Rob Hegel’s Bizarre Love Triangle

 

Rob HegelForget albums, CDs, or artists. Sometimes all you need to make a definitive statement is a single song.

 

Rob Hegel did just that in the summer of 1980 with a hilariously scandalous soap opera of a pop song called “Tommy, Judy & Me.” Crass, crude and unforgettably catchy, it embodied the 1980s teen zeitgeist before there was such a thing. Problem was, teen movies, not teen-themed songs, were popular in the 1980s. So Hegel’s adolescent opus stalled out at #109 on Billboard’s Bubbling Under chart and was swiftly forgotten.

 

“Tommy, Judy & Me” tackles the sticky topic of teen sex. A lot of people discover sex in high school; what Makes Hegel unique is that he penned a tune that vividly commemorates every perverse feeling and social interaction relating to the topic. He throws in characters we’d soon see on the big screen: a tuff chick, a would-be cool dude, and a nerdy antihero.

 

Hegel was a songwriter who co-wrote Air Supply’s hit “Take Me as I Am,” and penned much of the score to a 1970s Saturday morning TV show called “The Kids From C.A.P.E.R.” Nothing in his resume pointed to “Tommy, Judy & Me,” though. The title alone lets you know for the get-go that this is no “boy meets girl” story. It’s more like: Boy gets lousy sex advice from a friend, gets the girl anyway, then learns said friend is a lair. And impotent. Forget New Order — this is one really bizarre love triangle.

 

The music sounds like a cross between The Cars and late period Styx. But the song stands out because of its semi-spoken, semi-obscene verses (where Hegel seeks advice from Tommy) and singalong chorus. When Hegel sing to Judy that “he’d like to know her” and her comely reply is that she “only likes what she hasn’t done twice.” John Hughes couldn’t have written it better.

 

Had anyone heard it, “Tommy, Judy and Me” might have been labeled offensive. But what’s most shocking now is how the song casually prophesizes the Columbine school shootings. In verse two, Tommy says he’s “bought a gun and that one day they’ll remember his name.” To which Hegel distractedly responds: “Let’s change the subject, Tommy, let’s talk of Judy.” See how no one takes the time to listen to troubled teens?

 

Even with its oddball outrageousness, “Tommy, Judy & Me” works because it captures the anxiety-riddled vibe of teendom. It’s awkward, embarrassing, immature, and sometimes totally phony. Just teen life like the real world.

 

“Tommy, Judy & Me” was released as RCA single #12009. Blog entry originally posted 3/16/06.

A Twister of Twist Songs

In a recent MSNBC commentary, I mentioned that the old dance known as the twist was so ubiquitous in early 1960s that even soul great Sam Cooke spent time twisting the night away. Although some commenters seemed incredulous about this, that really is a fact: Cooke’s “Twisting the Night Away” hit Number 9 on the Billboard charts in 1962 (a cover version by Rod Stewart got to Number 59 in 1973).

  

That got me thinking about how the twist wasn’t just a trendy dance – it was an all-out craze. It took off in 1960 and then got revived two years later. I first noticed this while I was in college and used to spend my “study time” studying the Billboard book of   top 100 hits (aka “Top Pop Singles), which I later bought. A huge number of artists cut twist records. Most of us know all the hits, by Chubby Checker, Gary “U.S.” Bonds, etc. So here’s a list of some of the weirdest.

Rod McKuen - The Oliver Twist

“Twisting Bells” – Santo and Johnny (#49, 1960)

“Kissin’ and Twistin’” – Fabian (#91, 1960)

“Everybody’s Twistin’” – Frank Sinatra (#75, 1962)

“The Alvin Twist” – The Chipmunks (#40, 1962)

“Oliver Twist” – Rod McKuen (#76, 1962)

“Twistin’ Postman” — The Marvelettes (#34, 1962)

“The Basie Twist” – Count Basie (#94, 1962)

“Tequila Twist” – The Champs (#99, 1962)

“Twistin’ All Night Long” – Danny and the Juniors (#68, 1962)  

Gary’s Buddy

TEN REASONS WHY
BUDDY HOLLY
STILL MATTERS

1. THE CHIRPING CRICKETS
Buddy Holly, alongside rhythm guitarist Niki Sullivan, bassist Joe B. Mauldin, and drummist-extraordinaire Jerry Allison, formed the immaculately suited, fully self-contained singing/songwriting template upon which some of the greatest pop-rock bands since, from those Beatles most obviously on down, were inextricably linked at the hip.

