Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Bob Dylan and the Plugz: Don't Talk

Amidst the startling and abrupt changes of sound and word on which Bob Dylan's career is built, are some genuine lost possibilities. Bob's accomplices are legion - Joan Baez, The Band, Charlie Daniels, Johnny Cash, George Harrison, Deliverance, Mark Knopfler, Kurtis Blow, The Plugz, Tom Petty, The Alarm, The Grateful Dead - but mostly short-lived.

While some of those alliances were blessedly cut-short (The Dead!), some others were snuffed out before their possible prime. One such loss was Dylan's brief dalliance with L.A. punk band The Plugz. The Plugz, as musical history geeks must tell you, were the first of the L.A. punk bands to go D.I.Y. with their own label, Fatima Records, they also scored and performed in Alex Cox's creepy L.A. punk film Repo Man and were, alongside San Francisco's The Zeroes, one of the earliest Chicano punk bands.

In 1984 while morphing into the more mainstream-friendly band The Cruzados, The Plugz - specifically Tony Marisco (bass) Charlie Quintana (drums) with Justin Jesting (guitar) had done "a series of casual and scattered jams that (Dylan) had scheduled with us over a period of a few months before this one-time appearance," according to Jesting.

This one-off should not be forgot. The performance is blistering, with Dylan totally in-the-moment (the story goes that "Don't Start Me Talking" was completely spontaneous). It's not Dylan gone punk, it's Dylan '66 Revisited.

Despite this triumph (complete with one of those Bob head-scratching moments, this time when he battles an errant harmonica) Bob took rock hack Mick Taylor on the road for the passable-yet-unexciting 1984 tour that gave us the Real Live album. To make his abandonment of the Plugz sting even more, he would next join forces with then au courant producer Arthur Baker to record the middling album Empire Burlesque before abandoning quality control altogether for much of the rest of the decade.

Since 1984 the members of the Plugz have done a myriad of projects (Charlie Quintra's played with a slew of artist and recorded and toured with Social Distortion) while Dylan's had a series of come-backs and fall-backs (it can sometimes be hard to tell where one ends and the other begins).

Hey, COMMENTERS, Is this one of the great lost Dylan opportunities?


  1. Fantastic! I didn't know Dylan played with The Plugz at all!!

  2. This wonderful! Always great to see lots of Dylan stuff. I love your blog, by the way! Music ruined my life, too! Haha! May I link to you from mine?


  3. Wha-wha-what?! This was around the period when Dylan had faded out on me, so somehow I missed this. Can't wait to hear it.

    Ace K.

  4. Wonderful, I didn't know about this either.

  5. So fantastic and, in a MRML kinda way, truly tragic that this is it as far as Dylan Plugz-ing in goes.

  6. I too pretty much gave up on Dylan in the 80s but damn, this is some fine music.

  7. Yeah, great performance. Do you know that Charlie Quintana played drums in Dylan's band for much of 1992 and that Charlie Quintana's band The Havalinas opened for Bob in Paris in 1990?

  8. This is excellent! Thanks again!!

  9. Thanks and keep up the good work. I can't wait to bring this up at the family reunion.

  10. Brilliant post ! Can't thank you enough !!!

  11. I hadn't even heard about this before; much appreciated!

  12. JOKERMAN is Blazing!
    Thanx for sharing this!!!

  13. I love how the only piece of the entire lyric to "Don't Start Me Talkin'" that Bob can remember are the words "beauty shop"! That sure doesn't stop him, though. The song was indeed called by Bob on the way out to the stage, and was a reference to his unwillingness to sit for an interview with Letterman.

    Charlie Quintana tells a great story in the book Wanted Man about how Dylan called rehearsals for these sessions and had them play one song over and over again... at first he can't remember the name, just "ba-da-da-da-BUMP! ba-da-da-da-BUMP", then it hits him: "Gimme Some Lovin'".

  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

  15. Oh yeah, and HERE from the amazing dylannl.nl site are links to recordings of those actual rehearsals in Dylan's garage studio with the members of the Plugz (though, oddly, with nary a version of "Gimme Some Lovin'" to be found, at least on this tape):


  16. Every time I see - and hear - this stuff, I am inspired again by Dylan's passion for his music and how he keeps his band right on the edge! Must have been scary on live TV chugging out the verse and the chorus while Dylan fiddles about trying to find the right harmonica! Amazing! Thanks for sharing this again.

  17. What a cool gem! Thanks for your effort.

  18. Anon I
    Glad to have shown you something 'new'.

    Singing Bear
    Please link up!. Thanks for the good words

    Ace K.
    Glad to shock - another lost treasures from the Infidels era.

    Hope you enjoyed and seek out the bootleg called 'rough cuts' which will prove that Infidels could have been incredible!

    I must spend too much time on-line amongst the Dylan-ites because I thought everybody knew about this. Glad to be wrong.

    If only there was more....

    Yankee Boy
    It was his worst decade but "shot of Love', 'Infidels' (the entire sessions) and 'Oh Mercy" are excellent.

    I love comments that add detail - thanks so much.

    You're welcome and don't stop blogging!

    You're welcome - you must have cooler family reunions that I do!


    Rev Bum
    Thanks for the good words.

    Hope you enjoy.

    That's the greatest moment on Infidels and yet here it sounds even better!

    The Pop Culturist
    First thanks for adding info (always cool) and then adding material (extra cool). I'm going to listen to the listen to those Garage Tapes no matter how dodgy the sound and performance. I wonder if there are ten passable tracks - it would make a great bootleg.

    When Dylan said he accepts chaos he was not kidding - he's a built a career on chaos.

    Key West
    You're very welcome!

  19. Ive been wanting to hear this a long while. Ive been a huge fan of The Plugz (through Repo Man) and Tito still rocks. Thanks much.

  20. roc
    Hope you love it like I do - and thanks for all your comments!

  21. Jeffen,

    Happy to chip in! I owe you thanks, your Graham Parker posts a few months back were directly responsible for me finally getting off my ass and starting my own blog. If you haven't visited yet it's at


    Please check it out! And a link would be greatly appreciated, I've had one to you from the start! :)

  22. Jeffen

    I must admit that I always associate The Plugz with the movie 'New Wave Hookers'.'Electrify Me' was part of the soundtrack.I do have the Repo Man Soundtrack and The Plugz albums on vinyl and mp3.Good stuff!



  23. TPC


    I guess for an L.A. bad ending up being famous for being in the movies ain't so bad.

  24. Hello there! Any possible way you'd re-up this please? I'd love to listen to this powerful short set by Bob Dylan with the Plugz on TV!

  25. Would loooove to hear this!!!!

    Please re-link. :)

  26. all the youtube links have been pulled.

  27. Mojo showing MRML some love! Right on!!!

    1. Yes I do! Mojo showed MRML some love yesterday in the regular email blast. Here is the link: http://view.e.mojo4music.com/?j=fec11576716d007b&m=fe991570736c077e74&ls=fe2415777263027f721674&l=ff64107371&s=fe6011707d64017f7c16&jb=ff9b1573&ju=fe931675746c0c7d71&r=0

    2. Sorry the link is long and ugly...

      I shortened it here for you....


    3. Thanks for the heads up and the link!


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