Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Good Rats Re-Take Long Island

What makes an old guy leap from his seat, topple his warm beer, and elbow four middle-aged women out of the way to catch a rubber rat thrown from a garbage pail? Bad manners, you say. Well, okay—besides that.

Tonight’s scene at Mirelles’ in Westbury, Long Island, could easily have taken place 35 years ago at the legendary My Father’s Place in Roslyn, or the Showplace in Dover, New Jersey, or any number of metropolitan nightspots festooning the punk-trodden East Coast.

The original Good Rats were in the house for several hours of music and mischief that brought back every tasty nuance that the 300-odd baby boomers who were packed into the room (at $50 a head!) remembered and loved and longed for. Long Island’s favorite rock-and-roll sons brought the legion to their feet with each Rats' hit—from “Taking It to Detroit” to “Injun Joe” to "Don't Hate the Ones Who Bring You Rock 'n Roll"—all delivered with the same precision that distinguished the world's greatest unknown Rock and Roll band years ago to music aficionados as far more than the super garage-rock combo they were more widely known for. And the stage antics we adored and sometimes feared made it seem like these guys were never really gone.

Despite recent wrestlings with pneumonia, John "The Cat" Gatto's and Mickey Marchello's dueling guitar leads were never more impressive, while Peppi Marchello's hospital vacation (I mean, what else would you call it? the Rat Maestro never takes a night off unless there's a tube shoved down his throat) made it hard for the celebrated songwriter to get the flesh in his voice and hit some of his notorious high notes.

There's a new Rats album in the works, too—a collection of never-released tunes, many from "the old days." And rumor has it there will be one more reunion gig in Manhatten or New Jersey sometime next year, but that might be the ballgame folks. So pay attention when I tell you that this is one of the greatest shows on earth, ranking alongside The Pogues and AC/DC as legendary must-see live acts. That they never achieved blanketed, international coverage while far lesser bands topped the charts only goes to prove the McDonalds mentality of the record-buying masses. The best writers are rarely best sellers, either.
But the Good Rats, known only to a million or so fortunate enough to have graduated high school in New Jersey or Long Island between ’74 and ‘80, yes those rascally Rats remain the greatest unsung jukebox heroes to ever strike three or more chords on a Fender. And it’s a shame, my friends—a damn shame if you miss them.

Final photos: The Ratettes rise for another riggling of the rumps for "Yellow Flower"

1 comment:

Kathy M said...

Really excellent write-up, Cliff! See you at the April reunion show?
-Kathy M