Friday, June 28, 2002
Thursday, June 27, 2002
Animal Attraction: Jeff Cuyubamba, a longtime booster of New York's garage/psych/mod scene (when he's not designing the pages of The New York Observer) has put photos of the Hilton Valentine/Lynchpins show up on his Web site. (I wrote about the show in an earlier Dawn Patrol installment.)
Above is Valentine with Lynchpins bassist Doug Mayer. As group leader Michael Lynch (auteur of The Dawn Patrol's ultra-catchy jingle) pointed out to me after the show, the former Animals guitarist and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer was impressively youthful, in terms of both his looks and his playing. He didn't look like an older guy, Michael noted, so much as a young guy with gray hair.
Monday, June 24, 2002
Eden on the Airwaves! My contribution to The Stiff Generation, a cover of the Kirsty MacColl/Tracy Ullman classic "They Don't Know," got its first-ever radio airplay yesterday, courtesy of WFMU DJ Bill Kelly (pictured at right with me at last month's WFMU Record Fair). Needless to say, I am over the moon. He also played two other tracks from the album, the Anderson Council's cover of Elvis Costello's "Welcome to the Working Week" and the Trolleyvox's haunting take on the Department S tune "Is Vic There." When the archived show is added to Kelly's Web page, I'll post a link here, but, in the meantime, you can read the playlist. The album comes out July 30, and I will perform at the album-release celebration August 3 at Maxwell's.
Sunday, June 16, 2002
Sadly, I arrived too late for Nancy Neon's group, Thee Psycho Daisies (who, I'm told, did a "heavy" version of the Lemon Pipers' 1968 #1 "Green Tambourine") and even missed most of Michael's set with his band, the Lynchpins. But what I did see...
As I walked in, I could hear the unmistakable, piercing organ tones of the Animals' "I'm Cryin'." It sounded fantastic and very authentic, which didn't surprise me, as I'd seen the Lynchpins perform some covers (like the Stones' "Off the Hook") along with their originals at the Lakeside Lounge last month and I knew they were top-notch performers. Michael had told me to expect "surprises," so I figured he meant they'd do some cool covers, or maybe even a song I'd written (as he's demoed a couple of tunes for me).
There was a good crowd, enough so that I couldn't see right through to the stage when I first entered the room. I approached a stranger and asked him how long the band had been on.
"I don't know," he replied, "but this is their first song with Hilton Valentine."
I pulled my mouth a safe distance away from the man's ear and yelped, "Hilton Valentine?" Then I plowed through to the front of the crowd.
There he was, a high-cheekboned, gangly figure with a healthy head of white hair, strumming a bright red guitar: Hilton Valentine, former member of the Animals, permanent member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Playing with my friend Michael Lynch. How cool is that?
With Michael playing both the Alan Price and Eric Burdon roles (on keyboard and lead vocals, respectively), the augmented Lynchpins followed with two more Animals numbers, "Baby Let Me Take You Home" and "Inside Looking Out." Valentine played perfectly, with spirit and attitude, and his guitar, coming through a Vox AC-30 amp, sounded pure 1965.
After the set, Michael graciously introduced me to Hilton. I didn't know what to say, as I didn't know as much about his career as I do about that of his fellow Animal Alan Price (with whom I conducted an, uh, memorable interview for Goldmine a few years back), so I pretty much just did the fan thing, shaking his hand and telling him that I loved his work. I also asked him if it was true that, as Eric Burdon claims, the Animals' signature tune "House of the Rising Sun" was arranged by the entire group and not just by Price (who took sole credit). He said that it was indeed true. I had thought he would say that -- and what I know about the nature of rock bands' creative processes makes me give it credence -- but it was great to be able to hear it from his own lips.
Monday, June 10, 2002
I can't even begin to say how excited I am about playing Maxwell's. It's the coolest rock club in the world. I first went there 19 1/2 years ago, to see the Dream Syndicate, one of the few rock and roll experiences that I've had which I can truly say changed my life. Certainly, it made me realize that there was far more to music than my mother's old Moody Blues albums.
(Years after my initial Maxwell's experience, I described it in a New York Press piece on the Dream Syndicate's lead singer and guitarist, Steve Wynn. The article was partly transcribed [until the transcriber got bored] onto a Wynn fan site and put up without my permission, with my misleading lead turned into an embarrassing headline, "STEVE WYNN MADE LOVE TO ME WHEN I WAS 14." You can read it, typos and all, here.)
Saturday, June 8, 2002
I had thought that Stuttaford might be interested in the Dawn Patrol item because his NRO writings reveal him as one of those rare arts-and-entertainment journalists who can write about high culture and low culture with equal aplomb. An example of the former is the brilliant review he wrote of the play by Verse Theater Manhattan for which I did publicity last spring, "War Music." For balance, there's his current NRO article on the demise of "X-Files." The piece is by far the wittiest one I've read on the show, made more enjoyable by the fact that Stuttaford is clearly writing not as a coldly-detached critic, but as a fan. I love how, after writing about the "chiaroscuro interiors" of the sets, he adds, "And, half-lit in the gloom, or, sometimes, seen as no more than a blur, there emerges a cast of characters to savor (occasionally, given the writers' rather unhealthy interest in cannibalism, quite literally so): monsters, mutants, maniacs, murderers, mechanical cockroaches, prehistoric mites and, most frightening of all, white men in suits."
Wednesday, June 5, 2002
Separated at Birth? I live for moments like one that occurred last night, when I co-hosted Tuesday Night Trivia at New York's Baggot Inn. It happened while Caren, my co-host, was reading out the answers to the visual round, in which teams had to identify celebrities from their high-school yearbook photos.
The teams grade one another's answer sheets. Usually, when the answers are read, there are groans, cheers, or, if a team disagrees with an answer, a cry of complaint. However, when Caren announced that a certain yearbook photo was actually Bruce Springsteen, the loudest noise was a high-pitched shriek. It came from a friend of mine, book editor Carly Sommerstein, whose face was contorted with laughter.
All eyes were on Carly, as I exhorted her to tell us all what was so funny about Springsteen's photo. She struggled to speak, finally getting the words out. Pointing to the answer sheet that she was grading, she said, "They thought it was...William F. Buckley!"
As if that weren't strange enough, a cry went up from the other side of the room: "Another team thought it was William F. Buckley, too!"
Afterwards, I discovered that one of the teams which mistook the Boss for Buckley was a pair of conservatives, one of whom had come straight from the Fabiani Society's meeting. The other was led by a man who told me that he believed Buckley was "the devil." It may be that all they had in common was a mutual love of useless information.