Victim number 26 has been laid to rest and thoughts concerning the senseless crimes against Atlanta's black children make it hard to focus entirely on rock and roll. Here is a music rooted deeply in the rhythms of the black man's burden, yet for the most part, the new burden on Atlanta's blacks hasn't made a bit of difference to the Atlanta music community. Embarrassingly enough, Atlanta has had to rely on the generosity of out-of-town entertainers to stage benefit performances to help raise money for the task force. Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr. have already donated their time, with The jacksons soon to follow. Other record industry personnel and artists from New York and Los Angeles have been calling the mayor expressing their concern and inquiring how they can help (expect more benefits in the near future).
It's time the "music people" of Atlanta thought about what's going on around them. I'm not talking about the bands playing the club circuit struggling to survive, but rather the self proclaimed leaders who have declared for so long that Atlanta is a major music center and is continuing to grow. What are your thoughts, Bill Lowery? Joel Katz? Arnie Geller?
Someone called up the other day to talk about what has been going on musically in Atlanta. It wasn't one of those conniving, deceiving telephone calls by some lecherous scribe of port-o-nasal dribble, but rather a record company type whose label is most interested in clean, crisp, homogenized rock aimed at a sterile Burkhart-Abrams insult to radio listeners' intelligence. At first I was going to tell him there were no bands in town that he would be interested in, after all, Vietnam and Kevin Dunn and The Regiment of Women unfortunately do not fit his label's criteria. But the more I thought about it, there are a few bands that he would probably be interested in.
In the past six months Atlanta stages have been overrun with bands that have forsaken originality and creativity for lame, uninspired music in hopes of catching the attention of some A & R leprechaun's ear. At the forefront of this new movement (or rather, regression) are Palmer and The Push, The Press, RF and The Radar Angels and Fortnox. Each band is filled with competent musicians, yet their material is so derivative of acts already on the charts the bands might as well be playing copy material. They're already playing the same music with semi-original lyrics. There is no tension and no chances are taken in their music as in the days of the Hampton Grease Band, The Fans and The Para Band.
However, there are a few who have learned from their predecessors in this post-Sex Pistols era while most are whining about when the next Cars album will be released. Besides the aforementioned Vietnam (which will be discussed at a later date), Kevin Dunn and The Regiment of Women show signs of strength once their post-natal fear of flying is resolved. Dunn, a pioneer in his past assemblage, is a bit more cautious this time around, seemingly restraining himself while the regiment gets used to the idea of being onstage rather than in the audience. Yet, as their second 688 appearance showed, the band is maturing with its performance approaching the level of the material. Dunn's implementing Lenore Thompson on bass, Debbi Heidel on keyboards and Terry Coburn on assorted rhythm machines is an interesting concept that should prove quite fruitful to him once their album, The Judgement Of Paris, is released and they go on the road. Not a bad publicity ploy at all.
Notes: Two other bands which seem to have their minds on music rather than the dotted line are The Piazza Drugs and The Spaceheaters. The approach of both is good, but the former ought to focus their material more while the latter could refine their live sound. It was good to see Ronnie Razor and Dee Minor onstage again as The Agents. Their hard-hitting show proved them to be the heart and soul of street level rock and roll rather than just a facade of what someone has read in a teen magazine, as is the case with many of the bands that have popped up since the demise of The Razor Boys.
The Pillars Of Talent were an unexpected surprise to anyone who remembers The Tone-tones. Rather than borrowing from the post B-52's Athens sound as he did in the Tonetones, this time Nick Genaris has assembled musicians in a band whose music ranges from an R & B feel to a more modern Liverpuddlian psychedelia. Included in the Pillars are Robert Schmid and Lawrence Thorn.
More notes: Mick Jagger called the other day. The Rolling Stones are definitely touring this year. Expect an Atlanta date in the fall. Perhaps they'll play one of Atlanta's new early retirement centers. Epic Records is once again picking up first option American distribution on records released in England on the Virgin label.