Hey, puffball! Become a badass instantly using my Dynamic Tension Method.
For the four skins this magazine set you back, gentle reader, you are getting a bargain. I’ve boiled away the unsightly fat of self-help to reveal the true secret of badassery. Yeah, that's right, you ain’t no badass, you're a big fat square. Getting caught reading this is like your mom walking in when you’re reading porn, it's an admission that you just ain’t boss, try though you may. I know the sweat is beading up on the back of your neck now, but that's okay, because if unwanted moisture is your problem we can take care of that, too. After many long years (read: about twenty minutes) of careful study I've developed the Dynamic Tension Method to achieving a badder-ass you. Using my four pronged attack you can finally shake those loser blues and cross the city limits into Coolsville.
I used to be a 98 pound weakling. I'd go to the beach and bullies kicked sand in my face. Actually I'm a 140 pound weakling -- well, I am 6' 1" -- and I hate the beach, but the point is the same: I wasn't with it, and everyone could tell. I’d tried other approaches to winning the envy of my peers with no success. Charles Atlas, the great comic book fitness hustler, once separated me from a pocketful of cash with the promise of his Dynamic Tension Method, which turned out to just be doing push ups with your hands on chairs and your feet on the ground. It might've worked, except I disliked exercise more than I disliked being a wimp. My Dynamic Tension works much better than his, and you don't even have to break a sweat.
The real breakthrough came when I decided to start emulating a tough guy icon. Don't get me wrong -- one of the best ways to be a big dork is to model yourself after someone who’s badass in the wrong way. Greasing your hair and sneering when you talk an Elvis does not make. Critical to my success was the choice of a proper role model. After sampling and discarding a string of rock stars and pro-wrestlers, I settled upon the oft-overlooked Pee-Wee Herman. My approach was simple: whenever I felt awkward, I tried to do what Pee-Wee would do. If someone scared me I would yell and run away in as comic a fashion as possible. If someone glared at me I would make faces at them. And if someone said the secret word I would scream real loud! To be honest, I had mixed results at first. People did look at me like I was crazy, but it was sort of fun. Eventually this technique led me to the zenith of badass that I am today. [*Footnote: Am I actually a zenith of badass? If you don't think so tell me about it and I'll stick a fork in your eye. How's that sound, bitch?]
Through a lengthy process of trial and error I reduced my apparent mania to its four fundamental elements, which have become the four prongs my attack, the Dynamic Tension Method. Think of it as a fork of tuff, the holy trinity plus one. By following these guidelines, you will be able to overcome your life of shame and degradation and walk proudly among the hipster elite. If it doesn't work ask your magazine retailer for your money back and tell them what a loser you are, unable to even follow these simple instructions.
1. Get a mantra. A silent repetitive chant can help you through any crisis. The reason people find them so frustrating (and so often abandon them) is because they choose the wrong ones. You may have had someone recommend a mantra to you before, and it was probably along the lines of Om, hare krishna or some such nonsense. No wonder people lose patience -- what the hell does hare krishna mean? Dynamic Tension recommends something that includes the word fuck, such as I-swear-to-god-if-you-don't-stop-bothering-me-I'm-going-to-stick-a-fucking-ice-pick-through-your-skull. While saying that out loud to someone might give them a good reason to shoot you, repeating it to yourself when faced with adversity will send out psychic rays that will deter any foe! Try it the next time you have to talk to someone you don't like. Once you have this tool under your belt you should never have to be under anyone's thumb again, and that's half of being a badass right there.
2. You’re tough now, kid, so start acting like it. If you’re new to the game try doing things that will remind you how tuff you are. Take off your shoes and draw cat faces on the ends of your socks in magic marker. Whenever you feel stupid just remember "Hey! I'm a badass, there's cats on my socks, they'll take care of me!", and perk up. Anything you can do that reminds you of how tough you are when faced with social inadequacies is worth trying. Remember: when you’re a drip being idiosyncratic is bad, but when you’re a badass your eccentricities are, well, cool.
3. Know when you’re beat and respond with a non sequitur. In a perfect world, everything a badass person did would be cool. In the real world everybody does stupid things sometimes, and pretending like you’re always right only makes you look like a jerk. [*like this article!] If you get caught doing something dumb the only way to save face is to respond with a completely random action so stunning it takes the shame away from your gaffe. Girlfriend catches you drinking milk from the bottle? Bark like a dog! Boss asks why in the security video it looks like you’re stealing office supplies? Start channeling dead silent-movie stars! I.R.S. wants to know why you haven't filed your taxes in three years? Pretend to have a seizure! There are a thousand possibilities for every awkward situation, but I think you get the idea.
4. Don't forget to be nice. Being a badass and not being nice makes you a much bigger asshole than being not a badass and not being nice. Smile at waitresses. Feed stray kittens. Hold a door open for someone. Keep in mind, being nice isn't the same as letting yourself get pushed around, and finding the fine line between the two takes a little trying, but you can do it! As a last piece of advice I recommend that if you ever feel like you’re losing patience with being nice you take a long, leisurely nap. Don't feel bad about it, I take lots of naps, and look at me.
Well, that's the crux of the biscuit there. The rest is up to you. Don't you feel more like a badass already?
drinkin' with the jacobites:
dave kusworth and marky williams speak
Captivating. That's the effect that The Jacobites' early records had on your reporters when we first encountered them in the mid-eighties. The ragged blend of killer melodies, acres of scarves and a near-fetishistic love of the 18th century were irresistible, and Dave Kusworth and Nikki Sudden are one of the great rock duos. So it was a treat to meet up with The Jacobites the first night of their American tour supporting the new Bomp/Chatterbox release god save us poor sinners, deep behind the Orange Curtain. Dave Kusworth and Marky Williams are only too happy to join us in the smokers' lounge for a sprawling conversation, but Nikki Sudden's disinterest is palpable. Although he says he'll be joining us momentarily, he never does. We begin by informing a jet-lagged Dave and Marky that we don't particularly want to talk about their records. They are somewhat nonplused by the approach, and (having commented on the centerfolds in the Scrams we brought) want to know if they can talk about pornography... but then are too shy to do so. We soldier on, imbibe more libations, and the following transpires. (Kim Cooper & Margaret Griffis)
Scram: Why don't you introduce yourselves?
Marky: I'm Marky, I'm the drummer in Jacobites, and he's Dave Kusworth. I suppose he'll introduce himself.
Dave: [Deathly quiet] Yeah, I'm... uhm... singer.
Marky: Dave's the singer, guitarist, songwriter.
Scram: Marky, how long have you been with these fellas?
Marky: I've been with Dave since '88, the first German tour we did.
Dave: That was The Bounty Hunters.
Marky: Yeah, not the Jacobites, actually, that's Dave's band. And then I played with Nikki on his solo tour in '92, and did another tour with Dave solo in '93.
Dave: There's a lot of tours of Europe, it's a blur. [at this point, an extremely drunk and gnomish man begins pestering Dave. Dave tries to explain that he's busy, but it's some moments before the fellow loses interest and wanders away]
Scram: Have you been to America before?
Marky: No, it's our first time. I mean, I haven't been to Japan or Australia either, or India, or Costa Rica. Back in England you get all these American cop shows and the films and the music, so I think it's great to visit America.
Dave: [disengages himself from his little friend and notices that his drummer is apparently doing the interview by himself] You're in the spotlight, man!
Marky: I don't know why I'm doing this interview! I don't mean to, I'm just talking. I mean, Dave's the man.
Dave: [to Marky] It's just strange for you to give an interview.
Scram: [to Dave] Well, you were giving an interview to that fella.
Marky: It's like doing an interview for the dole! Anybody can do an interview for anything, you know.
Scram: But I guess when you do one for the dole you want to seem like a loser?
Marky: I suppose so, yeah, which we don't really want to do right now.
Dave: Just for the Jacobites, it's usually me or Nikki or both of us who say anything, so it's really exclusive for you, the drummer's version.
Marky: I'll just shut up! I'm not really talking about the Jacobites, I'm talking about myself and Dave as a friend, really. It's funny, cos we came over, and I feel quite bonded to Dave in the last few days. I suppose we're a bit- we're not gay or anything [laughter], don't worry about that, but we just bonded-
Dave: [wry as toast] Perhaps you shouldn't do this interview.
Scram: This is getting good, actually.
Marky: It's back to the sex thing. [A Misfits cover band starts blasting away in the next room. Their caterwauling will interrupt us periodically whenever someone goes in or out of the smoking ghetto] It's really fun, we've both been exploring it ourselves. Nikki's been to America before, but for me and Dave it's a new experience.
Scram: Well, welcome! Welcome to our little country.
Marky: Is this the land of milk and honey, then, apparently?
Scram: Nah, it's more like Bud Light... and Miller.
Marky: This is a bit of a difficult thing to comprehend.
Dave: I've drunk enough Jack Daniels to experience America.
Scram: Your liver's American, huh? Dave, what's the most obnoxious question anyone's ever asked you?
Dave: "Who am I?" I think when people say something like "why do you play the guitar?"
Scram: To get chicks... duh!
Dave: It's like someone asking you "why do you move your arms or your legs, why do you have sex?" To me it's just a natural thing to do..
