The star spangles
The Vexed Pastels
The Star Spangles

Nick Price – Bass
Joey Valentine – Drums
Tommy Volume – Gtr
Ian Wilson - Vocals


They come from NYC - but they think The Storkes are wimps (hey, tell us something we don’t know, already – NYC Hardness Expert). There’s only one key band from NYC, they say (& that’s The Star Spangles, by the way), & that’s The Ramones.

The Star Spangles: mmm, not too sure about that name, boys. Aw, fuck it, what’s in a name when you’ve got a 7” 45 slab of vinyl like “Which Of The Two Of Us Is Gonna Burn This House Down?”

Right, let’s get the minor quibbles out of the way first:

1. This record is on Parlophone Records.
2. This record sounds like Meatloaf for the first 2 bars.

Now the first I can deal with, especially when it’s a 7” 45 slab of virgin vinyl (ltd to 1000 copies) housed in a B&W sleeve that depicts the band as a bunch of modern day Ramones in cheap suits. Singer Ian Wilson looks vaguely like a very young (& very pissed off) Nick Cave (oxymoron?? – Morons Ed.) & the rest of the band prove that The Storkes “look” may well be more universally utilised than at first thought. Fuck it – I’ve always been a sucker for skinny ties (just not white ones – OK?) & Oxfam tailoring – I just hope The Star Spangles can ditch the bicycle they currently have to travel around on & afford them selves a decent van.

The second quibble may well just be me – I’ve probably blown any credibility I never ever had just admitting that I know what Meatloaf actually sounds like. Needless to say, it’s only a guitar intro, & Ian Wilson is soon screaming so loud you’ve forgotten all about it anyway. They don’t make records like “..Burn This House Down..” very often these days: it sounds so ancient it must be modern (my copy even jumps once on my Portadyne RP22, just like my favourite records always used to). This record should have the words: MASSIVE WORLDWIDE RADIO HIT stamped on the cover - it’s that good, that catchy - you’re tempted to phone the doctor to make an appointment to get the monkey off yr. back on the way home from work (work: mmm, while we’re here, this could be a good time to have a pop at some of you lazy bastards who think work is beneath you. Listen, you screwheads, here’s a man who would not take it anymore. The scrounging, the bumming, the lazing around – get up off your good for nothing arses & embrace the work ethic. GET A FUCKING JOB – EVEN IF YOU ARE IN A BAND. Nobody I know, or have ever wanted to know for that matter, has ever made a fucking penny out of rock & roll & that’s just the way it should be (unless you WANT to Noel, Damion, Liam, Chris or Fran). SO JUST GET USED TO IT. Rock & Roll is NOT a career option. RIGHT? We’ve all got second jobs, & third in some cases. IS THAT CLEAR? Good, now we can move on.)

The b-side, “Stain Glass Shoes”, ain’t bad either. A more angular affair with a teasing cyclical riff, it features the kind of life affirming guitar solo we used to buy Only Ones records for. The main thing about b-sides, however, is that as soon as they’re through it’s time to turn em over & spin the a-side again.

So, The Star Spangles it is. 2003 can only be a happy place to live if it’s rammed to the rafters with shit like this. Let’s hope they make an LP we can get equally worked up about before we find out their Dads own Walmart. Drop the needle on the track – revel in the crackles - & repeat after me:

“You turn the oven on, I’ll light a match”



That’s right, we love The Star Spangles so much we’ve ripped the biog from their website so you can read it all from the horses mouth without the damn links. These boys have senses of humour as well as fucking good songs:

THE STAR SPANGLES: CHAPTER ONE by Richard Meltzer

Four first cousins from culture hotbed Central Islip, New York-birthplace of Willie Nelson, Marvin Gaye and Captain Lou Albano – the Star Spangles take their name from the poem "My Wild Irish Arse" by Beat icon Gregory Corso:

"Yonder, a star! Its twinkle spangles my fundament, babe!"

On the weekend of February 28th and 29th, 2002, opening for Suicide and Sleater-Kinney, they drew worldwide attention when their two-night Yank Fest at the Foster Light Omni-Drome, Hobart, Tasmania, established an arena-rock attendance record of 407,893--nearly doubling the previous mark set by Foghat, Journey and Linda Ronstadt at the Hartford Civic in 1978.

