Monday, June 27, 2011

The Sweet Ride

They were the freaks, the wipe-outs, the beach bums!

"How sweeeeet it is!" - Jackie Gleason

OK, so I'm flipping through one of the too-many-books-of-disposable-pop- cultural-detritus I own, Flip magazine's Flip's Groovy Guide to the Groops (a teenage girl's guide in which "the 100 grooviest groups are waiting to turn you on!", and which includes all-important facts like the eye and hair colors of all the groups - for example, I learned that The Hollies are all blue-eyed yet still appealingly soulful), and on the front page is a listing of other Signet Books from the '60s. One caught my eye, William Murray's The Sweet Ride, because of its Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill! -ish cover come-on: "Everything swings in this novel about a rootless, restless new breed of youth who want nothing more than a "sweet ride" on alcohol, on drugs, in bed, but mostly on the pounding surf."

It sounded so dangerous and, coming as it did right after watching Joseph Losey's oddball Youth Rebellion-Biker-SciFi cult film These Are the Damned (1963), made me think of Oliver "King" Reed's black leather-loving Teddy Boy biker gang in that film - a film that Losey fanboy Dave Cawley had recommended countless times to me that I finally got around to after he mentioned it starred my fave Brit hearthrob Shirley Anne Field (Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, The Entertainer, Alfie). You see, I'll watch anything with this Bolton Beauty in it - even if I must willingly suspend my disbelieve in seeing Days of Our Lives soap fixture Macdonald Carey as the romantic lead (?!?), while scene- and movie-stealing Oliver Reed is buried in the small-print on the film's poster (!!!).

Warning!: Macdonald Carey is the romantic lead!

Mac wants to know: "What are you trying to make out of these children! ANSWER ME!"

Watch the These Are the Damned trailer.

The movie's great theme song ("Black leather, black leather - smash smash smash/Black leather, black leather - crash crash crash/Black leather, black leather - kill kill kill!" - yes, that last line reminds me of Get Smart's killer combo The Sacred Cows) will soon, allegedly, be covered by Dave Cawley and Scott Wallace Brown's upcoming covers band (can't wait!).

These are the damned black leather Teddy Boys

But then I remembered the film adaptation of this Tough Rebel Youth novel was about as threatening and badass as a Billy Jack movie. Indeed, The Sweet Ride (1968) - starring Tony Franciosa (my hero!), Bob Denver (Gilligan!), Michael Sarrazin (the perpetually poetic drifter with the soulful eyes!) and Jaqueline Bisset (Ooo la la!) - was one of my all-time faves! I had thought of the film only months earlier when, alas, Michael Sarrazin passed away at age 70 in April 2011.

Tony Franciosa (in tennis whites): I used to think he was the coolest guy alive!

My man Tony Franciosa (see him shine also in Fathom with Raquel Welch) is the skirt-chasing aging tennis hustler, Michael Sarrazin is the drifter surfer dude, and Bob Denver plays Beatnik jazz musician "Choo-Choo Burns" (basically a reprise of his Maynard G. Krebs guise from the The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis Show) whose "porn star" girlfriend is named "Thumper" Stevens - played by Annapolis, MD native Michele Carey, she of Elvis' Live a Little, Love a Little (1968) fame!

Thumper shows off her bumpers

Listen to Dusty Springfield sing the theme song in The Sweet Ride trailer below.

Besides Dusty Springfield, the movie boasts a great psychedelic soundtrack (and film appearance) by The Moby Grape!

The Gang's All Here: Thumper, Choo Choo, Mr. Clean and Big Jane

Unfortunately, the movie has never come out on an official video or DVD release and remains unattainable except for boots from The Video Beat (

Here's the Video Beat's description of The Sweet Ride:

U.S. film. "The Cycles...The Surf...And The Swingers That Make It All Go!" Music by Dusty Springfield and Moby Grape. A 1960s exploitation film featuring surfers, bikers, psychedelic scenes, drugs and rock and roll—but it's more a character study than a typical youth-culture movie.

A hit-and-run leaves gorgeous Jacqueline Bisset almost dead and the movie unfolds in flashbacks as two suspects tell their story to the police. Tony Franciosa plays "Collie," an aging hipster tennis bum who hustles players at a ritzy tennis club and teaches his younger Malibu roommates how to score with the chicks. Michael Sarrazin plays "Denny," a lusting young surfer who is becoming disillusioned with the swinging hipster scene.

Bob Denver plays "Choo Choo" a hipster jazz pianist who pretends to be gay to get out of being drafted. His girlfriend "Thumper" is a porn star! Jacqueline Bisset plays "Vickie" a mostly-out-of-work actress who is the object of everyone's carnal desires.

