Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Radio Birdman Proves Rock and Roll Soldiers Never Die!


Few people remember the New Order, a band Ron Asheton formed with the MC5's Dennis Thompson after the dissolution of the Stooges and probably even less know their song "Rock and Roll Soldiers" where they claim to be "fighting the war against the jive", but it certainly struck a chord with me as more and more it seems to be a battle to keep a working band on the road and getting your music heard. The proliferation of media on the internet and the countless bands makes it hard to gain an audience and even harder to stick to your guns. Despite all this, Radio Birdman soldiers on, now 30 years on and sounding leaner and meaner, in the midst of only their 2nd US tour ever. Their devotion to Detroit style high energy rock and roll remains unshaken and their fire burns brighter than ever!

Last saturday in Baltimore I witnessed first hand the explosive full tilt boogie of a band that has lost none of their fire and breathes rock and roll with their every step. Rob Younger on vocals shows just why he has become a cornerstone of the Australian punk scene both as a mentor and performer. Small in stature only, more than anything his voice, still strong as ever, resonates as a major part of the bands sound, a howl from somewhere very dark and dank, a banshee's wail that cuts like a knife. It's the perfect foil for the slashing guitars of Deniz Tek and Chris Masuak. The Detroit native Tek burns our eyes and ears with his powerful sound as if he had motor oil running thru his veins, turning the band into a high octane machine smoking down the rock and roll highway.

Obviously, this type of undiluted scorch has little place today in the trendy pop music scene. Like soldiers, the band remains focused and just plows thru the muck of contemporary music. Far from being retro, fashion conscious, hipsters they remain true to their calling, a bastard child born of the MC5's "Black to Comm" and the Stooges "TV Eye", and I, for one, am grateful for their decades-spanning contribution. Revered in their Aussie homeland and relegated to medium sized clubs and cancelled dates in the US, its just another embarrasment for US music fans who continue to find their best artists welcomed with open arms overseas while ignored at home. (due to Mr. Tek, I claim partial ownership of Birdman for the US!)


The rock and roll pedigree of the band is of the highest order and their assault is a testament to the sound, fury and vision of a few iconoclasts who stood the music world on its ear with their testimony, chewing up their influences and spitting them in our face. Boy, did the near capacity crowd get spat upon in Baltimore as the band treated us to ultra savage covers of Blue Oyster Cult's "Hot Rails to Hell" (here we go with more smoke and fire metaphors!), the Who's "Circles", and a take-no-prisoners rip-roaring take on the Kinks "Till the End of the Day"! Smoking, indeed! Of course, I was disappointed that there was no "TV Eye" or "Looking at You", but you cant always get what you want. It was a life affirming show I am glad to testify and an inspiration to all who aspire to carry the rock and roll torch! Kudos are due as well for the opener, Awesome Color, a New York band whose debut is on Ecstatic Peace. Their heavy fuzzed out attack proved worthy of the opening slot as their set left me only wanting to hear more, so I bought their CD. It turns out their bassist is even a George Brigman fan and their guitarist laid down some truly Brigman-worthy heavy licks as well!

So it seems to be the thing to do would be to catch Birdman on the rest of the tour if you can and pick up their Zeno Beach CD as well. To make it easy, here are the rest of their dates. If you could put the essence of rock and roll in a bottle, it would be labeled "Radio Birdman"! Do you understand?

Thur 5th: Ottawa Bluesfest - Ottawa, Ontario
Fri 6th: Lee's Palace - Toronto, Ontario
Sat 7th: Beachland Ballroom - Cleveland, OH
Sun 8th: Blind Pig - Ann Arbor, - MI
Mon 9th: Double Door - Chicago, IL
Wed 11th: High Noon Saloon - Madison, WI
Thurs 12th: Triple Rock Social Club - Minneapolis, MN
Friday 13th: The Recordbar - Kansas City, MO
Sat 14th: Bluebird Theater - Denver, CO

