Talking Heads
The Rat
Kenmore Square
Boston, MA
aud cass master recorded by allsoundz using a "forgotten mic and cassette recorder"
cass>Tascam 122 MK III>Numark 20 band equalizer>HHB CDR 830>cdr>eac(secure mode)>cdwav>flac(level 8)

total time 1:23:34

1st set
1 Artists Only
2 A Clean Break (Let's Work)
3 I Wish You Wouldn't Say That
4 With Our Love
5 Take Me To the River
6 The Book I Read
7 Uh-Oh Love Comes to Town
8 Thank You For Sending Me an Angel
9 Who Is It?
10 I Can't Control Myself

2nd set
1 The Girls Want To Be With the Girls
2 No Compassion
3 I Feel It In My Heart
4 New Feeling
5 Love Is All Around
6 Love -> Building On Fire
7 Psycho Killer
8 I'm Not In Love (w/Jerry Harrison)

This seed is my tribute to The Rat, probably the most important club in the history of Boston rock. The Rathskeller, unofficially, and later, officially, known as the Rat, was a bar in Kenmore square, a student neighborhood, now yuppiefied, in Boston Ma. At the street level was a bar which served food in the late 70s, and possibly did earlier. In the basement, down a steep set of stairs, was, what was probably described on their license as a "nightclub", but in fact, was a rock 'n roll dive. It was dark, dirty, always smelled, was hot in the summer, cold in the winter and had the most disgusting Men's Room it was my misfortune to ever use. I was told that the Ladies Room was just as bad and can only marvel at the courage and/or suffering of the women that frequented the Rat. There was always a hint of danger in the air at the club. The place was owned by a former bouncer and he gave his minions free rein and they always seemed to be big, thuggish guys. One of my most memorable nights at the Rat was when the Real Kids, on stage, got into a fight with the bouncers! The waitresses, in my memory, were also a tough and surly lot, not adverse to cursing customers out.
Why would anybody patronize such an unpleasant dump? Because of music of course! The place began presenting music in the 60s and a friend of mine heard Barry & The Remains and the Lost there in 65 or 66. The place began a long slow decline when the hippie bands and the "Bosstown" sound became popular and by the mid 70s it was only booking local, hard rock cover bands. When I returned to Boston in 76, they were featuring mostly local bands playing original material, but most of the bands were generic, mainstream hard rock. Willie Alexander and Third Rail and some others were exceptions, but generally the Boston local music scene, like the national scene, was in the artistic doldrums. Of course in 76, there was a vibrant local scene in New York with all kinds of bands that were supposed to be great but hadn't recorded, but you could read about them in the Village Voice. They had odd names like; Ramones, Television, Blondie, Heartbreakers etc etc. Obscure bands like that would never get to Boston; but, think again; in 76 some prescient person at The Rat began booking NYC bands on double bills with the local bands.
One of the NYC bands they brought to Boston was the Talking Heads. I had first heard them on July 4, 1976, when my college buddy, Shane and I celebrated the Bicentennial at CBGB's. From, literally, the first tune- "Artists Only" (of course), I was a complete fan and thought that they were going to be a great and important band. Of course, I never imagined that they would be popular. When, in October 76, I saw an ad listing them for a two night stint at the Rat opening for a local Bad Company sound alike, I made sure I was there for both nights. I was even more impressed than I was at CBGB's, but most of the locals were much less impressed. The Heads didn't go over at all. Part of the problem might have been that they were announced as being from NYC and the Boston/NYC rivalry was just as fierce then as it is now. Bostonians were not going to let any square looking NYC nerd with a squeaky voice tell them how to play rock n roll. After the first tune of the first Heads set, a large portion of the audience left to drink elswhere or get high and came back for the local Bad Company clones. This pattern repeated itself when the Heads began their second set. Some of those too drunk or lazy to leave, contented themselves with occassionally yelling, "You Suck!" or "Go back to New York". The general consensus on the local scene was that they sucked in the worst way and were not "rockin'" at all. A "critic" in the local underground paper wrote that he should have stayed home and read a book, which I don't believe he meant as a brag about his literacy.
Shockingly, and it's a tribute to that unknown booker at the Rat and the courage of the Heads, they were booked again three months later in January 77. I was so enamored of the band and worried that they might never record, I decided to tape them. I had taped a lot of shows in the early 70s but stopped around 75 when I began having so much fun at the shows that I couldn't or didn't want to deal with taping. I had a fairly good cassette recorder at the time, make now forgotten, and a decent mic that I bought second hand for $10. I never knew what the make of the mic was because the name plate had fallen off years before I got it. On one night of the Heads gig, I sat at a front table right behind the dance floor, which I remember being empty while the Heads played. The other night I sat at a table near the back of the music area and, consequently picked up a lot of chatter. I set the mic down right on the table and let it rip. I had decided that I wasn't going to let taping interfere with having a good time, so I didn't sit silently or ask people with me or those near me to be quiet. It wouldn't have done any good anyway! I don't know who a lot of the people you can hear are. I might not have known then. At one point, a waitress asked me, " What's that?". I said, "A microphone." She just nodded. Probably, by the standards of misbehavior at the Rat, taping was no big deal.
The Jan 77 gig was two nights, with the Heads once again opening for, as I remember, a local Bowie imitation band, the name of which is forgotten by me and probably everyone else except its members. The local response, this time, while not being, warm, was not especially hostile. There was a small cadre of people there to hear the Heads and they made themselves heard. Jerry Harrison was sitting in the audience both nights and they called him onstage to play on the second night. It might be his first public performance with the band. The crowd was the usual Rat denizens; clubbers out for a night of partying with a musical accompaniment and it didn't much matter what it was as long as they could dance, fans and friends of the other band, local rock scenesters and the usual flotsam and jetsam that you find in any nightclub.
I think these tapes capture the atmosphere of the Rat, the way I remember it. You can hear the music buffs discussing bands, the bored and uninterested chatting, guys trying to pick up girls, drunks yelling, speed freak ranting and above it all, one of the best, most unique bands ever; just playing their music whether people were listening or not. It was an exciting time to be listening to the Heads, an exciting time for rock and the Rat was an exciting place to be in January 77. Hope these tapes make you all feel a little bit of it.


PS Does anybody know of any other AUD tapes from the Rat? I don't.