CD Review: Deep Purple – Now What?!


CD Review: Deep Purple  – Now What?!
earMusic/Eagle Rock Entertainment
All Access Review: A-

Deep Purple - Now What?! 2013
Cracks were starting to appear in the foundation. Deep Purple, Mark II, was crumbling, as exhaustion from a non-stop cycle of touring and recording were beginning to take their toll. On top of that, internal dysfunction – mostly between guitar wizard Ritchie Blackmore and singer Ian Gillan and bassist Roger Glover – was tearing them apart, and yet, they somehow managed to slog through 1973’s rather limp and uninspired death knell Who Do We Think We Are, even though they did come out with guns blazing in the electrifying “Woman from Tokyo.” 

This was the end of Gillan’s association with Deep Purple, at least until 1984’s Perfect Strangers, and Mark II went out with a whimper.

That was 30 years ago. Today, with Blackmore’s time in Deep Purple a distant memory, the proto-metal legends return with their first studio album since 2005, Now What?! The punctuation is appropriately emphatic. Whether it’s an exasperated question they’re asking of themselves or a dare to anyone who thinks they can’t deliver the goods anymore, the title of their latest effort – produced by Bob Ezrin – is open to interpretation. What is clear is that, with guitarist Steve Morse having long since settled into his role as Blackmore’s successor, something Tommy Bolin initially struggled with, Deep Purple is completely comfortable in its own skin and capable of generating audacious instrumental fireworks.

Winding its way through labyrinthine passages and flying over contoured soundscapes, What Now?! can be mysterious and exotic. With orchestral string flourishes vehemently slashing through the air, “Out of Hand” is a cinematic marvel reminiscent of Gillan’s recent WhoCares recordings with Tony Iommi and Zeppelin’s “Kashmir,” as is the ornate “Uncommon Man,” although the ever-shifting moods and tempos make it more of a relic of ‘70s progressive-rock pomp and circumstance than anything else. The same can also be said of “Apres Vous” and “Weirdistan,” both widescreen prog epics that allow Morse and keyboardist Don Airey plenty of opportunity to stretch out and experiment with strange, alien sounds.

On the other hand, in the tradition of classic Mark II Purple, the energetic rocker “Hell to Pay” – stuck in overdrive and running hot – boasts plenty of horsepower, while the smoldering “Blood from a Stone,” with soulful vocals from Gillan, is dark and jazzy, with Airey’s keyboards falling like rain, just as Ray Manzarek’s did in The Doors’ classic “Riders on the Storm.” The bluesy ballad “All the Time in the World” is standard-issue, however, and far less intoxicating, standing in sharp contrast to the mesmerizing fury of “A Simple Song” and the colorful, lively funk grooves of “Bodyline.” Although lacking a signature track, like “Smoke on the Water” or even “Knocking at Your Back Door,” What Now?! effectively holds listeners’ interest in other ways.

In fine voice, Gillan is as expressive as ever, even if he doesn’t quite have the range he used to, but it’s Airey and Morse who garner the most attention – Airey with his forceful, swirling Hammond organ dust storms that pay tribute to the dearly departed Jon Lord and Morse with his solid riffing and classy, finessed leads, the product of a wonderful imagination and great dexterity. Who do they think they are? Why, it’s Deep Purple … that’s who, and the reinvigorated musical interplay between these prodigious talents is remarkably exciting. If this, combined with a well-timed recent episode of VH1’s “Behind the Music” regaling us with their glorious, and oftentimes fractious, history, does not get them into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, nothing will.
 – Peter Lindblad

CD Review: Bon Jovi – What about Now


CD Review: Bon Jovi – What about Now
Island
All Access Review: C

Bon Jovi - What about Now
To some extent, Bon Jovi has always lived in Bruce Springsteen’s shadow, except perhaps when it comes to album sales. Springsteen gets all the critical acclaim, while still managing to sell loads of records. Springsteen has been called the “new Bob Dylan. He’s New Jersey’s favorite son, the voice of the common man, an honest-to-goodness poet who can, in gritty, powerful language, pen a tense murder ballad or capture the heartbreaking emotions stirred by a factory closing in a rust-belt town.

Bon Jovi, on the other hand, would be the answer to this bathroom-wall, fill-in-the-blank sentence, “For a good time, call _____.” That’s not exactly fair, but with Jon’s good looks, his band’s hair-metal past and little in the way of literary ambition, Bon Jovi has found themselves in the cross hairs of “serious” music critics for years, these pale shut-ins having unloaded a steady barrage of stinging barbs in their direction that has continued unabated. But, really, is there that big a difference between Springsteen’s “Rosalita (Come out Tonight)” and “Livin’ On a Prayer? Unabashedly romantic and exuberant, these escapist, all-we-have-is-each-other anthems about young love and breaking free of impoverished circumstances by getting out of Dodge are life-affirming sing-a-longs, with great big hooks and the kind of blind optimism that destroys dreamers.

So why is Bon Jovi targeted for abuse, while Springsteen has been elevated to sainthood? Indulging in easy platitudes has never helped him gain favor with music scribes, but it’s probably more because of albums like What about Now, which finds the entire band sliding into adult-contemporary blandness and spouting artless clich├ęs, such as, “If you want to start a fire, it only takes a spark,” from the overly earnest title track. His heart in the right place, Bon Jovi has never played it safer musically or lyrically, standing up for the hungry, the restless and those who are down for the count in what amounts to an inspirational sermon of a title track, throwing his support behind the faithful and the teachers, and anybody else who needs the healing power of Bon Jovi to walk again.

On this newest record of bighearted anthems and simple sincerity, Bon Jovi almost begs for artistic credibility and then abandons the pretense in tracks like “Army of One,” where undying solidarity is pledged for the troops and Bon Jovi repeats the words “never give up” over and over again – both fine sentiments, but ones also voiced at every sporting event held in America. Yes, it’s gratifying seeing Bon Jovi develop a social consciousness, but every song on What about Now seems to have a tear-jerking “Oprah” moment, and after song after song of this, the LP loses its ability to be affecting in any way. There’s less insipid socio-political commentary on local TV morning shows. Say what you will about the pop-metal superficiality of Slippery When Wet, but it was never a crashing bore like What about Now, a record that is only happy to carry the weight of the world on its shoulders, even as the air just seems to go out of the deflated “I’m With You” and “Amen.”

And there are not-so-subtle sonic deviations, too, as Bon Jovi’s sound has come to resemble U2 more than say Poison, with heady, starry-eyed tracks like “Room at the End of the World” and “That’s What the Water Made Me” aiming for the glorious heavens of chiming guitars that Bono and The Edge see when their rockets’ red glare spreads across a night sky. And then there’s the Heartland folk and rather likable, dog-eared country of their beguiling Lost Highway record of 2007 that manifests itself in the sobering, underdog drama of this record’s “The Fighter” – so quiet and genteel, but pretty, nonetheless, with its well-arranged mix of strings and horns – off their latest LP.  

Where’s the fun? Where are the wild hearts and sly grins of their youth? Has maturity sapped these cheery rogues of their ability to raise a little PG-13 hell? Jon Bon Jovi is far more serious and concerned about what’s going on his America than ever, living in hope while offering a helping hand to the downtrodden in the uplifting “Because We Can” or holding onto what’s good in an otherwise nasty, brutish life as the rushing melodic flood and the twinkling golden guitars of “Beautiful World” crash over the levees. These are stirring pop songs, played with panache, especially with the all-too-infrequent guitar supernovas of Richie Sambora – seemingly on the outs now with the group – blowing up here and there. And “Pictures of You” is a charming, sincere ode to true love, while “What’s Left of Me” is a rousing piece of faded Americana.

