Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Blondie's Jimmy Destri Rides Again!

This one will probably only appeal to the hardcore Blondie fans who read my site -- we know Anthony's not one of them -- but the band's legendary (former) keyboard player made a triumphant return to the stage Saturday night at Joe's Pub, and I'm so glad I was able to cut out of a late-starting gay wedding I was at to catch his set. The second I heard the opening drum licks to "Bad Dreams" -- the lead track off his underappreciated 1981 solo (and sole) album, "Heart on a Wall" -- I knew I was in for a treat, but then it got even better. From there, he did an assortment of Blondie songs that he penned -- Blondiephiles know that he was the wonderful George Harrison to Debbie and Chris' Lennon-McCartney -- beginning with "Accidents Never Happen" ("They will happen quite a bit tonight, we didn't rehearse!" he joked before the band ate the beat a number of times), "I Didn't Have the Nerve to Say No" (one of several songs he had vocal assistance by a cute Lea Michele look- and soundalike named Janet LaBelle), "Fan Mail" (frequently cited as my FAVORITE Blondie song!), and "Atomic," which he gave a shout-out to Nigel Harrison (whose famous bass line makes the song) before starting (both Nigel and Frank Infante were seated near us -- a veritable Discarded Blondie Members Hall of Fame).

He played three new songs I've heard via the Web before -- details HERE -- then closed the show with my favorite solo song of his, "My Little World." (More about that in a second.)

The packed crowd demanded an encore -- Jimmy's wife Robbie had done a great job getting the word out about the premiere gig of Jimmy Destri and the Sound Grenade -- so back out they came, and after claiming they had nothing else up their sleeves, gave "Call Me" a shot. Janet's microphone didn't want to work, but it was fun hearing Jimmy imitate (in a very thick Italian accent) how Giorgio Moroder approached him back in '80 and asked him if he could make various sounds he had in mind for the "American Gigolo" classic.

Afterward I briefly spoke to Mrs. Destri -- she's a fun one, danced throughout the show and even got the crowd up during "Atomic" as her hubby "begged" her to sit down! -- before running into Jimmy on my way back to the bathroom. He was as nice as could be -- no Rock and Roll Hall of Fame attitude here, and he looks damn good for pushing 60 -- posing for a photo and answering all of my fanboy questions. He said he's given up hope of "Heart on a Wall" ever getting a digital release (his wife told me Chrysalis says the tapes were lost, Jimmy says they claim it didn't sell -- so he's focusing on making new music -- yet he sees the LP traded in at record stores everywhere he goes), but more than anything I wanted to know the identity of the small boy singing at the end of "My Little World," someone I calculated would be about 35 now. (Ouch.) Without missing a beat, he explained that it was one of producer Michael Kamen's daughters (oops! not sure which one, Sasha and Zoe are listed online) who was hanging out in the studio and started singing along to the song's "You can follow me" refrain. Moments before, he had dedicated the song to "the great Michael Kamen who died way too young," but I only realized how "big" the "Heart on a Wall" producer was -- and that he had died -- when I got home. It's always been my favorite part of the song -- when Jimmy sweetly says back, "Where you going? Where do you wanna go?" -- it's one of those moments that you couldn't write better.

Here's hoping this is just the beginning for Jimmy Destri and the Sound Grenade. With so many other great credits to his name -- "No Imagination," "Kidnapper," Picture This," "11:59," "Slow Motion," "Walk Like Me," "Angels on the Balcony," "Do the Dark, to name a few -- I wouldn't have the nerve to say no to a chance to see them again. (Learn more about the new band HERE.)

1 comment:

Robbie Destri said...

Kenneth, thanks so much for this review. I am so hoping you had a great time. I know I did. Robbie Jean The dancing Queen.....

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