2. BUDDY’S BUDDY
When no less than that up-coming King of Western Bop Elvis Presley first blew into Lubbock, Texas on tour in 1955, homeboy Buddy Holly was not only right there in the front row cheering him on, but afterwards appointed himself the Hillbilly Cat’s exclusive host, guide and confidant for the ensuing sixteen hours. Duly inspired, Buddy immediately revamped his burgeoning Crickets from an alt.-bluegrass combo into Lubbock’s very own Elvis, Scotty and Bill …so successfully so, in fact, that several months later, when Elvis triumphantly returned to town, Buddy Holly had graduated from mere tour guide status to that of official on-stage opening act.

3. LEARNING THE GAME
After somehow failing to impress the usually infallible Owen Bradley with “That’ll Be The Day” at a 1956 demo session (“the worst song I ever heard” was his verdict), Buddy determinedly drove one thousand miles from Nashville to the Clovis, New Mexico studios of Norman Petty, where over the next eighteen months they turned a simple two-track facility into an audio workshop/lab from which came not only the look and attitude, but the very sounds of the 1960’s to come. Despite his so obviously prescient George Martin ways though, Petty must be docked serious points for screwing Buddy royally over songwriting credits, royalties, and even concert proceeds until the Holly estate could eventually be forever wrenched from his Machiavellian claws.

4. LISTEN TO ME
It may have lasted only twenty-five days, but when Buddy and his Crickets toured the United Kingdom in the spring of 1958, those watching closely and taking serious notes for future use were, amongst thousands of others, John Lennon and Paul McCartney (whose first-ever recording was a near note-perfect “That’ll Be The Day” shortly afterwards), Mick Jagger and Keith Richards (the former already proud owner of the Chirping Crickets album), Graham Nash and Allan Clarke (who soon grew their two-man Everlys act into the full, named-in-guess-who’s-honor Hollies), and pioneering British record producer Joe Meek …who subsequently became so obsessed over Holly that he not only killed his landlady, but himself on the eighth anniversary of Buddy’s own tragic demise.

5. NOT FADE AWAY
It did indeed take a Buddy Holly composition to first put The Rolling Stones securely into the American hit parade with, at the very height of Beatlemania, Lennon/McCartney’s “I Wanna Be Your Man” unceremoniously relegated to the single’s B-side! And speaking of whom…

6. WORDS OF LOVE
Buddy wrote the best song on the Beatles VI album; and, come to think of it, maybe even on Beatles For Sale.

7. FOOL’S PARADISE
Buddy’s wealth of songs have proven so adaptable, durable and downright sturdy as to withstand covers from the likes of Rush (who also debuted on seven-inch vinyl with “Not Fade Away” I kid you not), the Grateful Dead, The Knack and even Linda Ronstadt. Not to mention “It’s So Easy“ (-Off oven cleaner) and “Oh Boy” becoming “Oh, Buick!” television jingles at the behest of Holly’s supposedly sympathetic post-Petty publishing magnate Sir Paul McC. Quite highly recommended nevertheless is the 1977 McCartney-produced Holly Days, um, tribute album by then-Wing Denny Laine.

8. MAYBE BABY
Years before he was to become the serial tragic clown of television reality programming, that perennially short-pant-legged dust storm known as Gary Busey deservedly nabbed an Oscar nomination for his title role in 1978’s Buddy Holly Story. Now while its script may have taken inexcusable Hollywood shortcuts in recounting our hero’s life and music, at least Gary, alongside co-stars Don Stroud and Charles Martin Smith, became pretty damn garage-worthy Crickets all over the film’s soundtrack, performing as close to live whenever possible before the unforgiving cameras.