Scram: Is that something you did as a little kid?
Marky: We like drinking, that's another thing we like to talk about.
Scram: What are you drinkin'?
Dave: Jack and Coke. It's like a normal thing- [hysterical laughter breaks out from the wings, we forget why] I can't fucking do this!
Marky: Let's get a bottle of bourbon.
Dave: I'm trying to get fucking straight, I'm trying to answer the fucking question. To me it's just like a normal, natural thing to do, like any other bodily function you have.
Scram: Playing guitar is a bodily function?
Dave: Yeah, it's just kinda part of me. To play on stage is more normal to me than going to the shops. I go to a big department store, it freaks me out more than being onstage! [laughs]
Scram: How old were you when you started to play?
Dave: About fourteen.
Scram: What was your first band?
Dave: I played by myself for a while, like most kids do. [maniacal laugh]
Scram: Here we go again!
Dave: It's just my sense of humor. When you're fourteen at school you see things that you really like, like Top of the Pops or you listen to T.Rex-
Scram: Where'd you grow up?
Dave: In Birmingham. And you see that, and that's what you wanna do!
Scram: Were you like the other kids?
Dave: That's what I'm saying, it's quite a common thing people do in a different way. I can't see any other great reason. I wasn't visited by some strange thing- (pauses) perhaps I was. Perhaps everyone who decides to take a different path in their life is, I don't know.
Marky: I really don't like people who preach, and go around saying they have all the answers.
Scram: Those are usually people who are very frightened.
Marky: Because I think it's something that's bigger than me or anyone else to decide that. I just followed what felt right. I think everyone should. I mean, we're in a band, it's entertaining people. I think it's a cool thing to do. I don't think all this rock and roll is a bad thing. If you entertain people it makes people happy! Just to hear a record is the greatest thing to me. It makes life better.
Scram: Don't you feel like a little pied piper, where people are following you? They listen to your music, and you show them the way? Every time you've put out a record you've made a statement.
Dave: I don't particularly want to! Anyone who says anything to anyone is making a statement; you don't have to put out a record to do it!
Scram: But it sounds better! [laughter]
Dave: But you know what I'm talking about. You should do.
Scram: Just needlin' you. So is it still as easy to get on the dole as it used to be in England?
Marky: Wish you hadn't brought that up now.
Scram: We don't wanna get you in trouble, but that's why you've got such great rock and roll, that whole culture of people who don't have to work.
Dave: Yeah, I think just the fact that if you're not working that there's just not that much around. I've been quite well off in my life and at other times been completely broke, and it's just a real up and down life. And it's the same with relationships - if you're in a band it's very difficult. Being with someone and wanting to stay there with them and having to go away. But you pay a price I guess. You choose it, but also you have pitfalls to it. It's not a very stable existence!
Scram: [kittenishly] Is that why you write all those love songs?
Scram: Those girls you're missing back home?
Dave: There's only one.
Marky: Yeah, sometimes people see it as a glamorous thing, but it's also incredible difficult at times to keep a life together.
Scram: But this is your job.
Marky: And everybody has the same thing if they go out and they work a different kind of job. But I don't think anything's better than anything else. I don't think if you pick one thing, one particular occupation that's gonna make it more brilliant than any other.
Scram: Well, you've picked the one you really want to do.
Dave: That's the thing, people who are just stuck in something they hate, and that's horrible. I don't think anyone should do that.
Marky: In England, you can claim dole-
Dave: It all has its ups and downs, whatever you choose.
Scram: Sometimes you get a raise, and sometimes you get dressed down by your boss. That's true. You can get on the dole, then?
Marky: What I was gonna say was that you've got a bit of security there, you've got money. I know in America you can only get money for so long?
Scram: Like a year or so and then they cut you off.
Marky: It's not an excuse to not work-
Dave: [chortling] Preaching here on behalf of the government!
Marky: I think if you want to bring on a new talent, it's very hard if you've got a nine to five job to hold down, and you've still got to rehearse with the band.
Scram: Plus when people are young they've got the energy, you've got to tap it then.
Marky: Yeah, unless you've got rich parents-
Scram: They're gonna suck anyway!
Scram: Everyone who has rich parents sucks as an artist, that's a fact!
Dave: Nikki has!
Scram: Does he? Uh oh! [hysterics]
Marky: I didn't say that!
Scram: Boy, is my face red!
Marky: Otherwise what do you do? Either you work in a factory or you get a nine to five job, like Dave was just saying, I think if music's in you you tend to just do it anyway.
Dave: It's sometimes such a thing you have to love it to do it. You got to or else you wouldn't fucking end up in - the situations you end up at certain times are really bizarre. Marky's views of America, to digress, are different from mine.
Scram: What are yours?
Dave: I felt it was great when we first arrived here, it's great.
Scram: Now you've just been in Los Angeles so far? What's your first impression.
Dave: It's much better than I thought it was.
Marky: Palm trees.
Dave: It's quieter than my place at home. The first thing, the only thing that's weird, is we come here tonight to this club, and there are all these restrictions of people saying that you can't drink here and you can't smoke there and you gotta go there-
Scram: It's because they passed this new law about the smoking-
Dave: That was the first taste of bizarre America.
Scram: It's because waitresses were all getting cancer, that's what started it.
Dave: They're either putting on weight or getting cancer.
Marky: Is that a very American thing?
Scram: Cancer? It's very trendy.
Dave: Everybody's a hypochondriac!
Marky: You gotta have a shrink to look after your problems.
Scram: That's a New York thing!
Marky: I shouldn't talk too loud in case anyone takes offense.
Scram: It's okay, you're in Orange County. Nobody understands what you're talking about.
Marky: Oh, right.
Scram: In New York's everybody's neurotic. They've got too much money so they all go to the shrink.
Marky: The way I look at it is that you gotta go one day, you die one day. Why not live your life and enjoy yourself as you're going along? If you wanna have a cigarette or you wanna have a beer-
Dave: That's what I mean. America's just a contradiction, the whole country, completely.
Scram: A lot of people don't believe in having fun.
Marky: Why is that?
Scram: Puritans? That's the excuse they give in high school history.
Dave: You see so many things about it that are so fucked up, like kids on the street on crack and stuff-
Scram: Well, if you turn on the news it makes it looks like it's so crazy here, and it's not! There's fourteen million people around L.A., so everyday something weird is gonna happen!
Dave: That's what I mean. Where I come from is crazier than this.
Scram: I've been to Birmingham, I know!
Marky: All these restrictions, don't they build up a need in people to break out?
Dave: No wonder people go fucking crazy. It's like keeping people in a box, y'know? I don't agree with this sort of thing.
Marky: You have to come in here to smoke and you have to go in there for a beer.
Dave: It's like in Spain, Majorca, it's just really relaxed, and here it's just all this repression, this place especially. You walk in and you're a rock and roll band and I can't have a cigarette at the bar. Somebody was saying there's some bars in other states where you can't drink in the bar!
Scram: Yeah, there's dry counties, like in Georgia. But is it a bar then? It'd be a nightclub.
Marky: England is meant to be very conservative. The queen, the royal family, that-
Scram: England's pretty wild!
Marky: Yeah, well it is compared to what we've discovered today!
Scram: In New York they're shutting down all the porno shops. All you need is one crazy mayor - that's what they've got - to completely change the culture of a city.
Marky: I feel sorry for the people who live in that area.
Dave: I think repression builds more angst, doesn't it? People go fucking crazy and want to do more things. My girlfriend's German, and she says it's a lot more open-
Scram: In Germany?
Dave: Yeah, and they don't think of it that much. And everything's open to people a lot more. People go crazy when it's banned.
Scram: They want it even if they didn't know they wanted it, when they realize they can't have it. But people in America do spend more time at home, though, so maybe we don't really feel the restrictions. Going out is a bigger thing in England.
Dave: They stay at home masturbating. [laughs]
Scram: So where are you going on this trip?
Marky: San Francisco and Canada, then back down to Illinois, Texas, Las Vegas- it's Dave's birthday as well.
Scram: You guys should get married or something.
Dave: I was married once.
Scram: Is that a bad thing?
Dave: [consummately bored] I've done it.
Scram: You're no longer married?
Dave: Nah, divorced. It's a long time ago. Had children.
Scram: Crazy! That's illegal here.
Dave: What's crazy about that?
Scram: Getting married and having kids? Yeah, that's illegal - unless you have a separate room.
Dave: It's a bit difficult here! I feel better now, it's kinda cool just talking and relaxing.
Marky: Yeah, it's just really strange to have to go to a separate little secluded room to smoke, but that's okay. You have to respect people's laws.
Dave: I dunno, we went to Mark's [bassist] and he shares his place with other people and we had a cigarette in the morning - "ah, you can't smoke in this room!"
Scram: This is a different state than all the other ones.
Dave: First thing I did was have some champagne in the car, when we got to the airport - "oh, you can't drink in the car! They'll pull me over!"
Scram: It's true, and they'll seize his car and sell it at auction, and they'll use the money to pay the police.
Scram: So they have more incentive to search your car and find unmentionables.
Dave: Then you feel bad if you're doing it, if you're traveling with a band, you don't wanna do it yourself cos you don't wanna get everyone else in the shit.
