Boys in the Back, the Fast Life, Seventh Ray, Symbol Six – LIVE!


Boys in the Back, the Fast Life, Seventh Ray, Symbol Six
The Central, Santa Monica, CA
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Admission $10.00
Time: 8:30 PM

I was hanging out with record label owner a while back, and said label owner was telling me about this quirk that Tim Armstrong, of Rancid, is said to have about going to shows. He (rumor has it) doesn’t like to be out in public. He’ll be invited to shows, he’ll decline, but if he’s harassed into going, he’ll show up, say “Hi” to everyone, excuse himself to go to the bathroom, or get a drink, and no one will see him for the rest of the night. When the label owner was done with the story I didn’t see anything wrong with that. I’m pretty much the same way. I’m not agoraphobic; I don’t like being thrown into crowds of people I don’t know. All through my 20’s I’d show up at a party, then say “Hi.” And I’d be gone before someone could finish ½ a beer.

After the early ‘80’s punk scene dried up, I stopped going to gigs. I would attend a concert here, or there with whomever I was dating at the time, but never more than one every year, or two. So, after years of writing this column, and recounting shows I attended years before, a friend of mine, Jay, kept telling me I needed to get out, and see some shows, I kept saying I would, I would, but never did. For one reason, besides not liking crowds, I hate going places alone. Even in my younger days, I didn’t like running up the street to the corner store alone, it would bum me out. Why? I have no idea. So, the thought of hitting the clubs to see shows, was just a bit too much for me. This past June, my Daughter came out from Florida for the summer. A couple of weeks after she had arrived, she raided most of my music collection, and was seriously digging on the Cobra Skulls.

One afternoon, while flipping through L.A. Weekly I saw that The Briggs, Cobra Skulls, Longway, and Your Arsenal were playing a KROQ sponsored show at The world famous Troubadour. So, with her here I had a cushion, so to speak, and a reason to go. All stress aside, we had a great time.

From June 2010, to November 2010, I’ve seen fifteen bands; I’ve been on a roll.

So, Eric Leach, of Symbol Six, invites me out to see them in beautiful, downtown Dogtown, at the opening of the Crest. Of course I accept.

That afternoon, I hear back from my Brother that he can’t go with me. So, I hit up a few other people – and no one can go. So, rather than flake, I buck up, and go alone. This is the first show that I have attended alone since 1982, when I spent the night hanging out with the guys from The Flesheaters, and Weasel Music.

So, my Wife sets up the GPS on my phone, hold it in my lap, and I’m there in no time flat. I arrive, and pay six bucks to park, and get to the door, and find out that the club doesn’t hold guest lists ahead of time. Each band has to bring it with them as they arrive. With Symbol Six not scheduled to play until 10:00 or 10:30 it might be a long wait.

Eric Leach being the mastermind that he is called Sean King from Seventh Ray, and had me added to their list, and Symbol Six would add one of their people, etc.

Now, some of the best memories I have of shows always tended to be the stuff that happens outside of the clubs. The small talk, the drama, and friends you make, this night was no different.

I hang out in front of the club, which shares a parking lot with a dance club that had a predominantly African-American clientele. I haven’t been to a dance club, in close to 15 to 20 years, and these people were dressed better than me on a church day.

Anyhow, I stood around chatting with the bouncer for an hour or so, and he was cracking me up. Why? Because he spoke out of the side of his mouth, like Popeye, in a Norwegian accent that I couldn’t understand. After every sentence he laughed. He laughed, I laughed. After talking for 45 minutes, he stretches, and yawns. Some woman who showed up early to see Seventh Ray and Symbol Six yells to him “No yawning.” He looks at me funny, and says, “That’s my name.” I almost shit, I say, “What?” “My name is Yawn. It’s very common in Norway.”

Anyway, that was the tone of the evening. Shortly before going into the club a car pulls up to park. The driver lets out a youngish lady, and then helps another woman out of the car. The second woman is using a walker, and is carrying a cane. She shuffles up to me, she appears to be 70ish, and says, “What’s cooking good looking?” I freeze. I’m not usually speechless, but I was then.

I walk in to see Boys in the Back start. Remember as kids we were told if you don’t have nice to say, don’t say anything? Well, I didn’t listen. Boys in the Back blew donkey. Into their second or third song, their guitarist seemed confused, or something, so he left the stage. An audience member who was more familiar with the song came up, and finished the set. Weird.
The second band of the night was The Fast Life. Unfortunately, I don’t have anything good or bad to say here. I don’t remember disliking them, but I don’t remember them either.

