The True Dave Rave Conspiracy
The Dave Rave Conspiracy Let’s see: Alphabetically speaking, there’s really only Shane Faubert, Rick Harper, Mark Johnson, Lisa Mychols, and Dave Rave. That’s the singular handful of people with whom I’ve had the immense pleasure to have played and sung beside over the years who can safely claim to have the Muse deeply imbedded within their very souls; their entire waking (and otherwise) beings seemingly possessed with, and propelled by, the spirit of sounds pure, unadulterated, innocently powerful and simply, supremely magical.
In other, possibly less flowery words then? Each of these five fine above-listed folk absolutely live, love, are consumed in and positively radiate nothing but MUSIC, day in and day out, as I suppose we mere mortals rest content to subsist upon the air that we breathe.
Now quite recently, as seems to happen in some sort of cosmic clockwork once every ten years, my path has intersected again with that of Dave “Rave” DesRoches, the one and only man, myth, and yes legend behind, for starters, Canada’s arch band of holy bubble-punks Teenage Head. Indeed, back then, ‘round 1979 to be semi-exact, Dave’s Hamilton, Ontario-based quartet The Shakers were forever being most favorably compared to MY smartly suburban-Toronto beat combo The Loved Ones. But never did that particular powerfully-popping twain quite meet up, I’m sorry to admit, as me and my merry band instead ended up chasing Jan and Dean towards Surf City whilst Teenage Head, adding an “s” to their hallowed moniker and another Canadian Gold long-player to their resume, immediately plowed onward and upward towards bigger and even badder things.
Then, ten years and two full Reagan administrations later, thanks forever to the tireless efforts of that most magnificently melodic of matchmakers, Dawn Eden, Dave’s deep-down essence of “Edmunds” was finally cast alongside my own personal Lowe-liness – and not a second too soon for either of us either, it seems. And the result of THAT little collaboration, which if memory serves became cemented during a single subway ride beneath Manhattan’s Upper West Side (en route to view the Chief Beatle’s final digs), was that legendarily lost album called “Valentino’s Pirates.” An album which Dave, as only Dave can, and still does by the way, instantly insisted I arrange and produce for him during four fast days that summer of ‘89 …whenever Daniel Lanois’ studio wasn’t otherwise being fully engaged, that is.
And that was, I’m still extremely proud to say, one of the most creative and utterly fulfilling ninety-six hours of my entire musical life.
Yet this story reaches even deeper, friends, as said elpee was within two years actually officially released by none other than the Soviet state recording conglomerate Melodiya Records (with a catalog number forever filed comfortably nearby that of Paul McCartney’s “Choba B CCCP”) as our hastily-assembled – and by then New York City-based -- band on the run was being escorted to the mother country itself to shoot some clandestine video for Canadian television while, at Melodiya’s insistence, tutoring some of their wide-eared local signings within the cathedral-housed studios of the label’s majestic Professional Recording Cooperative. I also vaguely recall grappling with the side-effects of this mysterious bright green, late-night liquid our host/guides would routinely serve in lieu of actual hard, hand-held food. But that’s ANOTHER story …in fact an entire other column, perhaps!
Yet just how, you would be quite right to wonder right about now, does one of the stars behind Canada’s very own Ramones end up halfway behind the Berlin Wall, jamming old Eddie Cochran and Zeppelin tunes alongside some adoring Russian heavy metalheads, instead of going the “usual” career route (to, say, the David Geffen Company in the immediate aftermath of Nirvana)? “Well, my life went into serious accident mode after I left Teenage Head,” Dave tries to explain. “That band went in and out a lot of doors, but I really wanted to broaden my horizons and meet different people. It was a challenge and adventure. I just wanted to try the REST of the world out.”
Accidents will happen, to say the least, and of course New York is only one brief hour’s plane ride from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada – probably always will be, in fact. But to Dave and I in 1989, illegally subletting together alongside the East River by day, gigging across the Village with our cheap new acoustics by night (while all the time ostensibly shopping this wonderfully weird new tape full of songs about farmers, rain, and Patti Smith rocking out of some long-lost northern jukebox), things just couldn’t be more unpredictable, frightening, and downright dangerous.
