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I'm the co-host of THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO with Dana & Carl (Sunday nights, 9 to Midnight Eastern, www.westcottradio.org).  As a freelance writer, I contributed to Goldmine magazine from 1986-2006, wrote liner notes for Rhino Records' compilation CD Poptopia!  Power Pop Classics Of The '90s, and for releases by The Flashcubes, The Finkers, Screen Test, 1.4.5., and Jack "Penetrator" Lipton.  I contributed to the books Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth, Shake Some Action, Lost In The Grooves, and MusicHound Rock, and to DISCoveries, Amazing Heroes, The Comics Buyer's Guide, Yeah Yeah Yeah, Comics Collector, The Buffalo News, and The Syracuse New Times.  I also wrote the liner notes for the four THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO compilation CDs, because, well, who could stop me?  My standing offer to write liner notes for a Bay City Rollers compilation has remained criminally ignored.  Still intend to write and sell a Batman story someday.

Monday, April 18, 2016

This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio # 822: Norm Mattice

This is the story of a homeless man in Syracuse.  We don't know what circumstances led him to a life with no fixed address; we only know that he had been staying at a Catholic Charities homeless shelter since December.  Later on, we know he was reported to have had an altercation of some kind, and that he has been unseen, missing, since the beginning of April.  This weekend brought news that a body had been discovered at Onondaga Lake Park.  And this morning, authorities confirmed that the deceased was indeed our missing homeless man.

All of this would be sad enough, as is.  But it's even worse to know that this was not some anonymous statistic.  The man's name was Norm Mattice, and he was--is--one of our own. Norm was a musician, a singer, a guitarist; he was in some great rock 'n' roll groups in the '80s and '90s--Dress Code, 1.4.5., The Richards--and no one can understand how any of this awful stuff could have happened.  One of our own.  The Syracuse music community is shaking its collective head.  Like a warped jigsaw puzzle, we can't force the pieces to fit. This is wrong.  This makes no sense.  This just can't be.

Dress Code began at the end of the '70s, a scrappy quartet of teen titans, comprised of cousins Norm, Elliot, and Eric Mattice, plus Steve Martell.  They were part of a vital Syracuse new wave/power pop scene, inspired by local heroes The Flashcubes, and avowedly influenced by a litany of all the right people:  The Who.  The Kinks.  The Easybeats.  The Monkees.  The Jam.  The Beatles.  If you never saw Dress Code play live, I bet you're wishing right now that you did.  Can't blame you.  Dress Code rocked. The group released just one four-song EP, Alone In A Crowd, in 1981, and it remains a stirring example of low-budget, high-heart rockin' pop, culminating in a haunting ballad,"Something's Really Wrong," written in the aftermath of John Lennon's murder.

After Dress Code's demise, Norm Mattice eventually became the new lead singer for 1.4.5., a rock 'n' roll combo of varying line-ups, always piloted by guitarist Paul Armstrong of The Flashcubes.  This edition of 1.4.5. released a simply splendid album called Rhythm n' Booze in 1988; the group later changed its name to The Richards, released the 1995 album Over The Top, and also recorded a song called "Five Personalities."  "Five Personalities" is one of my all-time favorite tracks by anyone, and the group allowed us to use it on our own 2013 compilation CD, This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 3.

That's Norm Mattice's musical c.v. as I know it.  I didn't really know Norm at all--I don't think we ever had a conversation, over the course of decades spent in the same Central New York nightclubs.  No one believes me when I say this, but I tend to be shy in public, and I rarely initiate contact.  But this loss hits hard. One of our own.  God damn it, one of our own.

Broken hearts are the price we pay for survival.  Sometimes that price seems all too steep. I guess we'd best appreciate--and declare our appreciation--as much as we can along the way.  We offer our condolences to the friends and family; we share our kinship with the fans; we really, really hope for brighter days ahead.

This week's installment of This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio with Dana & Carl is dedicated to Norm Mattice.  We play music.  This week, we played music from one of our own.  This is what rock 'n' roll radio sounded like on a Sunday night in Syracuse this week.

