Sunday, October 30, 2011

Andy Shernoff

Andy's latest: Are You Ready To Rapture.

1974: Rare inner sleeve for the Dictators Go Girl Crazy, Andy on right.

Andy Shernoff has had a longer recording career than Howlin' Wolf or Muddy Waters. That in itself is not so remarkable, there are plenty of pediatric rockstars out there who have been around longer. What is remarkable is that he's still great. When was the last time Ray Davies or Pete Townshend wrote a good song? (If you ask me, and you shouldn't cuz I ain't gonna argue about it, I'd say 1970 and '67 receptively).
Andy's last great song was released a couple of weeks ago (Are You Ready To Rapture, see video above, I assume you can order the 45 rpm from his website).
 Shernoff, who's career began with might be the greatest (and definitely the funniest) ever fanzine-- Teenage Wasteland Gazette (a never published final issue of which has resided in Handsome Dick Manitoba's closet for forty something years), is best known as full time songwriter, bassist and sometimes lead singer for NYC rock'n'roll institution the Dictators, whose 1974 debut The Dictators Go Girl Crazy (Epic) remains one of the greatest and most perfect punk rock records ever released. He shepherded the Dictators through three more fine LP's-- Manifest Destiny (Asylum,1977), Blood Brothers (Asylum,1978) and D.F.F. D. (Dictators Multi-Media, 2002), and don't forget Norton Records' 2009 release Everyday's Saturday that features their original demo tape and many incredible studio outtakes including lost tunes like Fireman's Friend and Backseat Boogie (a project I think I instigated when I lent Billy Miller two CD's worth of un-issued Dictators stuff, still in the vault are tunes like Too Much Fun and Tits To You as well as a killer Interstellar Overdrive).  Andy was also the guiding light behind Dictators spin-off Manitoba's Wild Kingdom, fronted the Bel-airs and the Master Plan (with the Fleshtones' Keith Streng), co-wrote tunes with Joey Ramone (for both the Ramones and Joey's solo album), produced a bunch of bands,  and was involved in dozens of other projects that slip my mind at the moment (including a second career as a punk sommelier).
I bring this up to you because I happened to wander into my own bar (Lakeside Lounge, 162 Ave B., NYC) two Wednesdays in a row (a rare occurrence these days, I assure you) where Andy currently holds court at 7 PM with his acoustic review, and I have to say, it's the best hour of live entertainment I've seen in eons.  The set changes weekly, and Shernoff has an incredibly deep catalog of great tunes to pick from, but I think last week's show which opened with an acoustic reading of Master Race Rock and included Dictators classics' Baby Let's Twist, and Hey Boys, and a beautiful version of Joey Ramone's Don't Think About It was as perfect a set as I've ever seen.  In between tunes Shernoff talks about his life and times in rock'n'roll, some of these stories are hilarious (the first Dictators shows), some are touching (the final days of Joey Ramone), some are both (the David Roter story). With free admission and half priced drinks, you really can't possibly go wrong. Andy will also be appearing at the Norton Records 25th Anniversary shindig in November, I'm not sure which night but all four are sold out, so you're either all ready going or you ain't.
Andy Shernoff may actually outlive rock'n'roll (or did that already happen?), but he's one of the last of the breed, and there are too few left to ignore him.


Joe Bonomo said...

Great, Hound. Andy needs more people stating under-said obvious: that Andy's one of the best rock & roll songwriters around.

Anonymous said...

The song he wrote for the A-Bone, "Shallow Grave", is a classic.

JD King said...

"...1974 debut The Dictators Go Girl Crazy (Epic) remains one of the greatest and most perfect punk rock records ever released."

Amen. Almost too perfect! A lotta energy.

Robert Cook said...

I remember reading a story about the Dictators in CIRCUS magazine back in 1974 (I'm going by your date), and I special ordered their album from my local mall record store. It was all I had hoped for, and I have been a fan ever since. The Dictators played Jacksonville sometime in the later 70s as openers for BE BOP DELUXE, but I missed them, as I had to work that night. I always wondered what they would have thought at a (presumably) lone voice calling for "Two Tub Man" or "Master Race Rock" in the outlands of northeast Florida.

I did see them later after I'd moved to NYC, at the Ritz in the 80s, and they were killer.

A few years back I was standing on line at Cinema Village to see one of only four midnight showings of the MC5 movie, and I became aware that the guy standing behind me was Andy Shernoff. I didn't say anything to him, being disinclined to intrude on the privacy of celebrities just living their lives, (no matter how modest their "fame").

The Hound said...

"The Dictators played Jacksonville sometime in the later 70s as openers for BE BOP DELUXE, but I missed them, as I had to work that night."

I saw the same bill in Miami in the winter of '77. The Dics were great as always, my favorite part was the Glickman family, relitives of then bass player Mark "The Animal" Mendoza (later of Twister Sister) in the dressing room.

Robert Cook said...

How did the Miami audience react to the Dictators? I assume the Jacksonville audience would have been indifferent or hostile--given that the Dictators would have been totally unknown to them--but perhaps the band managed to win the audience over to them. (But then, who is BE BOP DELUXE's audience, anyway?)

sal c. said...

Robert, where in Jacksonville did you see them? I've been working on a gig-ography for the Dics for a while now, and any bit of info helps.

Robert Cook said...

Sal C.

I didn't see them, I had to work that night.

They played at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Coliseum, (demolished in 2003, it has been replaced by the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena).

I can't tell exactly when it was, but the Hound said above he saw the same bill--Dictators opening for Be Bop Deluxe--in Miami in the Fall of 1977. That sounds about right to me.

Joe Bonomo said...

Andy's two sets at Norton 25 were great. I would've liked to have heard him in the main room.

Anonymous said...

Jim just wanted to say thanks for such a great read oh these many years. Can certainly understand you taking a break and look forward to more of your muse when the urge strikes. Have a Happy Holiday to you and the lovely Fang

avidmartinet said...

andy's one of the true architects of the late 70's wave of punk rock. he's the goods.

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