Suzy Shaw

I was introduced to Hacienda when Suzy Shaw, who manages Bomp! Records’ online Bomp! mailorder business (among other duties) included three recent releases in one of my usual orders of decades-old music.  Besides the second Hacienda album, she also included a delightful psychedelic stew of an album by Mondo Drag called New Rituals; and Brian Olive’s debut solo album, Brian OliveOlive (ex-Soledad Brothers) is one of those amazing men – like Bob DylanTom Petty and Nikki Sudden – to whom songwriting is as natural as breathing; he is working on a second album already.  Although I very much enjoyed the albums that I had ordered, I found myself playing these new artists again and again.  Anyway, it surely worked, for I have a nice stack of new CD’s and LP’s released by the Bomp! labels that I have since ordered. 
(January 2011)
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Mick Farren is still recording albums regularly and has become a respected rock critic, journalist, and science fiction novelist.  I used to read an occasional piece that he wrote for the Village Voice both before and after I lived there; one mused on why the English had such bad dental hygiene and featured a photo quiz asking the reader to match photos of rotten teeth with celebrities’ names (including one member of the royal family).  The acclaimed retrospective of the world of Greg Shaw called Bomp! / Saving the World One Record at a Time lists him as the co-author with Suzy Shaw, Greg’s business partner and ex-wife. 
(August 2011)
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Mick Farren writes a lot of stuff; he has several science fiction novels to his credit, including a trilogy called The DNA Cowboys.  Along with Greg Shaw’s ex-wife and business partner Suzy ShawMick Farren co-wrote the 2007 book that cements Shaw’s legacy in the rock and roll universe, Bomp! / Saving the World One Record at a Time.  I have seen numerous articles by Farren in the Village Voice and elsewhere.  But I can only recall one other time when Mick Farren wrote liner notes; that was for the comeback album for his old band the Pink Fairies, specifically their 1987 release Kill ’Em and Eat ’Em
(January 2013)
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Greg Shaw died too young in 2004, but his legacy lives on to this day.  Greg Shaw and his wife Suzy Shaw eventually divorced, but she and her current husband Patrick Boissel continue to operate Bomp! Records.  Boissel is actually the founder of their most active label, Alive Records and previously operated Marilyn Records in the 1990’s.  Bomp! Records celebrates its 40th anniversary next year and advertises itself as the oldest independent record company in the nation. 


In my dealings over the years with the Bomp! mailorder service, I have gotten to know Suzy Shaw.  I was flattered that, in the advertising copy for some of the albums Bomp! was advertising, she was using some of the articles that I had written in Wikipedia on the Pebbles albums and on the Stiv Bators compilation album, L.A. L.A.; and I told her so once when I was making one of my many orders   She wrote back that she had wondered who had done those great write-ups, and she even sent me an autographed copy of the Bomp 2 – Born in the Garage book in appreciation.  We have swapped emails many times over the years. 


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After Greg Shaw and Suzy Shaw moved to Los Angeles, the first issue of a new magazine came out – at the very end of the 1960’s (in January 1970) – under the title of Who Put the Bomp.  A loose-knit organization called Rock Enthusiasts Amateur Press (R.E.A.P.) – which only had a membership of around 13 – was started by Louis Morra, and he invited Greg Shaw among others to rush a fanzine to press.  Greg Shaw was an inveterate publisher in this period and was also publishing several other newsletters having various arcane purposes; these include Karnis Bottle’s MetanoiaLiquid LoveAlligator Wine, and Rock You Sinners!


The name of the magazine is taken from “Who Put the Bomp (in the Bomp, Bomp, Bomp)”, a Top-40 hit by Barry Mann


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Shortly after Greg Shaw’s death, his ex-wife and business partner Suzy Shaw had her own mission:  to cement Shaw’s place in the rock and roll firmament.  The result was a gorgeous 2007 hardbound book called Bomp! that was subtitled Saving the World One Record at a Time.  In the “Dedication”, Suzy Shaw writes:  “The idea for this book came in the early 1980s right after BOMP! magazine first folded. . . .  When Greg died I knew it was the most important job I had, as this book is not just the story of BOMP! and Greg Shaw, but a unique document of a time, place, and perspective in the history of rock and roll.” 


The co-writer is one of my very favorite musicians (and a prolific writer as well), Mick Farren of the bold English underground rock band, the Deviants.  The book opens with the modestly titled “Introduction” by Farren that is as good an overview of the rock music scene as any that I have ever read. 


