|The first time we heard “Brakes On You” on the radio we were in the ornate living room of the Beacon Hill townhouse owned by former Red Sox pitching ace Jim Lonborg. Lorry was vacuuming his Persian rug and I was hitting his Early American oak wood bookcase with a feather duster. We were working one of Lorry’s day gigs as a house cleaner. When she heard her voice coming out of the stereo, Lorry screamed. I answered with a loud hoot as I dropped the duster and leapt across the room to shut off the Hoover so we could hear the broadcast from Oedipus’ MIT studio. I can’t tell you how excited we were. Yeah, I know it was only a crappy D.I.Y. single being played on college radio, but it was a moment I had fanaticized about since I had first heard Elvis when I was 8 years old. We cranked the stereo up, played air guitar and raided Gentleman Jim’s liquor cabinet for a celebratory drink. Pretty silly? Yeah, I know it was but so what? Writing for the Boston Phoenix, James Isaacs had called the single “nastier than a swarm of bees at a picnic.” And, it was.|
|Tracks...the Wild Ones|
|Lorry had already done a station I.D. or two for Oedipus (singing, “Heading for a gang war rumble ... got no laws, get in trouble ... Hey, this is Lorry Doll from Tracks! When I ain’t rumblin’ and tumblin’ I’m listening to Eddie Puss right here on WTBS!”). Now we went into full promotional mode. Lorry did an interview and more I.D.’s with Oedipus. We hit a bunch of other college stations including Greg Reibman’s excellent show on WERS in Boston and visited Brian Goslow on WCUW in Worcester where the whole band sat down for a chat. Me and the rest of the guys in Tracks pretty much froze up when that “On Air” light went on. But, Lorry had no fear. She just switched her own self on. She was a natural at it. Whatever came into her head she would spew out with most of it making sense or at least sounding like it was interesting. I let Lorry take care of all the on air stuff after that. Years later I saw Coal Miner’s Daughter on TV and those scenes of Loretta Lynn’s early do-it-yourself career promotion were amazingly on the mark of what we had been doing back in Boston.
We sent records and press kits to every radio station and publication we could find. Started getting some good write-ups and airplay. We pasted-up a little band newsletter in the guise of a fanzine called NEON where we talked about Tracks and some of the other doings on the Boston scene. It wasn’t exactly competing with Miss Lyn and Paul "Blowfish" Lovell’s Boston Groupie News or Bob Colby’s (sporadic) Frenzy! but it got us a solid mailing list and a bunch of orders for the single. We took trips into New York City and left copies of NEON and records on consignment with Bleeker Bob’s, Manic Panic and the slew of punk shops that were popping up all over Greenwich Village. When we went back they were always sold out – without the benefit of airplay. Radio in New York City, college or otherwise, was a hard nut to crack. They’d accept our record, but it was apparent they were only interested in airing U.K. punk or NYC bands. Unlike Boston, where Tracks had gotten a jump on many of the groups, it seemed every band in New York had at least one record out. So we started planning to set up some gigs in New York figuring that would help persuade radio to play the record. But we thought it best to wait a bit and let things percolate. As time went on, “Brakes On You” kept getting added to college play lists across the country. The publications needed lead time to come out with record reviews. We would hit New York when things were really popping for the biggest impact.
|Chapter 11. TRACKS – The Red Sox, the Radio and Irrational Behavior
Well, this is where things start getting serious. At the beginning of this whole history, I said that all this is my opinionated account - the way I saw things back then. I’m repeating that now because some people and bands of that era are going to be shown under awkward circumstances. I hope that no one gets pissed. Musically, it was an extraordinary time so I think it’s important to get the story straight and show the real atmosphere of what it was like. Lorry and I had a blast during those Boston years and – as the old song goes – it all looks pretty funny looking back on it. In 1977 all of us were rude, arrogant and ambitious. The credo of punk, I guess. Others might have a very different perspective on these same incidents. So if you don’t want to risk being disillusioned about some of your favorite bands, people or the climate of the scene, you might want to skip the next few chapters and go to the Links page for other historical accounts of these years.
