Cock Sparrer had an interesting history back in the early days of punk. They were allegedly approached by the notorious Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren in 1976 to become one of a group of bands he was trying to sign. According to the band, the deal fell apart due to McLaren not buying them a round of beer … or because they refused to cut their hair in the style McLaren wanted … or something … I don’t know. I got this off Wikipedia, so you know it’s true …
Anyway, they had a deal with Decca Records, recorded a self-titled album that was only released in Spain, mainly because Decca had fallen apart as a label by 1977. That first album is a damn fine punk version of the Rolling Stones and eventually became available under different names like “True Grit,” “The Decca Years,” and “Rarities.” Well worth checking out.
Sparrer didn’t release another album until 1983, but what they released was worth the wait. The sound of “Shock Troops” is less bluesy than the album recorded for Decca and more in line with the punk the day. The album has a nice sense of melody and toughness. “Where Are They Now?” is the great lead-off track.
The terrific and gloriously politically incorrect opening of writer/director Christopher McQuarrie’s 2000 film “Way of the Gun” … McQuarrie’s follow-up to his Oscar-winning script for “The Usual Suspects.” The performance by Sarah Silverman as the obnoxious girlfriend is beyond perfect. The fact that the entire sequence is underscored by the Rolling Stones’ “Rip This Joint” makes it even more memorable. Be warned, though. The language (and action in the sequence) is beyond obscene … not safe for work, little ones, or those who are highly sensitive.
From their nearly forgotten and severely underrated classic 1971 album “Teenage Head,” this the the Flamin’ Groovies arguably at their best. I hate saying that, considering the classic work they did with producer Dave Edmunds in 1976 with “Shake Some Action,” but “Teenage Head” and especially this track (“Whiskey Woman”) has been on constant rotation recently on my iPod.
No less than Mick Jagger at the time (who noticed similarities between what the Groovies were doing on this album and what the Stones were doing on “Sticky Fingers”) admitted the Groovies had the better take on the same theme. Miriam Linna, co-head of the stellar Norton Records label, opined that this era of the Groovies sounded like the Stones, had the Stones sworn their allegiance to Sun Records instead of Chess Records.
If you follow Dave Strange World, you’ve already heard the story about geeky grunge neighbor circa 1996 who liked to play what sounded like “Ted Bundy and Hitchhiker” with his goth girlfriend at all hours of the night … the the point where I had to drown them out with Sonic Youth’s “Daydream Nation” in another room in order to sleep. If you haven’t, then here’s the link:
But that’s not the only story about bizarre and annoying neighbors from that year. Upstairs from me were a group of other memorable neighbors …
There was what (I think) were a group of girls that were probably not college students, but likely had just graduated from high school. They were hideously unattractive, always wore jeans and tie-dyed shirts, and were always running up and down the balcony of the apartment complex laughing loudly and hysterically. I called them “The Manson Girls” because they always had that scary “laughing to disarm you because I’m about ready to stab you to death and write on the wall with your blood” type of air about them. One night, I saw them with multiple road signs (obviously stolen), screaming and laughing and running to their apartment upstairs. Another night … notably the first night I cooked dinner for my now wife of 15+ years … I had my windows open, because it was a very warm night and I had trouble opening a bottle of wine. The cork exploded loudly and then the “Manson Girls” came bursting into my apartment … giggling manically, as if they were joining a massive party already in progress … and begging me for money. Flabbergasted, I told them “F–K NO!” and to “Get the f–k out of my apartment!” Later, I felt self-conscious, and asked my future wife if I was too d–kish in my reaction (it was our 5th date, after all), but I seriously felt violated by these crazy people. I never had any interaction with them again … but later that summer, the lighbulb outside of my apartment was stolen. I’m not pointing fingers, but I place the blame on this with the Manson Girls. Seriously, a freakin’ lightbulb was 89 cents in 1996 dollars … and these future “guests of the state” I’m positive stole my light bulb.
A bitchin’ hard rock cover of the Stones’ apocalyptic classic, this time done by Mitch Ryder’s 1971 band Detroit. The only cover that comes close to matching the intensity of the original. Ryder’s guttural vocals from hell are mucho intense.
Another gem from the immensely awesome side 2 of “Exile on Main Street,” “Torn and Frayed” adds a gospel feel to the f–ked up druggy vibe of “Exile.” One of my favorite recent live musical moments was a random gentleman at a local bookstore during the last year that just started playing this flawlessly on the bookstore’s piano when I was killing time one night.
From side 2 of “Exile on Main Street” (one of the greatest side 2s in rock history) is “Torn and Frayed,” a song that uses the metaphor of a battered coat for the drug-addled and battered psyches of the Stones, circa 1972. Damn, I love that muddy / cruddy mix with the guitar and organ.
A rare Keith Richards vocal … this was written by Richards when he was facing possible jail time in Canada for heroin possession, circa 1978. From the “Some Girls” album, arguably the last truly great Stones album.
Key lyrics: “Watched the taillights fading, there ain’t a dry eye in the house … They’re laughing and singing … Started dancing and drinking as I left town … Gonna find my way to heaven, `cause I did my time in hell … I wasn’t looking too good but I was feeling real well.”
Sometimes, one minute of careful editing, brilliant acting, and music tells you everything you need to know about a character in a film. This is the infamous entrance of Robert DeNiro’s character Johnny Boy in Martin Scorsese’s breakout film from 1973 “Mean Streets.” The scene is cut to the Rolling Stones’ “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and Johnny Boy enters the club, two girls on his arm, acting like a cocky jackass with a stupid hat and suit. His friend, played by Harvey Keitel, eyes him with the most in-control “Oh s–t! This a–hole better not start anything tonight” look I’ve ever seen.
One of the better songs from the 1980s era Rolling Stones, this was from the Stones’ decent but uneven 1983 album “Undercover.” The “hot” woman in the video is Anita Morris, who first gained fame starring in the original Broadway version of “Nine” and subsequently played sexy women “of a certain age” in many 1980s films (“The Hotel New Hampshire,” “Ruthless People”). It’s nice to see the Stones let a sexy older woman be the object of lust instead of the usual young bimbo. Sadly, Morris died of ovarian cancer in 1994. So, in honor of Ms. Morris and sexy older women everywhere, I’m raising a glass in tribute.
The video here is the uncensored version which was edited for MTV. From what I remember, the cut parts were the buttons flying off the pants of someone watching Ms. Morris and fire shooting out of her ass. Maybe there was more, but it’s been nearly 30 years since I watched this video.
Trivia note: this was Martin Scorsese’s original song choice to underscore the cocaine-helicopter freak-out scene from “Goodfellas.” However, he chose Harry Nilsson’s “Jump Into the Fire” instead, because the scene in the film took place in 1980 and “She Was Hot” came out in 1983. Scorsese advised he only uses songs that could have been out / released at the time a scene would take place. I think the Nilsson choice was better, but “She Was Hot” would have played wonderfully in that famous scene.