Off Cassettes

My uber-talented old friend Richard learned how to play guitar a couple of years back. So he sent me a few tracks wondering if I could add instrumentation to them, like we used to in the old days (except I had to play everything). So this is the result. Enjoy!

Sounds Stories Uncategorized

It’s football season, and you know what that means: playing a local punk rock classic and then recording it on ukulele

So I’m at church on NFL opening day 2015, where I usually irritate the congregation with my one song about football.

Frankly I was starting to get irritated of it myself, having to play it ONCE EVERY YEAR since time immemorial. And on top of that, a far better football song was hiding in plain view. With deep emotional ties to my own fandom of the New York Jets.

But first…

The Eat were one of the first of the great South Florida punk bands, and arguably the best of them. I’ll stop right there and let their Alternative Tentacles bio take over:

“Formed in 1978 by brothers Eddie and Michael O’Brien, Glenn Newland, and Christopher Cottie, The Eat rapidly became a distinct member of a relatively small group of South Florida punk rock acts that also included the Cichlids. The same thing was happening all around the country; young kids everywhere were rejecting the disco and track music stagnation of Seventies radio. Armed with deceptively simple songs, The Eat gigged on a small circuit of clubs throughout South Florida — The Agora Ballroom, Flynn’s, The Premier AOR, Balkan Lounge, and 27 Birds, just to name a few. ‘In the early Seventies, doing original material in clubs was out of the question,’ says Eddie O’Brien. ‘Maybe you could slip in one per set, but the clubs sometimes even told you what covers you could play. The Cichlids were the first popular band I remember doing originals … and they kicked the door open for us, [Charlie] Pickett, The Reactions, and the others.'”

So in 1980 I got this great EP they put out. Just look at that cover….

God Punishes The Eat FRONT Cover

Nowadays, it fetches all sorts of money. (And I did cash in a few years ago but I made a tape of the tunes first).

They had a weird vibe that was true to punk and true to Miami.

This was a band comprised of Irish Catholics that called their studio “Jesus Mary and Joseph” and, living in the midst of a large Jewish population, called their label “Giggling Hitler” (Sid Vicious, Johnny Rotten and even Mick Jagger wore swastika tees around this time too — look it up).

They flew the anti-hippie standard high by putting “No Ukes!” on the back cover collage, which I accepted as a dig at the “No Nukes” movement currently in vogue and which featured every stoned-out singer-songwriter of the 1970s. Not a dig at the politics perhaps, but definitely at the music.

And I noticed (with good humor of course) they seemed to like trolling us Cubans of the late 70s with their hammer-and-sickle stickers on their guitars and references to wondering if “she could speak English” and being “Marxist revolutionaries” and kneecapping guys with mustaches in Camaros.

God Punishes The Eat Back Cover

Finally, I noted that the O’Briens came from Long Island, which was then the home of the Jets. And they had this whole sports thing going, even with a baseball card in the sleeve.


My favorite tune on the disk was Jimmy B Goode, the opener, written by younger brother Michael O’Brien. I had the thrill of performing half of the tune at Open Books & Records in early 1985 with members of Lethal Yellow. Michael himself was actually standing next to us. I forgot the second verse and asked him what it was. He’d forgotten it too, or maybe didn’t want to be further embarrassed.

A bit later on I got their 1982 full-length tape, Scattered Wahoo Action (which I still haven’t managed to sell), and that is where I first heard, loved, treasured the song I ended up playing at church on opening day. Written by older brother Eddie O’Brien, Open Man is perfectly hook-filled, perfectly rocking, perfectly capturing the frustration that 31 NFL teams are destined to meet every year.


And then I see Michael O’Brien, as a member of the D.T. Martyrs, running around the local rags with this shirt on:


And then I saw the Martyrs at Sync Studios with Michael on guitar later that year, just about when football was starting, and they played Open Man! With Michael on vocals! I yelled “Go Jets!” and Michael said, “Go Jets! How ’bout that O’Brien guy?”

From then on, these guys would be near and dear to my heart as fellow Jets fans. I wondered what Jets game Eddie was referring to in Open Man. Heaven knows there were plenty of disappointing ones to pick from….