|Back in Boston, we held back on gigs a bit, too. We loved to play, but Tracks wasn’t exactly an easy listening band and we didn’t want people to get tired of us. There were lots of new bands to take up the slack. Lorry and I spent our extra time off to club hop and check out this second wave of groups. Richard Nolan’s proteges the Neighborhoods were emerging as a popular band with David Minnehan a natural showman. I saw the Neighborhoods on stage for the first time at The Club in Cambridge. We couldn’t believe that Careful Mike Quaglia and his cohorts were the same kids we used to share rehearsal space with at that Newton church hall in what seemed like such a short time ago. We saw one of La Peste’s first gigs on a dead night at Cantone’s. The front man, Peter Dayton, was a shaky stage presence and they weren’t going over very well. But Lorry and I were very impressed by the strength of their songs and knew there was definitely something going on there. We talked to Peter after the set. He was obviously an intelligent guy (I guess that’s why the songs were so strong), a former art student like us and we got along real well. Very, very quickly La Peste became an extremely strong stage act, too. We could relate to, but were surprised that the Rentals art/punk rock would play in Boston. We loved ‘em, but “Gertrude Stein” at a party hardy night at the Rat? It was a bold and daring concept. The brainchild of artists Jeff and Jane Hudson, the Rentals also featured the illustrious Pseudo Carol switching off with Jeff on guitar and drums. We felt a real bond with the Rentals since we came from the same art background and they were (at the time) the only other band in town that featured a woman. We would play quite a few shows with them in Boston and later when we all lived in New York. Unnatural Axe were a refreshing addition and Richie Parsons and company really seemed to be having fun on stage. Unnatural Axe were also fun to hang with and Tracks eventually wound up “borrowing” their drummer for a gig or two. There were many more bands, but these were the ones (along with the original Boston new music groundbreakers) we knew on a more or less personal basis. We thought a few others were good, some okay, some plain didn’t fit into the scene (diverse as it was) and many more had obviously reinvented themselves (now that it was safe) and jumped onto the punk/new wave bandwagon hoping to cash in on a scene that was getting ever wider exposure.|
|With lots of bands, limited places to play and the tentative interest of major record labels, competition was now an issue and the Boston new music scene would never be the same. We had felt a strong camaraderie and kinship with those original bands, like we were all working at and were a part of something we instinctively felt was important. Indeed it was - it eventually would change the face of music forever. Whenever something cool happened for somebody - a show with a national act, an important write-up - we were all happy about it knowing it would strengthen the scene and help solidify our own individual goals. But now it was starting to become every man for himself. More and more bands were beginning to feel the need to fuck their fellow musicians over to get noticed or make an extra buck. There were still quite a few exceptions, like the bands I mention above and most notably JJ Rassler and DMZ who, although being actively courted for a recording contract, continued to push for other bands.
With 1977 closing out, Tracks felt like we were in pretty good shape for the new year – we had a hot single that looked like it could do something, the band was solid, we were making inroads into New York and other places, and the Boston scene was really starting to take off. And we were gonna cap off the year with a New Years Eve show at Cantone’s with their house band the Real Kids. Always one of our favorite bands to share a stage with, we had enjoyed going to their shows, too. They were fun to hang out with, but Lorry often got carried away and wasn’t able to stop herself from jumping up, and singing along and dancing to “All Kindsa Girls” whenever they launched into it.
|NOTE: Clicking on items highlighted like THIS will link you to additional information on the subject (some of these link to off-site web pages).|
|THE RENTALS - Pseudo Carol (right)|
|THE RENTALS - Jane & Jeff Hudson
Photos - Lorry Doll
|LA PESTE (left) - Peter Dayton and the late Roger Tripp combined with Mark Karl to form this Boston power trio.
|The original print of the picture sleeve photo for "Brakes On You"
Photo - Fred Taylor
|So we invited family and friends, lugged our equipment down to Cantone’s on the biggest party night of the year and were told at the door that we weren’t playing. Refusing to accept this from the club, they reluctantly revealed that the Real Kids had bumped Tracks from the show. Lorry never took no shit from nobody and she demanded to talk to John Felice. He wouldn’t come out. So we lugged our sorry asses back to Blue Door with family and friends and tried to have a party on our own. Lorry was emotionally upset to say the least. It was a cold slap in the face. I was more of a realist and was quickly beginning to fully understand the very real differences between friends and business acquaintances.
The story eventually surfaced (true or not) that their lead singer’s girl was being banged on the side by our drummer. If that’s the case (and I wouldn’t doubt it) I guess I can understand not wanting him, or his band, around. Although holding Lorry accountable without explanation seemed a bit extreme. If that story isn’t true, even twenty-five years later and with all forgiven, it still looks like a pretty crappy thing for one band to do to another.
So 1978 wasn’t starting off so good after all. This case of our drummer causing us problems would repeat itself and prove to be just the tip of a mountain of misery. But much worse things were in store for us in the coming year, including a violent incident which would ultimately determine the fate of Tracks and the future of Lorry and me.
NOTE: For a look at a typical "Rat Moment" in those days GO HERE.
|What do Tracks and this Cy Young winner have in common? One blew pitches right by batters ... the other just blew the pitch.