Music News

The Sounds of Mickey Clean

It was 35 years ago, in a dirty, smoky, subterranean dive bar in Boston known as "The Rat." Located in the basement of a restaurant in Kenmore Square, The Rathskeller is where a lot of people say the punk music movement in this country was born. The venue, which is even featured in the videogame Guitar Hero, became famous for hosting acts such as the Talking Heads, the Dead Kennedys, and the Ramones.

But before them all was Mickey Clean and the Mezz. These days, Mickey spends most of his time drawing crayon caricatures in the bars along Fort Lauderdale Beach, as detailed in last week's New Times cover story. But back then, his group was one of the original garage punk bands.

Asa Brebner, a Boston-area musician and promoter who was in the band with Mickey, says it was a wild scene. Everyone met a health food store, "a den of iniquity," as Brebner describes it. There were a lot of drugs and a lot of people who wanted to play loud, heavy music despite not having much in the way of musical talent.

The Rat became a popular hangout, he says, because the skuzzy punk kids could eat and drink upstairs, then come down and thrash around until early the next morning. And Mickey was like the master of ceremonies, Brebner says.


"He would take hold of the microphone and just gyrate and totally let go

of everything onstage," he remembers. "And he was doing it before

anyone."

There aren't many recordings from those days (there was this TV appearance by Mickey in 1981), but about ten years ago, Brebner met back up with Mickey and recorded an album of a bunch of the songs they used to do. The album, fittingly titled Unsung Heroes, features Mickey on the cover in a pearlsnap shirt. Most of the songs are an interesting blend of punk, country, and some late-'90s acoustic movement.

This track is called "Clone":

Mickey Clean - Clone by countygrind

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Michael J. Mooney