Thursday, August 30, 2007

Rodger Dodger!

Here's a fave tune of mine by Artful Dodger. They were a staple on the live music scene in Northeastern Ohio in the mid to late 70's and they had a pretty large following in cities like Cleveland and Pittsburgh at the time. I remember them being a perennial opening act for bigger groups and for this reason I must have seen them live at least 6 or 7 times during the era. Unfortunately, at the time I was a punk rocker and they really didn't leave that much of an impression on me.

Later, when I caught the powerpop bug, I kept seeing their name mentioned as prime practitioners of the genre and I was curious to check them out again because I honestly couldn't remember anything about them. It turns out they released three records on Columbia and a fourth on Ariola between 1975-1980. It also appears that the CD reish of their second LP, Honor Among Thieves , is now out of print and changing hands for a princely sum. Wayside is the song that is most frequently anthologized on comps and here they are performing that tune, appropriately enough, at a reunion gig at the Cleveland Agora in 2006. In Cleveland, Wayside still makes the song rotation of classic rock stations. BTW, there are better vids of this tune and other Artful Dodger songs on YouTube, but unfortunately they don't allow embedding.



All in all, the band's records can be a bit uneven, but each has at least four or five stellar tracks that make them keepers in my collection. It's not surprising that they were big in Clevo because they remind me a lot of the Raspberries, although they generally tended to take a more straight-ahead rock and roll approach. They certainly are prime candidates for a thoughtful career anthology that I am certain would be a must-have for fans of 70's era powerpop. Rave On!

19 comments:

steve simels said...

I sort of remember them -- or at least the first Columbia album -- but what I mostly recall is an interview they gave in Rolling Stone in 76.

They were deeply troubled -- hell, they felt betrayed -- that the Stones (one of their faves) had just committed the cardinal sin of releasing "Miss You," i.e., a disco song. I think one of the guys in the band said something like he was actually in mourning.

A little provincial, in other words...

Kid Charlemagne said...

Steve,

In Clevo, "Disco Sucks" was the rallying cry of thousands of rockers!

steve simels said...

KC:

I know...that rally where they burned records was not of one of the town's prouder moments...

Kid Charlemagne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kid Charlemagne said...

Steve,

Cleveland can't take credit for that! That was Chicago. It happened at Comiskey Park and it was the idea of DJ Steve Dahl.

steve simels said...

I stand corrected. Sorry about that...

Slig said...

This song is really familar, but I was in the Rochester, NY radio domain at the time. I wonder if they might have gotten some airplay in parts east.

On a (I think) powerpop related blogwhore: I have a post up about the Sherbs/Sherbet over at Onsongs (warning - the current top post contains pictures of the stitches in my recently repaired ankle - not recommended for the easily-grossed-out).

Anonymous said...

slig,

I think they worked the Great Lakes circuit, so you probably did hear them on the Radio in Rochester.

Good post on the Sherbs. I have a Sherbet comp somewhere I'll have to pull out again.

Cleveland Bob said...

Artful Dodger was one of those bands that if you grew up in NE Ohio you just assumed everyone was familiar with. They weren't of course.

Once you moved away, anywhere else, you quickly discerned that they were effectively small time. Not to say that they weren't completley servicable rock. They were.

The king of that localized genre in Clevo rock history remains of course, Michael Stanley. Non-Clevelanders have never even heard of him and here unfortunately, he was huge.

He DJs for a "classic rock" station around the corner from my work and he likes to pose and smoke cigs in front of his building pretending/hoping to not get noticed.

A real tool that.

And yes, KC was spot on with his Steve Dahl correction.

See here:
http://tinyurl.com/y7jwu7

steve simels said...

Hey, don't dis Michael Stanley.

I posted his "He Can't Love You" video like the first week I started writing here. I love that song, unironically, and the video is a genuine riot.

Cleveland Bob said...

Michael Stanley and his legion of local fans represented everything I hated about bad 70's rock. They were marketed like a regional version of the Eagles.

Just my opinion, I could be wrong.

Then again, my favorite band from Cleveland was always Pere Ubu.

steve simels said...

Then again, my favorite band from Cleveland was always Pere Ubu.

IF you tell me you saw Rocket From the Tombs I'm going to be very annoyed.
:-)

Hey -- speaking of Ubu, I should go check YouTube....

Cleveland Bob said...

I did just see them last year with Richard Lloyd on geetar and Cheetah on bass.

Alas, I never saw the original line-up. I did see the original Ubu crew once on my birthday complete with Peter Laughner though at JBs in Kent.

As for YouTube and Ubu, David Thomas, supreme weirdo, makes no bones about not allowing their stuff to get posted anywhere without his complete approval.

That said, there are very slim pickens on youtube.

Here's their poppiest song ever.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1hYqvtHzr48

steve simels said...

I just found an amazing "Waiting for Mary" live from the old David Sanborn show...

Definitely gonna post that next week...

Cleveland Bob said...

Yeah, I saw that too. Thanks, Steve.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for highlighting one of the band's videos from my YOUTUBE channel. Let me know which other video you'd like to embed and I'll make it available as long as there are no objections.
As for the comment about the Rolling Stones song - I wonder if some facts might be in error as to the interview being with Artful Dodger. The band's popularity reached far beyond Cleveland - the east coast, NY, the south, midwest and Texas were good markets. Most critic reviews for the albums were also very favorable too.
Sometimes, making it "big time" has more to do with promotion strategies and marketing budgets than music.

ARTFULDODGERSITE

Anonymous said...

- QUOTE -
steve simels said...
I sort of remember them -- or at least the first Columbia album -- but what I mostly recall is an interview they gave in Rolling Stone in 76.

They were deeply troubled -- hell, they felt betrayed -- that the Stones (one of their faves) had just committed the cardinal sin of releasing "Miss You," i.e., a disco song. I think one of the guys in the band said something like he was actually in mourning.

A little provincial, in other words...
- END QUOTE -

Steve, I think you are a little off on this one. "Miss You", from the Rolling Stones album "Some Girls", was released in 1978, not 1976. So it's doubtful that a 1976 Rolling Stone Magazine interview with Artful Dodger would have mentioned a song not yet published.

Anonymous said...

HONOR AMONG THIEVES THE SECOND ALBUM BY ARTFUL DODGER HAS BEEN REISSUED BY AMERICAN BEAT RECORDS AND IS AVAILABLE OFF AMAZON BEST BUY AND CIRCUIT CITY WEBSITE : ))))))))))))

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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