Islander

On my commute home from work yesterday, I decided to crank up some Blue Oyster Cult, a band that I’ve always loved.  They were the headline act at my first concert.  I thought I might blog about them but then my mind began to wander a bit to all of the various pieces of trivia that I know about the band.  One of those facts is that they’re originally from Long Island, NY. Then I started to think of other bands that I like from Long Island, such as The Good Rats and Zebra.  That led me to google to see who else was from Long Island.  I of course knew about Billy Joel and Lou Reed and Harry Chapin.  Even Dee Snyder.  But who else?  Holy Crap, there’s a ton of em!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_of_Long_Island

I didn’t know Vanilla Fudge or Pat Benatar were from the Island.  Or Steve Vai and The Stray Cats.  Certain cities have had well known music scenes over the years.  San Francisco, Austin, LA, and Athens come immediately to mind.  But a Long Island music scene?  It never really occurred to me.  Maybe that’s because there’s no one sound that unifies all of the diverse artists from there.  And maybe also it’s because it’s not one city we’re talking about.  Anyway, here’s a little bit about the first three bands that I mentioned and my takes on them.

Zebra released their first album in 1983 and it went Gold behind two hits, Who’s Behind the Door and Tell Me What You Want.  Everyone I knew loved the album for one main reason.  Vocalist Randy Jackson sounds an awful lot like Robert Plant in his heyday and in 1983 we were starved for new music from Led Zeppelin(which of course, never came). The album and the band kind of came and went though pretty quickly.  Zebra became one of those bands that I forgot about a few years later.  They never had any subsequent success, to my knowledge.  I feel like I saw the band at the Penny Arcade but I have no concert ticket to back that up.  What I do know for sure though is that the lovely Missus and I saw Randy Jackson a few years back with the BPO, singing a night full of Zep tunes.  He can still hit those high notes and sounded great.  I remember thinking that I would have loved to hear him play a Zebra tune too. Zebra were a regional band that briefly hit the big time. Here’s the requisite, cheesy, 80’s video.

 

Next up are The Good Rats, led by the great, bat wielding vocalist, Peppi Marchello.  They’re a band with a long and pretty interesting history.  I won’t recap it all but you can read about them here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Good_Rats

I saw this band at least twice that I recall.  For about a ten year period, it seemed like they played Rochester every six or eight months.  They were always opening for someone at the War Memorial or headlining their own shows at the Triangle Theater(which was the old JCC downtown) or The Penny Arcade.  Perhaps their most memorable Rochester show was at Holleder Stadium, the home of The Rochester Lancers. On 9-1-79, The Rats, along with The Greg Kihn Band, opened for The Grateful Dead.  Great set list!

https://archive.org/details/gd79-09-01.aud.10363.sbeok.shnf

WCMF in Rochester loved The Good Rats and always promoted their local shows heavily.  Marchello even released a live album that was recorded in the WCMF studios in 1979. I know that I saw the band at least once at the War Memorial and again at The Penny Arcade(pretty sure I had to sneak in under age for that one).  At the height of their popularity, the band was more than a regional band but for most of their careers, that’s what they were. No matter.  They rocked pretty hard and some of their best tunes showed a surprising amount of sophistication.  Coo Coo Coo!

Coo Coo Coo, Coo Coo Coo
Since your face could stop a clock
I’ll call you Coo Coo Coo

 

And then there’s BOC!  Sure, Billy Joel is the king of Long Island.  There’s no dispute there.  He’s become something of an American treasure over the years.  Who doesn’t love Billy Joel?  But for people of a certain age like me, Blue Oyster Cult are The band from Long Island.  As with The Good Rats, BOC played Rochester at least once per year. I think I went to  at least half of those shows.  And they always brought great opening bands with them: AC/DC and Thin Lizzy, The Good Rats, Foghat, Black Sabbath, on and on.

You can’t talk about BOC without mentioning their most iconic song, Don’t Fear the Reaper.  I’ve heard it a million times and I’ve never gotten tired of it.  There are very few songs that I can say that about.  Here’s the thing about BOC, they’re not just your average, run of the mill, heavy metal band.  I’m not sure I’d even call them Heavy Metal at all.  They are a hard rock band who were never about the decibel level.  They write really smart lyrics and set them to surprisingly sophisticated music.  Fourteen year old me just loved the lasers coming out of Godzilla’s eyes at the concerts but as I’ve aged, I’ve developed a deep appreciation for their music.  Along with their biggest hits like Reaper, Burning For You and Godzilla, my favorites include Cities on Flame, Joan Crawford, Veteran of the Psychic Wars, and what may be the hidden gem in their catalog, Astronomy.  The last time I saw the band, their commercial success was long gone and they were playing at The Penny Arcade.  The show was great but it was sad to see them playing a bar. If you like the band but have never heard this, check it out.  You won’t be disappointed.

Clock strikes twelve and moon drops burst
Out at you from their hiding place
Like acid and oil on a madman’s face
His reasons tend to fly away
Like lesser birds on the four winds, yeah
Like silver scrapes in May
Now the sands become a crust
And most of you have gone away (hm, yeah gone away)

Come Susy dear, let’s take a walk
Just out there upon the beach
I know you’ll soon be married
And you want to know where the winds come from
Well it’s never said at all
On the map that Carrie reads
Behind the clock back there you know
At the four winds bar (hm, yeah)

Hey, hey, hey, hey
Four winds at the four winds bar
Two doors locked and windows barred
One door let to take you in
The other one just mirrors it
Hey, hey, yeah! hey, hey
In hellish glare and inference
The other one’s a duplicate
The queenly flux, eternal light
Or the light that never warms
Yes the light, that never, never warms
Yes the light, that never, never warms
Never warms, never warms

The clock strikes twelve and moon drops burst
Out at you from their hiding place
Miss Carrie nurse and Suzy dear
Would find themselves at the four winds bar
It’s the nexus of the crisis
The origin of storms
Just the place to hopelessly
Encounter time and then came me

Hey, hey, hey, hey

Call me Desdenova, eternal light
These gravely digs of mine
Will surely prove a sight
And don’t forget my dog, fixed and consequent

Astronomy, a star
Astronomy, a star
Astronomy, a star
Astronomy, a star

Astronomy

 

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