Berlin’s Bands: Part IV of V

At the close of yesterday’s Part III, Rick Berlin had burned through four bands: Orchestra Luna, Orchestra Luna II, Luna and Berlin Airlift. A surfeit of obstacles impeded each band’s continued success. Nevertheless, Berlin’s reinvention continued.

Glen Moran, the newest drummer, created the next band’s name by giving Berlin two options: “It should be Rick Berlin – The Movie. Or Moran, Moran,” Berlin imitated in a gravelly voice. So, upon Moran’s suggestion, Rick Berlin – The Movie (The Movie) was created in 1985. This was the first time that the band didn’t pull material from past bands. They decided to start from scratch.

The Movie had two female vocalists, Julie Woods and Nancy Adams. Adams was a sassy broad with major attitude, says Berlin. Laughing, he recalled a gig at The Rat when Adams was singing “Somwhere Over The Rainbow” and she had come to a pause, holding out the microphone. Someone in the crowd yelled, “Suck on it!” With a sultry laugh and wave of her wrist and Adams said with faux-modesty, “Get out of town.” Woods was more proper, wearing a holster with deodorant on her belt to spray whenever Rick farted on stage. Perry was still in the band, along with Moran and Balmond. The Movie added a new bass player, Tom Shepard, and mimist/choreographer Carter Timmons. Mike Mangini, who would eventually marry Jane, became their second drummer when Moran later quit the band.

(Carter Timmons and Julie Woods)

Highlights of the the band’s performances include hauling busloads of fans down to New York club The World and playing The Channel — a huge stage in Boston — in front of Jimmy Page. The Movie also scored a radio hit with “Rock and Roll Romance,” which snagged Berlin the “Indie Songwriter of the Year” at the Boston Music Awards in 1987. Rick attributed the band’s demise to the dreaded “expiration date.” That, and some bubbling turmoil at a rehearsal. According to Berlin, at a missed rehearsal, Perry told other band mates that Rick Berlin – The Movie might work better without Rick. The 12-year relationship ended along with the band less than two years after their hit “Rock and Roll Romance” was played on the radio.

Rick got a job at Doyle’s — an Irish pub in Jamaica Plain — after The Movie ended. About a year later, while still working, Berlin started yet another band called Rome Is Burning (Rome). Rome featured Berlin, Balmond, Mangini, Woods and Phil Bynoe. Rick describes the band as a great time primarily because, “Jane was in it (who made us laugh and who drank us under any table) and Phil Bynoe who besides having enormous ‘thunder thighs,’ big as trees and playing his tits off on steel double bass, was the cleanest OCD ever.” The band made a recording with Phil Greene at Normandy Sound in Providence, Rhode Island, that Rick sunk $7,000 into, but their music never caught on. The band lasted a little over a year.

Rick was tired of bands. He felt that the initial innocence and joy that had brought him into music had gotten lost in the constant revolving door of reinvention.  “After Rome, I said, ‘No more bands.’ I want to get back to writing whatever the fuck I want to write and play by myself,” says Berlin. “Maybe it’s hindsight that tells me this, but there was more ambition than honesty in some of those bands.”

In the final installment of this five-part series on “Berlin’s Bands,” your burning questions will be answered: Did Rick go solo permanently? Was Rome Is Burning Berlin’s last band? How does the story end?

Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you tomorrow, you’re only a day away.

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About Melissa Tabeek

Melissa Tabeek is a freelance journalist based in Beirut, Lebanon. She reports on politics, culture and social issues in the Middle East. On her website, you can also find her blog, where she writes about her work and daily life in Lebanon. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Journalism from Northeastern University.
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