look that he sports 23 years later on his 1991 Honky Tonk Verite CD, including his trademark cowboy hat, but the similarities between these two albums stop there. The Eyes of the Beacon Street Union is garage rock and psychedelia, and it is a trip. Where Orpheus opted for the serious pop of “Can’t Find the Time,” producer Wes Farrell includes a recitation by the late Tom Wilson, producer of The Velvet Underground & Nico, acting very avant-garde: “Look into the gray/look past the living streets of Boston/look finally into the eyes of Beacon Street Union.” Well, Wilson did a decent job with the V.U., but he’s no Crazy World of Arthur Brown screaming the immortal line “I am the god of hellfire.” The band immediately dips into “My Love Is.” resplendent in Robert Rhodes’ (aka music attorney Robert Rosenblatt) best ? & the Mysterians keyboard sound, very cool ’60s backing vocals, and guitars that are straight from the Psych Out film soundtrack. In fact, this song would have fit perfectly on that album along with the Seeds and Strawberry Alarm Clock. Had Wes Farrell kept the band on this track, the album might have more collectability. “Beautiful Delilah” is too novel to keep the momentum going, and “Sportin’ Life” is lounge blues. Side two fares a bit better; “Speed Kills” and “Blue Avenue” are classic ’60s psychedelia, a far cry from John Lincoln Wright’s Sour Mash Boys, and amazing that it is the legendary Massachusetts country artist singing. “South End Incident” refers to the South End of Boston, which has become quite trendy, but in the day Jonathan Richman, Moe Tucker of the Velvet Underground, and George Thorogood would play that part of town — on the same bill! The music to the song might be an old blues riff, but the body of the work is “Heartbreaker” by Grand Funk Railroad, and one wonders if Mark Farner had this album and perhaps nicked this vamp a few years later? The Eyes of the Beacon Street Union slightly misses the mark, but must be commended for its original approach to this genre. The album cover looks like some history textbook that mistakenly got pressed by Mad Magazine. A mushroom next to an atomic bomb’s mushroom cloud ought to tell you enough about MGM’s packaging. A hit single and less cluttered album cover is what these musicians deserved, but what they have is, next to the album Listening by the band of the same name and the hit single from Orpheus, the best work from the Bosstown sound. ~ Joe Viglione, All Music Guide

SWALLOW Out of the Nest

Robin MacNamara went to school with one of the Rockin’ Ramrods

Here’s an excellent interview with Len Cirelli who talks about playing accordion and joining his first band “Robin & The Hoods”. He goes on to say about Robin McNamara in the interview:


“I went to high school with Robin MacNamara and Ron Campisi. Our manager Bill Spence owned the three Surf Ballrooms and we played there with the other “Surf” groups, The Techniques, The Pilgrims, and others who I cannot remember right now. Robin and the Hoods was the first band I ever played in that played in public. The lead singer was Robin McNamarra who was a very talented singer and went on to have one hit solo record called “Lay a Little Lovin’ On Me”.He later starred in the play “Hair” all over the states and in Europe.

(the above info from the 60spunk.m78.com site linking McNarma with an essential Boston group)


Robin McNamara
Review by Joe Viglione
Robin McNamara’s album, titled after his big 1970 hit “Lay a Little Lovin’ on Me,” appeared on Jeff Barry’s Steed label and features that singer from the Broadway show Hair along with his cast members. The 45, as well as its non-LP B-side “I’ll Tell You Tomorrow,” were both co-written by the singer and his producer, with songwriter Jim Cretecos helping out on the title track. That radio-friendly bubblegum confection brightened up the summer of 1970, but it is not indicative of the adult contemporary sound on the rest of this very listenable disc. The music on the Lay a Little Lovin’ on Me LP is actually a better reflection of the hip Broadway shows of the day. Neil Goldberg’s “Now Is the Time” would fit just as well on the Godspell album, so different from the number 11 hit from July 1970, which no doubt inspired the likes of Richard Mondo, aka Daddy Dewdrop, and his irreverent 1971 novelty tune “Chick a Boom” — a frosty little bubblegum number like “Lay a Little Lovin’ on Me.” McNamara is a credible songwriter on his own and it is a wonder he didn’t land a couple of other hits, but it’s more a wonder that he faded so quickly from the musical landscape. He did show up on radio station WMEX in Boston, allegedly ripping his shirt off like some Hair promo for DJ John H. Garabedian (famous for discovering the hit “Maggie Mae” for Rod Stewart ) and appears as a musician on a Monkees compilation, but he just didn’t reap the rewards promised by this very sophisticated endeavor. Side one ends with a tune co-written with Ned Albright called “Lost in Boston,” a fun little ditty mentioning Fenway Park that’s a lot like McNamara’s solo composition “Beer Drinkin’ Man.” Albright and Bob Dylan cohort Steven Soles co-write a very the Band-ish “Together, Forever,” and they were responsible for “All Alone in the Dark” from the Monkees 1970 disc Changes. Jeff Barry was a co-producer of that Monkees event and this album’s engineer, Mike Moran, showed up there, as well, giving McNamara’s 11-song collection a certain value for the fans of that TV show. There are some great lost moments here, unexpected on a disc that became popular by putting the cast of a Broadway show on a tune appropriate for the Partridge Family. “Got to Believe in Love” could have changed the perception as it fuses the gospel of “Hang in There Baby” and “Glory, Glory” with the pop that brought this LP to the attention of the masses. This is a solid effort all the way around.


The Stone Coyotes featuring Barbara Keith

The legendary Barbara Keith performed with John Hall in an early Boston area band and went on to write “Free The People” which both Delaney & Bonnie and Barbara
Streisand covered.


Review by Joe Viglione
Ride Away From the World takes Barbara Keith and her family band from the country-rock the Cowboy Junkies have been so successful with to a new wave level on the pounding opening track, “I Don’t Know Why,” and toward the end of the disc with an excellent read of Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid.” Though the original version with Ozzy Osbourne’s cutting voice is in a class by itself, this rendition makes some sense of the Sab signature tune. There are reworkings of some of Keith’s famous tunes: an excellent and different “Free the People” — the minor hit for Delaney & Bonnie also covered by Streisand and Olivia Newton John — as well as the country classic “The Bramble & the Rose.” Sounds change throughout the disc: the gritty axe on “Plain American Girl” turns into folk/electric guitar on the final track, “Face on the Train,” which borrows much from Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower,” covered by Keith on a previous album. An elaborate eight-page booklet contains lots of photographs, the lyrics, multiple websites (like www.stonecoyotes.com), and an intriguing mutated Mother Hubbard- or Alice in Wonderland-type painting on the back. John Tibbles, bassist and son of the singer and her husband drummer, plays lead guitar on four tracks, including “Slip and Shackle,” a song which borders on heavy metal. Black Sabbath could return the favor and easily cover this, and they actually should! The tone on Tibbles’ guitar is a good contrast to what his mom is playing. “Cold Hard Winter” has a nice Rolling Stones “Salt of the Earth”/Beggars Banquet feel, easing up the mood before the hard country-rock of “Pennsylvania Coal Mine.” “Born to Howl” is the title of their previous album; it turns into a song on this outing. The Tibbles family is the underground version of the Cowsills or the Partridge Family, music played with lots of heart and composed for the most part by a proven songwriter. Ride Away From the World is unique and interesting because it covers so much territory and does it so well.


4) Hallucinations, J.Geils, Modern Lovers, Aerosmith
The sixties to early seventies…

Modern Lovers Reviews on AllMusic.com by Joe Viglione

to post soon



5)J Geils Band
tons of J GEILS Biographies and reviews to posted here:

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The J. Geils Band reviews by Joe Viglione

J Geils Band Discography
Biographies from http://jvbiographies.blogspot.com20)Danny Klein
http://allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=Bej0xlf3e5cqp21)John “J” Geils
http://allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=B13se4jn70wav22)Seth Justman
http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=Bi7fjzfaheh2k23)Magic Dick
http://allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=Bty08b5z4tsq424)Stephen Jo Bladd
http://allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=B6yhqoaeabijrALBUMSNIGHTMARES…AND OTHER TALES FROM THE VINYL JUNGLE 1974 http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:kzftxqu5ldde

Review by Joe Viglione
Nightmares…and Other Tales From the Vinyl Jungle spawned the biggest Atlantic hit for the J. Geils Band, the wonderfully obsessive, questioning dilemma titled “Must of Got Lost.” Here the Geils Band are at the peak of their powers in the days prior to Freeze Frame and lustful songs like “Centerfold,” “Must of Got Lost” being the only of their three Atlantic Top 40 hits to land in the Top 15. Seth Justman and Peter Wolf share all the songwriting credits here, save the intriguing camp/funk of the Andre Williams/Leo Hutton composition “Funky Judge.” It’s Peter Wolf‘s pantomime vocal entwined with the band’s serious blues that creates something very special. The final track, “Gettin’ Out,” is five-minutes-plus of this intense, earthy rock, producer Bill Szymczyk capturing in the studio that energy the band generated in concert. Bassist Danny Klein told AMG he loved the Jean Lagarrigue drawing on the album jacket, noting, “Wolf found the hand painting…(it) got in a best rock album cover art book.” This was a natural progression from 1973’s Ladies Invited, the band’s arrangements working perfectly with Szymczyk‘s production, with “Detroit Breakdown” being a tip of the hat to the group’s second home outside of Boston. Magic Dick makes a great statement over Seth Justman‘s foundation piano sound, one that evolves from that instrument to organ, giving J. Geils a chance to throw some haunting guitar work over its conclusion. The song’s six-minute length is topped only by the nearly seven minutes of “Stoop Down #39,” perhaps a dig at the James Gang‘s “Funk #49” from four years prior. “Givin’ It All Up” and “Look Me in the Eye” are the band showing precision in their craft, releasing quite a bit of music between 1973’s popular “Give It to Me,” the Ladies Invited album that same year, and this solid effort. The short, one-minute-14-second title track, “Nightmares,” sounds like an ode to nitrous oxide (laughing gas), and probably was. The album produces one of the effects of that drug: exhilaration, and is a fine example of their creative musical journey.


Review by Joe Viglione
Double-album live sets came into vogue in 1976 after Peter Frampton‘s sales went through the roof for A&M, Bob Seger found fame with Live Bullet on Capitol, and the J. Geils Band released its second in-concert document in four years, Blow Your Face Out. There is great power in these grooves recorded over two nights, November 15 and November 19, at the now deconstructed Boston Garden and in Detroit at Cobo Hall. Here’s the beautiful dilemma with the Geils band: Live: Full House, recorded in Detroit in April of 1972, contains five songs that became J. Geils standards, and none of them overlap on the 1982 EMI single live disc, Showtime, chock-full of their latter-day classics. Can you believe there is absolutely no overlap from the first or third live album on this double disc, which came in between (except for “Looking for a Love,” uncredited, which they slip into the intro of “Houseparty” on side two)? The Rhino CD contains Jeff Tamarkin‘s liner notes, while the original Atlantic album has an exquisite gatefold chock-full of photos, and inner sleeves with priceless band memo stuff à la Grand Funk‘s Live Album. Sides one and two are great, and three and four are even better. “Detroit Breakdown” rocks and grooves, with tons of audience applause…Wolfy and the polished authority of his monologues are in command as the band oozes into “Chimes” from 1973’s Ladies Invited. About three and a half minutes longer than the five-minute original, it is one of many highlights on this revealing pair of discs. A precursor to 1977’s title track, “Monkey Island,” “Chimes” gives this enigmatic band a chance to jam out slowly and lovingly over its groove. There is so much to this album: the Janis Joplin standard “Raise Your Hand” written by Eddie Floyd, Albert Collins‘ “Sno-Cone” from their first album, and “Truck Drivin’ Man” beating Bachman-Turner Overdrive to the punch. B.B. King producer Bill Szymczyk does a masterful job bringing it all together, and the band photos on back look…roguish. “Must of Got Lost,” “Where Did Our Love Go,” and “Give It to Me” are here in all their glory, a different glory than the studio versions, on an album that should have done for Geils what Live Bullet and Frampton Comes Alive did for their respective artists. If only a legitimate release of their 1999 tour would be issued to stand next to this monster — during that tour they combined the best elements of all three of their previous live discs. The J. Geils Band is more important and influential than the boys have been given credit for. It will be the live documents that ensure they eventually get their due, and Blow Your Face Out is a very worthy component that can still frazzle speakers.



Song Review by Joe Viglione
The majority of the hits by The J.Geils Band lingered in the ’30’s section of the Top 40, with “Angel In Blue” the only one to actually hit and stop at 40. EMI America single #8100 has a lower catalog # than “Freeze-Frame and “Centerfold”, though it was popular in the summer of 1982 while the two aforementioned songs came earlier, reigning in the Top 5 during the winter prior. Arguably the smartest lyric in the J. Geils Band catalogue, this could be the subject matter from “Centerfold” all grown up. It’s a song about a stripper, but you wouldn’t know it if you didn’t listen closely – the melody so strong the words went right over many fans’ heads. Those other Boston bad boys, Aerosmith, went Top 3 just six years later with their own “Angel”, hard rockers also going ultra-pop a la Alice Cooper in the 1970’s. But the Geils band trumps all comers by bringing back Whitney’s mom, Cissy Houston, along with Luther Vandross from the Monkey Island album and three other additional vocalists making for a touch of class over a drumbeat much like The Tubes “Don’t Touch Me There”. “We met in a bar/Out on Chesapeake Bay” is hardly the scenario one thinks of when finding themselves in an episode of Touched By An Angel, and the story is quite sad, that of a person who never had dreams come true because she never had any dreams! Writer Stephen Thomas Erlewine calls this tune “terrific neo-doo wop.” It is that and more, a folk/pop polished ballad different from any of their other nine Top 40 hits, four minutes and fifty-one seconds (on the album) of Peter Wolf reading Seth Justman’s post- “Centerfold” wet dream.


Song Review by Joe Viglione
Three minutes and thirty-seven seconds comprise EMI America single #8102, the culmination of a decade of chart activity, a gold single stuck at #1 for a month and a half after years and years and a half a dozen singles, only one going Top 15 in that span of time, the others all over the 30’s portion of the charts. It was “Centerfold” that finally did it for the J. Geils Band, putting them on the top of the pop world. This is the “homeroom homeroom angel” from school literally turning into the angel in blue… pages of blue, that is. “Does she come complete/always pulled me from my seat” such a great rhyme. Peter Wolf’s lustful phrasing of “girly magazine” is so cool, it makes it even more distressing for fans that the singer and the band keyboardist/songwriter couldn’t get along after reaching the pinnacle – the thing all the fellows in this ensemble worked so hard for. “Centerfold” is proof that the angst between Justman and Wolf made for some great rock and roll, and while Joe Perry and Steve Tyler found a way to kiss and make up, this huge leap was the beginning of the end for the first phase of The J. Geils Band. There would be three additional hits, but the audience – and the bandmates – deserved more of this great stuff, this amalgam of rock, pop, blues and tongue-in-cheek humor. “Centerfold” might not be the most representative song by this band, certainly Give It To Me” and “Must Of Got Lost” have more of the blues that the group was built on, but with its “nah nah nah nah nah nah” pulled right out of Joe South’s “Hush” and turned upside down, it was commercial, cool, and a pop record that could stand up to repeated listenings. Na Na hey hey kiss her good-bye… “I hope that when this issue’s gone/ I’ll see you when your clothes are on” just more excellent sexual tension and a total party as the song concludes with whistles on the fade out.


Song Review by Joe VIglione
The leadoff track on the Nightmares and Other Tales From the Vinyl Jungle lp makes an even greater impact in its five and a half minute version on the live double-disc Blow Your Face Out recorded in November of 1975. Though credited to Peter Wolf and Seth Justman the song is more of a full band jam opening with a quick snag of Magic Dick’s “Whammer Jammer” riff. “Detroit Breakdown quickly turns into another vehicle for Wolf to have some fun with the crowd… “Are you ready to do some stompin’ baby?” Peter asks before belting out the title. With Justman’s piano the predominant instrument and Mr. Geils offering tasty licks, the bass, drums and keys build a funky rhythm for Magic Dick to start a wailing. The song is as deep into the J. Geils Band musical psyche as one can get, their own brand of blues/rock defined here, Jay’s howling guitar picking up where Magic Dick leaves off, Wolf then working the crowd which responds to his chants giving way to Seth and Magic Dick doing battle back and forth over the vamp. Coming before the methodical “Chimes” on the live album it’s a good chance for the boys to break loose and strut their stuff individually and collectively. No one person could take credit for being The J. Geils Band and “Detroit Breakdown” shows just how powerful these six gentlemen could be when unified and pushing the energy level of the room frontwards, backwards and sideways. “Detroit breakdown/motor city shakedown” is the major lyric, Wolf’s lines like “music is blasting/we’re having a ball/everybody in Boston/we’re talkin’ to y’all” might as well have been a taped monologue off of Peter’s radio show on 104.1 FM in Boston. The lyrics and the chords aren’t the necessary thing here, it’s the feel, and what’s on the plastic is a trademarked style that separaed this original group from those that came after – Aerosmith, Boston, The Cars and other major acts that launched out of New England.


Song Review by Joe Viglione
The title track of 1981’s Freeze Frame album by the J.Geils Band, three minutes and fifty seven seconds of a Seth Justman/ Peter Wolf tune – not to be confused with the title track composition of a Godley & Creme (of 10-CC fame) 1979 release – went gold and Top 4 on the heels of “Centerfold’s success, but is strong enough that it would have certainly achieved the same status even without the momentum of the previous single. As with the other two hits from the album, it is full of sexual innuendo – a novel idea of freezing a lovely moment in time – a wonderful one night stand. “Now I`m looking at a flashback Sunday…This freeze frame moment can`t be wrong” is the lyric and Wolfy sings it with suitable panache – just not as lewd as “Centerfold.” Recorded out at Long View Farm, the luxury studio in Western, Massachusetts, the stop/go chorus was The J. Geils Band taking their early Atlantic sound and spiffing it up on EMI for more punch, and popularity. The elements that are the foundation of this group’s sound are sweetened up for radio, and was it ever a smart blend. The bizarre cover art only hints at the theme while a half a dozen horn players including Randy Brecker add some brass.


Song Review by Joe Viglione
This cover of a J.W. Alexander / Zelda Samuels tune is three minutes and forty-five seconds starting off side two of The J. Geils Band’s second album, The Morning After. Atlantic single #2844 came at the end of 1971/ beginning of 1972 barely cracking the Top 40, but was an indication of things to come as the group would dominate the charts for a time a decade later. Initially “Looking For A Love” was their signature tune though they escaped the “one hit wonder” category within a year and a half, their three Atlantic singles in the early ’70’s giving them some breathing room on the live concert circuit before they came back with seven more. A simple and driving drum beat opens this, Janis Joplin’s “Move Over” intro from the Pearl album in triple time, giving Peter Wolf a superb introduction to radio listeners, his plea to the world for someone, anyone, to “help me find my baby.” Who can’t relate to the simplicity of the request, “I’m looking for a love to call my own?” Wolf argues his case with one line, the band responds with the title of the song, back and forth they go under B.B.King producer Bill Szymczyk’s guiding hand. The interlude was the best advertisement in the world for the group – J. Geils plays guitar for a few seconds followed by Dick’s harp to Seth’s keys back to the harp back to the keys, back to the intro. The backing vocals chant “I’m looking, I’m looking, I’m looking, I’m looking” while Peter Wolf wails with the best of the blues masters going pop, frantic screams of desperation following promises the singer is making to the cosmos, what he would do if all his romantic hopes and dreams came true. The song zips by feeling a lot shorter than it is, a quick blast of energetic rock & roll which should’ve been a much bigger hit. A five minute and sixteen second version opens up the double disc Mar Y Sol album, a Puerto Rico music festival from early April 1972. The live cut is even more driving and faster on this obscure Woodstock-type collection of musical acts from the period. Opening an album with their current hit, an album which featured B.B.King at the peak of his commercial success along with Dr. John, Jonathan Edwards, The Allman Brothers and others, must’ve been invigorating for this ensemble and the extended manic performance has a raspy Peter Wolf as frantic as the band, all in hyperdrive. It’s a track that should be added as a bonus to their greatest hits package(s) as it shows another side of the tune that started it all for this important group.


Song Review by Joe Viglione
Three minutes and forty-four seconds of heavy, heavy blues/pop make up EMI/America 45 RPM #8039, a definite ode to romance gone wrong. Imagine Lou Reed’s “Vicious” as performed by his Rock & Roll Animal band on Lou Reed Live at half-speed and you’ve got the riff, “Louie, Louie” gone hard rock with drums another Bostonian, Billy Squier, would use exactly a year later on his Top 20 hit “The Stroke”. You can actually sing “Vicious, you hit me with a flower” over the music. The Peter Wolf here isn’t the lustful schoolboy of the Freeze-Frame album from 1981, it’s the Mad Magazine episode where they dubbed his ex-wife Faye Runaway. And speaking of Runaways, it’s a song that fits Joan Jett well and her Blackhearts went and performed it on the soundtrack to the film Mr. Wrong. The oddity for The J. Geils Band is that it’s such a simple riff rocker far removed from the novel integrity of “Give It To Me” or the unbridled exuberance of “Looking For A Love”. The refinement of this band from an earthy bunch of blues fanatics to polished rock and roll act made for some fun, but did it lead to their going their separate ways for so many years? Seth Justman’s production technique is solid as a rock, and recorded out at the legendary Longview Farm in Western Massachusetts there’s a controlled intensity and in the pocket performance. Only edging the lower rungs of the Top 40 in May of 1980 this song and others on the album pointed the group in its new direction which would turn them into a platinum act. Years later it is totally different from what Peter Wolf, Danny Klein and Jay Geils/ Magic Dick would put on their solo projects, solid blues and, in Jay’s case, some jazz. “Love Stinks” is The Jay Geils Band as rock stars, and during the reunion tour in 1999 they played all this material with finesse and a vengeance. Isolated from their catalog, though, “Love Stinks” is a definite anomaly.


Song Review by Joe Viglione
J. Geils Band are to be commended for picking up a title by swamp/blues artist Big Walter Price, the song “Pack Fair and Square” showing up on their Atlantic debut and on Full House Live as well.The two minute and one second studio version is an even shorter hundred and one seconds!!! on the live disc. Jon Landau praises the tune in his Rolling Stone Magazine review of their debut lp by saying “straight blues done as good as it can be done. The harp dominates…with its perfect lines and tone…” Landau should know as he was the original producer on the band’s initial sessions for Atlantic about a year before the Dave Crawford/ Brad Shapiro/ Geoffrey Haslam album was released. For such a young group one has to marvel at the authenticity they poured into the grooves with years of roadwork still ahead of them. “Pack Fair And Square” is evidence that they were musically more mature than most with superb intuition – not only in the choice of this material – but in its execution. The live take is speedier and more condensed, a Peter Wolf monologue underscored by some gorgeous Seth Justman frills before they dive into the song with total intensity, Magic Dick’s harp taking it to another level, Stephen Bladd pounding away and the singer/frontman showing a real understanding of the roots he’s digging up. “Hard Driving Man” comes two songs later, and don’t think the identical meter in the titles of both tunes is mere coincidence – J.Geils Band drew from their influences, Peter Wolf and J. Geils perhaps subconciously finding their own songwriter voices from the material they discovered and regenerated so well.


Song Review by Joe Viglione
The studio version of “Whammer Jammer” is on the J. Geils Band’s second disc, The Morning After, with a killer live take on their third lp and first stage recording Full House Live. It’s a short ( two minutes, twenty-one seconds) but lively cover of a Juke Joint Jimmy tune which allows Richard Salwitz, a.k.a. Magic Dick, to do his thing. Covered by harp player Mike Stevens on a 1992 release, this was the song that really put Magic Dick on the map as the quintessential rock & roll harmonica man. Where a Stevie Wonder will make the harp a sweet sounding instrument helping him rejoice sentiments like “I Was Made To Love Her”, Magic Dick does the opposite, burning sounds into the consciousness as deftly as any great lead guitarist. Playing against Seth Justman’s honky tonk piano, Peter and Jay stay back so that Dickie can do his thing. Songwriter Juke Joint Jimmy is a legendary figure with the Geils crew, having also written “Cruisin’ For A Love” and “It Ain’t What You Do (It’s How You Do It”). One informed (and anonymous) source said “his 45 rpm was his first and only album.”
One Last Kiss from Sanctuary lp

Song Review by Joe Viglione
Sounding more like Blue Oyster Cult with a heavy and fatalistic song, the group’s Top 40 debut on the EMI America label – 45 RPM #8007 – is four minutes and twenty-two seconds of J.Geils Band taking their blues/rock and pouring more gloss and pop into it than ever before. That’s because Joe Wissert, producer of Earth, Wind & Fire, Gordon Lightfoot, Helen Reddy as well as another Boston phenomenon, Robin Lane & The Chartbusters, made things nice and slick for the Geils guys. Helen Reddy’s producer, one might say? Well, the production is much better than the job Wissert did with Robin Lane, this title coming four years and a couple of months after Jay, Seth, Peter, Danny, Stephen and Magic Dick went Top 12 when Bill Szymczyk cut “Give It To Me” at Jerry Ragovoy’s Hit Factory. That purist element is still inherent in the music, though this new sound only reached #35, but the liquid guitar under the verses and the borderline metal sound everywhere else was certainly something new and derived from B.O.C., a flavor that New York group would borrow back for their own “Burnin’ For You” single a couple of years later. This isn’t the J. Frank Wilson and The Cavaliers tragedy, “Last Kiss” from 1964, but it is a sixties sound built into a hard rock foundation. Over a Ronettes “Be My Baby” drumbeat (which comes out of nowhere) Peter Wolf tells his paramour “the good times are the best times/the bad times fade away” but that’s just the set up for the fact that it’s over…”the feeling’s gone, I can feel it in my veins”. The final chorus comes long before the song ends with the simple and ominous riff in repeat mode allowing Jay Geils to play some great rock and roll guitar. This ensemble was becoming more chameleon like as their sound evolved and the focus mutated into a popular song direction. The album Sanctuary itself may have been a declaration of independence – free from the restrictions of the previous record deal, and Magic Dick’s harp playing is more consistent with a pop/rock commercial sound, blending in as a component of a unified front. Perhaps the producer had the ambiance and feel of this episode emulating Earth, Wind & Fire as it all works magnificently, a balanced evolution and far cry from the earthy first steps on Atlantic.
Must Of Got Lost Blow Your Face Out lp
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6)The Early Seventies

1)The Quill 2)The Sidewinders 3)Fat 4)Milkwood (early Cars), 5)Swallow, 6)Duke & The Drivers 7)James Montgomery 8)Stormin’ Norman & Suzy 9)P.J. Colt


Monday, July 9, 2007

The Early Seventies and beyond – Quill, The Sidewinders, Fat, Milkwood, Swallow

Remember! To click on any chapter go to this address: http://rocktableofcontents.blogspot.com/1)The Quill
2)The Sidewinders
6)Duke & The Drivers
7)James Montgomery
8)Stormin’ Norman & Suzy
9)P.J. Colt
10)Billy Squier’s PIPER
11)Orchestra Luna (1974)The QuillThe Quill has two distinctions that put them into the history books! They were the opening act at Woodstock and their leader helped create the intro to Andy Pratt’s classic “Avenging Annie.”
Though they performed in the 1960s this Cotillion release was in 1970, thus we start the music of the 70s with QUILLhttp://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:3xfexqy5ld0e
Reviewby Joe Viglione
Quill opened up the Saturday festivities at Woodstock in 1969, though some may say the real claim to fame for Jo Unk Khol (aka John Cole) is the sound effects he makes (uncredited) at the beginning of Andy Pratt‘s 1973 classic “Avenging Annie.” The group’s self-produced album is one of the better offerings from “The Bosstown Sound,” as was Pratt‘s 1971 Polydor release Records Are Like Life. Perhaps it is no coincidence that both were recorded by the mysterious Boston-area engineer who went by one name, Aengus. Steven McDonald originally wrote in AMG that “Quill came and went in 1970, leaving a single album behind as evidence of their existence. The band hurtled into the depths of psychedelia with results that are both painful and entertaining.” McDonald went on to call the music “a self-indulgent mess with some promise and much racket.” Actually, the six compositions by John and Dan Cole, along with N. “Red Rocket” Rogers‘ “Too Late,” deserve to be remembered a little bit better than that. Perhaps the entire album was too far out to include “I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night” or “Journey to the Center of the Mind,” titles like “Thumbnail Screwdriver” and “Tube Exuding” giving the impression that these were bad Ultimate Spinach or Eden’s Children outtakes. That’s far from reality. The music is more toward the entertaining than the painful end of McDonald‘s spectrum. And though they, like Sweetwater, failed to catch on as other acts from the Woodstock festival did (unlike Ten Wheel Drive, who were said to have turned the gig down to settle in near obscurity), there is something special in these grooves and the pastel/half-psychedelic cover with esoteric lyrics spread across the inside of the Unipak gatefold. Despite the zany pseudonyms the bandmembers embraced, this record has more smarts than anything Zager & Evans ever put to plastic. There are jazzy overtones mixed in with the mayhem and experimentation far beyond anything Ultimate Spinach, the dreadful Eden’s Children, and even the beloved the Beacon Street Union from that “Bosstown Sound” era attempted to create. Maybe it was the marketing, maybe it was the damage caused by Eden’s Children, there’s no doubt Quill deserved a better fate. If only Cotillion, the label that released the Woodstock triple and double LPs, had put this and other groups out as part of a “Woodstock” series.The Sidewinders 1972

Review by Joe Viglione
The Sidewinders opened for Aerosmith just as “Dream On” was starting to break in the early ’70s and, with Patti Smith guitarist Lenny Kaye producing, singer Andy Paley had the distinction of fronting the only true power pop ensemble to record in the early days of the Boston scene. The Modern Lovers were the essential punk band, Orphan with Jonathan Edwards were the folkies, and J. Geils had the blues market, leaving the most commercial sound to the Sidewinders. Though Billy Squier would join the Sidewinders, he had yet to bring them “Telephone Relation,” one of their two best songs, and the lack of material held back not only this album, but the eventual Paley Brothers disc for Sire featuring Andy and his brother Jonathan Paley, who would join Elektra’s the Nervous Eaters. It’s not that this self-titled debut doesn’t have its moments — “The Bumble Bee” is a cool instrumental, “Told You So” brings back memories of Moulty & the Barbarians, and “Rendezvous” (the best song on the album) could work for a contemporary teeny bop artist. That was the dilemma with rock & rollers choosing pop, something that the Atlantics would find out a few years later. The pretty guitars of Eric “Rose” Rosenfeld and Mike Reed are a perfect setting for Paley‘s voice. But Rosenfeld was a monster guitarist, like Squier, and this album hardly showcases his skills. You can hear elements of Barry & the Remains on side two’s “O Miss Mary” and “Got You Down”; maybe they were emulating Barry Tashian‘s group that opened for the Beatles, when perhaps they should’ve been putting some Kinks riffs into this material. “Slip Away” has the most creativity here, but only hints at the potential. “Reputation” isn’t as mean as Joan Jett or the New York Dolls could make that concept. Andy Paley would go on to produce the Shag film soundtrack for Sire, as well as Madonna on the Dick Tracy soundtrack, and this effort of his, with photos taken at the Chelsea Hotel in New York, is a true artifact of early-’70s Boston music.

FAT 1970
Reviewby Joe Viglione

Engineered by legends Roy Cicala who worked with Genya Ravan, Lori Burton, and John Lennon, along with Shelly Yakus (spelt Shelly Yokas on the album jacket) of Stevie Knicks and so many others fame, Fat is comprised of five men who, other than this outing, appear to have remained pretty much unknown. According to urban legend, this production by Eddie Jason saw only 400 copies released by RCA. For a band coming at the end of the debacle known as “The Bosstown Sound,” this actually plays better than Eden’s Children and Ultimate Spinach. With a cover photo of five dudes dressed like they are going camping, no image whatsoever, these longhairs deliver a decent set of tunes, despite the fact they aren’t stellar musicians. There is a spirit here, however, from “Shape I’m In” on side two, to the lengthy “Journey” and “Highway.” “Black Sunday” is inspired and has a sound very influenced by Quicksilver Messenger Service. Via default they seem to have created a strange amalgam of East Coast blues and psychedelia that Ultimate Spinach was searching for. “Country Girl” has Cream riffs galore, and where you might expect a folk tune, it rocks out. Where Alive & Kickin’ released the same year on Roulette and were woefully deficient on the musical side of things, these cats have a style and a sound. Peter Newland‘s voice and harp reflect the darkness James Kaminski and Michael Benson lay down with their guitars. Not a bad recording for a band with no look and riffs that Bachman Turner Overdrive would explore and exploit just four years later. “Duck Sweat” is the bluesy rock that the cover indicates, but “Lonely Lady” and “Mine Eyes Have Seen” take the group into other directions. An interesting artifact.



MILKWOOD How’s The Weather (Early Cars) 1972

Review by Joe Viglione
For fans of the Cars this release pre-dates Rick & the Rabbits — the name that Modern Lover Jonathan Richman gave Richard Ocasek and Ben Orzechowski prior to their becoming Captain Swing, the band that evolved into the Cars. Recorded at Aengus Studios in Fayville, MA, where Andy Pratt created his classic “Avenging Annie,” the trio includes Jas Goodkind on lead acoustic and electric guitars, supplemented by various friends. Track three is the only non-Ocasek original, written by the late Ben Orr, and “Lincoln Park” is an example of why Cars fans have called this Ocasek and Orr‘s Crosby, Stills & Nash phase. Greg Hawks was working with Martin Mull and his Fabulous Furniture, but he appears on this album playing baritone, soprano sax, and doing the horn arrangements. Jeff Lass plays the keyboards here, although Hawks would join the Cars and create a sound so admired that Paul McCartney would fly Greg to England to perform on his “Motor of Love” on the Flowers in the Dirt album. “Bring Me Back” is a wonderful early Ocasek essay, and this album shows the ’80s pop ensemble in a delicate and charming light. Only “Timetrain Wonderwheel” hints at the direction Ocasek would eventually take. The vibe is like America‘s “Sandman,” and this is as close to Panorama as you are going to find here. The experimental sounds and jams make it the strongest track on How’s the Weather. Hawks‘ horns are nothing short of brilliant, and they play like his innovative keyboards that were so essential to the Cars‘ eventual success. The vocal phrasings on this song are significant, and “Timetrain Wonderwheel”‘s importance as an artifact of a band prior to its greatness cannot be ignored. “Makeshift Pawn” opens side two and sounds like a low-key David Gates or England Dan/John Ford Coley. Hearing the material is astounding when one thinks of the sci-fi overtones of “Moving in Stereo.” These guys had the chops and passion in “The Light Won’t Burn” as well as “Winter Song,” but there’s no denying that there’s little hint of the change in direction that would bring Ocasek, Orr, and Hawks to superstardom during the ’80s. “Along the Way” truly sounds like Crosby, Stills, Ocasek & Orr.

SWALLOW LPs 1972, 1973


Reviewby Joe Viglione
The first album from Swallow was produced by Jean Paul Salvatori, who put together the excellent Bootleg Him! double LP of Alexis Korner material this same year, 1972. Jeff “Skunk” Baxter of Ultimate Spinach, later with Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers, appears on “Come Home Woman,” an original from bassist Vern Miller Jr., who was part of the band who opened for the Beatles in 1966, the legendary Barry & the Remains. Miller‘s presence adds collectability to this debut. “Come Home Woman” would have been perfect for Alexis Korner, come to think of it, a bluesy lament which begins with Baxter‘s wonderful guitar work and picks up steam, letting George Leh open up and battle the horns — the voice and instruments stir things up so fine. “Aches and Pains” is one of the four Vern Miller Jr./George Leh co-writes, and it is gospel-tinged blues which spills over onto “Common Man.” There’s real personality here, music perhaps a little too earthy for the Blood, Sweat & Tears crowd, but authentic to the max. Recorded and mixed where Aerosmith cut “Dream On” and where Jonathan Edwards of Orphan tracked “Sunshine,” “Out of the Nest” is post-Bosstown serious singing and playing. When it is all instrumental, as on pianist/tenor saxman David Woodford‘s “Shuffle,” Boston veteran Parker Wheeler gets a chance to give a counterpoint to J. Geils Band harp player Magic Dick. The harmonica on “Shuffle” admirably replaces George Leh‘s distinctive vocal. Leh‘s got that Nick Gravenites gravel growl on “Something Started Happening,” a tune with charging dynamics, perhaps this band’s strong suit. Miller‘s “Brown Eyed Baby Boy” is a plea for love with a solid hook that would work well for the Remains since that group started recording again in the new millennium. The Staple Singers‘ composition “Why Am I Treated So Bad,” also covered by Cannonball Adderley and the Sweet Inspirations, adds another dimension to the mix, the organ of Bob Camacho getting to have its say. Mick Aranda‘s creative drumming is also worthy of note. Out of the Nest is an excellent document of early-’70s Boston roots rock/blues music with just a touch of jazz. This would make a nice two-fer CD with its follow-up, 1973’s self-titled Swallow.



Reviewby Joe Viglione
Duke & the Drivers had fun living out their fantasy on ABC Records but, under the aegis of the redoubtable Buddy Buie and with help from the Atlanta Rhythm Section, Boston’s Swallow were very serious about their craft, and it shows on this collection of understated blues-rock. Vern Miller, Jr. of the Remains, George Leh, and New England personalties Parker Wheeler and Phil Greene (the extra “e” is missing from the legendary engineer’s name on this disc) are four of the nine musicians who make up the large outfit. On one of the all-time worst album covers — a green martian hand holding the nose of the man in the moon (presumably, so he can swallow) — the nine musicians are displayed above a moonscape, their names out of order with the photos. In 1973, the Atlanta Rhythm Section emerged from the remnants of the Classics IV and, with J.R. Cobb and Barry Bailey of that group on this disc, along with B.J. Thomas/Friend & Lover/Billie Joe Royal producer Buie, one would think Warner Bros. would have been more serious about this outing. Most of the titles are by Miller, making the album a statement by the man Danny Klein of the J. Geils Band calls his favorite bass player. Two co-writes by Leh are included, along with two Randy Newman songs, “Illinois” and the often covered “I’ll Be Home.” Although Buie co-wrote all the hits of the Atlanta Rhythm Section, his magic is not added here, and perhaps that is what is missing. The record is better than decent — it is very good — despite the fact there is no hit to launch it from obscurity. Greene went on to engineer Beaver Brown, New Kids on the Block, and the sessions this writer did with Buddy Guy in 1986, while blind singer Leh developed a following and great reputation performng around the Boston area. “Georgia, Pack My Bags” isn’t a hit, nor is “Rockin’ Shoes”; perhaps the closest thing to a potential chart climber is “Don’t Tell Mama,” some kind of answer, not to Etta James, but to Savoy Brown‘s minor hit from their 1971 Street Corner Talking album, “Tell Mama.” At least they showed respect for their elders! There was much potential here; it’s too bad the label and/or management mishandled the look of the album, and failed to give this large group a couple of songs their musicianship could work with to reach the masses. But, for fans of the legendary Remains, it is another chapter in the career of Vern Miller and an essential item in order for their collections to be complete.