Two years after the publication of Bomp!: Saving the World One Record at a TimeSuzy Shaw and the editor of Ugly Things magazine, Mike Stax edited another book, Bomp 2 – subtitled Born in the Garage and sub-subtitled Greg Shaw and the Roots of Rock Fandom 1970-1981!.  This book looks a lot like a big issue of Ugly Things and consists of a detailed catalogue of Greg Shaw’s publications over that period, and numerous excerpts from Who Put the Bomp and the other fanzines that were published over this period that were not included in the first book.  These books are among my most treasured publications, and they are both autographed by Suzy Shaw


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Greg Shaw was a visionary and a legend, and he also had a genius I.Q. of 240 (as I recall).  However, he wasn’t good at everything, particularly the business side of Bomp! Records. . . .  Well, I certainly can’t tell this part of the story any better than Suzy Shaw did in the Bomp 2 book:  


“Being more of a historian than a collector, [Greg Shaw] often said that he hated collectors.  All that really mattered to him was getting the general information about the record – it was meant to be played once for the purposes of knowing what type of music it was.  If a record was so shattered that it had to be scotch-taped together (this was not unheard of in his collection), it was at least useful for knowing the label, title and catalogue number, and he would file it away with the others without hesitation.  So legendary was the generally horrendous condition of his vinyl that certain record dealers still use a grading system to this day that starts with ‘Mint’ and ends with ‘Greg Shaw Minus’.  [I have been to record stores myself that posted this grading system.] 


“Thus it was no surprise that Greg had not the slightest qualm about merely tossing a customer’s order into a paper grocery bag, stapled at the top to keep the records from spilling out (that’s if you were lucky).  The odds of a buyer getting what they wanted or having the vinyl arriving unbroken were quite slim.  This was bad enough when you were dealing with friends, but the mailing list had begun to branch out to include the general public.  These newcomers had the annoying habit of not only insisting that they receive the exact records that they had paid for, but getting them in one piece, and soon enough the angry letters and threats began pouring in.  Never one to be bothered by such minor details, or the law (federal, state and local!), Greg simply ignored the whole mess, continuing as he had before, until the registered letters from the Post Office began arriving, and the government was actually threatening to file charges.  I was nothing short of terrified, and in a move that was to be oft repeated in our lives together, my choice seemed to be between going to prison or to take over that part of the business.  And so mail order slid over to my side of the game board for once and for all.” 


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Suzy Shaw wrote me in an email recently that Hollis Brown is her personal favorite among all of the bands that Bomp! Records has worked with over nearly 40 years.  And it is easy to see why:  Their music is remarkably bright and sunny while still being roots music and infused with the blues.  Hollis Brown are true professionals also; the songwriting is first-rate, and the performances simply shine.  (Wow, I just gave a lot of references to “light”, didn’t I!).  I guess you can tell that I am a real fan of these guys as well. 


(May 2013)


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I wrote the above tribute to Dr. Crow on July 30, 2013, not learning until later that morning that Deviants frontman Mick Farren had passed away three days earlier.  Besides his amazing music that is not like anyone else’s – that goes double for his singing voice – Mick Farren regularly wrote articles that I would see in the Village Voice and other places, published numerous science fiction novels, and was a respected rock critic and music historian. 

When Suzy Shaw of Bomp! Records determined to write an appreciation of the ground-breaking career and life of her former husband and long-time business partner Greg Shaw (shortly after his untimely death in 2004), Mick Farren was brought in as the co-author of the resulting hardbound book Bomp! / Saving the World One Record at a Time


(August 2013)


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Following the death of her former husband and longtime business partner Greg Shaw in 2004Suzy Shaw sought to establish in book form his legacy in the annals of rock and roll.  She asked Mick Farren to be her co-writer, and they published an excellent overview Bomp! / Saving the World One Record at a Time.  Naturally, the book was mostly composed of Greg Shaw’s writings, actions and antics, focusing on his early fanzines and the formation of Bomp! Records.  But the opening essay by Mick Farren, the modestly entitled “Introduction” not only provides a canny observation of the history of rock and roll, but also Greg Shaw’s place in it – concentrating as much on Shaw’s ideas as anything else.  The Bomp! book establishes that Greg Shaw didn’t just assemble compilation albums and press records and publish fanzines, and he didn’t just write music history – he actually changed the direction of rock and roll more than once. 


About this time, Suzy Shaw had discovered the Wikipedia articles that I had been writing, and I was delighted to see that she had started using some of the copy from them in advertising albums for sale on the Bomp! mailorder website.  When I pointed that out, she told me that she was wondering who had written all of that.  Suzy even mentioned that Mick Farren had commented to her how good it was – and what could my response be to that except, “I’m not worthy . . . I’m not worthy!”  The autograph by Suzy Shaw on my copy of the Bomp! book reads:  “Thanks for the brilliant work!  Suzy Shaw ’08”.  


(March 2014/1)


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Suzy Shaw has advised me that the Invisible Eyes is actually not the last band signed to Bomp! Records by Greg Shaw before his death, as Allmusic says of this band.  As she remembers it, the band with that distinction is the Coffin Lids, another future UARB.  


