Tuesday, November 15, 2022

RBF’s Eclectic Excitement Playlist – November 2022

RBF’s Eclectic Excitement Playlist – November 2022

Text © Robert Barry Francos / FFanzeen, 2022
Images from the Internet

Here is my limited monthly column of some relatively cult music, be it due to initial limited release, or just having fallen out of the mainstream eye. These will be of a multitude of genres, from punk to folk, to just out there.

The songs are listed alphabetically by first letter of the artist or group, and not in a “ratings” order. Art is subjective, so I hope you like these as much as I enjoy them.

Note: There is no advertising on this page, so I will not be making anything off the work of others.


Amy Rigby
“Dancing with Joey Ramone”
Signature Sounds
This song is amazing, as Amy tells I am assuming is a true story about her dancing with you-know-who at a club. There are so many great songs  mentioned within the song, that I actually wrote a blog about it in 2011.


Angela Easterling
“I Feel Like Drinking”
I had my period in the late ‘70s where I was infatuated with country. I have always liked Americana for as long as I can remember, and Angela walks that fine line between the two. The whole album from which this originates, Earning Her Wings, is great song after great song.

Carrie Newcomer
“Five Years On”
Rounder Records
I had the opportunity to see Carrie perform in New York a few years ago, and she was as engaging as she is in this on-the-fence relationship song. I have been in this position so I can relate. Despite the noise beginning, when the starts proper, it is quite compelling.

“End of the World”
Buddha Belt Records
I first became aware of this song when I heard the EP on which it was featured (in both a short and longer version). Jules Shapiro’s vocals are quite unique in this soft rocker. I understand they have a new record out. At some point, I’ll have to check it out.

Mad Agnes
“Dancing Man”
This singer-songwriter trio consists of Margo Hennebach,
Mark Saunders, and fronting the vocals on this song (as they all have their own repertoire), Adrienne Jones. This upbeat number is a personal view of Jones’ personality, as seen by herself and others. It’s quite catchy.

Mary Lou Lord
“His Indie World”
Kill Rock Stars Records
Part of the nascent Riot Girrrl scene in Seattle before moving to the Boston area, Mary Lou wrote or sang many pieces about her ex-lover Kurt and his new flame, Courtney. This one is a lovely one about being attracted to someone who is into independent music. Nearly all these bands mentioned went on to some level of fame. I interviewed her when her first EP was released, for Oculus Magazine

Oral Fuentes Reggae Band
“One Stop”
To be honest, pure reggae is repetitious to me, perhaps because I do not imbibe so I lose the groove. Oral’s band, though, mixes different types of reggae, ska and Belizean riddims to make a sound that I can relate to, which is good because he's an ex-neighbor and friend of mine, who I had the chance to interview a while back. We actually met over the back fence. 

She Wolves
“Hundred Bucks”
Poptown Records
In their two incarnations, this power punk/rock trio were so much fun. This is one of their earlier, punkier songs, with Donna She Wolf’s guitar and vocals smashing, the Tony Mann on drums smashing, and bassist and vocalist Laura Sativa just, well, smashing. I wrote an article about them as my very first blog. 

Star and Dagger
“Your Momma Was a Grifter”
333 Records
Donna She Wolf transformed into Dava She Wolf, and joined this down and dirty, bluesy rock collective with a smoky edge. The song reminds me a bit of “House of the Rising Sun” in attitude, and the video, based on Russ Meyer’s Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965) is sheer perfection with Dava nailing her Tura Satana vibe.

Tamara Hey
“Right This Minute”
To give you some idea, I went to see a singer-songwriter at the Rockwood, and after her show, Tamara came on. We figured we would stay for a song or two to see what she was like, and ended up staying the whole set, and getting a CD to boot. Tamara’s songs are not typical love-spoon-June types, but deeper meanings of relationships, including, sexual identity, loss, and passion.

Saturday, November 5, 2022

THE RATTLERS Strike! (1981)

© Robert Barry Francos / FFanzeen, 1981/2022
Images from the Internet unless indicated

The New York trio, The Rattlers (1979-88), were known more for family connections than the band, which was a shame. I saw them play a number of times, and between the high kicks were some kick-ass tunes. They rose from the ashes of Birdland, which included Lester Bangs on vocals. I saw Birdland open for the Ramones once at My Father’s Place, in Roslyn, New York. When they clipped their Bangs, they became The Rattlers.

This interview was published in FFanzeen, No 7, dated 1981.

The Rattlers Strike!

Why is the New York press ignoring The Rattlers, one of the outstanding bands on the East Coast today?

Nearly all their press clippings are due to their appearing with famous relatives or from out-of-town papers. Matty Quick, the band’s drummer and driving force of this power trio, explains it this way: “We’re so far underground. We don’t have any records except that one disc [“On the Beach” b/w “Livin’ Alone, released in 1980 on Ratso Records – RBF, 1981]. We don’t have any singles out there for them to buy, so it’s really hard. It’s hard to fill a club. When kids don’t have an opportunity to hear your records over the radio, they’re not going to come out. You go to a club and there’s two-three hundred kids instead of a thousand, you know, it’s sort of like a vicious circle. You gotta have vinyl to get to them. It’s not that we do so bad with our audiences, it’s just that they don’t know who we are yet.”

