THE WORMHOLES - RIOTMAN
‘You walked in / I passed out / C’mon we’ll get our coats / C’mon we’ll go downtown / C’mon we’ll tell the kids what’s goin’ on.’
One of the many unforgettable things about being around the Wormholes when they were recording and playing live was seeing Dave go off almost totally freestyle on lyrics. He seldom had any kind of completed lyrics for the songs he featured on while recording. Every time he sang some of the key post ‘Chicks Dig Scars’ Wormholes songs - the lyric would be noticeably different but always strong and always pretty dark.
‘Riotman’ is to me like a kind of ‘School’s Out’ or ‘C’mon Everybody’ turning into a nightmare song and is a great example of the way he improvised lyrics in the studio. The Wormholes had recorded this song in a session with Marc a good year before they re-recorded it with Stan Erraught producing. It was quite shocking for me to hear the way in which the lyric was kind of the same but very different across both versions. Both versions are dark and end with a kind of sustained improvised repetition. This version (Stan producing) is incredible and hearing the insistent piano brings back clear memories of the improvised ‘Dirt Records’ studio in which it was recorded and of how really friendly, helpful and warm Monty (Revelino) and Shane (ex Blue in Heaven) were to us at the time. The other version of the song (which is much much longer) which Marc produced is also incredible and I can’t wait to dig it out and hear it again as it was probably the single Dead Elvis recording that I have strongest memories of. It’s darker than this - wayyy darker. Unlike this one you could also clearly hear all the lyrics - something Dave was increasingly allergic to after the band recorded ‘Chicks Dig Scars’. You can definitely hear enough of the lyric here to get the idea though. ‘Your face, the wall again’. Graham’s harmonica is also full on. More about the other version of ‘Riotman’ and the ‘lost’ version of the Parijuana album from which it comes will come later. The image below is Dave in 1994, sometime after they recorded ‘Chicks’.