"It's well crazy," said ex-Brinsley Schwarzer Nick Lowe. "But it'll be one in the eye for the Bizness if it works out." countered Jake Riviera, one time tour manager with Dr. Feelgood, famed bon viveur and journalist basher.
What were these two Closing Time Companions talking about? Why, Jake's very own record label, of course, and its first single — Nick Lowe's "So It Goes," reviewed on page 22 — which is scheduled for release at the end of this month.
"We're calling it 'Stiff Records: the most flexible label in the world' and the policy will be very simple indeed," Jake told me when I inadvertently stumbled upon a Stiff business meeting in United Artists West End office last week. "Basically speaking we want to put out singles that are two and a half minutes long and have got two and a half chords in them. It'll all be very esoteric."
And Jake Riviera and UA Press Officer Andy Childs collapsed in laughter at the very thought.
Mind you, from name and logo to music and manners, Jake wants Stiff to be out of the ordinary and a bundle of fun. That's why various members of Dr Feelgood themselves are among those prepared to foot the bill when Stiff starts to indulge in its own musical fantasies and whims.
Plans are afoot to unearth bits of everything from unreleased Chilli Willi And The Red Hot Peppers material and brand new Nick Lowe songs to tapes Paul McCartney made of Brinsley Schwarz when they were on the Wings tour in '73 and some tracks by the original pub rock band Americans Eggs Over Easy.
A friendly little bunch of acts, well loved by Londoners wherever they may be. But, to be honest, are obsolete bar bands really commercial enough to launch Stiff as a successful record label?
"There's a much larger market there than you might think, especially as we're hoping to be distributed through the specialist shops like Bizarre Records or Rock On. But Nick's songs are very good indeed, and if 'Truth Drug' gets the reviews and the airplay it deserves Stiff will start straight off with a hit."
Chart successes or no, there'll be more on Stiff than mere music to patch your Levis by, if Jake gets his way. While the Feelgoods lapped up the sun on the Laurel Canyon estate then rented from ex-Byrds Skip Battin, Mr Riviera (formerly known as Jakeman) was out on the town doing business.
"We met Clover (a San Francisco band well loved by fanzines ZigZag and Omaha Rainbow) and I'm now in charge of their European activities. They haven't had a record deal for some time, so we're working on that for Stiff. Then there's a strong possibility Richard Hell (one-time bass-player for New York punksters Television) will come over to do some sessions with Nick and Tim Roper, the old Ducks Deluxe drummer."
Last but not least Jake is trying for a lead on Jonathan Richman's "Modern Lovers," whose album was glowingly reviewed by Giovanni Dadomo in these very pages a fortnight ago. Riviera met Matthew Kaufman, who runs the Beserkley and Home of the Hits labels (upon which Richman albums have appeared), when the Feelgoods entourage were in LA. The two of them, and singer Lee Brilleaux went to the Troubadour to talk business. Jake discovered that Kaufman had deleted the "Modern Lovers" to clear the air for a solo album Jonathan [text not visible in scan]
"I told him I was certain there is a market of 'The Modern Lovers' in Britain and I think we were close to an agreement," grinned Jake. "But we all got very drunk indeed and had a fight with Stevie Wonder's manager. I know me and Matthew shook hands and I think both of us were in too much of a daze to remember what sort of deal we made. But, as soon as he's back in his office in San Francisco, I'm going to give him a ring and see what's happening"
Until then watch out for the startlingly tacky black and white stickers. And remember, from such small beginnings... It seems likely that a lot of things on the world most flexible record label
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