The live music scene in Boston in the mid-’70s was mired in the soulless thud of disco and “Top 40” bands playing Foghat and Grand Funk Railroad covers. The primal urgency that had spawned rock’n’roll in the Fifties seemed to be a thing of the past. These dire circumstances meant that anyone wanting to see bands playing original music had to go to a venue like Boston Garden and sit a block away from the stage — as arena dinosaurs like the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin gimped through their programmed set lists. But what was there for the kids who just wanted to go down to the local bar and rock?
In the middle of the “Me Decade”, the kids salvation came at a club called the Rathskeller (a.k.a. “The Rat”) in Kenmore Square. The Rat started booking hard-edged local bands who played their own tunes. These were groups who didn’t care about what was on the radio. They were more interested in emulating ’60s and ’70s garage punk icons like the MC5, the Stooges, ? and the Mysterians, and the New York Dolls. They were raw kids with more balls than musical chops who comprised Boston bands like DMZ, Willie “Loco” Alexander & the Boom Boom Band, the Nervous Eaters, La Peste and the Neighborhoods. All of these bands were great live and went on to make influential records, but perhaps the group who made the finest album of all was the Real Kids — a band who got their name from New York Dolls guitarist Johnny Thunders.
Lead by singer/songwriter John Felice, the Real Kids exploded onto the club scene playing long-forgotten tunes from the ’50s by the likes of Eddie Cochran and Buddy Holly. As well as Felice’s dazzling, punky originals such as “Solid Gold (Thru and Thru)”, “Taxi Boys”, “Just Like Darts” and the classic anthem “All Kindsa Girls”. All of these tunes were captured on their self-titled debut release for Marty Thau’s Red Star Records in 1978. “The Real Kids” remains one of the best debut albums in the history of rock’n’roll.
As for Felice, he’s continued to bounce around the Boston rock’n’roll scene for thirty years–ever since he was the 15 year-old guitarist in Jonathan Richman’s Modern Lovers. His various bands (including the Taxi Boys, the Primevals and the Devotions) have played to much critical acclaim and cult worship, but little music biz success.
Luckily, Beantown scenester and fledgling filmmaker Cheryl Eagan-Donovan has seen fit to attempt to chronicle the story of Felice and the Real Kids in her upcoming documentary “All Kindsa Girls”. Capturing the power and urgency of the band’s music and their story — which has been tumultuous — should be no small feat. But Eagan-Donovan certainly seems to be up to the challenge.
Get the interview in part two of BOSTON’S REAL KIDS ROCK ON THE BIG SCREEN>>>