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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Favorite Records - Stiv Bators From Punk to Pop

Stiv Bators made a couple pop singles for Bomp in the days in between The Dead Boys and The Wanderers, which of course paved the way for Lords of the New Church and his full-on rock n roll and conspiracy theory gone wild.

stiv not that way

The original songs "Not That Way Anymore" and "Circumstantial Evidence" that comprise this record were one of Stiv's pop singles ventures, along with the marvelous and faithful cover of "Its Cold Outside," all of which set the stage for the seriously underrated pop gem "Disconnected."

circumstantial sleeve


stiv frank rats
POP go the weasels. Stiv and Frank Secich making rat faces

It's appropriate that Stiv's pop material was released on Greg Shaw's Bomp label. Bomp is one of the greatest purveyors of power pop records, and Greg gave so many great people their first leg up or their even more important second chance and in-between-gigs support in this thing called rock n roll… from Lester Bangs (Greg was his first editor!) to Iggy Pop ("Kill City" the record that's Iggy and James Williamson going crazy… that's on Bomp. Mine's on green vinyl. Is yours?) to the Pandoras, 20/20, the list is endless. See for yourself at Bomp Records.

greg stiv frank

I'm not calling myself great or comparing myself to any of the aforementioned… but Greg Shaw also gave me many opportunities to flex my craft for him over the years, resulting in some work that people find enduring, such as the Pandoras picture sleeve and the Disconnected record inserts and back cover, the L.A. Confidential cover and much more.

My cover!!

Stiv Icon

Yesterday, I was trying hard as hell to make the analogy between the Ramones/Dead Boys and Beatles/Rolling Stones… thankfully, Stiv believed in that too. Take a close look at the label…"Produced by the Gutter Twins."

gutter twins

Stiv really did often behave like Mick Jagger's punk rock counterpart…right down to the millions of girlfriends and the flaunting of his preternatural gift (or so I've been told, by the likes of Stiv's lady friends, Jimmy Zero and Stiv's own dad… proud papa!).

Stiv & Sabel Starr
Stiv and Sabel Starr, one of his many lady friends

I think the reason the Midwest is the source of so much great music over the years is their long, cold winters. There's no reason to go outside, and some people do make the best of being cooped up inside with each other. They form bands and actually practice. Harmonies on records by Midwestern bands are pretty flawless. And then there is the bleakness of a winter that can last a month longer if you live along the lake shore…(any lake – there's some Great Lakes, and there's 10,000 lakes in Minnesota, don't ya know?) That bleakness is enough to inspire the lyrics of punk rock or the more celebrated Everyman street poet genius of writers ranging from Bob Dylan to Paul Westerberg and Bob Mould. More than anything, those long, cold winters inspire you to get out of there!

stiv at mic

I spent January-April 2005 in Cleveland… their winter lasted a month longer than the winter in the rest of the country.

photo taken looking out my window in Cleveland in LATE MARCH!!!
its beautiful...yeah....for Christmas....not Easter!

Come April, I was happy to drive the long, straight and totally boring drive across Pennsylvania (my saying: PA, its in the way) to NYC (I think it took 9 hours). I've driven across Texas, and its pretty much the same…endless miles of flatland and you're still in the same state!

Jimmy Zero and me, 2005, Youngstown, OH

Anyway, my sojourn in Cleveland was fantastic, as you'd expect when you're just a phone call away from actually seeing Jimmy Zero or Ma and Pa Bator, but I couldn't take another moment of cold or another foot of snow.

cleveland curve11

Yes, I got LOTS accomplished in Cleveland. Punk Turns 30 was born in Cleveland. I am ever thankful to Cleveland, for bringing the world the Dead Boys and giving me the precise second act of my life that I wanted… but I wouldn't winter there anytime soon. But devote myself and my listening pleasure to Cleveland bands? Cleveland Rocks, it does.

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