Here it is: the final installment of Soulfish Stew’s look back at Nashville Rock Post 1978. If you’ve missed the first three posts, here are the links:
Part One incudes: Jason and the Nashville Scorchers, The Dusters, Practical Stylists, F.U.C.T., Questionnaires, Dave Cloud, and Cloverbottom
Part Two includes: The Shazam, No Art, 69 Tribe, Walk The West, Chip and the Chiltons, White Animals, and the Young Nashvillians
Part Three includes: Webb Wilder and the Beatnecks, Jack, Shadow 15, Government Cheese, The Movement, Crop Circle Hoax, and The Enemy/Royal Court Of China
First up in this last part of the series:
Wally: Lambchop – From the first moment I saw this band (opening for Superchunk at the long paved over Pantheon) I knew they were different. Most rock bands usually don’t take the stage with seven people unless they’re playing early 70’s style Southern rock. Maybe it was because I was ready to rock out to Superchunk because Lambchop really bored me. I saw them again a few months later and I got the same blah feelings. First impressions are sometimes everything, because I’ve still not come around to their sound. They’ve made a fairly good sized dent in the music world and won critical acclaim across the globe, but they just don’t do a thing for me besides put me to sleep. I called up DD Blank for his take on the band and the idea that leader Kurt Wagner is some sort of genius and I got the following response. I guess I’m not the only one, but surely a few thousand Lambchop fans can’t be wrong.
DD: Lambchop – ZZZZZZ…
Best Years: I guess there’s no time like the present
Wally: Raging Fire – Melora Zaner was so dreamy! The ep Family Thing is one reason why I’d never get rid of my record player. That Pristine Records release has to be on the shortlist of all time great Nashville records. If I’m not mistaken, Rick Champion even managed them. Their live shows did indeed rage with fire behind the guitar twirling antics of Mike Godsey. Second release Faith Love Was Made Of on Neo Records was not as good a record and like most bands that never make it big, Raging Fire smoldered out.
DD: Raging Fire A Family Thing EP was a blistering moment in Nashville rock history. It was all over the college charts at the time and with good reason. It was fresh, cool, and rocked like a mother. Find a copy of it today. Melora Zaner, Lee A. Carr, Mike Godsey were great parts to a great band. They were another band that never got as far as they could have in the right situation.
BEST YEARS: 1984-1988
Wally: Clockhammer – During the late 80’s and early 90’s this jazz metal Black Sabbath wannabes band seemed to open every show I attended. I admired the heaviness of their unmelodic tunes that represented a darker underbelly of the city, but I especially liked the king hell bashing of drummer Ken Coomer who later went on to fame with Uncle Tupelo, Wilco and is currently with Swag. Their cds that came out on First Warning (I don’t know if both of these were with Coomer who is reported to have said a reunited Clockhammer sounded like “watered-down Kansas”) were steady sellers when I worked in the record store biz. They probably still are.
DD: Clockhammer – I would never include these guys in a top 20 list, except
perhaps top 20 bands for which I never understood the popularity. I
suffered through them at least once before a Firehose show and that was
enough for me. However, they seem to have a fanatical following and a
former Wilco member drummed for them at one time, so maybe there is
something that I am missing.
BEST YEARS: 1990-1992
Wally: P.M.S. – January 86 I got to see a last show at Cantrells, before it mutated into Panana Reds or some other tropical named hellhole, by the Circle Jerks. The opening act was PMS who were young high school age kids. They were probably terrible, but I was young and thought they were great. There might have been twenty punk kids in the place slamming to them, but it was transcendent. I especially loved it when the singer pretended to hang himself with the microphone and screamed out, “You bet this son has an attitude problem!” Later, after the Circle Jerks, we went to Wendy’s to eat and there was PMS at the next table. Through eavesdropping we figured out they were from Brentwood, probably some super rich kids, and that thought cracked us up.
One of the top twenty bands in Nashville post 1978? Not to most, but they always will be to me.
DD: P.M.S. – They were the first hardcore band that I ever saw live followed closely by the Circle Jerks. I was one about 30 kids at that show. They proved that there was nothing to worry about at a punk show in Nashville except that it might rock!
