Johnny & Mary

January 1, 2009


MP3: Johnny & Mary – The Remodels

“Johnny & Mary,” despite the video, is a great single from Robert Palmer’s 1980 album Clues.

Robert Palmer…. le sigh. He was always an adventurous, sophisticated songwriter and musician who changed his look every time he changed his sound. Because he was so debonair and such a musical shape shifter, it feels like he never got the serious respect that he didn’t require from us. His sudden death in 2003 was a genuine shock, and a tragic end because he left too soon.

The song is a dialogue by 3 people: Johnny, his wife Mary, and a narrator in the chorus. Johnny is red, frantic and high strung. Mary is sardonic, resigned and blue.

Robert Palmer used incessant confinement as the key to his tale, and the Gary Numan-esque (it was the heart of the new wave era) electronic tone underscored the emotional detachment. But there was a sad humanity in the story needing to be pulled out.

The song is energetically colorful, like a Kandinsky painting: Johnny red, Mary blue, narrator green. Here’s what we put onto a new canvas:


Love Is Alright Tonite

January 1, 2009


MP3: Love Is Alright – The Remodels

Once upon a time, Rick Springfield was a right good power-popper. Hitting soap opera, teeny bopper mega-success at the same time diminished his musical accomplishments in some eyes.

Working Class Dog still holds up as solid and exuberant professional power pop record. It’s got the songs, it’s got Neil Gerlado playing guitar and bringing along his wife’s producer, Keith Olsen, for the big radio hits.

“Love Is Alright Tonight” is classic power pop, but how would it hold up if given a country swing arrangement? We tried it that way, and it was good, but too frantic. The arrangement changed to an Eagle’s “Heartache Tonight” feel, and this is how it plays out:


What Makes You Think You’re The One

January 1, 2009


MP3: What Makes You Think You’re The One – The Remodels

Do you remember the packaging for the vinyl version of Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk? It was the most perplexing thing. Blessed was the day it came out on CD because it was now – finally – easy to access.

Did you ever make a cassette compilation of just Lindsey’s song from Tusk? We did, too. It’s been stated best in 3 More Reasons Why Lindsey Buckingham is a Genius when he writes:

“In 1979, while the rest of the band were clinging to the 1970s like grim death, he cut off his hippy locks and put on make-up and women’s suits and played his version of punk songs.”

Family drama was a key component of the Fleetwood Mac magic, and there were several “Stevie, piss off!” songs on Tusk. Here’s a less manic take on one of them:


When You Walk in the Room

January 1, 2009


MP3: When You Walk in the Room – The Remodels

Jackie DeShannon was a peer of Carole King, Ellie Greenwhich, and the other women songwriters who cranked out major hits for other artists. Even though she was not a shadow character in the film Grace of my Heart, some of her fabulous wardrobe seemed to have made the cut!

This lady dated Jimmy Page before the Zeppelin debauchery, wrote many amazing songs and sang so well that Burt Bacharach recruited her to sing some of their best material (hear a “Lifetime of Loneliness”). She is an all-arounder, in the best sense.

Uptempo and ready to kick unrequited love to the curb is how most people know “When You Walk in the Room,” but change a few things and it becomes a sad song of love lost that goes something like this:


Steve Staicoff: all the musical heavy lifting

February 24, 2007

Steve Staicoff (known by us as S3) got his first guitar – a tiger strip Stella Harmony acoustic – when he was 10 years old. He was only 3 when the Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan, so he missed that… but luckily, his brother turned him onto KXOK radio and The Beatles at the tender age of 7, thus beginning his love affair with music that has lasted a lifetime.

The inevitable series of garage bands, jamming, and even a wedding band, carried him through the 70s and by the time he graduated college with a dual degree in accounting and music, he was ready to get out and play in a more serious fashion. The Cleaners were formed in 1986 (picture above, S3 on the far left) and quickly became the weekend “house band” at the then-fledgling club Off Broadway. The Cleaners recorded 3 albums worth of material, 2 of which were ultimately released locally, before calling it quits.

About the same time, he received a call from The Love Experts (picture above: Staicoff, 2nd from left) who were looking to replace a departed guitarist. This marked the first time Steve (Loog-iano) Scariano and Steve (S3) Staicoff played together in a band. Two years and one album later, The Love Experts went on an extended hiatus.

