Scott Whelehan: Lead vocals
Larry Restieri: Guitars
Chris Bentley: Bass, vocals
Tim Barnes: Drums, percussion
Produced by Brian Drago
Recorded at Brocoli Rabe Recording Studios, Fairfield, NJ
Won’t Let You Down
Long before stepping up and into rock’s international avant garde with The Silver Jews, Jim O’Rourke, The Essex Green, Glenn Kotche, Lee Ranaldo, and Beth Orton — even before he started Ditch Croaker and played on one of my Time Or Dirt singles — my ol’ pal Tim Barnes smacked the skins for The Barley Boys.
This Long Island-based foursome might be described as indie-pop now, but back then we called it “college rock,” and not necessarily in a derogatory way. The Barley Boys were about as college-rock as it gets: guitarist Larry Restieri and bassist Chris Bentley are both Harvard grads, while lead singer Scott Whelehan and drummer Tim Barnes, are alumni of Dartmouth and Hampden-Sydney, respectively. (You might get a kick out of this 1990 profile on the band in The Harvard Crimson.)
I liked these guys a lot; tight harmonies, jangly guitars, groovy bass lines, and, of course, Tim’s drumming, already impressive in those early days.
Tim, who’s lived in Louisville, Kentucky, since 2007, is still very much in the game. In a remarkable coincidence, The Rumpus just yesterday published a lengthy interview with him, touching on his entire career in music. The Barley Boys are not mentioned. Oh well, we all get to write our own history. 🙂
In case you are curious, Larry Restieri is now an attorney and a managing director at Goldman, Sachs; and there’s photographic evidence that Chris Bentley is still making music, although I was not able to determine its name. Couldn’t track down Scott Whelehan, unfortunately — although I did find this great pic from a Barley Boys reunion in 2015:
Welcome to another episode of Mystery Friday! You know the drill, so let’s get to it.
Tonight we have a rather impressive looking Maxell Studio Tape MS-20 cassette. Ten minutes a side, bitches! No idea what’s on it.
1) The Rocker. Hard rock, almost metal. High tenor vocals. Chorus effect on the guitars, so ’80s? A whiff of early ’90s dissonance. Evident Led Zep influence. Decent solo. Slap bass break, ugh no. Not terrible, but I can’t pick out a title, so…lose.
2) The Ballad. Let’s call it “The Last Thing I See”. The mix on both songs is awful, hollow and veiled. Too much guitar. Drums sound like a plastic bat on a play pool: plop plop plop. The lead guitarist is damn good, though; hot n’ tasty. This band was better than they sound. Shame.
Nothing on Side B. That was easy.
Yeah, so this is what happens when bands don’t label their cassettes. I lost your j-card (if there was one), your stupid press kit (there surely was), your band pic with big hair (ditto), and now you’ve missed a second chance at immortality. Sorry, Charlie!
Don’t Know What I’m Doing
6 or 9
As The Skels staggered to their denoument, Bill Hafener’s Cowpatch achieved escape velocity on this ecstatic cassette. It’s Live At Leeds meets Zuma at the Zen Arcade; rock with a Fucking Capital ROCK. “Goin Down” is the defiant declaration of intent: “I just wanna make a living/If that’s not too much to ask/I just wanna talk with everyday people/Who don’t have their head stuck up their ass.” Yeah. Don’t miss the harrowing “6 or 9”; Hafener pummels his SG until it pukes blood.
She went to the groomer’s this afternoon, and she looks very pretty. Koko’s a good dog. Isn’t that right, Koko? ‘at’s a good girl.
Welcome to another episode of Mystery Friday on Saturday! Time once again to reach into the Box of Unknown, pull out a tape, play it, and attempt to describe it.
Tonight’s subject is a Maxell Epitaxial XL II 90 cassette, unmarked and in excellent condition, encased in a slightly cracked jewel box, with no j-card.
As usual, I haven’t a fig’s clue what’s on it. Hang on while I pour myself another drink.
OK let’s listen:
1) “Crawl In Bed” by The Del-Lords. One of THE great NYC bands. Scott “Top Ten” Kempner, Manny Caiati, Eric “Roscoe” Ambel, and Frank Funaro. Look ’em up if you’re not familiar and thank me later.
2) “Judas Kiss” by The Del-Lords. Well, I guess this is the 1988 Del-Lords album Based on a True Story. Here’s the cover:
And here’s the song:
3) “River Of Justice”. Oh cool, this is a different track listing. This song ends the original album.