The third band of the night was a band whose name I had seen around for a long time, Seventh Ray. I overheard one of the band members saying in the parking lot before the show that their singer had just quit, either that day, or the day before. But being troopers they were set on honoring their booking.

Now, I had never seen this band, nor had I ever met them. So, I walked in not knowing what to expect. I don’t know their style, plus they are singer-less. They were great! I’m kind of at a loss as to how to describe their music. There were pieces of U2, with pieces of Rush, with this, sort of, dream like mysticism in their music. I’m not sure how they sounded with a singer, but they were great without one. Here’s the best way to describe them: you are going through some trying times in your life, and you want a perfect soundtrack for your life. . . turn on Seventh Ray

Symbol Six pulled into the parking lot at this time, like a band of gypsies, one caravan after another. Everybody moving in fast motion, set lists being written by hand, guest list written, and taken to the door, every waiting fan greeted, a hundred pounds of gear, tuned and set up, and placed on staged. It looked like a week’s worth of work done in 15 to 20 minutes.

Once the dust seemed to settle I go up, and say “Hi” to everybody. Some remember me, others I re-introduce myself to at every gig, that’s a story for another time.

I follow Eric leach, and the band’s tech, inside, they scope the height of the room, debating whether or not the shorten their onstage banners, I listen, and hold up my hand and say the banners will fit if placed at an angle, otherwise they need to be shortened. As I have my hand held up the previously mentioned walker lady comes up to me, and says, “I like that, are you telling me you’re erect?” If I was speechless before, I’m frozen now.

I hit the bar for another free diet coke the lovely bartender has been feeding me all night.

As soon as Symbol Six hit the stage the place came alive. The guys from Seventh Ray are dancing, a handful of the usuals are there dancing. The walker lady moves to the front of the stage, and starts doing some kind of burlesque type of dance with her cane.

They ran through 2 songs from their classic EP, Taxation, and Symbol Six. Then about midway through their set they say “Mike E. is in the audience.” Shit, I’m famous! And then launch into Dog Days, and say “That was for Mike E.”

Then going off of the set list they launch into London’s Burning by the Clash. Great version, and even better they don’t perform it with shitty cockney accents.

If you have a chance to see them, go. You won’t have a chance to sit down, nor will you want to.

Of the tracks played . . . my favorites were: Taxation, Symbol Six, Dog Days, and London’s Burning.

All in all, a great show. The PA was good, clear view of the band, and we had fun.



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Symbol Six – Monster 11


Symbol Six
Monster 11
Released: June 2010
Produced by Jimmy Sloan
Symbol Six Music (

Eric Leach – Vocals
Donny Brook – Bass
Phil George – Drums
Taz Rudd – Lead Guitar
Mark Conway – Rhythm Guitar

1. Napalm Love
2. Go
3. Cannonball Birthday Boy
4. Dog Days
5. Death Seed
6. Shadows
7. Concrete Garden
8. Sticks N’ Stones
9. No Shelter
10. Slave
11. Long Way Home

What do you get when you take five guys from L.A.’s original hardcore scene, and rip them out of the clubs (Godzilla’s, Cuckoo’s Nest, etc.), and let them simmer in a crock-pot of music for the next thirty years. Take them out (all original members) give them their instruments, and throw them right back into the L.A. clubs to finish what they started.

You get an incredible cross of original Symbol Six, a pinch of Nirvana, and maybe a tablespoon of Guns ‘N Roses, and all this stirred together gives you some of the purest street rock since. . . shit, I don’t know when.

It’s great to see these guys back, guys that have absolutely nothing to prove, a band that was around when the music was still dangerous. They were fifteen years old and playing at places like the Cuckoo’s Nest, where on any given night who knows who would end beat up by cowboys, police, or any numbers of bouncers or lunkheads inside.

The music on this album is strong, on one track you can feel the intensity of the original hardcore music, on others you can feel the dirty vibe that was there on the original Guns ‘N Roses album. Not a rip-off since these guys were around before Guns were a band.

An old high school friend of the guys from Symbol Six, Jimmy Sloan, produced the album. Some of Sloan’s credits include albums produced for: Fishbone, Kenny Wayne Sheppard, Phranc, Rhino Bucket, The Slumlords, and The Hangmen. Sloan also engineered albums for the likes of: The Offspring, Weezer, and Busta Rhymes.