2 Comments:

At 3:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rick, we at New Fate are grateful for your very interesting takes on Red Letter Day and on Lifeboats, both of which have just been out barely 2 months. Somehow, well actually, through dogged correspondence and a step-by-step plan, we have managed to put the pirate Radioactive RLD in full retreat. It's musical crap anyway
compared to what we were able to do sincde I still had the original 2 inch reels intact, allowing us to not only digitally re-master the songs, but to add the 10th and never before released song from that amazing 10 hour session.
After getting Amazon.com to finally agree to completely delete the pirate from their lists, they also agreed to carry both our CDs complete with the new artwork. Then I corresponded with The Genome Project/Pandora Radio and pleaded our case in a 5 page summary of what had happened, backed up by all the research and documented facts we had gathered in over 600 downloaded pages. We were stunned and restored measureably in our hope that the music industry CAN be a vehicle with more ethical substance than the Boxing industry ! Michael Zapruder went out of his way to see to it that the pirate was 'ripped out' of the roughly 40 stations featuring "Tom Lucas" and he uploaded in its place the new and only 10 song Red Letter Day, as well as Lifeboats, and even obtained the CDs' artwork from Amazon.com and has it uploaded with the CDs and their 19 songs.
Finally, the last cog was obtaine in our plan: acquiring a major global distributor. Let this be words of advice to other independents. We doggedly pursued Derek, the founder of CD Baby, to get a quick face-to-face to plead our case. I think he was caught in a hallway going somewhere else, but our story and plea was run by him in about 3 minutes, after which he assigned a staff person to contact SUPER D and lobby them to give us a shot. The good news came; we have our shot. About November 5 or so, we have a full page Ad going out in SUPER D's weekly "DISCUSSIONS: New Releases". They also will have us 'line-listed' with a small blurb, and that will be sent to over 10,000 retailers worldwide. A week later SUPER D's INDIES?EXCLUSIVES buyer will be sending out a 'one sheet' from him personally to his list of dealer reps, on which we will again be described in the best ways we can to convince retailers to give us a shot. Final irony Rick? SUPER D has a recent agreement with Phantom Distribution to cover the international sellers = PHANTOM - the same distributors who made the pirate Radioactive Red Letter Day a hit throughout Europe.And if they have trouble remembering the names and addresses of vendors in each country - we'll be happy to give them the list which we comp iled bhy doing the hard work of 3 months of daily research ! I guess what went around will come around again, but better, with a new song, with lyrics, but best of all, with our previously unknown Lifeboats album on CD with 8 page fold-out. To everyone out there who has been where I have, that's how to fight and defeat a bully, because he, like the devil, can only make pale imitations, whereas you and I get to make, or be vehicles for the making, of original art. TOM LUCAS

 
At 5:47 PM, Anonymous Hank,Woody, Phil said...

Tne new fans that we have been blessed with discovering the 1st two album CDs of Tom Lucas have the unsung heroes of people like Rick Noll to thank. Rick's latest blog article was, I think, the best and most effective article that he has published on his blog to date. He has become not simply one of the many isolated 'voices crying in the wilderness', he has become an important critic and commentator on today's state of the music industry as well as an important musical anthropologist who not only can recognize those special original musical voices, but can describe them and intelligently explain why he feels they are important in comparison to the trivial songwriters with nothing to say and the talented songwriters who do compose highly relevent music - both of whom enjoy sales in the hundreds of thousands - undeserved for the sell-out pop 'star' but deserved for a band that can create musical art such as "Sympathy for the Devil" or an album like "Remain in Light" by the Heads in their heyday.
Rick's blog article of a couple of days ago wove together the long and fascinating story of Bobb Trimble, his music, his exploitation, and his recent resurgence on his own terms, with the more recent - but probably even longer -story of my music's exploitation and degradation by people who should be banned for life from involvement in the industry, and re-directed to work in the area of their 'gift', which would be in real estate or as a speculator using insider tading to find his version of paradise on the bloody floor of the stock market.
Rick's writing on Bobb and me hammers home the truth that piracy is criminal activity that has ruined lives and killed art we will never see created. It used to have an almost 'wink and nod' charm about it, as too many superficial concert goers competed with their peers of similar shallow waters to compare bootleg tapes made on cassette decks with the musical substance of a well of sulphur water.
Rick is taking the lead because he has to, just as I compose songs about migrant workers like "Down to the Ground", because it makes me furious to see fat cats minimize the genetic mutations of 6 year olods working in vineyards laced with pesticides derived from exotic poisons that are also essential to the production of nerve gas.
In 2008 "Tom Lucas and the Collaborators" will be recording and releasing October 1st a 12 song 3rd CD, "Lost City of Art". These are new songs never recorded before and written over the years after Lifeboats was recorded. The "no more free rides for fat cats" continues in songs like "Coal Miner" which is written for the untold thousands like my grandfather who died of Black Lung. And "Tornado (Condemnation)" drives home the finality of the gavel smacking down at the end of 'courtroom justice'. I thank the ancestors who sacrificed so I could be born and the Divine that Cannot be Named that men like Rick Noll stand shoulder to shoulder with each and every one of us who gives a damn. Tom Lucas Halloween, 2007.

 

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