Thursday, July 11, 2013

À la Recherche du Disques Perdu

Jeebus, these days EVERYBODY has a documentary.

I must admit, I have a sentimental fondness for this guy. If only because his store stocked the indie 45 by my crappy 70s band.


Gummo said...

Speaking of "everybody has a documentary," the missus and I were watching "Paul Williams Still Alive" a 2011 documentary about songwriter Paul Williams.

Terrible doc (way too much about the filmmaker's neuroses rather than about his subject) but fascinating subject and clips.

steve simels said...

I'm expecting a new documentary on Rick Springfield in the mail momentarily. Seriously.

I actually like the guy, and his pre-Soap Opera period as a powerpop guy in Australia is quite interesting.

FD13NYC said...

I first met Bob in the late 60's as a young teen buying records. The first store was on Bleecker btwn Thompson and LaGuardia Place, up the stairs. He was his own man with a huge ego, not nice most of the time.

Later I became friendly with John DeSalvo of the Tuff Darts. He stocked an indie single of mine by The Lust, a group I was in from 1978-79. If you're interested I could send you some mp3s.

Brooklyn Girl said...

I miss hanging out at record stores. It was a great way to discover new music.

Anonymous said...

Bleeker Bob was a scumbag.

Allan Rosenberg

Anonymous said...

Bleecker Bob’s had a west coast store on Melrose Avenue in Hollywood from the mid-Eighties till around 2001. It wasn't my favorite store. I hardly ever went there and I'm a true record fiend.

I probably bought most of my record collection at Aron's Records when it was across from Fairfax High on Melrose. That place was Jesus' blood then. It was a shot of salvation. I got my fix there on a regular basis.

Got all my early bootlegs there too. You know, GWW, LIVEr Than You'll Ever Be, John Birch, Stealin’, Kum Back, Wooden Nickel. But Manny Aron got paranoid and stopped selling them when CBS named his supplier in a lawsuit about GWW. I don’t blame him. There were lots of other outlets for boots anyway – head shops and record swaps especially.

Seriously, Aron’s was so amazing back then that there would be a long line of people waiting for the store to open. All the record promo guys would dump stuff, usually toward the beginning of the week. We’d try to hit the store on Tuesday or Wednesday because our record karma seemed better on those days.

Manny also kept a “Very Rare” box up by the register. There was usually some amazing stuff inside. I got an Apple acetate of Derek & the Dominos “Tell the Truth” which nobody knows even exists. Plus I got a Yardbirds “For Your Love” one-sided acetate on a UK EmiDisc. I paid under ten bucks for these items. But that was a long time ago. That place was Mecca. It was a treasure trove.

Aron’s used to get test pressings, demo tapes and acetates and just throw them out in the $1.98 bins – which was the highest "used" price back then. I got some major scores in that store. One of them was Big Star’s 3rd on a test pressing a few years before it came out. That one’s going with me to my grave. Recently they did a commemorative edition on vinyl. But mine’s the real deal so I’m taking bragging rights.

I also got Jackson Browne’s Nina Demos there. It was in the “Very Rare” box by the register. It’s a two record set and one side is songs by Steve Noonan. I paid 15 bucks back in 1973. It had a pretty big scratch down one side but I wasn’t about to quibble.

The Nina demos are rough stuff. Still there are a lot of unreleased tunes there. It’s a wonderful artifact to own and share.

My records are the source of some CD boots which came out in the late 1990’s. I was offered 3 thousand dollars for the set a couple of years ago. I almost took it. But I didn’t want to take advantage of the drooling Jackson fan. It’s all over the internet now, as it should be, along with the superior Criterion demos from the early 1970’s

I liked Browne’s first three albums. Wish he would have shown more humor in his work, because when he did, that’s when I liked him best. He needs to show more of his gun-toting persona.

He and Lindley are avid gun enthusiasts. Jackson’s handlers don’t necessarily want that to get out. But it’s fine with me. I pack most of the time. It’s a great way to accessorize. Seriously. You should see some of the sexy holster options available for women.