Does Bon Jovi deserve more credit for growing up a little? Is it too cynical to question Bon Jovi’s motives on What about Now? Probably, but in this era where taking issue with any of the causes Bon Jovi advances here would be tantamount to treason, it’s not such a bad thing to ask critically if they have gone a bit overboard in trying to save the world on What about Now
   Peter Lindblad 

CD/DVD Review: Sebastian Bach – ABachalypse Now


CD/DVD Review: Sebastian Bach – ABachalypse Now
Frontiers Records
All Access Review: B+

Sebastian Bach - ABachalypse Now
Twice, Sebastian Bach brings the proceedings to a halt, waving his arms and yelling, “Stop the show.” As only he could, the hyperactive former Skid Row front man admonishes the crowd at Hellfest in France on this warm, sunny summer day in June 2012 for not being as lively or making as much noise as he wants. 

They respond with feverish enthusiasm, and Bach gets his band to again rev their engines. And the caution flag drops, signaling a jailbreak restart.

To Bach, this is church, and the congregation has to be frothing at the mouth to receive communion in the form of screaming vocals, snarling riffs, searing guitar solos and thick, muscular grooves – except for the sweet power-ballad nectar of “I Remember You,” that is. No Sebastian Bach show would be complete without that Skid Row love potion of tangled acoustic strum, big swells of amplified chords and Bach’s surprising vulnerability. That goes double for the riotous “Youth Gone Wild,” which sends the Hellfest crowd into complete hysterics.

Captured on video and audio in a new Frontiers Records live two CD/DVD package – of varying, but mostly outstanding, quality – titled “ABachalypse Now,” the Hellfest performance is part of a trio of 2012 live Bach meltdowns crammed into one 160-minute DVD of what is being hailed as the ultimate Sebastian Bach experience. And it is wall-to-wall Bach up in here, his infectious exuberance impossible to ignore – and there are bonus music videos of “Tunnelvision,” “I’m Alive” and “Kicking & Screaming” to boot. Strong, but rough, sounding audio CDs of the Hellfest and Live at Graspop, Belgium, gigs are here as well, capturing the dynamic interplay of Bach and his band of heavy metal outlaws with full, hard-hitting sonic force.

Whether it was the heat in France or the slipshod camera work, the Hellfest performance is the weakest document of the three. Despite Bach’s efforts to rally the troops, the band lacks personality and energy, and Bach himself seems completely bored having to play “18 & Life” for the millionth time. Harder, edgier stuff like the bottom-heavy “American Metalhead” and “Monkey Business,” not to mention the combustible opener “Slave to the Grind,” saves the day, however, as Bach’s band thrashes, growls and salivates while gnawing on the bones and sucking out the marrow of these meaty songs.

In sharp contrast, the Live at Nokia show, filmed in colorful high-definition on Aug. 2, 2012, is absolutely riveting. Professionally shot and edited to thrill, this is worth the price of admission alone, ending with a savage rendering of “Youth Gone Wild” – enflamed by Black Veil Brides’ Andy Biersack joining his strong bellow with Bach’s wildcat howl. Lesser vocalists would leave the stage with collapsed lungs while delivering such a challenging performance, but the charismatic Bach is made of stronger stuff, prowling about like a dangerous animal being poked at by a trainer who’s about to be mauled. And he hits every seemingly unreachable note with gusto. With help from several guest guitarists, his band sounds sharp and vicious, attacking “Big Guns,” “(Love is) a Bitchslap,” “Piece of Me” and the heavy stomp of “Tunnelvision” with raging intensity, as drummer Bobby Jarzombek, of Iced Earth and Riot fame, hits everything in sight with bad intentions and guitarist Johnny Chromatic emits clear, rich tonality on every precise solo. Almost always in motion and supremely confident, they affect rock poses that are totally unscripted and completely born of the moment.

And “ABachalypse Now” isn’t finished, as Bach and crew battle the elements at Graspop. In a steady downpour, they forge onward, laying siege to an audience that deserves a powerhouse performance for getting soaked to the skin. And they get it. Splashing around in puddles onstage, Bach’s outfit guts it out, hammering their way through “Kicking & Screaming,” “Dirty Power” and the aforementioned “Big Guns.” And Bach invests himself fully in the proceedings, tearing his larynx to shreds in the name of rock ‘n’ roll and taking time out to laugh at the weather and kvetch about Mother Nature’s timing. Things go wrong, with false starts and the like, and that’s all right. The imperfections make it memorable and exceedingly likeable. So is “ABachalypse Now.” (http://www.frontiers.it/home/
– Peter Lindblad

Marky Ramone remembers Dust

Early U.S. proto-metal masters reissue their two cult classic LPs

By Peter Lindblad

Dust - Dust & Hard Attack 2013
Dust knew they were on to something. Their record label and management, though, were clueless as to how to market it. And that, more than anything, kept Dust off the music industry radar and ultimately led to their untimely demise.

Three high school friends from Brooklyn, Richie Wise, Kenny Aaronson and Marc Bell – with production and songwriting assistance from Kenny Kerner – formed Dust  in the late ‘60s. As young as they were, they had a strong sense of who they were. They played heavy metal, though nobody was really calling it that back then. It was blustery hard rock that was steeped in the blues, with occasional forays into European progressive-rock and folk, and songs like “Stone Woman” and the heavy, mind-melting psychedelic excursion “From a Dry Camel” were as innovative as anything coming out of the U.K. And they knew hardly anybody else in America was doing anything like it.

Signed to New York City’s Kama Sutra/Buddha label in 1970, Dust recorded two albums – the self-titled Dust in ’71 and Hard Attack in ’72 – and toured with some of the ‘70s biggest hard-rock acts, including Alice Cooper. And then, realizing that perhaps they weren’t being properly handled and that they were destined for obscurity if they stayed together, they split up. Everyone went their separate ways and went on to bigger and better things.

Wise and Kerner served as producers for the first two KISS albums and Aaronson played bass for such rock ‘n’ roll heavyweights as Joan Jett, Bob Dylan and Sammy Hagar – this after playing with Stories on their No. 1 hit “Brother Louie,” a cover of the Hot Chocolate song. And then there’s the story of Marc Bell, known better as Marky Ramone.

As Dust was in its death throes, Bell started hanging out at Max’s Kansas City, where he met the transvestite punk force of nature Wayne County. Joining forces, they created Wayne County and the Backstreet Boys, but after a year and a half of gigging around New York City and not getting anywhere, they called it a day. Bell then made the acquaintance of one Richard Hell, who, along with guitarist Robert Quine and Ivan Julian, put together Richard Hell & the Voidoids. With Bell’s work on drums, the Voidoids recorded one of the finest punk records in history, 1977’s Blank Generation on Sire Records, and they later toured with The Clash.

But it was with The Ramones that Bell, rechristened Marky Ramone, made a name for himself. He was onboard for The Ramones’ Road to Ruin album, which featured the classic “I Wanna Be Sedated.” In all, he spent 15 years with The Ramones, surviving the Phil Spector sessions for End of the Century and appearing in the Roger Corman cult classic film “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School.”

On the occasion of Sony/Legacy’s reissue of Dust and Hard Attack on one CD, or the vinyl version released exclusively for Record Store Day on April 20, it’s Dust that’s on Marky’s mind. In this interview, Marky Ramone talks about his days with Dust, the reissues and how he broke into punk. Technical problems sabotaged our conversation somewhat, but most of it was preserved. So, here’s Marky.

