Sunday, February 19, 2006

Just been given the nod to reproduce this fine testament to Alpo which appears on the Norton website. There are some photos there too so please visit the source...
(Thanks to Miriam and Billy as always)

As Tears Go By: I Remember Alpo

by Miriam

I saw the Real Kids for the first time in the Spring of 1977 when CBGB's hosted a weekender of Boston bands. They blew my tiny little brain to bits and proceeded to do so each and every time I saw them. The original lineup of John Felice, Allen "Alpo" Paulino, Billy Borgioli and Howie Ferguson has continued to deliver the same brand of pure teenage energy in their occasional reunions over the years. I became pals with the band that first night at CBGB's, just before they signed with Marty Thau, who was hatching his new record label, Red Star Records. In fact, it was the band who asked Marty to hire me as the press agent at Red Star, a job that taught me a lot about the biz. One of the first tasks at hand at the label was attending the recording sessions for the Real Kids debut album, an amazing experience that I'll never forget. (I had been in a recording studio just once before, when the Cramps recorded their first demos at Bell Sound with Richard Robinson-- and that had been quite the experience, banging the tubs in the same room that Teenage Head was cut.) But now, watching the Real Kids explode with their own brand of anger-exuberance-angst fueled with endless beer and pizza, near fist-fights and regular blow-ups, I felt like I was privy to the making of something that would change the world. Records had always been one big giant mystery to me- how a piece of revolving plastic could initiate a physical and emotional response from the listener was incredible enough, but watching the band blast through the sounds that would end up on wax was, and still is, nothing short of miraculous.

It would be some years before I visited a pressing plant in person and saw blobs of PVC being stamped into rock n' roll records-- that, friends, is better than any thrill ride in the world. The sight, sound and smell of molten wax and steam and sweaty machine operators, the clang and bang and hiss-- oh, man! But I digress. So, John and Alpo came stayed at my apartment on East 5th Street when the band came down from Boston to record the debut album, and I got to know them as the genuine, fabulous people that they were. I remember one night off from the studio, we went to the Bottom Line to see Tom Petty, who was starting to make some noise. The guys didn't like him a bit, and expressed their displeasure. Alpo was quite vocal in his peanut gallery commentary and sure enough, all three of us were quickly pulled up by the collars and removed from the premises. John decided to stop over at Marty's pad and Alpo and I headed over to my place to listen to records and read old teen magazines. He was great at doing soft spoken Brian Jones imitations-- a major Rolling Stones fanatic. That one night, we were blasting records and yapping til about three in the morning, waiting for John to come back. When he didn't return, we figured he'd decided to stay over at Marty's with Howie and Billy. Early in the morning, when the sun was coming up and we were on our umpteenth cup of coffee, we heard a loud thud in the hallway. When Alpo opened the door, we found John lying on the floor, covered with blood. "Why didn't you open the door?" he wailed. He had been beaten up by some jocks on the block, and had made it up six flights before he had collapsed. He said he didn't have the strength to knock any more, but could hear us in the front room blasting records, having fun. I'll never forget Alpo dragging John in and cleaning him up, all logic and clarity and responsibility, quietly promising vengeance on the curs who had done this to his friend. That night came back in conversations with Alpo over the years-- we would talk quite honestly and naturally about life and music and the future and how great it was to be alive and how everybody who thought different were obviously wrong because we were so RIGHT.

We had the same conversation six weeks ago, right around Christmas, when Alpo called, bursting with joy about a great idea that he was putting into action. He said he had quit being a drug counselor and that he was looking to get a job at a coffee shop so that he could concentrate on putting together a band called C. Watts (for Charlie!), made up of guys who had never played instruments before. In fact, they were on their way to go buy some drums, and Alpo was asking about what all they should get-- I advised him to get the smallest kit possible and we have some laughs about the less-is-more mentality. I was thrilled to hear Alpo in such excellent spirits, and again we talked about how great it was that the Stones were still on top and that rock n' roll was still running our lives. Alpo was a gentleman, a considerate, intelligent, thoughtful, energetic human being with immense talent, not only as a bass player, but as a singer. His harmonies with John are absolutely inimitable, and essential to their sound. He never veered from that attitude, that he was clued into the Real Deal, that he was doing good work by playing and living rock n' roll. You've heard stories of his heartaches, his battles with personal demons, his overcoming the accident in which he lost fingers- no small thing to a stringbuster! He overcame all of these setbacks, survived them with a heart as clear and fresh and busting with positivity as I had ever heard it. He said he would call again from a C. Watts rehearsal and have the band play some stuff over the phone, but that call did not come. I figured either they weren't ready to be heard, or that some members had fallen through the cracks. But I had counted on getting that call eventually, with some wildass beat-happy mayhem blasting incoherently over the other end, probably blazing through an inept Get Off My Cloud with a great bass line. Alpo's funeral is tomorrow morning. It'll be a cold, lonesome drive up to Boston on the Mass Pike and then further along on Route 128 (and the power lines) up to Beverly, where last prayers will be canted in memory of our friend. Our love and condolences to Allen's family, and to John, Howie, and Billy of the original Real Kids and to the sophomore lineup's Billy Cole, too, and to the Nervous Eaters, the Cheater Slicks and unnamed C. Wattsters and everyone everywhere who basked, at one time or many, in the glory of our friend Alpo.

