Sep 242010

It’s not like I’m near death or anything – or no more so than any relatively healthy soul walking around like there are thousands of tomorrows ahead – but as I age in this age of easy electronic access to our shared past, from YouTube clips of local tv ads from the 1970s to eBay auctions on forgotten toys to posted .jpgs of Xeroxed flyers from local band shows in the mid-1980s, I find myself continuing to chase digital flashbacks of a handful of images and tunes that are burned in my memory. Maybe some folks want to see God’s face or the face of a loved one flash before their eyes before they themselves leave this life, but I want to see a couple of dumb things that matter to me for reasons I can’t quite explain.

For instance, I came of age as a baseball fan following the horrible 1971 Philadelphia Phillies. The one bright spot on that lousy team was rookie centerfielder Willie Montanez, who hit 30 home runs, drove in 99 runs, and finished second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting to Braves’ catcher Earl Williams. The child in me still smarts from my first baseball hero losing out to Williams for that prestigious award. More vital, the child in me, now equipped with YouTube and the billions of destinations on the Web, can’t tell you how many hours I’ve logged trying to find grainy video of Montanez doing one of his two distinctive “hot dog” gestures: the bat flip he used to do while walking from the on-deck circle to home plate and the quick snap of his glove as a fly ball landed in its pocket. (Later, when he moved to first base he’d also snap or dramatically swipe his mitt as he caught throws from his fellow infielders.) “Willie the Phillie” would never again approach the stats he compiled in his rookie year, but the guy had style, style that you would have thought someone would have recorded, saved, and posted on YouTube. But, so far, noooooooooooo!

A musical Holy Grail that I continue to chase is the intro to the late-’70s/early-’80s syndicated music video show Rock World. It was on late-Saturday night airings of this show that I first fell for the likes of new wave artists like Elvis Costello, XTC, Lene Lovich, and Paul Collins’ Beat miming to their latest singles against stark-white backgrounds. I can still find many of the clips by these artists that I first saw on Rock World, but after spending probably 12 hours searching YouTube and other spots on the Web over the last few years, I haven’t gotten a sniff of the Rock World intro.

What’s so interesting about the Rock World intro? you may be asking yourself. The theme music was nothing special. The graphics used for the credits left me with no lasting impression. For me (and my fellow Rock World devotee bandmates, Townsmen andyr, chickenfrank, and sethro) the sole joy of finding the Rock World intro it would be the opportunity to see the 2-second shot of some obscure fat, hirsute band called Supercharge aligned at the front of a festival stage and thrusting in rhythm toward the audience. As our high school band developed, a few years later, this 2-second image of Supercharge became the basis for our own “Supercharge” alignment. We had points in a couple of songs where we’d call out for the Supercharge alignment and then get a massive kick out of our in-joke and shared tv-watching history.

I’ve since found videos of Supercharge in concert, but they’re horrible, kind of like Sha-Na-Na. On the Rock World intro it was just 2 seconds of these fat ’50s revival guys rocking out to the Rock World theme song, which if memory serves was along the lines of the guitar riff in “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” or the original intro to MTV News or the old Craig Kilbourn Daily Show. Nothing remotely special, when taken apart, but pure magic when seen and heard in that intro clip!

If anyone ever comes across either the Rock World intro or photographic/video evidence of Willie Montanez’s signature hot dog moves, please send them my way. Likewise, if you’re still on the trail of a Rock ‘n Roll Flashback Holy Grail – video, song, still image, interview, whatever – and want our help, let us know and at least one of us will make some time to get right on it. Thanks.


  19 Responses to “Townspeople Helping Townspeople Find Rock ‘n Roll Holy Grails”

  1. There was a book that I used to take out of the library which was about how records were made, mostly focusing on the pressing and manufacturing process. But the book “starred” Paul McCartney and Wings. It’s one of those things where it should be easy to find, but all of the search terms I ever think to use are too generic. It would really take me back to see that book one more time.

    I’ve never seen any You Tube clips of the Philly show “Dancin’ On Air,” which I think would be pretty funny to see now.

    Never heard of Rock World, but it sounds like something I’d like to see.

  2. Mr. Moderator

    Man, that book sounds familiar, cher. I think I’ve seen that, and I may have something like that sitting in a box in my basement. I’ll try to remember to check while doing chores this weekend.

  3. hrrundivbakshi

    Before my dad gave up trying to stay hip to the latest musical trends — and while we were living in Japan — he picked up an LP by a band called “East.” Their big claim to fame was their melding of Western rock music with traditional Japanese instrumentation. That sounds a lot cooler than what they actually were — a rock band with a member or two who tweeted and plunked occasionally on a Japanese instrument in accompaniment.

    Anyhow, the cover was one of those things I stared at for HOURS, and I got to a point where I knew all the songs by heart.

    This is exactly the kind of thing the Internet should make easy to find — but the terms by which one would need to search for these guys makes actually finding them pretty much impossible. I mean: “east,” “japanese” “rock” — it’s just a loser’s game.

