Six Paperback Books and a Dying Tree: One of the Blurt braintrust’s all-time fave twang/pop merchants mounts an unlikely reunion show at L.A.’s El Cid venue, on the heels of their recent (and Blurt-approved) Town + Country reissue. Above: frontman Jimmer Podrasky.
TEXT & PHOTOS BY SUSAN MOLL
Country and punk formed an unlikely alliance beneath the sun and smog of late-‘70s Los Angeles, years after Gram Parsons made a fiery exit from this mortal coil in Joshua Tree. It was around that time that the Pittsburgh-bred Rave-Ups heeded the call to motor West. As ambitious and promising as they were, the band never scaled the same heights as fellow cowpunk cowpokes X, the Gun Club or the Blasters. It was John Hughes and Molly Ringwald who gave the Rave-Ups a shot at musical immortality not once (Sixteen Candles), but twice (Pretty in Pink).
As so often happens with such beloved pop-culture apogees, the mystic chords of memory they strike engender pathos: Pretty in Pink marked the last installment of the Ringwald/Hughes dynasty; cast member Alexa Kenin (“I hope they shrivel up and fall off!”) passed away shortly after filming concluded; and the songs the Rave-Ups performed in one of the club scenes were conspicuously absent from its official soundtrack. A shame, too, as they were among the best tracks associated with the movie. Their 1985 full-length Town + Country faded into out-of-print oblivion, and the Rave-ups, poor little critters on the road, drifted away like Mojave tumbleweed.
Like Pretty in Pink, Town + Country recently marked its 30th anniversary, and Omnivore Recordings commemorated the occasion with one of this year’s most welcomed reissues. Podrasky (top of page), bassist Tommy Blatnik (above, 2nd photo), guitarist Terry Wilson (1st photo), and drummer Tim Jimenez celebrated its resurrection at El Cid, which, in the Prohibition era, was a speakeasy known as the Jail Café complete with waiters clad in prison stripes. Have twangy guitars, will travel: The group’s show was an exercise in raucous, sweat-soaked fun, and they were perfectly thrilled to be playing together again. “Positively Lost Me” and “Rave-Up/Shut-Up” sounded as vibrant as ever, as did “Train to Nowhere,” “Please Take Her (She’s Mine)” and “Mickey of Alphabet City,” nascent versions of which appear among the revamped Town + Country’s many bonus cuts.
As Podrasky reminisces in the liner notes, “Town + Country was the beginning of a lifelong journey for me—the start of a trip that still hasn’t ended.” As the Rave-Ups asserted so many years ago, it’s not where you’re at, but where you will be.