DOCTOR NIGHTLIFE was just thinking about the old days -- when the Allman Brothers, Cheap Trick, Aerosmith, REO Speedwagon, Santana, Asia, Bad Company, Heart, Fleetwood Mac, Iggy Pop, Robert Plant and Eric Clapton were on the Album Rock charts -- when she realized this Billboard is dated Aug. 18, 1990. So that's what James Taylor is doing at Merriweather Post on Tuesday (lawn only, $16.50; 800/543-4041). And Dionne Warwick and Johnny Mathis at Wolf Trap Sunday and Monday (lawn only, $15; 432-0200). You could even count Damn Yankees' Ted Nugent (Saturday at Merriweather, $20 and $15), who was already 20 when the Amboy Dukes hit in 1968; but why would you want to? And elsewhere: FRIDAY
STILL IN HIS PRINE --
These days, "sensitive songwriter" is Varietyspeak for "wimp," and ordinary people have yuppie psychoses, but John Prine's writing is peopled with pre-Cruise vets and victims of everyday desperation, and besides that they're often hilariously funny. So is he. Prine (whose enunciation is sometimes more authentic than accessible) performs solo at Wolf Trap, but opening are Washington's resident bluegrass masters, the Seldom Scene ($16 reserved, $11 lawn seats; 255-1868 or 432-0200).
WHITE NOISE BOYS --
Happy Flowers, a coupla cracked kids sitting around in North Carolina, hoping to avoid going to work, re-express the id-eological shocks of childhood by removing all musical implications from their guitars, exploring the sonic depths of undirected amplification and tonelessly screaming (about 32 times each) generally one-phrase "lyrics" of prepubescent anguish. For instance: "Jenny Tried to Kiss Me at Recess" ("I think I'm gonna be sick"); "Why Didn't You Tell Me" ("you were bringing a baby home . . . take it back and get me a puppy") and their big hit, "Mom I Gave the Cat Some Acid." Some people probably call this cathartic. Some people probably even call it art. We say it's spinach and we say the hell with it. Happy Flowers plays at a noise spectacular with Pavement, Grub and the F. Orchestra at the D.C. Arts Center ($5; 462-7833). Yes, you have to pay to get in. SATURDAY
COY BOYS --
If "Kowtow Popof" sounds like a case study in conflicted personality, that's probably just as well: Songwriter Kevin Kerr, a k a Popof, seems to be a little ambivalent about his purpose, too. Kerr/Popof, frontman for the reformulated Senses Bureau now known as Bellyland (named for a wheels-up jet landing), sometimes dabbles in publican punk a` la Graham Parker; sometimes in moderate-speed rattle; most often in alternative-format complacency-bashing (mass fantasy is ugly reality, etc.) and occasionally in bittersweet balladry. Even with the heavy hint of pseudonym, Kerr's spoofing may not be as clever as he thinks, but the best of it is engaging, and the band is dance-worthy even when the words spring a leak (at the Grog & Tankard with Boom Slang and Kid Pharoah & the No-Goods; $6, 333-3114). SUNDAY
VELVET VOICED, TWO --
So we're driving into town on the Whitehurst Freeway, waving at the homeless gentleman we haven't seen for several months (because, we're relieved to hear, he's been in Florida) with a tape of "Black Velvet" blasting in the car and he perks up and nods, "Oh, Robin Lee." And of course, he's right. Robin Lee is a Nashville country-pop (but powerful) stylist who was pitched "Velvet" at the same time Alannah Myles was and jumped just as fast (and in just the same direction -- the demo must have been persuasive). And it went just as high on the playlists, if you listen to country radio. Lee performs Sunday at Zed (768-5558).
ROCK ROMANTICISM --
To be honest, it's hard to know whether to take Warrior Soul seriously. (Do they know Kowtow Popof?) The mix of speed, "My Generation" pugnacity and gleefully rude Van Halen dramaturgy is entertaining, but it's either meant to be camp or it's painfully earnest. Still, you can dance to it. Sorta. With Danzig and Soundgarden at the University of Maryland's Ritchie Coliseum ($18.50; 432-0200).
MORE OLDIES OF NOTE --
"If You Don't Know Me by Now" only goes back to 1972, which isn't terribly remarkable this week, but it is, after all, prettier than "Journey to the Center of the Mind." Harold Melvin & the Bluenotes -- albeit without Teddy Pendergrass, of course -- perform at Blues Alley Tuesday and Wednesday ($15; 337-4141).
REICH AS RAIN --
Middle class metal-funksters Sacred Reich head up a dog-days threebie with Skeleton and Warfare (yup, it's another trendy name-game bill) at Wilmer's Park in Brandywine; gates open 5:30 ($12; 301/888-1600). WEDNESDAY
Charlie Barnett & the Correctones aren't all that old, but they do specialize in oldies and R&B dance tunes. They provide the music at the Portrait Gallery/NMAA courtyard, the Smithsonian provides wine and soda and you provide your own picnics and dancing shoes ($16; 357-3030). In case of rain, the show moves into the Portrait Gallery's Great Hall. THURSDAY
FLASH GORDON --
There is no more fervent disciple than the convert, and having become a rockabilly believer, Robert Gordon has never looked back (at the Bayou; $9.50, 333-2897). Incidentally, a gruesomely colorized "Jailhouse Rock" was on TV last week, which reminded us that (a) once upon a time, Elvis was indeed the hottest thing ever to come down a Tennessee dirt road; and (2) that the name of Gordon's "Fresh Fish Special" album comes from a joke in the movie about Presley's penitentiary haircut.