RAGS CD (RPT)
These proto-punk archival digs just keep on a'comin', and although this one ain't exactly fresh off the conveyor belt of past follies (it has a 2006 copyright date) this Rags Cee-Dee is but the latest in a long line of seventies rock (re)issues to hit my laser launching pad! And if this 'un's any indication of just what future thirty-plus-year-old revivals may entail well all I gotta say is who needs this current rock scene brouhaha anyway???
A good 'nuff part of the mid-seventies New York underground rock scene (with appearances not only at such respected dives as Max's Kansas City and Club 82 but the infamous Mothers as well!), Rags' main influences were reported to be (via the pages of the fanzine RAUNCHY ROCK) the New York Dolls, the Velvet Underground and Fats Domino! Well, while they sound like the Dolls about a half-hour after coming down from their latest fix, have none of the avant garde energy of the Velvets and Domino could have out-rocked 'em all even with a cramp in his left hand, these guys could still do well enough as evidenced by these demos (and live track) that probably give us a good idea of what else was going on in lower Manhattan in the seventies besides Talking Heads and Blondie.
The Dolls seems to be Rags' major swiping point, and although lead singer Joe St. John sounds like David J. with a head cold he still seems an affable enough frontman type at least judging from the at-times bouyant material he's warbling. And most of the tracks from "Magnum Lady" to "Rock & Roll Shoes" (not the Reddy Teddy track) do seem to have that Dolls "feel" to it, perhaps an underproduced Dolls but then again this was the mid-seventies and beggars can't be choosers! And yeah, some of the tracks might be too "cock rock" for the more alternative-bred amongst you BLOG TO COMM readers but I find Rags' applications of heavy machoness a lot more palatable than most seventies/eighties "hair bands" (ie. by the time the struttin' starts to get to you the song's over) plus they manage to balance their act with some quiet popsters like "Lilly La" which has such a nice early-sixties pop feeling to it that they could stick it on one of those "quiet hits of the fifties and sixties" radio stations and your Uncle Ernest with the American Legion cap'll probably get a kick outta it as well! (Unlike he would have thirty-five years back after getting an eyefulla of these guys' tresses!)
OK, they can't all be the Stooges or Dolls or Dictators or Velvets or what-have-you, but Rags, even with their play for the bigtime AOR FM-radio market approach (with a Dolls demeanor of course!) sound a lot better'n some of the competition that they were battling for precious gig-time back then. Perhaps this release is but the start of a busted damfulla releases by long-gone seventies underground acts who used to play for peanuts at CBGB until they gave it up in frustration 'round '76 while seeing the oft-plugged stars of the place getting recording contracts. Considering the rather pallid state of jamz these days I can only hope so...I mean, the Electric Eels and Magic Tramps got their posthumous praise, so perhaps the time is ripe not only for Rags but a thousand other long-forgotten bands out there!
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