Sunday, July 09, 2006

I heard that divot Gary Robertson on Radio Scotland say “Have The Who had a hit since ‘My Generation’?” Only slightly rising to the bait I managed to quell the urge to send an e-mail rocket. What would be the point? And what difference does it make in the grand scheme of things?? You just expect people to know, y’know? Particularly those who aren’t exactly spring chickens themselves. Anyway, Pete and Rog are getting much media mileage out of closing P in the Dark tonight. The “hope I die, etc” is on a constant loop. I know who I want to die and those two aren't even in the pecking order. The tossers that reckon this constitutes “news”on the other hand... And also the popularity of some of the others on the bill. Watching some of the performances on TV last night perplexed me. The Zutons aren’t too bad but The Ordinary Boys? Calling themselves that is surely damning themselves with faint praise. Terrible tuneless pish. Wolfmother’s Jack White/Zep via Deep Purple heavy rock codswallop – dearie me. And Paul (F) Weller (to quote those Voladoras) , I had to switch over at that point such was the scale of utter averageness. The Kooks are pretty mind-numbingly awful too, it has to be said. Why do I bother? Well, I like to try and find out about what’s popular and make up my own mind. Rather than just jump to any conclusions. But no wonder sales are down. The stuff they’re pushing to the kids is, at best and for the most part, tripe. In the end I voted by pressing the off button to ponder whether or not I’m prone to over-reaction. It's true, I do have more pressing matters to concern me and I don't need any cranking up of the irked-ometer right about now. But it's not all doom and gloom. there are still events being organised in this world that offer a ray of hope. In Spain, this approaching September there’s a festival that includes some GOOD bands at least. Check out the AZKENA bill then. I'm not sure if they're certain of good weather but you wouldn't mind getting a bit wet in the presence of some of these...
Brother Patrick's US Tour Reports sounds like it was a blast! parking and speeding tickets notwithstanding...

June 22 – July 5, 2006

"The only thing I knew is that we (my son, Jonathan and I) were starting out in Boston and leaving from Chicago. Well, I also had a book that Ben gave me, “Rock’n’Roll Traveller USA”, it was very useful (and the GPS that helped to find records shops and other cool places).

In Boston, Chuck and Jim (aka Nimereht, theremin backwards) were waiting for us at the airport – they took two days off to show us around, cool guys. They’d planned to go the Crypt shop opening that was supposed to happen on June 23rd but was postponed to early July. We stayed at Chuck’s place and they drove us to all the cool places. Record shops (Stereo Jack’s on Massachusetts Ave, is the only one that I remember the name of), the place where The Rat (then Ratskeller) used to be, their favourite restaurants (Mexican) or clubs - the Middle East, where the MC5, Dirtbombs, the Monkey Butlers have played, the Museum of Fine Arts ( we saw sthe great paintings mentioned by Jonathan Richman in his song “Girlfriend”, but there was also this special and great exhibition called “Americans In Paris 1860-1900”. We probably visited the whole downtown Boston (New England), beautiful place.
And they wanted to pay for everything! Chuck even stopped in the first record shop to buy the new Demolition Doll Rods CD (I already had an advance copy but this new Swami record on seems not to be that well distributed) and Jim gave us T-shirts, pins, records of his own group, The Monkey Butlers. By chance I had brought some records and Champagne for these generous guys. Talking about records, we finally all found copies of The Coachwhips vinyl – Jim “you’re member of every garage forum ... and a guy told you, did you go to see the Coachwhips show the other day, they’re a kinda mix of Mummies/Gories/Oblivians – Who ? the Coachwhips! they issued 3 or 4 albums (I found 3) and you even never heard their name!”. The guy we met who saw The Coachwhips show is called Pip. He first saw the Cramps in Boston (1984) and that show changed his life; he said that Lux got into a fight after 3 or 4 songs and that Nick Knox came to the rescue, jumping on the guy Lux was fighting with. He said it was the wildest show he ever saw, and that included a Lords Of The New Church show during which Stiv got a blow job from 2 girls while singing! Another great story is when Chuck and Jim were in Philadelphia to see the Cramps. They went to Rich Lustre’s place, he is one of the greatest people they ever met and had said, “too bad I couldn’t reach you on the phone, Lux and Ivy were looking for someone who could drove them to the venue ...” – Jim told him “stop, I don’t want to hear that”. In Boston, I also bought the Volcanoes “Into The Psyche” LP, probably one of the best Cramps sounding album, along with Art Phag’s “Instant Ventriloquism”.

