Friday, August 13, 2010

The Saddlesores

Keith Drummond’s rock and roll journey had led him to Albuquerque in 1981. He put together a punkabilly band (The Jet Girls) that quickly became a part of the Dirt City’s brief rockabilly revival of the early 1980’s.  This period was captured on the album “This is Albuquerque not Roswell” (that also featured The Breakers and The Broadway Elks).  Drummond then relocated to California, where he wasted little time in forming another band; Speed Queens. The band would quickly become a fixture of the East Bay punk rock movement.  The Speed Queens 1984 ep (I Wish I Had A Big ****) Like Iggy Pop, hints at the musical path that Drummond would follow. The Speed Queens rework Mott the Hoople’s  “All The Young Dudes”  into “All The Young Dudes Are Dead” the transformation is so complete that it makes you wonder if this is a cover song or an original. This genre bending technique would play a big part in the formation of the Saddlesores. Drummond would later reminisce about the Saddlesores:  “We thought it would be funny if we did rock versions of country songs, and vice versa.” He continued: “We started out with a country version of Juda’s Priest’s Breakin’ The Law and a punked out Merle Haggard song.”
Keith Drummond returned to Albuquerque in 1989 then with John Hastings and Scott Meacham formed the original Saddlesores.  With the untimely passing of Hastings, Cole Mitchell was added as lead singer along with drummer Chris Martin. The Saddlesores made their recording debut on the Ubik Sound compilation   “Carport Thunder” Vol. One.   That epic recording also included groundbreaking local bands such as The Ant Farmers, The Gutterleaves & A Murder of Crows.  The Saddlesores would release their first album in 1993, “Drink,Drink,Drink” which includes some of the band’s best known tunes and concert favorites. The period after the first album was tumultuous as members rotated in and out of the band. Eric McFadden (Angry Babies,Liar etc.) briefly joined the group playing both guitar and drums. McFadden also took part in the recording sessions for the first album and performed live with the band.   The late  Tom Van Vleet (drummer for The Breakers and Broadway Elks) guitarist Allen Appel and Mike “Mo” Rose also played with the band during that time.  A falling out led to Keith Drummond and Cole Mitchell parting ways and not speaking to each other for two years. It took the efforts of 94 Rock’s  T.J.Trout to bring the two back together. During negotiations to include the snarly little ditty “Jesus Told Me To 2 Kill U” on a “Rasta Records” compilation cd. T.J. set up a meeting with the estranged band mates, Drummond would later say: “We had to meet to talk about that situation and we buried the hatchet."
Now reconciled the Saddlesores set about the business of finishing their second album, a project that had taken six years to complete.  Released in 2001 “Beating A Dead Horse” was not as fully realized as their first album.  However it was understandable given the circumstances surrounding the band during the recording process. The album received critical acclaim and was quickly embraced by loyal fans.  The final version of the band (Keith Drummond, Cole Mitchell, Chris Martin, Ben Harrison and Robert Silva) would produce the recording that totally defines the group. “Let it Suck” was released in 2004, the cover sports a tongue in cheek take on The Rolling Stone’s  Let it Bleed album.  However don’t mistake it for a Stones tribute album, instead it’s a grand culmination of everything that made the Saddlesores so damn good.  The songs are fully structured, poetic yet muscular, often building to an arena rock crescendo. Sadly,  The Saddlsores best album would also be their last, with the group disbanding that same year.