(December 2014)


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Along with the second album, Big Red and Barbacoa by past UARB Hacienda, I got a copy of his debut CD, Brian Olive in a surprise package of 3 albums that Suzy Shaw sent me in one of my Bomp! mailorder orders.  Brian Olive was previously in two rock bands having long Wikipedia articles, the Greenhornes and Soledad Brothers, though there is no article on him individually. 


(February 2015)


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Marilyn Records was a European label that was founded by French musician Patrick Boissel in the mid-1980’s.  After a number of French and Spanish releases, Marilyn began handling the sort of musicians and bands that gravitate to Bomp! Records.  Suzy Shaw of Bomp! Records met Boissel at a record convention, and Marilyn Records became their distributor in Europe.  One result was a great compilation album that I have of previous Bomp! Records releases called From L.A. with Love (1992) that features the Plimsoulsthe Flamin’ GrooviesStiv BatorsJeff Dahl, the Stooges, and the Zeros


In the mid-1990’sPatrick Boissel moved to Los Angeles in order to work for Bomp! Records Right away he formed his own label called Alive Naturalsound Records (usually shortened to Alive Records).  He and Suzy Shaw married, and they now run the Bomp! empire together.  


(March 2015)


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Among the rock bands that have arisen since the Garage Rock Revival began in the early 2000’s, the Black Keys has attained a prominence in the American consciousness that Queens of the Stone Age, the Hives, the Strokesand even the White Stripes never quite managed. As an example, I have noticed the band mentioned in our local paper twice in the past two or three months. Suzy Shaw of Bomp! Records told me that she was eating lunch in Los Angeles once and overheard several suit-clad businessmen talking about the Black Keys a few tables over. 
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The album that I have, Inside Out Your Mind (2015) I mistakenly thought of as their first album, but the band had been around two decades at this point. It wasn’t even the Loons’ first album on Bomp! Records; that was Red Dissolving Rays Of Light five years earlier (also on order). After writing this post, I came across an interview with Suzy Shaw who said that they revived Bomp! Records specifically for the Loons; Mike Stax had always wanted to have an album on that label. The band’s new drummer on both of these albums was Mike Kamoo, who had been the drummer for the Shambles; while the line-up of the Loons was otherwise the same as on Paraphernalia. Bass guitar and album design are by Anja Dixson on Red Dissolving Rays Of Light, while the name Anja Stax is shown for both on Inside Out Your Mind. The only other change between the two Bomp! albums is that Chris Marsteller is also shown as playing keyboards on Inside Out Your Mind. The Loons original drummer, John Chilson had also previously played with the Shambles.  
(June 2017)
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I have a copy of I’m Sick of You that was autographed by James Williamson when he stopped by the Bomp! Records office not so long ago.  Suzy Shaw told me that James signed a box of original sleeves, though the discs themselves are newly pressed. 
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As readers of these posts know, I love to find religious references in the most unlikely places; and I recognized the repeated lyric, “O King Live Forever” (and some of the other vocals as well) as coming from the Book of Daniel – the line was said several times during the Bible story, and once by Daniel while he was famously in the lions’ den.  Greg Shaw didn’t know where the ideas had come from; he speculated that it could have been from something Jim Morrison of the Doors had written.  Since Iggy Pop is clearly singing “O King” rather than “Old King”, I passed along what I knew to Suzy Shaw at Bomp! Records, saying that this Stooges song should really be named O King Live Forever
I should point out that many of the songs by the Stooges on Wild Love don’t have official names, so Greg Shaw was coming up with his own titles based on what he was hearing.  


December 2017)
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My proudest achievement is my tribute to legendary underground rock musician Mick Farren, which appeared in March 2014.  I garnered a lot of praise that my friend Suzy Shaw of Bomp! Records forwarded to me – from past UARA and fellow bandmember in the Deviants, Andy Colquhoun (who posted a link on the band’s Facebook page), from Mike Stax of Ugly Things Magazine (who published my article on Milan year before last), and from Suzy Shaw herself. 


(Year 5 Review)


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These annual posts normally summarize what I have written about in the past year, but in this case, there has only been one of them; and even that one is dated December 2017.  But it is a good one, one of my best I think; Suzy Shaw of Bomp! Records gave me some really nice compliments on it.  I had been writing about the Stooges and Iggy Pop over several previous posts, and I undertook a detailed examination of the long series of CD’s and LP’s of unreleased Stooges material called The Iguana Chronicles.  I also took the opportunity of writing up descriptions of many early releases by Bomp! Records, as well as other peripheral info as I usually do. 
(Year 9 Review)
Last edited: March 22, 2021