Scram: The funny thing with all these restrictions is you just kinda get used to them after a while, and you just do the things you wanna do in the right place.
Dave: But that's control, isn't it? You're like mice in a little cage.
Scram: I think part of the American character is that you don't want to offend anybody.
Dave: I noticed this! Some guy just when I was up onstage brushed against me and said [emphatically] "I'm sorry!"
Scram: Maybe he thought he was gonna get shot.
Marky: That's pretty cool, there's nothing wrong with manners.
Dave: You know what it's like in England, people just go "hrrmpf!'
Marky: I say "sorry" and they say "fuck" - I'm used to that!
Scram: It's affectionate right? No!
Marky: I don't like that. I really like Europe.
Dave: Actually, I prefer Germany to England.
Scram: You lived there?
Dave: I stayed there for a while. I feel more relaxed there.
Marky: The Germany people are just so laid back, it's amazing. The Austrian people as well, they're just really laid back. We got a lot of propaganda after the second world war, the Nazis, whatever. I grew up with war films, where the Germans were just bad people, y'know.
Scram: Well they did some godawful things, you've got to face it.
Marky: Yeah, that was the propaganda in the '40s and '50s and '60s.
Scram: They bombed ya!
Marky: [sounding almost apologetic] Yeah, they did, but-
Dave: We bombed them as well.
Scram: We bombed ''em worse. Dresden! And we didn't get nailed for our crimes.
Dave: You go on with what you wanna say, but I've been going out with a German girl for five years.
Marky: But the German people are so cool, they're brilliant. What more can you say? What a great country, what a great place to play if you're a band.
Scram: It's a different generation. You've got to acknowledge what happened, but you can't blame them.
Dave: But you get one maniac-
Marky: "Don't talk about the war!"
Dave: - in a bar with a gun, now-
Scram: That's one bar, not the entire European continent!
Dave: You can't say that it's every American!
Scram: We do have the best serial killers, though. You have to admit it.
Dave: With Hitler, the country was in a state of depression, and they wanted to believe in somebody.
Marky: You do have the serial killers, that's something else.
Dave: I mean, that's insanity. You can get serial killers, but you can also have a serial killer who wants to take over the world!
Scram: There was this guy named Carl Panzram in the early part of the century who was a serial killer who was ambitious. He wanted to create a war between the U.S. and Britain in order to make a lot of money on war bonds. And his theory was that he'd buy all these bonds beforehand, stock in various military companies, and then he'd go out to a British ship that was anchored in an American harbor and blow it up and that would start a war!
Dave: One of my friends at home wants to put something into the whole computer system to shut down all the businesses and banks.
Scram: A virus? It might happen anyway!
Dave: He knows how to do it.
Marky: Who is that, Amanda Holdme?
Dave: He has to go "I wanna..." [laughter]
Scram: Actually, America's just like the Simpsons.
Dave: I can understand the Simpsons more now.
Marky: The Simpsons are very English as well, there are parallels.
Dave: We just saw 'em all sitting at the bar when we walked in here! [laughter] I can see the sarcastic point- an elephant's wife, I should say an American life. We're talking about elephants' wives now! [and we hadn't even known you were drunk, Dave] There's that bird again! [Nikki too seems to have returned to the room, but he pays no attention to us]
Marky: Is it his blonde angel?
Scram: Perhaps we're on a migration route. [chortling]
Marky: What sort of questions will you ask Nikki? [Mark is for some reason very anxious that we speak with Nikki, although it's clear that the only way for us to get a word out of Mr. Sudden would be if we were to run home and bleach our hair first.]
Scram: Maybe we won't talk to him.
Marky: He's a very interesting guy. [cackling from the Scramlettes]
Dave: I dunno how you kept a straight face there, Mark.
Scram: He didn't! Okay, so what do you wanna do in California before you leave?
Marky: [stubs out his cigarette in the general direction of the ashtray, flaming out on Kim's wrist as she reaches to check the tape recorder] Oh, sorry, sorry!
Dave: He's just burning people! It's illegal in most states to burn people alive. [laughter]
Scram: That's okay, I've never been burned with a cigarette before. I'm proud of it.
Dave: He's a drummer, that's his excuse for breaking all the laws, y'see.
Scram: It's funny, it didn't hurt.
Marky: Yeah, you didn't even flinch!
Scram: I was busy; I was working.
Marky: So your mind was on that thing, yeah.
Scram: Mark, where are you from?
Scram: I know. [laughter] It's a big country.
Marky: I'm from Birmingham.
Scram: Have you known each other forever then?
Marky: I've known Dave since '86.
Scram: Do you live in London now?
Marky: Birmingham. Dave as well.
Scram: Thought you moved to Germany?
Dave: My girlfriend moved over.
Scram: Who are your favorite bands right now?
Dave: Jacobites. Mott the Hoople.
Scram: Are they back together, touring, putting out records?
Marky: You know the Umajets? Used to be in Jellyfish and Imperial Drag. Dave Falkner's band.
Dave: I don't know many new bands.
Marky: I like the Foo Fighters. Promise Ring - they aren't new, I suppose.
Scram: [noticing that Mark is down to his last weird cigarette] How are you gonna replace these Lambert & Butler's? I don't think you can get these here.
Marky: No, we'll have to buy Marlboro instead, I suppose.
Scram: Is that the second best?
Marky: Dave what do you reckon, second best to Lambert & Butler? Lucky Strike?
Dave: You just like Lambert & Butler, I don't. You just fucking buy them.
Marky: No, you buy them round your house-
Dave: I just buy cigarettes.
Marky: I swipe 'em anyway, so...
Dave: He's discussing cigarettes now. I don't really think about cigarettes much of the time, I just buy them. I can't taste the difference, really.
Scram: Do you speak German?
Dave: [ashamed] Nah.
Scram: How long'd you live there?
Dave: I'm a lazy bastard! My girlfriend always tells me off for it, so don't you be too.
Scram: Doesn't everyone in Europe speak five languages? At least you know how to ask for the bar and the bathroom everywhere.
Dave: I guess if I was living there that long I would have tried.
Marky: Shall we get more drinks? Do you want to interview Nikki?
Scram: I think our plan has failed on that.
Marky: Shall I get a drink first, then bring him back to the table?
Scram: You wanna see if he wants to do it? It's cool if he doesn't; we're having fun with you.
Dave: If you wanna ask him anything about the actual history of the band, I could tell you anyway.
Scram: We just like asking people how they feel about the world, then we edit it down and it's interesting. [The boys look skeptical.] Honestly.
Dave: You've only learned about two things.
Scram: But we're having fun.
Marky: As far as I can tell the magazine's great, cause it's an off the wall- so basically you wanna talk about teeth or shoes?
Scram: Yeah, we haven't talked about shoes yet.
Dave: Usually, when I do an interview-
Marky: We haven't talked about shoes yet, Dave.
Dave: - with anyone, I've always said "let's talk, and get what you get out of it."
Marky: It's nice to talk about something different.
Dave: If people wanna fucking know about the band they can fucking listen to the records.
Scram: Hopefully they'll read this interview and think "Oh, those guys were funny"-
Marky: When I read an interview with a band, it's great when they go on about something really stupid, it's more interesting. It must be really hard work for Dave and Nikki to go on and say-
Dave: Cause people do actually-
Marky: Ask the same questions all the time. Didn't Keith Richards say, "Don't ask the same question again"?
Scram: It's automatic, you just tell the same story.
Marky: Yeah, the band did this and this and this. If you ask the same questions, yeah, exactly.
Scram: Here's a question: in all the years you've been playing, what's the most embarrassing thing that's happened, to you or anyone else?
Dave: Ha ha, I can't say.
Scram: You don't have to say the name of the person!
Marky: I know what mine is already, actually. When I went to the toilet here I had to - no, I can't tell this.
Scram: C'mon! Who's gonna read it? It's just Scram!
Marky: He'll [Nikki] read it, and Dave'll read it, and they'll just go "oh, that's not rock and roll to say that, so I can't say it!" [giggles]
Scram: They're gone now, go ahead!
Marky: All right... the men's toilets, yeah?
Scram: All the good stories start that way.
Marky: I'll just say one thing: there's no privacy, full stop, period. That's it. And that's embarrassing for me.
Scram: C'mon, your whole life you've been going into urinals! Are they different in Europe?
Marky: Oh, no, not urinals, the toilet, yeah? There's no door, in the men's toilet here. You sit down and people walk in and-
SCRAM (Margaret): That's unusual.
SCRAM (Kim): How do you know? How many men's bathrooms have you been in?
SCRAM (Margaret): [smugly] I've been in quite a few.
Marky: That's one of the most embarrassing things.
Scram: I'm so sorry you had that experience.
Marky: It's okay, it's the States, innit?
Scram: They're "wide open" here.
Dave: It's not embarrassing, it's just the most kind of fucked up thing I've done on tour. It was in Majorca, in Spain, and I got lost, and ended up sleeping in the street.
Marky: Just to recap, Dave, it's hard to remember anyway, cause he got lost-
Dave: You can tell 'em the whole story.
