blondie - The I-94 Bar

Bigger Than Life - Jack Lee (Alive Natural Sounds)

bigger than lifeIf Jack Lee went to his grave only known as the guy who wrote the Blondie hit “Hanging On the Telephone” he’d be more noteworthy than all of us combined and then some. The irony is that only music publishing houses and fans of his former band, The Nerves, would know this. Sad, but that’s the state of music in the ‘00s.

Just the facts: Their recorded output was scant but The Nerves were one helluva great power-pop band, operating out of LA in the mid-‘70s, and Jack Lee was (and probably still is) a consummate songwriter. Lee formed The Nerves and played guitar. His similarly talented bandmates were Peter Case (bass) and Paul Collins (drums.) They all sang and wrote the songs. That’s probably too much talent for one band and of course they didn’t last long…

Dangerous - Sugarchild (MGM), Get Bye Good High - Papaya Fuzz (Burning Sound) and Bigger than Life - Jack Lee (Alive Naturalsounds Records)

sugarchild dangerousOne of these CDs bored me pissless, but I’m going to give it four-and-a-half bottles. One of these is a seven bottle disc, the other is also four-and-a-half bottles and (I thought) a damn sight more enjoyable.

Nothing exists in isolation. We all develop differently, in different ways, from the same stimulus. One man is a banker, another, a thief.

Musicians are popularly both isolated and part of the crowd. Some might as well open their own bank ("Elton’s Bank’) while others we suspect nick the washing off clotheslines and have garage sales every Saturday and Sunday morning to make ends meet. (No, I won’t snitch).

Debbie and Patti in a Tale of Two Dieties

blondie dean ertlBlondie and her session men plus Clem Burke (obscured).   Dean Ertl photo

I come at this review as a fan.  Since 1976 (earlier if you count the Dolls and the Velvets), I have been enamoured of that New York New Wave sound.  It's a broad church.  Suicide could thrash synthesizers and Television could probe the stratosphere with spiralling lead guitar lines.  The Ramones could make dumb look smart.

The Talking Heads sounded nothing like the Heartbreakers.  The Fast sounded nothing link Mink DeVille.  But the scene was still recognisable as a whole.

Blondie lived in the spotlight of eternal summer despite spending a lifetime dodging sun rays.   You could be walking through the Lower East Side, see a boy you liked and say hello.  Even if you found yourself charged with solicitation, everything would be all right because you are young, beautiful and in love.

Four shows celebrate legendary Max's Kansas City

maxsMax’s Kansas City was one of the legendary New York City scenes of the 1970s, home to Andy Warhol’s crew and a musical stamping ground for the Velvet Underground, Heartbreakers, Iggy & the Stooges and countless others.

It’s the club where Iggy met David Bowie and had his career fortunes revived, Debbie Harry waited on tables, Patti Smith went star-spotting and the Lou Reed era Velvets played their final shows.   

Former Max’s promoter Peter Crowley is hosting a 50th anniversary round of shows from June 4-8 and the line-ups feature some of the best that what’s left of the old-school NYC underground scene.

Punk trailblazer Marty Thau dies

Legendary New York punk rock forefather, label head and manager, Marty Thau, has passed away, sources close to the ex-New York Dolls manager say. He was aged 75.

Strange Ways – Some Jerks (Pig City Records)

strange waysIt’s OK to like pop. Real pop, that is. You won’t hear it on mainstream radio. What they play is a watered-down variant that’s polished and homogenised within a centimetre of its life. So go straight to the source, go online or (gasp) experience it at a gig, cherry-pick what sounds good and forget the rest. That’s where a band like Some Jerks comes in.

Recommending music is such a personal thing that we behind the bar are often criticised for going over-the-top in some of our evangelistic rants. Well, fuck you: No, there won’t be an apology for that, because we (mostly) review the shit that we like. Speaking of evangelism…