Walter Mencken 1 p.m., May 1
Judas Priest's Nostradamus - My Prediction, plus Swing Dancer VS Juno, Local Music Collector
Local swing dancer REALLY hates Juno
THE (NEWEST) RETURN OF JUDAS PRIEST – MY PREDICTION
Judas Priest is putting the finishing touches on their double-album rock opera, “Nostradamus.”
Will I ever tell the grandkids about how I – along with a hundred like-minded miscreants - once crashed the gates of a Judas Priest concert at SDSU’s Outdoor Amphitheatre? Inebriated and ticketless, one and all, most of us got into the venue, tho it was awhile before SDSU brought any more metal acts to their stage.
Is this to be filed under “proud rebellion” or “embarrassing fiasco” in my musical memory bank?
Back then, you couldn’t hawk a loogie without hitting someone in a black Priest T-shirt. To a kid just discovering the camaraderie of shared noise and the aphrodisiac effect that leather jackets have on girls with big hair and tiny skirts, Judas Priest were our metal Buddhas. It didn’t matter that they had to put colored stickers on their guitars so they’d know how to play the notes. They rode Harleys on-stage, and they could even take a lame Joan Baez song like “Diamonds And Rust” and blow it up into the goofiest heavy metal dirge this side of Spinal Tap’s “Big Bottom.”
Not even the mighty Tap could drive teenagers to Satanism and suicide with subliminal lyrics, as Priest were once accused of doing (the band actually had to defend themselves in court).
But ah, my foes, and ah, my friends, back in their heyday, this British quintet once rocked the world.
Okay, a lot of us suspected something might be up with lead singer Rob Halford, all dolled up in his leather studs, his cute little fetish belt, and that ersatz biker hat. He dressed like the lipstick kids from every Frankie Goes to Hollywood video.
So I wasn’t surprised when he came out of the closet. I still kept up with his post-Priest projects. I was really into his band Fight, despite the mocking I got (and still sometimes get) from friends who’d once shared my love of all things Priest.
A lot of those fans dropped by the wayside after Halford came out. Metalheads who worshipped Rob and dressed just like him, all the while thinking that they were the epitome of macho heterosexual studness, did they somehow feel betrayed?
I talked a couple of those people who renounced and reneged on all things Priest. They shake their heads and look down when they speak Halford’s name, looking for all the world like the guy on Jerry Springer who’s just been told his wife wants a sex change.
Priest’s peak year was probably 1984, with the release of Screaming For Vengeance, a million seller for the band. Then came the slide into oblivion, which even the most devotional fan would have to acknowledge or be labeled delusional - Defenders Of The Faith (uggh), Turbo (eech), and Live (retchspew).
Still, few po’ white boys like me can resist pumping their fists to classic cuts like “The Ripper,” “Tyrant,” “Stained Class,” and “Living After Midnight.” Even had I known all along about Rob, I doubt I would have lost sleep worrying about what he was or wasn’t pumping backstage with his own fist.
Priest concerts were hard rock summit meetings like no other. 20,000 angry, disaffected and slightly drunk teenagers all gathered together to pay tribute to sonic gods. The Ram It Down tour was sublime metal heaven. Even the stage set was designed to look like a steel mill, with gurgling vats of molten metal and clanging wheels and cogs everywhere. And, hey, seriously, is there any better music to ball to?
But all great bands must end (listen up, Mick ‘n Keith). As things went downhill, Rob quit Priest in ‘93 to form Fight.
Guitarist Glenn Tipton didn’t waste words describing the split. “It wasn’t a shock initially that Rob wanted to do a solo project,” he told me in an interview for Soundwaves Magazine. “He got our blessing to go ahead and do it. But it quickly escalated on the managerial side and eventually Rob expressed that he didn’t want to continue with Bill Curbishley, who’d been our long-standing manager and a friend of the band. I’ve got the greatest respect for Bill, so once that started it was never easy to reconcile the situation.”
