Saturday, April 12, 2014

Pablo and the Hemphill 7's "The Great Bash"

My favorite PH7 song of all ti-i-ime, rescued from the archives of oblivion by Damien Stewart. Thanks, Sticky D!

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Wilko Johnson and Roger Daltrey's "Going Back Home"

"Roger/Wilko" or "Dr./Who" -- the jokes are ready-made, but the teaming of the ex-Dr. Feelgood guitarist (who's become something of a folk hero in the UK since he bravely refused treatment and embarked on a tour in the face of a terminal cancer diagnosis) and the 'orrible 'oo vocalist (who's done charitable work for the Teenage Cancer Trust, making a collaboration with a muso who's flipped the Big C the two-finger salute a natural) is hardly a laughing matter.

Back in the early '70s, as prog and glam were taking over and punk was still a couple of years away, the Feelgoods, who hailed from the backwater of Canvey Island, kept the flag of British R&B flying, with Johnson looking like an escaped mental patient as he flailed away at his Telecaster with wild abandon and no picks. While the Who might not have been present at the creation of Brit R&B, they jumped on the bandwagon as soon as they could, with Daltrey ceding the lead guitar slot in the band he'd formed to the walking nose of an art student that the bassplayer brought in, so that he himself could channel Howlin' Wolf and James Brown. In the fullness of time, of course, said art student became the band's auteur, with Daltrey as the iconic, flowing-haired mouthpiece for his anthems. But you always got the feeling that the old brawler was lurking just under the surface, and Going Back Home gives him a chance to step forward and roar once more.

Recorded in a week last November and released in March on Chess Records (whatever that means nowadays), Going Back Home reprises Wilko compositions from the Feelgoods and his solo career, plus a Dylan cover ("Please Crawl Out Your Window"). Of course it's a throwback, but it's a mighty satisfying one. Like Daltrey's regular guitarist, Wilko's a groovemaker, not a showboat, so the band -- Norman Watt-Roy (bass), Dylan Howe (drums), Mick Talbot (keys) and Steve Weston (harp) -- carries a lot of the weight here. They lay down a solid, no-frills four-on-the-floor in the manner of, say, Rockpile.

When Wilko steps out, he makes pithy statements that show he drank from the same deep well as Townshend -- a little Berry here, a little Hooker there, a whole lot of Steve Cropper and especially Johnny Kidd & the Pirates' Mick Green. For all one hears about the effects of age on Daltrey's pipes, he sounds remarkably like the man who growled R&B-period Who numbers like "Bald-Headed Woman" and "Daddy Rolling Stone," half a century ago. Wilko's meat-and-potatoes songcraft is a good fit for that voice, and the resultant mix would sound really good in a sweaty pub. High spots include the change-of-pace slow one "Turned 21," the almost-funky "Keep On Loving You," the Feelgoods' flag-waver "Sneaking Suspicion," and "Everybody's Carrying a Gun," the lyrics to which seem more applicable to 'Meercuh than the UK. Long live Wilko, and good on Roger for undertaking this project.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

A little Mumblety Peg history

Mumblety Peg was a punk band from Fort Worth, Texas, active between 1990 and 1994.

Matt Hembree (bassist extraordinaire and Mumblety Peg fan)They were messy and sloppy and drunk and all kinds of fun. Like a low-rent Ramones from Fort Worth. Hard to imagine a "low rent Ramones" but that's what they hit like. The first time I saw them was at the opening and closing night of Melissa Kirkendall and Kelly Parker's club On The Thrift. Open for one night, closed by the fire marshal.

Jeff Satterly (guitarist and vocalist): I worked at Sound Warehouse and Hardy would come in a lot. Hardy introduced me to Chris Emory and we formed the Losers. Hardy and Chris had talent. I learned three chords and wanted to be a punk band from Fort Worth.

Chris Emory (original drummer): We were all working together at Sound Warehouse and just started jamming together one evening after work and it just clicked. Each of the three of us were into some totally different styles of rock but we all had a great love of simple hard charging punk and offbeat music. I had just been in a band with the amazing [prog rock guitarist] Bill Pohl, so playing with the Peg was a complete turn around for me musically, but I loved it!

