Thursday, March 08, 2012

Lean Keene

The Real Underground of Tommy Keene Rarities


Q:What's a four-letter word for Keene rarities? A: Cool!
"Keene's inexhaustable supply of engaging melodies and indelible hooks is matched by an ability to string them together in novel ways..."
- Moira McMcormick, Rolling Stone

Kicks keep on getting harder to find as far as scoring Tommy Keene rarities that remain unreleased or undigitized - what with the release of the 41-track double-CD You Hear Me: A Retrospective 1983-2009 (Second Motion Records, 2010) and its 10 digital-only bonus bundle tracks; the 1998 CD reissue of Songs From The Film that included several unreleased T-Bone Burnett-Don Dixon demos recorded at Reflection Studios in Charlotte, NC in 1984; the demos, singles and EPs collection The Real Underground (Alias Records, 1993); and Drowning: A Tommy Keene Miscellany (Not Lame, 2004) - so many thanks to my favorite music blog, the wonderful Wilfully Obscure, for uploading two early demo recordings - seven unreleased tracks from Tommy's 1981 Strange Alliance album sessions and five outtakes from the original 1984 Songs From The Film sessions recorded with T-Bone Burnette and Don Dixon - as well as previously posting all eight tracks from Keene's (still unreleased) debut mini-LP Strange Alliance (1981).

After that, the rarities pickings from his "inexhaustible supply of engaging melodies and indelible hooks" get a tad lean, but if you're both a Tommy Keene fan and a card-carrying completist like me, following is what you'll need to get a Keene Slate as far as collecting all the rarities that have not been officially released or widely available. Where possible, I've included the same download links that Wilfully Obscure provided.

(Now all we need is somebody to upload The Razz's back catalog of singles for closure! Speaking of which, a few folks have uploaded Razz songs to YouTube; see more about this at the end of this post.)

*** STRANGE ALLIANCE ***
(Park Avenue Records, 1981)



1. Landscape
2. All the Way Around
3. Don't Get Me Wrong
4. I Can't See You Anymore
5. It's All Happening Today
6. Strange Alliance
7. Another Night at Home
8. Northern Lights

http://rapidshare.com/files/166772991/tommykeene_strange.rar

Produced by Tommy Keene and Ted Niceley. (Note: Ted Niceley's last name is sometimes spelled "Nicely" in print and online sources; I'm going with "Niceley" because that's what appears on my copies of Songs From the Film, The Real Underground, Connected, and the Razz singles.)

Personnel:
Tommy Keene - Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals; all instros on "Northern Lights"
Ted Niceley: bass
Doug Tull: drums
Michael Colburn: Harmony Vocals on "Don't Get Me Wrong," "I Can't See You Anymore," "Another Night At Home"
From Wilfully Obscure:
The eight-song mini-album Strange Alliance was the world's (or at least the US') introduction to Tommy Keene (formally of the D.C. based Razz) as a singer/songwriter and ultimately, jangle-rock demi-god.

From song one, "Landscape," Keene established a recipe that he would rarely deviate from on future recordings, up to and including his last studio record, Crashing the Ether. Much sought after (going for $100 on Ebay!), Strange Alliance bears an unmistakable prescience, foreshadowing a remarkably consistent career that would follow in the ensuing decades.

From music scribe Rob Caldwell:
Strange Alliance was originally released in 1981, and then re-released the next year with a 7" single containing the song "Back to Zero." This bonus single was a smart move, as "Back to Zero" was a big jump forward in songwriting from most of what was on the album. Strange Alliance wasn't bad by any means, but there were fewer hooks and fewer memorable songs than on future Keene releases. Basically a power pop record with a raw garage -- almost punkish -- feel, it was better than most of what was being released in the same period. Overlooked then and now, the album is by no means a classic, but is definitely worth seeking out by Keene fans and those with an interest in music akin to Jules & the Polar Bears and early Greg Kihn.



