Why was John Lennon more interesting than Paul McCartney? Because he had issues, he had been abandoned, he was full of rage, he was hurt. Paul didn't give a fuck about anything, everything was usually handed to him, but who was a better writer? why, John, of course. In the fashion of Lester Bangs, take no prisoners, show no mercy and always, I mean always, take a piss in the flower pot. It won't make you popular, but you'll feel better about yourself. When the long dormant urge to write returned to me, I found myself desperately in need of an outlet. I started submitting movie reviews to Netflix. My favorite was a review I wrote for "Seven Pounds" the Will Smith mega-bomb "This movie sucked the life out of me as fast as Rosario Dawson's failing heart was doing to her." Only a couple were posted, it seems Netflix wants to encourage people to rent their movies. I tried Amazon and C-Net (back in the days of C-Net Music) I submitted a few album reviews to Amazon, the only one I remember was a review of The Beach Boys "Wild Honey" which I described as the masterpiece that Brian Wilson was trying to make during the aborted "Smile" sessions. At C-Net I would review new artists, I suggested to some poor wanna-be rapper from Denver that he learn these words "May I take your order please" because his future was in fast food not music. Although most artists requested feedback when they uploaded their music, apparently criticism wasn't what they had in mind. I moved over to CD Baby, it's still my top source for New Mexico music but there's plenty of rotten eggs in that basket. After writing a few "nice" reviews (The Beat Cowboys, Sticky Pistils, Long Gone Trio) I submitted some that had an edge to them, including a review of an album by Elu (Jeff Mettling's now defunct new age project) it never saw the light of day. Maybe it's because I raised the question of "Who's going to kiss this pig?" after comparing the album to a pig with lipstick. It seems that CD Baby wants to move product and negative user reviews are counter productive. They're all poseurs anyway, their in-house writers will give anything a good review. I like how they compare some local hack to an established musician, while trying to sound hip and witty: "Sounds like Toby Keith on meth, recommended for those who like: Toby Keith." (wouldn't Toby Keith on meth sound just like he does now?) Click Here To Buy.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
I'm at the local Dollar Tree stocking up on the usual goods. I have Arizona Southern Style sweet tea, sesame and honey coated cashews plus bottled water. As I wait in line, the one person ahead of me starts to argue with the cashier over the price of something (it's Dollar Tree! everything is a fuckin' dollar, everything!) As I waited, a nearby end cap loaded with hardcover books caught my attention. There I found "When We Get to Surf City" by Bob Greene, having just written about surf music, I was hooked. When you think of America's great writers, Bob Greene probably doesn't come to mind. He's not terrible, but his writing style is plain and flat as the Midwest that spawned him. Nobody could remember all the details that he does, not without jotting down umpteen fuckin' notes or recording every single conversation over the course of fifteen years. However, it appears that Greene did just that, as he takes us on the road with Jan & Dean and their tour musicians. Almost by chance Greene is introduced to the band, soon he's joining them onstage, holding a guitar with the volume muted while contributing off key back-up vocals. For Greene this becomes a rite of summer, starting in 1992, he joins up with the touring musicians for a series of shows around the country.
Greene recalls seeing Dean Torrance for the first time; "His face was still a rock star's face, everything in his bearing said that this was not a fellow who made his living in an office building." His first glimpse of Jan Berry is markedly different "He's carrying a sack of fast food burgers, walking slowly, unevenly, he's considerably heavier than his old photos." As Jan struggles to make it to the boarding gate we are reminded that a car accident in 1966 had changed Jan's life forever. "As a young singer he had been staggeringly handsome, with a face made for the silver screen." Before the accident Jan had enrolled in medical school and was well on his way to becoming a doctor. Now Greene is becoming aware of the cognitive mental lags that Jan has to overcome daily "On the airplane I heard singing in front of me, It was Jan singing, he was holding a tape player, his eyes were closed." Gary Griffin the keyboardist explains to Bob: "Part of it is rehearsal, but mainly he just has to learn the words again everyday." Greene bonds with the musicians as they travel to state fairs and conventions. When they run into their rivals, The Beach Boys, before a show, there is a hint of tension between Dean and Mike Love. This becomes more apparent when Love hires Jan & Dean's band for a tour of Europe. When the band returns to the states, one of them starts to tell Dean "London was great" when Dean cuts him off "Fuck You, I've never been to Europe, now go get yourself a hamburger, we order at the counter here in America."
Dean is wound tight, he runs the front office, at one point Jan calls him during the off season to ask for a raise, Dean turns him down flat, he then gently explains to Jan "If we keep our fee low, we get booked for more shows, that's how it works." Dean carefully irons his Hawaiian print shirts (the band uniform) before every show, he counts the audience, he bristles when Lou Christie hogs the show, costing Jan & Dean their promised encore. For the musicians it's just a job, they arrive at their hotels, they do the show, they eat, much of the book is centered around meals. When Jan requests a slice of lemon pie and a brownie to take back to his room, he feels the need to tell Bob "This can kill me, but you have to live and enjoy." They feast on canoes full of shrimp in South Carolina, steaks and ribs in Oklahoma, they take their breakfast at McDonald's, and eagerly await fresh baked cookies and cold milk provided free at one of their hotels. Greene starts to notice how attractive the lifestyle can be, carrying his guitar through airports he draws attention "I was surprised by this at first, and then concluded it was a daily testament to the continuing powerful mystique of the electric guitar." Chubby Checker's tour guitarist then puts it in plain English: "Yeah! of course, it's like carrying your dick through an airport."
Along the way they share the stage with a sad parade of aging rock 'n roll icons, James Brown ("Don't Die, so I don't ever have to hear the news that Jan & Dean are dead") Jerry Lee Lewis ( "It's good to be on the bill with Jan & Dean, they probably didn't know I was still living") when a woman calls out enticingly to The Killer "What are you doing later, Jerry Lee" he wearily answers "Not tonight darlin" as if sex would be the last thing on his mind. Greene is amazed to find guitar legend James Burton playing with Jerry Lee. "Elvis was dead, a guitar player has to play somewhere, it was probably logical that James Burton and Jerry Lee Lewis had found each other." Burton who was best known for playing behind Rick Nelson, Elvis Presley & Emmy Lou Harris, now shares the stage with Bob Greene. In Wisconsin, they pass Lake Monona where Otis Redding's airplane crashed, killing him and several members of his band. Greene wonders "What do you think would have happened to his career if he hadn't been on that plane?" one band member quickly replies "He'd probably be out here with us, eating the free breakfast buffets." They also share the bill with a number of different Beatle's Tribute bands, most of whom speak in fake Liverpudlian accents. At one show, space on the stage is so limited that the drums are placed on the side instead of the back. This causes a fake Ringo to scream at the promoter "Ringo would never drum facing sideways" to which the lady replies "But you're not really Ringo now, are you" he yells "Bitch" at her and she comes back with "Fuck You!" Later while watching the fake Ringo play, Jan & Dean's drummer remarks "He's not bad! one of the better Ringos I've seen."
