The Fleshtones in action — on stage, they’re never at rest — this past Saturday (July 13) at Sailfest, at the Hygienic Art Park in New London, CT. From left: Ken Fox, Peter Zaremba, Bill Milhizer and Keith Streng.
Franorama 2.0 airs live every Friday from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. EDT (9-noon CDT, 7-10 a.m. PDT, 2-5 p.m. GMT) on Cygnus Radio, and in the archives in semi-perpetuity. For the link to the archived shows, click here.
“The Fantastic Johnny C! Freddy “Boom Boom” Cannon! The incredible James Brown! Roy Brown! Chuck Brown! The Reverend Richard Penniman! Elvis Presley and all the kings of rock’n’roll. Lou Costello! The Intruders! The Illusions! Eddie Cochran, Buddy Holly! The Dell-Vikings, Del Fuegos, Del Shannon, MC5. The Velvets! The Stooges! Louie Jordan, Rosco Gordon! The Raiders and the Wailers and The Kingsmen and The Sonics. Phast Phreddie, The Last! The Unclaimed, The Plimsouls! The Lyres and The Real Kids. The Modern Lovers! Alan Vega, Los Lobos, The Gentrys, The Dantes and The Headhunters, too. Mitch Ryder! Ritchie Valens! The Osmonds! Parliament and The Jackson 5. The Rivingtons! Donna Summer! Martha Reeves! Richard Berry! Berry Gordy! Hoo — Chuck Berry! LouieLouieLouieLouieLouieLouieLoueeeee! Come on, Louie! LouieLouieLouieeee!”
The above roll call comes at the tail end of the Franorama 2.0 national anthem — the song I use to open nearly every show, be it on Cygnus Radio online or WPKN in Bridgeport — “American Beat ’84” by my eternal favorite band, Brooklyn’s uncrowned kings of pop and soul since 1976, The Fleshtones. A re-recording of their very first single, from 1978, it ran in the end-title credits of Tom Hanks’ first starring feature, Bachelor Party (where he shared marquee time with the illustrious Adrian Zmed and Tawny Kitaen).
Peter taking his chances out in the crowd.
And in this re-done version. Peter Zaremba, the group’s kinetic frontman, honored some of the people who’ve shaped rock and soul — both familiar and unfamiliar names.
And since they were playing in Connecticut for the first time since my move home last August — this last Saturday (July 13) as part of New London’s annual Sailfest, and playing in the prime pre- and post-fireworks slot once held by The Reducers, I devoted the whole show to them. And, in particular, the American Beat. Took me more than 20 years to finally do this show, based on the roll call. I’m not the first person who’s done this, but hey — it doesn’t happen very often. And I had more fun than a barrel of people.
Keith impersonates Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” album cover.
Anyway, by the time I put together all the songs for the roll call, I realized, “Holy shit! I have over three hours of music for a three-hour show! And no Fleshtones!” So I texted Gary Gone, the head G of this Cygnus operation, seeing if he minded if I go over an extra hour; he was fine with it — after all, there were four hours until D.J. Lotto’s Happy Hour show, and I draw (hopefully) better ratings than the autobot that runs during the dead-air times — so all’s well that ends well.
And their show Saturday night was as fun and energetic as I’ve seen them in years. They were firing on all cylinders. I’ve seen both good and bad shows over nearly 30 years, and this was one of the good ones. The Fleshtones are the most fun you can have on a Saturday night without a prescription, and this show was proof.
Keith and Eddie Munoz during The Split Squad’s opening set.
And the opening act was a revelation. ‘Shtones guitarist Keith Streng also plays in The Split Squad, all of whom have other jobs. Surrounding singer/bassist Michael Giblin (of The Parallax Project) are Keith and Eddie Munoz of Plimsouls fame on guitar, organist Josh Kantor of The Baseball Project and Fenway Park, and, normally on drums, Clem Burke. But since Clem was away with some other band he plays with (Blondie), pinch-drumming was Linda Pitmon, also of The Baseball Project and, with husband Steve Wynn, The Miracle 3. Lots of unexpected fun.
Anyway, back to “American Beat.” Some notes for the uninitiated:
Peter gave a quick mention to “all the kings of rock’n’roll,” so I took artistic license to conjure as many American Kings as I could muster … Thee Precisions were Phast Phreddie’s band — longtime L.A. scenester Phast Phreddie Patterson … The Unclaimed was an L.A. garage band from the late ’70s/early ’80s, best known for being Sid Griffin’s first band, before The Long Ryders … Alan Vega was half (with Martin Rev) of minimalist no-wave duo Suicide in the late ’70s/early ’80s … The Gentrys, of “Keep on Damcing” fame, included future famed pro wrestling “manager” Jimmy Hart … The Dantes were a garage band from Ohio whose breakout single from 1964, “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love,” was covered by The Fleshtones in the mid-to-late ’80s … Motown mogul Berry Gordy, of course, was never a recording artist, and Motown was represented already, so I included his first big claim to fame — as co-writer of “Lonely Teardrops” for his Detroit friend Jackie Wilson.
Well, that’s all. No themes planned for this Friday’s show. But I guarantee a fun time. So tune in while you work, tell your friends and, if you haven’t done so yet, please “like” my Facebook radio/blog page. I want this show, and this station, to blow up bigtime. Have fun — I know I did.