The Los Angeles music scene in the early 1980's was a place of diametric opposites in the early 1980's; the punk scene had become a form of conformity with cartoonish thugs churning out loud for the sake of being loud and held tightly to fashion while the last gasp of the bloated, cocaine driven superstar acts were still massive commercially but beginning to suffer a massive comedown culminating in a crash 'n' burn thanks to the visual media of MTV.
The Rain Parade were formed in 1981 by a pair of roomates- one California native (Steven Roback) and a transplant from Minneapolis (Matt Piucci). The pair were devouring music of the '60's, and found their creative calling within the sound of their The Byrds, The Doors and Love; bands that are the spiritual and geographical older brothers of The Rain Parade. The band drew inspiration from those groups and added the lilting drone of The Velvet Underground to the mix and created something that was entirely out of step with the rest of the L.A scene. The band was rounded out by Steven's brother David, Will Glenn, and
Michael Murphy and within their first year together self released the
incredible single you're about to enjoy. In a recent interview with The Austin Chronicle, Matt Piucci said of the times "When we started playing in Los Angeles, if you weren’t sweating like a
pig in a ripped T-shirt and screaming at the top of your lungs, then you
weren’t cool. It wasn’t valid. And we thought that was bullshit. We
thought it was very punk of us to play waltz tempos slowly with acoustic
guitars at punk clubs. We thought that was punk because nobody else was
I had the pleasure of asking Matt the other day if he had any special memories of the record, and he says
"It sure was a trip seeing that thing
spin around for the first time. Recorded 8 track at Radio Tokyo n Venice
with the late Ethan James. It was a tiny house that had been converted. I remember going in thinking I am putting a sitar in this no matter
Weird coincidence, I later learned that right before Ethan got it (the house that the studio was built in), my wife (who I was yet to meet) had lived there. Good karma"
Much has been made of the so-called 'Paisley Underground", and while the other bands associated with that scene drew on some obvious '60's influences, none matched the sheer blissed-out visionary droning brilliance of The Rain Parade. At this time, the only other band that was even performing were the still developing Bangles, who were known earlier as The Colors, then The Bangs, then by their more famous name. Bangles leader Susannah Hoffs was a neighbor of the Robacks and they all attended Pacific Palisades high school.
Matt's sitar is heard in all its glory on the b-side, the lysergic sugar cube bomb that is "Kaleidoscope".
The Rain Parade went on to release a 5 star LP in 1983 (Emergency Third Rail Power Trip), and a 5 star EP in '84 (Explosions In The Glass Palace), as well as a live album and another studio effort. David Roback left the band after Emergency and formed (the also brilliant) groups Clay Allison (which became Opal), and eventually Opal morphed into Mazzy Star. Steven Roback formed Viva Saturn, and Matt Piucci Gone Fishin' and also played in the (Neil Young less) Crazy Horse.
One of the thrills of my life as a musician was sharing the stage (my band played on the same bill) with the recently reformed Rain Parade, last December at Cafe Du Nord in San Francisco. I stood in awe listening to these magical sounds which I never thought I'd be able to hear live. Several times I had to politely ask people "please talk to me later, as this is a big deal for me to LISTEN to this set!!!" I watched in awe as Matt laid out the same whammy bar moves on the same Gretsch Tennessean as on the videos I've seen of the group back in the early '80's. Check out these two performances of "No Easy Way Down"; the first from 1983, the other 2012. -Derek See
This is a real bummer. I can't say we were good friends, but I was a big fan and we did hang out a few times. I'll never forget the first time I saw/heard of Game Theory, it was at a place in Lincoln Nebraska called The Drum Stick, fried chicken joint by day, rock venue by night. I was a roadie for Beat Rodeo and they were the opening band that night and I pretty much ended up roadie-ing for them that night as well (I remember it having something to do with me having a crush on the bass player). I became a big fan of their music after that.