Better Be Good...

- Miriam Linna

Billy and I drove up to Beverly, Mass (Alpo's home town, north of Boston) for the funeral yesterday. John Felice, Billy Borgioli and Howie Ferguson, the remaining original Real Kids-- brothers-- as far as I'm concerned- these guys were more of a gang than a band! It was a freezing cold New England day, the wind whipping across the cemetary. A huge old oak tree had lost a massive branch near Alpo's final resting place. I kept staring at that branch. A lifeless metaphor, torn from the defiant oak, which will bud and continue to grow after the winter. So much for waxing poetic, nature and its glaring glory! So there was a graveside service and afterward, Alpo's family (survived by his dad and his brother Conrad "Connie" Paulino) asked friends and neighbors to share memories at the Danversport Yacht Club, which was the closest location for folks to gather. It was pretty hard, a lot of original fans and new ones too. Slides and a filmed interview with Alpo were shown, and the family had brought out photos of Alpo as a kid, the usual humorous diapers and Santa Claus stuff. I dug the teenage "don't take my picture" photos that we all can relate to! When the time came for Conrad to say some words, he couldn't do it, so I was asked to get the ball rolling, I guess as the outta town olde-tymer. I was unprepared to yap but once I got behind the podium, it was easy to praise this fabulous friend who gave us great sounds and shared an attitudinal exhuberance that fairly flies out the grooves of the records he played on. I called Howie up, as I knew he had plenty to say, being as he was Alpo's bookend as the Real Kids rhythm section. Howie spoke haltingly, pausing several times to gather his thoughts, about the special relationship he had with Alpo, about the unique link between drummers and bass players. It was a tough afternoon. One of the lighter moments, however, was meeting the guy who "Do The Boob" was written about. He came over and said, "I'm the guy who did "The Boob". We spoke for a while, he confessing that the only thing he remembered about the dance was clapping with his wrists, as mentioned in the song. The guy is immortal, as far as I'm concerned-- only in Boston! Billy and I drove the four and a half hours back home and planned to go out and catch the Dirtbombs at Southpaw and the Black Lips at the Local, but we both passed out with our clothes on, mid-sentence, like proverbial lights, once we got home into the warm. I guess we were way more exhausted than we thought. It's hard to grasp the meaning behind mortality. But life is for living-- full speed ahead, 'cause the boat starts a slow leak from the day we pop off the dock. I know Alpo went full throttle, even when his little ship started taking on water in a big way. God bless Allen Paulino.

Not since its inception in 1984 has Cinderella story record label Pravda Records released so many diverse, exciting, and important releases in the month of March. Here is a taste of the sweetness…


From the man who penned sweaty, low-down R&B cuts such as Shake A Tailfeather, Cadillac Jack, Jailbait, Twine Time & Bacon Fat is back! The Black Godfather may have just turned 70, but damn he looks good and still sounds so delicious. Andre called on the “ambassadors of instrumental soul” The Diplomats Of Solid Sound (Estrus) to deliver his most soul-soaked album to date.

THE GOLDSTARS: “Purple Girlfriend” Coming March 2006!

Our favorite Chicago “All Star” foursome stumbled out of the garage and handed us their most raucous, high-powered opus to date. Producer Ted Cho somehow captures the energy & intensity of The Goldstars live act while realizing the great songs that make Goldstar fans shake their asses on the dance floor and hum there tunes on the cab ride home...

CHEER-ACCIDENT: “Variations On A Goddamn Old Man II”

This is the second installment in a series of recordings made at home and the band's practice space between 1995 and 1999. It can only be described as a voyeuristic glimpse into the psyche of Cheer-Accident, one of Chicago's longest running and most fascinating musical groups. Always unpredictable, but never disappointing.

FORTUNES: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack - featuring the music of Tobin Sprout

From former Guided By Voices guitarist & songwriter comes the perfect backdrop of a story about three old friends (Mike McGlone, James Urbaniak, Tony Hale) who find themselves receiving visions of there future from a Fortuneteller. Which leads them to the timeless question: Are our lives simply what we make of them or is there indeed such a thing as “fate”? Also includes music by The Mulchmen, Chris Day and others.

ANDRE WILLIAMS AND THE GOLDSTARS: “It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Want To Rock N’ Roll)” special 7” single

While on tour in Europe recently, Andre dragged around an old beat-up boombox blasting this AC/DC gem and demanding he record it at once. What Andre wants, Andre gets. But who better than Chicago’s own garage “All-Star” misfits The Goldstars to back him. But here’s the catch, they wouldn’t do it unless the B-side was The Beastie Boys #1 party anthem “Fight For Your Right”. A classic.

For further information, contact Matt Favazza at"

Michael Davis of the MC5 - March 3 @ Debaser in Stockholm...
It's both weird and satisfyin' at the same time to see how this thing I was involved with about a decade ago keeps rearin' it's ugly head. This week it's made the short-list for best-ever Dutch rock book. And yeah, your vote will be mucho appreciated ;-) (scrowl down, and vote fore 'Het Gejuich Was Massaal'). Maybe this will gear-up somebody to put up the cash for an updated/expanded edition. It's doin' $75 on eBay these days, so obviously there's a market for it out there...
OK, start packin' you kids. The first acts for this year's Primitive fest in Rotterdam are now confirmed...