Addicted To Vinyl Musical thoughts from the open road, with headphones on

10Jul/140

Live From The Cleveland Agora…

Cleveland_AgoraIt's Tuesday afternoon and I'm minutes away from phoning Matthew Sweet for an interview when I happen to hit Twitter on my phone and see a breaking story that Hank LoConti, longtime owner of the Cleveland Agora has just passed away at age 85.

The news hit me like a ton of bricks because Hank was always a guy who was so full of life that it was hard to imagine that he could actually be gone. He was someone that when you met him, you would be surprised to find out how old he was, because he always looked at least a decade younger than he actually was. And yet he had been sick, battling lymphoma for some time, which I was not aware of.

There are plenty of great stories and tributes that have popped up in the past day offering a proper remembrance of LoConti and what it was that he was all about.  For me as a music fan who ended up living in Cleveland, it's hard to even begin to collect the thoughts of all of the many different ways that the Cleveland Agora has made an impact in my life. There were plenty of shows, of course, with my first visit to the Agora happening in November of 1992 to see the Spin Doctors. Say what you will about the Spin Doctors, they were a hell of a band beyond the radio singles and their live performances during that time period were great.

My next trip to the Agora was a free show (!!!) with Brian May of Queen who played a headlining gig at the venue supporting his first solo album Back To The Light. Having missed out on the chance to see Queen back in the day, it was huge getting a chance to see Brian play guitar in such an up close setting, with Cozy Powell on drums, to boot.

As my concert attendance really started to ramp up in 1993, I would spend a lot of time at the Agora starting the following year, first with a gig from Joe Satriani, then Sarah McLachlan (Fumbling Towards Ecstasy Tour), Rollins Band with Therapy, Pretenders (a special "small hall" hometown gig on the Last Of The Independents tour that quickly sold out), Joe Cocker (right after he played Woodstock 94), Crowded House (Together Alone tour, with Sheryl Crow opening), The Smithereens and so many more.

1994 was really the beginning of my music collection coming to life in front of my eyes (something which I was reminded of recently when talking with Journey's Neal Schon, when he talked about his feeling that the reason that today's kids want to see their favorite bands live is that "they don't quite believe that it's real unless they're looking at it.")  and I had been to enough gigs by that point to know that if I had the chance to see one of my favorite bands play a club like the Agora, that was where it was really at -- with the chance to get up close and personal with some of the bands that I had spent a lot of time listening to by that point.

There was an experience that came with seeing a show at a true rock club like the Agora that you just didn't get in the same way by attending an arena gig. Sure, I had seen some amazing shows at Richfield Coliseum in that same time period (Peter Gabriel, Aerosmith, Eric Clapton), but having a chance to compare the two, there was no question that the more intimate gigs were better, which is why it was such a thrill to get a chance to see bands and artists like Pretenders, Joe Cocker and Brian May -- folks who I knew had usually been playing bigger places prior to that -- in a place the size of the Cleveland Agora.

To cut to the chase, Hank LoConti was the guy who was driving all of this. He was the man behind the Cleveland Agora, a rock institution that had been around for a long time at that point -- I didn't know the specifics at that time, but when you walked into that place, you could tell that it was a building that had a lot of history. As folks will be quick to point out, the current Cleveland Agora at 5000 Euclid Avenue is not the original location -- which burned down in the mid-'80s, but the Euclid Avenue location, was certainly a worthy successor to the original, housed in a building that had its own important history.

Over the years, I started to unpack the history of the original building as a fan, listening to the various famous concert broadcasts that had been done by WMMS, most of which were from the '70s and '80s. Everybody's got their personal favorite list and many of them can tell you stories about being at the gigs -- since I moved here in 1989, I missed out on that part of things, but the tapes that were left behind certainly tell plenty of great stories. There is of course, the famous Springsteen Agora gig from 1978, a special broadcast celebrating the 10th anniversary of WMMS.

Elvis Costello's 1977 performance is another favorite and when I saw Costello just a few weeks ago, playing a solo show here in town, he had fond memories of playing the Agora, calling it a "smoke-filled den of sin," adding that "sometimes you find true love in a place like that." Costello isn't alone in his memories -- it's a frequent occurrence to hear the legacy acts offer their memories of their first gigs in Cleveland at the Agora -- while performing at Gund Arena on the All You Can't Leave Behind tour in May of 2001, Bono offered his own recollections of an early U2 gig at the Agora.

