Thursday 27 September 2007

Chuck Wagon "Rock'n'Roll Won't Go Away" (A&M Records 1979)

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When I was a little Punk Rock kid, many years ago, The Dickies were one of my favourite bands ever. I was too young to see that the press thought they were a bit naff, didn't have much street credibilty, but I didn't care. The silly cover versions made me smile, the buzzsaw guitar riffs made me pogo around my bedroom, and the coloured vinyl 7"s were teenage objects of desire. So, for me, the Chuck Wagon single became something I just had to have.

here's a little background info on Chuck: he was born Bob Davis, and was one of the founding members of The Dickies, playing keyboards, saxophone and guitar. This single shows that the manic punk fun of The Dickies wasn't all there was to Chuck- it's a wonderfully mellow snippet of early synth-pop, with backwards-treated vocals hinting at someone perhaps more shy than a showman cavorting around the stage in a punk band. In the middle of the band's success, Chuck had some sort of major problems with his girlfriend and sadly committed suicide. This single is the merest hint of what sort of talent we lost.

The record itself is also notable for being one of the trickiest Dickies-related items to find. Copies of "Banana Splits" are ten-a-penny, and most of the rest of the bands catalogue is never much more than an ebay auction away: however, this single bombed spectacularly, and as a result is hardly ever seen. It was released as a purple vinyl 7", but i've got a stock copy on black vinyl, as well as a stamped promo copy (also on black vinyl).

Chuck's death affected me quite a lot as a kid, I felt like some of the fun had been taken from my musical world: certainly it seems as though The Dickies themselves were similarly affected- drugs and other problems saw them fall into a slump after Chuck's death that would take them the best part of a decade to ride out. Here's a little footage of Chuck/Bob, which has been posted up on youtube. R.I.P.

The ever-reliable Captain Oi! records have reissued most of the Dickies essential albums, full details are here. the band themselves are still going, and have a myspace.

Chuck Wagon "Rock And Roll Won't Go Away" (mp3)


So It Goes said...

Yes, you wouldn't instantly associate this with the frenzy of his main band, would you? (more like John Foxx than anything) I bet JP played it.

Mick said...

Never heard this before - bloody brilliant. At the risk of exposing myself as a closet hippy Todd Rundgren uses a similar backwards-treated vocals effect on 'How About A Little Fanfare' on his 'Todd' album.

I’ll get me coat….

Iain Baker said...

Steve, it IS a little John Foxx-like, isn't it? Don't get me started on my Ultravox! obsession, you'll never hear the last of it....
Mick, i'll always love Todd Rundgren for producing the first Pursuit Of Happiness album; in my obok, that makes him a God :))

Iain Baker said...

ahem, that's "book", for those of you who haven't been drinking heavily :(((((

ThePublicImage said...

Where can I get a copy of the song? What is on the flipside? Do I detect some Gary Numan influence?

CarlosMythos said...

I have a copy of the 7" for sale on Ebay now if anyones interested, the B side is totally different with some keyboards by Dickies singer Lenny. Cheers

Anonymous said...

there is a copy of the purple vinyl ebay now if anyone still needs a copy