Listus Interruptus, and more David Werner.

December 12, 2008 at 5:02 am (Uncategorized)

Hey all, just a note that I’m putting the list on a hiatus of a couple of days. I really, really, REALLY need to finish up my Christmas Mix, and that’s not happening while I’m working on a top 20. So I’m changing focus for a bit. Listing will return in a day or so, mostly because the longer I think on it, the more excited I am about the top 2 artists on my list. That comment about things being weak compared to other years I made when I started? Yeah, throw that out the window once we get to the top 5 or 8 or so, and the top two are records that have, over the last week or two, really hit me like a ton of bricks. Haven’t seen much buzz about either, so I’m kinda stoked to pimp them out.

At any rate, if you were reading this over the summer, maybe you remember me doing a post on David Werner, who cut a couple of never-on-cd-or-digital albums back in the 1970’s that sound absolutely incredible when given a fair listen today. I was on vacation visiting family back in Missouri when Steve posted an excellent comment. I missed it then. Thankfully, an anonymous commenter just also commented on that post about David Werner, and I finally saw Steve’s comment as well. Both fellows wrote some really excellent things, and I’m going to post their comments in full right here. First up, Steve, who has been playing in bands and selling records for decades around St. Louis. Take it, Skitch:

Was very happy to read your post on Mr. Werner. Whizz Kid remains the best known of his three albums, probably because everyone who ever owned it during it’s day never paid more than a dollar or two tops for it. Whizz Kidd was one of the most golden of all cut-outs during The Golden Age Of Cut-Outs 1972-1980. EVERY greater cut-out bin across the country, whether it be a record store, a K-Mart, or your corner drug store, ALWAYS had plenty of copies of Whizz Kid.

But as great and classic a record as Whizz Kid is, David Werner’s true artistic triumph and masterpiece is his second album, Imagination Quota. I’ve always felt that IQ was the great post-Ziggy pre-Berlin trilogy record Bowie WISHED he could have made. After the failure of the much-hyped by RCA first album, Werner and incredible partner/guitarist Mark Doyle (who a crazy old rock critic friend of mine once described as “A baroque Jeff Beck…”)knew the success they were promised was not going to materialize, so they just went for it and made the record THEY wanted to make. And the results were so amazing. The lone audio offering from IQ on David’s myspace page is thankfully it’s crowning achievement: “Cold Shivers.” The best damn song he ever wrote. For me no other song has ever come close to capturing what it felt like to be a suburban teenager in 1975 locked in his room night after night, listening to records and reading CREEM and Melody Maker and Phonograph Record Magazine cover to cover. Yep, that was me, and you bet I felt every last one of the words of “Cold Shivers”–DEEPLY! Werner totally nailed what it felt like back then to be a fan of the more out of the mainstream rock of the day. I had always automatically assumed the song was Werner’s fan letter to Bowie, but when I met Werner in 1980 (more on that in a minute) he told me it was about Mick Jagger.

Imagination Quota easily stands shoulder to shoulder with every great recognized classic album from the ’70’s. Trust me whizz kids, it really is THAT GREAT. The only problem with the record is so very few people heard it then when it came out, and even fewer people have heard over the 30+ years since. Even by the more generous and sympathetic commercial and marketplace ’70’s standards, IQ died an astonsihing quick death. It was obvious RCA had given up on it even before they released it, so they pressed very few copies and gave it no support. So unlike the label hyped Whizz Kid, IQ was never really out there from the beginning, many Werner fans didn’t even know it was out, and unlike Whizz Kid as well, scant few copies made their way to the cut-out bins for post failure discovery by curious shoppers. A true rock tragedy. So needless to say, Imagination Quota forever remains at the top of my list of records I’d love to see on cd someday.

