Wednesday, January 20, 2010

'This Ain't The Summer Of Love' Now A Book!

This Ain't the Summer of Love: Conflict and Crossover in Heavy Metal and Punk -- written by Steve Waksman (an Associate Professor of Music and American Studies at Smith College) and published by the University of California Press -- takes its title from a song originally written and performed by the Imperial Dogs back in 1974.

Moving from Grand Funk Railroad, Alice Cooper and Iggy Pop to the Dictators and the Runaways to Motorhead and the New Wave of British Heavy Metal to grunge, Waksman not only details how heavy metal and punk arose as a reaction to the prevailing trends in rock music of the '60s, but also how much these two styles influenced as well as opposed each other, and provoked widely different reactions from critics and fans.

Waksman packs a whole lotta research into these 400 pages, and although certain sections of the book are far too academic in tone to appeal to the casual reader, it benefits greatly from Waksman actually being a guitarist as well as a true fan of the music. You might not share his taste, but that's inevitable -- and not really the point.

As for the tome's title track, Waksman recounts how Kim Fowley introduced former Imperial Dogs frontman Don Waller to then Blue Oyster Cult co-manager/co-producer Murray Krugman, which resulted in the BOC's reworking the I-Dogs' original tune -- retaining the hookline, title, and concept -- and recording it for their 1976 Agents Of Fortune album. Waksman also notes how this chorus was later interpolated into pioneering Seattle outfit Green River's 1988 re-recording of their own "Swallow My Pride":

"Like Blue Oyster Cult singing Don Waller's lyrics in 1976, they mock the suggestion that the late 1960s was some golden era never to be reproduced or recovered ... Performing an undisclosed partial cover of a song that was not quite obscure but not quite a hit, by a well-known but hard to categorize band from the previous decade, Green River asserted above all the value of hidden knowledge in the sphere of rock ... Resources from the past became the means to counter the orthodoxies of the present and to create a new synthesis that melded hardcore's radical sense of refusal with the ambivalent embrace of heavy metal excess."

Yeah, what he said ...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I-Dogs DVD: 'Both Unadulterated Genius & Filthy Mayhem'

Latest review of the Imperial Dogs' DVD ("Soul baring, trash kicking, guitar infused, spine knuckling music" ... "both pure unadulterated genius and just filthy mayhem" ... "way ahead of their time") comes courtesy of Troy Church at his The Bigfoot Diaries blog, which also features the first installment of a two-part interview with former Imperial Dogs frontman Don Waller.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Imperial Dogs: Punk? Heavy Metal? Just Call It Rock & Roll!

Here's a particularly perspicacious review of the Imperial Dogs' 1989 LP, Unchained Maladies: Live! 1974-75, written by the infamously iconoclastic Chris Stigliano for issue No. 17 of his long-running Black To Comm fanzine, which has since metamorphosed into the Blog2Com site:

"While we're still on the continent,let's look into yet another label dedicated to THE BIG BEAT. Dog Meat Records. Besides releasing loads of Australian and El Lay decarock back during their stint as Grown Up Wrong, these buds've raped the Vaults of Mid-'70s Punk Past and come up w/a nailbiter of a disc w/the Imperial Dogs' UNCHAINED MALADIES, a collection of tracks by the overlooked band of the sleazy LA scene who mighta made a dent if they came about during the late-'70s but got bashed about while part of the Rodney's/Kim Fowley scene.

"You've probably read my review of their single that BACK DOOR MAN released in '77; well, that's on here as are more rehearsal tracks from the same sesh that spawned these screamers & even some live tracks from the group's debut gig in '74 and boy, is this great. Like the best of SoCal rock, this is punk and heavy metal, or like the best punk has some heavy metal influx and like the best HM's got punk roots ... aww, just call it ROCK & ROLL!

"The live tracks are as RAW & ALIVE as the stuff the Stooges laid down at the Whiskey a few months prior w/heavy Stoogian overtones while the new rehearsal spazz seems more Heavy Metal proper in a Blue Oyster Cult and even pre-speedmetal artery! Like Rocket From The Tombs, the Dictators and loads more, this was happening across the country and maybe WORLD at the same time w/o each band knowing what the other was up to ... howcum THE VILLAGE VOICE (or RIPLEY'S BELIEVE IT OR NOT) hasn't picked up on that yet?

"The forebearers to a whole load of the Southern Californicate rock scene from Black Flag, Wurm, Metallica and Guns & Roses to Fear and just about every kid inna area to hitch up to the punk and/or heavy metal mainlines (and I should tell ya Don Waller's liner notes are great in the way they detail the story and the response from various stars ... a few of the facts presented therein should even get a few rock & roll history books rewritten too!)."

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Imperial Dogs: Stoner Rock & New Wave Fans Unite!

Call it shake appeal or maybe a personality crisis, but the Imperial Dogs' 1989 album, Unchained Maladies: Live! 1974-75 united fans from across the musical spectrum, as evidenced by these vintage posts found on the message boards at and, respectively:

"The Imperial Dogs. L.A. band around '75. Very Stooges meets the New York Dolls. There was an album, Unchained Maladies, released on the Australian label Dog Meat back in the early '90s. Great album."

