December 30, 2021

The Little Wretches - 'Ballad of Johnny Blowtorch'

The Little Wretches - 'Ballad of Johnny Blowtorch'

Right out of the gate, this song takes the listeners on a ride. The listener is treated to a true core of familiar guitar tone and riffs perfectly coordinated with drums that are snappy and speedy, almost a punk vibe but with an indie touch. The ambience is quite vintage, reminding listeners of old school rock playing on the radio. As consistent as it gets in music, more focus goes on vocals as they take charge of the energy flowing through this song. The subtle piano adds a layer of surprise while the liveliness of the song remains the same. The acoustic guitar has its own place strumming alongside a kick and snare, smacking the rhythmic pattern. Electric guitars are warm and mildly distorted hitting the mids very well. This song feels new every time due to the fluidity of the lyrics with the composition. An effect like reverb especially on vocals recalls the retro. 

Definitely listen to 'Ballad of Johnny Blowtorch' by The Little Wretches on Spotify.

About The Little Wretches"

“My songs are mirrors, and I often begin or end my performances by playing a version of The Velvet Underground’s “I’ll Be Your Mirror” extended to more than ten minutes in length to include some of the images that most shaped my view of the world as a young man—working men and women enslaved in pursuit of the dollar, the now-vacant void from whence the spirit fled filled with the distraction of mindless entertainment, alcohol and assorted drugs, people so numb that self-destructive violence has lost its impact and the only way they can hope to feel anything is to hurt the people they love...God wanted me to grow up to defend the weak and vanquish the evil-doers by writing songs and telling stories. And if I’m wrong, I’ve wasted my life.”  - Robert Wagner

As frontman and chief songwriter/lyricist for 80s/90s seminal Pittsburgh rock band, Little Wretches, Robert Wagner rode a wave of local notoriety that led the band to the forefront of the underground music scene. The Little Wretches were founded as a folk/punk band by Robert (guitar) and his brother, Chuckie (violin).  The “classic” Mach 2 era of Little Wretches included Ed Heidel (bass), Chris Bruckhoff (percussion, wind instruments, backing vocals) and Bob Goetz (guitar), rounded out by Dave Mitchell (drums), Mike Michalski (bass) and Ellen Hildebrand (electric guitar.) This rock edition of the band performed regularly and helped the band build its massive following in Pittsburgh.  Michalski, Mitchell and Chuckie Wagner left the band, effectively ending Mach 2.

Mach 3 began with the addition of David Losi (keyboards) and Mike Madden (drums.) When Madden couldn’t tour, drum programmer Gregg Bielski took over.  When Ellen switched to bass guitar, this version of The Little Wretches entered the studio. They recorded two albums, with Angelo George playing the drums and Jon Paul Leone playing the guitar on a third. The national press, attorneys, managers, and publicists came calling, as did life’s obligations, and the Little Wretches disbanded in the late 90s.

Robert Wagner continues to perform at coffeehouses and small clubs. A Master’s Degree holder, Wagner also counsels abused, neglected, traumatized and court-adjudicated youth. He is the co-founder of The Calliope Acoustic Open Stage, an event that has lasted 15+ years. He has also recorded and released two new albums in 2020: Undesirables and Anarchists and Burning Lantern Dropped In Straw.  The former has spawned an iTunes chart-topping single and has received airplay on more than 115 North American AM/FM radio stations."

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