Old punks take notice: What’s billed as a Bookie’s 40th anniversary reunion is scheduled to take place this weekend in Ferndale. Has it really been all that long since the Frank Gagen's old Art Deco gay club on West McNichols Road was seeing its first bands with funny haircuts? If it’s to be believed, yes. The flier says the reunion event will feature the Sillies, Johnny Spark, and R.U.R. — we know a thing or two about that last band.
For instance, (and you fans of obscure science fiction trivia already know this): R.U.R. may be one of the only punk bands based on a play about robots. We actually wrote about the band’s 1979 Go Baby EP in a piece on Detroit’s most underrated records back in 2010, declaring, “Not overtly punk and with more reverence paid towards Townsend-like guitar riff godliness, Go Baby crests with accusatory lyrics and understated drumming. You'd be hard-pressed to find a more memorable rock record from this town at that time — and it’s proof positive that punk is equal parts execution and attitude.” In the late 1970s and early 1980s, you’d hear Go Baby on WABX.
The band’s classic lineup featured Matt Hathaway on drums, Bill McNeil on bass, Rick Mills on guitar, and Tex Newman on guitar and vocals. Frankly, it was Newman who pulled our ear about Saturday’s event, reminding us of all the big-shot bands RUR rubbed elbows with: from local heroes — Sonic’s Rendezvous Band, Wayne Kramer, Destroy All Monsters, Iggy Pop — to international all-stars — Ultravox, Lydia Lunch, the Damned, the Jim Carroll Band, and even Ozzy Osbourne. We take it with a grain of salt when he says, “Even though we were and still are a Detroit phenomenon and have been offered to do this at the ‘Big Pizza,’ we chose to do our small reunion show in Ferndale. We wanted a more ‘intimate’ audience experience.”
In any event, it’s a great opportunity to go relive the past. Or live the past for the first time. Somewhere in the great beyond, Frank Gagen is surely shaking his head.
The music begins at 9 p.m. at the New Way Bar, 23130 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-541-9870.
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