And like Lennon sang: “Happiness is a warm gun,” in every sense of the word. Sandy and I go to the firing range once a week. It’s exhilarating. And there’s nothing like sex, games and a little gun play.:-)

Vickie Rock

Anonymous said...

When Aron’s moved to the Highland Avenue location, it started sucking. But so did everything else around 1990. The Golden Age of CD was in full swing.

Back in the vinyl nirvana years, my friend Sandy and I used to ditch school and make “record runs” to L.A. once a week. The Inland Empire really didn’t have any good indie record stores. Our first stop was always Aron’s. We never left empty handed.

We’d usually stop by Wallich’s Music City on Sunset. They had listening booths so, even though they didn’t have any used product, hanging out there was fun. Plus celebs would walk in on occasion. Sometimes we’d buy concert tickets there.

Tower Records up on the strip had a great selection of imports and we often went there to peruse.

In the Sixties, when Sandy and I were at the mercy of whomever we were bumming a ride from, we used to go to Lewin’s Record Paradise on Hollywood Boulevard. They were the only place I knew that stocked import albums, singles and EP’s at the time. The stuff was pricey, but worth it. British Invasion stuff was the order of the day. Getting Aftermath several months before it came out in the US was a thrill. Plus I could find all the obscure stuff I was reading about in the Rave magazines and Melody Makers at my uncle’s house.

From Hollywood we’d go to Rhino in Westwood. One of the guys who ran the place disliked me. I was a smart shopper and sometimes his employees would price things stupidly. For instance, 33 cents for a clean Buffalo Springfield with “Baby Don’t Scold Me.” I always swept up the miscues and he gave me resentful looks at the register. He even accused me of switching price tags. That pissed me off.

I shopped there but we didn’t get along. There really aren’t that many women collectors now, let alone then. He was a misogynist. And not in a good way.

On another occasion Sandy and I made a pretty good score from there. He was working the register again and, once more, accused us of switching price tags. It was insulting and we let him know we didn’t appreciate it. He rang us up with an angry look on his face. Then, as he handed us our bag, he said, “Why don’t you bitches go to the mall and blow all your money on clothes like you’re supposed to.” I flipped him off. There was no sexual tension involved whatsoever.

I’m a big fan of the Yardbirds. I had all of their mono and stereo albums, but in the mid 1970’s clean copies of their stuff started getting scarce. If I ever saw a good deal on a clean Yardbirds record, I bought it. Since I already had them, I usually turned my friends on to a copy, or, I would use them as trades with up and coming vinyl junkies.

By 1976, Rhino had opened a small outlet in Claremont which was bootleg city. Around this time I paid a visit to the Westwood store. I was shocked to see every Yardbird record, both mono and stereo, in the racks along with deluxe covers of the two Golden Eggs bootlegs. They weren’t super cheap, but they were reasonably priced and very clean. I grabbed them all and went to the register. My “buddy” took one look at me and what I was about to buy and exploded.

“Jesus Christ! I just put those out there five minutes ago so some lucky person could get the Yardbirds LP’s. And a fuckin’ cunt like you has to show up and get them. God damn it! Fuck!”

There were quite a few people in the store watching him have a meltdown. It was ridiculous. I calmly asked him, “You got any more?” which really sent him over the brink. I thought he was gonna bust his fingers on the register.

“Always a pleasure, dreamboat,” I said as I sashayed away with my new purchases. I could hear him cussing as I walked out the door. What a jerk.

Vickie Rock

Anonymous said...

From Rhino we’d go to the Valley and Moby Disc to see chubby Bob. He's one of the nicest guys associated with the record biz. He now runs Freakbeat Records which is currently celebrating its tenth anniversary.

On the way back to the Inland Empire, we hit Poo-Bah Records in Pasadena. It was the funkiest little record store ever. It was inside an old house on Wilson and Walnut in Pasadena.

One of the guys who worked there was mad into R&B from the forties and fifties. It wasn’t uncommon to hear Esquerita, Louis Jordan, Roy Milton, Joe Liggins or the like blasting from the stereo.

