Friday, July 8, 2016


On a chance visit to Dangerous Minds today, I was surprised to see the latest article, one by Howie Pyro about Black Randy. For the uninitiated, Black Randy was an irreverent fixture of the early L.A. punk scene, and his band, the Metro Squad, a rag tag group made up of members of other bands. What set Black Randy and the Metro Squad apart from most bands in the L.A. scene, or any punk scene for that matter, was that they were unbeholden to just about everything considered punk rock, with one glaring exception. They didn't give a shit what anyone thought about them, including the punk rockers. Owing more to primitive abrasive funk then the three chord formulaic stuff everybody else was playing, the closest comparison might be the Contortions and other James Chance bands. 

So, that's who Black Randy was. Now, the story behind one of the photos that accompanies Pyro's article, the one above, which I wrote about nine years ago (holy shit, time flies). Through the magic of cut and paste, here's the story if you're at all interested. Note: It's way funnier if you were a Weirdos fan back then:

Visit punk oriented mp3 blogs enough and you'll eventually run across Black Randy downloads. They'll come and go, and it's often the same songs. I've always put off posting the links, until now. I thought I lost "Give It Up or Turn It Loose" for good, and I panicked. Eventually I found my way back to the site that I originally downloaded it from a year ago, and ran across one of my comments on the page with the post. It was about a night in a hotel room with Middle Class, Alice Bag and Black Randy (after a San Diego show).

"Middle Class had stored their equipment that night in my Mom's garage, and I went with them, Black Randy and Alice Bag to a hotel on Rosecrans to whoop it up. I've always had a few vivid mental snapshots of that night. Alice Bag playing the Bay City Rollers on a portable cassette, Middle Class sitting on the edge of the bed, and the most memorable, of Black Randy with a lampshade on his head saying "Look, I'm John Denny!" [John Denny, as in the singer for the Weirdos.]

After re-reading my comment from a year ago, I wondered how accurately I remembered the incident. I thought I remembered it clearly, but it was about 1978 or '79. Regardless, I proceeded to download "Give It Up..." and was preparing to post a link when I decided to search for an image of Black Randy that wasn't already all over the web.

On the second page of the search results, I hit paydirt. This wasn't just an uncommon Black Randy photo. This was one of him replete with a lampshade on his head. In a case of mega-deja-fookin'-vu, the pose was exactly as the one in my mental snapshot, with one hand holding up the edge of the lampshade. Too weird.

I'm thinking this must be a gag that he did all the time back then. So, I click on the photo. It takes me to Alice Bag's online photo album at Flickr. The photo was from San Diego, on a trip with Middle Class. (I'm in utter amazement at what can be found online.) Upon closer inspection he's holding the San Diego phone book. That night he had called for cab for me (and gave me cab fare) to get back to my Mom's. Even weirder. What are the chances? (Note: Besides the lampshade, the John Denny "wardrobe" included the clear plastic cover of the lampshade as a tube top. I had forgotten that part.)

This is not to illustrate that I was in some sort of hip inner circle. I barely knew Middle Class and had never met Alice Bag or Black Randy before that night. No, this is to illustrate that I can actually remember something.

The real reason I posted all of this was not out of laziness. It's to direct you to Pyro's thing. It's a good read and sums up Black Randy far better than I have. There's also some links to his 45s at Killed By Death, but to really hear how far Black Randy and the Metro Squad strayed from the three chord copycats, check the the Frontier Records reissue of his only LP.
Black Randy and the Metro Squad - I Slept In An Arcade mp3 at Killed By Death Go there to get it
Black Randy and the Metro Squad - Give It Up Or Turnit A Loose mp3
at Killed By Death Ditto.
The first 45:
Black Randy and the Metro Squad - Trouble At The Cup mp3
at Killed By Death Go there to get it.
Black Randy and the Metro Squad - Loner With A Boner mp3
at Killed By Death Ditto.
Black Randy and the Metro Squad - Sperm Bank Baby mp3
at Killed By Death Ditto.

‘Pass The Dust, I Think I’m Bowie!’: True tales of Black Randy, first wave Los Angeles punk icon by Howie Pyro at Dangerous Minds
Black Randy profile
at Black Randy (fan site?)
Post-Punk Oddities 

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