9. CRYING, WAITING, HOPING
Weeks before his last-ever tour, a newly married Holly sang several song sketches into a tape recorder in his Greenwich Village apartment for what turned out to be posterity. Having already hinted at still non-categorizable sounds-to-come with tracks like “Everyday” and “Well… All Right,” Buddy’s last recordings leap even further into the unknown with covers of Ray Charles (!), Bing Crosby (!!), plus Holly’s own final compositions. Exquisite guitar-and-voice-only recordings, they are far more than simply “unplugged.” They are sublime, heartbreaking, and totally unique. As with most things Holly.

10. STANDING IN THE DOORWAY
"And I just want to say that when I was sixteen or seventeen years old, I went to see Buddy Holly play at Duluth National Guard Armory and I was three feet away from him. And he looked at me. And I just have some sort of feeling that he was — I don't know how or why — but I know he was with us all the time we were making this record in some kind of way."
— Bob Dylan, 1998 Grammy Awards acceptance speech for Album of the Year Time Out Of Mind.

Ten You May Have Missed In 2008

If any of the following remarkable sounds
got lost from your grooves last year,

by all means
hesitate no longer
in lending both ears repeatedly
towards…..

 

1. APARTMENT Sparkle Bicycle
(Waikiki Record)

2. SCOTTY CAMPBELL AND HIS WARDENAIRES
Smokin’ and Drinkin’
(Black Sparrow Records)

3. JOHNNY DOWD A Drunkard’s Masterpiece
(BongoBeat Records)

4. GARFIELDS BIRTHDAY Let Them Eat Cake
(Pink Hedgehog Records)

5. THE GRIP WEEDS Infinite Soul
(Wicked Cool Record Co.)

6. JOE SOKO Floss Like A Beast
(Fuzzy Planet Productions)

7. THE SPONGETONES Always Carry On
(Loaded Goat Records)

8. FRANK LEE SPRAGUE Fulton Chateau
(Wichita Falls Records)

9. THE SQUIRES OF THE SUBTERRAIN
Feel The Sun
(Rocket Racket Records)

10. TEENAGE HEAD Teenage Head With Marky Ramone
(Sonic Unyon Recording Company)

 

…..and

for even more info,

you should Click Right Here !!

 

Best of 2008

Anne Briggs-Anne Briggs Stunning first album by British folksinger Briggs, who is like PJ Harvey doing ancient folk ballads

The Magnetic Fields-Distortion: More great songwriting from Stephen Merritt, and I especially like the ones the girl sings

The Raveonettes-Lust Lust Lust They borrow liberally from J&M Chain, but then who doesn’t? Feedbacking guitar, spooky vibe, overall sexy and mysterious feel

Rosie Flores-Rosie Flores “Rockabilly Filly” makes her debut in the late ‘80s, one of the best albums of its kind, ever. When Rosie tells her man “God may forgive you, but I won’t,” she means it.

Rodriguez-Cold Fact Sixto Rodriguez is like a Hispanic Lou Reed. Stone-cold lost classic from ’71 here

The Grip Weeds- Infinite Soul: The Best Of Excellent power pop from New Jersey. The Kinks meet Cheap Trick meet The Posies

Matthew Sweet-Sunshine Lies Speaking of power pop . . . many of the tracks just lie there, but on the best few he revisits his “Girlfriend” peak

Bobbie Gentry-Ode to Billie Joe/Touch ‘Em With Love 2-for-1 Gentry is an enigmatic character who has not performed or given interviews for ages. This set collects her startling debut with her best album

Beach House-Devotion Baltimore’s answer to Opal/Mazzy Star improves upon their impressive first album

