I don’t have any children, but if I did, you can bet I’d be one of those parents who goes on and on to my kids about how much better music was when I was a teenager, because it would be true. Ah, the 70s: All the power of Progressive Rock and the glory of Glam bookended by The Beatles and Punk — what a time to be a pop music fanatic! 1976 was a particularly memorable year for me, because I saw Queen on their A Night at The Opera tour, and also witnessed a history-making performance by The Who while they were supporting an album they’d released the previous October. I was fifteen years old! 1976 was also a year that ushered in major socio-political changes, which were enmeshed with a literal ‘New Wave’ of pop music when London’s The Damned released “New Rose” — the very first Punk Rock single. And the train kept-a-rollin.’
In this very fertile transitionary period between the rejection of arena rock bombast and the embracing of live music that was most effectively performed on a much more intimate scale, the LA club scene spawned a number of significant local bands that possessed cross-genre appeal, such as The Runaways, and The Quick. While The Runaways are now the subject of legend, The Quick had a much shorter shelf life, releasing just one album and a collection of demos during its three-year existence. The interesting thing about The Quick though is that its fan base has remained devoted and cult-like. So, to hear that the band’s 1976 Mercury Records debut, Mondo Deco, is getting the expanded-edition, re-release treatment is hardly a surprise to us, because we’ve been waiting for it for four decades.
The Mondo Deco re-release marks the first time that the album is available on CD, and it includes the newly remastered original Mondo Deco LP, plus the ten demos that got the band signed to Mercury Records, and one unreleased outtake. The package also includes extensive liner notes, a new essay on the band by Quick fan-club President (and Frontier Records founder) Lisa Fancher, track-by-track commentary by drummer Danny Benair, and never-before-seen Archival Photos. For fans, and anyone interested in that period of American Rock Music History, it is a must-own collection.
The Quick were far from a household name, so if you’ve never heard them, you’d be in the majority, but imagine if Ron and Russell Mael of Sparks had joined The Monkees, and you’ll have some idea of the band’s very distinctive sound. The Sparks‘ comparison is hardly incidental, as band members cite the fellow Angelinos as a primary influence. The aural similarities are most evident on songs like “No No Girl,” the complicated tale of a neglected child-turned-rebellious teenager who embraces increasingly self-destructive behavior in an effort to get her parents’ attention — and who may or may not have an unorthodox relationship with her Dad! “No No Girl” is also memorable for its appropriation of the piano waltz “Chopsticks,” and its bridge, which borrows heavily from the children’s nursery rhyme-cum-pop-standard, “A Tisket A Tasket.” Clever!
The entire Mondo Deco album is a classic of pure power pop bliss, but standout tracks include the band’s covers of the Lennon/McCartney-penned Beatles‘ tune “It Won’t Be Long,” and a sublime interpretation of “Rag Doll,” as popularized by The Four Seasons. One original composition that feels ready for some kind of lucrative licensing opportunity is “Hillary”; an earnest love song to a Dominatrix whose lyrics comforted me greatly in the dark weeks immediately following the unfortunate results of the 2016 Presidential election. “Hillary, you are more than a girl to me / Hillary, you are all of the world to me/ Hillary, just the thought of you fills me with pain.” Sigh. There must some way for the band to cash-in on this song!
In case you’re wondering whatever happened to the members of The Quick, you’ll be happy to know that they all continued to have careers in music, though with varying degrees of success. Steven Hufsteter (guitar), who wrote most of The Quick’s material, went on to form the seminal Los Angeles band The Cruzados. Billy Bizeau (keyboards) went on to write “Queens of Noise” and other material for The Runaways. Danny Benair (drums) went on to fame behind the kit in bands like The Weirdos and The Three O’Clock. Danny Wilde (vocals) and Ian Ainsworth (bass) formed the band Great Buildings. Later, Wilde formed The Rembrandts, whose song “I’ll Be There for You” was the theme song for the hit sitcom Friends, so we know that he never has to work again if he doesn’t want to. Sweet!
For such a near-completist collection of the band’s discography, the one glaring omission is a tune that’s inarguably The Quick’s best and most enduring song, “Pretty Please” — which was previously released only to the band’s fan club members, and as part of a Rhino Records compilation that is long out of print. A master of “Pretty Please” surely exists somewhere, so why was this singularly amazing song left off of this otherwise definitive collection? Was it due to the potentially un-PC lyric, “Bang Bang Goes The Big Gun / Tell Me Babe I’m the Only One”? I wish I knew. If you’re curious to hear the song, The Dickies covered in on their 1983 album, Stukas Over Disneyland, and you can hear The Quick’s transcendent demo of the song on Youtube at This Link.
Mondo Deco will be released on June 1st, 2018 via Real Gone Music. Track listing is as follows:
1. It Won’t Be Long
2. No No Girl
7. Rag Doll
8. Last in Line
9. My Purgatory Years
10. Don’t You Want It
Demos / Untold Rock Stories
11. No No Girl (Mercury Demo)
12. Teacher’s Pet (Mercury Demo)
13. Hi-Lo (Mercury Demo)
14. Hillary (Mercury Demo)
15. Rag Doll (Mercury Demo)
16. My Purgatory Years (Mercury Demo)
17. It Won’t Be Long (Mercury Demo)
18. Heaven on Earth (Mercury Demo)
19. Born Free (Mercury Demo)
20. Don’t You Want It (Mercury Demo)
21. Anybody (Unreleased Outtake)