The Lloyds: Attitude Check View larger

The Lloyds: Attitude Check

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Recorded live at Old Waldorf, San Francisco, March 30, 1980, and at The Catalyst, Santa Cruz, CA, 1980.

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Track list:

  1. And That’s Why (I Don’t Like You)
  2. Curiosity
  3. Nothing in Return (When the Party’s Over)
  4. Boys
  5. All Alone
  6. Up On The Wire
  7. Rock and Roll Made Me What I Am Today
  8. Tell Him
  9. Rouge and Lipstick
  10. Attitude Check
  11. Lovesick
  12. Boy’s Life
  13. I’m Still In Love With You
  14. Attitude Check
  15. Boys
  16. Kill Me
  17. We Blew ‘Em All Away
  18. The Tallahassee Vacuum Cleaner Massacre
  19. And That’s Why (I Don’t Like You)
  20. Tell Him

Four decades ago, San Francisco’s punk & New Wave music scene was electric. Countless bands were shaking the walls of dozens of live music venues. Rehearsal rooms and recording studios were booked solid. Streetlights and telephone poles around the city were covered with ever-thickening layers of paper fliers, wheat-pasted and stapled over each other, promoting dozens of every night of the week.

From 1979-1984, thousands of those fliers advertised performances by Lloyds (a/k/a The Lloyds), a vibrant power pop quintet that filled night clubs in the Bay Area and beyond. As you’ll hear on this CD - which includes their best recordings plus a 1980 bottle rocket of a live set - they wrote and played dramatic, hook-laden songs that cut across musical styles and they were energetic, engaging performers who loved to entertain and win over new fans.

Reporter Jack McDonough nailed it in a 1981 Billboard review:
Lloyds, a double-guitar quintet fronted by a lead singer who calls herself only Lulu, turned in a fabulous set that proved the group to be one of the best ensembles on the local scene. The sound is a penetrating, exciting mix of ‘60s girl-group passion and ‘80s new wave attitudes, with Lulu delivering a string of superlative original tunes with a voice that would stand up in a hurricane.

Via Jeffrey Glorfeld’s 1981 profile of the band in the San Francisco State Phoenix:
In any Bay Area rock ‘n’ roll club where the Lloyds may be playing, audiences will be seen dancing, having fun. And often you will see people gazing enviously up at this small girl/woman on stage with her red hair, baggy Boy Scout shirt, and tight black pants, singing the songs and loving every second of it.

For more than a year and a half the Lloyds – Ronnie Jay on guitar, vocals, and harmonica, Pete Meter on bass and vocals [replaced in 1981 by Dan DeShara], Alan Thiele on drums, David Martin on lead guitar and vocals, and Lulu – have been working on their distinctive style of “hard pop” rock ‘n’ roll music.

The group came out of the gate fast and strong. From an August 1980 feature in the Bay Band Calendar by Art Bennett:
The Lloyds were spotlighted and praised for their role in the movie Die Laughing (“an auspicious debut,” said the San Francisco Examiner).
They’ve played all the major clubs in San Francisco and many in Los Angeles. In March they beat over 60 other bands to win the Bay Area Emerging Rock Championships. And in May, they [represented San Francisco] in the Eight A Day for the ‘80s new wave festival (along with the Ramones, Wreckless Eric and others) in Michigan.”

From “A Lulu of A Package,“ a 1981 article by reporter Richie Begin, in Santa Cruz’s Good Times entertainment paper:
The Lloyds are not only entertaining; they’re topical, which has made them a favorite of gay activists in San Francisco. They played to a quarter of a million people at Gay Freedom Day in 1980, and are a favorite at such events as the annual Castro Street Fair and the Harvey Milk Birthday Party.

...A Lloyd, Lulu explains, “is an expression we used to use for someone who’s out of it. Like at the movies we’d say, ‘Who’s that Lloyd in front of us blocking the view?‘ Pretty soon we discovered that we were Lloyds, too. Everybody’s a Lloyd in some way or the other.”

Nowadays, you could even say a Lloyd is anyone who misses a chance to see the Lloyds.

Avoiding “heavy-osity” — Lloyds-slang for anything pretentious — characterized the group’s approach and gave them the freedom to express themselves in whatever musical style they favored, from driving power pop (“When the Party’s Over”) to anthem rock like “Rock & Roll Made Me What I Am Today” (subsequently recorded by heavy metal hottie Lita Ford and Swedish metal king Rob Nasty) to ballads like “All Alone” by Ronnie Jay with his soaring harmonica solo over a boardwalk summer night groove) and “Still In Love With You,” a soulful torch song with a burning slide guitar solo by David Martin.

Harmonica and slide guitar in a New Wave band? And ballads?

“Why not?,” asked the Lloyds.

But three years after their debut, it seemed like every article about the band included a variation of this observation by Greg Beebe of the Santa Cruz Sentinel:
The Lloyds are one of the most baffling success stories to come out of San Francisco in recent years – simply because the band has attracted a large and loyal legion of fans without a major recording contract.

It wasn’t for lack of trying.

The group regularly made obligatory pilgrimages to Los Angeles to showcase for record company executives. Their efforts resulted in a few offers, but nothing worth signing on the dotted line.

The Magic Record Deal never appeared and the years of hard work – with no shortage of great music, fun, and camaraderie along the way – had reached an impasse of frustration. Eventually the Lloyds decided to heed the advice from the title of a song penned by the band’s founding father, Ronnie Jay: “Let’s Call It Quits.”

The breakup was significant enough to merit a San Francisco Sunday Chronicle pink sheet column by rock journalist/historian Joel Selvin entitled “The Struggle Is Over for A Local Band” and a melancholy public television documentary by Jim Morris (now president of Pixar Animation Studios) called Rehearsal.

You can watch the film and learn more about the Lloyds via their website that was created by Alan Thiele, the band’s dynamic, wrists-of-steel drummer. (Check out his relentless snare roll in the band’s signature song, “And That’s Why (I Don’t Like You),” which the Lloyds performed in the 1980 Robby Benson film Die Laughing.
As Lulu exuberantly instructs the band at the beginning of the CD’s first track – “Let’s Go, Lloyds!” — climb aboard this fun time machine and travel back to one of the Bay Area’s greatest rock & roll eras.

—Peter M. Heimlich