At the heart of the book is Jan Berry, once a pop idol with a near genius IQ, he now labors to get through each day. After a meal, while walking back to their hotel, a teenager taunts a lumbering Jan by yelling "Igor" at him. Fearing that fans will be put off by his appearance and behavior the band drafts an announcement that is read before each show: "Ladies & Gentlemen, in 1966 Jan Berry survived a near fatal car accident..." Greene reflects on Jan's struggles "To do what he did, to travel the country, knowing, somewhere inside what people saw and thought as they looked at him" he puts it all in perspective "There was an unquenchable courage there, something inside him that was so determined, so ambitious in the face of everything." Jan Berry never really came back from Deadman's Curve, at best it was a partial recovery. When the band would play Deadman's Curve, someone would usually yell "We're glad you made it back Jan!" Jan would soak in the adulation, but Dean Torrance understood what was lost that day in 1966, and to him the song is just a sad reminder. Jan Berry suffered a seizure and died in 2004, bringing the endless summer tours to an end. Bob Greene strips away the glossy trappings of stardom and we see the musicians as working men, trying to make ends meet. It's not your typical rock stars on the road book, it's real, down to earth and ultimately very moving
Saturday, March 26, 2011
I have a new feature up and running, Dirt City Graphic will contain scattershot musings and rambling thoughts, all within a New Mexico centric parameter. There are two other features that I post at sporadic intervals, "Blast From The Past" and "They Passed this Way" but both are drying up faster than Elephant Butte during a sustained drought. I was going to use Dirt City Graphic as an outlet to write about politics and non-music related rants. I chose not to do that, I have another blog that I can use to rage against the machine. Dirt City Chronicles is about music and musicians, the focus will remain the same. I tried out a feature from Playlist.Com where you can share your playlists with your blog. I found a few bands with New Mexico connections available, but when I tried to add songs from my own collection it quit working, so I was forced to scrap it. A quick disclaimer: all the music that I post is available online from other sources, You Tube, My Space Music or band websites. All I've done is gathered it into one convenient source for your listening pleasure. Just think of Dirt City Chronicles as the Reader's Digest of Albuquerque music. All fuddy duddy and shit just like dear old gramps.
I've been fighting a bad case of blogger's remorse, that's when you post something and then immediately regret doing it. Thankfully there's a cure for it, I'm notorious for editing after I've posted. I'll read through my blog and if I find something that doesn't chop wood or fetch water, I'll remove it. I don't know if that's good or bad or if it violates some unwritten rule of total music bloggage. There are a number of really good blogs out there that cover the current scene, they have better access to the venues and musicians. I can't compete with them at that level, not that it's a competition. The writers that cover the Albuquerque music scene are a gifted bunch, every bit as talented as the musicians themselves, some are actually musicians. Creativity like water finds it's own level you don't see too many musicians gravitating towards sports writing. I do Facebook, it is what it is, a handy bulletin board or a mailbox. I follow a couple of bands, some radio personalities, radio stations, sports teams and of course my fellow bloggers. On Erica Viking's Facebook page she posted a picture of herself, Big Benny and two big guys who resemble massive wads of bubblegum. I commented "Beauty surrounded by a whole lotta ugly, those guys have faces made for radio" she responded "That's mean! lol" It was meant as a joke and those are not good looking guys. In times like these people tend to get hyper-sensitive, any remark is taken as an insult or a personal affront to someone's manhood. I think it's time to ease up on the throttle, if hate is the new mean, then intensity is the gateway drug of haters. Ah! Spring is almost here, I love it and yet I hate it... Batter, Batter.....Swing! that's strike three, I am out.
Friday, March 25, 2011
Taos has long been out of step with the rest of New Mexico, nearby Taos Pueblo played a key role in the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. Resistance to Spanish occupation would continue there well after the re-conquest of 1692. In 1847 as the rest of New Mexico was settling into life under U.S. occupation, Taos residents rose up in revolt, the uprising was quelled but not before the newly appointed U.S. Governor, Charles Bent had been killed. The Taos Society of Artists was established in 1915, this led to the growth of a thriving art colony, that would define Taos as the mecca for artists from around the world. Planet Taos follows its own orbit, the pursuit of art coupled with a strong self reliant nature has fostered a vibrant music scene. In the early to mid-1980's three memorable bands sprouted out of the Taos scene, The Refrigerators, The Muttz and The Bohiems. All enjoyed a medium of success, all wound up falling short of their own expectations. The Bohiems came together in Taos, David Garver (vocals,guitar) his then wife Kim Garver (vocals) David's brother Tim Garver (drums) Mark Nettleton (guitar) and Rick Montano (guitar,bass) The group had talent, they were on track for stardom so they hired a manager who advised them to move to Los Angeles.
Arriving in SoCal in 1985, they played a few gigs, but soon found themselves struggling. There was no recording contract and the logistics of living in L.A. began to wear on them, Kim explains: "We lived far-flung distances from each other so rehearsal was tough." Kim looks back wistfully; "We might have been on the verge of making it, but all the things we needed to make it just weren’t happening." The Bohiems returned to Taos, they continued to play local and area gigs, Rick Montano would leave the band with Kim replacing him on bass. They released "Taos" in 1989, it was produced by The Bohiems and Phil Appelbaum. The album was recorded live during two local concerts in the summer of 1989. At first glance it would be tempting to dismiss them as just another hippie jam band. That however, is not the case, The Bohiems music is much closer to bands like The Cult, The Alarm or Crazy Horse. This is evident on the first track which sounds like a holdover from the band's Hollywood set. "Can't Wait" is the perfect song to open with "When I close my eyes, you're next to me" The guitars build up a wall of sound, as David begs and yearns for love that's just out of reach. "Days slip away, got to find a way to be with you." You can see what their manager saw in them, they certainly had a harder, glam metal edge.
If "Can't Wait" is a showcase of their strengths, "Honey Babe" exposes their flaws. An ode to freedom and perestroika "She celebrates somewhere in a Moscow Square, is it independence over there?" or a celebration of the American way "Well hey, yeah baby, I guess I love this country" cue the Bic lighters "Hurray for independence, but just bring me my Honey Babe" ultimately the brittle lyrics collapse in on themselves. "Martyrs and Saints touches on the band's move to California as channeled through The Thrill Kill Kult and George Thorogood. "The city is Los Angeles, it's eight o'clock in the morning and the ground is shaking" David takes us on a tour of Hollywood Blvd. "Lord the greatest story, a simple song or nursery rhyme, every good intention is laced with evil and laced with sublime." An excess of guitar noise clutters the landscape as the song sputters and comes to a stop on the side of the Hollywood Freeway, the gauge reads empty. "Space" is probably another gem from their Hollywood days, it's their best song, coherently poetic, a bit restrained, yet it crackles with muscular electric guitar. "The space I give, I bet my mind that light is gone, so it's dark, truth is dark and far away." David signs with calm urgency "When I lose the best things I have found, it tears me apart, when you come into my heart I scream, alone deep inside." with "Space" you realize just how close The Bohiems were to building something amazing.
