One of the thrills of the punk years was the primacy of singles. US bands would launch with a self- or independently pressed 45, looking for enough buzz to get a major label deal. UK bands and labels eased the way into the US market by dropping 45s into the indie record stores, where some people, I was one, would hang out and hear the choicest cuts on the store’s record player.
These singles came, usually, with picture sleeves. Sometimes they came with other gimmicks. I’m sure every punk band wanted a hit single, but most of these weren’t destined for radio play. They were meant as samizdat from the heart of DIY RNR, a beacon looking for similar youths with guitars and loud drums. If you had a single, you had a calling card at least.
One true thing was that there were some great songs released, and another true thing was that many were followed by fairly crappy albums.
The Dead Boys album leads off with their great single, Sonic Reducer, and is followed by a collection that sounded pretty strong in its day. Looking back at it now, what seemed like great energy and clever arrangements then seems today a little obvious and not quite as hard as they should have been. Such is context.
Gene points out, however, that this album should have been on the Rolling Stone Punk Top 40 Albums, and he may be right. It was historic, one of the first true punk albums on the shelves. I’m not sure of that importance as I listen today, but I am nostalgic. See, I actually performed on the album as a musician, of sorts.
The cut is the second track, All This and More. My girlfriend’s sister’s boyfriend, Jim, was an assistant engineer on the album for Genya Ravan at Electric Ladyland. One day we were hanging out there, maybe waiting for him to get off work, when he brought us into the studio. It was the weekend, for sure, it wasn’t someplace we could wander in to usually. But on this day we got headphones and instructions to do the hand claps that lead off All This and More. And we did them and are on the record.
I think. Because I’m assuming our hand claps were good enough. I’m assuming that Genya didn’t get some other young people in to do better hand claps. No way to know that now. In any case they’re good claps. Not as good as the hand claps in the Stooges’ No Fun, but good enough for All This and More, which has one of the great weird first lines in all rock songs.
So, Gene reminded me that I probably performed on a record he thought should be in the Top 40 of Punk albums, even if it’s the elpee that displaces Blink 182.
What a joke.
In other words, we didn’t get any royalties or credit. And I haven’t played the record since before it came out, which I guess is why I forgot about this story. Until now. But there it is. History, perhaps.