The Ron Kane Files

Writing About Music

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Dr. Memory

10-23-07 Dr. Memory

So, I’m re-remembering stuff from the 70’s – no idea why. The uneasy shift from whatever the heck was going on to “punk rock – new wave”. It must be understood that I had an interesting position to all of this – I started working in a record store in July, 1976 – before the ‘punk splash’. People in the store were all into Aerosmith (can’t remember which one), Kiss (“Rock & Roll All Night”), The Eagles (I eventually witnessed “Hotel California” mania), Genesis (“A Trick of the Tail”); I was into Goblin (“Profondo Rosso”), Frank Zappa (“Zoot Allures” was a new release), King Crimson (who had broken up after “Red” two years previous) etc.

Someone I worked with knew Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – they did an in-store appearance at our store, at the time of their debut album. I was into making custom T-shirts (getting ‘iron-ons’ at a copy store), so I gave them and their manager T-shirts with their logo on ‘em. We had a Bay City Rollers (Ian Mitchell time) “screaming contest” in our store (which I helped organize), the record company sent a bunch of LP covers to be used in a display, but the Rollers didn’t show up.

I do not remember the first punk rock records through the door at the record store – but a teenage friend had played me “Blitzkrieg Bop” by The Ramones before I started working in the record store – so I knew what that was when it walked down the pike. I didn’t work with “punks” until my 2nd record store job – when I changed ‘locations’. I was 18 or 19 years old – and the girls who liked punk rock at the 2nd store seemed so much older, wiser etc. than my tender years – truth is, they might’ve been all of 21 to my 19 – which seemed like a world away, then. I remember thinking how dumb it was to say “I like anything punk!” – but that’s what they used to say to everyone. I remember them getting a Melody Maker newspaper from England, then putting in a big stack of “special orders” for obscure / unknown 45’s. Eventually, “punks” began to trickle into the store – I distinctly remember Rik L. Rik – with a torn blood-spattered shirt coming into our store; we sold his band’s album – the group was called F-Word.

I doubt I was kicking and screaming, but eventually I went to The Whisky A-Go-Go with friends and we saw what was a nifty first “punk show” for anyone to see – around March of 1978, I saw Black Randy & The Metrosquad, The Deadbeats and The Screamers. At the time, none of these groups had records you could buy – the Dangerhouse singles (for Black Randy and The Deadbeats) were a ways off yet. 2007, and it seems like there will never ever be a proper Screamers LP / CD. R.I.P. Tomata du Plenty.

I got spoiled quickly – in fairly rapid succession, L.A. got live shows from the original Ultravox, Magazine etc. Had to wait a few years to see The Stranglers, XTC, Athletico Spizz 80 etc. Were me and my friends “punks”? At 21 or 22 – no, we were too old for it. How is it that when I was 18 I was too young for it, but at 21 too old for it?

In 2007, it’s funny to see punk bands with members that are 50 years old playing shows – are the audiences as old as the groups? In some cases, undoubtedly: yes.


Anonymous Jim Donato said...

Re: Punk.

Well, it's just another style of music today. Since the @#$! Eagles still exist, damn their eyes, punk obviously didn't fulfill its charter. That doesn't mean that the attempt was not noble. That it will still attract young persons making music today is okay - it's better than having them play Laurel Canyon singer-songwriter crap, but the imperative that was present in its infancy - the attempt to reboot rock music in a more honorable form, is simply not there.

8:29 AM  
Blogger Brian Ware said...

Re: How is it that when I was 18 I was too young for it, but at 21 too old for it?

It was certainly an age issue for me. I was comfortably in my 20s when punk hit and since it was as much a lifestyle choice as a music choice, there wasn't this big void in my musical journey that only punk could fill. I fell in with the prog crowd as much as the next guy, but I would always come back to melody driven pop music. Plenty of Al Stewart, Steely Dan, Alan Parsons, Peter Gabriel, etc. made the transition to tuneful new wave like Split Enz, Squeeze, Joe Jackson, and Elvis Costello an easy transition for me. But I really appreciated how Magazine, Ultravox, and XTC took the energy of punk and melded it with some serious musical compostion. Such an exciting time... sigh....

12:36 PM  
Blogger Ron Kane said...

Good comments, gentlemen. This is the real reason I keep blogging - to read comments like these! Cheers!

7:13 AM  

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