Marky: Dave was tired, he was very tired, you remember? So we were playing a little acoustic show in a bar, and Dave said "I'll have a 45 minute sleep in the car."
Dave: It was in this place with cobbled streets-
Marky: Streets are very similar-
Dave: I didn't know the area-
Scram: Like a maze.
Marky: So Dave wandered out to find us when he woke up-
Dave: Plus it's a total wino junkie hangout-
Scram: And you just kept getting farther and farther away.
Dave: I got out of the car 'cause it was fucking blazing in there, and I woke up and I was fucking wandering around. I couldn't find the place, and I collapsed on the fucking street.
Scram: In the middle of the day?
Dave: No, it was night. I must have been walking around for about three hours!
Marky: And Dave had no money-
Dave: I didn't have anyone's address.
Marky: No money, no phone numbers, no address.
Scram: [titters] Did you go to the embassy?
Marky: Yeah, in the end that's what we had to do. He found some English holiday-makers - it was those girls, remember?
Scram: "Hello, I'm a rock star and I'm lost."
Dave: I didn't feel like one, then.
Scram: That's pretty rock and roll, though.
Marky: It is, actually, it's a good rock and roll story. I'm glad he did it.
Dave: I was woken up by a Spanish woman-
Marky: Thought he was a wino.
Dave: - screaming at me on the fucking streets! [laughter] In Spanish! I was on her front steps or something. I don't know why I decided to go to these girls. They looked really nice, like guardian angels, I guess.
Scram: Did they buy you a drink?
Dave: No. They gave me money, they got me to a phone box. It was only 'cause one looked a bit like my girlfriend. Again, the romantic. It took me fucking hours to get back, but I managed to fucking do it.
Scram: You hadn't played the show yet?
Dave: And we didn't do it! This was the next day! [laughter] It was from the night before to the next day I woke up in the street. And I got back around the middle of the day.
Marky: The funny thing was, the day before, I didn't know where we were either. I feel a bit with Dave there. I didn't know where we were staying and I went swimming and I'd had a lot of wine to drink. And the tide took me down-
Dave: Drifted off of Majorca.
Marky: So I came out from the water and I wondered where I was.
Scram: And your clothes were on the beach somewhere?
Dave: In his boxer shorts! [laughter]
Marky: And it was so hot, I had no footwear, and the pavement burned my feet! I walked to this road, and thought "it's not it," so I found these imitation palm trees to sleep under the shade, and just lay down. And then Griff and Glenn found me, and that was it. I just fell asleep. "Oh, we've been looking for you everywhere!" I just drifted down the beach.
Scram: How far were you? A mile?
Marky: No. The tide just took me about 300 yards down the beach, but those Spanish streets look exactly the same. It's almost the same thing Dave had, really, when he got out of the car-
Dave: At least I got lost at night!
Scram: Okay, your story's better, but you weren't wearing your boxer shorts!
Marky: Yeah, and I was burning my feet on the pavement!
Dave: There were some strange experiences on tour when I was in Finland, years ago. I ended up with this girl. She couldn't speak any English-
Scram: And how's your Finnish?
Dave: [chuckles] I can't speak any. I woke up in the morning and this guy was sitting in the room and had my coat and my passport and all my stuff out on the table, and he was looking at it! Fucking hell, I don't know these people, I don't know anything. I was thinking "this is it, shit." Eventually they led me out of the house, four guys and this girl, they led me up this wasteland, and I'm just walking along thinking "aaah, perhaps, y'know, it's not too safe." And then suddenly we turn the corner, and they go "Hotel!" and it was cool.
Scram: Sounds like most peoples' stories about going into the deep south. You just can't understand them so you think they're sinister.
Dave: Yeah, but when someone has your stuff out and is looking through it and over at you?
Scram: C'mon, everybody likes to look at passports!
Dave: Probably, I think he was having a good chuckle. There was another weird girl on that tour, which was really bad, I mean it was a really bad thing to happen. This one girl was crazy, mad.
Scram: What'd she do?
Dave: She was kinda a fucking - I thought she was okay, y'know? It was in Helsinki. We went back there, didn't really know her either and it was fine, just had a drink. She got up in the morning and there was no one else around and she said "Go to the supermarket, have a beer, go to the beach." I didn't realize the beach was fucking there, in Helsinki. So I went back to the flat and I had put my hand through a fucking mirror, before. And she's talking to me about taking smack, and her problems, bits of broken English. She's on about "what'd you do to your hand?" 'cause I had a bandage on. And suddenly she went in the bathroom and I heard this fucking SMASH! She smashed the fucking whole mirror in the bathroom and said "now my hand's like yours!"
Dave: And I thought "uh oh."
Scram: She liked you! Then what happened?
Dave: Then she decided to have sex! [nervous laughter] Then she started talking about her boyfriend who got very jealous. And I was thinking "huh?" She goes "He doesn't like me going with other guys who play in bands all the time, 'cause I go out, I dunno what's wrong with him." I said "I can completely understand why he doesn't particularly like that, cause I wouldn't like it myself." She's just going "He's a bastard! He won't let me sleep with whoever I want to!" I was thinking, "Well, y'know, you didn't tell me any of this!"
Scram: She was telling you now!
Dave: And then she says "we better go now." And we walk out the fucking front door and this guy turns up with three guys, and we're going towards this bus stop, and these fucking guys just come up and grab this girl and threw her in the back of the fucking car and slammed the door and drove off! And I'm just standing there by the bus stop thinking "What the fuck are they doing?"
Scram: Good thing they didn't grab you and take you wherever.
Dave: If they'd come in the flat a few minutes earlier, these three fucking guys, I'd have been fucking dead. I feel really sorry for her, though, but I dunno what was in her head anyway.
Scram: She was asking for trouble
Dave: She turns up back to this place afterwards, where we're staying, with a black eye.
Scram: That was fast! How long's it take to get a black eye? Mark, don't you have any of these stories about crazy women?
Marky: [shy laughter] Uh, not really, no. Well, situations where you just-
Dave: I shoulda just got away from her. Really, sometimes...
Marky: Sorry about that, actually.
Scram: Sorry that you don't attract crazy girls?
Dave: Well, we do on tour. That's why we're talking to you! [laughter]
[the Scramlettes begin bickering over whether we are in fact nice girls, or homewrecking troublemakers]
Dave: There are various degrees of insanity.
Scram: I'd imagine with the aura that you project that you attract oddballs.
Marky: We've met some oddballs here.
Dave: In England I only have to walk down the street. I know if I sit down, have a cigarette and a beer, somebody's gonna come up and fucking start talking to me. [exasperated] It's like a radar they have.
Scram: They know who you are, or is it just the way you look?
Dave: They think, obviously, "Yeah, you're insane as well! I'll talk to you!"
Marky: There's a lot of notorious drunks around where we live.
Dave: Sometimes it's great, but sometimes you just want fucking peace. Sometimes when I want to sit there on my own is when I don't want to fucking talk to people! And that's when they hone in their radar!
Scram: I must say, when I'm feeling at my lowest, those are the days I get the most catcalls.
Marky: There's that one guy, Dave, what's his name? They guy with the longish hair?
Dave: There's a lot of people like that, Mark.
Marky: Nah, there's that one Collis knows, "Hey, yer a rock'n'roller, maaaaaan!"
Dave: Oh! He came and saw us in Berlin, y'know!
Marky: I know! What's his name?
Dave: That was bizarre.
Scram: Your local drunk shows up in Germany?
Dave: Charlie! Charlie's been playing around for ages. He tells you the same story about this stuff in the 60s.
Marky: Either the Faces or the Rolling Stones.
Scram: Was he a musician too, or just a drunk?
Marky: He's a musician and a drunk.
Dave: He's all right with it. It's cool, but sometimes you just don't need it, in your face. He meets me at strange times, like I've been to the dentist [laughter], and I go to the library and I'm just sitting there on the steps, and he suddenly turns up asking me stuff about everything I'm doing and I say I'm going to Europe and playing, doing some gigs. And then I think it was Dresden, I got out the fucking car to do this gig and he's like "Hey, maaaaaan!" It's fucking Charlie!
SCRAM (Margaret): Do you think he's following you in particular?
SCRAM (Kim): You know how it is, if you're in a foreign country and you see someone you know playing, you always go.
Marky: But him, the way he talks to you, if you met him you'd think he'd never be able to find anywhere. But he actually knew, it registered that we were gonna be there!
Dave: Worst thing is I woke up in the fucking morning -- it was Charlie at the fucking door again, waking me up!
Scram: What was the first concert you ever went to?
Marky: Slaughter and the Dogs.
Scram: Like '77?
Marky: Nah, '79. They reformed.
Scram: What was the first really good show you ever saw?
Marky: Prince, probably, at Wembley. I got really good seats. The Lovesexy tour, '88. He was great then.
Scram: Dave, the first really good show you ever went to?
Dave: Bowie with the Spiders, when I was 12. Mick Ronson's my hero as a guitarist.
Scram: Did your parents take you? Who'd you go with?
Scram: All by yourself?
Dave: I went with friends from school.
SCRAM (Kim): My mom took me to see Queen!
SCRAM (Kim): Oh, we saw Iggy together. She was really hip for a while.
