Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Stillettos-PUNK TRAMPOLINE! CD (Elda Sez, available through CD Baby or the group's own website)

Yeah, all of the pertinent punque info on those obscure En Why See bands you used to hear about way back when is comin' atcha at least twenny-eight years after most of you old fogies out there yearned for it, but lemme tell ya that I'm glad I'm getting this much-needed music NOW rather'n sometime in 2040 when I'm being wheeled into the Genocidal Elimination Chamber located smack dab inside your fave local Eugenics Camp! And yeah, it sure is great getting to hear a whole bunch of these seventies underground punkers like The Magic Tramps even if it is way after the fact, and believe-it-or-leave-it but it's just as great lending ear to this brand-spanking-new release put out by Tramps frontman Eric Emerson's one-time squeeze (a kid to prove it!) Elda Stilletto which should appeal to alla those people who used to dig the ever-lovin' daylights outta THE NEW YORK ROCKER, at least until that periodical began shoving the local bands to the back of the bus in favor of the latest British flash-o'-the-week, that is!

And if you were one of those kiddos in Podunk Iowa who used to comb through the ROCKER, ROCK SCENE and a whole slew of hipster rock reads to osmose to the Nightlife then going on in New York there's no doubt that you'll know all about this should-be-infamous lower Manhattan band that's best known for being the "original" version of Blondie, or something like that. I mean, any avid Blondie fan will undoubtedly have read the obligatory blurb about the Stillettos found in a wide array of punk history pubs and still consider them the true roots of Debbie Harry's decaglitz stardom, but as most En Why See scenewatchers'll tell ya Elda Stilletto (ne. Gentile) and her group pre- and post-date the involvement of Harry, Chris Stein and the rest of the natal Blondies that eventually sprang from this Stillettos lineup thanks to Elda's vamoosing and that other gal singer getting knocked up. Actually, Elda's involvement on the proto-punk scene in En Why dates back to the early-seventies and a Stillettos that lasted through a whole slew of membership changes and "special guest stars" ranging from the aforementioned Blondie buggers to Cheetah Chrome, Neon Leon and even jazz clarinetist Perry Robinson (looking rather loose in the booklet snap!), and it's pretty neat that SOMETHING has survived because this 'un's a hot potato that ranks with the Tramps for straight-ahead New York punk rock that lacks a lotta the self-consciousness and pretention that's plagued a hefty portion of the "underground" music "scene" for quite some time.

In fact, if I dare say so myself, the Stillettos are much better than Blondie ever were! Elda's got this great high-pitched voice that's a lot more appealing than Harry's breathy twirble (well, can you think of a better word?), singing like a punk take on early-sixties dago teendom and not only that but she doesn't play it all t&a even if she used to pop up onstage wearing nothing but strategically-placed suspenders above the waist! Plus the Stillettos have this New York Dolls groove that wouldn't surprise me a bit because one of the songs ("Can't Keep Foolin' Yourself") is an out-and-out plea to none other than one Johnny Thunders (and co-written with Billy Rath!) to watch it with the white stuff! (The song also has a little "Fox On The Run" and T. Rex tossed in, which doesn't hurt the thing one bit!) But yeah, it's all really pleasing New York seventies punk with a small slab of showbiz thrown in for good glam measure. If you like the Tramps and Ruby and the Rednecks and wish you coulda hung around at the 82 Club so's you could get a glimpse of Marlene Dietrich watching Wayne County in action then you'll love this 'un!

Lotsa faves here. Cee-Dee opener "Blood From a Stone" was Elda's attempt to write the world's fastest song in 1972, and while it's nowhere near the velocity of the hardcore speedmetal of a decade later it is sorta like "Personality Crisis" filtered through the Dictators' "Cars and Girls" with the Gizmos thrown in for good measure. "Wonder Why" is the Shangri-Las meets the Heartbreakers, while "Let There Be Pain" (written by the Wyndbrant Bros. of Miamis fame) is another one of those fifties rockers done seventies-style sorta like what the Dolls, Sweet and Hackamore Brick amongst a thousand others were doing at the time and lemme tell ya they all came off a whole lot better'n the patented phony HAPPY DAYS fodder, probably because the Stillettos sound like they actually LOVE the stuff and for the right reasons as well! And the fact that they're mixing fifties love paens with seventies decadent s&m imagery only adds to the ironic beauty. (Anudder track entitled "Tar On My Back" which was the first numbah written by Ms. Stilletto also uses the fifties motif, and the fact that this one's about people who get their jollies fooling around in public places only adds an even kinkier seventies feeling to it! Let's face it, PUNK TRAMPOLINE is one disque you can listen to while reading PENTHOUSE FORUM!)