I'm so glad this is finally available for digital consumption. I've loved this album ever since Tommy's former College Park roommate Bernie Ozol made me a tape of it back in the '80s - and it took me until this year to finally score it on vinyl (mucho gracias to Jack at El Suprimo Records in Fells Point!). And while I still don't understand (given all the superior unreleased demos from this period) why the dirge-like ambient album-closer "Northern Lights" was included (it's one of maybe a handful of Keene compositions that I don't love), the first five songs - "Landscape" ("Close proximity in your vicinity!") , "All the Way Around," "Don't Get Me Wrong," "I Can't See You Anymore," and "It's All Happening Today" - stand up to the best of any Keene tunes in his long career. I've always thought that "All the Way Around" was Tommy's "Ballad of El Goodo" and I love how Keene's piano bridge in the middle of "Strange Alliance" evokes the "I'd love to turn you on" segment of The Beatles' "A Day in the Life." Backing vocals on several songs were provided by Michael Colburn, erstwhile Razz player and a later member of Nightman.

In case you can't download the above, here's a YouTube video of "Landscape."


*** 1981 "STRANGE ALLIANCE" DEMOS ***
(Track Recorders, Silver Spring, MD, 1981)

In April and May of 1981, Tommy recorded five songs at Track Recorders in Silver Spring, MD with the rhythm section from his former band The Razz: bassist Ted Nicely and drummer Doug Tull. Keene and Ted Niceley produced these sessions. The songs recorded were "Strange Alliance," "End Of The World," "In Our Lives," "Walking On The Street," and "The Heart Is A Lonely Place To Hide."

"Strange Alliance" and "The Heart Is A Lonely Place To Hide" were released on Connected, a vinyl-only Limp Records compilation of Washington, DC-area bands. The same recording of "Strange Alliance" also showed up later - but with a different mix - on Keene's debut LP Strange Alliance.

In November of 1981, five more songs were recorded at Track with Keene and Niceley again producing. The songs recorded this time were "I Can't See You Anymore," "Don't Get Me Wrong,""Another Night At Home" - which were used on Keene's debut LP Strange Alliance (with backing vocals courtesy of Michael Colburn) - and "I'm Your Friend" and "You Break My Mind."

At some time in early 1981, Keene also recorded demos for "Someone To Blame" and "Foolish Mind." The liner that accompanied the download suggest the personnel on these last two songs may just be Tommy Keene and Steve Carr.

So that accounts for the seven tracks that were left on the cutting room floor from these 1981 Strange Alliance sessions. Those tunes were circulated on cassette by Tommy's management; the files here were transferred from a copy of one of those cassettes.

01 End Of The World
02 In Our Lives
03 Walking On The Street
04 I'm Your Friend
05 You Break My Mind
06 Someone To Blame
07 Foolish Mind

http://rapidshare.com/files/227708661/tk1981demos.rar

Produced by Tommy Keene and Ted Niceley.

Personnel:
Tommy Keene: Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
Ted Niceley: Bass
Doug Tull: Drums

I'm amazed that these songs didn't make the cut because these seven are arguably as strong (especially "End of the World" and "Walking Down the Street") if not stronger than the eight songs Keene ended up selecting for Strange Alliance. "In Our Lives" would inexplicably be shelved for five years, not seeing the light of day until Keene's 1986 Geffin debut Songs From the Film. If Tommy ever decides to officially release these songs, he might call it The Alternate Strange Alliance (a la T. Rex with 1994's Rabbit Fighter: The Alternate Slider) - it even has a plodding equivalent of Strange Alliance's "Northern Lights" in the slo-mo "You Break My Mind." The latter's opening guitar motif would later be utilized both in Keene's "Safe In the Light" from the Back Again (Try...) EP (Dolphin, 1984) and "Down, Down, Down" from the Sleeping On a Rollercoaster EP (Matador, 1992).

