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These Records Were The Original Hidden Tracks.

Whenever I go to someone’s home, the first thing I do is check out their music collection. Your record and CD’s say more about you that what we can pick up on the street and will decide how long I will be staying. Cheap Trick? Yeah I’ll stay for a drink. The Dead Boys? I’m taking my shoes off. Dave Matthews? “THE PHONE CALL IS COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE! GET OUT NOW!" Being able to hide some of your albums (in my mind) is one of the great arguments for records over compact discs. The more records you had, the more records you hid. Not bad records, just those from that musical purgatory populated by bands that played not so macho dress-up as well as music. While you may have filed your LP's in some order, if you were like me, you kept a stack out that were part of that week's heavy rotation. The records up front were there not only to listen to but to show off. These were the uber-cool records of the day or alpha male rockers that no one would question. So behind the safety of your "Clash at Shea Stadium" bootleg and Funkadelic's "Maggot Brain" were a couple of choices that were lipstick on your music collar.

Androgyny for rock musicians was a statement of style that turned into an early marketing ploy to appeal to girls. In order to pry the baby-sitting money away bands went through eyeliner the way Adam Lambert goes through… well, eyeliner. Dolling yourself up to land in teen periodicals may sell records but inhibits your band’s ability to be taken seriously. Most bands are rockers at heart with a longing to be revered as drunken beat poets rather than be featured in Teen Beat magazine. The late ‘70’s was a macho affair with cock rock and punk in full swing. Still a few bands took the anti-macho route; looking to sneak out the back door with the girls while the tough guys slugged it out on the front lawn.

The Babys looked “teddy bear tough” thanks to soft focus album covers that would make Barbara Walters jealous. The band is a guilty pleasure that can best be described as the musical equivalent of sneaking a read of Cosmopolitan magazine. Cosmo articles are a quick lexicon of what girls wish you would say to them (Isn’t that why they leave the Cosmo out?) and Babys songs could have been the earliest versions of an audio book. The Babys had an underappreciated ability for gender-speak translation and crafted some memorable songs using it. Unfortunately when your biggest hits are ballads it is hard to get men to buy into, let alone, understand what you are doing. Once you get past the sappy numbers there are some quality songs of love, anguish and lust that are framed by the powerful vulnerability of John Waite’s vocals and Wally Stocker’s tasty guitar hooks. The band’s inability to break though is quite honestly part of the appeal of The Babys to me because except in rare cases, success ruins the cool quotient. The Babys wanted to be stadium rockers from the get-go and tried to short cut their way through with the slow tempo numbers (Isn’t It Time & Every Time I Think Of You.) thus making a Babys record the only LP you would borrow from your sister.

Broken Heart, the title track from the band’s 3rd album is not what you would expect a Babys song about a broken heart to be. Any idea of whining is knocked down the stairs with a guitar and drum led bravado clueing you in that it’s not their heart that broken. A ruckus of initiation to club of empty pockets and disappointment of many men caused by a single woman, Waite does his best to comfort her latest victim by showing his own scar like a badge. Broken Heart rocks with the lesson that you cannot be truly healed until you transfer your pain to someone else.

Listen To The Babys "Broken Heart"

Angel was a band that never really caught on because you couldn’t describe the band to anyone without sounding sarcastic. “These guys rock-they wear white polyester outfits and have a couple of songs where they use a harpsichord!” As much as you would think that Angel started on a dare, they were actually discovered by Gene Simmons and were signed to Casablanca, the same label as Kiss, to be the heavenly Ying to the Kiss demonic yang. While never achieving the pandemic status their label mates had, Angel developed a small yet loyal fan base by providing an ambitious live stage show and showing up regularly in the glossy fan magazines by being way more photogenic than the sweaty bell bottomed blue collar rockers of the day.