Biographyby Joe Viglione
Blue blood young men turned musicians, this aggregation got together sometime in 1973 jamming on obscure rhythm & blues titles for fun and somehow it clicked. The name Duke & the Drivers evolved out of one of their myriad parties where they played for friends and consumed a cocktail called an Orange Driver, grain alcohol vodka and some orange drink. When people asked the name of the band, it was up to the harmonica-playing saxophonist who doubled as comedian, Rhinestone Muddflaps (birth name Ando Hixson), to say “Duke’s not here.” When people asked where Duke was, they got the standard reply: “Out drinking the orange drivers,” and thus the name Duke & the Drivers were born. Contemporaries of the J. Geils Band with album jackets less ominous than the diesel driven’ Bachman-Turner Overdrive, it was original bassist and owner of the Boston based Jelly Records, Greg Morton, who got them booked at the legendary Western Front outside of Central Square in Cambridge, MA. They went into the club with only 25 minutes of music in their repertoire, extending the tunes into an early version of what would become jam band style, taking an intermission, and going back to perform the same elongated set again. Rhinestone Muddflaps would wear lights on his head, rubber gloves on his hands, and trampoline skates, honing an identity as the comic out front. Other bandmembers included drummer Dr. Feelgood Funk (birth name Danny McGrath ), Sam Deluxe on electric and acoustic guitar and vocals, Joe Lilly (of Lilly Pharmaceuticals ), electric and slide guitarist/vocalist Cadillac Jack (born Henry Eaton, later to be a newscaster and district attorney), and Mississippi Tom Swift on keyboards and ARP strings.With success on the club level, the goal shifted to obtaining a major-label recording contract. By December 1973, they were opening for Lou Reed‘s legendary “Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal” band at Boston’s Orpheum Theater and generating a buzz. They performed dates with the Leslie West Band as well as Blue Öyster Cult with ZZ Top opening for Duke & the Drivers on the Blue Öyster Cult show. Personal manager Peter Casperson of Boston’s Castle Music Productions signed them to ABC Records in 1973, with their debut album produced and engineered by Eddie Kramer appearing in 1974. That album, Cruisin’, featured a minor hit song, “What You Got,” and the band started to make some real noise. Prior to the recording, Greg Morton was replaced by bassist Koko Dee, the first of many personnel changes. A second album was recorded, Rollin’ On, with percussionist Dr. Feelgood Funk being replaced by the drummer from the band Orphan, the late Bobby Chouinard (dubbed Bobby Blue Sky for his role with Duke), who would go on to work with Billy Squier, Alice Cooper, and many others. Rollin’ On failed to generate another radio hit and the band started feeling the pressure. Shortly after the LP’s release in September 1976, the group broke up. With bookings to fulfill through 1977, Tom Swift contacted drummer Mark Highlander, who had opened for Duke & the Drivers with his group the Connection in 1975, both artists being managed at one point or another by the man who orchestrated Aerosmith‘s comeback, Tim Collins. Ando Hixson left, as did Koko Dee with Greg Morton coming back to play bass. Vocalist Joe Lilly took a leave of absence and was replaced by his brother George Lilly and a reconstituted band holed up at the legendary Cambridge Music Complex practicing for three to four weeks until their debut at three sold-out shows over the 1977 July 4th weekend at The Frolics Ballroom in Salisbury Beach, MA. In August 1977, they recorded a 45 RPM “Looking for a Fox” b/w “Wonderful Love” at Northern Studios in Maynard, MA. Their summertime tour took them to Cleveland’s Agora Ballroom, a concert broadcast live on WMMS. They opened for Starz at the Tomorrow Theater in Youngstown and performed on bills with Elvis Costello, Pat Travers, and others. Worcester/Boston radio station WAAF broadcast the group live from Northern Sound on the day Elvis Presley died, August 16, 1977, with approximately 1,000 people jammed into the studio atop a Woolworths five-and-dime. Despite the success of the live broadcast, the popularity began to wane and the group filled out its contractual obligations, ending it all at a high school gig in April 1978. There were reunion shows in the ’90s and in 1993, a “20th Anniversary” commemorative live CD of a performance on a radio show from the ’70s (Rock Around the World) was released featuring Bobby Chouinard on drums. The band still gets attention, the 45 of “Looking for a Fox” used on a national televised broadcast of the New England Patriots football team in 2001. Drummer Mark Highlander is still active, teaming up with bassist Danny Klein of the J. Geils Band for their blues group Stone Crazy.


Reviewby Joe Viglione
The only photo of the band has six faces peering out of a rearview mirror on the back cover. Duke & the Drivers look like the J. Geils Band, and listening to “Ain’t Nothing a Young Girl Can Do for Me” with blindfold on will make one swear it is indeed the J. Geils Band. That was part of the charm of this ’70s blues-rock act out of Boston. Eddie Kramer‘s production, especially on the big regional hit “What You Got,” is immense. No, it didn’t land in the national Top 40, but it should have. The arrangement sounds like Grand Funk Railroad‘s Top Three hit from December 1974; J.Ellison‘s “Some Kind of Wonderful” and the thunderous drums from Rhinestone Mudflapps (aka, the late, great Bobby Chouinard) are explosive dance stuff. The song should have catapulted them to fame and “Lovebones” from side two would have been a nice follow-up. The demo to “Lovebones” had a magic of its own and would be a nice bonus track addition to a CD re-release of this first effort. A blues-rock band covering Gamble & Huff, Otis Redding, Don Covay, and Ike Turner in a world that was home to the Cars and Aerosmith was risky stuff indeed, more so because this band walked on sacred ground with tongue planted firmly in cheek. Regardless, “What You Got” is a classic, and the reformed J.Geils Band would do well to consider adding it to their repertoire. The urban legend is that management for the band hired a flatbed truck parked outside of the big Top 40 radio station in Boston asking why they weren’t playing “What You Got.” It got added into rotation and brightened up the airwaves for awhile. Cruisin’ has some fine moments recorded with great care by Eddie Kramer, and is worth searching for.


by Joe Viglione
Duke & the Drivers were contemporaries of the J. Geils Band and opened for them on many a bill. Where Eddie Kramer produced their first LP, Deke Richards came aboard to oversee this second and final album for ABC Records. In the early ’90s, the band would release a CD of a live performance thanks to original bassist Greg Morton, owner of Jelly Records. Their penchant for reworking old blues tunes and putting the “Duke” stamp on them is evidenced here. Two titles from Eddie Bocage, who co-wrote “Keep a Knockin'” with Little Richard, appear on this disc, “Check Your Bucket” and “Check Yourself.” “Bucket” was a Boston-area favorite when the band opened for Leslie West and Lou Reed in the ’70s. The title track, “Rollin’ On,” written by guitarist/vocalist Sam Deluxe — whose real name is Joe Lilly of Lilly Pharmaceuticals — sounds like an extended sequel to the Bachman Turner Overdrive hit from the year before, “Roll on Down the Highway.” Duke & the Drivers were very clever in being blatant about their inspirations, but camouflaging all the musical stuff that turned them on. The result is hardly original, but that is their charm. The only other original on the album is Cadillac Jack‘s “Love on My Hands.” “Jack” is actually Henry Eaton, who became a newsman for Boston’s WLVI, TV 56, and in 2001, is an elected official, Assistant District Attorney or something. A far cry from rocking and rolling on Boston stages. The song is another Boston R&B meets the Philly sound. It sounds cool decades after the fact, but when recorded it was totally annoying. Pre-rap, rockers were really against disco, and this song is some weird hybrid of the two. “Check Yourself” has Sam Deluxe sounding so much like Peter Wolf one wonders if it is a tribute band with sax performing on this cut. D. Greg‘s “Let Me Be Your Handyman” reads like an inverted “Sunshine of Your Love” riff with sentiment heavily borrowed from Jimmy Johnson’s 1960 hit “Handyman.” “I’ll Take Good Care of You,” written by producer Deke Richards, opens side two. It is very unlike Duke & the Drivers, the sound of Philadelphia over a melody and keyboard fragrance which may have inspired Billy Joel‘s 1983 hit “Allentown.” The similarities are striking. Recorded at Northern Studio in Maynard, MA, and the Sound Factory in West Los Angeles, Rollin On fits nicely next to the J. Geils Band‘s earthy R&B-flavored rock.


James Montgomery Band

Release Date 1974
Recording Date Jun 1974-Jul 1974
Label Capricorn

by Joe Viglione
James Montgomery’s 1974 release on Capricorn/Warner Brothers has the harp playing vocalist in fine form. With Otis Spann guitarist Peter Malick, the six-piece ensemble crafted a serious album of blues-pop with production by Tom Dowd and the man who would hit with the Bee Gees shortly after this, Albhy Galuten. Side two is more accessible. “Sing You a Love Song” is written and sung by drummer Chuck Purro, and that’s the interesting thing about the James Montgomery Blues Band: Four different musicians share the lead vocals, and only one of them is the star. Guitarist Peter Bell shares the lead with Montgomery on the Otis Redding tune that ends the album, “Ten Page Letter.” This title, along with five others, was recorded in June of 1974 at Atlantic Recording Studios in New York, with Tom Dowd assisting engineer Gene Paul; “I Can’t Stop (No, No, No),” “Schoolin’ Them Dice,” “Sing You a Love Song,” and “Try It” were recorded in July at Capricorn Recording Studios, Macon, Georgia. Another interesting thing is that the bluesier tunes were placed on side one and the poppier songs made it to the second, but both studios’ sessions are pretty evenly represented on each side of the disc. Keyboardist David Case sounds up on “Any Number Can Play,” and Montgomery does a terrific job with Allen Toussaint‘s “Brickyard Blues.” During this interesting period of Boston rock & roll, James Montgomery’s band escaped the “Bosstown Sound” tag by sticking to its roots. Too bluesy to be mistaken for the J. Geils Band, Montgomery is a well-loved personality in New England, and this record is a respectable outing by a very talented bunch

The follow up to their debut album on their own label, probably called FANTASY RAG,


Reviewby Joe Viglione
“Wrongside Boogie” on the major-label debut by Suzy Williams and Norman Zamcheck, aka Stormin’ Norman & Suzy, takes a cue from Bette Midler‘s first Top Ten hit, 1973’s “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, but doesn’t take the concept far enough. Former Gridley, CA, resident Suzy Williams emulates Bessie Smith on the vocals and, perhaps not so strangely, Jack Richardson‘s production presents this music as a period piece as well. That’s a mistake. The Guess Who mentor could have given some of the gloss he gave his Canadian band to this Boston-based outfit during a time when Suzy‘s identifiable voice could have found its way onto pop radio. He oversees eight of the nine songs, with the title track supervised by Sandy Linzer of Four Seasons/the Toys fame. That tune, “Ocean of Love,” borrows heavily from Barbra Streisand‘s adult contemporary radio hit version of Laura Nyro‘s “Time and Love” from earlier in the ’70s. The direction this duo needed was the sound of a Streisand record like Stoney End, not the melody. Suzy does her best “Second Hand Rose” throughout the disc, and she is a character but the presentation is limiting. A song like “Green” veers off into jazz territory when it needed a jolt of Spanky & Our Gang. The strongest number is the final one, “Stay Awake Awhile,” with a dreamy groove and sublime backing vocals. Suzy takes the song to a place beyond Rod Stewart and the Faces‘ “Flying,” and this sounds like the sequel to that classic. Ocean of Love is an admirable effort, but too much of an anachronism. With talents like Linzer and Richardson at the helm, it could have been so much more.
PJ COLT with Skunk Baxter

Skunk Baxter played with so many people, Buzzy Linhart, Carly Simon, The Ultimate Spinach and many others. Check out his credits

Jeff “Skunk” Baxter Credits

PJ Colt 1976

Reviewby Joe Viglione
This self-titled album from singer P.J. Colt gets into the history books thanks to the participation of Jeff Baxter, who performed with Steely Dan, the Doobie Brothers, and many others. Some reference guides list this album’s year of release as 1970, others as 1976. There is no copyright on the disc, making 1970 seem like the release date; it certainly looks and sounds like a project from the early ’70s. There are two standout tracks, “Grave Down by the River” and “Growing Old,” although the record is pretty consistent and listenable all the way through. Colt originally released the song “Growing Old” on a single and an album by Boston band Dirty John’s Hot Dog Stand on Amsterdam Records in 1970. The track has a spacy opening, while Colt’s vocal sounds hauntingly like early Michael McDonald. “Growing Old” follows “Blues Train,” a competent cross between Wilson Pickett‘s “Mustang Sally” and the Velvet Underground‘s “Train Comin’ Round the Bend.” The musicianship shines throughout; guitarist Baxter emerged a star after his involvement with “the Bosstown Sound” of producer Alan Lorber on the third Ultimate Spinach album, which is a testament to talent winning out. Ray Paret did the production here, listed in the smallest of type. He certainly did not get in the way of the band, musicians who cook on Bonnie Bramlett‘s “Someday,” “Black Jesus” — actually, on every track. Ed Costa‘s keyboards and the plethora of backing vocalists are all tastefully combined in the straightforward production and mix. There’s a significant cover of Van Morrison‘s “Crazy Love,” a song suited to Colt’s vocal style, while the rendition of “Honky Tonk Women” — try though it may — does not achieve what it seeks: the drunken barroom Leon Russell atmosphere and attitude. Colt’s originals are listenable blues-rock, from the funky opening track “Once in the Morning” to the blues-drenched “I’m Tired Now.” Drummer Jim Wilkins, pianist Costa, and guitarist Baxter collaborated to pen the tune “Leave Me Alone,” one of the album’s more rocking and commercial numbers.



Review by Joe Viglione
Billy Squier wrote a great song when he was in the Sidewinders, a song that didn’t make it to their Lenny Kaye-produced RCA album but is here in all its glory. “Telephone Relation” is an exquisite pop tune, overshadowed only by the even poppier “Who’s Your Boyfriend,” which should have been as big a hit as “The Stroke,” “In the Dark,” and “Everybody Wants You.” The great thing about Piper is that Squier emerged with authority as a solid front man, guitarist, and singer/songwriter. The elements that make this disc so good are what is wrong with solo efforts by the CarsElliot Easton or Alice Cooper‘s Michael Bruce. Squier took his former singer Andy Paley‘s pretty-boy stance and re-evaluated the formula the Sidewinders were toying with. Piper rocks a bit harder than the Sidewinders and lighter than Squier‘s solo work. Pop suits Squier better than the all-out assault of hard rock his later work is known for. Piper and the excellent follow-up Can’t Wait are two essential albums by this very talented artist.



Review by Joe Viglione
The promise of the first Piper album’s classic track “Who’s Your Boyfriend” is realized with the title song from Piper’s second and last disc before Billy Squier found fame and fortune on his own, Can’t Wait. Co-written by Squier and Boston magazine contributor/liner note essayist for Frank Sinatra, James Isaacs, everything is turned up a notch, starting with this sublime pop sensation, the song “Can’t Wait.” Billy Squier sounds more comfortable singing lead, and where his future producer Eddie Kramer mixed the first album, future Rolling Stones engineer Chris Kimsey does the boards and co-production on this disc. “Anyday” and “Blues for the Common Man” certainly have that early to mid-’70s Rolling Stones feel, as does the beautiful “Now Aint the Time.” Hindsight is always 20/20, but Piper had the potential to breakthrough as Heart, Cheap Trick, and other star acts of the time garnered mainstream acceptance and longevity. Who’s to say that Squier‘s stardom as an arena rocker would be matched had he evolved with these musicians. It is tough to compete with drummer extraordinaire, the late Bobby Chouinard, and guitarist Jeff Golub, who worked with Squier shortly after this, but songs like “Drop By and Stay” have an appeal that works for both the metal heads and housewives content to hear something poppy on the radio. “Drop By and Stay” was co-written by Squier and former Elektra A&R rep, Maxanne Sartori. Sartori was instrumental in the success of Aerosmith and the Cars, and “Drop By And Stay” is one of the albums highlights. “See Me Through” may not be as intense as the Stroke, but that is its charm. The band really sparkles and shines on this collection. “Little Miss Intent” is a precursor to “Everybody Wants You,” Squier‘s 1982 Top 35 hit. Where John Cougar performing a cover of the Doors “Crystal Ship” on MCA prior to his success is an embarrassment, this early material by Billy Squier is not only something to be proud of, it stands the test of time and should be recognized as important music, not just the early work by an ’80s star.
ORCHESTRA LUNA now on CD from the Market Square Records label in Europe
http://www.marketsquarerecords.co.uk/news28.htmRelease Date: 07/02/2007The Orchestra Luna album began the musical legacy of Rick Berlin, the composer/singer who goes by his birth name, Richard Kinscherf, on this Epic Records debut in 1974. The seven-piece ensemble was truly groundbreaking in a world that doesn’t take kindly to innovation. Where the Who were content to write rock operas, Kinscherf and his band put opera to rock. This adventurous mix of songs, written as if they were Broadway show tunes backed by a rock band with jazz and classical influences, might sound like a bit much, and 11 minutes and 53 seconds of “Doris Dreams” never had a chance of Top 40 success, or an edit that could get it there, but that idiosyncrasy is part of what makes this album so daring, and special. Co-produced by Rupert Holmes, the man who gave us “Escape (The Pina Colada Song,” a monster smash in 1979, and the cannibal anthem “Timothy” in 1971, the choice might not seem appropriate on the surface. But Holmes‘ unheralded work for Barbara Streisand and the Broadway musical Drood actually makes him a perfect choice to oversee this project. “Miss Pamela” has wonderful Randy Roos guitars blending with Rick Kinscherf‘s pretty keyboards, keyboards that could have inspired Billy Joel, sounding very much like his 1978 hit “Just The Way You Are.” It’s when Kinscherf‘s expressive vocal kicks in that all comparisons to traditional pop go out the window. The cover of the Adler/Ross classic (you gotta have) “Heart” is a standout here, as it was in their live show. Seven of the nine tracks are penned by Rick Kinscherf, and themes that resound in “Fay Wray” (the heroine from the epic King Kong) travel throughout the artist’s career.TO READ MORE OF THE AMG/FYE REVIEW:http://www.fye.com/Orchestra-Luna-Front-Page_stcVVproductId18548363VVcatId455366VVviewprod.htmTHE COUNT


Joe Viglione, Boston superstar and otherwise known as The Count, produced one of my all-time favourite albums I’m a Star which includes an ace version of the Velvets’ Foggy Notion, and the stunning ‘We’re Gonna Run the Night Away’. Still big on Lou Reed too, judging by his website. For more music stuff go to Varulven.


The night I met Willie Loco:

at the Plymouth Rock Party – which I audiotaped – Willie playing “Mass. Ave” with THE MEZZ


Joe Harvard’s site says:
It puts Asa Records right there with Garage Records and Joe Viglione’s Varulven one of the first local labels. Asa Brebner also went on to be member of Robin Lane and the Chartbusters, start a band with ex-Dire Straits guitarist Dave Knopfler, and form/front a couple of excellent bands: the Grey Boys and Idle Hands.



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7)Andy Pratt
Tons of Andy Pratt reviews on AMG will show up here soon.Temporary links:

When J Geils & Andy Pratt played together

Chapter EIGHT Willie “Loco” Alexander

8)Willie “Loco” Alexander

Monday, July 9, 2007

Willie “Loco” Alexander album reviews

Willie “Loco” Alexander deserves a full book or two for himself, so the least we can do is give him an entire chapter. Remember, to click on any chapter go to this address:
http://rocktableofcontents.blogspot.com/A similar page can be found here:
http://bostonrr.blogspot.com/2nd MCA album Meanwhile…Back In The Stateshttp://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:kpfyxqu5ldfeReviewby Joe Viglione
This album should have been listed in the VH1 book Casualties of Rock, the phenomenal sound and fury of Willie Alexander & the Boom Boom Band condensed and distilled into a homogenized and compressed postcard that hardly represented what the band was all about. In the first place, crediting bassist Severin Grossman, guitarist Billy Loosigian, and drummer David McLean with co-authoring “Mass. Ave.,” the solo underground hit single that relaunched Willie Alexander’s career, is downright blasphemy. Yes, the Boom Boom Band was a rock & roll treasure on the level of the Rolling Stones, a powerful, self-contained unit that could shake the rafters with their distinct and unbelievable sound, but they weren’t around when Alexander stepped out of the Velvet Underground with the Lost bassist Walter Powers and recorded “‘Cause I’m Taking You to Bed” at the Orson Welles Recording Studio (a studio under the famous theater in Harvard Square, Cambridge). That vintage recording completely blows away the remake, slyly entitled “For Old Time’s Sake” to get by the MCA censors. You read that right, “Rhythm Asshole Baby” became “R.A. Baby” for the almighty gods at the record label, while “Gourmet Baby,” a song about cunnilingus, was transformed into “Pass the Tabasco” — and you can only imagine the frustration for an artist of integrity like Alexander, who was told to sing “I want to kiss you but you give me the hives” (the original lyrics were “I want to eat you but you give me the hives”). Not only were the lyrics censored, the sound was hollowed out, and producer Craig Leon got the band to play by the numbers. Here is the best example of genius being stripped and tortured. The bandmates seemingly went along with this fiasco, implying that Alexander was too “loco” to be given to the public in his raw form. Well, guess what, boys? You got all your fame from Willie “Loco” Alexander being just that. Imagine telling Mick Jagger to sit still and clean up his lyrics? Alexander and the boys imploded, walking away from a third MCA release, and both factions cut demos with producer Leon on their own — Alexander recording four eerie and brilliant tracks that have never seen the light of day, but which head him in the direction of what he would put out on RCA in Europe for Solo Loco, vindication that he could get signed without the band that he rocked Boston with. The Boom Boom Band cut three sides with the late Matthew McKenzie of Reddy Teddy with Leon, but the tapes stayed on the shelf. What did find its way out of this maze was a blistering version of their live standard, “Dirty Eddie.” Frustrated by the restrictions of MCA, the band tore into that filthy song about golden showers and Alexander released it independently so the world could see what the group was really all about. The flip side of the 45 was an even dirtier, if you can imagine that: “She Wanted Me” (aka “Nazi Nola,” for scenester Nola Rezzo) is a song about anal intercourse. Alexander took the Velvet Underground one step further — that band he was in was named after an S&M book, but Alexander’s songs were usually about his own sexual escapades and depravity, real underground stuff that you won’t find on Meanwhile…Back in the States. The tragedy of it all is that his music was commercially viable, chock-full of hooks and solid riffs, but not transferred to vinyl the way it should have been. Stephan Lovelace‘s earlier production of “You Looked So Pretty When” was Phil Spector meets Jimmy Miller, classic Stones by way of the Ronettes. Here Leon plays Dr. Frankenstein and does a Ray Conniff version of a hard rock classic. Now if that isn’t enough to make the fans faint and the band implode, well, “Hitchhiking” and “Mass. Ave.,” two songs that needed no censorship, still fail to make the grade, giving Alexander the good sense to go hitchhiking on Mass Ave. rather than put up with any more of this. The two MCA releases were issued in Britain under the title Pass the Tabasco, and despite this frightening essay on record industry misconduct, are worth picking up to get a glimpse of a couple of rock & roll albums that could have redefined ’80s rock and the so-called new wave.==================================================================== Willie Loco’s Boom Boom Band back up Sal Maida’s wife:Lisa Burnshttp://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&uid=CASS70310091935&sql=Arm6atr3lkl7x(Maida played in Roxy Music, Milk ‘n Cookies, Velveteen)Reviewby Joe Viglione
The problem with Lisa Burns’ solo album on MCA is the same trouble that plagued her backing band here on its two albums on the same label: the guy who got them into the studio, producer Craig Leon. Leon is a talented guy, and his demos for Willie Alexander & the Boom Boom Band, along with his demos for DMZ, another Boston band, were superb. But given a budget and the big room of Suntreader Studio in Sharon, VT, and this album, with its neo-Phil Spector sound, just falls apart. What a shame. On paper, it’s a great idea. The talent is here, somewhere in the grooves; it just is not as cohesive as Leon‘s own hit, the remake of Spirit in the Sky under the guise of Doctor & the Medics. “Slow Burn” would be great girl group pop except that David McLean‘s drums are too far up in the mix, the backing vocals are too far down, and the pretty frills just don’t have the ooomph that Spector and his clones put into their radio-friendly productions. “In the Streets” is Annie Golden of the Shirts meets the Shangri-Las, with really great material and a performance that gets lost. Leon failed to properly record Willie Alexander‘s “You Looked So Pretty When,” originally put to independent plastic by the late producer Stephen Lovelace. That tune, cut around the same time as these songs on the second Boom Boom album on MCA, probably during the same session, would have been perfect for Burns’ more than adequate vocals. But Leon‘s underproduction does no justice to any of this pop; where Lovelace successfully merged Spector‘s sentiment with Sex Pistols-style rock & roll, Leon strips it all down. Oh, there’s the “Be My Baby” drumbeat to open the DeShannon classic “When You Walk in the Room,” and three Moon Martin covers, including “Love Gone Bad” (with its melody almost borrowed from Tommy James‘ “Tighter Tighter”), but hitting it out of the park is another issue. It is the Boom Booms backing up Burns here, with Billy Loosigian on guitar, Severin Grossman on bass, and the aforementioned David McLean on drums. Willie Alexander, the guy whose talent brought this crew together, is nowhere to be found on this record (he’s also missing from the Velvet Underground‘s Squeeze album on Polygram, sad to say). It’s been said that the band, and perhaps the producer, felt Alexander was too “far out” to be commercial. It is Alexander‘s eccentricities that garnered the attention in the first place; his compositions and incredible backing vocal work, along with his passion for Ronnie Spector‘s hits, could have contributed here. “Some Sing, Some Dance,” a tune later recut by Ray Paul & Emmit Rhodes, misses the mark, and so does the exquisite “Victim of Romance,” another Moon Martin tune that just sounds like the recording was rushed. The opening cover of the Box Tops‘ hit “Soul Deep” is an excellent choice, but sounds like it is lost in a vacuum. Willie Alexander & the Boom Boom Band had a three-album deal with Leon and MCA; infighting dissolved the group, and Leon went on to produce demos for the band without Alexander, and demos for Alexander without the band. The tragedy of the Lisa Burns album is that, had everyone been on the same page as a team, with Burns opening for Alexander and utilizing the same backing band, ’70s and ’80s rock could have been redefined. These are large talents who got lost in the mix, and the 20/20 vision of hindsight sheds light on the failure of this recording to bring these artists to the public. A real lesson in musical waste. “Tell Tale Heart,” another co-write by the singer, should be done the right way by Ronnie Spector; it would be vindication for Burns and for the forgotten soldier responsible for these musicians to be able to record in the first place, William Spence Alexander. Good voice, great songs, wonderful musicianship, weak record. You figure it out.

Solo Loco 1980

Interesting thing is that I was interviewed for Billboard Magazine by the late Roman Kozak the same day the New Rose/RCA disc arrived in my mailbox from France. These were “heady times” indeed at the dawn of the New Wave. If I could only go back now, twenty-seven years later, with the knowledge I have, so much more could have been accomplished. Hindsight being 20/20…


Reviewby Joe Viglione
It opens with a mournful wail that is the a cappella version of “Tennessee Waltz,” the number one Patti Page 1950 hit that Sam Cooke reworked in 1964. Both artists never imagined this rendition, the naked voice defiant after his band and MCA deal collapsed. The genius of Solo Loco is best displayed on the French release on New Rose/R.C.A. Here tunes like “Are You Leaving” and “Eyes Are Crossed” provide the proof, as if any was needed, to why the Boom Boom Band got signed to MCA in the first place. Willie’s songs have the inspiration, the intensity, the individuality that make for good listening, if not stardom. “Small Town Medley” is the kind of musical departure that the Boom Boom Band and producer Craig Leon did not understand. It’s sheer brilliance, reuniting with his bassist in the Velvet Underground, Walter Powers III, engineer Ted St. Pierre providing the intense guitars. Walter Powers also adds a throbbing bassline to “It’s All Over,” an amalgam of sound, intricate piano lines, and drumming from Willie with multi-layered vocals, and percussion sounds the artist obtained by playing the drum sticks on the floor of the recording studio. Truly a work of art. “Hit and Run” is avant-garde techno jazz, the album event no doubt a catharsis for Alexander. He scribbles his voice, keyboards, and soul all over Solo Loco. With help from guitarist Peter Dayton, Ministry bassist Brad Hallen, and Lord Manuel Smith‘s exotic synthesizer noises, Alexander brings 11 originals and two covers to life in this cleverly warped sound environment. The album is a career moment, the electronic and eerie “No Way Jose” and the 45 that landed the deal, “Gin,” concluding side one with perhaps the two most commercial songs on the record. Alexander would stay on New Rose for many years. Though there was major-label interest from Arista, Polygram, and RCA in the United States, his wife at the time signed the album to Greg Shaw‘s Bomp label. The Bomp release came out a year later with a different cover, rearranged tracking and without the lengthy “So Tight,” a techno punk song about Harvard Square that has a great groove. Solo Loco contains an image of Willie Alexander duplicated eight times on the front and back cover with a stunning kaleidoscope of color schemes. Patrick Mathé at New Rose understood the tremendous talent he had signed and packed it lovingly. All one has to do is listen to the explosive remake of Gene Vincent‘s “Be Bop a Lula” to hear the forces at play, forces of total artistic expression.

Willie “Loco” Alexander’s Greatest Hits, Vol. 1

Reviewby Joe Viglione
It may have been Genya Ravan who said, “What’s the point of putting out a ‘greatest hits’ album if you have no hits”; the thinking, of course, is to use the words “best of” instead. But to the French, Boston, New York, and L.A. underground, Willie “Loco” Alexander is a true hero, an artist who is both prolific and original, and to those fans, these are his “hits.” Outside of the live double LP Autre Chose on New Rose and the ultra rare Sperm Bank Babies LP (only 500 were pressed of this circa-1977 WERS radio broadcast by Willie Alexander & the Boom Boom Band), there are three studio collections of Alexander’s work on the market, Northeast’s 1991 U.S. release Boom Boom Ga Ga, Fan Club’s Fifteen Years of Rock & Roll With Willie Alexander on New Rose’s subsidiary released in France in 1990, and 1985’s Willie Loco Alexander’s Greatest Hits, also released in France on the Fan Club imprint. Eight of the titles here show up again five years later on the 20-track CD but, surprisingly, six of the titles were replaced. Of the six that you can find on Willie Loco Alexander’s Greatest Hits, two of them are absolutely vital — the “You Looked So Pretty When” 45 and its flip “Hit Her Wid de Axe.” The original producer, the late Stephan Lovelace, was going through a divorce and refused to mail the original masters to the artist, so engineer Karen Kane EQ’d the original 45s of the two aforementioned titles and Willie’s solo debut 45 “Mass. Ave.” and “Kerouac.” “You Looked So Pretty When,” in particular, is essential to the story of this artist. The production, for an independent 45, is stunning: It’s a rock & roll band emulating Phil Spector‘s “wall of sound” without a wall of sound, just with their instruments. It survives as one of the finest moments from the new wave of 1976. Decades later, it is still a powerful rock & roll statement, as is “Pup Tune,” which both Fan Club releases shamelessly lift from the vintage Live at the Rat album. Both French releases incorrectly label the song as “Pop Tune,” but that is so misleading. In actuality, it is a demented, sizzling rock masterpiece regarding Alexander’s obsession with Ronnie Spector, a song about some omnisexual drunken stupor where a dog eats someone’s panties and does unmentionable things with them. It is sheer brilliance, the maniacal performance of the band, with Loco screaming “baby I love you” over the ending. As Alexander writes in the brief liners, “This record is ten years of vinyl nuts and guts. Loco Boom Boom Gaga Rock & Roll.” Don’t let his eccentricities throw you off the scent; this is a very clever man with lots of rock, jazz, folk, and punk sensibilities. His version of Doc Pomus‘ “Lonely Avenue” is authentic, while the Gene Vincent cover, “Be Bop a Lula,” is one of the most unique versions of this tune you will ever hear. Recorded after the breakup of the Boom Boom Band for New Rose/RCA in 1980, it shows Alexander truly Solo Loco. His ability to create rhythms with the piano or the drums and his grasp of desperation are what rock & roll is all about. The downside here is that the mastering of “Be Bop a Lula” sounds horrible on this disc, not as pure as what is on Solo Loco or the New Rose 1980-2000 boxed set. “Be Bop a Lula” sounds great on those releases, coming through loud and clear. This 14-song album holds lots of keys to Loco the artist. “Bass Rocks” is about Gloucester, MA, but the key riff is Lou Reed‘s “White Light/White Heat” melody. As a former member of the Velvet Underground, that melody is the only remnant Alexander chooses to give to the world, subliminally, to acknowledge his past. This album covers only the period starting in 1975 with the release of the classic “Kerouac” single, so there is none of his work for the Lost on Capitol or Bagatelle on ABC Records. It’s a freeze frame of the solo work this dedicated artist has released to the world, a good collection of important moments in Willie Alexander’s career.

A GIRL LIKE YOU 1982 New Rose


Reviewby Joe Viglione
Electro Acoustic Studios moved from the ambience of Boston’s theater district (the drag queens would reportedly have knife fights outside this space across from where the famous Coconut Grove fire happened), the facility where the previous Solo Loco masterpiece was etched, way up to Bethel, ME, a studio in transition changing dramatically the sound of an artist in transition. If Solo Loco was vindication, the artist in complete control after losing his band and MCA contract, A Girl Like You is a trip deeper into the mind of this creative artist, further into the insightful ramblings of Willie Loco’s psyche while he was assembling his new group. Commercial music this is not, though it reunites Alexander with Walter Powers, who was with the singer/songwriter when they performed in the Velvet Underground. Alexander downplays that part of his career, though he should be proud of it now; the tragedy was that the Velvets didn’t pull a Doobie Brothers, allowing Willie Alexander’s material to shift the course of the group the way Michael MacDonald gave that institution a new direction. Alexander is the beatnik to Lou Reed‘s street poet. Where Alexander gave us the wonderfully eerie “Video Games” on this 1982 disc, Reed countered with “My Red Joystick” in 1984, with Alexander drawing from his Kerouac obsessions and Reed coming from the school of Delmore Schwartz; it’s too bad Reed and Alexander didn’t team up and push the manager Sesnick out the door, the pairing would have been pure magic. And at the very least they could have played together at the arcade. John Dunton-Downer adds bizarre tenor saxophone, and the brilliant guitar work is from the late Matthew MacKenzie. The odd thing here is that when the Boom Boom Band and Willie Alexander went their separate ways, there was still a third album due on the MCA contract. Matthew MacKenzie fronted the Boom Boom Band and tracked tapes with producer Craig Leon while Leon produced four sides with solo Alexander as well. The shame of it is that they should have brought MacKenzie into the original Boom Boom Band to keep the peace, and much of this could have been the third MCA album. “Dock of the Bay” is fun, but it doesn’t have the manic intensity of “Be Bop a Lula” from Solo Loco, or the effect the live Boom Boom rendition of “All I Have to Do Is Dream” had on audiences. “Great Balls of Fire,” on the other hand, delivers what Loco’s fans expect in a more subdued fashion. A Girl Like You works best when it plays exotic rock; “Bite the Bullet” is underground techno that is the antithesis of the Human League. Dedicated to Thelonious Monk, A Girl Like You is another reason why the great Genya Ravan will make comments like, “I think Willie is the best thing since sliced bread.” “The Only Time” is Alexander’s reinvention of the blues, while “Oh, Daddy, Oh” would’ve played relentless on Maynard G. Krebs‘ transistor had the song been around during the Dobie Gillis era. New Rose labelmates the Troggs caused a stir with A Girl Like You and Alexander takes the concept a step further. Not his most accessible album, but an important link in his deep and valuable catalog.


Reviewby Joe Viglione
Arguably the most concise overview of the prolific and quite valuable career of Willie Loco Alexander, this live album was recorded two years after he signed to what was the RCA-distributed New Rose Records label. His wailing cover of Tennesse Waltz retains the stark madness of Solo Loco, his post-Boom Boom Band release and New Rose debut. With the two prior MCA albums distributed in Paris by Barclay, there was an audience, and this band delivers the goods. The double vinyl includes a wonderful gatefold which has photos of the bandmembers with dates and cities — Bordeaux on March 7, 1982; Mont De Marsan on April 6, 1982; Paris March 23, 24, and 25 — 13 dates listed in all. Beyond the great document of a true cult figure, this is also the reunion of post-Lou Reed Velvet Underground members Alexander and Walter Powers. Though they toured the U.K. twice with Doug Yule and Moe Tucker, the eventual Polydor release, Squeeze was Doug Yule with Deep Purple’s drummer, Ian Paice. This is partially what Squeeze should have been, and, on that level, it is of great historical importance. “Gin,” the single that got Alexander signed to New Rose/RCA is here in a beautiful and rare live version. Joan McNulty, who produced the Buzzcocks live album Lest We Forget on R.O.I.R., was adamant about the recording of “Gin,” which led to the European contract. The subtle version recorded here is evidence that the Confessions were truly the band for Willie Alexander; beyond the Lost, the Bagatelle, and his extraordinary Boom Boom Band, these are musicians who treat Loco with the respect he deserves. When the Boom Boom Band imploded, there was a third album that never got recorded for MCA, so producer Craig Leon did two sets of demos, one with Reddy Teddy‘s Matthew McKenzie on vocals backed by the Boom Boom Band, and a set with Willie Alexander solo. MCA passed on both, but two years on, McKenzie joined the Confessions along with “Ricky “Rock It” Rothchild” from Gary Shane and his band. The unreleased “Killer in a Trenchcoat,” which was drenched in keyboards on the unreleased Craig Leon demo, rocks out here in its first official release. Boom Boom Band classics from “Radio Heart” to “Dirty Eddie,” “Home Is,” and “Hit Her Wid De Axe” are all catalogued in the exciting chaos that Willie Alexander projects when things are clicking. They click on Autre Chose, the album named after the French restaurant outside of Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA, where the artist had a day gig. 18 selections are here, uncensored, so you hear Loco do the things that made MCA cringe. Great stuff. The photos, the song selection, the performances, the dates of the gigs — everything is here except where each song was recorded. This is two ex-members of the Velvet Underground touring Europe years later producing an album as vital as 1984’s brilliant Lou Reed Live in Italy. An obscure single like “B.U.Baby” makes for a tremendous closer, with the band injecting the right jolts; the version here blows away the rare 45 rpm. Ricky Rothchild and Matthew McKenzie both passed away since this was recorded, but it stands as a terrific snapshot of a great band, and an artist that helped shape the rock & roll scene in Boston who, despite releases on Capitol, ABC, MCA, RCA, and myriad independents, has never been given the recognition he deserves. If they gave Grammys out for the best music recorded in a year as opposed to what is popular, Autre Chose would have been a frontrunner in 1982.

