in these daze when post-grunge snotnoses couldn't identify a I-IV-V chord progression if it bit 'em on the ass, it's instructive to remember that once there was a time when heavy rawk was not immune to blooze 'n' berry influence, and not just here in these united states, either. watching blood of the sun
at el wreck
last weekend, it warmed the cockles o' my heart to see henry the singing drummer's cactus
tee. wa-a-ay back when (ca. '69), cactus was s'posed to be a transcontinental supergroup, bringing together the riddim boyzzz from the vanilla fudge with jeff beck and rod stewart (who's looking more 'n' more like bea arthur from maude
of late). in the event, beck was sidelined by a car wreck, stewart went on to the faces 'n' solo stardom, and the ex-fudgers recruited a coupla motor city madmen (that'd be jimmy mccarty, ex-gtrist in mitch ryder's detroit wheels, and rusty day, who tore his tonsils in front of ted nugent's amboy dukes) and had an interesting run for a coupla yrs. to understand why henry's wearing their t-shirt 35 yrs down the road, just compare, say, the demo-derby cover o' mose allison's "parchman farm" from the first cactus alb with van halen's similarly-structured "hot for teacher" jizz-spew from a few yrs later. no 'bout a doubt it, the cactus jam has it all over ted templeman's bouffant-haired charges in terms of sheer drama, danger, and menace which had some basis in reality (rusty day, the guy who sang "i'm sitting over here on parchman farm / and all i did was shoot my arm...i'll be down here for the rest of my life / and all i did was pull my knife out," was shot to death in '82 following a drug deal that went bad).
blood of the sun just recorded a song for a tribute album to the aussie band buffalo
that's about to be released down under, and wouldn't you know it, reished versions of the third and fourth buffalo albs (that'd be mother's choice
and average rock 'n' roller
) just showed up in my mailbox courtesy of the aussie aztec music
label. while my appreciation for oz rock pretty much starts with radio birdman (the band that created an alternate universe version of the u.s., where the bands i usedta get shit for liking from the guys at the hipi rekkid store where i worked thru high school -- e.g., the stooges, the mc5, the dolls, the velvets, the nuggets
groups -- were revered rather than reviled), i also remember the metalhead kid who usedta come into my store in '76 or '77 to order the first recs by aussie proto-metalers like ac/dc, angel (they called 'em angel city stateside), and rose tattoo. buffalo predated 'em all, and on their first two albs, their sound and rep were "heavier than sabbath."
by the time buffalo cut mother's choice
, however, "uncontrollable" axeman john baxter, architect of their early sound, had been ousted in favor of slide specialist norm roue, and their sound was more antipodean boogie (think of an orstralian foghat), complete with "little queenie" cover and another toon that borrows its opening riff from jimi's "red house." on the positive side, lead singer dave tice still sounds like he gargles with sulfuric acid. (while a lotta aussie bands' frontmen -- i'm thinking hoodoo gurus, men at work, midnight oil -- seem to have the identical nasal twang, cats like tice, bon scott, and angry anderson could actually make fire and water
-era paul rodgers sound like a sissy wimp, no mean feat.) bassist pete wells couldn't take it, and abandoned buffalo to take up slide gtr duties in rose tattoo. by the time buffalo waxed average rock 'n' roller
(its very title a kiss of death), there'd been yet another change of gtrists, this time to a brit named chris turner whom the rekkid company had instructed to make the band more commercial. he did his work well; "rollin'" is absolutely archetypal mid-'70s country rock mung that even dave tice's tortured tonsils couldn't salvage. by the time the alb was released, the band had folded the tent. i'll be looking forward to hearing blood of the sun's take on buffalo's toonage, and checkin' out their earlier (and apparently stronger) work.