Why put this reissue out now?
Marky Ramone: Well, we were able to. The contract was finally up with the other record company that really didn’t do it justice. So, Sony/Legacy, we remastered it, packaged it in numbered vinyl, collectible vinyl, and the packaging is unbelievable, and when you hear the remastering, it sounds twice as big as the original recording. So we were very happy to put it out again to show the public what we were doing 40 years ago in America, which was heavy metal, ‘cause at the time there was hardly any metal in America in 1970. It was all coming from England. And also in America, there weren’t that many producers who knew how to produce this genre of music. So, now it has a second chance.

So you view Dust as being pioneers in American heavy metal?
MR: Well, one of the few, yes. Black Sabbath in England solidified it there, and then when we started in ’70, we got our record deal in ’70 and recorded the album and it came out in ’71. So we were kind of ahead of the game in America, along with a few other handful of bands. There weren’t that many, and the term “heavy metal” wasn’t even a phrase yet.

Listening to these albums now, and like you said, with the remastering it sounds bigger, but going back to them now, what are your impressions? The songs are really well-written.
MR: Well, we were highly skilled, honed, musicians for our age. And we really took our music seriously at our age. I had to worry about getting a diploma on the wall for high school for the parents. It was either that or you’re not going to play, so I kept my grades up in summer school and night school, and eventually got my diploma from Erasmus High School in Brooklyn. And I was able to continue playing. The parents were happy with my grades, and that’s how everything came about. We were free and happy to get out of there and play.

You touched on this already, but you were 16 or 17 years old when you played with Dust, and you were all just teenagers. Did you all go to the same high school and is that how you came together?
MR: Um, Erasmus High School on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, and we all hung out in the same places in Brooklyn. And mainly, we didn’t go to school. We’d just go to my house and rehearse in the basement and throw ideas around. And that’s how me, Kenny and Richie did it. So those two albums are the result.

Did you keep in touch with those guys after Dust ended?
MR: Not at all. We all went in separate directions, and in late ’72, Richie and Kenny Kerner ended up producing the first two KISS albums. Kenny Aaronson played on “Brother Louie” from Stories, which was No. 1 for two weeks that year. And I ended up working with Andrew Loog Oldham, the Rolling Stones producer on an album. So the legacy of the group is pretty interesting. And the rest is history.

In the years between the formation of Dust and that first album, what was the music scene like in New York City and what was Dust doing differently from the rest of the pack?
MR: Well, at the time, when Dust was together, radio was starting to play soft rock. I think it was called “folk rock,” which is fine. It was easy listening. And I think at the end of the ‘60s, a lot of the music was becoming tamer. People were getting older … you know, the Woodstock era and all that stuff. So, you had soft rock, but we didn’t like soft rock. We liked heavy, loud rock. So that’s why we did form Dust, for that reason. But things that were happening in Brooklyn and New York … basically you had the older bands still playing that were around in the mid ‘60s and the late ‘60s. And then a whole new thing started, which was glam rock, in New York City, with the advent of the New York Dolls and Wayne County and, obviously, bands like KISS and stuff like that. But we didn’t want to be part of any scene. We wanted to travel the world. We were way ahead of these people musician-wise, or technically. So that’s what was happening at the time, and everything is relative to time. And then the punk scene started a few years later after the glam scene started and that’s when I started hanging out at CBGBs.

It seems like there’s a European or almost a progressive sound to the band, but it’s still really bluesy hard rock. Where did that combination of sounds come from? Were those your influences at the time?
MR: Oh, okay. Well, we really loved Jimi Hendrix, we loved Cream, we liked The Who, the Stones, The Beatles … we liked a lot of the blues players, and then with Dust, that’s what you have. You have an omelet and it’s called Dust, and we just stirred up the pot, the eggs, and the next thing you know our influences came through and the only thing we put on top of it was the icing on the cake.

What do you remember about signing with Kamu Sutra? Did you know much about the label beforehand?
MR: Well … yeah I did. When I knew about the bands that they were signing up to the label … [The Lemon Pipers’] “Green Tambourine” … what’s the other one? “Yummy, yummy, yummy/I’ve got love in my tummy.” It was a bubblegum-rock record company. They had other great bands. They had the Lovin’ Spoonful. So at the time that’s what they were pushing, because that’s what was making them money. Did they have the experience to handle Dust? I don’t think so. I think our manager was a little inexperienced at the time with this genre of music, and I think that if we had waited it out for a third album on a different label, something like this label here, who knew how to handle bands like that, maybe the third album would have pushed us over the top.

Compared to other studio sessions you would later have, how did the writing and recording process of that first album go?
MR: Well, we had never entered a studio before in our lives. We had no experience producing. We knew our songs very well. We were very well rehearsed. So basically, those songs are two or three takes. I used the in-house drum set, because I couldn’t afford a drum set at the time. Here we are just piecing things together that I got used or … whatever. And then we went for it. We had an engineer that was very skilled and suggested some things, and of course, we listened. And that’s how the first album came about.

How long did it take to make it?
MR: About three weeks … yeah, about three weeks.

How much money did you have to make it?
MR: Oh, well, the advances were pretty good back then. They were, and things weren’t as expensive as they are now, with hourly or weekly rates. So our advances were good. We were able to buy all-new equipment, PA, amps, drum set … the whole thing. But again, there weren’t that many producers in America that knew how to produce this kind of music. We were still in a quagmire about which way to go – to get an English producer that might’ve produced an English heavy metal band, to wait and go with another record label that was bigger and have them suggest somebody. But we didn’t do that. We just decided to go our own way, we parted as friends and that was it.

Who produced that first record, or was it yourselves?
MR: No, it was us.

That’s what I thought. I just wanted to make sure. What were your expectations for that first album? Did you feel it had commercial potential?
MR: Well, in the metal genre, yes. It wasn’t marketed that well, and it wasn’t the answer to their prayers for them, because they had other musical genres that they could immediately make money off of. Everything has a budget, so we were kind of pushed, but not really. We were pushed better than some bands, but not as well as others.

How did you come to be signed by Kama Sutra, since they weren’t into that type of music?
MR: Neil Bogart bought up all these labels, and he was interested. And we gave him the demo, he liked it and he signed us to Kama Sutra. We were close to getting signed to Atlantic, through a guy named Adrian Barber, but that didn’t happen. So we decided we’d better do something here, and we decided to go with Kama Sutra.

What was happening within the band during the time between the making of the first record and the follow-up, Hard Attack? Was there a lot of touring?
MR: A lot of rehearsing. We toured with Alice Cooper, Wishbone Ash, Uriah Heep, John Mayall … we played a lot of those … there were a lot of good night clubs, but we realized also that what we were playing was a different genre, so there weren’t that many bands around like us at the time. So when we did tour, we had to be placed with bands who did our kind of music. So that’s where the inexperience of the manager came in. So, like I said, if we had a better manager and a better label, I think that would have all gotten us further.

Was the music well-received by the crowds you did play for?
MR: Oh yeah. Yeah, I can’t say enough about that. We were so thrilled at how they received us.

I read where your best memories of Dust had to do with the band’s tour with Alice Cooper. What was the high point of that tour?
MR: Well, the fact that the people gave us two encores, and then came initiation. I go to my hotel room … I mean, this is stuff that teenagers do I guess, but we were teenagers. Somebody took a dump in one of my drawers in the hotel room. And I knew something smelled pretty strange. I opened it up and there it was, and I never knew who did it, but I look back at it now, and I thought it was pretty funny. Would I do it? No, I wouldn’t do it, but somebody did do it, and whoever it is, I wish I could find them.

So you never found out who did it?
MR: No, I didn’t. Maybe these reissues will make that person come forward (laughs).

As far as playing shows, was there a particular one that was the high point of that tour?
MR: Cobo Hall. I mean that place was packed. And also St. Louis, in particular, really took a liking to Dust. And I think that if we continued to play to the Midwest, and we’d spread out to the East and West, but again, we just stopped that quick.

