Welcome To: The Weird Bits That Made Me, an exploration of the idiosyncratic or obscure pop culture that I was into as a kid. I lived a strange suburban existence, with relatively young and somewhat hip parents and there were some real gems in the offbeat cultural stuff they exposed us to as kids. I thought it would be fun to once a week explore some of that
Where to begin with The Good Rats? I suppose like anything, a basic explanation would do best. The Good Rats are (were?) a band, based out of Long Island, who were active in the late 60’s through the 70’s, recorded several studio albums, and never quite expanded beyond the Tri-State area, though again, my parents, and aunts and uncles, being of the correct age and musical temperament remained dedicated fans for, well, ever.
We spent our childhood listening through Tasty, the band’s third album over and over again, once again, because father picked it up on CD after seeing the guys play in bar one time.
Easily one of the best nights of my life (and probably many people related to me) involved The Good Rats, and that’s the story I want to tell here. Bizarrely and coincidentally, when The Allendale Bar And Grill, the only bar in the town where I grew up started bringing music acts in, they booked The Good Rats, a week before my Uncle Johnny turned 50.
Despite living in Chicago at the time, he insisted that his 50th birthday party be held at The AB & G for the show. We booked the upstairs room for dinner and got joyously drunk and then made our way downstairs to see the band play. Besides my many relatives who made the trek, we were also joined by several of my sister and brother in laws friends who also fell in love with this truly incredible Rock and Roll band.
A few months later, the Chris Kunisch owner and manager of The AB&G booked the band again and we all rolled out again. (An aside, The AB&G is currently operating with distanced indoor dining and a tented outdoor space, if you live anywhere near them, PLEASE stop by and grab some food and drink. This place has been around since The Great Depression, is family owned, and wonderful. They are the kind of place that communities desperately need, and also I love the family so very much)
About a year after those two nights, the lead singer, Peppi Marchello passed away, and in tribute, the band put together a showcase at BB King’s in midtown Manhattan, which we also attended. I’m still blown away by how much I love those nights, and how much I love the songs.
I listened to Tasty the other night to get back on my feet with this and the songs are good. They’re damn good.
Also, just as a singer, I’m in awe of Peppi’s voice, and it is an incredible instance of a scene just sticking with people. I wonder if in 20 years my kids and nieces and nephews will excitedly be introducing their friends to Coheed And Cambria or The Dear Hunter with the same fervor as we did The Good Rats.
If you want specific recommendations of where to start (and I really suggest you do): ALL of Tasty, just the whole damn thing, but especially the title track, “Get Back To My Music” and “Song Writer”. Also, “Advertisement In The Voice” and “Yellow Flower” both off of Ratcity In Blue, which are great, “Advertisement” in particular is a remarkable piece of song craft, just a lovely piece of longing and loneliness.