Jay Hinman, er, Gatsby-THE MOST WASTED BOY ALIVE LP (Arista)
AT FIFTEEN, he had already spent a million dollars.
AT SIXTEEN, he slept with Liz.
AT SEVENTEEN, it was Helmut.
AT EIGHTEEN, Jay Gatsby is the most wasted boy alive.
How many of you BLOG TO COMM readers remember the above ad that ran in one of those flaking issues of CREEM magazine way back in the halcyon days of 1974? (You didn't have to be there, just as long as you obtained an issue sometimes afterwards like me.) Remember, you'd turn one page and there'd be the same pic of some hotshot longhair everyday seventies kinda kid blowing a kiss atcha with the above captions presented smack dab on the lower right part of the rag...another ish had the same guy posing in orgasmic ecstasy with the by-line (or is that bi-line) "There's no excuse for a boy like Jay Gatsby" once again hyping some album that, judging from the reviews or better yet lack of them must have been yet another attempt to cash in on the then-hot post-Bowie decadence craze that was dying down by the time this clunker was released. Y'know, yet another David Werner or perhaps even Jobriath to get slam-dunked into a market already oversaturated with glammy glitzsters and heavy metal muscle rock amidst the whole wheat folkies and get-stoned-and-it'll-be-funny comedy albums so it's no wonder that this guy sank further (right straight past the cut out bins and into the Atlantic Ocean it would seem) than all those other discs that were vying for your money back in the best/worst of times we now call the mid-seventies.
If there is anything about this Gatsby whatchamacallit it's from a then-contemporary CREEM writeup, a mini-writeup at that in their "Rock-A-Rama" section courtesy of none other than famed Rocket From the Tombster/rock writer Peter Laughner who reviewed this guy's platter, and not too favorably at that (scroll down and read it for yourself). Besides mentioning Gatsby's premier disc for the ESP label (!) we also get a taste of Laughner's typically acidic wit which certainly fit in well not only with CREEM but the entire glorious pre-wimp out/PC-beyond belief rock press and youth gulcher of the time. I mean, the solitary line about the disc hanging limp when removed from the cardboard is pure genius in itself, and could wipe out 99.999% of this "Oh, I'm so-touchy-feely here in the age of Bush and if only we could express our angst better just so's the whole world could see our disgust and submit to our every demand..." modern school of rockscribing with one felt swoop, if only given the needed chance.
But, as collective blogland is muttering at this very instant...what is the music all about? Well, unfortunately I can't vouch for the ESP album which never was reissued (rights having reverted to the estate of Jay Gatsby upon his passing away from infectious hepatitis sometime in the late-seventies) and commands big smackers on ebay whenever it turns up, which is rarely) but thanks to a to-be-named-at-a-future-date reader of this blog I have obtained a rare CD-R of THE MOST WASTED BOY ALIVE, a classic in itself which will give you even more wham/bam/thank you ma'am glam thrills than the NATIONAL LAMPOON production of "Sipping Double Pernods in Berlin with Sweet Jane" ever will...
Don't be taken aback by the presence of the London Festival Orchestra slapping even more schmalz 'n glissandos than they did on DAYS OF FUTURE PISSED...the band backing up Mr. Gatsby on this art deco production is even ginchier than was originally thought. Naturally aliases hadda be used for copyright purposes (and to limit the "so-and-so courtesy of Electra Records" hosannas), but who would doubt that it wasn't Keith Moon bashing the skins on this plastic wonder (rumored to be the actual first Arista signing, not counting all the Bell leftovers that is) and that guitar playing sounds strangely akin to that of some toothless British rockstar with the shaggy mop look, doing a little moonlighting from his erstwhile glimmer twin in case you still can't connect the dots...
After the syrupy opening courtesy the Fest Orch (which serves the same purpose of setting the stage for this forgotten wowzer as "The Overture from Tommy" and "Titanic Overture" offa PRETTIES FOR YOU for that matter) comes Gatsby himself in tux 'n tails and walking cane (at least figuratively, this being a record and you can't see anything) doing the Leo Sayer "Looka me I'm a new ambisexual singer in thirties kitch clothes" songndance giving the listener an introduction to his special sway and style. Gatsby sounds something like a mix of Bowie with a dash of Steve Harley, yet it's all Amerigan because that's where the boy is from and heaven forbid he try to latch onto the limey tongue in order to impress a few leftover Anglophiles. (One reason I believe the usually friendly TROUSER PRESS ignored this potential fave.) And those lyrics! Take this little bit torn straight from the opening number "Boygirl Clone From Outer Space":
Shot into the sky as the planet screamed
Rocket into space had the atmosphere reamed
Landed on the Earth cockpit opened real wide
Outside I stepped in fullblown lavender pride
(copyright 1974 Firbank Music)
Yes, on this opener (that is, after the string slop is over) Gatsby gives you an idea of what's in store for all the sexually-confused pimple-infested twelve-year-olds who bought this overlooked monstrosity complete with a Superman reference filtered through a gay pride veil that shoulda made Gatsby the hit of the baths! (And that Buck Dharma-esque guitar wailing certainly helps this raver to be the best glam/metal statement heard since THE MAN WHO SOLD THE WORLD.) But that's not all you get on this mix of many moods boogiefest...the strings play tastefully on "White-Suburban-Upper-Middle-Class-Episcopalian-Democrat-Professional-Country-Club-Monday-Night-Bridge-Party Blues" which even gives Elliot Murphy a run for the Long Island Culture Shock money. Just dig this couplet (set to a snappy Roxy Music slimer of a beat): "Mom and the relatives playing their ol' Mah Jong/I don't need complacency...gimmee 'BANG A GONG'!!!!!" (once again, copyright 1974 Firbank Music). Snappy growing up is hard to do lyrics straight from the Mott the Hoople school of bend over!, and stacked up against the mellow musings of Joni and Cat it's not hard to see why the collective mood of the youth brigades went from the folk fairies of 1971 to the decadent sleaze of 1974 (and it is hotly rumored that Cat, upon hearing this album, decided to make the trek from introspective wheeze to facing Mecca on a daily basis!)
Some of THE MOST WASTED BOY ALIVE does schmooze on a bit, and like Laughner said the orchestral excesses can drag the proceedings down. But then again, they probably wanted to appeal to the progressive rock crowd as much as the deca-glamsters which would account for the, er, expertise in crafting such an art rock statement. However, at least "Mutant Spew" (the single "A" side, though I dunno what the "B" was because it seems that all copies of this rarity are mono/stereo promos) does help to capture the spirit of what made the seventies great with a hard-rocking attitude that I'm sure would have made great fodder for the hot fanzine writers on the boards like Kenne Highland and Eddie Flowers. Some might detect a load of Stooges-influence on this track but I doubt it (Stoogeophilia and umbrellas-in-fancy-punch mentalities simply do not collide)...still "Mutant Spew" really puts the icing on the cake(d makeup) with the strings adding the right amount of push needed (sorta like what David Bowie wanted to do on "Gimme Danger") as Gatsby screams in anguish his tale about the Klingons circling Uranus just so's they can make Gatsby their personal interstellar lovething. Sorta like the Roddy McDowell episode of THE TWILIGHT ZONE if that gay Kuchar Brother wrote it.
But still, once all's said and done and we've played THE MOST WASTED BOY ALIVE for the umpteenth time the truth sinks in. Jay Gatsby never spent a million nor did he sleep with Liz or Helmut and in real life he was just another kid who was stuck in front of a microphone and told to sing. Nobody great...maybe to the seventies what Arch Hall Jr. was to the sixties. But still, we should honor him just for that if for anything.