It wasn’t that long between the two records, but was there a difference between the recording of the second one, as opposed to the first?
MR: We were more experienced. We bought our new equipment with our big advance … but that’s just my opinion. A lot of fans of mine who come up to me with the older Dust, and the second one was a little more technical. 

Why did the band eventually break up?
MR: Because we realized at this point that the sales from the second album were only a little better than the first …

What was your favorite song from each album?
MR: Yeah, I do. From the first album, titled just Dust, it’s “From a Dry Camel.” It’s nine minutes long … and then “Pull Away,” I love the way the drums came through in that song, and the chord changes were really nice. It’s a metal love song.

When did it hit you that Dust was becoming a cult favorite?
MR: When kids would come up to me when I was on tour with The Ramones. Even now … even now they’ll come up to me with the Dust album, and then I sign them – not Marky Ramone, but Marc Bell. That’s who I was known as with Dust, before I became a Ramone, and it was amazing that these kids had these albums and they’d kept them immaculate. So that’s when I knew the band had something, some longevity.

While Dust was in the process of ending, you starting hanging out at Max’s Kansas City. What attracted you to that environment?
MR: Well, after I did the album with Andrew Loog Oldham, because I do live in New York, it was the place to go if you’d like to go and meet other musicians.

What do you recall about meeting Wayne County for the first time?
MR: Oh, he was great. He came up to me and asked me if I would come down to hear his band play, and I did. I liked it, because I always admired the fact that he was ahead of his time, and he was a great entertainer. And, you know, I could go on and on and on about that, but that’ll be in my book. He had a great Southern drawl, which really … and that’s how it started and I stayed with Wayne for about a year and a half, and they’d play at Max’s. And then Tommy didn’t want to play in The Ramones anymore, after three and a half years, and they asked me to join the group and the first song we did was “I Wanna Be Sedated.”

It was, huh?
MR: Yeah.

The idea of joining Richard Hell and the Voidoids … what made the idea band so appealing [he played on the band’s first album, Blank Generation]?
MR: Well, Richard was aligned with Television, and then he formed The Heartbreakers with one of the New York Dolls. And then there was a little competition there, and he left to form his own group. It was a good combination of people. Bob Quine was an exceptional and unique guitar player. Richard, I think, was from Mississippi or Missouri … one of those states. And he added a different flavor to the group, and he was a great writer. And we had Ivan [Julian] and myself, so it was an unusual combination, which really reflected on that Blank Generation album, and that’s why it was rated as one of the best punk albums of all time.

How did the conversation go when Dee Dee asked you to join The Ramones? And what was it about them that made you want to be a part of it?
MR: It was at the bar at CBGBs, and I knew him before I joined The Ramones. And he said Tommy was leaving the band and would I like to join, and I said, “Of course.” Richard didn’t want to tour anymore. And it started there; I had to audition, but I knew I had it. I did “Rockaway Beach,” “Sheena Is a Punk Rocker” and “I Don’t Care,” and I went back to the bar and that was it.

What was different about being in The Ramones as to Dust?
MR: Well, being in The Ramones was 4/4/2, 2/4 time. Dust was a lot more sophisticated musically. I was really able to let loose a lot with the drum fills, and the accents, and the time changes. The Ramones was just basically straight-ahead 4/4, so that was the difference.

What do you think kids today experiencing Dust for the first time will think of these recordings?
MR: Oh, they’re going to love it. I’ll tell you if they don’t like it, I don’t know what they’ll like. I mean, when I heard it back, I couldn’t believe it. I was amazed at how big it sounds. 

More KISS memories with Lydia Criss


Former wife of Peter Criss releases expanded, revised version of “Sealed with a KISS,” readies auction items

By Peter Lindblad

1977 was the best year of Lydia Criss’s life. KISS was riding high, and she was there to witness it all, experiencing some of the greatest moments in the band’s history as the wife of drummer Peter Criss. And
Lydia and Peter Criss
then came 1978 and things began to unravel.

Trouble was brewing within her marriage. Peter’s infidelity, drug abuse and increasing paranoia began to take its toll. Eventually, they divorced.

All of the good and bad times are captured in Lydia’s book “Sealed with a KISS,” now in its second printing (visit www.lydiacriss.com for more information). The new expanded and revised version includes more photos and memorabilia, as well as Lydia’s engaging insider’s view of the KISS story and the rock ‘n’ roll industry of the 1970s and her acclaimed work as a music photographer. In addition, she is planning to auction off KISS-related items that appear in the book through Backstage Auctions.

Part I of our interview with Lydia appeared last week. Here is the rest of our chat with a woman who was instrumental in helping KISS become “the hottest band in the land.”

You met Alice Cooper at the Casablanca Records bash celebrating the creation of the label. What was he like at that point?
LC: Very quiet and very shy. At that point, he was like … it’s funny because [KISS] took whatever he was doing and made it five times bigger. But he was very gracious, very sweet. I met him years later, and he was the same way.

At that time, was he still struggling with alcoholism?
LC: I’m sure he was the first time, maybe not the second. We … I say “we” because I considered myself a part of KISS. Anyway, KISS had the same manager at one point, Frankie Scinlaro. He was a character, and he used to manage – well, not manage, but road manage – Alice and he used to tell stories about Alice, about his alcoholism. You know, those were the days when you could drink and it wasn’t looked down upon as much as it is now. Not that it’s looked down upon, but in those days, you weren’t an alcoholic. Now, you’re an alcoholic.

Take us back to 1977. That was a big year for KISS.
LC: That was one of the best years of my life. Okay, first I did the People’s Choice Awards. Then I did an interview for Rock Scene I think it was. It was just myself. It was just me and I didn’t have time to because I was on my way to Japan.

That was the one Gene got so mad at.
Peter Criss - May 1977
Mercedes to be Sold at Auction
LC: Yeah. He didn’t like the photo I took. He said, “We were going to do a photo session for you.” It was Liz Derringer. She actually became my neighbor. Where I live right now, she used to live right down the block with Rick [Derringer], but then they got divorced and they moved out. But, yeah, he said he didn’t like the photo that I used, but I used something that I already had. I had just sent it to her. It was a snapshot and I mailed it to her to put it in the magazine. And then I went to Japan and when I got back, the management company said you better look for a home outside of New York.

Lydia and Peter Criss' House 1977

So, we started looking [and] not only did we find a house, but we found a sheepdog that we bought along with [it]. It was born in the house. So we
bought [the dog] from the owners, and then we bought a Mercedes. ’77, yeah, they played the Garden. I mean, it was the best year of my life. It was all uphill. We bought a house in Greenwich, Conn. We moved in, [and] I had a big, big birthday on the same day we had a big housewarming party. And then everything in ’78 went downhill.


Amazing what can happen in one year.
LC: Not even a year. You know, it was like maybe it was the first quarter of ’78. We went to Japan and the whole thing. In the book, you know, Peter and I had the fight where he threw the book, the chair, and all I said to him was, “You know, you went through the garbage and then you weren’t going to take me to
Lydia Criss (second from left) Japan 1978
Japan.” He actually had a limo come up to the house in Greenwich from Manhattan, which is an hour away, just to turn around and go back, because we made up by the time the limo got there. You know, we wasted like a hundred bucks just to run him off or whatever. And then I wound up going to Japan, but then after that, everything went downhill when I came home, because that’s when he went and met Debbie [Svensk, Peter Criss’s second wife]. He went to a Rod Stewart party and met Debbie there. And everything after that was … I felt like we got this house for nothing. We ended keeping the house for eight years, which I loved, I loved. I moved out of it. I rented it for two years or a year and a half and then I moved back into it. 