Unlike Aron’s and Moby Disc, they still exist, although at a storefront on Colorado Boulevard. They haven’t been the same since the move. Actually, even before that.

By 1976-ish, Rhino Records in Claremont opened. It was originally a satellite store of the one in Westwood. Initially it operated out of a house, if you could call it that. I guess it was more of a shack. From the get-go it was a niche store and flooded with bootlegs. It was great. It’s moved a couple of times since then and still thrives.

During the eighties, ownership changed. It was in a small shop next to a Birkenstock store, a bric-a-brac shop and an unusual women’s clothing store. It had a small upstairs where most of the used vinyl was. Because the walls of the bordering shops didn’t go all the way to the ceiling, you could peer down into them from the used records section. It always smelled of incense and patchouli.

They also had a “Rare One’s” box next to the register. In the heyday of vinyl bootlegs, they had a big stock. If they knew you, they’d let you in the back room where you could peruse shelves and shelves of vinyl boots. They had headphone listening stations so that you could check the quality before buying. Since California was ground zero for vinyl bootleg vinyl, it was easy for them to maintain supply.

However, when the bootleg CD era started, most of the connections were either overseas or through New York distributors of said gray area imports. Rhino didn’t have a good enough connection to be able to sell the discs at a competitive price, so bootlegs ended for them.

The newest location is bigger, but that certainly doesn’t mean better. It’s not what it once was. Still, in the Inland Empire, it’s really the coolest place left. And it’s in a gorgeous and historic shopping area called The Village near the Claremont Colleges.

The guy who runs Rhino is in a prog band named Djam Karet. He’s an excellent drummer. And a super nice guy.

The Folk Music Center is across the street from Rhino. Ben Harper’s parents ran it. Now I’m told that he does. David Lindley is often seen there either buying or borrowing exotic stringed instruments. Richard Thompson frequents the area and has given some very hush-hush concerts by the colleges. Chris Darrow is also a local yokel. Terry Reid hung out there at various times as well.

Down and out ex-Mother Ray Collins used to sleep in the park and mooch food off of people while he muttered about how Frank Zappa ripped him off. Tragically, he died day before Christmas last year. He always talked about getting his shit together. But he never did.

Sorry for the Proustian nature and length. Something must have set me off. As Jimi said “You can leave if you want to, we’re just jammin’.”

Vickie Rock

Saw Surfer Blood tonight. Unimpressed.

Anonymous said...

Gummo and anyone who cares:

Re: Paul Williams. Sandy and I spent countless hours watching Phantom of the Paradise when it bombed in Westwood in the mid Seventies. After the first few showings, not many came. During the time it was there, we saw it sober, drunk, high on pot, wasted on ludes, and high on acid. No matter what state we were in, it seemed to do the trick. I even dragged my parents to see it, which was a mistake. What was I thinking?

At the time, I was having a hard time coming to terms with the “new” Bowie. Also, "It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll” wasn’t exactly the strong comeback I’d hoped for from the Stones. Me and Sandy were so disappointed in it that we went to one of those alcoholic bars and got fucked up with the tremblers. We vowed never to buy another Stones album. They were over.

In short, it was the mid 1970’s blues. Everything started to suck. Boring 3rd bill bands rose to the top. Nooooo.

Well, for us, Phantom of the Paradise was an antidote. We loved that film. Very few people seemed to get it. And that was simply going with it.

They were too busy screaming about Paul Williams having no rock cred. No, duh? But who could have been a more perfect Swan?

Jessica Harper was never more adorable and reinforced our bisexuality. Her audition scene was electric. From the minute we saw the Juicy Fruits we knew it was gonna be fun a go-go.

Williams, Harper and Finley are brilliant in that film. It’s my favorite DePalma movie. I’m not much of a fan of his other stuff. In fact, he kinda sucks.

