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March 17, 1977

Disposable Noise

The Ramones made their debut in San Diego last week at the La Paloma and the Back Door. Although the audiences seemed more than willing to accept them for what they are, the San Diego Union’s rock critic, Robert Laurence, regarded them with the moral indignation usually reserved for snuff films and political terrorism. He called their material “ugly, hostile songs that exalt the violence that plagues Manhattan.” A few minutes before they were scheduled to perform at the Back Door, The Ramones could be seen leaving the parking lot in an old white car, deliberately causing the concert to run late. When asked how they reacted to the intense criticism they’ve received, bassist Dee Dee Ramone stuck his head out the window and remarked, with the brevity of one of their songs, “If people don’t like us out here, to hell with us.”

April 7, 1977

Hockey Muck

In keeping with the stupidity of Nancy Dowd’s script, Slap Shot ought to be re-titled Slipshod. The thing can easily be dismissed as a Three Stooges comedy modernized by blood, nudity, and wall-to-wall obscenities. But both Dowd and director George Roy Hill obviously see it as a “metaphor” for a couple of the more frequently denounced traits of the American Way: the obsession with winning and the thirst for vicarious violence. Both of which, of course, translate into “macho.”

March 2, 1978

This Week’s Concerts

Monday, the hard-rock band Nazareth headlines a show at the Civic. Their heavy metal bashings are typical, neither better nor worse than the run of similar bands. However, their abominable lead singer Dan McCafferty screeches like a cross between Robert Plant and Lucy Ricardo. The show has slight potential in the form of second-billed Jay Ferguson. With Spirit and Jo Jo Gunne, Ferguson maintained the image of the forever grasping, never entirely successful rock journeyman. Now that he’s on his own. It remains to be seen if he’s gotten any closer to rock’s brass ring.

March 23, 1978


O Friday, soul singer Johnny Taylor performs at the Slave Market. Taylor is one of the few holdovers from the Stax-Volt era who retains that style, even when flirting precariously with disco. He never was an imposing figure on the order of Otis Redding but his slick stage presence and gritty vocals conjure up memories of a gusty form of black pop music that seems to have become an anachronism.

June 1, 1978

Wednesday, the youngest of the almost criminally successful Gibb brothers, Andy Gibb, performs at the Sports Arena. Gibb’s brother, Barry, has a midas touch and it appears to have rubbed off. The littlest BeeGee has had three monster hits in a row. On the basis of those records, though, it’s impossible to think of him as anything other than a panhandler grasping tightly to his brother’s cuffs. His latest, “Shadow Dancing,” sounds suspiciously like a medley of his first, “I Just Wanna Be Your Everything,” his second, “Thicker Than Water,” and bits and pieces from the despotic “Saturday Night Fever” album. I suppose that those with an insatiable desire to see the Bee Gees can stimulate their hunger with Andy while they anticipate the big boys’ grand summer tour.

August 2, 1979


The most heavily publicized concert this week is the “Rockin’ the Stadium” show Sunday afternoon at San Diego Stadium. My interest in the thing has less to do with the featured performers than with the fact that it is the first such package to be allowed in this facility since Z.Z. Top appeared there in 1976. the revenue that could conceivably be collected by the city from more of these shows should rule out apprehensions about youthful rowdiness. The four acts — Cheap Trick; Blue Oyster Cult; UFO and Pat Travers — are all hard rockers of the loudest variety. (Excessive noise was high on the list of complaints that led to the ban on concerts at the stadium.) I’m not particularly entranced by any of them, although at times I can appreciate Cheap Trick’s slick blend of Beatles-styled pretty boy harmonies and Who-styled raunchy guitar-riffing. And, though he is too four-square and martial in his rhythms, Travers is an accomplished “boogie” blues guitarist and audience rouser. In any case, the massive throng sure to attend will likely make up for nay lack in entertainment value on the part of the scheduled players.

May 22, 1980

Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman have a place in rock’s short but grand history book as the coleaders of the Byrds. I always respected McGuinn and Hillman for being experimental during rock’s infancy (the Byrds were among the first established bands to toy with Indian music, avant-garde jazz, and various styles of country music), but I never was infatuated with them. In recent years, neither of these two have come up with anything of substance, but they are worthy of attention for their past efforts. They’ll be at the Catamaran next Wednesday. Also at the ever-busy Catamaran this week: Jose Feliciano, a nimble guitarist and likeable bon vivant. Friday and Saturday; and heavy-metal rockers, Bratz, Sunday.

December 4, 1980

Country swing will be represented t the Bacchanal on Tuesday night by Asleep at the Wheel, a group whose skill I admire but who I salute only on an intellectual, not a visceral, level. My aversion is strictly personal and doesn’t reflect on the group’s talent.

June 8, 1989


OF Note: Ray Charles

To this day Ray Charles remains a polished buy highly charismatic and dynamic performer. Even though his music stretches beyond the boundaries of elemental blues, it is inherent in even his frothiest pop material. The late Michael Bloomfield, a sad figure whose expertise on the subject could be relied on, once remarked that Ray Charles (along with B.B. King) was “the last word” among blues musicians. Charles has stiff competition, of course, but his position in the upper echelons has long been secure. He will be at Humphrey’s on Friday night.

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