Jeff Satterly: When the Losers broke up, I started playing with Michael Parker. I got Chris and Hardy in on it. We had our first gig lined up and Michael moved to Cali. I got Jeff [Adcock] to sing and just played punk covers. Our third practice was our first gig. 

Jeff Adcock (original vocalist): We got a gig and then started practicing for it. That was at a club Mark Trimmier was running out in Granbury of all places. I've known Jeff Satterly since the late 80's. We bonded over our love for Queen. Specifically, Brian May. I knew Hardy before Jeff, when we both worked together at IMC (Akai, Jackson, Charvel, etc.) in the speaker shop. 

Jeff Satterly: Jeff left when the first jam room payment was due. We played three gigs with him. Hardy and I just split the set and  started singing.  After the first year, Emory had a lot of bands and no time. Chris Rayburne [replaced him] in the fall of '91.

Jeff Adcock: I was only in the band for a few months, then Jeff took over singing/playing guitar. I moved on to start Anorexic Cafe with my brother and a couple of other friends. 

Jeff Satterly: I had one [original] song at our first gig. The first two years, we made a living playing Hard-Ons songs. Sound Warehouse was a great place to learn back then. No one back then had the internet and in Fort Worth, no one know we were playing covers. Kids would come to shows and bring me LPs they thought I would like in '90 and '91. Like Sweet Baby and Green Day. Then you realize that you must start writing.

Jeff Adcock: "Power Pop Punk" was Jeff's label and I'd agree with that call. We definitely had a Ramones/Hard-Ons thing, mixed with some Soul Asylum/Buffalo Tom vibe, too.

Chris Emory: We never made any quality recordings in a bona-fide studio when I was in the band. We only recorded some stuff on simple 4-track recorders in our rehearsal spaces (one of which was next to the fledgling Toadies' rehearsal space and most of them also worked at Sound Warehouse at the time -- we opened for most of their early gigs).

Jeff Satterly: Our first cassette was called $50 Bucks. Then Planet Dallas later on. We were more a live band. Studios always tried to make us sound like whoever was popular. Never got it right, I thought.

Hardy Bennett (bassist and vocalist): We came in at the crossover time, when metal and punk were crossing over. We were actually the first punk band to play at Joe’s Garage. We’d all come out of the metal scene, getting into Black Flag, Misfits, and the Ramones – total Ramones fans! – put a little punk band together, and started playing Joe’s. There was a scene at the HOP for a while; we were playing there. That was where I really started getting into it. I’d actually been in a glam-metal band at one time, with the poofy hair, the spandex, a gun belt, a leather vest and cowboy boots.

Jeff Satterly: In the beginning [we played with] all death metal bands at Joe's Garage. Darrin [Kobetich, then with Hammer Witch] gave us our first gig there. It was great to be different. All the metal bands' girlfriends liked us. We got the Toadies in there and things stated to blow up. We played with Ed Hall, Bat Mastersons, Pop Poppins and a bunch of HOP bands we had nothing in common with. Then we started getting our friends to play like Jeff Adcock's Anorexic Cafe, Southpaw, Jon Teague's first group Little Boy, and so many more.

Hardy Bennett: Once we started headlining Joe’s, then we were able to start bringing other bands in. We brought in the Dragworms and the Toadies, started trying to create sort of a punk scene. Mumblety Peg was really following in the footsteps of Lickity Split, which was Carey Blackwell’s first band. So we weren’t the first punk band in Fort Worth, but we started paving the way for more bands to get into the scene.

Jeff Satterly: We played for a year and a half and cleared most places we played. Hardy and I both would pile stacks (both cabinets) in the HOP and crank it. I had a 1970 Plexi that was the best amp I ever had. After Nirvana broke, all kinds of clubs were calling the three piece punk band they used to hate. We played the HOP a lot. Mad Hatter's and the Crossing were very cool Fort Worth clubs for original music. Freedom Club (a reggae club), Trees, and some places that were not even clubs. Sometimes we would play to a full house. There was a great scene happening and we were right there. Sometimes not. TV theme songs you might get one night, or a Ramones show, or Hardy beating someone up has happened during a few shows. Carl Pack [later of the Gideons] started singing by closing our set. It always seemed like the high point. The first two years, he would say he didn't like us but show up every time.

Jeff Adcock: Our audience? Mix of punks/alt and some metal heads, too.