Dave: I remember I got some of my mum's jewelry out of her drawer. [laughter]
Scram: Did you wear feathers too? Make-up?
Dave: No, I just remember getting jewelry. I only went that far.
Scram: He was only 12. All 12 year old boys should wear jewelry.
Dave: I only started wearing make-up when I was older.
Scram: When he needed it.
Dave: Yeah, sure. [suddenly incensed] Yeah, why shouldn't boys wear make-up anyway? Girls get the chance!
Scram: Boys are a little heavy-handed with it. They should have to go to school and learn how.
Marky: That was like the New Romantic thing in England
Dave: I don't understand the whole thing, that thing with guys with long hair and make-up -- "He must be gay." It's the guys with short hair and mustaches!
Scram: Of course. The guys with the make-up are attracting all the women.
Dave: Usually, I've found a lot of that.
Scram: Girls like a well made-up fella?
Dave: Generally. Everyone has their own individual taste, but most girls I've been out with...
Scram: I think girls like a guy who seems like he's easy-going and free-spirited, and that's what make-up says.
Marky: I was saying to Mark [bassist] today, that Alice Cooper, in his book "Me, Alice" says they were having to explain that they weren't gay all the time.
Scram: But he was so ugly. There was no way he was trying to attract men with that look! Or women or anybody; it was just grotesque.
Marky: Marc Bolan wore make-up, for chrissake, Bowie wore make-up. They were a bit androgynous--
Scram: The English thing was more theatrical. You've got to remember that the Cooper Band were in Detroit, which is the toughest, more severely masculine city in America. And they were just freaks.
Marky: Iggy was wearing make-up, with the Stooges.
Dave: The thing is, I've never had a feeling for anything that wasn't female. And human as well. [laughter]
Marky: Me too.
Dave: But I can kiss my friends. Girls do it, and everyone thinks that's okay.
Scram: We never kiss each other, and we're like best friends.
Dave: But if you do that people look at you and go "oh!" But to me that's just affection, friends. It's nothing sexual.
Scram: Well, that's not the myth of the English. We'll ask you about the English vice.
Marky: The English vice?
Scram: Supposedly the English are very into beatings.
Marky: [flabbergasted] Beatings? Sadomasochism?
Scram: Maybe it's the upper class public school thing.
Marky: Ask Dave about that, about the beating thing.
Dave: No. I'm more of a sadist than a masochist.
Scram: Oooh, really? You wanna tell us more?
Dave: Not particularly. I like to keep some things kind of private. Like when I go for a crap I like to keep that private.
Scram: Not here you can't!
Dave: No, I like to be masterful.
SCRAM (Kim): A typical guitar player kinda thing.
Dave: You should know, you tell me. You tell us a story.
SCRAM (Kim): I don't have any stories; I'm a journalist. [laughter]
Dave: So you've done nothing in your entire life.
SCRAM (Kim): I'm completely innocent.
Marky: Back to sex again, aren't we? Sex and shoes and now we're back to sex again.
[Maggot asks for the bathroom and is teased for not calling it the toilet]
Marky: I see Nikki's surrounded by a few friends at the moment. Do you want him to just come over for a second?
Scram: We're happy talking to you.
Dave: Just leave it, leave it leave it leave it! Do you want to fucking interview him? You ask the same question all the time.
Scram: Okay, why don't you pretend to be Nikki and I'll interview you?
Dave: Yeah, you pretend to be Nikki!
Marky: I couldn't do that, Dave. I couldn't do that.
Dave: Just try. [giggles.] Here's a little game for you, Mark. If you was Nikki, what would you say to these questions, and your impression of how you think he'd respond to them.
Marky: Why'd you think I've got more of an idea about how he'd answer the questions than you have? Why don't you answer the questions?
Dave: It's how you think he'd respond to them as you know him, personally.
Marky: Me personally? What's the questions?
Scram: What questions would you like to ask Nikki?
Dave: A very surrealist idea. Well, Salvador Dali is one of my favorite artists, and he said the best form of conversation was complete confusion.
Scram: That's drunkenness.
Marky: Is that a question or is it a statement?
Dave: Oh, I wish I had a pair of Elvis' socks.
Marky: Oh, it's a statement then, sorry.
Dave: Okay, if you was Mr. Adrian Godfrey-- this is a surreal-- [Maggot returns] you can do this, Margaret, he's--
Marky: I'll be Nikki, right, and then Dave's--
Dave: No, he's gotta, Margaret can do it. Mark could accurately--
Marky: It's a bit complicated, but I know what Dave means.
Scram: What question would Nikki want to answer, first off?
Marky: You can ask any question.
Scram: [laughing] What's the most embarrassing experience you've ever had on tour?
Marky: Shit, uh-- I can't say these things! I can't, honestly. The thing in Belotha [or someplace that sounds like that], if I had to.
Dave: When he shit himself, when he OD'd. He was dressed up in a nappy in a hospital.
Marky: Yeah, nappy.
Dave: [chortling] I hope he don't even read this!
Marky: What's the next question?
Dave: This is my thing that drugs aren't exactly always cool, because you can end up in things-- but usually when you're the person in that situation, you don't remember anything. It's all the other people around you who have to suffer.
Dave: And that's my revenge on him, that I told you that.
Marky: Dave, let's break it down even more: I'll ask myself the questions, and I'm Nikki. [hysterics] [lightning fast] "What is your favorite album?" "Exile on Main Street." "What sort of clothes do you like?" "I like sorta stripy trousers, sorta nice jackets." "What sorta girls do you like?" "Blonde girls." "What guitars do you like?" "Mainly Gibson juniors, anything that Johnny Thunders would play, I'll play that." "What do you think about Dave?" "Ah, Dave's really good, like. He likes to drink and stuff and we hang out and we write great songs together."
Dave: Who's your favorite drummer?
Marky: "Probably Keith Moon or Charlie Watts."
Dave: John Bonham!
Marky: "John Bonham, actually John Bonham probably is a very good answer, yes."
Scram: See, we don't need to talk to Nikki; you got the whole thing down.
Marky: I asked myself the questions then answered them for you.
Scram: You've heard him answer these questions a million times?
Marky: Not really, I just know Nikki.
Dave: How good are you in bed, Nikki?
Marky: "How good am I in bed? I bet I can perform okay."
Scram: I'm sorry, what was that question?! [laughter] Back to sex again. It doesn't take long; it seems to be about a 15 minute cycle.
Marky: I'm going to go to the toilet, okay?
Scram: If you go to the girls' room they have doors.
Dave: They'll probably shoot him if he goes in.
Scram: We'll escort ya!
Marky: This is Orange County! I don't wanna get shot tonight, I've got a gig.
Scram: We'll guard the door, make sure nobody comes in.
Marky: That's okay. I need to use the urinal, not the toilet.
Scram: Oh, fine then.
Marky: Do you wanna bring Nikki over then?
Dave: Stop it now. You press repeat and play.
Scram: We don't know how to do an interview anyway!
Marky: Ask Dave to call Nikki over.
Dave: They've got about seven hours worth of this stuff, it seems like anyway.
Scram: What are you going to do tomorrow, before you play?
Marky: Sleep, rest. Maybe eat a little bit. Have a beer?
Scram: Go to Disneyland?
Marky: I don't think we'll get time, to be honest. The worst thing about touring is you go to so many great cities, and you never really end up getting the best out of them. This is a late-night gig, really, twelve o'clock. Maybe not for you guys, but usually we play around ten o'clock at night.
Scram: You're still on an English schedule, so it's the middle of the night for you.
Marky: Yeah. But on tour generally, you go to so many great cities, and you just don't get a chance to see them. Like Prague, for instance. It's the most amazing city, the architecture's amazing. Berlin's pretty good as well. But with this American tour [the Misfits cover band has apparently been replaced by a Flamin' Groovies act; "Slow Death" is heard through the door]-- I wanna see a lot of places already, Las Vegas and stuff. That's gonna be great to see. But I really wanted to get some photographs, of the Hollywood sign, y'know? [Saturday afternoon we made Marky's dream come true and took him and Dave up to the Bronson Canyon caves to see the sign] We had a story in England that the bottom of the letters are really graffiti's up and vandalized!
Scram: No, not anymore, maybe in the '70s. Sometimes they change the letters, they''' drape another letter so instead of "Hollywood" it would say "Hollyweird" -- or "Hollyweed!" But they're pretty well fenced-off now.
Scram: We're not really interviewing anymore. Do you have any final words for our readers, or any advice?
Marky: Advice? I don't think I'm a good person to give advice, nevertheless--
Scram: He's going to give some advice.
Marky: Be true to your friends and just enjoy life and take things for what they are.
Scram: Sounds like you believe in being true to yourself as well.
Marky: Be true to yourself, yeah. And just be, uhmm...
Marky: No, not so much just cool. There's a lot of things you have to do. [laughter] The one thing I would say as well, if you can say [chuckles] -- I'm going to seem a bit corny, actually, but what I'd like to say is I just miss my girlfriend, back at home, Yvonne.
Marky: That'd be great if you could print that, and just say I miss her a little -- well, I miss her a lot, and I'll speak to her soon.
Scram: [laughing] You'll be back home before we go to press! Dave, We're wrapping this up, so, you have any advice for our readers?