Anyway, back to church. I played Open Man and everybody liked it (probably relieved at not having to sit through my football song). But I accidentally deleted the recording from my phone. So I rerecorded it “ON UKE!” in my daughter’s bedroom a day later:


    • A few years ago, Alternative Tentacles gave the Eat their due with this boxset.
    • Michael O’Brien passed away in 2013 after a battle with cancer (nine years after drummer Chris Cottie passed away).
    • Eddie O’Brien revealed he’s actually a Dolphins fan (Michael was a Jet to the end) in this interview from 2014.
    • If you want to see the song properly performed, look no further:
Sounds Uncategorized

CHURCH SONG: Copper Kettle

After over a year I’m back playing tunes at my home church.  On Fridays, we watch movies or TV series and have relevant discussions about them applicable to our lives as Christians. Works for us.

This past Friday we saw the first two episodes of Justified, full of shots of moonshine and down-home white supremacist psychotics. Never done seen it afore. I don’t have cable.

Anytime you see this guy on TV, you know bad things are afoot...
Anytime you see this guy on TV, you know bad things are afoot…

It inspired me to do Dylan’s (cover of) Copper Kettle this morning. Moonshine with a dash of Libertarianism to boot.

News Sounds

Live & LoFi 84-87 (the MySpace tracks EP) on Bandcamp

Finally made it into Bandcamp…

We grabbed the four live tracks from our now-defunct MySpace and added a few interesting snippets from contemporaneous rehearsal sessions. My track-by-track notes:

“Can’t You Just Turn It Down?”– yep, this is what it was like trying to play punk rock with Christian lyrics in 1984-85.

Death Of A Gunfighter —  Visitors cover! December 1984! At the infamous Flynns Ocean 71 club in Miami Beach. It was a dive back then (although legend has it that Sinatra played there in its heyday). Now that location looks like this:

The hotel formerly known as Ocean 71, which housed the club formerly known as Flynns.
The hotel formerly known as Ocean 71, which housed the club formerly known as Flynns. (Google Maps)

Nina Writes “Take Him Home” — the very moment the muse struck Nina in mid-rehearsal. And then I mindlessly say “let’s do Area Three One Twoooo”.

Throwaway — In July 1985, while the uncool heathen masses of planet Earth were watching Live Aid on TV, our performance at Sync Studios, our rehearsal digs, was videotaped with two cameras and broadcast all over Sync Studios. Extra comedy moment at the end when Rob’s kick drum pedal breaks for the second time. “No, I’m lying, it’s OK.” Sync was located just north of what is now trendy Midtown Miami.

We often had to lug all the gear up those stairs to the second floor of the building to the right. (Google Earth)
We often had to lug all the gear up those stairs to the second floor of the building to the right. (Google Earth)

Julio Presents “Better Off” — the first time those chords hit the ears of Nina and Robbie

Get Out Of My Face — The Nina classic, from the soundboard, from when we opened for DRI in May 1986 at the Cameo Theater in Miami Beach. There’s a tape of the whole set but we fell victim to the soundman sabotaging our sound. All the sabotaging was clear to hear on the tape. Yep, that’s what it was like playing hardcore punk with Christian lyrics in 1986. The Cameo today is some sort of club…

Looks the same, but now you can't find a parking space and the cool bands have gone (Google Maps)
Looks the same, but now you can’t find a parking space and the cool bands have gone (Google Maps)

Robbie and Julio Rehearse “He Won’t Take A Joke” — Seems like an early one. We used my Portastudio with electric drums & Rat distortion directly plugged in. One mike to capture vocals and cymbals.

Tunnel Vision — Audience recording of our moment of attainment, finally making it to Cornerstone in 1987. “MOSH!”

Stream on:

Live & Lo-Fi 84-87 (the MySpace tracks EP) by The Lead

Rants Sounds Uncategorized

Old Glory at church: What is independence?

Got a jump on the Fourth of July last Sunday with this performance of  my anthem to curbing one’s nationalism.

Four years ago I wrote a song encapsulating my feelings regarding blind nationalism called Old Glory. The lyrics will speak for themselves. All I can add is that the Independence we celebrate on this Day ought to include the ability to be independent in thought without fear.

A lofty goal that the Founding aimed at, but often failed to live up to. As has the republic that followed in the ensuing two centuries plus.

Having said that, there’s still no place that’s come closer to it on the planet. And I’ll do my part to keep it that way.


Home studio version at my Bandcamp.

Lyrics here.

Vid of last year’s church performance here.