Bryan Adams played a show at the Agora in 1982 and he would be back for another gig barely a year later in 1983. Both shows were broadcast by WMMS (with the 1982 gig getting a national broadcast via the King Biscuit Flower Hour) and it's interesting to compare the two performances and hear how much Adams had progressed in such a short amount of time. The 1983 performance, which was mixed by Bob Clearmountain, is an unbelievable show from Adams that sounds like a professional live album -- it would make great bonus material for an expanded reissue of the Cuts Like A Knife album someday.

The Police, AC/DC, Bon Jovi....nearly anybody you might want to name off, they all played the Agora at some  point. Thankfully, there are so many of those concert memories that have been preserved because they were broadcast.

The Agora is approaching its 50th anniversary and I'm happy that after some rough years, the venue seems to be back on solid ground or at the very least, in a better place. They're back booking a regular schedule of shows again and the shows seem to be doing well. As someone who grew up with the Agora at a time that they had a consistent schedule of shows that made it possible for you to go see live music at the club on nearly any night of the week (and with so much great variety to choose from in those days, too), it means a lot to see the Agora alive again.

As the years went by, I had the chance on a number of occasions to stop and talk with Hank. The first time, I had been sent to the Agora to pick something up. Not knowing Hank, I figured it would be a quick stop to grab what I was supposed to pick up and then I'd be on my way. I ended up being there for a couple of hours, sitting in Hank's office, hearing amazing stories of past Agora shows. That would be the case every time that I stopped by.

He was a walking piece of Cleveland musical history, one of several key leaders who helped to build the Cleveland concert scene as we know it today and he has continuously been one of the people working tirelessly through the years to help maintain it, never afraid to fight for necessary changes. He certainly leaves behind one hell of a legacy.  I have no doubt that we'll continue to see that legacy grow in the years to come and hopefully part of that will come in the form of proper releases on audio and video for some of the shows that he was really proud of.

17Mar/102

Aye Begorrah! It’s the Pogues for St. Patrick’s Day!

A hearty hello and a raisin’ of a Black and Tan to all in ATV land!  It’s the Stereo Dictator bringing you the very finest in holiday music entertainment and today is no exception.

Live from France on August 14, 1986 to your desktop come the modern-day masters of Irish folklore, the Pogues.

Pogues - color soft

Packing 14 songs into 48 minutes, it’s a whirlwind trip through some of their greatest (“Streams of Whiskey,” “Billy’s Bones,” “Sally MacLennane,” “Sick Bed of Cuchulainn,”) and a few lesser-known gems (“Jesse James,” “Body of an American,” and “Metropolis”).

Coming off what is arguably their best work, 1985’s Rum, Sodomy & the Lash, which was produced by Elvis Costello, the band is in fine form.  In contrast to later tours, this show features no mumbling Shane MacGowan vocals, no tunes abruptly ended due to stage-diving, and no forgotten passages.

Pogues - Rum Sodomy & Lash front cover

If you're a newcomer to the Pogues, this is a great place to start your relationship.  Enjoy the fine setlist, the tight performance and the party spirit contained within.

Soundwise, this one is solid.  The mix is a bit thin but very clean. Sam has no hesitation in giving this one his approval.

Sam board man for site

As usual, the advice remains the same; crank it up, party down, designate a driver and be sure to return the favor.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

POGUES 8-14-86 SETLIST

complete zipped download

Streams of Whiskey

Billy’s Bones

Repeal of Licensing Laws

Transmetropolitan

The Old Main Drag

Dirty Old Town

Metropolis

Sally MacLennane

Turkish Song

Sick Bed of Cuchulainn

Dark Streets of London

Body of an American

Jesse James

Greenland Whale Fisheries

20Jan/107

Bruce Springsteen on Spectacle TONIGHT!

Springsteen fans, start your engines.....or at least your DVRS - tonight is the night to catch the first part of Springsteen's two part appearance on Spectacle with Elvis Costello on the Sundance Channel!

