Monday, April 28, 2008

Dave Dill - Follow the Summer

Another short record review of an artist not from Seattle but like The Goldbergs’ CD that I reviewed a few weeks ago this was just too good to pass-up.

Follow the Summer is talented singer/songwriter/producer/multi-instrumentalist Dave Dill’s gorgeous ode to summer, nature, love and good vibrations. Combining elements from The Beach Boys, Queen, Badfinger and Todd Rundgren, Dill has created a minor-masterpiece of contemporary Sunshine Pop full of lovely melodies, upbeat lyrics, layered instrumentation, and soaring vocal harmonies. Dill has a clear artistic vision and although several of the songs here sound like they could have been ‘70s AM hit singles this breezy, luminous, effervescent album holds together cohesively from beginning to end - the perfect soundtrack to a lazy summer afternoon.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Recommended shows for the week of 4/27/08

Only one show on my calendar this week:

Friday, April 25, 2008

John Wicks and The Records at The Comet Tavern

Seeing your Rock & Roll heroes perform decades after they’ve made the music that first drew you to them can be a risky proposition. Often they’ll have lost that certain essential vibe, soul or sound that once made them so special and you’ll be let down and disappointed but occasionally our heroes come through for us, meeting or exceeding our expectations, leaving us amazed and elated.

I’m happy to report that John Wicks still has it and that John Wicks and The Records delivered in full last Saturday night. John’s wonderful voice, those great harmonies, the killer guitar riffs, incessant hooks, buoyant melodies, the witty engaging lyrics, everything I’d hoped for and then some, because live the band added an additional power and grit sometimes lacking on The Records’ recordings.

They opened with the rocking “All Messed Up And Ready To Go”, which like The Stones’ “Start Me Up” makes for a perfect introductory number, followed by the super catchy “Hearts In Her Eyes” and a couple of great new tunes. I was especially taken with “That Girl Is Emily” (which Wicks dedicated to Syd Barrett) with its compelling lyrics, great guitar riff and highly infectious melody. The classic “Teenarama” from The Records’ debut album was another highlight among many although its comical lyrics about an ill-conceived romance with a teenager come off much more Lolita-like now that Wicks is in his mid-fifties than they did when he originally sang the song nearly 30 years ago.

As I looked around at the audience I noticed many like me nodding their heads to the beat, singing along or simply gawking in awe with wide grins stretched across their faces. The show climaxed with “Starry Eyes” The Records best known song and a prefect piece of timeless power pop.

I should quickly mention the other bands on the bill as all performed excellent sets. I was impressed with The Shy Ones who have a cool sound that’s one part The Beatles, one part The Shangri-Las and two parts The Ramones. This was only their second show but they played a tight and entertaining set. Keep an eye out for them. The Small Change sounded great as always with their infectious “Maximum R&B” style of power pop and Portland’s The Neat played a riff-heavy set of classic jangly power pop.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Seattle Powerpop Radio Returns w/ Playlist 8

Wow it's really been a long time since the Seattle Powerpop Radio has been updated, playlist 7 was posted by Gary last September, but I've finally figured out how it’s done and I think this new playlist 8 is an especially good one. New songs from three of my favorite Seattle bands, a new song from up and coming Seattle band The Shy Ones and a cool Big Star cover recorded a couple of years ago by the very talented Braden Blake.

The Eighth installment of Seattle Powerpop Radio includes the following tracks:

The Riffbrokers - "Evaporate"
The Shy Ones - "All I Ever"
Doll Test - "The Decider"
Shake Some Action - "Looking For Someone"
Braden Blake - "The Ballad of El Goodo"

Just click the play button on the red widget over to the right and enjoy.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Recommended shows for the week of 4/20/08

Monday the 21st:
Mexican UFO at The ReBar

Wednesday the 23nd:
The Color Bars at The Tractor

Thursday the 24th:
The Greatest Hits at The Funhouse

Friday the 25th:
The Minus 5/The Dimes at The Doug Fir Lounge (Portland)

Saturday the 26th:
Danielli at The Skylark

The Heavy Hearts/The Cute Lepers at High Dive

Thursday, April 17, 2008

John Wicks Interview (Part 2)

SPB: Smashes, Crashes and Near Misses is a great compilation of the best of the three albums The Records cut with Virgin Records, and I think it's the perfect starting point for someone wanting to check out your music. Were you involved in selecting and sequencing the tracks? Whoever was did a wonderful job.

