Wednesday, May 25, 2005

The Miracle Workers

The Miracle Workers, besides being good friends of mine, have got to be one of my all-time favorite bands! While still living in Portland, OR., they were one of the premier 80’s garage bands and recorded their debut LP, Inside Out, for Bomp Records. As they recorded and played shows in LA, they decided to relocate there in their search for fame and fortune! Shortly after moving, both Joel, the bassist, and Danny, second guitarist and keyboardist both left the band. Robert Butler, of the Untold Fables, came in on bass and thus the best line-up of the MW’s was created!

During this time the group moved away from its strict garage roots and simply became a great rock’n’roll band! They covered the Stooges and MC5 (and no, this wasn’t an original idea even then, but this was years and years before every band in the world covered these groups!) and wrote amazing songs ranging from the intensely rockin’ (Rock’n’Roll Revolution in the Streets, Part 2, Lights, Camera, Action, 69 Ways, etc) to the moving (Your Brown Eyes, Tick Tock, etc). Gerry Mohr’s lyrics were much deeper and intelligent than most of his peers and Matt Roger’s riffs and hooks and the melodies were all super memorable! Almost every song from this period is a classic!

Their live shows were excellent, as well! They took over LA – no easy feat! – and tore through Europe numerous times, leaving in their wake fans of all types and young musicians copying their every move and song! I even played a couple of shows with them on second guitar!
Unfortunately, as with all bands, personal problems first caused Gene Troutman to depart as their drummer, bringing in Aaron Sperske, another great drummer and nice guy – for an album and numerous shows until the band finally fell apart.

After their official breakup, the MW’s did record a final record – Anatomy of a Creep – to fulfill their obligations to XXX Records, but, although still good, it sounds as if it was an obligation. They even left the studio fights on the CD!

Gene had a stint in the Queens of the Stone Age, among other bands, Joel still plays in Portland, I believe, Matt has retired from music, and Rob & Gerry have (or had) a great, fun garage band in Switzerland (where they both live now) called the Get Lost. I’m afraid I have no idea what happened to Danny or Aaron.

Luckily, they left behind an incredible wealth of material! All of the records are highly recommended!

See my crappy Miracle Workers Fansite here

Friday, May 20, 2005

The Beguiled

Contemporaries and pals of the Untold Fables, this group – yet more loons from OC! – came from more of an r’n’b background, but infused it with a whacked-out rockabilly/ voodoo/ reverbed/ echoed mania!

Dave Fish unofficially “led” the group as lead singer/rhythm guitar/harp player, along with brother Stephen on drums, Steve Pallow on bass and Mike Ball on insane lead guitar! These guys were fairly sloppy when they started, but turned into a rampaging machine that teetered on the edge in every song and every show! These guys meant it when they played!

The songs were wild tales of big daddies, evil widows, voodoo zombies and psychotic girls and the music reflected those themes to a “T”! Mike Ball, tragically killed by a drunk driver, was a wild guitarist, with every effect on “10” at all times! Dave would scream and flail about while the 2 Steves looked like they were fighting their instruments instead of playing them!

They put out a great lp on Dionysus and a CD years later on Crypt, then dissolved. Big Steve Pallow went on to form the Necessary Evils, but, unfortunately, to the best of my knowledge, no one else has done anything since. Too bad, since they never (as far as i know) released one of my favorite songs, a tribute to E.A. Poe called "Morella"! Maybe someday!

See Rich's crappy Beguiled Fansite here

Thursday, May 19, 2005

The Untold Fables

These crazed teens from Orange County (LONG before there was a TV show glamorizing it!) were one of the highlights of the 80’s garage scene! Long-haired, geeky, pimply-faced, not that great looking (sorry guys!), these guys blasted out some superbly wild garage-oriented r’n’r with a punk edge!

Jon N. was a supremely underrated guitarist who had a great tone and could make an insane noise, especially considering he was a nice, church-going young man! Paul Sakry was a great drummer, who at times played with a number of other bands, including a gig with Thee Fourgiven and a stint with Yard Trauma. Paul Carey looked pretty demented and could scream with the best of them! Rob Butler was an obnoxious punk of a bassist (and he’s a pal of mine!), but he knew his stuff, could write some great songs, and went on to “fame & fortune” with the Miracle Workers as part of their best line up!

Check out their 2 amazing albums on Dionysus (Every Mother’s Nightmare and Aesop’s Apocalypse) and their assorted singles and comp cuts. All super stuff and it all shows just how good music in this genre can be!

See Rich's crappy Untold Fables Fansite here
See Paul Carey's not so crappy site here

Top 5 records

Yeah, yeah, I know that this is a silly exercise, but at the same time it gives people a sense of your musical tastes and where you are coming from when you rant about music! These records/bands have been absolutely influential to me since they came out and, to those who have heard them, will explain a lot about me and the things that I have done with my life!

