Disruptive Angel - The Wilderness Years: After the Arista Clive Davis Prostitution Dickey and Gregg went their own way. Hell I even think there was a moment that the ABB was playing without Gregg. I distinctly remember going what the what how f'd up is that? But the wilderness years weren't all bad for the core fans.
No way brother we got to catch Gregg and Dickey although in separate venues at separate times all alone down front in freakin' bars. Yeah baby. Places the same size or smaller than Grant's only a decade later. We danced and hooted and hollered and partied with the band inches from Gregg with the Toler Brothers and Chaz Trippy and Dickey fronted a power trio. That's right while the kids were swooning over Depeche Mode there I was with "my" brother no less down front raging with every note Dickey powered our way. Crowd sizes were pushing it to reach fifty people including staff and the band on a Tuesday night. Small but hearty my friends and ferocious we all had a ball.
So while it might have been a come down for the band it was a real opportunity and we had a blast. This was all pre-1986. We had the better part of a decade before they climbed back into America's consciousness and started playing sheds again with Johnny Neel, Warren and Woody.
There I sat in my studio faced with three hours of air time....hmmm what should I play? Out comes Fillmore East and Done Somebody Wrong the manager comes in and say’s okay you’ve done that once never do that again…well bullshit to that who cares if it’s not XTC.
I had a 35 mile radius outside of Atlantic City the 52nd largest market just behind New Orleans out of 270 ranked markets. FM airwaves before satellite before streaming and I laid it on thick. I brought the jam and we went to the shows.
I was a man on a mission. You want music I'll show you goddam music. One fellow DJ said out from under his black eye liner at least the guys you play know how to play their instruments. I cranked the studio speakers and the head bangers and speed scale lovers were confused by the back beat. I segued in and out of live sets and the goth kids smiled. I played musicians and musicians played music!
Seeing Gregg in a sleazy bar in Wildwood NJ a puke stained, piss soaked oh dear lord don’t go into the bathroom or eat the food crap hole and handing out tee shirts with the classic mushroom logo to my friends and fans and the band wanted them.
"Hey were'd you get those?"
I jumped up and down in front of the band and Gregg whose B-3 I could touch if I wasn’t respectful I was genuinely into every note (still am). No beer in my hand, air guitar going as I'm rocking listening, dancing, having a hoot grooving hard Danny smiling at me shaking his head and Gregg stepping down off the riser tapping "me" on the shoulder and shaking my hand - just beautiful - drinking with the band at the bar after the show - sitting on either side of me - dynamite!
Well we had us a time. Why is Dickey's bass player grinning like a maniac looking like he's going to have a heart attack? What's in that towel fellas...come on guys right on freakin' stage. We had our own. Invited back stage to talk to Gregg about the double SG that sure as hell looked like Brother Duane's guitar and I was too stupid to get autographs back then.
Then 1986 The Together Again Tour and I have to wake people up shake their shoulder pads and costume jewelry from around their necks. Get your asses to the gig morons. Easily down front again no pushing, dancing, laughing, carrying on and a double bill this time with Dickey Opening and Gregg closing and then the encore together with Duane' guitar...redemption.
Then we get I'm no Angel and Pattern Disruptive 1987 and 1988 and Gregg's back on commercial radio and I'm hollering at the DJ's and Programmers as I roll down the road - about god damn time assholes.
Looking back they learned some lessons from the Arista debacle and while both releases INA and PD have their merits they are still of their time. I’m No Angel especially. However on INA they sneak more blistering guitar work of Dan’s into several songs and not forgetting their true friends and fans close with a new version of Don’t Want You No More into It’s Not My Cross To Bear just a bit glammed up.
Who knew in the following year 1989 with the issue of the Dreams Box Set they would charge on for another twenty four years? And that was the whole point to me. The music was too epic to not forge ahead and when they stayed true to their vision and passion new generations not only us 1970ers but decade after decade of hearts and souls got to experience, re-discover and be informed by the roots of rock n roll, blues, gospel, country, jazz and soul and a whole lotta righteous soul playing groove thundering authenticity.
In the wilderness years of the 1980’s we didn’t want this music forgotten not the fans not the musicians. As I pulled Hot ‘Lanta from the Fillmore East album one day in the 1990’s a returning alumni of the radio station said to me derisively “are you still playing that album” – “hell yeah,” I retorted and after he left and said hello to old friends on the wing the studio speakers screaming that music down the hall he stuck his head back into the studio to say goodbye and spoke emphatically – “keep playin "that" music Paul!”