JW: Thanks. I would agree that it is a pretty darn good compilation, and certainly a good starting point for anyone wishing to get to know the essence of the band. I wasn't personally involved in assisting with song selection or sequencing. But again, I agree that it was very well put together. I especially like the original 1988 U.K. release. It featured a comprehensive and informative booklet, with a photographic history of the band, which I thought was very cool, unlike the later U.S. version, which was, I presume - for reasons of economy - scaled down to a scant two-pager. I guess that's progress for you.

SPB: Last year you released Rotate, which I understand is an anthology of tracks recorded over the past several years by your new band John Wicks and The Records. I don’t have the CD yet, but I love the tracks from it that you’ve posted on your MySpace page. Did you write the lyrics as well as the music for these songs? Did you have a hand in producing the record?

JW: Oh Yeah! Sorry you don't have a copy yet. I will take care of that when we come up to Seattle next week. In the meantime I'm pleased you were able to take a listen to some of the tunes on MySpace. Now that IS progress! LOL!! In actual fact: It's been a long, strange journey that led this former Record to Rotate. Returning to the States back in the early to mid nineties, my plan was to form a new band, play shows, record new material and get it released. However, without the necessary financial support from a major label, recording songs for the proposed new CD proved somewhat problematic to say the least! So basically I laid down tracks, wherever and whenever, with whoever was in the band at any given time! LOL! But there were just so many roadblocks along the way, and by the late nineties I had begun to think that it was an impossible task. For example, the studio back East, at which I had recorded “That Girl Is Emily”, “So Close to Home” and “Edges of a Dream” and where I planned to complete the rest of the album, was suddenly, for reasons I won't go into (suffice to say nothing to do with me or my then bandmates!) dramatically seized by the F.B.I. Then there were the L.A. sessions, which were aborted after the initial backing tracks were recorded when I ran out of money! Consequently, some of the songs originally intended for inclusion on Rotate won't see the light of day just yet. Stay tuned though... Eventually - thanks to the invaluable assistance of an extremely good friend and fan, who came to my rescue - a new concept for Rotate was born. So it was, that with a fusion of my brand new material and other recordings I'd made over a period of years - an anthology of sorts if you will - Rotate finally came to fruition. Working with many different recording engineers and musicians, I handled the overall production duties for the album, wrote and arranged all the music, vocal parts and lyrics for eleven of the twelve tracks contained on the disc, except for track 12 - "We Can Work It Out" - which for anyone who wasn't around at the time, was written by John Lennon & Paul McCartney. “Oh Yeah!”, “Desert Sky” and the title track, “Rotate” are the three newest songs and were the last tracks to be recorded. I co-produced these three tracks together with Zak Nilsson, (son of the late-great Harry) and Randy Hoffman. Not having a regular band at the time, out of necessity, except for Zak on drums and keyboards, I played all the instruments and sang all the vocals. “Different Shades of Green” was the only finished recording salvaged from the L.A. sessions, and features a blistering lead guitar solo by The Knack's Berton Averre. He's a phenomenal player to be sure. Also on these sessions: Yours truly on rhythm guitar/lead and backing vocals, Gary Schwartz on bass guitar, and Robbie Rist on drums. “That Girl Is Emily”, “So Close to Home” and “Edges of a Dream” were recorded with a terrific line up I had back on the East Coast. Namely, yours truly on rhythm guitar/lead and backing vocals, Gary Schwartz on bass guitar, Joel Titman (Yeah I know, I know! He was an ass-man too! LOL!) on drums, and a - then - 20 year old lead guitarist, Chris L.C. Abshire. Also on-board, assisting me with additional high harmony vocals - Shaun Donovan, an extremely talented singer. “Rising Stars” was also recorded back East. I'm playing rhythm guitar and singing lead and backing vocals as usual, but this time assisted with a slightly different line up. Joining me on these sessions: Gary Schwartz on bass guitar, Dave Egelhofer on lead guitar, and Joe Parsons on drums and additional high harmony vocals. “The Lost Years” is actually a basement demo recorded on the East Coast in 1994 - featuring moi on rhythm guitar/lead and harmony vocals, Gary Schwartz on bass guitar, Dave Egelhofer on lead guitar and Evan Pollack on drums. “Come on Round” is a demo I recorded back in 1994 - just prior to coming back to the States in fact. Recorded at ex-Strawbs bassist, Chas Cronk's West London studio, in addition to programming the drums, Chas played lead and bass guitars, whilst I played rhythm guitar and sang the lead and harmony vocals. “Whenever You're Near” was written and recorded in 1990. I was kindly assisted on this one by keyboard ace Duncan Mackay, (Alan Parsons, Cockney Rebel, 10cc., etc). Duncan played keys and took care of all the programming, leaving me free to concentrate on all the vocals. “We Can Work It Out” is a really basic home demo, recorded during May of 2002 at various different locations around the L.A. area, on a really, really tiny Korg machine! Originally intended to be included on a Beatles tribute CD - it features Randy Hoffman on lead vocals, Zak Nilsson on drums and keyboards and yours truly on harmony vocals and rhythm guitar.

