I don’t know how this escaped being recognized as a vitally important piece of work in a time of major musical landscape shifts. But let’s first remember who leads this New York band of the last 40-plus years (unless my memory is going awry): Binky Philips, native son to this city, author; current contributor to Huffington Post and guitar-slinger/aficionado extraordinaire. For those of you from New York, you may remember Binky from his days at Sounds on St. Mark’s Place or his e.p. on Caroline Records. If it’s rock and roll, Binky knows. And with these songs, which were recorded with an eye on a contract with Warner Brothers in 1976, what makes it important is that this was during the changing of tides. Not to go too far into it (at least not now), but The Planets had played their way through the city during the Dolls and Kiss’ first forays on stage; by the time The Planets did these demos, the winds were blowing in the direction of the burgeoning punk scene. Nonetheless, The Planets didn’t succumb to abandoning their skills and “go punk”; rather, they delivered sharp, straight ahead, good old “rock and roll” at a time when it still mattered.
“Bad Dreams” has power and melody; filled with nuances and tasteful guitar figures; “Fallen In Love” has those great sing-song, anthemic choruses that all classic rock songs of the ’70’s had and has those wonderful backing harmonies and a tasteful guitar solo. “Come On Up” automatically catapults me back to my own ’70’s youth and drives along with balls and power; “Lexington Avenue” is something that could easily be imagined/heard on WNEW-FM and is possibly the stand out track in this collection.
I’ll keep it simple: Binky Philips is one of the last true rock & roll people I know of – and this batch of songs from that now-long-gone golden era is necessary for you to have in your collection. It bridges the periods in New York’s music scene and offers something pure and powerful.
Planets photo by Nicky Lazzoni