Stu Daye-FREE PARKING LP (Columbia)
Only one LP for today's listening experience, the (as far as I know) debut disc from heavy metal somethingorother Stu Daye entitled FREE PARKING. This one came out in 1976 amidst a deluge of similar-minded heavy metal offerings (many of which were produced by Jack Douglas, who also handles the metallic production chores here), and like many of these mid/late-seventies toss-outs (especially those on Columbia's "sister" label Epic) they either seemed to go nowhere or make it big, with their legacy being the fact that they clutter up way too many "classic rock" stations with some of the worst offal imaginable. My interest was somehow piqued by Daye perhaps because he was part of the budding New York Scene (on and off) for about six or so years, and yeah, I know a few of you "readers" get so offended over me writing about just about anyone who's had any slight involvement with the New York Scene and that's your problem like I said, but look at it this way...I'm a fan, I have an interest in this movement and I like studying, listening to and writing about the New York (and related) seventies groups, clubs, scenes and happenings and if that makes me an unhip (whatever that means) nerd I guess that's your stupid opinion which you better keep to yourself lest you look even more retarded than the dorks who populate the pages of these "rock" magazines I've unfortunately had the mis-pleasure to come across over the past few months.
So (to borrow a phrase) who is Stu Daye? Beats me, though I can tell you what I do know. Daye's a guy who's been around on that aforementioned-to-death scene since at least the mid-seventies as the leader of this NYC hard rock act called New Model Army (no apologies to English creep Oliver Cromwell or the lame-o band of the eighties either!). This New Model Army also contained one Christian Osbourne, the guy who played dobro so masterfully on the first side of Yoko Ono's incredible FLY album and who later led a nth-string CBGB band called Uneasy Sleeper, as well as bassist Mark Abel who later ended up in City Lights, another "most likely to" band on the early CBGB scene who actually got signed to Sire and released an album in 1975 (see BLACK TO COMM #25 for a review of this album that could have gone somewhere but failed on most accounts).
As for Daye, he somehow got signed to Columbia and released this direct-to-oblivion album using the standard session men of the day (Tony Levin, Steve Gadd, Rick Marrotta...). Remember, these were the pre-vinyl shortage/profit crash days when all of the majors were signing just about every tin-horn singer/songwriter and heavy metal band left and right (just take a look through some old music mags of the day and see just how many acts who couldn't get arrested these days were getting record deals with all the biggies), so a hard rock guy like Daye would just fit in with the mode of the music that the likes of Columbia was pumping out at the time.
Lessee, nice typically surreal mid-seventies cover (hunters shooting automobiles from the sky), plus with the Jack Douglas production who could go wrong? Well, actually nothing really goes wrong here, only there isn't much right going for it anyway. FREE PARKING is what you would call a standard, maybe even "good" mid-seventies hard rock album, but there isn't much to discern it from the rest of the pack which also might have had their moments and all, but don't you need more than just moments to make even a halfway-decent rock album?
Actually, there are some good quasi-high energy moments extant. Yeah, they're typically seventies hard rock ones mind you, but they still sound good enough to capture your attention maybe if you have even an inkling of affection for the hard rock form (which I don't profess, but I still have a liking for heavy metal when it's run through a variety of punky/avant garde filters). Maybe Daye's days on the New York Scene helped hone him towards a less macho/more rockism course but whatever, some of the higher points here sound like something that I'm sure would have make a hit with the punkier aspects of seventies musical fandom who were brave enough to mix their metal and garage in the pages of such esteemed pubs as RAW POWER, DENIM DELINQUENT and BACK DOOR MAN.
Some of this even sounds like heavy metal Dylan, such as on "The Witness," a strange distortion/lie dealing with the relationship between Jesus and Judas told by someone who was waitering at The Last Supper which I'm sure would have theologians scratching their beans from here to eternity, had this disc only gone somewhere. Faring much better is the hard rock version of Paul Simon's "The Boxer" which transcends the original with sleighbells and crunchy power-chords coming off remarkably better than Honey Davis and his cover of "Bridge Over Troubled Waters." (Davis was this Johnny Winter-esque guy who spent quite a few years on the NYC club circuit before moving to Los Angeles and making a slightly bigger name for himself.) But frankly, most of this disc is plain ol' hard rock without the zip and zam that made a few hard rock bands transcend their by-then stale stature and zoom into high energy vistas which is where all good hard rock should go. (But whaddya expect considering the downer groove that stoner teenage Ameriga was in at the time?) The Stooges, Dictators, even Patti Smith on the Douglas-manned RADIO ETHIOPIA made it up there, but unfortunately Stu Daye remained down here with the rest of us.
But what FREE PARKING mostly reminds me of are some of the more heavy metal tracks that ended up on that second Max's Kansas City album, the one that earned Max's owner Tommy Dean a lotta death threats from assorted punks worldwide for its inclusion of a variety of kinda mainstream acts. These tracks, by such New York nth-stringers as Lance and Grand Slam, were actually listenable and perhaps even downright pleasing, but they weren't anything of what the seventies underground rock brigades who cut their teeth on Velvets and Dolls albums were expecting. Not surprisingly, these tracks were also produced by Douglas, who must have set some sort of record for most heavy metal productions of 1976 with all of these post-Aerosmith goodies that he ejaculated faster than Lancaster PA pops out Amish!
As for Daye, the only other thing I can find out about him is that around 1980 he got a power trio together with drummer Corky Laing (of West, Bruce and Laing fame) called the Mix, who not only played a gig at CBGB but released a mini-album. Unfortunately for all involved that trip ended in a haze of white stuff which I guess put Daye's chances for mass acceptance on permanent hold, but for obscuro-minded hard rock aficionados I guess this offering sure helps out more than had Daye went unnoticed, which is what happened with way too many people on the various seventies rock scenes who might have done better or worse than Daye, though my guess is that they probably did pretty much the same.
Sunday, September 05, 2004
Stu Daye-FREE PARKING LP (Columbia)