SPB: Who are the musicians in the current line up of John Wicks and The Records? I saw that a couple of years ago you had a really hot band consisting of Jamie Rounds on lead guitar and vocals, Lynne Davis on bass and vocals, and the mighty Clem Burke (Blondie) on drums. I just saw Clem Burke at The Comet Tavern a few weeks ago with Magic Christian. They were excellent.

JW: Yes that was a pretty cool line up, albeit a temporary one, but it was an honor to have Clem on-board. Jamie was great and a girl bass player too! Rock on Lynn! Anyway after several more attempts at securing a stable line up, running up and down a whole lot of blind alleys in the process, I finally attained that lofty goal early in 2007 - shortly after playing the Purple Weekend festival in Spain in December 2006. So, my current partners in rhyme are: Mick McMains - lead & bass guitar/vocals, Dennis Taylor - bass and lead guitar/vocals and Tommy Montes - drums/percussion. These guys are all extremely talented and accomplished musicians in their own right, and they are totally dedicated to the music. Indeed, I consider myself very fortunate to have them as friends and colleagues. Thank you so much guys! And speaking of Magic Christian, we just played a show with them back in March at Safari Sam's here in Hollywood. It was very cool to meet up with Cyril Jordan. The last time I saw Cyril was when The Flaming Groovies played a London show back in the late seventies. And of course Clem, Eddie, and it was great to meet Paul, he's a great singer and a very engaging and charismatic frontman. Just thinking about it makes me wanna go "Shake Some Action!"

SPB: What can Seattle music fans expect from your upcoming show at The Comet Tavern?

JW: A set of Led Zeppelin covers! Just kidding! Seriously, we will be playing some of the old Records' classics, interspersed with some of my new songs from Rotate for good measure. I must emphasize that this is not based just on nostalgia alone, but rather a continuation of where I was interrupted all those years ago. We just hope that the audience will have as much of a blast listening and watching us as we will have playing, 'cause at the end of the day it's a two-way street. Our interaction with the audience is a vital and integral part of the whole experience.

SPB: What's on the horizon for John Wicks and The Records?

JW: Well, we have a tour of Japan slated for the Fall - a double whammy if you will - to promote a live Records CD that was released in March, and also my new CD Rotate. More live dates are in the works, and of course we have to commence recording songs for the next CD. Fortunately I'm in the enviable position of having a wealth of material already written to choose from. All I need is the time to get the damn songs recorded!