*** 1984 "SONGS FROM THE FILM" DEMOS ***
(Reflection Studios, Charlotte, NC, 1984)



01 Call On Me
02 Run Now
03 Fall Down Too
04 The Story Ends
05 Gold Town

http://rapidshare.com/files/227717066/tk1984demos.rar

Produced by T-Bone Burnett and Don Dixon

Personnel:
Tommy Keene: Guitar and Vocals
Billy Connelly: Guitar and Vocals
Ted Niceley: Bass
Doug Tull: Drums


Don Dixon, T-Bone Burnette & Tommy Keene

As most Tommy Keene fans know, the album Songs From The Film - like Dylan's storied tale of two cities (Minneapolis and NYC) Blood on the Tracks - was essentially recorded twice. The first, with T-Bone Burnett and Don Dixon producing, was recorded at Reflection Studios in Charlotte, North Carolina. The second recording - the version that was ultimately released on Geffin Records - featured Geoff Emerick producing. Tommy Keene wanted engineer Bob Clearmountain to produce Songs From the Film, but Geffin insisted on a big-name producer, ending up with Geoff Emerick who had engineered Beatles records, as well as producing Badfinger's No Dice and Elvis Costello's Imperial Bedroom.

"We'd hired Geoff Emerick as the producer because he had worked with the Beatles, but I don't think he had listened to the radio in 20 years," Keene recalled. "In the '80s to get radio airplay you needed a 'big' drum sound and Emerick hated that. The drums on the record sound really tiny."

Some of the Burnett/Dixon recordings were later released on the Run Now vinyl EP. Those tracks, plus a few more outtakes, were then included on the 1998 CD reissue of Songs From The Film. To further complicate matters, a third version of the Burnett/Dixon-produced "Gold Town" was included on 2010's You Hear Me: A Retrospective 1983-2009 release (it's an alternate mix with a slightly different ending to the demo included here).

These five tunes are recordings from the original sessions that remain unreleased. Four of them were re-recorded for the second version of the album, but none of these particular recordings appear on any officially released version of Songs From The Film. These are probably unfinished mixes.

"Fall Down Too" later resurfaced as one of the 10 digital-only bonus tracks available with the You Hear Me CD release.

You can listen to Tommy talk to Tony Peters of iconfetch.com (at about the 10-minute mark of a 15 minute interview) about the Songs From the Film backstory and how he rues not standing up to Geffen and releasing the Burnette-Dixon album.

***

COMPLETISTS' CORNER: The Best of the Rest of Tommy Keene Rarities

"Kill Your Sons (Live)" (Lou Reed)


B-side: "Kill Your Sons (Live)" (Lou Reed)


"Kill Your Sons (Live)" is also on the "Run Now" EP

Personnel:
Tommy Keene: Guitar and Vocals
Billy Connelly: Guitar
Ted Niceley: Bass
Doug Tull: Drums

The live version of Lou Reed's "Kill Your Sons" (a studio version is included on Songs From the Film) was recorded in 1986 at NYC's The World and is still only available on the vinyl & cassette versions of the Run Now EP and on the B-side of the "Listen To Me" 12" single. Tommy introduces the song with the words "This is a song by one of America's great heroes, Lou Reed" and then lets rip for 5 1/2 minutes.

Here's a rare video of that performance from The World, posted on YouTube by "peyoteshaman":

"Kill Your Sons (Live) @ The World, NYC, 1986

Keene explained why the song was so important to him in a 2006 interview with Bill Kopp's musicoscribe.com:
I got Live In Italy around '85 where he's playing with the band with Fernando Saunders and...I forget his name...the producer guy [drummer Fred Maher -- ed.], and Bob Quine...Robert Quine. That was a great band. Then I saw this videotape [Coney Island Baby -- Live in New Jersey]. And I never really gave that song that much thought. But when I saw it in that context, I was thinking "ah, this is a great song!" At a rehearsal I just said "let's learn this song and do it tomorrow night" and we did it that night somewhere. So we did it and we enjoyed playing it. And then we did it again at a show where the A&R guy from Geffen came and he said "Oh! That's awesome. You've gotta record that and put that song on the record." And we were thinking "really?" And he just kept pushing and pushing, so when we made Songs From the Film we had a night where we threw a party and we just played a bunch of covers in the studio live, and that one came out well. And we went to try to remix the record (when we went to New York, as I said earlier) that tape was all live. I re-did the vocals and added a rhythm guitar but the rest was basically a "live in the studio" thing. And they liked it so much that they said "we've gotta put it on the record." So we put it on the record and when they put out the EP Run Now they took a version of it from this show we did in New York. And having done it on those two records it became an audience favorite. And so that's why it continues to be in the set. I thought "we're never gonna cover a Lou Reed song" for a major label ...next to "Sweet Jane" I think it may be one of his best songs. It's a classic.

