I was recently browsing through the $1 section (the floor, actually) of one of the last remaining "record" stores left on this island. I sometimes find great lost treasures. 12-inch singles I used to (or never got around to) owning, a full length album from a long lost New Wave Band, or......and this always makes me happy....Re-purchasing something I used to own that I had to give up (or sell on EBAY) years ago...and now I want it BACK.
Now...before WLIR came into my life and shaped my mid and later teen years, I was just another Long Island kid that listened to the local "rock" station WBAB. Back then (I was listening from about 1977-1982) in an hour you might hear the Beatles, The Police, Pink Floyd, Blotto , Talking Heads , Velvet Underground and Kraftwerk in the same hour...and it all made sense. But for the most part WBAB played ROCK! Yeah...man...Black Sabbath and Ozzy and Blue Oyster Cult and what-not. Which was OK, as it was what every other 12-year-old was listening to as well. And WBAB was HUGE. SO huge that they put out an album (actually 3 albums) that featured local, unsigned bands. Now....mind you....out of the 13 bands featured on this, their first compilation, THE WBAB HOMEGROWN ALBUM, only 2 of them would go on to do anything. And by ANYTHING I mean one was a one-hit-wonder (Twisted Sister), and the other was a local no-hit-wonder (Zebra). But listening to this album again really brought me back to the dawn of the 80's. And I now will share with you a couple of tracks from this long out of print classic.
OK, this is 13 second track that the radio station used to play randomly through the day. Wonder what Joe (Cant-STANZ-o) is doing today....probably mopping up puke at a local bar and telling all the 20-year-old bar girls that he used to be on an album.
Zebra was a local phenomenon. a REAL Local phenomenon. Everyone I knew bought their debut LP for Atlantic records when it was released in late 1981. And MTV even played the video of this song, but just as Nirvana would arrive in 1991 and wash away all the bad hair metal that ruled the day, Duran Duran and Men At Work were gathering forces to rid the Earth of this Prog-Zep-influenced-long-hair-crap. Having said that, I've always liked WHO'S BEHIND THE DOOR, if only for the fact that it takes a good 4 minutes to even GET to the chorus. This version must have been the demo that got them signed to Atlantic, and the Homegrown version has a definite charm the Atlantic Version lacks.
I think this album's purpose was to look for the next Pat Benatar or Billy Joel. And the acts featured (THE GOOD RATS, TWISTED SISTER, BROKEN ARROW, SWIFT KICK) all had local followings, but the one element missing from all this good time bar rock N Roll is HUMOR. Thank God then for Random Speed. I never heard anything else by them, but you have to love Radio Active Baby Food. Very Zappa-esce.