July 12, 2007

brian [Brian:] “Good evening and welcome to this special Goodboys Nation edition of Booknotes. I’m Brian Lamb, your host. Tonight we welcome acclaimed author Victor N. Cugini, who has written a truly forgettable book about one of America’s most inconsequential and long-forgotten garage bands, Top Priority. The book is called, “The Band That Never Changed Rock: A Definitive History of Top Priority”, soon to be published by Permanent Press, and soon to be excerpted in installments right here at Goodboys Nation weblog. Welcome, Mr. Cugini.”

VC: “Good evening, Brian. Thank you for having me.”

BL: “To start with, why did you write this book?”

VC: “Well, the book was actually planned for more than a decade ago. My houseplants were in desperate need of a good dusting, and my mother had locked me down in the basement with only three days worth of rations. It was just me, a bedstand, and my trusty Commodore 64. I was originally planning on using the time to write a major 150,00 word treatise on the sociological significance of that old TV show, ‘My Mother The Car’, but I couldn’t get anything started beyond the words, ‘Who cares?’. I was thinking about trying another subject equally as nonsenical and inconsequential when all of a sudden, I remembered a backyard rehearsal I had attended years ago by this band called Top Priority – it mighta been back in 1977 – and the story came to life right before my eyes. I intended to call the book, ‘Who Cares?’, but then, while tranferring the file from my 2 Mb hard drive to a 5 1/4″ floppy, the Commodore froze, mom called me upstairs to take some pork chops out of the refrigerator, and I forgot all about the story.

“Fast forward to this year. One day, a package arrived on my doorstep with three beat-up cassette tapes labeled ‘Top Priority’ inside – nothing more. Well, I put the first one on, and was amazed to hear Top Priority playing their non-hit “The Boucher Shuffle” at what must have been a poorly-attended dance at some school or wedding or something. It rekindled my desire to find out who the heck these guys were, and I knew I had to write this book. I knew why they were and are still forgotten; I just felt it necessary to tell their story, since I knew no one else would.”

BL: Why did you choose Goodboys Nation weblog as a vehicle for excerpting your book?

VC: “While doing research on Top Priority, I came to discover that one of its members (the bassist, in fact), Doug Richard, a.k.a. ‘The Great White Shank’ had this weblog, and after playing phone tag with him for three and a half months and just missing him twice at his local Fry’s – once he avoided me by slipping underneath a large table of watermelons in the produce section – I convinced him this was a story that needed to be told. He disagreed, but then realized his annual golf tournament was coming up in mid-July and that, rather than blog while he’s out golfing and boozing it up with his fellow Goodboys, it would be better to allow me to post my excerpts as a kind of world-premiere, if you will, which he subsequently and unenthusiastically agreed to.”

BL: What can readers of this weblog look forward to in this four-part series?

VC: “Oh, I lay it all out – the entire tawdry history of Top Priority. Their beginnings, their endings, the albums they never released, the support from the public they never earned or deserved, everything. They were a garage band – actually, more appropriately, a cellar band – that never accomplished much beyond playing a number of poorly-paid and fairly well received weddings and dances. Nevertheless, they had a story that needed and deserved to be told, and that’s what I will do in this series.”

BL: Your thoughts on their musical legacy…

VC: “…There’s a moment on one of the tapes – I forget exactly which one it is – where the band is playing a party. Because the people are eating, the group is playing various easy-listening fare such as Olivia Newton-John’s ‘Let Me Be There’ and The Beatles’ ‘Yesterday’ as instrumentals when, all of a sudden, the people at the party finish eating, and the band kicks into their Top 40 repertoire, starting with the Bay City Rollers‘ ‘Saturday Night’. The band plays it well, the people applaud, if not enthusiastically, then politely. To me, this defines the essence of what Top Pririty actually was, and all of a sudden you just get it; you realize that this is a band that was, and that there’s a story there that doesn’t really need to be told. And I think, that’s what makes the story both irresistible and intriguing.”

BL: Victor N. Cugini, congratulations on your new book, and we’ll look forward to your four-part series on these pages starting a week from Friday.

VC: “Thank you, Brian, and Goodboys Nation weblog, for having me.”

(Victor N. Cugini’s four-part series, “The Band That Never Changed Rock: The Definitive History of Top Priority”, begins here at Goodboys Nation weblog starting Friday, July 20th.)

BTW, my latest post over at CrabAppleLane Blog, called “Hare Raisin’, can be found here.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:36 | Comments (0)
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