Symbol Six was born in 1980 out of the ashes of hardcore punk bands, Der Stab; Ohio’s Necros; and garage punk band, Gaudy Trash. They represented the change that the Los Angeles punk scene was going through as the old Hollywood-Masque scene was fading away and a new sound was coming from the beaches, the Inland Empire, and from Orange County. Symbol Six took their classic 2-guitar assault sound with big hooks to audiences all over Southern CA.

Symbol Six began playing with future legends: Social Distortion, Red Cross, Adolescents, T.S.O.L., Youth Brigade, CH3, Detours, 45 Grave and Agent Orange, just to name a few. The Los Angeles music scene was extreme, dangerous and like no other. Symbol Six was there, square in the middle of it all, kicking ass, and taking names. By late 1981 the band recorded their legendary debut 5-song EP “Symbol Six” on Posh Boy records. Along with worldwide record distribution, and radio play, Symbol Six was given heavy rotation on L.A.’s KROQ by the legendary Rodney Bingenhiemer. Symbol Six had arrived at the upper tier status, and were now fast becoming one of the best bands on the scene, and all by the age of 15.

Today, Symbol Six is back and they bring to you the highly anticipated, all new, full-strength album, “Monsters 11”. Expect nothing less from Symbol Six as they kick ass, take names, and energize the world.

If you haven’t already heard this, buy it, and give it a listen!

Rating: ** * two out of three stars



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Lou Reed – Transformer


Lou Reed
Released: November 8, 1972
RCA Records

Lou Reed – rhythm guitar, lead vocals
Herbie Flowers – bass guitar, double-bass, tuba on Goodnight Ladies and Make Up
Mick Ronson – lead guitar, piano, recorder, string arrangements
John Halsey – drums

Additional personnel
David Bowie: backing vocals, keyboards, acoustic guitar on Wagon Wheel
Trevor Bolder: trumpet
Ronnie Ross – baritone saxophone on Goodnight Ladies and Walk on the Wild Side
The Thunder Thighs – backing vocals
Barry DeSouza – drums
Ritchie Dharma – drums
Klaus Voormann – bass on Goodnight Ladies, Satellite of Love and Make Up

1. Vicious
2. Andy’s Chest
3. Perfect Day
4. Hangin’ ‘Round
5. Walk on the Wild Side
6. Make Up
7. Satellite of Love
8. Wagon Wheel
9. New York Telephone Conversation
10. I’m So Free
11. Goodnight Ladies

Transformer is the second solo album by Lou Reed. Produced by David Bowie and Mick Ronson, the album was released in November 1972, on RCA Records.

As with its predecessor Lou Reed, Transformer contains songs Reed composed while in the Velvet Underground (here, four out of ten). Andy’s Chest was first recorded by the band in 1969 and Satellite of Love demoed in 1970; these versions were released on VU and Peel Slowly and See, respectively. For Transformer, the original up-tempo pace of these songs was slowed down.

New York Telephone Conversation and Goodnight Ladies are known to have been played live during the band’s summer 1970 residency at Max’s Kansas City; the latter takes its title refrain from the last line of the second section (A Game of Chess) of T. S. Eliot’s modernist poem, The Waste Land: “Good night, ladies, good night, sweet ladies, good night, good night.”

As in Reed’s Velvet Underground days, the Andy Warhol connection remained strong. According to Reed, Warhol told him he should write a song about someone vicious. When Reed asked what he meant by vicious, Warhol replied, “Oh, you know, like I hit you with a flower,” resulting in the song Vicious.

Although all songs on the album were credited to Reed, it has long been rumored that Wagon Wheel is actually a David Bowie composition.

Transformer was produced by David Bowie and Mick Ronson, both of whom had been strongly influenced by Reed’s work with the Velvet Underground. Bowie had obliquely referenced the Velvet Underground in the cover notes for his album Hunky Dory and regularly performed both White Light/White Heat and I’m Waiting for the Man in concerts and on the BBC during 1971–1973. He even began recording White Light/White Heat for inclusion on Pin-Ups, but it was never completed; Ronson ended up using the backing track for his solo album Play Don’t Worry in 1974.

Mick Ronson (who was at the time the lead guitarist with Bowie’s band, the Spiders from Mars) played a major role in the recording of the album at Trident Studios, serving as the co-producer and primary session musician (contributing guitar, piano, recorder and backing vocals), as well as arranger, notably contributing the lush string arrangement for Perfect Day. Reed lauded Ronson’s contribution in the Transformer episode of the documentary series Classic Albums, praising the beauty of his work and keeping down the vocal to highlight the strings. The songs on the LP are now among Reed’s best-known works, including Walk on the Wild Side, Perfect Day and Satellite of Love, and the album’s commercial success elevated him from cult status to become an international star.

