New England Music Scrapbook
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Willie Alexander and the
Boom Boom Band
Loco Live 1976
A large number of pages at this site bring in Willie Alexander (too many to list here) and profile his various bands (Bagatelle, Grass Menagerie, Lost, and perhaps others yet to come). This ought to give some idea of how important we think he was and is to New England's rock and avant-garde communities.
The vital recordings on Loco Live 1976 come from a time when Willie Alexander and the Boom Boom Band was the central group in the Boston area's budding rock underground. The earliest tracks are from shows at the Club in Cambridge, a couple months after Willie Alexander won the Bicentennial Tournament of the Bands at that very establishment. The vocals are mixed low, putting the emphasis on the loose-and-lively ensemble performances. Most of the rest comes from shows at the Rat (Rathskeller) in Kenmore Square just a month before the dates given for the Live at the Rat (2 LPs, Rat, 1976) recordings. Both sets represent the classic Boom Boom Band, and the Rat recordings place Willie Alexander's eccentric and highly enjoyable vocals decisively out front. The last two tracks come from "Dirty Eddie" b/w "She Wanted Me" (45, Somor, 1978).
Willie Alexander said, speaking of the Rat recordings, "It's raw and real Boston Rock and Roll from 1976." And he's an expert. I wouldn't want to be without this disc.
This notice was originally published in the New England Music Scrapbook News feature on 11/7/2001.
The East Main Street Suite
Willie Alexander is among the greats of Boston rock and roll. He was a member of the legendary mid-'60s band, the Lost. (More on that group coming.) Later he played with the Bagatelle and he was in the last lineup of the Velvet Underground. As the leader of the mid-'70s Boom Boom Band, he helped create Boston's punk-rock scene. And in the 1980s, he developed a sizeable following in Europe.
In 1991, Alexander organized the Persistence of Memory Orchestra, which now consists of keyboards, two saxophones, and drums. East Main Street Suite makes it quite clear that this is an excellent band which is capable of performing diverse styles of music with authority. Alexander once described Persistence of Memory's sound as minimal, saying, "The space between things is becoming more and more important to me."
The unusual lineup of instruments, the minimalist lyrics, and the generally spare arrangements combine to make this a strangely attractive disc. Old-time WA fans will already know "Bass Rocks." "Ocean's Condo #2" is the strongest number, with its relentless percussion; and trumpeter Herb Pomeroy's cool guest-solo, over a haunting background drone, is a very special treat. The technical quality of the sound on East Main Street Suite is about as good as it gets. This is Willie Alexander's best album of new material in more than a decade.
-- Alan Lewis
This notice was originally published in the June 7, 2000, issue of the newsletter, Crumbs (From the Land of Cake).
Willie Alexander: www.williealexander.com
Accurate Records: www.accuraterecords.com
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