Saturday, March 24, 2012

2012 Smith College Book Sale

The Booklover's First Rite of Spring

Literary looting at Smith College Book Sale

Smith College Book Sale
March 23-25, 2012 @ Maryland State Fairgrounds
"A room without books is like a body without a soul." - Cicero
Yesterday, Amy and I went to the opening day of the three-day Smith College Book Sale at the Timonium Fairgrounds, an annual rite of spring for movable typeface geeks like us who remember the pre-Kindle days when knowledge was passed from one person to another via the printed page (as well as videotape, audiotape, and vinyl grooves - as Analog Anarchronists, we collect these beloved information distribution formats as well!). We skipped the 10 a.m. opening, because the organizers charge $10 the first hour - a price diehard collectors, hoarders and book (re)sellers are only too willing to pay - but there was still plenty of good stuff on offer after that, especially at the Vintage table.

In the lobby, I made a quick stop at a very sexy, hourglass-shaped ATM machine that was slightly smaller than the petite Ms. Linthicum and withdrew $100 from my rapidly dwindling checking account (can't wait for payday next week!), but it wasn't really necessary as both Amy and I fought our natural tendencies to stockpile books (and assorted other media) - a habit we've been weaning ourselves from since the demise of our beloved Daedalus Books store at Belvedere Square store in Govans - and spent less than $55 dollars combined for the day.

Maybe it's because we kept running into people we knew there, a veritable Who's Who of local book (and music) collecting nerds that included Chris Siron and Lynne Parks (amazing local artists who rummage through old books looking for vintage cover art and line illustrations for their collages - an example of which is shown below)...

Chris Siron's "Transmutation of a Conniption" (2006 collage)

...Charles Brohawn of The Tinklers (who's always on the lookout for bird books and polka records), musician Bob Tiefenworth and his wife, photographer Denny Lynch, and even Dave Cawley (as shown below left).

Dave was actually on break from his 9-to-5 claims adjuster gig just down the road, where he was busy denying insurance claims with a gusto that has seen "Davey Denial" ("It's Not Just a River In Egypt!") rise rapidly to the upper echelon of insurance industry management; Davey D. had stopped by to check out the Modesty Blaise and other vintage comic books for sale in his beloved collector's corner, where last year he scored some early Flash Gordon comics.

Dave and I are admittedly (unabashedly!) on a Modesty Blaise kick (Joseph Losey's oft-maligned kitsch-cult film adaptation - starring a flying-over-the-gaydar Dirk Bogarde, Terence Stamp and Monica Vitti - of the book and comic serial series by Peter O'Donnell is one of Dave's faves and he will enthusiastically sing you the theme song at the drop of a hat!) and it's hard to resist the tales of a spy who's "courage and cleavage in equal parts" and whose hobbies (like ours) include ""

Modesty Blaise: "Courage and cleavage in equal parts. Adventure is her game and her equipment is fantastic."

On our way in, Amy noticed a poster announcing that a film crew would be videotaping throughout the day for a upcoming documentary. Wow, I thought, maybe it's MPT doing one of those Rick Sebak- or Antiques Roadshow-style profiles about flea markets and avid collectors, but it turned out it was just two Stevenson College students doing an asignment for film class about this one event. I guess I'll be in it, because they filmed me, Charles Brohawn, Denny Lynch and his historian friend talking about what attracts us to the book sale.

"I just came to be in the movies," I confessed. We all signed releases, just in case Frederick Wiseman or Erol Morris wants to sign on for a development deal, and when they asked us to state our names and occupations, I replied, "I'm a card-carrying Librarian and a hoarder" or something to that effect. Geeze, the last time I signed a release was for Andrew Kolker and Louis Alvarez's People Like Us: Social Class in America (2001); the filmmakers had filmed a segment on the 2001 Hampden Honfest I attended - one which also featured Hampden native Kelly Conway in character as "Stella Gambino" (ertswhile soap opera reviewer on WJZ-TV's Soap Dish) - and I recall missing the film's premiere in New York City the week of 9/11 (poor Kelly attended the screening and was stuck in lower Manhattan all week - timing is everything!).

"(Mad) Man About (Gentrified) Town" Tom Warner adds a "yeah" and a "right" to the intense sociological debate about class in America in "People Like Us."

