Waxing Nostalgic: Coley Kennedy (Welcome To Ashley) takes on big mouth

Note: I remember back when I saw Welcome to Ashley play at Empty Bottle a few months ago how impressive a stage presence Coley Kennedy was. His command of everyone’s attention is a quality that only a few possess. And from their record, Beyond The Pale, I’m not at all surprised at his choice of album. A big thanks to Mr. Kennedy for doing this piece. Now, enjoy Coley’s take on a great record. — Josh

By Coley Kennedy
Guest Writer

Days after agreeing to write this little piece for Chicago Tunes, I find myself gazing out my window. What is the one album that inspired me to get into music? The one album that inspired me to write, perform and record my own songs? The answer is more difficult than I’d anticipated. It’s not that I can’t think of any albums that moved me. It’s just that there are so many.

Before the albums. Before everything — before I’d given much thought to lyrics, phrasing, different guitar sounds, etc., there was Eddie.

I was 8 years old. A neighbor loaned my brother a video of Eddie and The Cruisers — on Betamax.  The hair, the clothes, the swagger, the car, the girls, the respect, the voice — and above all, the mystery of him.

I was hooked. I loved Elvis Presley. But I wanted to be Eddie. I watched Eddie and The Cruisers religiously for two years.  Until one day I found out —

There was no Eddie and The Cruisers!

Eddie was pure fiction. The music was performed by John Cafferty and The Beaver Brown Band! Eddie was an actor lip-syncing to John Cafferty’s songs! I was mortified. It was then that my adoration and admiration for Eddie ended.

But not the dream.

Back to the question I’m trying to answer, What’s the one album that inspired me the most to get in to writing, performing, and recording music?

Three albums that immediately come to mind; Don’t Tell a Soul The Replacements 1989, International Pop Overthrow Material Issue 1991, You’re Arsenal Morrissey 1992.

I’m gonna write about Morrissey’s Your Arsenal.

Morrissey’s 1994 release, Vauxhall and I, happens to be my favorite Moz album. But Your Arsenal came first. And that’s when it all began for me.

It was seeing Morrissey and his band perform live in ’92 (in support of Your Arsenal) that had the biggest impact on me. It was life changing.

From an early age, I’ve been gone on the sounds and styles of the 1950s. In 1992, in addition to the rockabilly and crooning sounds of performers such as Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison, and The Stray Cats;  I was also very much into the “alternative” and punk sounds of The Clash, Generation X, Jesus and Mary Chain, The Violent Femmes, and The Replacements.  For me, seeing Moz and his ‘mates perform live, embodied everything that i loved about Punk, Garage, Pop, and Rockabilly… and then some.

Morrissey’s line-up has changed throughout the years since then (with the exception of the ever-present Boz Boorer). But to me, the line up of; Alain Whyte (guitar), Boz Boorer (guitar), Gary Day (bass guitar), and Spencer Cobrin (drums) is untouchable. This is the lineup that played on and co-wrote with Morrissey on Your Arsenal, and its follow up Vauxhall and I.

Arsenal was produced by Mick Ronson, best know for his work with David Bowie. The songs on the album were primarily composed by Alain Whyte and Boz Boorer (both part of England’s rockabilly scene), while Morrissey, of course, handled the lyrics and melody. Your Arsenal exemplifies an adept balance of Punk, Rockabilly, and New Wave — with English wit, sarcasm, and sincerity.

I believe the first cut i heard from the album, and still my personal favorite, was Track 5, “Certain People I Know” (Morrissey/Boorer).

It’s now obvious to me when i listen to this track (feat. Mick Ronson on guitar), that it’s a nod to Marc Bolan and T-Rex.  But upon first hearing “Certain People I Know” it was simply pure, melodic, guitar picking rock ‘n’ roll at it’s finest. My friends and I would play it over and over again. And the opening lyrics…

I take the cue from certain people I know — I use the cue and then i hand it on to you

— I just love it.

While I’m a fan of all things Your Arsenal, I’ll focus on just a few more tracks.

Track 1. “You’re Gonna Need Someone On You’re Side” (Morrissey/Nevin), a strong track with relentless bass guitar, swirling, overdriven electric guitars (which remind me of the old Batman theme song), in which Moz and company demand the listeners respect and attention. It’s a grand departure from anything Morrissey had recorded in the past. And it’s one of my all-time favorite opening tracks to an album.

My favorite lyric:

Someone kindly told me that you wasted eight of your nine lives.

Track 2. “We’ll Let You Know” (Morrissey/Whyte), full of layered acoustic and atmospheric instrumentation, this mellow, gem of a tune has always worked best for me at the end of an evening, alone, with a nice buzz. It’s not far off from the music Morrissey made with Marr. And a great shift happens around the 4:25 mark in the song. Yeah, it’s a long song, but it works.

My favorite lyric:

How sad are we? And how sad have we been? We’ll let you know. Oh, but only if you’re really interested.

Track 7. “You’re The One For Me, Fatty” (Morrissey/Whyte), I few years ago i was told that Morrissey wrote this as an inside joke about friend and Madness singer Chas Smash. I always thought the lyrics were another one of Morrissey’s ways of making a person who might feel inferior, feel good about his or herself. “Fatty” is a great example of the Mozzer’s keen and clever sense of humor. This is just a great feel-good pop song.

My favorite lyric:

and i will stay. promise you’ll say if I’m ever in your way.

Whether I’m writing songs with Welcome To Ashley, Candy Apple & The Buddies, or The Warm Regards  — Morrissey’s Your Arsenal is always a constant with me; be it a lyric, a turn of a phrase, or simply the mood of a song.

Looking through my catalog of songs I’ve recorded with these three bands, I find this influence on me and my bandmates to be most apparent in songs such as:

Welcome To Ashley“What A Day It Was For Dying”, “Nothing But Grey Skies Ahead”, “Madam O’Leary”

Candy Apple & The Buddies“December”

The Warm Regards“The End of You Know Who

Extras:

  • If you enjoyed this article, check out the rest of our Waxing Nostalgic series.
  • For more great album and show reviews, artist interviews and more, keep coming back to Chicago Tunes!
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About joshterzino

Thank you, Chicago. Your population is as kind and warmhearted as I could hope for in a metropolis. The music, the food, the parks...it's everything a person could possibly want in a city they call home. I will forever be in your debt, Chicago. Let me know if you ever need anything.
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