Jeff Satterly: Drunk. We drank a lot. That became our biggest problem. Hardy and I were older than most of the bands around. We already had our drugs days. We were a fun band to come drink with because you never knew what was going to happen. Hardy was unhappy with our unsuccess. Tensions were high for a few weeks. We played our last show at the HOP with the Nixons and never talked again for years.

Jeff Adcock: Mumblety Peg is the only band to play all of Kelly Parker's clubs -- The Axis, Mad Hatter's, The Impala, The Engine Room, and The Thrift (which got shut down right after their set, and just before the Toadies played...Kelly didnt have a "dance" permit...the mosh pit was considered dancing by the FWPD).

Chris Emory: We definitely generated some active mosh pits! The Cartoon Lounge gig in Monroe, Louisiana with Salem (metal band) was wild. Might not ought to talk about some of that debauchery!

Jeff Satterly: If you saw Peg once you probably didn't get it. If you saw us a ten times I bet you saw a one or two memorable shows. Playing two to three shows a week for beer was FUN enough for me, and the best times.

Jeff Satterly will perform at the Harlyn Hill Memorial Benefit Concert at Lola's on Sunday, April 13th. Chris Emory is a photographer; you can see his work on Facebook as Sundog Art Photography.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Blue Lou. Who knew?

Here's Uncle Lou paying tribute to Blind Lemon Jefferson with maybe the best vocal of the second half of his career. From The Harry Smith Project Live, Vol. 2.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Chris Butler's "Easy Life" on Bandcamp

I reviewed this awhile back, and since then, its creator, Waitresses mastermind and obscuro pop genius Chris Butler, has elected to make it digitally available via Bandcamp. If you dig killer smart pop rock with prog overtones and a great story to tell, you owe it to yourself to hear it. One of my top ten records of all ti-i-ime. For real.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Blasts from the past at the I-94 Bar

The estimable I-94 Bar webzine from Australia recently got a facelift, so the permalinks to some of the pieces in the "Electronic Resume of My Writing" on this blog have changed. But now, you can once again read the oral history of Sonic's Rendezvous Band and the interviews with Stooges guitarists Ron Asheton and James Williamson that I did when I was a callow youth of 40something. Lucky you.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Flamin' Groovies to Oak Cliff come

The Flamin' Groovies formed in San Francisco in 1965, before the Grateful Dead even, and were originally a good-timey early blues derivation in the manner of the Lovin' Spoonful (documented on the early indie release Sneakers) and cartoon '50s revival act in the manner of Sha Na Na (see the Supersnazz EP from which a Seattle band appropriated their name). Then they saw the MC5, and their sound got a lot harder.

They brought the Stooges and Alice Cooper to San Francisco, and recorded Flamingo, which no less of a personage than Richard Meltzer deemed more worthy than the Five's Back In the U.S.A. (he was right, too, IMO). I didn't catch up with them until 1971's Teenage Head, which a lot of people, mainly those who were still pissed at the Rolling Stones for firing Brian Jones, rated higher than Sticky Fingers (OK, we were wrong about that one). After founder and frontman Roy A. Loney quit, guitarist Cyril Jordan led the band into Beatles/Byrds-flavored '60s revivalism, and they cut two classic songs, "Shake Some Action" and "Slow Death" (both of which originated in the Loney era) before the wheels, at length, came off the cart.

In the Millennial decade, Jordan re-emerged with a band called Magic Christian that also included ex-Blondie drummer Clem Burke. When they played before the Nervebreakers at End of An Ear during SXSW 2009, I must have walked in front of Cyril Jordan a dozen times without realizing who he was. Then, when he strapped on the Perspex Dan Armstrong from the cover of Teenage Head (which he still plays with his fingers -- Jeff Beck isn't the only rock axe-slinger to forego picks), I thought, "Oh. My Gawd."

I thought the same thing when I saw the Kessler's ad for the Groovies' appearance, scheduled for Sunday, May 4th, with the Hickoids -- for my money, the best Texan rockaroll band currently extant -- opening. While it'll be Chris Wilson from the Shake Some Action era up front vice Loney, it's still a show I never thought I'd see in the Lone Star State. (Wonder if they'll play "Heading For the Texas Border?") Get tickets here.