We all have our list of "Holy Grails." My list is comprised mostly of records and books. No surprise there! And while it’s true that the almighty Google has made searching for our Holy Grails a lot easier and a little less time consuming, there’s nothing quite like the unexpected discovery of an elusive recording in some poorly lit shop that stacks it’s music floor to ceiling with zero regard for alphabetizing.
There’s also nothing quite like a friend at work showing up at your desk unexpectedly one morning, handing you a brand new CD—still shrink-wrapped—and saying: “I seem to recall you saying that you’ve been trying to find a copy of this recording for a long time. I found it in a used record store over the weekend, and picked it up for you.” Now that, is a good way to start the day!
When the New York Dolls split up the first time in 1976, the individual band members went in all directions and met with varying degrees of success. David Johansen released a number of excellent solo albums before completely re-inventing himself as Buster Poindexter. Guitarist Johnny Thunders took drummer Jerry Nolan with him and formed The Heartbreakers with ex-Television bassist, Richard Hell. And guitarist/pianist Sylvain Sylvain (who once said "the New York Dolls taught Kiss how to light their cigarettes") kept himself busy with solo recordings and bands with names like The Criminals, The Teardrops and the Trash Cowboys.
In the late ‘70s Cleveland adopted David Johansen like a favored son. It seemed like he played the Cleveland Agora every other month. The shows always had a raucous, party atmosphere and were full of great original tunes and fabulous handpicked covers. I saw Johansen perform often and, as a result, I own most of his recordings. I was less familiar with the other's post-Dolls’ recordings until my friend Andy introduced me to them after I moved to Washington, DC in 1982. One particular single that I borrowed from Andy became a favorite and ended up on nearly every dance mixtape I ever made. For years I tried to track down the album the song came from, but never had any luck. Sylvain Sylvain’s self-titled debut solo album remained atop my list of Holy Grails for over 25 years — and then my friend Doug surprised me with it one morning on CD. Case closed. Search over. Mission accomplished. As they say...
Sylvain Sylvain’s “14th Street Beat” has always been on the back burner for the Happy Medium Song of the Day - It's a musical piece of fluff, but it’s one of my all-time favorite songs that is still, after all these years; a toe-tapping, hand-clapping earworm that is guaranteed to fill the dance floor and get the weekend started with a happy swagger.