Dave: Advice for your readers? No. [slurring, somewhat] You're such wonderful people, the people who read this magazine. Perhaps you have some more sense than most people, and don't need any advice. [laughter]
Scram: I dunno about that!
Dave: Or perhaps they do. Don't follow leaders, and watch your parking meters.
Scram: Thank you Dave, and thank you Jacobites.
Wanna read more? Pick up Scram #9.
Candy Coated Goodees: The Girl Group's Last Gasp
by Kim Cooper
Ideas ooze slowly down into Memphis from the coastal flash points of popular culture. In 1968, a bright shiny bulb flickered o'er the dome of one Don Davis, record producer: "The Shangri-Las - what a swell bunch of gals! We oughtta have our own Shangri-Las, southern style!" And thus, perhaps, were The Goodees born.
Never mind that The Shangs' distinctly urban brand of teenage opera had made its mark back in 1965 and '66 - an eternity past in chart-years. A great gimmick is forever, as is the appeal of the archetypal Gang Girl. Multiply her by three or four, and the effect is still more thrilling. A delinquency that in solitude is merely poignant becomes erotically charged en masse. Good-bad, but not evil, the Gang Girl is a fantasy-figure for both sexes. Mix sass, trash, and an anti-Dickensian yen to climb a rung or three down the social ladder, and you have something iconic on your hands. In 1965 it meant stardom for The Shangri-Las, just as it had (in less baroque form) for The Angels and Chiffons; in 1968 it was an interesting regional oddity in the six delicate hands of The Goodees, whose pose was perhaps more appealing for being ridiculously archaic when placed against the mode of pop womanhood being espoused by a Grace Slick or Janis Joplin.
"Condition Red" - which was the closest thing that The Goodees had to a hit single (#46 in December 1968) - is a bold distillation of Shangri-Las' impresario George "Shadow" Morton's writing and Artie Butler's arrangements. The title refers to the code shared by the young vocalist and her swain, a warning that her folks are on the warpath so he'd better lay low. She mimics their persnickety, superficial complaints in a kittenish drawl: "Why doesn't he get a haircut? Why doesn't he shave?/ Y'know, he used to be such a nice lookin' fella before he grew that awwwwful beard!" The leader of the pack was at least (presumably) clean-shaven; the image of a boy on a motorcycle had changed profoundly in a very few years.
On closer perusal, one finds that the song is a direct adaptation of "Leader of the Pack," which in its 2:52 running time - the precise length of "Leader," and of course the perfect duration for a pop single - manages to hit nearly every emotional mark of its predecessor.
Let's review, class. In The Shangri-Las' original, a schoolgirl chat session commences with the charged question "Is she really going out with him?" - a sneery query denoting the unlikeness of a girl like Betty being pinned by a boy like Jimmy. But she really is, and she's wearing his ring. Well, then, is he picking her up after school today? And here "Betty" (lead singer Mary Weiss) loses her treasured cool, with the saddest sounding "uh uh" ever caught on tape.
Betty breaks into song to recount her tragedy: her parents had denigrated Jimmy, harping on the class differences between their families. But Betty recognized that he was not "bad," but "sad," and for this she loved the leader of the pack. With each declaration of her love, the rev of engineer Joe Veneri's motorcycle proffers wordless confirmation of its strength. Nonetheless, one day her dad says find someone new, and the dutiful daughter obligingly tells her sad Jimmy they're through. Straddling his motorcycle in the street, sorta-smiling as Betty's eyes fill with tears, Jimmy prepares to enter eternity. Speeding away on rainy asphalt, his own eyes perhaps bleary with unshed tears, he doesn't make it off the block before crashing into a car. Betty returns to school, a mystical widow. And she cries, perpetually, unashamed by her tears or the stares they engender. The other Shangri-Las kick in with some beatific whoo-whoos, as Betty swears eternal fealty to her fallen love.
But in "Condition Red" the narrator has no confidantes to share her troubles. It is a telling omission, for it was this Greek Chorus effect that gave songs like "Leader" and "Give Him a Great Big Kiss" much of their immediacy. The Gang Girl, remember, is a figure of pathos when stripped of her accompaniment. Just as Jimmy is merely a geek on a bike without his pack, so too is Betty a freakish drip when denuded of her feminine compatriots. The lead Goodee stands alone against the harsh parental world, without the solace of a friend to ease her anguish. She speaks directly to her fella (her only ally), explaining that he can't come over tonight because her parents disapprove. Oh, she always defends him, assuring mama and daddy that despite his long hair, he's the right one for her. But they won't listen, won't be swayed. Brazenly, then, she suggests that they meet down on the corner from now on. She's quite willing to sneak around in order to see him. But the boy is mortally insulted by this reminder of the class division between them - she squeals as she sees "that look in [his] eye!" His flash of anger is the necessary excuse to cue the familiarly-Mortonian sound of a motorcycle engine turning over, as the boy enacts the one event essential to cementing his immortality.
Appropriating directly from the thanatoic Morton casebook, "Condition Red" closes with the exasperated suitor driving away from his inconstant girl... incredibly... nay, agonizingly.... slowly. Slow enough for her to beg him "take me with you" in five or six permutations, and then sing a neat little bridge about how strong her love is - a bridge that's interrupted by a shriek of warning just before her careless sweetie-pie smashes himself to a pulp against an apparently parked car. The brutal sound of metal on metal is chillingly realized. Cut in: soaringly lovely police sirens, an eerie click track, and the angelic voices of the three Goodees, melodically celebrating the sacrifice that equals perfect love in the arena of the Gang Girl.
The fantasy of romance forged by Morton and his peers in these songs was an incredibly powerful (if simple-minded) one. The Boyfriend was a cur with a heart of gold, and only the magically perceptive eyes of the Girlfriend were capable of seeing his true form. They want to get married, but they're so young. "Give us your blessings" they beseech a harsh world that turns a stony face to their plight. "Mom, Dad, please understand, please-" But they never, never do. Besides, his heart is out in the street, and that's the only real place for him. These Romeos of the brownstones have to spill their blood in the gutters before they can metaphorically consummate their love. And in dying, they give the ultimate gift to their Juliets: a love unsullied by the ugly reality of teenage marriage among the lower classes: no babies, no fighting, no dingy fifth-floor walk-up, not a whisper of mutual disinterest or disdain. Eternally young, bad and beautiful, the dead hero lives on in the romantic memory of his lover, even as she and her Girl Gang chorus sing him into the grave. Surely it's no accident that The Shangs share their name with the mythic utopia of James Hilton's Lost Horizon, a paradise where no one grows old.
In an odd coincidence, Morton originally intended "Leader of the Pack" to be recorded by another girl group, Long Island's Goodies! Red Bird, The Shangs' label, discouraged Morton from spreading his songs around to unknown acts, and so this classic of teen death music became the second, biggest, hit for The Shangri-Las. Some three years later, the Memphis Goodees would make the scenario, if not exact song, their own.
By 1968, the primacy of 45 rpm singles was passing, and all swinging groups required an LP record if they were to be taken seriously. The Goodees' stereo long player Candy Coated Goodees sported an amateurish cover drawing seemingly inspired by the low-rent bubblegum imagery of the Kasenetz-Katz studio. The Goodees themselves are represented holding oversized lollipops on the front, and a grainy black-and-white group totem pole pose on the flip. Although their purported body mass ("NET WT. 110 LBS EA.") was trumpeted on the cover, the women's names were omitted. They were, in fact, Kay Evans, Sandra Jackson, and Judy Williams.
Candy Coated Goodees was the second of four releases on the small but interesting Stax-affiliated Hip Records label. Preceded by Smell of Incense by The Southwest F.O.B. (featuring England Dan and John Ford Coley in a far-out vein), and followed by the debut of The Knowbody Else (later to become Black Oak Arkansas), The Goodees' album is a minor classic of demented pop, fusing the girl group style with charming regional twists and a even little bit of frat rock. It is, if nothing else, unique.
The Shangri-Las were city girls, students at Andrew Jackson High in Queens. Composed of the Ganser twins, Mary Ann and Marge, and sisters Mary and Betty Weiss, The Shangs exuded a toughness that seemed rooted in personal experience. George "Shadow" Morton, their discoverer and primary writer, was himself a product of the mean streets of Brooklyn, and claimed to have been stabbed and shot at even before being made a junior member of the Big Red Devils Gang. Later his family moved out to Hicksville, where George met Bumpy - yes, Bumpy - a diner hooligan who was to be the inspiration for the character of the Leader of the Pack. ("I had to tell my Bumpy we're through...")
Morton encouraged The Shangs to hike up their skirts and toss garters into the audience, and wrote songs that cemented their image as rough chicks. Because Betty Weiss frequently failed to appear at live bookings and for photo shoots, rumors circulated that the group had an agreement that they could each take time off as unspecified bad habits took a toll on their health. The band split up soon after Red Bird went bust; their last charting single was "Past, Present and Future" in June of '66. Mary Ann Ganser died of encephalitis in 1971, but for years it was the mythical drug overdose of sister Marge that was widely reported in the rock press. Marge actually was still living on Long Island until 1996, when she died of breast cancer.
