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Cheetah Chrome Is Respectable At CBGB's Festival

Cheetah Chrome by Jahn Xavier

“I was standing in front of Cheetah tonight, and I was watching him play a killer version of “Final Solution”. I thought of Peter Laughner, Lester Bangs, Robin Rothhman, and so many others. For a second, I felt as though I was 15 years old, lost to the music, not a care on earth. It was beautiful, damn near transcendent. Thank you, universe.”

That was Jahn Xavier responding to the former Dead Boy guitarist Cheetah at Leftfield. Jahn was front and center back in the day and has been going to the CGBGs Festival celebration all week long; here his response to the Pere Ubu masterpiece is valid enough. But whither Cheetah?

With so many of his peers, from Stiv Bators himself, to Johnny Thunders,  fone, Cheetah is a connection right back to the original first (Dead Boys? second) wave of punks to come out of New York and, indeed, Cleveland, which along with Akron became the center of the rock and roll universe for a moment!

As Jahn’s words pinpoint, there is a sense of a time and place long gone but also returning in all its splendor and helped in no little part by the CBGB’s Festival. Though the timing (one week before the CMJ fest) is a little strange, the urge to return and merge with a time and place is overwhelming for many people who were there. Perhaps the 1990s and early 00s were too close for a search back to 1977, and perhaps, sadder, there is a sense of a time and place unable to be replicated: the hope 20 years after the fact was it was a moment then but another moment now belonging to a never changing present would occur. 35 years later, well, expectations are lowered.

Plus, who wants the same sounds by a younger generation: it’s like carbon paper, it fades too much.

New York needs its own fresh scene, but instead it has a lot of micro scenes that seem unable to coalese. As for rock and roll, it is closer to country in its inability to do what it always did, to do what America always did, to mutate through additon.

Chrome’s debut EP Solo was meant to be released Tuesday but I am sodded if I can find it anywhere though I did stream the title track “East Side Story” and it is much better than that Eddy Arnold cover  earlier this year might have had you suspecting. “I’ve got a dead man inside of me, that didn’t wanna die” he sang here. “It’s just a moon shining on the Lower East Side” Cheetah, who moved to Nashville decades ago, claims on the superb rock and roll ballad.

“It’s got a lot to do with my getting clean and getting away from my old life,” Cheetah says of the new EP, which is a mix of tracks produced by Genya Raven and with Sylvain Sylvain in 2010.

I have only heard the one track but between this and having Ron Weasley portray you in a movie, Cheetah is ascending. And speaking of timing, the entire CBGB Festival seems to be shining on the Lower East Side.

A vibrant music scene here is like the Knicks of New York, a generation is going by without a championship.

East Side Story – Chetah Chrome – A

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