1) The MC5 – Kick Out The Jams
To me, this record epitomizes what real rock’n’roll (as opposed to garage, punk, rockabilly, etc) is all about! When I first heard this record, in the early-to-mid 70’s, I kinda freaked out! THIS is what I had been looking for all of my life! Loud, wild guitars making crazed sounds, out-of-control high energy abandon literally barely keeping it together, great singing, solid, heavy rhythm section and songs about sex, drugs, and, yes, rock’n’roll! They looked and dressed great, they had super influences and even had a social conscience! This was the entire package that so many bands have tried to achieve (myself included) and so few bands have (myself included!). They tightened up their songwriting on the 2 subsequent records, but this insane live record is so utterly over the top that it has influenced everyone who believes in the “on the edge” nature of r’n’r!

2) The Stooges – Funhouse
To me, this is the best of their 3 records – great playing and singing and by far the best production! All the more amazing since they essentially played live, including Iggy singing through a PA system with mics in front of the speakers! Taking the electricity of the MC5, they combine that with a tight, controlled sound that still conveyed the mania of their live shows. This is truly dangerous music! I have seen multiple bands cover literally every single one of these songs (including LA Blues!) and no one can touch the originals for sound, intensity and psychoticness!

3) Alice Cooper – Love It To Death
Before Alice started playing golf with Bing Crosby and becoming a parody of a rock singer, the Alice Cooper band was one of the most demented congregations out there! They had the longest hair imaginable, wore the most outrageous outfits and had the most insane live show ever seen! I first saw them on the debut episode of TV’s “Rock Concert” and with just a handful of props (a garbage can, a switchblade, a couple of hats, some makeup and, of course, a gallows!) the group changed the face of rock music! Of course, the songs were great too! This record has the eternal anthem “Eighteen”, along with classics like “Caught In A Dream”, “Is It My Body”, “Ballad of Dwight Frye”. Superb production by Bob Ezrin, too, who at this point really knew how to make a rockin’ record!

4) Jimi Hendrix – Axis Bold As Love
Sure, everyone in the world knows that Hendrix was, quite simply, the best, most innovative electric guitarist ever to live. He changed the way the guitar was played and everyone who has come after him owes him a debt of gratitude! I loved the fact that he could create some of the most obnoxious noises that you had ever heard in your life and then could switch to incredible beauty and finesse with a blink of an eye! Doing all this while also being one of the flashiest, wildest and best-dressed guitarists ever was always amazing to behold! This record combined his exceptional playing, his penchant for noise and his wonderful songwriting into one mind-boggling package!

5) The Ramones – RAMONES
Anyone who wasn’t alive and listening to music before this record came out in 1976 really cannot appreciate how truly bizarre this band was! People even just a few years younger than me will say that they heard bands like the Dead Kennedys or the Circle Jerks before the Ramones, so they really can’t comprehend how weird this album was at the time. I understood exactly where they were coming from – I loved stripped down r’n’r and had MC5, Stooges, Velvets, etc records, and grew up with 60’s garage and pop - but this was something altogether different. It took me a little while to warm up to it, quite frankly. They couldn’t sing, they couldn’t play, their songs were simplistic to the point of childishness – this was a huge slap in the face to people who were used to bands like Led Zep and Yes! But then you’d realize that this is what r’n’r is SUPPOSED to sound like and they were taking all the right influences mentioned above and tossing them into a blender and shouting it out in 2 minutes or less! It was an astoundingly genius move, totally uncalculated, yet it has changed the look and sound of all music forever!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

R'nR ranting

OK, so here's another exercise in egotism! I have no reason to think that anyone cares what I have to say about much of anything, but I needed a diversion so I'm starting this blog!
I actually got the idea while reading Kill Your Idols by Jim DeRogatis & Carmel Carrillo. A good book that is based on the idea that "classic" albums are maybe not all that they are cracked up to be! Reading some of the reviews - as well as some other articles & interviews elsewhere - made me think that some of these don't go far enough and some were completely out of line and some reviewers and interviewers are completely out of touch with their subject (in my not-so-humble opinion).
I am the first to admit that I am not a writer and that my vocabulary sometimes fails me. But I am extremely opinionated and felt that this outlet might let me get some stuff off of my chest, even if no one ever reads it!
So, dig it, this is for fun - don't get all serious on me!
I'm just gonna write about whatever I feel like and probably will be more old stuff than new stuff, just cuz I'm an old foggie who prefers old music! But, they'll be some new stuff too.
As for me, I'm a long time rock'n'roller who has got out of the biz in the last few years and am enjoying relaxing for a change! But, I have previously played in the Gizmos, Unclaimed, Fourgiven, Tommyknockers, Alter Egos, Egomaniacs, Excessories and a number of other assorted bands!
If you are so inclined, contact info is in the sidebar.
As always, Rock On!