4) “Cheyenne”. And this is #7. I did a profile of these guys for The Musicians’s Exchange when Story was released; maybe this is an advance promo?
5) “Poem Of The River”. Same spot as on the album. Folks, this record is so damn good. A shame it’s not better known.
6) “The Cool And The Crazy”. Roscoe plays several fierce solos on this one. The Del-Lords were murderous live, by the way; I saw them numerous times at CBGB and elsewhere. Here, watch this.
7) “A Lover’s Prayer”
8) “Ashes To Ashes”. This is #3 on the official release. I’m gonna assume Scott or Eric gave me this. No video for this one, for no reason whatsoever.
9) “Whole Lotta Nothin’ Goin’ On”. NYC rock n’ roll in excelsis.
10) “I’m Gonna Be Around”. The #4 song on this album concludes this alternate cassette version.
Man, what fun to hear these songs again. I hope you enjoyed listening with me! Of course, as always, I wonder if there’s anything on…
1) “Too Cool” by Tang S’Dang. From Bigger And Harder, our second album. Produced by Luke DeLalio and recorded by Gary Wade in 1992 at Soundscape studio, on 52nd Street near 10th avenue — a rough neighborhood in those days. Gary’s studio was up in the fourth or fifth floor and had no buzzer; we had to stand in the street and yell until he dropped us the keys out the window, in a Shure SM57 microphone case.
2) “Marie And The Minotaur” by Tang S’Dang. Is this alternate version night? “Marie” is #3 on the official release.
3) “Flood I” by Sisters Of Mercy. OK this is random. From 1987’s Floodland. #2 on that album.
4) “Lucretia My Reflection” by Sisters Of Mercy. Released as a single, May 1988. Great damn song. #3 on the LP
5) “1959” by Sisters Of Mercy. #4 on the album. “This Corrosion” should be next. Hope so.
6) “This Corrosion” by Sisters Of Mercy. Yes. The first single, 18 September 1987. Andrew Eldritch looks cute in this video. Not as pretty as Koko, though. I think this is the extended version.
7) “Flood II” by Sisters Of Mercy. This tape would make more chronological sense without the two Tang S’Dang tracks from 1992. I wonder if they were recorded over “Dominion/Mother Russia”, the opening song of Floodland?
8) “Driven Like The Snow” by Sisters Of Mercy. I wonder if the famous Carole made this tape. She was more into the Sisters than I was.
9) “Never Land (a fragment)” by Sisters Of Mercy. Carole pointed out that we don’t own this album on vinyl, and suggested it may have been borrowed from The Music Paper. Works for me.
Well, there it is. Two great, forgotten mid-’80s LPs, and a coupla Tang S’Dang songs. Could be worse.
All songs written and recorded 4-track style by S. Stubblefield
All instruments played by S. Stubblefield except for:
“Newly Departed”, drums and back up vocals by Andrew Shcenck, organ and back up vocals by Hideki Inoue
“October Avenue”, violin by Jenifer Halenar
“Among The Nameless Faces”, Chuck Hatcher plats guitar, makimg all the cool sounds
“Shiner”, mandolin by Jenifer Halenar
Insert layout and design: Mike Dickinson
Intro To Things
A Poor Excuse For Albert Ray
(Bow’s In Your Gar) Just Like Spring
Down On October
Among The Nameless Faces
I’m A Clown
RIYL: Sparklehorse, Robyn Hitchcock, Skip Spence, East River Pipe.
One of the best things about this project has been rediscovering music that I loved 20, 30 years ago but had forgotten. Case in point, this magical 1997 cassette by Idgit, a/k/a S. Stubblefield. Creaky, ramshackle, melancholic and lysergic, So-Fist-Uh-Kate-Ed is an unsung masterpiece of lo-fi psych-folk — and I love it as much now as I did then.
Until this evening, I had not listened to, nor thought about, Idgit and Chicken Ranch Records in 19 years, so imagine my astonishment when I discovered both arestill around and active:
STREAM: “Gettin’ High” by Idgit
Steven Stubblefield’s newly resurrected 1990s lo-fi project. Stubblefield is the front man of Indie-Americana band Starlings, TN, and also fronted Nashville based band Methadone Actors. (NOVEMBER 19TH, 2014)
1. Grande Dame
2. Coronation Of The Clown Prince
3. Hands Of Providence
4. Two Women
The first demo tape from NYC’s The Niagaras commands attention to this day. Powerful urgency, driving jangle, a bit Smiths, or The Cure without the keys, but more camp and frantic than morose. “Coronation” betrays an evident affection for The Monochrome Set, not to mention David(s) B. Solo trumpet in an indie rock band? In 1988? Take that, Beirut! “Two Women” somehow sounds like Bowie & Mercury’s “Under Pressure” without sounding very much like that song.
