Monday, May 23, 2005

D. Diamond: interviews that didn't happen, part one.

This is part one in a series of posts on artists who I wanted to interview but didn't, for various and sundry reasons.

The "D" in D. Diamond stands for Dyan, but I didn't learn that until years after I first saw the name in print. For reasons of his own, Kim Fowley decided to credit her for her cowriting assistance on his Sunset Boulevard album by initial. I always wondered who this mysterious person was, since the songs that they cowrote (especially In My Garage and Love Is A Game) were among my favorite tracks from one of my favorite albums. There are a few D. Diamonds in rock-and-roll, and since Sunset Boulevard was recorded all over the world (and since the liner notes were kind of sketchy, and since Kim Fowley could theoretically have worked with just about anyone) and especially because I'm pretty weak when it comes to the LA punk scene, I never connected some dots that a better informed listener might connected.

A few years ago I stumbled across a copy of Dyan Diamond's first and only record (on MCA,1978) called In the Dark. Bought it because Kim Fowley was credited as cowriter on a few tracks, because Chris Spedding (former Womble) had a songwriting credit, and because it contained a cover of Elvis Costello's Mystery Dance (just because Elvis Costello bores me doesn't mean I'm not interested in hearing other people cover his songs). Got the record home, looked it up on google, and had one of those Eureka moments. I probably would've made the connection quicker had I ever heard anything by her old band Venus and the Razorblades.

One of the more unusual things about all of this is that Dyan was something like fourteen when she started working with Kim Fowley, and was still well under twenty years old when she recorded her album. She sounds a lot older. From some research online I learned that she never followed up In The Dark, though she apparently continued to perform live for several years and included non-album material in her sets. I wanted to track her down to find out 1. if any of her post-In the Dark material was ever recorded 2. how she and Kim went about collaborating on songs and 3. if she had any good Kim Fowley stories. That was about two years ago.

At this point, here's what I have: I managed to get in touch with one of her former bandmates, but got a kind of a bad feeling after a few back-and-forth emails. Let's just say that if I had wanted to do a piece made up of snarky putdowns, I'd know where to go for material. Since they didn't actually know where she was currently, I dropped the subject. After that, I tried to get in touch with Kim Fowley, but never got an answer (since my e-mail didn't contain any get-rich-quick schemes, this didn't surprise me). Finally, I put the word out that I was trying to track her down to various Internet types who might know.

I never got anything definitive. My best guess (could be totally wrong, but several unrelated sources seems to think this) is that she went to law school and is currently working as an attorney and isn't particularly interested in being tracked down. It's funny: I always operate with this assumption that semi-forgotten music types are just dying to talk about their pasts. Of course, the reality is that talking about your past doesn't necessarily put any money in your bank account or, when you get right down to it, enhance your non-rock star life in any way. For those of us who've never released a record or vied for stardom, this can be hard to understand, but at this point I've been friends with enough former musicians to realize that having your name in Trouser Press/Allmusic/etc. isn't the highlight of everyone's life.

I'll have a big chunk of In The Dark on Wednesday. It's a pretty fun mix of early Heart, Fowley-trash-rock, and retro-rock along the lines of the aformentioned Elvis Costello cover. Meanwhile, here are the three songs that Dyan helped with on Sunset Boulevard: In My Garage and Love Is a Game and Blow-Up. It's tempting to assume that that's her singing backup vocals on the first two, but I just don't know and probably won't unless I hear from her or from someone who was at the sessions. Blow-Up ("What do you think of my fingernail polish?") doesn't sound much like anything else I've heard by Dyan. Presumably, Kim was the one who came up with lines like, "Junkyard dog in the hardware store, you got back door possibilities, a whole lot more."

Kim Fowley's Sunset Boulevard still isn't on CD but is, strangely enough, available from eMusic. Vinyl rip, so don't get too excited if you already have the record, and I'll say again that this is one release that really works best on vinyl, with cryptic liner notes, the unusual cover-art, etc. On some level, I hope it never does make it to CD.

I haven't heard every record ever made, obviously, but I'm willing to go out on a limb and guess that there is no other record quite like it (this may not be immediately obvious from listening to the tracks I've posted today.) A look at Fowley's CV makes it clear that he's in love with rock and roll, which makes his ultra-cynical attempts to pretend that he isn't incredibly touching. You have to love a guy who thinks that a fake Dylan accent is the key to cracking the youth market in 1978.

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