The Spedding Tapes - Buster Poindexter
So. I finally blew it. I mean really blew it.|
What had seemed so easy at first - too easy, maybe - could it just have been ... beginner's luck? Had I been guilty of hubris? Gotten a little too cocky, a little too sure of myself?
Things had not gone smoothly from the start: There had been no answer when I buzzed the apartment. The doorman had eyed me with suspicious. Doormen are particularly good at stuff like that. They get a lot of practice at it.
A phone call from the corner got me the answering machine. Fingers crossed, I stated my business and ... ah, success! the phone was picked up and a sleepy voice directed me to Clancy's Bar just down the block. "Meet you there in, er, five, Chris, okay?"
It was a Sunday night. About six or seven o'clock. Most of the clientele were absorbed in the huge TV stuck up in the corner of the bar. Watching the day's sporting highlights. Had I happened in the previous night they would doubtless have been absorbed in the opening show of a new season's Saturday Night Love, hosted by Sigourney Weaver. The addition of that darling of the New York club circuit, Buster Poindexter, to the cast of regulars looked like a smart move on somebody's part. And so here I was cooling my heels in Clancy's Bar waiting to check in with the man himself on the occasion of his elevation to network stardom.
Mulling over my second draft Bud, I was roused from my reveries by a cherry, "Well, it's good to see you're in the same state I'm in!" Then, suitably fortifield with a breakfast of - for those among you who may be interested in such things - vodka and pineapple juice, my companion told me the story of his life. In one sentence.
"Well, let's see ... it started with the New York Dolls and then I did the David Johansen solo thing and now it's the Buster Poindexter thing."
Steering the conversation to the matter in hand - our Blindfold Test - I soon discovered that David was not in the least apprehensive about what might be in store.
"Listen," he said, "you should be a lot tougher, you know, a lot nastier, in that column of yours. I know you, Chris, you're an asshole! I'm an asshole! We're all assholes in this business! I'm riding so high right now I can afford to look stupid from time to time. It can't really do me any harm. I'm not that insecure. In fact, stuff like that can make you come off more real, more accessible. You know, a couple of people have asked me why such a big movie star like Sigourney needed to do the show. Well, of course, she didn't need to do it. But why the hell shouldn't she grab the opportunity to egt out there and enjoy herself and show people a different side of her. If you're secure and fulfilled in what you do, a certain honesty and enthusiasm automatically communicates itself and endless possibilities open up for you."
This was going to be no ordinary Blindfold Test.
Once up in the apartment I did a quick sound check on my trusty Walkman, hit Play and Record, and popped the cassette of selections I had prepared into the Poindexter ghetto blaster.
The die was cast. My last few moments of sweet innocence were, unbeknownst to me, trickling slowly away.
I had picked out two oddities from Sire's compilation, History of British Rock Vol.III.
First up, Python Lee Jackson's "In a Broken Dream," which David readily identified as Rod Stewart. But why the mysterious pseudonym? The song was a big hit in Britain in the late sixties, and since Rod the Mod kept very shtumm about the whole deal - I certainly don't remember any big lawsuits - we can only surmise that all interested parties, contracts notwithstanding, were probably taken care of very nicely, thank you very much. If you know what I mean.
Then came the unspeakably duff "Can't Help Thinking About Me" by David Bowie and the Lower Third - to Johansen's wry comment, "It's a Wayne Fontana and the mindbenders B side!" Which just about summed it up. It was as bad as that. So much for the History of British Rock.
Johansen was decidedly nonplussed. In fact, he was getting quite twitchy. Things were not going at all well. And my next candidate, The Persuasions' "Temts Jam," really let me down. Apparently, David thought I was still peddling Brit rock - he guessed Hot Chocolate!
"You, er ... like that record, huh?" said David with ill-concealed disgust.
Oh, God! This was terrible!
I could only muster a sheepish, "Well ... it's alright," convincing nobody, while I hurriedly fast-forwarded the tape to the next cut - the Staple Singers featuring good ol' Pop Staples leading his brood in "I Got Religion."
Now here was some music at last. Pure, honest music that flowed all around you ... Well, it just made you feel damm good. At that moment Pop Staples was my favorite guy in the whole world. I just wanted to reach out and hug him. Thanks, Pop!
The Staples turned out to be a favorite of David's, too.
"There's another gospel group I really love," mused David. "Let's see, let's see if I can remember their names ... mm, ah! ... The Swan Silvertones!"
"Yeah. You should pick up some of their records. Really stirring, you know? Makes your tits hard!"
So relieved was I at finally having connected after such a dismal start, I didn't mind in the least when David, unable to contain himself any longer, leapt up like a coiled spring shouting, "Hey, I just wanna play you a coupla things!"