The cover art was from a Mick Rock photograph that fortuitously went out of focus as he was printing it in the darkroom. Rock noticed the flaw, but decided he liked the effect, so he submitted the image for the album cover. The back cover shows a woman and a man. The man, Ernie Thormahlen (a friend of Reed’s), has a banana bulging from his blue jeans.

In a mixed review for Rolling Stone magazine, Nick Tosches highlighted four “quality” songs, including Hangin’ Round and Satellite of Love, which he felt express a stimulating sexuality, but dismissed most of the album as “Artsyfartsy kind of homo stuff” that lacks assertiveness. In a retrospective review for The Rolling Stone Album Guide (2004), Tom Hull wrote that Reed “Wrote a bunch of clever new songs and tried to cash in on producer David Bowie’s trendily androgynous glam rock, which worked well enough to break Walk on the Wild Side.”

In 1997, Transformer was named the 44th greatest album of all time in a Music of the Millennium poll conducted in the United Kingdom by HMV Group, Channel 4, The Guardian and Classic FM. Transformer is also ranked number 55 on NME ‘s list of “Greatest Albums of All Time.” In 2003, the album was ranked number 194 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. It is also on Q Magazine’s list of “100 Greatest Albums Ever”.

The first single from the album, Walk on the Wild Side, became an international success, despite its controversial subject matter (it was edited in some countries and banned in others). It is now generally regarded as Reed’s signature tune.  Satellite of Love was issued as the second single in February 1973. In 2002, a 30th anniversary edition of the album was released; in addition to demos of Hangin’ Round and Perfect Day, it includes a hidden track featuring an advert for the album. Following his death in October 2013, digital sales of Transformer, Walk on the Wild Side and Perfect Day all rose more than 300%, and Walk on the Wild Side cracked the new Billboard Rock Digital Songs chart at #38.

In closing, buy this album and put it on repeat.

Rating: *** three out of three stars

On to the story . . .

I was driving my son to school today. At around 8:45 or 8:50 I pulled up to a stoplight. On my right was an alleyway with a house on each side. In front of the alley were three shopping carts. Two of the carts were covered with tarps; the third cart was filled with empty plastic containers, milk jugs, Gatorade bottles, etc.

While I was sitting at the light, I saw something out of the corner of my eye; it was a woman coming out of her back gate and into the alley. She didn’t see me. She looked around real skittish-like and ran for the third cart pulled out as much of the plastic as she could carry, then noticed I was watching and ran back to her gate and shut it.

I’ve seen a lot of things in my life, but seeing old women rip off homeless people is pretty damn weird. I’m holding judgment because, honestly, I don’t know who needs the money more.



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Symbol Six – LIVE!


Symbol Six
Harper’s Theatre, Tarzana, CA
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Admission $15.00
Time: 10:00 PM

This was a great night set around some pretty damn good music. A good night on a couple of different levels, first my Cousin Chet, who I’ve only seen twice in the last twenty years was going to be back in town, and it was his Birthday, so we were going to head out, and see Symbol Six. Secondly, his two sons could come to this show as it was an all ages gig. And if you have to drag your ass out of the house on a weeknight this was the perfect reason, the place was a few minutes from the house, and it would be a night of friends, family and music.

I neglected to mention that Eric Leach of Symbol Six had put me and my partners in crime on the guest list. Eric had arranged with the club that the first fifty people to see Symbol Six would get in free.

Anyway, I get to the front of the place, and I see vocalist Eric Leach, bassist Donny Brook, and guitarist Mark Conway talking off to the side of the club. I stop and rap for a minute, and come to see that across the street from the club is crawling with cops. As Symbol Six was being interviewed for an Internet radio station, a hit and run happened. The crash can be heard during their interview.

Then, as I head to the door, a fight breaks out between, I think, a guy and some girl. The girl was winning, and started in on security as they were trying to pull her out. So, the cops walked across the street to handle this too.

Anyway, Eric Leach supplied my Cousin’s boys with signed CD’s, and talked with them for quite a bit, snapped some pictures, and created massive Symbol Six fans!

Me, and the Family talked for a bit outside, and a bit before 10:00 we went in just as Symbol Six was taking the stage.

Anyway, Symbol Six takes the stage, somewhere around, 10:00. Call their music what you like, punk, hard rock, or street rock. Whatever you call it, it’s good, gritty American rock and roll. The band played nine blistering songs, and if memory serves it was all new stuff from their Monsters 11 album.

