The scene: Jimmy's Music Club in uptown New Orleans, sometime in the early 1980's. Onstage, the five members of the Cold are confidently jumping and jerking their way through a series of punky new wave tunes that feature rapid-fire drums, propulsive melodies, and energetic vocals.
The style of music is reminiscent of Blondie, the Rezillos and, from an earlier era, the Dave Clark Five. Vance DeGeneres pounds out insistent, melodic bass lines while drummer Chris Luckette jovially whacks the crap out of his kit. Guitarists Kevin Radecker and Bert Smith swap terse but distinctive riffs. And in the center, Barbara Menendez sings, dances, and plays keyboards with the zeal and energy of the zippiest of aerobics instructors while wearing the trademark Menendez miniskirt, which is mostly mini and very little skirt. This was the Cold at its peak, a pure pop band boasting memorable songs and a passionate following.
In 1979, when the music of Olivia Newton-John, Christopher Cross, and The Captain & Tennille dreamily filled the airwaves, a precursor to the Cold was launched by University of New Orleans students Smith and Radecker, who were playing variations on the rabble-rousing, three chord sounds of the Buzzcocks and the Sex Pistols. Soon, these two guitarists joined forces with DeGeneres, brother of comedian Ellen; Menendez, a year out of Mount Carmel High School; and Luckette, who joined after he split with another locally popular group called the Normals.
From 1980 to 1982, the Cold became a live music sensation, filling clubs like Jimmy's and Jed's with fresh, young fans taken by the band's high-energy sound and Menendez's even more high-energy stage antics. These legions of fans helped fuel the Cold's record sales - four singles totalling more than 25,000 copies - and defy the airwave barrier for local music. In a radio market known for ignoring local rock (this was before the days of Deadeye Dick and Better than Ezra), the Cold placed the singles "You" and "Mesmerized" on WTUL, WQUE, WTIX, and B-97.
The band played hundreds of shows throughout the region, from Texas to Florida, before splitting up in 1982. After reuniting in 1984, the Cold released an album and, later in the year, a new single. The LP "16 Songs Off a Dead Band's Chest" anthologized the band's early years and included crowd favorites such as "Working Girl" and "Russian Around". The Cold's final album, "Major Minor" (1985), combined newer material like "What Went Wrong Today" with popular standbys such as "That's the Way Boys Are" (originally recorded by Lesley Gore.)
- Rich Collins,
Gambit Weekly Newspaper
A bit more info:
Three Chord City, the Cold’s first compilation CD, was released in 1997 and featured singles, B-sides and unreleased studio tracks. Their Cold Sweat CD (1999) featured 24 live tracks, and Limbo’s Getting Crowded (2005) contained alternate and unreleased studio and live tracks. A DVD entitled The Cold / Live at Jimmy’s / July 31, 1981 was released in 2015. The Cold also performed several reunion shows over the years (most recently in 2001.)
The band was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2018.