    I hold out little hope for your help, but here’s asking: Anything by or about the early 70s Japanese rock band “East” would be gratefully appreciated by yours truly.

    Thanks —


  4. hrrundivbakshi

    Never mind — I just found it! I tried my luck at, and… voila!

  5. I can’t find a copy of that picture of Jimmy Page from the original Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock and Roll. As I’ve mentioned here before, that picture played a big part in me wanting to play the guitar.

  6. Mr. Moderator

    I’m not kidding, cdm, I may have the Page photo you desire. I don’t know that I the first issue of that tome, but I think I’ve got a late-70s pressing.

  7. mockcarr

    I have the opposite problem. It’s now even easier than ever to destroy the myth of a cherished innocuous image you’ve imagined as BETTER than what it was by an online “factual” reminder. The real trouble is that some punk will be happy to correct your revered version of that intro, not that you can actually find it and reinforce your memories.

  8. Is this the “East” album?

    That’s a CD – there’s vinyl listed too for $75.

  9. I didn’t think it was in that version but that would be awesome, Mod.

  10. Cher,
    I can help you out with the Dancin’ on Air thing. About 6-7 years ago I was the part owner of some commercial real estate in beautiful, downtown Camden, NJ. Our next door neighbor was a guy, Michael Nise, who produced the show and had his archives next door in his studio.

    I spent one Thanksgiving morning with Michael in the lobby of the Four Seasons hotel waiting for celebrity parade host Kelly Ripa (she never showed). Kelly made her 1st TV appearances on Dancin’ on Air and Michael wanted her to look at some footage or sign some releases or something.

    For YouTube this is about as close as you can get:

    For a fee, you can go here:

    Odd that I don’t remember RockWorld; it sounds right up there with teenage fave Kenny Everett’s Video Show.

  11. hrrundivbakshi

    Hey, the sound clips on this “East” page at allmusic aren’t half-bad! Score one for my 10-year old musical tastebuds!

  12. BigSteve

    Speaking of theme songs, I recently came across this:

    It’s the music and abstract video clip that used to be played before “Our Feature Presentation” in movie theaters in, I guess, the 70s and 80s. It’d be a real challenge to come up with a better 18 second song.

  13. hrrundivbakshi

    Woo-hoo! YouTube video here!

    Double woo-hoo! Full bio and album downlink here!

  14. hrrundivbakshi

    Okay, now this is getting ridiculous. The Internet tells me that the former lead singer from East is now the largest Amway dealer in Japan. TMI, Internet!

  15. Mr. Moderator

    Check it out: Townspeople helping Townspeople. This is a beautiful thing.

    cdm, I pulled out my Rolling Stone Illustrated History… I’ve got the second edition, from 1980. The Led zep photo shows Page in the foreground, wearing a long scarf, with a sunburst Les Paul hanging below his crotch. His mouth is agape, and his hands are up at his side, looking as if he’s in the middle of snapping. Plant is in the background, with his head bowed and the mic out in front of him. If that sounds like the photo that inspired you to play guitar I’ll scan it for you.

    cher, I have not yet dug out the recording book that may be the one you had in mind. I know I saw that book before.

    Speaking of books, in high school I regret never buying a music book of The Who that included Pete Townshend’s “handwritten” notes in the margins about specific tricks and intervals he played. I used to browse through that thing whenever I visited the old Sam Goody record AND music store at the Roosevelt Mall (remember when records and instruments could be bought in the same place?). The one thing I retained from my time spent browsing through that book is Townshend’s notes on the intervals he used in “Substitute.” I don’t know why I didn’t buy that book when I had the chance – maybe because it cost more than $3, maybe because it meant I would have been expected to actually learn how to play other people’s songs rather than get halfway through learning them by ear and then trying to turn what I’d learned into my own songs. Does anyone else remember this Who songbook? (Along those lines there was also a kid in my school who had an awesome Jim Croce book, that taught you everything you needed to know to play his music, including how to wear your mustache. I didn’t have that much interest in Croce’s music, but it was a cool book to page through.)

  16. I grew up with the belief that the Rock World theme was by Riot. Apocryphal to the Xtreme, but it did lead me to check Riot out when I was older, which was good. Haven’t heard the theme again yet on anything I’ve found, though, so the search continues. Brothers in arms, my man.

  17. misterioso

    I am not sure of the year, but I cherish the memory of seeing Blue Oyster Cult on the Mike Douglas Show in–I think, ca. 1978-79. Might have been earlier. Not that I was or am a fan of BOC, but the whole thing was weirdly memorable–What are they doing on the Mike Douglas Show?

  18. Mr. Moderator

    More Dancin’ on Air clips, I believe:'-on-air-225758

  19. Interesting clip – I remember all the big hair, South Philly girls doing the cakewalk to Scott Joplin. “My name is Donna, I go to Cardinal Dougherty, I like Aqua Net and my favorite song is the Maple Leaf Rag.”

    Just for the record, I never meant to imply that finding “Dancin’ On Air” clips was a holy grail – but it is still funny!

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