ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, DECEMBER 23, 1983
By Steve Newton
“It was supposed to be a post-nuclear holocaust type thing,” says Aldo Nova, referring to the initial concept idea for his latest album, Subject…Aldo Nova. Over the phone from Shreveport, Louisiana last week, Nova (his real name’s Caporuscio) outlined the proposed plan for his mini-epic.
“It started out where you fell into a dream state–that’s why everything on the album is slow at the beginning–and then raced to another world where there were these nuclear monks called subjects, like that guy on the back cover with the glowing blue face. He told you how to the powers that be had a nuclear war that turned into Armageddon, and took you back to see what it was like before, back to 1983 in New York City at Broadway and 42nd Street–‘Monkey On Your Back’.
“He took you to different places like Africa, and to ‘War Suite’, an actual war. And then ‘Paradise’ at the end where everything is calm and settled down. The theme came from The Road Warrior–it begins at the end and ends at the beginning.”
But Nova changed Subject at the last minute, and scrapped his idea of a concept LP for fear of it losing out on commercial appeal.
“I had to can it,” he admits, “because I figured that critics were gonna slag me to death. So I just went safe and did it half and half–half my way and half so the radio would play it if it was too weird for them.”
Nova’s catering to the tastes of radio programmers is understandable. Obviously he’d like the new record to follow in the footsteps of his self-titled debut, which received heavy airplay last year via two hit singles, “Fantasy” and “Ball and Chain”.
But this is not to say that Subject is a reproduction of last year’s effort. Aldo certainly doesn’t think so.
“My voice is a hundred times better than it was last year,” he claims. “It’s not as wimpy as it was. And there seems to be a certain intensity on the album that wasn’t there on the last one. I mean, my blood and guts are in the grooves.”
Even if his approach to making the LP was less than courageous, the music on Subject is certainly gutsy enough–brimming with forceful, streetwise lyrics and go-for-broke guitar freakouts. One of the tunes which best exemplifies this is Nova’s version of the Coney Hatch song “Hey Operator”.
“I’ve wanted to produce Coney Hatch for years, ” explains Nova, “because I think they’ve always been badly produced. I saw them live and thought they were great, and they did this song ‘Hey Operator’, which sounded horrible on the album.
“So as a joke I said to Val Azolli–who’s my executive producer, and also runs SRO record, which Coney Hatch is signed to–‘Let me do this song “Hey Operator” and I’ll show you what I would make Coney Hatch sound like.’ So I put it on the album, and now it’s one of my favourite songs to play.”
There’s a good chance Nova will be playing “Hey Operator” when he opens for Blue Öyster Cult at the Coliseum this Tuesday (December 27), along with such other hard-edged tunes as “Monkey On Your Back” (his latest single) and the fiery “Cry Baby Cry”. His biggest hit yet, “Fantasy”, will likely make an obligatory appearance as well.
Although he’s also toured with such big-name rock acts as Black Sabbath and Rainbow, Aldo Nova has spent most of his time on the road with Blue Öyster Cult, the same band he played the Coliseum with last summer. He even wrote the music for the first single from their new album, The Revolution By Night.
“No, ‘Take Me Away’ is a song about extraterrestrials,” corrects Aldo when asked if it’s concerned with suicide. “Originally that song was an outtake from my first album. They copied it note-for-note from my demo.
“I gave it to Eric [Bloom, the Cult’s lead singer] when they were looking for songs for the new album ’cause I thought it fit them really well. It sounded like a Blue Öyster Cult song. And he came up with the lyric ‘take me away’. It’s more of a Close Encounters of the Third Kind type thing, ’cause me and Eric–if they ever come down with the saucers–we’re the first ones in line [laughs]. We’re gone.”
And just what are Bloom and the other Cult members like to hang around with? Are they as rowdy as their image suggests?
“They’re not as wild as you’d think,” considers Aldo “I mean, I went out with the guys in Cheap Trick, and we used to get gassed every night. These guys are pretty quiet in comparison.”
Blue Öyster Cult quiet? Anyone who’s heard the band live would have trouble understanding that one.
And Nova himself has proven anything but subdued–particularly in his remarks to the music press. I pointed out to him that in the British rock magazine Sounds he is quoted as saying that Ritchie Blackmore is “a bad guitar player”. Not a cool thing to say, considering Blackmore is one of the most revered heavy-metal axemen alive today.
No,” defends Nova, “I think Blackmore is a good guitar player. I just did 25 dates with him with Rainbow. I don’t really like his new album, but he’s a really nice guy. All those horror stories that you hear about Blackmore, there’s not one of them that’s true.”
So what about the quote in Sounds?
“I was misquoted,” he puts forth, “because I never criticize anybody else–that’s one thing I don’t do is criticize other groups or other players.”
I ask him about another quote wherein he claims “I don’t like heavy metal”.
“That’s another misquote,” Aldo says. “I’m constantly misquoted by the press. I don’t like heavy metal as in Iron Maiden–that brainless, unmelodic stuff–I like melodic heavy metal. The stuff I play is a cross between heavy metal and pop music.”
An Aldo Nova concert is an Aldo Nova concert. He is always center stage and the spotlight rarely strays from his overblown rock posturings. Knowing this, one might wonder if his band members, always in the background, ever start to feel neglected or jealous.
“Well no,” responds Aldo, “because they’re a touring band. They each get to shine on stage. As far as playing on the record, each one of them played on one track; the guitar player played a solo on ‘Armageddon’, the drummer plays on almost all the tracks, and the bass player plays on ‘Hey Operator’. So we’re really happy; we get along really well.
“The guitar player went to audition for Kiss today, for some reason–I don’t know why. God knows why he’d want to go audition for Kiss. I don’t think they could sell a record to save their lives.
“So they all want to branch out and do their own stuff. And I’ll encourage them to do it. If they have their own material I’ll help them push it. But with me, it’s like my own thing. So I can’t help it.”
To hear the audio of my 1983 interview with Aldo Nova subscribe to my Patreon page, where you can eavesdrop on over 275 of my uncut, one-on-one conversations with:
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