Famous Sunset Strip locations include Gazzarri's and Scandia. Cool bar scenes featuring a dirty biker gang decorated with Nazi accoutrements. Look for Moby Grape performing in a wild psychedelic nightclub called the Tarantula! Lots of liquid lights, swirling colors and butt-shaking go-go dancers. Moby Grape play the song, "Never Again." Dusty Springfield sings "Sweet Ride" over credits. Anthony Franciosa, Michael Sarrazin, Jacqueline Bisset, Bob Denver, Michael Wilding, Michele Carey, Lara Lindsay, Norma Crane, Percy Rodriguez, Warren Stevens, Pat Buttram, Charles Dierkop, Seymour Cassel. Bonus Selection: 1960s newsreel footage

Will someone please, please, please release this great '60s beach bohos movie?

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Monday, June 13, 2011

Transporters @ Honfest 2011: Satisfaction Guaranteed

Sunday, June 12, 2001
Honfest (TM), Hampden

Transporters freak the beat @ Hunfest

The Transporters are:
Joe Stone: Guitar & Vocals
Joel Denolt: Guitar & Vocals
Steve Caplan: Drums & Vocals
Nick Sypniewski: Bass

OK, I admit it: I went to Denise Whiting's Attila the Hunfest (officially known as Honfest) on Sunday - but only to support those land-of-pleasant-living troubadors, The Transporters. The Transporters play righteous retro rock of the classic Sixties variety, specifically British Invasion, Brit Beat, Merseybeat, Garage, Mod, Psychedelic and/or Nuggets-friendly songs that are sometimes called "Freakbeat" by retro CD compilers. We're talking Stones, Yardbirds, Kinks, Beatles, Love, Who, Small Faces, Byrds, Pretty Things, Them, Doors, The Seeds. Whatever you call it, it is the music Baby Boomers like Amy and I grew up with, so we're as familiar with these musical chestnuts as our AARP Membership card numbers. And from their opening Stones number, "Satisfaction" was guaranteed to one and all in attendance.

Starting at 4 p.m., The Transporters played two sets this day (one before and after a crowd-scattering rainstorm) and were introduced by their unofficial fanboy/mascot/stage dancer, Dave Cawley - yes, the same well-dressed "Man About Town" and dedicated flower of fashion you've seen featured in Urbanite magazine, tripping the light fantastic on the dancefloor at Soul Night and Reaction, and defying gravity whilst plucking his Hofner bass with local surf-rockers Garage Sale. Dave not only introduced the band, but also did some onstage dancing with the freakbeatin' foursome on their opening Rolling Stones number "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," replete with fey Jaggeresque hand-clapping. The Transporters might want to consider adding Dave as a full-time dancer - the "Fifth Member," as it were - a la Mancunian madcap Bez's role with The Happy Mondays.

Helter Swelter: "Memo to McCartney: you may be a lover but you ain't no dancer - not like me, baby!"

Like-minded musicians tend to gravitate toward one another like a band of, well, a Band of Brothers, and soon after spotting Dave Cawley, we ran into Skizz Cyzyk and then John Irvine - representing 3/4 of the mostly instro/all-mental Garage Sale (and we were sure GS guitarist Dave McDonough was somewhere in the Honfest crowd - probably "refueling" at the beer truck!). Skizz and John were there to support their other band bandmate, Joe Stone, who also plays in The Jennifers. Plus John Irvine was soon to join the Transporters on stage to add some brass to their Sixties sass. (More on that later...)

Slaughter on the Avenue: Joe Stone and Joel Denolt's twin-guitar opening salvo

The Transporters really had the crowd grooving with their opening guitar onslaught of "Satisfaction" (Stones), "I Need You" (Kinks) and "I Feel Fine" (Beatles), as shown in the video clip below:

Watch "Transporters @ Honfest, Part 1."

"That last song sounds really obscure," Dave Cawley commented. "Wonder if it was one of those little-known Liverpudlian beat groups?" Um, yes...

Joe Stone feels a whole lot better playing his Vox Phantom 12-string

Then the ever-observant Dave Cawley, noticing Joe Stone strapping on his 12-string guitar, shouted out, "Play some Byrds!" - to which six-string Transporters plucker Joel Denolt replied, "You've been looking at at set list, good sir!"

"Play some Byrds!" Dancin' Dave demands, spreading his wings to fly across the dancefloor

The band then obliged with Gene Clark's classic "I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better," followed by The Outsiders' "Time Won't Let Me," as recorded in the video clip below.

Watch "Transporters @ Honfest, Part 2."

Joe "Heart of" Stone and Joel "Never a Wrong Note" Denolt essay the parts of Roger McGuinn and David Crosby during their Byrds homage

The one-man Transporters Glee Club continued to rally the troops as he called out for more retro rockers.

"Please sirs, can I have some more of your tasty licks?!" Dave beckons, his freakbeat appetite unsated

The band obliged, with a bevy of Boomer-friendly beats and sizzlin' Sixties sounds, as captured in the photos below. And note guitarist Joe Stone's uncanny resemblance to Jason Stratham of the Transporter action movie franchise; could it be the band is named after the movie and not in homage to the global transportion industry (am I smart or what?)?

There are but four Transporters, but on this day they had celebrity guest musicians sitting in with them, among them trumpter John Irvine and singer Jeni Jones.

