Tuesday, February 23, 2010


From David Solomonoff via his Facebook wall, here is perhaps the first ever solid information to be disseminated on Harlan and the Whips, his late-seventies "avant garage" group probably best known to readers of THE COVENTRY SHOPPING NEWS (like myself) and nobody else. Dunno about you, but I know this little bit has gotten my salivary glands working overtime and hopefully those tapes he mentioned will eventually turn up somewhere and be released more sooner than later, if only to help sate our undying Velvet-drone fixation. Solomonoff, Marotta, Shetler, Dromette....whoever...if you're (still) reading this look through your vaults asap! History awaits!!!

"Harlan and the Whips was one of the first garage bands I was in. I also played
with Bernie Joelson a little - he really encouraged me. The Whips included Paul
Shetler on bass, Lin Hopkins on guitar and occasional vocals, and me on slide
guitar. We sounded like a mix of the Twilight Zone theme, Sister Ray-era Velvet
Underground with a little Beefheart influence as well. In general, very crude -
Paul and I were just learning to play. We mostly rehearsed in the back of
Coventry Books. As far as I know, Paul had the original cassettes and lost them.
Johnny Thompson was interested in releasing a single from one of the cassettes
but it didn't happen. I went to Paul Marotta's studio, cleaned up the recording
and transferred it to reel. I don't know where that is now."


Serena WmS. Burroughs said...

I don't have any H & W tapes, but I may have one of Bernie, David, and me live in David's living room...I did get to see DS and Paul Shetler play in NY with the Cult des Goules (sp.?) way back when. Did you know that the cover drawing of David Thomas and the Pesdestrians' "The Sound of the Sand" is based on a photo of DS and me on the beach near Peter Ball's house during one of his parties? I am in the striped shirt.

Christopher said...

SEARCH THE BASEMENT, THE ATTIC, THE CLOSET...WHEREVER!!! These recordings (as well as those of Willie and the Criminal Secrets/Mystics) need to be issued! A great hunk of Cleveland underground rock history will otherwise be missing from our sordid lives!

Serena WmS. Burroughs said...

If I still have it, it's in the garage. The basement in my building is a fright, there is no attic, and as far as the closet goes, Lydia Lunch is in there and she can't breathe.

Christopher said...

Here's a shocking revelation re. Solomonoff:

"Sadly, the Criminal Mystics/Secrets were an apocryphal group created for the Shopping News article.

They were inspired by a Village Voice article about the Czech dissident group the Plastic People, who built their own gear after the government
seized their equipment. I wanted to create more of an impression of a scene by creating another imaginary group.

For the record, I did use an old Motorola stereo console in my living
room as an amp (it had a great reverb built in) as I was starting to seriously play the guitar (as opposed to some earlier abortive folk and classical guitar lessons). My first electric guitar was a horrible homemade construction, a gift from Pere Ubu's Robert Wheeler. The good
news was that I had no compunctions about abusing it, beating it with all sorts of objects and remounting the bridge so it was impossible to play with any normal sort of tuning. Somewhere there may exist a few
other lofi tapes of those earlier experiments but I don't know where.

By the time of the Whips we had graduated to Fender blackface amps. I also used a late forties-era Gibson suitcase amp.

I know this is a disappointment - for the record I think you're doing a great job working to document all the obscure byways of that era. There aren't many people writing like you any more, either. Carola does something a little similar but her beat is mostly politics. You might find her take on a recent corruption scandal in New Jersey, involving a
former burlesque queen turned deputy mayor and bribe collector, amusing:


The real shock is the last paragraph!

Nick B said...

Can anyone confirm if Lin Hopkins is deceased?

Peter Laughner's Friction played their debut at a birthday party for Lin at the restaurant Earth By April in Cleveland Hts in early October 1976. It was the only Friction show with Tony Maimone on bass. Tony left right after to go full time with Pere Ubu and Susan Schmidt and Debbie Smith joined. Anton Fier remained on drums.

Any info on Lin would be great. Thanks as always Chris!!!

nblakey at yahoo dot com