Friday, March 10, 2006

La Ronde and La Ronde

Little Steven is back this week on the "last" (yeah, right) Sopranos shoot de chute, essaying the role of the (made)man you love to hate after icing Adrianna (was it really just two years ago? ancient history in this whirl o' confusion), trading his trademark do-rag for Sylvio Dante's (nice signifier, Mistuh Chase) greasy, ill-fitting toupee and permanent scowl. But-- SVZ's no villain in the Here and Now, in fact, as his yeoman service backing the Boss (great Grammy turn reanimating Strummer and co.'s "London Calling" a couple years ago) and his tireless efforts to put Garage Rock back on the map/on the airwaves/and most importantly back- in-your-life (where it belongs) attest to...and you could do much worse than check out Sirius Radio's Channel 25, which is Little Steven's cd baby, 24/7 rockarockarockaround the clock of adrenalin boosting, ass-shaking Nuggets (Lenny Kaye codified and got this genre a'going in the early 70's with his pioneering Elektra double lp set--and in fact, Lenny coulda shoulda easily won my last quiz as I know that he knows that I know that he knows the filmic provenance of the "You get a contact high" line I cited a blog or 2 back; namely, Russ Meyer's classic "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls" flick, this inane bit of dialogue--spoken by the fetching, Barbie Doll-esque Dolly Read herein portraying Kelly McNamara, lead singer of the faux grrrrrl group The Carrie Nations, Dolly girl Kelly an earlier, more innocent version of Elizabeth Berkley's "Showgirls" strumpet --'n all these mad characters and bits of bizness coming atcha straight from the fevered, mammary-gland obsessed brain of (onetime only) screenwriter, film crit Roger Ebert. Line's maybe not up there with Edy Williams' bon mot from the same pic: "Harris, you're a groovy boy...I'd like to strap you on sometime." Or John 'Zeeman Barzell' Lazar's exultant: "It's my happening...and it freaks me out!" But close.)

This here Sirius Radio channel (don't have it in the home yet myself, relying on the kindness of Uncle Bob Strano who provides me with choice air checks) also boasts the fantastic Andrew Loog Oldham Program (a must-hear Monday to Friday 6 pm - 8 pm EST, Saturdays 11 am - 3 pm EST, rebroadcast Sundays 3 pm - 7 pm EST)--my old friend Andrew O, the legendary original Rolling Stones producer/manager/style councillor/cultural blaster and bombardier/forger of template for, uh, Here Comes Everybody in musique moderne (let us say, anyone who ever picked up an instrument/stepped behind a mic in the moment of making rock music of an even slightly rebellious nature post '64 owes a tremendous debt to Andrew), founder of Immediate Records (best British label ever, bar none--best logo too, check it) which issued superb albums by the Small Faces, the Nice (their first album with guitarist David O'List splitting all time's mind asunder would make my top 10), Duncan Browne (late lamented sensitivo post-Raphaelite who deserves a place of honour next to Nick Drake in the pantheon of English troubadors), etc. etc. etc....Andrew fuckin' Andrew...saw a magnificent photo of the Loog taken by either David Bailey or Gered Mankowitz in Melbourne recently in a massive show of British Pop Art from the 60's to the present...and in the wood it looked quite good, nestled next to Julian Opie's iconic painted "Popstar" portrait...

Out on the razzle again this week, first at Tonic checking my former bandmate Jonathan Kane's February, his muscular new art-blues pulsallama at Tonic, on a bill with minimalist guitarslinging Grand Daddy composer Rhys Chatham's boys on a Table of the Elements showcase night, packed sweaty club too...had a sweet reunion with big daddy Kane who held down the Gods and Monsters drum chair for about a dozen years and nicely nicely too, and also with Rhys, who was in from Paris where he ex-pated some years back, looking a bit like Exeter from "This Island Earth" now and still sporting his foot long seegars and great sense of humor, Rhys with whom I played alongside at an outdoor festival or two in Sicilia some years ago (Rhys was blowin' bugle then), for sure in Palermo, maybe also Capo D'Orlando, I recall someone getting married onstage with us while we played (maybe it was during our soundcheck? events a bit hazy), local couple for sure...but those were different times...both Jonathan and Rhys sounded really good a'brewing up a dense cloud of tuneful noise, with my guy Ernie Brooks doing his Wymanesque bass-strut and anchoring things in his usual precise Modern Lovers (and Gods and Monsters, for about 8 years now) stylee...also good to run into gimme-some-skins titan Anton Fier there, Anton whom I met post-Feelies right after the Beefheart boyzzz played a 4am Mudd Club show in 1980, 6am on the street outside the Mudd tagging along with Art D'Lugoff's daughter Janis in tow offering his drum services in the future, Golden Palomino Anton who was in the final incarnation of Gods and Monsters with Jeff Buckley, along with Tony Maimone on bass...

which segues right into the tale of my next port of call, namely the Bowery Poetry Club, where I raced over midway through Rhys' set (no offense Rhys, you're golden) to catch my old bandmates Jon Langford, Tony M and Steve Goulding in their great new Ship and Pilot project (Jon and Tony and Steve and I played as The Killer Shrews and left one landmark album still standing, available right now from Downtown Music Gallery here in NYC, email them at, or call 212 473 0043 and tell Bruce I sent you)--meanwhile check out the "Don't Let the Bastards Wear You Down" free mp3 download up on my homepage at for a taste of shrewdom, taken from our '94 album, and also anthologized on my "Operators are Standing By" collection...Jon is one of the Great Men of British rock, with the Mekons still going strong since their late 70's "Never Been in a Riot" single kicked things off in a big way, a surly riposte to The Clash's "White Riot" (I recall Jon Pareles hanging out here at chez Lucas as we clocked the 'Kons great "Quality of Mercy" album in the late 70's)...and Tony has been in the bass pantheon ever since Ubu blasted outa Clevo with a big Hearthan...had a good reunion with the lads, and learned that Steve Goulding (ex-Graham Parker and many other notables) is now a fellow West Village denizen who's currently playing with everyone from the lovely Laura Cantrell to Garland Jeffreys (who was in the BPC house and looking good, alongside Bob Holman and Lucas Cooper from ROIR--the last time I saw Garland was at Bruce's "Light of Day" charity event at the Stone Pony a couple years ago where we both performed). Great guys all around, and good to see them continuing to blaze after so many years...

Must start preparing for upcoming gig with Dutch lute master Jozef Van Wissem, who's in town for a radio appearance and gig here with me next week...must finish writing out chord charts for Jerry Harrison for our upcoming Gods and Monsters shows in Moscow and Saint Petersburg (and NYC, April 7th)...must start preparing for French surrealist film soundtracks gig up in Vermont soon...

and must give a big shout-out to Tanya for continuing to keep my web site maintained so immaculately...THANK YOU!




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