It looks beautiful from the photos in the book.
LC: It was.

You mentioned Liz. Were you friends with any other rock-star wives outside of KISS?
LC: Um, not really. I would have liked to have been. Oh, the only one I was a little friendly with was Penny McCall, who was Peter Frampton’s girlfriend. I mentioned her in the book. I really didn’t get the opportunity to meet a lot of the wives, and when you do … you know, I was close to [Ace Frehley’s wife] Jeanette, and whoever Gene was with at the time or whoever Paul was with at the time. But, no I wasn’t and it’s sad. It’s really sad because I wanted to. I mean, I’ve met famous wives like Bianca Jagger and Angela Bowie, but I wasn’t friends with them.

Was there a favorite show of yours from the early days that was special to you for some reason? Maybe it was wilder than others.
LC: Well, I do remember one show in Evansville, Indiana, and I used to always sit by the sound board … not the sound board, but the monitors, the monitor mixer, which was onstage. But there was a time when the truss that holds the lights fell on me. And I thought somebody was playing with my hair. I’m going, “What the hell? Leave my hair alone. Don’t touch my hair. I’m at a concert, please.” And then all of a sudden, I realized something was falling on me. And I had to go to the hospital. They made me go. I didn’t feel like I needed to, but they made me go. And whoever was on the truck at the time … because the truck was tall and somebody sat on top of it, so whoever was on there went to the hospital with me. But they released me. I should have sued, but I didn’t (laughs).

Did it come close to doing some real damage?
LC: Not with me. Well, it could have. It really could have. They had to stop the show, because the truss fell right onto the middle of the stage, with Paul dancing. But luckily, I was okay. I kept saying, “I’m okay. I’m okay. I’m okay.” They kept saying, “You’ve got to go to the hospital. Go to the hospital.” And they checked me out and I was fine.

When it came to assembling all the graphic material – the memorabilia, the photos, etc. – did you do that yourself?
LC: Yes, and it was a horror (laughs). It was a horror. It was so much work I told my family and friends, “You will not see me or hear from me for one year. Don’t even invite me to anything for the next year.” And basically, that’s what happened. It was one year. They would call me, but they were only allowed to talk with me for 10 minutes, because I have girlfriends you can be on the phone with for two hours. You’re only allowed 10 minutes and that’s it – just to see that I’m okay. But I would stay up until the sun came up, which would be about 7 a.m. And then I would go to sleep and wake up at 2 p.m. and start all over again. I lived and breathed this book for one entire year. And pulling all that stuff out, I did it with the first publisher. I pulled all the stuff out and it was already scanned, and so it was already done, but I did pull a lot more. Once I started doing the book, I want certain photos. There was a lot more stuff that I wanted that I had, that I had acquired, since like five years earlier when it was originally started. I mean, I had acquired the dolls … you know, the big KISS dolls, the big ones. I had acquired those. I acquired certain things that I wanted in the book, and then there were certain things that I had sold but yet a friend had them. You know, like maybe the Victrola … you know, the record player. I had sold that years before, so I used his. So, you know, there were certain things, like the guitar that I sold, and he had the KISS guitar. So I wanted a lot more photos in there, and the guy that scanned everything came up from Maryland and took photos. Do you know Dave Snowden? He worked on the book with me – one of the guys, yeah.

One of the things I like about books like this one is that you get to see what it was like in the early days and the small places they played, and things that didn’t go so well. I’m looking at a photo of Peter playing and the perspiration has washed his makeup completely off.
LC: Oh yeah. It happened a lot in the early days.

How did they fix that?
LC: I think they might have changed their makeup. 

I suppose, being guys, they didn’t know what makeup to use for it.
LC: Yeah, well the thing was, they didn’t have a lot of money, so they bought the cheap stuff in the beginning. And then eventually, you get to the better stuff when you have the money. You know, people research it for you.

I think there was a photo where Peter had split his pants.
Peter Criss split pants
Too Big for his Britches?
LC: Oh yeah. I actually sold those pants (laughs). For five hundred dollars, I think. I don’t know. I made those pants, but my mother sewed them after he split them. My mother was able to repair them, but still, you could see the repair. But I still sold them for $500 in one of Jacques’s auctions [for Backstage Auctions].

One of the things I was going to ask you about was you actually had tickets to Woodstock, but you couldn’t go.
LC: Yeah, we didn’t go, because Peter booked something else in Maine.

Any regrets about that?
LC: Oh, absolutely, absolutely. Who knew? But you know what? Peter said, “There’s no way I would have wanted to be there,” because Peter hates camping. And this was all camping. So he said there’s no way I would have wanted to be there with the rain. My mother thought I was at Woodstock. These were the days when you had to lie to your parents (laughs). She thought we were going to Woodstock, and she saw it on the news, and she’s going, “Oh my God, my little girl (laughs),” even though I really wasn’t. And I wasn’t wet. I was dry.

And that was when Peter was playing with Nautilus, I believe.
LC: Yes. Yes, he was with Nautilus. So I actually took the bus up there with my girlfriend, Carol, who was going out with the lead guitar player.

They did covers, too, then.
LC: Yeah, they were nice guys. The lead guitarist, he was adorable, but they weren’t songwriters and they weren’t creative.

Looking back, what was your favorite part of being involved with the whole KISS phenomenon?
LC: That’s a hard one. I just think it was the pride that I had. And I still have it. I still have it. I’m so proud that they’re still famous all these years. I just remember one day standing on a corner waiting for the light to turn, and I just said, “I feel like we just won the lottery.” You really feel like you won the lottery. I’m very proud of them – Gene and Paul and me (laughs), the whole band, that they’ve kept it alive all these years.

You also had a friendship with Peter Frampton that was very interesting.
LC: Yeah, yeah. I was friends with Peter Frampton. He was a sweetheart. I haven’t seen him in years, but I was friends with him at two different points in my life. And he was a great guy.

You were a big fan of his before you met him.
LC: Oh yeah. Yeah, the first time … yeah.

That was after Frampton Comes Alive!
LC: Well, I actually saw him in Humble Pie.

Oh, you did?
LC: Yeah, I saw him in Humble Pie. And then, I saw him at the Fillmore, I believe. It was either the Fillmore or the Academy of Music. Both get me very confused. I don’t know which one, but I saw him as Frampton, and then I saw him at the Garden, but I also saw him between them as a person.

You’ve seen hundreds of bands over the years. I know Queen was your favorite. And you saw Led Zeppelin, too. What was that experience like?
LC: I saw Led Zeppelin a couple of times, but the best thing was … I mean, I met Jimmy Page twice, two different times. Once at the A.R.M.S. concert, and there was a party afterwards, and then I also met him at my girlfriend’s home. But anyway, Zeppelin’s great.

Peter met him, too, and they were going to go back to your place, but [Led Zeppelin manager] Peter Grant stopped it.
LC: Oh yeah. He was going to come back to my place. We were at TRAX, and he was going to come back, but Peter Grant wouldn’t let him come. He had just had an OD. He’d Od’ed from heroin I guess. And [Grant] said, “How do you know that’s Peter Criss?” And [Page] said, “Oh, he has a limo.” And [Grant] goes, “That doesn’t mean anything.” So he wouldn’t let him come. But, I was kind of afraid, ‘cause I was saying, “Don’t tell me Jimmy Page is going to wreck my apartment.”

They did have quite the reputation back then.
LC: I was afraid. You didn’t ask me who my favorite solo artist was, did you?

I don’t remember.
LC: You didn’t ask me that. My favorite solo artist is Rod Stewart.

Did you meet him?
LC: Oh, of course – many times. 