Willie Loco Alexander
P.O. Box 796
Gloucester, MA 01930


Reviewby Joe Viglione

When Willie “Loco” Alexander & the Boom Boom Band split after 1979’s Meanwhile…Back in the States on MCA, Alexander immediately picked up the slack by having a Boston area power trio, the Neighborhoods, back him up on-stage while he began recording the first of his many releases on the European New Rose label. The original Boom Boom Band reunited 23 years later, only to go into the studio owned by the Neighborhoods‘ guitarist/vocalist David Minehan. The results are phenomenally great, only proving that had the rock & roll minefields not existed to stand in this juggernaut’s way, Willie Alexander & the Boom Boom Band would have emerged as Boston’s answer to the Rolling Stones, and then some. While there is new material here, the band doesn’t shy away from recovering some of the music Alexander released after the split. “Oh Daddy Oh” from 1982’s A Girl Like You album gets a driving new finish, while “Ogalala,” originally issued on 1997’s Persistence of Memory Orchestra CD, has a new perspective that gives Alexander the platform to go “loco,” the stuff that made this group so irresistible in the first place. “Who Killed Deanna” from 1999’s East Main Street Suite is one of the album’s highlights — the “Som-Som-Somerville” hook is haunting inside a true murder mystery that happened on the outskirts of Boston. That album also featured a track entitled “Ocean Condo II,” which was a reworking of the original “Ocean Condo” from 1988’s The Dragons Are Still Out, reprised here with Billy Loosigian‘s amazing guitar work as “Ocean Condo III,” of course. The band also rocks out “AAWW” — which some of the fans decipher as “All American Woman Wife” — the flip of a 45 that was originally intensified by the band from the live Autre Chose album in 1982. It’s a tasty way for the devoted to see how this material would’ve played out had the Boom Boom Band stayed together. Even the underground classic “Telephone Sex” from 1984’s Taxi-Stand Diane EP finds itself resurrected here to good effect. Keep in mind that this group began by picking up the material Alexander was releasing on the independent Garage label in the mid-’70s, so one also gets the vibe that the group is truly going back to its roots and reinventing stuff that Willie did separately. A cover of scenester Emily XYZ‘s “Hey Kid” gives the band a different “new wave” feel, while Alexander and Loosigian combine to write four new tunes, including the interesting “Mystery Training,” which dips into Willie’s jazzier influences. The Boom Booms deliver close to 60 minutes of triumph, an album that is among their finest studio work to date, equal to the superb (and still missing in action) Craig Leon-produced demos from Dimension Studios in 1977 that landed them their deal with MCA. Dog Bar Yacht Club is no fluke; in performance Willie Alexander & the Boom Boom Band play this material flawlessly and with the fury they had when they reigned as the kings of the Boston scene.


Reviewby Joe Viglione
Released a year after the French label New Rose issued Fifteen Years of Rock & Roll With Willie Alexander, this is pretty much the same album with different cover art and some track discrepancies. It, of course, being a year older is Willie “Loco” presenting 16 years of his solo work. None of the material from the Bagatelle on ABC Dunhill, the Lost on Capitol, or his Boom Boom Band work released on MCA appears here, with the exception of “Dirty Eddie,” the song considered “too dirty” to put out on either MCA release, it stands as a testament to what could have been had producer Craid Leon just let Willie be Willie. Boom Boom Ga Ga, references to some of Alexander’s scat remarks and his wonderfully juvenile promotional scribblings — “ga ga rock” — taking this musical form back to its primal stages, is vindication for Alexander in the same way that Didi Stewart‘s One True Heart (not coincidentally, on the same record company) made her statement away from the politics of her major group and difficult business relationships. Both Alexander and Didi Stewart are true artists, and prime examples of how the business can stand in the way of important art. The art is here, from his regional hit single with Erik Lindgren which opens both the European and American versions of this disc, “In the Pink,” to “Kerouac” and “Mass. Ave., his two Stephan Lovelace-produced local singles. The late Stephan Baerenwald, brother to Robin Lane & the Chartbuster‘s Scott Baerenwald, was the perfect producer for El Loco. His works of genius, the “You Looked So Pretty When” and “Hit Her Wid De Axe” singles included on the American release, but not the French. The two Garage Records 45’s which were the demos that landed him his MCA contract, and the single “Gin,” which got him the New Rose/RCA deal, are picture perfect moments in Willie Alexander’s career. The fans of Loco may take this album for granted, having heard the songs so many times live and on previous releases, but for the world at large, Boom Boom Ga Ga is important history of a man with incredible musical depth and insight. It exists through sheer hard work and years of relentless performing. The live versions of “Pup Tune” and “At the Rat” from the Live at the Rat album are two other key moments in the career, as is “In the Pink.” This is actually an extension of 1985’s Willie Alexander’s Greatest Hits which came out on Fan Club/New Rose in Paris, and because his catalog is so extensive, the 22 tracks make it more accurate than the single LP, but far from comprehensive. Some day Willie “Loco” Alexander will have the six-CD boxed set that he deserves, one of America’s great underground heroes who has a catalog so vast and so musical that it is scary.



Reviewby Joe Viglione
Willie Alexander and the Boom Boom Band signed a three-album deal with producer Craig Leon and MCA records back in the ’70s, but the group imploded after tracking just two albums which failed to capture their magic. Decades later, the Tokyo-based Captain Trip records has seen fit to issue this single CD, which includes portions of two live shows and a bonus 45 rpm. It achieves what the major-label releases did not. The CD begins with material engineered by Jesse Henderson at Boston’s notorious nightspot the Rat on August 27, 1976, exactly one month before the recordings this band made for the Live at the Rat album (September 27, 28, and 29 with Jesse Henderson as well). “Pup Tune,” “At the Rat,” and “Kerouac” sound much clearer on this CD, a better mix than what was released on the legendary double LP from the nightclub, and three more songs to boot. The performances are excellent. Eight additional titles were recorded in May of 1976 at the Club in Cambridge by Erik Lindgren of the band Moving Parts. Dramatically different than the Rat recordings, this earlier tape is muddier — bootleg quality, but that doesn’t stop the power from seeping through. These are historic concert tapes of the band performing “For Old Time’s Sake” (aka “Cause I’m Taking You to Bed”), “Garbage Man,” and a rare live version of “Gin,” the single that landed Willie Alexander his post-MCA deal with New Rose/RCA in Europe. The woman in the audience talking at the prelude of “Garbage Man” is totally annoying, and it is a sin marring what is a fine performance. This is a slow, very nasty version of the sexual escapade that is “Garbage Man” — as close to the sound of Alexander’s former group, the Velvet Underground, as the Boom Boom Band cared to get. This song, along with “Dirty Eddie,” caused much controversy in the “Loco” camp. Reportedly, the band became afraid of letting Alexander be Alexander on MCA, but the whole reason they got signed was because of his ability to write great rock & roll with no inhibitions. Hearing this CD will thrill as well as infuriate the devoted followers of Willie Loco because it preserves the power of his performance, and proves that producer Craig Leon and the members of the Boom Boom Band should’ve just let loose in the studio and allowed the artist the opportunity to do what he does best. The demos that secured the deal with MCA were brilliant, and there was no need to re-record them except in a live setting. “Mass. Ave.” is an all-out rocker on this CD, the May performance one of the Boom Boom Band’s earlier shows boasting a raw energy and enthusiasm resulting in total artistic expression. “Rock ‘n’ Roll Lick #76,” a masterpiece of song construction, is sublime and, along with “Rhythm a Baby,” reveal how cohesive and extraordinary this ensemble was. People say that Barry & the Remains were a live phenomenon which studio recordings failed to capture. That could be said of the Boom Boom Band as well. However, this disc, and the long out-of-print Sperm Bank Babies live radio broadcast from 1976, are able to set the record straight. This is primal Willie “Loco” Alexander with his Boom Boom Band before the politics and the recording industry did a number on them. What it lacks in production is more than made up for with the spirit and energy that sizzle in these CD grooves. The two bonus tracks at the end were released on Somor records and are outtakes from the MCA sessions recorded by Craig Leon. “Dirty Eddie” was perhaps the finest single tune produced for MCA and was rejected for being “too dirty.” The band, the label, management, and the producer attempted to “refine” Willie Alexander, and in doing so, stifled him and derailed their gravy train. “She Wanted Me (Nazi Nola),” a live reggae track recorded in the studio, is completely raunchy, and half trying, obliterates the other recordings that were released on the two MCA Boom Boom Band albums. France and Japan revere Willie Loco Alexander for the genius that he is, and this album, despite the jarring caused by the three different tape sources, is very powerful and lots of fun.



Reviewby Joe Viglione
11:00 P.M. Saturday is a good title for this recording by the nine musicians who made up Bagatelle, who performed covers as well as originals. It is an anomaly in Boston rock & roll history. Covering tunes from James Brown to The Beatles, the band consisted of three main vocalists, Fred Griffith, Rodney Young, and David “Redtop” Thomas. The fourth singer also played piano and percussion, the influential Willie “Loco” Alexander. Alexander‘s tune, “Everybody Knows,” is included here in a beautiful way. It would be re-recorded by producer Craig Leon for his 1978 debut, Willie Alexander & The Boom Boom Band on MCA Records. The Bagatelle and Larry Fallon arranged this recording, the latter having worked with Keith, The Looking Glass, and producer Jimmy Miller, among others. The vocal harmonies on tunes like “Hey You” mixed with flute remind one of Rare Earth. Coincidentally, they perform Rare Earth‘s first hit, “(I Know) I’m Losing You,” but the version here is influenced by the Temptations 1966 hit. To hear a young Willie Alexander, the man who would usher in the new wave in Boston, singing “Back on the Farm” with horns and Motown style vocals is pretty groundbreaking. An a capella take of the traditional “Every Night” opens side two. Reminiscent of Boston’s the G Clefs with a mix of gospel and soul, it shows the wonderful diversity of this band. Their version of The Impressions “I’ve Been Trying” sounds like a studio take until you hear the applause at the end. The saxophone of Steve Schrell and trumpet of Mark Gould make for a jazzy version of “I Can’t Stand It,” but the lengthy improv disturbs the momentum of the album. Live covers of “I Feel Good” and the medley, including “Please, Please, Please,” “Gloria” (not the Van Morrison tune), “Crying in the Chapel,” “I Only Have Eyes For You,” and “For Your Love,” make this an interesting document, but it is the inclusion of early Willie Alexander which makes it historic.



By Joe Viglione
GateHouse News Service
Fri Aug 03, 2007, 01:43 PM EDT
Beverly –

As far as rock musicians go, Gloucester’s Willie “Loco” Alexander is not your usual suspect. When he walks through a door, you don’t have to clear a path for his ego. He’s not loud, he’s not showy and instead of asking if you know who he is, he’s a lot more likely to ask who you are.

For those who don’t know Alexander, he is to the Boston music scene sort of what Andy Warhol is to art. During the ’70s, he broke down barriers and fused rock, jazz and blues into an original sound delivered with no reservations. For more than 40 years he’s been performing with a number of different bands, beginning with The Lost, later with Bagatelle and then there was a short stint with The Velvet Underground. But Boston fans know him and love him best for the music he gave them with the Boom Boom Band, a fixture at the Rat in Kenmore Square during the heyday of punk.

Along the way Alexander has been called a lot of things, from musical genius to cult hero to rock ’n’ roll survivor.

“I knew of Willie through musician friends in Boston who spoke of him reverentially (‘Dude, he played with the Velvet Underground!’),” says bass player Mike Rivard, who with his trance-funk outfit Club d’Elf is a bit of a Boston fixture himself. “I was struck by his old-school Boho persona, and admired his ability to retain a kind of child-like creative space, with a flavor of the Beats to it.”

Alexander himself gives one of the best quick takes of his own style in a short video shot a while back when he and his band, the Persistence of Memory Orchestra, were touring the Basque Country in Northern Spain.

”The first time I got here they were calling me garage rock. I never thought I was garage rock. I thought I was pretty accomplished … I mean, I don’t read music, but I know what I’m doing on my instrument,” says Alexander, who insists he never played in a garage — maybe a lot of basements, but never a garage.

“Now, it’s called punk jazz or avant-garde something or other. It doesn’t matter, they call me something different every decade.”

Then, a voice off camera asks Alexander what a group of kids milling in the background would call him.

“Old,” he laughs.

Older maybe, but never old. Alexander is busy these days spinning off a new sound from the Persistence of Memory Orchestra and digging down into his Gloucester roots for new directions.

And Gloucester should be thrilled. For centuries, artists have used colors, words and songs to make Gloucester look beautiful, mysterious and sometimes heartbreaking. Alexander’s music has done something different — it’s made Gloucester look cool.

Fisheye for the Gloucester guy

Alexander has a new album in the works from the Fisheye Brothers, the same guys who play in the Persistence of Memory Orchestra — Jim Doherty on drums, Stephen Silbert on guitar and Mark Chenevert on sax. Alexander handles the piano.

“It seemed like a good time for a new project,” he says. “We have a new name for a new vision.”

Alexander says the new music is a little more guitar-oriented than the work he’s been doing for the past few years. But that hardly describes the Fisheye Brothers. The new sound is actually a scorching, salted-earth confluence of psychedelia and pure punk abandon — a punishing, bruising sonic assault. Think Iggy meets Lemmy by way of Bevis Frond and Comets on Fire.

As for the content, the band’s name says it all.

“A lot of the songs will be about Gloucester,” he says. And why not?

“I love Gloucester, this is where I lived as a boy. My dad was a Baptist minister; I live about a block from where his church was,” he says.

The Old First Baptist Church of Gloucester, near City Hall, was directed by the Rev. Edward Gordon Alexander. Willie went to the Forbes School through the third grade and then the Central Grammar.

“They have old people in one of them, other people in the other one now,” Alexander says. “Condos are the big trend … churches don’t have choirs in them, they’ve converted to people living in them.”

His mother was in the Cape Anne Symphony. “She played the violin,” recalls Alexander. “I run into people here, they knew my dad and stuff. It’s really nice hearing reports of what life was like back then. I don’t see too many of my generation from school — I guess the people I went to school with left, they didn’t go fishing.”

Alexander already has a batch of Gloucester-inspired songs, including “Lady of Good V” ”Bass Rocks” and the somewhat eerie “Fishtown Horribles,” a song which draws on Gloucester’s annual Horribles Parade.

And like so much of Alexander’s music, the songs thump with contagious rhythms. Hear an Alexander song once and you’re safe — hear it twice and you’re doomed to have it play in your head all day.

But Alexander’s contribution to the Gloucester art community goes beyond the music he records and performs with his various bands. He recently completed the soundtrack for Gloucester filmmaker Henry Ferini’s film about poet Charles Olson, “Polis Is This.” Alexander and Ferrini have worked together before on short films that combine the filmmaker’s eye for odd visual detail with the musician’s ear for rhythms both with notes and words.

And Alexander’s own artwork, collages of images, headlines and words, are a favorite in Gloucester. Like one of his heroes, Jack Kerouac, Alexander strings together words and pictures that bump together and sometimes shoot off jarring new ideas. Call it free expression, call it poetry, call it whatever you like — it makes you think and feel, and that’s the point.

Alexander says he plans to have some of his artwork on display when he and the Persistence of Memory Orchestra play at the West End Theater on Main Street in Gloucester next month. That show may be a good chance to hear some of the material from the Fisheye Brothers’ new album.

“About half the stuff is about Gloucester,” says Alexander. The other half is about the Pacific Northwest and the “emerald green hillsides, timbered mountains and pristine lakes” of Idaho. Alexander says he makes that trip frequently; it’s home for his wife, photographer Anne Rearick.

“They’ve got hot rodders out there, the drive-in restaurants with girls on roller skates … it’s like the ’50s in Boise, Idaho,” says Alexander who was particularly impressed with the number of souped-up cars that showed up at a Fourth of July barbecue.

“Not that I know how to drive. I write songs about them,” he says. “They have a big book and record store; we saw a Snake River stampede, a rodeo out there … I haven’t written my rodeo song, but I know it will come.”

Vintage Loco

Although there is plenty on the horizon for Alexander, there are fans that still want to hear the old numbers. The best shot for that might be Aug.16, when Alexander joins blues artist Dave Sag for a night of music at the Rhumbline in Gloucester. Sag has a residency there, and he invites a variety of guest artists to perform their own music on his nights.

There’s no guarantees, but there will probably be a lot of requests for “Mass. Ave.,” a 1975 release that, to this day, still stands as a Boston rock ’n’ roll anthem. Horror writer Stephen King, who also has a popular column in Entertainment Weekly, calls the song one of the greatest rock ’n’ roll songs ever.

“(Mass. Ave.) has a rattle-box guitar and the weirdest male falsetto ever laid down,” says King, who calls it “Boston punk at its best.” King puts Alexander in a class with the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys, Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley.

But so do a lot of other people. Now that there is a Music Museum of New England being put together — an online site that will eventually be a physical, tangible place to see and hear artifacts from the New England music scene — Alexander is getting more attention. And maybe a little more of the credit he genuinely deserves.

Although you can listen to the Fisheye Brothers or the Persistence of Memory Orchestra and appreciate them for the music they’re performing today, with Alexander you almost have to consider the history.

Alexander and his band, The Lost, opened The Boston Tea Party, Boston’s seminal rock club — sort of a New England version of CBGB’s — on Jan. 20, 1967. From The Lost, Willie went on to Bagatelle, an R & B-styled band that one could compare to the latter-day Boston group Tavares.

Another important name on Alexander’s resume is of course the Velvet Underground. Led by Lou Reed, the band that blazed the trail for an entire decade’s worth of punk and new wave artists that followed.

When Reed left the Velvet Underground, Alexander was invited to join and tour Europe. Alexander suggested they change the name, so as not to step on Reed’s shoes, but when he got off the plane he was disappointed to see the marquee still said “The Velvet Underground.”

Willie was signed to MCA records in 1976 thanks to “Mass. Ave.,” which was pounding out on the jukebox at the Rat, then the known as the Rathskellar Nightclub. Two albums were released, but infighting stifled the third. Willie recorded a disc on his own, “Solo Loco,” and landed on the RCA-distributed New Rose label in Europe in 1980. That’s four major labels in a span of 15 years, a vast catalog of sound and songs, but not the fame that Alexander deserved.

Still, Alexander has his loyal fans, particularly among Boston’s family of rock musicians. For a lot of people who have followed in his footsteps, he’s been the leading light who opened doors for younger peers.

Rivard remembers playing with Willie at a tribute show for Mark Sandman, who headed up the Hypnosonics and Morphine, two other big-name Boston bands, before he died in 1999.

“I was one of the many musician friends who came together that day to pay tribute to Mark and ended up backing up Willie on the Morphine song ‘Super Sex,’” recalls Rivard. “He rocked it, and I know Mark would have been proud.”

And that’s the type of comment that would probably make Alexander proud. The music, and what you can do with it, has always been the thing that’s counted most.

“I still enjoy playing — if I didn’t I wouldn’t do it,” says Alexander, who admits he still gets nervous before he performs. “But I do it, I just do it because it seems like the best way to express yourself — to communicate something.”

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9)The New Wave – Willie Alexander re-emerges, Reddy Teddy, Fox Pass,
Aastral Projection


We interrupt the History of New England Music for our first post on this new site from 2014. Music Business Monthly was established in the 1980s to present seminars to Boston Area Musicians

This post is from the Intercollegiate Broadcast System seminar which Joe Viglione puts panels together for at Simmons College

October 25, 2014
Simmons College/IBS Northeast Radio Conference

October 25, 2014, Boston,MA
IBS holds over 200 educational seminars with over 300 speakers/panel members attended by over 2,000 delegates every year!
IBS/Simmons College Radio/Webcasting Conference

Joe Viglione is moderating two panels, a radio panel and a record company panel.

10:30 AM    Featuring

Rick Harte of Ace of Hearts Records

Tony Rocks – Session guitarist with Jonzun Crew, New Kids on the Block, Peter Wolf

Ken Evans –  The Fifth Estate, first band to have a Top 10 hit with a song from The Wizard of Oz

Joseph Tortelli – critic, writer of liner notes

Joe Black – Carved In Stone Media

Steve Gilligan – bassist The Stompers, Fox Pass

Kenny Selcer



This even is hosted by Simmons College at FENWAY Radio/Webcast Conference.


  • Saturday, October 25, 2014

Location, Registration, and Schedule

  • Simmons College
    2 Avenue Louis Pasteur, Boston, MA


Schedule and Promotional Materials

The 2013 conference featured speakers/panelists for 2014 planning included:

    • Allen Myers (Formally of the FCC Staff). This is Allen’s 40th year of attending
      IBS Conferences and Conventions keeping IBS Members informed on FCC matters.
    • Craig Schwalb – WPRO – Providence
    • Mark Wood – Executive Producer – TTN-HD Productions
    • Holland Cook – national radio programmer/consultant and contributor to “Talkers” magazine
    • CBS Boston
    • Greater Media Boston
    • Walter McDonough – founder of the FMC: Future of Music Coalition
    • Station Manager Roundtable Forum
    • Start Your Own
    • Live Music at Lunch with Peter Mancini
    • Record Label
    • Women in Media
    • _______________________________________________

Listen to “Hylas” the one hit song from the one hIT wonder band Jason and the Argonauts


The play has performances at 3 PM October 18 and 25 (Saturdays) and 7 PM on October 19 and 26 (Sundays)



Directions to the club 

DIRECTIONS TO CLUB BOHEMIA IN CENTRAL SQ at the CANTAB,  738 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139     tel: (617)354 2685

Click here:









chapter 10

10)Into the 1980s

CHAPTER TEN Boston – The Eighties – Joe Viglione’s History of New England Rock

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Brian Maes, Brad Delp & RTZ

Remember! To click on any chapter go to this address:
http://rocktableofcontents.blogspot.com/1)til tuesday
2)Young Snakes
3)RTZ / Barry Goudreau
4)Brad Delp Tribute
5)Robert Ellis Orrall
6)Human Sexual Response
7)Hirsh Gardner


Together with alum from the band Boston, Barry Goudreau put together an interesting nine songs recorded in Nashville and Los Angeles. It’s the distinctive Boston guitar sound with more basic rock & roll. “What’s a Fella to Do” could be a sequel to “Rock and Roll Band”; “Mean Woman Blues” goes in an almost Foghat direction. Fran Cosmo‘s vocals feel a bit more British than Brad Delp, and “Leavin’ Tonight” leans more toward producer Mike Chapman and the sound of the Sweet than one would expect. Goudreau’s guitar and Syb Hashian‘s drums are a powerful combo — no bassist is listed. The song “Dreams” gave Goudreau’s self-titled debut the radio attention it deserved, and a bit of a following. This track definitely sounds like the band Boston which, rumor has it, upset Tom Scholz. In 1992 singer Delp and guitarist Goudreau joined Brian Maes & the Memory. They rode the Maes original “Until Your Love Comes Back Around” into the Top 30 in America, and the Return to Zero album was a nice reunion for the two major forces behind this. “Life Is What We Make It” and “Cold Cold World” are good slices of American hard rock. More refined than Grand Funk Railroad and not as slick as the Mickey Thomas version of Starship, the Barry Goudreau album is a fun record free from the restrictions of Scholz‘s meticulous production. While “Cold Cold World” may evoke thoughts of the song “Long Time,” the string quartet on “Sailin’ Away” gives the album a depth and identity. Just a bunch of professional musicians playing what they like and coming up with a gem.
http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:dzfexq85ldjetil tuesday First album VOICES CARRY (Epic)

Review by Joe Viglione
‘Til Tuesday’s debut album, Voices Carry, contains hip photo imagery (Aimee Mann‘s smile on the back is priceless and beautiful) and excellent songwriting, all credited to drummer Michael Hausman, guitarist Robert Holmes, keyboard player Joey Pesce, and bassist/singer Aimee Mann. The follow-up would be more specific as to who wrote what. While most bands from Boston suffered from lack of production, Mike Thorne does a decent job on much of the album and excellent work on the title track. Former manager Randall Barbera spoke with this writer prior to the album’s recording, when Human League/Pete Shelley producer Martin Rushent was being considered for the task. The question for fans was, like the Cars before them, what was wrong with the hit demo of “Love in a Vacuum,” which saturated Boston airwaves prior to the record deal? As good a job as Mike Thorne did on the song “Voices Carry,” the world at large has not heard the inspired and innovative recording that was the original “Love in a Vacuum.” If memory serves, Will Garrett did the production work, and like certain tracks by the band Private Lightning, the demo to “Love in a Vacuum” was superior to what came out on Epic. As Roy Thomas Baker polished “Just What I Needed” for the Cars, filling it with Queen-style thickness, the new wave edge of the demo, on release on Rhino’s Cars Deluxe, will give a good example of the transition these songs go through. The big difference is that the original “Love in a Vacuum” was perfect and needed no changing, and the Mike Thorne version is over-produced, creating a good album track when the true follow-up hit was actually in hand. Epic/Legacy simply has to expand this disc with the original ‘Til Tuesday demos. “Don’t Watch Me Bleed” has the same kind of mesmerizing bass that makes “Voices Carry” so captivating, while the final track, “Sleep,” could be the Human League going deep into the underground. The song would also work well with a girl group hero like Barbara Harris of the Toys, showing the versatility of this unique ensemble. Aimee Mann‘s major-label debut shows rapid maturity when compared to her Bark Along With the Young Snakes EP, and there’s something about this combination of Pesce, Hausman, and the brilliant Robert Holmes that would make a ‘Til Tuesday reunion a welcome thing. The haunting lyrics and dark tones of the keys and bass on songs like “I Could Get Used to This” or “No More Crying” separate this recording from the work of similar ’80s bands. “Looking Over My Shoulder” has a bubbling intensity which Holmes‘ guitar adds drama to. Voices Carry may have achieved success because of the MTV video, but there were nine other songs to go along with the hit, and this album and its follow-ups should have had as much commercial success as the Cars, because artistically, they are equal to that band’s dynamic debut.


Review by Joe Viglione
The Young Snakes were a trio of musicians who toured the Boston area relentlessly in the early ’80s, featuring Michael Evans on drums, Douglas Vargas on guitar/vocals, and the unmistakable sound of a young Aimee Mann leading the way. This 1982 release actually has half of ‘Til Tuesday, with singer Aimee Mann and a guest appearance by her eventual drummer (and eventual manager), Michael Hausman. It’s an ambitious debut with more funk than ‘Til Tuesday and latter-day Aimee Mann would display. The songs are interesting: “Give Me Your Face” is along the lines of fellow local rockers New Man, while “Suit Me” is a lighter and more professional version of what Mission of Burma was cranking out at the time. The Young Snakes are more cohesive than Burma, their attack more precise, the message more clear. With Mann co-writing all five tunes with guitarist/vocalist Douglas Vargas, the state-of-mind hook of “Suit Me” on side one melts into “Don’t Change Your Mind” on side two, a dreamy vocal with static instrumentation, the beginnings of the wonderful musical paradox which Mann would perfect on the first ‘Til Tuesday album. “The Way the World Goes” plays with the exotic rock Yoko Ono would experiment with on the flip of John Lennon singles, the scratchy “Why” or “Walking on Thin Ice” guitars Ono had the honor of working with. “Not Enough” sounds like a relationship on the skids, with the voice struggling with the dilemma and the musicians reflecting it — a very original episode. This EP is absolutely important to get a handle on the early work of the eventual Oscar nominee (Magnolia soundtrack), and maybe a re-release of this, along with live Young Snakes material and the superb ‘Til Tuesday demos (if memory serves, produced by Will Garrett), would be a treat for the fans who visit her web page. This first effort by Aimee Mann is something she can be proud of.


Review by Joe Viglione
“Until Your Love Comes Back Around” hit Top 30 in February of 1992, and helped forge a new identity for ex-Boston guitarist Barry Goudreau as well as perpetual Boston member, vocalist Brad Delp. Definite ’80s rock, the opening track, “Face the Music,” could have worked on a latter day Starship album as well. On paper this looked like a huge act. The stadium veteran Delp fronting what became Peter Wolf‘s band, bassist Tim Archibald from New Man, California Raisins/Robert Ellis Orral drummer David Stefanelli, and keyboardist/songwriter Brian Maes. The latter three are also a self-contained unit known as Brian Maes & the Memory, and they brought a cohesion to RTZ which helped the Boston band refugees deliver the goods. “There’s Another Side” is right up there with the opening track, a grade-A effort, only overshadowed by the beauty of the hit ballad “Until Your Love Comes Back Around.” Live they would perform “Dreams,” the song from the Barry Goudreau album that Tom Scholz allegedly felt sounded TOO much like his group, Boston. They were careful with Return to Zero to lean more towards Brad Delp‘s pop side, “All You’ve Got” a perfect example proving Goudreau and Delp a formidable writing team. Chris Lord-Alge‘s production is straightforward, no nonsense let’s capture this excellent band exactly as they are. Goudreau‘s guitar bursts on “All You’ve Got” are short and sweet, and combine his masterful playing with a bit of the band Boston‘s magical sound. Delp recorded three solo songs in the summer of 1988 at Mission Control Studios which went from Beatles to Steely Dan in the influences that made up their essence. That sound would have benefited RTZ in a very big way. Sure, “This Is My Life” has some of that tension as well as some of those ideas, but like most of this disc, the band becomes overpowering, and the material, although exquisite and beautiful, tends to sound dated. They manufactured a sound and stuck with it, but had these artists thrown a few more elements into this “debut,” if it can be called that, they might have been able to penetrate part of the timeless Steely Dan/Beatles marketplace, and not just the arena rock domain they were aiming for. Perhaps what is truly amazing is that the millions upon millions of fans rabid for a new Boston album didn’t devour this package which, despite its flaws, has a lot to offer. Between the variety of musicians there was an overabundance of good material, and Giant/Reprise, by not fostering a half a dozen or more albums, did the world a great disservice. “Rain Down on Me” is hard hitting without the excess of a Mickey Thomas, or the bombast that Journey tended to overdo. The music is big, but controlled, and all involved are cognizant of the ever important pop hook. Yes, it is ’80s rock in the ’90s, but if you are in the mood for that style of music, Return to Zero has integrity and will hold your interest.


Review by Joe Viglione
The release of the 11-track Lost album by Return to Zero on the Japanese Avalon label in 2000 found U.S. domestic re-release in 2005 on keyboard player Brian Maes‘ own Briola Records, with the exotic and very artsy Ron Pownall cover on the import replaced by drummer David Stefanelli‘s more subdued graphics and the disc retitled Lost in America by RTZ. It’s terrific. Following the RTZ debut album and tour, the arena rockers recorded this material in Boston guitarist Barry Goudreau‘s basement, with Goudreau replacing Chris Lord-Alge as engineer/producer. The bandmembers embrace this sudden freedom of expression by dipping into a variety of pop bags that suit them very well. “Violent Days” is a sublime R.E.M.-style light rocker with a hook that won’t quit. The enormous talents of Brad Delp have always been restrained in the confines of the Boston project — his solo recordings along with his uncanny ability to sing the parts of John, Paul, George, and Ringo in his Beatles tribute, Beatlejuice, are evidence of his creative spark, perhaps the most underrated major star in Boston (the city). “Turn This Love Around” is certainly a strange title for a band that hit the Billboard Top 40 with Brian Maes‘ “Until Your Love Comes Back Around,” this unique and different composition written by Delp, Goudreau, and drummer Dave Stefanelli. It’s a majestic Brit-pop episode resplendent in George Harrison-style guitars. “One in a Million,” with its ’50s flavors, could easily have fit on Robert Plant‘s Honeydrippers project. OK, maybe RTZ have more of a modern edge, so they take that vintage R&B and bring it to the end of the century. “Change for Change” could be a long-lost sequel to 1989’s “Sowing the Seeds of Love” by Tears for Fears — plenty of “I Am the Walrus” flavors to go round — while the slick structure of the opening track, “When You Love Someone,” leans more toward Jefferson Starship or, dare it be suggested, Orion the Hunter by way of Bryan Adams. It’s a melting pot of styles culminating in a nod to, of all people, Eric Carmen‘s Raspberries on “Dangerous,” concluding the album with a driving pop sound good for cruising around with the convertible top down. The frivolity is welcome, as this essential follow-up has a much more relaxed feel than its predecessor. The balance brought by way of the light atmosphere does not in any way inhibit the Byrds-meets-Traveling Wilburys folk-rocker “Don’t Lead Me On” from succinctly offering some of the CD’s best moments and reiterating them in one song. It’s one of the rare moments when Uncle Irving let one get away, and that’s a pity. Much of this album deserves to be played over and over again on the radio.


By Joe Viglione
GateHouse Media
Fri Mar 30, 2007, 12:57 PM EDT

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Beverly –

Brad Delp was probably the most obscure superstar in the history of rock and roll. Think about it for a moment. The fellow who went to Danvers High School was the voice on recordings that sold in the same multi-platinum (platinum equals a million sales) league as the Beatles, Whitney Houston, Fleetwood Mac, the Rolling Stones and others in that select and elite group. But where a David Lee Roth or a Sammy Hagar could emerge as a “name” from inside the Van Halen household, the band Boston was always synonymous with Tom Scholz.

The kids who purchased Boston albums never really got to see Brad Delp, the recording artist. They got to hear a rock star reach amazing notes to complement the equally amazing guitar-based songs of Tom Scholz.

Scholz, as leader of the band Boston, has gotten a lot of negative press since the tragic suicide of his group’s most familiar lead vocalist, but that is because it sells papers. Anyone being part of something that huge has to just thank his lucky stars. Will there be battles when a band hits the big time? Absolutely — look at all the names mentioned above.

Why Brad Delp didn’t utilize the platform to go forth on his own as Steve Perry from Journey did, as Lou Gramm from Foreigner did, as so many frontmen in rock were able to do, had to do with his own personality more than his talent not being marketed properly. His talent was enormous and this writer is probably more aware of it than most: I was the manager of Mission Control Studios in the summer of 1988, and it was the solo recordings by Brad Delp that were among some of the most magical moments these ears heard that summer.

When The Cars’ vocalist Ben Orr died of pancreatic cancer on Oct. 3, 2000, it was a major tragedy — the true end of The Cars. But Ben’s five-month battle with cancer was one of those hopeless situations that one approaches with resignation, sadness, and the thought that there was nothing else that could be done. The suicide of Brad Delp, on the other hand, sent shockwaves through the New England music community. No one saw this coming, including this writer.


Loose ends, sleepless nights

I met with Brad on Feb. 10 at The Regent Theater after a Beatlejuice performance. He saw me as he was signing autographs and said “Joe, wait there!” So I patiently waited for the fellow I first met in 1988 (though he appeared on a Jim Femino track, “Party Tonight,” that my record label issued in 1983). You’ve heard the rumors about him being “the nicest guy in rock and roll,” and outside of his untimely passing and the way it was done, he truly was.

So here I am a day shy of a month before Brad would leave us and he’s talking to me about my North Shore Sunday article on the late Jo Jo Laine, a girl he dated in the early 1970s when they lived on in Danvers. These two people from the same street were drawn to the same music — both attended the Beatles at Suffolk Downs in 1966, though separately. Both became larger than life and both remained a lot more obscure than they should’ve been.

“Hey Joe…Great To Finally Meet You! Best of luck! Brad Delp Boston 88!” says the autograph on this writer’s copy of the Third Stage album from the group known as Boston. Perhaps Brad’s humility was part of what kept him from being a household name, despite being the voice on the biggest selling debut in rock history. According to About.com, the first “Boston” album has sold 17 million units as of 2003 — 17 million units and every track a staple on classic rock radio. Oldies as well as classic rock, satellite radio stations and college DJs all play “More Than A Feeling” repeatedly, the voice of Brad Delp echoing out of radios and iPods everywhere.

There are so many loose ends with this untimely death that it has generated many sleepless nights for those who knew the singer. He is larger than life in death, larger than he ever was performing to hundreds of thousands of fans over the years. Millions and millions buying his voice on record, millions and millions more hearing that voice on the radio. He is probably the biggest unknown superstar of all time. Think about it. How does one sell that many records without being a household name until his eerie and troubling death?

Those who knew Brad personally were especially rattled by the event. David Bieber of the Boston Phoenix noted that former Boston manager, Charlie McKenzie, passed away five years earlier almost to the day — I believe it was March 8, 2002. A fellow who opened for the band Boston, singer Bobby Hebb, said three words to me when we spoke: “We lost Brad.”

Bradley saw the legendary Bobby Hebb, former Rockport resident, perform “Sunny” on Aug. 18, 1966 at Suffolk Downs, opening for The Beatles. When I saw him Feb. 10, Brad agreed to do an interview regarding Bobby’s performance with Mr. Hebb’s biographer, who coincidentally lives a few blocks away from The Regent Theater where Beatlejuice played. When I mentioned that Beatlejuice, Bobby Hebb, The Remains, The Ronettes and The Cyrkle should all do a Beatles 41st anniversary reunion show, Brad noted that he would be on tour with Boston, and that he would be getting married that very day, Aug. 18, 2007.

One wonders if a man is about to be married, is going on tour with one of the biggest bands in the world, and is happy playing the songs of his favorite band, the Beatles, why he would kill himself in such a determined, uncharacteristic and harrowing way.

A man in crisis

Let me clarify this. I have only had kind, wonderful and pleasant thoughts of Brad Delp ever since meeting him in 1988. He was a nice person I knew, though we were never close friends or even associates — we were two individuals who traveled the same circles who shared a mutual respect. We had wonderful conversations when we did get to talk to one another.

Now I’m downright angry. Angry that if he had a mental illness, why no one close to him did anything about it. Why didn’t record industry didn’t have safeguards in place to protect such an important voice? That question can be said of many, many great artists, and just shows how skewed the priorities in the record industry are. Protect the copyright over flesh and blood human beings!

For the past week I’ve not been able to sleep well, ever since the news of his passing by his own hand. I could be OK with it if he had had a heart attack or passed away as Ben Orr did, because of an illness, but not this way, not an exit that is both grisly, chilling and destructive to those who loved his voice and who appreciated him.

It is shocking that I never saw this coming. Looking into his eyes and speaking to him exactly one month before his death gave me no indication that he was a man in crisis.

Meanwhile, Brad did have a hit without Boston. It came in 1992 with his band RTZ, featuring Tim Archibald, Brian Maes and Barry Goudreau, a group of musicians who created incredible music with Brad that went pretty much unappreciated.

