Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Unleash The Raggies

This girl I dated had a painting hanging on the wall of her living room. Her dad, a notorious Albuquerque "businessman" had acquired the artwork in lieu of payment for.... let's just call it "services rendered" and leave it at that. At the time, her living room was his office, so there it hung. (the house was located on a compound, behind a 12 foot fence topped with concertina wire) He took a special liking to it, as did his daughter or anyone else that laid eyes upon it.

The painting  was titled "End of the World" and it depicted one big mother of an orgy.  Naked men and women, in living color and graphic detail, all entwined in every position imaginable. It was one endless human chain of sexual perversion and indulgence. I took it to be a parody of English painter John Martin's "The Great Day of his Wrath" which depicts the destruction of Babylon and the material world by natural cataclysm.

Inhibitions and modesty aside, that's how I want to go, and when the end does come (and it can't be soon enough) I'm popping "Raggie III- Madre de Dios" into the boombox and turning the volume up to 11. If these are indeed "the end days" then it's good to know that just as local music is slipping into the doldrums of apathy and complacency. The Raggies can come along and drop a solid package of party tunes to lively up yourself.

"Raggies III- Madre de Dios" is upon us and it's most striking feature (other than the music) is an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe laying waste to the borderplex cities of El Paso and Juarez. Given the present situation south of the border,  I can't say that I blame her. The album starts out on a somber note, not that "Mujeres de Juarez Blues" is a buzzkill. This track rolls out like an angry rattlesnake set to strike at anything that moves.

Since 1993 it's estimated that over 600 women have been murdered in Juarez. However, that figure is misleading. Mexican authorities lost track of the actual count once corpses started stacking up like firewood. For the people of Juarez and the Borderlands in general, the apocalypse is now. Four years of cartel warfare have left almost 10,000 dead in Juarez. In a strange way, the spike in overall deaths led some to believe that the random murder of women  had stopped.

With so many dead, it's difficult to differentiate between women killed because they got caught up in the drug wars or those who fell victim to the still unexplained evil forces that continue to prey on them.  Who's killing the women? Thrill kill cults, serial killers, snuff film producers, satanic cults? Abdul Latif Sharif, an Egyptian living in Juarez was convicted of murdering three women, but the murders continued unabated even after he was locked up.

Diamond Dave blows harp as if the end is near, which according to the Mayan Prophecy, it is. Jack uses his mushmouth vocals (ala Billy Gibbons) to good effect, as he paints a ghastly, but all too common scenario along the border. "He was digging a ditch the other day, found six pairs of women's shoes, those federales said, God damn!... mujeres de Juarez blues" Lomas de Poleo gives up their bodies, but it won't give up its secrets.

"Cross that borderline, just to buy some pills and booze, halfway across that Santa Fe Bridge, mujeres de Juarez Blues."  The Raggies' infectious sound is a blend of barrelhouse rhythms, propelled by a beefy rhythm section, growling guitar tones and the best damn mouth harp I've heard since the days of J. Geils and Magic Dick. If I may draw a comparison (which is what music writers do) on this track they do sound like vintage ZZ Top, before the silly beards and sunglasses.

"Rough Trade" shifts the mood like a construction worker's wolf whistle, "You're a lonely woman that wants to get laid... come by my place, I'm there all day" Western shirts and Wrangler jeans, "Six of bud light, old man's boots, all I need to get  me in the mood" Even when singing about sex toys, there's an undercurrent of tongue in cheek intelligence to The Raggies music. "You bring the butt plug and I'll supply the booze, come on now girl!  I've got nothing to lose"

Jack Kilpatrick works with risque lyrics unlike anyone since Chinga Chavin crooned about "Cum stains on my pillow, where your head used to be" It may just be his way of working through and making sense of complicated relationships. "Mirrors on the Ceiling" is a prime example "I got mirrors on the ceiling, black velvet on the floor, eight track stereo speakers up and down the hall" Boomhower and Quagmire couldn't do it any better.

"Put it all together to try and make a little love nest made for two" it was a match made in heaven "Then something came between us and I didn't know what to do, so I went out and bought some handcuffs and a vibrator built for two" At the time, it sounded like a great idea "These mirrors on the ceiling, they only show me the backside of you" Ultimately when the shit hits the fan, all a big titty baby has left is the south end of a northbound woman.

Jack is having second thoughts on the "In and Out Game "Threw your clothes in the yard, I thought that was goodbye" he then adds, "Now you're asking me to give it one more try" An independent streak coupled with an ingrained sense of doing the right thing, makes for a whirlwind of emotional debris "You never let me feel my pain, you always pull me back in again, the in and out game can drive a man insane" Jack is ready to move on, but this gal ain't ready to quit him yet

"Fag Hag" tells of a lady who keeps selective company "They all said that she was a fag hag, going up and coming down, isn't life a drag" most fruit flies subscribe to the notion that hetro men are for sex, gay men are for love.  "She don't need a straight man with a big sized car, she just needs a gay man who can party like a rockstar." Hell! let's not let that bit of wisdom get out, can't sing... can't dance, what's a straight man to do?