The Searchers-Love’s Melody The Searchers have never really gotten the credit they deserve for being at the forefront of mid-‘60s jangle, and here, in ’81, they showed they could handle power pop just as masterfully; they covered Big Star years before the rest of the world caught up

Dennis Wilson-Pacific Ocean Blue The truth is that the effort was more than the end product here, as Dennis just really wasn’t a good singer and could never match brother Brian (who can?) in songwriting and arranging; still, there’s some movingly moody and evocative stuff here, done by a troubled soul who was on the way down

N.E.R.D.-Seeing Sounds On the first listen I was dancing around the house and raving to friends that it was the record of the year. On future listens I heard the lyrics more closely and thought, aren’t these guys out of junior high yet? I would love to hear it as all instrumentals.

Sean O’Hagan-Musical Paintings Part of a complicated and interesting collaboration the High Llamas’ main main has done with a Belgian visual artist; as music it just sounds like really good High Llamas instrumentals

Jorge Ben-Jorge Ben Tropicalista heavy and guitar wizard at his best, in 1969 

The Chevelles-Barbarella Girl God (Best Of) The Ramones from Down Under, with a little more pop sensibility

Flamin Groovies-This Band is Red Hot: 1969-79 The Groovies recorded two of the most memorable tracks in pop/rock history- “Teenage Head” and “Shake Some Action.” As this comp. proves, they did a whole lot more, as well. Swampy, greasy rock and roll with a boogie kick.

Various-Thank You Friends: The Ardent Records Story Eye-opening 2-CD collection shows that Alex Chilton and Big Star weren’t the only band doing interesting stuff around Memphis in the ‘70’s

Colin Blunstone-Ennismore/Journey Doesn’t match up to Blunstone’s post-Zombies masterpiece One Year, but still two solid records that are better than Argent

T. Rex-The Best of the BBC Recordings Marc and friends doing their thing on John Peel’s and Bob Harris’s radio shows during their Electric Warrior-era heyday

Various Artists-Halloween a Go-Go I generally loathe holiday-themed compilations, but Little Steven and Wicked Cool did one that includes Roky Erickson, The Stems, Howlin’ Wolf, and a Tegan and Sara track that has become a household favorite here on Watts

The Notwist-The Devil, You + Me Boards of Canada if they incorporated more melody into their noises

R.E.M.-Murmur (Expanded Edition) The ’83 show on disc 2 finds them in their best form and is a reminder of what all the hoopla was about to begin with

Neil Young-Canterbury House 1968 Neil doing an intimate show playing acoustic versions of Buffalo Springfield favorites, as well as stuff that would appear on his underrated solo debut, etc.

Windy & Carl-Songs for the Broken-Hearted Give them credit for sticking to their guns and doing the space rock stuff almost a decade after it became passé; moody, eerie sounds that can help you let your head go

Reuben Wilson and The Cost of Living-Got to Get Your Own B-3 master and jazz hipster Wilson does cool breeze soul

The B-52s-Funplex I have to disagree with all the music writers who have trashed this in print. I keep cueing up “Hot Corner” and “Deviant Ingredient” when I’ve had a couple rounds and feel like moving around in the music room.

Blue Ash At Barrow Civic Theater January 17TH!

Photobucket

Blue Ash members Frank Secich, Bill “Cupid” Bartolin, Jim Kendzor, Jeffrey Rozniata & Bobby Darke will be playing in concert at the Barrow Civic Theater in Franklin, PA on January 17th. Also, on the bill are the Max Schang Blues Band & Ransom. Ticket informatiom and details are above.
Blue Ash’s debut album “No More, No Less” has also just been reissued on CD by Collectors’ Choice.
http://www.ccmusic.com

Dom Mariani: An Appreciation

Dom Mariani: An Appreciation

Trying to get your head around Dom Mariani’s long and wide-ranging musical career can be both a confusing and an exhilarating adventure. Every time you get a handle on one of the great bands he’s been in, you find that there is another one to learn about. As you sort though all of this, two things become very clear: (1) Mariani has a deft touch and keen musical instincts, allowing him to approach each of his projects with command (2) You should never expect one Mariani band or project to sound like the one that came before it.

