Sunday, November 20, 2011

Show #68 November 12, 2011

For Dolly in Ye Olde Boston Towne....

- The Lyres On Fyre
Talking About The Weekend- Seventeen A Flashing Blur Of Stripped Down Excitement
Johanna Beach- Hawaii Mud Bombers Mondo Primo
She's Only Cool- Cotton Mather Kontiki
Words- The A's The A's
Late Nights with the Power Pop- Matthew Sweet Modern Art
Runaround- The Lambrettas Beat Boys In The Jet Age
Ain't No Use In Tryin'- The Finders Calling Dr. Powerpop
^Just What I Needed- The Cars Just What I Needed - Anthology
Losing Your Cool- Paul Collins King Of Power Pop
Still Around- Slaters The Big Black Bug Bled Black Blood
Noisy Song- Cute Lepers Adventure Time
The Devil Has Work For Idle Hands- Psycotic Pineapple Where's The Party
Every Time I Ask You Out- D-Day Too Young To Date 7"
*At The Rat- Willie Loco Alexander Boom Boom Band Live At The Rat
*I Don't Want To Know Your Name- Susan Live At The Rat
*Boy From Nowhere- DMZ Live At The Rat
*Better Be Good- The Real Kids Live At The Rat
Someone's Gonna Break Your Heart- Fountains Of Wayne Sky Full Of Holes
Nights With You- The Heats Have An Idea
Don't Tell Her- City Lights Blackout EP
How Much More- The Go-Go's Beauty And The Beat
Rebel Rousers- The Reactions Love You E.P. 7"
Rachel Rachel- Richard Taylor Rachael Rachael EP
^Rendezvous- The Sidewinders The Sidewinders
Just A Number- The Last Stand Shake Some Action Vol 1 (UK)
Bear With Me All The Way- Van Duren Idiot Optimism
The Seeker- Sunnyboys Love To Rule EP
Suburban Paradise- The Agents Need The Girl EP
Blame It On The Kids- The Pets Misdirection
The Fenway- Jonathan Richman Rockin' & Romance

^Power Pop Peak:

*SacroSet: Live At The Rat

^Power Pop Prototype:

Nostalgia is funny. It's one thing to pine for an earlier time in your life but you know you're getting older when you yearn for a place that doesn't even exist anymore. I remember my dad reminiscing about Scollay Square in Boston: freak shows, boxing matches, vaudeville comedy acts and especially the burlesque houses he was always trying to sneak into as a kid. In the mid-70's a guy named Rik Tinory released a song called "Remember Ol' Scollay Square" that includes the verse:

Remember ol' Scollay Square
All the dancin' ladies were there
Doin' bumps and grinds, people in long lines
Remember ol' Scollay Square

Four ladies chain across the ring
Turn and chain them right back home again
Promenade go 2 by 2
I sure hope that you
Remember good ol' Scollay Square

Scollay Square was bulldozed in the 60's to make way for the godforsaken hellscape of Government Center, an excellent example of Soviet era architecture, only less warm. In fact, on wind chill days I believe it is among the coldest places on the planet. Jonathan Richman sums it up in his song "Government Center:"

Well we've got alot alot of hard work today
We gotta rock at the government center

To make the secretaries feel better

When they put those stamps on the letters

We won't stop until we see secretaries smile

And see some office boys jump up for joy

Tell old Mr. Ayhern, "Calm down a while,
You know that's the only way the center is ever gonna get better"

Replacing Scollay Square with Government Center- now that's adding insult to injury. All these years later, I know what my father was feeling when he talked about Scollay Square because that is exactly how I feel about Kenmore Square today.

One of the things that helped me endure the suburban high school torment was thinking about moving to Boston for college. Cousin Rich and I had been making monthly record buying pilgrimages to Boston for years and I couldn't wait to live there. From Fensgate, my Emerson College dorm, it was a short walk to Kenmore Square, home at one time to record stores New England Music City (a chain, but one that sold singles by Boston rock bands), Planet Records (a cool indie store where Barrence Whitfield was often working behind the counter), Strawberries (a lame chain store), and Nuggets (a past its prime institution that remarkably is still there). Kenmore Square was also home to my favorite pizza place, Captain Nemo's. Of all these landmarks however, the one I was most excited about was Boston's infamous rock & roll club The Rathskellar a.k.a. The Rat.

