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Crate Digger’s Gold: Curtiss A – Courtesy

March 17, 2013

Curtiss A CourtesyCurtiss A was a founder of the Twin Cities punk and New Wave scene in the late 70s and early 80s that hatched The Replacements and Hüsker Dü.  He has continued to stay connected and relevant to the TC music scene by his annual John Lennon tribute.

Curtiss A is one of the few guys on the Minneapolis punk scene I actual knew back in the day.  A high school buddy of mine ran a comic book store where Curt worked.  Although I was not a comic book guy, I used to hang out at the store and met Curt a few times.  I knew he had a side career as a rocker, but I was not really hip to that scene – so he was just cool older guy in black leather jacket – kind of like the Fonz without the punchline.

Curt was a touch older than the a lot of the kids on the punk scene and he always seemed more authentically 60s garage rock and roll than punk – but his aggressive garage rock style fit well with punks.  Let’s face it 60s garage rock is the punk fountainhead.

At the time this album came out I was more of a jazz guy and conventional pop music fan.  I went to several punk shows at the Longhorn, but beyond the aggressiveness (which appealed to my angry young man stage), I really did not get it.  A few years later when The Replacements and Hüsker Dü became famous I finally figured it all out and became a fan of the music.

I was aware of this album at the time, but never owned it.  It was quite the big deal because it was not only reviewed Rolling Stone, but received a 5 star review.  Listening to it now you can see it was foundational material for bands like The Replacements.  “Ride Away” could fit on any era of The Replacements. A young Paul Westerberg must have thought Curt was a god with his rock and roll swagger and well crafted rock and roll scream (I recall he was nick named the Dean of Scream for his amazing pipes – think John Lennon’s “Mother”).  Where the average punk was riding on pure attitude, Curtiss A was more from the pedigree of The Clash – an experienced and seasoned rocker who was a misfit in the classic rock era, but fit like a glove in the punk world.

I found this LP in near mint condition for two bucks at the recent Rock Sale and I often see it around local Twin Cities record bins so the next time you see it grab it and you will get a sense where  The Replacements and Hüsker Dü came from.  A true classic and the very definition of Crate Digger’s Gold.

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