Friday, August 23, 2013

Your Friday Moment of Self-Congratulatory Ego Tripping (An Occasional Series)

Long time and/or attentive readers (not to mention members of my immediate family) may be aware that Floor Your Love, the vanity CD I compiled by my early 80s skinny-tie band The Floor Models, has, perhaps inexplicably, been picked up for legitimate release later this year by a very cool Austraan indie label -- ZERO HOUR RECORDS.

I know, I know. This strikes me as moderately unbelievable too. Nonetheless, it's true.

In any event, by way of an update, I want to assure those of you who were irrepresible enough to download the earlier album at iTunes or Amazon (or purchase a physical copy at CDBaby) that those are now collector's items and will doubtless fetch top dollar at record fairs in the future. Probably on the Bizarro World, but still.

Also, the Zero Hour reissue will feature vastly improved sound quality -- thanks to a superb remastering job by my old chum Steve Schwartz -- and significantly slicker packaging.

My understanding is that the original cover -- art-directed by my brilliant/beautiful girlfriend (who works cheap) will be retained...

...but the CD label, done as an amusing homage to the Epic Records of the Sixties --

...will probably be jettisoned.

Hey, whatever my Australian mogul wants to do, I'm down with it. Seriously -- in case I haven't mentioned it, Zero Hour Records is the greatest record company in the world, and I have pledged them my eternal fealty.

Okay, all that said, please enjoy the reissue liner notes I recently penned at great expense to myself.


In everyone's life there's a Summer of '42...or so said the tag line in the ads for the movie of the same name. But in my case (self-indulgence alert!) such a summer lasted for almost two years, circa 1982-83 (metaphorically, of course). When The Floor Models, the 12-string pop band I played bass for, had a more or less uninterrupted weekend residency at the Other End Cafe on Bleecker Street in fabled Greenwich Village.

A little back story: The Floor Models got together in 1979, primarily as a result of seeing the (then unsigned) Smithereens countless times at Kenny's Castaways, a bigger club down the street from the Other End, and thinking -- hey, that looks like fun. Our initial template was sort of similar to what the 'Reens were doing -- i.e., short concise 60s influenced songs, with three part harmonies, a lot of jangle, and a mix of classic folk-rock with New Wave energy.

It should be noted, at this point, that when we started we became part of what was then being called the Bleecker Street Revival, which was a sort of parallel phenomenon to the punk thing happening further downtown on the Bowery at CBGBs (and indeed, several bands -- the aforementioned Smithereens, for example -- were known to migrate back and forth between the two scenes). The principal venues for the Bleecker Street Revival were the aforementioned Kenny's and a rejuvenated (by new and more receptive to contemporary rock management) Folk City, which was around the corner on West 3rd. There were a ridiculous number of ridiculously talented people on the scene; not all of them got famous -- in our case, for example, the Man With the Big Cigar conpicuously failed to offer to make us stars -- but the list of performers who got signed to major labels out of Kenny's and Folk City is pretty impressive: Willie NIle, Carolyn Mas, the aforementioned Smithereens, Chris Whitley, Patty Smyth (Scandal), Suzanne Vega and Shawn Colvin.

But back to the Floor Models saga.

The short version is that pretty much every Friday and Saturday night during that period we -- myself, singer/guitarist Gerry Devine, Rickenbacker 12-string ace Andy Pasternack, and fab gear drummer Glen "Bob" Allen -- would arrive at the Other End, which was a classic hole-in-the-wall dump, and bash out three hour-long sets (shows at 10pm, midnight and 2am). Essentially, it was our equivalent of The Cavern, and though the schedule was grueling, it never once felt like work, this due to the fact that a) the four of us enjoyed each other's company almost as much as the music we were playing; b) we were rather handsomely paid, if you can believe it; and c) thanks to the weekend traffic on Bleecker Street we almost always wound up performing for an elbow-jostling and appreciative crowd (around 200 well lubricated NYU kids and tourists crammed wall to wall on an average lively night) even when our friends were otherwise engaged.

It was a ridiculously ideal environment for a young band getting its shit together, and as I said, it never felt like work; I look back on the whole experience these days as pretty much the most fun I've ever had with my clothes on.

I should probably also mention that I lived across the street from the club, which meant that moving equipment was a breeze. And that between-set, uh, refreshments and after-hours carousing were rather ridiculously hassle-free as a result.