What is he like?
LC: He’s nice, but he stays distant. He stays away. I’ve seen him a lot backstage and that type of stuff, but I’ve seen him where I could actually talk to him at CD signings, where he’s selling something. Yeah, he was supposed to come to this party, and I go, “Rod, you were supposed to come to this party. What the hell happened to you? You didn’t call me and I went to sleep.” I went to sleep, because I was friends with Carmine Rojas’s cousin. Carmine Rojas was his musical director in those days, and it was Rojas’s birthday. He was supposed to show up at the China Club, and I said, “I fell asleep.” But I met Rod a few times, yeah.

You guys got kicked out of a few places. Was there one time that was a little crazier than the rest?
LC: I don’t remember … I wasn’t with them, maybe. Did I mention getting kicked out of some places in the book?

Yeah, I thought there were some in the book – either restaurants or hotels.
LC: Huh. Well, there was one time in Sweden. We were in Sweden and oh, the hotel they took our passports … yeah. We didn’t get kicked out, but yeah, they took our passports because they were fighting in the lobby. That was the roadies. They were fighting. Not the band, it was the roadies, but they took our passports. And then there was also … we were in Sweden and we were at a restaurant, and it was called the Shrimp Bar or something, or the Shrimp Boat. You had to remote your shrimp … the shrimp were on a boat, and you had to remote them to you. There was like a pool in the middle of the restaurant and then tables all around, and they would send your food out, and you had to remote it with a remote control to your table. And Ace got so annoyed with it that he just walked in the pool, and they said, “You can’t walk in the pool!” And it was because the bottom wasn’t walk-able. It was just something you could swim in. And they said, “You’re going to wreck the bottom of the pool.” So they threw us out (laughs).

There were so many characters within and surrounding KISS. What was Bill Aucoin like?
LC: Bill Aucoin was a character. He loved doing everything … at that same restaurant we tried throwing him
Peter & Lydia with Bill Aucoin
in the pool. But he caught us right before. He knew what we were up to. We were getting him really drunk and then we were going to throw him in the pool (laughs). He realized what we were doing.

He really was one of those managers in rock history that you really remember. What was he like as a professional?
LC: He was very, very professional. He used to love to have fun. That was the thing you loved about Bill. I love him. I miss him to this day. Me and Richie … Richie was closer to him at one point. (Laughs) Richie and him have stories. Richie could tell you those.

How did you meet Richie?
LC: Well, Richie was managed by Bill Aucoin. He was in Piper. And actually, me and Jeanette were on our way to see KISS. I think we went down to Georgia. And then right after that, it was supposed to be New Year’s Eve. So, [we were going to spend] New Year’s Eve like in [this] North Carolina town, but we wanted to go to Georgia, to Atlanta, because it was a big gig. We went and we were waiting for our limo to pick us up at the airport and we were standing outside, and all of a sudden, there’s Richie. And there were the other guys in his band waiting to be picked up also. So, I said, “Wow, he’s cute, but I’m married, so I can look but I can’t touch.” That was it. But then years later … many, many years later, actually 10 years ago … let’s see, that was back in the ‘70s, and then I saw him in the ‘90s at one of the KISS parties at Studio 54, but he thought I was still married to Peter, so he didn’t approach me. We said, “Hello,” and we kissed, but that was it. Then, back around 2001, Sean Delaney was staying at my apartment, and he invited somebody over named Richie. And I thought it was Richie Ranno from Starz. I’m going, “Who did you invite to my apartment on New Year’s Eve?” And he said, “Richie Fontana.” And I said, “I love Richie Fontana.” And then about a month later, we were talking on the phone, and he’s calling me and e-mailing … well, within the month, we were talking right away. So within the month, we had a date, we made a date. And we’ve been together ever since. I actually invited him over. I said, “Come over and have some spaghetti,” but he was working on his CD. And he says, “I’ll have to take a rain check.” That was some time later.

Were you apprehensive about getting involved with a musician again?
LC: No way. That’s what I’m attracted to. Well, now I am. Years ago, I wasn’t, but now I am. I’m always attracted to musicians, and I’m always attracted to drummers and bass players. That’s what I usually go out with – drummers and bass players, the rhythm section.

You mentioned the creativity of Sean Delaney, that he was integral to the band’s success.
LC: Absolutely. He was very, very responsible for a lot of their choreography, a lot of their theatrics, and he
Sean Delaney, Jeanette Frehley,
Bill Aucoin, Lydia Criss 
didn’t get the appreciation he was due. Gene and Paul sometimes ignore Sean Delaney … they’re really very, business-wise, it’s like, “Okay, you did this for me. We paid you, on to the next thing.” That’s how they are.

What do you remember about meeting Sean for the first time?
LC: Well, I’ve always been attracted to gay guys. I guess I’m a fag hag, or whatever. I had cousins that were gay when I was little, and also at my first job, at school, there was a guy named Raymond that we loved. And he was one of the first gay friends I ever had. And then I worked in Abercrombie & Fitch and there was a guy named Rudy. Oh, he was so flamboyant it was unbelievable. He’d come off the elevator and we could hear him on the other end of the floor. He’d come up and we’d go, “Oh, Rudy’s here.” But I was always attracted to gay people because they’re so creative and funny, and they just love women. Gay guys love women. You know, maybe a guy might be apprehensive, but women aren’t. We just loved them, and then years later, we were friends with Frank Dugan, who gave us that million dollar check
Frank Dugan's Million $$ Check
[described in Lydia’s book]. He was gay, and we’ve just always had gay friends all of our lives. Since I was a little girl, I’ve had gays in my life, even though at times I didn’t know what gay was. I had gay relatives. I didn’t know they were gay. I didn’t know what that was. I just thought they were funny and they were great to hang out with. And then when you grow up, you realize what it is. Even when I was in school, I didn’t know Raymond was gay. I just thought he was a character. You know, we just loved him. I used to play games with him, like “What songs can you sing?” We’d listen to the radio, and we’d get all the words to every song. And it was, “Okay, what song did you get last night?” And I’d sit at the radio in my mother’s bedroom and just write all the lyrics to all the songs.

How did your family get along with Peter? Did they like Peter from the start?
LC: No, at the beginning, no. But, you know, they eventually got to love him, even before he made it. You know, once we got married, they loved him. At one point, I said, “I might elope,” and my mother said, “If you elope, you’ll be disowned.” It was [my parents’] initial meeting [with] him with the long hair, ‘caused I lived in projects. I grew up with blacks and Puerto Ricans in a neighborhood that was lower class. And Peter was from an even lower-class neighborhood. The thing is, he had long hair, and my mother never knew what that was. They never had that. Peter was the first long-haired guy I brought home. Actually, he was the first guy I brought home. Oh yeah. I only had two boyfriends before him, so they never met them. They saw me walking with my first boyfriend when I was living with the projects. But Peter, we had already moved out of the projects when I met Peter. We had just moved out of the projects when I met Peter, within 40 days of moving out of the projects. And I didn’t bring him home right away. I brought him home eventually, and they weren’t too happy, because of – like I said – the long hair, but they liked him, like I said at the beginning of the interview, because of his personality.

What were Peter’s parents like?
LC: Peter’s family was great. They were sweethearts. I’m telling you, you could say anything to his mother … not like my mother. [You could say] anything to his mother and his mother was the greatest. I mean, I’ve actually even smoked pot with his mother.

Is there anybody from the old days you hang out with and if so, have they read the book? What do they think of it?
LC: Well, I don’t hang out with anybody from the old days, but I just talk to them. I talk to Elvera [Capetta], who was one of my bridesmaids. I talk to Joey Lucenti. He was in Peter’s band before KISS. I talk to Pepe Gennarelli. He was in Peter’s band. I’m trying to think … there’s not many left. A lot of the people are just gone. We can’t reach them.

