Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Ray Crabtree Calling

The Reverend heard from Ray Crabtree of the White Animals this afternoon, calling in response to my comments in the recent "Never In Nashville" post. Ray wanted to correct some of the mistakes that I had made in the blog entry and clarify some of the things that he is quoted as saying in the Nashville Scene's "Never In Nashville" article.

First of all, I incorrectly characterized Ray as a "publicist" when, in fact, he closed his publicity business three or four years ago. Ray is currently a stay-at-home-dad for three kids, a full-time job if ever there was one. Ray still plays music as part of "Nashville's Premiere 3-Car Garage Band," the 1969 Band, along with his former White Animals' bandmate Rich Parks.

Ray isn't too happy with the "Never In Nashville" article, stating that he was misquoted by Scene music editor Tracy Moore. Some of the things Ray is quoted as saying were supposed to be off-the-record, or else they were taken out of context by Moore. He expressed to me that his comments in the story might seem like he was saying bad things about the Scorchers or that he didn't like the band, when nothing could be further from the truth. What Ray was really trying to express was how the Scorchers shook up the Music Row country music establishment at the time and that the national attention the band brought to Nashville's rock music scene was good for everybody, the White Animals included.

As for the White Animals, it has long been my contention that the band was always good enough to get signed to a major label. They had an exciting live show, an undeniable musical chemistry, solid songwriting and their music translated well to record. The White Animals didn't sound like anybody else that I remember from the era and that probably held them back as much as it helped them. Listening to the fine 3,000 Nights In Babylon CD compilation, the band's music has held up incredibly well through the years and still sounds vibrant, fresh and exciting.

Considering the horror stories that I've heard from some of the local Nashville bands (and other bands that I've known) that did get major label deals back in the day, the White Animals are probably lucky that they didn't get signed to a label. Hell, I remember Michael Dean of Bomb telling me how Warner Music dropped the band mid-tour, when they were broke, hungry and cold and stuck in the middle of Iowa or somewhere. Considering what the White Animals accomplished -- half a dozen solid, rockin' self-released albums -- I'd say that the band did pretty good by not setting themselves up to get screwed by a label.

Thanks to Ray for setting the record straight. I look forward to speaking with him again in the future to document some of his rock & roll memories for "The Other Side Of Nashville" project.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep, those of us who were habitues of Cantrell's on its more arty/punky nights would never brag about attending a WA show, but I've got to say I enjoyed them live and bought and enjoyed most of their recordings. Call them a guilty pleasure if you will, but some of our greatest rock music has come from frat-rock (sorry if that term offends WA) bands. In any case, their music was more "out there" than most powerpop bands now or then (i.e. Boots). And many kudos for them for going the indie route, for whatever reasons they did.

As for the "rivalry" with the Scorchers, I think that it's a natural tendency to see competition where there is only a difference in styles.

David M

12:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, now I'm really afraid to read that article.

Hell, they didn't even e-mail me. And this after I jumped ship to The Scene right after Brian Mansfield. hrmph.

And who the fuck is Wally Bangs? I can only assume that he never read The Metro during my tenure, aka "the other non-sucky period."

2:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oops. Forgot to say thank you for complimenting my work on the ol' rag. Rude!

Funny about the Cantrell's hanger-outers. Musta been nice. I was so broke, I used to wonder if newsprint could add bulk to my diet in a pinch.

2:14 PM  
Blogger Wally Bangs said...

I've got a box in my attic with just about every Metro ever published. And oddly enough I read them, even when it was about Whyte Lace. I never said that the magazine sucked completely - it just depended on the individual issue's content. There was great writing to be found in any era of its life. I just personally preferred the era when Tom Wood and crew had staged their takeover or whatever.

9:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks of course for all the kind words sent in our direction over the years – I offer a few comments from my WA perspective on the Nashville Scene --- I just gotta take issue with your statement that the WA were “jealous” of the Scorchers’ record deal. Is the team that loses the Super Bowl “jealous” of the winning team?? I say no -- angry, frustrated, heartbroken, stunned for starters, but jealous is at once both too strong and yet inadequate as a descriptor...

So anyway on to the Scene --- in our embryonic days, when WA was just me and Rob Jackson, esq., [note - Rob already had a background in “club-opening” with Mississippi Whiskers – named after a Phil Doss poem. Doss – who was our 1st bassist – was the mgr, while Rob put together the Full Circle Band as the house band to get the club going, the band signed, fame and fortune for all in the best Nashville tradition] WE went down to Herr Harry’s Franks n Steins – a dark and dingy little pub for music row nooner trysts 2 blocks from my apt – and persuaded Harry to try music. WE got “discovered” by the Vandy Law school, and before long the place was packed every weekend, Harry moved out the old Volkswagen-sized big screen TV, and was having bands play on weekdays. Along the way Rob and I added Doss and Joe Loftis, OFA, and the WA “Frankensteins” crowd got so packed and out of hand that WE began casting about for alternative places to play, and after the Olde Tyme Pickin’ Parlour proved too seedy, WE lucked upon the Burger Boy “expansion” 1 block from my apt. Apparently noting Harry’s success, the long-time mgr had put up a cinder block side bldg lined with sawmill log trash that he was gonna call Kickers or some such – they had picnic tables with red-checked tablecloths and some nasty fake-hurricane drinks served in boot-shaped glasses. WE opened the place on NYE to a devoted if bewildered and semi-sparse crowd – and that was the nite Rob quit the band, citing “creative differences” – I believe this was now 1/1/81 dawning --- we added Nashville superpicker Willie Drew Collins, were contacted by Dave Cannon asking to manage us and getting us into the Bluebird on a trial basis as the Monday “ROCK NITE” house band for 2 months to hone our “new” lineup – Despite the regular presence of Don Shlitz [fresh off “The Gambler” acclaim] and other West-side celebs, the powers that be decided that Animalism was waaaaaaaaaay too strong for the Bluebird and the club returned to the present-day format – meanwhile, Terry Cantrell had bought out Burger Boy and so WE opened Cantrell’s – and remained for months as the regular weekend house band, leaving only when Tony Moon began to get us Campus gigs across the SEC thereby spreading the WA gospel far and wide ---- So… WA broke ground and paved the way for others to follow, and did it all in a DIY spirit of musical joy – there was NO DOUBT in our minds that WE would keep on rising up to that big record contract in the sky and that folks around Music City would all say “Dang – those are some good boys – they made this whole scene so nice for all of us and we’re shore glad to see them have the success they worked so long and hard for…” Except it never happened that way and history is indeed written by the winners – and sadly it seems WE are not actually relevant to the condensed summary evolution of the Nashville Scene. A pity --- folks forget that there was a lot of harmony, and so it would have been nice to at least have a level playing field – with contracts for all, Stones trying to knock pals Beatles or Who off the #1 chart spot. WE learned too late that show biz is not a meritocracy and maybe somewhere my own unwillingness to abandon medicine for a career in music doomed us as much as anything – always looking over my shoulder, waiting for the clock to strike midnite and the fun police to come and take me away. BTW – MY favorite local band of all that time was The Actuals, though they only played about 3 gigs before exploding – leaving me with only my Young Nashvillian records as consolation… xoxoxo

Kevin Gray

10:02 AM  
Blogger Rev. Keith A. Gordon said...

Actually, the White Animals are "relevant" to the "evolution" of the Nashville rock scene and the band's importance will be reflected in the book. As I've written before, the White Animals have always been one of my fave Nashville bands...I own every WA LP, every CD and even a 7" or two (probably bought most of 'em, too!). Rest assured, Kevin, the White Animals will find a hallowed place in the "Other Side Of Nashville" book and discography.

8:39 PM  

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