BEST YEARS: 1986
DD: Mr. Zero Lee A. Carr – on guitar and a rapper? I didn’t know what to make of this at first. It’s too bad that terrible cover versions of Mr. Zero have taken over the “modern” rock airways. These guys were actually fun and you didn’t feel like they hated for you to listen to them like their current clones.
Wally: Mr. Zero – Well, Lee wasn’t doing the rapping, but he was doing the playing. After playing with The Enemy and then Raging Fire he was one of the pioneers of rock and rap with his band Mr. Zero. They were the only one’s doing this stuff back then. They were true innovators and like most innovators, they were long gone before the civilization known as metal rap came to fruition. These guys were incredibly fun live. They were a party that knew no boundaries specializing in setting the roof on fire. The only possible recorded taste comes from their successors (I believe there’s a connection) the Hard Corpz. Sadly Lee A. Carr passed away a few years ago to little notice in the Nashville rock community.
BEST YEARS: 1987
Wally: Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams – A certain age. A certain generation certainly remembers the Panicmobile, an old junky spray painted car that would always be parked outside their gigs. Late 80’s punks with a soft chewy center, they put out one intoxicating lp titled Will Work For Food that featured off beat ditties galore. The most memorable Glass Onion show for me was one where the guitar player was an hour late. The crowd was getting angry and restless when word got around that he had arrived. The crowd’s anger disappeared as he appeared wearing a life preserver borne on the shoulders of friends. I wonder if they got their name from the Sylvia Plath book or from the song by Nashville’s Tom Fitzgerald which probably got its name from the Sylvia Plath book.
DD: Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams – A great name and fun songs made
these guys a delight for the few years that they were around. “She Just Said No” plays over and over in my head every time I get dumped
BEST YEARS: 1989
DD: Bill Lloyd - He came from Bowling Green, KY to give us hours of enjoyment time and time again. Popster, rocker, country superstar. Bill can do it all and he still does everyday. A city treasure!
Wally: Bill Lloyd – Don’t forget about the December Boys or Sgt. Arms. Nashville via Bowling Green, he is a ubiquitous part of this town and a heck of a nice guy. I miss talking to him when he would come into Phonoluxe though I don’t miss the work of being a record store clerk. He has played with everybody in all styles. How can you not love somebody that could write a line like “There’s a hole in my heart the size of your Jacuzzi”?
BEST YEARS: 1985-present
By my count, and DD’s the math professor (not me), that’s 28 groups we’ve appraised and found worthy. I’m sure we’ve come nowhere near satisfying the reader’s own choices so let us know who you’ve dug over the years from the fair city on the bank of the Cumberland. Just off the top of my head, let’s see there was Rumble Circus, Factual, Dessau, Grinning Plowmen, Jet Black Factory, Guilt, Tomorrow’s World, Word Uprising, Dr. Gonzo, the Boilers, The Claimstakers who were great, Thee Phantom 5ive, Dragula, Valentine Saloon, the Tennesse Walts, Brad Jone’s Dig Mandrakes, Will Rambeaux, Cruel Blue from the ‘boro, The Wrong Band, Tim Krekel and The Sluggers, The Nerve, Basic Static, Teen Idols, Rednecks In Pain, Lust, Simmonz, In Pursuit, Lambchop, Little Saints, The Thieves, John Jackson and the Rhythm Rockers, Burning Hearts, Freedom of Expression, De Novo Dahl, The Exotic Ones, The Creeping Cruds, Ted Lindsey and the Democrats, Electric Boys, Purple Giraffes, Luxury Liners, Who Hit John, Riff Rath, F Particles, Jonny Master and the Beta Klub, Idle Jets, Bare Jr, Will and the Bushmen who were incredible…can I revise my list? See what I mean? All of this was off the top of our head’s and merely scratches the surface of the great amount of rock and roll Nashville has produced. We didn’t even begin to really examine the 90’s in any real detail, which has seen a boom in talented acts. So, if you’ve been a resident of Nashville for the last 27 years DD and I don’t want to hear any complaining about how bad the music scene was because it just isn’t so.
Let me know who I missed.
This thrilling drama was first performed at Soulfish Stew.