Saturday, March 17, 2012


Small world, I'll tell you. I was randomly clicking like there's no tomorrow and I end up on a blog called Flowering Toilet that had a clip of the Velvet Monkeys on a public access station in Arlington, VA, from 1981. The Velvet Monkeys were a Don Fleming band, and he's a guy who I've always liked, after seeing him in Gumball some years ago. So, I'm wanting to post the video (particularly for Julie D, my ol' DJ pal who's probably the only person who knows about my "Fleming bands are always worth checking out" bent), and in looking for a song to post, I find, conveniently, the same song as the video. The recorded version is way better (do get it), but I like the video because it reminds me, not just what was good about Fleming's band, but how we used to get off on videos like this, because back then they were hard to come by. (There's a long running show in San Diego, on public access, called "Yourself Presents," that this reminds me of. That show is awesome because it's too normal to be weird, and too weird to be normal. I will do a post about them sometime, because, believe me, there's a lot to be said.)

Anyway, I find the mp3 at Magnet, and there's an interview with Fleming, and he says that he was in an early band called the Stroke Band. I thought for a moment, why do I know that name? Then I remembered I had a 45 by the Stroke Band. It was given to me years ago by Bruce Joyner, then the singer for the Unknowns, and Flemings' former band mate in the Stroke Band. So here's the goods. There's a ton more mp3s in the Fleming Discography at his site, Instant Mayhem. I like the ones below for different reasons. The first two are rockin' ditties. I've never been able to figure out if "We Call It Rock" was meant as some sort of tongue in cheek thing, or what. That's about as far as my thought process gets, then it's off to air guitar around the house-land. The cover of "Strawberry Fields Forever" down there, by Gumball, is most awesome; and check out the Stroke Band song, and tell me it wouldn't make a great Cramps cover.

One more thing, before you go. The video below is the Backbeat Band, who did the music for the movie Backbeat. The band consists of Dave Pirner (Soul Asylum), Greg Dulli (Afghan Whigs), Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth), Don Fleming (then in Gumball), Mike Mills (R.E.M.), and Dave Grohl (Nirvana/Foo Fighters). Fleming, on the far right of the stage, solos in both songs, and it is the same sloppy banging that made me like him way back at the start of all this.

The Velvet Monkeys - Everything Is Right mp3 at Magnet
The Velvet Monkeys - We Call It Rock mp3 at Instant Mayhem
Gumball - Strawberry Fields Forever mp3 at Instant Mayhem
The Stroke Band - Spaced mp3 at Instant Mayhem
The Backbeat Band - Twist and Shout (streaming) at YouTube
The Velvet Monkeys - The Velvet Monkeys Theme (demo) mp3 at Instant Mayhem
Don Fleming interview at Magnet
Don Fleming interview at Guitar International
Don Fleming's Instant Mayhem
Velvet Monkeys at MySpace
Velvet Monkeys at Wikipedia


missjulied said...

I could never tell if Fleming was serious or tongue-in-cheek about a lot of things, which I guess is part of his appeal. He also produced Teenage Fanclub's "Bandwagonesque", which I think is a beautiful pop record.

This reminded me of something that I had completely forgotten about. On Drip Tank's first album ("Slake"), at the end of the song "Pinball" Joel says "What game are we playing baby? That's right, pinball." This was a poke at one of the Fleming bands - I'm pretty sure B.A.L.L. - which said something similar at the end of one of their songs (I think it was "What game are we playing baby? That's right, baseball."). Whatever it was, it totally rubbed Joel the wrong way so he made fun of them by tacking that on to the end of our weirdo little pinball song. You can just about hear him holding back a laugh. I sent Joel an email about this to see if the memories are any clearer on that side of things.

Additionally, you remember that the Velvet Monkeys covered "Rock the Nation", right? It was a Sub Pop single. I feel like some kind of weird circle is complete with this.

Tom G. said...

Especially since it was you gave me the "Rock The Nation" 45!

That's a funny story about "Pinball". Tell Joel I said hi.

Check out Fleming's site. He sure had his fingers in a lot of pies.