“And that’s because we don’t get much press,” guitarist Mitch Leigh picks up, “which brings us back to the original problem – why don’t we get press? We stayed in Chicago and we got press. We got press in Boston. And we got minor press in New York City, like The Villager. Where can be get press in New York other than The Village Voice and New York Rocker? The New York press hasn’t written about us in a year.” Matty claims that “The Voice wrote about us when we broke up Birdland [two years earlier – RBF, 1981]. We were the “band that broke up.” And it was only to kiss Lester’s ass.”

The lack of a record is what seems to be hurting The Rattlers the most right now, but “the press is really discouraging any form of building here in New York,” states the ever-moving Mitch, with his graceful spread-eagled jumps in the air on stage, and high kicks that bring his feel level with his head. “God, you gotta ask yourself, ‘What the fuck is going on?’ These papers aren’t writing about us. Then people won’t come to see you. I wouldn’t expect a paper like The New York Post to write on us. I’d expect an underground paper to, because we’re an underground band.”

Mitch/Mickey Leigh
(ffoto by Robert Barry Francos)

But what press they’ve gotten has been favorable. They’ve had their picture in People, and been briefly mentioned in The New York Post, The New York Daily News, and Billboard, but that was due to relatives rather than themselves. They were almost completely ignored, sort of a “Here’s so-and-so. Oh, and those guys are The Rattlers. Now more on so-and-so.” Not the sort of thunderous types they could use to push their career.

The lesser-known papers have written about The Rattlers, as Chicago’s Prairie Sun (by excellent rock’n’roll writer Moira McCormick) and Boston’s What’s New, but they have focused on their performances or their records, and have written nothing on the personal side of the group. Matty said, “Boston is really incredible the way they support the bands up there. And in Chicago, all the major press, like The Village Voice (equivalent) of Chicago, liked this band we played with. They were one of the ‘good bands in Chicago.’ They sucked. They were like the Knack.” Mitch pitched in, “But still, they got support. Local support. We go to Boston, and they play our tapes on the radio. They play our record on FM stations.”

“WBCN [Boston] was the first major radio station to play our record,” chimed in Dave Merrill, who leaps in the air come close to rivaling Mitch’s, but whose bass playing is hardly rivaled by anyone. Matty finished the point by commenting that, “The reason they don’t give us more airplay is because we’re not a Boston band, and they like to help their bands. Like, when they can slip us in, they do, but they always try to slip in a hometown band. The attitude is, like, ‘Let’s promote our own’.”

With all this lack of local publicity, you would think that the audience would not be there. Wrong. The audience is there and vocal in their own way. “Dancing is the best reaction you can get,” Matty claims. “In New York, you get the least amount of dancing. We go to some towns, and all of a sudden the whole floor is full of people dancing. That, to me, is the biggest turn-on, when they’re out there having that kind of fun, rather than just watching. In New York, everybody just stands there. Whatever the reason, they’re afraid to react. They don’t react, whatever the situation is. Dancing really gets me off. I think we do best when people dance.” Here, that tends to be a problem because, as Mitch puts it, “In New York, they’re the coolest. Everybody is too cool to dance or show any kind of emotion, bad or good.”

“We do like the guys in the front who bounce on the tables when we finish (at Max’s Kansas City),” Matty defends. “We like them.”

Dave Merrill
(ffoto by Robert Barry Francos)

And so, the tale continues. And what of their management, FBI [Frontier Booking International, run by Ian Copeland, brother of The Police’s Stuart – RBF, 1981]? Mitch explains, “We’re not very high on their priority list right now.”

So, it’s back to the problem of press, or lack of it. But what of the papers here in town, such as the one’s they mentioned? “You wouldn’t think that papers like that would have so much sway in the biggest city in the fuckin’ world. They dismiss us. Is it something to be ashamed of that we want to make records for people? They put us down because of that,” complains Matty.

Mitch goes on to say, “They don’t like us at all. They said that we can’t sing, and we have no good songs. They didn’t say that in their paper, but that’s what they said to somebody who called up and said, ‘How come you don’t write about The Rattlers?’ That’s what they tell people over the phone.” Dave concludes, “They have shit taste, anyway.”

But the gigs go on, and The Rattlers build in popularity. Having such little press, however, means they get “stuck” at a lot of gigs, such as when they opened for David Johansen at the Fast Lane in New Jersey. Their total take for the night was $50. But they look at it almost humorously, as Mitch explains that, “We got to see a bunch of slugs outside the dressing room. There was an alley right by the dressing room.” Matty added, “It was the highlight of the night. We peed on them to see if the salt content of our urine would dissolve them, but all they did was steam and crawl away.” But Dave retorted, “You would be steamin’ too, if somebody pissed on you.”

With their word-of-mouth popularity spreading, it’s only a matter of time now before the band breaks the New York press. They have toured with a few big groups and have a possible upcoming tour with 999. Only time will tell when the headlines read, “The Rattlers.”

After some changes in the line-up, the band members would move on. Mitch [aka Mickey] would be in bands like STOP, Sibling Rivalry and Harry Slash, but it would be his autobiography, I Slept With Joey Ramone that would put him into the press. Dave would move on to more experimental, electronic music for a while, including being in a band that played on one of the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethons in the 1980s. Recently, he has been with a straight-ahead rock’n’roll band called HEAP. As for what happened to Matty, I’m not sure.