"You Can Rely" is brief, anthemic guitar rock, "Love Help Me See" sounds just like "You Can Rely" with blander lyrics. "Holding Up the Sky" is The Bohiems best known tune, it would get airplay on KZRR-94-Rock in the early 1990's. "Theres a rumble in the distance and all hell is breaking loose" it's a tale of redemption and hope. "Save me, cry that heaven don't fall down on me" the song features some of David and Kim's best vocal work. We also see a pattern develop as Kim becomes more assertive and her vocals really start to shine through. Kim sings lead on "Iseult The Fair", a folk rock number that foreshadows her later work with Burning Joan. I never understood why Kim didn't get more of the spotlight, she has a fine voice. Kim and David would go their own ways and now as Kim Treiber, she fronts her own band, Kim and The Caballeros, which she describes as "A big ol' twangy country band" The remainder of the album has its moments, "Michael" is a ballad, that borrows heavily from Neil Young and Crazy Horse, it even includes a chorus from The Needle and The Damage Done. On "Whiskey Window" The Bohiems do their best Thin Lizzy impression, which is to say, not very good. "Meteor" is loud,but amounts to a whole lotta of nothing. "Noel" is a nice take on a Marty Balin-Grace Slick style ballad, that features some truly beautiful vocals from both David and Kim. The Bohiems were at their best when they first arrived in Los Angeles. They returned to New Mexico feeling defeated, to their credit they worked hard to re-invent themselves. However, when the group broke-up they were still a work in progress. Add The Bohiems to the list of talented New Mexico bands that have failed to launch.
Sunday, March 20, 2011
In the United States Nik Cohn is probably better known for having written an article in 1976 for New York Magazine that was later adapted into the John Travolta film "Saturday Night Fever." Cohn's immersion into New York City's disco scene produced "Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night." The movie itself, had a galvanizing effect on the country, it would lead to an anti-Disco backlash spurred by the rally cry of "Disco Sucks." It grew increasingly violent with strong anti-minority overtones, the hate mongering would culminate in a riot during a White Sox's game at Comisky Park. The rock shock troops were encouraged by D.J. Steve Dahl, to bring disco albums and tapes to the stadium, so he could blow them up on the field. 60,000 plus showed up with thousands of albums, the vinyl discs soon became projectiles landing on the field of play. From there, it all went horribly wrong and Chicago had a full scale disco riot on its hands. Leave it to a Brit to come over here and start some shit, Nik Cohn was born in London but his family relocated to Londonderry in Northern Ireland. Cohn, who is Jewish was odd man out during the tribal warfare between Catholics and Protestants. For Nik it was a balancing act; "I was an outsider top to bottom, a Jew, equally unacceptable to both." Besides Rock: From the Beginning, his other titles include: Rock Dreams (a coffee table book produced with artist Guy Peellaert), Arfur Teenage Pinball Queen (said to have inspired The Who's Tommy) and one of his most recent works; "Triksta: Life and Death in New Orleans Rap." Cohn went down to Nola and tried to do the same for that genre of music that he did for disco (kill it off?) the book received lukewarm reviews as some questioned Cohn's capacity to fully grasp the subtle nuances of the New Orleans rap scene.
Beatlemania swept America, forcing everyone to re-think everything. If Elvis was modern, The Beatles were ultra-modern, the hair, the clothes, even the way they talked was revolutionary. They changed our way of life, they transformed the landscape. "At the beginning of 1964, given the most frantic hype ever, they broke out in America and stole the first five places solid on the charts." Suddenly boys and men alike were letting their hair grow out, picking up guitars and learning the chords to "Love me Do" and "I Saw Her Standing There." "They had become unarguably the largest phenomenon that pop had ever coughed up." Cohn introduces us to the Fab Four: John Lennon "A roughneck who rampaged through Liverpool like some wounded buffalo, smashing everything that got in his way" Paul McCartney: "He was melodic, pleasant, inventive but with way too much syrup" George Harrison "He was less than impressive, he was slower than the rest, he tended to plod a bit" Ringo Starr: "He typified the best in the English Character, stability, lack of pretension, humour and a certain built-in cool" It was all about being cool, it's the driving force behind rock and roll. The Beatles made girls lose control, as I sat in the living room watching them on Ed Sullivan with my sisters screaming all around me, I couldn't help but think, "These guys are so cool."
The Beatles were just the tip of the iceberg, the next wave of musicians had a larger, more sustained impact. That brought The Stones: "They were mean and nasty, they beat out the toughest, crudest noise any English band had ever made." Throughout the first phase of the British Invasion, The Stones lagged behind the Beatles. It took them longer to develop their songwriting skills, they didn't mesh, they were quite different from the Beatles. Mick Jagger "Came out of a solid middle-class background and had attended the London School of Economics." Keith Richards "Came from Tottenham and was quite tough" Brian Jones was "insecure, neurotic & highly intelligent" Charlie Watts "Never Talked" Bill Wyman "Was older, married, he didn't quite belong." Their appeal was also different "The Stones were more loutish than they had to be but then, after all, each pop generation must go further than the one before." They reveled in the trappings of evil, just enough to lure in that faction of the record buying public that wanted something naughty. The Beatles were Sgt. Pepper, The Stones were Their Satanic Majesties, good guys, bad guys, you had a choice. More British bands would follow, The Animals, The Kinks, The Yardbirds etc., the supply seemed endless. Thousands of garage bands were launched, the seeds of American garage punk were planted and would soon grow to challenge the very Brits who planted them. It's ironic that the British took American music, that we had tossed aside, reworked it and brought it back and it was fab!
America would respond to the invasion with two radically different musical icons, Brian Wilson and Barry Gordy. Surf music was born in California, which Cohn described as "A hugely enlarged reality, that verges on complete fantasy." To Cohn it was "The home of the lotus eaters." To the surfers of the Golden State it was simply a way of life and a philosophy,"Dude! sunshine and big waves makes for a perfect day." Beginning with "I Get Around" in 1964, Wilson established himself as the equal of Lennon & McCartney. For the next two years he scored hit after hit, alternating between Surf and Hot Rod songs before moving on to carefully crafted pop masterpieces, "He turned out a succession of near tone-poems, fragile pools of sound, small choirs running through mock-fugues." Brian Wilson had elevated himself to a higher plane and then he crashed hard. The same compulsive engine that drove him to excel also drove him to breakdown. Soul music evolved from 1950's R&B, Barry Gordy did not invent it, if Soul music had a "King" it would have to be James Brown. While Brown was gritty and funky, Motown was Cadillacs with sunroof tops. Gordy built a hit machine unlike anything ever seen before. Soul became America's #1 musical export, in the U.K. it was the music of choice for Mods. In The U.S. it cut across racial lines, it wasn't just black music, it was American music.
