Cameron Carpenter: The ABC’S Of Rock – H

This week goes out to The Headstones. They will be playing some big shows this December across the country and it is good to see the boys back in action.
Hanoi Rocks
Quality Records Larry Macrae, in his infinite wisdom, struck a distribution deal with Lick Records to distribute the new Hanoi Rocks record “Back To Mystery City”. It was the Finnish band’s third album following the release of “Bangkok Shocks, Saigon Shakes, Hanoi Rocks” and “Oriental Beat”.

We worked our asses off on that record to little or no avail. Hard rock stations were not going to play it as it was too glammy and alternative    stations wouldn’t touch it as it was too metal. The band were not touring in Canada and there weren’t any videos to play so we were stuck. It was 1983. By the end of that year the band had signed an international deal with CBS Records and would be coming to Canada in early February of 1984 to record their new record with Bob Ezrin. We knew that we wouldn’t have the rights to the new album but we had a vested interest in the band with the current album and, in those days, artist relations was encouraged at the labels so I grabbed the red rocket and headed to the Hard Rock Café on Yonge Street to meet the lads.
It was an early February night and a blizzard was in full effect. The snow was piling up and it was freezing. It was pre-cell phone days so a commitment was a commitment so I dutifully arrived at the bar at 8 PM for our designated meeting. Some time past ten I was ready to call it a night when an explosion of fur, hats, hair, heels and make-up swirled in the revolving front doors and out popped Hanoi Rocks. Even though they were Finnish they were cold. These guys were rock stars. I looked like one of the characters in “Pleasantville” who had not yet transformed in to colour. However out of place I was I was buying so the boys were happy. “What do would you like?” I inquired. “Vodka” came out of a couple of their lipsticked mouths. “Vodka and…..?” I asked. “We’ll start with a bottle”. And thus began bottle service in Toronto.
The band at that point was comprised of Mike Monroe (Singer and sax), Andy McCoy (guitar), Sammy Yaffa (bass), Nasty Suicide (guitar) and Nicholas “Razzle” Dingley (drums). The were post New York Dolls pre-Guns ‘N Roses rock’n’roll. They were metal, they were glam, they were blues,  they were punk, and they were serious. They were pretty pumped to be working with Ezrin as Bob had produced Alice Cooper and “Under My Wheels” was one of the staples of the Hanoi live set. They worked on the album “Two Steps From The Move” for most of February and March. On March 15th I took most of the band to Maple Leaf Gardens and they saw Kiss for the very time. They were quite amused to see German rockers Accept opening the show. Eight days later the band played their first ever North American show at Larry’s Hideaway in Toronto. It was a madhouse. The band opened with The Chantay’s “Pipeline” (check out the original here from the Lawrence Welk show: Pipeline)  and Monroe jumped on stage and took command. Much like the early Dolls they were a band that understood the past and put it in a modern perspective. In December of the same year they returned to Toronto for a show at The El Mocambo, but as Monroe was in a cast due to a broken foot, the show lacked the intensity of their North American debut. A few days after the El Mo show we lost Razzle in a Vince Neil car accident in Los Angeles. The band would never be the same and they threw in the towel in 1985. Monroe and McCoy would take a re-vamped Hanoi on tour in 2005 and Sammy would replace Arthur Kane in the reunited Dolls but sadly the band that launched an entire scene would never get their fair dues. Check out the CD “All Those Wasted Years…..” to catch a little of their live magic. Ed note: Had to add this Hanoi Rocks clip, Cam. Hope you don’t mind. Pipeline/Oriental Beat

Hardcore Troubadour – The Life And Near Death Of Steve Earle
We will have lots of Steve Earle stories in the coming weeks but for now our book of the week is “Hardcore Troubadour – The Life And Near Death Of Steve Earle” by Lauren St John. This would not make my Top 10 must reads but it gives a great overview of the struggles Steve has had to deal with in love, with record companies and with his drug demons. Twenty-five years after the release of “Guitar Town” (a record that should be in every collection) Steve is still making both ground breaking music and political statements. A true outspoken original.

