In 1981 the end of Studio 54’s most famous era occurred when Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager sold the building to Mark Fleischman. One of Fleischman’s plans was to start a regular Wednesday night concert series, and the first show of that series featured Lene Lovich on September 23, 1981.
The event attracted considerable coverage at the time. The New York Times ran a story about the concert before the fact, calling attention to Fleischman’s projected concert series as well as Lovich’s “mini-LP” New Toy.
Lovich used two keyboardists for this show. One of them, Thomas Dolby, achieved considerable fame just a year or two later for the hit song “She Blinded Me with Science.” Dolby wrote the title track of the aforementioned New Toy release—she credits him with the song’s authorship when she introduces him late in the concert—and also played keyboards on “Rocky Road,” the last track of Lovich’s 1982 album No Man’s Land. Lovich contributed some vocal tracks for Dolby’s first album The Golden Age of Wireless.
After the show, Stephen Holden wrote in the New York Times that Lovich “put on a fascinating show in which she sang, played the saxophone and danced with a lurching spontaneity that seemed half-demented. Though the songs weren’t intelligible, Miss Lovich’s character had a Chaplinesque appeal in its blending of broad physical comedy with an eccentric kind of pathos.”
Thanks to digital media the line between “rare” and “forget it” has become more like a chasm. The meaning of rarity has changed—it’s kind of funny to see something on YouTube marked “rare” —um, if it’s on YouTube for the whole world to watch at a click I’m not sure how it qualifies as “rare” anymore. It’s similar, though not precisely equivalent, for online marketplaces like discogs.com—if you can find an item with a simple search and buy it with a click, it’s far from inaccessible. It may be priced out of a given coveter’s reach in accordance with its scarcity, but that’s a far cry from having to crate-dig at record conventions in the forlorn hope that the Holy Grail just jumps in your hands someday.
But as if to thumb its nose at the age of ETEWAF, the 1979 Dutch film Cha Cha is practically impossible to see in its entirety. I’ve located exactly one NTSC VHS copy on GEMM, and I’m unaware of a US DVD (the Dutch have been more accommodating on that front). It’s on YouTube—in 15 parts!—but the first part has been yanked on copyright grounds, and 3 & 11 are just straight up missing. I suppose it’s cool that at least some of it can be seen.
The film stars Dutch rocker Herman Brood, who was quite well-known in Europe, but his biggest impact in the US was a lone Top-40 single that peaked at #35 in the autumn of 1979.
No photo, like me in my senior yearbook.
Brood was kind of the Amy Winehouse of his time, renowned as much for his unabashed drug abuse as for his music, and his addiction issues are likely to have led to his 2001 suicide. In Cha Cha, for which he has a writing credit, he plays a character with parallels to his own life—“Herman” in the film is a bank robber who decides to go legit, and his dubious “straight” career choice is singing in a New Wave band. In real life, Brood served time for dealing LSD before forming Herman Brood & His Wild Romance in 1976. From the ever-useful Encyclopedia of Dead Rock Stars:
One of Holland’s most outlandish musicians, Herman Brood was a drug-dealer turned rock phenomenon who found success with a variety of acts—his main priority being to stay in the papers as long as possible. And this didn’t stop at his death…
A distinctive art-school figure with his shock of black hair, pianist Brood joined the Moans, later to become rock-revival act Long Tall Ernie & the Shakers, before going on to sing with no lesser musicians than Van Morrison and John Mayall, until his dealing in LSD led to his imprisonment in 1968. Once back in the outside world, Brood’s subequent projects put him in the esteemed company of a post-Focus Jan Akkerman, and new-wave femme fatales Nina Hagen and Lene Lovich, with whom he starred in the 1979 movie Cha Cha. His main band were The Wild Romance, who found some commercial success, although even this was hampered by the singer’s wayward behavior with narcotics and prostitutes.
Lene Lovich & Nina Hagen are reportedly in Amsterdam filming a movie in the making called Cha Cha with Dutch rock star Herman Brood. The film is about a bank robber who wants to go straight, and sees the easy path to that end is becoming a rock ‘n’ roll star. East Germany’s Nina Hagen shocked music fans with an announcement that she was not only leaving her band to go solo, but was also planning to marry Herman Brood.
While finding the film itself is a vexing matter, the soundtrack album is far more accessible. It’s quite good, full of spiky uptempo punk and post-punk, and in fact, it’s how I found out the film existed—I found the soundtrack LP for $5 (thank you, Hausfrau), and figured that was a reasonable price for a comp of Brood, Hagen, and Lovich tracks, peppered with a ton of Dutch and German bands I’d never heard of. Just be careful—Brood had a 1978 LP also called Cha Cha, which has no track overlap with the soundtrack album, and nothing in common with the film but the title.
Enjoy the trailer for the film, and if you should endeavor to procure a copy, happy hunting!
Another solo DJ excursion from Richard Metzger, spinning tunes from the Monkees, Lydia Lunch, Hawkwind, Mick Farren, Ru Paul, Liam Lynch, Big Daddy Kane, Del Tha Funkee Homosapien, Lene Lovich, Blur vs. The Pet Shop Boys, Eels, Jeff Beck, the Dandy Warhols, Super Furry Animals, obscure 70s glam rocker Brett Smiley and more.
01. Monkees: Tema Di Monkees
02. Monkees: PO Box 9847 (alt stereo mix)
03. Malvina Reynolds: Little Boxes
04. Lene Lovich: Lucky Number
05. Lydia Lunch: Carnival Fatman
06. Hawkwind: Silver Machine
07. Mick Farren: Aztec Calendar
08. The Tomorrow People: Delia Derbyshire, Dudley Simpson, Brian Hodgson & David Vorhaus
09. PJ Proby: You Can’t Come Home Again If You Leave Me Now
10. Blur vs Pet Shop Boys: Boys & Girls
11. Ru Paul: Ping Ting Ting
12. Liam Lynch: My United States of Whatever
13. Monkees: Zilch
14. Del Tha Funkee Homosapien: Mister Bobalina
15. Big Daddy Kane: Warm It Up Kane
16. Jeff Beck: Hi Ho Silver Lining
17. Brett Smiley: Va Va Va Voom
18. Eels: That’s Not Really Funny
19. The Dandy Warhols: Bohemian Like You
20. Super Furry Animals: The Man Don’t Give A Fuck