Bob Dylan was the village voice, plain spoken, yet cryptic and mysterious, he spoke for us and to us. He was the lyrical inspiration for this new wave, his conversion to electric rock was the flip of the switch that America needed to go fucking nuts. America started to polarize from the moment Hippies flashed the first peace sign at a square. Vietnam was creeping into the public conscience, Acid Tests and Timothy Leary would soon start blowing minds. The quest for higher consciousness became an obsession. The changes that were coming to the homeland were mind boggling. Civil Rights, Counter Culture, Recreational Drugs, War, Peace Marches, Campus Occupations, Black Panthers, Political Assassinations.... Welcome to America, love it or leave it! Bob Dylan had risen from the side of Woody Guthrie's deathbed to become the Dharma King of the mid-sixties revolution. Cohn explains: "He grew into a cult, he began to dominate and already, there were people who called him a genius, a primitive prophet." He cast a large shadow, his influence on American rock and musicians between 1965 and 1970 is unmatched. Every song was received like a psalm from above to be deciphered and dissected. The Dylan chapter wraps up just as he's recovered from a harrowing motorcycle accident. Bob has gone to Nashville to record "John Wesley Hardin" and "Nashville Skyline." Now, for the first time we realize that the prophet no longer desires to be a leader, he just wants to sit on the porch and pick some guitar.
The remainder of the book deals with the myriad of musical changes that followed The Beatles. He dedicates an entire chapter to The Who: "They were loud, on stage they worked between great fortresses of amps" Their first single "I'm The Face" became an anthem for The Mods who also get an entire chapter, Cohn describes them, "They were small strange creatures, very neat, they rode scooters, swallowed pills by the hundredweight" but what really made them Mods was their dress "They were hooked on clothes, any money they got went on making themselves look good." Throughout 1964, Mods and Rockers (updated Teds) would mass at seaside resorts to do battle. The Rockers were lower working class, harder, more resilient, The Mods on the other hand "Were on the edge, neurotic and everything that happened was anticlimactic" eventually the battles wore down the Mod tribes and they began to fall apart. P.J. Proby gets his own chapter, he was a Texan, who became a huge star in England. Never heard of him? don't feel bad, hardly anyone in the U.S. knew who he was. He was transformed from Jett Powers, Hollywood bit actor, to P.J. Fuckin' Proby, English teen idol, almost by accident. His appearance on the Beatles 1964 British television special shot him to stardom. By 1965 "He'd established himself as the most mesmeric stage act England had seen" Cohn continues; "He was the biggest solo star around and he was always neck deep in hassles" The British press hounded Proby as only they can, until he shot back with a classic response: "I am an artist and should be exempt from shit" now those are qualities that make a star. I have a bit of P.J. Proby trivia for you, On Proby's 1968 album "Three Week Hero" the studio band was "The New Yardbirds" who were actually Led Zeppelin, sans Robert Plant.
Cohn spends another chapter on The Monkees, I wouldn't. Love, gets its own chapter, now don't get me wrong, I love me some Love, Arthur Lee was one cool cat, but after their first two albums they were kitty litter. Cohn goes on a bit more, he ends up writing about Eric Clapton and Cream, Joe Cocker and Julie Driscoll. If you're thinking to yourself, what no Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Grand Funk Railroad, Altamont, Woodstock, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Prog Rock, remember the book was written in 1969 and published in 1970. The age Nik Cohn writes about was the end period of what we fondly refer to as the "Good Old Days." America nearly went to hell in a hand basket after 1970, what with Nixon, Watergate, The Anti-War Protests and The Gas Crisis. American music would change radically with the coming of Disco, Glitter Rock, Power Pop, Punk Rock, Arena Rock, Hair Bands, Alternative, Indie, Rap, Grunge, a genre for every taste and every lifestyle. Music became portable, now you could move about your day to the beat of your own soundtrack. Awopbop....whatever!, I just call it "Rock: From The Beginning" is flawed in many ways. However, it documents the early history of rock and roll in an epic way. It hasn't aged well, but I give kudos to Nik Cohn for not going back and editing what he wrote in 1969. His use of the terms Negros, Negress or Coloured might seem odd or even racist, but they were accepted terms then and for all I know are still used in the U.K. The way he goes on about male vocalists, may seem a bit fanciful to some but it's just his style. In conclusion, if you love rock and roll or if you fancy yourself a rock writer, you should read the book.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Apricot Jam as the name implies was a local jam band, it was made up of Lewi Longmire (lead guitar, vocals) James Whiton (contra bass,vocals) & Sean O'Brien (rhythm guitar, vocals) The album, "Preserved, Live @ the Fox Theatre" was released in 1995, it consists of an entire live set recorded without overdubs in Boulder, Co. The tracks were mixed by John Quincy Adams in Albuquerque, The cd's artwork gives a nod to Haight-Asbury, The Furry Freak Bros. and San Francisco circa 1967, it's well drawn and pretty darn funny. The band describes its music as "psycho organic acoustic boogie rock" and that says it all. Slogans like "Mama loves the Chicken Funk" and "Don't forget to Boogie" clue you in on the cd's musical direction, simply put, this is music for happy feet. On this night, Apricot Jam was jammin', as they effortlessly chug from one song to the next. The opening track "Face" clocks in at eight minutes, but it never drags or gets boring, Lewi's vocals and guitar are engaging, at about the 3:30 mark he breaks into a Stevie Ray-Hendrix inspired solo that is a total joy. The musicianship is top notch, Longmire, O'Brien and especially Whiton play at a very high level. "Chicken" is the band's signature tune "Chicken in the car now baby and the car won't go" The vocals take the spotlight, as the entire band joins in for a kitchen sink chorus that includes, Little Feat's "Dixie Chicken" and Sly Stone's "Thank You" on which they change the lyrics to "I want to thank you for letting me be my self, Chicken" better music through poultry, I always say! Track two, "Winter" is a showcase for Lewi's vocal and guitar skills, but the entire band really shines on this track. "All the colors run out of the cold winter sky and the branches are magically white, the wind whispers through every sad evening sound as the trees reach their fingers towards night." It's not the band's most complete song that would be "Person You Were Meant to Be" "In the early evening's shadows in the night skies starry shining" All of Apricot Jam's musical elements come together to create a joyous, vibrant and uplifting sound. "Come with me and see the person you were meant to be" The song flows with ease, totally unhurried, a comfortable soundtrack for a daydream.