There are three RTZ albums available and if you are looking to remember this great singer, seek them out. They are treasures and show more of the man’s talent, more than just what the world knows from the hit songs of the band Boston.

My hope is that Brad Delp pulled a Jim Morrison and vanished to parts unknown. I don’t think it is fair to blame Tom Scholz — those in the know realize it is a much more complex situation than that, and over time more of the story will unfold. In a world where life seems to have little value, where we read of so much tragedy that the old cliché “one death is a tragedy, hundreds are statistics” becomes all the more telling.

There is anger here because so many people claim they loved and cared for Brad, but if they did, it didn’t help in the end. And Brad Delp was one life worth saving.

Joe Viglione is a freelance writer.


Review by Joe Viglione
Producer Joshiah Spaulding released the American version of Fleetwood Mac guitarist Peter Green‘s In the Skies disc on his Sail Records in 1979, and, two years later, the man who would run the prestigious Wang Center in Boston, Spaulding, helps keyboardist Robert Ellis Orrall create his Fixation album. Randy Roos of Orchestra Luna shows up as a guest artist here, and it is kind of coincidental because the bands that emerged from that outfit, the original Luna and Berlin Airlift, were creating many of the sounds that canvas this album. Robert Ellis Orrall takes Rick Kinscherf‘s quirky and eccentric ideas and makes them mainstream, veering off into a Joe Jackson kind of arena, especially on “How Can She (Even Like That Guy),” which is a slight re-write of the Joe Jackson Group‘s “Is She Really Going Out With Him.” The material isn’t all that original, but it is very good; a song like “Actually” has its moments, and “Call The Uh-Oh Squad” got regional play for the singer/songwriter, and deservedly so. It is a standout novelty track you wouldn’t expect to hear from this crew. In two years time, Orrall would hit the Top 30 with Carlene Carter on a song released from his Special Pain EP, and these beginnings on Why-Fi/RCA are a nice start with the calliope keyboard sounds and Orrall’s intense and heartfelt vocals. As Joe Jackson borrowed heavily from Elvis Costello, the Robert Ellis Orrall group borrows heavily from Jackson and Rick Berlin, these short two- and three-minute songs following in Costello‘s footsteps as well. Orrall’s material would get stronger, more polished, and he and his group would forge an identity of their own, but while Fixation draws from many elements, it is a worthwhile first chapter for the Lynnfield, MA, native who circumvented Boston’s underground rock scene, while becoming an essential part of it because of the major-label releases. David Stefanelli of RTZ, the Beloved Few, and the California Raisins is on drums keeping things grooving, as he always does, and Fixation has moments which hold up well years after its recording.


Review by Joe Viglione
As each early-’80s album by Robert Ellis Orrall progressed, they got better and better. “Walking Through Landmines” is very smart dance music, leaning towards modern rock. Fusing the slick Roxy Music avant-garde with the most commercial aspects of underground rock, Orrall’s musical journey becomes all the more inviting. “She Takes a Chance” is exotic, and the inclusion of drummer David Stefanelli‘s first wife, Jane Balmond, brings a bit of Berlin Airlift, Balmond‘s former band, into the mix. Robert Ellis Orrall was very much a mass-market version of what Rick Berlin was up to at the time, so it is all very logical. “Alibi” has producer Roger Bechirian co-writing with the singer and musician Simon Byrne, and the song is as solid as the rest of the work here. “Kids With Guns” takes Robert’s “Call The Uh Oh Squad” from his Fixation LP to another level, as this natural extension to Special Pain provides the songwriter/vocalist a chance to stretch. Keyboard player Brian Maes and drummer Stefanelli also performed on Bechirian‘s production of Simon Byrne, who sings background vocals on this disc. They would later back Brad Delp and Barry Goudreau of the band Boston, whose RTZ hit in 1992 with Maes‘ “Until Your Love Comes Back Around.” As good as Contain Yourself is, with “(I Hear) Your Heartbeat” and “Spitting in Fatsos Eyes,” one wonders if the bandmembers contributed a bit more how successful it could’ve been? Hawkwind/the Pogues engineer Paul Cobbold brings the techno sound he gave to the opening track, “Walking Through Landmines,” back to his production work on “Little Bits of Love,” the only two songs Bechirian did not have participation on; it sounds a bit like Peter Godwin‘s “Images of Heaven,” the techno of “There’s Nothing Wrong With You” following suit. “That Dream” is as consistent as everything else on Contain Yourself, an excellent effort by a group that should have put out a dozen or so records.


Review by Joe Viglione
Two years after his Why-Fi/RCA debut, Fixation, the sound of Robert Ellis Orrall here is much more polished, as is the look, and it is all ready for prime time. “Tell Me If It Hurts” kicks off this maxi-EP; a great cover photo of the singer has him looking ever so serious, and the music is just that, with the title of the disc, Special Pain, taken from a line in the opening song. Roger Bechirian‘s production is much more contemporary than that which Joshiah Spaulding got on Fixation; there is more depth, with the group sounding like the Fixx, whose “Saved By Zero” was out this same year (maybe the EP should have been called FIXXation 2!). The guitar is grittier, the saxophone subdued, and David Stefanelli‘s drums rock like that other famous Boston drummer named David, David Robinson of the Cars. It’s a major progression for the group, and it’s too bad “Senseless” wasn’t a big, big hit, but that’s OK because “I Couldn’t Say No,” a duet with Carlene Carter, was. Producer Bechirian worked with Carter‘s one-time husband, Nick Lowe, as well as Elvis Costello, the Monkees, Wang Chung, and others. He also produced Carter‘s C’est C Bon album this same year, 1983. The amusing thing is that, where Fixation copped Costello in many ways, the band found itself working with that artist’s engineer/producer and came off sounding like a Rupert Hine production — not a bad thing at all. “Facts and Figures” even has that “Saved By Zero” feel; the smart sounds of British pop for a Boston band were just what the doctor ordered. It’s great stuff, and a shame it is limited to five tracks of a mini-LP. The hit is an anomaly; it went Top 30 that spring with heavy vocals and a slick pop sound a little different from the rest of this disc, but just as exhilarating.


Review by Joe Viglione
“Andy Fell,” “Pound,” and “Land of the Glass Pinecones” are three extraordinary pieces of music on an equally extraordinary album. For those who felt producer Mike Thorne missed the mark with til tuesday and some of The Shirts Street Light Shine album, he redeems himself here recording this essential Boston band with accuracy, something many of the contemporaries of Human Sexual Response failed to get, great production. Andy didn’t fall in “Andy Fell,” nor was he pushed. He jumped. It’s a song about suicide at a dormitory, a frightening and haunting prophecy since this practice became in vogue at campuses around Boston in the late 90s. The drums on “Marone Offering” kick right in, as does Rich Gilbert‘s incessant guitar. The band’s genius was generated by the multiple vocalists fronting a perfect rock unit. Imagine a hard rock Temptations during their experimental period fronted by the B-52’s. It’s a strange mixture that worked thanks to a combination of talents, all who contributed mightily. “Keep A Southern Exposure” is not one of the band’s more well known tunes, but it provides insight towards their unlimited creativity and able to execute. Discovered by Don Rose who went on to form the legendary Rykodisc label before it was purchased by Chris Blackwell, the two HSR Passport albums were re-released on Eat Records, distributed by Rykodisc. Eat was Don Rose‘s imprint prior to the creation of Rykodisc. “Blow Up” is the closest they came to sounding like The B52‘s, a violent song about destruction with the classic line “faster pussycats kill kill.” “House Of Atreus” is a strange one, a long Larry Bangor epistle which leads into what might be their finest moment, “Land Of The Glass Pinecones.” This song takes the theme of “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” even deeper. Though “What Does Sex Mean To Me” from the first album got into the film Threesome, and while both the demo and lp version of “Jackie O’Nassis” became hits as well as their signature tune, “Land Of The Glass Pinecones” is a sacred moment in modern rock. It’s pure magic with intense voices and blitzing bass and guitars. Members of this band branched off to become The Zulus, while Dini Lamot re-emerged as the successful and highly notorious drag queen Musty Chiffon, including Jackie O’Nassis in his stage act. Outside of a few “reunion” gigs, this essential act is no more, yet In A Roman Mood remains a tremendous work of art just waiting to be rediscovered. Seek out the 12″ single of “Pound from this LP.


Review by Joe Viglione
For fans of arena rockers New England who wanted and needed more from John Fannon, Gary Shea, Jimmy Waldo and drummer Hirsh Gardner there were obscure tapes by many artists utilizing the group’s trademark sound, Fannon and Gardner producing recordings when New England went their separate ways in 1983. 15 years after the breakup, New York’s GB Music re-issued the original three-LP catalog on CD including a 20th anniversary, 10-song collection of demos for a fourth disc, “New England -1978”. The liner notes implied that the band may reunite. And reunite they did, for a couple of moments, on Hirsh Gardner’s long awaited solo album, Wasteland for Broken Hearts. The band showed up on the excellent final track, “More Than You’ll Ever Know,” a song with a theme similar to their 1979 Top 40 hit, “Don’t Ever Wanna Lose Ya,” and on “Welcome Home,” co-written by John Fannon: another fine song which seems like a sequel to the group’s “Explorer Suite,” the title track to their second album from 1980. As fellow Bostonian Willie Alexander found his music being released in Japan on the Captain Trip label, GB Music licensed this to the Japanese company Marquee.Wasteland for Broken Hearts is a remarkable record, engineered and produced by Gardner, who wrote all the songs, with the exception of the aforementioned “Welcome Home,” as well as a cover of John Spinks‘ 1986 Top 10 hit with his band The Outfield, “Your Love.” “Your Love” is most impressive, and though it complements the work well, the nugget here is the title track. “Wasteland for Broken Hearts” has Buddy Sullivan on bass and lead guitars with Gardner providing vocals, drums and keyboards. It is an amazing re-creation of the New England sound and is everything that group’s fans could hope for. “Don’t You Steal” continues the assault; it’s a solid picture of the music Gardner is so familiar with, the singer/composer again playing drums and keys with Jim Smith on lead and rhythm and Chris Carvallo on bass. What is happening on this disc is that different musicians step up to the plate giving the songs subtle flavoring while maintaining the precise vocal-heavy dreamy crunch New England‘s fan base adores. Andre Maquera adds his bass and guitar to “She Is Love.” The first three songs very, very strong. The pair are joined by two more musicians for “Thunder In Her Heart,” with double bass on a tune that would no doubt have garnered more chart action for the group Asia. Gardner’s wife, Tracie Gardner, who met Hirsh in the 1980s when he was producing her Boston band “The Core”, shows up on the pretty “When The Sky Cries,” along with Michela Gardner, and on “Hold Me In Your Dreams,” which former New England producer and Kiss member Paul Stanley would be wise to cover. This album is a complete and sterling work by a journeyman artist staying true to the sounds he has worked with for over 25 years.


One live track, three studio, all written or co-written by Robin Lane, and the last gasp from The Chartbusters before their reunion in June of 2001 is this four song E.P. from 1984. Gone is Leroy

Radcliffe replaced by keyboardist Wally J. Baier and “additional guitarist” Billy Loosigian from The Joneses / Willie Alexander’s Boom Boom Band. Cool double entendre is this “old message” with better production values than the three Warner Brothers releases. Andy Pratt keyboard player and Arista artist himself Andy Mendelson engineered allowing The Chartbusters the total control they never had on the major label discs. It shows with vastly improved sound and fury. The Heart Connection e.p. has an authority that the band exuded in live performance at clubs in and around Boston, and would be a delight coupled on cd with their Deli Platters three song single which generated so much interest when Robin Lane hooked up with the ex-members of The Modern Lovers.

John Cate

John Cate

Biography by Joe Viglione
John Cate resides west of Boston, MA, and writes melodic songs with a worldly perspective. Born April 11, 1955, in Liverpool, England, to American ex-pats his parents settled in New England circa 1960. Cate began playing and singing at the age of nine after seeing the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show. Many boys of Italian descent learned the accordion and that was true of Cate, whose first musical instruments included the bass guitar and cello, along with the air-powered keyboard made famous on The Lawrence Welk Show. Though the accordion has made its way onto some great pop records, it is interesting how, like other guys from his era, Cate wanted to rock. The calling of his musical influences and heroes — the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, the Beatles, and AM Radio Top 40 hits of the ’60s — is what led to the mixture Cate regards “a legitimate roots rock sound and style with pop hooks.”Cate’s musical career began as bass player with Zamcheck, named after Mark Zamcheck, a successful regional band that toured with Gary Burton and Pat Metheny, played the Newport Jazz Festival, and was managed by the notorious Steve Sesnick, who was responsible for putting the Velvet Underground on tour in Europe without Lou Reed. The six-string acoustic was always at the ready, and introspection won over technique giving way to classic American folk-rock singing and songwriting that marks his style today.Cate formed his own recording company, American Music Partners, which spawned the Rose Hip Records label, and began putting out his music in 1996. His first solo record, Set Free, was released that year and was heard by producer Anthony Resta, who worked with such acts as Shawn Mullins, Collective Soul, and Duran Duran, among others. Resta introduced Cate to Heavy Hitters Publishing, a company that keeps Cate’s five-record catalog active in network television shows like Touched by an Angel, Jack & Jill, All My Children, The Young & the Restless, and many other programs that utilize songs by the singer/ songwriter.At his record release party in January of 2001 for his fourth album, simply called The John Cate Band, with his friends the Swinging Steaks co-headlining the bill, the band showed a proficiency for combining commercial singalong pop with an earthier, more traditional American sound. It’s a nice combination that complements the Swinging Steaks country-rock perfectly as both bands don’t get in each other’s way, yet provide enough in common to entertain their respective audiences. The two bands tour the U.S. together when schedules permit. It also presents a united front apart from Cate’s initial work as a singer/songwriter.In 1996, he released his first CD, Set Free, followed by two releases in 1998: American Night and Never Lookin’ Back, his first with the John Cate Band. After the early 2001 release of The John Cate Band, he got to work on the fifth album, 2002’s V.Cate frequently performs in and around New England, in Nashville, TN, and in the Midwestern states, where he has been named an “Honorary Hoosier.” His goals are to have a domestic release with an American label similar to his dealings with Blue Rose, expanding his touring base, and increasing his visibility and presence in Nashville. He writes happy songs and loves being part of the songwriting community.John Cate’s first reaction to meeting George Harrison on a flight to London was: “Man, do you look like your Dad!” who Cate knew from Liverpool. Cate also hosts a monthly songwriter showcase at the House of Blues in Cambridge, MA. He co-ventured this long-standing series with Billy Block‘s highly successful Western Beat Showcase, which runs weekly in Nashville and Los Angeles, and includes a monthly magazine and nationally syndicated radio show. Western Beat performers have included Steve Earle, Emmylou Harris, Buddy and Julie Miller, and many others.

John Cate Discography


Review by Joe Viglione
There is a naïveté to John Cate’s first album, entitled Set Free, that escapes many groups, and it is this charm that makes songs like “Phoenix” and “Wire in the Wind” extra special. As disc jockey Ken Shelton says in the liner notes, “When I listen to the music of the John Cate Band, I hear a lot of familiar voices,” and you’ll hear the echoes of John Cafferty of Beaver Brown and Sal Baglio of the Stompers, bands that found inspiration in Springsteen and Neil Young. You’ll hear those influences, but the imprints of Set Free have Cate’s vision of life, and his lyrical perspective is much different from all of the above. There’s a pensive reading of “American Night” that would become the title of an acoustic album released after this in 1998, the mandolin from Paul Candilore just one reason why Candilore is the secret weapon in Cate’s arsenal. It sounds like the exact take from the American Night album, but that’s OK, as it is a strong song and a fine presentation. “Six Chances” rocks out fine with a fury often displayed by the singer’s colleagues, the Swinging Steaks. “Last Train Home” and “Temptation” have more of the “American music” sound, which is Cate’s home and what he does best. When John Cougar Mellencamp attempts to play Lou Reed it is second rate, but Cate successfully gets that Reed vamp down on “Temptation”; it’s more serious than Mellencamp, probably because one gets the feeling Cate hasn’t studied Reed and this is from the singer’s own experience. “Phoenix” is a standout that you’ll keep coming back to, as you’ll want to give second and third looks to Set Free, an album by an artist whose evolution keeps unfolding in interesting ways. And it’s nice to see local figure Laurie Geltman helping out on backing vocals.


Review by Joe Viglione
For John Cate’s second album, he chose to follow the lead of one of his heroes and cut a record on his four-track at home, as Bruce Springsteen did with Nebraska. The result is a very personal 11-song CD dedicated to his dad, Louis Caterine. American Night has enthusiastic compositions coupled with pure artistic expression, with the three other members who make up the John Cate Band providing sparse accompaniment. On “It’s Allright,” Cate shows that Springsteen isn’t his only influence; the Bob Dylan vocals would make Cate a prime candidate for a Dylan tribute band. “Diamond Dust” is more original, the musicianship downright eerie. There’s something to be said for impromptu recording — the essence of the original impressions that created the songs is captured — and if the liner notes didn’t mention the lo-fi aspect (though additional recording was done at the professional Metropolis facility), the listener would be hard-pressed to think this wasn’t a more expensive endeavor. According to the copyrights, the material was written between 1994 and 1998, and this is the only one of John Cate’s annual album offerings to have a two-year space between its release and that which came before. It’s commendable that an independent artist would release such an introspective album; as the Dylan and Springsteen types know, these kinds of projects reach a limited audience, but if Cate and his bandmates reach a higher level of success, this beautifully packaged material will be appreciated down the road.


Review by Joe Viglione
“One Last Mile” gives a loud kick as the third album from John Cate, Never Lookin’ Back, opens with Searchers riffs and Ventures-style guitars, the image of the four men coming down what looks like church steps on the front and back covers of the CD making for a mysterious movie-type photo. Cate does his best Dylan on “This Isn’t Goodbye,” the prolific songwriter playing with styles and sounds that make him happy. Going through the music on Cate’s first four albums, there are no revelations; the John Cate Band creatively package things they like and present those things to the world with their own stamp, but their mission is not to reinvent rock & roll. The title track is compact and precise, and there’s no nonsense whatsoever. For those who feel Neil Young can get too cutesy, or that John Cougar Mellencamp is spending too much time in front of the mirror, the John Cate Band attack the material with the drive of perfectionists looking for an intangible refined sound like the surfers in The Endless Summer were seeking the perfect wave. “Never Lookin’ Back” has that exciting, explosive guitar work generated from slamming the tunes out night after night in bar after bar. “Never Love Again” opens up with more anger; it seems someone never told Cate to never say never, as the word starts off three of the 11 titles — and there are more negative contractions like “won’t” and “can’t” in other song titles. “Never Love Again” has the thumping authority of Bob Seger‘s “Fire Down Below,” but what’s needed is Bette Midler to jump on-stage and teach something to these guys. As the aforementioned rock stars Cougar and Young do get indulgent, Cate and his group need to lighten up. They are as serious as a judge, where a little touch of sly humor would really bring this material home. “Can’t Let Go” comes across as perhaps the album’s strongest track, and it is up there with the best of the Swinging Steaks; it’s remarkable how much the John Cate Band resemble this other group that Cate has worked closely with. “Down in the Hole” and “Never Was Enough” are also in that pop vein with a country twang. This is almost like Boston’s version of the Eagles and J.D. Souther, with the Swinging Steaks being the Eagles and Cate being Souther. Not a bad formula to emulate, and a series of fine albums by both groups adds a dimension to New England’s vibrant music scene, a dimension that deserves more attention. “Everything Is Love” and “You Won’t See Me” are more driving pop/original music from the pen of Gian S. Caterine and his John Cate Band, essential songs that make Never Lookin’ Back the album you need as the introduction if you’ve yet to encounter this ensemble.


Review by Joe Viglione
John Cate’s fourth album, his second with the John Cate Band, is a blend of roots rock and pure pop. “Mercy Road” kicks the album off with folk guitar, keys, and a bit of songwriting that is precise. One can’t deny the appeal of the Eagles, but they were homogenized to the point where some of the songs felt like they were printed out of a computer. “Mercy Road” is a tune that radio fans wish the Eagles could’ve put together. “It’s Over” is even better: a great hook, wonderful setup, and vocals that display the sadness a breakup always creates, no matter who was at fault. Cate comes across much better on record, his live performance for the release of this disc felt like the band was trying to re-create what is on the CD. “It’s Over” is very much like the Swinging Steaks, a former Capricorn artist which tours with Cate on occasion. “No Other Place” is the kind of song we’d expect to hear from James Taylor if he were a few decades younger. Where Taylor went from Boston to London, John Cate was born in Liverpool, England, but was raised in the U.S. “Standin’ Here Alone” feels like Traveling Wilburys without the Jeff Lynne production; very appealing. The harmonica and subdued vocal in “Ride Away” is a nice change before “Circles” shifts gears. This music isn’t original, but drummer Gary Rzab, bassist Danny McGrath, and guitarist/keyboard/mandolin player Paul Candilore present a full sound behind Cate’s voice and music. “Circles” gives Candilore a chance to sing lead, Rzab getting his opportunity on the next song, “Tears,” a very McCartney/early-Beatles sounding piece. It’s all very well constructed and played pop/folk/roots rock. These cats emulate their heroes, and the result is very listenable and very radio friendly. Cate’s music has been utilized on the network television shows Touched By an Angel, All My Children, and The Young & the Restless, among others, and for good reason. His voice is tender on “Ain’t the Same,” and all the songs catch a good groove. Candilore is a more than adequate accompanist with his talents displayed on “Time Has Come,” a very nice, laid-back song with mandolin and reverb guitar. A reflection of what is on the 12 tracks on this self-titled album.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Swinging Steaks, The Rain Dogs, Adam Sherman’s The Souls

The Lines Will You Still Love Me When I’ve Lost My Mind (1987)


Review by Joe Viglione
1987’s Will You Still Love Me When I’ve Lost My Mind? features future Rage TV host Eric Hafner as the main songwriter and vocalist backed up by three musicians, replacing the four other Lines who appeared on the 1984 release Dirty Water. They, in turn, had replaced the original four musicians from the 1982 release Live at the Metro, which included Jamie Walker and Pat Dreier, who split off to become the Drive and, eventually, the Swinging Steaks. That Jamie Walker was the main songwriter of the original band put a lot on the shoulders of Eric Hafner, giving extra meaning to the name of the record company he co-owned with longtime manager/attorney Paul Carchidi, Sideman Records. But the sidemen actually sound pretty good here, and it is the singer/songwriter who disappoints. Maybe Hafner had run out of creative juice after so many disappointments; he just can’t take the solid accompaniment here and hit a home run. “Snowbound” goes nowhere, and Hafner‘s voice sounds pretentious and contrived. Also, there are no cover songs, something that spiced up other releases by the Lines. Including their rendition of Olivia Newton-John‘s “Physical” would have been a treat, as it was a regional hit for this band that doubled as a suburban cover act. Listening to the song “Some Day” is nothing but painful. There are certainly worse recordings, it’s that this band had the potential and so badly misses the mark here, which is almost worse than having done nothing at all. There’s more life than on Bob Pfeifer‘s 1987 LP After Words, but the bottom line is there is so much better music out in the world that to try to like something that sounds so forced is a chore. That isn’t what entertainment is all about. “Rain on Me” abandons the simple sincerity of Split Enz, who the original Lines emulated, and replaces it with mechanical Billy Idol/Simple Minds style mid-’80s rock. Side two doesn’t fare much better; “Indian Summer” is one of the better titles and performances, but it’s still no great shakes. Jamie Walker and the Swinging Steaks broke away from this ensemble and made quite a name for themselves, while the Lines kept beating their original concept into the ground. After a decade, it became too familiar, too old, and lost any charm or enthusiasm which made the band a fun night on the town. This album asks the question Will You Still Love Me When I’ve Lost My Mind?, and in doing so risks hearing the answer, the word “no” from longtime fans. A very tough listen.

Swinging Steaks Suicide At The Wishing Well 1992

Review by Joe Viglione
Members of Boston’s the Drive reinvented themselves with this very strong 1992 release on their own Thrust label, and the departure from the slick pop the Drive was known for is immediate. Imagine if you will a band that sounds like the Rolling Stones when they transform themselves into their “Country Honk,” “Moonlight Mile,” and “Dead Flowers” persona to have a good idea of what the Swinging Steaks are all about. Some of these tracks appear on the band’s Capricorn debut, but this powerful collection of 15 tunes and two hidden tracks is classic and it landed them the deal after garnering airplay on Boston’s WBOS. “Bone Bag” features Rich Gilbert on pedal steel, but the song has more crunch than you’d expect for a country/pop disc. “Beg, Steal or Borrow” has a Byrds kind of vibe with intensity that shows the maturity and development the guys garnered on the Boston scene. That artistry culminates in track 15; the late Jimmy Miller steps in with a rare re-creation of one of his classic Rolling Stones productions as “Live With Me” is covered — allegedly with Keith Richards guitar lines played by the Steaks, riffs that Miller pulled from the original version. It is exquisite and a tribute to Jimmy‘s genius, recorded just a few years before his passing. Highlights on this CD are the sublime “Circlin’,” written by vocalist/guitarist Tim Giovanniello, its tentative riff and eerie ambience are just perfect for the melancholy vocal. Jamie Walker‘s title track is the exact opposite, but equally as strong. And that is the secret of the Steaks’ success. Rather than hit you with Lennon/McCartney or Jagger/Richards co-writing, the two identities give this group its identity.

Southside Of The Sky 1993

Review by Joe Viglione
When the Swinging Steaks were signed to Capricorn Records, the label produced seven tracks and lifted five more from their 1992 debut Suicide at the Wishing Well. “Do Me a Favor” and “Circlin'” were taken as is, while the songs “Beg, Steal or Borrow,” “Right Through You,” and the title track “Suicide at the Wishing Well” were remixed by producer Gary Katz and engineer Wayne Yergellun. For their major label debut, the failure to include Jimmy Miller‘s superior production of the Mick Jagger/Keith Richards composition “Live With Me” was a definite oversight, but maybe Phil Walden‘s label was interested more in the country-pop side of this group. “Do Me a Favor” still sounds like a distant cousin to Jackson Browne‘s “Redneck Friend,” while “Circlin'” is the best overall track — a masterpiece by Tim Giovanniello. Jamie Walker‘s new title track, “Southside of the Sky,” opens the album for 45 seconds, and then is reprised with the nearly three-minute full version at the album’s close. It’s a good song one expects from these highly consistent journeymen. Their debut contained 17 songs, and this now out of print album featured seven new tracks; compiling both as a single unit of their music from 1992-1993 would be advisable.


Review by Joe Viglione
Sunday Best is a sophisticated progression for the Swinging Steaks as they capture and carry the flag the Flying Burrito Brothers once held and waved so high. Released on their own Thrust Records in America and on Blue Rose in Europe, Tim Giovanniello and Jamie Walker split up the writing chores again along with a couple of tunes from the pen of keyboardist Jim Gambino. One of those tunes, “Stupid,” is simply fantastic — great pop hooks with effective playing to embellish the solid refrain. It and Giovanniello‘s “Bad Day” are among the standouts — the very special compositions that always seem to work their way onto the Steaks’ projects. “Pictures” is right up there with those two, another song of holding on — guitarist/vocalist Giovanniello just “waiting for the rain” so he can pull out the pictures he’s saved for that kind of day. It’s an inspired vocal performance to match the lyrics with the band to maintain the energy. Walker‘s contributions are to this project what Lindsey Buckingham‘s work was to Fleetwood Mac‘s Tusk album: good, consistent, and the glue that keeps it all together. His “Light of the Moon” is a nice conclusion to the effort, effective in its melancholy. Sunday Best is not the knockout punch this band is capable of, but there’s not a bad track on it, and a few sail over the fence. At close to an hour playing time, it’s an ambitious and realized effort from the veteran New England act.

  • Release Date: 1990
  • Genre: Rock
  • Label: Atlantic
  • Total Time: 44:02


Lost Souls

As the Swinging Steaks abandoned their slick 1980s pop for country-rock when the 1990s came around, Mark Cutler’s Raindogs did the same, but got it out of the starting gate a bit earlier on this Atco debut, Lost Souls. The album leans more to the rock than country side, with standout tunes like “Cry for Mercy” and “This Is the Place” among the dozen offered here. “I’m Not Scared” owes much to Gregg Allman and is decent, while “Phantom Flame” is extraordinary, up there with the best of the Swinging Steaks, Johnny Cunningham‘s fiddle and Cheryl Hodges’ backing vocals bringing it that nice Rolling Stones feel when the greatest rock & roll band in the world gave its style a Flying Burrito Brothers flavor. “The Higher Road” and “Too Many Stars” are competent rockers though they don’t burst out like some of the other tracks, and that’s the downside here. Cutler’s voice isn’t distinctive enough to elevate some of the more pedestrian numbers and like another “critic’s darling” band, the Tragically Hip, the lesser songs in the repertoire — say “Nobody’s Getting Out” — weigh the other selections down like an anchor. Lost Souls is perfectly played material and an interesting debut, but there’s not enough personality to send this over the top. “Cry for Mercy” sounds slightly like a harbinger of what Gregg Alexander and his New Radicals would bring to the world in 1998. Problem is, there’s no “You Get What You Give” here, and that’s what this singer/songwriter and his band were in dire need of. Nice to see Myanna Pontoppidan of Girls Night Out as part of the Hubcap Horns employed on this outing. ~ Joe Viglione, All Music Guide

The 80s, Boston Rock & Roll

The Table Of Contents is here:

If the 1970s was the decade of the independent record in Boston the 80s resulted in many a Boston area group getting signed to major labels or major independents. Here is a variety of different recordings I’ve reviewed for AllMusic.com

Down Avenue
The Dream 1983 e.p. (Early EXTREME)
The Fools SOLD OUT 1980
The Fools – Heavy Mental
Jon Butcher Axis
Jon Butcher Axis 1983
Wishes 1987
An Ocean In Motion Live in Boston 1984 Jon Butcher Axis
Jon Butcher Axis Live At The Casbah
New England 1st Album
New England “Explorer Suite”
New England Walking Wild
New England 1978
New England Greatest Hits Live
New Man
November Group November Group
November Group Persistent Memories (1983)
November Group (A & M Records) Work That Dream 1985
Robin Lane & The Chartbusters
1980 Robin Lane & The Chartbusters debut
Imitation Life
5 Live
Private Lightning
WCOZ Best Of The Boston Beat Vol 2

The Reviews

Down Avenue

Review by Joe Viglione

Alvan Long was the drummer in Boston’s November Group on its 1982 self-titled EP, and was joined by bassist/vocalist Don Foote for 1983’s follow-up, Persistent Memories. They branched off on their own, releasing this five-song EP on the 6L6 label the same year November Group signed to A&M, 1985. “Girlfriend” sounds like the Jonzun Crew with snappy drums and ’80s club/dance keyboards identifying immediately what Down Avenue is all about: a group that was as derivative as it was engaging. The mid-’80s brought a number of artists into this sterile but interesting realm, Adventure Set and Face to Face also making noise in Massachusetts and beyond, the artist’s identities all merged into a synth/dance amalgam on radio and in the clubs. Only Michael Jonzun and his brother Maurice Starr broke out of the mold, with Laurie Sargent from Face to Face also carving a niche beyond the pack. The sad thing is that Down Avenue is among the best players of this sound just before it all fell off the ledge into manufactured disposable Muzak. This EP as well as the release by Adventure Set are the last vestiges of decent Boston music before the scene exploded and band names proliferated on a daily basis. “Nighttime” is another good melody and performance, though there is nothing here that jumps out at you as an unarguable hit. Roxy Music was performing this exact same sentiment on Avalon with far more personality, and for all the slick production and smooth musicianship, there is absolutely nothing to grab onto here. It could be anyone singing “Nighttime” and any group of musicians crafting these sounds. The three songs on side two, “Winter’s Past,” “Way Down the Avenue,” and “These 4 Walls” melt into a seamless essay devoid of peaks and valleys. “Winter’s Past” sounds like a soft rock version of the band New England‘s classic “Don’t Ever Wanna Lose Ya.” “Way Down the Avenue” could be the band’s theme song with the hook lifted from Bruce Springsteen and Manfred Mann the decade before — “That’s where the fun is” sounds like it stepped out of “Blinded By the Light.” Nothing here is as outstanding as Adventure Set‘s “Blue Is for Boys,” but there’s nothing bad here either. The band was rumored to have signed with RCA and probably did, but then vanished as quickly as November Group did on A&M. Charles Pettigrew‘s vocals are slick and soulful, but they are pipes in need of a song that was more than just pleasant background music.

The Dream 1983 e.p. (Early EXTREME)

Review by Joe Viglione
Before Gary Cherone joined Van Halen this group sold the band name the Dream to one of the major TV networks after their brilliant local manager, Joanne Codi, initiated a lawsuit (she was clever enough to trademark the name). When the TV show Dreams launched (about a rock band trying to make it), suddenly this group had the cash to cut a video of their regional hit penned by lead singer Cherone, “Mutha (Don’t Wanna Go to School Today).” This original lineup was the band that made incredible waves in Boston, opening for Nightranger at the Orpheum Theater and drawing crowds wherever they played. Along with Girls Night Out and Rick Berlin: The Movie, they were a dominant force on the live music scene in New England during the ’80s. Keyboard player Mika Watson added a dimension missing when drummer Paul Geary (famous for managing Godsmack) and singer Gary Cherone became Extreme on A&M Records. Peter Hunt‘s contributions on guitar and songs were vital. “The Mask” and “See the Light,” two of his three compositions on this six-song EP, were, along with Gary Cherone‘s “Mutha,” the songs that launched the band. Had there not been a Dreams TV show the band would not have been called Extreme. “The Mask” is quite simply a brilliant rock song, full of pop melody and progressive riffs. “See the Light” is a hard rock takeoff on “Eight Miles High” by the Byrds, while Hunt‘s “Why” is the sort of break song that an album needs to divert the listener from the musical similarities inherent in any set of recordings. Quoting Edgar Allan Poe’s line, “All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream,” is the kind of stuff that separates this early incarnation from the onslaught that was the major-label band who hit with “More Than Words” in 1991. Sure, Nuno Bettencourt‘s guitar and songwriting skills were essential to that aggregation, but there was something special about the band when Paul Mangone was on bass instead of Pat Badger, and when Mika Watson and Peter Hunt created a firm foundation for Gary Cherone‘s voice and stage antics. They were a very special band and this EP is an important and highly listenable document of what came first.


The Fools SOLD OUT 1980

by Joe Viglione
The major-label debut of vocalist Mike Gerard, guitarists Richie Bartlett and Stacy Pedrick, drummer Chris Pedrick, and bassist Doug Forman, collectively the Fools, stands as a concise and well recorded musical statement by an important Boston group. Produced by Pete Solley, the band escaped the curse of New England groups suffering inferior recordings in major studios. “Spent the Rent” is a powerful rocker, while “Easy for You” is a tender ballad and shows what a pro bunch these musicians posing as jokers were. “It’s a Night for Beautiful Girls” was a smash in the New England region but made no real dent nationally, and, for some strange reason, EMI-America put the song that established them in their hometown, a parody of the Talking Heads‘ “Psycho Killer,” entitled “Psycho Chicken,” as a 45 rpm inside the album jacket, but not included on the 12″ vinyl. Produced by guitarist Richard Bartlett, who would go on to join Ben Orr‘s solo project, and engineered by Luna producer Jay Mandel, “Psycho Chicken” was so much of what this band was about. The original four-track basement recording got tons of local airplay in and around the Boston area, and was as much a hit as “It’s a Night for Beautiful Girls.” The 45 rpm is on white vinyl, saying that either their management or the record label knew the importance of this tongue-in-cheek side of the group. A cover of the Leigh/Charlap classic “I Won’t Grow Up” just doesn’t have the sparkle that David Byrne‘s underground hit generated as re-written with Forman and Girard, the two main songwriters for the Fools. “Night Out” begins the album with a burst of three minute pop followed by “Fine With Me,” “Don’t Tell Me,” and the title track, “Sold Out” — all well-crafted pop songs with Beatles guitar lines and enough jangle to qualify them for underground pop rockers, somewhere between the radio friendliness of the Raspberries with the seriousness Badfinger brought to their work. While their contemporaries Human Sexual Response stretched the boundaries, the Fools tempered the joking and sought respectability. Years later, Sold Out stands as a very respectable and very important debut album by a band that was able to play the local circuit for more than a decade after its release as one of the major draws in New England. Not a bad accomplishment, and an indication that they deserved national recognition and could have entertained the masses had EMI kept working their discs beyond the second release, Heavy Mental, which followed in 1981. Just listen to the blend of American music and British pop that is “Sad Story,” the only song clocking in over four minutes, and a beautiful one at that.

