Thursday, June 6, 2013

THE DOGS LATEST DVD from JAPAN and "Secret Freaks" essay

Above, my photos of THE DOGS in the mid to late 1980s commemorate the release of their brand newest DVD/CD/deluxe booklet package set THE DOGS- DOGGY LICKS: THE DOGS UNLEASHED.


Contains professionally shot footage of the entire 8.25.88 DOGS' set at The Metro, at the time considered "a farewell tour" hence the band were on fire and at their wildest (photos of same directly above.) Rare appearances by then teenaged Danny DeMuff and singer Krista Wood are documented at this gig as well. 
Where to obtain DOGGY LICKS: THE DOGS Unleashed click: LINK 

There are dozens of never before heard, early Dogs' songs  from late 1960s/early '70s gigs which never made it to studio recording and that the band itself has quasi-forgotten (!); there's impressively rare film footage both domestic and abroad, archival and new; there's photos galore and assorted recollections by multiple authors/friends of the band, chock full of hitherto suppressed, juicy anecdotes, which is why I present following DOGS memoir by me as it appears in toto, to whet the appetite: there's plenty more afoot within DOGGY LICKS.

THE DOGS' drummer and bass player were sitting around last July (2012) waiting for their guitarist to arrive for rehearsal, shooting the breeze, talkin' trash. Tony Matteucci A.K.A. ToneDog, waxed revelatory pondering a sudden correlation of their group THE DOGS and Iggy and The Stooges in addition to the Detroit roots of these two contemporary hardest rock bands. Regarding entourage, milieu and audiences of both he mused "Walking into the backstage party for the Stooges last December 1, 2011 I realized everybody in the room was a freak. Older, wiser, way better off, but nobody around this band was normal, just like the original core Stooges audience. Earlier in the show Iggy even addressed their audience as 'all you freaks out there' " (Ed.- also a line from a 1970 Dogs song 'Motor City Fever!' -HH) 

"And it reminded me of something. When I first met you guys (Mary and Loren) in Hollywood and jammed with THE DOGS to replace original Detroit drummer Ron Wood, I walked into this louche atmosphere of people passed out on couches, unsavory associates with names like Cajun Panther, one-legged guys, drug dealer backers of the band, live-in hangers on and so on, thinking to myself what a bunch of freaks!" And that's been the story of this band, with whom the band surrounds itself, who their audience is and who still cares about THE DOGS, they're all a bunch of freaks!" (Ed.-But hopefully like the Stooges' freaks, older, wiser and better off...) 

The freak show began so long ago now, in 1967 as The DOGS' driving rock emerged as fully formed as the adult Venus rising on the halfshell in Botticelli's masterpiece painting of her birth. That's the way it always is with major talent, they start out great and get greater, unlike the rest of the world of non-outliers. In the Detroit/Ann Arbor/Lansing nexus THE DOGS rocked hard, fast and precise. Energy-maniacs onstage they may have been, their proficiency as teens cast them practically as rock prodigies for their rabidly appreciative Michigan audiences. 

THE DOGS wrote their own original songs from the get-go, and opened for the likes of MC5, Stooges, Amboy Dukes with Ted Nugent, SRC etc. etc. etc. throughout the late '60s/early '70s. In the mid 1970s THE DOGS moved to NYC opening for Kiss, The Stilettos (proto-Blondie,) Television and all manner of punks watchful of THE DOGS' pared-down but hardcore Detroit rock performed in their own torn jeans and leather jackets ("Our normal street clothes because," laughed bassist Mary Kay, "we couldn't afford stage clothes.") 

Relocation to Hollywood shortly thereafter would find them opening for AC/DC, the Scorpions, and well, everybody, even Guns N 'Roses a decade beyond. Don't you think you might liked to have seen this genuine triple bill --The Ramones, The Dogs, Van Halen-- at the Golden West Ballroom, bands headline-tiered in that actual order? Where's a time machine or TARDIS when you really need one? Their heretofore best-known track, the mighty "Slash Your Face" which became one of SPIN magazine's all-time Top Ten punk singles hails from this golden age. 