The show continues with the same high energy, the band works hard to take it up another notch, but the songs are weaker and it throttles their efforts."Short on Sugar" is a bluesy ramble, "Take me to the Station" sounds way too much like The Dead, "Take to the Sky" is inspired by Townes Van Zandt, but it fails to get off the ground and then ends abruptly. "Break all The Chains" is a fast paced country shuffle, "The Gospel According to James" has James doing his thang on the contra bass and is easily the highlight of the second half. "Papa Don't Take No Mess" (yes it's the James Brown song) is a mess, all jam bands feel obligated to toss in a soul number. A trend that started long ago with The Grateful Dead playing "Dancing in the Streets." The concert closes with "Sparrow & the Crow" a somewhat ordinary boogie tune, it brings down the curtain in a rather plain fashion. The album closes with three tracks from "Sticky" the 1993 cassette release, which was produced by John Q. Adams. The group sounds far more dynamic in the studio, we get all the rich tones that were lost or buried in the live mix. John Quincy does a beautiful and masterful job, "Number on the Wall" sparkles "She reads Shakespeare, has to stop and catch her breath, he drinks root beer and contemplates the meaning of his death." Take notes, Ben Hathorne, when you can rhyme Shakespeare and root beer and it sounds totally believable, you are a poet! The production on "Forever Tomorrow" is just as strong even if the song seems fragmented and forced. "At Dream's End" is the "road song" it leaves no doubt that Apricot Jam draws its inspiration from The Dead, and that's not really such a bad thing after all.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
The group Naomi was, Jason Daniello (vocals,guitar) Ben Hathorne (vocals,guitar) Jeff Romaniuk (drums) and Kelly Fagan (bass guitar) Their album "Hurts" was released on Window Records in 1995, produced by the band and Stacy Parrish. Daniello a native of Grants is the best known member of Naomi. He's a veteran of the local scene having logged in studio work and recorded his own albums. Jason now makes his home in North Carolina where he still records and plays. The album opens with "Bella" I keep a list of what I consider the 25 best songs ever by Albuquerque based bands, I update it every now and then but this song always makes the cut; "Little Sister you got what it takes, let's ride and ride" It's a concise tune that leaves you happy and content. "Bella" was written by Ben Hathorne and you quickly see a pattern developing, the shorter, faster songs are Ben's, the longer plodding songs are Jason's. The tone of the album is preachy, the song lyrics need some sort of context or meaning, but they just go nowhere, one dead end after another. "Christ" the album's second track has this line; "I've seen the pale ones in my house, I speak in my turn the sun is bright and the stage is brown"..Huh!? On "Shadow" Jason sings about his shadow (duh) "there's a dry creek running through my head winding, turning, leading straight ahead" I bet that leaves him with some killer cotton mouth. Overall, the music is good, a modern take on folk rock, it reminds me of the mellow soft rock bands from the late 1970's. It's a cool mix of acoustic and electric guitars with good vocals, the playing is competent and professional. However, with the exception of "Bella" the ridiculous lyrics just drag everything down.
"My Little Friend" is a head scratcher "Is it a toy or a ball, does it move or does it walk, is it a boy, is it a girl or something more."Ben's song "The Sky" makes you roll your eyes; " The sky doesn't give a shit about me, maybe it shouldn't the sky's not a poet like me" Ok, so what's wrong with that line? 1. the sky probably doesn't have the capacity to give a shit, so don't take it personal 2. You are not a poet! this is not poetry, Walt Whitman is a poet, Ben Hathorne is a shitty songwriter. There's a subtle difference but you see what I'm getting at. Daniello brings in a co-writer on "Gabriel" to no avail "I see the devil feeding on my soul, I ride the waves of broken glass no more" significant bummer!, Jason goes solo again on "All the Same" he opens with this mind boggling verse; "This is my last cigarette on the face of the earth till I find my right of way" best argument for a nicotine patch that I've heard yet. Feeling left out, Ben comes back with "This is What I Like" (I am not making these lyrics up!) "got you in the scope of my rifle, washing your car, look at those jeans they ain't got no pockets, I like it like that, you're so sweet" And the winner..err..loser is Ben the creepy stalker. "Feel so much better" left me feeling so much worse; " A little boy watches the sky upside down on a merry-go-round, touching the woe with his lips as he kisses the dirt" didn't his mother tell him to never touch woe with his lips? sadly there's more nonsense; "An older boy's having a Monday in school signed off to a new world again" I used that as an excuse after ditching once, the principal just laughed at me. Word to the wise, when your lyrics are this bad, don't have them printed on the fold out. The word that best sums this up is: abysmal, wretched to the point of despair. "Hurts" is aptly titled, the listening experience is ruthlessly painful.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Monday, March 14, 2011
I come not to praise Brokencyde, but to give an honest appraisal of their new album "Will Never Die." These blind squirrels will never find a nut in the forest, that's a given. However, rather than let the deluge of hate bring them down, they pretend to embrace it. The 42 second dog turd that opens the album cries out "We have nothing left" cloaked as a cheeky "We know how much we suck, we're also in on the joke." A voice intones, "In the year 2011 everything you know will change, Mikel, Seven, Phat J, together again, just to piss you off, one band, one mission, to ruin the music industry as you know it, forever" They give themselves too much credit, they are but a drop of mouse piss in an ocean of cat piss. The music industry has survived atomic shit bombs (The Black Eyed Peas for example) and is still standing. Truthfully my light bill and the price of gasoline piss me off more than Brokencyde. I'm not a seeker, I haven't been searching low or high, but I do know that music (and maybe humanity) will be better off once these sperm monkeys are back in their cages. Right about now you're thinking, Ernest what about the album? The album is shit, It sounds just like their first album, did anyone expect these clowns to suddenly progress and evolve. As they sing about low cut daisy dukes and girl's panties, it becomes obvious that they didn't spend their down time reading anything other than beer labels. Low class and Low brow, equals Low expectations. A sure sign that a band is scraping the bottom of the crapper barrel is when they include skits like "Teach me how to scream" And when you're jacking beats from Kei$ha (Da House Party) then you're at rock bottom. We can all blame ourselves for their impending demise, I curse all of you for being too intelligent to fall for this weak shit. Once Brokencyde is gone, who are we gonna hate? When you run into these empty vessels in your English 105 class at CNM, be nice, they've already swallowed a lifetime's supply of shit (along with other things) Fuck me! I'm not really obligated to listen to every track, I don't get paid for this, it's a hobby, Sayonara Fuckers!