Musician and writer Scott Miller has died, according to his official site.
"Scott passed away on April 15, 2013. He was a wonderful, loyal friend as well as a brilliant musician, and I will miss him for the rest of my life," his webmaster, Sue Trowbridge, wrote. She did not provide a cause of death.
Miller, born in 1960, formed college-rock act Game Theory in the early '80s with Fred Juhos, Nancy Becker and Michael Erwin. The band's shifting lineups released four studio albums before label Enigma went under, leading to a fresh start for the musician with '90s project the Loud Family.
A prolific musician, he was also an exhaustive listener, offering a well-received critical overview of 53 years of rock history in 2010 book "Music: What Happened?" With that project accomplished, he had set his sights back on music.
"Scott had been planning to start recording a new Game Theory album, 'Supercalifragile,' this summer, and was looking forward to getting back into the studio and reuniting with some of his former collaborators," Trowbridge wrote.
The webmaster has made a number of Game Theory releases, currently out of print, available for free download.
" My main goal is to prevent people from trying to capitalize by selling these long out of print albums for lots of money. I want everybody who would like to hear these albums to be able to do so without paying outrageous prices," she wrote. Link.
lot of self-proclaimed Rock Historians writers and commercials like to
brag about and market how Monterey was the first International POP
Festival, how it was an ideal of Peace, Love and Flowers embodying the
themes of Sunshine California as a focal point for the counterculture
and generally regarded as one of the beginnings of the "Summer of Love" in 1967, blah, blah, blah... two years before Woodstock, a model for all Pop Festivals to come, etc.
Well, that ain't exactly true. There were others before... only less star-system and showbizzy : not only was there The KFRCFantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival was an event held in June 10 and 11th, 1967
( a whole week before; Monterey was staged from June 16 to June 18, 1967... ), BUT. Even before that, in France, Paris, was held "Le 1er Festival International de Pop Music" at the Palais Des Sports, June 1st/ 1967... How's about that?!
It's a Recorded FACT. As can be seen on this clip (... the guy who uploaded that full-length video of the Festival on YouTube is Wrong; it was staged in June '67, over two weeks before the Mother of all Rock fests, that Monterey! ) :
It featured the boot clad pre-Spooky Tooth VIP's, still playing their Mod R'n'B/ Soul thing... the King of Le French Beat, Ronnie Bird... The Pretty Things in a fantastic stage performance with their second wildman drummer Skip Alan... John "Maus" Walker out of the freshly split Walker Bros... Jimmy Cliff years before "Reggae Night", when he was still doing his Wilson Pickett from Jamaïca routine... the ever surly Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich in a strong performance as usual... the Troggs in one of their Best Live ever... Filmed for the French TV, it is not complete alas : the Cream appeared also but were left off camera because of contractual obligations (: there were to be NO images! ), and French Beat and Pop idols Herbert Leonard (late of Les Lionceaux, the first long-haired French band in the Beatles vein... going solo) and Alain Bashung (Pop chanteur beginner, who was to have HUGE success in the 1980's with "Gaby"... like a few other ex. sixties French Pop singers of his generation); they were probably edited out for budget reasons since they were considered minor artists. Oh! And the Who were scheduled to appear, but had to bail out because Moon was hospitalized at the time (officially for a case of hernia...); can you imagine the Who... appearing at both "Le 1er Festival International de Pop Music" AND "Monterey Pop"?!!!
If you watch closely in the beginning, you can clearly spot model, actress and chanteuse, Swiningin' Mademoiselle Zouzou sittin' in the aisles on some group gear, an amp' or something... and of course, a host of other stars and models of the day sittin' in the audience waitin' for the show, dollies runnin' around; the crowd itself, you can't help but notice, is pretty hip, all long haired and freak-beaty, not in the showbiz type but right off the streets and some from the suburbs. They dance to the Soul numbers, fruggin' like they would at the Locomotive... Shortly after the shootin of this major local event, excerpts of several of the artists would be edited on to some of the early Bouton Rouge series; a Cult French Pop TV program.