In part one of a two-part episode, "Spectacle" host Elvis Costello welcomes Bruce Springsteen. Grammy Award-winning artist, widely known for his brand of heartland rock that includes intense ballads and rousing anthems filled with deeply emotional stories. Springsteen, with guitar in-hand, opens up about his pre-E Street Band bands and early inspirations. In addition to talking about his music, he performs it too. Springsteen performs "The River" and American Skin," while E Street Band members Nils Lofgren and Roy Bittan join him in "Wild Billy's Circus Story."

Catch the second part of this episode next week Wednesday, January 27th.

Here's a clip from the episode in which Bruce reflects on writing "Hungry Heart."

Congrats to Dan, who is the winner of our recent Spectacle contest!  Dan scores the Sundance goodie bag and also a copy of the first season of Spectacle on DVD!

13Jan/101

Contest: Win an Elvis Costello “Spectacle” Prize Pack

The uber-fantastic Spectacle: Elvis Costello With... is back for another season on The Sundance Channel, and continues to be one of my favorite musical programs on television.  The series is produced in conjunction with Elton John's Rocket Pictures and features Costello in conversation with a unique assortment of musical contemporaries each week.

Spectacle

5Dec/0911

The 12 Boots of Christmas – Live on the Radio, Radio

Santa enjoyed Boot #5 so much with the Del Fuegos at Peabody’s Down Under that he wanted to experience another show live from Cleveland, but this time from the legendary Agora.

WMMS Concert ad reduced

In accordance with the wishes of the mighty Mr. Claus, here we are at a WMMS Night Out at the Agora in anticipation of one of the biggest holiday surprises in many a year.

14Jun/091

Bonnaroo Day Three: Santa Bruce Comes To Bonnaroo

Today's post had the original title of The Chair That Saved The Trip. I had my initial moment of chair lacking regret on Thursday night at the B-52's show, and the feeling intensified when I got to Bonnaroo on Friday afternoon and saw tons of people relaxing in folding chairs while I was baking in the sun.

"Wuss" is what you're thinking or even saying out loud right now. Stop that. Don't be cruel. That's my job.

A morning trip to the local Wal-Mart resulted in the best 10 dollar purchase I've made to date, and the chair was mine.

We had an easier trip in to the Bonnaroo grounds yesterday that was happily void of any drug task force car searches (for us anyway,) and we got to wave to our friend selling the bananas. With chair strapped to my back like Rambo (okay, not even close) I made my way into Bonnaroo with my trusty rock and roll road warriors Brian and Adam by my side.

And then as before, I ditched those guys and thought that once again the lineup at That Tent was a good place to be for the afternoon. I made the effort for today to step out of my usual comfort zone and skip seeing bands that I've already seen (and bands that I LOVE) in favor of checking out artists that I had never seen.

This means that Govt. Mule and Wilco were not on today's agenda.

In their place, a wide variety of music from Allen Toussaint, Raphael Saadiq, Jenny Lewis, and Elvis Costello performing a special solo set.

Seeing a legend like Toussaint to start off the day was musically educational food for my music loving brain. Like a big ol' plate of gumbo, I ate it up, and that's one of the best things about Bonnaroo, is that you have the opportunity to feed your head all weekend long with both music and cultural experiences that are limitless in oppportunity.

I had been looking forward to seeing Raphael Saddiq, an artist with a body of work that would make quite a few of his peers jealous. Many of you probably heard Saddiq for the first time (without even knowing it) as a member of 80s/90s R&B soulsters Tony! Toni! Tone!, a project that registered a number of hits, including "Little Walter" and "Feels Good" which came across my radio many times while growing up. After a brief detour with the Lucy Pearl project, Saddiq moved into producing, and has worked with a number of artists from Whitney Houston to the Bee Gees.

Saddiq is currently enjoying just being an artist, playing the music that he loves, and gave back to the crowd at Bonnaroo, commenting that "my last record was not a radio record. Truth be told, I made all of my records for me. I was fortunate enough to have you enjoy those records. Thanks for that." The statement felt as real and honest as Saddiq's performance, which got the Bonnaroo crowd jamming from the moment he hit the stage. Yet another artist that I had to add to my list of folks that I need to pick up music from.

