los angeles - The I-94 Bar
There’s no-one better qualified to decry “this counterfeit world” than Pat Todd as he does on the opening cut of the same name on his new album.
Todd’s been The Real Deal for three decades, first with Los Angeles underground legends The Lazy Cowgirls and more recently with The Rankoutsiders. “Blood & Treasure” is long=player number-four and builds on a substantial body of work.
People sometimes look down their noses at the term “bar band”. Why is a mystery. Isn’t a “bar band” the antithesis of a “stadium band”? Todd has assembled one of the world’s best bar bands in The Rankoutsiders and it would be a travesty to think of them playing Coachella.
You might think of it as just another European label re-issuing an American artist’s old work on vinyl - a smart commercial move because nobody in Europe buys albums on CD - if they can help it.But you should consider Hound Dawg Records' engineering the re-appearance of the first record for Pat Todd’s post-Lazy Cowgirls outfit as a public service. Here’s why:
"Seems like yesterday, but it was long ago...."
JUNKYARD STILL GOT IT IN SPADES!
Back when I still thought Axl Rose was a could do no wrong, a rebel hero who had courageously escaped a hellish small-town disreputable dishwasher fate, not unlike my own, the misunderstood, fucking innocent, ginger haired, rural Mike Monroe from the corn-fed Midwest, I recall him wearing an old school Junkyard t shirt in all those "Circus" and "Hit Parader" pinups I had taped all over the walls of my first shoebox bachelor apartment that the totally New Wave love of my young life had helped me paint purple.
I really thought I'd arrived! We had a promising basement-show punk band, in those days, but we still lived in a shitty, dumb, nothing to do, farm town straight out of the saddest Bob Seger songs. I never liked the bigoted, cross-eyed rednecks at the veterans halls, the musclebound, bullying suburban jocks in the Camaro's, the racist history teaching wrestling coaches, the sports-bar drunkards with the barbecue stains, the Izod shirted country-club conformists, nutty extremist church crazies, or dickhead fratboy cops. I never liked their bullshit hierarchy, kneejerk customs, hazing rituals, or boot camp drill sergeant, behavior modification tactics, not to mention, their senseless cruelty and complete lack of style.
There might be some irony in the band name considering their obsession with ‘70s glam rock, but Smash Fashion are from Los Angeles so maybe not.
These veterans have been around for a dozen years in this form and call their music Dandy Rock. Even a cursory listen to the A side has Cheap Trick written all over it so it’s no surprise after some judicious online research to see them cited as a prime influence.
Where they’ve come from is academic; it’s where Fast Cars are now that counts. The onetime ‘80s Sydney mod-power-pop band has been a creative duo since reforming in 2015, working on opposite sides of the globe. “LAX” suggests distance only makes the creative muse all that much stronger.
“LAX” is what people used to call a “concept album” - back when single song downloads weren’t the staple currency of the musical economy. I know what you’re thinking: Concept equals Pretentious. Wrong. “LAX” stays well away from that precipice. It’s 12 songs of classy psych pop, alternately dreamy and lush, occasionally funky or wrapped in strings, and framed loosely on the theme of seeking your dreams in a big city.
“LAX” is also a Dropbox record. Dropbox is the cloud app that’s become stock-in-trade for projects like this. With vocalist-guitarist Di Levi based in Bristol, UK, and guitarist-songwriter Fabian Byrne living in Sydney, Australia, the swapping of ideas, sketches, recorded parts and, ultimately, fleshed-out songs, had to occur online.
"There is nothing to win by this kind of an outcry..." -Richard Hell
"Everything is really hard, if you ain't got that credit card."-Iggy Pop
Old grape popsicles don't expire, they just get freezer burnt.
Back in my bespangled youth, there was no Internet and no downloadable sound files you could carry around in your hand-held Orwell gadget. We had, like, Walkman's and a couple of cassettes, if we were lucky, you know? If we got real enterprising, we'd spring for all those big batteries to power up our boom boxes, with all the band stickers on it, but it costs a lot to keep those machines blaring, especially if you hung out with a ragamuffin lot of heavy metal kids, Stooges heads, and ersatz break-dancers.
Rock 'n' roll sounds still mostly came on collectible black platters with colorful picture sleeves, but you had to send cash away for it in the mail, relying on the honor of scuzzy rascals, and every so often, you might get chumped. 'Had to figure, somebody must be awful hard up, to rip off their own fans. There was no Pay-Pal, you just paid your pals.
By the time me and a flamehaired stripper with a sports car arrived in Hollywood, to look for the pot of gold at the end of the Rainbow Bar And Grill, it was mostly all over.
We were snorting up the last hours of sequins and vulgarity, mascara and laughter before the bad trip buzzkill of Cobain. We were squinting in the last blinding, big sprays of Aqua Net and final drunken caterwauls at Thursday night cattle calls, where a rogues' gallery of various whiskey sodden, speed freaky, Stars From Mars and Seaweed Eaters and Raw Flowers and Glamour Punks and Dawg Mafia and Queeny Blast Pop diehard, teased haired, Motley-Babies played their hopeless gutter-punk defiantly, even while Seattle was exploding into the mainstream.
It was the sad, last gasps of a cool and androgynous underground scene, as grunge and gangsta-rap and capitalist lifestyle unreality-tv programming were coming into vogue and all the faded spandex stars of the strip had mostly got rich and sold-out, died, or gone straight.
Another one has passed. Hot on the heels of Norton Records co-founder Billy Miller comes news of the loss of Los Angeles writer, scenster and proto-punk singer Don Waller.
A founding member of the semi-legendary "Back Door Man" fanzine and indie record label, Waller had written extensively for Mojo, USA Today, Billboard, Variety, Radio & Records, L.A. Weekly, L.A. CityBeat and the Los Angeles Times.
The second-generation LA native was the author of best-selling "The Motown Story" (Scribner's, 1985). Waller also wrote more than 40 sets of liner notesand was a consultant to TV co ntent providers.
Long before that, Waller was a member of proto-punk outfit the Imperial Dogs -- who wrote and recorded the original version of "This Ain't The Summer Of Love", later re-recorded by Blue Oyster Cult. The band recently unearthed an hour-long video performance, "The Imperial Dogs: Live! In Long Beach (October 30, 1974)", released in 2009 and available from theimperialdogs.com
Don is survivied by his partner Natalie Nichols. To honour Don Waller's passing, we've unearthed this September 2009, interview by leading Australian documenter of the pre-and-punk scenes, former Dog Meat Records owner David Laing.