Poised on the brink of ooo-pa-doo, ool-ya-koo and rama-lama-fah-fah-fah-fah-FAH-fah, the "Spangles," as they're affectionately known, believe in music's power to heal as well as kill.

Four amazing musicians…four amazing tales. May their banner wave!

Though mute at birth, and suffering an array of ear, nose and throat ailments through age 17, vocalist Ian Wilson has finally "found his voice"…and then some.
A man of many words, and many thoughts, he shares his wisdom in frank, nifty doses, posted daily on his phone machine. And here's today's:

"It goes against my religion”

"None”

"What is "belief"?”

"Belief is BLIND OBEDIENCE”

"Better to be blind – eyeless! – in the middle of an ocean than blindly obedient to the dogma of any known theistic persuasion”

"I do not believe in the existence of anything as absurd as a 'soul,' but absolute, witless submission would be the DEATH of the soul, were there in fact (or fancy) such an entity in some hypothetical firmament”

"There is NO enduring the surrender of one's rational faculties, or one's uniquely personal irrational faculties: NO SALVATION in giving the lie to ultimate truths of one's own mind and heart"

Way to go, Ian! It's not often that an artist comes along with credentials as sound as those of the Spangles' Tommy Volume:

Rhythm guitar for Peace Parking Lot, Love Reaction, Dogs Not Cats, Dewey Defeats Truman, and the vastly underrated Spanky & Jekyll…lead axe for Port-a-Pod and Weasel Quim...session work on Dylan's collaboration with Thelonious Monk, Cots for Sleeping Six Abreast, including the classic "Who Needs Porkpies? You Need Porkpies"…ghosted Big Bigelow's tracks on nine Nirvana albums (in other words, he was Big Bigelow!)…emerged as a 6-stringer in his own right with So You Think You Know Cheese – remember their album cover? (a gouda, a brie, and 40 cubes of Laughing Cow)…three years of side trips on the coffee house circuit, featuring acoustic improvs on his custom-built Stratocaster Seven Seas aluminum hollow-body. Hailed by Guitar Player as "One awesome motherhumping s.o.b.," Tommy is indeed The Man on strings.

Bassist Nick Price is known far & wide as a world-class gourmet cook. Perhaps his most famous creation is the GRILLED OLIVE-TRIPE-TONGUE SANDWICH:

1 cup grated American cheese
1/4 cup chopped ripe olives
1/4 cup shredded boiled tripe
1/4 cup diced boiled beef tongue
2 tablespoons chopped pimento
2 teaspoons prepared mustard
I teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whipped butter
16 slices enriched white bread
Combine cheese, olives, tripe, tongue, pimento, mustard, pepper and salt.. Butter one side of each bread slice. Spread 8 slices with olive-tripe-tongue-cheese filling. Top each with matching slice, buttered side down. Butter outside of each sandwich. Grill on low heat in sandwich grill for 4 minutes, or on griddle until brown on both sides.

Drummer Joey Valentine is the final answer (and what an answer!) to the multi-part trivia question: Have any rock-rollers attended one or more semesters of college or university, and what, if any, were their degrees and majors?
A grand total of seven, dig it, have given it the old college "try," but failed to make it to the finish line: Jim Morrison (Pacific Suburban University, one semester, phys. ed.); Jerry Garcia (Palo Alto City College, two semesters, paleontolgy); Marilyn Manson (University of Newark, two semesters, history of television); Bootsy Collins (London School of Economics, three semesters, undecided); Dick Dale (South Dakota Eucharist, four semesters, Indo-European languages); Janis Joplin (Paloma Loma, West Virginia, College of Art, six semesters, acrylic studies); David Byrne (Guatemala Poly, seven-plus semesters, numismatics – dropped out three credits shy of a diploma). As we slog through the Big Beat's fifth decade, only ONE rock-roller has graduated from a school of higher learning: Joseph Henry "Joey" Valentine, who this past June received a B of S in hydronautic engineering from Indiana Cow College…wow…and you probably thought it COULDN'T BE DONE!

THE STAR SPANGLES: CHAPTER TWO by Richard Meltzer

What's NEW with the Star Spangles? Hey…glad you asked!

