Monday, February 26, 2024

Smashed Gladys… Never Take No!

Born from the embers of the vibrant Toronto punk scene, Smashed Gladys formed in 1984 and then headed to New York City where they became part of that era’s glam/hair metal scene… Echoing the attitude of those times, the single ‘Never Take No’ by the group will be released on 3rd August, through Golden Robot Records.

Sally Cato started as a singer in the art rock band The Concordes, while guitarist Bart Lewis did a brief stint with Canada’s most dangerous band, The Viletones, before departing for NYC. Soon after relocating to Gotham, the pair met songwriter Tommy Boyce, who (along with his partner Mickey Hart) had coined most of The Monkees’ songs. Under Boyce’s guidance, the group began rehearsing at a well-known studio in midtown Manhattan.

With Matt Stellutto on drums and bass player, Ken Fox (Toronto’s Raving Mojos, Jason And The Scorchers, The Fleshtones), Smashed Gladys played venues in and around the NYC area, during which time they met Gene Simmons of KISS fame, who offered them a production/management deal.

With the addition of Hilly Micheals, drummer from Ian Hunter’s band, Smashed Gladys went into the studio and recorded close to an album’s worth of material produced by Simmons. He captured the personality and raw grittiness of the band perfectly and by the end of 1984, the band were in the UK recording their first album, Smashed Gladys, with Mark Dearnley as producer.

Smashed Gladys returned to the states and began touring and doing opening slots with The Dead BoysVan Zant, Nazareth, Ace Frehley, Cheap Trick, Poison, Rick Derringer, Blue Oyster CultKrocus and others. It was during this feverish period that they established their infamous Wednesday night series at The Cat Club. The night became a launching pad for several bands, and grew to become a showcase venue, late night hang, and playing party stage for artists such as David Bowie, Duran Duran, Mick Jagger and several others.

Selling out venues in Manhattan and the surrounding tri-state area, Smashed Gladys caught the attention of Elektra Records A&R rep Michael Alago. In 1986 they were signed by Elektra VP, Howard Thompson.

The band played a signing gig to a packed house at one of the first venues they played in NYC – CBGB’s. Elektra picked up the rights to the first record and then sent the band into the studio to work on their next record, Social Intercourse, recorded in NYC with Rick Browdie and in L.A with Michael Wagner doing additional tracking and mixing.

While making the record, they met the artist working in the adjacent studio, Ozzy Osbourne, who made a guest background vocal appearance on the song ‘Cast of Nasties’. Osbourne had warned the band that some of the titles and subject matter on the record might get them in trouble in certain markets and banned altogether from retailers such as Walmart. He was right, and touring in certain Midwestern states became dangerous at times forcing the band to bring along new members … Mr Smith & Wesson!

While making demos for their third record, Smashed Gladys received offers from producers John Paul Jones and Mick Ronson. They went with Ronson and began pre-production, but he fell ill. The band was then picked up by Teddy Slatus, Johnny Winter’s manager and label.  Tragically, Smashed Gladys’ third bass player, Mark Sliker, then died from a drug overdose. Following all these trials and tribulations, Sally Cato left the music business and returned to being a graphic artist, then on May 19th 2020 she passed away.

With the intention of honouring Cato, Golden Robot Records will be releasing the album Raw, a collection of some of the works that were initially the demos for the third record. These have been remixed by the band’s first producer, Mark Dearnley, whose wide ranging credits stretch from AC/DC to Paul McCartney. The album will be rounded out with an additional four songs from the Gene Simmons sessions.

Prior to the album’s release, a series of singles are being released. First off was ‘Bump In The Night’ – A classic 12-bar boogie rock ‘n’ roll song with a twist on the horror movie trope in the vein of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In the song, singer Cato is looking for a partner to celebrate the bumps in the night, and the guitar driven band is there for the party.

That was followed by ‘Go To Hell‘ back in May. “If you don’t know how to save your soul, you better learn to rock n roll” preaches singer Sally Cato in this high energy boogie number about making it in the Big Apple. Every artist has a love/hate relationship with New York City, and you can feel the fun as Smashed Gladys paints a musical picture of the dark side of Gotham with a stroke of humour. 

You can order previous singles ‘Go To Hell’ here and ‘Bump in the Night’ here., and new single ‘Never Take No here.

Paul H Birch
Paul H Birch
RAMzine Senior Writer - Writer of fiction, faction and fact, has edited several newsstand magazines. He declares himself a hack for hire but refuses to compromise on the subject of music.

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