In the meantime, Steve had been busy recording hundreds of demos on his trustworthy Tascam 4-track recorder, and formed a trio simply known as Staicoff (picture above), who released one CD. Wanting to fill out the sound a bit, a second guitarist was added, and Major Steve (and His Privates) was born (picture below).

In 1996, he began studies at Eden Theological Seminary, ultimately graduating with a Master of Divinity degree, and ordained status in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). That’s his clergy photo, below! Though the playing out on weekends subsided as he served several congregations, the Sunday gig became a regular one with the various praise bands he led.

Throughout the 80s, 90s and 00s, Steve continued to record at home, teaching himself the basics of computer-based recording, mixing and mastering. To date, 9 albums have been recorded, though released only to friends and other players.

In February 2007, he was approached by Toby and Loog-iano with the idea of remoulding some songs from the past, and The Remodels were born. Steve carried the biggest load, playing all the instruments (except for a bit of violin from his daughter, Melody, on This Is Love), recording, engineering and mixing. He was able to pull this off while concurrently leaving the clergy (an event unrelated to the advent of The Remodels… I think) and returning to the secular work world.

Currently, Steve plays guitar, keys and sings with the Uncle Hulka band, a group of guys who have been making music together for literally decades. He also writes country music with Claudia Aubuchon. He has not dismissed the idea of future Remodels, once he perfects the science of cloning himself!


Steve Scariano: the Andrew Loog Oldham

February 23, 2007


Steve Scariano  is a bass player. He is not a frustrated guitarist who had to play bass to stay in a band. He’s 100% a professional bass player, and what a rare creature that is.

Which is one of the reasons he’s been invited into so many bands over the decades (shown above on the left with Mick Ronson & Ian Hunter in 1979). Here’s a list of bands he’s currently in:

The Love Experts
JANS Project
Finn’s Motel
Among a dozen other bands he’s been with is Turning Curious, and here’s a great piece he wrote about his early years on his music, politics and doggies blog, Roll Away The Stone.

Above is a Toby photo of the Love Experts in the spring of 1989. At far left, is Steve Staicoff (a.k.a S3), and to his right is Scariano. So, they go back a ways. As does Scariano’s knowledge and passion for music. S3 said of Scariano: he’s one of the most encouraging guys around, always with a kind word to another musician. That’s pretty rare, too, and it’s that trait that made The Remodels happen.

He’s our Andrew Loog Oldham in that he suggests and shapes concepts, re-directs traffic, executive produces and (the most Loog-ian trait of all) brings musical coolness to the project.  This is why we call him The Loog.


Toby Weiss: sings and arranges

February 22, 2007

“I’ve been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet…” Well, above, I got to live out my Cher Half Breed delusions when I was part of the Finn’s Motel video for “Recent Linear Landscapes.” I did a little singing on their album Escape Velocity, a lot of photography. The biggest kick was one of my photos making the front cover!

For a living, I do marketing for a St. Louis residential design-build remodeling firm, with other stints in retail advertising, newspaper and graphic arts. For extra scratch, architectural photographer and writer. I prattle on about built environment issues at B.E.L.T, and media flotsam at M.E.L.T., and virtually ignore a musical diary at Song Line.

In the late 80s/early 90s I wrote, edited, photographed (and eventually owned and published) Jet Lag magazine. We also had a KDHX radio show by the same name. In the middle 1990s, I was part of a jazz duo (whose tracks will be shared if I ever figure out how to post MP3s to this blog). In 2004, I got to be Iggy Pop for 15 minutes, on stage with The Shemps, a Stooges tribute band put together for one night to honor fallen friends. I think it was because of that experience that Scariano decided the idea that became The Remodels should be pursued.

A brilliant photographer friend of mine – BiBi Erdeg – captured my inner-Auntie Mame, in the photo above.

Above, I got to meet Lindsey Buckingham backstage, and tell him he was on my list of Top 10 All-Time Favorite Producers. He looked genuinely shocked and touched, maybe because he never gets props for being a brilliant producer.

Below, is me with Cheap Trick, at the inaugural Trick Fest in August 1995. It was a total geeked-out, teenage girl moment in time. And now I’m so distracted by that memory that we’re done with this bio.