Little Steven's Underground Garage column, produced exclusively for Billboard. The charts are a combination of airplay from the Underground Garage format and coolness.The Charms out of Boston grab the coolest song in the world this week.
Voted coolest new band by the Underground Garage listeners a few years ago (their fourth release "Strange Magic" will be out Nov. 21) their career is instructive as to how a new traditional rock'n'roll band survives in a hip-hop/pop-driven hard rock world. Interestingly, so far, new school has been old school: Their philosophy has been to release consistently great records and perform consistently great shows and eventually radio and record sales will catch up. That is the philosophy that Frank Barsalona and his Premier Talent Agency had and how he built the business we're all in. He did it with the Who, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band and U2. Emphasizing live performances over having "hits" was a radical and innovative idea at the time. It will be interesting to see if consistent greatness can still win over a fragmented and distracted audience.
In other news, the nine nominees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame are the Dave Clark Five, R.E.M., Van Halen, the Stooges, Patti Smith, Chic, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Joe Tex and the Ronettes. I wish all nine would go in. That's all I'm gonna say.
Speaking of the Hall, three out of the four essential punk bands are in (the Dead Boys will get in when I'm buying Stiv Bators a drink in rock'n'roll purgatory), and there is a special fabulous Clash exhibit you do not want to miss running until April 15. You can't beat Cleveland for the holidays is what I always say!
And, finally, a note to Rosalie Druyan who filed a $51 million class-action lawsuit accusing the Stones of fraud and acting in bad faith for postponing their Oct. 27 Atlantic City, N.J., show until Nov. 17. She's upset about the late cancellation costing her the hotel bill.
Now Rosalie, a few things.
First of all, I've stayed in some nice hotel rooms in my time but $51 million? That must include some serious room service!
Secondly, I respectfully suggest you consider that these guys don't need to tour anymore. Trust me, their rent is paid. They do it because they love it and because they love you. They're not postponing dates for any reason other than they had to. Since they don't need to be there in the first place, what else makes sense?
If it's all about the hotel bill, you've definitely got a point. If the hotel was the Borgata, the guys promoting the concert, knowing them like I do, I guarantee they will reimburse you for the room. And if by some chance they won't, I will.
So please take this into consideration. Our courts are busy enough, and we shouldn't let this magnificent tour end on such a negative note. Don't take it so personal!
See you on the radio.
COOLEST GARAGE SONGS
1. "So Romantic," the Charms
2. "Dance Like a Monkey," New York Dolls
3. "Ridin' the Hook," Spongebob & the Hi-Seas
4. "Wreck This Heart," Bob Seger
5. "Stranger in the House," the Paybacks
6. "Wanna" The Stabilisers
7. "Never Gonna Die," The Shys
8. "Pink Cadillac," Jerry Lee Lewis With Bruce Springsteen
9. "It's Not About What I Want (It's What You Got)," the Woggles
10. "Punkrocker," Teddybears