Of the tracks played . . . my favorites were: Napalm Love, Dog Days, Concrete Garden, and Long Way Home.

Unfortunately, this time the guy who plays harmonica during one of their newer tracks didn’t make it.

After Symbol Six wrapped up their set at 10:30 or 10:45, me and “the guys” all left, I don’t know if anybody else played, but the band shut the place down. Dropped off my cousins, and my old ass was in bed by 11:05ish.

My Cousin told me that at 6:30 am the next morning (Thursday) his boys were blaring the Monsters 11 album on their ghetto blaster.

All in all, a good show. The PA was good, clear view of the band, and we had fun.



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The Livingstons – 6 & 9


The Livingstons
6 & 9
Released: September 30, 2015
Wagonyard Records

Mike R. Livingston – Lead Vocal (Tracks 1, 5, 7), Lead Guitar, Mandolin, Fiddle, Piano, Harmonica
Jeffrey Dimmick – Bass, Backing Vocals
Aidan Lozano – Drums
Brian Bogozian – Drums

Guest Performers:
Eric Leach – Lead Vocals, Track (3, 4)
Johnny Witmer – Lead Vocals (Track 2), Lead Guitar (Track 2)
Bill Barnes – Lead Vocals (6, 8)

1. Lizard Brain 3:01 (Livingston)
2. Street Rock Rules 2:55 (Frankie Flame)
3. On Yer Bike 2:55 (Frankie Flame)
4. Outlaw Heaven 4:38
5. Brand New Cadillac 2:50 (V. Taylor)
6. Just Havin’ Fun 3:40 (Livingston, Barnes)
7. Orally Morally 2:36 (Livingston)
8. You Didn’t Think 4:01 (Livingston, Barnes)

6&9 is the latest album by The Livingstons. This is a must-have for any die-hard old school punk fan. It’s the perfect companion piece for anyone who owns Nevermind The Bullocks and The Great Rock & Roll Swindle. The Mike Livingston (The Mau Maus) led band combines old school punk rock, rockabilly and an occasional burst of blues. I don’t how Livingston pulls this off, but he somehow balances all these genres without falling too far into any genre. Those of you familiar with Mike Livingston and his Mau Maus and Livingstons work, know he has chops. The man can play guitar like it owes him money. On this album he gives you only the needed riffs, no unnecessary ego-driven noodling.

Eric Leach from Symbol Six is a guest star on two tracks. He was a cool addition. He added a bit of dimension to the already well crafted tracks. When I first listened to Leach’s tracks I had no idea that it was him. Thought I could’ve pegged him, but nope. I have to admit his two tracks kick-ass.

In closing, buy this thing and put it on repeat.

Rating: *** three out of three stars

On to the story . . .

It’s funny to look back over the years and see the huge changes each decade brings.

I remember being at this Chinese restaurant in Reseda in the mid-eighties and the couple sitting next to me were smoking like chimneys, just one after another. When the waiter came by, I ask if I could move. He looked a bit puzzled, “Why?”

I said, “Because the gray haze makes it difficult to see my date.” He gave me the look, that condescending, “Oh boy, we have one of those holier than thou people here.” Instead, he said, “Sorry sir, we don’t have any other tables, and we don’t have a non-smoking section.”

Nowadays if I were to take out a pack of cigarettes and place them on the table, I’m pretty sure I’d be tackled by a SWAT team within a matter of minutes.

In an age where we are very conscious of hiding any all vices from our kids (booze, cigarettes, etc.) I’m reminded of an activity I used to participate in with my dad.

When I was four or five years old, my dad would take me out to the middle of the street, when company came by and my parents would be entertaining, and shoot the cork from the champagne bottle up in the air and down the block.

While it seems fairly innocent, and it was fun, people today would view this as a negative. “Good lord, don’t make that extremely good looking child chase your evil booze cork down the street!”

I can see what my dad did as innocent, he was only twenty-four or twenty-five, but I am from a more conservative point a view. My son has only ever seen me drink at a few weddings. Not that I’m a drinker, but I don’t have that Rat Pack mentality where I’ll be at the bar all night doing shots with the guys and cheering them on.

I never wanted him to view drinking as a rite of passage to manhood, or a tough manly thing to do. He already reminds me as we walk into a reception, “Remember alcohol kills brain cells. And brain cells don’t replenish.”

Shit, if I gave my dad that lecture I might have had the champagne bottle thrown at me.



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