#1 On Holy Grail Concert Bucket List Checked!

Posted by Alan Kovan on June 17, 2023 (0 Comments)

A well known fact about me is I have always been and still am a massive Rolling Stones fan. They created the record collecting monster in me.

In 1977 The Rolling Stones played two secret club gigs at the El Mocambo in Toronto. Not sure what the capacity was? Maybe 400. A Rolling Stones club show became my holy grail concert.

1981 it was Sir Morgan's Cove outside of Boston. 1989 it was Toads Place in Long Island. 1994 it was RPM in Toronto. 1997 it was the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto. 2002 it was the Palais Royale in Toronto.

In 1997 I was living in Chicago. The Stones were starting their North American tour there. There were rumors they were going to play The Metro. I had connections with Virgin Records staff who were going to call me when they found out. I got to work on the morning of September 20 only to find out the Stones announced a club gig at The Double Door that night. It was less than a mile from my apartment. I could have walked there and bought a wristband had I been called. 

I told my friend whom I worked for and he told me to go home, change and meet him at his apartment. Either we would get in or go to dinner at Gibson's steak house. It was the proverbial win/win situation. He pulled every string he had. I arrived at his apartment around 4pm. Just before 5 pm the phone rang. It was Bernard Fowler, one of the Stones back up singers, and my friend asked him if it was possible to get us into that nights show. He said come by the Ritz Carlton and pick up a few passes. 

That we did. I still didn't believe we were going to get in. We went to dinner across from the Double Door and went outside and there were tons of people at the intersection. Also there was a huge line to get in. We were talking to a couple and the woman was very pregnant. We were speaking to the police with them and the police said just stay here. As soon as the doors open we will let you guys in first. Just nuts. Well our passes were good and we stood in front of the mixing desk about 75 feet from the stage. We were speaking to the guys in the mixing desk and then the lights went down and BAM! The Rolling Stones club show I had #1 on my bucket list started. To see them as a bar band was insane. 

Here is the set list:

They did not play Sister Morphine but what an amazing club show set list. We were joking around after the show with the two guys in the mixing desk and I saw the set list and asked if I could have it. There it is. With the magic pass.

Last night I watched a DVD of this show. Virgin Records shot it professionally as you can see how many camera angles there are. While at the actual show I was unaware of how "on" the Stones were that night. It was a surreal experience to be sure. Not sure how many generations down the line this is but here are the Rolling Stones as a bar band. Rolling Stones live Double Door Chicago 1997 RARE - YouTube You can fast forward to about 59:40 for Jumping Jack Flash just to see how great they were that night. There are other songs rarely played in this set list too.

What a night! 

Special thanks to: Geezer, Bernard Fowler, Carlos Alomar, Sheldon L., the two guys in the mixing desk and of course the Rolling Stones.



Memorial Day

Posted by Alan Kovan on May 29, 2023 (0 Comments)

Memorial Day. 

Bittersweet every year. Both my parents passed away on Memorial Day weekend. My Dad in 2005 and my Mom in 2010. Each year that passes the pain dulls a little. Just a little. Every year I say to myself just get through it.

I watched Friday night services from Temple Israel on line Friday when they read both my parents names together for those observing yahrzeit. It is very meaningful. Every single year. 

Last night something remarkable happened. I received a text from a friend who asked if I was home. I replied yes. He came over and we had a beer on my porch. Nothing dawned on me until after he left and I realized 18 years ago almost to the day this same friend showed up out of the blue with bagels and coffee the morning after my Dad passed away and we sat in that same spot. In this post Covid world these instances are much less frequent. 

This post isn't meant to be a sad one. The take away is you can't make new/old friends. Cherish those friends who are close to you.


Tom Verlaine

Posted by Alan Kovan on January 28, 2023 (0 Comments)

Tom Verlaine dead? Where do I start?

It seems I just got over my Jeff Beck and David Crosby binges. Now this?

That angular guitar sound I had never heard before. First Television's Marquee Moon and then the uber underrated Adventure. Not guitar sounds I had ever heard before. The way he bent guitar notes but not in a gratuitous way. It was art/punk. Shocking and exciting at the same time. 

The first solo LP was good. It didn't really grab me. However his follow up Dreamtime did. Big time. Just listen to Mr. Blur. Tom Verlaine - Mr. Blur - YouTube

I went to see Tom Verlaine headline a show on at Harpo's on the Dreamtime tour. It was a cool Thursday night in a really shitty part of Detroit. Harpo's was is/was considered to be one of the biggest shithole clubs in the world according to bands who played there. Another thing to be not so proud of in Detroit in the early 80's. I was sitting in my car smoking a joint and this guy in the car next to me gets out of his car and removes his hubcaps one by one. As my buzz kicked in I rolled down my window and asked why he took his hubcaps off. He said last time he was at Harpo's all his hubcaps were stolen. Then the paranoia kicked in. 

As I walked into Harpo's the crowd seemed odd. Really odd. The bill was odd too.

Tom Verlaine headlined. An East Coast punky power pop band The Necessaries were second and a Detroit hard rock bar band The Almighty Strut opened. This puzzled me. Then I was told it was .25 cent beer night hence The Almighty Strut opening. Bad recipe.

The bikers who ran Harpo's were hassling all the Tom Verlaine fans. Making guys take bandanas off and other stupid shit. Nothing was going to stop me from enjoying this show. And I did. Tom Verlaine was fantastic. 

I also saw him open for someone in Ann Arbor when Flash Light was released. Once again so happy to have seen that show. Bizarre I can't remember what band headlined. Sugar? The Boo Radleys? The Church? Annie's Tellin' Me - YouTube

Fast forward to the Television Marquee Moon 40th Anniversary tour in 2017 at The El Club in Detroit. So glad I went. Truth be told I didn't love the show but I was so happy I saw Television live finally.

Tom Verlaine has remained a constant source of enjoyment throughout most of my life. 

I'll leave with this gorgeous song from Marquee Moon.

Television - Guiding Light - YouTube


Rest In Power Tom. 


Goodbye to a major impact on me as a kid.

Posted by Alan Kovan on February 09, 2022 (0 Comments)

I said goodbye today to someone who had a major impact on me as a kid growing up. He played baseball with my father at Central High School in Detroit in the late 40's and remained a very close friend of my parents. He was also a big Detroit sports fan and had season tickets to the: Pistons, Red Wings and Tigers.

He knew that my brothers and I were massive sports fans and when there were tickets that were not being used we often got "the" phone call. I distinctly remember my mother or father asking me if I wanted whatever tickets that were on offer. We never said no. Usually Pistons games at Cobo Arena, Red Wings games at Olympia & Joe Louis and Tigers games at Tiger Stadium. 

When I was buying up remaining stock of sports memorabilia from shops down by Tiger Stadium I found an 8 x 10 of Hank Greenberg, Babe Ruth, Charlie Gehringer & Lou Gehrig. 

I thought of one person. Put it in a frame and delivered it to him. I simply said thank you. He asked for what? I told him how much all the sports tickets he gave us as kids meant. I just wanted to thank him.

He stayed close with all of us kids as we became adults. He always took an interest in what we were doing. He and his wife were there when both of my parents passed away. He was just a sweetheart of a guy or as they say in Yiddish "a mensch".

There are few higher Jewish compliments to pay someone than to call them a mensch, though, of course, a true mensch would be too modest to want to be complimented.

A mensch is a person who can be relied on to act with honour and integrity. But the Yiddish term means more than that: it also suggests someone who is kind and considerate.

Not much higher praise than you can be remembered by.

One more time.

Thank you Bob.


Unsuccessful Americanization of English Football

Posted by Alan Kovan on April 21, 2021 (0 Comments)

How many Americans(and one S African) does it take to ruin over 100 years English Football? Five apparently.

What the hell? How much money do you need? Billionaire owners get together to hatch a European Super League that in effect ruins the trust fans have with their teams. This may go back generations in many families. All for more money. Greedy assholes.

You wonder why Americans are disliked in many parts of the world. This is Exhibit A in sports. When it seems like us Americans have righted a four years mistake by barely electing a different President and on the same day as the Derek Chauvin verdict was announced this miserable ESL idea crumbled.

Granted I am American. I am a HUGE sports fan. My love of Baseball and Baseball history is deep rooted. Much like it is in many families. Baseball is the sport that is woven through the fabric of American life in my opinion. Much like Hockey is to Canada and Football(Soccer) is to England and Europe as well as South America. So I can only imagine how I would feel if someone decided to mess with the Detroit Tigers. Move them. Have them join a different league. I would be devastated. Now take English football which is the equivalent of rolling all four major American sports: MLB, NFL, NBA & NHL into one. Then in one statement ruining the long earned trust between fans and team.

That is what those five assholes pictured above attempted. Four of the five are Americans. Being American I obviously am not anti-American but it really upsets me when these five greedy mofo's messed with the generational devotion many English football fans have with their teams. Four of the five happen to be American.

The backlash should be interesting and well deserved. All for money.



So this record was released yesterday 11-20-2020. Southeast Of Saturn- A Michigan Shoegaze / Dream Pop / Space Rock compilation. 

In a year that has been scary, exhausting, psychologically intense and just downright shitty this LP has been a beacon of light in the darkness. 

Many kind words have been written about Play It Again which closed nearly 25 years ago. It is very humbling to read the impact the store had on many of it's customers. Many who were inspired to start their own bands and create their own art.

This is the press release for Southeast Of Saturn:

It makes sense that Detroit had a buzzy, thriving space-rock scene in the ‘90s. What American city’s denizens had a more urgent need to disengage and think outside the grim, post-industrial rustbelt realities? With space-rock (and its close sonic cousin shoegaze) being at once expansive and introspective, it naturally appealed to the young, intelligent artists who gravitated toward its vertiginous orbit. 

The music of Southeast Of Saturn did not arise organically from metro Detroit’s fertile soil. Locally, garage-rock, goth-rock, neo-hippie groups, and the usual preponderance of adequate bar bands dominated the landscape. Thirsty Forest Animals guitarist Andrew Peters summarizes the prevalent attitude among the Motor City’s space-rock contingent: “I don’t think we really noticed the local Detroit scene earlier on. We were more into the bands you would see in the NME / Melody Maker, zines, and records - mostly from the UK - on the walls at Play It Again”. If anything was a major factor locally, it was Play It Again, the independent record store in the suburbs of Detroit that nurtured the scene with its amazing curation of imports and killer used records picked up on owner Alan Kovan’s British record buying trips.

Penned “Detroit Space-Rock”, the scene centered around Burnt Hair Records, Burnt Hair CEO Larry Hoffman’s Life According To Larry radio show, Zoot’s Coffeehouse and bands, such as Windy & Carl, Asha Vida, Füxa, Auburn Lull, and Majesty Crush. It was a modern movement of a more traditional “space-rock” sound, influenced less by The Stooges and MC5 and more by Spacemen 3, Loop, My Bloody Valentine and krautrock bands like Can and Neu!. Even the best-known artists on Southeast Of Saturn - Windy & Carl, Majesty Crush, Füxa - never achieved mainstream success, but within the rock underground, they inspired a cultish devotion that burns to this day.

If you missed their evanescent output  the  first time around, this compilation will get you up to speed over its 19 mind-altering tracks. 

This could not have been done without the fantastic music freaks that worked at the shop. All of them contributed. But I do need to single out Michael Segal. Michael scoured the NME, Melody Maker, The Catalogue, Select and as many fanzines as he could get his hands on to make the impact the store had. This is not to slight any of the others who graced the counter at Play It Again but Michael belongs in the Hall Of Fame of record store employees if it existed. He could have his own exhibit of hype stickers and artwork.

Armed with knowledge from employees and wants lists from customers this made my close to 25 buying/selling/trading trips to the UK much easier. What none of you realize is those trips were harder work than just opening the door to the shop everyday. Lugging loads of records on a plane (back when you could) and then lugging them around London in and out of tube stations, and then back on the return flight was physically exhausting but ultimately so satisfying. Having shops to trade with over there was key. Mainly Vinyl Experience in Hanway Street. It was because of them we were able to get as many great UK Indie records as we wound up getting. 

Then there are the customers. None of this would have or could have happened without all of you. You had to have an open mind to not only walk into the shop but to cross that invisible barrier that exists in a lot of indie record shops between customers and staff. You know, the one where a customer walks in and thinks the employees are know it all assholes. Kind of like Jack Black in High Fidelity but less cartoonish. I always tried to avoid that. 

Working in a record shop was a fantastic job. It was our job to find new bands to turn you on to. I am glad so many of you loved to hang out. Like a clubhouse sort of. Or like a corner bar without the alcohol. Only drawback was the pay.

It was always important to me to be inclusive of everyone. Running a shop like Play It Again you know people who walk through that door are looking for music that defines them. That sets them apart. Especially many of those at such a fragile and impressionable age. Just like a lot of the punks that hung out at Noir Leather. Same thing. 

On a personal note it really is gratifying to read the kind words that have been written by Dave Segal and Andrew Peters. As you get older and life goes by faster everyday it is nice to know we made a positive impact on peoples lives along the way. It continues to this day based on how many Play It Again customers I am still in contact with.

I just wanted you all to know this and give you all a giant virtual hug.

Thank you: Michael Segal, Dave Segal, Andrew Peters, Rich Hansen, Dave Buick, Roe Peterhans, Third Man Records and really to everyone who helped Play It Again be what it was for so many years.


Record Stores- my story

Posted by Alan Kovan on September 15, 2019 (2 Comments)


For those open minded and into music Record Stores can be the center of their universe and social life. They open up all sorts of possibilities. To many music is what defines them. They were very much like a corner bar sans alcohol. A gathering place for people to hang out and learn about music and life. 

If you bonded with a record store staff they often guided your musical journey. Or you found your own path. Since I have lived in the Detroit area most of my life that was my experience. Helpful were the UK music magazines that started being imported to the US around the Punk era and continued after that. Those were a fantastic way to find out about new bands on a weekly basis. Problem was try finding a store who stocked all those records and magazines.

My journey started at Korvettes on Southfield Rd. The lowest price on records in town. I used to drool over some of the Rolling Stones imports. Then across the street Record Market opened behind Farrell's. They were more adventurous. End caps fully stocked with Stooges & MC5 records. It was like Creem Magazine opened that shop. I bought my first Rolling Stones ticket there. For a show in Cleveland. 

Closer to home there was Record Outlet on Orchard Lake Rd. where a bearded red haired guy (I cant remember his name) carefully curated their New Wave wall. He was the first person to tell me about the Talking Heads, Television, The Ramones etc. It really opened my eyes.

Then I went away to college at Michigan State where I had Flat Black & Circular to continue my education. I think I spent more time in there than in the class room. There was also Wherehouse Records for new major label releases. Good staff there too.

Then in my post college life I started to travel. The first thing I would do in the early 80's (pre internet & GPS) after checking into my hotel room was bust out the Yellow Pages and turn to Record Stores and map out my free time. Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, all of Michigan. On weekends I would drive to Off The Record in Dearborn and load up on records and magazines. While they wound up being my main competitor and I wound up moving my shop a block away from theirs and we (the owners) developed a dislike for each other, they were an integral part of my musical journey. 

After some lay offs, including me, in just over a year things changed. My Dad took me to a football game at MSU. He asked me what I really wanted him to do with my life. So I took him to Flat Black & Circular. We talked about the concept on the way home and the seeds of my shop were planted.

At the time I was a massive Rolling Stones fan and collector. But I was also very much into punk, post punk, new wave. Simple Minds, U2, Echo & The Bunnymen, The Clash, Elvis Costello and much more. I knew I wanted to stock cool imports and cool records as well as used vinyl. I made a connection with Bleecker Bob's in NYC to get these really cool French gig posters. Not sure how I managed this. Bob Plotnick aka Bleecker Bob (RIP) was not easy to deal with. 

The early days were tough. Everyone wanted a job but there was no money. I had one employee  A high school student who knew his music. My Mom filled in occasionally if I needed to go to New York to get posters. I still laugh when I think about this. She insisted on listening to reggae when she was behind the counter. I must have gotten my passion from her.

My employee went off to college and I needed to hire a new employee. We used to advertise on local cable on the IRS Records 120 Minutes on MTV. All over the Detroit area. Thankfully John Huston was watching in Northville and I am not sure if I asked him or if he asked me but I hired him. John knew way more about music than I did. This was a definite turning point. The Segal brothers, Michael and Dave, were regulars and took to John. All three scoured the UK music papers asking me to order all sorts of obscure UK independent releases which they all bought. Michael was hired and the whole idea of the shop changed. This bond resulted in what I feel is the best music writing I have ever read in the four issue run of the You Can't Hide Your Love Forever fanzine.

I want to mention all my employees Milly, Craig, Kristin, Todd, Holly, Jennifer, M Blake Johnson aka Scoob, Brett, Matt, Campbell, Andy, Randall, Jill and Ann Arbor- Mike, Glen, Rob & Amy.

It was difficult to stock these records and it was a miracle we were able to get them. Part of it was buying used records who's value I knew was much more in the UK than here and stashing them until I had enough to fly to London and trade to get all the Creation, Factory, Rough Trade, 4AD and all other independent UK records. I had a great trading partner in Mark Hayward at Vinyl Experience. Later on it was Runcible Records whom I loaded up on all things Spacemen 3 and Spiritualized among other uber limited UK indie records.

All these parts of the puzzle made up Play It Again. It allowed me to travel and build business relationships, get all the hard to find UK indie records and have the first rare record wall in town. 

Another stroke of luck (for us) was when the head of alternative marketing at Warner Brothers, came to town. She was at Harmony House on Orchard Lake Rd working a Smiths record when the staff their asked why she hadn't come to my shop. She did. She also locked her keys in the car which made her visit the better part of the afternoon. This was the start of a great relationship between my shop and Warner Brothers. We were really taken care of by several labels but the Warner Brothers bond was the closest. I am sure they helped get me on New Music Seminar and CMJ panels. I am sure they also helped us be chosen as the record shop by the second stage for the four day run at the 1994 Lollapalooza at Pine Knob/DTE.

This brings me to the "golden era" of Play It Again. The buying/trading trips to the UK, the in store signings Throwing Muses, The Lucy Show, The Chameleons, Spiritualized, Mercury Rev to name a few. Stereolab, Poster Children, LaBradford and Comet playing in the shop. Also the forging of relationships with several bands and record labels as well as Jason Spacemen of Spiritualized which continues to this day.

What really made the shop was the customers without whom we would never have stayed open. It isn't lost on me how long the drive was for folks from the East Side in the pre I-696 days. Lets face it you had to walk in to an intimidating environment as far as music was concerned. I understood that and tried hard to create a welcoming atmosphere. That didn't always work out because when it comes to music, especially in shops like Play It Again, that defined whomever it was walking through the doors. We did run the gamut of everything from US & UK indie to experimental noise and goth. I can only guess what a lot of the Current 93/Nurse with Wound/United Dairies records I used to pick up on trips to the UK are worth now. Some of those were so limited I had to be one of the only shops in the US that had them.

Many people just wanted to hear what we were in to. What great new records needed to be a part of their collection. 20+ years after moving on from Play It Again I hear from people who tell me how much they appreciate my store. How important it was in their musical journey. Those stories never get old. Just last week I was in Rustbelt Market speaking to one of my very early customers Dan and someone stopped and noticed me and had such nice things to say. In fact I could go through my facebook friend list and probably 30 to 40% are former customers and employees. In fact some of my closest friends were made through buying/selling/trading records. Canadians, English, Australians. 

This note from one of my very good friends upon his first visit to PIA:

Upon my very first visit to your shop we walked in and Bardo Pond's Amanita was playing. I remember saying "what is this?" and the rest is history. On the same morning you said you had shit to do and you handed me a pile of 7" singles and said play these. The first one was Brian Jonestown Massacre's- Anemone. It blew my mind. The 2nd single was Flowchart's Acoustic Ambience. This also had a massive effect on me. That all took place in the first 45 minutes I spent in your shop. That was a very important 3/4 of hour of musical impact.

This from a Detroit Free Press article celebrating Record Store Day 2016. The quote was from Ben Blackwell of The Dirtbombs and Third Man Records.

"There was a moment in 1995 when I discovered Play It Again Records in Ferndale, where literally every record I was looking for at that point was on the wall," Blackwell says "I had just started collecting Sub Pop and Seattle Grunge stuff, and the wall there was littered with all of it. I don't think I will ever have be able that experience again in my life. The guy running the counter saw me put a single back (I didn't have enough money), and when he was ringing up my purchases, he told me to go back and grab whatever single it was (I believe it was a Mudhoney 7 inch). Something so insignificant, so fleeting, I will never forget and always keep in mind whenever meeting someone else who's excited and motivated out in the record world".

My story is just a Detroit area story. I know there are others. In other cities like Buffalo with Home Of The Hits, Chicago- The Quaker Goes Deaf, Milwaukee- Atomic, Minneapolis- Let It Be, Toronto- Record Peddler. There are also great shops currently open that are vitally important. Here we have Street Corner in Oak Park, Stormy in Dearborn, Flat Black & Circular in East Lansing, Dr. Disc in Windsor, Sonic Boom and Rotate This in Toronto, Stinkweeds in Phoenix, Amoeba in Los Angeles & Berkeley, Jumbo in Leeds, King Bee in Chorlton (Manchester), Dig Vinyl in  Liverpool. These are just shops I know of and have been to in the past 20 years.

Things these days like Spotify and iTunes take the joy of the record shop away. People don't feel they need the physical product. Not sure if that makes me old school but I don't care. I love supporting bands by buying their releases directly from them or their label. Chicos De Nazca, Kikagaku Moyo, Moon Duo/Rose City Band. Just some of the bands I have recently bought directly from.

The moral of the story here. Find a record shop. Make friends with them. You may learn something. You may make a new friend. It will open up a whole new world.


The Screaming Trees Appreciation Society

Posted by Alan Kovan on June 01, 2019 (0 Comments)

It started with Buzz Factory.

The Screaming Trees were the first SST band I listened to who were drenched in psychedelia. Majestic swirling songs. With hooks. And heavy. Not a combination I was used to. It spoke to me.

Sure there were other heavy hitters on the SST roster. Sonic Youth, Husker Du, Dinosaur Jr, The Minutemen, Meat Puppets etc. No SST band floored me like the Screaming Trees.

One night they played the Bling Pig in Ann Arbor on the Buzz Factory tour and we arrived early. We saw Gary Lee Conner walking around and we approached him. He said he was looking for a decent place to eat. We were headed to Full Moon for beer and dinner and invited him along. He accepted. I guessing this was 1989-ish. Not one for much conversation but it was nice to take him out to dinner. He appreciated the gesture when we picked up his tab. They were fantastic that night. 

I was already a pretty big fan by the time Uncle Anesthesia came out in 1990. Their major label debut did not disappoint. The production was better for one. Every song on Uncle Anesthesia is fantastic. And that voice! It helped that we were friendly with Dave Gottlieb at Epic Records. He was also a fan. We were gifted loads of promo items and really sold thru a ton of Uncle Anesthesia. 

The follow up Sweet Oblivion in 1992 was even better. Better songs. Even better production. Nearly Lost You was the featured single from the semi hit movie Singles. And that voice! I was in NYC for the New Music Seminar and remember seeing the Trees at The Academy in the Broadway district one night and a few days later sitting with them at the screening of Singles. Bizarre but true. I was sent an advance tape of Sweet Oblivion which I took with me on a trip to Israel and Amsterdam in 1992. That tape was played every day in our hotel room at least twice with a Sony Walkman and speakers.

Why it took five years for Dust to be released I have no idea? My guess is that is what stopped their momentum as a band. Not all bands were made to last 20 years. The body of work the Screaming Trees left behind is truly breathtaking. Particularly the last four official records they released; Buzz Factory, Uncle Anesthesia, Sweet Oblivion and Dust. Even the b-sides that are on the deluxe expanded reissues of Sweet Oblivion and Dust are amazing.

My music obsessed friends and I often have these discussions about bands and eras. One that crops up is name a band who released three great albums in a row. The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Dylan, Velvet Underground always come up. Out of the 80's/90's though it is much harder. I have the Screaming Trees at the top of my list in that era. Up there with Echo & The Bunnymen. Three albums is hard enough. Four is even harder.

The Conner brothers with Mark Lanegan just worked so well together. Gary Lee Conner, the psychedelic brother and Van, the Black Sabbath brother and Mark Lanegan. All three influences worked some magic and while I don't hold out any hope of a reunion I am eternally grateful for the music they created.

Every time I pull out a Screaming Trees record it starts me on a binge that ends up with me playing everything. Well at least all four records mentioned in this blog.

I am not sure how many people will actually read this blog. I know a lot of my old record shop customers will. I know a lot of them feel the exact same way I do. I just wanted the band to know how appreciated they were then and still are now.



Welcome Home Stevie Y!

Posted by Alan Kovan on April 19, 2019 (0 Comments)

He may not have been born in Detroit but he definitely "grew up" in Detroit. He gave sports fans in this town one of the greatest careers this generation has ever witnessed. I remember Steve Yzerman being named Captain at such a young age. He didn't flinch. He led by example. He led with dignity. He led with class.

All I have read are second hand accounts by those who shared a locker room with him are how quiet he was but when he chose to speak it made a major impact.

His toughness on and off the ice are unmatched by any Captain I know of. His mental toughness with the hiring of Scotty Bowman and him changing his game to suit Bowman's more defensive style is yet another example. Hearing his name mentioned in trade rumors with Ottawa in 1995 could not have been easy. I hate to think what would have happened had the Red Wings pulled the trigger on that trade. We would probably still be waiting for a Stanley Cup. Let alone four.

I was fortunate to be a Red Wings season ticket holder for much of Steve Yzerman's career. I saw so much great hockey. A team always on the ascent. Making the playoffs year after year and competing with the like of the Wayne Gretzky led Edmonton Oilers that was more a team of all stars and Hall Of Famers than just another hockey team.

The Yzerman led Red Wings gave me the greatest night I have ever had as a sports fan in Detroit attending Game 4 of the 1997 Stanley Cup Finals. A 2-1 win and a sweep of Philadelphia giving Detroit their first Stanley Cup in 42 years. It was like an out of body experience. I was also at Tiger Stadium in 1984 when the Tigers won the World Series as well as Magglio's home run in 2006 to send the Tigers to the World Series at Comerica Park. 

Another, on a personal note, was the game 5 win over Carolina in 2002 which I was able to share with my father who is no longer alive. To watch the Steve Yzerman led Red Wings to hoist another Stanley Cup at home at The Joe with my father by my side is an experience I will never forget and will cherish forever. 

A few years ago a client wanted to buy me a gift to thank me for an extraordinarily tough job that went off without a hitch. He asked someone who my favorite athlete is and I had to stop and think. I never looked at athletes like that. I am not an autograph collector. I am just a sports fan and product of 1960's thru present baseball, 1960's thru the early 2000's NHL, 1970's thru 1990's NBA, Michigan State sports, and Premier League and World Cup soccer. The upshot here was my answer. I said the athlete I respect the most is Steve Yzerman for all the reasons mentioned above and more. 

Steve Yzerman's homecoming could not happen at a more crucial time in Red Wings history. I admit I only watched a handful of games the past few years as they have become a tough watch. I have total faith, given time, he will make a monumental difference in the trajectory of the franchise.

With all the negative news in the world at the moment I am so happy to wake up with a giant smile on my face today.

Thank you Detroit Red Wings.

Welcome home Stevie Y!


Simple Minds

Posted by Alan Kovan on January 19, 2019 (2 Comments)


It started when I bought the UK import of Promised You A Miracle in 1982. I used to read the NME and Melody Maker religiously back then. That is what brought Simple Minds to my attention. Then I read the review of the New Gold Dream LP.

The next landmark was being invited to the Michigan vs UCLA football game in 1982. Being a Michigan State graduate I was less than enthusiastic but realized Schoolkids Records may have the UK import of New Gold Dream. I reluctantly said yes and made it to Ann Arbor early enough to go to Schoolkids and lo and behold there was a fresh copy of the New Gold Dream UK lp in the front of the import section. I bought the LP and just wanted to go home and listen to this record. Unfortunately I still had a football game to attend. 

Well, I rooted loudly for UCLA. They won 31-27. I made zero friends in the Michigan student section where I was seated. 

I went home and listened to NGD. It wasn't immediate. Over the next few months I grew to love this record. Most of my all time favorite records happened like this. Rolling Stones- Exile On Main St and Spiritualized-  Lazer Guided Melodies etc. 

My fandom continued with an ill fated drive from Detroit to London Ontario in 1982. It was a torrential downpour and we hydroplaned for two hours to the University of Western Ontario student venue only to find out the show was canceled. Another two hours hydroplaning home with nothing to show for it. No show. Nothing.

Finally Simple Minds were playing in Detroit in 1983 at St. Andrews Hall on the New Gold Dream tour. I had a friend hand paint the Japanese OBI strip from New Gold Dream on a sweatshirt (I know) but that sweatshirt got me invited on the tour bus by their manager Bruce Findlay. From then on I was treated incredibly well by the band.

I have been all over seeing them and never once having to put my hand in my pocket for tickets. This includes two shows at the Edinburgh Playhouse, several Toronto shows including four Massey Hall shows and Maple Leaf Gardens(sold out!), The Beacon Theater in NYC, the Tower Theater in Philadelphia even a few days in Poughkeepsie New York watching the band rehearse for and then open the Once Upon A Time tour as well as several Detroit and Ann Arbor shows. 

So many memorable moments. Jim shouting my name from the stage at The Michigan Theater in 1984 as well as Jim giving me a dozen after show passes at the Hill Auditorium in 1985 show so he could meet many of my most ardent Simple Minds fans who shopped at my store. My brother and I also drove Jim to my shop which was a 45 minute drive after the Hill Auditorium show. Waiting there were some good customers and my parents. They wanted to meet one of the band responsible for my fandom. It was so nice watching Jim take such an interest in my parents.

In 1995 I saw them at Royal Oak Theater. It had been 10 years since I had last seen them. It was nice to catch up. 

23 years later Simple Minds were playing at the Fillmore in Detroit on their 2018 tour. At this point I had totally lost touch with Jim, their management or anyone to do with Simple Minds. I posted a note on their facebook page asking if it was possible for on old friend to come and say hello. I was immediately messaged asking for my email address. I sent it and Jim emailed me inviting me to their Meet & Greet prior to the show. I had never been to one of these so I had no idea what to expect. When the band walked out and lined up to take photos with the fans who bought this package Jim says "Ok, Where is Alan?". I then got a great big bear hug and we caught up. It was so nice. To be honest it was one of the highlights of 2018 for me. 

The show that followed just blew me away. I have always had the utmost respect for bands that change along the way. Simple Minds are band that have embraced change several times throughout their 40+ year career. I wasn't prepared for what I was about to witness. The band was having so much fun as was the crowd. Many of whom have been waiting over two decades to see them. 

Yes. This isn't the same band I was so into back in the 80's. Only Jim and Charlie remain. However the way they reworked the songs just worked incredibly well. Sarah Brown's backing, and sometimes lead, vocals were perfect. It was also difficult to takes your eyes of drummer Cherisse Osei. Rarely have I ever seen a drummer play with such unbridled joy and ferocity all while in heels. Ged Grimes and Gordy Goudie fleshed out the rest of the band and it all fit so well. 

Over the years my music taste changed quite a bit. This because my shop specialized in more indie music. Mainly the hard to find UK indie music on labels like Creation. More into the Space Rock and Shoegaze music of the era. But also much of the US indie rock a la Sub Pop, SST, and similar labels. But you never forget those bands who mean so much. My touchstones are Simple Minds and the Rolling Stones. Perhaps that is why my catching up with Jim prior to the 2018 show meant so much. He could have blown it off but he didn't. He isn't that type of person.

For that I am grateful.




1 2 3 Next »