My ADD runs rampant at events like these, where I am easily distracted and unfocused like an "Ooh, lookit that...Ooh now lookit that!" kid in a candy store. Amy, on the other hand, is always very focused during booksale shopping sprees, limiting her hunting to Japanese language books (for her mother) and anything/everything to do with mythology-anthropology-spirituality (especially of the anti-Christian, pro-Pagan/Wiccan variety); on this day she scored at least a half dozen Joseph Campbell books (though she missed Bob Tiefenworth's score-of-the-day, the 2-disc Mythos II DVD for $4!) and Spencer Wells's The Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey (we had enjoyed the 2003 PBS documentary based on his book - which attempts to trace and explain the geographical dispersal of early human migrations out of Africa to the rest of the world - so this was a great find).

Following are my disjointed, all-over-the-place (and decidely non-intellectual, compared to Ms. Linthicum's titles) scores for the day.


The Firesign Theatre - Lawyer's Hospital LP (1982)
Price: $2
"You mean, to Bambi?" "I not mean to Bambi - she likes it that way."

"Lawyer's Hospital" w/William Stout cover (Rhino, 1982)

Amy found this one for me (God bless her!) right off the bat. Ah, the Firesign Theatre - the Fab Four of '70s FM Radio Comedy Troupes (a true anachronism to today's iPod Generation) - how I love(d) them! This is one of their 1980s "leftover" albums for the Rhino label (the follow-up to Nick Danger, Third Eye In the Case Of the Missing Shoe), which compiles pre-existing bits into two loosely thematic LP sides. The Firesign Theatre were in essence a '60s-inspired, '70s-defined FM Radio anomaly that got kinda lost in the '80s as the comedy album concept gradually died away and this new thing called "video" and then cable television and compact discs came along. I've only ever heard a snippet of this record, one that was translated to live action as part of Firesign Theatre's 1986 video release Eat Or Be Eaten (see a clip below).

Watch "Lawyer's Hospital, Part 1" (YouTube)

As if the comedy weren't enough, this record was worth picking up just for the cover by the great "paleo-artist" William Stout, who had a comic career that any artist would envy. He started out working on Tarzan comic strips, then worked with a Hall of Fame roll call of fellow cartoonists like Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder (Little Annie Fanny), Jack Kirby, Archie Goodwin, the folks at Heavy Metal magazine, and later still did some of the surreal set designs for films like Pan's Labyrinth. He did a number of Firesign Theater covers, including the amazing In the Next World You're On Your Own (1975), as shown below:

Stout couldn't resist putting a dino on the cover!

I particularly liked the back cover of this LP for its depiction of an inter-species baseball game:

Cicada at the Bat: Pop-up Fly?

Stout also did one of my all-time favorite Bomp! magazine covers - the one for the Power Pop issue:

Who Put the Bomp?: Power Pop!


Frank Sinatra - This is Sinatra! LP (1956)
Price: $2

"This is Sinatra!" LP (Capitol, 1956): Love "Rain" Over Me!

Unbelievably, I didn't own this classic Sinatra LP from his 1950s "hat years" period at Capitol Records. Though released in 1956, this collection represents Sinatra singles and B-sides recorded with Nelson Riddle in 1953 and is worth it just for the rare recording of "Rain (Falling from the Sky)" - one of the least-known Sinatra songs, despite being among his greatest "emo" intrepretions (and I love how it opens with the sound of rainfall). Before I toughened up into a Macho Man, this song by George Finlay and Robert Mellin used to make me cry (I'm sensitive like that). The other essential inclement weather Sinatra tune is, of course, "Here's That Rainy Day" (but that's a song for another day, I 'spose).

Watch/listen to "Rain."

Ethel Merman - The Ethel Merman Disco Album (1978)
Price: $2
Special Features: Back cover is signed "To Ann and Milton, all my love - Ethel Merman" !

Aesthetically-speaking, Ethel almost slipped her disco on the dancefloor

I really enjoyed listening to this! It made me think back fondly to Love Boat; it's like something cokehead cruise entertainment director "Julie McCoy" (Lauren Tewes) would have played to amuse all the middle-aged swingers on board. As Amazon reviewer Elisabeth Vincentelli describes it:
The title says it all. This is the disco album "the Merm" recorded in 1979, a few years before her death. Rumor has it that Merman couldn't stand the disco craze that was sweeping the nation in the late '70s, recording her vocals before the instrumental tracks were laid down. Masterminded by Peter Matz, who produced, arranged, and conducted the whole thing, Merman's disco album is one of those jaw-dropping, "what were they thinking?" UFOs that periodically land on the pop landscape. Merman (at her most bombastic, vibrato-laden) barrels through eight of her signature tunes. All are taken at breakneck speed, and even dramatic show-stoppers, such as "Everything's Coming Up Roses" (from Gypsy), become dance-floor burners. Whether you find the album simply horrifying or an entrancing testimony to the power of people to lose their heads as they fall prey to a dance fad, this collision between two completely different American musical traditions is nothing short of, ahem, breathtaking.