Next up was Jenny Lewis, an artist that I've gotten a ton of education about thanks to Jose and Kelly at Sensory Overload who have schooled me nicely regarding Lewis's work both solo and with indie rock darlings Rilo Kiley. Performing a solo set at Bonnaroo, Lewis turned out a set that was one of my easy favorites for the weekend. She's got such a charming voice that will suck you right in, and I think she's got a lot of musical similarity to what I want to love about Neko Case, but unlike Case, she's got better songs.

Now for the hard choice of the day, that was in reality, the easiest - choosing Elvis Costello over Wilco. Costello, like David Byrne, was on my list of legends that I hadn't seen yet, but I've always been a fan. Having seen Wilco three times last year, I figured that I would survive missing them at Bonnaroo to check out Elvis Costello. I knew that there was the possibility that Costello could drop an oddball setlist, but I also knew that the chances were good that he would play it safe for the Bonnaroo crowd. And really, he did a little bit of both, mixing newer tracks (including a brand new unreleased track) with favorites ("Watching The Detectives," "(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes," Radio, Radio") and after joining Lewis during her set for "Carpetbaggers," Lewis returned the favor joining Costello mid-set for a number of tracks. Joined by a band for the last few songs of the set, Costello, Lewis, and Toussaint wrapped up with an all-star run-through of "What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love, and Understanding."

Costello's Bonnaroo set wasn't a complete replacement for the 90's Nautica Stage date in Cleveland that I still kick myself for missing, but it was a lot of fun.

With Costello's set wrapping up, we made our way over to the main stage for the headlining set from some guy named Bruce Springsteen that I think I might have mentioned once or twice here on the blog. He was playing with this young group of hipsters that call themselves The E. Street Band, and they actually could play their instruments pretty well.

Who am I kidding, you know how big of a Bruce fan I am. You know that of the very impressive Bonnaroo lineup, Bruce was definitely front and center on my dance card of stuff that I couldn't wait to check out. With the insanity of the current tour, sign requests, and general setlist tomfoolery, I was interested to see how Bruce would play at Bonnaroo. Would the crowd be a Bruce crowd? I very quickly got my answer, as I started to hear plenty of "Bruuuuuces" from the surrounding crowd, and the first crowd request/sign of the night was right behind me.

brucejoker.jpg

A group of 11 music fans had made their way from Boston, driving nearly 20 hours straight through to get to Bonnaroo. Armed with the sign above, they were ready and waiting for Springsteen's set, and I had to know - "did you guys come for Bruce?" "Nah, man - we came for EVERYTHING." With eyes that were definitely more than a bit "baked," I had to dig a little bit deeper with these guys, and came to find out that one guy had seen Springsteen one time, another in the bunch had seen Bruce five times, and I stopped the quizzing right there - Springsteen rookies, these guys were not. Another lesson to show that you can't judge a book by its stoned out cover. Good guys, fun to hang with during the show.

Here's another example of why you shouldn't judge: Two shirtless jock a-hole types come up beside me, of the type usually accompanied by mass amounts of sweat dripping on you as they go past, or rub against you in their travels. Thankfully, it's cooled off enough that the sweat was left behind several stages and bands ago. The one has clearly had a little bit more to drink than he should have, and is negotiating hard that they should move up even closer. The more level-headed of the two notes that really, "I think we've done about as well as we're going to do - we're pretty close."

"Dude, we can just push our way through to the front!"

"But dude, that would be a total dick move!"

I have to smile at the guy when he says that, and he gives me a smiling yet frustrated look. As a bonus, these guys haven't stepped in front of me to block my view for the entire show. These guys are alright with me.

As for me, I've managed to grab a pretty good spot in the center of the action, just slightly behind the pit area. I'm happy. I've achieved my goal of actually being able to "see" Bruce Springsteen at Bonnaroo.

We're about a half hour away from the scheduled show time, and as it happens, Bruce will take the stage at about 9:26pm tonight, nearly reaching his usual "stroll on stage a half hour late" start time at a normal show. It's The Boss, and we'll wait for the Boss.

brucebonnaroo.jpg

photo courtesy of Metromix Louisville

"Badlands" is the opener - pretty standard stuff, but I like it....into "No Surrender" - YES! Is there anybody a-live at the Bonnaroo! Now THIS is why I came to Bonnaroo - Bruce never fails to nail me early with a certain song - "No Surrender" is tonight's track that is one for me personally that whenever I hear it, it always takes me back to 1984 where I am a kid discovering Springsteen's music for the first time.

