(Cleopatra Records) cd review by Anguish Young
…If you’re anything like me, you probably much preferred the Bowery when it was the unholy habitat of junkie film makers, winos, hookers, and immigrants who flagrantly sold untaxed loosie cigarettes on every street corner in broad daylight to the millionaire’s only, Disneyfied, gentrification bruncher, yuppie version, with all the museum book signings and twenty five dollar Dee Dee Burgers and militarized gestapo brandishing automatic weapons and Jared and Ivanka Kushner rich people. But then again, if you’re anything like me, you probably can’t even afford to visit the modern day gentrified city. This CD is like a welcome postcard from our scuzzy old stomping grounds, from the Ramones and Lou Reed‘s NYC. Outsiders coming together in the melting pot to share love and friendship and make art and music. It was a magical world.
….Things change, people die, and we can’t go back to the summer. I approached listening to this disc with some NYC exile baggage and mixed feelings. On one hand, I was more than eager to hear some fresh originals from grey eminence, immortal punkroll icon, Walter Lure, on the other, I was also a diehard Tony Coiro era, classic lineup, Waldos fan, he was the Jerry Lewis to Walter’s suave Dean Martin, or maybe vice versa, and I will likely always miss their tag team, Borscht belt, standup comedy routine, it’s a little bit like Chrissie still callin’ it the Pretenders, when half the key members are dead or absent, ya know? By the time even Martin Chambers is no longer present onstage, maybe it’s time to start callin’ it Chrissie Hynde, which she finally did.
So when one of the other boys in the band handles vocals, however competently, on two of the new, surprisingly more lighthearted, pop tunes, I personally, would rather have heard two more Walter Lure originals, especially after such a long wait. “Lazy Day”, indeed! “Crazy Kids” kicks some major ass and makes you feel like you are in the backseat with your smelly, teenaged, malt liquor friends on the way to some doomed house party where you already know the cops are gonna show up and throw half the people out and tell everybody to turn the music down. It is really hot stuff. “Little Black Book” showcases Lure‘s best singing ever put to tape, and is probably every bit as good as anything from Thunders and Palladin‘s “Copycats”, aside from maybe, “Baby It’s You.” “Take A Chance On Me” is another instant winner, which features a scalding, searing-ly hot guitar solo from original Waldos guitarist extraordinaire, Joey Pinter, and some bad ass harmonica playing. I realized while watching that “L.A.M.F.” concert on Netflix, that while I loved that Heartbreakers record religiously, as a kid, I thoroughly wore it out in my teens and twenties, I need to hear another half hearted version of “Chinese Rocks” or “Too Much Junkie Business” like I need to hear another wedding band cover of “Satisfaction”. I know it’s still the money-shot to the causal listener;”ooooh…ahhh”, but I still swear by “Party Lights”, “Crybaby”, “Golden Days”, and “Crazy ‘Bout Your Love”. It’s the “Rent Party” songs that’ll still sometimes put me in the mood to put on some rhinestone sunglasses, and dance like a chicken, around the coffee table. “Flight” is probably my favorite Walter Lure song. I thought that Liza Colby stole that whole L.A.M.F. show from all the old Heroes, because she exuded real passion and brought a reinvigorating-ly sincere ENERGY to the mostly phoned-proceedings. She was simultaneously wholesome and pure, and dangerous and wild. She was something else. What heart she has! That’s how I remember the classic line-up Waldos shows. They were like the Fleshtones, they came to party, to tear it up, to blow the roof off the sucker. I used to go see the vintage “Rent Party” Waldos with my friends, Chris Barry and the World Famous Mister Ratboy, back when Pillbox and the Waldos were the coolest bands in NYC and Joe Rizzo was the Pillbox drummer. Together, Chris and Ratboy wrote and recorded one of my favorite sunken treasures, “Jumbo’s Clown Room”, before they were both gradually squeezed outta town by the evil forces of Giuliani Gentrification. From