Audio Autopsy, 1979: The Sty's The Limit With Dūrocs Album on Capitol (Scott Mathews, Ron Nagle)
They have Brian Wilson, Phil Spector, Eric Clapton, and Ringo in their pen as fans. So, where have YOU been?
National Pig Day 2022 has come and gone, so we must sow (pronounced like “cow,” trust me) our wild oats where we may. But, the next March 1st will roll around (likely in the mud) soon enough, and if two longtime northern California musicians had their way, there’d be an annual Durocs Day to celebrate.
Their collective preoccupation with all things “pork” (the noun as well as the verb) notwithstanding, the two musical wunderkinds known as Scott Mathews and Ron Nagle, once joined porcine forces to form Durocs, making one album, self-titled, in 1979.
So obsessed were they with these barnyard mainstays that even their nom de l'entreprise was called Proud Pork Productions, with a home studio dubbed The Pig Pen.
Durocs (the bacon-producing mammals, not the musical duo), happen to be a breed of vigorous red hog known for their unusually oversized floppy ears and exceptionally large genitals (in males only, but I’d just be guessing).
Durocs (the musical songwriting duo, not the mammals), got their start in the late 1970s, when Mathews, immersed in production work and songwriting for a variety of hit-making, name artists, was asked by Capitol Records to create a band project for himself and longtime friend, Nagle.
The end result sounded certainly tuneful, with chunky guitars rollicking in a good example of the busy, pseudo-Spector sound with sheets of multi-layered harmonies, “Saving it All Up For Larry,” happily remastered:
“They gave us a lot of dough.”
Nagle and Mathews, funded (curiously) by A&M Records, wrote and produced material under the name Dūrocs. The duo signed with Capitol essentially as a production company to produce artists already on the label, or new artists they might bring in (as de facto A&R personnel).
As Mathews explained to Musoscribe a decade ago: “Kip Cohen’s [A&M Records Veep of A&R, 1973-79] idea was to put us together as a band, and – I wouldn’t say reluctantly, but it really wasn’t our game plan – we thought, ‘Hey, somebody’s given us quite a lot of money to put together a band.’
“So we spent every dime of it on doing that. And they gave us a lot of dough. We rehearsed for a long time, got ready, and then had the worst showcase show for Jerry Moss [label co-founder with Herb Alpert, and the “M” in A&M]. Strings breaking, basses going out of tune…
“We had great vocals, but we had a shitty-ass showcase for Jerry Moss. He was the one-and-only decider. We didn’t road-test any of the songs, play the Roxy all night, or any of the things you’re supposed to do. And, in fact we should have done that, just to get our ‘legs.’ But we laid an egg that night, and that was that.”
Nagle added: “To their credit, A&M did give us the masters; we had done some recording for them. And a couple of those tracks wound up on the Capitol release. But A&M gave those to us; they didn’t say, ‘Hey, you owe us for these.’ They said, ‘Okay, it didn’t work out, but you can have these.’ I don’t even remember which tracks they were, now!”
Produced and arranged by Mathews and Nagle, with production credits shared with the late Elliot Mazer, the album reflected and echoed the duo’s combined love for the music of ‘50s/’60s hitmakers Leiber and Stoller, the 1960s Phil Spector productions, and the songwriting output of New York’s legendary Brill Building of that same time period.
This song actually made a cameo on the popular ‘79 sitcom, WKRP in Cincinnati. “Lie to Me” certainly sported a hit sound that never translated to AM radio, busy as Capitol was in 1979 promoting The Knack’s debut LP!
To that end, Nagle told Musoscribe: “We did do a lot of promotion ourselves. We were being managed by a couple of guys, and we went to New York. We had connections with Rolling Stone; I knew everybody there. [Rock critic] David Fricke wrote a great [5-star] review, which helped. The record actually did get on the charts, way way down. It got a little chart action, as they say. But we never saw a royalty statement or anything!”
One of the A&M-funded tracks may have actually been this one, “It Hurts to Be in Love,” a 1964 Top Ten hit for Gene Pitney, written by Helen Miller, and Neil Sedaka’s longtime lyricist, Howard Greenfield.
While a perfect Durocs example of “Brill Building” song choice and subtle Spector-ized production, this official 1979 video (at once hilarious and disturbing on what appears to be a $48 budget) features remastered audio:
That Little Piggy Stayed Home
Capitol's actual A&R division wasted little time pushing for Mathews and Nagle to record their own album as their first project with the label. The two agreed, but as an exclusive studio creation (not unlike, say, a post-1974 Steely Dan or early Alan Parsons Project), never planning on performing live.
This was an early first reason there was no sophomore Durocs album. Labels hate it when you can’t/won’t/don’t support your product by hitting the road.
Before going too much further, let’s meet the Durocs (the humans…Mathews, on the left, in odd hat with hair, and Nagle, with neither):
The Bread Nagle Made With His Bad Rice
While both musicians have enjoyed lengthy and eclectic musical careers, it was Nagle, a native San Franciscan born in 1939, who veered off late, and explored his talents as a world-renowned sculptor, specializing in ceramics, an art he’s practiced for over 5 decades.
Now 83, Nagle retired in 2010 as an art professor from Oakland’s Mills College, a private women’s liberal arts college.
In 1970, Nagle recorded a critically-acclaimed solo album, Bad Rice, for Warner Bros. Records, which was produced by Jack Nitzsche, the arranger and conductor for many Phil Spector sides for Philles Records, and a major builder of the latter’s famed Wall of Sound.
Mid-’70s Bay Area hitmakers, Pablo Cruise, did three of his songs on their first two albums: “Not Tonight,” “Don’t Believe It,” and “Lifeline.”
Nagle also worked on the sound effects for The Exorcist horror film in 1973. He magnified and distorted sounds of jar-trapped bees and shattering windows to create disturbing effects for the movie.
Scott Mathews, Another Nitzsche Apprentice
Scott Mathews was born in Sacramento in July 1955, a week after Disneyland opened, 400 miles to the south via I-5, in Anaheim. While at Capitol following the lone Durocs LP, Mathews established a video department at the label, just in time for MTV’s August 1981 cable debut.
According to the Marin Independent Journal, “As a record producer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and singer, Mill Valley’s Scott Mathews has worked on records that have sold more than 40 million copies. He’s earned 20 gold, platinum and multi-platinum records, many of them gleaming on the walls of his Tikitown Studio and Hit or Myth Productions in Mill Valley” (pictured above).
Putting some names to that resume, Mathews has produced, recorded, or performed with The Beach Boys, Johnny Cash, Eric Clapton, Elvis Costello, John Lee Hooker, Mick Jagger, Patti Labelle, Roy Orbison, Bonnie Raitt, Joey Ramone, Keith Richards, Carlos Santana, Ringo Starr, and Barbra Streisand.
Here, he recorded a recent live phone interview in the streets of Liverpool (in front of the fabled Cavern Club) with RecordProduction.com:
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