On "Left Alone" Jack bemoans his hasty decision to end a relationship, "Well I told you girl to leave me alone, didn't mean to break up our happy home, it's Christmas morning and I'm by myself getting stoned, is this what it means to be left alone?" Sadly, he realizes that left alone means being alone, "Well it's closing time and I better get on...down this dark and dirty street to my empty home, what am I going to do when the drugs run out and the money's all gone?"

Which brings me to two of life's greatest pleasures, morning sex and a morning buzz. I used to have discussion about the merits of getting baked in the morning with my stoner bud Alex. He attributed its powerful effects to the fact that your brain cells are recharged..."Stonin and Bonin I like to hit it first thing in the morning" I guess you could say the same about morning boners. Note: Priapism is considered a medical emergency and you should seek immediate medical care.

"Stonin' & Bonin" kicks off  a tawdry litany of sexual hijinks and shenanigans 1.) sex in public, "Well it's a champagne sunrise on a Greyhound bus, we're both buck naked, everybody's staring at us.... sex traffic jam down in Birmingham"  2.) the interstate transport of females for immoral purposes, "Before you accuse me of white slavery I say come over here girl and do me baby" Chuck Berry said the same thing and it still cost him three years in the penitentiary.

And last but not least 3.) drug abuse and murder? "We passed around the codeine just about the time the sun went down, painted desert.... blood all over that ground" You ain't heard nothing yet,  "She Pulled a Train" is no Mickey Newbury train song "Nobody knew where she came from... by 9 a.m. she was flashing that thong, Lord! about lunch time she was showing them titties,  by the time the dinner bell rang that train pulled out of the city"

Jack growls and the drums rumble "66 years old still giving them hell, by the time I hit the brake, the sparks flew off the rail" Is that you Nana? "She rolled up on a Harley chopper, anyone could see that this bitch was ready to rock, with a fistful of pills and some cheap champagne... it didn't take no genius to see that she was ready to ride that train... she pulled the train" Here's a bit of trivia, Push–pull is a mode of operation for locomotive trains allowing them to be driven from either end.

"Bonin' & Stonin" wraps up the proceedings with an Ol' McDonald "e-i-e-i-o" chorus that's sure to get stuck in your head for days. "Old McDonald had a farm... eieio... and on that farm he had a chick...eieio... he hit that chick up with his dick... eieio... with a hump, hump here and a hump hump there"  What!.... were you expecting something introspective and soul searching?  "Smoking and stroking, stoning and boning, I like to hit it first thing in the morning"

 Of course, excessive indulgence of the appetites often leads one to seek redemption from sin. "Help me Live my Life" takes us down this path. "It's a whole world of heartache, struggle and strife, I took the wrong road for much of my life" once a sinner now bathed in cool waters of deliverance "So many wrong roads, for a good man to choose, bars full of women, the drugs and the booze, it's a hallway of mirrors to make our way through, help me live my life lord, the way it pleases you"

Seduction from virtue followed by reflection, forgiveness and salvation, tell me "Why do the Good Times Have to Hurt so Bad?" A man has time to think when he's sitting in a cell "I was naked in the drunk tank in the Tracy city jail, me and my buddies went out last night and I guess we must have raised a little hell" Despite all my Sunday learning, Towards the bad, I kept on turning.  "They tell me I had a good time, maybe the best I ever had"..... "Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future"

Once again, The Raggies prove that they have what so many local bands are missing.... a fucking personality! (take note you limp dick charlatans) "Raggies III- Madre de Dios" is nothing short of  a hedonistic masterpiece devoted to the pursuit of epicurean pleasures. Jack isn't one to mince words, as he wryly wreaks havoc on the delicate sensibilities of those who prefer discretion. There's no beating around the bush (pun fully intended) If you seek subtle innuendo, then seek elsewhere, this is the adult table. Treat yourself, don't cheat yourself, buy this album, buy all their albums, buy some beer, get some weed. Live your life to the fullest, it's the middle of May, 2012 and the end is near.

This is from the album "Dusty and Me" from Diamond Dave's side project Chaparral Community Choir.
Which Diamond Dave describes as "A heartfelt tribute to Dusty (Rhodes) from myself. He showed me what it means to be a man"

There are stories that the few Raggies who still live there today are a hard people, toughened by existing on the bare necessities and copious amounts of alcohol. They are referred to as borderline white trash, although no doubt the prejudices that have followed them since they first came to this corner of the state still linger. As we all well know, more ignorant folk use “different” as an excuse to treat others poorly, and no doubt the Raggies — who never have seemed to be much for communication and open understanding — have been victims of cultural abuse.
*excerpt from Damned Connecticut, all that's weird, unexplained and unusual in Connecticut