the West Coast, you had the Humpers remarkable masterpiece, “Positively Sick On Fourth Street”, but Manhattan had both Pillbox “Clown Room”, and the nearly flawless Andy Shernoff produced, Waldos “Rent Party”, and those three records, were pretty much all I listened to for at least a couple of years. “Rent Party” really was such a surefire party starter-I seldom ever made a mix-tape for anybody without including at least a couple of Waldos songs. It was just cut after cut of cake taking, cheap champagne toasting, confetti tossing, and some more trays of drinks being guzzled and newsboy hats thrown carelessly in the air and dancing with bad girls in short skirts, and mischievous Bowery Boys hoots and hijinks, that you could crack open most anywhere the highway took you, and shazam, your scroungey hotel room is transformed into CBGB’s or Max’s Kansas City again. They really caught some white lightning in a bottle with that shiny platter! I was one of the kids in the leopard print suit jackets and canary yellow scarves and pink creepers who used to show up every chance he got to see the old-school Waldos and dance at the front of the stage with alla Lower Manhattan’s little Ronnie Spector and Patti Palladin lookalikes. Walter Lure, with his onery ole alligator smile and stripy tie and rumpled fedora, was always, a first class frontman and natural born entertainer-he was a doll, but always the center of the crowd, and I never got to know him, like I did his old Bruise Brother, Big Tony Coiro, who was a sharp witted, big barrel of laughs and rat pack charm. I was scared of Joey, he seriously looked like he might cut you. Somebody should write a book about that guy. He sure has the stories. Together with Jeff West and their various friends, like Jamie Heath and Walter’s brother, Richie, they would blast out some of the best fifties influenced, fun hearted, raunchy, garage soul rocknroll that I ever heard. They made all the gorgeous girls shake and shimmy. They were more upbeat and festive and cheerful and celebratory than the Heartbreakers and Oddballs, who were often more hit or miss, and they put on some of the most memorable and energetic performances I ever saw, back then. I never saw Joey Pinter have an off night, when I was in NYC, he was always, ON FIRE. They really knew how to throw a shindig. They were driven by the relentless pounding of CLUB WOW and Testors alum, Jeff West. Walter was like a Jaggeresque dervish, a zany, gracious master of ceremonies in tight jeans and Converse, he was like a big, happy kid, while Joey Pinter brought a real Ennio Morricone soundtrack, lonesome plains drifter type vibe to the stage, Good/Bad and ugly, all swinging saloon doors and heavy spurs on creaky pine floors, loco hombres exchanging nervous looks, was he gonna order a sarsaparilla, or play the piano, or “Draw!”? He was a real presence. He had a “Gunsmoke” intensity, a stylish as fuck, Keith or John Lee Hooker understated and effortless coolness, that totally complimented Tony and Waldo’s old-timey showbiz sensibilities, he brought suspense and unpredictability and the poker faced countenance of the streets, to the bar at the end, where I could meet you and your friend. You really had to be there. All Total Soulmen! They were the best. Sheer thrills, spilt drinks, wet hair, running makeup, it was always a lot of fun. Whoever makes those kickass suit jackets for Walter is amazing. He is still a dashing rake, and does not look, or act his age, onstage. He’s still a Crazy Kid, at heart. Tony Coiro and Jamie Heath and Richie Lure and Charlie Sox and Billy Rogers and Billy Rath and Jerry and Johnny and most all my friends have sadly all gone on to some sticky floored honkytonk behind the clouds and it can never be like, even the last, of the old days again, but Walter and Andy Shernoff have assembled a crack team of dynamite NY rockers: Takanori, Screamin’ Joe, and Takto, who have admirably done a real stand-up, potent and commendable job at bringing back that old feel. “Bye Bye Baby” is a cab ride right back to that familiar old happy place we used to know-it’s like finding some pills you forgot you had in an old leather jacket pocket. Really strong stuff.