As I noted earlier, we used to do three hour-long sets an evening, which meant we necessarily had to do a fair number of covers; given that our idea had always been to do the songs that had inspired to us play in the first place (especially ones we'd never had a chance to essay in other bands) this was hardly an odious task, and so we'd bang out everything from The Monkees to Television. (Doing The Hollies "Bus Stop" -- and well, I think -- was something of a dream come true for me.) We also had a lot of musician friends from the neighborhood who'd help us out by dropping in for the late sets; we'd work up little guest spots for them and some of those occasioned among my absolute favorite moments during our run. Floor Your Love includes a live rendition of the Records "Hearts in Her Eyes," a song we did so often that everybody on Bleecker Street thought we wrote it.

We finally packed it in in the late 80s (although a different incarnation of the band carried on till the mid-90s) but I think the music holds up. In any case, Floor Your Love finally collects just about everything we ever recorded, in a variety of settings; it is, for all intents, The Album We Never Made. -- Steve Simels

P.S. You may have noticed that the opening song on the CD --"Spin Cycle" -- features personnel other than the classic Flo Mos lineup. In point of fact, although the song was written and performed (often) during the Floor Models original run, no recording of the song from that period has survived. However, given that three of the people playing and singing the late 80s version included here were, in fact, Floor Models (Gerry, Glen and me on keyboards) I've decided that it's a de facto Floor Models track despite the absence of Andy. In more or less in the same way that "The Ballad of John and Yoko" is a Beatles track despite the absence of George and Ringo.

P.P.S. If you go to YouTube and type in "The Floor Models," you'll find a very cool (complete) video , with fantastic sound, of a typical club set of ours from the period (1982). It was not, however, taped anywhere in the Village, but rather at an upper East Side industry dive/drug den called JPs. We played there a bunch of times, which was the closest we ever got to working out of town.

Incidentally, just because I love you guys, here's the aforementioned version of "Hearts in Her Eyes."

The remaster, of course, is much better, so you'll have to pay to hear it, bitches.


buzzbabyjesus said...

Congrats! I have a bunch of Zero Hour releases I bought as cut-outs from Sal's milk crates I still listen to.

Gummo said...

Good news, cool story, great notes.

But now I've got to get another copy of your fekakte CD?

Oh, all right....


Gummo said...

Oh, and let me add:

I can't imagine how many weekend nights back then wandering in the Village I must have walked by Kenny's and the Other End, seen the crowds and heard the music and just walked on, dammit.

It's a small world after all
It's a small world after all
It's a small small worrrrrrllllddd...

Billy B said...

Cool, Stevie. I'll make sure and get a copy.

As to the Smithereens, that was a great band. I've heard Dinizio is a right winger which, if true, is a shame.

steve simels said...

Yeah, he's a wingnut. A shame, as you said, but he's a cool guy otherwise.

Billy B said...

I didn't hear the Smithereens until they began releasing albums in the mid-80s, but I was blown away by the time I did. I always thought it was a shame the band didn't fare better than it did.

buzzbabyjesus said...

I've still never heard the Smithereens. For some reason I dismissed them decades ago.
I'm still not curious.

Brooklyn Girl said...


I can't imagine how many weekend nights back then wandering in the Village I must have walked by Kenny's and the Other End, seen the crowds and heard the music and just walked on, dammit.

Same here. I lived on Bleecker & Mercer for 14 years! Must have walked past the place 1,000 times.

But then, I also passed The Bottom Line every night for a week during the summer of 1975, where some guy named Bruce Springsteen was appearing, and I thought, "Oh, I'll catch him next time."

steve simels said...

Missing Bruce was a bigger deal than missing us, trust me.

Anonymous said...

Missing Bruce was a bigger deal than missing us, trust me.

You just had to rub it in, huh :-)

GLLinMO said...

Finally. Why I never bought the download. The expectations for killer liner notes are very high here. The sound snippets from I-tunes were enough for me - but never got around to download. Please pass on the link for the CD. Prefer over download.

An no - never seen you folk in the village when I lived in Jersey. But still appreciate good pop.

Blue Ash Fan said...

Steve, you think you love Zero Hour Records? I just found out that they have a Blue Ash box set in the works. I think they just became my favorite label ever. I can barely contain my excitement.