By Nick Christophers
They made their “bones” on stage many eons ago, and lived like kings – then disbanded in 1984. So why after 40 years did this LA rocker band just record their first and only album?
From sunny California, “A La Carte” came together in 1976 when band leader/drummer Brian O’Brian and bassist Craig Miller decided to form a unique kind of group. They were kids fresh out of high school – so finding guitarist K.K. Martin, the trio embarked on a voyage that would eventually take them around the Southland, opening for such acts like Journey, Blondie Steppenwolf and others.
They first got their feet wet by playing at an outdoor block party for over 2000 screaming revelers. This open-air display got the attention of local promoters that stumbled over each other trying to book this rebel band. Everyone wanted a piece of A La Carte because they drew the crowd in. It was typical to have 1500 to over 2000 bodies at their gigs, and in those days, promoters of these venues were happy because of the numbers.
A La Carte began booking gigs at party halls all over Southern California. Their shows were exactly that, “a show” with make-up, five-inch wedges, bell bottoms, outrageous costumes with smoke and fog machines. As Brian O’Brian tells us, “we believed if you are not putting on a show you’re mistreating the audience”.
They played at the Whisky a-Go-Go, the Troubadour, Lafayette Ballroom, the Queen Mary and other places where you needed to be seen if you’re an up and coming LA band.
The band then formed an alliance with the all-girl band The Runaways, as Sandy West’s drum teacher was Brian O’Brian. A bond was created where A La Carte would end up performing with them and becoming lifelong friends.
A two-year residency at Hollywood’s hottest rock club “Starwood” ended in 1981 so they returned to their old haunts – the Golden Bear, Radio City, and the Woodstock. Eventually, A La Carte disbanded in 1984 and went their separate ways.
In 2009, a reunion show had a vast number of fans attend to watch and listen to the mighty rock trio who knocked their socks off in the late 70’s and 80’s – many were there to reminisce about the old days, listen to some great rock n’ roll and of course see the band that started it all.
Fast forward to 2017, a light bulb went on as Brian O’Brian tells it, “Recently, Craig and I began laying down some tracks and felt we still had what it takes (to put an album together). We brought in KK – so after having a few people check it out what we did, we got a thumb’s up. At that point we decided to release it,” he said.
And that is exactly what the band did.
The album entitled “A La Carte Est. 1976” is their one and only album and is, without a doubt, a riveting piece of pure unadulterated Rock ‘n Roll. Dokken/Lynch Mob guitar master George Lynch described A La Carte as “A cross between ZZ Top and the New York Dolls: they played dirty, gutsy blues-based rock.”
Tracks like “Old #7” and “No Tell Motel” are two of the ten original tunes that were written between 1976 and 1979. The record is said to be a no-frills representation of the way A La Carte sounded during that brilliant era.
All ten of their songs fit in seamlessly, almost like it was meant to be. The album is a melting pot of genres; a sip of metal, a taste of funk, a touch of Motown yet very bluesy.
Currently the band has no plans on touring, but you never know.
This is a must-have album for your collection that is done with honesty, no auto-tuning or enhancements, just pure Rock ‘n Roll – the way it’s supposed to be.