"My Lucky Day" is up next, off of Working On A Dream, and actually has evolved positively in the live setting. Working On A Dream is my least favorite of the Springsteen catalog to date, and while there are moments on the album, "My Lucky Day" hasn't been one of them. I really enjoyed this one.

Now, comes the first ballsy move of the night from Springsteen: An audible for "Outlaw Pete," which I would see later on the printed setlist, but Springsteen must have been feeling confident, because he moved it up from its scheduled slot. I now know what I'll be doing for the next 8+ minutes, and it sounds fine. I'm seeing some interesting sign requests in the crowd - "Light of Day," "NYC Serenade," "Quarter to Three," but I am feeling bad for the person that made the sign for "Working On A Dream." Pretty sure you didn't need to make a sign for that one, but thanks for the support!

In fact, that "request" is fulfilled thanks to the setlist a couple of songs later, after an easy winner, "Out In The Street."

Finally got a chance to hear the emotional trio of "Seeds," "Johnny 99," and "Youngstown." All three are just as powerful as you've been hearing from reviews on the tour, particularly "Seeds," which knocked me on my ass. The only time I've heard this one prior to tonight is via many spins of my beloved Live 1975-1985 box set. Never live. It's pretty cool that all Springsteen fans are getting a chance to hear "Seeds" on this tour, I just wish that it was a random setlist pick, and not a necessary statement of these current hard economic conditions.

Bruce Springsteen, "Raise Your Hand" Live at Bonnaroo 2009 from Bonnaroo on Vimeo.

We've now reached the "sign request" portion of the show, and the band is running through an extended instrumental lead-in for "Raise Your Hand" as Springsteen collects signs from the audience - the most entertaining sign of the night that I see is "It's Hard To Be A Saint at The Bonnaroo!"

Bruce Springsteen, "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" Live at Bonnaroo 2009 from Bonnaroo on Vimeo.

A lifesize "Santa Claus" sign prompts a bit of mock protest from Springsteen, "It is two hundred and fif-ty-nine days until Christmas....is everybody being good out there? You're not takin' the brown acid!" I thought that this was my first "Santa," but my friend Tony very quickly reminded me that we got "Santa" at the December 2002 date in Columbus. Oh yeah. I must have been taking the brown acid that night.

Two more sign requests come one after another in the form of "Growin Up," "I saw it in there somewhere," Springsteen quips, and "Thunder Road."

A few songs later, I was surprised to see Jay Weinberg behind the kit - because I thought that he was on tour with his band for the next two weeks. While I thought that he was in Cleveland on Saturday night playing a show at a venue that is a short distance from my house, he's actually there on Sunday night, which leaves him free to rock it up with Bruce and the boys on a Saturday night at Bonnaroo in front of 80 thousand people.

And he makes it look so damn easy.

I was glad to get a chance to see him play, and I wasn't disappointed by what I saw. The kid is a monster behind the kit, and brings an audible difference to the band's sound with his playing. I feel like it took him a couple of songs to settle in with "Radio Nowhere" and "Lonesome Day," but from that point, he was on the money. As it was, Weinberg was driving the bus for the most intensely rockin' version of "Lonesome Day" I've ever heard. It's very inspiring to watch how much the band visually seems to enjoy playing with Jay, and he looks like he is on top of the world.

Overall, this wasn't the best Springsteen show I've ever seen - "Santa" was a definite nugget, and there were a lot of the "Springsteen fan favorites" that I enjoy hearing - "Thunder Road," "Growin' Up," etc; all in one show, but there weren't really a lot of jawdropping moments like "Kitty's Back," "Incident," "Lost In The Flood," etc. And maybe I'm a bit greedy, having seen two out of those three during what was allegedly a disappointing show in Cincinnati last year.

It was a smart show, and probably the kind that Springsteen needed to play at Bonnaroo, but it left me wanting/needing to catch another show on this tour. Which probably would have been on my agenda anyway. It was a fun show - I heard a lot of my Springsteen favorites, and also got the longest show I've seen personally, clocking in at nearly three hours. YES!

