Randy & the Goats
Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1981)
- Rob Cenci -- drums, percussion
- Doug Harris -- bass, backing vocals
- Randy Would (aka Mark Chmielinski) (RIP 2015) -- guitar,
keyboards, backing vocals, percussion
- Bruce Baker -- organ
- Curt Digulo -- guitar
- Joe Melo -- guitar
- Larry Scarano -- drums
- George Arliss and the All Night Shakers (Doug Harris and
- ColdHard (Doug Harris and Randy Would)
- The Tom Healy Band (Rob Cenci)
Rating: 4 stars ****
Title: On the Lam
Country/State: Rensselaer, New York
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: strong cover
Catalog ID: 5562
This one's pretty obscure, but I suspect it's only a matter of time until someone discovers it's low-fi charms, word gets out, and it becomes a sought after and in-demand and pricey collectable.
Good luck finding something about Randy and the Goats on the web or any musical reference works. The only write up I could find was on the wonderful Acid Archives website, written by the ever insightful Aaron Milenski . If Mr. Milenski likes an album, consider buying a copy ! As a result, what little I can tell you about the band comes from the liner notes accompanying the band's first and only album.
They were apparently from upstate New York and the line up showcased drummer Rob Cenci, bassist Doug Harris and front man/singer/guitarist Randy Would (aka Mark Chmielinski). I'm clueless as to why the performance credits reflected Chmielinski and Would separately - songwriting concerns? Released in 1981, most of their one and only LP was recorded in Rensselar, New York's Cathedral Studios with Would/Chmielinski producing. Two tracks were done at Trod Nossel Studios in Wallingford, Connecticut.
So thanks to a small website Doug Harris put up for the band ColdHard the background on this one is known:
This project began unknowingly in 1973 when I recorded "Screwed" and "N.Y. Survivor". At the time I was playing In a group called "George Arliss and the All Night Shakers" and Doug Harris was the bass player. We had just finished up 3 years worth of bar and club dates and were about to split up, but before we did, we laid down those two tunes. After that, I moved around alot, from Boston to Woodstock, to Manhattan and finally back to upstate N.Y, where I ran into my old friend and band-mate, Doug, who had just returned from an extended gig in Alaska, and was looking for another Insane project. I had a notebook full of songs and during the winter of 1979 we wrote a few more. In the spring of 1980 we rehearsed briefly with Rob Cenci who had played with Doug during the Alaskan thing and went straight to the studio where we laid down 11 songs In one day. I returned for a few days and added some guitars. It was a shoe-string budget deal and the album was never quite finished. 9 of those songs along with "Screwed" and "N.Y. Survivor" were released as "ON THE LAM" (Randy and The Goats"). 0nly a few records found their way to the U.S. market, most ended up being exported to Europe and Asia.
Chmielinski aka Randy Would, 2010
Released on the small Broken Records label, "On the Lam" was one of those early-1980s releases that sported a distinctive mid-1970s sound. By the way, that was meant as a compliment ... First let me warn you that the set occasionally shows up on dealer lists slapped with a psych label. In the interests of accuracy I'll tell you that while there were minor psych touches, notably from Would/Chmielinski's occasional fuzz guitar, the album was better classified as a slice of garage/grunge, or perhaps proto-punk. With Would/Chemielinski responsible for writing all of the material (bassist Harris co-wrote two tracks), the album effortlessly bounced around between garage/grunge and haunted singer/songwriter numbers. Atypical was 'It was the End of the Movie Anyway' which had kind of a cool Blue Oyster Cult 'Don't Fear the Reaper' vibe. There was also one pretty ballad thrown in the mix via that stark and stunning 'Broken'. It was also one of the album highlights. As lead singer Would/Chmielinsk took a little effort to get acclimated to. His ragged voice and mumbling delivery wasn't the prettiest instrument you've stumbled across - imagine a younger Springsteen with a nastier street attitude, or perhaps a young Lou Reed who could actually hold a melody, and you'd be in the right aural neighborhood. On the other hand, his voice and biting delivery were well suited to the band's raw sound and after a couple of songs Would/Chmielinsk actually sounded pretty good on tracks like the rockers 'The Day I Left Town', 'Media-ized' and 'Nausea # 2'. Come to think about it, showcasing Would/Chmielinsk's dark and depressing tales of urban angst ('Screwed' and 'Murder By Programming') the Lou Reed comparison wasn't that far off ... The album also benefited from The Goats. Cenci and Harris were a devastating rhythm section with Harris' bass routinely way up front in the mix, kicking the crap out of these songs. For his part Would/Chmielinski turned in some nice lead guitar throughout the set - check out his solo on 'Screwed'). Surprisingly impressive and one of the few albums that I put on my iPod start to finish (back in the day).
