As deserved as CBGB’s legend is for the greats (known and unknown) who got their starts there, and as decent a chap as owner Hilly Kristal was, there were plenty of bands who played the club in its salad days who were not about changing the world. New York in the pre-wave ’70s was not so different from a lot of other places, where dreams of rock stardom did not hinge on making great art, or knowing about symbolist poets or any of that stuff. The also-rans largely deserved their forgotten fate, but some of them got their heads high enough above the rabble to at least gain some notoriety in the fledgling scene.
The mid-decade Tuff Darts were an oddity in the pairing of a stylish and strong-voiced singer with a slick guitar player, neither of whom had any great imagination or vision. Robert Gordon went on to a distinguished career as a revivalist rockabilly cat, and Jeff Salen (who died of a heart attack on January 26, 2008 at the age of 54) opened clothing boutiques in Manhattan. Although the group’s original lineup does its dopey signature tune, “All for the Love of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” on the weak and largely unrepresentative Live at CBGB’s compilation, Gordon was long gone by the time the Darts released a glam-punk album of its own two years later. (The band was on hold for part of that time while Salen played guitar in Sparks.)
The Darts, who were inexplicably dressed in vintage gangster duds for their album, had two decent songs, both of which are on it. Otherwise, the record ranges from bad to worse, as on the pseudo-punk “(Your Love Is Like) Nuclear Waste.”