Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Do The Trouser Press, Baby!

It was (roughly) 31 years ago today ... that the Imperial Dogs' posthumous 45 was reviewed in the December 1978 (No. 34) issue of the now-legendary Trouser Press magazine. Jim Green, whose "America Underground" column was devoted to the then-burgeoning phenomenon of independent releases, wrote:

"The Imperial Dogs: "This Ain't the Summer of Love" b/w "I'm Waiting for the Man" -- Back Door Man BDM-5503.
Yessir, this is the tune the Cult slicked up for Agents of Fortune in its original version, cut live in a garage in '75 -- and this kicks ass; my interest didn't flag over the six minutes-plus 'cuz these guys is playin' their puhtooties off! The lead singer and co-author is Don Waller of Back Door Man mag fame, sounding like they recorded him over the telephone; he ain't no Eric Bloom but he's got one of the best rock screams I ever heard! The Velvets tune is good, too."

Note: While anyone who has the original BDM release (since bootlegged by a certain, ethically challenged, now-deceased record dealer) is the proud owner of a bona fide collector's item, both these songs appear -- in superior sounding versions with the added benefit of you-are-there visuals -- on the Imperial Dogs' Live! In Long Beach (October 30,1974) DVD.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Blast From The Phast

Seeing as how it was South Bay homeboy Phast Phreddie Patterson (a.k.a. The Boogaloo Omnibus)'s birthday yesterday, we'd like to share Phast's memories of witnessing live shows by the Imperial Dogs back in the day, as they appeared on the Perfect Sound Forever website in a story about the origins of the Long Ryders that ran in January 2005:

"But there was a band called the Imperial Dogs that was actually from Carson, California. And they played a lot in the Carson/Long Beach/Torrance area -- the South Bay, they call it, between Long Beach and the L.A. airport. That's where the Imperial Dogs were from, and they played a lot of hall parties and things down there. And I think that if they had played in Hollywood more and actually had made records, they would have been a lot more influential to what became the punk scene.

"Because the Imperial Dogs were very much influenced by the harder aspects of the glitter scene -- mostly the flash look -- as well as the Stooges, the MC5, the Blue Oyster Cult, the early Aerosmith records, and the New York Dolls. And there was nothing like them at the time. There was absolutely nothing like them.

"I saw them in three different incarnations -- they were called Sugar Boy, then White Light, and then the Imperial Dogs. They became the Imperial Dogs in 1974 and they were doing this noisy, in-your-face kind of rock 'n' roll, long before the Ramones or any of that."

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Fang Mail, Pts. 9 & 10

The Imperial Dogs thought we'd share some more "fang mail" from people who've actually purchased our DVD. Larry Hardy, whose In The Red Records has been keeping the true blue flame of rock 'n' roll alive for years, writes: "Pretty incredible. You were rocking Lux Interior pants before Lux Interior. 'We don't give a shit about trees ... the only good thing you can do with a tree is make an amplifier out of it.' Amazing. It's good to know punk-rock existed in 1974."

And ... Dennis Worden of Stickboy comics fame writes: "An amazing document of historic, proto-punk craziness. Great stuff! And the pants are a riot. Really were before their time!"

Monday, December 21, 2009

Fang Mail, Pts. 6, 7 & 8

The Imperial Dogs thought we'd share some more "fang mail" from people who've actually purchased our DVD. Joe Kapish of Little Ferry, New Jersey writes: "Excellent stuff! I watched it a few times already. You guys were punk before punk and could have easily destroyed any of the 'punk' bands that came a few years later. Great job and well worth the money."

Meanwhile, Andrew Malloy of Victoria, British Columbia writes: "Finished watching the DVD and it really does smoke. Man, 'Just Kids' shoulda been a big hit! Hell, they all shoulda been hits."

And ... David Jones of Los Angeles writes: "Incredible video. Tremendous liner notes and great booklet. I'm so glad you put this out. You guys were just YEARS ahead of your time."

Friday, December 18, 2009

Fang Mail, Pt. 5

Thought we'd share some more "fang mail" from people who've actually purchased our DVD. Anopheles Records headman Karl Ikola -- noted for having reissued the Debris LP -- writes: "The Imperial Dogs -- one of the legends of the crudely defined 'proto-punk' genre -- caught alive and screaming, fresh out of the womb 35 years ago! This is in-your-face, 'serious' rock 'n' roll fun, led by future scribe and then-frontman, Don Waller, coming on like a loose leather-trousered Iggy/Lux twilight figure, caught somewhere between South Bay L.A. working-class bungalows and Hollywood broken-glass glitter.

"To put into context, the Imperial Dogs sound sort of like an ultra-raw Radio Birdman/DMZ hybrid, but in a zone all their own, and before anyone had heard of those bands (DMZ didn't form until 1975). This is one of the most unexpected video documents to ever emerge from the archives, a real 'now this is what they were talking about -- watch this kids!' primer of how hard it was to bring the energy against the jive in a world before 'punk consciousness' was fully formed (and made into conventional consumerist baggage). A lot of blood was spilled bringing this into your living room, so don't blow it, get it!"

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Imperial Dogs Kickstart Carducci's 'History Of L.A. Punk'

One year ago today, the second half of former SST label vet Joe Carducci's epic "History of L.A. Punk" aired via John Allen's WFMU/Jersey City radio show. Carducci kickstarted the first half of the show -- which aired November 19, 2008 and is archived here -- with the Imperial Dogs' original 1975 recording of "This Ain't The Summer Of Love."

As Carducci -- author of Rock And The Pop Narcotic and Enter Naomi -- notes on his New Vulgate blog: "The first half begins about 15 minutes into the program with the Imperial Dogs cut, then continues through the entire second program. I tried to use one track per band in a roughly consecutive timeline from 1975 to 1985. I don't believe there is as good and as a long a program to be done regarding any other city's music in the punk era. Listen and prove me wrong."

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Every Dog Has His Day

Reviewing the latest issue of legendary fanzine Ugly Things for his equally legendary Black2com blog, Chris Stigliano writes: "The Imperial Dogs piece was so good that I'll even go as far as to say that all those twats who used to slam author Tim Stegall back in the eighties are just a buncha jackoffs (as if any of 'em are still around ... )."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Imperial Dogs DVD Tops Dave Laing's 2009 List

"If you dig the Stooges, BOC, and Radio Birdman, your life is not complete until you've heard "Midnite Dog," "Just Kids," "Rock 'N' Roll Overdose," and the original and best "This Ain't The Summer Of Love," writes Melbourne, Australia's Dave Laing, who places the Imperial Dogs' Live! In Long Beach (October 30, 1974) DVD firmly atop his Top 10 -- well, Top 24 -- for 2009 here at Craig Barman's incredible I-94 Bar site.

A gentleman of wealth and taste, Laing is perhaps best-known for creating the jaw-dropping Do The Pop! The Australian Garage-Rock Sound 1976-87 compilation for Savage Beat/Shock Records back in 2002 and contributing to the Ugly Things fanzine as well as the I-94 Bar site.

Meanwhile ... the Imperial Dogs DVD review/interview that Laing originally did with Imperial Dogs main mutt Don Waller for the I-94 Bar earlier this year is now available here at the U.K.-based Rock's Back Pages site.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Fang Mail, Pt. 4

Thought we'd share some more "fang mail" from people who've actually purchased our DVD. David, posting here writes: "Where are the bands like this nowadays?" ... "Don Waller is a great frontman and the band lay down some great riffs" ... "The Imperial Dogs are one of those bands that kind of capture all the stuff my imagination thought about rock and roll when I was first discovering it, before MTV and corporate zombies basically ruined it all."

Monday, December 7, 2009

Imperial Dogs drummer Bill Willett, 1954-2009

The Imperial Dogs are shocked, stunned, and immeasurably saddened to learn that Bill Willett -- drummer from our formation in 1972 to our break-up in 1975 -- shuffled off this mortal coil at age 55 on November 22, 2009.

Bill leaves behind a wife, a daughter, two sons -- both of whom are musicians -- and a huge hole in the hearts of everyone who ever shared a stage with him.

A native of Toronto, Canada, Bill was all of 20 years old when his percussive performance was immortalized on the Imperial Dogs' Live! In Long Beach (October 30, 1974) DVD.

"If you watch the DVD, he's holding it all together," notes South Bay homeboy/guitarist Tom Gardner, who served as the I-Dogs roadie that fateful night. "If you listen to parts where there's a guitar solo, you hear Bill having the sense to fill it up somehow. He goes to the cowbell; he does something to build the sound up and keep it going when the chords drop out."

Bill's inventive, powerful stickwork and backing vocals also enliven the Imperial Dogs' Unchained Maladies: Live! 1974-75 album that was posthumously issued by Australian indie Dog Meat in 1989.

Immediately following the I-Dogs' break-up, Bill joined Carson, CA-based Atomic Kid, which evolved into the Zippers and recorded a 1977 single ("You're So Strange" b/w "He's A Rebel") for the Back Door Man indie record label, which was a spin-off of the semi-legendary fanzine of the same name.

After six years of being trapped in major label demo hell -- and opening for everyone from Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers to Patti Smith -- Bill left the Zippers during the recording of their self-titled mini-album, which was issued by Rhino in 1981. His drumming can be heard on one of the album's seven songs: "Some Pay The Price (Some Never Will)."

"It was an honor to be half of a rhythm section with him," reflects Zippers bassist/vocalist Danielle Faye. "Beyond his drumming, what I remember most about Bill was that he would say the most shocking -- and hilarious -- things that've stuck in my head for all these years, like 'I told her to put some mucilage on my fusilage.'"

"The biggest thrill [about the Imperial Dogs] for me was playing with that fucking drummer," says guitarist Paul Therrio. "Bill Willett was a goooood drummer. That dude could play."

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Hear It On The X: I-Dogs On Stella's KXLU 'Stray Pop'

South Bay homegirl and L.A. treasure Stella -- who's only been hosting the weekly, punk-rock audio circus known as "Stray Pop" on KXLU/Los Angeles since 1980 -- will devote this Friday (Dec. 4)'s show to the Imperial Dogs.

Along with playing audio tracks from the Imperial Dogs' new Live! In Long Beach (October 30, 1974) DVD, Stella will be interviewing former Imperial Dogs frontman Don Waller about the band, his rockin' role in the Back Door Man fanzine and indie record label, and (almost) anything that anyone who calls into the station wants to know. He'll also be playing pertinent selections from his semi-legendary record collection, so get ready to go "skinny-dippin' in the oil of joy on the Big X ..."

"Stray Pop" airs from 11pm to 3am (Pacific Standard Time)at 88.9FM -- or listen to a live stream of the show at