***

"Faith In Love" (Acoustic)


B-side: "Faith In Love" acoustic version

The flip side of an alternate "Listen To Me" 7" single has an acoustic version of this outtake from the 1984 T-Bone Burnette and Don Dixon-produced Songs From the Film sessions recorded in Charlotte, NC. The full band (Billy Connelly, Ted Niceley, Doug Tull) version was included as a bonus track on the 1998 CD reissue of Songs From the Film.

***

"The Heart Is a Lonely Place To Hide"


"Connected" LP (Limp, 1981)

Personnel:
Tommy Keene - guitar, keyboards, vocals
Ted Niceley - bass
Doug Tull - drums

In April and May of 1981, Keene recorded "Strange Alliance" and "The Heart Is A Lonely Place To Hide" (also known simply as "The Heart") at Track Recorders in Silver Spring, MD. "Strange Alliance" and "The Heart Is A Lonely Place To Hide" were released on Connected, a vinyl-only Limp Records compilation of Washington, DC-area bands. The same recording of "Strange Alliance" also showed up later - but with a different mix - on Keene's debut LP Strange Alliance. This is a pretty good record in its own right, and includes tunes by Tommy's rhythm section of Ted Niceley and Doug Tull in their band Nightman (a group that also included two more ex-Razz players in guitarists Mike Colburn and Bill Craig), as well as The Slickee Boys, Howard Wuelfing's The Nurses, Don Fleming's Velvet Monkees, The Dark, and Black Market Baby. Despite being a relatively obscure song, "The Heart" was later covered on a 1987 single by Million Miles, a powerpop-loving German group who dedicated their record to Chris Bell [Big Star] and Chris Stamey [The DBs].


Million Miles: "The Heart" b/w "Fooled" 7" (Exile, 1987)

***

"Run To Midnight"



Tommy recorded this while still on the Not Lame Records label. As far as I know, it was only available on the CD that came with John M. Borack's powerpop guidebook Shake Some Action (also published by Not Lame Recording Company). Alas, Not Lame went lame a few years ago, so Keene completists would be well advised to look for used copies of this book.

***

"All I Want Is You" (Live) (Bryan Ferry) &
"When the Whip Comes Down" (Live) (M. Jagger-K. Richard)


"Back Again (Try...)" EP (Dolphin, 1984)

From the Back Again (Try...) EP. The B-side of this 4-song vinyl-only 12" single contains live covers of Roxy Music's "All I Want Is You" and The Rolling Stones' "When the Whip Comes Down" recorded in 1984 at Boston's Rat. Besides the title track, the other studio recording is "Safe In the Light" (both are available on The Real Underground CD).

In an interview with musicoscribe, Keene characterized the Stones cover as a one-off concert throwaway: "We['d] only played that once or twice...that was definitely the first time we've ever played it. You can tell because we don't really know the chords. I think we didn't get that middle part right. We rehearsed it once or twice and then went on."

Interestingly, the Unknown80s blog (unknown80s.blogspot.com) chose this EP to highlight Tommy Keene as an unheralded '80s songwriter and you can watch/listen to "Back Again (Try...)" and "Safe in the Light" below:



*** You Hear Me: Bonus Digital-Bundle Tracks ***


You shoula bought the 10 bonus tracks! You Hear Me?

This 10-track digital-only bonus album was available to pre-ordering customers when You Hear Me came out in 2010. I could kick myself for quibbling over cost when it was available for $20 vs. the $15 for the regular 2-disc edition. What fools these mortals be (or, to be it in Keene terms, me and my "Foolish Mind"). The bonus album includes the following tracks, which I suppose I will have to get someday...just to be a completist!