We should talk about what you’re doing now.
LC: Well, my book is in the second printing.

And you’ve expanded it, right?
LC: Yeah, that’s what I was going to say. It’s revised and expanded. What I’ve done is I’ve corrected a few errors, changed a few things, I’ve made some pictures bigger, changed colors and stuff … not many, but a few. And then I also expanded it by 16 pages, with 22 more photos, and that’s it. It’s in its second printing. And the other thing is I’m working on an auction … I’m going to sell stuff that’s in the book, but more stuff, more personal stuff – like if Paul Stanley gave me a gift, it might be in the auction. A lot of the clothes I’m wearing might be in the auction. Certain things, like if Gene gave me a gift … Gene gave me a clock, Paul gave me a clock, they might both be in the auction.

I remember seeing that in the book, that they both gave you the same clock.
LC: Not the same, but they both gave me clocks. But, anyway, there will be a lot of things that are in the book, personal things, like if you see … like my crazy bathroom in Brooklyn, with the Mickey Mouse. I still have those towels and stuff, so that’s going to be in the auction (laughs). I can’t really say exactly what’s going to be in the auction, but there’s going to be a lot of personal stuff.

Well, it would cool to see those platform boots of yours from the old days (laughs). Those are cool.
LC: Yep, those big platform boots. Oh, definitely … (laughs). I found two pairs already. There might be a third. I’m not sure. I’ll find the other pair.

###

Lydia has completed the last and final selection of her treasures and will be doing one more final auction with Backstage Auctions. There will be plenty of KISS memorabilia including the Mercedes as well as other music related relics. Register for your VIP All Access to receive auction notifications.

To purchase Lydia's second printing and expanded version of Sealed With A KISS, you can buy it directly from Lydia by visiting her website: http://www.lydiacriss.com/

Sealed with a KISS by Lydia Criss

Sodom dreams of a 'Big Teutonic 4' tour


Kreator, Destruction and Tankard would round out such a lineup

By Peter Lindblad

Sodom's Tom Angelripper (photo by
Robert Schmidt)
America wants desperately to see more of the Big Four together, but Anthrax, Slayer, Metallica and Megadeth haven’t been able – or willing, perhaps, despite comments to the contrary – to bring their epic thrash-metal spectacle to the States.

Meanwhile, the States are, for all intents and purposes, virgin territory for Sodom, one of the most ferocious and rugged speed-metal outfits Germany has ever produced. Bassist/vocalist Tom Angelripper, the driving force behind Sodom and the only founding member left, wants to change that. And he’d like nothing better than to put together a “Big Teutonic 4” tour of Germanic thrash titans with Kreator, Destruction, and Tankard to conquer North America.

“I know that we have to talk about the U.S./North American tour, you know, but one of my dreams is to get … we have to talk about the Big Four and bring it up on the stage,” says Angelripper. “There’s a festival next month, Beastival [in Gieselwind, Germany], where all four bands play in a block, you know. And I get so many fans that want it on other stages in Germany or worldwide. It’s what I talk about. The next step is [to make it] real – whenever I talk to Mille [Petrozza] from Kreator, maybe we can do something between Christmastime, or the New Year. I also want to bring it to the U.S. and North America.”

Sodom, who will unleash their latest thrash-metal epistle, Epitome of Torture, on May 7 in the U.S. and Canada on Steamhammer/SPV, has always run into bad luck trying to organize U.S. jaunts.

“We never had a chance to do a big tour in America,” admits Angelripper. “We always had problems, you know. We never found very good serious promoters. We always had problems on the border. The last time we were supposed to play the Maryland Deathfest. The promoter said you have to go as tourists, but a band like Sodom, we can’t go as tourists. We have all our guitars, you know. And to do that, we have to go as a band; they know that we are Sodom and going to play there, you know. We need papers or a visa? I don’t know what it’s called, but [we need] working papers and all the stuff you need to go over.”

Other places are more accommodating, like metal-crazed South America for example.

“We never had any problems going to South America,” explains Angelripper. “We get our visa, we get our stuff, and we get a good deal, so we go. That is the thing. We are sitting at home waiting for offers. I think that would be a really good idea to get the four bands on a couple of stages in the U.S. and the Americas – that would be a dream, you know. To get all the four bands together, that’s what I’m working for and that’s my dream. The problem is different companies and agencies, they follow their own interests. They want to make money. All it takes is for the bands to say, ‘Yes, we’ll do it.’”

It would seem that a gathering of this magnitude would be a cash cow for all involved. Angelripper has no illusions, however, of drawing the kinds of massive crowds the Big Four saw during their Sonisphere Festival series run of 2010.

“It’s not like the Big Four, with Metallica, Anthrax, Slayer or whatever,” says Angelripper. “But it’s good for 2,000 or 3,000 people, you know. And if there’s any promoter that would help us do it, we will do it. I have a different booking agency than Kreator, you know. So we have to get at one table and talk about this shit. We want to go. We want to go to South America, to North America … anywhere.”

Any of those places would welcome Sodom with open arms upon hearing Epitome of Torture, an intense, punishing attack from start to finish that couches themes of war and peace in raging guitar riffs, slamming drums – from new drummer Markus “Makka” Freiwald – and bass that could cause a seismic event. And that’s exactly what Angelripper wanted to hear in this latest record.

“We did a kind of pre-production before, you know, and [producer] Waldemar [Sorychta] was also important in the songwriting and the arrangements you know,” reveals Angelripper. “And yes, we did talk about what we did with In War and Pieces, what we can change now, and when we started writing new songs actually, the most important thing was that we get a new drummer. It’s ‘Makka’ [Markus Friewald] on the drums nowadays, and we were able to do more heavier songs and more faster songs than on In War and Pieces.”

Angelripper also was displeased with the public reaction to In War and Pieces.

“We also talked about the sound,” he says. “There are some fans who told me that In War and Pieces sounds like a new metalcore band, which I hate. So we talked about how to get more Sodom spirit into the songs, more dirt … to pick up hate sounds, you know, we did a ton of re-editing with hate sounds, like Venom, you know. I thought [it should be] like when you listen to old Venom stuff, you know. I know we recorded [digitally], which is usual and also [cheaper] nowadays, but when I had the production sound, I wanted it to sound more on the low end, like in the ‘80s, you know. I wanted to get the Sodom spirit and the Sodom sound out, you know. But it was Waldemar who could help us. He’s a wonderful producer. It was important for me to spend the money not for a high-priced studio; it was better to spend the money for a producer who is going to help us from the beginning to the end.”

Waldemar’ influence is felt on Epitome of Torture, which will come out in three versions – a standard jewel case CD, a two colored LP plus three bonus tracks – double gatefold with printed innersleeves – and a limited-edition digipak, with two bonus tracks and a poster. For more information, visit http://www.sodomized.info/?l=en

CD Review: Dust – Hard Attack/Dust


CD Review: Dust – Hard Attack/Dust
Kama Sutra/Legacy
All Access Review: A-

The cult following that’s grown up around Dust is about to get bigger. That’s because Sony Legacy has seen fit to reissue the proto-metal legends’ only two albums, 1971’s Dust and 1972’s Hard Attack, two highly influential documents of heavy blues-driven rock that had been out of print for eons. Time and neglect haven’t eroded their extraordinary power one bit.

Dust was, quite possibly, a bit too hasty in calling it quits so soon after the release of Hard Attack, but they all moved on in impressive fashion, hardly taking a moment to reflect on their brief existence. They were only teenagers when they formed, but the precocious threesome of Richie Wise, Marc Bell and Kenny Aaronson – plus Kenny Kerner, who helped out with production and songwriting – had a loud, fully-realized sonic vision in mind for Dust, but it wasn’t getting them anywhere. So, they parted, and Dust was history. Wise, the band’s guitarist, singer and main songwriter, went on to produce the first two KISS records with Kerner, his partner. 