The Fools – Heavy Mental

by Joe Viglione
The Fools were a phenomenally successful Boston band in the 1970s and 1980s, but, as often happens, were not presented accurately to the world on their major-label debut, or its follow up. Pete Solley‘s pedestrian production on the 1980 release Sold Out is almost indiscernible when compared to Vini Poncia‘s presentation of the band a year later. A song like “Around The Block” cries for the zaniness that this group injected into their parody of The Talking Heads a few years earlier, but even the great riff is kind of muddied. The problem isn’t so much bad production, something many of their peers from Boston had to deal with (a much more serious problem than the curse of the “Bosstown Sound”). Indeed, the problem here is what befell Willie Alexander on MCA — it feels like the record label was normalizing the group. “Local Talent” has this smooth recording which emulates John Cougar Mellencamp, to the point where lead singer Mike Girard actually sounds like a young Mellencamp on this track about ladies of the night, not local bands. “What I Tell Myself” opens side two, and it sounds like a mainstream pop version of the band Deep Purple. It is telling that while their first album yielded the excellent “It’s A Night For Beautiful Girls,” it is the Roy Orbison cover here, “Running Scared,” which is the outstanding track on Heavy Mental. These were mental times for Boston rock & roll (a local D.J., Captain P.J. actually had the phrase “Go Mental” and would create havoc at Boston area shows), but there is nothing chaotic, crazy, or even marginally psychotic about Heavy Mental. “Lost Number” is another title which should sound like The Tubes, not a subdued Eddie Cochran. The Fools really had it together, and where Mike Girard could sound like Roy Orbison and John Mellencamp, he sounds like Fee Waybill a bit on “Lost Number,” but the band sounds like someone putting handcuffs on The Tubes, where this band was a more suburban “let’s have some outrageous fun” act and needed to be given more latitude. Rich Bartlett is an incredible player, but like Elliot Easton in The Cars, he was restrained from being the blazing guitar star he was quite capable of being at this point in time. He would actually join Ben Orr of The Cars in the late 90s, and had the creative freedom to reinvent that band’s Top 40 hits. Bassst Doug Forman sings the lead on “Last Cadillac On Earth,” a heavy urban rocker with more emphasis on riffs, more like Foghat. How their management or record label intended to market a group clearly being pushed into directions different from their stage show is a good study in the problems of the record industry, but it failed to give The Fools a platform to create and grow. They were able to sell tons of records on their own label in the Northeast after their two albums on EMI-America, and maybe their record deal raised their profile and helped them affirm their position in New England, but they deserved much more. Producer Vini Poncia has displayed great pop sensibilities, but none of them are obvious on Heavy Mental, an album too sane for its own good.


by Joe Viglione
One of the greatest tragedies in Boston rock & roll history, and something the world is the worse for, is this difficult document of one of the best ’80s bands from New England, Girls Night Out. For a group who approximately grossed over a quarter of a million dollars in a two-year period, they were saddled with arguably the worst cover art in Boston history, substandard production by the usually reliable Chris Lannon, and evidence that radio-station politics, mismanagement, and too many cooks can do more than spoil the stew; politics can stand in the way of important art. Nothing on this record jumps out at you like the eight-track demo of “Matter of Time,” the regional radio hit recording that helped launch GNO‘s career. The failure to re-track “Matter of Time,” a song that was like a girl group version of ‘Til Tuesday‘s “Voices Carry,” is the true crime of the heart here. The great Jimmy Miller produced a cover of “Baby It’s You” for lead guitarist Wendy Sobel in 1983, and the version is sultry, moody, and brilliant, but is not included here. The three songs Jimmy Miller did with Wendy Sobel, one-seventh of this band, blow away this entire disc. “Affair of the Heart,” “Love Under Pressure,” “Calling Doctor Love,” and “Crime of the Heart” are studied performances with none of the excitement the girls displayed on-stage. The precision is the kind of homogenization one expects from a major label, not from an independent group, and it feels like the act was being directed from the pages of This Business of Music rather than by the creative instincts of a professional. The results are disappointing. Didi Stewart wrote all the material, and there is no doubt she is a genius, but her talent was inhibited by business forces behind the scenes. Rumor has it that Madonna/Brian Wilson producer Andy Paley was interested in signing the group, but the manager allegedly would not agree to the terms. If that urban myth is true, it is a shame, for Paley could have taken “Affair of the Heart” and given it the Phil Spector treatment. The songs are all first-rate, it is just that they have nothing to them; they are two-dimensional recordings with flawed sounds (listen to the lame drum slap in the middle of “Affair of the Heart”). These are pedestrian performances from ladies who bowled people over in concert; a version of “Love Under Pressure” is included that sounds like it is stuck in a pressure cooker. There’s no mastering credit, but that essential element is thin at best. Girls Night Out’s exquisite staple, “When You Were Mine,” shows up five years later on the One True Heart album by Didi Stewart, and it is total vindication, showing what the songwriter could do away from the confines of a democracy. Bits and pieces of what this phenomenal group was all about have surfaced elsewhere. Alizon Lissance has released discs with her local group, and other members — Myanna, Wendy Sobel, and Didi Stewart — are off doing their own thing; reunions of this post-Amplifiers band Stewart fronted happen once in a blue moon. This writer brought Didi Stewart to the 1992 Marty Balin sessions in New Hampshire, and Balin was thrilled at the prospect of Stewart and her friend, Ellie Marshall of the Modern Lovers, singing on his album, Better Generation. That idea was nixed by Karen Deal, Balin‘s wife, yet another example of people interfering in important art. With the cash that was coming in through the high demand for this group and the combination of originals and covers packing their shows, Girls Night Out should have released a superb album on their own and let a major label pick it up. Seven great artists who should have had original guitarist Patty Larkin return to jam with Wendy Sobel on this were left out in the cold when these recordings failed to generate the same excitement as the band did live. The original demo tapes, the Jimmy Miller sessions with Sobel, a live radio broadcast or recording from a nightclub, and Didi Stewart solo material — all combined — could have made this affair memorable. Listening to this decades after it was recorded is still a heartbreak to those who witnessed the excitement of the girls live. This EP is a great excuse for these talented ladies to re-form on their 20th anniversary and create the album they are still capable of putting together.
Jon Butcher Axis

Jon Butcher Axis 1983

Jon Butcher is a journeyman guitarist whose Johanna Wilde band was legendary in the New England region in the late 70’s. While the “New Wave” and “Punk Rock” scenes were exploding, Butcher kept to what he did best: mainstream hard rock. By the time this Polydor deal materialized much of his better known tunes had been in circulation for quite some time. “New Man” originally appeared on a 1980/1981 compilation from radio station WCOZ, it opens up side two here, but, like most of the album, is hampered by Pat Moran’s pedestrian production.”Cant Be The Only Fool” and “Send One Care Of” lack personality here, the producer and record label failing to polish Jon Butcher’s consistent songwriting. Add to that mix the fact that his management company had a falling out with the major concert promoter in his hometown, you have an act that had to move to Los Angeles in order to find an environment more conducive to the creative process. “Life Takes A Life” is haunting here, and may be the best track on the record; “It’s Only Words,” “Ocean In Motion” and “New Man” were popular live and remain highlights of this record, but the power trio never got to shape their own identity. The crunching chords made Jon Butcher more like Pete Townshend performing in The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Like Robin Trower, Butcher performed in the shadow of Jimi, good material but not as creative and memorable as the prototype, and without the production and promotion skills of a Chas Chandler. A decent album that could have been so much more if the people around this artist understood what the music was all about.

Wishes 1987

Reviewby Joe Viglione
Jon Butcher says he never should have bet his heart if he “couldn’t pay the price” in Wishes, which might be the guitarist’s most introspective album and most potent artistic statement. The production by Butcher and Spencer Proffer is crisp and elegant. Here’s a songwriter controlling his own destiny with help from Foreigner/Aerosmith sideman Thom Gimbel, longtime drummer Derek Blevins, and bassist Rob Jeffries. These are all Jon Butcher originals with one co-write, “A Little Bit of Magic,” which has the assistance of a person with one name only, Raun, from another Pasha/Spencer Proffer group, Isle of Man. “Living for Tomorrow” continues the spirit of the first tune, “Goodbye Saving Grace,” with the singer’s strong voice augmented by guitarmanship finally coming into its own. His musicianship takes a backseat to the song and production though, which is a good thing — leave the flash for the stage. Wishes has solid statements in each song and throughout the grooves. The old adage “If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride” is changed here to “If wishes were horses…then dreamers would ride,” written over and under a solitary picture of Butcher on the inner sleeve. He sounds like Paul Rodgers on “Holy War” taking much from the Firm, a group who hit two years before this 1987 disc. “Holy War” takes on Jimmy Swaggart, Jerry Fallwell, Billy Graham, and other evangelists to great effect, while the title track treads on ground more familiar to Butcher, the music of Jimi Hendrix. “Wishes” is a wonderful tune which borrows heavily from “The Wind Cries Mary” both lyrically and musically before emerging halfway through as its own entity. “Churinga” closes out side one, a creative instrumental displaying this band’s ability to groove. These grooves immediately make their way to side two with “Long Way Home,” a blending of percussion and Jon Butcher‘s gritty guitar. “Show Me Some Emotion” harkens back to the sound of early Jon Butcher Axis, with better production than their Polygram debut. The co-write, “A Little Bit of Magic,” picks up where “Wishes” left off, and though the lyrics may be the weakest on the disc, the song’s climbing guitar evokes Santana from that guitar star’s “She’s Not There” period ten years earlier. “A Little Bit of Magic” should have been a big hit. So too “Angel Dressed in Blue,” elements of commercial artists from the day blend into the mix, making this a stronger album from Spencer Proffer than his Quiet Riot smash three years earlier. Rather than “bang your head,” the music here is articulate and determined. “Partners in Crime” and “Prisoners of the Chain” add to this dynamic effort, the final track a hard ballad which would have been a nice direction for Bad Company. It sounds like that band seeking more modern sounds and closes out an impressive work by a journeyman revising the formula which brought him regional success in the Boston area.


Reviewby Joe Viglione
A Stiff Little Breeze is a superb album from the Jon Butcher Axis, getting straight As in pacing, performance, and material. Jon Butcher personally essays, the tales behind each tune found in the eight-page booklet brimming with photos and rich in band history. As the music crosses decades, Butcher cleverly splashes some of his favorite phrasings throughout the melodies and production, making it very, very appealing. “The Tiger in the Tall Grass” borrows heavily from early Rod Stewart/Faces, Beatles backing vocals, and, most notably, Paul McCartney‘s “That Would Be Something” from his first solo album. “Wicked Woman” (the title of a Janis Joplin bootleg, a fact that couldn’t have escaped Butcher’s notice) adds some culture shock from what precedes it — the kind of polished ’80s rock that Bon Jovi‘s “Livin’ on a Prayer” provided, only this Jon plays it so cool, slipping in a bit of “Purple Haze” into the mix. And speaking of such things, “Red House” is a standout. This artist has certainly come up with enough diverse sounds to separate him from his major influence — but when he dives into Hendrix territory, it is with true understanding and wild abandon. Jimi‘s friend Buzzy Linhart heard this version of “Red House” and noted that the tune has become the “Stormy Monday Blues” of the new millennium, Linhart most impressed with what Butcher did with this often overworked cover. “A Light Texas Rain,” like the title track that begins the set, is short, sweet, and gloriously simple. Many Butcher albums have seeds of greatness, but A Stiff Little Breeze is no mere collection of B-sides and outtakes; it is an impressive blend of this important artist’s thoughts, emotions, and performances. “Money” is like some catchy response to Cyndi Lauper‘s hit “Money Changes Everything,” with a clever aside from Butcher in the liner notes. “Beal St.” is Robert Johnson/Mick Taylor slide guitar blues, the final of 14 tracks that make up this favorite of all of Jon Butcher’s releases. The excellent cover art features the state of Massachusetts on a map that looks like parchment an archaeologist would read from to find hidden treasure. Most appropriate.

An Ocean In Motion Live in Boston 1984 Jon Butcher Axis


Reviewby Joe Viglione
Jon Butcher cut a path through the Boston rock & roll scene when his Johanna Wilde band started making some noise as a terrific mainstream act like their contemporary, Charlie Farren, bucking the “new wave” trend and establishing a presence by staying true to the music’s mission. Johanna Wilde evolved into Jon Butcher Axis, and that both of his 1980s major label releases on Polydor are out of print in the new millennium certainly leaves a void for fans, of which there were many. Ocean In Motion: Live In Boston 1984 helps fill that void, despite its flaws. An allegedly “live” CD of vintage Jon Butcher Axis — said to be from Boston’s The Channel Club in 1984 — sounds too clean to be recorded in front of an audience. The same loop of applause with an annoying and lengthy whistle comes up in between tracks (most noticeably on an otherwise excellent “Don’t Say Goodnight.”) The Dayton, Ohio label Atom Records must be commended for getting Butcher’s music out there, but it’s like that studio version of “Fortune Teller” that the Rolling Stones tagged on to Got Live If You Want It!: the fake applause just desecrates otherwise fine music. Seven tunes can be found on the first Polydor LP, Jon Butcher Axis released in 1983, three also appeared on the follow-up, Stare At The Sun: the songs “Victims,” “Walk On The Moon,” and “Don’t Say Goodnight,” while the 11th title, “Not Fade Away,” is a cover of the Norman Petty/Charles Hardin song made famous by The Rolling Stones. Foreigner‘s Thom Gimbel, who performs with Aerosmith and is producing Adrian Perry, son of Joe Perry, appears on all tracks on keys, backing vocals, and saxophone, though he wasn’t an official bandmember. Jon Butcher gives anecdotes and impressions about his material in the colorful six-page liner note booklet, and that is very substantial. It’s an elegant package chock full of photos and insight. It’s too bad there’s not a Jon Butcher Axis live album from the time this group was busy opening for the J. Geils Band when that ensemble was at the height of their fame. Yes, it’s great to have this music available on CD, and maybe Scott Kinnison and Atom Records will go through the vaults for a broadcast from radio station WCOZ and/or find other material from the day. Just hearing this material again makes one point very clear — Jon Butcher put together some of the most concise and melodic hard rock/pop tunes from Boston’s ’70s/early ’80s scene, and deserved much more success than he achieved. www.jonbutcher.com is the official web page.

Jon Butcher Axis Live At The Casbah

Reviewby Joe Viglione
Jon Butcher’s first DVD is a rare concert videotaped by Bob Boyd‘s crew at The Casbah in Manchester, New Hampshire. Boyd owned a professional video company which got permission to tape New England bands like the Neighborhoods, the Stompers, the New Models, and many others in the 1980s. This exquisite 75-minute-plus concert is prime Butcher, displaying the man’s power, stage presence, and keen sense of rock & roll. More revealing than the CD Ocean in Motion: Live in Boston 1984, which Atom Records pressed prior to this release, you get to see Jon Butcher’s tight band in a fine audiovisual performance — Foreigner/Aerosmith keyboard/saxophone player Thom Gimbel (also the producer of whiz kid Adrian Perry, Joe Perry‘s son); ex-New Man/RTZ bassist extraordinaire Tim Archibald, and longtime Butcher drummer Derek Blevins. Jon says “Merry Christmas. . .see you in ’85” at the end of “When You Were Mine” (not the Didi Stewart / Girls Night Out tune from the exact same year), giving the time frame for when this important piece of New England music history happened. It’s one of three unreleased tunes that offers longtime fans something extra. There aren’t many frills on the DVD, but the audio is excellent, and the camerawork pretty steady — choppy at some points — but that just adds to the rock & roll vibe. Nice to watch next to Blue Wild Angel: Jimi Hendrix Live at the Isle of Wight, not because of the eternal comparisons between Jon Butcher and his mentor, but because of the stark differences seen between the two. Jon Butcher Axis was a band with choreography and a resume for each member that made them more than sidemen. This DVD captures the key compositions — “New Man” (the name of one of Tim Archibald‘s groups), “Life Takes a Life,” “It’s Only Words,” “Ocean in Motion,” and more — with a dynamic show that eclipses some of the singer’s studio recordings. Grade A.

New England 1st Album


Reviewby Joe Viglione
Produced by Paul Stanley of Kiss who was also represented by manager Bill Aucoin, this Boston band’s debut still stands as their finest. “Hello, Hello, Hello,” much like Alice Cooper‘s use of Rolf Kemp‘s “Hello Hooray,” is a nice opener, but the lyrics are more like Stevie Nicks witchcraft and magic. Song two is the most classic statement made by writer John Fannon and his group New England. “Don’t Ever Wanna Lose Ya” is perhaps the shortest poem/song on record by Fannon, but it is his most famous. There are swirling keyboards by Jimmy Waldo and the precision the band is known for in performance. Like another Boston-based group, Private Lightning on A&M with their local hit “Physical Speed,” these groups were ahead of their time and exploring sounds that were not identified with the city that brought the world the Modern Lovers, Aerosmith, and the Jonzun Crew. But with three albums on a major label, and superb production, New England had a good shot at the brass ring and a tune with all the elements of “hit” in this track. “P.U.N.K.” is also a song that generated attention. About a punk, and certainly not punk rock, although the band frequented (and played) the clubs like the Paradise and the Rat, which, no doubt, helped inspire this. “Shall I Run Away” has a great vocal from Fannon and is the best tune next to “Don’t Ever Wanna Lose Ya” — mellow with cosmic guitars, a unique sound removed from the Asia style producer Mike Stone and the band New England became known for, almost Roxy Music. And that is where the band could’ve really made its mark, by being more experimental and less like the arena rock bands of the day. “Alone Tonight” is a great song held back by the “overproduction,” to quote the late Stones producer Jimmy Miller and his idea of the New England sound. The thick production on this music is incessant. “Nothing to Fear” has hooks a plenty and the voice more prominent; “Shoot” is like a progressive Black Sabbath riff sped up and gone pop. Fannons‘ great ideas and lyrics seem to get lost in some of the instrumentation of “Turn Out the Light.” That stage life which Paul Stanley knows so well from the Kiss hit “Beth” is the theme of “The Last Show.” “Encore” concludes the album with Fannon almost sounding like Roger Waters in delivery and idea. New England deserves recognition for years of hard work and the creation of a very important tune from the late ’70s. The cover photo has Terminator-style lightning (so did Private Lightning‘s cover, of course) and the band being delivered from out the blue.

New England “Explorer Suite”

Reviewby Joe Viglione
This sophomore effort by the Boston-based group New England — produced by Mike Stone, who also worked with Queen, Journey, and Asia — is a very large-sounding work by a band that deserved to be as popular as Stone‘s other clients. “Honey Money” is certainly not ABBA; the song’s subject is the almighty dollar and its impact on musicians, and the ethereal vocals wrap themselves around a theme that could be delivered to a girlfriend as well as a fellow rocker. “Livin’ in the Eighties” has a hard-hitting melody and keyboards that fall somewhere between Gary Wright and Brian Eno. “Conversation” has Nick Lowe-style guitars (much like “Cruel to Be Kind”) — a nice change from the incessant bombast Stone and bandleader John Fannon splash on these tunes. It emerges as one of the best tracks on this release. “It’s Never Too Late” has a great pop hook, but “Explorer Suite” is the big production number, the “We Will Rock You” showpiece that New England and this album are remembered for. “Seal It With a Kiss” is rife with thick keyboards, backing vocals, and ’80s guitar. A renegade “Secret Agent Man” for the ’80s, the tune “Hey You’re on the Run” sounds like Triumvirat meeting the band Boston by way of the Sweet. “No Place to Go” is as elegant a ballad as Yes or Queen could devise, but with more of an edge. New England has that cosmic edge, making the group truly an “underground” darling among arena rock bands, and having a group with this much talent performing at regional clubs was a treat. Bassist Gary Shea and keyboardist/backing vocalist Jimmy Waldo would eventually join Alcatrazz after the breakup of New England, while Fannon and drummer Hirsh Gardner got into record production. They all remained personalities on the Boston music scene. Managed by Bill Aucoin (who handled Kiss) and with major producers and a great sound, it’s amazing that the band didn’t sell millions of records. Like another regional band, Riser (produced by Jack Richardson), New England might have just been in the wrong part of the country for this style of music. Had the band become a bit more avant-garde à la Eno, New England might have found the larger audience that Stone helped U2 garner and that this band sought so passionately. And perhaps this album is too much of a good thing. Where a Beatles album has ebb and flow, New England hits you with all its artillery. New England’s three major label releases, with bonus tracks, are being sold on the internet (http://www.newenglandrocks.com), as is a fourth CD of early material. A reunion album is planned; perhaps on this release the group will find the balance so necessary to finally achieving success.

New England Walking Wild

Reviewby Joe Viglione
If the first album by New England is the band’s best musical statement, Walking Wild is where the group could have gone. Todd Rundgren was the perfect choice to help tone down the ostentatious Mike Stone sounds, and the magician from Utopia brings this band a welcome and wonderful blend of progressive music and experimental rock. The very British and very cool “You’re There” is the standout; although it never got the attention of the first album’s “Don’t Ever Wanna Lose Ya,” the second album’s “Explorer Suite,” and this album’s single “DDT” (“Dirty Dream Tonight”), it cries for attention and renewed interest. Great pop backing vocals reminiscent of Klaatu‘s “Calling Occupants” — a hit for the Carpenters — make this pure pop song a very satisfying ending to this disc, as creative as Boston area colleagues the Cars at their best. “L-5” is co-written by Todd Rundgren, keyboard player Jimmy Waldo, and singer John Fannon — the first time Fannon is not credited as the sole songwriter (Rundgren wrote the lyrics, with music by Fannon/Waldo). This is a neat science fiction kind of tune that fans of Todd should seek out. “She’s Gonna Tear You Apart” features lyrics by drummer Hirsh Gardner and music by Gardner/Fannon/Waldo — three-fourths of the band. It’s another change in style with a verse almost like one by .38 Special, before the band suddenly slips into a Cars/Roxy Music motif. The perfect example of Rundgren‘s production work being so distinctive from Mike Stone‘s is “Elevator,” which would almost be punk rock except for the precise big vocal sound and everything being in tune. Fannon‘s lyrics are succinct and almost angry, from “He’s fashionably mad/Rebel eyes/Fearless type/Raging force” on the title track to “Hit me,” the first words in “Holdin’ Out on Me.” The Cars sang “You’re All I’ve Got Tonight,” and New England countered with “Be my “Dirty Dream Tonight.” Walking Wild has found a new life re-released on the GB Music label out of New York City (http://www.newenglandrocks.com). A fourth disc by New England (demos recorded prior to the GB Music deal) has been issued on that label as well, along with reissues of the band’s first two discs. Four New England albums is not a lot for such a creative bunch of guys. Keyboard player Jimmy Waldo and bassist Gary Shea formed a band called Alcatrazz after the breakup of the group. Had they been able to develop New England’s music for a few more records, they might have been a force to reckon with. John Fannon‘s work with Boston area singer/songwriter Peter Zicko actually has many of the elements that New England forged. Drummer Hirsh Gardner did much production work in the ’80s around the Boston area, and perhaps a disc of his material would give New England fans a bit more insight regarding what might’ve been.

New England 1978

Reviewby Joe Viglione
New England 1978 provides the world with a glimpse of John Fannon‘s music prior to it being put through the rock & roll machine of major labels, major management, and major record producers. Released about 20 years after the band’s formation, these ten “demos” are even more sophisticated than the Cars‘ early recordings from around the same period, and like those legendary Ric Ocasek compositions, these early sketches are superb. Jimmy Waldo‘s keyboard sound on “Don’t Ever Wanna Lose Ya” is reminiscent of early Deep Purple from their Tetragrammaton days. If the hit version of this song was overpowering, this original take stands up as a terrific rendition. It very well could have been the hit with its Cars-ish thumping rhythm guitar and keyboard sweeps. This disc also contains early versions of “Hello, Hello, Hello,” “Turn Out the Light,” “Shoot,” “Nothing to Fear,” and “Alone Tonight” from their first, self-titled 1979 debut; one song, “Searchin,” from 1980’s Explorer Suite and three previously unreleased titles — “Candy,” “I’ll Be There,” and “Even When I’m Away.” Conceived as a retrospective, the CD captures the spirit of a group that “from 1977 through 1979 rehearsed 8 hours a day and journeyed to a small studio in Philly to record the demos that eventually would result in a recording contract with MCA/Infinity Records,” according to the group’s drummer. The music once heard only by heads of record labels like Clive Davis, Chris Wright, and Neil Bogart really could have been released as the group’s first disc and is as entertaining as any of New England’s commercial offerings. “Nothing to Fear” and “Searchin'” both have vocals that sound like the Beach Boys battling the group Yes, and that’s a compliment. The pop sound of “Don’t Worry Baby” combined with the heaviness of “Roundabout” works better than it might sound on paper. The 12-page booklet that comes with the material includes lyrics but not enough background information. With plenty of space on the CD, the almost 38 minutes of music would have been enhanced with a radio interview from the day, or even a new audio of the band telling its story. Regardless, New England 1978 is a real find for both fans and people unaware of the group and its unique blend of ultra-power pop.

New England Greatest Hits Live

Reviewby Joe Viglione
In the eight-page booklet that accompanies Greatest Hits Live, the first ever live album from 1970s/’80s arena rockers New England, lead singer/frontman John Fannon notes that “We didn’t have a lot of live stuff recorded.” A double LP of on-stage performances following the release of their first three studio discs could have been the key to bring New England to that much wider audience enjoyed by Asia, Boston, and some of the groups they opened for: AC/DC, Journey, Styx, Rush, and, of course, Kiss. Less progressive than Focus but with enough of a stadium sound to separate them from the underground Massachusetts music community they emerged from, this in-concert disc is heavy with Jimmy Waldo‘s keyboards and gives an overview of some of the material the band made popular in the first phase of their major-label experience. As with GB Music’s Baker Gurvitz Army release, this is called Greatest Hits Live, which is a bit misleading. Missing are “Honey Money,” “D.D.T.” (“be my dirty dream tonight”), and “Walking Wild,” arguably among their most familiar tunes, and the group’s fan base may have preferred a title like “New England Live, Vol. 1.” Surely there must be more tapes out there, and they would be a welcome addition to the suddenly growing New England catalog. The liner notes don’t give much information on the source of this recording — the date, who recorded it, and so on, though Fannon does mention between songs that it is a second show in San Francisco. All the material from the 1979 self-titled first album except “Turn Out the Light” appears here along with three tunes from 1980’s Explorer Suite — the title track, “You’ll Be Born Again,” and “Hey You’re on the Run” — putting this recording in the 1980 time frame. Fannon saying from the stage, “This is a song off our album. It’s called ‘Hello, Hello, Hello’,” in the singular indicates that this recording may be before the release of Explorer Suite. The song rocks out live, as does their exquisite hit single from the summer of 1979, “Don’t Ever Wanna Lose Ya.” The instruments cut through, and the album is a fairly good representation of the band. They are four musical fellows, so everything is played very much as originally recorded. A lovely “You’ll Be Born Again” closes out the dozen-song set on this historically important document of this underrated ensemble. Impressions from the bandmembers and more specifics in the booklet — which does sport a nice array of photographs — would have been helpful, but at the end of the day it is the music that has to do the talking, and it is represented here in fine fashion.

New Man

Reviewby Joe Viglione
New Man was a slick and precise Boston band who performed dance rock in the mid-’80s. Not as avant-garde as their contemporaries November Group, the self-titled album became more a platform for the individual talents of the bandmembers. Without the commercial songs which catapulted ABC, Culture Club, Spandau Ballet, and similar acts to superstardom, this debut disc stood little chance of success. Everything is recorded and performed to perfection — a song like “Way Over There” is as emotionless as “Beautiful Rose” or “Bad Boys.” What the band really needed was to latch onto a solid cover, as Stories did with “Brother Louie,” a title that could bring this listenable and highly danceable album out of the cutout bins. Scott Gilman‘s “Say Your Prayers” and Tim Archibald‘s “Love Real” are two of the more memorable pieces, but there is nothing extraordinary that jumps out and makes one crazy to buy the record. “She Can’t Let Him Go” has the machine-like thumps that the Rings put into “Let Me Go,” but the difference in those two songs is the difference between a potential hit and a song that is just average. Producer Joe Mardin appears to have recognized the individual talents of the bandmembers, with Bob Gay and others appearing on the Bee GeesE.S.P. album that he also produced, while Tim Archibald hooked up with a Boston band who did climb the Top 40, RTZ and their album Return to Zero. The New Man project is likeable enough — certainly not a bad record — but it’s not a disc by the Cars or Tracy Chapman, either. New Man might be the purest example of the importance of the song as a vehicle and the lack of a breakthrough hit immobilizing years of hard work. Scott Gilman and Mark Jones do not possess remarkable or distinctive voices either, which added to the dilemma. An instrumental version of this disc could have been fun.

November Group November Group


Reviewby Joe Viglione
This debut by the ex-members of Wunderkind on a label owned by the record chainNewbury Comics contains five songs and lots of heart. Less derivative than their releases on Braineater and A&M, this is probably November Group in a pure, naïve state. “Pictures of the Homeland” sounds more searching than militant, Alvan Long‘s drums very present riding Ann Prim‘s precise and novel riff. Raphael Gasparello is playing the tight elastic bass prior to eventual Down Avenue musician Don Foote taking over making this limited edition E.P. a good document of the band while it was refining the dancey bouncy music regional fans loved.”Shake It Off” has the hollow vocals that Boston acts like The Machines were lifting liberally from Devo, reprised on side two’s “We Dance”. “Flatland” has the sparse machine gun guitar/keys trade-off and a splashy group chorus of “hey” to break things up, but it is hard to differentiate it from “Pictures Of The Homeland”, and that’s the major flaw here. Intense, professional and hard working, November Group stayed within the framework of their original concept when that concept should have included, should have demanded, creative growth.They never got out of the techno-rock rut and without melody that monotone vocal might as well have been the hammer and scythe in a machine shop it was emulating. “The Popular Dance”, like everything else on this self-titled first effort, is a cool title caught in a redundant carbon copy of a tape loop. It has charm but gets tired by the time you get to the fifth track. Too bad the Wunderkind 45 wasn’t included as a bonus track, the band’s earlier incarnation was not as serious, and was at times more powerful. A live album might have captured the magic more effectively than the black and white image this music projected and became in the studio, for November Group was something to be experienced in the dance venues, dark music echoing in dark clubs.

November Group Persistent Memories (1983)

Reviewby Joe Viglione
In the driving “I Live Alone,” Ann Prim‘s machine-gun vocal echoes a monotone Greta Garbo by way of Marlene Dietrich. The band had a powerful presence live in concert, and lots of angst that gets subdued when translated to vinyl in a studio. Good production work by Ann Prim and A. Kirby, who goes by the name of Kearney Kirby, became the trademark of these warriors. Everything is so serious with November Group — “Night Architecture” sounds and feels contrived, but that doesn’t take away from its beauty. Whether Prim and Kirby were doing this as a calculated business move (which MCA recording artist the Rings appeared to be doing before them) or if these songs emerged because it was their art at the time, isn’t the point. For what it is, it is very good. Where an instrumental version of “Put Your Back to It” might have been fun, actually putting an instrumental like “Night Architecture” on a disc is a bit redundant. All this techno rock seems to work well sans vocals on the dancefloor anyway — and the voice takes so long to kick in on “Heart of a Champion” that side two is very much like one long dance mix. “Heart of a Champion” is excellent, though it shows the group’s limitations; of all their material it sounds the most dated. This is Devo in a very serious light. “Heart of a Champion” is “Whip It” with a longer chorus. It is the first track, “Put Your Back to It,” which is the hit. This is the original long version of a song they would re-record for their A&M Records disc, Work That Dream. Don Foote on vocals and bass, and Alvan Long, the drummer who appeared on the first November Group EP, left for their own group shortly after this. Although not very original, these are good sounds worth finding and dancing to again.

November Group (A & M Records) Work That Dream 1985

Reviewby Joe Viglione
When the Ann Prim Band performed around Boston in the late ’70s, they were a blues outfit. The guitarist/vocalist re-emerged and re-invented her sound with a band called Wunderkind, which evolved into November Group. This six-song release on A&M came after a four-song outing on Braineater Records titled Persistent Memories in 1983, and another six-song recording on Modern Method in 1982. “Arrows Up to Heaven” on this disc is peppered with the Jonzun Crew‘s timeless “Tonight,” flavored with Peter Godwin‘s “Images of Heaven,” and it sounds great. “The Promise” is some mixture of “Some Like It Hot,” the 1985 hit from Power Station — it’s the same chorus, in fact, and has ABC‘s “Look of Love” keyboard riff and a splash of After the Fire‘s 1983 smash “Der Kommissar.” Talk about mopping riffs — these gals make Randy Bachman and Ric Ocasek, men who admit to nicking other’s people’s music, look clandestine by comparison. “Careful (A Life Is a Fragile Thing” is blatant Eurythmics. As serious as November Group was, the blues-rock so essential to Prim as an artist was absorbed by the hip sounds of the day. “Work That Dream” was released as an A&M single and featured a six-minute instrumental version and a five-minute extended mix. Recorded in Frankfurt, Germany, by producer Peter Hauke, the music is first-class, but the real hit is “Put Your Back to It,” a two-minute shorter version of the song that was released on Braineater two years prior to this. Like some soundtrack to the film Metropolis, Work That Dream stands as a professional and entertaining set of sounds from an ’80s band that deserved international airplay.

Private Lightning

by Joe Viglione
The tremendous music created in Boston, despite the overwhelming financial success of Aerosmith, the Cars, Bobby Brown, New Edition, New Kids on the Block, and others, never received the respect and opportunity afforded other cities like Seattle, New York, Memphis, and San Francisco. Private Lighting is another case of a band with depth and an overabundance of talent, not getting a fair shake. “Physical Speed” opens this album with the ultimate car song. The theme of Jonathan Richman‘s “Roadrunner” reactivated by a band well versed with driving on America’s Technology Highway, Route 128. Vocalist Adam Sherman performed the song over the same backing tracks in French. That version, “Vitesse Physique,” never made it to the disc, but received airplay in New England. Originally produced by songwriter David Wolfert, who also recorded Peter Criss‘ 1980 solo disc, Out of Control, at Air Studios, Montserrat, A&M pulled Wolfert from these sessions and the disc ended up being produced and engineered by Robin Geoffrey Cable. The curse of not releasing the demos strikes again. Clearly, the label did not have faith in the original producer, yet the band’s versions of “Song of the Kite” and “Physical Speed” got lots of local airplay in the Boston area, as did the tapes by the Cars before them. This unique band, featuring the violin of Patty Van Ness, the songs and guitar of Paul Van Ness, Sherman‘s distinctive voice, augmented by keys, bass, and drums provided by Eric Kaufman, Steve Keith, and Scott Woodman respectively, knew how to record their music. The demos have a bite that is missing on this re-creation. Still, the album has merit. Adam Sherman‘s “Heartbeat” has tension, has drive. The drums don’t have the greatest sound in the world and they are up in the mix, à la Roy Thomas Baker‘s vision of the Cars. That sound hampers “Bright City” and the rest of the disc. John Cale would have been the perfect producer for this group. He understands string work in a rock context, and his A&R and production work for everyone from the Modern Lovers to Jennifer Warnes and Nico could have brought this mix together successfully. A song like “Cultists of True Fun” demanded that kind of eccentric professionalism. Managed by Fred Heller, who didn’t seem to know what to do with Mott the Hoople, this is a band that should have enjoyed the success that J. Geils and the aforementioned Cars worked hard for and achieved. A truly original sound, songs like “Side of the Angels” needs power rather than the homogenization here. Singer Adam Sherman came to Boston from New York when post-Lou Reed Velvet Underground member George Nardo invited him to be part of the Rockets, a band represented by Velvets manager Steve Sesnick. In 2001, Sherman found a song of his covered by ex-Modern Lover Elliot Murphy and Ian Matthews of Matthews Southern Comfort on their duo disc, proving good talent does get recognized, but also proving that record labels and management can inhibit musical growth. This album is a testament to great music being shipwrecked by the business. You can hear through the production flaws, though, and the magic, somehow, bursts through.

Robin Lane & The Chartbusters

by Joe Viglione
Robin Lane & The Chartbusters emerged in 1979 when the backing vocalist/guitarist on the song “Round & Round” from Neil Young’s Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere album landed an album deal of her own with Larry Uttal’s Private Stock Records and needed a band. The daughter of Dean Martin’s musical director, Kenny Lane, told AMG: “I as an x-hippie chick went looking for my knights in Rat punkdom during the summer of 1978.” She was hanging out at the legendary Boston nightclub The Rat in Kenmore Sq. and “lured” the musicians in with the recording contract offer from the label which had put out records by Blondie and Frankie Valli, an imprint which folded before they could record. The band thought she was “cute and cheeky” and they loved her songs, so they decided to stick with her and wait it out until they got another record deal, which didn’t take too long.Personally managed by Mike Lembo before she hooked up with Modern Lovers Leroy Radcliffe and Asa Brebner along with drummer Tim Jackson and bassist Scott Baerenwald (a member of Boston ’70’s pioneers Reddy Teddy as well as the live touring band for The Archies ), Lembo had secured Robin a record deal with Private Stock and a publishing contract with Leeds Music, later MCA Music, now Universal. “He managed a friend of mine, Peter C. Johnson, half man – half tape….who was using art and tape in his live performances way before what was normal” Lane told All Media Guide.The Chartbusters tracked a demo tape at Northern Studios featuring the original “When Things Go Wrong”, “Why Do You Tell Lies” and “The Letter” (a different song than The Box Tops hit and an excellent tune. ) A local disc jockey suggested they make a single out of the recordings, so manager Mike Lembo created a label, Deli Platters, and the 3 song EP was released with a black and white picture sleeve selling a phenomenal amount of copies in New England and on the East Coast, with tons of free press coming from the venture.Guitarist Asa Brebner’s web page notes that Robin Lane & The Chartbusters signed to Warner Brothers by Jerry Wexler. Two videos were made along with two albums and a live EP between 1980 and 1981. Lane told AMG years later that “We should have stuck to the grass roots, but who knew? ….we were blinded by the stars in our eyes.” One example of how tough it was “when things go wrong”, as her minor hit went, was when they recorded the 5 song live EP at the Orpheum Theater in Boston. “the kids were banging on the doors (of the theater) where we were to be recorded…there was no sound check for us, utter pandemonium erupted …they recorded us and put it out … no overdubs, no nothing”. Exit guitarist Leroy Radcliffe and The Chartbusters dissolved though Robin re-appeared with a techno/rock EP in 1984 entitled Heart Connection. It was the original group with the additions of keyboardist Wally J. Baier and Willie “Loco” Alexander & The Boom Boom Band guitarist Billy Loosigian. The “grass roots” approach that appeals to Robin so much made Heart Connection as entertaining as the original three song EP on Deli Platters which started it all.During their time away from each other the individual members kept busy, Robin wrote songs for notable artists and in 1995 released a critically acclaimed CD, Catbird Seat. Asa Brebner embarked on a solo career while Tim Jackson began teaching at a college, but in the cyclical world of music comrades often reunite and in 2001 in a Boston suburb, The Chartbusters got on stage again, captured on video by a local television program. More gigs followed and a new album, cleverly titled When Things Go Right – a take off on their signature tune – found itself being recorded with new guitarist Pat Wallace taking the place of Radcliffe on second guitar. The re-release of the group’s first, self-titled Warner Brothers album coincidentally materialized on the Collectors Choice label with liner notes by AMG’s Richie Unterberger around the time of the recording of the 2002 reunion disc. Robin Lane teaches in Western Mass, began a seminar, “Giving Youth A Voice”, and has written a biography with all the details of her legendary Boston band, The Chartbusters. Her web page is http://www.randomrogue.com/robinlane.