Then comes the 1980s. A bit of this dvd's material originates from what some call the band's extended lost weekend, not only for personal hobbies but also for experimentation with multiple personnel changes --female singers, one of the Bullet Boys, a teenaged Danny De Muff on second guitar--outside the Loren/Mary core. They also tried out assorted band name changes to deflect The Dogs' sullied reputations for fomenting rioting audiences (See Daytona Beach, Florida and multiple Detroit locales ephemera) such as Attack, Frightened Trees and gawd knows what that they won't admit to nowadays. The upside was that when Ron Wood segued away into vestigial punk band Channel 3, THE DOGS acquired the master drummer quoted above, Tony Matteucci who remains both an inventive and powerful big league percussionist. 

Although I'd been sufficiently fortunate to witness the explosive 1977 DOGS at the Whisky a Gogo, this lost weekend decade is when I actually met them, once I deduced that their band name was now Attack. 'Saw them, just as magnificent as my original epiphany at the Whisky. Yet for being so mega and meta, they still hadn't cracked the industry, unlike once-co-billed under them Van Halens or Ramones. I proposed the rare for me free studio photographic portrait session to the band, offer accepted, and photographed all their live gigs from then on when my schedule permitted. 

And what a bunch of freaks, self at the time most definitely included as I emerged from my cancer sabbatical behaving rather more reckless than before (healthy obviously hadn't worked in this twisted logic.) "That's why we like you Heather, you're not normal," offered one Dog backstage, (not my habitual realm since as press, I generally entered the front door with a camera, not the back entrance with the band.) We all had bone-headed persistence and belief in our respective art in common, plus a preference for true hard rock in an era of twee New Romantics, boy bands, arena-rock conformity and cookie-cutter similitude of hair-metal wannabes. 

Two great things emerged from THE DOGS' '80s: for me, an enduring friendship with their remarkable bassist Mary Kay, and for the world, some of the band's best material born of singer/songwriter/guitarist Loren Molinare's introspective ruminations on ambition, love, persistence and outright despair. There's that line in the film "Field of Dreams" that always punches me in the gut when a ghost character forgoes his baseball stardom for a more practical vocation and another observes something to the effect of "He saw his lifelong dreams die right in front of him. This drives most people crazy." THE DOGS saw their so-called peers attain fame and fortune while they still gave their all live to their fans night after night, unrecognized and undistributed by a heedless music biz. 

Instead of insanity, pre-clean-up Loren turned these queasy emotions into lyrics outlining both the dark side -- "You love it, you hate it, dancing on the edge going way over the top..." from selfsame "Over The Top" -- but also offering sublime redemption if one stays the course somehow, dreams or reality immaterial. From that era's "Rainy Wednesday Afternoon" we hear "I'd rather be sailing on a magic sea, wind in my sails, my heart set free, I tell myself I'm free to go, why I stay God only knows..." Pretty fucking good for the traditionally non-verbal guitarist, eh? 

The '90s remained the chill out decade with Loren poached by Geffen artists Little Caesar (fronted by the admittedly astonishingly voiced Ron Young, a true hard rock hero himself) for his song-writing as well as guitar prowess, Mary off to assorted Metal bands like SHE ROK (fronted by Motley Crue's Nasty Habit Emi Canyn) and Tony heard drumming in huge Metal Festivals in South America and the like. The 2000s ushered in conviction to do what they've always done best and reunite (amidst ongoing other musical projects. Fortunately the 2000s and beyond accepts this as the norm for musician lifers.) 

