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Entry date: 4-4-2024 – Was Billy Idol for Real? – Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

 

Last night I was listening to The Flesh Eaters (see below) and after the record I was listening to finished up on Spotify, the algorithm started playing similar songs. One of them was a really cool Mummies song that I liked a lot. It was about Sal Mineo and was funny and grooving in the fuzzy garage rock way. Up next, though, was a Generation X song.

 

I’ve never really been able to take Billy Idol seriously. He seemed like such a “punk in a bottle” when I was in high school. I had Rebel Yell, of course, and liked it, but he just seemed like a creation of MTV and not an “artist.” Because of this, I never took Generation X seriously.

 

Maybe I should give them a try.

 

A few songs later, Spotify slapped “Anti Anti Anti” by The Consumers into the mix. I guess it knows me. I love that song so much. Out of all the covers we ever did in The Father Figures, that one might be my favorite.

 

*****

 

(The Bet – sort of)

 

Ran out of steam today. I did do a little editing, though, so I should have another chapter or two in the next few days. I really need to figure a few things out as I feel like the story is getting ready to do something big.

 

Writing fiction is such a strange thing. I forget sometimes that I am in complete control of what happens. I bet that is pretty common for people like me who haven’t completed a novel yet. It’s getting there. I need to read some more about this process.

 

I’m really feeling like our buddy, Dirk, has a lot more to say, and like I said yesterday, it’s time to get to know Freddy and Janet. They might just be very interesting.

 

*****

 

One of the things I love about music is how it sometimes just seems to find a way to find you. This process of writing about a record a day has shown me several things and one of them is that some albums were just destined to find me, I think. I didn’t have a choice in the matter.

 

I got on the distro list for Yep Roc Records in 2018 or so and ended up getting sent a couple of cool things in the mail. One of which was The Flesh Eaters record, I Used to Be Pretty. I had heard of them and probably heard some of their stuff over the years, but they were a band I had never really checked out before receiving this promo in the mail.

 

At first, I wasn’t super sure about it. I popped it into the CD player for a drive and instantly I thought it sounded a little bit a Nick Cave project and I’m not a huge fan of his. Perhaps I need to listen to more of his stuff, but a lot of the post-Birthday Party output kind of bores me. I know I am upsetting people I love right now, so I’ll drop it.

 

“Black Temptation,” which is the first song on the record, kind of has the vibe, although when I listen now, I just hear Flesh Eaters. My ears weren’t trained, and I also didn’t know that I was supposed to have this record. Fate had yet to intervene.

 

The reason for the promo was that The Flesh Eaters were coming to Phoenix to play Crescent Ballroom. As it turned out, the promoters reached out to The Father Figures to be on the bill. I also talked to my radio partner, Amy, and we thought it would be great to have The Flesh Eaters main man, Chris D., on our show. I reached out and he said yes.

 

The next thing I know, Chris and I chewed the fat for a long fucking time. I think I had planned to chat for about 20-30 minutes and 90 minutes later, we were still talking. The dude is prolific, highly entertaining, and a great conversationalist. I left it feeling like we had made some sort of cool connection.

 

It’s always fun, too, to be able to tell someone I’m interviewing that I’m also in one of the opening acts. I’ve had the pleasure a few times and it seems to turn the conversation up a notch. Either way, the next few times I listened to I Used to Be Pretty, I had a new experience.

 

At first, I grew super fond of the fourth track, which is a cover of “The Green Manalishi” by Peter Green (and originally recorded by Fleetwood Mac when Green was in the band). It’s such a bad ass riff and Chris D. and company’s version is fucking combustible. Bill Bateman’s drums set the tone early and Dave Alvin’s guitars are perfect.

 

Steve Berlin (Los Lobos and many others), who very recently recorded a song or two for my buddies, Jon and Blaine, played sax on I Used to Be Pretty and he adds a layer of heaviness that is not unlike some of the saxophone played on The Stooges’ record, Fun House, by Steve Mackay. In addition to some mighty sax, you’ve got two members of X at play here, too. DJ Bonebrake adds marimba and percussion throughout the record and John Doe plays bass.

 

This is another reason why I love this record. John Doe is one of the coolest dudes in the world. I wouldn’t say we are friends, but we’ve talked a number of times now and he’s been very complimentary of The Father Figures. When the Flesh Eaters show happened, it was really fun hanging out backstage with those guys and our friends in the other opener, The Brand (RIP Sarah).

 

The universe wanted me to love this record and I do. “House Amid The Thickets” and “Miss Muerte” have become other favorites of mine, as well. Both songs have great lyrics and one of the things I’ve grown to appreciate about the work of one Mr. Chris D. is that he has exquisite taste when it comes to giving a song what it needs. It’s like a third eye or something.

 

I know he did a fair amount of production work and worked on some albums I love, but I Used to Be Pretty is just such a well-crafted record. It bobs and weaves and all kinds of cool sounds pop up when you least expect it. There are two other covers, too, on the record that are also songs I totally love and wanted to cover in my own bands.

 

The first of these is “Cinderella” by The Sonics. I fell in love with “Cinderella” after Black Dot turned me on to The Fuzztones in 1986. I’ve wanted to cover it for years. The Flesh Eaters version is driven by Bateman and Bonebrake, for sure. Chris D.’s delivery of the lyrics is also great, too. Doe holds it down, too, as a matter of fact. His bassline is a little low in the mix, but he’s right in there, too. When Alvin takes the lead, it is scorching. As the kids say, this record is fire.

 

The other cover is “She’s Like Heroin to Me” by Gun Club. When The Father Figures first started out, we toyed around with playing “Sex Beat” and I always thought “She’s Like Heroin to Me” would be a rad cover, too.  Alas, it never came to be, but The Flesh Eaters roar through the song like it was their own. Alvin and Doe soar out there above everyone else for the majority of the song, but Chris D. brings incredible personality to the song and Berlin’s sax is great, too.

 

You can tell these guys really love this song. The affection flows out of the speakers and make it impossible to deny. It’s fun to listen to a band when you know they have love for a song.

 

The last song on the disc, “Ghost Cave Lament,” is epic in scale at just over thirteen minutes long. Everybody gets a chance to shine on this one. It reminds me a bit of the Doors in the way Chris D. presents his poetic talk/singing in a way that Jim Morrison was often wont to do. The song never loses my interest, though, and it definitely doesn’t feel like it’s that long. Good driving music, for sure.

 

There are several other really good tracks on the record, but I Used to Be Pretty is now an album that makes me think of specific circumstances with people I really admire. These guys were are human beings, you know? Rather than a lot of records where I never really got to press the flesh and/or have a real conversation with the people who made them, I got to get this record and within a matter of a month or so, it became a big part of my life.

 

*****

 

Happy Thursday!

 

*****

 

See you tomorrow.



Smoking kills.

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