Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Time Travel: Remembering The Razz

An odd confluence of letters in my RSS reader led me to search this evening for a band I followed as a youngster back in Washington DC. This week's Monday Music entry on the NPR Monitor Mix blog included a video from the Nazz (Tod Rundgren's old group).

Seeing that "a-z-z" reminded me of The Razz, a DC band from back in the late 1970s. The Razz were a hard-rock band -- almost punk -- that played a snarling form of power pop. They put out a series of singles and an extended play (EP) single. I may still have several of these buried somewhere in my archive.

The group included Tommy Keene, who went on to a recording career starting in the 1980s. According to Wikipedia, his music is critically acclaimed but commercially ignored.

I insulted Mr. Keene one evening at a bar in Northern Virginia. I didn't mean to insult him. A group of us were there to see The Razz; we were fans. I was at the time a rhythm guitarist in a high-school garage band (The Ramblin' Beach Guys) and I was impressed by Keene's guitar playing. The group's other guitarist, Bill Craig, was playing a more obvious "lead guitar" role and I approached Keene during a break to tell him how cool it was to see a fellow rhythm guitarist (I was pretty young). He was not amused; he played parts just as complex as the other fellow, he was just less showy. That was my first lesson in the potential complexity in rock music.

That was one of two Razz shows that I remember specifically. I expect I probably also saw them play at the old Psychadeli at some point, but I'm not sure.

The other show that I remember clearly was a concert in November of 1978 at the University of Maryland Student Union. The Razz opened for Rockpile (Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe). Several of my bandmates and I got there very early and snagged a table at the very front of the hall. It was one of those great moments in youth when you are part of just the music you want to hear.

In looking around the web this evening, I also found that some of The Razz folks, including singer Michael Reidy, have recently been performing as The Howling Mad. Thirty years ago, I recall being told that Michael Reidy was a graphic designer and had done the artwork for The Razz' posters and record sleeves. In retrospect, I think it is the case that his graphic work, along with his group's music, influenced my tastes as a young man and is with me today.

8 comments:

Mike Mahaffie said...

I've just deleted a comment that some spammer left. They appear to have an automated approach that searches for topics and posts comments, with links of course, based on that topic. The comment I quote below (WITHOUT a link) appeared, I assume, because this post's title includes the word "Travel."

Quote.....

Before going on any trip whether you are driving it or going by another other modes of transportation, it is important to have a variety of travel maps available. The last thing anybody wants to have happen is getting lost on his or her trip. Being lost takes valuable time away from enjoying yourself if it is a pleasure trip, or takes away from working time if the trip is for business.

....end quote

How annoying.

Anonymous said...

oh man. what memories. i saw that UM show with rockpile. and one time i saw them outdoors in some park in dc. i cant rmemeber the year or the date exactly; let me know if you have any info on that show. we also went to some library in dc and saw what were then called 'punk movies'. a lot of devo, and various artists of the day. of course these were the pre-cursors of mtv videos. i think it was 78 maybe 79. but yeah, the razz were a fun band. fun to watch. fun to dance to. one time i brought in an EP and played hippy hippy shake for my band director in HS. he allowed me to play it over the band room sound system - that was fun. he smiled and laughed at me. as i of course thought at the time that the razz were the next beatles. or maybe the next knack.

i like to nazz too. the insect surfers covered some of their songs <<--remember them?? :)

shoot me an email for any more tedious reminiscing: doofusboy@aol.com

Maite said...

Wow, what cool posts...I was dating Bill Craig while he was in The Razz and this sure brings back memories...

Anonymous said...

I was introduced to the Razz by RBG John Krivit in Ann Arbor...found your post looking for some info on the Razz, to link to from this poorly recorded, badly written, but heartfelt tribute to them I wrote as part of the fawm.org 50/90 challenge:

http://soundclick.com/share?songid=7902143

John is faculty at the New England Institute of Art.

Tom Spademan

Anderson Family and Friends said...

Thanks for the stroll down memory lane with your musings about The Razz. I was also at the Rockpile show and was probably sitting right next to you. I was a huge Razz fan back then and they definatly had an impact on my musical taste's. Doug Tull (the drummer) is now playing with Billy Colter Band. I ran into him at a BC Band gig. He is still a GREAT drummer. Hard to believe it has been so long. Good Times.....

Greg Laxton said...

Mike,

Nice to see someone else remembers (the) Razz. I found a link to the audio of the show you attended at Maryland U.

There's also A TON of other stuff here that is sure to spark some old DC / MD / VA rock and roll memories....

Enjoy!

http://incaroads-wvkayaker.blogspot.com/2008/01/razz-u-of-md-nov-03-1978-wwdc-dc101.html

Anonymous said...

They also opened for J. Geils at Richie Coliseum at UM. I thought the building was gonna come down that night.

mister muleboy said...

mister mahaffie -- I'll bet dollars to doughnuts that the show at which you insulted Tommy was at Beacon's Backstage, on Route 50 at its intersection with Annandale Road. I saw killer shows there. And, as the saying goes, seeing them changed my life (and Reidy's graphics, and later [similar] fine-art works changed my tastes).

All of my current friends, save one, are friends because of (the) Razz. I ended up employed where and how I am by (the) Razz.

You've meandered down a fine mental street, my friend. . . .

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