Wednesday, January 18, 2006

70's Boston Rockers Return!

Here is my article for

I intend to include this information in a book I'm
writing on the Boston scene - pitching to my editors
at AMG first.

70's Rockers Release New Albums

by Joe Viglione

The old guard of the 1970s Boston Music Scene appears
to be having a harmonic convergence of sorts, with an
amazing array of new discs finding simultaneous
release by the end of 2005. Sure, there have been
sightings that a resurgence was about to take place,
The Varmints - Frank Rowe of The Classic Ruins and
Billy Borgioli of The Real Kids - releasing their
music in 2002, Robin Lane & The Chartbusters putting
their reunion on record with "Peace Of Mind" in 2003,
and the group "New England" reforming for a live show
in 2005, with an appearance on Hirsh Gardner's 2003
disc, Wasteland For Broken Hearts, released on Marquee
in Japan (as well as all their discs including a new
album of out-takes finding new life on the GB Music

Yes, there have been sightings, but never before have
had pretty much an onslaught of name local bands
putting their art out to the world again - all at
once. Back in the day it was home-made vinyl 45s and
E.P.s, but as the new millennium is well underway, and
with recording techniques far more accomodating, the
CD and digital downloads have replaced those smaller,
charming formats.

The verdict on this music by these veterans? The
production values and song selection - across the
board - proves that these artists are not only getting
better, they are aging like fine wine. If only these
discs were released in their heyday!

So here's a nice year end wrap-up and look to the

Willie Loco Alexander & The Boom Boom Band
13 tracks of very powerful music from this important
Boston institution. Co-produced by David Minehan of
The Neighborhoods and The Boom Boom Band, it is
sonically superior to the two MCA releases from 1978
and 1979 and proves what a creative and essential
group this was and still is. Man, if they had
released an album every year since 1979 - the
possibilities are endless and their stardom would have
been assured. "Ogalala", "AAWW", "Telephone Sex"
and "Who Killed Deanna" have been recorded by Willie
in the past, but this is his most revered ensemble
putting their stamp on the material. Grade A+

Jon Butcher's Barefoot Servants 2

Get it? A line from the Jimi Hendrix hit written by
Bob Dylan, "All Along The Watch Tower" - "...princes
kept the
view/ While all the women came and went, barefoot
too." The band features veteran Boston rocker Jon
Butcher who has done so much soundtrack work - from
Star Trek The Next Generation to HBO's "Deadwood" and
Showtime's "Hendrix" film. As with Willie Loco, this
music is sonically superior to his two releases on
Polydor from 1983 and 1984 (though Jon was in the 70s
group Johanna Wilde, which puts him in this club of
70s rockers).

Barefoot Servants features Ben Schultz, Neal Wilkinson
and legendary bassist Leland Sklar. The music runs
from acoustic to clever pop/rock with driving guitars.
Real craftsmanship and - again - if only this
material had the power of Uni Music behind it this
time around... "Love You Too Much" is a harp-laden
sequel to The Fine Young Cannibals "She Drives Me
Crazy", a powerful pop, as is "When The Day Comes".
Grade A.

Fox Pass

Through the years Jon Macey has evolved, releasing two
albums on Mercury with Tom Dickie & The Desires in
1981 and 1982, putting a push behind Macey's Parade in
the 1990s, returning thirty years later with the album
debut of a band who had released a single in 1976 - "I
Believed" and "Prized Possession". Unlike Willie
Loco, the band opted to go with all new material
(saving the old classics for an upcoming live album),
but like The Boom Boom Band, this group is superb
onstage. Produced by Barry Marshall (with LaVern
Baker and the Dick Tracy and Shag soundtracks to his
credit), Mike Roy, John Jules and Jon Macey's power
pop has never sounded better on record. Veteran Steve
Gilligan (who appeared on Stompers' Boardwalk album)
replaces David Godbey on bass. 13 tracks of their
Byrds meets R.E.M. style - just keep in mind - this
band was opening for Roxy Music at The Orpheum years
before R.E.M. released their first single.
Excellent. Grade A

Duke & The Drivers "Harder Than Before"

With a release date of February 21, 2006, Arts Media
Mag got an advanced copy of "Harder Than Before" from
the group that released two albums in the mid-1970s on
ABC - the first of which included the minor hit "What
You Got". Here the band has refined its formerly edgy
R & B sound delivering solid gospel as on "Angel",
mesmerizing dance-rock with the first expanded single,
"Funk All Over The Place", even calypso/ska on
"Loco-Loco" (probably not written for Willie "Loco"
Alexander, but a cute coincidence). This album is
stunning. Grade A+

Sal Baglio of The Stompers as "Rock E Rollins"
Rock E. Rollins' second release is the complete
opposite of what you'd find on a Stompers album -
though it would be interesting if Baglio's veteran
band included this excellent Triple A space-age pop in
their Modern Electric blues shows. Sal is a highly
creative songwriter with a great voice and it is no
coincidence that, like all of the aforementioned
discs, this is among his finest work. "Lost Marbles
Revolving Head" is The Yardbirds meets The Electric
Prunes. British rock and psychedelia are explored
throughout the disc. "45" rips The Clash as surely as
Jon Butcher took liberally from The Fine Young
Cannibals, but it veers off into a total pop
direction. Again, if only if only this had come out
on Boardwalk when The Stompers had their chance at the
brass ring. Grade A - and a real find!

