[continued from previous post]
Many were the bands I am now obsessed whose fandom of was all down to Ron’s predilection for “apple seeding” as he called it. Sometimes it did not even come from Ron directly. I seem to recall that he had given a few Dutch 7″ers from The Nits to Mr. Ware, who in turn, passed them onto me. I developed an interest in the band, so when I saw the first Nits CD I ever saw in the Orlando bins, I bought that copy of “Hat” and then managed to find a US copy of “dA dA dA” on its release five years later. My wife happened upon these in the Record Cell and she found more releases in a used bin at CD Warehouse. Once I heard “Henk” I was a true believer. We started buying all of them on the web and once we heard “Ting,” we swooned together at surely the most beautiful album ever made. Now we have almost all Nits releases/videos.
When I met Ron he was working for USS+M importers, so he was in a position to directly obtain anything difficult to otherwise buy in the pre-web era. I remember seeing the great video for Etienne Daho’s “Tombé Pour La France” on an early episode of “MTV’s International Hour.” When that clip made it to my video catalog updates to Ron he said “Oh, you like Etienne Daho?” I can get you all three CDs!” If Ron knew what you liked, he would always keep an eye out on his sweeps of West Coast bins. If you liked something that he was enthusiastic about, let’s just say that all bets were off. Ron was able to get me “Mythomane [CD remix],” “La Notte, La Notte” and the recent “Pop Satori” and these disques were my entrée into a good 7-8 years of Francophilia for yours truly. I was ready. With house music taking over the UK scene in 1987, I found my attentions turning to France, [tombé pour la France, indeed] who still had a vibrant pop scene that lasted at least until the French discovered hip hop in the mid 90s.
Ron was there every step of the way. He would send me mix tapes and videos of French artists that I could investigate further. In the mid-80s, Ron had a satellite dish and he airchecked Canada’s French-language Musique Plus daily and saved the grains of gold that he’s scoop up in his nets. I’d swear at one point that Ron’s infamous bank of VCRs were taping more video than there were hours in the day! When I first escaped the shackles of American record stores and took a tour of Canada in 1992 for the first time, Ron was my music sherpa! I remember calling him up from my hotel room to get the word on what he thought I should check out in depth now that I was in new territory. After trolling bins in Montreal, Ottowa, and “Toronto,” I returned home with suitcase packed with CDs; half of them French language. I would return to Toronto two more times between 1992 and 2001. Many years later, I could somewhat repay the debt when Ron found himself visiting Toronto for the first time about a decade ago. I gave him a dossier on all of the best stores to visit [and why] in Toronto and was gratified that he got to experience the monolithic Sam The Record Man on Yonge St. while there was still time. Too bad we could not have hit the ultra-packed store in their heyday, together.
Ron didn’t just enjoy music, he also had a band. If you keep your ears trained to the deep underground, you may have heard of them. The Decayes were a band made up of his local friends who began recording in 1974 and they released their albums in super-low numbered editions of generally 100. Members were part of the Los Angeles Free Music Society. Once Nurse With Wound had the audacity to include The Decayes on their infamous list, the demand for their outsider blend of [I’m guessing, from the descriptions I’ve read online] Europrog and Post-Punk soared to the point where copies of their first three, self-released albums with hand painted covers [and hand-made OBIs] and low press runs were unobtainable for less than three serious figures. Albums four and five had larger press runs and can be heard for less than a king’s ransom.
In early 2014, after hearing for years about the semi-legendary sixth album with sessions mentioned my Ron in email and the like for nearly a decade, a CD of “Aquarium” came in my mailbox, yet another of the packages that would arrive from Long Beach on a very regular basis for 30+ years. It’s always kind of dicey when a friend plays you their music. There’s so much potential minefield there. Having known of Ron’s musical obsessions for decades [cut the man and he bled Frank Zappa and Italian Prog] and knowing of the outsider reputation of The Decayes, I was prepared for a dozen reactions; all of them alarming. Imagine my surprise when the sixth [and now final] Decayes album proffered a breezy, instro surf rock sound with undercurrents of West Coast jazz. At least I could honestly tell the guy that I really enjoyed his new album!
Next: …Rare meetings