Friday, September 25, 2020



Sting was famously a teacher, something the lyrics, and video, of the Police hit Don't Stand So Close make no small reference to, although surely in fantasy, it seeming hard to imagine any teenage girl being enraptured by the gormless looking Gordon. But this is not about him, this is the other side of the coin. This song is the world of crushes and besottedness, and relates more to the phenomenon of the spotty teenage oik, gazing in slack-jawed awe at the woman of his dreams. Add in the scenario of an all boy school, maybe a boarding school, and you can see how it happens, that teach being, perhaps alongside Matron, the only female form for mile, age and comeliness no hurdle for the bubbling surges of testosterone. And it's actually quite a bit creepier than Sting and co.

At least Danny Adler, onetime guitar jockey for pub-rock stalwarts Roogalator, made no bones about it. An unheralded talent who went largely unlauded then or later, he started off a guitar for hire in Cincinnati, getting gigs with some of the local blues scene talent, folk like Bootsy Collins and Slim Harpo. He later moved to San Francisco, hooking up with further bigger blues names, such as John Lee Hooker and T-Bone Walker. Another packed suitcase had him later being part of Frank Zappa and (later) John Lennon acolytes, Elephant's Memory, in New York. So quite how he came to be in London come 1971 is anyone's guess, other than the wanderlust that had led him to study jazz guitar in Paris.

Roogalator were a classic right band in the wrong time, and they shoulda and coulda, were it not for that timing. Part of the fizzing pub rock scene, where any style of music, whether derived from blues, from country, or from soul could make a name and a living of sorts, provided the sounds were held in sway by a tight rhythm section and the songs were short(ish) and catchy. The stirrings of an antidote to prog, more accomplished and more innovative than the later dawn of punk which, in turn, kicked pub rock off the stage and into the footnotes. And, yes, it's true, many of the denizens of that early 70s movement revived and reinvented themselves as new wave dawned, becoming elder statesmen feted to this day, your Nick Lowes, your Elvis Costellos, Graham Parker even. Not quite so was the lot of Adler, although he was, for a time, part of the studio band set up by Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe, under the names, variously, of the Disco Brothers and the Tartan Horde. Nothing of any great repute came therefrom, but it is interesting to consider what if made the the cut for the band Rockpile, instead than Billy Bremner.

No relation to the similarly London locked harmonica king Larry, or at least I think not, he then retreated to his roots in blues and boogie boogie, next popping up as part of the often Charlie Watts and Jack Bruce helmed collective, Rocket 88. In truth it was probably more the baby of Ian 'Stu' Stewart, the perennial 6th (Rolling) Stone, whose barnstorming piano play was a permanent fixture in their early career, even if his lantern jaw and short hair had him officially sidelined as their roadie. Lured in by the prospect of Watts and Bruce, neither of whom showed, I caught a memorable show by this two pianos and lashings of brass throwback to the 1940s, at Dingwalls Dance Hall, the fabled venue at Camden Lock, London. The nerdy looking guitarist with an astonishing tone was Adler.

After the demise of that project, itself probably accelerated by Stewart's death, Adler became an integral part of another collection of UK jazz and blues veterans, the De Luxe Blues Band, many of whom were seasoned session men from the 60s british blues boom, as indeed was Dick Heckstall-Smith, the ex-Colosseum reedsman, who later joined. Eventually his itchy feet again caught up with him and he returned to the USA. Since that time, the early 1990s, he has been continuing to plough his own idiosyncratic furrow, as well as buffing up his Roogalator and other back catalogues. The featured song for this piece comes from a collection, Hub-cap Heaven, about which I can find little, other than the purchase link below. The song is from 1986, seemingly the album part of a trilogy about early postwar England and America. Maybe. His personal website is intriguingly incomplete, his material, new and archive, seemingly best sourced through Bandcamp, with information via Facebook, as well as sporadic new offerings. Any guess as to whether or how this supplies a living is open to conjecture, but, if it works for him, all power to that.

Hubcap Heaven.

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