Angel’s main gimmick was gimmicks. A 3-D logo for live shows, albums that were sneaky mirror images and hair that would make Fabio cry himself to sleep. One of the band’s most successful gimmicks was to give equal time to both guitar and keyboards, allowing them to separate what they did from the crunch rockers by utilizing the skill and showmanship of Gregg Guffria. The result was a balanced sound that gelled with the visual style of the band and was less dependant on riffs and hooks. A band will sometimes do its best work when they depart from whatever formula they use to create a song and Angel perform that trick here with “Can You Feel It.” The song begins not with guitar or keyboards but drums that tense up your ears for the explosion of the entire band including Frank DiMino’s vocals sung at the speed of someone giving directions in a getaway car. Like it or not, this is the very blueprint for the Sunset Strip rock bands of the 1980’s. Some might have dismissed Angel as pretty boys; however, they are more likely the Velvet Underground of glam metal. Not many people bought their records, but just about everyone that did formed a hair band.

Listen To Angel's "Can You Feel It"

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Drugs Can Assist The Creative Process, Providing You Stay On Them

Heroin is like a Mike Myers movie; no matter how many times it’s declared to be dead or how much bad press it gets, they keep making it and people keep showing up for a taste. Under closer inspection, smack seems to get bad ink because the only people that write about it are former users. Why are so many people cooking up when even USA Today can't find anything nice to say about heroin? Because getting high is supposed to open up the creative areas of your mind, but the hideous truth is that most "H" users use up all of their creativity just searching for new ways to score junk leaving the masses with nothing more than some empty notebooks and vomit. There are numerous songs about "horse", but for the most part a song about heroin is just like the song about a broken heart: It comes after the fact when your life is empty and your friends will have nothing to do with you. You went off the rails on heroin and bottomed out when you realized you couldn't make your own lunch. Fuck off prima donna. Clean up songs are for pussies who play the Half Time show at the Super Bowl.

In order to separate yourself from the average junkie when you write a song about drugs, don't tell me you took drugs and they fucked up your life; TELL ME WHY I SHOULD TAKE DRUGS! Share with me the secret about this forbidden bitch goddess that makes you want to come back again and again even though you have half a set of teeth and drink out of toilets. Spare me the inner freedom hippie bullshit. Convince me to shoot up by explaining that heroin is like cumming for 35 minutes without having to talk to anyone afterwards while staying nice and trim and do it with some loud guitar.

By being a deranged genius that saw life differently than most, then building poetic and musical world around that surreal vision, Jim Carroll was the Willie Wonka of heroin. 1980’s Catholic Boy was the golden ticket tour inside the candy factory using what every good con artist always has handy-language. Catholic Boy is grad school Punk Rock that is closer to French New Wave film than the maniacal slashings of NYC contemporaries like The Dead Boys, as it was packed with enough metaphors to keep even the most pretentious hipster busy through a whole pack of Clove cigarettes. The album is not solely about drug use; rather it shows us the landscape absorbed through the eyes of a junkie and hustler and broadcasts it in way to make you sympathetic to his self-induced pain. The album’s most well known song “People Who Died” is also its biggest flaw. The misleading punk angst kept many from digging deeper into one of the single finest music albums ever made. The band behind Carroll is the key as they act like a tail on a kite directing the lyrical poetry into a force of different velocities that enhance the heights of Carroll’s underbelly experience. "Wicked Gravity” is a poetry slam and slam dance combined. An attacking but at the same time slide stepping song about the weightlessness of addiction heavy enough to keep it grounded so it’s point stays at eye level. Just as junk will do, “Wicked Gravity” pulls you in and keeps you beautifully dog chained. Eventually everything comes back to earth because the longer you live out the heroin dream, the less of a myth it becomes. Jim Carroll succumbed to the gravity of existence, checking out on September 11, 2009.

Conversely Phil Lynott and Thin Lizzy carved out their heroin shooting rock band niche by taking clich├ęs and brilliantly giving them a life of their own. Many people have written and performed songs about prison escapes but only Thin Lizzy had the balls to call it and actually make it sound like a “Jailbreak.” Ready to fuck or fight with a wink of his eye, Lynott was the motor behind the band as well as being its revered and inimitable front man who possessed the rare ability to craft the rock song of the working class with the lyrical insight of a broken hearted auteur. Under appreciation in the United States was partly brought on by their own doing-Lynott’s case of hepatitis (possibly caused by his use of heroin) forced Thin Lizzy to cancel what looked to be their career making 1976-’77 tour as the Jailbreak album was starting to take off.