So now followed "The Poindexter Tapes," for Chrissake, a musical merry-go-round wherein yours truly gets his just desertd.
|1. Jimmy Brenston, "Rocket 88"|
|CS||That piano in there does sound a bit like Little Richard ...|
|DJ||That's Ike Turner on guitar, by the way. It's Jimmy Brenston, from about 1949.|
|CS||Who? I've never even heard of him!|
|DJ||It's one of those many songs that claim to be one of the first rock'n'roll songs.|
|CS||Oh, well, "Rocket 88." It's just got the word "rock" in the title, that's all. Wasn't it "Good Rockin' Tonight" that was supposed to be the first time the word "rock" was used to describe a type of music or a type of dance? I used to think that Rock-Ola jukeboxes were named after rock'n'roll till I found out there was actually a guy called Fred Rock-Ola or something who'd been manufacturing the things since the Thirties.|
|DJ||Now don't look, okay? Turn around. I'm just gonna get this record out so don't look.|
|Louis Prima, "Angelina"|
|CS||It's Louis Prima! It's Louis, Louis Prima! I got it! I got it.|
(Hey, steady on, lad.)
|CS||One of my all time faves of Prima's is a song called ... actually, come ti think of it, it's a natch for you, David. For Buster, I mean. For Dexter Poinbuster, Pointer deckbuster, anyway, it's called ... "There'll Be No Time 'Cause You're going to the Jailhouse Right Now." I came across a copy of it on a vintage album in Bleecker Bob's. They wanted twenty dollars for it and although it was worth it to me just for that one cut, I didn't go for it. 'Cause I knew damn well poor old Louis wasn't gonna see any of that twenty dollars. Silly, I know a futile gesture. But I said to myself, I'm not gonna support this kind of things when the guy probably hasn't seen a royalty check in years. So I put it back in the rack and split. Later on, of course, I realized I really wanted it. I went back and the damn record had been sold.|
(But this was great stuff! Things were really rolling now, thanks to David. And I had sufficiently recovered my composure to be able to mutter, "Hey, Dave, I'm really sorry about playing all those stuff records earlier. I don't know what I was thinking of. I never went for any of that stuff either. I was really blowing it there for a while." )
|3. The Beau Brummels, "Laugh, Laugh"|
|DJ||Here's the American version of that era.|
|CS||I don't know, the Association? Nah! I'm guessing. Was this ever a hit?|
|DJ||Sure, sure it was a hit. Number one.|
|CS||You surprise me. Well, you really got me back for all that other shit. Come on, who is it?|
(David shows me the album cover.
|CS||The Beau Brummels? I don't belive I ever got to hear these guys. Heard of them, of course.|
|DJ||So now we're even, right? You know, one of the Beau Brummels was from Ireland and because of his almost-English accent, they thought it was so cool to let him do all the talking on stage. Introducing the numbers. Which one was it, now? Show me the cover. Ron Meagan?|
|CS||It's Ron Meager, Meager with an "r." Meager as in meagre talent.|
|DJ||Ah! No, it was this guy, the Irishman, Dec Mulligan. There's an Irish name for you. He was the spokesman, passing himself off as English. At least to the kids.|
|CS||I suppose that's why they had a French name, eh? Har, har, har.|
|DJ||The rest of the group were from San Franciso. But the guy who was the real creative genius of the group was this guy ... (Points an accusing finger at a certain at a certain Ron Elliot on the album cover.)|
|CS||Ron Elliot, eh? Hmm. Well, he's certainly got a lot to answer for.|
(Watch it, Spedding ...)
|DJ||I think they had a reunion a while back ...|
|CS||... and nobody came?|
(Much laughter, I think that'll be quite enough of that, Spedding!)
|4. Little Willie John, "Fever"|
|CS||Oh, no. I can't believe it!|
|CS||Little Willie John.|
|CS||yeah, okay, but er, listen, Dave. You see, I acually played this cut for Robert Gordon for the last issue of Details, which, as we speak, hasn't come on the stands yet. So you had no way of knowing. Robert got it, of course, although I didn't think he would. I'd not been aware of this version at all until Tom Finn, deejay at the Palladium, among other places, turned me on to it about a year ago.|
|5. James Brown, "That Dood It"|
|CS||I don't know. But you should do this. In your Buster act. It's perfect for you. Do you do this song? Do you ... "Dood it"?|
|DJ||No, but I'm gonna, I'm gonna. It's early James Brown.|
|CS||What! Oh, no! I shoulda got it! I shoulds got it!|
|Chris Spedding - the journalist|