Watch Ethel promoting her disco album on the "Tonight Show" w/Johnny Carson.


The Doors - Other Voices LP (1971)
Price: $2

The Lizard King has left the building!

Other Voices was the seventh studio album by The Doors and the first album released by the band following the death of lead singer Jim Morrison (a period referred to by closed-Door purists as "Morrison, A.D.") - and trust me, that's a gaping hole in the end-product as big as the Grand Canyon (or adult film starlet Liza "Black Hole" Harper's (w)rectum, to put it in layman's terms); the band had started recording tracks for this LP while Morrison was on holiday in France and it was released without much fanfare when that holiday turned into a permanent vacation with Jimbo's untimely death in a Paris bathtub. It's not very good, but I picked it up for nostalgia's sake, specifically for the Robby Krieger-penned "I'm Horny, I'm Stoned" which practically defines the dated '70s stoner-hippie vibe (and highlights Krieger's slide guitar abilities, as well). Back in the early '70s, I recall one of the cool FM DJs (Joe Buchari?) on my beloved [okay that's the third time I've used this expression, but what can I say? - I'm a luver, not a hater!) WKTK used to play this as his theme song. (WKTK was great. Another DJ opened his show with National Lampoon's "Deteriorata" (a parody of Les Cranes's 1971 spoken word recording of "The Desiderata") as his theme song, and the station would also play Firesign Theater albums in their entirety!).

Watch a BBC outtake of sans-Lizard King Doors playing "I'm Horny, I'm Stoned."


My Husband Keeps Telling Me To Go To Hell (Hardback, 1955)
by Ella Bentley Arthur and Hannett T. Kane; illustrations by R. Taylor
Price: $3

Picked this up for the illustrations by legendary New Yorker gag cartoonist R. Taylor, best known for his saucer-eyed characters and elegant line drawing style, as shown below:


Dick Tracy Meets the Punks (1980)
Price: $3

Worth it for the cover alone! Writer Max Allan Collins and artist Rick Fletcher breathed new life into Chester Gould's Dick Tracy franchise in the '80s with new storylines and characters, including "Dick Tracy Meets the Punks." Though Tracy had dealt with lots of criminal punks like Flyface, Bolo and Puckerpuss before, the androgynous "Bony" and butch "Claudine" were actual punk rockers who, along with Quiver Trembly and her brother (who bear a vague resemblance to Debbie Harry and Elvis Costello) reflect Collins' interest in New Wave rock 'n' roll (the author was a former rock musician himself). Okay, it may be corny and gimmicky, but it works for me!

Dick attempts to deconstruct post-modern rock


Sexsations (Hardback, 1954)
Price: $3

Gag me with a 'Toon!

This retro-risque (but not dirty!) gag book lists neither authors nor cartoonists, but is a lot of fun. It's filled with stupid jokes, poems, limericks and traveling salesmen jokes, but I got it for the great gag drawings that adorn almost every page. Lots of nudity and semi-nudity, but the language is strictly PG-13, as this was from the 1950s - when people sold the sizzle and not the steak!

Typical "Sexsations" 'toon

A Sure bet: Win, Place (and especially!) Show!

"The Highballs are on me!": Teabaggin' toon teaser?

Pet Shop Boys, Literally (Paperback, 1992)
by Chris Heath
Price: $4

Amy found this for me. I like the Pet Shop Boys, but I almost wish I hadn't been carrying it around all day because it only added fuel to the fire as far as another aquaintance I saw at the book sale - the gay guy who always flirts with me at the library. He's harmless and means well, but tends to follow me around like a puppy, despite my protestations of "Excuse me, that's fascinating, but I have to go find my girlfriend - ta!" The presence of that book in my hand may have led him to think I'm teetering on the fence.

Also, I'm convinced that the blue-haired septagenarian lady who rang me up (to the tally of $26.50 for the day) now thinks I'm gay (and her opinion really matters to me!).


Once in Love With Amy - sheet music
Price: $1 or $2 (can't remember!)

I bought this for sentimental reasons, for to know my Amy once is to love her forever! (Awl!)


