Lyn Jensen's Blog: Manga, Music, and Politics

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Location: Anaheim, California, United States

Regular contributor ("Carson City Limits" and other content) for Random Lengths (circulation 56,000) in San Pedro, CA, 2001-present. Manga reviewer: LA Alternative (circulation 150,000), 2005-2006. Some manga reviews also ran in NY Press around this time. Entertainment reporting: Music Connection (circulation 75,000), 1983-1906. Travel writing: Oakland Tribune (1998) and Life After 50 (2006). Other bylines: Goldmine, Star Hits, Los Angeles Reader, Los Angeles Times, Long Beach Press Telegram, Blade, BAM, Daily Breeze, LA Weekly. Specializations include community news reporting, writing reviews (book, theater, concert, film, music), copywriting, resumes, editing, travel writing, publicity, screenwriting, lecturing, and content development. Education: B. A. Theater Arts, UCLA. Post-grad work, Education, Chapman University.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Something Changed My Life: Doug Fieger and Exude at Radio City, 11/26/1982

Strange how life happens:  I liked the Knack until they broke up in late '81 or early '82 and then I checked out lead singer Doug Fieger's brief attempt to launch a solo career.  He played Radio City in Anaheim in 1982 and I went to see him.  His opening act was Exude, who I've boosted, publicized, worked for, and been a fan of ever since.  Frank Rogala remains one of my best friends to this day, and it would never have happened if I didn't get the Knack in the first place. 
I wrote a review of the Radio City show that never got published, but I'm sharing it here for the little corner of rock history it chronicles:

Whether you like the Knack depends on whether on not you like Doug Fieger, his talent and just plain chutzpah were what made the group.  (BTW his name's pronounced with a hard g.) As every LA rock scene-watcher knows by now, the Knack is no longer together, leading some to cheer but the band's fans to cry. 
Knack fans will now have to be content with Doug Fieger as a solo act, and to find out what that means, I saw him, with his five backing musicians called Taking Chances, at Radio City, Anaheim, Friday, Nov. 26 [1982].
Fieger insists he's doing things different now (hence, the name Taking Chances).  This new band has a synthesizer and two (two!) drummers, but the only thing they do is muddle the rhythms and obscure Fieger's normally strong clear voice.  The instantly recognizable beat of "My Sharona" isn't so instantly recognizable anymore. The entire set could have benefitted from sparser arrangements.
The best was last, a run of songs that began with "She's So Selfish," then the intriging choice of Bob Dylan's "You're Gonna Have to Serve Somebody," a solo refrain of "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry," and finally "Sharona" with the familiar (to Knack fans) "Give it to me now" routine that spins off from the instrumental break.
What Fieger's really taking chances with is not so much his music but his public image. With his new career phase he can quit being the powerpop superstar with the smirk and just begin anew as a mainstream rock singer. He has some of Mick Jagger's showmanship, along with some of punk's edge. His powerful stage presence can make an hour seem like a minute. He plays his guitar often and moves much. The pants are shock-red, the tee shirt's torn, one Beatle-like high-heeled boot sports chains and the frontman wears stage rouge and eyeliner. He could in some ways be called the Mick Jagger of the LA powerpop scene.
Against that level of headline act, the supporting acts, local bands called Exude and Stage One, couldn't compete.  Exude in particular needs a better break. Fieger wasn't the only singer suffering from muddy vocals. Exude's Frank Rogala had the same problem. Neither group's vocals allowed us to get into their songs.

Actually I found Frank to be a very distinctive singer in his own right, and thus began a major part of my rock 'n' roll life that has no ending.