Down To Rock #2 (April 2011)

My name is Teddy Heavens (Rebel Rebel and Los Angeles Death Dolls) and I’ll be bringing you the latest Sleaze/Glam/Punk and Trash rock and roll news from the Golden State and the streets (and gutters) of Hollywood, California! From the Valleys to the alleys, I’ll find the coolest bands to report on and let you know what’s up from the Rock and Roll capital of the world!

CD Review:

NEW YORK DOLLS-Dancing Backwards In High Heels (429 Records)
The New York Dolls go dancing back to the future with their latest release. The Dolls comeback has been well documented, so let’s get moving into the future with this new offering and not expect Personality Crisis II. The obvious news is that they have lost their guitar player and bass player to Michael Monroe’s band, which is significant in the musical direction that David Jo and Sly went with this release. I personally wanted a release that would rock my socks off, and instead was slapped in the face and received a deeper education on a real emotional level, on what really makes David Jo and Syl tick musically. I would support the Dolls and the individual members on any of their endeavors, because I am a true fan. With that being said, this release is truly for the tired and true die hard NY Dolls and rock and roll fan, not the Nikki Sixx and Hot Topic nation!
David and Sly really wear their influences on their sleeve with this set of songs. So much so that Sylvain Sylvain mainly plays organ and acoustic guitar and leaves the electric guitar duties to Blondie guitarist Frank Infante. Infante is replaced for live gigs with David Bowie guitarist Earl Slick, who will be featured on the Dolls upcoming tour opening for, (gulp) Poison and Motley Crue!!! This record is for the rock and roll fan that wants to go way beyond the Doll’s Rolling Stones and Stooges influences, which have obviously died with Thunders, Kane and Nolan (RIP LAMF).
Dancing is comprised of 12 tracks, starting with “Fool For You Baby”, which features vintage organ a la Suicide (NYC scene mates) and 60’s garage Pop vocals, reminiscent of Jesus and Mary Chain crossed with the organ playing from a funeral procession/viewing! Great tune, even if there is no guitar to be found on the track. Next up is the nostalgic “Street Cake’, with cool laid back jangly guitars, organ and 60’s style dreamy vocal harmonies and bass lines, keeping in line with the direction that “Fool” has set, and then David’s fab NYCite rant, street hustler style, to introduce “I’m So Fabulous”, with David Jo proclaiming his NYC shabby chic greatness. This song also includes a tip of the hat throwback to the Buddy Bowzer sax work of the original Dolls run! Good 60’s Garage Pop is how you can describe the next tune, “Talk To Me Baby” which is in the vein of “Rehab” by Amy Whinehouse and the organ driven “Kids Like Me” with sultry crooning by David Jo and trap drumming by Brian D. Sylvain is credited with playing the Farfisa organ (think funeral house) and whistling on this tune!
The second half of Dancing kicks off with “Round and Round She Goes”, which is a Gene Vincent/Eddie Cochran style rocker which brings to mind, “Dance Like A Monkey” from a couple of releases ago. This tune reminds me of something Suicide’s Alan Vega would write for his solo rockabilly project-jungle drums, Farfisa organ, and 50’s style rip roaring vocals with brass accents. Up next is one of my favorite songs on this record, “You Don’t Have To Cry”, which is an ode to Johnny Thunders “Memory” style ballad, which will easily end up in some Indie movie soundtrack. “Sold My Heart To The Junkman” is a Pattti Labelle cover that is done in a Shangri Las style homage, with smooth girl group back up vocals, a “Please Mr. Postman“ for 2011. From Pop to Do Wop to reggae, Dancing explores many styles that influenced David Jo and Syl, like the funky bohemian calypso reggae send up track “Baby Tell Me What I’m On” and the funky Chic style “Funky But Chic“, a solo David Jo hit from ‘78 that Sylvain helped write and that has been resurrected, as it fits into the theme and feel of this new release. Finally, Dancing ends with a straight up hazy Beach Boys sounding “End Of The Summer”, complete with she bop vocals and a smooth reggae beat.
Dancing backwards In High Heels was produced by Jason Hill from the retro group Louis XIV, who was obviously listening to a lot of Jesus and Mary Chain and the Horrors, and who did a great job of capturing the true musical soul and spirit of David Johansen and Sylvain Sylvain. Jason also played all the bass on the record and the basic sound is best described as funky/reverb guitar, funeral organ, jazzy drumming and high harmony vocals, so unless your into taking a new musical journey, this release is best left for die hard Dolls fans. I personally love this release and think that it will be looked at as a great NY Dolls record, but if your looking for junkie rock and brown teeth, then it’s best if you stick to the debut record or any of Thunder’s solo stuff, as this release is all class! Sophia Coppola could use this entire CD to score one of her new films, so do yourself a favor and get it quick, cuz it’s good to support legends that know how to truly survive.