01 Places That Are Gone (alt mix by Bill Wittman from Songs From The Film)
02 Nothing Is Grey (demo 1982)
03 Stuck On A Ship (Demo 1983 from Dolphin Places That Are Gone EP)
04 Fall Down Too (Unreleased track from T-Bone/Don Dixon album recorded July 1984)
05 All Your Love Will Stay (Home Demo 1999)
06 Eyes of Youth (Home Demo 1999)
07 Never Really Been Gone (Live in Chicago 1998)
08 Call On Me (Live at Campbell University NC - 1996)
09 Compromise (Live at Campbell University NC - 1996)
10 Love Is A Dangerous Thing / Brad's Boogie (Live at Campbell University NC - 1996)

*** "LOVE OR ELSE" W/NILS LOFGREN ***

Watch "Love or Else".


This Nils Lofgren song, originally recorded on Grin's 1973 LP All Out, was reprised live in Rockville on August 25, 2004 with Tommy Keene on guitar for the A Tribute To Nils Lofgren DVD.

According to his iTunes bio, the teenage Keene played drums in the rock trio Blue Steel, whose original guitar player was Nils's younger brother, Mike Lofgren. Keene's first notable gig, in fact, was when Mike's Blue Steel opened for Nils's Grin. Here's a pic of Tommy playing drums with Blue Steel:


Blue Steel, 1972

And here's a (post-Mike Lofgren?) Blue Steel rendition of "Roll Over Beethoven", recorded at Silver Spring's DB Studios and showcasing Tommy's percussion skills, that I found on YouTube:


In a 2006 interview with Magnet magazine, Keene commented "Nils was really a huge influence on my guitar style and my songwriting. When people ask my influences, I always say the Beatles, Who and Stones, but I think the people that influenced me the most were the people I came into contact with when I was learning how to play. Nils’ brother Mike basically showed me how to play guitar."

(Those Lofgren boys sure knew how to play, as Nils and Mike were just two of the four Lofgren brothers who played guitar; the others were Mark and, of course, former Grin rhythm guitarist Tom Lofgren. You can see them all strumming away on the Nils Lofgren and Friends: Live Acoustic DVD.)

*** "Lost a Number" (Nils Lofgren) ***

Another Nils Lofgren song, originally recorded on Grin's 1972 LP 1+1 (their masterpiece), that Tommy played live - this time without Nils - for the August 25, 2004 recording of the A Tribute To Nils Lofgren DVD.

Watch "Lost a Number."


*** THE RAZZ ***


Razzmania: The Razz ruled DC's rock roost back in the day

I loved The Razz, who provided my introduction to Tommy Keene. I recall liking a DC girl who loved Tommy Keene and I would try and see them whenever I'd hit DC with my pal (and erstwhile Thee Katatonix bass player) Tom Lehr. They had a pretty big following, too, and opened for a number of national acts. I recall seeing them open for Devo at Georgetown's Gaston Hall and I saw their last-ever Baltimore gig when they opened for The Ramones at Martin's West.



Tommy Keene joined The Razz after guitarist Abaad Behram left the band; he played on the post-Behram Razz 7" records, which were released on the O'Rourke/Limp label and have never been digitized, to the best of my knowledge. Before joining Razz, Keene was in The Rage with Richard X. Heyman and future Sorrows bassist Ricky "Street" Leigh (unfortunately the only Rage recording was a live radio broadcast that remains unreleased).


The Razz live (Tommy Keene far right)

"You Can Run" b/w ""Who's Mr. Comedy?" (Reidy-Keene)


Razz - "You Can Run" b/w "Who's Mr. Comedy?" (O'Rourke/Limp, 1979)

This 1978 single features two songs credited to Reidy-Keene. Singer Michael Reidy always thought Keene's words were lame, while Tommy thought Reidy's words debased his beautiful melodies. Theirs was truly a strange alliance. As he later explained to Blurt-Online, "When I was in Razz, I was the guitar player who wrote songs and sang backup, and I was perfectly comfortable in that role. The reason why I 'went solo' in the first place was because I couldn't find anyone in the D.C. area to form a band with. I couldn't find a lead singer to make it work."

