Riff Raff

Back to Mono! A couple of weeks ago in Los Angeles, San Francisco Neil Diamond cover group Super Diamond played their third sold-out House of Blues show this year. Reason for frontman Randy Cordeiro's tight black satin pants to fill with pride, sure, but the real coup d'etat came after the show. Cordeiro (aka Surreal Neil) was taking a stroll through the smoky members-only club upstairs when, there -- among the dark Armani suits, cigars, and greased-back ponytails -- sat Phil Spector. The legendary rock 'n' roll producer had seen the show. He asked Cordeiro to grab a guitar and join him and his friends in a private room. Somewhat alarmed by Spector's out-of-it countenance, but unable to refuse the invitation, Cordeiro complied, offering to sing a few Diamond ballads. This went over well; indeed, when Cordeiro excused himself to go to Super Diamond's dressing room, Spector followed, marveling at how a Neil Diamond cover band could sell out the House of Blues. After a few impromptu jams with Spector on guitar, the band headed back to its hotel room, where Spector showed up again, with two armed guards in tow. He was quite taken with the our Diamond impersonator. "Actually," says agent Daniel Swan, "he kept requesting Johnny Cash songs. Randy doesn't know any Johnny Cash, but [Spector] played it on the guitar anyway." Swan says Spector didn't stumble home until 4:30 a.m. (S.T.)

Selvin Watch In a recent roundup of Christmas records, the Chron's top pop critic blew it again. Citing Eddie Gorodetsky's classic collection Christmas Party With Eddie G., Joel Selvin wrote that it included a Three Stooges routine. What Selvin's referring to is a seven-part skit -- far too cerebral and knowing for the Stooges -- running through the record. It's an obvious parody; for the subtlety-challenged, the credits clearly note it is the work of Gorodetsky and pal Billy West. (B.W.)

Heavy Rotation If good, underground hip hop was liquor, you'd think Prohibitionist Eliot Ness was back on the beat. As of last Tuesday, "New Rotation," the weekly hip-hop party for live acts and house DJs at Cat's Alley Club, and the proprietors' related newsletter, Vinyl Exchange, were as dry as Carrie Nation's hip flask. Promoter Lady T. and DJs Rasta-Q-Tip, Peanut Butter Wolf, Serg, and Stef started the club night last August to provide an outlet for pure hip hop. The event grew in popularity and notoriety by featuring underground luminaries like Diamond D., Company Flow, Rob Swift, and J-Rocc. But instead of succumbing to the consumer apathy, neighborhood complaints, and aggressive cops that shut down most hip-hop joints, the promoters themselves killed "New Rotation" in service of a fresh master plan. "We wanted a more intimate feel to the party than Cat's Alley could provide," says Rasta-Q-Tip. "We've decided to look for another venue and restructure a bit." The promoters don't have a set space yet, but options are limited: Right now the only clubs that will touch live hip hop are the Justice League, Maritime Hall, and the Elbo Room. Once a location is achieved, the DJs will set out to transform Vinyl Exchange, a small bulletin popular among DJs, from its present eight pages into an actual magazine about underground DJ culture. "We're going to include news features, mix-tape reviews, classifieds, and technical discussions for DJs like how to unwarp records," says Rasta-Q-Tip. Although local news will be an important part of the publication, the focus will be on the national DJ scene. Expect both to return next year, with "New Rotation" slated for a comeback in late January and Vinyl Exchange hitting the newsstands sometime next spring. (R.A.)

The Hear-Good Story of the Year Twenty years ago, Eric Leuchner ground out dirty guitar chords with a punk band that once opened for the Dead Boys. Now he wears wax earplugs in the shower, and hearing protection worthy of a rifle range just to walk down the street. Leuchner suffers from hearing loss, tinnitus, and hyperacusis. After playing in the punk Readymades, the loungy Dinos, and a surf band called the Ultras, Leuchner retired from professionally performing music in 1995. These days he teaches guitar (quietly) and schools budding axemen and -women in hearing protection. He's also trying to keep others from making the same mistakes he made by working with an organization called Hearing Education and Awareness for Rockers (HEAR). This week, on Sunday, Dec. 7, Leuchner organizes the fourth Professor Sludge Guitar Academy benefit for HEAR at the Noe Valley Ministry. Backed by an ace rhythm band and some special guest singers, 29 of Leuchner's students -- ages 8 to 17 -- will perform a song each in the spotlight. Slated hot licks include Marilyn Manson's "Beautiful People," Nirvana's "Come as You Are," and that riff monster classic, "La Grange." Look for Jello Biafra singing "House of the Rising Sun," Chuck Prophet doing "Wooly Bully," and Romeo Void's Debora Iyall stabbing at the Nirvana cut. Although the show is slated to go on for four hours, Leuchner insists that the audience won't be burying plugs deep in their ear canals by the end of the evening. "You're thinking student recital, like it's going to be lame: lemonade and cookies; painful performances," he says, taking the words right out of Riff Raff's mouth. "No," he insists. "These kids are there to rock." At safe levels, of course. (J.S.)

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