Back in the day, 20 years ago now, I found an osteopath in Euclid, Ohio, who would prescribe for any pretty girl who walked through the door 30 clean American football-shaped amphetamine tablets each month for a nominal fee. It wasn’t long before I had my wife, my sister, my niece and the lady who lived across the road going regularly. On the street, you could get $10 for three tablets and I was making money hand over fist.
Such was largely how the financing for the two Cleveland Confidential records came together. That, and a few common robberies. Nowadays I write for money and play the horses. Currently, I reside in Niagara Falls, New York and am on assignment writing a press release for Overground Records, an English label that is releasing the 21 tracks that made up the Cleveland Confidential LP and EP.
There are a lot of familiar names on this disc. Robert Longo, the film director and artist, appears here as the lead singer on Menthol Wars’ “Even Lower Manhattan.” David Thomas of Pere Ubu sings backup on the Pagans’ “Boy Can I Dance Good,” and Jimmy Jones of the same outfit plays guitar on the Easter Monkeys classic “Cheap Heroin.” Anton Fier of the Lounge Lizards provides percussion the Styrenes’ “Jaguar Ride” and the legendary Dave E. croons on the Jazz Destroyers’ “Love Meant to Die.”
The Cleveland Confidential records bridged the gap between the well-known 70s scene — dominated by the Dead Boys, Devo, Pere Ubu and the Pagans — and that of the late 80s, which would result in the Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson.
Of course it’s the lesser known acts that appeal to me now. The Dark, who were 12 and 13 years old at the time they made their recording of “I Can Wait.” Robert Griffin, the guitar player, went on to form the band Prisonshake and become the head of Scat Records. Or the Impalers, whose singer later changed her sex and became notorious. For my money, the AK-47s’ “Accident” is the most underrated punk track of the 70s and Red Decade’s “Scars of Lust” represents everything Glen Branca was trying to do but couldn’t manage.
There are a lot of different kinds of songs on this record and the nice thing is that, if you don’t like one, you can go to the next and the chances are it will be completely different.
It’s been a long time since I made these records. I think they still hold up.
Various Artists-CLEVELAND CONFIDENTIAL (1982)