Legal battles ensued, between Rob, Columbia Records and management, and eventually the burning flame flickered into darkness. “It’s a very sad thing,” said Tipton, “that Rob’s search for a solo career - and everybody’s free to do what they want in this band - has deprived kids of Priest as it was. It’s sad, but that’s life, and far be it from me to say it’s a wrong decision.”
It’s worth noting that Tipton characterized the group’s fans as “kids”...it is, after all, entry level music. Rudimentary rock. Lots of thumping and humping and crude poses self-consciously designed to appeal to libidinous teenagers. But that’s why we loved them, isn’t it?
No doubt inspired by the success of fellow comeback cartoons Kiss, Judas Priest wants to turn it up to eleven just one more time, presumably before shuffling off for the tar pits. Sher, senior citizens can make with the metal. But I have my doubts ….
I fear that there may not be enough Priest fans left in the world to storm a concert at SDSU any more. I fear that Priest has returned, not with a bang but with a whisper. I fear that the dream is over, our revels now are ended, and all that’s left is to be embarrassed at what’s become of metal’s once reigning gods.
And I thought the Kiss “reunions,” with anonymous young guys wearing Peter and Ace makeup, was the ultimate betrayal of all things rock.
SWING DANCER VS. JUNO
This email message was forwarded to me by a member of Swingorama, a local swing dancing club, regarding a series of complaints made to internet service provider Juno.
Dear Juno member, In the reply of the 56 letters you have sent in appliance [sp] with Juno's request for comments on our service, Juno Inc. and Code 42 of the policy contract has determined that your internet service be suspended permanently on any account under the household of [undisclosed La Mesa 91941 residence]. Here at Juno we strive for keeping our customers satisfied, when our efforts are thwarted by unruly customers that resolve to diminish us and make threats such as made in most of the letters sent, our service no longer is a right for the customer to have but a privilege.
Rightly held, that privilege will still give you unlimited e-mail but none of our courteous on-line service anymore as stated above. Statements made such as in Re: 34 - 'Your employees at Juno must be retards who smoke pot for a living' - is in direct disrespect to our staff who strive hard to fulfill all our customers needs daily. For this alone suspension had been considered but decided in Re: 38-56 due to the Code violations about threats to corporate employees, sponsors, office personnel, and all other Juno employees. Some examples:
'My mission in life is now to start a worldwide revolution against Juno by burning down all of its corporate offices and publicly hanging all of its sponsors.'
'Perhaps beating a heavy gong while someone is poking a Juno employee in the eye with a knife will let them know about the mental anguish caused by your foolish service.'
'Since Juno Internet service is the equivalent to a one armed invalid retard pumping a wind mill to start the electricity to activate the 2k modem which acts as a server for your Internet provider, I do wish to personally maim each direct employee and supporter of Juno.'
Perhaps reflecting on the harsh uneducated words spoken here and the suspended internet service can act as a motivation for sending a letter, not of threats but apology, to our staff, employees, and Juno Inc.
Sincerely, Diane Johnston.
HE COLLECTS SAN DIEGO MUSIC
I was browsing the Reader's classifieds when I came across an ad that caught my attention: “San Diego rock memorabilia wanted by collector.”
I called Clark Faville at the Napa phone number listed. He told me about spending a few summers in SD during the early to mid-nineties, which is how his collection began. “It all started when I found a  demo album by The Brain Police. It’s ungodly. Ten songs ranging from Beatlesque pop to the heaviness of Blue Cheer. That’s the sound I seek out from that era - guitar based heavy rock, blues, pop and psychedelic. Stuff from 1965 to 1973 or so.”
His collection now includes rare 45s, albums and live tapes from local groups like Sandi And The Accents (“They were huge from ‘63 to ‘66”), The Five Pound Grin (“They became Pale Fire and I have both their 45s”), and The Misfits (who opened for the Stones at Balboa Bowl in 1965), among others. He’s also helped gather material for a number of reissue recording projects. “The labels don’t pay very much, just a few records and a small fee. But I love turning up rare stuff like this.”