Mariani formed ‘60’s garage revivalists the Stems in Perth, Australia in the early 80s. The band released a smattering of singles and an album, At First Sight Violets are Blue (1987), that stand up to the best of all the fuzz psych releases circulating the indie markets at that time (think Fleshtones/Telltale Hearts/ Lyres/Chesterfield Kings/Vipers, et al). Their sublime track “She’s Fine” was included on Rhino’s The Children of Nuggets, a box set of songs by ‘80’s bands influenced by ‘60’s psychedelia and garage. But just as the Stems were promoting their first long player, and as they were enjoying both critical acclaim and success on the Independent charts in Australia and other parts of the world, they broke up.

“I was always into ‘60’s music, but originally maybe just the more well known bands, like the Beatles, Stones, and Kinks,” Mariani told me over the phone recently, by way of describing his personal musical evolution leading up to the formation of the Stems. “But then I discovered the Nuggets double album, and the Electric Prunes Underground record, so I saw there was this other kind of thing from the ‘60’s, which was more like garage rock, and I got totally into that.”

Mariani cites pressure from the band’s management and the label to relentlessly promote At First Sight, and the resultant exhaustion, as causes of the Stems’ untimely implosion. Also, he soon had another project cooking. While in the Stems Mariani met Darryl Mather, then with Sydney’s the Lime Spiders (another Children of Nuggets band) and later with the Orange Humble Band. The two discovered a mutual affinity for ‘60’s and ‘70’s radio pop and decided to get together and make music that would sound more like the Raspberries than the Stooges. The resulting LP, 1990’s Don’t Talk About Us, is now widely considered to be a power pop masterpiece.

“My musical background is very much steeped in Top 40 radio from the ‘60’s, things like the Monkees and girl groups and all,” Dom says when I ask him about the poppy departure the Someolves were from the Stems. “And even during the Stems, although we had kind of a hard rock sound, we were listening to things like the dBs and the Plimsouls, which were more pop.”

Don’t Talk About Us was recorded with Mitch Easter at his famed Drive-In studio in Winston-Salem, North Carolina (Easter has continued to mix, and sometimes play on, Mariani’s recordings throughout Dom’s career). A great meeting of musical minds, an album made at one of the coolest studios in the world at the time, two songwriters with no apparent lack of inspiration . . . the future held no barriers for The Someloves, right? Wrong. Their label, Mushroom, would only agree to a second album if the band committed to tour to promote the first, something Mather – a studio animal not interested in playing live – refused to do.

Someone with less fortitude or creative drive might have given up after seeing his first two bands split up just when they seemed to be going on the rise. But Mariani was only getting started. After an enforced recording hiatus which was part of the contractual baggage from The Someloves/Mushroom situation, he exploded back onto the scene in glorious fashion a few years later with his new band, DM3.

To this listener’s ears, DM3 is where Mariani fully hit his stride, combining the adrenaline rush of the Stems with the pop craftsmanship of the Someloves. DM3s albums One Times Two Times Red Light (1993), Road to Rome (96) and Rippled Soul (98) are power pop gems (the first two are, anyway; Rippled Soul has some stellar songs but doesn’t quite match up in overall quality level with the others) with a little garage energy to them, and are where Mariani pulled off tracks that stand comfortably alongside records made by the likes of Dwight Twilley, Big Star, Badfinger, et al.

“We were trying to make records with a rock & roll edge to them, but also with great melodies,” is how Dom sees DM3, a project he clearly put a lot of himself into and feels passionate about.