Lam" track listing:
1.) The Day I Left Town (Doug Harris - Randy Would) - 1:40 rating: *** stars
Initial impressions - Lou Reed having listened to a weekend's worth of Bruce Springsteen and finally figuring out how to write and perform a good garage rocker ... Powered by some nice grunge guitar, nice effort, but was way too short. The song's just starting to pick up energy and hits an abrupt end.
2.) Call Me Yesterday (Randy Would) - 2:38 rating: **** stars
I've always been a sucker for a dirty guitar sound and thanks to Would/Chmielinski, 'Call Me Yesterday' has it in spades. Maybe I just have Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground on the brain, but darn if this one doesn't remind me of them. The part where they may a halfhearted effort to hum the chorus always makes me smile.
3.) This Time (Randy Would) - 5:15 rating: **** stars
Hum, Randy and company trying to get down and slinky? The funny thing is they somehow manage to make it work. Great groove ... "this time, this time I'm not falling in love". Guitarist Would/Chmielinski turned in an awesome performance on this one.
4.) N.Y. Survivor (Randy Would) - 3:36 rating: **** stars
To my ears the ballad 'N.Y. Survivor' was another tune that bore more than a passing debt of gratitude to The Velvet Underground. The song's easy-going, laconic street smart vibe and Would/ Chmielinski' "gaspy" vocals made it one of the album's most catchy and commercial tracks. Guests Bruce Baker on organ and Joe Mele on lead guitar helped provide the full sound.
5.) Media-ized (Randy Would) - 2:47 rating: **** stars
'Media-ized' stripped everything down to a barebones mix of punk and power-pop moves. Yeah, I know, how can a song reflect those seemingly contradictory musical niches? Beats me, but they somehow managed to pull it off. The refrain is simply infectious.
Great title for a song ... 'Nausea # 2' toughened up the sound even more, adding a little bit of psych to the mix.
2.) Screwed (Randy Would) - 2:33 rating: **** stars
'Screwed' opened up sounding like a classic slice of '60s garage/jangle rock. Well, a first rate slice of jangle rock with a razor blade edge (no token peace and love sentiments for these guys). Unfortunately the title ensured no radio station would touch it with a ten foot pole. One of the album highlights; the only thing wrong with the tune was it should have been twice as long.
3.) Broken (Doug Harris - Randy Would) - 4:51 rating: **** stars
Totally unexpected, the spare opening has always reminded me of a mash-up of Television and the VU. Maybe because it was just a dramatic change of pace, 'Broken' was an oddly effecting, surprisingly touching ballad. The beautiful melody sticks with you.
4.) It was the End of the Movie Anyway (Randy Would) - 3:10 rating: **** stars
As mentioned earlier, 'It was the End of the Movie Anyway' sported a cool Blue Oyster Cult 'Don't Fear the Reaper' vibe. A personal favorite.
5.) Murder By Programming (Randy Would) - 5:04
I'd love to know more about these guys. Wonder if they recorded anything else ...
Turns out the did: ColdHard 1980's "On the Lam" http://www.coldhard.net/about.html
Cenci seems to have kept in music, reappearing as a member of Albany's blues-rockers Tom Healy Band.
I've never been able to find any details, but Would/Chmielinski passed on in June 2015. One of the scores of regrets in my life - I was driving through the California dessert when my phone rang. It picked it up and it was Would. He seemed a little excited and had apparently stumbled across a review of the album I'd put out on the web. He wanted to tell me all about the album, but I wasn't in a position to really engage in a conversation so I asked him to call me back, or send me an email. Sadly neither happened.
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