People who reduce Cleveland, OH to the two exponentials of Pere Ubu and the Raspberries are only getting half the story. …okay, the best part of the story, but Cliff notes are for tourists and you donâ€˜t wanna come off as some lightweight when you run into “Metal” Mike Saunders backstage at the Hilary Duff show. Why, he might get so disgusted that he writes his next song about YOU and then youâ€™d feel as bad as Rodney does everyday. And you donâ€™t want that. I donâ€™t want that. So – letâ€™s take a trip…
The Left End were a snotty bunch of â€˜plastic-punksâ€™ from Youngstown – just down the road from the habituÃ©s of Messrs. Carmen and Thomas – with a stage-act to rival the Tubes and a sound crude enough to make James Taylor shit blood. Informed and equally enamored of the New York Dolls, Kiss, Aerosmith and Slade, the Left End didnâ€™t so much cut through the chaff of Seventies rock as they did ridiculously exaggerate and entangle themselves in its many clichÃ©s. Kiss make-up, towering platforms, glitter, audiences pelted with live frogs… negative musical chops, lyrics about violence, bad women and alcoholic demons, a blitzkrieg death-ride through the Beatlesâ€™ â€™Every Little Thingâ€™ – this is the sublime sound of effortless street-level caricature – cartoon punk – thug rock of the highest/lowest prehensile order. But what the Left End may have lacked in sonic competence and originality, they made up for in outrage and bile; their collective spirit of irreverence being perfectly embodied in their imperfect lead singer, the inimitable Dennis T. Menass – a â€™secret weaponâ€™ of the classic Dick Manitoba style, possessing vocals like a Frankenstein Steve Marriott (or maybe Eric Carmen on steroids). Oh, it was pain from the startâ€¦ Yet, somehow, in this ugly hick mass of fat and balding malcontents, A&R guru and all-around good egg, Paul Nelson, thought he saw the future – got the boys a deal, got their names written up in all the happeninâ€™ papers. The Left End promptly responded to this rash display of good faith by throwing their benefactor down a flight of stairs. Iâ€™m sure Paul – a dude notorious for backing beautiful losers (New York Dolls, Blue Ash, et al) – couldnâ€™t help, but appreciate the gesture. We canâ€™t all get lucky like Landau, Paul – there are only so many Springsteenâ€™s to go around (thank God).
Too dumb to rock smart and too inept to rock stupid, The Left End are to hard rock what inbreeding was to the royal families of Europe – a tragedy in hindsight, but seemed like a great item at the time. Their sound is Woodstock Nation, six years on – like the Music Machine had Jim Bonniwell cut his teeth in mid 70â€™s Ohio, weaned on Quaaludes instead of acid and speed. If your heart is large enough to lodge Burton Cummings and Sir Lord Baltimore, itâ€™s more than roomy enough for Dennis T. Menass and Co. Theyâ€™ll crash anywhere. The Left Endâ€™s lone album from ’75, â€˜Spoiled Rotten,â€™ (Polydor 6022) is highly recommended. Here are two sample cuts just to show you Iâ€™m not all talk. Get the buzz, cock!
The Left End – Loser – â€˜I wasnâ€™t feelin’ too good, yeah, you might say I wasnâ€™t feelinâ€™ too fine.â€˜ An aptly titled anthem by five guys who couldnâ€™t possibly be mistaken for anything but. Home to one of the crappiest guitar solos ever! ‘‘Cos losin’ ain’t my game!‘
The Left End – Bad Talkinâ€™ Lady – If I close my eyes, this could be Spinal Tap and I mean that in the best way possible, only theyâ€™re peaking at about seven-and-a-half.