Feb 08, 2022, 05:57AM

Apologizing to Love and Money

In 1988 they kicked me out of the 9:30 Club. It was just.

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I recently came across “Strange Kind of Love,” one of the most magnificent songs of the 1980s. I was instantly lifted up by the ballad.

I also realized I owed an apology to Love and Money, the band responsible for “Strange Kind of Love.” Love and Money kicked me out of the 9:30 Club in 1988. I had it coming. I think it’s never too late, to say I acted like an asshole. Maybe I just feel bad because Love and Money are a fine group and they deserved more acclaim.

In 1988 I as working at Kemp Mill Records, a busy D.C. store on Connecticut Ave., just next to Dupont Circle. It was a great job and a fun group of people, including a guy I’ll only refer to as his nickname: Disco. Disco and I spent all day selling CDs, albums and cassettes, and my memory of the big sellers will flag the era: Fine Young Cannibals, Bobby Brown, Simply Red, 10,000 Maniacs. To record reps we were crucial dealers to the wider music community. What we liked we played in-store, and before the Internet that was huge. The reps showered us in demos and free tickets. It was a great life. (My favorite show from the era: That Petrol Emotion).

Enter Love and Money. The Scottish pop and soul group was mostly singer and guitarist James Grant, whose rich baritone guided songs like  “Alleluia Man,”“Shape of Things to Come” and “Jocelyn Square.” These are gorgeous and literate songs, expressing the longing of love and frustrations of poverty. The Smiths were great, but this opening from “Avalanche” still gives me goose bumps:

Wanted an invitation from a window or a woman's laugh

Just a little something everybody else seemed to have

The cushion of love to help me take the strain

I hope it rains the day I die, it's hard to explain

Disco, a tall, handsome and preppy young man with dark hair and a fair face, adored Love and Money. Often I’d try to put the Pixies or the Replacements in the CD player only to get vetoed by Disco, who outranked me as a manager. I usually didn’t object. Love and Money were five-star pop, even if Disco was a bigger fan. I also was more enamored of the Scottish band The Blue Nile; if we were going to listen to Scottish pop, I usually voted for The Blue Nile.

Then one afternoon at the store we got a visit from the record rep from Mercury. Love and Money were playing at the 9:30 that night! Did we want tickets? Disco started jumping around like a kid. This was the 1980s, and we were young men working in a record store, so we weren’t strangers to the Dionysian side of the rock ‘n’ roll business. We had a choice. We could go home after our shift ended, have some dinner and clean up to be fresh and alert for the gig. Or we could let our excitement peak early and go to a bar to drink and smoke like we were two-thirds of Motorhead.

We choose Motorhead. We loaded the tank over several hours at the Fox & Hounds, went a little Bright Lights, Big City in the cab over, and were approaching Venus by the time we pulled up to the club. We were housed.

In the original 9:30 Club you could get close to your musical idols. Disco and I made our way to the front. We started shouting along to the songs. Grant looked amused and then a little unsure, like the cute dog that he was petting on his lap suddenly lifted a leg. Our enthusiasm was great, yet we were just at the point of pushing past that edge, where boisterousness became The Wild Life.

The band made it through the set and it was time to go home. Unfortunately, as local record lords we were allowed backstage. Disco and I snaked our way down to the green room, where we found the band. I proceeded to give a dissertation on the greatest Scottish band in the world—the Blue Nile. I offered some tips on how Love and Money could emulate these Caledonian giants, and expressed some sympathy that L&M just weren’t there yet. At this point Disco was lost somewhere in the club.

I was about to continue my lecture when James Grant looked at me and said, “I’d really love to talk to you about this, but you’re acting like a drunk asshole.”

The next thing I knew the bouncers had me. They were pretty gentle escorts as they kicked me to the curb. I pleaded with them that I couldn’t leave without Disco.

“There’s only one person left,” the huge dude said. “And he’s almost as bad off as you.”

Then it hit him. “Wait a minute,” he said. “You guys came together? You know each other?” Then he smiled. He was going to enjoy this. A few minutes later here comes Disco, given a heave as he hit the sidewalk. We swam back to his apartment where we watched a Russ Meyer movie and then passed out.

Now, decades later, I unexpectedly come across “Strange Kind of Love.” Still sounds magnificent. Sorry boys, and cheers.


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