Some of DM3s best songs weren’t on the three main albums, but can be found on the odds-and-ends collections Garage Sale Vols 1 & 2 (as well as a Mariani retrospective covered below). One of these oddities, “Hold On,” is something I have listened to at dangerous volume levels no less than eight times in a row on more than one occasion recently – an absolute dream of a power pop song. Another Garage Sale track, “Just Like Nancy,” is both one of the finest moments in DM3s recorded history and their swan song. This single, with its splendidly catchy chorus, chugging guitar riff, and sly, vaguely naughty lyrics (a “girl in boots” with “the power to overthrow ya”), was the last record made by DM3.

Always looking to explore new terrain, after the demise of DM3 Mariani showed yet another side of his wide musical range. In 2003 he and his new act The Majestic Kelp released an album of instrumental tracks, Underwater Casino. The sound here is something like a meeting between Dick Dale, Ennio Morricone, and Martin Denny – a Spaghetti Western on the beach in Hawaii.

Dom: “What started out as just kind of a quick surf guitar record became something more than that. The songs started to take on some additional character, kind of a soundtrack feel. It’s quite an interesting group and we’re exploring a lot of different things you can do with instrumental music.”

I ask Dom if he feels any difficulty in connecting to the audience when the Majestic Kelp perform live, without the benefit of vocal parts like catchy choruses people can latch onto:

“It has been a learning curve for me. It kind of divides the audience. Some of the people who have been listening to my bands over the years get into it, just like they would the Stems or DM3. But other people are kind of standing there saying, ‘So when is he going to start singing?’ Some have said, ‘I think Dom’s gone off the planet with this one.’ But other people will just dig it for what it is. “

The Majestic Kelp released a second collection of instrumentals, Music to Chase Cars By, in 2006. Here they continued to explore some of the same musical themes approached on the first record, but also added some horns, one track filled with Byrdsian jangle, and a bit of a tougher guitar sound on the surf tracks.

In 2004 Mariani put out his first solo album, Homespun Blues and Greens. A much more personal collection of songs than any of his other projects offered, the 11 tracks here sound like they could be open letters to a close friend or lover, saying things that are difficult but necessary to communicate. The gentle psychedelia on some of the backing tracks cements the sense of contemplative emotion.

“I toyed around with the idea of making a solo album for quite some time, but initially was uncomfortable putting something out with just my name on it. For a while I thought of calling it a DM3 record, but that didn’t seem right, because there really wasn’t a band there to drive it. So I thought, instead of coming up with another band name to add to the list, I’ll just put my name to it. And the songs are kind of reflective, anyway, so it makes sense for it be labeled as a solo record.”

If all the great music wasn’t reward enough in itself to Mariani for sticking with things through all the band breakups, he was honored with a career-affirming retrospective put out by Citadel Records in 2005. Popsided Guitar (Anthology 1984-2004), a 2-CD, 38-track collection compiles highlights of Dom’s varied career, including songs by all of the aforementioned acts as well as a few from his solo album, and it also throws in one song each from one-offs Mariani did with bands The Stonefish and The Stoneage Hearts. There could have been a few more Stems tracks, but really there is little to complain about on the comp. The selections are well chosen and bring to magnificent life a career that has not received its due attention and appreciation.

One Mariani project not covered in the Popsided Guitar comp. is the reformed Stems. After having excellent compilations of their stuff put out by both Citadel (Mushroom Soup, 2003) and Get Hip (Terminal Cool, 2005), as well as seeing a 2-CD reissue of the At First Sight record (2003, Warners Australia), the band released a set of newly recorded material in 2007. Listening to Headsup, you’d think The Stems had never gone away. The 10 tracks further the band’s legacy as psych garage masters, especially the riff-heavy “Liar” and the assured rocker “Hellbound Train.” Listening to this record, you can easily see why Little Steven once invited the Stems to perform at his Underground Garage festival in New York.

So are the Stems fully reformed now, can we expect another release from them sometime sooner than the 20 years which separated their first two LPs?

“We are talking about doing another recording, although I’m not sure when that will be. We’re thinking about doing something like the Flamin’ Groovies Jumpin’ in the Night record, where it’d be some favorite covers alongside some originals.”

