Continuing a look back at my first exposure to a number of rock ‘n’ roll acts and superheroes (or other denizens of print or periodical publication), some of which were passing fancies, and some of which I went on to kinda like. They say you never forget your first time; that may be true, but it’s the subsequent visits–the second time, the fourth time, the twentieth time, the hundredth time–that define our relationships with the things we cherish. Ultimately, the first meeting is less important than what comes after that. But every love story still needs to begin with that first kiss.
“Knock Three Times” was a huge AM radio hit when I was in sixth grade. When it played in the lunchroom at school, all the kids there naturally pounded on the table when the song prompted us to, y’know, knock three times. We were warned of dire consequences if we didn’t stop that infernal pounding, you worthless kids! As the song continued, I figured that I could toe the line and continue enjoying myself by playing air drums, and silently swatting the air instead of smacking the table. Perfect plan, right? But Mr. Shannon saw the downward movement of my arms, and pronounced me guilty, my protests to the contrary be damned. I’ve never forgiven him, the rat!
As a voracious reader of Trouser Press magazine in the early ’80s, I must have read all about The dB’s and their first two albums, Stands For Decibels and Repercussions. Probably. My first exposure to the group was two live tracks, “We Should Be In Bed” and “Death Garage,” on a live sampler LP called Start Swimming. A couple of years later, I fell in love with a dB’s album called Like This, which we played in-store when I worked at a record store in Buffalo circa 1985. A few years later still, a reissue of Like This would become (with Past Masters, Volume Two by The Beatles) one of the first pair of CDs I ever owned. Saw The dB’s at Syracuse’s Lost Horizon in the late ’80s, as the final incarnation of the group was touring in support of its last album, The Sound Of Music.
THE DEAD BOYS
THE DEAD BOYS: Yesterday’s discussion of The Damned mentioned an album called New Wave, a sampler LP put out by the good folks at the Vertigo label. We’ll be coming back to that album in at least two more future editions of The Everlasting First, but it’s also where I first heard The Dead Boys (specifically “Sonic Reducer” and “All This And More,” two tracks from The Dead Boys’ debut album, Young, Loud & Snotty). My favorite Dead Boys track would ultimately be “Third Generation Nation,” the lead-off track from their second and final album, We Have Come For Your Children. Dead Boys lead singer Stiv Bators would later release an incredible cover of The Choir‘s pop classic “It’s Cold Outside,” and his version is The Greatest Record Ever Made.
DAVE DEE, DOZY, BEAKY, MICK & TICH
I guess it’s easy to be snarky about the clunky pop music of Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich, but I was intrigued by them. I believe the first mention of ’em I ever saw was in the booklet that accompanied a Sire Records double-album sampler called The History Of British Rock, Volume Two. That set didn’t contain any DDDBM&T, but just the mention of the group and a manic record called “Bend It” was enough to whet my appetite. I later found a used copy of the “Bend It” 45, but it didn’t make much of an impression on me, I fear. “Zabadak” also left me cold. But when I heard their song “Hold Tight” a few years later, I knew I’d found a new favorite. I’ve purchased CD reissues of three DDDBM&T albums, but the debut album (which includes “Hold Tight” and “You Make It Move”) is my go-to.
I’m sure I saw print ads for The Dickies’ album The Incredible Shrinking Dickies, and I probably saw it on the racks at various fine record retailers in the late ’70s. I knew the group’s repertoire of supercharged covers included a take on The Monkees‘ ace garage nugget “She,” but I don’t remember hearing any of it at the time. Which means my first Dickies sighting was on the Don Rickles sitcom C.P.O. Sharkey in 1978. My memory of that episode is that it was condescending and smarmy in its dismissal of punk rock, so screw ’em anyway. My favorite Don Rickles appearance was alongside his comic-book doppelganger Goody Rickels in the pages of Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen, written and drawn by the King, Jack Kirby. The Dickies went on to much better thing beyond the aegis of C.P.O. Sharkey, and the group’s cover of The Banana Splits theme song has long been a favorite. TRAAA-LA-LAAAA, TRAAA-LA-LA-LAAAA! The Dickies also did an original power pop tune called “Rosemary” on their 1983 album Stukas Over Disneyland, and it’s one of the all-time great underrated pop tunes.
THE DICTATORS: Another group I first heard of via Phonograph Record Magazine, but my first taste of The Dictators’ music came via the unlikely venue of a film called Jabberwalk in 1977. My only memory of this weird, disjointed documentary (if that’s even what it was) is that it was…um, weird and disjointed. That, and it included footage of The Dictators performing a live rendition of “America The Beautiful” at the Miss Nude America beauty pageant. See, that’s how you break a band! At college in Brockport that September, I pestered campus station WBSU to play me some Dictators, and the jocks responded with the pretty ballad “Sleepin’ With The TV On,” from the group’s then-current Manifest Destiny album. Subsequent WBSU requests yielded tracks from The Dictators’ first album, Go Girl Crazy!
My first Drifters record was The Drifters’ Golden Greats, which I purchased in the mid-’80s (and which prompted me to remark with some frequency that, if we presume there must be music in Heaven, then we must presume the music in Heaven sounds like The Drifters). But my first exposure to The Drifters? “On Broadway.” That TV commercial for Radio Free Europe in the ’60s and ’70s. On Broadvay…! ‘Nuff said.
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