1980 Robin Lane & The Chartbusters debut

by Joe Viglione
Her three song EP on manager Mike Lembo‘s Deli Platters label, featuring “The Letter” (an original not recorded for this album), “Why Do You Tell Lies,” and “When Things Go Wrong,” reportedly sold in excess of 10,000 units, many in the Northeast. Robin Lane’s Warner Brothers debut was produced by Joe Wissert and features the musicianship of Asa Brebner and Leroy Radcliffe on guitars, Tim Jackson on drums, and Scott Baerenwald on bass. With alum from Jonathan Richman’s Modern Lovers and all band members singing, they had the elements for mega success. These songs are all great, but the Wissert production stripped the band of what made them so popular in the Boston area. The three guitar attack onstage sounded like The Byrds with a superb female vocalist. The lack of guitar in the middle of “Don’t Cry” with just an annoying cymbal ride is the kind of sparse production which turned a powerful act into a low-key Pretenders on record. That’s the problem when a record label doesn’t understand the nuances of great musicians and the are they are creating. Warner released a five song EP of the band recorded live at the Orpheum Theater in Boston in 1980, sold at a special price — kind of admitting that the first album lacked the magic the band generated in performance. The live EP, produced by Michael Golub, captures some of that sparkle, but it too misses the mark with the guitars mixed way down. Hearing a song like “Why Do You Tell Lies” on the studio recording, without the lush guitar sound it cries out for, is discouraging. This is a band that deserved to craft pop hits for radio and were never given the proper chance. The songwriting and musicianship breaks through the thin production, and you can hear the potential. “Many Years Ago” and “Waiting in Line” actually sound very ’90s, the high end and the hollow sound would actually come into vogue years later. But that’s not what this band was about. There are some great songs here, especially “When Things Go Wrong.” One can only hope someone comes along to record this material in a way that it can be appreciated by the masses. “Be Mine Tonite” is heavier, but still feels restrained. The inner sleeve contains the lyrics and some very cool snapshots of the band.

Imitation Life

by Joe Viglione
The bane of many a band from Boston is the curse of bad record production, and that curse struck Robin Lane & the Chartbusters perhaps more than any other group. Where the Atlantics and Private Lightning only got one opportunity, Warner afforded the Chartbusters two albums and a five-song live EP. All three featured phenomenal songs that were not recorded by the label with the love and care that the artist deserved. The three-song EP, released on manager Mike Lembo‘s Deli Platters label, had all the elements that pointed to stardom for Robin Lane. A great original entitled “The Letter,” not the song performed by Alex Chilton and the Box Tops, did not get re-recorded by Warner Bros., and the sound is dramatically different from the slick treatment “Rather Be Blind” gets on this album, Imitation Life. “Solid Rock,” resplendent in Flaming Groovies riffs and girl group possibilities, gets lost in Gary Lyons souped up engineering. Tim Jackson‘s drums sound lightweight, and there are more references to angels, like the very Patti Smith-sounding first track on this album, “Send Me an Angel.” Where the bands self-titled debut the year before should have had more of the lush Byrds twelve-string guitar sounds, this album takes the group even further from that format. The guitar solo on “Pretty Mala” is almost heavy metal, so far removed from what this group was all about. The band had its own identity, but the attempts to get it to sound like the Patti Smith Group by way of the Pretenders strips away the heart and soul of a truly creative entity. Drummer Tim Jackson co-writes “Idiot” with Lane, and it is one of the strongest tracks on the disc. With better production it would have hit single written all over it. It has a neat little guitar riff, summery pop melody, and easy vocals by Lane. Just a year later she would put backing vocals on Andy Pratt‘s superb Fun in the First World album produced by the Chartbusters‘ guitarist Leroy Radcliffe, who was also Lane’s significant other for awhile. Radcliffe‘s production of Andy Pratt is everything this album needed, exactly what is missing on songs like “For You,” the moody final track with Lane’s beautifully melancholic vocal set somewhere between the instruments and not far up enough in the mix, too many effects keeping the words from being distinctive. The first album’s inner sleeve contained all the lyrics, and this second LP has etchings by guitarist Asa Brebner, which, although humorous, might’ve been better as a promo. Brebner‘s solo album, I Walk the Streets, released almost 20 years later, contains the sounds that should’ve been inserted into these grooves. “Rather Be Blind” is a driving pop tune with guitars that cry to sparkle and sound so subdued and lost in some reverb quagmire. This album is a heartbreaker, such a great performance lost in the mix. Producer Gary Lyons worked with Foreigner, Queen, and the Outlaws, a prescription that makes for an album as hard to take sonically as Extreme‘s first major label disc. “What the People Are Doing” has a great spy movie guitar riff and haunting vocals, the guitar bursts at the end of the song really striking. It’s an epic that fades into the Ramones-ish title track, “Imitation Life.” Robin Lane’s vision was stifled by poor recording and imitation art that the band and she cannot be blamed for. Imitation Life, by producer Gary Lyons, and Joe Wissert‘s ideas for the first album, Robin Lane & The Chartbusters, were forces that did nothing to further this important group’s career. The song “Say Goodbye” is classic Robin Lane, and Warner Bros. should invest in remixing both these potentially classic albums for compact disc. There are great songs here that could be rerecorded decades later by artists in need of hits.

5 Live

by Joe Viglione
Coming in between the first album, Robin Lane & The Chartbusters and 1981’s Imitation Life was this five song E.P. from Warner Brothers which included a cover of what was an FM hit for The Who and an AM hit for The Guess Who, Johnny Kidd’s Shakin’ All Over, it not so coincidentally follows Robin Lane’s song about an earthquake, 8.1. The band was one of Boston’s best live acts, with some of the members having gone through rigorous regimentation at the hands of the brilliant and equally difficult Jonathan Richman as his Modern Lovers. This is the best production of the three platters on Warner Brothers, but it still fails to capture that sweeping Byrds meets Flamin’ Groovies sound which made Robin so very popular in Boston. This is the fourth version of When Things Go Wrong to find its way onto vinyl, two studio versions by The Chartbusters and one by the Pousette Dart Band failed to get the national attention the song deserves. Robin Lane’s voice is shot, the liners noting that this was recorded at “the end of a grueling summer tour that took the band over 14,000 miles of highway”. It sounds it. Had Warner Brothers taped the group prior to the tour in a small Boston club where they ruled, they would have captured the nuances of Robin Lane’s beautiful voice, and the sparkling musicianship which truly broke new ground for a Boston band. They were one of the best and their major label marriage failed to document what the band was all about. Lost My Mind, When You Compromise and 8.5 are originals not on either studio album, and the band sounds more like the B52’s performing on the big Orpheum stage. That beautiful condensed sound is enlarged here, and Robin Lane sounds like a female Fred Schneider on some of this, through no fault of her own. This remains an important document of an important time. Still, it would have been nice to have more of the concert on this disc, with a better mix. Even the addition of the group’s original 3 song demo could have made this medium priced project a tool to break this essential band with.
til tuesday

Private Lightning

LIVE AT THE METRO Press A Dent Records

by Joe Viglione
Not to be confused with Live at the Metro by the Legendary Pink Dots from 1999, this 1981 compilation, sponsored by radio station WBCN, was the brainchild of advertising executive Sam Uvino and was in response to competing station WCOZ’s The Best of the Boston Beat series. Playing catch-up, WBCN endorsed an additional album, A Wicked Good Time, Vol. 2 released by local record retailer Newbury Comics. Someone & the Somebodies start things off, the only band represented on both WBCN discs, while the Stompers close out side one, that band also being represented on WCOZ’s The Best of the Boston Beat, Vol. 1 and The Best of the Boston Beat, Vol 2. The dynamics (or politics) of the two competing stations certainly had an impact on how the Boston scene, already damaged from the ridiculous “Bosstown Sound” of the ’60s, was perceived outside the city limits. That WBCN allowed fake applause to be added to this disc is reprehensible, but the studio owner where the tapes were mastered (uncredited here, but it was the Sound Design facility in Burlington where the Lines often recorded) fessed up to it. If you can ignore the stadium applause on a disc taped at a 1500-seat venue, you can enjoy some of the music by City Thrills, Someone & the Somebodies, the Stompers, and Private Lightning. Keep in mind The Metro used to be the legendary Ark/Boston Tea Party, evolved into a gay bar known as Cabaret, turned into Boston-Boston and 15 Lansdowne Street over the years, with dominance in the ’80s while known as The Metro. It was the happening place for bigger bands during the week, and morphed into a disco on weekend nights. Live at the Metro contains early work by the original Lines, featuring members who would go on to form the Swinging Steaks, some of Sal Baglio‘s choice tracks with his Stompers, and material from rock critic Tristram Lozaw when his band, Someone & the Somebodies, were happening. The New Models come off as pretentious and drab, Casey Lindstrom lost without his producer Ric Ocasek to inject some life into uninspired material. But Barb Kitson and Johnny “Angel” Carmen rock on “Don’t Come Back” and “Last to Know,” the former WERS DJ Kitson tossing the “F” word nonchalantly as only she can. Their band comes out unscathed, as do the Stompers, in a strange merging of mainstream and underground styles. In theory, this was a good idea, but WBCN did a very poor job of documenting the scene’s important music, and the result is a curious artifact that doesn’t respect the artists performing on the disc or the scene in general. Carter Alan, who should know better, probably cringes now that he put his name on the liner notes to this. Despite WCOZ’s inconsistent choice of musicians, that radio station wins the battle when it comes to integrity on these compilation discs. Fake applause, sheesh. What ever happened to having respect for art? From the community that launched the brilliant Live at the Rat and the important Live at Jacks albums, much more was expected, and the potential for something very special went unrealized.

1981 Press A Dent Records 616717



by Joe Viglione
Boston radio station WCOZ went to number one in the ’70s when radio programmer John Sebastian (no relation to the Lovin’ Spoonful‘s singer) created his Led Zeppelin format. Thanks to the energies and devotion of DJ Leslie Palmiter and her “Boston Beat” Sunday night radio program, music from the New England region obtained airplay on this 50,000 watt mega station on 94.5 FM (replaced years later by dance and rap Top 40), a signal as instrumental in the breaking of the Cars‘ demo, “Just What I Needed,” as the rival WBCN. This 1979 release is a real time capsule and despite the flaws — a few suburban bands who lack sparkle and innovation — there are some rarities by groups who went on to national prominence. Johanna Wild became Jon Butcher Axis and their “Suzanne” was a Boston area classic, the antithesis of the new wave so important to 1979, but still relevant. Rick Berlin‘s original Luna is here, and he’s listed as Rick Kinscherf, but the 45 RPM “Hollywood” from the notorious Jay Mandel production sessions which cost the band a deal with Cleveland International is included here, the natural extension of Orchestra Luna gone rock. There’s a live tape of the Stompers, who would later sign with Boardwalk, recorded February 13, 1979, at the Paradise Theater — the band is always more energetic live. A pivotal track from the Atlantics is “I’m Hooked” — it was the band with original guitarist Jeff Locke, who was their essential pop songwriter. He was replaced by Fred Pineau when the band signed a label deal and released Big City Rock, so this is one of the few places to find music from the original act, who were one of the biggest draws in their day. When you look at the lineup of Johanna Wild, the Fools, the Atlantics, Thundertrain, the Stompers, the Johnny Barnes Group, and Luna you are seeing an impressive roster which could have put 5,000 people in a hall if presented on one bill; they were all that popular. Thundertrain‘s version of the Standells‘ “Dirty Water” is classic. It is not on their 1977 Teenage Suicide LP; this song was released two years later with blues master James Montgomery on harp and with production by Duke & the Drivers“Earthquake” Morton. Five years later, Aerosmith‘s Joe Perry would record “Dirty Water” with a band called the Lines, while Mach Bell was Perry‘s lead singer on MCA Records, that coincidence making this release all the more historically important. Bell‘s insane vocals on the WCOZ compilation — rambling about “the Boston strangler” and such — give his version the edge, even over that West Coast band the Standells. Joanne Barnard‘s “Don’t Break My Heart” is wonderful pop recorded out at Long View Farm, as was the Thundertrain track. Permanent Press record exec Ray Paul shows up with an interesting “Lady Be Mine Tonight” which features local scenester Mr. Curt Naihersey. All in all, this is one of the better time capsules of Boston music and the first of three compilation albums from radio station WCOZ.

1979 LP WCOZ L331021

The Best Of The Boston Beat Vol. 2

by Joe Viglione
Radio stations sponsoring compilations of local recording groups was the rage in the ’80s, and some important musical time capsules were created. When acts hit from those discs, those time capsules turned into collectors’ items. The first volume of now-defunct radio station WCOZ’s The Best of the Boston Beat (named after DJ Lesley Palmiter’s excellent Sunday night local music program) was issued on WCOZ Records, manufactured by Infinity Records, in 1979 (the station’s major competition, by the way, was Infinity Broadcasting). This second set, released in 1981, is on the Starsteam label out of Houston, TX. Starstream Records/Big Music America may have been a company which specialized in radio station LP projects, as the disc came with a ballot for voting on the album’s best track and there was a national 25,000 dollar grand prize and a “record contract” (no specifics other than that). “Big Music America has gone into major cities all across the country to solicit tapes,” is the claim on the back cover. Years after the regional album’s creation, no such “battle of the bands” mentality is necessary. Classic tracks by the Jon Butcher Axis, Balloon (who featured future Joe Perry Project lead singer Charlie Farren), soon-to-be Boardwalk recording artists the Stompers, along with Johnny Barnes and a band with future producer Chris Lannon as guitarist, Midnight Traveller, give the album credibility the contest could not. Musically, the best tracks are “Shutdown” from the Stompers, “Roll Me” from Johnny Barnes featuring the gifted Craig Covner on guitar, Charlie Farren singing “Political Vertigo,” and a classic early rendition of “New Man” by the Jon Butcher Axis, more driving than the remake on their Polygram debut. Anne English gets a nice runner-up status with “All I’m Waiting for Is You,” while the other artists provide a snapshot of a moment in Boston music history. “Rock on the Radio” by Mark Williamson and American Teen is mainstream hard pop, while Midnight Traveller travels that same road. It’s a good thing the tracks were not put back to back, as they sound very similar. Keep in mind, this is when radio programmer John Sebastian (not the singer/songwriter) brought WCOZ to 9.1 in the ratings by offering the world a steady diet of Led Zeppelin. That was the format of the station and this second volume reflects the album rock mindset. Powerglide is another band who made some noise, but like the aforementioned American Teen and Midnight Traveller, they were not part of what was considered the “underground” of the day. The Stompers, Jon Butcher, Balloon with Charlie Farren, and Johnny Barnes were able to cross into both arenas — the suburban club scene as well as the Boston rock & roll crowd — but none of these groups were totally embraced by the world where the Nervous Eaters, Willie Alexander, the Real Kids, and other members of the Live at the Rat clique performed and/or caused trouble. This album’s lack of music from that world is a drawback — the artists who got airplay on DJ Palmiter’s show were not fully represented by ‘Coz’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Album: The Best of the Boston Beat, Vol. 2. Trapper, the Smith Brothers, and Witch One may have names that evaporated as quickly as their respective careers as bands did; their inclusion is a departure from the first volume, which had an impressive nine artists of the 12 being those who were more firmly established, but the “I exist therefore I am” philosophy earns them their place when someone picks up this rare collection and gets to hear some voices from the past. When you put this collection alongside Wayne Wadhams‘ 1975 Chef’s Salad compilation and the Live at Jacks and Live at the Rat recordings, along with other collections of local music, you get a better focus. There were three compilations in radio station WCOZ’s series before they changed call letters and went dance music/rap.


Warren Scott of THE CHANNEL Profile in Medford Transcript
Music maker
By Joe Viglione/ Correspondent
Thursday, November 30, 2006

Warren Scott


Check out Dinky Dawson’s CHANNEL website


Scott managing Chevalier venue

Warren Scott has close to three decades of experience as one of the major booking agents in New England. As talent buyer for The Channel nightclub, he brought national and international acts into the Boston area. Two of Roy Orbison’s last three performances before his passing were at The Channel; Greg Kihn had the room completely jammed when “Jeapordy” was a hit in 1983, while local legends Rick Berlin: The Movie and Girls Night Out featuring Didi Stewart were able to bring a huge audience into a Boston venue and generate the stir that made them two of the areas most exciting artists.

Today the city of Medford hosts Scott’s company, Boston Event Works, managing the prestigious Chevalier Theatre. The Marvelettes, Shirley Alston Reeves, local heroes New England and The Fools, all participated in recent memorable nights at the historic concert hall. The same hall, which, in the past, has also hosted immortal names such as Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra and John F. Kennedy.

Recently, Scott sat down for a Q&A about his business and managing the Chevalier.

Q: Warren, when did you open Boston Event Works?
A: 2002

Q: Concerted Efforts used to be located on Salem Street in Medford, John Gentile and Mickey O’Halloran worked in the suburbs in the 70s – Mickey working out of Mass. Ave in Arlington. How do you find working five miles north of Boston compared to Boston proper, and how has Medford responded to having a major booking agency within the city limits?

A: You don’t necessarily need to be in a metro city to run an office like BEW. With phones and e-mail, you could be anywhere as long as you are in touch and in tune to the needs of the market you are servicing.

It’s great to be here in Medford, it supplies a great business atmosphere with location and local amenities, especially being located in the Chevalier Theater; it’s a natural fit.
Q: Warren, you’ve certainly worked some of the finest rooms in New England. The Pia Zadora show at the Opera House that you were involved with was a real treat. Here’s this movie actress in films that weren’t memorable onstage with Sinatra’s band and holding her own. She brought the house down if I recall.
Would it be fair to say that the Chevalier is as acoustically perfect as the Opera House, and as important to this region?
A: Most definitely, it’s a beautiful room. Acoustically it’s perfect, not a bad seat in the house, a beautiful structure, with as many seats to challenge any national concert hall.
Q: Could you introduce us to the staff of Boston Event Works?
A: Well I’m not as “news shy” as they may be, but we have a full-time staff with Julie in administration, Kevin and Ron in the contemporary club booking department, Aaron heads up the college division, Dave in the wedding and me at the helm of special events. Then we have show production managers that work out of the office producing the shows and events we put together for clients all over the USA.


Music maker
[continued from previous page]

Q: You have a large roster of artists. Who are some of the most in-demand performers you represent?
A: Good question, and me not being right in the contemporary department, I’ll try to answer …Let’s see, Boston Event Works represents, Audible Mainframe, Eclective Collective, The Well, The Brightwings, NBFB, Gordon Stone Band, Fungus Amungus, Sucka Brown, Parker House & Theory, VINX, Oneside, Arcoda, Lucy Vincent, Ramoniacs, Jumpstreet.
Q: The region has changed dramatically since the 1970s with The Rathskellar, The Kenmore Club, The Club in Cambridge, The Channel, Jumpin’ Jack Flash, Jack’s in Cambridge and other vital clubs fading into memory.

What are your thoughts on the changing marketplace?
A: It’s happening too fast and without care for the music industry itself. Music is a driving force in many people’s lives, whether it’s recorded or live, and it’s the live portion of music Boston metro is lacking.
There is swiftly becoming far too few live entertainment stages. For a region this large, the amount of actual viewing space for start-up, new bands, is small. We’ve got a fair amount of large venues to see nationals but the younger bands are sacrificing terribly.

There is just nowhere to play, far less rooms are functioning now from even five to 10 years ago. One time there were 20 plus moderate sized clubs that presented live music, what are there now, six, eight??

If you are a band who is releasing a new product and wants to showcase in a strong 400-seat room, it’s tough to find. If the room is out there, if you don’t mind waiting three months to get a slot. (Problem is) the production (professional lights and sound) is not.

Again, a lessening support for live music.

Q: Malden has My Honey Fitz, Arlington’s “Right Turn” has major acts in for charity events, do you think a nightclub in Medford, or a consistent music presence at the Chevalier, is something the suburbs are ready for?

A: It’s always up to the city. A regular rotation of events at The Chevalier would work as long as the interval of time between shows worked.

Q: What are Boston Event Works immediate goals?

A: To continue to grow, booking the hottest bands into (what’s left of) the clubs in this region, allowing us to bring visiting businesses and corporations to this area the best entertainment with the best and newest production.

Q: What fun things can Medford residents look forward to from the Chevalier?

A: We’ve got a bunch of events happening – Brendon from Nashville will be in for three nights, Whoopie Goldberg will be visiting in April and the region’s best theatrical shows on the Chevalier large stage.

Q: Boston Event Works specializes in all aspects of live music presentation, event management and promotional support. How do you choose the entertainment?

A: Besides the many national attractions we work with, the locals and regionals are decided on by reviewing websites and promotional packages they submit to the agency.


Music maker
[continued from previous page]

For people interested in submitting material, the address is: Warren Scott Boston Event Works PO Box 180 Medford, MA 02155 (PH) 781-395-1732 (FX) 781-395-1733.

Q: Would you kindly give us some of your most memorable moments in rock & roll in the Boston area.

A: Working the Sarah Vaughn and Muddy Waters show at Berklee Performance Center, one of my first was unbelievable, Fela Kuti at The Hynes, Bunnie Wailer at The Wang Center, Ray Charles at Lynn Auditorium, Frank Zappa at Winter Island in Salem, The Ramones at The Main Event in Lynn (a.k.a. “The Harbor House”) circa 1978; The Repacements, Miles Davis, Pobert Palmer, Morrissey at The Opera House, Bo Diddley and Roy Orbison double header in Volvo Tennis Chamionship opening, John Denver, same place, different night, or Jerry Lee Lewis: who admitted some profound news to (former Globe critic)Jim Sullivan and I, Divine and John Waters, Jello Biafra & the Dead Kennedy’s whos name was changed to The DK’s per order of The State House, Cameo, Grandmaster Flash & Melle Mel who when I paid, showed me who was in charge by using a 38 for a paper weight, The Gap Band, Charlie Watts Orchestra, The Young Snakes, Johnny Thunders, Billy Bragg, Dwight Youkum, Ian Dury and the Blockheads who opened up for an unknown John Cougar, Wendy O & The Plasmatics (no ping pong balls), Joan Jett, The Slits, Big Black, The Speedies, Motorhead, Meatloaf, Eisterzende Neubarton, Alice in Chains, Fine Young Cannibals with a fire alarm, everybody left the club then everybody went back in, there where 2000 people there that night, James Brown, who I had to talk into not flying back to Detroit because of his suite, it was at the embassy suites hotel in Allston and he was told him it was a full $3,000 suite, come to find out , it cost $149, Getting drunk with AC/DC; when I drank…George Clinton and The P-Funk Allstars, Iggy Pop, Pere Ubu, Gary Glitter, The GoGo’s, Thompson Twins, Gary Newman, GNO, Freddie Kruger, Freddie McGregor, English Beat; our House Band, The Birthday Party, John Cale, JJ Cale, Tony Bennett, The Cramps at Halloween, multiple years in a row, Putting together the first ever Spinal Tap performance (and they did 4 shows!), Ron Wood of the Rolling Stones again & The Mysterians, The Jam, Dennis Brown, Sly and Robbie, B-52’s regular yearly X-Mas gigs, Phillip Glass, and Goo Goo Dolls who I used to pay $400 a night … all happened at the best nightclub America has seen…The Channel.

Thanks for sharing those memories with us, Warren.

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Review by Joe Viglione

Released eight years after the brilliant Orchestra Luna album on Epic, the eclectic music of Rick Berlin takes a more pop aim, which can be described as “progressive underground.” Emerging from the same Boston scene as Willie Alexander and the Nervous Eaters, the commercial local hits “It’s You I Love,” “Over The Hill,” and “Don’t Stop Me From Crying” garnered them a huge audience, while tunes like “Can I Fall in Love” and “Airlift” were explorations in stretching the boundaries. Taking the Beatles into Journey’s arena rather than the world of the Velvet Underground, this album is actually producer Bill Pfordresher’s re-working of an album cut when the band was known as the original Luna. They had dropped the Orchestra from the name and replaced Randy Roos with Steven Paul Perry, giving the band a harder edge. The “Hollywood” 45 was released in between Orchestra Luna and Berlin Airlift under the name Luna. The band had a deal in hand with Cleveland International (yet another CBS label — this album as well as the former were on CBS affiliated labels) but the producer of Luna held out for too much money, keeping the band from signing, and changing history. This album would be dramatically different had the original Luna tapes seen the light of day. Also, “Don’t Stop Me From Crying,” a driving ballad with superb vocals that Queen made popular, was pretty established locally, making it difficult to re-launch a song people were already familiar with. Aerosmith faced this when “Dream On” charted twice nationally, once because of Boston airplay, and later because other cities picked up on it. Berlin Airlift, its wonderful music aside, is a perfect example of politics interfering in the recording process. It, unfortunately, is a big part of this album’s legacy. The film themes run throughout, as usual. The album’s back cover dressed up like a frame from celluloid, and the line “sad movies they take me away” makes the emphasis. The incessant chant of “Don’t Stop Me” is a grabber, and not your usual radio hook. Rick Kinscherf Berlin’s lyrics are direct and controversial as well as innovative. “Over the Hill” is the reverse of Gary Puckett’s “Young Girl,” about an older man, out “to rob the cradle,” dating a seventeen year old. Stevie Knicks worked that theme as well, but, somehow, a woman going there isn’t as frightening for radio programmers as men in a spring/summer fling. The song was a big smash in Boston, but Handshake Records was busy putting out the Pope’s spoken word disc, which might’ve been a financial detriment — executive Ron Alexenburg’s label went by the wayside, further affecting this effort. Jane Balmond’s keyboards and Rick Berlin’s performances are nicely complemented by Steven Paul Perry’s Mick Ronson-style guitar, and tunes like “My Heart Ain’t Big Enough for You” and “It’s You I Love” bring the original Orchestra Luna concept to a place where rock fans can appreciate it without having to think too much. Despite its production flaws, the sound is a bit thinner than the band was used to, and some of the material having been overworked, Berlin Airlift is still a very good document of an important band. They would re-emerge as Rick Berlin: The Movie after this, recording more radio-friendly songs, many of which have yet to see the light of day. Epic/Legacy would be wise to combine Orchestra Luna and Berlin Airlift with some of the more popular rarities on a single CD as vital early work from Rick Berlin, who continues to write, record, and perform his unique musical vision.


Review by Joe Viglione

“The monster arrives in the dark,” Rick Berlin sings in “Miracle,” one of 15 songs recorded live at the notorious drag queen bar in Boston’s Bay Village, Jacques. Located across the street from where the Cocoanut Grove nightclub burned to the ground forcing changes in laws, it is probably the only bar in New England with a midnight license. Captured here is the ambiance with veteran singer/songwriter Rick Berlin, whose Monday night performances at this venue rivals Little Joe Cook’s work at the Cantab for longevity. It is amazing what one man can do with a voice, piano, and audience. “(I Like) Straight Guys” is humorous in the pitter patter piano and the effective vocal, ending with a climactic “honk if you love Jesus…” — the “f” word (three letters, not four) trailing off in the distance. Berlin, formerly known as Rick Kinscherf when signed to Epic Records in the ’70s with his group Orchestra Luna, is in total control with piano runs and a vocal sound moving closer to John Cale than Berlin’s work with his fusion and hard rock bands ever displayed. Jane Friedman, who worked with Cale, also represented Rick Berlin at one point in time, and she’s thanked on the disc, but the comparison between the two artists was never evident until Live at Jacques. The recording is excellent, with keyboards and voice spaced nicely, violin, harmonica, and backing vocals coming in on different titles. “Police Boy in Prague” is simply a title that may have been a bit much even for the CBS release when the band was known as Berlin Airlift. Then things were subtle, innuendo, and double entendre. Berlin compares a boy in Prague lying in his arms to a violin, as the violin plays behind him. This is Rick, as he sings in “Be Yourself,” totally immersed in his art in an appreciative arena, dangerous music being generated in a dangerous nightclub. It’s a far cry from the days when Berlin opened for Roxy Music or drew thousands of patrons into the Channel club, where his band was among the top draws. “I would rather have a fag for a son than a drunk for a husband,” he sings in “Be Yourself.” Berlin hasn’t gone after the gay market as other artists position themselves. He is just performing because he has to, and producer Dan Cantor has captured the moment in all its glory.



George Thorogood is forever consistent and Maverick is more of the blues/rock driving sound the journeyman guitarist is known for. John Lee Hooker’s “Crawling King Snake” is what you expect from this crew while “Memphis, Tennessee” bursts at the seams with George’s trademark slide and Hank Carter’s saxophone. Recorded at the legendary Dimension Sound Studio in July of 1984 on the outskirts of Boston, the earthy sound catches all the band’s primal energy from opener “Gear Jammer” to the wailing sax of “Long Gone.” There are only four originals from Thorogood, the album chock full of Johnny Otis, Chuck Berry, Carl Perkins, John Lee Hooker and others. It is territory that the group has covered on pretty much every previous record, but it’s done with the artistic passion that makes it real. The vocal on “What a Price” full of torment, it’s a nice contrast to the rocking numbers.

– Joe Viglione, All Music Guide



Review by Joe Viglione
George Thorogood is forever consistent and Maverick is more of the blues/rock driving sound the journeyman guitarist is known for. John Lee Hooker’s “Crawling King Snake” is what you expect from this crew while “Memphis, Tennessee” bursts at the seams with George’s trademark slide and Hank Carter’s saxophone. Recorded at the legendary Dimension Sound Studio in July of 1984 on the outskirts of Boston, the earthy sound catches all the band’s primal energy from opener “Gear Jammer” to the wailing sax of “Long Gone.” There are only four originals from Thorogood, the album chock full of Johnny Otis, Chuck Berry, Carl Perkins, John Lee Hooker and others. It is territory that the group has covered on pretty much every previous record, but it’s done with the artistic passion that makes it real. The vocal on “What a Price” full of torment, it’s a nice contrast to the rocking numbers.
THE PIXIES Loudquietloud: A Film About the Pixies

Review by Joe Viglione
This is a well-deserved documentary film on the Pixies, though a bit ostentatious in its premise. The band is one of the greats that emerged out of the 1980s Boston scene, but the opening quip calling them “one of the most influential bands of all time” is the kind of overreach that takes away from the fun, and a philosophy that holds this elegant — and at times gorgeous — production back. What should be an important addition to their musical catalog quickly evaporates into a DVD fanzine — not a bad thing in itself, but not the type of vehicle that will recruit many new fans or beg repeated plays. Frank Black (aka Black Francis) doesn’t have the presence of a Willie “Loco” Alexander, a huge Boston cult figure who is a most intriguing and captivating character. As the first artist to perform at the Boston Tea Party, and later as a member of the Velvet Underground, Alexander has the “street cred” that would make a mere phone conversation compelling. Watching Black Francis engaged on the telly about the ego conflicts with Kim Deal is hardly as enlightening as, say, Ralph J. Gleason presenting a legendary 1965 Bob Dylan press conference. Therein lies the problem: David, Kim, Joey, and Frank (or is it Black?) are not John, Paul, George, and Ringo, nor does this film contain the supreme irreverence of A Hard Day’s Night or Help! And just as one Boston area WZLX disc jockey asked on-air, in all seriousness, “Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, and Starkey? Who is this Starkey guy?,” few people on the planet could ever find the missing Pixies link, Charles Thompson. This film is not for the masses, but for Pixies fans, a cult that loves the sound and wants the music, and it’s the music here that is the most powerful thing. Sadly, there’s just not enough of it. The personalities don’t jump off the screen, so the home movie’s best footage outside of the snippets of music are some of the sights — the band recording in Iceland, a hotel front in Chicago. The DVD becomes as frustrating as the group’s breakup.You can’t put bald ego on tape and expect to find the magic. The magic with the Pixies has always been the music — not their looks, not their persona — but simply the sound they blasted from the stage of the Rat in Boston way back when. Gee, if only if only that fantastic set was what was inside this DVD case. Kelley Deal wielding a camera and asking a woman why she’s there is supposed to be ironic. “My daughter Kim‘s in the Pixies; I’m here to see her.” The home movie is great stuff, Kelley, of course, and being the woman’s daughter is as well. But wouldn’t it have been more fun to see mom running the camera and a great Breeders song appear from out of nowhere? Now, had these drawn-out moments been edited down and dropped into one of the many Pixies music videos out there — for example, the December 15, 1986, appearance at WJUL (now WUML) in Lowell, MA, or the Los Angeles footage from October 30, 2004 — this project would have taken on lots more meaning and historical importance. There is a cool 16-page black-and-white booklet with commentary from directors Steven Cantor and Matthew Galkin, but what they fail to note is that many of the bands that the Pixies influenced, with the exception of Nirvana and perhaps a handful of others, never reached the level of Roxy Music, the Cars, R.E.M., or other latter-day pioneers that the Velvet Underground spawned. The Cars inspired many more bands than the Pixies, for example, and a quirky documentary on those personalities would be more entertaining. Without the Cars there would be no “Every Breath You Take” from the Police, arguably their greatest hit. Without the Pixies there’s a very good chance Kurt Cobain would have still made his mark. The filmmakers do nothing here to dispute that, which renders Loudquietloud: A Film About the Pixies a great concept that misses. The group — and these filmmakers — need to borrow the Barre Phillips Live in Vienna DVD (on the same label, Music Video Distributors) to see pure genius, and a simple interview with more value than egos continuing to get in the way of the creation of intriguing sounds. One would think after all these years they’d get it.

copyright 2017 joe viglione, all rights reserved
11)Peter Calo, Carly Simon, Pamela Ruby Russell

Pamela Ruby Russell, Peter Calo, Carly Simon, Alex Taylor, Bellvista, Ingrid Saxon

A Chapter of Joe Viglione’s Guide to New England Music write jvbiographies@yahoo.com

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Guitarist/Songwriter/Producer Peter Calo, Pamela Ruby Russell, Carly Simon, Liv Taylor, Alex Taylor, Kate Taylor, Ingrid Saxon

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http://rocktableofcontents.blogspot.com/Peter Calo plays guitar on the soundtrack to the new film HAIRSPRAY (2007). He is also working with Carly Simon and Jimmy Webb on their upcoming recording project.Bellvista THE PAINTER 1982 with PETER CALOhttp://allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:gjfrxqw0ldde

The Painter
no cover
The Painter
En Route
Review by Joe Viglione
Jazz guitarist Peter Calo‘s brilliance is all over this 1982 debut by his band Bellvista. Years before his film soundtracks and work with Carly Simon, this out-of-print six-song instrumental album contains 36 minutes of exquisite musicianship. Chris Brown does a fine job of capturing Calo‘s borderline rock solo in the opener, the nine-minute-and-22-second “Once Upon a Fantasy.” Jeff Potter‘s drums hit Chip Graham‘s electric bass head on. Boston Globe critic J. Harper is the executive producer and writes the liner notes. He heard the band at Ryles, a famous Boston area jazz club, two years prior to this recording and says that the band was together only six months before he saw them. In a bit of hyperbole he states “Bellvista means ‘good view’ — of the sound of the ’80s and beyond,” but decades after the critic penned those words, it would be hard to disagree with him. Calo proved himself with his fine solo releases along with his efforts on recordings for luminaries of the film and music world. The band theme “Belle Vista,” separating their name, is pretty and more restrained than the fiery first track. These are all Calo originals, with an interesting suite that makes up side two. There’s “The Poet (For Elaine),” followed by the album’s shortest tune, a three-minute “The Dancer,” and the tour de force nine-minute title track, “The Painter.” This is an album that needs to be re-released with anything the band may have left in the tape vaults. Perhaps there’s a live show that could fill out a full-length compact disc. It’s extraordinary from top to bottom in sound, performance, and packaging.

Spoonerism 1983

From AMG ReviewsPeter Calo’s Spoonerism six-song EP from 1983 displays his clever grasp of pop, especially on “When It’s Good,” which has the markings of multi-format smash written all over it. This was released on Calo’s own En Route label and is another example of how record companies in the ’80s failed to do what they did in the ’60s — to pick up great regional music once it found its way out into the world on its own. The black-and-white cover is as clever as the music, unique artwork by Richard Fitzhugh on the front, the four-piece band facing each other at a coffee shop, with Calo peering at the listener from inside a mirror on the back. Side one is titled “Concave” and is hollow and curved like the inside of a circle, while side two is called “Convex” and is curved out, like the outside of a sphere. Three songs have vocals, while three are instrumental. “Next to You” is George Benson-style jazz-pop, some scat singing with dancing guitar and keys. “Sunbathing” contains no voices, and needs none — it is just a stunningly beautiful piece of music. With the high profile this artist would receive working with singer Carly Simon, along with crafting Hollywood soundtracks, it is really a shame that this exquisite song hasn’t been rediscovered and had the chance to penetrate the consciousness of the masses. Both “Sunbathing” and “When It’s Good” are outstanding finds, well-produced statements packaged with care. The record was engineered and mixed by Phil Green, former guitarist in the band Swallow, and some of the music goes into territory explored by another great Boston jazz artist, ex-Orchestra Luna guitarist Randy Roos, whose Mistral album has much in common with Peter Calo’s Spoonerism. The curve of a spoon and the curve of a circle reflect this sound, which takes diverse elements from Atlanta Rhythm Section, Genesis, and other artists, but comes up with its own uniqueness. “There’s a Reason” is the only song which has a collaborator, co-written with Elaine Davies, while the fine musicianship of the bandmembers is on display in another instrumental, “Captain Squirrel Cheeks.” PCB, the Peter Calo Band, released another track, “Fine Line,” on The Boston Rock Roll Anthology, Vol. 7 around this time. All of this is music which should be made available again, and perhaps will, as journeyman Peter Calo is an artist who many respect and appreciate.- Joe Viglione, All Music Guide

The Boston Rock & Roll Anthology Volume #7 1987 PCB (Peter Calo Band) “Fine Line”


Cape Ann 1995

Genre: New Age
Release Date: 07/25/1995
Run Time: 51:16

Peter Calo‘s delightful instrumental album, Cape Ann, was recorded in between his work on two records by Carly Simon, 1994’s Letters Never Sent and 1997’s Film Noir. Simon says “What a joy and what a find!” about her guitarist in the accompanying booklet, and for fans who go all the way back to his 1982 jazz group Bellvista‘s four-song EP, The Painter, or 1983’s Spoonerism by the Peter Calo Band, this is a unique and exciting setting for Calo. The virtuoso guitarist brings forth creative bursts and ideas over 14 titles, many in the four-minute range. Outside of sounds from his own voice as an instrument on “Candlelight” or Bob Patton‘s soprano sax on track four, “Pashka,” the CD is filled with bright, lightly played guitar improvisations. Each melody has its own distinct character and is very pleasant. “The Devil’s Game” and “Early Sunday Bells of Summer” clock in at one minute and 55 seconds and one minute and 57 seconds, respectively, the former acting as a nice bridge between longer essays, while “Early Sunday Bells of Summer” brings the CD to a close. A photo of Calo on the rocks of Cape Ann with the water behind him reflects the easy mood of this new age/jazz solo instrumental album. Very pleasant.