Sunday, March 13, 2011
The collaboration between Albuquerque's stubble faced favorite step son, James Mercer and Danger Mouse, did not result in the huge hit everyone anticipated. Not that the album "Broken Bells" wasn't good, it was excellent, maybe some of the best music James has recorded. Broken Bells is still Danger Mouse and James Mercer, their latest release "Meyrin Fields," is a four-song EP, it will hit outlets on March 29. It contains two previously unreleased tunes "Windows" and "Heartless Empire," plus two other tracks. Mercer's once proud baby boys, The Shins have now grown into moody and neglected pre-teens. After a sudden line-up change and with their Sub Pop contract expired, he signed them to his own vanity label, Aural Apothecary. While James keeps assuring us that more new music is coming from The Shins, Broken Bells is the now the apple of his eyes. While on the subject of The Shins, has anyone seen Marty or Jesse? Musically speaking they have vanished like the proverbial wind. I must say fellas you're still young and in your prime, "Strong like bulls! and drunk like monkeys" A.A. is just a phone call away, put a new band together already! I miss Marty's keyboard runs and Jesse's sloppy drums, they were fun, they had style, which is more than I can say for the duds (with the exception of Dave, if he's still on board) that now make-up the band. "The Shins, they'll change your life" yeah then James will gut them and leave you scratching your head. Oh! before I forget, where's that album of remixed Flake Music tracks? cough it up James, we've waited long enough.
If Elvis was the first rocker, Nik Cohn was the first rock writer, he predates everyone. In 1965, London was happening, and teenager Nik Cohn was johnny on the spot writing for the Sunday Times. He had the jump on everyone else, it would be another three years before American rock 'zines like Rolling Stone, Crawdaddy or Cream would print their first crude editions. Cohn explains how he became a writer; "The scene was already crammed to bursting with would-be musicians, photographers, hairdressers and models, but as a writer, I had no competition." Being stuck behind a typewriter is not glamorous. "Scribes in the early sixties did not come in skintight velvet trousers and shades" Cohn explained, nonetheless he rubbed shoulders with all the major rock stars. Compared to the sordid tell-all books, that were yet to come, Rock: From the Beginning is rather tame. However, Nik Cohn has a keen ear for gossip and detail and doesn't hold back, for its time the book was rather risque. Cohn pulls back the curtain on rock and roll Babylon and allows us to peak in at history in the making. Although, when taken in context with everything that's been written and all that has transpired since, it's really is nothing more than an introduction. As Greil Marcus notes on the cover; "The first best book on rock 'n roll and still the best first book to read" Most of the passages within quotations are taken from the book, I provide a running commentary that is biased, opinionated and self serving. This was going to be a simple book review, but it quickly grew into a monstrous hybrid: testimonial, confessional, book review and essay. This is part one, followed by part two, of course.
In 1970 I was a 12 year old kid with a voracious appetite for reading. This need to read had me tearing through the school library devouring everything in sight. It wasn't long before I exhausted that limited supply and moved on the big daddy, the public library. I spent untold hours at the library, I ignored the children section and went straight to the big folks side. I devoured history, non-fiction, newspapers and magazines. I got my biggest thrills sorting through the new arrivals, it was the same thrill I would later get flipping through bins of vinyl at records shops. One day I stumbled upon a book that caught my eye, it was "Rock: From the Beginning" written by Nik Cohn. I sat in the reading area, I got halfway through the book before I put it down and thought to myself "How did this book get past the librarians?" I then asked myself "How long before they realize their mistake and pull this book off the shelf." I fell in love with the book, I couldn't check it out without an adult card, so I would read it at the library. One day I walked in and strolled over to the new arrivals and found that it was gone. I went into a panic "Oh No, they finally caught on!" I started looking for it on the shelves and finally I found it. I was troubled by a nagging thought "It won't be long before this book is gone" It was then that I noticed the back door was propped open to allow for a breeze, compulsively, I took the book and walked out the back door and made my getaway down the alley. I stole the book! remorse and guilt washed over me, I almost went back, but the deed was done. I hid the book away and kept the secret to myself, but the library experience was now tainted, it would never be the same. My senior year in high school I signed up for a creative writing class, by mid-term my grade was shit and in order to pass, I would have to write a term paper, any subject. I pulled out my stolen copy of "Rock: From the Beginning", my meager collection of rock magazines and I started writing. The title of my term paper "The History of Rock" I got a B+, one week later I enlisted in the Air Force. In May after graduation and a few days before I was to depart for boot camp, I took the book, walked down to library (after hours) and dropped it into the return box. For six years It had served me well, plus I needed to get my karma right before leaving home for good. I was obsessed with the book, while in the Air Force I would scour the base and local libraries looking for it. I even made a pilgrimage to City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco, but was told that it was out of print. I gave up my quest to find another copy and moved on to the next item on my obsessive compulsive checklist, collecting vinyl.
The book itself has a rather bi-polar personality, when first published in the U.K. in 1970 it was called "Awopbopaloobop-Alopbamboom, Pop: From The Beginning" when it arrived in the states the title became "Rock: From The Beginning." "Awopbopaloobop-Alopbamboom" which of course is taken from the Little Richard song "Tutti Frutti" is just outdated gibberish that according to Nik Cohn epitomized the spirit of rock and roll. As Cohn wrote: "As a summing up of what rock and roll was all about, this was nothing but masterly" When I finally purchased a copy of the book in 2011, it had been renamed Awopbopaloobop-Alopbamboom: "The Golden Age of Rock" as Little Richard would've said "Oh my! That's a mouthful." Nik Cohn follows a time-line from the music era just before rock and roll to 1970. Rock begins when Bill Haley hit the charts with "Rock Around The Clock" the first legit rock and roll hit. Others had flirted with a rock sound, including Haley with "Shake, Rattle and Roll", but this was Godzilla stomping out of the sea to demolish all conventional forms of music. Nothing would ever be the same, down in Memphis and further south, many young musicians took notice.
When the movie "Rock Around The Clock" hit the U.K. in 1956 it caused riots. Girls didn't go crazy for Bill Haley, but others did "He sang the title song and the beat stoked up and Teds everywhere went berserk" Imagine that! the song that in America will forever be associated with the TV program "Happy Days" caused audiences to tear up movie theaters in England. According to Cohn rock and roll was "Negro rhythm and blues and white romantic crooning ... coloured beat and white sentiment" what it was lacking was aggressive sexual energy, Haley did not have that, but Elvis Presley did. Cohn introduces The King "Elvis is where rock begins and ends, he's the great original" Something made him different "His voice sounded edgy, nervous, It was anguished, immature, raw. But, above all, it was the sexiest thing that anyone had ever heard." Elvis was always a mama's boy and he could be manipulated and controlled by authority figures (his mama, the Army, Col. Parker) His lack of self discipline would be his undoing. Cohn's chapter on Elvis ends with his big Vegas comeback, The King, dressed in black leather, ready to reclaim his crown from the usurpers. Isn't that the way we would like the story of Elvis to end? Instead of Fat Elvis, stuffed into rhinestone jump suits, hooked on pills, self indulgent and sadder than a hound dog on lonely street. Elvis the King of instant gratification would soon leave the building and this world.