SPB: Along with this interview I'm planning on posting a video from YouTube of The Records performing "Starry Eyes" in what looks like a London shop window. You guys look so cool with your “rock 'n' roll” hair and your sharp threads. What do you remember about making that video? Is that a Les Paul Jr. you're playing?

JW: Very cool! Yes, that was shot in an empty store in London's trendy Notting Hill district, long before Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts made the area even MORE trendy courtesy of their excellent movie! It had previously been a "Co-op" store or whatever the hell they called it. Anyway, the company went out of style fast, hence the empty space that our videographer (either Julien Temple or Russell Mulcahy, one of the two!) took full advantage of. And thanks for the kind comments. When I look at that clip now, I think we looked pretty darn cool too. Anyway, I remember that towards the end of the shoot, a couple of cops came to shut down the shenanigans. You see them early on in the clip, but that, as I recall, was edited in for effect. In actual fact they arrived just prior to our finishing up, so it was all good, since we were pretty much done by then anyway! The crowd that gathered outside was totally spontaneous and not staged in any way. I think it's an extremely cool video, and pre-MTV too. And yes, it is indeed a Gibson Les Paul Junior that I am playing in the video. I used to own two in fact, a '56 and a '57. I think it was the '56 that you see in the clip, which sadly was stolen some years later, but I still have my '57.

SPB: Thanks for answering my questions John. I'm really looking forward to your show here in Seattle on Saturday (4/19/08).

JW: Thank you Andy. I'm really looking forward to playing.

Here are The Records playing "Starry Eyes" in blatant defiance of the law.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

John Wicks Interview (Part 1)

Singer/guitarist/songwriter John Wicks formed the seminal British power pop band The Records with drummer/lyricist Will Birch in 1978. Their career took off fast and by ’79 The Records were flirting with fame and fortune as their excellent self-titled debut album and their glorious power pop single “Starry Eyes” both bubbled-under the Billboard Top 40, but due to misfortune and a misstep or two their career took a downward trajectory and after one more great album Crashes (1980) and one good album Music on Both Sides (1982) The Records called it quits.

Fast-forward to 2008, John Wicks has a new album out and a new band called John Wicks and The Records and they’ll be playing this Friday at The East End in Portland and Saturday at The Comet Tavern in Seattle. John was gracious enough to conduct this interview with me via e-mail. If you love power pop but find the subject of weather boring skip past my first question – I think you’ll find the rest of the interview quite interesting.

Seattle Powerpop Blog: Hi John. It's a typical spring day here in Seattle, cold, gray and wet. What's the weather like in L.A. today? How long have you been living there?

John Wicks: Sorry to hear about your gloomy weather. It sure sounds a lot like England. It's often said that here in L.A. we don't have “weather.” However, that's not totally true. I've lived here since February of 2001 and in that period of time I've endured triple digit heat during the summer months, contrasted with extremely windy and rainy conditions during the winter months. (And yes! In spite of what you may have heard to the contrary, we DO have seasons here!) Anyway, today (April 6th) was a little breezy, and cloudy with sunny spells, although the temperature was a bit below average, but I still managed my power-walk through Griffith Park. It was very pleasant, so I can't complain.

Weather update! By way of contrast, today is April 12th and we are experiencing a hot sunny day with temperatures in the high 90s! I've already been in the pool, that's how hot it is. Tomorrow promises to be similar. Simply perfect!

SPB: Where are you from originally?

JW: I was born and raised in Reading, (pronounced Redding) in Berkshire, England, which is a town located approximately 40 miles west of London. Around the age of 18, I left home to join my first “real” band in London. That lasted about a year, and then I moved to a place called Southend-on-Sea to join a cover band. Southend is located about 40 miles east of London, and little did I know at the time that this would eventually lead me to “The Records.”

SPB: Were you a Mod or a Rocker or a Mocker, (as Ringo once claimed to be) or none of the above?