~Joe Viglione, All Music Guide

Wired to The Moon (1998) Peter Calo

Peter Calo has worked with Kate Taylor (sister of James Taylor), was musical arranger for Carly Simon, performed on the soundtrack to the DeNiro film Flawless, among other admirable exploits in the business of music. A journeyman from Boston, relocated to New York City, this album is chock of full of the smooth pop and finely crafted tunes that Calo is known for. On “Situation Totally Insane” Calo plays mandolin, shakers, acoustic guitar, whistles, and sings the lead and backing vocals. He sounds like one voice of the Everly Brothers on “Memory of You” and evokes the sound of Hall & Oates if they were successful solo. “Way Up on a Mountain,” the tune which starts off the CD, “The Way You Looked,” the exquisite “Full Moon Tango,” the title track, and “The Wind and the Waves” are all fascinating. In fact, these five songs make strong candidates for appearance in film — perhaps that is where Calo is shaping his career. Lilting and smart pop, it’s adult contemporary with spirit and soul. If you admire Harriet Schock and Laura Nyro, Calo writes on that level. It’s the kind of music you wish Billy Joel would put out… it’s more serious than Joel and deserves to be as commercial. Calo’s musicianship is so fine he could easily crossover to other formats. “Driftwood” is simply acoustic guitar, dobro, bass, and vocal riffs of Lauren Kinhan and Rob Markus. Ever hear bluegrass-jazz? From the wah-wah guitar of “Guns Are Not Enough” to the final track, “I Don’t Know If It’s Love,” Calo does things vocally and lyrically that seem to be missing in pop today. This is not just Triple-A format; there are more than a couple of hits in this compact disc. ~ Joe Viglione, All Music Guide

Cowboy Song


Cowboy Song

  • Artist: Peter Calo
  • Flags: Lyrics are included with the album


Peter Calo is known as both a jazz performer and session man, but on Cowboy Song (“Contemporary Arrangements of Songs From the American West”) he turns his attention to traditional songs of the American frontier. The liner notes explain that the artist was inspired by the composition “Red River Valley,” with its theme of parted lovers. Calo found many of these tunes in a book published in 1910 by University of Texas professor John Lomax, as well as in poet Carl Sandburg‘s collection The American Songbag. What he’s created is an extraordinary 13-track collection of new interpretations of timeless melodies. Both ambitious and commendable, the artist flavors these renditions with his impeccable timing, sparse but eloquent instrumentation, and a sense of adventure. “Shenandoah” starts the album off, followed by a medley of “I Ride an Ol’ Paint”/”St. James Infirmary.” These are the performances with the most jazz influence, but things get decidedly more Old West with “A Cowboy’s Lament,” featuring Antoine Silverman’s very nice violin work. Calo essays his thoughts on much of the material in the liner notes, and the eight-page booklet is very detailed. The musicians attack this material as if it is their own, and that’s the beauty of Cowboy Song — sincere reworking of music, much of which came from a time before tape recorders. In probably the same fashion as classical music has floated down the rivers of time, so too “Red River Valley” is reborn with cello, violin, and Calo’s acoustic guitar. “The Old Chisholm Trail” gets a slinky, eerie treatment, with Mike Harvey’s vocals and what sounds like wah-wah meets slide guitar. The guitarist calls these “songs of the cowboys, the way I hear them now,” and his vision is itself as exciting a find as the old sheet music that inspired him. The almost instrumental of Hank Williams “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” is a far cry from B.J. Thomas. Mike Harvey adds only dashes of vocal sound, blending it in with the electric guitars and violin. “Home on the Range” plays like Jimi Hendrix doing an acoustic version of his classic “Star Spangled Banner,” while Calo’s jazz roots invade the country picking of “Oh, Dem Golden Slippers.” “The Streets of Laredo,” “Yellow Rose of Texas,” “Jesse James,” and other selections get the treatment, and it is most enjoyable. There are lyrics to nine of the songs and even a bibliography. A really different kind of project worthy of attention. ~ Joe Viglione, All Music Guide

Peaceful Easy Feeling: The Music of The Eagles by Peter Calo

All Music Guide / Barnes & Noble

Multi-instrumentalist Peter Calo is a familiar name to fans of Carly Simon, Linda Eder, and contemporary film soundtracks, here putting his energies into no vocal takes on a dozen songs made famous by the Eagles, just as his Here Comes the Sun disc on the same label, Rhode Island’s North Star Records, is an “instrumental tribute to the Beatles.” It’s a far cry from the smooth jazz/rock of his PCB unit which performed in Boston two decades prior to this in 1983, the artist moving into a Roger Williams/Ferrante & Teicher/Perry Botkin Jr. area with this work. Calo plays piano, banjo, lap steel, guitars, and additional string and percussion programming with appearances by Anja Wood on cello, Clint deGanon on drums, and other players all laying back and letting the popular melodies take center stage. They succeed at supplying a pleasant and entertaining backdrop without going overboard. That’s the dilemma for fans of Calo’s work as on many of the songs he has to be technician rather than innovator. They do embrace “One of These Nights” and create a haunting work which pulls away from the pack, the strings taking the place of the Eagles’ backing vocals with the guitars bringing the copyright to a different time and place. “Hotel California” gets a lovely Spanish feel as does, naturally, “Tequila Sunrise.” These tracks show the most improvisation and because of that stand out to those who have followed Calo’s work. “Lyin’ Eyes,” “Desperado,” “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” and “New Kid in Town” are more by-the-book — soothing to listen to but sticking to the program as the Eagles’ own performance on “Best of My Love” does. The band’s success came from keeping it all very simple and what is interesting here is a virtuoso like Calo holding back. It’s a lovely work that will appeal to many, though fans would be more interested in the guitarist putting more of his creative spark into the mix as he did on his introspective and very satisfying Cowboy Song album. Joe Viglione

Here Comes the Sun: An Instrumental Tribute to the Beatles
Peter Calo


PETER CALO article from Arts Media Magazine


Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Peter Calo Article



By Joe Viglione

Peter Calo was born in a small town in Alberta Canada and moved to Boston with his family when he was in high school, 9th grade. At that point in time he took up the guitar and within two years or so was invited by the MIT Classical Guitar Society (founded in 1971 by Vo Ta Han) to perform a concert at Kresge Auditorium in Cambridge. “I started out playing classical guitar, that was my first love along with the blues and funk” the guitarist said from his home in Croton on Hudson, New York in an interview mid-October, 2005.

By 1982 his jazz band Bellvista released a six song E.P. followed by his own “Spoonerism” in 1983 and a track, “Fine Line”, on 1985’s “Boston Rock & Roll Anthology Vol. #7” (Varulven), the first real look at Calo on record performing rock & roll.

With Sarah Caldwell and Leonard Bernstein in Bernstein’s masterpiece, “Mass”, Peter Calo was the only person to have performed both the singing role of the rock musician in that opera as well as playing the guitar. “After the performance Leonard Bernstein came up and gave me a hug as I took my bow – I’m looking for the photo of that” (in Calo’s personal archives).

A mainstay of the Boston scene, Calo was involved as an original member of both Down Avenue (the band which had Charles Pettigrew of Charles & Eddie “Would I Lie To You” fame) and The Heavy Metal Horns. After his stints with both groups Peter moved to New York where
he began doing session work, producing and eventually hooked up with Carly Simon, beginning what is now a ten year relationship with the legendary singer/songwriter.

Calo noted, on his work with Carly: “we’ve been working off and on for ten years…the first tour was 1995. I met her in August – we did an impromptu gig.” They also did a concert taped exclusively for “Lifetime” and Calo’s datebook filled up quickly. Over the years he’s performed on shows with Dobey Gray, Debbie Boone, Lesley Gore as well as “The New York Voices”, a four
piece vocal band which toured with Peter as part of the backing trio, performing on their 1993 GRP album, “What’s Inside”, as well as their 1998 RCA disc “New York Voices Sing The Songs Of Paul Simon”. He also worked on Carly Simon’s 1994 disc “Letter’s Never
Sent” (Arista” and her Grammy nominated 1997 disc “Film Noir”. A long-time member of the Broadway show “Hairspray”‘s orchestra, he is on their Grammy winning 2002 cast album on Sony. ” He goes to bat for the artist when he’s producing” said well-known Boston
vocalist Pamela Ruby Russell. “He’s very inspiring, I learned so much from him. He’s kind, professional, very organized, great producer …and a guitarmaster.” Russell also feels that Calo’s
musical vocabulary is phenomenal “because he plays in so many genres, in so many types of music.” With so many accolades a second opinion was needed, so Arts Media Magazine contacted New York chanteuse Ingrid Saxon, daughter of Vaudeville star David Sorin-Collyer
– the man who was vocal coach to Bette Midler, Barry Manilow, Paul Simon and so many others. “It was awesome recording with him, he’s brilliant” said Saxon – echoing Pamela Russell’s sentiments from hundreds of miles away. “Before we even went into the studio he
came to my voice studio with his equipment, recorded my rehearsal with Paul Trueblood so that we could hear it back, and started giving us input. His ears are so incredible, (and) he directed both of us. He really directed us musically like the third set of ears, it was incredible.” Saxon knows show business, having appeared on “Ryan’s Hope” and “Days Of Our Lives” soaps, continuing with ” He’s very encouraging, really suportive. Peter knows so much about the recording process – he’s been on so many sessions; he knew how to work with the engineer, work with the pro-tools. He had every angle covered.”

Along with involvement soundtrack to the 1999 Robert De Niro film “Flawless” and other movies, Calo’s recorded output is becoming voluminous – work with Linda Eder, Rosie O’Donnell, Joe Pesci, David Osborne, Kate Taylor, Kate’s nephew Ben Taylor, and, of course, Ben’s mom, Carly Simon. Which brings us back to Boston and the Orpheum show, November 19, 2005. Peter Calo will be performing with opener Ben Taylor – son of both James Taylor and Carly Simon, as well as with Carly. The songs, of course, will truly move the audience along
with Simon’s presence (her star-power cameo in 2004’s “Little Black Book” made that movie so extra special), but Calo’s signature guitar lines can’t be ignored. In a concert with Mary Gatchell in Epping New Hampshire in May of 2005 his guitarwork fit with Gatchell’s keyboards so hand-in-glove. Mary Gatchell’s “Indigo Rose” album was produced by Calo, who may tour New
England in 2006 with a number of his acts including opera singer Adelmo, Ingrid Saxon, Mary Gatchell, Pamela Ruby Russell and others.

With all this output his own work gets somehow lost in the shuffle. It shouldn’t. Peter Calo’s “Cowboy Song” album is historical and an instant classic that should be in libraries across the country. The artist recorded contemporary arrangements of songs from the American West including “Shenandoah”, “Red River Valley”, and “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.” A big departure from his instrumental tribute albums to The Eagles and The Beatles, two separate discs, on the North Star label, and his own “Wired To The Moon” and “Cape Ann” albums. For more information on this influential and important artist who worked many a Boston/Cambridge nightclub and theater, go to http://www.petercalo.com


A Lot of Livin’ To Do Ingrid Saxon – Produced by Peter Calo

Ingrid Saxon’s extraordinary voice, October 14, 2006

Intuition is the key element a vocalist must possess in order to move an audience with a recorded or live performance. Ms. Saxon may have achieved that intangible force on her own, or perhaps by osmosis as her dad, the legendary David Sorin-Collyer, vocal coached Bette Midler, Paul Simon, Michael Bolton, The Ramones, Melissa Manchester, Buzzy Linhart, Moogy Klingman and so many others. Young Ingrid grew up in that environment and went on to put her voice to children’s recordings on
the Polygram and Playskool imprints, some produced by another legend, Bugs Bower, (credits including Burt Bacharach, Bing Crosby, Bobby Rydell and Ingrid!). Producer Peter Calo understand’s Saxon’s enormous talent and creates a mood with Paul Trueblood’s piano not unlike the sparse John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band album where the accompaniment adds flavor but the voice is allowed to work its magic. Taking on chestnuts like “Tenderly” or Sondheim’s “A Little Night Music” is a gargantuan task. The trio know the risks and superbly reinvent these standards with this formula of bare elegance. On contemporary standards, Melissa Manchester and Carole Bayer Sager’s “Come In From The Rain”, it is without The Captain and Tennille’s wonderful backing tracks, so all that is there is the voice with the 1 AM cabaret piano and producer creating the closing time drama. Though Saxon seems to spend more of her time with her television work and live show, “A Lot Of Livin’ To Do” is so strong that it requires an immediate encore. Perhaps a live disc if her workload is too demanding and if Trueblood isn’t off on tour with Marianne Faithful. The Petula Clarke medley appears on a very cool compilation disc which also features Doris Troy, Ray Manzarek, Marty Balin and Bobby Hebb. Superb company indeed.

Highway of Dreams Pamela Ruby Russell Produced by Peter Calo



Review by Joe Viglione
“Tengo Razon,” a beautiful essay, is sung in Spanish, embellished by Evan Harlan‘s accordion, which is on four of the ten tracks that embody Highway of Dreams by Bostonian Pamela Ruby Russell. An album that boasts Carly Simon guitarist and arranger Peter Calo playing numerous instruments and co-producing, ‘Til Tuesday guitarist Robert Holmes, and others finds incredible unity and a truly original sound. “Avenue of Tears” combines these talents for a rather complex presence behind Russell’s dominant voice. The pan flutes and charango of Roberto Cachimuel play along the dirge-like guitar. Imagine Black Sabbath getting subdued and backing Marianne Faithfull. Comparisons will also be made to Loreena McKennitt, with lots of haunting keyboards, voices, and flutes finding their way into these folk-rock arrangements. Calo is a formidable talent, and he brings so much out of Russell — the party atmosphere of “Is There Any Love” takes the sounds Lulu and Twiggy were crafting in ’60s pop, redefines them, and re-establishes them. Co-producer Bob Patton‘s baritone saxophone comes out of nowhere on “Is There Any Love,” replaced by Ana Pacanoska‘s violin, more flutes, and more accordion. This music is dense and thought-provoking, but it doesn’t take away from the performance. “Sounds of the Sea” features kena, soaring solos, and Miguel Jimenez on the pan flutes. Russell is a character, and her very serious music has a charm that many musicians fail to express in the recording process. “Boxcar” is a great opening, specifically the drone of “Walk Thru Fire” where “we glimpse through fire and the future.” It feels like gypsies spying on a black mass listening to this tune — incredibly moody and perceptive. There is little of the shrill homogenized Top 40 production that stops so many good records from becoming great. Ernesto Diaz plays strong gothic percussion on “Walk Thru Fire,” setting up the listener for the tour de force performance: the title number. The singer walks across a roadway that reaches over water and into the stars with a full moon above her and a red rose piercing the blue. The cover is an exquisite reflection of this great song, with heavy contributions from Holmes. It’s rare to find a statement like Highway of Dreams; music this good shouldn’t get lost in the shuffle of life.6 CARLY SIMON SONG REVIEWS by JOE VIGLIONE:






THE BEST OF CARLY SIMON, Jim Newsom review



LIV 1971


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12)Boston Compilations and more – Live at the Rat, Live at Studio B
Farrenheit, Joe Perry Project, Cowsills, Real Kids, The Outlets

Boston Compilations

Monday, July 9, 2007

Boston Area Compilations, The Rathskellar and other oddities

Just click on the link under each chapter to read the information. Remember, To click on any chapter go to this address:

Review by Joe Viglione
In 2001 the legendary building that housed Boston’s infamous Rat was demolished, but this recording (catalog #528, same as the address for the establishment on Commonwealth Avenue in the heart of Boston) remains as evidence of what transpired in that “cellar full of noise.” Inspired by Hilly Kristal‘s Live at CBGB’s, this is truly the companion double LP to that disc on Atlantic, though the Boston compilation came close but failed to obtain major-label release. Recorded September 27, 28, and 29th, 1976, at the dawn of the “new wave,” important and historic live recordings of some of the scenemakers live on within these grooves. Far from a definitive document — you won’t find early Jon Butcher, Charlie Farren, Fools, or Nervous Eaters here, despite the fact that the Eaters ruled at The Rat — but you will find classic Willie Alexander after his stint with the Velvet Underground and before his MCA deal (which came when Blue Oyster Cult wife/rock critic Debbie Frost, played Alexander‘s single on The Rat jukebox for producer Craig Leon). Along with Willie Loco there is very early DMZ, so early that the drummer is future member of The Cars, David Robinson, as well as an early, vintage version of Richard Nolan’s vital band Third Rail. This is the only place where you can find the original Susan with guitarists Tom Dickie and John Kalishes — years before Joan Jett guitarist Ricky Bird replaced Kalishes, and decades before John Kalishes joined the late Ben Orr of the Cars in solo projects in the 1990s. The rock history lesson is important to understand the impact of not only the musicians on this album, but the influence of the nightclub which spawned Live at the Rat. Willie Alexander‘s manic “Pup Tune” is perhaps the most concise representation of the Rat sound — it is grunge, it is deranged, it is a no-holds barred performance which has been re-released on best-of compilations and treasured over the years as a true musical gem. Of the 19 tracks, Willie Alexander is the only artist who gets three cuts: “At the Rat,” the club’s anthem; the aforementioned tribute to Ronnie Spector that is “Pup Tune”; and a live version of the original Garage Records 45 which began this new phase of his career, his ode to “Kerouac.” Marc Thor, a legendary performer who never got a full album out, utilizes members of Thundertrain, DMZ, the Boize, and Third Rail for his “Circling L.A.,” co-written by scenemaker Nola Rezzo. Eventual Roulette recording artist Sass do “Rocking in the USA,” and, like Susan, and even Thundertrain, bring a more mainstream sound to the underground rock represented by the Boize, Third Rail, DMZ, the Infliktors, and the Real Kids. The Real Kids add “Who Needs You” and “Better Be Good” to the party, while this early Mono Mann phase has his “Ball Me Out” and “Boy From Nowhere” titles. Thundertrain crackle with “I’m So Excited” and “I Gotta Rock,” Mach Bell‘s growl and stage antics the thing that made this otherwise suburban band an essential part of this scene. Bell would go on to front the Joe Perry Project on their final disc on MCA before Aerosmith reformed, and the resumé action of some of these players makes their performances here all the more valuable. Loco Live 1976, an album which includes tracks by Willie Alexander recorded exactly one month before Live at the Rat, is available on a Tokyo label, Captain Trip Records, and it serves as a good glimpse of what was going on before this pivotal center of new sounds brought in tons of recording gear and taped for posterity a very magical period in Boston history.

Chef’s Salad: The Sound Of Boston From Studio B
Various Artists


Review by Joe Viglione
Prior to Live at the Rat there were few compilations documenting the vital Boston music scene. Producer Wayne Wadhams, who hit the Top 40 in the ’60s with his band the Fifth Estate and their version of “Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead,” recorded this collection along with Miles Siegel and Allen Smith. It survives as an important document of excellent music from New England in the mid-’70s. A black and white photo on the back features 25 of the participants — their hairstyles and clothing quite telling — making for a warm community atmosphere. “30 Seconds With Michael Fremer” is perhaps the best-known bit and the highest-profile personality from this point in time. Michael Fremer was a comedian and disc jockey who used to emcee major concerts in the region. A full-length album with his bits was released on Kant Tell Records (a take-off of K-Tel, and it is as funny as this highlight on Chef’s Salad. Wadhams was pushing “the sound of Boston,” and his original composition for the Gang Band is a good ribbing at the Sound of Philadelphia that Gamble & Huff made so popular in the ’70s. It’s an excellent instrumental, and is a good indication of where the Fifth Estate might have headed. Samadhi‘s “Freedom Spark” is another instrumental, and it is a cross between Traffic and Full Circle (the CBS band produced by Wadhams). Moon Over Miami made a little noise during this era, and they would have been perfect on a bill with the Average White Band. Stu Nunnery‘s pop/adult contemporary “Suddenly” opens the album. The performance is great, but the song doesn’t have that something extra that Randy Edelman and Tim Moore were able to instill into their well-crafted singer/songwriter albums. Don Ebbett fares a little better, as do Ervin & Ford. “The River and Your Wings,” written by Jonathan W. Helfand, has a gospel/funk feel, and despite all the styles poured into this Chef’s Salad — the folk-rock of Denis O’Neill, country sounds of Bill Ervin and Kenny Dulong — the reggae, pop, and comedy come together seamlessly, probably due to Wadham‘s experience. What remains is a snapshot that the music scene it represents can be proud of.


Review by Joe Viglione
The Allen Weinberg cover of this CD features a beautiful photograph by Chip Simmons showing fields, a mountain reaching up to fluffy white clouds against a blue sky, and a young girl holding a white Hula-Hoop above her head. This cover is a good reflection of the instrumental sounds recorded in Studio A of Boston’s Berklee College and mixed at Rainbow Studios in Oslo, Norway. The music of keyboardist, arranger, and composer Karl Lundeberg is pretty and mellow. Anders Bostrom‘s flute glides alongside Philip Hamilton‘s percussion and use of voice as an instrument, especially in the third track, “Croton Drive.” Producer Wayne Wadhams, who had a hit in the ’60s with his group the Fifth Estate, is known for getting a sparkling clean sound, while allowing the group members to be themselves. He’s the perfect complement to this five-piece group. Their performance on “San Sebastian” is smooth and inspired. If Enya performed with Edgar Froese, it might sound something like this subtle but intense series of compositions.


Review by Joe Viglione
Susan was the hard rock band that got the gigs at the Rat in Boston in the ’70s. Their thunderous sound was created in no small part by John Kalishes, who could have passed as Leslie West‘s little brother. Kalishes would join the late Ben Orr to create a Led Zeppelin-meets-the Cars group toward the end of the ’90s. It is that powerful sound that is missing from Falling in Love Again. The original Susan was documented on the Live at the Rat album and those two tracks give a hint of their significance. By the time they landed a management contract with Tommy Mottola, Ricky Byrd had replaced Kalishes and despite Byrd‘s enormous talent — he would eventually join Joan Jett & the Blackhearts — the change came too quickly. This album sounds like a band in transition rather than a strong debut. Byrd shines on “A Little Time,” one of two strong tracks on side one, but the band’s performance on another Byrd composition, “I Was Wrong,” is downright embarrassing for a group once so mighty. “Marlene,” which features Marlene Dietrich, and “Falling in Love Again” have that “Be My Baby” drum sound and comes closest to what Susan was all about. The Leland brothers were a phenomenal rhythm section, and Charles Leland had that Bowie look down pat. It was Leland who was the star during their club days, but on this debut, Leland doesn’t fit with the Tom Dickie and “Ricky Bird” material he has to work with. Dickie brings some life to the record with his vocals on “Really Gonna Show,” but the material is still substandard. Tom Dickie maintained his relationship with the Mottola organization, moving over to Mercury to record two albums as Tom Dickie & the Desires. Falling in Love could have been so much more — it’s a document of a band recording after their prime, and even decent songs like “Don’t Let Me Go” and “Love the Way” aren’t strong enough to carry this disappointing and fragmented production.


Review by Joe Viglione
Tom Dickie reinvented his formula after the failure of Susan on RCA. He brought half of Boston’s underground band Fox Pass on board — guitarist Mike Roy and singer/songwriter/poet Jon Macey (formerly Jon Hall, who changed his name to Macey to avoid confusion with John Hall, leader of the group Orleans). “Downtown Talk” kicks off the Competition LP and remains the best song by this pop band. Resplendent with drug references, “Downtown Talk” has a hard-hitting riff and catchy melody. The title track’s calypso feel is a nice diversion from the rest of the LP. “Waiting, Waiting” has a boss riff and is perhaps the album’s best performance. With Champion Entertainment and Tommy Mottola to open doors for Tom Dickie & the Desires, including gigs with Hall & Oates and Cheap Trick, this band had multiple opportunities, but Competition is a pastiche of sounds, and the record misses the mark. The very creative album cover, with the band members looking in and out of mirrors, hints at the potential. “Downtown Talk” was a regional hit, but the great underground songs that Macey and Dickie forged in the ’70s playing Boston area clubs are conspicuous in their absence. “You’ve Lost” and “Count on You” have melodies and are catchy pop, but something is missing. Perhaps producer Martin Rushent was miscast for this recording. The Velvet Underground/Tommy James roots, so much a part of the regional success of Fox Pass, have been traded in as the Desires emulate .38 Special and Survivor. The result is much too calculated and homogenized for these talented people.


Review by Joe Viglione
With a crisper sound than its predecessor, the Competition LP, Ed Sprigg‘s production of The Eleventh Hour helps the revamped Tom Dickie & the Desires, but not enough. Singer/songwriters Tom Dickie and Jon Macey as well as guitarist Mike Roy are all playing synthesizers, replacing Gary Corbett from the first album. Mickey Currey has departed, and Chuck Sabo handles the drums and percussion on this disc. With the band having a chance to jell since Competition, the songs are more concise, perhaps even a little more determined, yet they are hampered by the big ’80s sound, which was not what these pop fellows were about. “Victimless Crime” is probably the best-known song from this collection, presenting the baseless philosophy that drug abuse creates harm only to the addict and no one else suffers effects from it. Interesting that, years after writing this, Macey became a drug counselor preaching the tenets of Narcotics Anonymous. For songs tinged with drug innuendo when they aren’t being blatant about it, there is none of the abandon that marked groups from the Rolling Stones or Aerosmith to Blue Cheer when they invoked psychedelic privilege. “Stolen Time” may be the best example of where the record goes wrong, with its poppiness mired in ’80s production that, as stated, hardly fits this band. “Gone to Stay” is nice enough, but where are the guitars? For three musicians who are proficient with their axes, the album has a singular guitar sound. “Our Eyes” would be a nice album track for Brian Hyland, a summery pop song covered in too much technology, a bit reminiscent of Macey‘s ’70s song “When I Say Good-bye” without the bite. “So Mystified” has experimentation, which the record needs more of (and not just the songs that dabble in it on side two). This track could have been the band’s “I’m Your Captain (Closer to Home)” with a little more time in the incubator. “Don’t Want to Live Without You” cries for the jangly guitars to be up in the mix, but it’s the drums that slap back from this clean production. “What Happened” has clever riffs, but Trevor Horn could have made it more radio-friendly. Therein lies the problem with the second Desires album: it is closer to where the band should be, but it still misses. “What Happened” is the question. “Patience Is a Virtue” has an eerie, almost Beatlesque ambiance; it picks up where “House of Mirrors” from the first album left off. “They Don’t Know Anymore” could be from the Velvet Underground‘s Loaded album, and as The Eleventh Hour comes to a close, the band members start providing some of the sounds that they love so much. But there is no breakthrough hit, no single identifying sound or song. “If I Could Paint” is a nice idea and indicative of the songs and performance here. Good ideas that never quite jell, music that needed a stronger personality to help in its creation. A Phil Spector, Jeff Barry, or ABBA‘s Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson — someone these musicians have respect for — could have helped shape the sounds and get the performances. Both albums by Tom Dickie & the Desires showed promise and have their moments, but they could have been so much more.
Catalog #
1982 LP Mercury 4055


Review by Joe Viglione
When DMZ made their debut on Sire, it was as disappointing as major-label debuts by fellow Bostonians Private Lightning, the Nervous Eaters, and Willie Alexander’s Boom Boom Band. As Alexander‘s locally produced demos by Dr. & the Medics madman Craig Leon (who also produced the Ramones) were superior to the final product by Willie on MCA (also produced by Leon), the Turtles‘ wacky Flo & Eddie just didn’t know what to do with DMZ. Four Craig Leon-produced tracks released on BOMP — which is the parent company of Voxx — and five demo tapes that were recorded on four-track comprise this excellent collection. “When I Get Off” was the number two Garage Record of the Year in 1978 in Boston’s Real Paper, and it is a psychedelic masterpiece. The dueling guitars, slashing riff, and great Corraccio bass complement Mono Mann aka Jeff Connolly‘s blitzkrieg vocals. Here is a slice of pyschedlia that is the fans outdoing the bands they idolize. Also, as with Willie Alexander‘s demos, it seems Craig Leon did a much better job on smaller budgets. The lyrics are sexist, but fun in “Barracuda” — definitely not the Heart song — “Lift up Your Hood,” and the aforementioned “When I Get Off.” There is also a cool cover of Roky Erickson‘s “You’re Gonna Miss Me” and a fantastic album jacket of the band photographed at what looks like the Rat nightclub inside a red background covered in barbed wire fence. There’s even a cool inside joke, Bomb records instead of Bomp, the famous label founded by Greg Shaw. A definite statement about the heart and soul of demos having a special something major-label homogenization fails to establish. Rudy Martinez of Question Mark & the Mysterians has even covered a Connally composition written for Mono Mann Jeff’s current group, the Lyres.

Review by Joe Viglione
Assorted Varmints 1989-1997 is a collection of 13 tracks by the Boston underground “supergroup,” compiled by rock critic/Endora’s Box Records label owner Nancy Foster in 2002. It’s an impressive set of majestic, no-nonsense rock & roll tunes by former Real Kids guitarist Billy Borgioli, who handles most of the vocal and songwriting chores. For those who felt the Real Kids missed the mark, the answers can be found here. Borgioli is not only a better rock & roll singer than John Felice; he has some crunching rhythms that could have propelled the Real Kids to true stardom had Felice let a partnership blossom rather than make himself the focal point of the Kids. Listen to the undercurrent of “Dreamin'” or the punk angst inside “Ain’t No Good,” the track originally released in 1997 on Boston Rock & Roll Anthology, Vol. 20. “Ain’t No Good” takes on corporate shoddiness, buying a product and taking it home only to find out it “ain’t no good.” Nine of the 13 tracks feature Classic Ruins driving force Frank Rowe adding his precision guitar (and lead vocal on “In This Town”). Borgioli/Rowe make a formidable pair leading a two-guitar attack that the rhythm section of Death in the Shopping Malls drummer Pete Taylor and Tea in China bassist Carl Biancucci complement perfectly. Biancucci‘s band was one of the first Boston acts Stones producer Jimmy Miller worked with in 1983 via his Johnny Thunders associations, and similar elements can be heard in Ducky Carlisle‘s production on the nine titles tracked at his Room 9 From Outer Space studio. The three songs from a live radio show (no date or call letters mentioned) feature a different lineup behind Borgioli: Chris Flavin on second guitar, Billy Daly on bass, and Matt Burns on drums. It still works, making it clear this is Billy Borgioli‘s vehicle and that the painter/guitarist has a vision beyond what the Real Kids tracked on their self-titled debut. For those who liked the heavy guitars of Reggae Reggae from that 1977 landmark outing, this music from a dozen years later expands that concept proving where the original group truly could have gone. Short guitar bursts and creative riffs à la the Kinks with solid drumming by Taylor and Burns across this disc help make Assorted Varmints shine. It is refined rock & roll by guys who do it because they have to.



Song Review by Joe Viglione
Covered by Swedish power pop band Psychotic Youth on the 1998 compilation ^I Wanna Be a Real Kid: A Tribute to the Real ids and Mercury recording artist Klover on their 1995 disc Feel Lucky Punk, this is one of the key titles from vocalist/songwriter/lead guitarist Jon Felice and his Real Kids. While ex-bandmate Jonathan Richman was content to find one “Girlfren” in the post-Felice Modern Lovers mainstream Boston scenester Johnny Barnes was not so content -he wanted “100 Girls” – a similar sentiment to what comes into play on this underground classic. The three minutes and thirty-seven seconds that start off the 1977 Red Star album produced by Marty Thau are called “great” by Brownsville Station guitarist, the late Cub Coda. It’s an onslaught of Billy Borgioli and Jon Felice guitar work, a tempo somewhere between The Modern Lovers laid-back songs of romance and the slamming sound of The Ramones, but with more dexterity than Joey, Dee Dee, Johnny and Marky (Ramone). Felice takes Chuck Berry riffs and speeds them up throwing a few power chords in to keep things interesting. It is creative songwriting with guitars up over the vocals and Howie Ferguson’s relentless drumming. Minimal for sure and tailor made for the underground.


Song Review by Joe Viglione
The two minute and forty-five second “Bad To Worse” by John Felice and The Real Kids kicks off Norton Records compilation live lp Grown Up Wrong with an additional version finding its way onto track 2 side 2 of the New Rose Records release All Kindsa Jerks Live from a 1983 French tour. Inverted Kinks riffs are the foundation of this hard driving rocker with scattered lead notes flying over the rhythm. American sixties flavors mixed with British Rock flow through the veins of this punk rocker held together by a solitary beat and decorated with a mini chorus of backing vocals and the title. “You thinking you got me beat/but look out girl ’cause I’m back on my feet” John Felice tells the former object of his affection adding a blitz of emphatic guitar just to rub some salt in. On the New Rose disc it is followed by Ray Davies’ “She Got Everything” and those Kinks riffs disguised yet more pronounced on the Norton release are found out in all their glory.


Composed By Other Links
John Felice All Performers that have performed this Title
Song Review by Joe Viglione
At four minutes and twelve seconds this is the third longest of the dozen tunes on The Real Kids debut, a fascinating fifties/sixties style rocker from the pen of singer/lead guitarist Jon Felice, a tune which goes through twists and turns and is rhythmically one of the more complex pieces of that band’s repertoire. Again it is the strength here which is the main weakness, Felice’s creativity impeded by his inability to sing the material he composes. This is an extension of former bandmate Jonathan Richman’s observant nods to Boston landmarks, the singer referencing the Massachusetts “south shore” as well as cultish groups Teddy & The Pandas & The Rockin’ Ramrods, an ode to 1964 when these musicians were barely ten years old. It’s a quick set of rhythms which speed up at the end, a quirky mod/neo-doo-wop song that mutates into punk. Outside of their devoted following The Real Kids found resistance, the lead vocals on most of the record having that unfinished demo feel. But the structure of “Better Be Good” proved that there was more than meets the ear going on here, some bottled up energy blending cohesively, something producer Marty Thou deserves some credit for. Mini blasts like “Rave On” precede this, the punk rockers wanting backing vocals like The Shangri Las and doing their best New York Dolls imitation to fill that need right down to the handclaps that fit in with the “sha la la’s”. Howard Ferguson gets a real work out, his drums having to throb with the tight guitars and bass in the vibrant musical interludes necessarily holding the fort when the band goes The Plasmatics route at the song’s conclusion. “Better Be Good” is another piece of the enigmatic Real Kids puzzle, traces of Modern Lovers philosophy mixed with the mid-1970’s underground rock scene of the Northeast.When played against the tape of an earlier version of this group called The Kids from The Rat nightclub, December 10, 1974, the musical evolution comes into clearer focus.


Composed By Other Links
John Felice All Performers that have performed this Title
Song Review by Joe Viglione
Originally released in the Spring of 1977 on the French Sponge label backed with “All Kindsa Girls” this mellow 45 was Jon Felice at his most Jonathan Richman. As Richman sang “Fly Into The Mystery”, a song covered by Felice on a live show from Boston’s Rat nightclub taped December 10, 1974 after the singer/guitarist left The Modern Lovers to form The Kids, the younger Jon emulated his mentor with the double entendre title. To non-Bostonians it might imply “ordinary” girl at noon, but the “common” here is most likely Boston Common – a few miles from Cambridge’s Harvard Common, the greens where Mr. Richman often performed live open air concerts. “Summer nights/down by the Harbor dreamin’ “, the chords chug harder on the February 2, 1983 live show from the Bataclan of Paris, mixed by Andy Paley and released on the All Kindsa Jerks Live album from New Rose Records that same year. Felice gets the point across better on the earlier studio take included on a compilation album entitled Better Be Good. made available again in November of 1999 on New York’s Norton Records label. The original version with the first Real Kids line-up of Billy Borgioli, Howard Ferguson, Alan Paulino and Jon Felice works the best in its mellow power pop format. Jon’s vocal limitations had an awkward charm as supervised by a local college d.j. whereas on the live album from France the singer bashes the lyrics around like he’s still singing “She Don’t Know”, the song that precedes this classic on the 1983 disc. “Common At Noon” just cries out for a folky version, something nearer to that original 45, the closest these Real Kids got to the jangle jangle that could have really launched them. “No more looking for you…the common at noon – thinking i’m gonna find you.” Very Modern Lovers. Had Jon Felice taken this approach for more of the group’s repertoire, combined with the hard edge of “Reggae Reggae” (the final track on the Red Star self-titled lp debut) for the rest of the songs in their sets, this band just might have ruled the world.


Composed By Other Links
John Felice All Performers that have performed this Title
Song Review by Joe Viglione
Speedy Chuck Berry riffs inverted and expanded is the formula at play on this song from the debut album from songwriter Jon Felice and his Real Kids. Where Boston area legends The Nervous Eaters played the style heavier and dirtier, and as The Ramones had incessant power chords as the undercurrent to their message, Felice keeps it all in treble tone and ultra energetic. Power Punk is what it is and it isn’t for everyone. The gay slur was more than just a fancy way to grab attention, at least two of these boys displayed homophobia in the 1970’s (though they’ve all reformed and entered the realm of policital correctness – somewhat -decades later). It’s no Mark Knopfler jive as found in “Money For Nothing”, Felice spits out the bigoted attack with venom and perhaps the idea of “punk rock” once immunized groups from potential fallout, at least in their own minds. The Sex Pistols’ hype, after all, was founded on being obnoxious. Chubby Checker and Dee Dee Sharp with their respective “let’s do “The Twist” and “Do The Bird” were able to inject some art into their Top 10 performances. For all The Real Kids debut’s high points “Do The Boob” is one of the songs which shows the limitations of the album, and the band. Venturing into this territory means going all out, and Steve Cataldo’s Nervous Eaters did just that on “Degenerate”, driving to the extreme Felice merely dabbles with in both attitude as well as the intensity of the guitar riffs employed.

6)Reggae Reggae

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John Felice All Performers that have performed this Title
Song Review by Joe Viglione
Former bandmate of Jon Felice, one Jonathan Richman, had a hit with “Egyptian Reggae” in Europe while The Real Kids, sons somewhat of The Modern Lovers, had an underground sensation with “Reggae, Reggae”. The fact that neither tune had any reggae to speak of in their respective grooves doesn’t take away from the brilliant artistic license of both compositions – two of the best examples of these songwriters apart from their work together. “Reggae, Reggae” owes more to the grunge of the second Velvet Underground lp, White Light/White Heat, than it does to Jimmy Cliff or the “Ice Cream Man” chronicles of Jonathan Richman on tour. At five minutes and one second it is the longest of the dozen tunes on the Red Star Records debut of the band, concluding the album with a diligent Billy Borgioli lead. Borgioli is the band’s rhythm guitarist, but tears away from those duties to add some riveting sounds, an exclamation point to this disc that is so cherished by many in underground circles. Jon Felice blurts out something that sounds like “Your brother thinks I’m a fag”, and again employs that right-wing mentality that the band thought was cool in the seventies, but wasn’t. At least when Lou Reed made comments they came from a space which accepted life’s mutations and variations. The Real Kids played to a narrow cult and were never able to catapult themselves onto the stages where Cheap Trick, The Ramones and other larger acts played to bigger crowds. “Reggae, Reggae” was a step in the right direction and sounds like nothing else on this interesting work by a punk band that took themselves very seriously. It is said that this is the true direction that the group was heading in until the heart of the band, rhythm guitarist Billy Borgioli and drummer Howard Ferguson, left with the revamped lineup recording with producer Andy Paley five years after this. A pity asthe fuzzy sound and condensed energy suited Jon Felice’s muted vocals much better. It’s a powerful statement, imagine “Sister Ray” from The Velvet Underground finding some kind of form halfway through, the frazzled elements of that assault coming together in a powerfully fused focus. “Reggae Reggae is a dynamite statement to conclude the first Real Kids lp, and is arguably their finest moment.