Mach Bell of Thundertrain with MACH 5

Though his Thundertrain released "Hell Tonite", a live
WCOZ broadcast from 1979, on Gulcher Records in 2004,
the last lead singer for the Joe Perry Project has
never sounded more raw and vital. He too has gone
through mutations, from the Mag IV in the 1980s to
Last Man Standing in the 1990s, Mach 5 continues the
Thundertrain mantra of "I Gotta Rock" on opening track
"Get It Up", a tune Mick Jagger could utilize (as
David Lee Roth copped Mach's riffs on "Hot For
Teacher" in 1984 - years after Mach had a single by
the same name. There's a credible cover of Alice
Cooper's "Under My Wheels" and the heavy pop of
"Kandyland", "Quincy Girls", ten tracks in all. It's
quintessential Mach Bell. Grade A.

RTZ - Brad Delp, Barry Goudreau, Brian Maes, Tim
Archibald, David Stefanelli

First a little history - Delp and Goudreau are, of
course, from the 70s band BOSTON, David Stefanelli and
Brian Maes performing and recording in the 80s with
Robert Ellis Orrall, Maes later playing onstage with
the band Boston's spinoff group, Orion The Hunter,
opening for Aerosmith prior to the formation of RTZ.
Bassist Tim Archibald performed with New Man on their
Epic debut in the mid-1980s and, with Maes and
Stefanelli, an integral part of The Brian Maes Group.
As RTZ they hit the Top 30 in February of 1992 with
"Until Your Love Comes Back Around". In 1999/2000 a
Japanese label, Avalon, released "Lost In America",
which Brian Maes has re-released in 2005 on his own
Briola Records. They've also issued 11 more tracks on
a second CD entitled "Found In America". The stuff is
brilliant! Though demos produced and engineered by
Barry Goudreau in his home studio, they have more than
charm - there's more power and excitement in the demos
that sought - and found - the deal than the work
released on Irving Azoff's Giant Records in 1991,
which led to the hit. The millions of fans of the
band Boston need to own these discs - and at the risk
of sounding redundant - boy, if only RTZ like The Boom
Boom Band, The Stompers, Fox Pass, Jon Butcher Axis
and Mach Bell's Thundertrain had only had the
opportunity to release a dozen or so albums - there
would have been hits galore. All the tracks are first
rate, "Someday" a potential pop classic. By the way,
4/5ths of RTZ - everyone but Barry Goudreau - appeared
on Peter Wolf's 1996 Reprise disc "Long Line".

Stonecrazy with Danny Klein
Danny Klein of The J. Geils Band put together
Stonecrazy (a term taken from the legendary Buddy Guy)
prior to the J Geils reunion tour. It's been an
extremely slow process, original drummer Steve Shaheen
cutting the initial tracks with the group, which also
features Babe Pino and his brother Ken Pino (of Johnny
Copeland fame). This writer got a phone call from
Duke and The Drivers drummer Mark Highlander who was
in search of a band. A rock journalist, of course,
thinks about "dream bands", so the rhythm section of J
Geils and Duke & The Drivers made perfect sense. Add
production by Jay Geils himself and keyboards by Seth
Justman and you have the closest thing to a new J
Geils Band disc on record that you'll have to a Geils
reunion on record till that band finally records.

ITMB with Mick Spiros & Norman Bloom
Mickey Spiros worked with the legendary Adrian Barber
(producer of The Velvet Underground's last studio
album and Aerosmith's first, along with engineering
Cream) and Norman Bloom has been a fixture on the
Boston scene perhaps longer than anyone as booking
agent and multi-purpose drummer. Modeled after Lee
Michaels and Frosty, ITMB - the Incredible Two Man
Band - is a Boston institution. Listen to "Martha" is
see if you think Aerosmith's "Dream On" might have had
its beginnings elsewhere! Adrian Barber, after all,
produced both acts. It's a great little live disc
available only on the ITMB website

And there you have it - ten new albums by veterans of
the Boston scene - artists who still have something to
say - and know how to articulate it on record. All
ten discs are a truly inspirational listening
experience and a statement on the purity - and
survivability - of the original Boston music scene.

Joe Viglione is a rock critic for and
producer/host of Visual Radio, a ten year old
television program which interviews recording artists,
authors and other personalities. He too is a 70's
rocker who has released a compilation "Lifeswork: 2005
and Counting" available on Discoveries
Magazine contributor Joseph Tortelli has said about
Lifeswork: "This compilation certifies The Count's
reputation as a songwriter who composes pop/rock tunes
that are both catchy and enduring."

Joe Viglione
p.o. box 2392
Woburn, MA 01888
mobile 617 899 5926


Barefoot Servants 2 with Jon Butcher

Fox Pass by Fox Pass

Willie Loco Alexander Dog Bar Yacht Club

Rock E Rollins / Sal Baglio

Duke & The Drivers Harder Than Before

RTZ Lost & Found


Mach Bell's Mag V
















Blogger HMK said...

Man, I hope that book mentions Biff Malibu!

Is this the Joe V I think it is?

H. Michael KArshis

9:57 AM  
Blogger Element said...

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9:22 AM  

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