This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio with Dana & Carl streams live every Sunday night from 9 to Midnight Eastern, exclusively at www.westcottradio.org

This week's show is now available for download:  http://westcottradio.org/archive/rock_n_roll_radio_2016-04-17.mp3


THE RAMONES:  Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio? (Rhino, End Of The Century)
1.4.5.:  Girl In The Window (Beautiful Sounds, Rhythm n' Booze)
THE BASEMENT WALL:  Never Existed (Senate, single)
THE RASPBERRIES:  Tonight (RPM, Power Pop Volume Two)
THE JAM:  Disguises (Polydor, Direction Reaction Creation)
THE BEATLES:  She Said She Said (Apple, Revolver)
THE ROLLING STONES:  She's A Rainbow (Abkco, Their Satanic Majesties Request)
DRESS CODE:  I Knew (Semaphore, Alone In The Crowd)
DAVID BOWIE:  Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere (Rykodisc, Pinups)
THE ROMANTICS:  When I Look In Your Eyes (Nemperor, The Romantics)
THE MONKEES:  I'm A Believer (Rhino, More Of The Monkees)
1.4.5.:  Your Own World (Beautiful Sounds, Rhythm n' Booze)
THE GREENHORNES:  Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand (V2, Sewed Soles)
RAY PAUL:  I Love It (But You Don't Believe It) (Permanent Press, Whimsicality)
TOMMY JAMES & THE SHONDELLS:  Hanky Panky (Rhino, Anthology)
1.4.5.:  Right Now (Beautiful Sounds, Rhythm n' Booze)
RICHARD THOMPSON:  Legal Matter (Cooking Vinyl, 1000 Years Of Popular Music)
20/20:  Nuclear Boy (Real Gone Music, 20/20 -Look Out!)
JOE JACKSON:  Throw It Away (A & M, Look Sharp!)
THE RICHARDS:  Over There (Northside, Over The Top)
THE UNDERTONES:  Teenage Kicks (Rykodisc, The Undertones)
THE FLASHCUBES:  No Promise (Northside, Bright Lights)
SANDY NELSON:  Pinball Wizard (Liberty, The Very Best Of Sandy Nelson)
1.4.5.:  Dancin' Spree (Beautiful Sounds, Rhythm n' Booze)
THE BEATLES:  Hey Bulldog (Apple, Yellow Submarine Songtrack)
HERB EIMERMAN:  Soft Landing (joealgeri.bandcamp.com, single)
SIMON & GARFUNKEL:  America (Columbia, Old Friends)
MANNIX:  Highway Lines (Kool Kat Musik, VA:  This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 3)
NICK LOWE:  Cruel To Be Kind (Yep Roc, Quiet Please...)
THE RICHARDS:  Blue Eyes (Northside, Over The Top)
PAT DINIZIO:  Behind Blue Eyes (Famous Monsters, This Is Pat DiNizio)
1.4.5.:  Famous Local Hero (Beautiful Sounds, Rhythm n' Booze)
THE SMALL FACES:  Things Are Going To Get Better (Immediate, The Darlings Of Wapping Wharf Launderette)
THE KINKS:  Better Things (Velvel, Give The People What They Want)
THE BEACH BOYS:  I Can Hear Music (Capitol, Good Vibrations)
DRESS CODE:  Never Let Me Go (Semaphore, Alone In The Crowd)
THE PETE BEST COMBO:  I'll Try Anyway (Music Club, Best)
THE RICHARDS:  Tried And True (Northside, Over The Top)
THE LYRES:  Help You Ann (Matador, On Fyre)
THE WHO:  The Kids Are Alright (MCA, My Generation)
THE ROOKS:  Reasons (Not Lame, Encore Echoes)
THE RAMONES:  I Just Want To Have Something To Do (Rhino, Road To Ruin)
FASTBALL:  The Real Me (Edel, VA;  Substitute)
DRESS CODE:  Alcoholic (Semaphore, Alone In A Crowd)
THE FLAMING LIPS:  Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere (Restless, Acid)
1.4.5.:  Do We Still Do It (Beautiful Sounds, Rhythm n' Booze)
THE 101'ERS:  Keys To Your Heart (Chiswick, VA:  The Chiswick Story)
1.4.5.:  Here Come The Cops (Beautiful Sounds, Rhythm n' Booze)
THE SOFT BOYS:  I Wanna Destroy You (Yep Roc, Underwater Moonlight)
THE RICHARDS:  Five Personalities (Kool Kat Musik, VA:  This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 3)
DRESS CODE:  Something's Really Wrong (Semaphore, Alone In The Crowd)
LORD SITAR:  I Can See For Miles (EMI, Lord Sitar)