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PCR #201  (Vol. 5, No. 5)  This edition is for the week of January 26--February 1, 2004.

T.R.E.E. Inc.ís Florida Arbor Day Weekend 2004
 by Will Moriaty
 by Mike Smith
VH1's "Bands Re-United"
 by Andy Lalino
Burlesque and The Suicide Girls....plus, guest editorial by Black Dog
 by Clayton Smith
You can go back...
 by John Lewis
Good Morning, Captain....Good-Night, Jack....The Golden Globes....Oscar Time....How About The Bad Ones?....Pirates, As In "AARRGH"?....Game Show Memories....Meet The Beatles, Part 3
 by Mike Smith
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Oddservations by Andy Lalino

VH-1's "Bands Reunited"

Did anyone watch the great '80s band Berlin on VH1's "Bands Re-United" show? I have to admit, VH-1 (finally) did something semi-right for a change, although I wish they would have let a indie filmmaker chronicle the reunion process, rather than the "reality show" style they went with. New Wave bands deserve that.

I for one thought the original members of Berlin would never get back together. It wasn't but a few months ago when I saw Berlin (along with General Public) in concert at Jannus Landing in St. Petersburg, Florida, but Terri Nunn was, of course, the only original member. It was kind of weird seeing Terri singing with a bunch of 20-year-olds. They did a good job, though, but it would have been really neat to have seen the original band together again, which is where VH-1 comes in.

I have to admit it was a little weird seeing old Wavers working as wedding musicians and party store planners after being an established and popular band back in the early/mid '80s. Most old Wavers who have (obviously) aged have done so with a certain style, such as Bono and, well, Terri Nunn. I guess what I'm saying is that even if an old Waver is a mommy or daddy nowadays, they should maintain a sense of style, at least when out in public. Put on a little make-up and spike that hair, for crying out loud!

Most of the musicians from Berlin didn't look the part. Were I part of the staff at VH-1, I would have ordered they get makeovers; like I wrote - put on the make-up, dress well (black), and tussle the hair.

I shouldn't complain; it was a marvelous thrill to see all the original members re-unite after all these years. True to rock & roll, some were unpredictable, like keyboardist John Crawford, who had a relationship with Terri Nunn back in the day, which made for interesting moments when they met again. Most of the other band members were thrilled to have been asked to get together and play one more time, even if it was for only one night. It was funny to watch them rehearse, being that some of the band members hadn't played instruments in a while.

Singer Terri Nunn looked absolutely fabulous, even better than she did back in the '80s. She's a health nut now, and quit smoking over a decade ago; it shows. It was her presence that kept everything tight, since she has had much experience singing Berlin songs on tour as of late. It was great to see her face beam as the sold-out audience in LA's Roxy Theater looked upon them in total adulation, some holding pictures of Terri and Berlin albums in hand. What a night that must have been.

In one of the most exciting TV weeks since 1986, VH-1 has continued their series "Bands Re-United", this time featuring the great San Fran band Romeo Void, best-known for their early/mid '80s hit singles "Never Say Never" and "Girl in Trouble". This isn't the first time VH-1 spotlighted the band; years ago they were tracked down as part of the semi-insulting "Where Are They Now?" program, which produced not nearly as well as this one.

Unlike Monday night's installment which featured Berlin, the first band member from Romeo Void they hunted down was lead singer Debora Iyall, now an art instructor at a California arts center (which kind of looked like a location from "Texas Chainsaw Massacre"). I for one would be thrilled as an art student if I found out my teacher was the singer from Romeo Void! Still good-sized, Debora seemed thrilled at the concept of re-uniting with her old, original bandmates, claiming they hadn't played together in over 10 years. With a little info from Debora, VH-1 was able to track down other members of the band, most of whom still lived in California.

The second victim was bassist Frank Zincavage, who provided one of the show's most dramatic moments, hissing at the VH-1 crew as they rapped on the door of his home, camera lights blazing and microphone boom poles threateningly poised. Thanks to the friendliness and temperament of the host, Frank quickly warmed up, and soon agreed to re-join his old band, after justifiably going on a rant against record companies. #2 on board!