Attention booklovers! The next rite of spring is the (18th annual) Friends of the Towson Library Book Sale, which will be held April 12-15 at the Towson Branch of the Baltimore County Public Library. Like the Smith College Book Sale, I think they charge $10 for the "preview" sale held on opening night, Thursday, April 12.

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Jumpin' Thru Hoops with Danielle Weismann

Danielle Weissman hoops at Club Orpheus on New Year's Eve (photo by Aaron S. Krosner)

I'm reposting this article from yesterday's bthesite because it highlights my friend Danielle Weismann, who I know only as the salad bar girl at my neighborhood Eddie's Supermarket. I realized after-the-fact that I had seen her hooping around town at various events before I knew who she was; for example, here's a clip I shot of her at the October 6, 2011 "All Things Round" opening night preview party at the American Visionary Art Museum:

Watch Danielle hooping at AVAM.

And here she is breakin' it down with her LED hoops during New Year's Eve festivities at Club Orpheus:

Watch Danielle lightup Club Orpheus.

But I never realized the reach of her fame - the long-legged salad tosser is a real hoopin' celebrity! In the following profile, her comment about disliking people who don't make eye contact or smile is telling - because Danielle always makes eye contact and smiles at people and makes a habit of remembering the names of the peeps she meets through hooping. She's mega-friendly and one can sense her "no worries/good times" positive energy vibes immediately. And hooping is just one of her many hobbies and interests - she's also into yoga, fire dancing, crafting and athletics. She got it goin' on!
- Tom Warner

***LIKE/DISLIKE: Danielle Weissman, hooper***

Weismann talks to b about hoop dancing, her crush on Mike Rowe and more

as told to Jordan Bartel (bthesite, March 19, 2012)

Danielle Weissman has always been athletic. She has played a lot of sports and danced a lot of dance — modern, jazz, ballet. But with hooping she has found her calling.

"It was the first thing that clicked with me," she said.

Yes, hooping. It, of course, goes beyond the hooping you did when you were 7 and then promptly left your hoop in the garage to be run over by the family car. Weissman, a 22-year-old lifelong Baltimorean who lives in Hampden was introduced to the frenetic, captivating and still somewhat underground world of hoop dancing in late 2008 and has since performed at area bars, clubs, parks and museums, and has taught a hooping class.

"The community that surrounds hooping is really my scene and it's a form of exercise that really allows me to find my flow," said Weissman. "And lets me play with fun blinky lights and fire."

Weissman put down her hoop long enough to chat with b about where she loves to hoop in the city, loving"Workaholics"and more.

Worst pet peeve? People who wont make eye contact or smile at others in public.

What's on your iPod? More or less everything Chopin toWu-Tang Clan.

What song are you hating/loving right now? Loving: "Possum Kingdom," by the Toadies. Hating: that annoying "Shots, Shots, Shots" song.

Favorite place to hoop? Wyman Park. Really great spot with chill people, chill dogs and chill beers.

Met anyone interesting while hooping? I have met so many people through hooping. This summer, I hooped across the country with my brother. We went on an Cross-country road trip to Portland, Ore., and I can't tell you how many people approached me because of my hooping. Hooping makes you a lot of friends, real fast. It brings people together. When people see a hoop, they instantly want to try it.

Trend that has exceeded its natural lifespan? Fake nails. Creepy.

Last movie you liked/disliked? "The Silence of the Lambs,"a definite favorite. Hated: "The Hangover." Really stupid. I could have written a funnier movie.

Last video that made you snort with laughter? The scene in that show "Workaholics," where the guys are shrooming in the office and they try to capture the IT guys with the "web of ethernet cables."

TV shows you can't get enough of? "Arrested Development,""Workaholics," "American Dad." Also "Dirty Jobs" with Mike Rowe (my one and only celebrity crush).

Last great meal you had? Last night. At home. Arugula and spinach salad with Gruyere, Tofurky, a baguette and some serious beer.

Food you hate? Gefilte fish

Favorite place to get a drink? Liam Flynn's Ale House

Favorite quote/saying? "I'm the one that's got to die when it's time for me to die, so let me live my life the way I want to." - Jimi Hendrix

Favorite thing about Baltimore? Its potential.


Related Links:
kafloogaflunken's channel (Danielle's YouTube hooping videos channel)

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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.)

(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

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.)

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."

(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

Produced by Tommy Keene and Ted Niceley.

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).

(Reflection Studios, Charlotte, NC, 1984)

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

Produced by T-Bone Burnett and Don Dixon

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 (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

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
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 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)

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 ( 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)


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)

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, 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.


"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: "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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