1977’s Bad Reputation once again showed that Thin Lizzy could take formulaic subject matter and scare the fucking bogeyman with it. The title track to this record is simply one of the finest “I have it under control” records you will ever hear. The sonic menace of a back alley bruiser facing an intervention, Lynott snarls back at the chorus urging him to “turn yourself around” by filling you in that this not only the life he has chosen but he has worked hard to get to this low point, so he will sort it out his way. Recorded as a 3 piece, with the very underrated Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson on guitar and drums respectively, “Bad Reputation” spotlights the bulletproof feeling of having the mind working just enough to rationalize marginal decisions. Perfectly encasing what having a bad reputation entails: a hard surface with rage, passion and technical skill that can be summoned and administered before anyone can hit the panic button, Thin Lizzy did the impossible-they gave heroin a cool makeover. Phil Lynott cemented his bad reputation when his body finally gave way to years of abuse in January 1986.

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Comings And Goings

We're now back from the rain delay...

In honor of my own comings and goings that have kept me from creating any new 4 Minutes Of Fame music blog postings for a while; I am going to re-enter blogging by acknowledging a departure and arrival of 2 underground heroes of the vinyl record world:

The news of Willy DeVille's recent death ironically may have gotten past as many people as his music did. While not a media darling, DeVille had released of number of critically acclaimed records starting with the quasi-eponymous band, Mink DeVille that he fronted when he first made the scene. Mink DeVille were able to carve out a sonic space by embracing romance at a time (1977) when it was far cooler to hate than it was to love. The songs of Mink
DeVille were more than stories; they were urban handbooks for hitting on girls up the street and pulling a knife on their boyfriends down the block. More Latin and crooner influence than nihilistic Bowery in the music, Mink DeVille and later on, Willy's solo work carried that elusive lover's edge that gave his pining lyrics the believability to convince your heart to do, what common sense refused to.

I offer as a headstone two selections to a fallen troubadour: "Venus Of Avenue D" beautifully captures the prowling streetlight shaded canvas of Mink Deville as a band and Willy Deville's romantic swagger without using 1st year theatre major over emoting. 1983's "Each Word's A Beat Of My Heart" is a lush paradoxical song from Willy's solo record Where Angels Fear To Tread that finds the right words to describe the feeling of not having the right words to say

Listen To “Venus Of Avenue D”:

Listen To “Every Word Is A Beat Of My Heart”:

Ace Frehley was a better lead guitarist drunk than most players are straight and his solo albums are clean urine samples compared to the tainted piss the other member of Kiss have put out. Starting with the Ace Frehley solo album and into the Frehley's Comet days, Ace has put out a string of records that may not walk a straight line, but always have a few choice tracks. "Rip It Out", "New York Groove", "Into The Night" and "Insane" are all solid singles that were either created or arranged by Ace (Russ Ballard was responsible for writing "New York Groove" and "Into the Night") and that stand on their own without needing lunch boxes or make up to command your attention.

On September 15th Ace Frehley's new solo album Anomaly hits the street with Anton Fig (from the Letterman show) on the drums backing some very strong guitar based songs. Check the new song "Outer Space" out and see for yourself. The truth is, Ace was the only guy in Kiss that really needed to wear the makeup, yet he has been the most successful member of the band without it.

Listen To “Outer Space” From The New Anomaly Album:

Check Out The New Commercial For Anomaly.

Hang Tight For More Posts Coming Soon And The Debut Of The 4 Minutes Of Fame PODCAST!
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Thanks Daddy-O.

