12" LP
October 20, 2009


In 1978, most Rock & Roll fans in Cincinnati, Ohio were too preoccupied with the recent national success of local boys-done-good Pure Prairie League to give much thought to the bands that were festering in the city’s basements. Luckily those festering bands were upholding the polyvinyl chloride Rosetta Stone testaments of Rock & Roll handed down by prophets like The Wailers and Orangie Ray Hubbard. Armed with a bottle of Paramount gin and a fistful of pills, they set out to loosen the stranglehold on American Rock & Roll by Sgt. Pepper. The Customs were one of those bands.

“The loudest, drunkest, most obnoxious Rock & Roll band in the city…fronted by a ‘singer’ with the vocal ability of the local Greyhound bus dispatcher.” That’s how the esteemed Cincinnati press referred to The Customs. (We guess it was meant as a dig, but it sounds like mighty high praise–if your heroes were The Sonics and Little Vic.) Post-DMZ/pre-Lyres Peter Greenberg led the charge, seeking out the company of fellow rare B-side hounds and rounding out the initial ’78 lineup with Carson, Greenberg, Heil and Rosenthal.

Formed with the sole understanding that one reverb-drenched note from a nearly inaudible Link Wray 45 had more Rock & Roll merit than the entire recorded output of Carlos Santana, The Customs stormed and stumbled through some of Cincinnati’s finer, shittier clubs.  The band’s debut 45 was released by a fledgling Shake It Records. In a fitting fashion, the group celebrated their release by disbanding.

After a cooling-off period, The Customs  reemerged with the line-up of Bivens, Cole, Greenberg, Heil and Rosenthal and a new set that quickly led to the recording of their second SHAKE IT release, “Long Gone,” a cut that would eventually end up in the set lists of bands on both sides of the Atlantic.  Again, and with perfect irony, the group heralded this release with Greenberg’s departure to Boston where he hooked up with his former cohort Jeff Conolly of The Lyres. A third line-up materialized which featured Dan Valentie in Greenberg’s place, but it soon dissolved into numerous splinter bands including The Hi-Fi’s and The Auburnaires.

Almost 40 years later, The Customs have become more of a mythology than a band. Collectors paying ridiculous prices for their 45’s, with bootlegs turning up now and then, folks swapping shitty live tapes and bands such as The Devil Dogs,  Mortals, Bottle Ups, Nomads and others recording their songs. Who woulda thunk it, really? Hell, all The Customs were really trying to say was, “Yeah, we know the world is going down the shitter, but you just gotta hear this Little Vic 45!”

Get Hip is proud to offer The Customs for the first time on long-playing 33 1/3 vinyl.  This heavyweight vinyl LP contains all of their best recorded output, including two previously unreleased tracks.