The Rubinoos: Proto-Pop Punks – SF Weekly

Punk wasn’t the only alternative to what many saw the rock hype of the 1970s as excess corporate flavor. In addition to punk, a kind of proto-indie pop was soft, and a notable laboratory for these efforts was Beselkley Records.

Founded in 1973 by Matthew King Kaufman, Beselkley introduced Earth Quake, Jonathan Richman, Greg Kihn and more to the world of pop music. Rubinus was another major light. The band rose to fame for their cover of Tommy James & Shondells’ “I Think We’re Alone Now” released in 1977, when punk was well established.

But this shimmering pop slice only showed one side of the versatile band’s musical personality. The new version of the archives shows that the Rubinoos had a lot more in their collective mind. Recorded as a sort of demo in 1976, CBS Band Shows the Berkeley Group looking for a love for Southern Soul, surf rock and other styles as well as AM Gold style pop. And it all comes with a brave sneer, perhaps suggesting that Rubinou wasn’t too far removed from punk.

Rubinoos performed their first concert at Bay High School in 1970. From the start, the band’s sound focused on vocal harmony. A crucial moment for the band came in 1975 when Earth Quake guitarist Gary Phillips saw Rubinoos on stage.

“We played the Grand Auto Grand Opening by the glove corner. [now Martin Luther King, Jr. Way] “University,” says guitarist Tommy Dunbar. “We were playing ‘Sugar Sugar’ and he was like, ‘Are you really doing it or are you kidding? “

Rubinoos was serious, but their approach to playing the song, and the ensemble’s other covers, balanced an appreciation of the original with an interest in playing in a more rock fashion. And that’s the idea they brought up during a session at CBS Studios in San Francisco in November 1976.

Rubinous already made his record debut in 1975, with covers of the DeFranco family’s “Gorilla” appearing on LPs by various artists (with misleading titles). Beserkley Chartbusters Volume 1..Their reading of “gorilla” was a simple, creamy candy pop, but the group session was CBS tape A lot of courage. The performance is loose and lacking in sophistication, which is as appealing as the official release of the more sophisticated era of Rubinous, but in a different way.

Part of that atmosphere came from the situation in which the recording took place. A session was already underway at Berkeley for the band’s debut album, but Rubinous took a break to play a few local gigs. “Or maybe Bethel Cree is out of money,” singer and guitarist Jon Rubin says in a half-joke. When producer Glen Kolotkin started hosting additional album sessions on CBS, Dunbar says he invited the group to perform. “Go ahead and play what you like,” Korotkin told them.

Unlike the years 1977 RubinusThis mostly improvised session, which is an album dominated by songs by Dunbar, features a band performing a set of 11 songs, of which only three are original songs. The cover – and the band’s approach to them – says a lot about their musical thinking.

Songs like “Heartbeat, It’s a Lovebeat” (another song from the DeFranco Family) are often considered safe and disposable pop. But, CBS Band, Rubinoos improves upon it and turns it around in a way that suggests how bands like Redd Kross worked on it a few years later. And when his band’s signature harmony brings him back into the realm of pop, Dunbar unleashes a series of explosives instead of a guitar solo.

Rubin, Dunbar, bassist Royce Adder and drummer Don Spinto, four of the band, were completely alert as they tore up the song. Still, there is perfect professionalism focused on the right song, believing in the mild age of the participants.

Korotkin wrapped around the gang as the group played and joked. The entire session was recorded directly on the two-track machine while the producer mixed in real time. In the process, Korotkin captured a faithful version of what he might have witnessed had he stopped at Ader’s house. “we [usually] We installed equipment in Royse’s mother’s house, ”says Dunbar.

Psychotic Pineapple, a Bay Area garage punk band, released Tommy Dunbar’s “I Want Her So Bad” as their first single in 1978. CBS tape With the take of the previous song by Rubinoos. And unlike the pure pop of “I Think We’re Alone Now,” their performance is devious punk. Dunbar laughed when asked what he thought of the psychotic pineapple version compared to his band’s improvised recordings.

“Well the wheels aren’t off like our version,” he says.

But the goodwill of Punk and the New Wave of Rubinous should not have been questioned. Existence of Jonathan Richman’s “Government Center” CBS tape It reminds us that the band already had a strong connection with the pioneers of proto-punk. “When he first came out of Boston, we were Jonathan’s rescue group,” says Dunbar.

To put it all together, Dunbar states that the opening riff of Richman’s song is similar to Rubinous’ first hit. He says his band played at the “Government Center” before Gary Phillips presented the 1966 single “I Think We’re Alone Now”.

Rubinoos was certainly out of step with mainstream business trends when he cut live in the studio. CBS tape..Contains the most popular albums in the US charts this month Eternal poetry, Boston’s debut album, Frampton comes to life!, Double Live LP by Lynyrd Skynyrd, Steve Miller Band Fly like an eagle.. “But I was a four-minute drive from Royce’s house to practice and listened to an oldies editing tape,” says Rubin.

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Bill Cop is a contributor. @the_musoscribe

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