Dust Never Sleeps: Lost '70s Power Rock Trio Reemerges with Reissues

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When you think of classic rock power trios, names like Cream, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Blue Cheer, Grand Funk Railroad, and Mountain come to mind. But only hardcore music nerds may remember the short-lived Brooklyn-based Dust.

Formed in 1969 the band - which included Richie Wise (vocals/guitar), Kenny Aaronson (bass), and Marc Bell (drums) - released just two records: Dust (1971) and Hard Attack (1972). Both are full of fine loud, fast, and furious music - with just a tinge of blues, country, and psychedelia - and are treasured by collectors.

On April 16, Sony/Legacy will release a single CD featuring remastered version of both records, along with a special vinyl edition for Record Store Day on April 20.

"It's incredibly gratifying and a big surprise. These records were out, but you had to search for them as they were imports. Now, it's happening in a much more efficient and bigger way," Wise says from his New York home. "We're excited about this. A new door has opened."

Wise wrote most of Dust's music, while unofficial fourth member, producer/manager Kenny Kerner, handled the lyrics.

After dissolving, Wise went on to produce more than 70 albums. Aaronson went on to play with people like Bob Dylan, Billy Idol, Sammy Hagar, and Joan Jett. As for Bell, he joined another group and changed his name - to Marky Ramone. He did OK for himself.

Wise credits Mark Newman - an exec at Sony/Legacy and hardcore Ramones fan - with getting the ball rolling on the album reissues, which show more of a diversity in sound than the band's live gigs.

"Onstage, we were pure exhale. Super loud, super fast, with songs like 'Learning to Die' and 'Suicide.'" But in the studio, we took a page from Cream, who had a variety of stuff on their records," Wise recalls.

"I also had a lot of influences, and wouldn't hesitate to write a song with Procol Harum in mind. So songs like 'Thusly Spoken' are like that. And Marc would play a slower beat and Kenny loved playing slide guitar and steel guitar. On 'Stone Woman' and 'How Many Horses,' he got to do that."

So what happened to the talented trio of Dust? Well, a number of factors, according to Wise - who says they didn't break up so much as they "dissolved."

"After the second album came out, the record company [Kama Sutra] liked it enough to allow Kenny [Kerner] and I to produce records. But the lifestyle of being in a band suited Marc and Kenny [Aaronson] perfectly," he says. "I had just gotten married and wanted more of a structured life. And for me, that was producing. I fell in love with being in a studio."

He notes that he started writing songs for a proposed third Dust record, but - at the ripe old age of 21 - he felt that "it just wasn't there anymore."

"If we had a record company that put more effort into promotion and understood the reaction we got live after the second album, we probably wouldn't have dissolved," he looks back.

The team of Wise and Kerner went on to produced the first two KISS records, and Wise is still in awe today about that band's determination and drive, even at the beginning.

"They were the most focused band I ever saw, from day one. Pure motivation to become the biggest, always. All they did was think and plan. And the money part of it? Absolutely," Wise says.

"I remember Gene [Simmons] saying very early on recording the first album as we were walking on the street that it's not enough own the building, you should own the whole block. You have to hand it to somebody that has such amazing focus. And it worked out for them."

So with the renewed interest that the reissues will surely stir up, would there be a chance of a Dust reunion tour or even one-off show? Wise says that--while he "expects" Aaronson and Bell will want to do something--he won't be part of it.

"I haven't been onstage playing and singing since the end of the band, and that whole ability has left me. Left the building!" Wise laughs. "I would love to be a part of it, but I can't. But I'd love to see them with someone else singing and playing my songs."

But would he even consider doing at least one song for an honest reunion?

"Consider?' Oh, that sounds very political, like 'I'll consider running for office!" he laughs again. "But sure, I'd consider it!"

Now semi-retired and a happily married family man with two children and grandkids on the way, Wise is excited about the reissues, but is content to let the past stay in the past.

"I'm a living-the-American-Dream kind of guy who every day still must have a massive fix of the music that he loves. I still get a thrill every time I hear Axis: Bold as Love," he sums up.

"And I always remember a great quote from my friend [the late famed producer] Tom Dowd. 'Life is stranger than fiction. And the music business is stranger than life!'"

To see the story of Dust on YouTube, click HERE.

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