There was a time when the Brothers Whaley — singer Robert and drummer/actor Frank — owned this town; all the boldfaced names came out to witness the lunacy (they were a stellar live band), but it only went so far; The Niagaras were just too peculiar for mass consumption.
Lenny Zenith, guitar
Andy Moore, drums
James Pertusi, bass
Jim Santo, guitar
Side A – Live at Brownies, March 31, 1995
Here is the original Jenifer Convertible, with Andy Moore on drums, at our best! This show happened on a Friday night during the New York University Independent Music Festival (although, as The New Yorker clip proves, it was not an official festival event). But there was no cooler place to be in the East Village in 1995, and the place was packed. I surprised Lenny by taking the stage in a little black dress.
1. “Co-dependency” – Our first single and frequent set opener at that time.
2. “Wild Sugar Brown Thing” – Retitled “Rewind” for release later that year. I don’t remember why we changed the title.
3. “Awakening From A Disturbing Dream” – Different lyrics from the version on Wanna Drag?
4. “Speedracer” – Our next single. About to become that song we played forever.
5. “Beg” – It’s a pity this one never made it onto an album. So many decisions I don’t remember making. “My doctor gives me little courage pills.” I’m playing like a lunatic, cuz I was one.
6. “The Car Song” – New parts and body work made me what I am today. “The transsexual menace should unite!” We loved fucking with people’s heads.
7. “Timothy” – I had forgotten this song until today. Background vocals are dodgy, but we’re kickin’ ass regardless.
8. I forget the name of this song; I know there’s another version recorded. Let’s call it “Come Around Again”, though it probably had one of those one-word titles we liked so much in the nineties. The vocals probably sounded better if you were there, but I can’t complain.
A tight, 27-minute set. Happy about that.
Side B – In the JenCon rehearsal space, beneath the Hani Deli on First Avenue at St. Mark’s Place, Spring 1995.
Our space was under the sidewalk. Fluffer, Ultra Bide, Alice Donut, and D Generation all rehearsed there. A damp, squalid box, separated from the madness of East Village 1995 by a steel door in the sidewalk. Not infrequently, random strangers would lift the sidewalk door and invite themselves in. Just such a night is recorded here.
1. “I Need You” – A song of mine that I had forgotten until today.
2. An inexplicably better recorded version of “I Need You” or whatever we were calling it. I only ever had two songs in the repertoire, and that’s fine.
3. “Timothy” – Again with the dodgy vocals; we should have worked on them, but we didn’t, and that’s why I forgot about “Timothy” ha ha!
4. We introduce ourselves to our guests, Robert and Raymond, and play “Wild Sugar Brown Thing”. Why did we re-title it? The original title came from “Wild Thing” by the Troggs, plus Bob Mould’s band, Sugar, and, like, the Stones.
This is quite a good recording; I wish I could remember how we did it. I’ll bet Pertusi remembers.
Robert and Raymond are from Midtown West. Slummin’, James says, and they were.
5. “Wild Sugar Brown Thing” again. Great song.
6. “Speedracer” falls apart.
7. “Speedracer” holds together, but the recording does not.
8. “Awakening From A Disturbing Dream” – fidelity returns. Lenny’s vocal resembles the Brownies’ show, so I’m figuring this happened either shortly before or after the live gig on Side A. In any event, Andy quit in May, so these are among the last recordings with this line-up. So good!
9. Another forgotten JC song. Sounds like James on lead vocals? Heavy blues-rock groove on this one. I could not tell you the title, but it’s more than alright. “I don’t know why I get this way.”
