James Harman needs our help. (Icepick’s Story 2021)

Posted in related music with tags , , , , , , , on January 4, 2021 by J.J.

In a parallel universe, James Harman is a superstar.

An in-demand artiste who plays command performances for kings and queens. A poet laureate whose lyrics are studied in college courses. A giving mentor and bandleader whose roots have grown the fruits of generations of musicians. A vocalist whose records stop all diner conversation when the needle hits his latest song.

But in this here-and-now, James Harman — blues raconteur extraordinaire — is 74, without the means to earn a living, and beginning chemotherapy for Stage 4 cancer.

Harman is not a household name — unless your household is real hip. Those who know, know.

To the true believers of “The Red Devils, Lester Butler and California’s (and beyond’s) blues, rock and roots music,” James Harman is the Godfather.

Some of this is by talent, and some of it is by proximity. Harman is one of those threads of connective cool from his native Alabama, to the post-Woodstock Canned Heat California scene, to Big Joe Turner, Hollywood Fats, MTV, ZZ Top and a touring schedule in the 1990s that rivaled any act on the planet (“She wrapped my sandwich, boy, in an old road map”).

Harman has always surrounded himself with whipcrack musicians, and entire James Harman Band lineups have gone on to form or evolve into other killer bands, from The Blasters (Phil Alvin and Bill Bateman were early bandmates, as was Gene Taylor), to The Fabulous Thunderbirds (whose early ‘90s incarnation was a literal James Harman Band with Kim Wilson) to Lester Butler’s various 13s.

His most well-known ensemble was the early 1980s version of the James Harman Band … Those Dangerous Gentlemens: Hollywood Fats, Kid Ramos, Willie J. Campbell and the incomparable Stephen Hodges on drums (you might know Hodges from the Tom Waits band). Yes, Hollywood Fats and Kid Ramos in one lineup, under the direction of one James Harman.

Recommended: Extra Napkins, Strictly Live … in ’85!, Thank You Baby, Those Dangerous Gentlemens

James Harman, The Blasters, X, The (original) Red Devils, Top Jimmy and the Rhythm Pigs, Canned Heat, Dwight Yoakam, Tom Waits, Los Lobos and many others shared common DNA, even if each leaned on nurture more than nature (punk rockabilly, experimental roots … or “American music”).

Harman would tell you (and has told me and my pals) that he is not a harmonica player. He is a singer and a songwriter who uses the harmonica when needed to tell his stories. And those stories are clever and compact in a way that demonstrates the craft and care he puts into his art. His musical ethos align more closely with artists and outsiders such as Waits and Los Lobos than the average “Tuesday bluesday” crowd — even though he gets the job done down behind that city dump, presiding over a real blues party.

Continue reading

11 favorite moments on ‘King King’

Posted in red devils with tags , on December 13, 2020 by J.J.

Having lived with “King King” for the last 28 years, I believe I know this record better than any other I’ve heard. It gets at least one annual “I’m obsessed with this” turn in the car or earbuds, not to mention all of the other times it crops up on various playlists.

We all have our favorite songs from “King King,” but let’s get really specific. What are your favorite moments from The Red Devils’ album — those little details that make this record one of our favorites? Not necessarily musical moments, but all the elements that add up to a one-of-a-kind record.

Fortunately, “King King” is chock full of those moments. Here are some of my favorites (today):

Automatic (0:00): Yes, the very beginning of the record. The tuning check, the short snare roll … what other album begins like that? It’s a last-ammo inventory before Lester Butler’s harp lick, right in the pocket. Besides, how many cover versions of “Automatic” have you heard that start with this same (unnecessary) preamble?

She’s Dangerous (0:36): Let’s give a shoutout to piano man Gene Taylor, who is buried deep in the mix on “King King.” “Dangerous” is one of the key tracks where Taylor’s piano is audible and essential. His triplets elevate “Dangerous” from blooz-rock to the blues. You take it for granted, but you would miss it if it weren’t there. (And check that piano at 2:33, too, leading into Paul Size’s deep “Still A Fool” riff.)

