Back in 2006, longtime New York City resident Jesse Malin decided he needed a change. The post 9/11 New York had changed so much that the fixture of the Lower East Side punk scene, dating back to his early hardcore band Heart Attack and then his alphabet city punk/garage band, D-Generation, Malin who had been omnipresent in almost everything to do with the East Village music scene knew he needed a change of scenery.
So off to the land of sunny California he moved and it’s there that he came up with the idea of doing Glitter In The Gutter along with producer Rob (just one more take) Caggiano. The album was released by Adeline Records in early 2007. Critically it was a mixed bag with publications like Rolling Stone who printed that it was a mix of “memorable, megatuneful adrenaline shots” and “generic hard rock”. Unfortunately, the album itself would soon fall out of print and even worse in this age of streaming, couldn’t be found on any of the usual suspected streaming sites. Hence to Jesse and his loyal and adoring fan base, it’s become known as the “lost album”. That is until now with the re-release of Glitter In The Gutter on Steve Van Zandt’s Wicked Cool Records, scheduled for a September 30th release.
To celebrate the album finally getting its life back, Malin played an album release show at New York’s Mercury Lounge on September 15th in which he played the entire album from start to finish, something he had only done once before and that was on a lockdown streaming show. The evening started off with a solo set from folk/chamber pop artist Thin Lear. Lear offered up an enjoyable yet mellow set of well-crafted songs and stories to which the still sparse crowd were very receptive to.
Following up after Thin Lear was Alfonso Velez who noted that he was much more familiar playing the local clubs and cafes in the West Village and that he enjoyed the crosstown trek over to the East Village. Playing material from his upcoming debut release, he and his guitarist partner put on quite a nice set which the crowd found to be quite the appropriate warmup for Jesse and his band.
Taking the stage shortly after 9:30 PM it didn’t take Malin and his band long before they started ripping into Glitter. The album opener “Don’t Let Them Take You Down (Beautiful Day)” has always been a favorite of mine and not surprisingly they performed it swimmingly. Following the track sequencing from the album, “In The Modern World” was next, followed by “Tomorrow Tonight”. As anyone who has seen Jesse in concert can attest to, he is very good at stage banter and his introduction to the album’s reworked single “Broken Radio ‘22” was certainly no exception. With the story about how the song was originally written in honor of his mother who had passed away rather early in Jesse’s life he already had the crowd hanging on his every word. Then he switched gears in the story to offer up some details on how Bruce Springsteen came to be involved in the project. Of particular note was how Bruce pulled up to his Colts Neck home (which Jesse had already arrived at) on a huge Harley. Jesse also made fun of Rob Caggiano (who happened to be in attendance at Mercury on Thursday). Jesse and his band had come to be used to Rob’s constant request for “let’s do it one more time” but after one run through “Broken Radio” to which Bruce nailed his part, even Jesse was surprised that Rob insisted on another take, and another, and another. He guessed that Rob had busted Bruce’s balls for a total of 8 takes. Malin was mortified, yet thrilled with the end result.
The set would continue mirroring the album song for song until Jesse took a detour while he was singing in the crowd. It was here that he started a story how he’d once lived in this very same building WAYYY back in the day long before it hosted the Mercury Lounge. He said his landlord ran a mortuary or a casket warehouse (I’m not sure which) out of the current club’s space. Anyway, Malin spun another great yarn about how he eventually moved out and across the East River over to Williamsburg. At this point he pulled an audible and led the band into “Brooklyn” from his Fine Art of Self Destruction collection.
Returning to the stage Malin went back on script and continued with the Glitter material. Another special moment took place when he told us how at one point back in the mid 90s, he’d heard a song by this amazing female artist that was totally new to him. He immediately called Joey Ramone to tell him about this woman only to hear Joey tell him, “yeah I know Lucinda, I played with her at one of Vin Scelsa’s “In Their Own Words” shows at the Bottom Line. Fast forward a couple of years and Malin is at The Blue Note jazz club on W 4th St. (for a Charlie Watts’ show) and who’s next to him at the bar but Lucinda Williams. They spent the night talking up all kinds of music and have been friends ever since. Of course this was the intro to his song “Lucinda” which evidently the namesake of the song has never been a huge fan of.
The rest of the night went pretty much exactly like this, with Jesse sharing stories and then playing the next song on the album. When the material from Glitter was complete, the night was not, as Malin treated us to a few more of his more recent material.
And to cap things off, for the encore a horn section of Danny Ray on sax, Indofunk Satish on Trumpet and Robert Donnelly on trombone joined the band onstage to close things out in classic New Orleans R&B style complete with an evening ending second line through the crowd and out the door to the tune of “Meet Me At The End Of The World”.
All in all, Jesse and his fellow musicians put on one hell of a show. It was such a fitting exclamation point to a truly great album. If you’re lucky enough to already be familiar with Glitter in The Gutter you know what I’m talking about and if you’re not, you’re in for a treat when it hits the shelves once again on September 30th.