Next, Cohn touches on the musicians of the 1950's that were the building blocks of rock and roll. Little Richard "As a person he was brash, fast and bombastic, He had a freak voice, tireless, hysterical totally indestructible" Fats Domino "He had been around since 1948, he was a bit like an updated Fats Waller" other musicians he writes about like Larry Williams and Screaming Jay Hawkins had much more of an impact in the U.K. then they ever did in the states. Cohn continues down the list of Hall of Fame inductees, Lieber and Stoller who provided "A running commentary on the manifold miseries of being teenage" Chuck Berry "Possibly the most influential of all the early rockers" If anyone other then Presley could claim the title of "King" it's Chuck Berry "The poet laureate to the whole rock movement" Berry had a keen sense of what white teenagers liked and he cashed in on it. He was a shrewd business man, Cohn observes that while touring the U.K. "He studied the evening paper and if there was any fluctuation in the rates of exchange between dollars and pounds, in his favour, he demanded payment in cash before he went on." Jerry Lee Lewis, who pleaded "Hell! I'm only country." after the shit hit the fan, when he married his thirteen year old cousin. My favorite Jerry Lee story does not come from the pages of this book, but rather from the opening lines of Nick Tosche's "Hellfire" Elvis is lying in his bed at Graceland, he's having a bad dream, he tosses and turns. He wakes up in a cold sweat, meanwhile outside Jerry Lee crashes his Cadillac into the gates of Graceland. He climbs out waving a .357 Magnum demanding to see The King. The guard's call to the house, what should they do? "Call the Cops" says Elvis and he goes back to bed. It's a true story, Jerry Lee would actually make two stops at Graceland that night. The Killer was hellbent on self destruction, ironically, he's still alive and Elvis has been dead for thirty plus years.
Gene Vincent suffered from a mangled left leg "He'd dress himself entirely in black leather, there'd be a single spotlight on him and he'd look agonized." It's not that he was self destructive, but the pain was so constant that it affected his mental health. He was the original tortured, moody rock star. He died in 1971, the pills, the booze and the pain was what killed the man. Nik Cohn glosses over Buddy Holly, "He had a voice, he wrote natural hit songs" Then he drools over Eddie Cochran, "His songs were perfect reflections of everything that rock ever meant" Cochran was, simply put the first modern rocker. According to Cohn he was "The essential rocker, a bit surly and a bit talented, a composite of a generation" Buddy Holly probably left the largest void of any musician that died young. How much of a factor would Buddy have been if he had lived? For one thing it was the age of pre-fab teen idols and one hit wonders, other than Roy Orbison there was nobody with true talent out there. Elvis Presley was too busy making movies to show much interest in music. Guys like Del Shannon, Gene Pitney and Tommy Roe ruled the day because they filled the vacuum left by Holly's death. For Buddy, the world was his, had he lived. Eddie Cochran's death also left a void, that's why instrumental rock bands suddenly flourished. In 1960 he was the only true rock vocalist with talent and hit potential. However, music was changing, The Beatles who fashioned themselves after Holly and Cochran were destined to eclipse both, dead or alive. Let's not forget Ritchie Valens, it's doubtful he would've been a major star but between 1960-63 (the pre-Beatles era) America had a love affair with Latin music. Trini Lopez was big and Ritchie recognized a good thing when it came along. Mostly this was an age of fads, The Twist, Latin, Smooth Pop and Instrumentals. 1960-63 was the dead spot in the center of the court, the music hadn't really died, it just wasn't very good.
Sunday, March 6, 2011
Rockabilly by it's very nature is a minimalist form of music. For the style to ring true the timing must be impeccable. It's easy to fuck it up, the Brits have long attempted to capture the essence of rockabilly, yet they crap the bed every time. In the UK rockabilly was the music of choice for Teddy Boys, seminal British rock writer Nik Cohn, knew them well: "These boys were nothing, just delinquent flotsam and jetsam with no future or hope." Because of the Teds, The British public associated rockabilly with violence and anti-social behavior. Not the case here in the states, where it is the music of the uber cool (going all the way back to Presley), these cats pay attention to detail. Every part of the uniform must be perfect, every hair in place, looking the part is as important as the music.
Robert Gordon must take the blame for this vain revival, the former lead singer for CBGB punk band "The Tuff Darts", Gordon quit the punk scene and found his niche as a born again cool cat. Rockin' Robert steered clear of the hellbilly antics of The Cramps and kept it real by regressing into the past. Gordon revived some great long forgotten rockabilly hits like "Red Hot" and "Flying Saucers Rock and Roll." He also turned Springsteen's "Fire" into a rockabilly song, proving once and for all that The Boss was nothing more than an updated version of Gene Vincent. Brian Setzer like Gordon turned his back on the punk scene to embrace rockabilly. His band, The Stray Cats relocated from Long Island to London and wowed those gullible Brits with their authentic rockabilly sound. Sadly, in the end the Stray Cats were just as cartoonish as The Cramps and without the cult status to fall back on. Brian Setzer would eventually find the parameters of rockabilly too restricting and branched out to other styles. The problem with Rockabilly had always been, how do you make it contemporary without mucking up the music. The format demands that you stay true to your school, that doesn't mean you have to grease your hair back and pick your teeth with an Arkansas toothpick. Although, that snarly, rebel flag hanging in the living room ambiance, does give the music some badly needed authenticity.
Right about now, you're asking yourself "Ernest! what the fuck does this have to do with The Long Gone Trio's, Wildcat Juice.?" Just hold on! I'm getting to the point, a funny thing happened to Rockabilly on the way to the graveyard, it made like Lazarus and came back to life in the southwestern region of the good ol' U.S.A. This unexpected revival started in Los Angeles but has spread across the southwest. Rockabilly acts like; Dusty Chance, Luis & the Wildfires, Chuy & The Bobcats, The Hi Strung Ramblers & The Star Mountain Dreamers, picked up the battle flag and gave the cause new life. Albuquerque has flirted with rockabilly revivals before, in the early 1980's a cluster of bands (Jet Girls, Broadway Elks & The Breakers) played varying forms of the style, however authenticity was not a strong point with any of those bands. It would be easy to mistake The Long Gone Trio for a retro oldies band which they are not. Pat Bova and company are very contemporary, these cats play like it's 1956, but their minds and hearts are in the here and now. The Long Gone Trio is Pat Bova (vocals, acoustic guitar) Tom Sanderson (lead & steel guitar) Killer Pat Kowalski (stand-up bass) "Wildcat Juice" their debut album was released in 2006 on El Toro Records, a label based in Spain.