Too lazy to fly to Japan, VH-1 somehow convinced guitarist Peter Woods to visit San Francisco for what they termed a "band retrospective". Peter agreed, but managed to elude the camera crew, darting directly to his hotel room after the plane landed. VH-1 soon tracked him down however, bugging him after an exhausting 12 hour flight. Peter was cool about it, though, graciously sitting down and giving his thoughts about Romeo Void's glory days and not-so-glorious days. He didn't take much convincing. #3!

Drummer Aaron Smith, formerly of The Temptations, wasn't hard to sway either. He now lives in Nashville, and if I can remember right, is an engineer. He had some interesting insights on the band, which he spun in a limo ride from the airport. Most band members agreed singer Debora Iyall's presence was the group's greatest strength (she not only was a good singer, but her size attracted attention) and the band's greatest weakness (again, her size was an issue; record execs evidently had issues). Also, envy was a factor in the group's breakup. Like with most lead singers, they get all the attention, while the band isn't in the spotlight as much, which can cause resentment (that's what a good manager is for).

Lastly it was time to find the second most recognizable member of Romeo Void, someone whose face you may recall from the "Never Say Never" video, saxophonist Benjamin Bossi. His was also the most troubling story, because Bossi suffers from a hearing problem, and was not able to play with the rest of the band on their big night, which clearly troubled him beyond words. Bossi still remains as cool today as he did back in the early '80s, still dressing like a 'more seasoned' New Waver, maintaining that look of cool I expect from '80s royalty. Bravo, Benjamin - a true survivor!

Bossi still lives in northern California, and was clearly moved that VH-1 would ask him to re-unite with RV. Bossi seemed to me the most emotional and expressive member, glowing when the time came to see his former bandmates once again. During the interview he relayed a story where his nephew called him while playing the "Grand Theft Auto" video game, shouting "Hey, Uncle Benjamin, that's you! That's you!" when the song "Never Say Never" was played during the course of the game. This caused Bossi to burst into tears. My question is: didn't anyone tell the band that they were using "Never Say Never" in a video game? Don't they get any royalties?

Quick comment: I, and I'd venture to guess other New Wavers, don't really care if "Never Say Never", or any other New Wave hit, was included on the soundtrack of a current video game.

As not just a viewer, but a fan of the band, Bossi's situation really got to me. I knew what was to come: He wasn't going to be able to take the stage and perform due to his hearing loss. I recall mumbling to myself "No, he's got to at least take the stage." That was not in the cards, however VH-1 did bring Bossi to the Whisky Club in LA where he watched the show in a (quiet) room while they played. A camera was on him at all times, chronicling all the emotion he underwent when they played their hits. It was a moving experience.

After all agreed to re-unite, the band finally got together in a rehearsal hall in LA, where they had but one day to get it together for the big gig. The reunion was spectacular. Frank Zincavage arrived first, followed by Peter Woods and Aaron Smith. Bossi was next, followed by Debora, who was in tears. Her encounter with Bossi was the most heartfelt, each one telling the other "I love you" numerous times. Iyall confessed to Bossi that she's been sober for years, which of course led the viewer to conclude she had an alcohol addiction problem; how sad for someone who seems so confident on stage and on film, and who seemingly was okay with her weight. It was earlier revealed that Bossi too had a similar problem in the '80s, also involving drug abuse, which he contends made his hearing problem even worse.

Once the hugs & kisses were dished out, it came time to rehearse, which often on this show is the funniest segment. Most of the band members were rusty, not believing they could get it together for the big night. They managed.

Finally, on a clear LA night at the Whiskey on Sunset Blvd., the time had come. All 5 original band members, except for Bossi who had a substitute, walked out onstage for the first time in over 10 years, and performed for a wildly enthusiastic sold-out crowd. Being that this was only a one hour show, they only showed snippets of RV performing "Never Say Never" and "Girl in Trouble". The band sounded fantastic, especially when you consider the rehearsal time was minimal. Debora was all rock & roll, blurting out the f-word onstage and crooning the same way she did back in 1984. Time cannot conquer a member of New Wave royalty.