Robert Filane, electric guitar
*The 3 Dons (Don Murray, Tony Marro, Bob Filane), vocals, acoustic and electric guitar, bongos
1. Unforgettable (Gordon, 1951)
2. Once In A While (Edwards & Green, 1937)
3. (Everything I Have Is) Yours (Lane & Adamson, 1934)
4. My Funny Valentine (Rodgers & Hart, 1937)
5. Pennies From Heaven (Burke & Johnston, 1936)
6. From Moment To Moment (Mancini, 1965)
7. Dream (Mercer, 1944)
8. What Is This Thing Called Love? (Porter, 1929)
9. What A Difference A Day Makes (Grever, 1934)
10. Who’s Sorry Now? (Snyder, Kalmar & Ruby, 1923)
11. Meditation (Jobim, Mendonça & Gimbel, 1965)
12. Stardust (Carmichael, 1927)
13. I Will Wait For You (Legrand, Demy & Gimbel, 1964)
14. There Must Be A Way (Gallop, Saxon & Cook, 1945)
15. Poor Butterfly (Hubbell, Golden, 1916)
16. I Left My Heart In San Francisco (Cory & Cross, 1953)
17. You Belong To Me (King, Price & Stewart, 1952)
18. I’ll Remember April (de Paul, Johnston and & Raye, 1942)
19. Harbor Lights (Williams & Kennedy, 1937)
20. The Autumn Leaves (Kosma, Prévert & Mercer, 1945)
21. Mona Lisa (Evans & Livingstone, 1950)
22. Anytime (Lawson, 1924)
23. I Can’t Stop Loving You (Gibson, 1957)
24. If (They Made Me A KIng) (Evans, Hargreaves & Damerell, 1934)
25. What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life? (Bergman, Bergman & Legrand, 1969)
26. You Don’t Know Me Now (Walker, 1955?)
27. Sealed With A Kiss (Udell & Geld, 1960)
28. Malafemmena feat. vocal by Tony Marro (de Curtis, 1951)*
1. My One & Only Love (Wood & Mellin, 1952)
2. A Day In The Life Of A Fool (Bonfá & Maria, 1959)
3. There Goes My Heart (Davis & Silver, 1934)
4. Girl From Ipanema (Jobim, de Moraes & Gimbel, 1962)
5. It Had To Be You (Jomes & Kahn, 1924)
6. Day By Day (Weston, Stordahl & Cahn, 1945)
7. Red Sails In The Sunset (Williams & Kennedy, 1935)
8. Blue Moon (Rodgers & Hart, 1934)
9. What Will I Tell My Heart (Lawrence, Tinturin & Gordon, 1938
10. The Shadow Of Your Smile (Mandel & Webster, 1965)
11. Somebody Loves Me (Gershwin, MacDonald & DeSylva, 1924)
12. Moonlight In Vermont (Blackburn & Suessdorf, 1944
13. Body and Soul (Heyman, Sour, Eyton & Green, 1930)
14. Malafemmena/Jealousy ‘Gypsy Tango’ (de Curtis, 1951)/(Gade, 1925)
15. That Old Feeling (Fain & Brown, 1937)
16. I Only Have Eyes For You (Warren & Dubin, 1934)
17. Someday (Hodges, 1944)
18. How High The Moon (Hamilton & Lewis, 1940)
19. Canadian Sunset (Heywood & Gimbel, 1956)
20. Non Dimenticar (Redi, Galdieri and Shelley Dobbins, 1951)
21. September Song (Weill & Anderson, 1938)
22. How Deep Is The Ocean? (Berlin, 1932)
23. Take The ‘A’ Train (Strayhorn, 1939)
24. What Is This Thing Called Love (Porter, 1929)*
25. Monterey (Wayne, Rose & Whiteman, 1930)*
26. Sweet Georgia Brown (Bernie, Pinkard & Casey, 1925)*
27. Fly Me To The Moon (Howard, 1954)*
Robert Filane was the professional name of Rocco Filangeri (1916-2004), grand uncle to my wife, Dr. Carole Filangieri, and her cousin, bassist Gerard Smith. He gave me this tape many years ago, at a family gathering, likely a wake. (“Why must we always meet at these shabby affairs?” he once asked me.).
Filane’s guitar tone, overdriven and often heavy on the tremelo, is a striking approach to this collection of standards from the Great American Songbook, having more in common with Muddy Waters than Charlie Christian. And his choppy, idiosyncratic technique anticipates cats like James Blood Ulmer and John Scofield.
I’ve no idea when this was recorded, nor under what conditions; the sound quality varies considerably from song to song, but none of it sounds professionally recorded. It’s likely he recorded these at different periods, but judging from the cassette, a TDK CD Power, this collection was dubbed near the end of his life.
Let’s be honest: listening to 50 jazz guitar solos is a bit of a slog. But stick around for The 3 Dons, Filane’s group with Tony Morro and Don Murray! Morro’s vocal on “Mala Femina” is sweet like zeppole, and Don Murray takes the mic for a swinging set at the end of Side B, featuring tight trio harmonies.