Sued51's Blog











{July 20, 2012}   A Fan’s History of 80’s Boston Bands: P is for Private Lightning

There were a few Boston bands beginning with “P” (such as the Pixies or Pastiche), but I’m choosing Private Lightning. Jane and I went to see them many times at Uncle Sam’s in Hull.

As with many of the other bands I have written about like The Atlantics and Neighborhoods, they had a major label contract but it didn’t lead to success. The album just didn’t do them justice. Seeing them live was an uplifting experience; they weren’t a dance band but there was energy! I agree with the review I read online…the talent is evident through the production flaws. While searching for links for this blog, I found a story written by one of the members describing his experience with the band. (I also found a wonderful music blog that mentions a lot of the same bands that I have.)

Private Lightning had a different sound than most of the other bands I went to see at the time, less punk or new wave, and more…artsy, dramatic, and orchestral. I loved the lead singer Adam Sherman’s soaring vocal style and Patty Van Ness’ violin. It was music to sing along with…like Meatloaf. Physical Speed is such a summer driving song!

Looking back at it now, I think they just didn’t fit into any niche. As far as I’m concerned, I didn’t get to see them enough.

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peters154 says:

I think I wore out my copy of their album! I have no idea what happened to this album, along with a lot of my other Boston area LPs I had years ago.

About ten years ago I was walking around Boston with my girlfriend of the time, and we came across a yard sale. There right in front of a pile of LPs was their debut album, priced at $1. ‘I should get this’, I said. She persuaded me not to get it, after all who knows what condition it was in, and I would have to dig out my old turntable just to play this one old record. We didn’t go continue going out much longer after that.

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sued51 says:

Don’t you hate negative people??

Private Lightning was one of the first bands I went to see when I started going out to live music clubs so they have a special place in my heart…

I still have my albums, but no turntable set up. 😦 I want to get one of those contraptions that transfer records to digital files ones of these days. By the way, thanks so much for commenting on this series…I want to follow through my alphabet, and sometimes it gets hard to keep going…

________________________________

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peters154 says:

I was surprised to see that Private Lightning is available on iTunes!

I still have about 500 LPs, but I did sell off just about as many in my low budget college years, usually at the various Kenmore Square area used record stores.

Keep writing! I’m always interested to see what’s next, seems like the last part of the alphabet might be hard.

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sued51 says:

My LPs are still in boxes from the last time I moved. I still have some 45s too. Can’t bear to part with the local band ones especially.
I am determined to finish the alphabet and yes, there are a few more “cheats” up ahead…:-)

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steve2k2 says:

Hi – visit http://www.baselines.com where you can download a bunch of Private Lightning stuff. There is a remix of the album which sounds much better. Cheers.

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sued51 says:

Thanks for letting me know about that, Steve!

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Evan Dean says:

When I was a senior in high school, either the fall of 1978 or spring of ’79, my English teacher gave me the phone number of the guitarist of this band. They had their album out already, WBCN was playing Physical Speed. I got on the guest list in at their headline gig at the Paradise in exchange for writing up the gig in my high school paper–at a school with 400 students! Clearly they needed a better publicist! I did give them a great review, for what little it was worth.

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JJT says:

Wow. Private Lightning. That takes me back. Awesome, terrific band…great like show (at the Paradise of course)….and definitely deserving of more success than they ended up with. Got a few of their songs on my iPod, and “Physical Speed” figures prominently in my Running playlist.

Nice series on Boston bands, btw.

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sued51 says:

JJT, I always felt energized and uplifted after going to see them. “Physical Speed” is the perfect marriage of topic with music…it just propels you!

Thanks for the comment and the compliment. 🙂

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JJT says:

One good turn deserves another. Here’s my own recent experience with PL. 🙂

http://jt-obstructedview.blogspot.com/2014/09/unearthing-old-memories-thanks-to.html

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I am an author, and my 3rd novel was released last month: “Yours Truly, 2095” and it’s about a guy from 1981 who wakes up and finds himself trapped in 2095. His favorite band in the book is Private Lightning, and he’s appalled that they never got bigger in the future. He even plays the vinyl for another character in the future, and she just shakes her head and says she’s never heard of them. This album was such a part of my youth, that I had to incorporate them into my novel somehow. I even wrote to Patty VanNess to tell her about the band being a part of my fictional world in my novel.

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sued51 says:

Brian, Thanks for coming by and sharing that. That’s a great tribute…really cool! I’ll have to check it out. 🙂

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