Read more after the jump …

Continue reading

Video: Ride With the Devils Tonight

Posted in red devils with tags , , , , , on November 27, 2020 by J.J.

It’s Black Friday in the United States today, but No Fightin’ brings you some rare, unheard Red Devils for free. “Ridin’ in the Moonlight,” “Ride With Your Daddy Tonight,” “Pretty Baby” … whatever you call it, it’s The Red Devils Live at the King King club in Hollywood, California, 28 years ago, Nov. 30, 1992. (Video courtesy Mike Flanigin)

WATCH THIS: “Dangerous” at the King King 1992 AND THAT: Video: Red Devils live at King King Nov. 30, 1992

Rick Rubin: ‘I hope Mick Jagger/Red Devils comes out’

Posted in red devils with tags , , on February 16, 2020 by J.J.

With the recent reissue of Mick Jagger’s four solo albums on 180 gram vinyl, it’s time again for everyone to lament that the Mick Jagger/Red Devils 1992 blues sessions have still not been issued officially.

Everyone including Jagger’s producer.

“It’s incredible, (but) it’s up to Mick,” Rick Rubin said in an Ultimate Classic Rock story from 2016. “He’s the artist. … He gets to do what he wants to do. But it’s great, and I hope it comes out.”

Red-Devils-with-Mike-Jagger-from-late-last-century

Legendary producer Rubin had success with everyone from the Beastie Boys to Johnny Cash to Slayer to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. But outside of “King King,” it seemed he was snakebit when it came to the Red Devils (the band’s aborted second Def American album, unreleased Cash sessions, and the often-bootlegged Jagger recordings were all helmed by Rubin).

The blues session was recorded in June 1992 during the making of Jagger’s third solo record, 1993’s “Wandering Spirit.” Since then, just one song, “Checkin’ Up On My Baby,” has been officially released from those tapes.

And while the Red Devils session has taken on mythic proportions in Jagger lore, the forgettable “Wandering Spirit” is out again 27 years later, on two 180 gram LPs, with no bonus tracks.

Bill Bateman: ‘Do I remember any of it? Hell no!’

Posted in bill bateman with tags , , , on January 12, 2020 by J.J.

“William Raymond Bateman. Born in the city of Orange …”

A great, 10-minute interview with Bill Bateman gives a rare chance to hear from the legendary drummer in his own words, voice and cadence.

Though recorded on Nov. 9, 2015, for the documentary “Tales of the American,” the Bateman interview video was only uploaded to YouTube a couple of months ago.

The full documentary tells the story of The American, L.A.’s first black hotel that, during the 20th century, became a gathering ground for the city’s artists, musicians, poets, writers and other characters. (Bateman ticks a couple of those boxes.)

Though The Red Devils are not mentioned, there is plenty to love in this interview vid. A quick rundown:

  • Gigging with Edwin Starr
  • “The Phil and Bill Show”
  • Hessians MC in the crowd
  • “Everybody watched the freaks, the Alvin brothers.”
  • Circle Jerks, Black Flag and Fear
  • Checking out the legendary Frank Frost
  • Mario Melendez and the King King
  • Grand World Class Drum-A-Thon: DJ Bonebrake + Bill Bateman + John Densmore
  • The Blasters: “It’s a family.”

You don’t need me to sell you on this video. Watch the Bateman video below or on YouTube.

Check out “Tales of the American” on Amazon Prime, Google Play, YouTube, iTunes, Xbox and Vudu.

Paul Size, the guitarist and the guitar

Posted in paul size with tags , , on November 4, 2018 by J.J.

Photo by Tina Hanagan

You can’t be an “underrated” guitar player if everyone who hears you play is blown away.

Paul Size might be underground, but he is never underrated.

The mighty Rev. Billy F. Gibbons again touts The Red Devils’ guitarist, this time in a Music Radar story, “The 10 Guitarists Who Blew My Mind”:

8. Paul Size: “This next block I’d like to give to the guitar players from a band called The Red Devils. Paul ‘The Kid’ Size on guitar, he had this real angry Strat, Stevie Ray Vaughan kind of tone. He would do this thing where he’d play a blues lick at speed and then all of sudden quicken the pace before anyone could see it coming.