After another rest in Chuck’s beautiful house (he’s an architect), we went with Kim, his sweetheart, to have a marvelous breakfast at Joey’s Diner, a 100% Fifties place with parts of vintage cars and a great jukebox ... then we went to visit Porthmouth, a beautiful port. We got our first ticket (fine) there but Kim said she’ll take care of that.

After a quick visit and sleep in Providence, we headed for the big apple, where we got our second ticket (the main problem in the USA with the prohibited parking places – sometimes up to $ 15 for the 1st hour). Even a New Yorker parked just behind us couldn’t explain why we got it. Jim told me it happened to him too. After a few difficulties with finding a hotel room, we finally found one at The Newton on Broadway). It was time to go to the special Bar-b-q show at Magnetic Field in Brooklyn. The bar-b-q was cancelled due to the weather but the show was the most important part. A special Canadian set with Imaginary Icons, BBQ and Demon’s Claws. The 2 others were pretty decent but BBQ one man band was the real deal, awesome - what this man can do with just a drum kit and a guitar (sometimes played with just one hand!) – during the last 3 songs, he was accompanied by 2 guys from the Demon’s Claws. I chatted with Pierrot who told me that he just left The Fatals and Mighty Go Go Players to play organ with The Demon’s Claws (my advice : not a good choice). I noticed this beautiful girl with a bag designed with the Rolling Stones “Aftermath” (English edition) LP cover, and asked her if she was Miriam : she was – and Billy was there too – I told her all the good things I think about Norton records, the Cramps, A-Bones etc. She’s a real cutie, very kind – she really enjoyed BBQ show and also told me that she was born in Canada. Our second day in New York was visiting – from uptown (Harlem) to downtown, we must have walked around 20 miles. I noted all the record shops addresses for Sean, a few good ones, too bad Bleeker’s Bob doesn’t exist anymore. After a visit at CBGB / CBGB Gallery (313-315 Bowery) where I bought the CBGB book, featuring a cool photo of the Cramps in 1977 (with Miriam), lotsa Ramones. Went for a giant dinner at The Carnegie Deli – we couldn’t finish the whole thing but we impressed the other clients and even the crew considering the amount of what we ate (I was ashamed when I remembered that some people are starving). The World Trade Centre was a strange place to see too, very emotional (by chance I went to NY before 2001), the only thing that sucks are those guys selling postcards or books with the planes crashing into the towers. We also went to MOMA museum – special Dada exhib (Marcel Duchamp...), fantastic. I wanted to visit Passout Records in Brooklyn, probably the best garage shop in this part of the USA said Jim, before heading for Philly, but it seems those guys needed to rest (shop not opened at 2 PM!).

Philly is a cool city too. We went to The Philadelphia Record Exchange, very good shop, a la Born Bad, with cool new stuff (I bought the brilliant Leather Uppers LP on Goner) and also tons of old stuff (I bought the Drifters “Under The Boardwalk” LP for Ben). The shop owner told me that Hasil Adkins played in the street in front of the shop the 1st time he came in town. He also saw Lux and Ivy once in the 80’s, freezing in the street. Maybe they were visiting the Sickidz.

By the way, the only bad thing during our trip is that we couldn’t meet Rich Lustre of Sickidz fame. I called him on his cell phone and he asked me to call his house later. But due to my bad English or rather (I hope) because of the noise on the street, I misheard one of the numbers, and the cell phone wasn’t answering (some some reason, I had other problems calling from hotel rooms and other places). So we missed Rich but caught up over a couple phone calls since – a very very cool character. I asked him about a new Sickidz album: maybe in a while; here’s hoping.

Hotel in Newark, then Baltimore. Rather boring city except for those houses in the suburbs that make us think of John Waters’ movies. So we spend a long time at the public library to check our emails. Met a great character by the name of Groucho Magic, he showed us a few tricks with coins, traded euros vs. $. He’s a dead ringer for Groucho Marx (it’s his job) and he told us that two of his uncles were members of the Three Stooges.

Hotel in Somerset, Pennsylvania (just before the flood), then Pittsburgh and visited the best record shop I’ve ever seen, Jerry’s Records with probably more than 500,000 records including thousands of 50’s and 60’s unsorted singles, all $3 a piece or $5 for the most recent arrivals (if they don’t sell within 2 months they go in the $3 boxes !). I found tons of incredible stuff like Fortune label (Diablos - Nolan Strong, Nathaniel Mayer), Ted & The Young Lions “Open Up Your Door”, the Poets “Dead” (a monster song as good as Zacherle “Dinner With Drac”, lotsa stuff from Lux & Ivy’s favourite and other ones, just because of the label (Checker : Bo Diddley, Dale Hawkins) or the name of the group (Tim Tam and the Turns On ...) / the songs (I’m A Nut” ...). And this day was a special 16 % minus on prices ! Eyde’s used to be a good shop too (3 floors), but it’s so so now.

Akron (Ohio), Lux’s city is rather small but it looks good. We got our card from the Akron-Summit County Public Library and had dinner in a cool Japanese restaurant there and the beautiful waitress who took care of us was called Ivy ! (don’t believe me ? I’ve kept the bill ...).

Cleveland – well, rather than going to the Rock’n’Roll hall of Fame, we tried to find batty bucks for Chuck – those shoes with bat laces that Mad Daddy used to wear – and also visited record shops (15 closed within a few years) : Royal Garden Records with something like 100,000 records, most unsorted, and the best ones : My Mind’s Eye (13727 Madison), lotsa new stuff but also oldies (bought some singles, “Hungry” by Paul Revere & The Raiders ... and Nolan Strong & The Diablos CD, among others). The guy was so generous that he gave me a special box to put all my singles. I showed what I’ve already found and we religiously listened to the Diablos “The Wind” (Fortune, blue label), his Grail – I promised to buy a copy for him if I saw one in Detroit, but no luck. I was in a hurry to get to Detroit : drove at 80mph instead of 65 and got a $105 fine, the price you pay to visit a police car.

Detroit looks like no other city, and I love it : Hitsville USA, the Magic Stick, the Michigan Theatre is now a parking lot ... Almost all the buildings are abandoned, except for a few downtown. A guy told me that this city and the people living here are fucked up, but I loved it anyway. There’s no subway, just the Detroit People Mover on a rail, which only serves a small part of the city – it was built with the idea of bringing factory workers in to spend their money in the bars or to shop downtown.

We visited 2 record shops recommanded by Danny Dollrod : Peoples (615 W Forest) with lots of unsorted singles (bought 15 singles – Fortune ... and a Wilson Picket LP for a total of $20) and Mays (on 8 Mile street), more expensive ($ 10 for Ray Charles “I Don’ Need No Doctor” on ABC records, but only $5 for this fantastic other 7” by the Poets “She Blew A Good Thing”, ...), but it’s worth the visit just to see this tall 70 year old guy who knows exactly where everyone of his records is (and they’re mostly unsorted).

Then it was time to go to this Comerica Tastefest free festival. We saw Cat Power, Ray Davies – show mostly composed by Kinks songs, a great moment, he speaks a lot of his brother Dave who, I guess, is very sick, and DEMOLITION DOLL RODS. It was great to see them on their home turf, with more people than usual : their public, of course, but also little girls dancing with hula hoops, just in front of the scene. The master of ceremony announced “after Dan playing solo 2 years ago and Margaret last year, now here are the Demolition Doll Rods band, the one in Detroit”. DDR played a short but intense set of 10 songs, featuring a new one called “Dream It Or Leave It”. As usual, they were cuties and they accept one photo before leaving in their 60’s cars.

A guy who distributed his free fanzine “Inflame Media” told me that DDR will be on the cover of next issue, that he’s gonna send to me (I wore a Gories T shirt, his all time favourite group). We also visited The Henry Ford Museum (my son likes cars) and I was glad to see “Rosa Parks Bus”, where the Martin Luther King movement began, a piece of history. There’s also Kennedy’s car and other cool stuff, the biggest train I’ve ever seen ...

A quick trip to Ann Harbor, Iggy’s place, saw the Stooges Manor, now a bank. Then to a beautiful beach, Benton Harbor on Lake Michigan – we decided to stay there that night.

Our last destination was at Ben’s in Chicago. After a visit downdown by ourselves : 2120 S Michigan Avenue = Chess studios, now Chess Museum – Vee Jay studios are located W Michigan; Ben drove us to cool places: the alley where Dillinger was killed, the Metro (the Cramps and lotsa punk groups played there), record shops (found Archie Blyers’ “Ernando’s Hideaway” and the Novas’ “The Crusher” on Parrot records). Ben made me hear some of the awesome new stuff he recently discovered (a show by the Cramps featuring “Hungry”, in 1978!). We were lucky that Gobo, his lizard wasn’t too cranky, he didn’t bite our toes. We also visited some Chicago suburbs - just because this damned GPS took us at the wrong place – or with Ben, to see the very first Macdonald’s in Des Plaines (1955: hamburgers for 10 cents), Lake Michigan and other great places. We spent July 4th (I bought the new Johnny Cash “American V”, issued that special day) in Kankukee, with Ben’s friend’s and family – we were received like kings and our trip finished with a big fireworks party, surrounded by bats and glow in the dark insects (lucioles).

The USA is a beautiful country, the people we met were very kind to us and we can’t wait to go back. "