Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Demons - self titled (Mercury Records, 1977)

I’ve always been a fan of the three dollar record. You know what I mean: some forgotten long player from the '70s or early '80s, played to death in its day, stored in the attic for decades, then eventually carted off to the record store and exchanged for a miniscule amount of currency. It’s then marked for three bucks and placed in the bins with thousands of other records, where it will likely languish until the end of time. If you know what you’re looking for, you can get a good deal on a record like that. Hell, for three bucks, it’s worth the dough even if there’s only one great song! It’s just like buying a single – except the larger surface area allows it to double as a weapon. Such titles as Romeo Void’s Benefactor and JoBoxers' Like Gangbusters, which I ostensibly bought for one track, would have been overpriced at retail value. But at three dollars a pop, I did not hesitate.

…Which brings us to The Demons’ self-titled debut album. It’s the ultimate three dollar record. Like almost any other band even remotely attached to the mid-to-late ‘70s New York City punk scene, The Demons got signed to a major. Singer/guitarist Eliot Kidd was probably best known for having a few quotes in Please Kill Me. He was a pal of Johnny Thunders and Walter Lure (who at one point was a member of The Demons). Having gigged a lot with the likes of The Dictators, The Demons drew the attention of Mercury Records and were given the opportunity to record with Craig Leon. Leon, as an assistant to the legendary producer Richard Gottehrer, had worked with the Ramones, Blondie, Suicide, and Richard Hell. And while The Demons may have not been top tier a la the aforementioned bands, their one and only album is a really cool artifact of early New York punk.

The Demons are probably best known for the song “She’s So Tuff”, which was covered a decade ago by Tina and the Total Babes. Tina Lucchesi knows how to pick ‘em! “She’s So Tuff” was hands down one of the greatest power pop songs of the late ‘70s, and it alone justifies the purchase of the Demons’ album. If Kidd had been able to write a few more songs like “She’s So Tuff”, then perhaps The Demons would not be such an obscure band in our present memory. The closest the group came to another A-level track was album closer “I Hate You”, which is disturbingly funny and really fucking catchy in a Heartbreakers meets Real Kids sort of way. I can totally imagine Tina Lucchesi covering this one as well - so stay tuned, rock n’ rollers! The rest of the album, while not devoid of filler, delivers some really cool tracks. Opening cut “It’ll Be Alright” is a terrific mid-tempo rocker that kinda brings to mind Johnny Thunders fronting The Paul Collins Beat. Given Kidd’s connection to Thunders and Lure, it’s hardly surprising that “Bad Dreamin’” comes off like an LAMF outtake. “Ten Past One” is a very credible ballad in the fashion of the late ‘50s and early ‘60s. And well-done covers of “She’s a Rebel” and “I Fought the Law” further affirm Kidd’s affinity for that particular era of rock n’ roll.

Probably not a “punk” band per se, The Demons imbued their throwback rock n’ roll with enough sleaze and sloppiness to nonetheless fit the bill. The now-deceased Kidd is somewhat notorious for being in Sid Vicious’s hotel room the night Nancy Spungen died. But as a musician, he was more than worthy. You can’t really say The Demons were an influence on the glam-punk that resurged in the ‘90s (after all, who had actually heard them besides Tina Lucchesi?). But if you’re a fan of anyone from The Joneses to the Trash Brats to the Dimestore Haloes, you will most definitely recognize The Demons as some of the earliest practitioners of their style. Like a second string New York Dolls with power pop tendencies, Kidd and his mates were a fun band that must have been a good time live. They left behind just this one album, and one truly classic song in “She’s So Tuff”. In this age of Internet commerce, it’s not always easy to get a great deal on an old LP. But if there’s a shop in your proximity that deals in large quantities of used vinyl, The Demons are worth seeking out…even if you have to pay more than three dollars.

-Josh Rutledge

17 comments:

gunther said...

Got the Tuff Darts album? Another under-the-rug artifact from NYC.

Rutledge said...

Yep. Demons and Tuff Darts are very comparable indeed.

gunther said...

It's all for the love of rock 'n' roll...

Shawn Abnoxious said...

The Demons sounds real good Ruts. My ears perked and an eyebrow raised for the mention of The Real Kids... This Tuff Darts sounds cool too, if by just as a word from the mighty Gunny...

One of my favorite $3 LP's was POLYROCKS debut. I found it in one of those so-called vinyl dumps one day and the band really blew me away... Minimal synth punk, somewhat ambiant like a Neu that has shorter songs and way more lyrics. But since becoming a fan-by-chance, all their stuff has been reissued on CD, which is cool too because I got tired of tracking down vinyl...

Wow man, i was just thinking about all the bands each of us listen to or have listened to over the years. How each of us have raved about so many bands that Im beginning to lose track of them... Im glad Dirty Sheets is around to keep it alive. thanks guys... Thanks for keeping me remembering.... I wanna go dig out my Polyrock and Registrators stuff...

Shawn Abnoxious said...

Also, I found a way to 'SHARE' post from DS onto Twitter (via that SHARE button, duh!) Gunny... So look at my twitter feed for some promotions...

Rutledge said...

This reminds me...gotta check the DS Twitter and see how we're doing! We could be up to 25 followers!

Rutledge said...

Holy crap: 96 followers! Better start posting again! Dirty Sheets Nation is rising!

gunther said...

NEW DAY RISING!!! Tweet the OFF!, man. Also, pursue the happiness. Signing off from Scrap 58...

Shawn Abnoxious said...

'Scrap 58'?hmmmm. What's this Gunny?

I seen the DS twitterness just a few moments ago. Yeah, I retweeted thst shit like a Mofo!

gunther said...

It's an industrial business on Interstate 58. Rode past it last night and thought the name was cool.

Shawn Abnoxious said...

Gunny, it is cool. Real cool. Pseudonym cool.

gunther said...

The company logo looks like the highway sign.

Shawn Abnoxious said...

...that's what she said

Martin John Butler said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Martin John Butler said...

www.martinjohnbutler.com

Martin John Butler said...


Uhh, hi, perhaps I might make a few additions and corrections? I started The Demons with Eliot and brought Walter Lure, (my friend) with me. We shared friendships and a loft with the NY Dolls next to the Chelsea Hotel. I wrote "It'll Be Alright", chose "I Fought the Law" as a cover, ( we were the first to cover it I believe), added many uncredited musical parts to all the songs, including "She's So Tuf", which Eliot wrote the bulk of.

We weren't as obscure as the review imagines, and could put 1,000 people outside the door of CBGB's on a rainy Tuesday. The album sold 250,000 copies, reached Billboard's number 1 in 11 states when our drummer was killed, and Eliot was put in jail at Rikers Island on serious drug charges. He was in jail so long our 181 day tour was cancelled, and we were subsequently dropped from Mercury.

The early Demons were way tougher than the Punk/Pop sound of the album, which I fought against, but was outvoted. We shared bills and were friends with almost every important NY band at the time.

I wish Mercury would allow a re-release, as the album is a time capsule of sorts, despite my reservations of the musical direction the production took, The Demons were there at the very beginning, when CBGB had 15 people there, and 12 of them were in bands. We were managed by Hilly Crystal for a short time.

The only other survivor of the Demons is Bob Jones.

I miss them all.

Martin John Butler

Peter Mork said...

I saw them at the Rat, and yes, they were a good time, but nobody knew who they were.

Unheralded/unpromoted/lost in the shuffle - Artful Dodger got to make a followup and open for the Kinks (they didn't make it either - what does any of this prove? Not a lot, but the Demons at least deserved another shot).