JW: Definitely not a “Mocker!” More of a little “Focker” really! Seriously, it's fair to say that I considered myself a “Rocker,” since as a young impressionable teenager - much to my parents horror - I used to hang out at night in a local park with a bunch of biker dudes and chicks, affectionately known in the U.K. as “greasers.” Quite a few of these characters, and believe me they WERE characters, had already served time in “Her Majesty's Service,” otherwise known as jail. I witnessed some extremely brutal fights during this period of time. It's true to say that Reading was quite a violent place. For example, downtown during the late evening hours, after the pubs emptied out, it wasn't unusual to see people get knocked through plate glass windows, and seriously injured, or on occasions even worse - beaten to death - whilst people were minding their own business waiting for their buses to come and whisk them home to safety. In fact even during the daytime, every so often, train-loads of “Mods” would come down from a town called Slough, and pitched battles would erupt in the street outside Reading Station as the local greasers defended their turf. There were so many of them, that the police who weren't armed at that time, were vastly outnumbered and pretty much had to let the riots run their course. Thankfully I managed to steer clear of all that nonsense. I mean these guys' took their perceived status waaay too seriously! They clearly considered themselves “the-real-deal” whatever that meant. In any event, it was a much too scary prospect for me. So I guess when all is said and done, you could say that I was more of a "pretend" Rocker really. Not that I was a "real" bonafide hippie either you understand! LOL!!

SPB: A lot of American musicians around your age, or maybe just a bit older, say that watching The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show completely changed their lives and converted them to Rock ‘n’ Roll. Did you have an equivalent experience growing up in England?

JW: I guess so. Obviously The Beatles come to mind, and of course The Rolling Stones. Like so many of my musical peers, it's true to say that these artists, together with the likes of The Who, The Kinks, The Move, etc., had a dramatic effect on our collective lives, not to mention redirecting our future paths in life. I think it's fair to say that without such a dramatic influence, many of us would more than likely be leading very different lives. Had this musical revolution not come to pass for instance, I might well have fallen into the family furniture and carpet business - "J. R. Wicks & Son Ltd." Having said that, I don't mean to suggest that it would have been a bad thing, probably quite the opposite in fact. (Kind of like that Spinal Tap thing: "Yes madam, may I suggest that this luxurious, polka dot, three piece suite, matches your carpet just perfectly and would look extremely elegant in your living room, if you don't mind me saying so!") Anyway, when my father and mother retired, my cousin Francis took the reins and has been very successful. Can you imagine? I would have been cutting out of work early, anxiously trying to get out at night and play gigs, only to be late for work the next day! I'm pretty certain Frank would have fired my ass. LOL! Seriously, I mean, I had always liked music, but once The Beatles exploded on the scene, my fate was sealed - I literally fell in LOVE with music! Plus, the truth of the matter is - when it comes to customer service, I'm like John Cleese's Basil Fawlty in Fawlty Towers, and besides I sucked at sewing sections of carpets together. LOL!!

SPB: Your former songwriting partner/bandmate Will Birch has written that The Beatles’ Revolver was a huge influence on The Records. What were some of your other favorite records?

JW: Oh Yeah! (Cheap plug!) Seriously, Revolver was such a cool album, as were most of the other Beatles L.P.s too of course. Although I never cared much for Yellow Submarine, but Magical Mystery Tour was another one of my faves, along with Rubber Soul, Help, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Abbey Road, etc...Songwriting genius to be sure. I bought pretty much everything The Rolling Stones put out, Brian Jones was my fave Stone btw. It's too bad about his sad and tragic end. ("Rumour Sets The Woods Alight" was written about Brian). Anyway, I recall buying The Stones' Their Satanic Majesty's Request and marveling at the (then) 3D hologram adorning the front cover. "Jumping Jack Flash", "Gimme Shelter"...
So many great songs. Not to forget The Beach Boys. "God Only Knows" for example, is another example of songwriting genius, imho. The Small Faces' Ogden's Nut Gone Flake was always on my Dansette record player, singer Steve Marriott being another hero of mine. I also embraced the psychedelic period, Pink Floyd etc. Syd Barrett's "Arnold Layne" and "See Emily Play" just blew me away. Then we had the likes of Led Zeppelin, Cream, Traffic, Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac, etc., etc. There really was just so much incredible music around at that time.