But then the amazing occurred. The classic Detroit sound was vindicated though hundreds of thousands of hard rock fans and bands, continuing to this very second. Iggy and The Stooges even made the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame after seven consecutive tries. And THE DOGS' reputation via the emerging internet had accelerated their doggy tale into its present, deserved status of bona fide, singular, committed, hardest rock/power trio/punk rock true legends. Europeans paid outlandish sums for long ago 45 rpm singles on THE DOGS' self-released Detroit Records. The Midwest reclaimed THE DOGS as native sons (and daughter) of Relevance, bookings and live dvd "Purity Not Perfection" of same ensuing, plus Future Now's iconic "Doggy Days" live in Japan dvd and this most recent treasure you now hold in your hands. 

Once upon a time in mid-'70s Los Angeles, THE DOGS surreptitiously had been lumped into the Do It Yourself ethos of the nascent punk scene, ironic since they had zoomed past all that before they even relocated there and started their High Times rehearsal/recording commune and Detroit Records label on Gower Street in Hollywood. They'd already fashioned same as teenagers in the late '60s without industry connections, blowing the locals and visitors alike offstage in all the important venues of the Detroit/Ann Arbor/Lansing radius, later accomplishing same in Greenwich Village, New York City in 1974. Their immediate apartment-neighbor Patti Smith and pals in the punk community sure noticed what THE DOGS were doing, even if the rest of the entertainment world remained deaf, blind and moronically obstructionist for decades. D.I.Y.? Old hat much? For THE DOGS their enduring credo was Do It Anyway, come hell, high water, or the foremost enemy of rock and roll, the passage of time. Just... Do It Anyway. My all time favorite trangression. 

CODA and Freaks Alert: Back in those 1980s I was warned with all sorts of contradictory slurs that THE DOGS were hardscrabble, rough and tumble addicts from Detroit, hardcore abnormals yet slick careerists, rock and roll Luddites--"meat and potatoes" was one term bandied by an influential writer in print-- skull-sporting, black leather-clad untrustworthies, and what the hell was I doing not only touting them but hanging with? 

Well, explanation for one slur tumbles from their arrival from Detroit to NYC then Hollywood as full time musicians with their own P.A. systems/trucks not to mention arena-worthy amps augmenting the onslaught that blew rivals bands offstage. Jealousy? Um, er, uh, yeah! They still were contemporaries to their peers but way tighter and harder-rocking from their own Detroit trials by fire. See Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers" book for full explanations. The Luddite pejorative happily caved to newfangled appreciation for same via the arrival of Punk Rock. And sure there was bigtime drive: after all, even as starving young musicians they'd uprooted themselves moving lock, stock and smoking guitars to strange new urban centers, just to catch those big city breaks that we L.A. locals complacently took for granted. 

Finally, there was indeed the same obliterating substances phases as the bigger boys and girls (now fortunately buried in the past.) But always, always, always... there was THE DOGS' music: louder, harder, faster, tighter, always with the finesse of The Bigs but with the soul of true freedom fighters. "Us against the world" was the rallying edge I picked up when I first saw them in 1977, thinking to myself that I could watch these people for hours and still be fascinated. So what was I doing there, drawn into THE DOGS' lair of weird times and out-there hardcore rock music? Despite the restrained exterior, I guess I've always had a wild heart... 

And thankfully, the entire world still can share all the excitement in the music of THE DOGS to this day. Enjoy! Massively! Really! 

--Heather Harris 
Los Angeles, California 
September 19, 2012

Some of my latest photos of THE DOGS, live at the Redwood, downtown L.A. Feb. 2013 and during a video shoot the previous year.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

-- great piece about a great band, hh! it's my belief that, had the dogs stayed in new york -- where the punk scene was exploding -- rather than moving to los angeles, where it decidedly was not, their fortunes would have been quite different in terms of commercial success. to see them rocking now though, the intensity that loren and mary kay and tony bring every time they get up on a stage, is truly amazing. on top of that, their continued existence led me to hollywood, where i discovered true love to be a reality rather than the fairy tale i'd previously believed it was...
--Mike Hudson

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...