I first heard of (the) Razz as a 14 year old when the band’s debut 45 first came out in 1977. It was a trip to Kemp Mill Records (“$5.99 all the time!”) in Forrestville Maryland where (the) Razz and I first crossed paths. Back then, Kemp Mill kept all the “punk rock” 45’s in a wood 45 crate, behind the counter. You had to ask for them - just like Playboy magazines!
Thumbing through the few dozen punk 45’s they had, I came across the band’s first release C. Redux b/w 70’s Anomie. I picked it up because my dad had a 1950 Ford hot rod, and I could tell by the hubcap that the car on the picture sleeve was a ’49-’50 Ford. It hit my turntable and blew me away.
Then a couple years later, I got a driver’s license and happened upon Yesterday and Today Records in Rockville, a short 100 mile round trip from my home in Clinton Maryland. To this 16 year old, it was an oasis in the wasteland of chain store record departments! It was at Y&T I found out there were people just like me! It was at Y&T I saw the Sex Pistols on video for the very first time. It was at Y&T I spent way too much money. It was at Y&T I satisfied my (the) Razz fix with their other two releases, the EP Air Time and their last 45 You Can Run (But You Can’t Hide) b/w Who’s Mr. Comedy.
Those records saw regular duty on my turntable, and when I turned 16 I dubbed those songs on cassette to play in my car with the “fast-forward only” Jensen cassette deck. Co-ax speakers of course. I turned 18 shortly thereafter, but the band had split up before I could catch a gig.
I almost got to see them play though. When I was 14, through nothing short of a miracle, my dad agreed to take me to see the Sex Pistols at the Alexandria Roller Rink on their 1978 tour, with Razz opening! But…a couple weeks before the gig, I copped a cigarette from a kid at school and smoked it when I got home. Then the smoke alarm went off. I went to the laundry room to see what the hell was happening and three foot flames were climbing out of the trash can. It seems this rookie smoker failed to properly extinguish his cigarette butt. After putting out the fire, I sat there staring at the trash can. It now looked like a piece of lumpy plastic pop-art. There was no hiding this one. I dreaded my folks getting home from work that night. You guessed it - dad told me no Sex Pistols / Razz concert. Then the following week, the gig was cancelled due to the Pistols visa troubles. Dad was none the wiser.
So…it’s 40 years later, and I never did get punished for almost burning the house down. Don’t tell my dad, OK?
UPDATE - It looks like (the) Razz story is far from over. After moving to Florida, I learned the band gets together every so often for reunion gigs. A week ago, I learned two DC documentarians, Richard Taylor and Jeff Krulik are now working on a Razz documentary film.
In a perfect world, forty years after picking up that first (the) Razz 45, I’m flying up to see the film premiere followed by a reunion Razz gig. The doc does so well, the band enjoys a Searching for Sugarman renaissance.
Give (the) Razz a listen. They really should have made it, big time.
(the) RAZZ Links
THE LATEST ON (the) RAZZ DOCUMENTARY
The unreleased Air Time concert originally broadcast on DC 101
C. Redux on YouTube
You Can Run on YouTube
Cherry Vanilla on YouTube