To say the least then, we felt right at home. From our very first night in town, in fact, as I’ll let Dave pick up the tale as only he can: “Remember? We came straight from the airport, hit the local diner for a quick shake, then followed our secret map to our secret new home on East 89th. But our keys wouldn’t unlock the front door! Hmmmm. It’s only two in the morning though, and there’s pay phones all over the neighborhood, right? Only none of them work. No problem; there’s a police station right nearby. But without hardly even looking up from their gun magazines, NY’s finest just laugh and send us on our way. That’s cool: Welcome To New York. We’d been warned!”
But by four AM or so, and might I add while still operating beneath the hat of Designated Producer for this entire project, I’d managed to dredge up some surly Greek locksmith, snuck him back in to our building, up to our illegally sublet door, and asked him to please bust us into our new home without raising TOO much suspicion from the locals. Of course, his pounding and drilling (and incessant swearing about New York in general) eventually awoke someone down the hall, and soon those same cops from a couple of hours earlier were bursting up the stairs, guns drawn and precisely aimed. It was only after instinctively flashing our homeland ID’s did they announce “It’s okay folks, they’re only Canadian!” to the dozen or so occupants of the building now crowding the stairs, making mental notes aplenty about us for future reference no doubt. And this only hours after having been told by our much-too-trusting it turns out sponsor, who of course must go nameless, that we can only crash within her four walls if we PROMISE, no matter what happens, to keep a real low profile until she can safely return home and reclaim her apartment from Canadian occupation.
Nevertheless, legging straight back out upon the mean streets come daybreak, Dave couldn’t help but realize instantly that “New York IS a songwriter’s city. It’s where a lot of the great songs have been written. It hums. There’s inspiration in the groove of the city; its character is built for writing.” And write Dave did; even more so than usual. In fact, no sooner had a Russian gift shoppe owner overheard us at one of the performances Dawn Eden graciously booked us for, and soon afterward secured our signatures upon something which our lawyers guessed could pass as a Melodiya recording contract for “Valentino’s Pirates,” had Dave already written what would become our Dave Rave Conspiracy band’s NEXT album!
Like I said, that muse stubbornly inhabits Dave DesRoches’ very being, as surely in 1989 as it did when I first recognized it powering those Shakers circa 1979. And today, with additional decades under our bridges, that very same “Pirates” album, in its original (if shrunken for digital purposes) packaging – Melodiya objected to any use whatsoever of the word “Conspiracy” coincidentally, or maybe not, which is why said CD still carries the name “Dave Rave GROUP” – is readily available at long last to those living outside of Hamilton and Leningrad’s most discriminating collectors’ corners.
Needless to say expanding then remastering this gem for you all to enjoy anew was quite the experience for me, and even though I may understandably attach quite some emotion and even nostalgia to the endeavor and its halcyon daze, there’s nary one spec of dated-ness to any of the sounds or songs comprising this album, let me tell you. Sure, if my spies still over there are to be believed, the very wartime machinery which once pressed up long-playing slabs of “Valentino’s” vinyl is today being employed to manufacture 12-inch spirals of cheese babka instead, and the very Soviet Union itself has of course long since been replaced by other, um, empires of evil. But I’m so proud to report Valentino’s MUSIC, to say nothing of the thoughtful and always intensely evocative worldviews of Dave the forever Raver, remains as timeless, titillating, and razor-edged as ever.
And that’s the best test of all, isn’t it, if one considers one’s true artistry. I only hope it doesn’t take me ANOTHER decade to hook up with its likes once again!
(PS: and you betcha, “Valentino’s Pirates” by The Dave Rave Group, NOT Conspiracy, can be yours at long last by simply heading straight towards http://www.tomlou.com/rave.html . Now, rather than raving on for another hour or two herein about what this all actually SOUNDS like, maybe you’d better just hear for your very selves. Or, as that terrifying green liquid would say, “Nastrovia!”)