In general, the band looked damned good after all these years. In a snippet, Frank Zincavage revealed that he was in his early '50s! All the band members dressed well, and seemed genuinely pleased, and thrilled, to be playing together. Please, don't let this be your last!

So, here we have another unforgettable night, thanks to VH-1, where a classic band was re-united if only for a brief night. I felt lucky to have gotten the privilege to watch it, and can only hope VH-1 does more and more of these as time goes on. I think it's time to get Wall of Voodoo together again!

A Flock of Seagulls - yet another unlikely, but glorious reunion from the miracle workers at VH-1. Since 1988, A Flock of Seagulls have been touring the country, making frequent stops in my backyard state of Florida, with the only original member being singer/keyboardist Mike Score, supported by hand-picked musicians who, out of necessity, had to fill in for the original members after the group's break-up in 1986. While still a fine band, fans truly crave the presence of the original foursome: Mike and drummer Ali score (actual brothers), talented guitarist Paul Reynolds, and bassist Frank Maudsley, who were pioneers in 'futurist pop', subsequently creating some of the most catchy and popular New Wave tunes of the early '80s, with hits: "I Ran (So Far Away)", "Wishing" (If I Had a Photograph of You)", "Nightmares", and "Space Age Love Song".

The relatively young, Buggles-resembling Paul Reynolds (15 at the time AFOS were at the height of popularity!) quit the band after the release of their third LP, "The Story of a Young Heart", which left the Score brothers and Maudsley a trio when recording "Dream Come True" in 1986; The Flocks' swan song album as original bandmates. With criminally little attention or success generated by their last two albums, The Flock faded into oblivion for a few years, their memory kept alive by the release of a "Best of" album in the cruel year of 1987. In 1988, when as previously mentioned, Mike Score re-formed the band with all-new members, and proceeded to tour the country, which yours truly saw on Dec. 8th, 1988 at Club Nu in Miami Beach!

Over the years, the re-formed Flock went on to play other Tampa Bay area gigs. The second time I met Mike Score was in the early '90s when The Flock was playing the old Masquerade goth night club in Tampa's Ybor City - the very same night the club got busted and shut down for drug dealing. Needless to say, AFOS didn't get to play that night, but luckily I did get the chance to chat with Score as he sauntered out of the club's doorway to greet the fans. I remember being struck about the unfortunate coincidence, having the club busted the same night they were to play, and how cool Score was about it, shrugging it off as if it were just rock & roll.

In 1995 The (new) Flock released the excellent CD "The Light at the End of the World", which features two songs they have been playing live since 1988: "Setting Sun" and "Magic", both of which sound like classic Flock and are memorable songs, considering I first heard them live.

The last time I saw them play was at an '80s concert (in 1999?) at Clearwater's Ruth Eckerd Hall, along with Gene Loves Jezebel and the venerable Wang Chung; Missing Persons (actually Dale Bozzio) was a no-show. Strangely, Score/AFOS did not participate in the encore. It was still an unforgettable night, however.

Score kept touring with the new AFOS, who just recently played Ybor City's Twilight night club which is where VH-1 caught up with him; the first bandmate VH-1 tracked down. Gone was the famous "owl" haircut, futuristic clothes, make-up, and clean-shaven appearance when he first started the band (Score was a hairdresser before becoming a musician).

Hint: Mike, you're New Wave royalty. Take a cue from Kajagoogoo; lose the weight, shave, apply make-up, and cut your hair short.

Mike was obviously the most embittered member, and perhaps the one with the least personality, which surprised me. Reading between the lines, I surmised that there was a deep-rooted resentment toward the other bandmates, no doubt mostly aimed toward brother Ali, for dismantling the band when they no doubt could have gone on to super-stardom. Mike was very reluctant at first, dismissing the idea of re-uniting all four members, until he heard what the rest of the band thought when they were presented with the concept.