SPB: I think that Birch/Wicks is right up there with Difford/Tilbrook at the pinnacle of great New Wave Era songwriting teams. Classics such as "Starry Eyes", "All Messed Up And Ready To Go", "Teenarama", "Girl In Golden Disc", "I Don't Remember Your Name", all had wry witty lyrics set to gorgeous melodies and completely infectious hooks. Can you describe how you two worked together?

JW: Firstly, thank you so much for the compliment. Both Will and myself are huge admirers of Chris Difford & Glenn Tilbrook. As you say, they were a great songwriting team. And thanks for the kind comments about our songs. More often than not I don't get too excited at the prospect of co-writing, but I have to admit that working with Will proved to be a very enjoyable and rewarding experience. As far as how we worked together, Will was the lyricist and I the tunesmith, for want of a better description. At the very beginning of our partnership, he and I would get together, listen to music and play around with ideas. Usually he would have the bones of a lyric, to which I would try to write a melody, and sometimes I would already have a melody and he would then endeavor to come up with a lyric. For the most part we managed to make the process work efficiently and successfully either way. Prior to our partnership, I had always written the music as well as the lyrics, but I found that - in most cases anyway - coming up with good lyrics was very time-consuming, usually taking considerably longer than composing melodies. Consequently I'd have a backlog of tunes, so I welcomed the opportunity to collaborate with Will. Later on, as our relationship evolved, we would very often work separately, he handing me lyrics, and me giving him a cassette recording of a melody to work on.

SPB: You and Will wrote the song "Pin a Medal on Mary" for Rachel Sweet, (it was one of the highlights of her album Fool Around) and then The Records were her backing band on Stiff Records "Be Stiff Tour" in '78. Was that a lot of fun? Wasn't Wreckless Eric also on that tour? He just played The Comet Tavern a few months ago. He really puts on a great show.

JW: Yes. In fact unless I'm mistaken, that was the first song that Will and I wrote together. I don't recall us knowing about Rachel at the time, but at some point Stiff Records honcho Dave Robinson heard the song and had Rachel record it. When the prospect of the Stiff Tour came up, Rachel needed a backing band and Dave called to ask us if we'd be interested. Somewhat naively, concerned that should we accept, there was the very real danger that we might be perceived as - "just someone's backing band" - I suggested Will call Dave back, informing him that we would agree to back Rachel if we could also have our own slot on the tour. To our total amazement, Dave said, "Sure!" And yes, it was a whole lot of fun and some! Indeed Wreckless Eric was also on that tour, as was Lene Lovich, Jona Lewie and Mickey Jupp plus his band, members of The Sinceros if my memory serves me correctly. And I did hear that Eric had played at The Comet Tavern recently. Hope he didn't trash the place! Just kidding. Speaking of Eric, Will and I actually wrote "All Messed Up And Ready To Go" - specifically for him. We dashed it off on board the Stiff train that transported us around the U.K. during that tour. Anyway, he didn't record it, so we did!

SPB: The Records signed with Virgin and recorded their self-titled debut album in '79 with producer Mutt Lange and engineer Tim Friese-Greene. That album really sounds great and the song arrangements are incredible. How did you guys do it? Did you record demos first? Did you rehearse until you had the arrangements perfected, and then lay down the basic tracks live as a band and then overdub on top of that, or did you lay down a scratch track and then build the tracks up one instrument at a time?