After discovering The Real Kids first album (which included my radio show's namesake song "All Kindsa Girls"), Cousin Rich and I went looking for more and soon discovered Live At The Rat. The record had come out in 1976 and included all of the great Boston rock & roll bands of the time (the word "punk" hadn't caught on yet and in any case, never felt right with this music). Live At The Rat kicks off with an introduction from Boston college radio legend Oedipus (who went on to program powerhouse commercial rock station WBCN) and Godfather of Boston Rock Willie "Loco" Alexander (who replaced Lou Reed in a late era Velvet Underground incarnation). An amazing document of its era, Live At The Rat is in my opinion far superior to New York counterpart Live At CBGB's, which didn't include the leading lights of the its scene (Ramones, Blondie, Television, Dictators, etc.) as they had already been signed to major labels. In fact, Live At The Rat preceded debut releases of The Real Kids, Willie "Loco" & The Boom Boom Band, Thundertrain, and the amazing DMZ (pictured below on The Rat stage).

Reading in The Boston Globe about 2am street fights between patrons of The Rat and the disco across Comm Ave (called "Narcissus"- what a perfect name), in what the paper dubbed "The Battle For Kenmore Square," only added to its infamy. This was in the late 70's before my time, but The Rat was still standing when I got to town in 1982 and I'm proud to say my band No Idea played there several times:

No Idea was Pete Levine (bass, vocals), Frank Prosl (drums, vocals), Jim Harris (lead guitar) and me on rhythm guitar/lead vocals. (After seeing The Clash in hats in the London Calling photo sessions I started wearing them on on stage). It was incredible playing at The Rat- the sound and lights were fantastic for a club that size. If sound man Granny and the light guy were in the right mood, you could have an amazing show. Those light banks on the side you can see in the top pictures were brighter than the sun and you could actually feel the heat on your face- what an incredible feeling.

The last time I was on stage at The Rat was in 1989 or so. I was playing bass in a band that was listed as "Gravel Pit" though Carl the drummer and I had never agreed to the name (which another Boston band used later on). We were first up on the bill at a reunion show of Boston Rock heroes Unnatural Axe and it was an incredible show. My mom came, so did my girlfriend Lisa and "work friend" Jaime (who would soon replace Lisa) as well as this anal retentive friend Jaime dragged along. Seeing The Rat through the eyes of Jaime's friend really reminded me what an underground cavernous, urine-smelling, shit hole my beloved club really was- after a while I'd just forgotten. The best part was when this woman had to go to the bathroom, dragging Jaime with her of course, they found the toilet overflowing with the seat broken in half and sticking up out of the bowl! (I LOVE that story.)

Jaime and I went to The Rat many times. In fact our terrifying plunge into the abyss called "more than just friends" was after a Zulus show in December 1989 ("first kiss to first $%*$ in 45 seconds" she later joked). The Rat was even part of our wedding as my bachelor party started at the Hoodoo Barbecue, the restaurant upstairs.

The Rat closed in 1997, replaced by monstrosity The Hotel Commonwealth. While the hotel isn't as ugly as Government Center, it pretty much completed the gutting Kenmore Square started by the Barnes & Noble @ Boston University store (enveloping the space once occupied by the disco Narcissus). B.U. cops even "relocated" Mr. Butch, a homeless dude dubbed "The King Of Kenmore Square," to Allston. Unlike Scollay Square, Kenmore Square still technically exists, yet it is a mere shadow of its former self. Even so, I'm thankful for The Rat, Captain Nemo's, Planet Records, Mr. Butch and all the unforgettable times I had there.

Rather than end this post on a downer, I'll conclude with the lyrics to the first song in tonight's SacroSet: Willie "Loco" Alexander & The Boom Boom Band's "At The Rat."

spoken: "You know this song's about Boston. Boston Rock & Roll started right here with Barry & The Remains back in 1965. The stage used to be over there but it's here now and we're still is rock & roll in Boston."

Down in Kenmore I saw her standing there at The Rat
She took off my hat sat down on my lap at The Rat
She was my B.U. baby and I don't mean maybe at The Rat

Under the Citgo sign she was looking so fine at The Rat
Everybody goes crazy baby save me save me at The Rat
Down in Kenmore Square, all the bands play there at The Rat

(spoken: "Don't they now, oh everybody sing!")

Let's go to The Rat (4x)
Down in Kenmore Square, all the bands play there at The Rat
Oh yeah, oh yeah

The download links have already been taken off the server. I'll be sure to re-post when they are available again.

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