Although next to nothing is known about The Goodees, it seems unlikely that these Southern gals would have had much personal experience with guys like Bumpy. But in their best song, "Jilted" (a Davis-Briggs original), they adapt the overwrought teen tragedy genre into a distinctly realistic form. "Jilted," as operatic as any Morton production, presents a personal tragedy that is both more likely and more frightening than many of The Shangri-Las' scenarios.
The production begins with a stately wedding bell intro, the spacey skronk of a synthesizer, and a cool, countrified guitar figure. The lead Goodee shameless emotes, in a mournful (yet still sassy) voice, as each couplet pots up the meter on the level of her shame:
"Mama's embarrassed, Daddy is furious
And Brother is looking for him with a gun
And those who came to wish me well
Are watching me go through hell
My tears have just begun
As I look in my Mama's face
As I look in my Daddy's face
Can't help but hang my head in disgrace
I been jilted
The man I love has jilted me!"
This is bad, real bad. But it gets worse:
"Preacher man, preacher man
Put your bible away
Ain't gonna be no wedding here today
Flower girl, flower girl
Take those flowers out your hands
Throw them, throw them
In the nearest garbage pail
Ain't it a shame, such a shame
A lowdown shame
Gonna have a child
But my child won't have a name!"
Amazing, ain't it? The Shangs may have presented themselves as bad girls, but you somehow knew they'd keep their knees together no matter what. Three sweet little Goodees make manifest the implied sins of every girl group to come before in this one great song.
The rest of the album is a mix of predictable and offbeat covers, and a few originals. "A Little Bit of You" offers an interesting hair-of-the-dog response to a broken heart, when The Goodees beg their lost love for "a little bit of you, enough till I can break away." A raunchy take on The Swingin' Medallions' "Double Shot (of My Baby's Love)" is a fine example of what I'll clumsily call Sor Rock - Frat Rock's flip side. With well-lubricated horns and one drunken, grumbly guitar for accompaniment, The Goodees sound as if they're no strangers to passing out in front yards. The track closes with some very sexy shouts of ooh, yeah, and the like, and it goes particularly well with "Jilted." But transposing the sexes in The Brooklyn Bridge's hit "Worst that Could Happen" was a peculiar idea at best, and when the lead Goodee peals "I'll never get married, you know that's not my scene/ But a boy needs to get married" the only possibly response is to think, my, that's odd.
On the utterly craven "Didn't Know Love Was So Good," the group sound like they're being ravaged, but digging it. Unfortunately, their version of "My Boyfriend's Back" is hampered by an overwrought arrangement and unconvincing vocal. More successful is the nearly funk version of "He's a Rebel," which is notable for the excellent syncopated enunciation: "he's not a rebel, no-no-no" instead of the smeary way The Crystals handled the lyric.
Even if The Goodees' record wasn't such an anomaly for its time, it would be worth seeking out as a fairly strong example of the girl group genre. But because it was recorded in the annus psychedelicus of 1968, its strange blend of innocence and calculation conspire to give it a unique charm. Following an imagined trajectory from The Shangri-Las outward, one can presume that there may be examples of teen death girl group music recorded in Chile in 1974... Bora Bora in 1980... maybe in Uzbekistan last week. In fact, anywhere that young people are forced to fit their passions into the narrow furrows of accepted behavior, maneuvering painfully though the rituals of maturity while dodging the real and imagined missiles of family and of fate, there is a need for such pocket operas. And I'd like to someday to hear those songs, but in the interim, I'm digging the slinky sounds of The Goodees - the girl group's last gasp of 1968.
Dusty Springfield is dead, and with her goes a voice that was perhaps too gorgeous for one woman to own. It was never just that the voice was an incredible instrument, but the intelligence and tenderness that she brought to her phrasing. Technically great singing voices are common, but great singers are not. There are all these skinny little chicks on TV lately who for want of a better term are called divas. I think this means that they have lousy attitudes and dig Barry Manilow. Not one of them has ever made me shiver the way Dusty could, three or four times in a song, and without ever sinking to the crowd-pleasing holler that these dames substitute for soul.
Dusty's trouble was that she was the consummate interpreter, and without material of the proper caliber, her own work suffered. The finest songwriters of the land should have felt morally bound to give her first crack at every great song they wrote. For a while in the sixties she had her pick from all the richest veins, and the things she did on record were stunning. Maybe it's just that they didn't write songs good enough for her to sing anymore. That's almost a sadder thought than the fact that she's not here to sing them.
The way Dusty breathed could fit a song in a way I've never heard in another singer. Her soft intakes of air somehow were made in character, so that you became absolutely convinced that every story was a real one. The saddened losers she inhabits on the great Dusty in Memphis album - a record that everyone should own, all right? - are like old friends at the wrong end of the telephone line. Their tragedies are inevitable ones, and Dusty wears her suffering like a crown.
Her singles of the mid-sixties were great pop, but she relied on a mixed bag of European writers and her records often had a distinctly foreign air. It was only when she went to Memphis and recorded an album of material by great American writers like Goffin-King, Randy Newman, Mann-Weill and Bacharach-David that she really was able to soar. What did this cotton-candy tressed British lass know about soul? Jesus, everything. So self-conscious that she couldn't stand to sing without full orchestration in her headphones, so shy that she had to hide behind the most elaborate confections of eyelash and beehive ever unfurled, when she opened her mouth Dusty had the voice of a Human Being, with every strata of her emotional life revealed within the timbre of her sound. Was it real, or exquisite artifice? Who can know? Who would care?
When a great singer dies, only her and our silence can express the loss. But there's joy, too, in the knowledge that the recordings survive. For most of history a voice died with the singer. This ephemeral fact may have made music more urgent, more moving. But these last few generations' singers remain, on wire, on magnetic tape, in digital hash and out into the ether. Dusty Springfield continues to hold our hearts gently in the cup of her hands, and to whisper hope and heartache deep inside, making it look easy, making it sound agonizingly real.
Goodbye Dusty. Godspeed.
Chad & Jeremy & LSD
by Kim Cooper (from Scram #9)
You can quibble all you want about precisely when the psychedelic era set its roots, but in pop music it's clear that the apex of convulsive flourishing was 1967. Every artist with half an ounce of media savvy recorded a psychedelic song or album, and amongst the dripping lysergic swirls of overwrought cover art, idiotically-employed tape effects, interminable "far out" phraseology, and such gimmicks as the rare chance to see The Rolling Stones in 3D wizard garb (gear! fab! unngh...?), there were some remarkable surprises.
Amongst those who stepped up to eagerly take the hallucinogenic host (or at least give the convincing impression that they had) were Chad Stuart and Jeremy Clyde, a fairly-innocuous pair of posh British lads previously best known for not being Peter & Gordon. (This writer has long had difficulty remembering which duo she finds interesting, and has mistakenly brought home cheap P&G records on several occasions. This may be due to flawed mnemonic reasoning which suggests Peter & Gordon are "Pretty Good" when, in fact, they are not. Preferable, perhaps, to simply avoid all albums with redheaded men on their covers.)
Their early records were a baffling blend of pop smarts and pretentious schlock, jarring arrangements and strange cover versions. Frequently the boys' voices were drowned in so much orchestration and reverb as to render them nearly unrecognizable. Despite some good moments, theirs' was a career far more notable for marketing than for any creative distinction.
And so Chad & Jeremy might have easily remained, had they not hatched the brilliant idea to split London for L.A. sometime around 1965. The pair cleverly consolidated their stateside fame with regular appearances on Hullabaloo, and by guest starring on Batman (Catwoman steals their voices, spelling instant gloom for Gotham's teeny populace), The Dick Van Dyke and Patty Duke shows.
Close proximity to the television industry, a fertile West Coast music scene, and that high quality Frisco windowpane combined to spell revelation for our heroes, and by 1967 they were ready to show the world precisely what side their crumpet was buttered on. The result, Of Cabbages And Kings (Columbia CS 9471/ CL 2671), is a masterpiece of high-concept psych-pop, richly-orchestrated, unfailingly melodic, gorgeously produced (by under-rated hot rod meister Gary Usher), and brimming with multiple layers of real meaning. If there was any justice in the world - ha! - then never again would Chad & Jeremy have been mistaken for Peter & Gordon.
Cabbages is a true collaboration between Clyde (who wrote most of the songs and the side-long experiment "The Progress Suite, Movements 1 thru 5"), Stuart (who arranged and scored), and the scarily-talented Usher. The perverse world-view of the disc is quickly delineated in the first track, "Rest in Peace," a delightful musical portrait of a man who knows a thing or two about the real face behind the painted-on smiles. The melody is lovely, words as arch as Tower Bridge.
"My name it is Matthews
And I've got it made
A memorial maker
It's a profitable trade
I don't solicit business
There's no point in trying
What I like about my customers
They just keep on dying
Here lies Frederick
Mourned by his wife
He led a blameless life
He couldn't win the way she treated him
His gravestone should have read
'Here lies Fred, he's better off dead'
Rest in peace
Rest in peace
They bring the names of husbands
They bring the names of wives
They want me to perpetuate
Their awful dreary lives"
No "Strawberry Fields Forever," this. In Chad & Jeremy's psychedelic world, it's the dark, square trap of British middle class life that's observed with a rapier eye, dipped in bile and road grit and laid down on magnetic tape under California skies.
