Bail! Bail! Rock And Roll!

Checking Out The Last Records Of 2 Bands That Checked Out.

Artful Dodger

The marathon. A race in tribute to a guy that ran 26+ miles then dropped dead. Why would you sign up for this? I would drop out right after the 1st wheelchair contestant passed me by or when they told me what that liquid you drink during the race actually is. Life is a enough of a marathon on its own. Anyone that tells you life is short has cancer-because life is the LONGEST thing you will ever do. Brushing your teeth? I have heard you should brush them for 2 minutes. 2 MINUTES?! Do you really expect me to be away from my cell phone for that long? Don't dictate to me when I'm done. No matter if it's a marathon or I'm brushing my teeth, I am finished when I get bored or when I see some blood... All of us have that timer inside that tells us when it's time to go. The "time to go" timer for the band Artful Dodger, however, had a snooze alarm.

Artful Dodger was a national band that unfortunately only had a regional following. Pockets of fervor in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic were not enough to carry the band further than small clubs and sporadic radio airplay. After 3 albums on Columbia that did not sell (even though they contained perfect Power Pop masterpieces such as "Wayside" and Think Think"), the label told them to hit the bricks and they were left out on the street to fend for themselves, eventually signing with the obscure Ariola label, thus buying the band an extra 9 minutes of sleep. The biggest problem keeping the band from breaking through on a larger level is what they refer to in the film industry as their "high concept pitch" (meaning you can not describe the idea in one short sentence). So instead of attempting to describe Artful Dodger as "Yearning guitars and smokey yet powerful vocals about love lost or never had. A band with a smart pop sensibility with the edge of desperation that crystallizes the sound of your breaking heart though a Marshall amp.", the sell was "They sound like the Faces if Rod Stewart didn't want to be on the cover of People Magazine," and no one wanted to buy that album....

Small record deal or not, 1980's Rave On was a beautiful album showcasing all that made this band special to a select few. Clear and focused in the way you would be when you decide to swallow the whole bottle of pills, the band might have known this was the last mile and created this record as a headstone to 1970's Power Pop sound that they helped create. "A Girl (La La La)" was the rock radio single that might have been too vulnerable to be a hit, although the sing-along outro on the song showed that they still wanted to give it a try. Artful Dodger came to an end in 1982 when Billy Paliselli, the band's lead singer, appropriately broke some hearts when he resigned.

Listen to "A Girl (La La La)










Let's Active 

It seemed everyone knew about Let's Active yet no one owned any of their records. The band's highest charting album went to #111 and they had only one single that charted, and that was #17 on the Modern Rock Tracks, a chart compiled from stations that at the time had slightly more listeners and slightly less signal strength than Ecuadorian CB Radio. Those that tuned in were in for a treat. Band founder/leader and producer, Mitch Easter, coaxed lush but angular sounds out terrestrial equipment creating a manifest for the moody jangle rock of the mid 1980's. There were several lineups (that somehow included Easter's girlfriend or wife...) from '81 to '88 ,with the only constant being Easter and his alchemic production ability. Late in the decade, Easter surveyed the scene, and felt he was older than everyone else that was in a band. Getting that rush of blood to the head similar to when you realize you are most senior person at the neighborhood Arby's, Easter more or less dissolved the band that had been named after a bad English to Japanese translation of "Let's Get Physical."

Our last glimpse of Let's Active is a maturation from the quirkiness and sparseness of their initial album, through the texture and layers of the middle releases, to the stadium ready powerful alternative rock that was 7 years too early to the party. In an attempt to bring some mainstream success, an outside producer was used on "Every Dog Has It's Day" instead of Easter, however, these are his songs, his style and his voice-a slight southern drawl trying to reach for the note above the cookie jar. The title track was the song that eventually climbed the Modern Rock Chart mentioned earlier. Possibly the loudest Let's Active song, its charm rests in the spacing between the guitar notes. Perhaps realizing that it might take a minute to wrap your ahead around the fact that this is indeed Let's Active, the band gives you a second to catch up before blasting away again. 

Listen to "Every Dog Has It's Day"








Buy Let's Active Music
Let's Active - Every Dog Has His Day

7 comments:

Brushback said...

Man, I don't like hardly any of the music you're writing about, and yet your blog still is fun to read.

That's a compliment, I think.

Uncle E said...

You make a compeling argument, I shall need to investigate both bands further...You're a very entertaining writer.

rickdog said...

You have a great music blog here! I've added you to my mp3blog list and custom search, check it out.

I've collected over 5,000 mp3blog links, accessible from the alpha menu at page top. You can open frames on these blogs to view them directly on my site, and you can also view the feeds in a frame.

You can search your blog and all the others in my custom google search:

Rickdog's MP3blog search
http://chewbone.blogspot.com/2008/03/mp3-blog-search-results.html

Michael Wong 38 said...

Hi friends, it's michael from bigmoneylist again. Sorry for the bulk message but I'm trying to let everyone know as quick as possible. Just started the TechnoFav Train where you add everyone's blog URL to your Technorati favorites list and everyone adds your blog to their Technorati favorites list. Details are at: http://bigmoneylist.blogspot.com/2008/07/technofav-train.html
Hope to see you there, mega cheers, michael

Chris said...

Thanks for the riff on Artful Dodger - never have I heard "Rave On" described better than "clear and focused in the way you would be when you decide to swallow the whole bottle of pills." The band is still (slightly) active these days having played a half a dozen times in the last two years, both in CLeveland (their adopted hometown) and in northern Virgina (from whence they came). Check out www.artfuldodgersite.com for all things Dodger.

Bloggermania said...

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I.F.S. said...

I had this lp and listened to it till I puked.