CD Review:
Michael Monroe- Sensory Overdrive (Spinefarm Records)
This release is highly anticipated here in the States and should be out in the next couple of months, so I wanted to get everyone primed that has not yet heard it. The same line up from the live shows and live release are in full effect on this studio effort that was produced by the legendary rock and roll producer Jack Douglas. Sammy Yaffa and Steve Conte jumped ship from the New York Dolls (money was a major issue, I’ve been told) and what the Dolls gave up in balls on their latest release, Michael Monroe gained in spades! This release features a couple of guest appearances in the form of Lucinda Williams and Lemmy from MotorHead and this is the best record that Jack Douglas has produced in quite awhile, so sit back and read the track by track, blow by blow!
The record kicks off with the band doing their best Stooges take, Raw Power era, with “Trick Of The Wrist” which rolls into the first “single”, “78”, which is an arena anthem with a big sing a long chorus and is a battle cry for the cool shit that went on in the seventies, with the spirit and attitude of the Punk movement, and it has a cool Pistols vibe throughout. “Got Blood” is up next with its “Shakedown” type Conte riff and it’s “Stream Of Consciousness” lyrics and vocal melody, which is about giving it your all when you hit the stage, which this band knows a lot about. “Super Power, Super Fly” is a direct ode to Cheap trick style Pop Rock, written by Ginger and vocal styling in the vein of Nazareth’s Dan MaCafferty, which leads into the tune written by the full band, “Modern Day Miracle”, with it’s The Zeros (purple haired version) type opening riff and gang vocals. “Bombs Away” features great “blues Punk” harmonica playing by Monroe and an arrangement by Douglas and “All You Need” is a straight up “Not Faking It” era rocker, with “Later Won’t Wait” being another rocker with a cool Monroe Sax breakdown. “Gone Baby Gone” features a duet with Lucinda Williams and is a nice roots rock song, and a good break from the high energy rock through the release. “Center of Your Heart” is a Ginger/Conte penned tune that bares the most resemblance to “Old” Hanoi Rocks, especially with the guitars playing against each other, “Underwater World” style. The record ends up with a Lemmy written song that was originally titled “MotorHeaded For A Fall” but is now “Debauchery Is A Fine Art” and as expected is another rocker that ends everything with a bang.
Overall, this record will end up being on a lot of people’s top 10 for the year, and it is the type of Rock and Roll record that you can expect from a band that’s really hitting it from the heart! So go out and support a Glam Punk legend and see the band live and buy the CD’s and other merchandise, so that they can keep this powerhouse rolling and firing on all cylinders.
Live Review:
Club Empire @ On The Rox with Semi Precious Weapons
It was billed as the best Glam Rock/Rock Star clubto hit Hollywood since the Scream, and Pretty Ugly Club! The theory behind it was perfect, an image conscious rock and roll band that’s on the biggest world tour in the last 10 years and a famous club right on the world famous Sunset Strip, the setting was perfect. Empire, with SPW playing live, Djing and picking the bands that play in this intimate setting above the Roxy.
I started the evening with dinner at the Rainbow next door and got good and primed for the Rock and Roll elite that I was promised (via the local press) would be making the scene at Empire. Tom Morollo and Jerry Cantrell and Lemmy were all chilling near by and all was looking well. Being a hugh fan of SPW, I was really looking forward to seeing them again in an intimate setting, seeing has they have been playing the biggest venues in the world on Lady Ga Ga’s Monster Ball tour. People often wonder how SPW got that gig opening for Ga Ga. Years ago, SPW let Ga Ga open their shows in NYC, which were Ga Ga’s first live shows ever and this is their repayment for giving her that first break! Not a bad payback, and kudos to Ga Ga for hooking up the homies!!!
After a great dinner at the Rock and Roll spot in Hollywood, I walked across the “last chance Rainbow parking lot” and lined up to enter the glam rock party of the year and prepared to give my name for the approved VIP guest list. I was handed a button with Justin’s face and waved in, which should have been a big clue on how this night was going to go. There was no line and an RSVP was not required, which meant the place was 1/3rd full, and capacity is small. SPW’s bass player was Djing some weird jazz/dance music and the Hollywood Glitter rock elite was now where to be seen. There were Andy Warhol type posters up all around the club along with SPW buttons and party favors scattered about, and I guess that was the rock and Roll decadence I was waiting to view. The opening band was a whack ass dance type “band” miming to a backing tape with a living singer for a total of 4 songs, before they were cut off. The SPW drummer and guitar player (minus wig) were all chilling with the crowd and were cool, but I was there to witness the Rock and Roll majesty and spectacle. I ran into the drummer in the men’s room and asked him when SPW were going on and he informed that they were not playing that night! They had not announced on Twitter (and the announce every move on Twitter) that they were not playing, so I took it that people just stayed home tonight and it looks like it was all hype, and considering that SPW are on the Ga Ga tour, I figured Empire should have been packed and off the chain.
