The Laughing Dogs

A first-wave CBGB band that was there from the get-go and played as support to everyone—Talking Heads, Blondie, Dead Boys, Squeeze—but that didn't achieve stuff-of-legend status after the fact, perhaps because they were more clean power pop and 70s rock than gritty downtown punk. And because the lore of that spot hadn't really crystallized in '76; it was still finding its footing, seeking its identity. This is well illustrated in Live at CBGB's—The Home of Underground Rock, which is an honest snapshot of what was happening at the venue at the time, and yet there's no Heads, no Ramones, no Voidoids, no Television. In '76, that wasn't what was emanating from the club that attracted A&Rs or seemed marketable to them.

To my ear, the Laughing Dogs has one foot in the sound of Pilot, of the Alessi Brothers; one in the world of new wave as epitomized by XTC and Elvis Costello; and one in the sphere of NYC punk, but first and foremost because they had the right ethos and temperament for it—and they were in the right place at the right time. There's some blue-collar Springsteenianism sprinkled atop, too.