These are the earliest known recordings of Robert Quine playing guitar. A tape of him playing bass in a band called the Counterpoints exists, but he would never play it for me because the sax player (who had played on the Caps’ classic Red Headed Flea on White Star) didn’t show up the night of the gig that was taped and Quine hated the tape. These tunes were recorded in May, 1969 when Quine was a member of a band called Bruce’s Farm. The other members were Barry Silverblatt- guitar/lead vocals, Rick Davis- bass/vocals and Bob Clark- drums. Quine is playing guitar and singing harmony. Here’s one of the originals– Backwards. The other original is simply called Blues and is your basic twelve bar blues instrumental with a wild guitar break from Quine. The other twenty songs on the tape are covers of fairly well known tunes– Elvis, Beatles, Stones, Dylan, Hendrix, Kinks, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Carl Perkins are all represented as well as a cool rendition of the Fiestas’ So Fine (done in three part disharmony) along four Byrds covers (Quine loved the Byrds). Here are some highlights– Satisfaction, Feel A Whole Lot Better, Where Have All The Good Times Gone (that’s Quine singing lead on the Kinks cover, I think he sings it better than Bowie did), Blueberry Hill, Walk Away Renee, Revolution, Eight Miles High, and Why. I’ll be posting the other elven tunes in the near future. The sound quality is a bit dodgy, there are some drop outs, static, etc. but that’s to be expected from a cassette recording of a gig from forty one years ago. To my ears, the most astounding thing is that you can hear just how much Quine had already developed his unique style by ’69. The only real difference is the heavy use of the wah wah pedal on some tunes. I believe this is the tape Quine played for Richard Hell when they first talked about putting the Voidoids together. It came to me from Barry Silverblatt who was the leader of the band and can be heard playing guitar and doing most of the singing. Barry and Quine kept in touch over the years, they talked nearly every week until the end of Quine’s life. You can hear Barry’s voice on the Velvet Underground Quine Tapes box set. If you listen closely when Lou announces from the stage that Sister Ray “is gonna go on for awhile”, you hear him laugh and mumble something to Quine (it’s the version of Sister Ray recorded in St. Louis). If you haven’t already, you can read my recollections of a 25 year friendship with Quine here. For the last recordings Quine made before his (I believe assisted) 2004 suicide, click here. It’s almost seven years since Quine took a powder, and not a day goes by when I don’t think of him.
Getting back to the music, from this tape we can see that Quine’s style changed more in the last year of his life (when he switched from the Stratocaster to the Telecaster and stopped using the whammy bar) than it had in the previous thirty years. Historically, this tape is a real gem, thanks Barry, you too are a gem. In my first Quine posting I talk about a band Quine told me he had in St. Louis called the Garbage Vendors. Barry, who knew Quine from that time assures me that Quine was yanking my crank with that one. Now that I think about it, it makes sense. Although he did show me picture of himself with three black guys, there were no instruments or anything in the shot, they could have been anyone. I’d love to believe that story, but the more I think about it, the more it sounds like it was made up especially for my ears.
BTW, Quine’s cousin Tim Quine has a blog– Rubber City Review which has a posting about Quine up this week.