"Imperial Dogs - Live 1974-75. Proto-punk in a Dolls-Stooges vein, incredible guitar playing."

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Imperial Dogs Make 'Noise For Heroes'

Here's still another review of the Imperial Dogs' Unchained Maladies: Live! 1974-75 -- written by Steve Gardner for his fanzine-turned-webzine Noise For Heroes -- from when the LP was first released on Australian indie Dog Meat Records back in 1989:

"If you've already read the Dog Meat records feature [Noise For Heroes #19], you'll have gotten some of the background on this record ... recorded on cassette (4 songs of a live show and the others at practices in a garage), marginal sound quality, not marginal energy and spirit ...

"Dave Laing thinks of this in the same vein as the Survivors' LP that he also was responsible for releasing. But there's a big difference to me, and that's while the Survivors did covers of cool songs that they pumped up the way they thought they should be played, the Imperial Dogs record is mostly their own material and a lot of it is really good, too. It's easier to forgive bootleg sound quality when it is coming with music that you can't get any other way.

"One of the fun things about listening to this is the way songs sound like they fit in with some of today's ideas about what should be in music, but there are other influences in there that just feel totally alien, like '13 Sons Of Satan,' which sounds like an early Deep Purple song. I can't say this is essential, since the Dogs were heard by few and influenced only a handful, but it's an interesting document and I'm glad that it's been made available."

And ... once again, the sound quality on the Imperial Dogs' DVD is far superior to the abovementioned LP -- and has the benefit of you-are-there visuals -- and the DVD features five original songs that don't appear on the LP, but not "13 Sons Of Satan" ('cause we hadn't written it yet).

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Fang Mail, Pt. 11

Thought we'd share some more "fang mail" from people who've actually purchased our DVD. Lee Joseph -- whose Dionysus Records has been freeing the minds of true rock 'n' roll fans for decades -- writes: "If you're a fan of Blue Oyster Cult, Radio Birdman, the Dictators, dirty Detroit rock 'n' roll, and the usual assortment of CREEM magazine early-to-mid '70s sleaze, then you totally need this!!!

"Check out the mindblowing clip from the DVD of the band doing the ORIGINAL VERSION of 'This Ain't The Summer Of Love' that later turned up on BOC's Agents Of Fortune LP. Proto-punk godhead!!!"

Monday, January 11, 2010

Imperial Dogs DVD: "One Of L.A. Music's Missing Links"

Latest review of the Imperial Dogs' DVD ("One of L.A. music's missing links" ... "the songs -- a real consistent set -- unslavishly genuflect to the Stooges, the MC5, the New York Dolls and even Black Sabbath" ... "The Imperial Dogs rocked.") comes courtesy of longtime L.A. journo/musician Greg Burk's unabashedly individualistic MetalJazz site.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Vintage Violence: 'Unchained Maladies' Rip 'Your Flesh'

Here's yet-another review of the Imperial Dogs' Unchained Maladies: Live! 1974-75 -- written by Your Flesh editor Peter Davis for the long-running fanzine-turned-webzine -- from sometime back when the LP was issued on Australian indie Dog Meat in 1989:

"It pretty much figures that a band like the Imperial Dogs, no matter how lacking in historical relevance, could have had so many brushes with the 'right people' and still couldn't achieve so much as a significant peep of praise beyond a small modicum of cult popularity, which was obscure at best (just like their hard to come by posthumous single).

"After all, Blue Oyster Cult cribbed 'This Ain't the Summer of Love' from 'em; Bob Ezrin (Kiss producer) considered cribbing toons, too, but bailed 'cause he thought they were too negative, and even Kim Fowley courted, and even shopped the Dogs.

"Now, we are talking about '73-'75; a pretty pathetic period for music, so it goes without saying that the Dogs were a band ahead of their time (pre-dating late '70's punk, for the most part), sans any infamy, let alone any substantial documentation -- fuck!

"To think that they even played my home town a bunch is downright buggy, and look, it even took an Australian label to put it out ... call that justice. Maybe if Hilly Krystal lived in L.A. instead of New York it might've been the Dogs instead of the Dead Boys ... I call this boss."

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Taxi To The "Terminal Boredom' Zone

Over the years, talk-talk on the message boards at the Terminal Boredom blog has turned to the Imperial Dogs' Unchained Maladies: Live! 1974-75 LP that was issued on Australian indie Dog Meat back in 1989. To wit (and sometimes lack thereof):

"Denkinger said here's one on eBay for a steal, so buy it. And I'm glad I did, because all I had was the '(This Ain't the) Summer of Love' 7", which is fucking great. Any of the what is pre-punk and what is punk argument becomes irrelevant upon listening to this album. If punk rock is music and not a date on the calendar, the cuts recorded in 1974 are punk rock ... and still sound fresh today. Great record." (SSR, December 16,2007)

"Sometimes a bit too hard rock for me, often a bit too lo-fi, but still some neat proto punk moments." (Laurent Bigot, July 14, 2008)

"Way better than I remember, although can't be cranked up really high. Proto EVERYTHING." (Griffith, April 10, 2009)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Imperial Dogs Reviewed In L.A. Weekly -- In 1990!

Since the L.A. Weekly's Internet archives don't go any further back than 1998 (!), we're forced to reprint the review of the Imperial Dogs' 1989 Dog Meat LP that Scott Morrow wrote for the alt-weekly's March 2-8, 1990 issue in its entirety:

"Unchained Maladies (Live! 1974-75). So sez the fancy, pic-packed jacket on this deluxe, pink-vinyl Aussie import. (They sure as shoot don't make 'em like this in America no more!) And just WHO are these Imperial Dogs anyway? Well, unless you were hanging out on the rock & roll scene in L.A. 'round about 1974, you probably don't know. Even then, you probably don't, unless you wore lots of leather and platform boots and dug Motor City-style high-energy rock & roll.

"This album is a documentation of the Dogs' first gig, 3/28/74, at (of all places!) Gazzarri's. 'Animals!' screamed club owner Bill Gazzarri's sister. 'We've never had such animals at Gazzarri's!' And they probably haven't had them since. So, fortunately, this gig was recorded for posterity, on a mono cassette recorder (tape restoration by the incredible Bill Inglot). The audience is making fun of the Dogs when they first hit the stage, but after a screaming double-time version of the Kinks' 'Till the End of the Day' ... fun they make no more!

"These Dogs -- decked in HUGE animal fur bell-bottoms, whips, chains, Iron Crosses, Spandex and scarves -- run their way through the four nasty songs from this sesh on side one (the 'Hollywood Side'), and six songs recorded in Carson on a stereo cassette recorder 'live in the garage' on side two (the 'Carson Side'), all featuring such classic early-'70s rock & roll subject matter as heroin (the William Burroughs/Albert King-vein 'Needle & Spoon'); Satan ('13 Sons of Satan'); the Nazi High Command ('Amphetamine Superman'); O.D.-ing ('Rock 'n' Roll Overdose'); more drugs (Uncle Lou's 'I'm Waiting for the Man') and hippie let's-go-up-the-country-get-my-head-together mellowness (on 'This Ain't the Summer of Love,' a Dogs song recorded by Blue Oyster Cult, in an almost unrecognizable version on their 1976 Agents of Fortune).

"Les Imps, all totally into Detroit rock like the Stooges, could be categorized as that vital missing link between the New York Dolls and the Sex Pistols, with a very heavy dose of Doorsian mystique tossed in. (Note for you 'Where are they now?' archivists, the singer is local rock/soul journalist Don Waller.) There were lots of close calls to fame, but nothing ever really panned out. It might have had something to do with the fact that no right-thinking club owner would let the Dogs play at his club, or that they had obviously 'unique' lifestyles. So this record, baby, is it.

"If MC5 means more to you than some lost equation of Einstein's, this is the big pink hunk of rock for you. Recorded in glorious Garage-Fi, it's not only a piece of history, but it also kicks out the jams. As the liner notes say, 'In retrospect, the Imperial Dogs were neither good-bad, nor evil. They were merely, tragically, and inexorably ahead of their time ... " I think they still are."

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Maximum R&R (Slight Return)

"STOOGES/DOLLS-influenced rock blowout that differs from today's crop in one major way -- this was recorded in 1974. From the opening (the KINKS 'Till The End Of The Day' to their version of 'I'm Waiting For The Man,' this is blowout through and through. For anyone into Sub Pop or Sympathy ... stuff."

That was somebody with the initials ML, writing about the Imperial Dogs' Unchained Maladies: Live! 1974-75 LP that was issued on the Australian indie Dog Meat label, in the February 1990 issue of the legendary fanzine Maximum R&R.

Note that the two covers mentioned as well as five of the Imperial Dogs' originals ("Midnite Dog," "Contradictions," "This Ain't The Summer Of Love," "Amphetamine Superman," and "Rock 'N' Roll Overdose") found on this long out-of-print 1989 LP also appear in sonically superior -- with the added benefit of you-are-there visuals -- versions on the Imperial Dogs' Live! In Long Beach (October 30, 1974) DVD.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Oh, You 'Ugly Things'!

"An article about the amazing Imperial Dogs, zinester Don Waller's ridiculous proto punk band that somehow got an anarchic concert videotaped (!) in 1974, augmented by a sidebar on his work on the Back Door Man zine," is cited as being one of the highlights of the latest issue of Ugly Things here at the roctoberreviews blog.

In the same vein -- but a different arm -- author/South Bay rock scene veteran Joe Carducci's newvulgate blog cites "good articles on the Imperial Dogs and Back Door Man mag" as well as "too much great information to summarize"as being yet another pair of reasons to purchase the latest issue of Ugly Things.