JW: Well, whenever I compose a melody, it also includes all the chords, riffs, etc., and I almost always have an arrangement in mind, so the song is pretty much fully formed right from the get-go. Mutt came in and routined 5 songs with us, whilst Tim took care of the rest. We had in fact recorded demos of most of the songs, Mutt and Tim building on what was already there, improving and refining the arrangements, at the same time making sure they preserved the essence of the songs in the process. We laid down the basic tracks in the studio live as a band, and then overdubbed parts as required. My musical background growing up, and my many years of experience singing lead vocals and harmonies in cover bands, enabled me to arrange and sing the bulk of the lead vocals and harmonies in the band. Consequently, in the interests of studio time constraints, I sang most everything on that first album, except "Girls That Don't Exist" (Phil, Mutt & I) "Insomnia" (Phil & Huw) "The Phone" (Huw). Getting back to Mutt and Tim. In addition to their both being inspired producers and arrangers, they are extremely talented musicians and writers. And boy Mutt's a great singer too! Indeed it was an honor and a great pleasure to work with both of them.

SPB: I used to watch The Midnight Special (rock concert TV show) regularly when I was in High School, even though it was mostly awful, because occasionally they would have a really exciting performance, and I have to say that the best episode ever was the night The Cars hosted and The Records appeared as special guests. Did you enjoy that experience? That was probably when The Records were at the height of their fame, was it not?

JW: Thanks! I just wish the "powers-that-be" would release that Midnight Special episode in its entirety, if they haven't done so already. If not, clips can be viewed courtesy of YouTube folks. And no, I didn't post them! But yes, it really was an extremely enjoyable and unforgettable experience, the guys' in The Cars were all just so wonderful to us. (Speaking of whom, I ran into Elliot Easton at a club here in L.A. a couple of weeks back). Anyway, we played live on that show too btw. Absolutely NO lip synching, and NO wardrobe malfunctions! And I guess it was around the height of our - "15 minutes" - since the album was inching it's way up towards the top 40 on the Billboard chart, and the single, 'Starry Eyes' was following close behind. T.V., Radio, Publicity, Planes, Limos, Girls, etc., etc... Ah... Heady days!!

SPB: Your second record Crashes is debatably even better then the first, great songs from start to finish. It was released in 1980 and although I was a big fan of The Records, I didn’t even realize Crashes was out until I found it in a cut out bin about a year later. In '79 “Starry Eyes” was getting a lot of airplay, The Records got a rave review in Rolling Stone, you were on The Midnight Special and a year later it was almost as if you'd completely disappeared. What happened?

JW: Oy vey! Where do I begin??? Well, for starters Mutt had apparently expressed his desire to produce Crashes. In hindsight it is my belief and opinion that we should have continued our professional relationship with him. Anyway, for whatever reasons, foolishly we didn't. With Huw Gower no longer in the band, and Craig Leon at the helm producing, we hired ex-Kursaal Flyers lead guitarist Barry Martin to lay down the lead guitar tracks. The backing tracks were recorded at George Martin's Air Studios in Oxford Street, West London. After a week or so of laying down the basic rhythm tracks, we returned to the studio after a weekend break, and went into the playback suite to take a listen to our efforts. As the 2 inch tape started rolling, (Yes! This was good old analog folks!) I recall being absolutely horrified by the muffled sound that I heard coming through the speakers. It sounded like someone had literally covered them with blankets, the sound being an ill-defined, muddy mess, with practically no high end whatsoever. Unfortunately, for us as a band anyway - prior to the commencement of our initial recording sessions - it transpired that apparently no one had taken it upon themselves to perform the extremely important and necessary, if unsexy task, of aligning the tape heads! Presumably, the house engineer thought that Craig had taken care of it and, presumably, Craig thought that the house engineer had done so... Oops! Knowing how disastrous, and potentially damaging to our career this was, I made the suggestion that we should scrap everything and start again from scratch. As you can imagine, for economic and practical considerations, my suggestion was shot down in flames. A false economy if ever there was one, and my prediction at the time that it would prove to be the beginning of the end of the band, was sadly right on the money. By way of irony, a shit-load of moolah was expended during the mixing stage of the recording process, in a valiant though ultimately vain attempt at salvaging the recording! When it comes to frequencies, you can't put back what's isn't there. Indeed the decision not to re-record, proved to be a very unwise and seriously expensive mistake at best. At worst - arguably - it may well have cost us our career... At the end of the day, whilst it's certainly true that the songs were great, the record still sounded substandard sonically, in spite of all the well-intentioned efforts to salvage it. One positive aspect of things though was the arrival of our newest member. Hearing that we were looking for a singer capable of handling the high harmonies, Craig had introduced us to Jude Cole, an extremely talented 19-year-old singer-songwriter and guitarist hailing from Moline, Illinois, by way of Los Angeles. Jude was flown over from L.A. to London, I gave him a high harmony to sing on "Rumour Sets The Woods Alight" and he nailed it right off the bat! "BINGO!!" He was in! We embarked on our second tour of the U.S. and Canada, and the band had never sounded better live. Alas, Virgin at this time were in deep financial trouble, plus their licensing deal through Atlantic Records was coming to an end, and even though the folks at Atlantic loved our band, unfortunately there wasn't enough money left in Virgin's piggy-bank to maintain the necessary promotional push. Couple these problems with our substandard sounding record, and it all became a recipe for disaster... Hence little or no "T.V., Radio, Publicity, no more Planes and Limos," which just left us with the "Girls." LOL! I think the record "bubbled under" at #210 on the Billboard chart before disappearing into the ether. That was when the "Girls" left us... DAMN!!