The album opens with "A-Bone" a hot rod tune that moves up to the starting line like a rattlesnake. Pat sings "I gotta love affair with that old A-bone" there is a price to be paid "My pretty pretty baby will never understand what it means to be a hot rod man." Another night alone for ol' Pat "Everybody's boppin at the soda shop, I'm laying on the floor of a cold garage." From the opening note of "A-Bone" Tom Sanderson takes charge with some nifty and precise picking. Pat Kowalski puts down a subtle yet driving beat while Pat Bova wraps his voice around the lyrics. His gearhead pride shows through in the end "Well they gave me a ticket, exhibition of speed, I hung it on the wall, I was proud of my deed" It'll keep him going on those long weekends, while he's picking up trash from the roadsides. Sometimes you just have to get shit faced drunk and "Sloppy Joes" is the place to go. Pat has it all figured out, he's lined up a safe driver "Better call my gal to come carry me home, I drank too much at Sloppy Joe's" Pat's understated vocals are perfect, Tom Sanderson's playing is clean and crisp, always free of frills and pretense. He brings to mind, that outrageous Chris Spedding track "Guitar Jamboree" on which Spedding calls out the name of one guitar slinger after another while he expertly plays just like them. "T-V8" is a model 27-Ford,"An old muscle buggy like you've never seen before" it's basically a V-8 motor with tires, steering wheel, a seat. The jalopy ain't much to look at, "She ain't got no paint and she's full of bullet holes" but when the flag drops she answers the call. Pat sings; "Once when I was racing the wheel fell off, that tin lizzy crashed, but the other fella lost, cuz that tire of mine was the first to cross the line, I like to brag my tire left him far behind." Tom plays with tasteful restraint which accents Pat's low key vocals which he puncuates with an occassional yelp.
Tom Sanderson rings in "Gotta Know" in the style of Paul Burlison as the band tears into a Burnette Brothers inspired tale of a restless gal. "You can't stand living in this one horse town, by six o'clock everything shuts down....this ain't no place for a girl who likes boppin' around." She's at the station waiting for that lonesome train, as he pleads "Babe I gotta know...I gotta know right now, are you gonna love me or are you leavin' town?"..Man! she is long gone and he is lonesome and blue. On " It's You Who's Makin' You Lonesome" Tom channels Luther Perkins, Pat's vocals however, are more Johnny Horton than Johnny Cash. The handwriting is on the wall; "You'd like to blame me for all your misery, but it's you who's makin' you lonesome" The next track "Bullfrog" is a Carl Perkins inspired ditty. "No matter which way I jump, I just can't win with you" sings a frustrated Pat Bova. Tom's guitar and Pat's vocals seem to fly out of the speakers, hell! all this talk about jumping is making me feel froggy. "Don't Move Me" sounds so much like Carl Perkins that I swore it was a cover, until I compared it to Carl's "That Don't Move Me." Both Pat and Tom sound menacing as the band swaggers it's way through this tough sounding rocker. The Long Gone Trio also favors the honky tonk music of the early fifties. "Treason", "My Well's Run Dry" and "Last of my Junk" are well crafted tributes to Hank Williams, Webb Pierce, Hank Snow and of course Johnny Horton. All those influences converge on the showstopping "If Only You Know" Pat is in high spirits "Applejack is the flavor that I like, straight from the still it's sweeter than wine" feeling the glow Pat remarks "Wildcat juice, it'll turn your Monday into Friday night" Pat growls and snarls like a wildcat, while Tom rolls out the licks. Then after a pause of over a minute they segue into a dreamy track that shows Tom's skill on the steel guitar. Pat softly strums along while Killer Pat quietly taps on the bass..blissfully perfect! but you have to wait.
"Goodbye Lonesome" is a Johnny Horton cover, He is best known for "The Battle of New Orleans" (#1 in 1959, it also earned him a Grammy award) Horton, a five year veteran of "The Louisiana Hayride" dressed in gawdy western suits and a stylish cowboy hat while playing a mix of honky tonk, country swing & boogie blues. A prodigy of Hank Williams Sr. (he would marry Hank's widow Billie Jean just months after Hank died) Horton was going nowhere until he teamed up with Tillman Franks (bass) and Tommy Tomlinson (guitar) This rudimentary line-up would soon become the norm for rockabilly bands. In 1956, Horton had a #1 hit with "Honky Tonk Man", as his fame grew Johnny became obsessed with death. He had a premonition that he would die at the hands of a drunk, so he avoided drinking in bars. He started practicing evasive maneuvers while driving to and from gigs. On New Years Day, 1953 while returning to Shreveport after a gig, Horton had stopped in Milano, Tx. where he heard a radio report of Hank William's death. A few days after his final stage appearance at the Skyline Club in Austin,Tx., Williams had died in the back of a Cadillac while on his way to a show in Canton, Oh. Flash forward to 1960, on that same road to Shreveport, after performing at the same Austin club as Hank Williams, Horton's car was hit head-on by a truck while crossing a bridge in...Milano, Tx. Horton was speared through the skull by a sun visor rod but was still alive when help arrived, however, he would die before reaching the hospital. The driver of the truck was a 19 year old Texas man who was drinking at the time, thus fulfilling Horton's premonition of death by a drunk. Franks and Tomlinson were both seriously injured in the accident with Tomlinson losing a leg as a result. Tillman Franks would later state "I thought he was driving too fast for that road."
Rockabilly can be formulaic and derivative, it affords very little wiggle room for musicians to show off their skills, finding that space can be tricky. The Long Gone Trio time travel into the present, but they don't rely exclusively on nostalgia and this allows them to display their talents while still sounding contemporary. "Wildcat Juice" is suffused with original rockabilly material. Just one track out of the twelve that make up the album is a cover. Pat Bova manages to keep the arrangements as diverse as the spare simplicity of the format allows. He checks his wilder instincts and avoids vocal grandstanding. As a result he comes across as a timelessly enthralling and truly entertaining singer. Tom Sanderson, the guitar man, contributes sizzling guitar licks on every single track. His playing is expert without being showy, complimenting Pat's vocals without overpowering him. Pat Kowalski in the tradition of stand-up bass players, stays in the background and drives that beat. "Wildcat Juice" is a great sounding debut album full of sparkling, tuneful gems. The Long Gone Trio play with the devotion of true believers and ultimately that makes them totally convincing and original. Bernadette Seacrest has recorded a couple of songs written by Pat Bova, these torch songs are far removed from the rockabilly of The Long Gone Trio. Leading me to believe that Pat has also moved on to another style of music. It's going on six years since this album came out, could it be that The Long Gone Trio is indeed long gone?