I was surprised by the lack of special guests - I felt sure that Alejandro Escovedo (who played earlier that day) would be an automatic, or perhaps Elvis Costello, but we did get one special guest - Robert Smigel and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog who made a couple of brief vocal appearances during Springsteen's set, adding "vocals" to "Waitin' On A Sunny Day," and "American Land."

Nice to see Nils Lofgren moving around just like the old Nils did after a double hip replacement - he was all smiles, all night long. And Clarence Clemons looked and sounded better than I've seen him in a long time.

And there it was, Springsteen had played his first performance at Bonnaroo, and I began to make my way back through the sea of people to meet up with Brian and Adam for Nine Inch Nails to close out the night - a task that took me nearly 30 minutes to accomplish, working my way from the main stage back to the Which Stage where NIN would be performing.

I'm completely cashed out at this point, and grabbed my chair back from Adam and Brian who had it for safe keeping, and watched the NIN set from a distance. We caught NIN at a good point, just having wrapped up the NIN/JA tour a few days earlier, fully primed and ready to show the Bonnaroo crowd how it was done.

There's no question that they should have been on the main stage, instead of the Which Stage, which was considerably smaller, but they made good use of their allotted time with a mega-crowd pleaser of a setlist featuring stuff like rarities "I'm Afraid of Americans," (recorded by David Bowie originally,) and "Burn" back to back, and also Broken album track "Gave Up," just to name a few. And late in the set, a special guest appearance by the members of Dillinger Escape Plan for "Wish." The two bands performed the track together previously earlier this year in Perth:

NIN: Wish live with The Dillinger Escape Plan - Perth, 3.02.09 [HD] from Nine Inch Nails on Vimeo.

Cashed out, three weary music lovers left Bonnaroo and headed back to the hotel to rest up for one more day on the farm....

22Dec/0818

Scattered Musical Thoughts: GNR, Supermint and Dog Society

I couldn't exactly think of a subject line that was completely appropriate, and the above seemed to at least cover it, although there are probably some that would argue (myself included!) that this blog is ALL about "scattered musical thoughts!"

Anyway.

Friday night, I got together with my buddy Corey for a long overdue hangout (two years in the making at least) that didn't involve a concert, or running into each other in public. Corey and I actually MADE PLANS to hang out at his house in his rock and roll man cave, where I could check out his pristine Guns 'n Roses pinball machine that he picked up about a year ago.

Too awesome

Another view of the 'cave

There's a ton of individual details about the machine here. Corey's machine is unique because it is an early prototype that never saw the inside of a bar/club/etc - condition is PERFECT. What I liked about it is that while it has the more modern look and feel of today's pinball machines, it retains the classic feel and action of the older pinball machines. By the 90s, the newer pinball machines had become so modernized that they lost (in my opinion) the actual plot of what a pinball machine should be about. Very similar to music - all of 'em became digitally based, when all I really wanted was the "analog" feel of the classic older machines.

I had a lot of fun playing with it, and could have easily gotten sucked in for the entire evening, but I was consciously aware that the real reason I was there was to hang out, converse, catch up.....and that's just what we did.

We of course talked a lot of music, and one of my first topics was something that had just occurred to me in the car ride over. I had to know if Corey had/heard/was aware of one of my favorite nobody-else-knows-this-band-but-me bands, a Chicago band named Supermint. We could probably spend an entire blog talking about Supermint, but here it is in a nutshell. During the late 90s I was co-hosting heavy metal karaoke with Cleveland guitar wizard Billy Morris, at his Parma club The Revolution on Monday nights. For a string of Mondays, I kept hearing this BAND on the club sound system, and finally had to ask who the band was.

I found out from Billy that the band was called Supermint, and acquired their 1999 self-titled CD a short time later from one of the local record stores. It's been one of my favorite CDs for nearly 10 years now. I never got a chance to see the band live, but recently found out that they do play the occasional reunion show in Chicago, so I am hoping to catch them live someday. They put out a second CD called Off To Stupidville in 2004 that didn't quite measure up to the debut for me, and called it quits at some point after that.

