Doug Roth and the Blissters, the Allentown Parkway, 1985.
Doug Roth, aka D Smash of the Lehigh Valley rock n roll band, The Blissters, died this week.
Roth, who was 50, was the Lehigh Valley’s pre-eminent electric guitarist. As a member of the Blissters, his local popularity and career in that band spanned decades. Put another way, Dougie Smash was the very definition of rock and roll.
A brief history of the Blissters was published at DD blog years ago here.
The YouTube film is from a free Summer Sunday festival on the Allentown Parkway in 1985. I was living on Cumberland Street at the time, a hundred or so yards away, and walked to it with my ex-wife.
It was one of the type of late summer outdoor rock affairs notorious for large numbers of partying young men and women, often with their shirts off, more remarkable because it was purely a local affair of significant size and enthusiasm.
The first clip features Roth performing Nazareth’s “Woke Up This Morning.”
The second clip, below, has an engaging poor man’s D. A. Pennebaker feel. The cameraman shows you just what it was like on the Allentown green that joyful warm afternoon.
It’s a good way to be remembered in eternity. RIP, Doug Roth (1962-2013).
He was just beaten soundly in an election. So he comes back with a budget plan just like the old rejected one, only a bit more cruel. Then he makes a Freudian slip, caught be everyone: “We’re not going to give up on destroying health care…”
Best Paul Ryan song, ever. Republican Jesus, the public crucified him and he rose from the dead four months later.
DD Band in Pasadena in November 2010. We often used the famous outro from Won’t Get Fooled Again by the Who as a sequed wrap up of a version of Young Man Blues.
The Pete Townshend sequencer line, which is the hook for Fooled, was done through the guitar in a Roger Linn Adrenalinn III. It always worked well.
Play loud for maximum effect. The audio is from a digital camera capture done by a member of the audience. The video part was so poorly shot it was useless except for a couple low res stills, so it was tossed and the raw audio given a faux stereo image in the digital studio. Caveats aside, the fragment still captures the essence of it.
The Highway Kings? Sounds like a biker gang. Looks like one, too. Sort of, yeah. In an era when ‘biker metal’ was more career choice than lifestyle (see Little Caesar, Two-Bit Thief, Junkyard, Tattoo Rodeo etc), Destiny and his filthy few actually lived like demented speedfreak outlaws in the junk belt of eastern Pennsylvania, playing their chariotchoogling motorcycle boogie mostly for third-stage alcoholics and lot lizards. More at home opening for downwardspiralling bloozesters – Robin Trower, Pat Travers et al – they often found themselves on freak-show double bills with strange bedfellows such as all-girl motor-metalmamas Cycle Sluts From Hell or spazzpoppers Ween, and the end result was frequently brawls, blood and spilled booze. Sometimes even on purpose.
Wait – did they just punch people, or were they an actual band? They were a band that punched people. Destiny was a smart-alecky writer and fledgling badass on a wild search for kicks in mid-80s Reagan America. He recruited a short-order cook with marital problems and an auto-body painter from the local trailer park to round out his vision of hard rock greaseball skullfuckery, and together they bashed out epics of manly fuzz rock, such as Arrogance (1986) and Brutality (1988), that sounded like the Nuge and the Godz kicking the guts out of Tyranny And Mutation -era Blue Öyster Cult.
Did anybody care (besides you)? Crazily, they got lots of hot press from unlikely publications such as Creem and Spin , and plenty of college radio airplay. Which did them no good, because they sounded like Blue fucking Öyster Cult.
Let me guess – they ran out of gas. The band finally dissolved in a haze of cigarette smoke and salty tears at a pancake house somewhere off Interstate 78, in late 1991. We don’t know if Jesus wept, but certainly a few ageing, floppytitted BÖC groupies did. Five years later, the chicken-wire rock dive that made them local legends, The 4G’s in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, ‘mysteriously’ burned to the ground, effectively dooming any chance of a reunion. Destiny rolls on, however, most recently as a caustic rock journalist for The Village Voice and as a founding member of Uncle Sam and the JDAMs, whose album Iraq ’N’ Roll should be available soon.
Actually, the idea was to look like the James Gang ca. Rides Again, which we did.
And if you listen to “China Toilet Blooz,” I still do the early Seventies heavy guitar rock trip.
“China Toilet Blooz,” performed live in Pasadena in the arts/theater district just south of Colorado, fall of 2010.
Originally recorded as a video/audio capture on an audience member’s digital camera, I tossed the video. The recording was low fidelity, the camera’s video capability squelching everything above 5k in the audio spectrum to keep file size manageable. So I put it back into a digital replica of the room for a pseudo-stereo image and did a few other studio tricks to bring back some dynamic range and restore a better feel for what it sounded like. (I almost can do magic for the stuff others have ruined for you, too.)
Play loud. Yep, really loud folk rock gets heavy. Hey, dig the Mojo Hand made-in-China harmonica! Straight off Humble Pie’s Rockin’ the Fillmore. Well, no, but it’s where I nicked the licks.
Although every bit of the stuff I do drips classic rock, I never watch geezer rock anymore. As with WhiteManistan, I’m embarrassed to be related, if only faintly, to the tribe.
When you’re old you oughta be able to rock. To be good at it you have to be willing to be taken for a fool. However, there’s no point in making it harder. And some things you must let go because they’ll sink your ship immediately. (It’s also why I never go out to hear middle and upper-middle aged white guys in blues bands.) Increasing entropy isn’t something money can opt you out of.
I was oblivious to the 12-12-12 concert but the New York Times does a good dissection of embarrassing-looking old rockers.
“I will donate $1,000 to #121212Concert if Roger Daltry buttons his shirt,” tweeted Alan Zweibel, 62, a comedy writer …
With his shirt thrown open during a rousing rendition of “Baba O’Riley” Mr. Daltrey — a specimen for his age, to be sure — unfortunately invited comparisons to his groupie-magnet self from the “Tommy” era. In doing so, he violated an obvious dictum for seniors: keep your clothes on in public.
Then the piece gets to Iggy Pop, a tremendous physical specimen, endurance wise, at 65. He does not, as the New York Times piece insists, look like a Joffrey dancer.