Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Alpha Males

In 1976, Clive Davis [Arista Records head - Ed.] performed an intervention in Dylan's Rolling Thunder Review, his private SWAT team forcibly extracting Steven Soles, T-Bone Burnett and David Mansfield in mid-performance at Carnegie Hall. Dylan carried on as if nothing had happened - in fact, he claimed later not to have noticed. Davis gave them a sixteen trillion dollar contract [can this be right? - Ed.], most of which which got spent on catering - the band were notoriously fussy eaters - and a correspondence course in vinyl upholstery repair. "In case the music thing didn't work out for us," Burnett famously said, "we got a trade to fall back on."

Given the sacks of money shoveled from the back of a Brinks truck into the band's communal double-wide trailer at Tar Pit Springs, NV., Mr Davis might have been a little disappointed with the lack of return on his investment. His decision to eschew conventional retail business models and sell the product exclusively from door to door dressed as Heidi may have had something to do with their lack of commercial success. The three of them returned to their fall-back career in vinyl upholstery repair, operating out of a lock-up at the junction of Walmart Ave. and Charles Manson Parkway at Tar Pit Springs. Asked if he has any regrets, Mansfield laughs off the whole affair. "Lookit what we gots here! A steady income, a roof over our heads, and th' respect of th' local community! Tell me vinyl upholstery repair ain't th' rock n' roll of th' future!"

Anyway, here are their three (count 'em!) albums, which are super-fine and not a
Mommy I'm scared!
little weird. There's a slightly bitter edge, and a tendency to preach, which gives the band its unique flavor. And the cover of Statue Makers Of Hollywood is the stuff of a Lynchian nightmare. I'm, like, WT actual F is going on here? I've also tossed in AT NO EXTRA COST TO THE HI-FI ENTHUSIAST a rare live recording of them from '76, from the days when Clive "Call Me Heidi" Davis had the coke-fuelled light of hope in his eyes.

EDIT: Mumbles Dupree scribbled the following screed - in crayon - they don't allow him anything sharp - and threw it over the yard wall for us. Frankly it differs in detail from my exhaustively researched account, so caveat emptor [Latin: empty the cave - Ed.]:

(Mumbles writes:) So being of the right age, but not quite, several guys (a crew, if you will) decided to settle just outside of Santa Fe in mid 1976. We resided in a small unpainted, unstuccoed, flat roofed cinder block 2 room building with running cold water, no water heater, a wood stove, and a spendid outhouse, that (with the door flung open) had a spectacular view of sunrise over the Sangres,(Rio en Medio.)
I digress, a few miles away was a bar called Shidoni which later became a bronze foundry/art gallery. Who was the house band that late summer/early autumn for 2 weeks?, you might ask. Well, it was none other than the aforementioned Alpha Band.
David Mansfield, Steven Soles, T-Bone Burnett (now well-known to most)and a semi familiar face, Matt Betton. Matt was from the next town over (back home), his family owned a local music shop.
Anyway fresh off the road from touring with Senor Zimmerman as part of Rolling Thunder, they plied their trade nightly and made for some pretty fantastic evenings of musical entertainment and comradery.
Then they were gone, like Kaiser Soze, headed west I suppose to boost their fortunes & fame. Hope you enjoyed a little bit of history or whatever.