Monthly Archives: July 2014

Left End leftovers

In doing research on Left End I found a couple items in the Plain Dealer archives perhaps worth bringing to light. Enjoy.

An article from Jan. 1977 in the Plain Dealer.

An article from Jan. 1977 in the Plain Dealer.

 A 1988 comeback article from Plain Dealer writer Jane Scott.

A 1988 comeback article from Plain Dealer writer Jane Scott.

Review of Aug. 1974 show at Idora Park.

Review of Aug. 1974 show at Idora Park.

1975 misc. item

1975 misc. item

Balloon stolen.

Balloon stolen.

The curious case of Left End

Jane Scott chronicled Left End's exploits in the April 26, 1974 edition of the Plain Dealer.

Jane Scott chronicled Left End’s exploits in the April 26, 1974 edition of the Plain Dealer.

With the recent death of vocalist Dennis T. Menass (Dennis Sesonsky) the most popular Youngstown rock band in history for all intents and purposes came to an abrupt end. Unlike some other bands from the early to mid 70s rock scene who were attempted trendsetters of the day, there was no grand international revival by the way of album re-release, no superstar act like Metallica stepping in to do a cover or documentary film for the boys of Left End.

They arrived onto the national rock scene in April of 1974 with the release of the “Spoiled Rotten” LP for Polydor Records (the album premiered on Cleveland radio on April 13, 1974 and was available for sale shortly thereafter). There were big shows. There were antics. There were theatrics. The fans ate up whatever they were feeding (including frogs).

A fan who witnessed Left End play with the New York Dolls in June of 1974 in Cleveland shows off an interesting tribute to Dennis T. Menass in this Plain Dealer photo.

A fan who witnessed Left End play with the New York Dolls in June of 1974 in Cleveland shows off an interesting tribute to Dennis T. Menass in this Plain Dealer photo.

Of course, in the grand scheme of the way things usually go in Northeast Ohio, total victory was never achieved. The album got mixed reviews, a Polydor restructuring happened, vinyl production slowed and the music suits cowered in fear of what they (or most other people for that matter) could not grasp.

Left End were not unique in being kicked to the curb in what is perhaps the most misunderstood era of rock. Out in Los Angeles, about the same time as Left End was emerging in Ohio, the weirdness of sci-fi glam icons Zolar X gave people some pause as to whether they were the ones who influenced Kiss (They, of course, were largely forgotten until record reissues in the 2000s). The MC5, at the tail end of their darkest days in 1972, experimented with make-up and also thought they were the ones pushing the theatrical envelope. You had your Bowies. You had your glam Iggys. Alice Cooper was doing his thing too. Everything was sort of pointing in the direction of rock being more show oriented. Some bands were just luckier than others.

A Spoiled Rotten T-Shirt found its way into the 1976 Barbara Streisand film "A Star Is Born."

An “I’m Spoiled Rotten” T-Shirt found its way into the 1976 Barbara Streisand film “A Star Is Born.”

Rolling Stone's review of the album.

Rolling Stone’s review of the album.

Something like Left End will never be repeated however. The era of a band being able to work most, if not all, nights of the week and make a decent living off of it is long over. If a band now logs more than a hundred shows in its career here, they’re considered a veteran of the scene. Left End did thousands of shows. They could play a small bar in a Youngstown suburb one night and a theater in Cleveland the next. That is how a band becomes consistent and it is how a band leads the way to becoming legendary.

I really don’t know what Left End’s lasting legacy will be. The music the band recorded runs the gamut of sounding like the tough “thug rock” that critics liked to attack and the fans loved to something more funky and firmly and forever planted in 1974 (this is not necessarily a good thing).

They were essentially a Youngstown kind of band though. They made no apologies about playing for the shot and beer crowd and were working class through and through. And despite being called all sorts of unfair names by the national media, they are good-hearted people.

The band will get what I assume is its final send-off on Nov. 30 at the Youngstown Music Awards in Austintown.

There are some recent interviews from Dennis and drummer Patsy Palumbo on the excellent JimmyFro Show podcast which give a greater insight into what Left End was. I suggest you listen to those.