"Pink Stilettos" (no sic here since this is how it tis spelled correct-like) also deserves mention because it's about how Sylvain Sylvain would borrow Elda's dresses and make-up, and according to the liner notes he still owes her for the latter!

I was expecting a lotta feedback due to "Feedback Rock"'s title but didn't get much of that, though I did get a whole lotta hot pseudo-funkpunk that sorta Velvet Underground drives everything into some weird post-Roxy mess that's a beaut! And of course Elda deserves the punque crown of '78 for writing the aptly-titled "Anti-Disco" which at least tops the usual disco sux rants with some wunnerful high-energy rock & roll music that proves that a lotta the '78 alternative to disco (mainly, FM classic rock) wasn't any better!

"Mercer Street" might as well be about the infamous Mercer Arts Center (breeding ground for many a local band pre-CBGB's) but I guess it ain't. It's about transvestites and transexuals and transistors and Transylvania for all I know and it was co-written by future Mink DeVille Fast Floyd of Famous Firebirds Fame, who did a wild flashout himself by killing his narc-snitching ex-galpal, the cop who was escorting her, and ultimately himself! After hearing this song, you'll believe it. Kinda sounds like Ruby and the Rednecks, and considering the similarities twixt the two I get the feeling that there were some people getting these aggregates confused just like Byron Coley used to get VON LMO, Walter Steding and Boris Policeband all mixed up!

Cee-Dee closer "Feedback Jazz" is a perfect capper on a surprise outta-nowhere disque coming off like a weird funky cross 'twixt Can's "Pinch" and some magical Kongress chant heightened by Perry Robiinson's avant garde clarinet playing. In all this thing is a proverbial "cooker" which only makes me wonder just how much power and energy the Stillettos could whip up in front of a hot and sweaty live audience during one of the most creative times for rock (as a movement, and International Youth Language, a maddening obsession...) to date.

We need more or this stuff. Reading old Fred Kirby reviews in VARIETY and obscure information in ancient NEW YORK ROCKERs only makes me more hungry for the likes of such promising seventies New York (amongst other) underground groupings whether they be Uncle Son, Ice, Sorcerers or a thousand more bands that somehow got the shaft while twaddle the likes of Madonna (yech!) made it big. So please all you aging New York City survivors...release your underground wares as soon as possible! Really, we need your down-to-earth atonal mumblings a lot more than we need the new alternaindie collegeboy quackdom out there that somehow mutated outta the trailblazing you guys did way back when. And Elda, I sure hope you're reading this, and if you are here's a nice little tip---why not put out something by your own progeny's group! (For the uninitiated, that's the Bratles who was formed by the then-ten-year-old kid she had with Emerson...their two gigs were hot ones as well, the first being at Max's Kansas City while their last was at the Palladium opening for the Clash...and all I was doing at the same age was playing with my Dinkys, watching BARNEY BEAN and drawing "Impy" comics while kicking my dog Sam upsides the head! Goes to show you what an underachieving mental nut I was and shall remain!)


radiopoetique said...

you rock - how can I buy the book -Elda Rose - Adventures in the New York Underground. The Pay Pal isn't working. Thxn - Susan

Christopher Stigliano said...

Good question, Susan...if I were you I'd try again or write Elda personally. I'm thinking about getting that book myself!

Elda Stilletto said...

The book is almost ready. I have one more pass through to get it as typo free as possible. It will be ready in about a week. i will put the pay pal up as soon as its done.

Anonymous said...

Just saw this -- had no idea anyone even remembered my band, Uncle Son! If I have any old recordings laying around (which I might) I'll send them along. I was one of the two back-up singers -- just a working class kid from Queens. -- Linda CG

Christopher Stigliano said...

Uh Linda...feel free to send ANY information my way. If you do I'll love you forever, or perhaps for the next few weeks!-Chris

Whyoh said...

K. Will dust off some tapes, and I do mean tapes.

BTW, no one had any idea that this "punk" stuff was anything special or super hip. Punk was mostly a bunch of disaffected working class white kids, usually from the "other" NYC boroughs who were just trying to make some different music and have some fun. Who knew. -- Linda CG aka Wyo

Anonymous said...

This band appeared in the 70s porno 'punk rock', an R-rated DVD version was recently released that features more footage of NY punk bands playing Max's Kansas City and less sex.

Christopher Stigliano said...

I remember when one of the local television stations did a story on punk rock back in '77, and a shot of the poster for the porn PUNK ROCK movie playing at the Foster Theater (Y-town porn palace) was briefly featured! Naturally the report was very weak (and sleazy considering the use of that poster) complete with an interview with a local AM disc jockey who of course knew nothing about it other than what he read in the papers. I remember the same DJ having a call in about punk on his show and naturally he got the same timid girls calling in about how much they liked Dolly Parton!