Remembering Brownsville Station

I tuned in to a 2012 Brownsville Station music video fully expecting to watch a washed-up 70’s band in full PCA (pathetic comeback attempt) mode because sometimes I like to make myself sad.

It’s a common sight to see graying, bloated stillwannabes reliving their momentary glories decades later with one or two original members of the old lineup. I didn’t know there was still a Brownsville Station. But I knew their lead vocalist, Cub Koda, whose Vinyl Junkie column I used to read in Goldmine and DISCoveries magazines, was no longer with us.

cubKoda, who passed away suddenly at 51 in 2000, was a front man you had to hear to appreciate. I say that because in terms of rock star looks he made Donnie Iris look like Diamond Dave. But his exuberant onstage banter was an influence on Alice Cooper and J. Geils’ Peter Wolf. And when he started playing and it sounded like Grand Funk Railroad: a pure burst of sleazy rock adrenaline, with all the primal vitality of Chuck Berry/Bo Diddley-era rock and roll.

Happily (and surprisingly) after a Station break of 32 years or so, the band’s energy still seems intact, although there’s no replacing Cub Koda.

“Rock & Roll is Better Than Music” may sound like a credible sing-along anthem to you, or just a pitiful name-dropping exercise in the mode of the Righteous Brothers’ “Rock and Roll Heaven“.

But it is impressive how many rock references they seamlessly squoze into the narrative (did you catch “Stairway to Heaven”?)

And Mike Lutz, who sings the leads in the 2012 edition of the band did in fact share lead vocals with Koda in the band’s heyday. Also that’s original drum-thumper Henry “H-Bomb” Weck still pounding away in the back.

Let’s look back at the original 3-piece in their youth: their only top twenty hit (#3 in 1974) “Smokin’ in the Boys’ Room” (also a hit for Motley Crue a decade later) and #31 hit “Kings of the Party” from the same year.

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