Still, Reidy was a charismatic frontman and Keene an ace guitarist-tunesmith; they were a dynamic duo while it lasted. The other Razz guitarist, Bill Craig, was no slouch either - as his work here and later with Jr. Cline & The Recliners attests. And the Razz rhythm section of Ted Niceley and Doug Tull would go on to back Tommy Keene on every record up through 1986's Run Now EP.

"Air Time" 4-song EP


Razz - "Air Time" EP (O'Rourke/Limp, 1979)

01 Marianne (Reidy-Keene)
02 Cherry Vanilla (Reidy-Behram)
03 Love Is Love (Reidy-Keene)
04 Hippy Hippy Shake (C. Romero)

Personnel:
Michael Reidy - Vocals
Ted Niceley - Bass
Bill Craig - Guitar
Tommy Keene - Guitar/Vocals
Doug Tull - Drums

Four live tunes from a 1978 University of Maryland College Park show recorded for a WWDC-DC101 radio broadcast. The other songs recorded during this 47-minute set included: "Move It," "Tired Of Trying," "Take It Back," "It Happened One Night," "I See," and"C Redux." (The show used to be available for download at megalupload.com, but the post-Napster authorities shut 'er down!) Thanks to Lightning Jukebox, you can listen to "Love Is Love" online.

Skip Gross (founder of Limp Records and owner of Yesterday and Today Records), who edited the EP, commented:
I think Airtime was one of the greatest records ever to come out of DC. I edited it. That was my entire involvement in it, aside from putting it out.

They had done a concert for DC101 live from a local venue, and I'm sure there's more songs than those four, but I have not been able to find where they might be. In any case, at some point I had access to the whole tape and took it over to Zientara's and chose those cuts and put them in--they weren't together in the concert the way they were on the record, they didn't necessarily fall together.

I thought it was a really, really strong EP, and it showed their dynamics and versatility on stage, the ability of Michael Reidy to go from a ballad to a harmony type thing to a hard rocking type thing. It also showcased Tommy Keene's "Love is Love," which at that point in time was developing into the Razz's real tour de force. It became the ending piece later on, and they would do that at the very end of a set and expand on it.


"Doo Wha Diddy"


"Best of Limp (...Rest of Limp)" (Limp Records, 1980)

The Razz recorded a test pressing of this song that was never released until it resurfaced on the 1980 Best of Limp (...Rest of Limp) compilation album (alongside tracks by Nightman, The Slickee Boys, The D. Ceats, The Nurses, Bad Brains, and Tex Rubinowitz). I'm not sure whether this is Tommy or Abaad playing guitar.

Though Razz records may be hard to find, several songs from the Air Time EP have also been uploaded to YouTube:

Razz - "You Can Run (But You Can't Hide)" from the indie rock compilation record Declaration of Independents:

Razz - "You Can Run (But You Can't Hide on YouTube)"

Razz - "Cherry Vanilla"


Razz - "Hippy Hippy Shake"


According to the the blog Camarillo Brillo ("Cool and Hard To Find Tunage"), the Razz also recorded unreleased studio demos of "Bad Intentions," "It's Like Fire," and "Say Way."

*** SUZANNE FELLINI - "Love On the Phone" ***


Suzanne Fellini (Casablanca, 1980)

After the Razz, Keene embarked on a European tour as a sideman for New Wave singer Suzanne Fellini - a one-hit wonder most infamous for her 1980 single about phone sex, "Love On the Phone" (which featured lyrics like "Its so hard when Im feeling on fire/And all I can hold is the telephone wire ...You know I want you cause you're the best/Hang on a minute I'll get undressed/Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No!") - before co-founding a band called Pieces in New York.

Fellini had one album out on Casablanca Records, 1980's self-titled Suzanne Fellini. The clip below shows a very New Wavy-looking Tommy playing guitar with Suzanne on some television show.

Watch Tommy play guitar on "Love on the Telephone."


*** PIECES ***

After touring with Suzanne Fellini in 1980, Tommy's NYC band Pieces recorded a four-song demo tape, which used to be available for download before the btjunkie site went down. The group split up when they failed to land an acceptable record deal. (I wonder if anyone still has this demo tape? Tommy?)