One thing I know, nobody waltzes into los Angeles and takes over the club scene, overnight. If you can survive in this city, you have true grit. Unfortunately SPW are experiencing the “American Idol Syndrome”, which is a lot of high profile fun, but it’s not turning into huge record sales and crowds, without the high profile tenny bopper headliner. I love SPW and their music, and have lived through the Scream, Cathouse, Korova Milk Bar and the Pretty Ugly Club here in the L.A area over the last 25 years, and Empire was a big let down, but I understand that the last night of the club, a couple weeks later, was a packed out hit (according to posts on Twitter from Justin), so hopefully, when the Ga Ga tour ends, SPW will resurrect Empire and give me another chance to Rock (not dance).
Book signing review:
Cheetah Chrome Book signing @ Vacation Records, Silverlake, Cali.
Legendary Dead Boys and current Batusis guitarist recently wrote a book chronicling his life (and almost death) with the Dead Boys in the 1970’s and 1980’s and in NYC, when punk was going full tilt. He recently did a book signing tour with a couple of other Cleveland writers and they made a stop at Vacation Records (a very cool record and cassette store) in trendy Silverlake on a cool weekday night. Being an autograph hound (when it comes to my 70’s TV and music heroes) I made the trek to get my book and promo copy of the Batusis CD signed and see who else showed up from the local Glam and Punk scene. Cheetah read from the book for a couple of minutes and afterwards I ran into Texas Teri, as she was in town for some shows, direct from Berlin Germany, and she informed me that she was there to invite Cheetah to come play Sonic Reducer at her show that week, at The RedWood Bar (the new place for trashy punk bands to play in Downtown L.A.). I didn’t make the shows as that week a Tsunami hit L.A. and it rained like the world was ending, so not sure if Cheetah ever made it, and I didn’t see any reviews of the shows. It must have went well for Texas T., as they added another show the following weekend, or it may have been a make up for the rained out one, not sure.
Anyway, there were about 30-40 die hard Cheetah and Cleveland rock fans there getting their Dead Boys records and the book signed, and it was good to see Cheetah had not mellowed out with age, as I witnessed some guy questioning him about his days at Max’s Kansas City and he grabbed my book and showed the douche bag pictures of him playing there. They were then verbally debating as well whether Cheetah was the writer of Sonic Reducer and Cheetah finally walked away and kept his anger in check. Punkers should have attitude in life and it looks like Cheetah still has it deep in his DNA. If you have not picked up a copy of his book “A Dead Boy’s Tale”, please do so and read about the punk scene in NYC in it’s Punk Rock hey day, from someone who lived through it. The book looks great, comes in a hard cover that is full color and it is well written with killer stories about how the Dead Boys came to be, survived in the Jungle, and his antics at CBGB’s, Max’s and other NYC historic punk spots. He’s candid about his drug and alcohol and sex additions and abuse, and ends with his recovery to a new life, new wife and new band! Another legend does well.
Bands to watch: Contrary to popular belief, the wheels have not completely come off the rock and roll scene in the Los Angeles area!!! Some bands that have been making noise and carrying the Punk/Sleaze/Glam torch in Los Angeles in recent months include:
Just Like Thieves– Four piece hailing from the grimy streets of Hollywood, Cali., This band, who site influences such as Motley Crue, Escape The Fate and My Chemical Romance, have been kicking up dust in tinsel town and first came up on my radar when Nikki Sixx was asking about them on Twitter due to their fans tweeting about them. They have a cool contemporary look with their tight black jeans and leather jackets and trendy haircuts and the music is nice and tight, especially for a young band. Check em out for yourself at :
Black Veil Brides– Not quite a new band and not quite Glam Punk on the music side, but they have a cool old Murder Dolls/Motley Crue look, so the Hollywood kiddies are eating them up, as well as the rest of the world, according to the amount of touring they are doing. They are considered hardcore Glam Emo, or whatever, but I like them cuz they have the best look going right now! I still remember doing some shows in Hollywood where Rebel Rebel played with a Motley Crue tribute band (stop laughing, I know, but you gotta play when and where you can) and BVB’s Ashley Purdy was playing the Nikki role to a T, so it is appropriate that he would continue that with BVB. Definitely the biggest thing outta Hollywood right now, by way of Cincinnati!!! Get the scoop at:
OFF!-Best punk band to come out of Los Angeles in a Looong time! Featuring Keith Morris from Black Flag and Circle Jerks and Steve McDonald from Redd Kross and tearing up Los Angeles and the USA as we speak. With songs ranging from 45 seconds to 1 minute and 15 seconds, these guys pack a punch into each song, much like the Ramones, but on warp speed! They put out 4 records before putting them together on one CD available now from their web site. Not a glam punk band but the best punk band out there now, hopefully they will stay away from the WARP tour and keep it real. Get the 411 at:
If you want me to review your music or write about your event, send it all to:
Teddy Heavens
27750 Firebrand Dr.
Castaic, Ca. 91384

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