Friday, January 29, 2016

The Miamis - We Deliver - The Lost Band of the CBGB Era (1974-79) (2015, Omnivore) - A brief overview.

Say what you will, but there was more to the sonic netherworld of New York, circa the '70s, besides the Ramones, artsy proto-punkers like Television and insular no-wave merchants...but you'd be hard pressed to become enlightened to anything going against said grain in the volley of rock and roll textbooks dedicated to this era.  The Miamis, helmed by brothers James and Thomas Wynbrandt, weren't merely fixtures in NYC havens like CBGB's and Max's Kansas City, they were sunny-side up anomalies.  This Big Apple quintet's primary hindrance wasn't a disinterested public (per the liner notes, they headlined a 1976 New Years Eve concert in Central Park), and certainly no shortage of exuberance on the band's part, rather lack of a record contract.  The phrase "best kept secret" has been bandied about from time immemorial it would seem, but in the Miamis case it's wholly apropos, as the only way to experience them was to attend one of their gigs, invariably in Manhattan's Bowery district.

Contract or not, the band did indeed step into a recording studio or two, albeit their repertoire consisted of roughly a dozen original compositions, comprising the meat and potatoes of We Deliver.  If this 23-song set was pared down to an EP of the title cut, "I Want a Girlfriend," "Another Place, Another Time" and "Just Too Many People (In the World) one could easily cast the Miami's off as power pop prodigies with an affection for Utopia and the Rubinoos.  For better or worse, there was also an innately cheeky madness to their method on wry, politically bent jabs "We Need a Bigger Navy" and Détente (That's What I Want).  "Wang It" is a strikingly camped-out ditty that just might make contemporaries The Sweet blush, "Dancin' Together" indulges in a New York Dolls groove minus the pomp, and "Let There Be Pain" is a patented, '50s soda shop romantic lament.  We Deliver is further bolstered by a handful of alternate/demo takes and virtually an album's worth of live cuts from a pair of 1978 CBGB's performances.  The Miami's were frequently accompanied on stage with a horn section, contributing that much more to the overarching uplift quotient.

As much of a rollicking blast this compilation frequently is, I can't help but wonder what the Miami's legacy would have amounted to if say, Seymour Stein had thrown a hundred grand at these cats to make a couple of proper albums.  Twas not to be, but to our good fortune We Deliver will suffice.  Get it straight from Omnivore, iTunes or Amazon.


YankeeBoy said...

I saw these guys at CBGB's back in the day but I don't ever remember seeing them with a horn section. But I do remember a lot of the songs you mentioned. I ordered my copy of the CD from Amazon earlier today.

spavid said...

Well, having never witnessed them, I'm assuming they had some additional players onstage, but maybe one of the Miamis played trumpet too.