In the spirit of the Little Rascals, as in, “Hey, let’s put on a show!” now comes your chance to turn that frown upside down, and start cashing in on the baby boomer nostalgia. Instead of just moping to your friends that, “hey, I used to play there,” you can now say, “Hey, I own it!” That’s right, the original temple of it all is up for sale. Anyone want to go in halves?
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Buttons seemed to be a cheap and easy way to promote bands and causes back in the day, and here’s a few from the collection. The top left is from WITR and reads “Rock N Roll Party,” although I can’t remember if that was a show, or just a promo button from the station. To the right of that is a Backseat Sally button, though the colors seem to have faded over the years. In the center is a Press Tones button, a personal favorite, as I always like the deco style text. I would have worn it to the reunion, but I just uncovered it the other day. Bottom left is a Delroy Rebop button, with an image of a microphone. Last time I saw Del was in NYC many moons ago. Finally there is a Cappy and the Frenchmen button, and though it didn’t scan too well, it reads “Th – Th – Th – There’s a Thing” across the top, a reference to a song of the same name, with “And It’s Called Rock’N Roll” across the bottom. Just to the right of the WITR logo on the button you can make out “89.7 fm”, and at the end of the word “Frenchmen” is a picture of the Eiffel Tower.
First off, let me just say thanks to everyone involved with the Scorgies Reunion. I am sure my fellow Press Tones feel the same way (although some have trouble typing). Peter had our set planned out pretty good, clocking in at around 42 minutes, which would have allowed us a brief encore. For whatever reason, we ran long, and got yanked off the stage (set times were pretty rigid, and I’m not complaining, just letting you know), before we got the chance to do another number. So for your listening pleasure, here’s a live cut from when we played Abilene over the summer. It’s a song we usually finished the night with, called “Go Insane.” Back in the old days, Peter would take the solos, and at the end of the song, just leave his guitar in front of his amp until it started feeding back and annoying people. And then he’d wait some more before unplugging it. Flash forward, and now I do the lead work, and on this occasion, I started bending the strings pretty far, and so Peter started doing whale noises through the mic. It was a hoot.
Anyway, you paid for it, so here’s the song. . .
Peter Presstone was, and still is, a prolific songwriter. I may be biased, having spent so much time with him. Of the few board tapes I have that have been converted to digital (big thanks to Dave Anderson at Saxon Recording, and an official Press Tone himself), the song count is close to 70. And this is probably over a 3 year stretch, give or take, and not all songs are on the tapes I have. In the bands that followed, namely, Pets & Small Children which became the Chinchillas, our song list tops out over 400, and that’s from roughly 1985 until today.
Yet it’s not only his ability to pen songs that get my admiration, but the ease at which he nails both melody and hooks. That’s one of the reasons I’ve hung with him for so long (well, that and I think he still owes me money). I’ll post some of the nicer stuff in a bit, but Peter also has a dark side. Songs like “It Must Be April,” whose chorus goes, “Where is my mother, where is my father, they took them down to the burners,” talking about the Holocaust. Another song, which you’ll see below (if I code it correctly), was called “Rape,” and it was a rough and raucous song, which features some dissonant tri-tone guitar work at the end. The lead is also Peter, since he did most of the leads when I joined up, and his style is a kind of play from the gut approach that may not be polished, but nevertheless stands out.
Also, the dedication on this one, where Scott says “this goes out to Luke and Laura,” is not about Luke the DJ. Fans of General Hospital can fill you in on that story.
That’s what Johnny Thunders said when he read the front cover of the kick drum the night we opened up for him. I can’t remember if it was before or after he blew up Peter’s amp, but he said it. I might have had a tape as proof, maybe I gave it to Peter, but I don’t know where it is.
As a preliminary post though, I thought I’d mention the speed of the band, one thing we were accused of a lot. There were some songs that went by real quick, and I figured I’d use what is on this site, and some stuff from board tapes I salvaged. If you check the video section, you’ll see New Math doing “They Walk Among You.” Not their fastest number, but it’s up there, and it clocks in at around 120 beats per minute (bpm). And if you check the first video by Personal Effects, “Darlin,” a more uptempo number, it whizzes by at around 155 bpm. If you check the song below called “Who Needs You” from a recording in the early 80’s, you’ll notice a much more brisk tempo, one that tops out just shy of 260 bpm. Not all songs were that fast, of course, and nothing will blaze by that quickly on November 21 at the German House, because we’re all older and bloated. And not to sound too much like Grandpa Simpson on the front porch yelling at neighborhood kids, but back in the day we were loud and fast, like rock and roll is supposed to be. More stories to come, of course, but I figured I’d get at least one post up before I’m pushing up daisies.
“Who Needs You” by The Press Tones