In 1979, CBGB was no longer a repository for passed-out winos. Dog shit no longer decorated the floors. Punk, new wave, and what have you bands appeared nightly as a staff of second-run Terry Orks took over Hilly Kristal’s 3300-square-foot shrine to filth. One the many youngsters working behind the bar and trying to break onto the scene was Westchester transplant Greg Pickard. Alongside high school comrade Dana Duquet, Pickard hit New York in early 1978, setting up at 195 Christie Street with a chicken and a rabbit, a corn-cob pipe and a Browning over-under 12 gauge. “I was from the sticks,” Pickard recalled flatly. “We were completely naive about the New York music scene.”
“I could hear them through walls,” said neighbor Jimmy Wynbrandt. “They had no name and they couldn’t keep a second guitarist. Greg had a very distinct voice. Nels [Pierce] was new to the bass, but preternaturally suited for it. Dana kept the whole thing together. Eventually they asked me to come over and sit in.” Wynbrandt was no stranger to the Lower East Side: he’d founded early CBGB mainstays The Miamis with his brother Tom in 1974, and served as a member of Wayne County’s Backstreet Boys alongside future Voidoid Marc Bell. According to Pickard, he headed up an “intensive think-tank for naming the band. We all agreed upon The Ramblondes. After realizing we [had] combined the Ramones with Blondie, we settled for The Revelons,” a reference to ardent revelry. The Revelons debuted on March 31, 1979 at Pickard’s workplace, the most appropriate of venues. “Greg somehow wangled a slot,” Wynbrandt wryly said of their Saturday night CBGB appearance in support of fresh Capital signees The Shirts.
Working the bar that night was former Spicy Bits vocalist B.G. Berlin, who immediately signed on to book and manage The Revelons. Interest from Ork Records mounted immediately. “Terry was a New York legend,” Berlin said. “He wasn’t around a lot, but he was around enough. He still had a tremendous amount of street cred. When he approached us about doing a single, there was no question about whether or not to do it.”
Ork’s decision to make The Revelons part of the label’s second wave was eased by the involvement of erstwhile Television bassist Fred Smith, who had agreed to produce. “I thought I knew something about recording,” Smith said. “As musicians, they really weren’t that experienced. I was more like a coach getting them to start together and end together.” The green group tracked “The Way (You Touch My Hand)” b/w “97 Tears” in a single night at Blue Rock Studios on Greene Street with Michael Ewasko behind the board. Arye Weiner got an executive producer credit for showing up and paying the bill.
The finished Ork product, with its sloppy design elements and typographical mess of credits for a sleeve back, didn’t exactly eclipse expectations. “The original jacket cover art was a comic strip of the band depicting each player as unique super-villains. They clearly didn’t care what we wanted,” Pickard said. When the debut Revelons record finally found its way out into America in June 1979, the band was among the last to find out. “I used to go to Bleecker Bob’s every Friday to look at the new imports,” Berlin said. “One day I went in and there was the record. Ork didn’t send us copies. There was no provision for free copies. I ended up buying one. We all did.”
For Pickard, meager returns were a part of the landscape. “We never made any money from it,” he later said. “Not that we expected anything. I used to walk over dead bodies on my street and see cars turned over and on fire. You didn’t ask about royalties.”
Yes, New York
New York, New York
Heart Of Glass