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Gonzo's Gems: Y & T Stops By RSR to do a Little Summertime Girls

By Sam “Gonzo” Gonzales

There I am driving down the highway, doing 85 miles per hour in my Camaro and listening the Bay Area’s top rock station, KRQR. When “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me” by Night Ranger ended, the DJ came on announced that Dave Meniketti from Y&T had won a Bammie Award for “Best Bay Area Guitarist”. He talked about Y&T’s recent album, “Black Tiger” and then played a snippet of Dave humbly accepting the award. “This band seemed to be creating quite a buzz.”, I thought. I made a mental note to check out the “Black Tiger” album the next time I was in a record store.

Y&T was formed in San Francisco in 1974 and was originally named “Yesterday & Today”, after the title of a Beatles album. They eventually shortened their name to Y&T in 1981 with the release of their “Earthshaker” album on A&M Records. The band managed to build a very strong following in the San Francisco Bay Area, opening for big name acts passing through. They were able to shift effortlessly from playing power ballads to rough and ready rockers. Dave Meniketti‘s passionate vocals and impressive lead guitar work coupled with the band’s tight, dead-on delivery created strong and melodic music.

A week after hearing Dave Meniketti on the radio, I bought the “Black Tiger” album. Once home, I slapped it on my turntable, put my headphones on, cranked it up and laid back to listen to album. I was impressed by Dave Meniketti’s voice and lead guitar playing. He definitely knew his way around a fretboard and his guitar tone was astounding. “Don’t Wanna Lose“ was a catchy tune and both “Barroom Boogie” and “My Way Or The Highway” had just the right amount of humor to make me chuckle out loud.

Days later, I backtracked and purchased their 1st album, “Earthshaker”. I was very surprised by how raw and energetic the band sounded, much more so on this record than their follow up. All the cuts were good, but “Shake It Loose”,
“Let Me Go“ and “Rescue Me” resonated strongly with me and became my favorites. “Earthshaker” went on to be a big success and the band found themselves on tour opening up for AC/DC and Kiss.

Seeing my interest in Y&T, my wife at the time decided to surprise with me tickets to a Y&T concert, but instead ended up buying tickets to a concert by another local Bay Area band named HYTS. The Y&T concert was sold out. She presented me with the tickets and explained her original intentions. I was caught totally by surprise! She couldn’t stand my “type” of music, it was just all screeching guitars to her. We attended the HYTS concert together. Y&T they were not… not even by a long shot. She got an “A” for effort, but an “F” for selection.

1983 saw the release of the “Mean Streak” album. “Down And Dirty”, “Mean Streak” and “Breaking Away” rocked hard and upped the ante. Upon first listening to “Lonely Side Of Town”, I fell in love with the song. It’s a sad little ditty about an outcast, a loner and it’s sung with lots of emotion from Dave. It quickly became my favorite Y&T song of all time. Sentimental Fool” was another standout cut in the same vein.

Next up, “In Rock We Trust”, released in 1984, the entire album was strong and chock-full of great songs like I‘ll Keep On Believin‘ (Don‘t You Know)”, “Don‘t Stop Runnin‘” and “Lipstick And Leather”. Especially impressive was “Break Out Tonight“ with it‘s jazzy feel and the up-tempo rocker, “She’s A Liar“. 1984 also saw Y&T making a strong appearance at the 1984 Monsters Of Rock Festival alongside AC/DC, Van Halen, Ozzy Osbourne, Gary Moore, Accept and Motley Crue.

Y&T took a bold step and mixed things up in 1985 with the release of “Down For The Count”. The album cover looked different than previous Y&T’s album covers, the Y&T logo was different and the band added keyboards. They scored a big radio and MTV hit with “Summertime Girls“. It climbed to 55 on the Billboard charts and became their biggest charting hit.

The next two releases brought new changes to the band. 1987‘s “Contagious”, saw original drummer Leonard Haze out and new drummer Jimmy DeGrasso in. “Contagious” was an average seller and contained the smoldering cut, “Temptation”. And 1990’s “Ten” had guitarist Joey Alves out and guitarist Stef Burns in. The CD had a bluesy feel to it, but still rocked hard, especially the cut, “Red Hot & Ready“.

Y&T disbanded in 1991 after a farewell concert and live CD, “Yesterday & Today Live”, but reformed and returned after four years with “Musically Incorrect”. Y&T fans welcomed their return and reveled in the new songs, especially “Cold Day In Hell”, “Pretty Prison”, “Don’t Know What To Do“ and “No Regrets”. The follow up, “Endangered Species”, released in 1998, brought the same high level of song craft and musicianship as it‘s predecessor with, “Sumthin 4 Nuth’n”, “Gimme The Beat”, “Rocco” and “I Wanna Cry”.

“UnEarthed Vol. 1” and “UnEarthed Vol. 2”, released in 2003 and 2004 respectively, showcased demos and unfinished songs newly completed and brought back to life. Though the CDs contain a good share of gems, they had and uneven feel to them. Still, true Y&T fans will find the CDs worth their weight in gold.

Since the band’s inception, bassist Phil Kennemore’s helped to pen great music with Dave Meniketti. They came very close to rock stardom many times, but bad timing and bad luck intervened and it eluded them. Still Y&T rocks on! Having recently released “Facemelter“, their first studio release in 13 years, they are proving once again that they are a truly hard rocking band that can deliver passionate tearjerkers and all-out rockers with style and ease. Every song on their new release is a gem, so pick up “Facemelter”… or any other Y&T release. Their music is straight from the heart. On With The Show!

(DVD) “Y&T Live One Hot Night”
(CDs) “Earthshaker“ and “Facemelter”
(Songs) Rescue Me, Let Me Go, Don’t Wanna Lose, Barroom Boogie, Lonely Side Of Town, Sentimental Fool, Break Out Tonight, She’s A Liar, Summertime Girls, Temptation, Red Hot & Ready, Cold Day In Hell, No Regrets, Sumthin 4 Nuth’n, I Wanna Cry, Hot Shot, and
One Life

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