But hey, self-titled album #3 brought renewed hope for us Werner fans. At the height of the put-a-skinny-tie-on-it-and-call-it-nu-wave era, Werner was back with a big sounding hard rocking record (the heavy noise-gated sound of Bob Clearmountain and his Power Station studio, who after making his reputation on Springsteen’s The River album, was quickly becoming the hippest American record producer at the time) and a big label (Epic) giving it a big push. Oh Epic worked the album like hell, got it a lot of radio airplay, and even got Werner an appearance on American Bandstand. But in the end the record was just a little too heavy and hard rocking for the nu-wavers, and a little too pop for the hard rockers, so it never found a large audience. It was definitely different from his first two records, and he was clearly trying to make as commercial for the times a record as he could, which of course led to a lot of his original fans not liking it, but I loved it! I was working at Streetside Records at the time, and I went to great lengths trying to put the record into the purchasing arms of as many customers as I could—often succeeding. πŸ™‚

And if you ever came to town/You’d probably never wanna come around

Well unlike those classic lyrics from “Cold Shivers,” David Werner DID come to town!!! Yep, he played the old Mississippi Nights here in St. Louis on his tour for the third record. On the afternoon of the show, the local Columbia rep brought him by the store to meet the retail folks, as was the practice back in that day. My boss, bless his heart, knew what a fanatic I was, so he let me leave the sales floor so I could hang with Werner. And then it was just me & Werner in my boss’ office, where for the next hour I turned into total nerd fanboy as David patiently answered every fanboy question I had stored up over the years for him. πŸ™‚ He was a sweetheart and a total class act.

And the show that night was fucking PHENOMENAL! He played every last song every fanatic in the crowd wanted to hear—including a version of “Cold Shivers” that had me in tears. And Doyle was fantastic too, every bit as great an onstage foil for Werner as Ronson was for Bowie. Such a shame that Doyle spent the rest of the ’80’s in Meatloaf’s touring band, he deserved better. The show that night not only exceeded any and all expectations, but dig the total icing on the cake: The drummer in Werner’s band that night was none other than His Majesty Thom Mooney from THE NAZZ!!! That’s right—Thom fucking Mooney! Yeah baby!

Then “Anonymous” chimes in today with:

Actually Werner was from Pittsburgh, he hated LA, thought it was “plasticland.” As Steve S. noted, IMAGINATION QUOTA remains a great lost LP of the 70s. Those of us “who knew” did what we could–when I worked in LA record stores we used to put that LP on the box all the time, got the manager to keep ordering it until the meagre supplies were gone from the rack-jobbers, etc. Maybe 100 more people found out about it that way. Definitely needs to be released on CD.

Have to disagree about the best stuff on the LP, though. Title track is much meatier, and gives Mark Doyle some room for an awesome closing solo; no such room on “Cold Shivers,” a good song but paint-by-numbers. Virtually everyone who we turned onto it in 76-77-78 thought the second side was the bomb–Talk, Starlight’s Gone, Aggravation, Body & Soul–incredibly versatile songwriting and arranging, four different styles flowing together seamlessly.

It’s worth the $20 or so on eBay. Just buy it, you’ll thank me later.

I’m pretty sure I still like Whizz Kid more than Imagination Quota, but yeah, that means I’ve listened to both. (And while I first kinda dismissed the title track from IQ for pretty obviously stealing the melody line from “No More Mr. Nice Guy”, now that I listen to it again, I think I hear what Anonymous was talking about; that said, “Cold Shivers” is still my favorite track on the second album.) Thanks to the efforts of PopCat at Vinyl Treasures, I’m thinking it’s early Christmas present time for ‘Narc readers. Just as he did with the first disc, PopCat did an absolutely incredible job ripping Imagination Quota from the vinyl. I think the source vinyl here was in a little worse shape than the source lp for his Whizz Kid rip, but hell, the occasional hiss and pop just adds to the charm here.

First off, a couple of sample tracks:

“Cold Shivers”
“Imagination Quota”

And finally, thanks to PopCat’s excellent rip, here’s the whole album, in a .zip file.

Enjoy! I’m gonna go try to find some more Christmas toonz.


  1. Rob said,

    After reading those comments, I’m eager to check out the album. Thanks, Chris!

  2. Heavens2Murgatroid said,

    Hmmmmmm. I’ve loved Whizz Kid since I first heard it a few years ago. I found vinyl of the other two albums, but they never did much for me. I’ll have to give them another listen & possible re-evaluate.

  3. Anonymous said,


    The copy of Imagination Quota that I have skips on “When Starlight’s Gone”, and it drives me crazy. Can you please post that song for a bit? I’d love to replace the mp3 I made with one that works.


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