Monday, June 5, 2017

Fanfare for NIKKI AND THE CORVETTES [1980]

Text by Nancy “Suzi Quick Change” Foster / FFanzeen fanzine, 1980
Introduction by Robert Barry Francos © FFanzeen blog, 2017
Images from the Internet

This article was originally printed in FFanzeen, issue #6, dated Year-End 1980. It was written by Suzi Quick Change, nee Nancy Foster; today she goes by the moniker Nancy Neon. This appears in a slightly edited form from the original. – RBF, 2017

My fave new rock’n’roll band (along with the Bandstands) is Nikki and the Corvettes. Imagine a cuter, sexier and more rocked out Shangri-Las. Picture the Ramones with two fab female back-up singers/go-go-girls and a marvelous mini-lead singer/rock’n’roll doll, Nikki Corvette.

This is the rock’n’roll band of my dreams. I really believe that Nikki Corvette embodies everything good about rock’n’roll: sweet, petite with a touch of trash, wide-eyed and a not-so-innocent, pouty mouth, disheveled hair, and go-go boots made for dancing all night long!

Nikki has really got it right on the mark. I’d say that she has the perfect image, but it is not just an image – it’s real. Nikki’s personality is all over her songs. She loves boys, rock’n’roll and fun. She writes fan letters to her fave cream dreams (one was Richard Lloyd) and her fanhood is one of the things that makes her rock’n’roll so pure, passionate and authentic.

I’m partial to this combo so much that my ideal band would be very much like Nikki and the Corvettes with only a few minor changes – less covers (though they’re fun) and more vocal arrangements for the back-up singers. Other than that, the Corvettes are perfect pop rock.

Nikki’s obsessions – rock’n’roll, boys, sex and cars – make up the body of her lyrics. This gives the combo a clearly focused direction and a congruity that is all too rare in any band. I think a lot of the songs sound similar, but for me that’s a plus. They are very stylized, but then again, so are my other fave bands: the Clash, Buzzcocks, the Jam, Generation X, the Rockats, and the Bandstands. That is due in part to the fact that Nikki writes most of the lyrics, and guitarist Peter James [of the Romantics – RBF, 2017] writes all the music.

Nikki then
The newer songs, like “Look Out,” “Everyday,” “Heart on the Line,” “Don’t Let Go,” and “What You’re Doing,” do show more variety, with a wide range of emotions, and different lyrical and music tones.

Nikki and the Corvettes currently have a fabo album on Bomp! Records. I have a tape of it that I play in the mornings. Every song makes me dance and almost all of them makes me think of a certain (“What’s his name/I can’t tell ya” – Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders) guy just like a good rock’n’roll girlfriend should. Dancing to Nikki and the Corvettes will remain one of my fondest memories.

So, it is back to the ‘60s and the girl-group mania, when hearing a song conjured a precise emotion and a specific picture. These are songs that lovers will want to call “our song.” Sigh. Most synthetic ‘70s Muzak made you think of polyester leisure suits, not your fave rave dance partner/hot number.

My tape opens up with “He’s a Mover,” and gets me bopping immediately. The music is real hot and agitated. Nikki sings in a cute but cool semi-nasal vocal, a la the Shangri-Las (Patti Palladin, too!). The tough NYC chick voice filtered through Nikki’s from Motor City.

One of my faves is “You’re the One.” The vocals and the accompaniment are sexy and you can get your message across to your dance partner by singing the words along with Nikki:
Come in a little closer now baby, baby
Just keep moving and don’t get lazy
It’s getting so hot baby, baby
My head is spinning
And it’s you that I’m craving

“C’mon” shows off the Peter James’ guitar style that I adore so much. Nikki and Peter make a perfect team – her lyrics sizzle with sex and so does his playing. Plus it has those Searchers/Byrds nuances. These kids have roots and impeccable taste.

“You’re Just What I Needed” really shows off the Corvettes’ tight, throbbing rhythm section. Bassist Larry (bass), like Peter, has a lot of stage presence. The drummer, Brad [Elvis], has a keen, economical, steady and insistent drumming style that is essential to good, danceable pop-rock.

Nikki now
“Boys, Boys, Boys” is a fantabulous anthem. It has that keen surf guitar swing style to it. I never had so much fun seeing or listening to any combo before. “Let’s Go” is a great souped-up, Ramones’ style, manic number – a youth anthem. The percussion is emphatic with grrr-8 Berry guitar riffs.

Still another rave-up is “Shake It Up,” with more surfing guitar and punk momentum. “Backseat Love” is from Nikki’s first single and is an irresistible number. The most telling thing I can add is that this tune inspired me to write a would-be sequel called “Red Hot,” about a teenage couple who can only be alone in their car. Remember the Shangri-La’s “In His Car”? But no way does Miss Nikki want to be “Holding hands 4-ever,” like the Shangs!

“I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend” is out to seduce the shy, reticent boy. It has neat Berry licks and Beatles ending. “Summertime Fun” has rowdy reggae overtones. Nikki’s spoken part and yelps are neat-o!

Another one that tops Suzy Q’s hit parade is “Gimme Gimme.” Love that tambourine. On this one, all three girls twist up and down on the stage together. My least fave is “You Make Me Crazy,” because it is negative. No one believes that anyone would give Nikki a hard time (unless that’s an innuendo).

Live, the Corvettes do wonderful covers: Wanda Jackson’s “Honey Bop,” the Beats’ “Walkin’ Out on Love,” the Exciters’ “Do Wah Diddy Diddy,” the Shang’s “Boys” and “Great Big Kiss,” the Cookies’ “Chains of Love,” Connie Francis’ “Lipstick on Your Collar,” and the Beatles’ “Please, Please Me.” They also do “Young and Crazy” and “Criminal Element,” from Nikki’s first EP.

Though I dig the Flamin’ Groovies’ “Shake Some Action,” it’s too downbeat for this combo, although they do shake some action, fo’ sho’. When this grr-8 combo plays your city/state, be there or be square.

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