“Then there was Dave Lee Bartel, a wonderful rhythm player, and Mike Flanigin who despite being known for the Hammond, started off as a guitarist! A lot of people have underrated his guitar work because he’s become so accomplished on the Hammond B3. That’s the sound of Texas meeting California.

Gibbons rounds out his Devils love with a shout-out to former James Harman Band guitarist Hollywood Fats.

Here is his full top 10:

  1. Van Wilks
  2. Jimmie Vaughan
  3. Jimmy Page
  4. Jeff Beck
  5. Hubert Sumlin
  6. Eric Johnson
  7. Andres Segovia
  8. Paul Size
  9. Jimi Hendrix
  10. Mystery No. 10

Last summer, Gibbons gifted The Red Devils’ guitarists with custom-made Devil guitars that the boys used all summer as the opening act on ZZ Top’s European “Tonnage” tour.

Courtesy @reddevilsmusic Instagram

Size recently posted on his Facebook (since deleted) that he was entertaining offers for this rare guitar — commissioned by one of the greats, played by one of the greats on an earth-shaking reunion tour.

Interested? Reach out to Paul Size on Facebook.

The Devils behind Jagger’s ‘great lost album’

Posted in Uncategorized on July 8, 2018 by J.J.

The greatest music never sold. The greatest album you’ll never hear. The greatest band you’ve never heard.

Add “The Great Lost Jagger Album” to the retellings of The Red Devils’ ill-fated 1992 blues recordings with Mick Jagger.

That’s the story inside the special Jagger “collector’s edition” of Rolling Stone magazine, out on U.S. newsstands this month in honor of the head Stone’s 75th birthday.

Though the two-page story by Andy Greene doesn’t trod any new ground — Paul Size didn’t know who Jagger was; Jonny Ray Bartel thought the band would be replaced by session musicians; Jerry Hall might have been there, but definitely smelled good — the story is unique within the magazine itself: It seems to be the only fresh material in the collectors’ special.

Continue reading

Can a record change your life?

Posted in red devils with tags , , , , on August 13, 2017 by J.J.

“Can you believe we are really here?”

That was our theme throughout our European adventure.

“Can you believe we are in this hotel room with Paul Size?” “Can you believe we are watching ZZ Top in this tennis area?” “Can you believe we are in the middle-of-nowhere, England?” “Can you believe we are in the Borderline?”

Can you believe The Red Devils are back?

There was a moment, watching The Red Devils from the side of the stage in Dublin’s 3Arena, performing to thousands of music fans, that it really hit home: I have been listening to this band for 25 years.

Would “young J.J.,” at 20 years old on July 28, 1992, hearing The Red Devils for the first time, immediately buying the disc, and putting it on heavy rotation all that summer, really believe he would be here in Ireland with the band? And 25 years to the day, no less — 28 Jul 2017.

Continue reading

Souvenirs, the week after

Posted in red devils with tags , , , , on August 6, 2017 by J.J.

We are still unpacking suitcases (and our brains, a little bit) a week after seeing The Red Devils for the first time in 25 years.

Here are some of the scraps and souvenirs we brought back.

Chasing the Devils’ Tale: Tour dispatches from Europe (parts 1-7)

Posted in red devils with tags , , , , , , on July 30, 2017 by J.J.

Nofightin.com is following The Red Devils on tour through Europe, whether they like it or not. Come here for our dispatches from every show as we go. Words and others by J.J. Perry; tour photography by Tina Hanagan

ZZ ROOFTOP (Show 1: Stimmen Festival, Lorrach, Germany 21.7.17)

I wrote about The Red Devils show earlier. But here is what didn’t happen onstage.

Hundreds and hundreds of fans (an organizer told us capacity is 5,000) crammed into the old marketplace square, an intersection of several streets where the stage was set. Stimmen is a several-week festival, with an eclectic lineup (the day after ZZ was a performance by Grace Jones).

After the Devils’ set, we muscled through an elbow-to-ass crowd to a hotel bar for beers. We met Paul Size when he came down for a refill and he invited us up to his room where, from two large open windows, we could watch ZZ Top’s set.

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: