Walter Steding Get Ready 7" (Red Star, 1979)
God knows how much print and film has been devoted to New York's mid 70s underground rock scene? I know that there is nothing that I can add to the verbiage other than "Enough!" Some great music, yes, but not the center of the universe and frankly a lot of bullshit passed of as godhead (check out any of Soul Jazz's New York Noise comps for a lot of bands that should be little more than footnotes, if not forgotten). But, but, but because New York is so big and because it draws so much creative attention, there are plenty of things going on that fall between the cracks (such as the mess of mediocre bands on the NYN comps!). Currently, there is a guy in NYC named Billy Syndrome who has been making great outsider punk for the last couple decades, a guy I am sure few of you have heard of because his life exists in those aforementioned cracks. This here Walter Steding is another crack dweller.
Steding did have his time in the spotlight, however that light was indirect, reflected off of those artists he played with rather than shone straight on him. A pal of many of the NY new wave and punk crowd, Steding opened for Blondie and fellow label mates Suicide. He had a couple LPs produced by Chris Stein. Robert Fripp guested on his records (heard here on Hound Dog). But like that other punk rock violinist, Nash the Slash, Steding wasn't able to stick (though his performance has been preserved in the film Downtown 81). His records are obscurities and not sought after. Part of that is because they are spotty, part of that is that they are either too slick or not slick enough, and part of that is due to the fact that becoming a star playing violin in rock & roll has happened but once and it will never happen again. I doubt that Steding cares that he is pretty much an afterthought in the history of New York underground rock. He seemed to have a nice run at the time and he is now an accomplished visual artist and his music has seemed to venture into the avant garde.
This single was made in 1979 and was produced by Chris Stein. I've had it for years and it only started to really sink in over the last few years. There is something hinky about the production and the songwriting seems a bit stiff and premature. That used to bug me, but now I realize that those are strengths. Slicked up this stuff might be pretty miserable. The oddness of the sound is what saves it for me.