Composed By Other Links
Huey “Piano” Smith/John Vincent All Performers that have performed this Title
Song Review by Joe Viglione
It starts off as a diversion on the Red Star debut by The Real Kids, Mono Mann of the band DMZ adding a catatonic piano a la Willie “Loco” Alexander to open up the tune, and Mono (a.k.a. Jeff Connolly ) has big shoes to fill on this, one of the three non- Jon Felice titles that make up the 12 song self-titled lp. “Roberta” is a Huey “Piano” Smith co-write originally released by Frankie Ford of “Sea Cruise” fame on the Ace label and it develops as an interesting cover choice among the other material presented on an album by one of the original ex- Modern Lovers. The underground band blasts out of control but Howie Ferguson, one of the most undervalued drummers in Boston rock & roll, somehow keeps it together putting all the guitar and bass noise in a vacuum. It clocks in at two minutes and thirty-seven seconds, not-so-subtle blasts of fifties New Orleans pop previously embraced by The Animals the decade before Felice, Borgioli, Ferguson and Paulino gave it their treatment. As the aforementioned Willie “Loco” pulverized (in a good way) “Too Much Monkey Business”, this gem contains some of Mono Mann’s best piano work actually resembling Willie Alexander’s mania.You can feel the reverence inside the energy, the guitars going from simple rock & roll to sliding power chords towards the end, elements that have helped sustain this disc’s cult classic status.


Song Review by Joe Viglione
“She Come Alive” is two minutes and fifty-nine seconds of live Real Kids from the 1993 Norton Records compilation album Grown Up Wrong. It was taped at the Penny Arcadein Rochester, New York on May 4, 1978 with a quick chugging guitar blast that begins this uptempo hard rocker smothered in John Felice’s snarling and unintelligible vocals. The beauty of his song composition, truly merging punk and power pop, is overshadowed by the band leader’s inability to bring it home with a voice that can make the music mean something special. There’s a clever guitar run taken from Simon & Garfunkel’s “Hazy Shade Of Winter” or The Monkees’ “Valleri” by way of Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, though not as precise. It’s a creative rhythmic riff right after the chorus leading into the guitar solo/drum explosions which conclude the song in ragged Rolling Stones-ish fashion. “She Come Alive” is yet another example of energetic Chuck Berry chords thumping efficiently at high speed, assembled with thoughtful and creative changes to enhance the Real Kids repertoire. If only a Johnny Rotten or Iggy Pop got ahold of this title to really make it shine.


Song Review by Joe Viglione
As with “Do The Boob”, the title written for fanzine editor Bob Colby, “She’s Alright” is a riff rocker from The Real Kids debut album along the lines of The Beatles’ rendition of “Slow Down”. And as with everything on that self-titled disc it is precisely played energetic rock & roll, admirable for a punk rock band, the one drawback here the same disability that plagues the entire collection of songs: Jon Felice simply does not have an appealing voice. As a front man he’s got the attitude, but rhythm guitarist Billy Borgioli – as evidenced on his The Varmints cd – or bassist Alpo, Alan Paulino, are said to have had more of a grasp of how to get the message across via microphone. Maybe that’s why the lead-off track on side two is a production like most of the album, guitars up in the mix on this quick, one minute and forty four second vintage excursion into early rock & roll. There’s no John Lennon swagger or vocal chops, though the band chugs along witha solid thumping rhythm. The lead guitar is a burst of wild abandon which comes back to a sexist Jon Felice lyric “she get down on her knees on all fours.” No Bob Dylan is Mr. Felice, and one might expect something a bit more clever from the fellow who worked with Jonathan Richman and who authored “Common At Noon”, but the charm in these grooves is the feeling generated by the four rock & rollers as a unit, Howie Ferguson’s drums an essential platform for the string instruments to blast away. Felice maintains the theme in the very next track, “My Baby’s Book” featuring a chorus of “I’m Alright”. As Yvonne Elliman sang “Everything’s Alright” back in the day it was a minimal message from a minimal time.


Song Review by Joe Viglione
At 1:47 the song is the third shortest by Jon Felice and his mates on their eponymous debut lp, but it made an extra impact as the name of a reconstituted Real Kids when heart-throb Bobby McNabb replaced Howie Ferguson on the drums – not on this song – but in the band named after it. The eventual addition of McNabb (recruited, surprisingly, from semi-drag act Lou Miami ) gave the band some pretty boy charisma they were lacking though Ferguson is tough to beat when it comes to beating on the drums. The group named after this song featured only half the original Real Kids, Felice and Paulino, thus the latter ensemble was dubbed by one scenester “The Tacky Boys”. Falling in-between the grit of “Better Be Good” and mellow mood found on “Just Like Darts”, “Taxi Boys” is almost British by way of The New York Dolls “Frankenstein”, the original band at its most explosive and fun. No wonder Miriam Linna of Norton Records liked them so much, this record’s producer, Marty Thau, had worked with The New York Dolls prior to signing The Real Kids to his Red Star imprint. An album full of episodes like this would have brought The Real Kids out of cult status to the level of a Ramones, the splashes of punk guitar by the team of Borgioli and Felice gliding along with Ferguson’s cymbals make it the most appealing song on the entire album.



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Galt MacDermot/James Rado/Gerome Ragni All Performers that have performed this Title
Song Review by Joe Viglione
From the Broadway play Hair, music by Galt MacDermot, book and lyrics by Gerome Ragni and James Rado, the late ’60’s extravaganza also launched a huge dual platinum hit for The Fifth Dimensionin “Aquarius/Let The Sun Shine, one that spent a month and a half at #1, no doubt keeping The Cowsills at bay. That The Fifth Dimension influenced The Cowsills is a given, just a/b the family band’s “We Can Fly” to Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr.’s family’s “Up Up And Away” for comparison.Equalling the #2 position garnered by group’s first hit, “The Rain, The Park and Other Things”, this final trek up the Top 40 charts has superb stereo separation self-produced by Bill Cowsill and Bob Cowsill. Though not as spectacular as Bob Crewe’s presentation of Oliver singing “Good Morning Starshine” three months after this hit, taken from the same stage play, the acoustic opening, heavy vocals and pageantry inherent in the performance make for a genuine statement by this deserving group, three and a half minutes that became MGM single #14026. “Hair” is also the direction the group needed to head off into – covering soon-to-be standards made famous off and on Broadway. That they failed to enjoy the fame found by what they spawned, The Partridge Family tv program, should have been inspiration for this talented bunch to fly to greater heights finding more gems like this cover. “Hair” was that golden opportunity that opened the door to life after bubblegum. It is The Cowsills performing on all instruments, sounds generated by the two founding brothers, and promoted by the group itself, according to the liner notes accompanying ^The Best Of The Cowsills: The Millennium ollection. The booklet explains that where MGM first balked at this single, airplay on a Chicago station and the immediate positive response fueled the label’s decision to back this eventual huge hit. The paradox of a clean cut group doing something so hip and counter culture is more extreme than The Carpenters covering Klaatu. The break where the female voice wants “it combed straight…” sounds like it’s taken off of “Friend & Lover’s” “Reach Out Of The Darkness” from the year before, showing they learned their craft well under the aegis of legends like Artie Kornfeld and Wes Farrell.


Song Review by Joe Viglione
Opening with a truncated bass riff lifted straight from the first notes of Tommy James & The Shondells’ “I Think We’re Alone Now” (keep in mind, the arranger of that hit, Jimmy “Wiz” Wisner arranged The Cowsills’ first hit) and with Beach Boys’ bass vocals (a Cowsill or two would end up working with The Beach Boys after this!), “Indian Lake”, a song about a day at the amusement park, could almost be considered a delayed sequel to “The Rain, The Park and Other Things” the way Lesley Gore told us how it was “Judy’s Turn To Cry” after her first hit (and, of course, Steve Duboff, who co-wrote The Cowsills first hit, wrote for Gore). The six degrees of separation intentional non-coincidences go much deeper for songwriter and arranger Tony Romeo and producer Wes Farrell. They were the team who concocted “I Think We’re Alone Now” for The Partridge Family, the family group which was modeled after The Cowsills. It must have been tough to take knowing that a hit like “Indian Lake” came from a more pure space, integrity that the manufactured Partridge Family could only feign, and to get slighted after going Top 10 in the summer of 1968 with this two minute and forty-four second delight was total injustice so typical of the industry. Farrell’s production is no-nonsense with the bass guitar holding up the bottom, the drums way behind the tambourine, and keyboard a sort of laid-back “Palisades Park”. It’s got that feel of Wes Farrell’s hit on MGM the summer before, “Come On Down To My Boat ” by Every Mother’s Son, and this MGM single, #13944, kept the momentum going for pop’s singing, smiling family. One can hear “Heroes And Villains”, traces of “Words Of Love’s piano sound, rather than be subtle as Kornfeld and Wisner were on “The Rain, The Park and Other Things”, Farrell and Romeo just go for broke taking all the influences they can and giving the group another big hit, inspired by a bit the band was aked to perform on a television fashion special, The Wonderful World Of Pizzazz, according to the liner note booklet accompanying ^The Best of The Cowsills: The Millennium Collection.


Song Review by Joe Viglione
It starts with quick and simple rainstorm sound effects, ultra light pop written by Artie Kornfeld and Steve Duboff who composed for Connie Francis The Angels, Jan & Dean, Crispian St. Peters, Lesley Gore and others either individually or as a team. This break-through hit for the family group, The Cowsills, clocks in at just around three minutes, MGM single #13810, a bubbly performance full of stunning harmonies with magical production by Kornfeld, accompanied by Jimmy “Wiz” Wisner’s arrangement. Wiz is the man who put his touch on “I Think We’re Alone Now” and “Mirage” for Tommy James and The Shondells just a few months before this mini-epic was blocked out of the #1 position by The Monkees’ huge “Daydream Believer”, adding to the formidable team. These three pop pros writing/producing/arranging had the power and smarts to play in the same league as hitmakers The Monkess and The Shondells, and with a quarter of a million dollars in promotional support from the label as noted in the booklet to ^The Best Of The Cowsills, The Millenium ollection, this 45 brightened up the end of summer/early autumn of 1967, when flower power was in full bloom. Harbinger of The Osmonds, a group that would look very much like this outfit on the very same record label just four years after “The Rain, The Park and Other Things” brought these Mamas & The Papas meet The Beach Boys harmonies to the world, The Cowsills were the real thing, paving the way for The Jackson 5 and other acts who would take the concept even further. This is quintessential bubblegum, the hipness of the record offset by the cheeky image of the name and band look, but it’s the music that matters and the cascading vocals were as complex as anything John, Michelle, Cass & Denny had put together. A dominating lead vocal to tell the story coupled with the crisp bass/drums and swirling bells, harp and water sounds swimming in the mix, it made for irresistable and unforgettable AM radio and a wonderful launching pad for a group of musicians who paid their dues and deserved a much bigger slice of the rock and roll pie.


Song Review by Joe Viglione
Less than a year after The 5th Dimension went “Up – Up and Away” with Jimmy Webb’s song and production, The Cowsills took their harmonies and crafted a short and clever sequel of sorts. A definite sign of the times, The Cowsills put elements of all sorts of sixties groups into their mix as evidenced on most of their work, but “We Can Fly” is more 5th Dimension than anything else. Clocking in at only two minutes and fifteen seconds, MGM single #13886 is an exhilarating array of uplifting horns and bells over a tense rhythm which sounds like it was inspired by the soundtrack to The Wizard Of Oz. The foundation allows the group’s impeccable vocals to glide over the arrangement slipping lines like “isn’t it groovey in a daydream” right by the listener with adult-bubblegum efficiency . Produced by brothers Bill Cowsill and Bob Cowsill, the song was written by that pair along with Artie Kornfeld and Steve Duboff, the men who penned the brilliant “The Rain, The Park and Other Things”, the team effort taking this tune up into the Top 25 in the early months of 1968. Though they could lift material with the best of them, The Cowsills innovated as well and the music here is true adult contemporary pop that holds up many years after making its mark. Nice arrangement work by Artie Schroeck deserves mention.

Review by Joe Viglione
Material on this, The Best of the Cowsills, came before they hit with “Hair” in 1969, that song missing from this otherwise decent compilation. There are 12 tracks taken from their first three MGM albums — The Cowsills, We Can Fly, and Captain Sad and His Ship of Fools — plus the excellent Top 50 single from 1968 with its unmistakable Beach Boys influence, “Poor Baby.” “The Rain, the Park and Other Things,” of course, is the starting point, and it is a wonderful and enduring pop single, all two minutes and 57 seconds of it. In between there are “In Need of a Friend,” “Mister Flynn,” “Captain Sad and His Ship of Fools,” and the hit from the beginning of 1968, “We Can Fly.” “Meet Me at the Wishing Well” is listed on the back cover of the LP, but a Tony Romeo song is actually on the vinyl, “The Path of Love.” Romeo has three titles on this best-of, but perhaps the most remarkable thing is that eight of the dozen tracks are either written or co-written by Bob and Bill Cowsill. Where Wes Farrell produced “Indian Lake” and “Poor Baby,” and Artie Kornfeld did the exquisite production honors on “The Rain, the Park and Other Things,” the brothers Cowsill produced “We Can Fly,” “In Need of a Friend,” and most of this album, nine of the 12 tracks to be exact. Where the Beach Boys‘ harmonies devour “Poor Baby,” the Mamas & the Papas‘ vocal style envelopes the Beatlesque “In Need of a Friend.” Thirty-three years after its release, Universal issued The Best of the Cowsills: The Millennium Collection. That all-too-short CD has five tracks from this collection and five other titles. What it all shows is that the band was more creative and productive than they were given credit for and it really is too bad they didn’t get to be The Partridge Family on television. This early best-of is evidence that they deserved it.


Review by Joe Viglione
Comedian Michael Fremer was a staple in Boston on the radio airwaves and in the club scene. Those who were fans of radio stars Charles Laquidara and Little Walter DeVenne no doubt heard these insightful and ridiculous skits when their popular programs aired on a once alternative Boston station, 104.1 FM. The re-enactment of Mayor Kevin White’s “My City’s In Flames” Speech is hilarious. This writer was at the oston Garden in 1972 when The Rolling Stones were arrested in Rhode Island and when then Mayor White had to appease the fans who were on the verge of rioting. The parody on this disc – along with the tape of that show Stones fans have traded over the years – are evidence of a magic moment in rock and make this classic collection all the more special. Some of these advertisements were specifically for record retailer New England Music City and legendary weekly news source The Real Paper. If you never realized how close Dylan’s 1976 hit “Hurricane” is to his 1968 hit (via Hendrix) “All Along The Watchtower,” Fremer makes it painfully clear. Lou Reed’s Transformer image gets taken over the coals in a take-off on “Walk On The Wild Side,” and Neil Old’s “Hopeless” is Neil Young’s “Helpless” upside down. Michael Fremer was allegedly bounced off of the radio station for making fun of the commercials that were themselves walking parodies. It made no sense, and it was an unpopular move by the station, but this excellent recording preserves some of the majesty. The comedian MC’d some of the major concerts in Boston during this period, 1970-1976 – some of the material was recorded at the 104.1 FM’s studios, some live at the nn Square Men’s Bar, various recording studios and portions probably taped in Fremer’s bedroom! His contemporaries like Paul Lovell a.k.a. Blowfish took their cues from Fremer, who was last found in the 1990’s publishing a magazine.


Review by Joe Viglione
After the initial blitz of the 1970s new wave in Boston, MA — a movement of singer/songwriters fronting bands, spearheaded by Willie “Loco” Alexander and Jonathan Richman — the college city found techno and industrial sounds infiltrating the scene with the dawn of the ’80s. The Modern Method record label, a division of retailer Newbury Comics, began issuing some of this music on sampler albums as well as EPs by November Group and writer Tristram Lozaw‘s outfit, Someone & the Somebodies. The music on the four-song EP Bops on the Head might seem innocent enough, but Lozaw‘s cover design is beyond politically incorrect a couple of decades after its release. A man with what looks like a golf club has it raised over his head as if about to strike someone, while a larger male head is seen with a hand around his throat. The 45 RPM 12-inch disc is at its most violent on “Mombo Sombo,” a drifting, weaving industrial folk tune with percussive sounds playing against the guitar bursts and dark, incoherent vocal. Where Willie Alexander was employing the dissonance by merging jazz with his primal scream on Solo Loco at this point in time, Someone & the Somebodies take an electronic sledgehammer approach. Mao Tse-Tung, a woman hitting her child with a hammer, and a beach bully punching another guy out are the images on the back cover which accompany the sternutatory sounds of “It’s Only Extazy.” As Mission of Burma embraced aggravating noise and attitude, Someone & the Somebodies brought the tempo and level down a notch or two, massaging the electronics. Lozaw put together an interesting arrangement of prizefighter Lee Dorsey‘s 1966 hit, the Allen Toussaint composition “Working in a Coal Mine,” which obtained heavy regional airplay. Synth/guitar player Rob Davis contributes “We Were Only Kidding,” a staccato guitar-phrased chant over heavy bass. Not for everyone, Bops on the Head is a good document of a day when the new wave morphed into heavier sounds, which eventually led to modern rock. It’s what came in between and is worth a listen.

THE OUTLETS 2000 on Hendrix Records

Review by Joe Viglione
The lost art of rock & roll is rediscovered with a vengeance by David Alex Barton and his Outlets on this self-titled album. Co-produced by John McDermott with Kevin Army, the band is in good hands after slugging it out in the trenches of Boston during the ’80s. John McDermott co-produces Jimi Hendrix‘s catalog releases along with Janie Hendrix, and the affiliation can only help artists this serious about their craft. This is a rock & roll onslaught — “Sorry” is a refreshing blast of guitar-oriented garage rock. This is the music that can save so-called “modern rock radio,” a term that is already an anachronism. What is really needed is a three-minute burst of sound that is “Eddy.” Barton doesn’t stay on key — he never did — and his vocal style is much like Jon Felice of the Real Kids, but the Outlets drive their songs faster and with more ferocity than the Real Kids, and the jangly guitar tends to extend its claws with a nice buzzsaw edge. “You Don’t Need Them” changes the mood with tension and lyrics that take a Joe Jackson riff and re-evaluate it, while “Wired” goes where Smashing Pumpkins‘ “1979” tried to. As the album progresses, the drums and guitars start melting into a solid unit that makes you want to turn the volume up. There is none of that technical wash that strips away the substance and heart of new records, creating dissonance and unnecessary high end. This is the real thing, solid as a rock, and a guitar starts going haywire two and a half minutes into “Wired” — possibly the most explosive track on a very explosive record. The Outlets had much promise in the past, and one wonders if a record this good can cut through all the politics and just get substantial airplay. Here’s a second chance for the world to hear their classic “Sheila.” It’s still bouncy and driving, and deserves a long ride on the airwaves. The fun that the Buzzcocks brought to their best recordings is inherent in this disc, tempered by the American sound the Nervous Eaters helped forge. Despite their veteran status, the Outlets still rock like teenagers on this 13-song disc, and that’s what it is all about.


Review by Joe Viglione
Whole New World by Boston’s Outlets, released on Restless Records/Enigma in 1985, is a raw document of a good pop band with enthusiasm that rises above the group’s limitations. Where the rock & roll voice of the BuzzcocksPete Shelley would tatter and tear, he managed to stay somewhat on key; lead singer/lead guitarist Dave Barton clearly emulated Shelley, but his vocal limitations inhibited his otherwise interesting material. “Sheila” is OK on Whole New World, but sounds so much better re-recorded 14 years later by producers John McDermott and Kevin Army on Hendrix Records’ 1999 release simply titled The Outlets. Whole New World is the Barton brothers — Dave on vocals and lead guitar and Rick on guitar — with Mike County on bass and Walter Gustafson on drums. “Tilted Track” rings with the same undertones of “Whole New World” and “The War Is Over”; they don’t deviate much from the formula, and producer Rob Dimit simply captures what the band was all about at this point in time. “A Valentine Song” has enough creativity to stand out from the pack and, while Dave Barton‘s guitar work on “Tilted Track” and “The Provider” really shows strength, the song similarity and redundance of the vocals kept this band from making more of an impact, both in Boston and on the national stage. There’s more polish on the 1999 release, but Whole New World had its moments and is also a nice glimpse of a band making noise while it was also making some waves.


Review by Joe Viglione
Crunch. That’s what happens when you mix two parts Slade with one part Rolling Stones and feature the future frontman for the final incarnation of The Joe Perry Project. Teenage Suicide by Thundertrain is a rare look at rock & roll attitude which slugged it out in the trenches of Boston with the likes of Charlie Farren‘s Balloon, Ralph Mormon‘s Daddy Warbux, the Real Kids, mainstream rockers Susan, Willie Loco Alexander‘s Boom Boom Band, and so many others. Thundertrain were not punks, but they were more accepted in the punk environment than the Beams and the Dead End Kids, probably because Mach Bell‘s stage antics were proof that they acted like underground rockers, despite the band’s music being so slick, tight, and hard edged. The album starts off with “Hot for Teacher,” their second 45, and college radio hit. The presence of ex-Velvet Underground pianist Willie “Loco” Alexander gives the disc an authentic rock & roll feel, and it is a great opening track. The bulk of the material is written by lead guitarist Steven Silva, and features creative, sludgey riffs which give Bell‘s “I just gargled with Draino” voice a board with which to ride the electric surf. Rhythm guitarist Gene Provost contributes three songs to this debut: “Love the Way,” the anthem-like “Hell Tonite,” which kicks off side two, and “Forever & Ever.” He’s no mere rhythm guitarist; like Keith Richards, he can make the instrument snarl as Steve Silva goes off on a tangent. Produced by Earthquake Morton and Nighthawk Jackson, engineered by George Lilly, one gets the feeling the Duke & the Drivers guys were behind this project — the Drivers being one of Boston’s major blues-rock outfits. Eight of the nine tracks were recorded at Northern Studios, while the final cut, their showstopper “I Gotta Rock,” was tracked live at the Rat nightclub in Boston — the song is one of their two tracks on the legendary Live at the Rat album. Teenage Suicide can’t show you Mach Bell‘s enormous stage presence, and that was a big part of their appeal — we can only hope videos from the time have survived. It also doesn’t have the polish a major label might have afforded them, but it does capture the energy and creative spark of a major Boston personality who would go on to work with a member of Aerosmith, and his bandmates who were a formidable and powerful bunch on stage.


Biography by Joe Viglione
“Cowboy” Mach Bell was born in Yellow Springs, OH, on January 23, 1953. Inspired by heroes such as Liberace, Leonard Bernstein, Bo Diddley, Keith Relf of the Yardbirds, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Noddy Holder, Dick Dodd, the Standells, Roger Daltrey, Eric Burdon, T. Rex, Howlin’ Wolf, Brian Jones, Jeff Beck, Mark Lindsay, Jim Dandy, John Kay, Willie “Loco” Alexander, and James Brown, his stage show reflects the eccentricities of many of those legends. His first instrument was the cello, something Bell studied for four years. The Mechanical Onions was his first band in 1966 at the age of 13. AMG asked the future lead singer for the Joe Perry Project how he joined his first significant group, Thundertrain: “After several years playing the Middlesex County, MA, ‘battle of the bands’ circuit as a lead guitarist, I made the switch, in 1972, to lead singer. Drummer Bobby Edwards and I started playing the local teen centers as Biggy Ratt. I split that group in early 1974 and hitchhiked to LA. I spent weeks hanging out in Hollywood, on the strip, in front of the Whiskey and at Rodney Bingenheimer’s English Disco. The glam scene was in full bloom and I was inspired to bring some of the sunset strip vibe back to Boston. When I got home to Holliston, MA, I found Bobby was playing drums with bass player Ric Provost and his brother, guitarist “Cool” Gene Provost. They had just disbanded their successful club band Doc Savage. The four of us teamed up and moved into the basement of Jack’s Drum Shop on Boylston St. Sussing out an ad in the Boston Phoenix, we found our lead guitarist, a disciple of Rick Derringer and Johnny Winter by the name of Steven Silva (who came from) down in New Bedford. Thundertrain (1974-1979) was born!”Indeed, Thundertrain‘s metallic pop was like Slade meets the Rolling Stones, Bell giving further evidence of bandmember influences which molded their sound: “‘Cool Gene’ was a Keith Richards/Gram Parsons fan while ‘Young Bobby’ was into Kiss and Aerosmith. American garage rock was the first love of bassist Ric. On top of this thick mix I laid down my suburban Otis Redding impression, dressed like a chick…literally hanging from the rafters.” In 1975, Thundertrain released one of the first singles from Boston’s pivotal underground movement, “I’m So Excited” b/w “Cindy Is a Sleeper.” That was followed by 1976’s “Hot For Teacher,” which featured Willie “Loco” Alexander of the Lost, Bagatelle, and the Velvet Underground on keyboards. Some say that Van Halen lifted much of the style and sound for their song of the same name which appeared on the multi-platinum 1984 album, released in that year. The single, backed with “Love the Way,” was also released on Chiswick Records in the U.K. Jem Records pressed up a sampler in the U.S.A., which included not only Thundertrain‘s “Hot For Teacher” but the first appearance of the Sex Pistols on a U.S. recording. Van Halen had plenty of opportunities to hear what this important Boston band led by Mach Bell was up to. In 1977, Jelly Records, part of the organization which was involved with Duke & the Drivers, released a full length LP, Teenage Suicide. That same year the legendary Live At the Rat LP was produced, including live versions by Thundertrainof “I Gotta Rock” and “I’m So Excited.” As Willie “Loco” Alexander was getting signed to MCA, a legitimate “bootleg” authorized by Alexander and his Boom Boom Band was released on Varage Records, a play on Boston labels Varulven and Garage. This limited-edition 500 copies, released incognito as the Sperm Bank Babies, included a live version of Chuck Berry‘s “Around & Around” by Thundertrain. Mach Bell was so infuriated by the actions of the club owner that he did a long rant before the tune opens the disc. The club owner’s name is bleeped out repeatedly; it is a hilarious and legendary recording. In 1978, the group released a version of the Standells‘ “Dirty Water” on radio station WCOZ’s The Best of the Boston Beat, a compilation of songs and bands played on DJ Leslie Palmiter‘s Sunday night program on 94.5 FM.In 1979, lead guitarist Steven Silva left Thundertrain to pursue an acting career on the West Coast. The band continued to perform and record with Boom Boom Band guitarist Billy Loosigian as Silva‘s replacement, a group they called the Hits. After scoring heavy airplay with a tape of “Storm Brewing,” “Cool” Gene Provost left the band. Ric Provost and Bobby Edwards continued with Mach Bell on guitar as the Mag IV. This band released a single on Pure And Easy, “Mag IV Go Monte Carlo” b/w “Man With No Name.”Pure and Easy Records then sent the group to Longview Studio (where the Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder, and other notables practiced and recorded), crafting the second Mag IV disc when Bell got a call. “Thundertrain‘s original producer, Earthquake Morton of Duke & the Drivers was on the line calling from manager Tim Collins‘ office. Tim had just signed Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry and he needed a new lead singer. I auditioned in February 1982 and days later I became the vocalist with the Joe Perry Project.”Coming off of my rough and tumble experiences with Thundertrain, this was finally my opportunity to perform nationally, on a huge scale, rocking arenas and festivals as well as theaters and concert clubs. The Joe Perry Project was first and foremost a touring rock & roll band. Living like pirates, we criss-crossed Canada, South America, and the States. Our mission was to inject some guitar fueled rock & roll energy into the synth/new wave dominated early-’80s scene. Tim Collins and Joe Perry were finally able to ink a deal with MCA, who released the third and final Joe Perry Project album, Once a Rocker, Always a Rocker in September 1983. I contributed the lyrics to seven of the ten songs on the LP, (including) “Once a Rocker,” “Four Guns West,” “Crossfire,” “King of the Kings” “Adrianna,” “Walk With Me Sally,” and “Never Wanna Stop.” Joe Perry and Harry King produced.”In 1989, the Teenage Suicide LP by Thundertrain was reissued on Habla Records in Italy. In 1991, the radio hit “Counter Attack” was finally issued on CD on Varulven’s Boston Rock & Roll Anthology, Vol. #15. 1993 saw the release of the MCA Joe Perry Project album Once a Rocker, Always a Rocker on compact disc and, in 1999, Raven Records of Australia released The Best of the Joe Perry Project: The Music Still Does the Talking featuring tracks from all three of the band’s incarnations. But what was life for Mach Bell after fronting the band of one of his heroes?”Joe Perry returned to Aerosmith in mid-1984, leaving me reeling. Joe Perry Project bassman Danny Hargrove and I teamed up with drummer Hirsh Gardner (from the group New England ) as the Wild Bunch. We spent two years opening for national acts and headlining clubs and then I split back out to Hollywood. I spent a few years out there doing some producing and searching for the next big thing. In 1989, I married Julia Channing (manager of the Cars‘ recording studio, Syncrosound ) in London. We moved to the Massachusetts’ South Shore, and I’d gone on to other pursuits when former Buckingham guitarist Dave Zolla suddenly appeared in 1996. Together we put together Last Man Standing , a metallic quartet that grafts progressive chord structures and riffs to my raw-and-rowdy vocalizing. At the close of 2001, we released (the album) Last Man Standing, an 11-song album produced by Zolla. I wrote all the lyrics and Dave wrote the music. Former L-88 member Aartie Knyff handles bass and Jon Gutlon is on drums. My hope is that we can get out touring and keep the albums coming. I dig wild showmanship, over-the-top players, and a soulful rocking feel. It’s up to guys like us to keep this kind of energetic music alive.”In 2002, Gulcher Records of Bloomington, IN, re-released Thundertrain‘s remastered Teenage Suicide LP, originally recorded in 1976. Pure & Easy Records founder John Visnaskas restored the work from the original tapes. Several bonus cuts are featured on the album. Thundertrain was Mach’s launch pad, and he calls it “a great rocket ride. 1977 was probably our craziest year; we got tons of airplay, press, and found ourselves gigging with the Runaways, the Dictators, Thin Lizzy, and of course all the great Rat bands: Willie Alexander, DMZ, the Cars, Reddy Teddy, and so many more. Our credo was ‘Thundertrain: unchained and shameless,’ and from our band house to every stage we tore up we always lived the life of a true outlaw rock band.” 16 Magazine called the 18-year old singer “sexy and sensational.” Thundertrain got mentioned in Time Magazine’s cover story on punk rock, and there has been a renewed interest in Bell’s rock & roll career. All of his Thundertrain and Joe Perry Project recordings continue to be re-released internationally. Dozens of bootlegs, concert videos, and Internet fan sites have sprung up. “Black Velvet Pants,” the MTV video featuring Mach with the Joe Perry Project has been replayed on VH1 and MTV. Let’s hope the unreleased songs from the Once a Rocker, Always a Rocker album get their day in the sun, as well as a live album or two from that legendary unit. Mach Bell is a powerful stage performer with energy and vision, his past and his future are important pages in the history book of rock music.


Review by Joe Viglione
If you think Sly Stone took a long time to record an album in his heyday consider this, Bostonians Mach Bell and Dave Zolla began writing the songs that make up the self-titled Last Man Standing 11 song CD in the spring of 1996 and completed the recordings on August 29, 2001. The result is the most polished and exciting disc featuring the former lead singer of Thundertrain and MCA recording artist that was the third and final version of the Joe Perry Project before Aerosmith took Perry back into the fold. This record is an absolute assault, and for fans of hard rock and heavy metal, the boys just rip it apart. Artie Knyff from L-88 is on bass, his band reaching #1 on the reginal charts in the early 80’s, opening for Blue Oyster Cult when that band was hot stuff, and garnering interest from Arista, while co-songwriter and producer Dave Zolla was one of the mainstays of Buckingham, a progressive unit that had an immense regional following. These veterans of New England’s hard rock scene come back with a vengeance as this album has everything all their previous outfits did not. To put it plainly, had this Zolla/Bell cd come out as the third Joe Perry Project album, Once A Rocker, Always A Rocker, Aerosmith might’ve not come back when they did. It is that good. In the second to last track, “Miles And Miles,” Bell yells out “…meanwhile, I was still thinking…” The Chuck Berry line that Marc Bolan re-immortalized in “Bang A Gong.” “Bang A Gong (Get It On)” was cut by the Perry Project, as Aerosmith re-made a killer version of “Helter Skelter.” The “when I get to the bottom I go back to the top” line follows T.Rex here, Mach Bell giving an ode to his past and to his favorite band which took his most famous lead guitarist away. This elaborate package was crafted with care and excellence, from the superb cover art and lyric booklet, to the thunderous sound of the band. Mach Bell has never sounded this good, and the guitar playing sounds like it is straight out of the Randy Rhoads school of non-stop crunch. “New Day Blues” opens up with a flurry of Jimi Hendrix riffs starting with “Stone Free” while “Dr. Doctor” gives a nod to Bell’s original band Thundertrain’s New England hit “Hot For Teacher.” Many of T Train’s rabid fans felt Van Halen lifted too much from that local hit, but this new edition plays more like West, Bruce & Laing. The nearest thing to a ballad is the Alice Cooper-ish “Still Dreaming (What Could Be)” on an album chock full of Mach Bell’s trademark tongue-in-cheek humor and Dave Zolla’s real debut as a guitarist to be reckoned with. Few are playing traditional hard rock like this veteran singer and it will be interesting to see if Bell’s friends in Aerosmith are influenced by this powerful stuff – you know they found copies in their mailbox. Superb hard rock played to the hilt.

Mach Bell and Charlie Farren were two lead singers for


Review by Joe Viglione
Australia’s Raven Records has released another important retrospective — a focus on guitarist Joe Perry’s three solo albums and the three frontmen who put their voices on those discs. Ralph Mormon performed on Let the Music Do the Talking prior to his stint in Savoy Brown, and that may have been the better band for his bluesy voice. The excellent liner notes by Ian McFarlane give a very clear history of “The Project” and their accuracy is amazing. Given Aerosmith‘s success, it is odd that Sony hasn’t released a similar compilation — or that this one isn’t being imported in droves, since Perry is a legend, and his work while estranged from the hard rock phenomenon that is Aerosmith deserves attention, no matter how dark the period was for the guitarist personally. The album is a very good overview while purists and fans would, of course, prefer two CDs and all the tracks. “Listen to the Rock” from I’ve Got the Rock & Rolls Again is missing, and that was one of their key tunes; also, there were numerous outtakes or demo tapes from the period of Once a Rocker, Always a Rocker — lead singer Mach Bell played one for this writer called “When Worlds Collide” and it is incredible — those aforementioned tracks and other goodies would have really rounded this out. But these are minor quibbles. Hearing each phase of the Joe Perry Project from start to finish is textbook rock & roll and highly enjoyable. Charlie Farren eventually landed his own deal on Warner Bros. with Farrenheit, but imagine if Perry had stayed along for that ride? The music in the middle of this disc — “East Coast, West Coast,” “Buzz Buzz,” and “I’ve Got the Rock & Rolls Again” — were indicators of a developing sound, and Farren was the perfect partner for Perry to develop a sound to rival, not revisit, Aerosmith. Thundertrain lead singer Mach Bell, on the other hand, is truly the guy to add chaos to this touring unit. Bell is one of the most charismatic frontmen from the New England music scene, and his Thundertrain band mixed Rolling Stones with Slade, so Perry traded a vocalist/songwriter for a total madman. The video of track 16, “Black Velvet Pants,” is a story in itself, and it shows Bell in all his rock & roll glory, while the inclusion of T. Rex‘s “Bang a Gong” is the one cover, and perfect for Mach with his British rock leanings. The three phases of the Joe Perry Project — blues singer Mormon, songwriter/vocalist Farren, and stage performer Bell — is a vitally important chapter in American rock & roll, which Raven and McFarlane have lovingly packaged and preserved. If any reissue has a chance of finding a new audience, this is it.

FARRENHEIT First album


Review by Joe Viglione
Charlie Farren was lead singer of the Joe Perry Project six years prior to the release of this Keith Olsen-produced record. It is arena rock, make no doubt about that, but it is great arena rock. Farren is a tremendous singer, frontman, and songwriter. He’s appeared on Bad Company‘s Fame & Fortune disc as well as The Heat by Nona Hendrix, but the industry has failed to give him his due. “Lost in Loveland,” “Fool in Love,” and “Shine” on this Warner Bros. debut are outstanding titles. This is not your annoying, whiny Steve Perry/Mickey Thomas eunuch rock, all due respect to those gentlemen. But where their voices tend to grate upon repeated listening, Farren is smooth as silk. He’s got the grit along with the range, a very nice balance. “Bad Habit” might not be his most legendary tune, but it still rocks better than most. Deric Dyer‘s saxophone adds an element to “Impossible World,” which lifts it beyond the genre Farrenheit knows so well into a jazz/rock territory Steely Dan keeps a tight grip on. Dyer would perform with Tina Turner on her Live in Europe album in 1988, just a year later. This is grade-A stuff. “Goofy Boy” has to-the-point lyrics by Farrem about the underdog in a dating situation. His way with words shouldn’t be overshadowed by the musicianship and his vocal prowess. The Australian company, Raven Records, re-released six of Farren‘s tracks with the Joe Perry Project from I’ve Got the Rock ‘N’ Rolls Again on a compilation, The Music STILL Does the Talking in 1999. A good argument for keeping songs like “New Days,” “Wildness,” and especially “Staying Together” from this album in circulation.



Review by Joe Viglione
The title track says it all: “Raise the Roof” is a rock & roll anthem and the follow-up to the Warner Brothers debut Farrenheit by Charlie Farren‘s trio. The 1987 Warner’s release was produced by Keith Olsen, and this is most likely the material the band was preparing but never got to release. In 1999, vocalist/guitarist Farren published three albums at once on his own label: the brilliant Deja Blue, a third Farrenheit disc with pretty much a new band minus the services of David Hull, and this collection. Along with the ten songs here the other discs contain another 22 titles. Thirty-two songs in one year is a bit overwhelming from any artist unless it is a boxed set, but it is better to have than to have not. As good as the intense riff of “Sister of Mercy” is, without massive exposure on radio or TV, it and its fellow album tracks “Shaking the Chains,” “Walking Out Loud,” “Tougher Than Nails,” and others get lost in the overabundance. This material really needed to come out at the end of the ’80s to fill the void that was left when the excitement of the Warners deal waned. Here is a great example of how timing can effect substantial music. No doubt the artists involved are thrilled to have this work available on the Internet and on the fixed medium that CDs are, but for a group that should have at least equaled the notoriety of Billy Squier, Farrenheit is relegated to the status of a great metal band with a cult following. Farren’s smooth voice is like nothing on radio — his liquid phrasings have more grit than