Most days my favorite tune from the disc is "Shouldn't It Feel Good." Recently, it's been the album opener "What's Going On," but really I love the entire disc.

Their Myspace page compares them to Oasis, Elvis Costello, Cheap Trick, Semisonic, and Crowded House. Definitely hear the Crowded House and Cheap Trick comparisons.

Supermint - What's Going On

As it happens, you can grab the debut as an MP3 download for $5.99 from Amazon, and you should!

Corey had of course, heard of Supermint. Apparently they played a ton of Cleveland shows with Enuff Z'nuff, who practically lived at Billy's various clubs in the 90s, so I'm not quite sure how I missed seeing them.

As I looked through his CD collection, I came across a bunch of titles that surprised me. Titles that turned out to belong to his wife Lisa. I finally determined that I'm better friends musically with Lisa. The one CD of Lisa's that floored me when I saw it, was Test Your Own Eyes by Dog Society.

Now that I'm older, I hate everything...

"Love Is All Gone" by Dog Society from Test Your Own Eyes (1993)

The Dog Society album came out in 1993, and the band had a sound that was very similar to other bands of the time like Dig, Dada, and I'm sure if I keep thinking, I could think of other bands that start with "D" as well! I'm guessing that if you know any Dog Society, "Love Is All Gone" is probably the one you know. In my little high school rock band, we covered the album opening "When Your Dead."

Our cover song criteria was pretty simple - We liked cover songs that sounded cool and were fun to play, yet were uncomplicated enough that we could cover them. Stuff like "Found Out About You" by the Gin Blossoms, "Dream All Day" by The Posies, and "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong" by the Spin Doctors all sounded cool. Sometimes we'd cover a tune that might get blank stares from everyone, but we liked it - "A Girl Like You" by The Smithereens, was one. And "When You're Dead" by Dog Society was another example.

We had heard "Love Is All Gone" on local radio and liked it enough that my friend Jim acquired the disc. When we heard "When You're Dead," we knew that we had to work up a cover version. We always had a lot of fun playing that one.

"When You're Dead" and "Love Is All Gone" are back to back on Test Your Own Eyes, and after that, the rest of the album really didn't click with me, but those two songs are great.

After I got home from Corey's, I was curious to look up Dog Society, and see where their story ended. As you can imagine, their band name doesn't really lend itself to Google. Test Your Own Eyes was produced by Tom Rothrock and Rob Schnapf for Bongload Productions. The pair had just produced Beck's Mellow Gold album which um, did pretty well! While searching for Dog Society info, some of the Bongload info led me to this really cool documentary on Mellow Gold that you will enjoy.

After working with Dog Society, Rob and Tom produced several albums for Elliott Smith - Either/Or, XO, and Figure 8. Schnapf was recruited by Smith's family to complete From a Basement on a Hill after the unfortunate passing of Smith. Recently, Schnapf has been involved with The Vines and Saves The Day. Rothrock has been involved in soundtrack work and also produced James Blunt's Back to Bedlam.

I guess they're doing okay - but what about those Dog Society guys? According to their Myspace page, they called it quits about a year after the release of Test Your Own Eyes:

Dog Society was formed in the late 1991 in the New York City area. After making a demo tape and passing it along to various companies, They were signed to East West Records/Atlantic Records, and recorded one album titled Test Your Own Eyes. The album was produced by Rob Schnapf and Tom Rothrock, who went on to produce a number of albums for big names such as Elliott Smith, Beck and The Vines. They toured and played at a number of venues throughout the United States and They eventually broke up in 1994. Dog Society is Richie Guerzon, Bruce Erik Brauer, Ryan Bay, + Joey Rains. The cover was a life size sculpture created by Hans Nelman. Bruce Erik Brauer designed the logo and imprinted the CD with it. Larry Freemantle was the Art Director.

That's an interesting story about the album artwork!

I wouldn't go overboard and call the album a "lost classic" or anything crazy like that, but "When You're Dead" and "Love Is All Gone" are still two of my favorite songs from the 90s.

Dog Society - Love Is All Gone

Dog Society - When You're Dead

Relevant Links:

Supermint on Myspace

Purchase Supermint's music on Amazon - here and here

Purchase Dog Society's Test Your Own Eyes from Amazon - CD

Dog Society on Myspace