The Good Rats were back in NYC and doing another one of their reunion shows. I caught them doing this last year and it was a very good time so I was not going to miss the chance to enjoy it once again. If memory serves me, back in 2009 there were two shows being held and they were on different nights but this evening one would follow the other. The early show held the most appeal for me so that is the one we are reporting on and you can enjoy the scoop about the whole show by scrolling on down below.
Artist: The Good Rats
Venue: B.B. King Blues Club (New Yotk, NY)
Label: Uncle Rat Music
While March had really blown the doors off for the Metal community, I had to say that in looking at the shows hitting us in April that the month was off to a pretty respectable start itself. So far it had been focused on the Rock and Roll side of the fence and given us some great memories to carry across the span of the whole year in terms of the music that it was delivering to the fans. This Good Rats performance at the venerated B.B. King Blues Club seemed to be the perfect treat for those that managed to get their taxes done and gone, and for those who chose to up their entertainment ante a little bit there would be not only one, but two performances this evening for them to enjoy. Last week we had the American Led Zeppelin guys of Cactus out and about at this same space and they really gave us a heavy dose of Blues laden Hard Rock to chew on all week. Tonight was more about the Classic Rock side of things as the “Greatest Band You Never Heard Of In Your Life” was reunited once again and prepared to dish out some really incredible tunes. Here is how the event went down should you have been one of the folks that missed out on the fun.
The Good Rats: The phrase of “Greatest Band You’ve Never Heard Of” is not meant as an insult at all and more based on the looks one often gets when they ask someone if they are interested in what the Good Rats are all about since their face often looks at you like you have three heads. That happens in the Rock and Roll world very often and long before the phrase was deemed cool to the Hipsters, The Good Rats were an underground cult Rock band that were second to none. They did have some moments in the sun but they surely deserved many more of them based on just how good so many of their tunes were. In today’s scene they are still active with singer Peppi Marchello performing with other guys but tonight was all about the reunion of the bands classic roster of Peppi, his brother Mickey Marchello, bassist Lenny Kotke, guitarist John “The Cat” Gatto and drummer Joe Franco. The quintet of musicians have been doing these reunion gigs at B.B. King’s for three years now and for their hard core Long Island fan base these are shows that quickly sell out and are a guaranteed good time. Since there was an early gig and a later one there would be no opening act and I was pleased that this was the case even though I was attending the first performance. I had to admit that I was not sure what to expect with a gig that preceded a later show because it was only recently that I attended the Blue Oyster Cult show, and they did the same exact thing but more on that later.
They would open up with “Back To My Music” which is a killer track and has lots of harmonies and it led us right into “Injun Joe” which the audience was gladly chiming in during. As I glanced around the venue I saw that everyone in my vicinity was singing every single word and must have been following these guys for a long, long time. That is dedication and you need to see it to best appreciate it. “Taking It To Detroit” was a good one and actually one of my own favorites from their “From Rats To Riches” album and as you might expect if you know their tunes at all, a large portion of the set would come from the bands most notable, and first major label recording “Tasty” from 1974. I must say that all of these songs still sound rather fresh and have held up well all these years. Peppi kept the conversation with the audience light this time around and one had to wonder if he was making sure not to tire himself out for the second show. Of course there was some casual joking between him, the audience and his brother Mickey but nothing out of the ordinary this evening at least based on my limited experience in seeing them live. A killer drum solo by Joe Franco had the room on its feet and man it is fantastic what this guy can do and after he was done Peppi chided how Joe doesn’t even break a sweat.
The night started to show some real difference as the members took the stage again and John “The Cat” sat at a piano while Peppi sang “Advertisement In The Voice”. He didn’t do that one the last time and it’s a really nice tune. It’s one of those numbers that makes you sit back and say “this didn’t become a hit why again?” From here we found Lenny and John playing acoustic guitars and they did not do this last time either as they did a song from “Birth Comes To Us All” and “Better Man (I Guess)”. It was clear from this that the classic material sounded good acoustically so many the guys will indulge their fans in a release of these tunes in this format. I know I will buy it. There were some differences happening in the set list makeup and that was fantastic to experience. They were swapping some tunes I expected for some others that did not get done the last time but even though they were changing they did not drop “Yellow Flower” from the list. As that one began a number of the audiences women came up onto the stage and formed a chorus line with Peppi while the guys played behind them. It’s a trip to see them having such a good time. “Mr. Mechanic” is another favored number of mine so I was glad to see that one and it led us into “Victory In Space” which would make the second time we heard that song tonight. Earlier in the evening they played us a legacy video of the band doing the song on some television show and this is long before the days of MTV so it’s more like legacy footage. “Mean Mother” was the last heavy number for lack of a better description and it would all close out with the touching “Songwriter”. Peppi said how he wanted to do these reunion shows until he was 70 and since he is 65 now, you best get your tickets in advance when they announce future ones or you are not getting into the venue. From here it was over and those who had tickets for the later show milled about the venue and changed their spots while others left and once again hit the New York City streets entertained to the fullest. Some of them even left with mementos as Peppi still keeps his garbage can on the stage and it is loaded to the brim with rats. Not to worry of course they are all made of rubber but they sure look good. He also kept his signature baseball bat in his hands a lot and would either swing it, play air guitar on it or just use it as a cane type of thing.
