Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Wednesday Is Nazzday

Todd Rundgren rarely speaks highly of the Nazz, if he speaks at all about the band. For a few years in the late 90's and early 2000's, Utopia co-founder Moogy Klingman was bringing Stewkey, lead singer of the Nazz, into my shop, and aside from some really polite and grateful "Thank Yous" at my fawning, he also seemed reluctant to talk about his past, though he and Moogy were playing some shows together and revisiting a song or two from the Nazz catalogue.

Things did not begin or end well with The Nazz and I imagine all involved decided to move on.

But when you pore over the endless list of garage bands that appear on the various boxes of Nuggets released over the years, you will find scores of great singles. And if one song in particular really gets into your wheelhouse and you decide to dig deeper, you will almost always be disappointed. So few of these one track wonders could barely survive the A- side of a single, let alone an album's worth of listenable material.

But not The Nazz.

The Nazz managed to (barely) release two strong LPs, one in '68 and one in '69. These guys could sing and these guys could play, two things that most garage bands could not do. And yet, aside from the diehard fans of this genre, The Nazz are mostly forgotten, with the exception of their classic nugget, "Open My Eyes." Even the Rundgren disciples, who gush regularly over every recorded fart, rarely speak of their leader, Carson Van Osten, Robert "Stewkey" Antoni, and the insanely talented drummer, Thom Mooney.

The Nazz wanted to be The Move and The Move wanted to be The Nazz. Neither had any idea at the time.

Here are five tracks by the underrated Philly phenoms, including "Under The Ice" right up top, where drummer Thom Mooney absolutely kicks ass!


Anonymous said...

growing up in the 60's and 70's, I just never heard the Nazz and, even after learning of the Rundgren association, rarely saw their records in stores. Was it a case of, like Big Star, distribution was screwed up? (got Big Star on my mind because I'm halfway through the "A Man Called Destruction" biography, and it seems like most of the early reviews of Big Star drew a parallel with Rundgren. They even had the same girlfriend within a couple weeks of each other!).

M_Sharp said...

Two great bands, I still can't believe that The Move never did much in the States. I have a four song bootleg of their show at the Fillmore West in 1969 and two of the songs are "Open My Eyes" and "Under The Ice". Bev Bevan does his best, but he doesn't match Thom Mooney.

ken49 said...

For some reason The Nazz 1st album was played a lot by Tom Donahue on KSAN radio in San Francisco. Consequently me and my friends were huge fans of that 1st album and played it to death. Songwriting, vocals and production were so superior to other albums of that era. Great to see some recognition. Think I will go play Wildwood Blues. Thanks for bringing this up.

EG-Markus said...

It is absolutely criminal that 'Under the Ice' is not played on 'classic' rock stations. The same could be said for a ton of other songs because heaven help us if we don't hear Stairway to heaven or Freebird five times a day. I called the station and begged, really begged them to play it. Just once, I told them, and I guarantee you'll get so many requests for it it'll take over your playlist. The program director had no idea who Nazz were and blew me off. If anyone can listen to this song and not like it then they are hopelessly lost.

buzzbabyjesus said...

Somehow I missed this on Wednesday. I don't see "Under The Ice".
I'm only showing four tunes here.

I'm a late comer in all things Todd. If it wasn't for Sal, I wouldn't know anything but "Hello It's Me", and "We Got To Get You A Woman".

Growing up, except for the Beatles, I was wary of '60's music until Bowie put out "Pinups".
I didn't buy "Nuggets" until it was a CD box set.

All I know of The Nazz is "Open My Eyes" which is a killer track.
Thanks for posting these.
Obviously I need to dig deeper.

Sal Nunziato said...

BBJ-- Under The Ice is the first video under the header.

buzzbabyjesus said...

Duh, and wow.

A walk in the woods said...

Love me some Nazz!! Of all the revisiting Todd has done in recent years to his earlier stuff (the Utopia tour a few years ago, the tour that had the "Something Anything" inside sleeve on the screen behind him, etc), I sure wish he'd give Nazz another run.