Here's what Dave Dee had to say about the French audience and organisation (lol! ) :
1er Festival International de Pop Music, Palais des Sports, Porte de Versailles, Paris 15ème, France
With Herbert Leonard, Baschung, The V.I.P.'s, The Pretty Things, Ronnie Bird, Jimmy Cliff, The Cream, John Walker, Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich (Hold Tight / Hideaway / Frustration / Save Me / Watch Your Step) and The Troggs (The Who, top of the bill, had to cancel their performance because Keith Moon was in hospital for a hernia operation).
There are two shows at 3:00 pm and 8:30 pm. "Le Président Rosko", although on the programme, is not the deejay heard presenting the artists on stage. The Cream set was not recorded, as they were not contracted to the Philips label. The planned album of the event was not released.
Festival broadcast by Radio Luxembourg (French service), and taped for future transmission on French television (scheduled for December 1968, and finally screened on 11 January 1969).
The VIP’s are a quartet without Keith Emerson, who has just left to form The Nice. The Pretty Things consist of Phil May, Dick Taylor, John Povey, Wally Allen & Skip Alan (the group that recorded the “Emotions” LP with Steve Rowland). John Walker, without his “Brothers”, played ‘Do You Wanna Dance’ and ‘Land Of Thousand Dances’. Headliners The Troggs closed the show with an 8 song set, including ‘Hip Hip Hooray’, which they would not release on single before October 1968.
Watch Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich on YouTube:
Hold Tight and Watch Your Step
[...] It was making a happy beginning that Dave Dee, etc. were worried about when they sat in their Paris hotel waiting for a coach to take them to the Paris Pop Festival. “We just don't know what to do in France,” said Tich. “The first time we came over we didn't exactly set the place on fire. This is our fourth visit — and we still don't know what the people want.”
Dave Dee entered the lobby wearing a Hoss Cartwright hat and a glum expression. “I've been upstairs freaking out with the bedroom wallpaper,” he said. “It's positively psychedelic.”
“What about France?” I asked. “What's the French for ... ?” “Merde.” I said.
“As far as we're concerned it's the worst audience in Europe. The whole French scene seems to be a pretty closed shop. Even the Beatles and the Beach Boys didn't go a bomb when they first played here.” Dave said that in most other European countries the group got a good response “Our records always sell better than the cover versions in other European countries but it seems to be the other way around here.” [...]
“What else don't you like about France?” “The organisation,” said Tich. And road manager Jay Vickers said: “What organisation? There's supposed to be a bus coming to take us to the theatre — it's already half an hour late.” [...]
The bus was now forty minutes late. [...]
The bus wasn't coming at all. Somebody had phoned up to say there'd been a slight oversight and would everybody take a taxi?
At the Palais des Sports, along with the Troggs, the V.I.P.s, the Cream, the Pretty Things, John Maus of the Walker Brothers and Jimmy Cliff, Dave Dee & Co. were due to cross swords once more with what they regard as the most baffling audience in Europe.
Communication with French fans is difficult at the best of times, but it becomes a problem of major proportions when you can't get into the theatre.
Somebody forgot to give the group the necessary passes and they had literally to fight their way into the theatre. Oh, and somebody forgot to provide them with a dressing room. Oh, and somebody forgot to set up the proper equipment. Oh, and somebody forgot to provide transport back to the hotel. Oh and somebody forgot to pay the hotel bill.
Despite all the adversities, however, Dave Dee and Co went over pretty well with the audience. Dave Dee was certainly determined to make contact with the French fans, even if it meant taking a running leap off the stage into the front rows at the end of his act.
Which he did.
(Printed in Zabadak n°9, April 1992)"
That show was partly audio-mastered on CD even, that you can still order on line (mostly at the French Juke Box magazine site that first put it out!), here :