When it reopened at the Cinerama Dome on Sunset in 1976, we probably saw it another dozen times. What can I say, we liked it. Jessica Harper was a dream. I wanted her. It was satiric, funny and touching all at the same time. And I don’t care what anyone says, this makes a great collection of Williams’ songs.

Critics hated it, which is often a signpost toward future cult classic. It already was to us. I mean, “Beef”, c’mon!

I remember once crawling up the aisles of the Cinerama Dome in my bathing suit during a particularly empty matinee screening. We had driven down to the Santa Monica Civic box office to buy some Laura Nyro tickets. Subsequently, we spent the late morning drinking a pint of Kessler while shamelessly going all the way on the beach. Cue the Raspberries and segue into Feel Flows.

Stupidly, we bought another pint to enjoy during the show. After the matinee, we must have eaten thirty bucks worth of junk food from the snack bar to soak up the booze. The usher didn't care and let us stay for the second show. Why not? Nobody else was there.

When we got out in the early evening, we both jumped into the fountain in front of the theater. The water felt sooo gooood. We didn't mind making a spectacle of ourselves. We did this often on our trips to that area. It was our ritual. Our Hollywood baptism. That’s fuckin’ out-of-towners for you.

I'm not sure when, but eventually the Cinerama Dome filled in the fountain with plants. Apparently we weren't the only ones making a splash.

I also saw Paul Williams open up for Liza Minnelli at the Greek Theater. Paul wasn't so good, his self-deprecating jokes between songs were bombing. I went with a photographer who had a press pass and was getting paid to shoot the show.

I had just gotten out of high school and was doing some modeling. I met him at the, now defunct, Ontario Motor Speedway at a drag racing event. He had a gig shooting it. Me and Sandy, along with a couple of other girls, were hired to act as drag race hotties for Hooker Headers. We sure as hell weren’t getting paid enough given the “unsophisticated” nature of many NHRA fans.

The photographer and I were bored. We got to talking. We both loved rock 'n' roll. He shot a lot of concerts.

Vickie Rock

Anonymous said...

He was about 25 and had his own place. He had a photo studio in one of the rooms of his Burbank house. We hooked up for some portfolio shots.

I noticed some really nice nudes on display in his office. I told him that I would like to come by and do some nudes with Sandy. Alone and together.

He set a date but told me to call him and remind him on the day of. He was super un-organized, which I liked. It proved he didn’t have a sick mind. I felt very comfortable around him. He had a very easy, non-sexual way about him.

But he wasn’t gay. And man, did he have the eye. If my nudes turned out anywhere near as good as the ones on his wall, I’d be one happy girl.

He subsequently invited me to the Liza show. I was his "assistant" and they gave me an orchestra pit press pass. It was one of those shows where the singer disappears backstage for a few seconds and comes out with an entirely different set of clothes on. Liza was a quick change artist.

Nowadays, photographers are only allowed to shoot for the first few numbers and escorted out. But back then, you got to shoot for the length of the show. Liza's not my style, and I'd never pay money to see her, but in 1973, she was quite the entertainer.

I've never been ashamed of, or hid my bisexuality. But I never flaunted it either. At an eighteen year-old girl from the Inland Empire, this concert opened my eyes as to just how many gay people there were. Most of them were down front with us too. And for the time, some of them were quite flamboyant. My friend took a lot of pictures of the crowd.

But Paul Williams did not impress as a performer whatsoever that evening. I admit to liking a lot of his tunes, but it was a chore sitting through him. Aside from “Phantom,” I liked him as the crotchety old hick who didn't pay his veterinary bills in "Georgia Rule."

I know it goes against the grain, but I liked that film. It's definitely not as bad as it was made out to be. And widely misunderstood.

I think it's Lohan's strongest performance. I didn’t think she was capable of stuff like this. But she’s pretty damn good in this one. So shoot me.

Vickie Rock

Anonymous said...

And this:

Anonymous said...

And another:

Anonymous said...

Oh, and regarding Phantom of the Paradise, Keith Allison is also in it.

And Janus Blythe, who would later be cast with Finley in Eaten Alive.

Vickie Rock