As highlighted in the reunion show, drummer Ali Score had become a quality control engineer since departing from the band; Maudsley, who is an incredibly good-humored Liverpooler, was in the process of restoring a gorgeous villa in France. Reynolds still resides in his home town of Liverpool (home to The Beatles, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Echo and the Bunnymen), where he is a studio musician.

According to the show, instant success is what led to The Flock's demise, along with individual egos (Mike Score appeared very guilty). Mike and Ali were constantly arguing, with Frank and Paul caught squarely in the middle. Success came too quick and fast for Reynolds, who at the tender age of 16 found the sex, drugs, and rock & roll lifestyle too much. "Had I kept on, it would have killed me", he related in an interview.

Ali resides in North Carolina(!) where he works a rather ordinary industrial job; not the type of place one would expect to see an old New Waver. Yet there he was - looking like an engineer - but welcoming the idea of re-uniting with his old compadres - even his brother Mike, who he has not spoken to in years. One down, two to go, and one yet-to-be-convinced.

Next, VH-1 had to fly to France to track down Frank Maudsley, at his newly-purchased villa. Maudsley was struck by the attention at first, but quickly warmed up to the somewhat intrusive cameras. I found Frank to be absolutely hilarious, possessing that great Liverpoolian quick wit the Bea-ules professed. He would not even hear about The Flock not re-uniting!

The following confrontation was an unpredictable one: guitarist Paul Reynolds, who I have not seen since "The Story of a Young Heart" days. Reynolds looked none the worse for wear, standing on a Liverpool street while being interviewed by VH-1. Reynolds, upon introduction of the reunion concept, was unexpectedly receptive. Excellent!

Three members were willing to re-unite, which left Mike Score the big question mark. VH-1 contacted him from England, giddily relaying the news that everyone was interested, which influenced him to agree to the reunion. Yeah, baby! They flew him out to London at once, where the reunion show was to take place.

At this point, the show resembled previous shows in the VH-1 series. Mike was the first to arrive in the rehearsal hall, and got busy setting up his keyboards. Soon, his brother Ali arrived, and the two were in each other's presence again after several years. Mike greeted his sibling, but few words were exchanged. Ali got busy re-learning how to play the old Flock songs on his drum set, which he adapted to quite well. Frank Maudsley arrived thereafter, brilliantly lightening the mood with his over-the-top sense of humor, which is just what the reunion needed. Reynolds finally joined the group, and all the old mates were together again at long last.

When finally together as one, the boys seemed to have a ball getting reacquainted. Time then came to hit the instruments, hearing the familiar "I'm rusty" from more than one of the members. Not having enough rehearsal time (which was true) was a typical gripe.

Soon to come was the big gig in downtown London, which was odd in that The Flock were more popular in the states than in their native England. The venue was sold-out with die-hard Flock fans drooling at the once-impossible notion that the band would get back together. As the host said upon their introduction: "They said it couldn't be done!". One-by-one the band walked onstage, Mike Score donning a ski cap with his blonde locks protruding from underneath. As usual with this show, it was more about the drama of the bandmates re-uniting than the final gig, so the viewer got precious few moments of the band performing their classics, such as "I Ran" and "Space Age Love Song". Maybe we should bombard VH-1, requesting that they make available all the live gigs in their excellent "Bands Re-United" series.

In the tradition of forerunners Berlin and Romeo Void, A Flock of Seagulls seemed to have put on an unforgettable reunion show, and had a hell of a time doing it. Old wounds seemed to have healed and faded away, and all members have appeared to have gotten over their grievances and wanted to steer their personal relationships in a new direction. Present in the audience was the Score brother's mother, beaming that her sons were playing together onstage.

Once again VH-1, to their credit, has given a precious gift to the aging New Wave fan; a brief experience of seeing their favorite bands reunite and make amends. There's nothing better than that, let me tell you. Perhaps this experience will provoke them and other New Wave bands to cast out old demons, get back together, and tour the world so that their old fans and new generations can enjoy their music.

"Oddservations" is ©2004 by Andy Lalino.  The Oddservations banner, and all mini-banners from this issue, are creations of Andy Lalino. All other graphics, unless otherwise noted, are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2004 by Nolan B. Canova.