Saturday, September 5, 2009
I found this LP at Reckless (on Milwaukee) 2 or 3 years ago looking through the used records that had just come in. That place is as picked over as the bowls of Halloween candy that people used to just leave outside their door if they weren't going to be home or something. Every time you go to Reckless you find the vinyl equivalent of a box of raisins, a couple of those orange and black wrapped taffy things, a few stray chipped M & M's, and possibly some dog shit. But I saw this record and I'd never heard of them. It looked really cool, New York punk band, came out in 1978 on Sire Records. It all seemed promising, but then there was that nagging pushing itself forward from the back of my brain.
"Mike... Uh, Mike... MIKE! It's the middle of the afternoon on Saturday at RECKLESS in Wicker Park! If this is still here, it's still here for a reason. You're broke, don't leave this to chance, the odds are stacked against you."
So I left it, but I looked 'em up online and confirmed that my original assessment was correct, I should buy this record. And it was still there the next time I went back, cheap too! I spun it, I loved it. Beyond the generic umbrella of punk, they have a kind of "tough guy power pop" sound. Like most good punk bands, they try to channel the sounds of vintage pop tunes in their own way and have help doing so on this album from Ian Hunter of Mott The Hoople and an insanely accomplished studio musician named Eric Weissberg. There is a bit of new wave and a hint of rockabilly in there too, but not in a retarded way. The single from the album was "All for the Love of Rock & Roll" and the other track that got the most attention is "(Your Love is like) Nuclear Waste" but I think the best song on this album by far is "Head Over Heels", a declaration of love from a scumbag set to music that is too catchy and light hearted to really believe that he wasn't just a sheep in wolves clothing.
Their original singer, Robert Gordon, left the group before this album but was featured on 1976's "Live at CBGB's" compilation went on to become a pretty respected rockabilly musician and even played with Link Wray for a while. Their new singer Tommy Frenzy left the group after their first tour to form a new group called Big Spender. Today he performs with a reunited and slightly different lineup for TUFF DARTS and his own solo act as well. Sadly, guitarist Jeff Salen died early last year of a heart attack. No idea what the rest of the band is up to these days.
TUFF DARTS (1978)