Hurricanes and Earthquakes

Another personal nugget from the formation of the rock a la punk as played by Christians.

Wrote it in 1980. Was my main tune for a couple of years. The church band I was in (see pic) did this at times starting in 1981. It made it all the way through the Visitors and the early days of the Lead and to my so-lo-fi Unrehearsed Walk 2 cassette in 1986. Where it has rested until revived for church couple of weeks ago.

Played through my ’78 Ibanez Strat and one of those little late ’90s battery powered amps encased in a cigarette pack.

Well there’s doubt in the air you can feel it everywhere
Look around and it seems like no one else has got a care
School’s been on my mind I’ve been thinking about a job
Forgetting about the Lord, forgetting about love

I’ve had so many chances and I’ve blown them one by one
My mind has been on myself and on having my fun
Or worrying about whether I’d be sent off to war
Or worrying about whether I would smash up my car

But I know there’s going to be a change now
Cause the Lord has dragged me out of the hole I put myself in

And it’s good to be back
Back on the track
To the calling of my Lord
In Him I’ll handle the changes
First to last
Everything has been taken good care of

There ain’t no push and shove on the road to Heaven
The time is short the clock strikes eleven
And the earth is enmeshed in Satan’s desperate wiles
The nations have taken turns on the Lord’s name and they’ve defiled

I am where I am, where I was meant to be
There’s work to do I feel it true for the Lord’s glory
There’s hurricanes and earthquakes all along the way
But I can do anything as long as I do it in His name

And this time, we’re gonna rip right into it
Sound the guitars put on the armor and pick up your sword

And it’s good to be back
Back on the track
To the calling of my Lord
In Him I’ll handle the changes
First to last
Everything has been taken good care of


King of Kings and Lord of Lords

Back in 1979, my 19-year-old self put a tune around Revelation 19:11-16.  It was one of the first Christian-themed songs I’d ever written.

More recently, Nina Llopis drew from the same set of verses for her song “Dressed In A Robe” which is one of the tracks we’re working on for the Lead’s reunion project.

So I couldn’t resist dusting off my old arrangement and doing a little restructuring to it. I’m actually thinking about laying down a scratch track for Robbie to drum to from his home studio in Tampa, and we’ll see where it goes from there.

Those verses describe the real “war to end all wars” (at least for the following 1,000 years) which will happen sometime in the future. So I aired my arrangement for church for Memorial Day, just me on acoustic and vocals. I didn’t sing it half-bad for once. Here it is:

And I saw Heaven opened
And behold a white horse
And He that sat upon it
Was called Faithful and True

And in righteousness
He doth judge and make war
His eyes were a flame of fire
And on His head were many crowns

And He had a name written that no man knew but he himself
And He was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood, His name is called the Word of God

And the armies that were in Heaven followed Him on
White horses clothed in file linen white and clean
And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword
That with it He should smite the nations

And He shall rule them with a rod of iron
And He treadeth the winepress
Of the fierceness and wrath
Of the Almighty God

And he hath on His vesture and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS & LORD OF LORDS

Here’s the Lead’s demo of Dressed In A Robe from 2012:

Sounds Uncategorized

Soon to be reported in Wall Street Journal

Yep, we’ve got us a real fake label now with our own Bandcamp featuring multiple artistes (Julio Rey and the Visitors — but Frank’s Enemy and King James & the Concordances are coming soon).

Why are these men and woman smiling?
Sounds Uncategorized

Binge Watching at Church!

The new lyric got a tune and was sung and played back on April 27th.

Lyrics Sounds Uncategorized

Cigar Box Country Easter Grindcore Blues (or, the latest version of Roll the Rock)

Nothing more appropriate for Easter morning at church than a country blues standard played on an amplified Shane Speal cigar box guitar.

Roll the rock, Lord
Roll the rock onto my sin
Roll the rock, Lord
Onto disease and pestilence
Roll the rock, Lord
Roll the rock onto my death
Roll the rock, roll the rock, roll the rock

Oh to see Who’s at that right hand
Oh to see Who’s in glory above
Oh to see them put them plastic wings on
Oh to see the True Face of Love

Oh to see this whole world dipped in Clorox
Oh to feel my pride cut to the bone
Oh to see it all taken apart and shown me
Oh to see the payoff to the loan

Throw down your chains, boys, because it’s time to go

More on the tune here.