The Heavy
Why can music supervisors figure out a hit song and not radio programmers? “How You Like Me now” by The Heavy has been featured in “The Fighter”, “Rookie Blue”, “Horrible Bosses”, “Entourage”, video games and a Kia Sorento commercial. I first hear the song in January of 2010 when I saw them perform on The Late Show With David Letterman (The Heavy on Letterman). Bam. They had me. I bought the album “The House That Dirt Built”. It was took me back to the old D.C. Go-Go scene and bands like Trouble Funk. Can someone please start a station that will play this back-to-back with Fitz & The Tantrums? I am getting tired of making cool play lists on my iPod and how will I keep discovering gems like this if I am doing all of the work?

The Headboys
I don’t remember how I found out about The Headboys but it was probably a “trunk trader” with Bobby Gale (then at Polydor now doing radio promo at Plug Music). All the record company reps kept a box in the trunk of their car of their latest releases for radio staff, media contacts, special friends and to trade with the other reps. There was nothing better than coming home and having five or six new records in your collection even if they had an annoying punch hole in the top right corner or a gold embossed “Promo Only” stamped on the cover. These were implemented so you would not sell your promo vinyl to your local record shop. You could usually find promo copies of records you mailed out that week at some of the local shops. This was a worry as was home taping. Times have changed.
As soon as the guitar began on “The Shape of Things to Come” I was hooked. It had the same sound as “I Got You’ by Split Enz a kind of Faces doing power pop vibe.  Although the record would be marketed as New Wave it was really all over the board. “Experiments” was the most New Wave song with it’s perfect head bobbing dance beat and soon became a standard when I spun at Nuts’N’Bolts. “Kickin The Kans” ripped off a CCR guitar riff but it too became a staple and a great song to mix with “Dirty Water” by The Inmates. Sadly the Scottish band only released this one album and never toured North America. Thirty years later I still can’t decide if the cover was clever or corny. Luckily I still have my vinyl copy (there is no CD that I am aware of) and it was one of the first albums I transferred (scratches and all) to MP3 with my Ion turntable. If you ever liked The Monks you would love The Headboys.

The Hollywood Brats
Championed by Keith Moon, signed to NEMS, bastard Brit cousins of the New York Dolls and hair apparent influence on Hanoi Rocks, The Hollywood Brats were a glorious mess. I didn’t know they existed in 1973 as their debut album wasn’t released until well after the band had imploded. Andrew Matheson, Casino Steele, Brady, Lou Sparks and Wayne Manor wrote originals like “Sick On You”  and “Tumble With Me” and had the balls to cover “Then He Kissed Me” word for word. Pumps, platforms, boas and bad taste were reflected in their stage demeanour and their lyrics. Like any good band they were hated at the time and adored after. Casino went on to form The Boys, Matheson made a couple of solo albums, Brady is still playing and there have been rumours of both a book and a reunion tour. The album is finally up on iTunes and there are a couple of good giggles at the official website.

Have A Listen
If you have never checked out Mediazoic go to www.mediazoic.com/creatures/cameron-carpenter/ and have a listen to some of our new releases. You can even Like the station on Facebook!

And if you are in Toronto and looking for a cool rock’n’roll dinner please visit our friends at Shanghai Cowgirl 538 Queen Street West. It is right beside The Bovine and around the corner from Cherry Cola’s.

We now have an email where all of us here at Don’t Believe A Word I Say can be contacted dbawis@rogers.com. Please use it to ask questions, tell us what you would like to read about, links you would like to share, and, let’s hear what you have to say.

Cameron Carpenter has written for The New Music Magazine, Music Express, The Asylum, The Varsity, The Eye Opener,  The New Edition, Shades, Bomp!, Driven Magazine, FYI Music News, The Daily XY and Don’t Believe A Word I Say.

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