Aaronson did session work for Dust’s label, Kama Sutra, and toured with just about everybody who was anybody in the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s, including Bob Dylan, Edgar Winter, Billy Idol and Billy Squier, to name but a few. He also played with both the New York band Stories, who struck gold with the chart-topping single “Brother Louie,” and the short-lived super group HSAS, which stood for Hagar, Schon, Aaronson and Schrieve. And as for Bell, the drummer, he joined The Ramones in 1978. You might know him better as Marky Ramone.

Had the world known what they'd accomplish post-Dust, perhaps those records released in the dark ages of American heavy metal wouldn’t have fallen on deaf ears. And maybe, just maybe, Dust would have lived a little longer, changing the course of rock history forever. Alas, it was not to be, and with serious concerns about their management, their label and their future, Dust called it a day and everybody scattered to the four winds. And Dust and Hard Attack, they just sat on a shelf gathering … well, dust.

Remastered for maximum impact, the sound of these lost treasures – both the product of good, solid songwriting – has been cleaned spotless and is fuller and richer than the original recordings. Hard Attack, in particular, comes on like a hurricane, with the untamed energy of “Ivory” – a rolling tank of an instrumental – and “All in All” whipping around as violently and furiously as any of the wild storms brewed up by The Who or Cream. Heavy weather is experienced on “Learning to Die” and “Full Away/So Many Times,” as well, with Aaronson’s muscular bass and Bell’s galloping drums racing with the wind. And the Sabbath-like “Suicide” swings a big hammer, one that could drive spikes through railroad ties.

Variety spices up Hard Attack, however, as the exquisitely arranged ballad “Thusly Spoken” – blanketed in gorgeous strings and twinkling piano – might be the most sophisticated pop music Burt Bacharach never wrote. Golden flecks of bent steel pedal sparkle in the quiet acoustic country rumination “I Been Thinkin’” and its kissing cousin “How Many Horses,” giving Hard Attack some tasty twang.   

Dust is the black sheep of the family, as “Love Me Hard,” “Chasin’ Ladies” and “Stone Woman” – all cut up by gliding, shooting stars of slide guitar – ramble on like Zeppelin in their prime. Nothing on either album, though, compares to the heavy, 9:53 psychedelic trip “From a Dry Camel” on Dust, a blustery, hallucinogenic dreamscape of alien shapes and a searing, extended guitar solo that goes deep into the recesses of the brain.

Handling dynamic shifts in tempo and mood with deft chops and synchronized charges into the breach, as a band, Dust was bold, adventurous and exceedingly confident of their abilities. Few would appreciate their talents when they were around. That’s what often happens with artists who are ahead of their time. But, eventually, the world catches up, and with this reissue, augmented by a fantastic selection of vintage memorabilia and photos, along with concise, but revealing, liner notes comprised of passionate remembrances by band members, it seems the time is right to reassess the impact Dust had on heavy metal. Get to your independent record store early on April 20 for a lush Record Store Day exclusive vinyl version of this archival treasure.
    Peter Lindblad

Marky Ramone remembers Dust ... and tries to solve a mystery


Sony/Legacy reissues proto-metal band’s two cult albums

By Peter Lindblad

Dust - Dust/Hard Attack 2013
The trail has gone cold ... ice cold. Any evidence of the crime is, in all likelihood, gone forever, and yet Marc Bell, aka Marky Ramone, is still determined to catch the culprit and find justice.

For context, when the incident happened, Bell was a founding member of Dust in the late ’60s and ’70s, a band that simply could not catch a break in its all-too-brief existence.

Management was at a loss as to how to market the pioneering proto-metal outfit and few, if any, American producers had any idea how to get the most out of them in the studio. Meanwhile, their record label, Kama Sutra, was focusing its energies on promoting its more commercial folk-rock acts, like the Lovin’ Spoonful.

All of these things, according to Ramone, combined to doom Dust. One thing that did go right for them was a tour with Alice Cooper as the supporting act, although he’d like to get to the bottom of something that happened to him while on the road with the shock-rock sensations.

On the one hand, there was “the fact that people were giving us two encores,” says Ramone, something opening acts don’t usually receive.

“And then came initiation,” says Ramone, setting the scene. “I go to my hotel room … I mean, this is stuff that teenagers do I guess, but we were teenagers I suppose. Somebody took a dump in one of my drawers in the hotel room. And I knew something smelled pretty strange. I opened it up and there it was, and I never knew who did it, but I look back at it now, and I thought it was pretty funny. Would I do it? No, I wouldn’t do it, but somebody did do it, and whoever it is, I wish I could find them.”

It’s a mystery that probably will never be solved. And though Ramone may never ferret out the offending party, there is renewed interest in Dust, now that their only two albums, the self-titled debut from 1971 and their 1972 sophomore LP, Hard Attack, are being reissued – with a fantastic remastering job – by Sony Legacy on April 16. A Record Store Day vinyl version is being released on April 20.

“Maybe these reissues will make that person come forward (laughs),” jokes Ramone.

Prized by collectors for years, Dust’s records were the stuff of legend, their gale-force blues-based hard-rock sound tempered by touches of folk and progressive-rock in a formula that Led Zeppelin was perfecting overseas. Although they disbanded not long after the release of Hard Attack, the members of Dust would go on to bigger and better things.

Bell hooked on with a various U.S. punk rock icons, including Wayne County and Richard Hell & the Voidoids and, of course, The Ramones, the band he joined in 1978. Kenny Aaronson was Dust’s bassist, and he would later play with the likes of Joan Jett, Bob Dylan, Foghat, Brian Setzer and a host of other rock luminaries. As for Richie Wise, the band’s guitarist and main songwriter, he and Kenny Kerner – who wrote lyrics for Dust and helped out with songwriting and production duties – ended up producing the first two KISS records.

Ramone thinks that it is high time these two long-out-of-print Dust records see the light of day again.
Explaining why the reissues are coming out now, he said, in a rather matter-of-fact manner, that “the contract was finally up with the other record company that really didn’t do [Dust] justice. So, Sony/Legacy … we remastered it, packaged it in numbered vinyl, collectible vinyl, and the packaging is unbelievable. And when you hear the remastering, it sounds twice as big as the original recording. So we were very happy to put it out again to show the public what we were doing 40 years ago in America, which was heavy metal, ‘cause at the time there was hardly any metal in America in 1970. It was all coming from England. And also in America, there weren’t that many producers who knew how to produce this genre of music. So, now it has a second chance.”

After all this time, Ramone still sees the influential Dust, cult favorites for years, as trailblazers in the metal genre.

“Well, one of the few, yes,” says Ramone. “Black Sabbath in England solidified it there, and then when we started in ’70, we got our record deal in ’70 and recorded the album and it came out in ’71. So we were kind of ahead of the game in America, along with a few other bands. There weren’t that many, and the term ‘heavy metal’ wasn’t even a phrase yet.”

As for the Cooper tour, Ramone thinks of it as the highlight of Dust’s short life. Another one was playing Cobo Hall, the site of many great concerts by Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen and, of course, KISS. “I mean that place was packed,” says Ramone. “And also St. Louis … they really took a liking to Dust. And I think that if we continued to play to the Midwest, and we’d spread out to the East and West … but again, we just stopped that quick.”

We’ll have more of our interview with Marky Ramone and his memories of Dust in future posts, so keep watching this space for that. In the meantime, visit http://www.legacyrecordings.com for more information.