Hey Chum, It's Time to Come Blow Your Horn!

You see, besides playing guitar in Garage Sale and The Jennifers, John Irvine is a Munsingwear Penguin spokesmodel and part-time trumpet player. John attended Hunfest with his photogenic girlfriend Kelly (as shown below)...

Cute Couple: John & Kelly

...and later hit the stage to blow trumpet on several numbers with The Transporters. That John: he's flexible, just like Munsingwear casual apparel! Clearly John's horn-iness wasn't sated by playing "Lonely Bull" with Garage Sale during last weekend's Tunes @ The Tower gig up the street at the Roland Water Tower. And while I was disappointed that the Young Man with a Horn didn't play any selections from the Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass songbook (despite my repeated shout-outs for "Lonely Bull"), he did the Transporters proud with his sassy brass on the Arthur Lee & Love classic "Alone Again Or," aided and abetted by Jeni Jones shaking her maracas.

John Irvine: "I should warn you: I play a mean 'Little Spanish Flea'!"

Joe Stone: "Ladies and gentlemen, I give you John Irvine. And take it from me, this guy really blows!"

The sound of trumpet and maracas filled the air - and still no Herb Alpert songs!

John thinks to himself: "All those years of listening to Chuck Mangione records is finally paying off big time!"

John Irvine: "Hey guys, I also blow a mean 'Tijuana Taxi'"

Jeni Jones just wants "Somebody to Love"

After shaking her maracas during "Alone Again Or" (as shown above), Jeni Jones rested her wrists and proceeded to stir the crowd with her voice when she essayed the role of Grace Slick to sing Jefferson Airplane's "Somebody To Love" with the Transporters.

The crowd was shaken, then stirred by singer Jeni Jones

At this point, Dave Cawley decided to rest his legs, taking his place in the VIP seating area in front of the stage, where he took a seat next to Joe Stone's girlfriend Sarah.

"I go out with the dreamy guitar player!" Sarah Hilton gushes

"Oh yeah?" Dave Cawley retorts, "Well, I go out with the Utz Potato Chip Girl - see?" "Ha! Everyone knows she's seeing Mr. Boh," Sarah snorts.

"I find their work very pleasing, aesthetically that is," Dave Cawley muses from his perch in the plush VIP Seating Area (far from the maddening crowd). "They have a very appealing weltanschauung."

Cooling off with a cold libation, Dave strikes his most suave "I'm Harrison Ford - get to know me!" pose

Then, the Transporters really turned up the heat in their "Soul Kitchen" (The Doors), before "Pushin' Too Hard" (The Seeds) as they neared the end of their first set, as shown in the following video clip.

Watch "Transporters @ Honfest, Part 3."

Near the end of the Transporters' first set, the first drops of rain started to come down, which forced us inside to Woodward's Antique Collectables, where I busied myself debating whether to buy another very clean-looking copy of The Raspberries' Fresh LP for $4 (you can never have enough Fresh Raspberries!) while Amy looked for yet more vintage clothing.

"I like shopping for clothes!" says Amy, in her 9th Life Plumbing Skirt

By the time we looked out again, a torrential rainstorm was pouring down and we had to wait it out as we watched nervous vendors frantically move their wares inside or pack up for the day.

Apres les Deluge

After the deluge, we ventured out again just in time to see the start of the Transporters' second set. Much of the crowd had scattered, thinking the gig was a washout...

A dedicated few in raingear stuck around

...but for those who stayed, the highlight was cleary the Dave Cawley Dance Party. Usually seen only in the Midnight Hour at the Sidebar's Reaction! parties and Soul Night at the Lithuanian Hall in SoWeBo, Dave's terpsichorean twinkle toes were on full display for all to see in the suddenly bright-again late afternoon sunshine, as the Transporters' musical missives seemed to trigger an almost Pavlovian urge in Dave to put his body into frenetic motion.

Watch Dave Cawley and Sarah Hilton tear it up dancing to the Yardbirds' "Over Under Sideways Down" and The Who's "Run Run Run."

Dave goes Over...



and Down, dancing to the Yardbirds!

Will he go round in circles?

Following Dave's lead, girls in the audience went wild, dancing in the streets like crazed maenads!

At the conclusion of the Transporters post-deluge set, Dave and Sarah gave the Transporters a standing ovation.

"Well played sirs!" Dave bellowed. "I raise my cup to thee and drink thy health!"

Also Observed: Hons, Nuns and Buns

Girls just wanna have...nun???

"These sisters thought today was Nunfest," cackle some Honfest Hons

The Sisters were having Nun of those lascivious short skirts: "Spread yer cheeks and take your bun-ishment!"

This babe - in taut form-fitting lycra - obviously thought it was Bunfest

And that, music lovers, is the Living End of this tale.

Thank you, Transporters, oh timeless jingle-jangling troubadors of yore! Like the Pied Piper, you led us on a musical journey down Memory Lane to Happy Days and Good Times.

Related Links:
Transporters66 (MySpace)
Transported (Accelerated Decrepitude)

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