And what might some of those covers be?

“Well, we’re talking about doing all Australian songs. ‘Friday on My Mind’ by the Easybeats is one we’re thinking of. ‘Come On,’ by the Atlantics. We’re also looking at some of the very early Bee Gees stuff, looking for something there that might be appropriate.”

Dom is also at work on a third Majestic Kelp record, one with vocals, including some Beach Boys-style harmonies. He looks to finish the album by the end of this year and hopes for an early 2009 release. And while he is taking some down-time now after a recent Stems tour, he seems never too far away from the next gig, whether it be in Australia, Europe, or at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, where the Stems performed this year and where Mariani expects to be again next Spring, either with the Stems or on his own. Prolific and diverse as he is with his music, no one should be surprised if by that time he has a totally new band trying for a sound and feel different from all his other projects.

Frankie Teardrop

Several weeks ago, a random gathering of some of the best musicians from Canada’s greatest musical berg (that’s Hamilton, Ontario, by the way) threw themselves onstage as part of the city’s annual Locke Street Festival. Spearheaded by the one and only Tom Wilson, said ad-hoc combo was busy rocking and rolling things all the way up that street as the sun slid down when suddenly, a most familiar figure was spotted nearby. The lead singer of the one, the only, Teenage Head.

As would later be reported in the press, "I asked Frankie, 'Frankie, fuck man, you've got to come up here and sing,'" Wilson says. "He said, 'You got to give me a hundred bucks.' So I reached into my pocket and I only had fifty, so I asked Dave Rave for the other half. I said, 'Dave, fifty bucks for Frankie.'

"And this was the kind of love they had for Frankie. Dave didn't ask me, 'What for? What does Frankie need fifty bucks for?' He was just pulling it out of his pocket. And Frankie got up and did ‘Let's Shake’."

It turned out to be the last-ever public appearance of Frank Kerr, much better known – and most rightfully so – as Frankie Venom, who along with his high school pals about thirty-three years ago decided to form a band in between spins of Dolls, Stooges and, yes, Flamin’ Groovies records. Remarkably, that little band that could went on to garner two gold and one platinum twelve-inchers of their very own; in fact, their latest, now available from the fine folk over at Sonic Unyon Recordings, actually features Marky Ramone on the drums. Terrifically high praise indeed.

In a scar-studded career that admittedly held more bumps than most bands’, Teenage Head never turned (or toned) things down, never towed anyone’s line, and never ever made a bad record or gave a bad show that I, or anyone else for that matter, should care to recall. And whether slithering across the heat pipes of Toronto’s legendary Crash and Burn club, opening for the Pretenders, Talking Heads and Elvis Costello in front of fifty-thousand at Canada’s Heatwave festival – or belting ‘Let’s Shake’ for and with some old friends on Locke Street on a warm late eve – Frankie Venom was every single inch the Head above all others.

He succumbed to throat cancer on October 15, 2008, aged fifty-two. Your record collection will never be the same.

Los Chijuas

Don't know much about this band yet, and almost don't want to, just to keep the mystery intact. Excellent, odd psychedelia from Mexico. Got hipped to them via their track, "Changing the Colors of Life," on the Nuggets II box set. Took me a few years after hearing that to follow up and dig deeper, and now that I have I am a better person for it. Their late 60s album El Esquimal is cool and weird and mind-bending. The title track is a rollicking, Spanish-language version of Dylan's "The Mighty Quinn." Another cover, and perhaps the most trippy moment on the record, is their take on The Zombies's "I Love You," read as, of course, "Te Quiero" – the opening to that track is grand psychedelia and when the melody kicks in it's all trips and hooks. Several originals surround these covers, including the Spanish version of "Changing the Colors" (English language version appears on Nuggets II) and others, some of which are throwaway but a few of them gems. I know I'll eventually go in and try to find out more about this great and strange band, but for now I'm going to keep rocking El Esquimal and just ride with the enigma and with the groove.