Sunday, May 24, 2009
Times Square Records was a small, literally underground record shop that was located down in the subway entrance on Broadway and 42nd in New York City in the early 1960's. It was owned and operated by a man named Irving "Slim" Rose. Slim was interested not only is cashing in on records by 1950's Doo Wop acts, but he also went as far as to purchases masters and repress his own run of records under the Times Square name.
In my record travels, my two good friends and I were lucky enough to meet a man named "Pete" who seemed to know a great deal about this legendary spot. In the summer of 2007, Pete came to us to inform us that he needed to sell some of his records to make payments on his house. We met him one Saturday at his place and he let us down into his basement. In his basement we found large work racks stocked with records of all sorts. He had mostly soul, funk, R&B, and disco, but all types of rock records were mixed in as well. We pulled out so much great stuff - tons of great independent pressings along with handfuls of killer obscure DJ 12"s also surfaced. Once we spent a few visits and a ton of cash at Pete's place, he let us in on his 45 collection.
Pete's 45s were amazing. Almost everything was Doo Wop and a ton of it was on Times Square Records. The rest were later 1970's labels such as Relic and Lost Nite (to name a few). I had never seen any of the records he was showing us and as I flipped through a few of his small 45 boxes, he would play a song by a random group on the Times Square label.
Eventually Pete broke the news that the 45s were not for sale and would not be for sale any time soon. He explained that in the 60's he would venture to this little shop in Times Square and pull a couple records off the wall. They were priced at around a buck a piece and were placed simply in one of those mat finished vintage green 45 sleeves, decorated only with a penciled group name and stapled to the wall. The store was wall-to-wall 45s and he made it clear that it was a gold mine for finding rarities as well as a one-stop for your back cataloging needs. I was so intrigued by his story of this epic record mecca that I continued trying to talk him into selling a record or two but he remained firm and I never got to leave with a single copy.
Today, a couple of friends and I checked out the Englishtown fleamarket here in New Jersey. After searching through a ton of cruddy records, we came across a table full of $1.00 45s. We all ended up with great stuff, but one of my friends grabbed a copy of (Here) In My Heart by The Timetones. He passed on the record and I gladly gave it a new home. I was (and still am) very excited for this find. It couldn't have come at a better time too: We stayed up late last night watching the first Back To The Future movie. Amazingly fitting.
The Timetones record is the first release by Times Square Records.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
The Damned have come a long way a since being the first UK punk band to get a single and an album to the states (single being "New Rose" and album being Damned Damned Damned). They've been a band for thirty-three years with just one five year break up period that began at the end of the eighties. In 1978 the band lost their founding guitarist, Brian James after only two albums, but it is discussed that losing James allowed for huge experimentation to take place within the band's sound. These changes in sound are progressively and chronologically clear from album to album. The Damned start as a punk band, move into the new wave scene for a minute, get stuck in the goth scene for awhile and then rediscover their mid period with horror rock and rockabilly elements. The most recent concoction seems to be a pleasant mix of all their aforementioned dabblings.
The show at The Stone Pony was quite spectacular. The two most impressive elements of the show were (obviously!) as follows:
1) Dave Vanian sings like an angel. The man may still be getting better and better as a vocalist. I didn't hear a single flaw.
2) Captain Sensible. I hope I have his attitude when I reach age fifty-five. His energy and entertaining banter were enough to resolve my issues with wishing the night could have involved Rat Scabies on drums and Brian James on guitar.
The newer (1996) keyboardist, Monty Oxy Moron was pretty much as in the game as them as well. He was clad in a Hawaiian shirt, patterned with skulls and sported a giant grey fro. His skills on the keyboard were mighty, as was his energy and his ability to fit right in with Dave's and the Captain's stage antics. The bass player and the drummer were the least memorable. They seemed to rock the songs pretty proficiently but just didn't have any interesting characteristics about them otherwise.
Although she is busy with her daughter as well as managing the band, I sort of wished that Patricia Morrison was still on bass as well (I never got to see her in The Gun Club or Sisters of Mercy). Rats!
The Damned played a ton of their hits as well as some newer and more obscure. I do wish they had played "Rabid", "I Just Can't Be Happy Today", and/or "Life Goes On" (imagine a serious Captain on stage singing "Life Goes On"? I'd love to see it). Otherwise I was souped on the entire night and would most definitely check these guys out again.
"This next song is from the eighties. You see at our age, we deal in decades. Green Day can't do that, see..." - Captain Sensible
Friday, May 1, 2009
Mike Watt (Minutemen, fIREHOSE, J.Mascis and the Fog) - When Mike Watt began playing bass, he was so unfamiliar with the instrument that he didn’t even know that you had to tune the strings. Perhaps one of the most natural do-it-yourself punk bassists out there, Watt’s powerful funk-driven bass lines have definitely stood out over the years.
Dee Dee Ramone (Ramones) - Dee Dee was not only an amazing bassist, but he was a fantastic songwriter as well. His rocking guitar riffs influenced some of the greats of the time and his ability to write amazing music was evident in his bass contributions while playing in the Ramones.
Peter Hook (Joy Division, New Order) - One of the main reasons that Joy Division and New Order were so successful is simply the fact that everyone in the bands had a solid understanding for melody. Hook plays bass in both of these bands as if he was “talking” with a lead guitar.
Michelle Mae (The Frumpies, The Make-Up, Weird War, Scene Creamers) -Michelle’s insanely catchy grooves and tight locked-down rhythms makes her not only a fun player to listen to, but a fun musician to watch play as well. Her creativity and consistency completely compliment the creepy groups she works with.
Sid Vicious (Sex Pistols) – As one of the founding fathers of shock punk, Vicious was often too busy with self-mutilation and drug addiction to focus on his instrument. Although he was often viewed as an average musician, his iconic contribution to the movement was and still is applaudable.
Tina Weymouth (Talking Heads / Tom Tom Club) – Something about the way that Tina plays and moves did so much not only for the bands she worked with, but for me as a listener. You can’t listen to Talking Heads or Tom Tom Club without admitting that Tina pulls some seriously killer grooves on her axe.
Kim Gordon (Sonic Youth,Ciccone Youth , Free Kitten) – Kim Gordon is the Goddess of Experimental Noise Rock and Alternative. She can go from playing simple root notes to complicated organic soundscapes in just seconds. Her style and creativity add a successful sense of organic psychadelia to all of her musical projects.
Dave “Blood” Schulthise (Dead Milkmen) - As a “Dead Milkman”, Dave’s playful and sarcastic Philly attitude was rarely taken seriously. His fun and colorful demeanor was a required ingredient for the Milkmen’s cult success. Unfortunately the laughter came to an end in 2004 when Dave Blood took his own life shortly after losing his mother to cancer.
Tony Lombardo (Descendents) - The original Descendents singer/bassist who ended up focusing his deep understanding for exciting melodies on the bass guitar. Tony Lombardo’s complex walking scales and adventurous rhythms supported the Descendents with great strength.