"Which of the Two of Us Is Gonna Burn This House Down?" (b/w "Stain Glass Shoes"), their debut single for the Parlophone label, released Dec 2nd (my bithday, chucks. Ed.), has been certified double platinum in both the U.S. and the U.K., and triple molybdenum (Western Canada's standard of metallic excellence – the leading export after hawk down and elk fat – equal to 100,000 product units) in Alberta and Saskatchewan. It has meanwhile been voted "The Greatest Single Since 'Brown Sugar'" by a panel of 200 experts at Mojo, with French critic Claude Bessy calling it "un classique instantané (an instant classic)"…cookin' out!

IN THE CAN – The Spangles have completed final mixes on a dozen tunes written especially for the soundtrack to Martin Scorsese's remake of King Kong, starring Porfirio Rubirosa, Mel Gibson and Drew Barrymore, in her first role since she got the face lift. Word has it the rockin' ballad "Kong 13, Elvis 0" is a pisser.

When Eric Clapton, stricken with psoriasis, was unable to complete his Asia-Pacific tour, Nick Price got the call, filling in for the British blues legend on dates in Fiji, Java, New Guinea and Eniwetok.

"People tend to forget that before I played bass I was a fair to middlin' guitarist…I'm glad Eric remembered."

Tabbed by the Trashmen to "testify" at their induction in the R*o*c*k a*n*d R*o*l*l H*a*l*l o*f F*a*m*e, Tommy Volume put the great band's long-overdue acceptance in perspective: "'Louie Louie' gets all the credit, but without 'Surfin' Bird,' where would any of us be?" (I'd hate to have to answer that one.)

Speaking of honors, Joey Valentine's high school fife & drum coach, Steamort Sutz, a casualty in the World Trade Center tragedy, was posthumously awarded the prestigious Hoppenploptop Medal by the Pasta Fazool Society of Beverly Hills. "People think I got it all from Keith Moon and Mickey Hart," sez Joey, "but everything I know about tom-toms I learned from Steamort. He will be sorely missed."

PASTIME OR PASSION? Ian Wilson is undecided on whether to proceed with boxing as a second career. Since the start of the year he's had 7 professional fights, winning 3 and losing 4:

Jan. 7 – Eduardo Gaffney (Hartford), KO 3 Feb. 14 – Tui Toia (Boston), KO by 2 May 12 – Dean Storyville (Portland, Maine), W 4 June 3 – Prince Pudding (Atlantic City), L 4 June 26 – Cletis Truesdale (Youngstown, Ohio), KO 1 July 6 – Atlelea Kaihea (Cleveland), KO by 3 Sept. 13 – Shane Vulva (Upper Marlboro, Maryland), L 6.

Before you yell for him to throw in the towel, keep in mind that many at ringside believe he should've got the nod in the Pudding and Vulva fights, losing both as the result of hometown decisions. Had Ian copped those two, his record would now stand at 5-2.

DIDJA KNOW DEPT. – Did you know that before they were the Star Spangles, our foursome were known briefly as the Matriots? "That's patriot with an M instead of a P," 'splains Spangles manager Ferdinand (Duke) Duvall, "the mom as opposed to the pop version of national loyalty. It was a made-up word expressing our personal view that this country would be better served by a committee of mothers picked at random from the Keokuk white pages." Better, you mean, than by the drooling beast currently serving as figurehead of our so-called republic? "Yes…exactly." The Matriots (right on), and before that they played some dates as Womba the Jungle Boy; and 'fore that, Portuguese Whores of Dawn; and originally, in their earliest incarnation: the Gugs. As Casey Stengel once said, you could look it up!

NOT A COVER BAND? Think again. Throughout the Spangles' Labor Day weekend at the Hoss Hide Corral (Rhinebeck, New Jersey), their set list included "Something Better Beginning" by the Kinks, "Undercover Angel" by Sahib Shihab, "Pied Piper" by Crispian St. Peters, "The Breeze and I" by the Doberman Gang, and "Bop a Lop Lop" by the Chinese Tops…the hottest that tune has sounded in years.


Jean Encoule – trakMARX.com – Jan 2003
Links
Check it: www.thestarspangles.com


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