Last time around the band played twenty seven numbers according to the review which I wrote about that night and tonight we would “only get” twenty two songs from them. That’s actually only a couple less on both counts if you deduct the drum solo and even so the gig was almost two hours. The guys would take about an hour break and then return for the next set. That is dedication. The BOC show that had two different performances was over in 65 minutes and it was more expensive than this one was. Clearly the Good Rats gave everyone a better time for the dollar spent and in this economy that was an amazing thing. Some omissions from the last time around included “Boardwalk Slasher”, “Let Me”, “Coo Coo Coo Blues”, “Reason To Kill”, “Local Zero”, “Poppa Poppa”, “Phil Fleish”, “Fred Upstairs and Ginger Snappers”. I am unaware if they would play these at the later show, but despite the changes I was happy to hear all of the ones that they brought to the table that were not done the last time. Some good stuff and some nice surprises when it came down to it.
Listening to the band again in the live sense one has to scratch their head when you realize that massive fame was never meant to be their scenario. They did influence a lot of bands and had a lot of great tunes, so be sure to check out some of their recordings and try to catch a gig when the next one comes around. You will not regret it at all.
1. Back To My Music
2. Injun Joe
3. Taking It To Detroit
4. Does It Make You Feel Good
6. Fireball Express
7. 300 Boys
8. Don’t Hate The Ones Who Bring You Rock and Roll
9. Klash Ka Bob
10. Drum Solo
11. Advertisement In The Voice – cat piano
12. Birth Comes To Us All
13. Better Man I Guess – acoustic
14. School Days
15. Cherry River
16. Rat City In Blue
17. Deadbeat Rambler
18. Yellow Flower
19. Mr. Mechanic
20. Victory In Space
21. Mean Mother
22. The Songwriter
This marks the second time that we have seen the Good Rats reunion show and as expected it was a blast for Rock and Roll from beginning to end. With that in mind we just could not resist the chance to post their marquee photo as the band’s name up in the Times Square lights was bound to draw in a few extra fans. They would have to come to the later show of course since this first one seemed to be sold out.
We managed to catch up with the guys backstage and asked them to pose under the grand B.B. King’s marquee. While it would have been nice to get the guys outside under the lighted one, we settled for the backstage banner as this has served a good purpose on a number of occasions.
Pictured from left to right we have John “The Cat” Gatto, Mickey Marchello, Peppi Marchello, Joe Franco and Lenny Kotke. You have to admit that everyone looks pretty good and if you wondered how this all sounded, well my answer to that is fantastic. The Good Rats attracted a lot of their Old School fans from back in the heyday to this reunion gig and the bands iconography was presented for all the venue attendees to see. Check some of this stuff out.
We loved seeing this jacket sporting the Good Rats logo as this was something that one only generally saw worn by Road Crew and Band Members (well, at least at the shows I used to go to). That was no sticker or painted on logo my friends but a finely stitched garment. Still appears to be in good shape and I am convinced that this was vintage.
This was on the front left hand side of that same logo jacket and if I am correct this is an image of “Uncle Rat”. Don’t quote me on that, because I am not a 100% study of the bands rich history. I know what I know from legends that have been passed down by musician after musician and of course what I know from the recordings. Here’s a few shots of the band which you can enjoy in full on the main article.
Lead singer of The Good Rats, Mister Peppi Marchello. He really shows that he still has the pipes for Rock & Roll.
Guitar wizard John “The Cat” Gatto. He was really tearing up the strings tonight.
Second lead guitarist Mickey Marchello.
Drummer extraordinaire Joe Franco. Any drummer in the club tonight were left stunned after his solo.
Holding the whole enterprise together tonight would be bassist Lenny Kotke.
If you’ve ever seen The Good Rats perform, you know already that Peppi keeps a garbage can on the stage with the band. He often hits it with his baseball bat and that stirs up the denizens that lurk beneath the streets. Yes my friends, watch your feet and your hair, because there are rats in the club tonight.
Of course they are rubber ones and despite these creepy critters being tossed out onto their heads, it is clear that the fans love the band and show it in many, many ways. Just look below if you don’t believe me.
This reminded me of the scene in “All In The Family” when Archie Bunker gets kissed by Sammy Davis Junior. Just the look on Peppi’s face was a priceless reminder of a classic piece of American comedy. This was also the dude who was sporting the cool Good Rats colors before.
As someone who is lucky enough to be able to present colorful images from the shows we are attending thanks to the believers in the PiercingMetal way, we generally get a “sticky” pass like this one when we are at the B.B. King or Highline Ballroom venues. Generally its just my last name and the date and I used to keep them until I realized that I could wallpaper my apartment with them. As result I generally discard them now but in this case it was too interesting to do that because tonight I was listed as “Photo Rat”. It made me laugh quite a bit so I think I shall hang onto this one for awhile.
Official Website: http://www.goodrats.com