SURFIN' THE CHRISTMAS RUSH: The so-called Black Friday celebration has once again renewed interest in the best of new releases and classic reissues (including Light In The Attic's acclaimed CD by Lee Hazelwood's Woodchucks), both as personal acquisitions and to share as gifts with others. Editor/Publisher  Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell has the story below (Click on above image to enlarge).


It is an unofficial holiday, spoken of with varying degrees of reservation by many. Nonetheless, the post-Thanksgiving start of the so-called Christmas rush (otherwise known as Black Friday) has once again generated tremendous interest in music of all formats and genres.

As always, such front runners as Hollywood, California's Amoeba Music, Dearborn, Michigan's Dearborn Music and the vaunted Sunrise chain have taken decisive steps to feature the cream of the crop of new releases and reissues. Bob Say's vaunted San Fernando Valley-based Freakbeat Records took it a step further, with in store appearances om Friday the twenty-third of November by Three O'clock bassist Michael Quercio and drummer Danny Benair, along with Blood On The Saddle's Annette Zilinskas, commemorating the release of their all new album of covers of standards by their fellow veterans of the so-called Paisley Underground movement of the early 1980s. 

Throughout the Christmas season, Blitz Magazine will be featuring news and reviews about some of the season's key new releases and reissues, including Perfume's Future Pop, Tony Bennett and Diana Krall's Love Is Here To Stay, the Monkees' Christmas Party, Michael Nesmith and the First National Band's live album and essential reissues by Lee Hazelwood's Woodchucks, visionary artist Haroumi Hosono and Beach Boys rhythm guitarist Al Jardine's acclaimed solo venture, Postcard From California.


It was a typical Southern California afternoon in the mid-1990s. Blitz Magazine had recently relocated its offices within the San Fernando Valley. We had also just launched our web site, and were focusing on fine tuning the particulars of this new medium.

Then the telephone rang. Audrey answered it.

"Hi, this is Randy Safuto", said the caller.

"I see that you've changed your phone number. I just wanted to say "hi" to Mike and keep in touch".

Phone calls from musicians have been a regular part of our activity at Blitz Magazine from the onset. But at that particular moment, Randy Safuto did not have a new release to promote. He just wanted to make certain that all was well and to talk music.

"You got a call from Randy Safuto", Audrey said later that day upon my return.

"He said he even called your mom back in Michigan to get our new number!"

That was Randy Safuto, alright. His name was not immediately familiar to Audrey at that point. But when I explained to her who he was, highlights of his recorded legacy brought a knowing smile of approval from her. 

The name Randy And The Rainbows has been synonymous with world class vocals since the group's inception in Maspeth, New York in 1962. Dominick Safuto was the group's lead vocalist from the onset, during the group's earlier incarnation as the Encores. In 1963, at the behest of Laurie's affiliate Rust label, the group took on the name Randy And The Rainbows, with Dominick becoming Randy in the process. Randy And The Rainbows eventually released four singles for the label. 

As first generation garage rock commanded center stage during that most crucial phase of musical development (the mid-1960s), Randy And The Rainbows took their world class vocal harmonies to the next level with Bonnie's Part Of Town for the Mike label in 1966 and the superb I'll Be Seeing You for the Tokens' B.T. Puppy label the following year. 

The group persevered under such names as Madison Street and Triangle for a season. Ed Engel's Crystal Ball label also issued an acclaimed compilation of Randy And The Rainbows rarities, Joy Ride in 1979.

But it was in 1982 that Randy And The Rainbows made history as one of several enormously influential artists signed to Marty Pekar's ambitious Ambient Sound label. As was the case with labelmates the Harptones, the Capris, Johnnie And Joe, the Jive Five and the Mystics, Randy And The Rainbows returned to the studio that year to record an all new album, and the results were nothing less than stunning. 

C'mon Let's Go! received a rave review in Blitz Magazine upon its release, and finished strongly among Blitz Magazine's picks for Best Albums Of The 1980s. With cuts like their endearing Blondie tribute, Debbie and their sublime cover of Lee Andrews And The Hearts' Try The Impossible, the group's C'mon Let's Go! album irrefutably took its place as the group's finest moment.

It was with the release of that landmark album that Blitz Magazine established a rapport with Randy Safuto that endured to the present day. He would not only keep in touch on a regular basis in the manner described above, but he was one of several artist friends who selflessly lent his support, sympathy and encouragement upon Audrey's tragic passing four years ago.

Sadly, Randy Safuto suffered a heart attack earlier this year. He continued to maintain a presence on social media and endeavored as best as possible to apprise friends, family and followers of his progress. However, his extraordinary career came to an end on Tuesday the sixteenth of October, as Randy Safuto succumbed to his illness while facing minor surgery. He was 71. Funeral arrangements are pending.


With all of the ongoing dialogue in the public sector about the topic of firearms, it was inevitable that the most astute of musicians would weigh in on the subject. Among the first to do so was the legendary Debbie Gibson, via her contributions to I Am Peaceman, a 2017 collaboration with Sir Ivan. 

Most recently, the veteran vocal virtuoso Mel Carter has offered a tangible musical look at the issue with his new single, Raise The World - Sing Louder Than The Gun. A marked departure in terms of lyrical content from his most familiar and cherished sides for Arwin, Mercury, Derby, Bell, Liberty, Amos, Imperial and other labels, Raise The World - Sing Louder Than The Gun nonetheless finds Carter sublimely stating his case in a manner that is both uplifting and edifying to social commentator, lyricist and musicologist alike. 

"It is in full release mode", said Carter.

"I am sending out the MP3s now. I'm in the process of promoting it and adding the title to my account at CD Baby".

Those who opt to acquire the single will be blessed with a remarkable bonus track in the form of Carter's unique and inspiring acapella take on America's national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner. And while Raise The World - Sing Louder Than The Gun may not yet have generated the immediate recognition of that 1814 Francis Scott Key composition, Carter remains optimistic for its long term impact.

"I hope this anthem catches on and makes a difference", he said. 

As the voice of reason with regards to an often polarizing issue, there is much to suggest that Carter may well realize his vision.