(Part 2 tomorrow)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Great Powerpop Line-up at The Comet Saturday

This is going to be a great show so don’t miss it. All four bands are excellent, John Wicks and The Records are Powerpop Legends, Kurt Bloch will be spinning discs between sets and there will even be a secret surprise guest guaranteed to “blow your socks off.” Wear clean socks and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to initial them with a Sharpie.

Check back tomorrow for part one of my interview with John Wicks.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Recommended shows for the week of 4/13/08

Tuesday the 15th:
Elf Power/Flowers Forever/The Tripwires at the High Dive

Friday the 18th:
The Turn-Ons/Hypatia Lake/Charmparticles at the Sunset

Speaker Speaker/The Don’ts/The Apple War/Curtains For You at the Comet Tavern

Saturday the 19th:
John Wicks and The Records/The Small Change/The Neat/The Shy Ones at the Comet Tavern

Let me know if I’ve missed something.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Recommended shows for the week of 4/6/08

Sunday the 6th:
The Quit at the Sunset Tavern

Monday the 7th:
Dateless at Chop Suey

Thursday the 10th:
Steve Pearson at Finaghty's Irish Pub (Snoqualmie)

Friday the 11th:
Ms. Led/The Earaches at King Cobra

Saturday the 12th:
The Heavy Hearts on Audioasis, Live on KEXP

Doll Test at Rendezvous

Thee Sgt. Major III at Wildrose

Let me know if I’ve missed something.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

New Song from Shake Some Action!

Seattle Powerpop heroes Shake Some Action! have a new record coming out in June called Sunny Days Ahead and you can download a really cool track from it for free over at Three Imaginary Girls.

Their CD release party is set for Friday June 13th at the Sunset Tavern. I’m really looking forward to it. Maybe Gary can get me on the guest list.

Here’s an inside look at Shake Some Action! recording their new record at Rob Sharp's Playroom Studios in Seattle.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

New Album from The Turn-Ons

The Turn-Ons describe their sound as Skagit/Brit psych-pop. They remind me a lot of The Church and The Chills and a little of The Verve. This is another great Seattle band that I should have been hip to a long time ago – they’ve been together for over 10 years now and have played shows with the Strokes, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Imperial Teen.

They’ve got a great new album called Curse and it’s available for free at I was able to check it out yesterday but haven’t been able to access their site today. If you can’t get on either I suggest trying again in a day or two and in the meantime head over to their MySpace page where you can hear a couple of the new songs.

Here’s a video of The Turn-Ons performing their song “Stop Waiting” at The High Dive back in September of 2006.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Advanced Notice: Roy Loney May 16th

This show will be the best. Roy Loney is Rock & Roll personified. Don’t miss it.