We Don’t Do Covers

What a stance. You mean ALL your songs are better than EVERY OTHER SONG EVER? I gotta see you live. There ain’t enough time to play every great song, why pass up any chance? Just don’t play any bad ones – another impossible task maybe, but why try?

So The Sinatras lucked out for a while. Not only did we get a bass player but we got a great bass player, and he could sing too. Glen Cahill had just quit a band that was making quite the noise at the time, The Slander Band. They ruled CBGB late 1977-78, but they had just broken up. New York Dolls manager Marty Thau offered them his customary $20k deal, on his Red Star label, but they turned him down. Glen quit over that, that and the usual interpersonal band bullshit. Their singer Jesse Blue was a stone belter and could have been a punk Janis Joplin and I ain’t lying. I can’t find any recorded evidence of her posted anywhere which is a crying shame. They did record, somebody must have it.

One of the things that pisses me off about the Sinatras album is that on those same lousy tapes, but not on the record, is us doing “Around and Around” with Jesse Blue singing. Why they didn’t put that on the record is beyond me, it was by far the best thing that night.

After the show we jammed with Jesse and others in the dressing room until 5 in the morning. I remember the Stones’ “Tell Me” was really good.

They found Jesse’s body five days later, smack overdose. Good thing it was winter I guess. R.I.P. Jesse, but what a waste. Not to preach, everybody needs something, but let me tell you something about junkies: every single one that I ever knew WANTED to be a junkie. It takes dedication to become a junkie, at least a month of doing it every day to get even a mild habit. They loved the idea of being a junkie, in most cases before they actually were. They would segregate themselves at parties and talk about nothing but junk. They were just the baddest asses in town because they laid around and dreamed. The funny thing is that a lot of them were real bad asses, until junk turned them into sneaky street rats.

But that all came later. I started out so UPBEAT! I had moved out of the city, quit my day job, and lived in North Pelham with Kenny Lamb, in a sweet if dank basement apartment. I met my wife there. On nights when we weren’t playing or practicing, Kenny and I had a constant party going. There was so much fantastic new music around then, we listened hard and loud, getting high and playing Risk and then going out.

Kenny wanted to do a 45, so we went back to A-1 and cut Teddy Crashes Blonde Dies b/w Some Others Boys, both written by Nicky and me (mostly Nicky’s words and my tunes). The recording went well; the engineer knew what we wanted and he got it. I have to say the songs sounded better on cassettes made in the studio than on 45, because the mastering wasn’t too good. We knew nothing of that arcane process. Teddy Crashes was re-released on two compilations, Hyped to Death and later on No One Left To Blame. Here it is off the 45, play loud please:

It was on the jukebox at Max’s and Meg Griffin played it on WPIX FM. Look Ma, top of the world.

We played our first gigs at The Rat in Boston. We got the gig from a Pelham friend, David Alcott aka David Champagne, who was in the hard pop Shane/Champagne Band. Later he was in Treat Her Right with Mark Sandman. David is one of those mensches. He helps people. I was good friends with his brothers Tom and Toby, but David was three years older and I didn’t get to know him until one night the summer before when he and Gary (Shane) Lavenson jammed with a bunch of us in Mark Lyons’ basement. We played mostly Stones and Rascals songs. It was the first time I ever got off playing with other people. My first musical orgasm. David and Gary told me I should get in a band, so when I told David that I had one, he got us two nights at The Rat.

It went well for a first gig, nervous and rushed at first but we settled in and rocked. The place was not packed but close and the crowd was into it. They booked us with The Real Kids, another stroke of luck since they had a following and musically they were at least in the ballpark. Unlike many New York gigs in both respects…

We came back, the record was out, we had CB’s and Max’s lined up, then the Hot Club in Philly, some big barn in Jersey, the Electric Circus which had just reopened, and back to Boston and Atlantis uptown, then Max’s again. We’re writing new songs, Glen has really solidified us and added creative touches, there was a little blurb about us in the Daily News (“Sinatras will dooby doo at Max’s”).

No shit: the National Enquirer had a story “Frank Sees Red Over NY Punk Band.” We had nothing, but the future looked bright. Of course right around the corner, the blackjack of fate was poised to strike.

4 thoughts on “We Don’t Do Covers

  1. So true about junkies. That’s a great graf.

    Do you have the tape with Tell Me?

    Keep ’em coming! But you should give them the categories of Gene and memoir, just so someone who wants to find them all can.

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