I phoned my parents recently. I was hoping to get their voice mail, but my father tricked me by answering...  Not that I do not want to talk to my dad, we just travel dissimilar mental roads, so our conversations resemble 2 people that speak different languages that have run out of the few words that they know of the others tongue; saying "OK" over and over while nodding. The discussion my dad and I had on the phone is a microcosm of our divergent modes of operation. My father has a keen ability to draw you into something you are unprepared for and on this day it was a sermon on anti-diarrhea medication. He was recommending a particular brand when I asked him how he came to this ultimate decision. When he told me that my uncle had turned him on to this, a chill ran through me, for that meant that I was not the first person that he was having this uncomfortable conversation with. The blame for it continuing is mine, because I could not let it go and prodded him with more questions. "What does this man know about these products that the rest of us as citizens do not?" My father replied that my uncle did not have an anus. I was stunned yet thirsty for more, so I asked him to explain. I was informed that my uncle had has his anus surgically removed. My follow up was calm and sarcastic. "Did he get it done for cosmetic reasons?" There was a long silence broken by my dad's voice. "Let me get your mother on the phone."

Fathers and sons are different by design. The advantages going to the son for they are able to somewhat look into the future by analyzing their dads, think to them themselves "FUCK! That's not to happen to me..." then choose a proper course of action. I am actually named after my father, ironic for that might have been the only thing that I followed him into. Had my dad been a musician, things would have been different. My dad is actually a good guy, but Billy Gibbons, he is not. Those of you not fortunate enough to have rock star dads should be advised that being a legacy in the music business opens doors locked to everyone whose parents haven't mastered post-concert bathroom stall sex. Once through the door, the difference between being a second generation musician who gets signed to a record label and the first born taking over at the family bakery is having your own voice and style that distinguishes you from the music your father made. 

Chris Mancini never really had a choice. When your father is Henry Mancini, the most well known and accomplished composers of the 20th century, you are going to pick up some ability simply by having your clothes mix with his in the laundry. Not performing initially, Chris focused on the business side of the music industry in publishing and producing TV's "The Midnight Special." When he eventually recorded an album, the goal was to take what he learned from his father but have his own footprint. How?  First, the album title "No Strings" was a coy reference to his genealogy yet how he intended to be his own man by not featuring the orchestra as his father did. This is rock music and you only use an orchestra when you run out of ideas...Secondly, using a page from his father's playbook, Chris enlisted a studio full of crack musicians like Waddy Watchel, Carmine Appice and Rick Derringer to create a slick and polished record that positioned itself to be one of those "out-of-left-field" songs that were embraced by both rock radio and FM top 40. 1983, however, was a tricky time to put music out. New Wave, Rap, and about 12 other styles were emerging, making it easy for a straight-ahead rock album to get lost quickly. Plus with music videos on every channel by this time, radio was no help as stations scrambled to keep pace with MTV and it's clones. Playing in a 6 shoe deck did not stop Mancini from delivering a glossy number ready to be pumped out of an open window with "Gonna Find Me A Girl Tonight." Crisp and layered with the scanning eye and confidence of a shoplifter; knowing once he clears the door and hits the street, the game is his. All this was not enough to get Mancini any airplay, and chances are the first time you heard this on the radio was also the last.
Listen To "Gonna Find Me A Girl Tonight"      

The story goes the term "Rockabilly" came about when brothers Johnny and Dorsey Burnett of the Rock and Roll Trio, recorded a song about their sons (Johnny is one hit wonder Rocky Burnette's dad and Dorsey is Billy's father) called "Rockabilly Boogie." That is a lot of pressure on a kid who at the time was still working with safety scissors. When you have shoes that big to fill, you had better start early. Billy Burnette recorded his first single at age 7 and by the time he was out of high school he had a full album on the streets. By the time the third self titled Billy Burnette record came out (following the lead of Peter Gabriel's run of self titled albums), Rockabilly music had re-emerged with a tougher punk style that contradicted Burnette's Country influenced crooner melodies. The separation was a benefit that kept him from being lumped in with every rockabilly band that found a way to put "Cat" in their name. Burnette's grasp of Rockabilly style was genuine and traditional enough to be the guy that snuck off with your girl while you were at the rumble. "Don't Say No" has the magic of sounding like it is being sung to you from the street 2 stories down through an open window. The innocence of the vocals and rambling rhythm charm you as if it were your pants Burnette was trying to get in. This slick sales pitch for sex made it up to # 68 on the Billboard charts and rambled in to medium rotation on MTV.

Listen To "Don't Say No"      

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