Los Angeles has traditionally provided a psychic haven for British writers, a retreat from which they can cast an increasingly jaundiced eye home. So it's no accident that this most English of records would have been entirely created on the left coast, from which distant vantage a precise satirical vision of Britannia could be honed.
In a stroke of fortune, homegrown genius Usher was selected to forge iridescent nets of sound to contain their cruel ruminations. What might have seemed merely bitter in other surroundings becomes glorious under Usher's umbrella. The cat who would produce the Byrds, Peanut Butter Conspiracy and Gene Clark trotted out all the tricks for this pair - even though the three didn't particularly get along. Usher thought their songs uncommercial indulgences, and was irked by their rejection of the exquisite "My World Fell Down," which he and Curt Boettcher would soon record as Sagittarius. Personal feelings aside, Cabbages is one of Usher's finest productions.
But it's not all nastiness and nostalgia for our two émigrés. "Can I See You" is a true classic of lovelorn pop, with a perfectly structured lyric introducing the anxious lover who makes a gentlemanly request to meet his ex, and grows increasingly hopeful and impassioned as the one-sided specifics of their reunion are delineated. Settling into courtly resignation, Jeremy coos,
"And I see you
You look a little older now, perhaps
Or maybe I am younger
And I touch you
I take your hand as a stranger now
And want to hold it longer
But you must go
You'll never guess I still love you so
But I saw you
I saw you"
It's an exceptionally beautiful piece of music, precise and moving.
The too-frank teen melodrama "Family Way" is an incredible artifact, and the everything-but-the-Chinese-wok production suggests the group had a blast recording it. The moody buzzing undertone created by double-tracking the vocals sounds especially great. Set up like any number of clichéd young-lovers-thwarted scenarios, Chad & Jeremy quickly kick their tale into hyperdrive with the revelation that the kids don't just wanna get married, they haveta get married! The distaff parental reactions are classics of Anglo passive aggression, culminating in the desperate offer of a one-way ticket to sunny Mozambique for the young gentleman. Only it's already too late: the insistent cry of an infant loops in to close the track as tastelessly as it began. Amazing!
A highlight of the album is "I'll Get Around to It If and When I Can," written by James William Guercio, but perfectly pitched to the tone of the original material. The deliberately crafted tune becomes somewhat amusing after one learns a few key facts about its author, a perpetually peripheral figure in pop music. Chicago scenester and consummate hustler, Guercio hoped to parlay his gig as Chad & Jeremy's bassist into a Columbia house producer's chair. He gained additional leverage as The Buckinghams' manager, but that group soon socked him with a lawsuit for publishing fraud. Before long he was back as Chicago's manager, and he would produce them, Blood Sweat & Tears, and even Moondog for Columbia. But success didn't still Guercio's natural hustle: see Clive Davis' 1974 biography Clive, where he talks about Guercio and Mike Curb's clumsy attempt to sneak a pre-hit Chicago out from under Columbia's contractual nose. Later, Guercio was the Beach Boys' road manager, and still more interestingly, he both scored and directed the idiosyncratic Robert Blake motorcycle cop flick, Electra Glide in Blue. A man with a talent for being where the action was, Jimmy Guercio. One wonders what schemes he's working today.
The idea of allocating the flip side of a record to a side-long experiment wasn't a new one - Love's "Revelation" had stunk up Da Capo the year before -- but Cabbages' "Progress Suite" is one of the more interesting examples of the trend. The implications of such a composition are clear: the artistes presenting the work feel hemmed in by the commercial requirements of pop writing, and fancy themselves capable of producing something more meaningful and moving than just another "yeah yeah yeah" hit. Ambitious, arrogant, and doubly blessed with a sympathetic producer and access to the best equipment extant, our heroes let it rip, revealing their caustic vision of the first two thirds of the century in an effective, demented aural collage.
The suite begins with a "Prologue" containing some very convincing sitar playing by Chad - and since no one west of Bombay was playing the sitar prior to 1966, it's all the more impressive.
The second movement is the pessimistically-titled "Decline," a chaotic layering of commercial signifiers, the mid-20th century encapsulated in brief: car horns, jangling phones, the human babble and that of the barnyard, clacking teletypes emotionlessly conveying information (bad news, most likely) full-bore machine noise in full stereo. It's a fluid tone poem in darkest hue, stressful and increasingly sinister with the eventual introduction of police sirens and fire bells. All but buried in the murk is a hauntingly insistent melody line that soldiers on, oblivious to the chaos that surrounds it. A toilet is flushed, a martial pennywhistle blows, and the section closes with a Kinksish vision of a great empire dying out before your ears.
After that, a listener both needs and deserves a break, and Chad & Jeremy prove their pop intuition is true by offering "Editorial," a nifty little tune, catchy as sin, suspended in the amber of this experimental platter. The only catch: the subject of "Editorial" is world hunger, and melody can't obscure the cynical creepiness of the lyric.
"Look at the progress we've made
Get your vitamin quota
In your soup ready-made
Forget that there's hunger around you
Look at the progress we've seen
Perhaps you should cut down
On sugar and cream
You can't button your jacket around you
What happens now
Better pray to your gods
And hope that somehow
Far from the shack you call home
They aren't burning the grain
That has ripened and grown
'Cause the prices have fallen again, so
Eat up your rice, Billy dear
They're starving in India
At least that's what I hear
Come on, my child, cram it down you
But we are okay
In our shiny new car
Look at us now
You can see we've come far
Here I am playing electric guitar
Look at the progress we've made"
"Fall" is an instant bad trip comprised of nationalistic sloganeering over soldier's rhythms, animal sounds, a smattering of spy jazz, civil defense sirens, international war reports, machine gun fire and a breath of slinky sitar, the whole mess building up until it culminates in a nuclear blast. Fun guys, Chad & Jeremy.
The "Epilogue" is a vocal number, gloomy but not particularly catchy. They should have left off with the explosion, really.
It ends with a whimper, but overall Of Cabbages And Kings is glorious, and the good news is that this absurdly rare disc has just received a domestic CD re-issue on M.I.L. Multimedia. Grab yourself a copy and rejoice.
The Clyde-Stuart-Usher triumvirate were soon back in the studio recording a follow-up, the somewhat schizophrenic The Ark (Columbia CS 9699/ CL 2899). Moodily cloaked in Charles Bragg's cover painting, The Ark is poppier than Cabbages, but less cohesive, and the plethora of guest-writers suggests that the boys were having some difficulty coming up with a full set of tunes. Jeez, put down the bong and work, guys! While Levitt-Gorgoni's "Painted Dayglow Smile" is a terrific psychedelic gypsy's lament, R. Irwin's lame "You Need Feet" ("...to keep your socks on and stop your legs from fraying at the end") is simply unforgivable (and interminable!). Just why Chad & Jeremy felt compelled to revive Bernard Bresslaw's 1959 British novelty hit (itself a parody of Max Bygrave's "You Need Hands") is a mystery lost to the ages. Whatever the cause, it seems to have infected the Rutles as well; they too briefly revived it in All You Need is Cash.
The best tracks on The Ark are Clyde's buoyant "Imagination," the British Invasion nostalgia-piece "Transatlantic Trauma 1966" ("I'm writing from Boston/ And Chad is uptight/ I broke two strings on stage last night..."), and a great song from the soundtrack to AIP's sexploitation pic "3 in the Attic."
Usher's production is maybe the best thing about the record -- to his almost immediate detriment. The cost of The Ark was $75,000, an enormous sum in 1968. Stuart had many elaborate demands for this record, and the producer seems to have acquiesced to most. But then the record sold bubkus, and soon Gary Usher was looking for another job. You can get The Ark on CD too (Japanese import MVP M32224), if you're inclined, and fans of Cabbages probably will be, but here's an instance where you're advised to buy in the order of production.
After Ark, Chad & Jeremy ambled off in different directions to engage in the usual post-popstar activities of the very posh. Live theater, restaurant ownership, you don't really want to know any more than I want to chronicle it. An early '80s reunion failed to capture the lyric charms of the Hollywood days, and no further collaborations are known.
It would be easy to dismiss this pair based on the bulk of their recorded activities -- a staggering eight albums in the three years before Cabbages -- but easy dismissals are for squares.
Maybe it was the sunshine, or the windowpane, or Gary Usher's golden touch. Whatever independent forces conspired to work their wiles upon Chad & Jeremy, the fact remains: Of Cabbages And Kings exists and it is perfect. Call it one of the gems of the psychedelic era, and marvel at the improbability of it all. And maybe wonder, just in passing, what Peter & Gordon might have lurking in the vaults.
Scram #9: Chad and Jeremy on L.S.D., ham acting, Burning Man, Girl Group Battle Royale: The Shangri-Las vs. The Goodees, Drinkin' with the Jacobites, bad television, Scott Miller's favorite embarrassing records, Peter Geiberger explains how to be a badass, Dusty Springfield R.I.P. Postpaid price below is for US or Canadian customers only. If you live elsewhere, cost is higher, please email to arrange payment.