Pieces was the band Keene formed with Staten Island-native drummer Frankie LaRocka (Cherry Vanilla, David Johansen, Scandal, John Waite, Bryan Adams, Bon Jovi), Brooklyn-born bassist Kenny Aaronson (Rolling Stone's 1988 Bassist of the Year, who played with Stories, Dust, Rick Derringer, and with Sammy Hagar and Neal Schon in Hagar Schon Aaronson Shrieve), and Staten Island singer Matt Lamberti.


Frank LaRocka, 1954-2005 (photo by Ivan Kral)

In an interview with Scene Point Blank magazine, he recalled "I was playing with a girl in New York at the time [Suzanne Fellini] with a bass player named Kenny Aaronson, he knew Frank, who knew a singer named Matt [Lamberti]. We did about eight shows and were offered one record deal that was deemed too cheap. Frank was a fun guy, I was very sorry to hear that he had passed some years ago. I remember sleeping on his couch in his Staten Island apartment for many months."

According to a New Yorker Rocker obit for LaRocka, who died of the debilitating heart condition known as cardiomyopathy in May 2005, Piece's demo was featured on WNEW’s "Prisoners Of R&R" show back in the day.

*** BRUCE SPRINGSTONE ***

"Bedrock Rap/Meet the Flintstones" b/w "Take Me Out To the Ballgame"


Bruce Springstone - "Live at Bedrock" single (Clean Cuts, 1982)

In 1982 Craig Hankin and Tom Chalkley of The Reason came up with the idea of a Bruce Springsteen parody in which Chalkley-as-"The Boss" sang "Bedrock Rap/Meet the Flintstones" and "Take Me Out To the Ballgame." They recruited Tommy Keene - a huge Springsteen fan - and veteran jazz saxophonist Ron Holloway to record with them at Hit and Run studios in Rockville, and released this single (available in 7" and 12" versions on Clean Cuts Records). Bruce Springstone's parody single sold 100,000 copies, became a Dr. Demento fave (it's included on the Dr. Demento Presents The Greatest Novelty Records Of All Time LP), and led to the musicians making a video intended for MTV - before Hanna Barbara threatened to sue if MTV played it. Even The Boss himself liked it, writing Hankin a postcard that said "The record is great! I love it! Keep on rockin! Bruce Springsteen." Today Hankin and Chalkley are working on a graphic novel called If I'd Known Back Then - "a 200-page comic book about the bonds of friendship, creativity, youthful ambition and the staying power of a well-crafted novelty hit" - recounting their Springstone saga (to help their Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for this project, see If I'd Known Back Then: A Graphic Memoir).

Listen to "Bedrock Rap/Met the Flintstones."


*** THE KEENE BROTHERS ***


The Keene Brothers: "Blues and Boogie Shoes"

Alas, I don't have any of Tommy's collaborations with Guided By Voices leader Robert Pollard in which Pollard croons his words over Keene's tunes. I guess a completist should pick up Blues and Boogie Shoes (Recordhead Records, 2006) huh?

According to an interview with Blurt magazine, "The Right Time to Fly" from Tommy's In the Late Bright (Second Motion, 2009) was a Keene Brothers instrumental track that wasn't used on the album.

In 2006, Tommy toured with Robert Pollard & The Ascended Masters and there are numerous concert clips available on YouTube. The one below for "Little Lines" features some good footage of Keene playing guitar.


Related Links:
Tommy Keene official site
Tommy Keene - You Hear Me (Accelerated Decrepitude)
Razz Fanatics (Facebook group)

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5 Comments:

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2:24 PM  
Anonymous Eddie in DC said...

I'm just re-discovering Tommy after many years astray. Good timing too, since he'll be coming to Iota in a few weeks. I missed out on your download of the Strange Alliance demos, and now Rapidshare is closed, so could you re-up to somewhere else like mediafire or zippyshare? thanks!

8:02 AM  
Blogger mister muleboy said...

Any chance that you could upload to a new site (Rapidshare RIP) or otherwise help us figure out a way to get our hands on these nuggets? It would be MOST appreciated !!!

8:26 PM  

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