Among those reissues is the Brain Police album, reissued by Texas-based Rockadelic Records. “I found their guitar player and he thought it was a great idea,” Faville says before playing me the BP’s “Election For Mayor.” It reminds me of The Lemon Pipers (“Green Tambourine”) with distinctly Byrdsy guitars.
Lyric sample: “I’ll do the most in town (election for mayor), I’ll drill the hippies down.”
"The song is about as goofy as it gets," says Faville.
My own favorite BP lyric is from "Train Of Love": “You don’t know where to run, you don’t know where to hide, why don’t you ride my train of love."
Rockadelic has also released music by late sixties San Diego rockers Framework. Faville tracked down band members, obtaining unissued 45s and other material. “I ran ads looking for the bass player for three years before he finally called me. He’d been kind of a transient, moving around a lot. He only had one tape, but it was an hour long reel to reel concert recording. I couldn’t believe it. Perfect sound quality.”
Faville says he rarely sells anything outright. “I did trade a Brain Police record I got in San Diego, to someone in France. But I’m primarily a collector.” Among his favorite memorabilia is an 8X10 photo of The Orfuns playing on-stage in the sixties, at Ozzy’s Battle Of The Bands. “That was a big deal in San Diego then. It was a guitar shop and they’d have like twenty bands in an afternoon. What a scene that must have been, huh?”
Some excerpts from ads placed in the San Diego Music section of www.craigslist (parenthetical comments are my own).
“Heroine addicts need not apply.” (So no Supergirl collectors)
“Need female dancers…no flukes or groupiers please.” (We’re allergic to fish)
“Must be god centered and ready and willing to spread only positive massages.” (Yeah, negative massages never have a happy ending)
“CD artwork…can provide samples on speculum.” (Said the freelance gynecologist?)
“Every day that goes by without a gig, [I] get closer to killing everyone in my neighborhood.” (Another reason to avoid living next door to a drummer)
“Looking for female dancer who sings…vocal talent not necessary. Must weigh 9 or 10 on hottie scale.”
“We are revalutionery street poets none for our acapollo freestile raps.” (Turn off Showtime At The Acapollo and go buy a dictionary)
“Heavy singer looking for heavy band to make heavy music.” (What, is Meat Loaf outta work again?)
“Bing Crosby needs Bob Hope. Singing comic or funny singer needed to put together variety act…don’t be stuck up.” (Unless you're El Vez)
“Tired of playing with yourself? Let me help.” (Groupies-R-Us?)
“Metal guitarist looking to form or join group…not into Cookie Monster sounding vocals.” (So forget about me playing that Dr. Teeth reunion)
“Funeral vocalist. Fill your loved one’s farewell with heavenly music....Classical, popular, traditional. Military burials (National Anthem). At chapel, funeral home, graveside, in-home.” (Can I get that to-go?)
Like this blog? Here are some related links:
OVERHEARD IN SAN DIEGO - Several years' worth of this comic strip, which debuted in the Reader in 1996: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/photos/galleries/overheard-san-diego/
FAMOUS FORMER NEIGHBORS - Over 100 comic strips online, with mini-bios of famous San Diegans: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/photos/galleries/famous-former-neighbors/
SAN DIEGO READER MUSIC MySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/sandiegoreadermusic
JAY ALLEN SANFORD MySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/jayallensanford
More like this:
- RIP Reader cover artist and underground comix legend Spain Rodriguez — Nov. 28, 2012
- Painting Rock Stars, plus Behind the Scenes: Overheard in San Diego & Famous Former Neighbors — May 8, 2008
- 25 Local Musicians Reveal “My Favorite Twilight Zone,” plus Local-Produced Zone Comic Books — April 3, 2008
- Secrets of Overheard in San Diego & Famous Former Neighbors, Mojo & Zappa Comix, [Paint]Brushes With Fame — April 2, 2008
- Frank Zappa Comics And Stories, plus Top 5 Lists, Fallen Pinoy Idol — Nov. 10, 2007