Harvey Myrtle 45 (Yevrah Moons, 1980)
Harvey were a San Francisco band made up of the three Harvey brothers - Doni, Regi, and Chris. They were responsible for one 45 and one 12" ep. Both are solid records - Blue Oyster Cult/Thin Lizzy-influenced hard rock, with punk energy and compactness. Listen to this song and guess why no major label took a chance on them: Three brothers with a great hard rock sound. Now consider this: The Harvey brothers are Black and being a Black rock & roll band in the 1980s wasn't considered marketable*. Was this an example of racism in the music industry? Perhaps a bit, but remember, Arista took a chance on the Bus Boys and, despite heavy marketing and a lot of media, they never really took off. The industry figured, they tried and people weren't ready. And, to be fair, they were probably right. Black rock & roll bands were so uncommon - in the mainstream - that they weren't a novelty; they were a rarity. And outside of a few major cities, it was rare to see African Americans at rock concert, as fans. And it isn't as if Black folks didn't listen to rock & roll in the '70s and '80s. I've gone through many a record collection that seemed much more color blind than stereotyping would suggest. Santana, Ike & Tina, Classics IV, America, Isaac Hayes, Paul Revere, Miles Davis, Cameo, Boston, and a Saturday Night Fever soundtrack - the owner could be Black, White, Latino, Asian, anyone. Then, as now, most people's music tastes were color blind. But society wasn't.
The first "adult" album I bought for myself was Earth, Wind, & Fire's "That's The Way of The World." Albums by ELO and Steve Miller followed that. A little latter it was Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith. By that time, I was a suburban, teenage dirtbag. I lived in an all-White suburb. We used the word "nigger" a lot, carved "KKK" into park benches, and said stupid things like "There's Blacks and there's niggers and Jimi Hendrix was Black." I write that and get chill over how absurdly moronic that statement is. But that was my neighborhood and that was group think. On the other hand, my next door neighbor had a copy of Parliament's "Flashlight" that I liked so much I lifted it from her (for some reason, it was OK for girls in our 'burb to like "Black music"). I secretly shoplifted Parliament records (was a grand teenage shoplifter and amassed my first couple hundred albums by illegit means) and then hid them in my bedroom so my friends wouldn't find them. That might be an extreme example of fucked-upness, but I am sure it was pretty standard across the nation. The whole anti-disco "movement" was tinged with racism and that pretty much coincided with my early teens. These were the folks who the music industry had to market hard rock to. Trying to get them to buy a Black hard rock trio wasn't going to be as easy as floating some crap like Foreigner out there. Much easier. Anyway, some thoughts.
Harvey probably didn't have many problems in San Francisco. The city has always been more open to people and to music. Harvey wasn't the only SF area hard rock or punk bands with African American members and that they had an audience large enough to warrant them releasing two records (if it was pure vanity, Harvey would have been one and done). While it is a shame that they couldn't have had a larger audience (at least not until Living Color forced the issue of the Black rock band), those two records are total keepers. Here is one of my favorite Harvey tunes (for more on Harvey and Black punk bands check out Rocktober's Black Punk Time, scroll down for info on Harvey).
* Remember the '80s were pretty culturally repressive. Women in rock & roll, jazz, comedy, etc. had similar career blocks, as did Asians and Latinos. It wasn't until the 1990s and the rise of indie labels - who gave a shit about music, not marketing - that things started to change.