Andy Shernoff knows what he’s doing, the songwriting heart and soul of the Dictators helps Walter laydown a vital and remarkably alive and gutsy sounding record. “Crazy Kids” a third of Walter’s age are seldom able to evoke all this two fisted, action packed, loud Chuck Berry style excitement with so much purist rocknroll authority. The ghosts of Dion and the Ronettes and all the Anarchy Tour punks and Stanton Street flophouses and infamous derelicts and piles of broken bricks and Rivington hustlers and found object junk sculpture and brownish blood stain splatters on every wall and hip-hop graffiti and after hours drag goddesses and models wearing art and here’s some more art everywhere you cared to look, and two big greasy slices of Famous Ray’s pizza on one paper plate, all that stuff is all over this record. The sound is still way, way more skid row than John Varvatos. Which is what you want, if you are a sentimental bastard. Hardcore Waldos fans had been waiting forever for Uncle Walter to make another record and “Wacka Lacka Loom Bop…” is undeniably great fun. “Wham Bam Boo” is the stuff that broken tiki lamps and red stains on your furry carpet are made of! “Little Black Book” has a haunting and sexy, black and white, detective noir movie ambience. Ya know, smoke blown carelessly in your face by hard hearted, fatally deceptive bombshells with too much lipstick on. Real sultry and sophisticated moving pictures from another time. You half expect to see Chris Isaak or Willie Deville stroll in to that bar. All dark and brooding, real cool time tonight, grownup rocknroll with soul. That crazy horn is the stinky essence of downtown fire escapes and steam and manholes and broken window shades and unexpected glimpses of dangerous Spanish beauties in fancy black lace underwear. “Donchu Mess With Cupid” is the usual home of David Johansen’s cocksure, familiar, old bark , but Waldo brings his own personal pizzazz and finesse to the old sawhorse and more than does it justice. “You Talk To Much” is the perfect cover for Uncle Walter-it’s just so, so him. Walter Lure‘s music has such a timeless quality that can always rouse a room to wanna get up and shake a tail feather, whether it was a hundred years ago, or 100 years from now, there will likely always be rank outsiders and downtown hoodlums and tempting hussies and bohemian showgirls who wanna congregate in some dirty room, outside of society, where they can let their hair down and rub shoulders and sing and dance and kiss and cry, right? The whole human drama unfolds as the saxophone blares. “WACKA LACKA LOOM BOP A LOOM BAM BOO” whizzes by like an anything can happen, wild eyed night at the Holiday Cocktail Lounge, that you never want to end. Can’t get this stuff no more. They leave ya wantin’ more! Walter, Joe Rizzo, Takanori and Takto all play like Johnny Thunders motherfuckers, and while I’m not usually really even a saxophone jazzy kinda guy, I can’t help but always love Danny Ray’s exquisite tastefulness. He can add some real “Oomph” and soul power to most any song, because he plays with so much genuine emotion, which is mostly what I listen for. They really made a helluva good record with “WACKA LACKA”. It’s so cool, that there is still a label like Cleopatra Records, that’s willing to manufacture and help promote CD’s by aging assassins and gray-haired street gangs of songwriting stalwarts, punk rock pioneers, and guns a-blazing guitarists like these killers. Shernoff is the go-to guy, if you want to make fully satisfying records with a real depth and range of emotion and explore a myriad of experiences from bubblegum nostalgia to sunny pop and darker edged tunes that convey a blistering anger, like “Damn Your Soul” and their whip crack version of “London Boys”, which aptly displays the high level of talent in the current Waldos roll-call. “Lazy Day” seems lyrically like a throwaway, though it’s not offensive, or anything, it’s perfectly pleasant pop filler, and “She Doesn’t Love You Anymore” is starting to grow on me, I have just been patiently, but restlessly anticipating more new songs from elder statesman, Uncle Walter. There is more than enough solid gold easy action here to justify you spending the measly twelve bucks. Music is still your best entertainment value. I can’t even imagine how many thousands of hours I chalked up, listening to “Rent Party”, “or “D.T.K. Live At The Speakeasy”, or “Live At Max’s Kansas City” or “L.A.M.F.”, over the years. I’ve already played “WACKA LACKA LOOM BOP A LOOM BAM BOO” about ten times! …Meanwhile, vintage Waldo, and streetfightin’ bluesman, Joey Pinter, has relocated to Chicago and has struggled heroically to get back on his feet after a whole encyclopedia of bad luck and medical problems. He’s such a beloved and legendary rocknroll personality that various old friends and rising star punk bands, in three cities, organized benefit rock shows to help defray his astronomical medical costs. He put out a similarly essential solo cd that you can buy online, if you wanna help the cause and were unable to make it to any of those big rock shows. My best advice is you immediately buy both Walter Lure and JP’s latest sides, if you still like that old time rocknroll, or reminisce about the days of gold.