Tuesday, May 24, 2005


Lord knows that I don't exactly want this weblog to turn into the LOU RONE FAN CLUB even though he probably would want it to (!) and I don't mind writing about such well-deserving and oft-ignored iconoclastic rockers as he one bit, but I just got hold of something which I would in fact call an honest-to-goodness ROSETTA STONE-esque artyfact of the first (second?, third???) punkadelic explosion that I think you might want to know about if in fact you do want to know about such things (and really. who reading this blog wouldn't unless they happened to be some snivelling politically-pious enemy of all that is good and rockin'!). For although it may not be "much" (given what the entire universe encompasses), it's more'n "enough" when you're talkin' the development of an important late seventies musical cataclysm that I'm sure more than a few of you "rock fans" at least give some lip service to in order to look "hip" and "be with it"...c'mon, don't I have any real readers out there anymore???

Anyway, Danger was their name and if the truth be known they might have been one of the first truly no wave bands extant unless you count the early Suicide as well as that 1974/75 version of Kongress when it only consisted of Otto von Ruggins and VON LMO. Danger existed 'round '75?/'76? right at the time the New York scene was starting to break out of its local enclaves and sputter its "message" all across garageland USA and consisted of a 'twixt Cross and Kongress Rone on guitar, none-other-than Rudolph Grey on bass and the elusive "Dukes" on free-play drums. They only played one gig at New York nightspot Trude Heller's in spring '76 if Rone remembers correctly, and believe-it-or-not but that very night the group was introduced by his uncle or his grandfather or something like that who said they all was a buncha bums! (I could be wrong, and if I am I'm sure Lou will come swooping down on me!) Whatever, this Danger bunch were a complete mystery, not only to me but I'm sure to just about everyone else who continues documenting what was going on in New York back in those sainted times. Rudolph Grey never mentioned them, not even in that interview he did with whatzizname that was published in BLACK TO COMM #16 so ya kinda get the sneakin' suspicion that, due to Grey's conspicuous silence there's something here in his past he wants to hide from us fanatics eager to know about every burp and utterance that came outta the man's creative energy. Dunno why this would be, because if anything Danger were more or less a precursor to his own Red Transistor a year-and-a-half later and you'd think its very existence would be something Grey would proudly slap on his resume alongsides Transistor and the Blue Humans and his book and all that stuff ya love him for. But who knows...maybe the planets were outta synch or something and he didn't feel something right in his bones about Danger so he decided to cut it outta his memory like people try to cut out the time they whizzed their pants in church or threw up in sex education class, but as we all know we can never do that no matter how hard we try.

's funny, for a group like Danger it seems that a lotta things went against 'em which does figure. First off nobody knows about 'em, secondly they only played one gig and thirdly, that gig hadda take place at the trendy hangout Trude Heller's if you can believe that. Actually Trude Heller's might've been just the right place for such an auspicious appearance...one of the mid-sixties swinging places to be in Manhattan (in fact, none other than garage band heroes the Remains had a residency there at one time and on the Christmas edition of THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW [actually the 12/26 program] they appeared live and kicking along with the Trude Heller Dancers shakin' their bangles away!), by the mid-seventies this cabaret had begun booking some of the hot flash New York City upstarts such as Patti Smith, Cherry Vanilla and the Mumps. Why they never continued booking the En Why underground (the place coulda easily become another CBGB or Max's) we'll never know, but at least there was this other outlet for underground rock available in the burgh if only for a relatively short time. Anyway, the presence of such an avant act as Danger at what must have seemed like a more restrained setting must've unsettled more'n a few bar hoppers in the crowd!

Rone's guitar is perfectly spazz and almost Grey-esque white-noise in spots while on one more structured (if you can say that!) number he's back to a more heavy metal inclination. Proving himself a master of feedback, the squeals soar while drummer Dukes does his best to emulate Sunny Murray, and believe-you-me this guy could stand up against some of the better avant jazz drummers not only then but now and hold his own. (Kinda reminds me of one Dee Pop whom I've written much about in earlier posts and who must be the real thing since he actually plays with flesh and blood avant jazz guys and doesn't just jerk around with the form like way too many Milford Graves wannabes out there!) Rudolph Grey proves he's a natural musician who, although he says he can't play a note, does some good free playing (reminiscent of Jimmy Garrison, and on bass guitar!) as well as even standard (and IN TUNE) thud on the more metallic number. (And I think that's Rone doing the singing...if only he sang into the microphone mebbee we could hear him.) 's funny, but DNA used to consider themselves to be playing "fake" heavy metal and in fact this book I have on Japanese underground rock also referred to the early DNA sound as being HM, but Danger, like VON LMO (or even Crozier-period Kongress) could truly be considered a merger of the no wave and heavy metal idioms and such a good one at that that I'm sure the smarter minds at the old CREEM (back when they were raving about Amon Duul I and Big Brother and the Holding Company in pure metallic ecstasy) would agree with this assessment. That is...heavy metal as a big stinking mess that's more noise (and perhaps the true spiritual forefather of Voi Vod/Metallica/Slayer...) and less melody. TRANSLATION: if you think this is going to be sweetness and light YOU'VE GOT ANOTHER THOUGHT COMIN'!

Pretty powerful stuff this Danger music, and for the most part the quality is good enough that it transcends the usual "bootleg" mudvibe and might even be released in some form one of these days if we're lucky enough, that is. Only problem that I know of regarding this Danger live tape is that only sixteen minutes survive...y'see Rone lent it to Grey to take with him to Europe and when he came back most of it had CECIL TAYLOR taped over it. At least we have this "fragment" (and at least technology might be able to restore the tape to its original form if all that talk about retrieving taped-over recordings I've heard about is true) but whatever, this group, this recording and (especially) this DATE (a good year before Mars began playing out) is an important watermark as far as the development of no wave goes, and maybe once somebody actually sits down and writes a massive book-length history of the no wave it'll be things like this that'll finally come to light because really, it was this sorta quick-flash one-off beyond obscure chicanery that sorta made the no wave ideal so appealing, along with such other lower Manhattan rarities as George Scott's Jack Ruby and those three people who performed that impromptu gig using the Troggs' gear at Max's sometime in 1978 that even had Reg Presley gapejawed in amazement over what the true meaning of punk rock really is!


Christopher said...

UPDATE...according to Rone it was drummer Dukes and not he who was doing the singing on that number!

Christopher said...
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Christopher said...

(say this as Shemp Howard would've)..."STOP THE PRESSES!"...Lou Rone sent me the actual cassette that the Danger show reviewed above was recorded on, and on the label in faint letter I'm sure nobody but Dick Tracy with the aid of some high-tech infra-red light could see is the actual DATE of the gig which reads...March 3, 1977! However, when I told Rone this he said the date was WRONG and in fact this was recorded March 3, 1976! So, despite the false alarm, these guys were STILL at least a year ahead of the no wave brigade and frankly I think they should get a little more'n their due tossed at 'em for coming up with this blare before anyone else thought of it!