Friday, August 05, 2005

Girl Trouble

A band that can virtually do no wrong, Girl Trouble has been in the biz for 20 years and are still some of the nicest people you could ever meet (not easy in this biz!) as well as being one of the most fun, goodtime dance bands around!
Coming outta Tacoma, Washington, where drummer Bon Von Wheelie actually witnessed the Sonics and Wailers in their prime (wow!), these 3 cats and 1 kitten prove that they are worthy of the mantle of NorthWest garage rock! Ultra-cool reverbed/fuzzed out guitar tones by the Big Kahuna (Bill), stripped down rhythms by Dale on bass and Bon on drums, and songs that are guaranteed to get you dancing right along with dance king/ lead singer/saxophonist KP!
If they've put out a bad record, I've yet to hear it, but, of course, I have my faves! Though, y'know, looking at their discography, I'm having a hard time picking out which record is my #1, but I think I'll have to say Thrillsphere, following closely by New American Shame and Hit It or Quit It! Check 'em all out though, as well as their incredible singles!
If they're playing anywhere near you (though they don't go far from Washington these days and I don't blame them!), definitely see them - you will have a smile on your face the entire time and if you're not shakin' your ass, then you're too uncool for words!!
Check out their website too! As with anything related to this band, it is fun fun FUN!

The Fleshtones

Man, where to start with these guys?! This band has been bringing their Super Rock Sounds to the world for well over 25 years now and don't appear to be stopping any time soon!
I first heard these cats when the 60's garage band I was playing in at the time, the Unclaimed, played with them in LA - I think it was at the fabled ON Club, a terrifically dingy hole in the wall in the SilverLake area. When we heard their brand of 60's garage & soul, we knew that we were meant to gig together and we did numerous shows from then on! We jammed together constantly and hung out and partied whenever possible! Great guys and an amazing band!
When they got on stage, it was always a swinging shin-dig! They got the audience dancing, clapping, singing along and shouting "Hey!" right along with them!
I've lost count of the number of records that they have, but as usual, my faves are the early ones. There's too many great songs to list, but check out their 2 IRS albums - Roman Gods and Hexbreaker, as well as their ROIR cassette/cd Blast Off! Another super sonic treasure is Fleshtones vs. Reality as well as their 12" EP Up Front (pictured).
But really, all their stuff is ultra-cool - check em out, you won't be sorry! And if you're in the party mood, be sure to see them live!!

The Diodes

In the first wave of Canadian punk (yes, there was such a thing!), the Diodes really stood out! A great band that I had the pleasure of seeing (opening for the Ramones in Chicago, if I remember correctly, though I could easily be wrong).
They definitely had the Ramones-type of punk down - fast, heavy guitars yet still melodic and they even had the occasional guitar solo!
On this, their first album (I haven't heard any others, but I know that they did release more than one), they open with a terrific, high-speed version of "Red Rubber Ball" and the second to the last song is their other cover, "Shapes of Things To Come", which is also super! So, you know that they had the right influences, too!
"Child Star" is a hilarious and off-color song about Buffy from the TV show Family Affair od'ing! The chorus is impossible to get out of your head - "Mr Bill Mr Bill, I took some pills, Mr French Mr French, I'm really tense"!

The rest of the songs are all cool, catchy, fun, melodic and really have a sound of their own. I'm not sure what it is - the singer's voice is certainly unique, but the sound of the band is definitely different from the pack!

Absolutely highly recommended for anyone who digs early poppy-punk!

The Flamin' Groovies - Flamingo & Teenage Head

When ya talk about some of the best r'n'r in the 70's, you cannot forget about the Flamin' Groovies! Long before the turned into a 60's revival band (which they did very well), they were a high-energy, somewhat-rockabilly influenced r'n'r combo!
At the time when most bands were doing endless jams, these crazed Northern Californians looked back to the 50's, through a little bit of everything that had happened since then, and came up with an incredibly original, incredibly fun sound!
Frankly, i'm not sure which record came out first, since i discovered them both about the same time (i believe that fellow Gizmo, Kenne Highland might have even given me these records!).

Teenage Head contains the unforgettable, growling title cut, which has been covered by so many bands, that it would be pretty amazing if you haven't heard it by now! "32-20" is a superb Robert Johnson cover, "Yesterday's Numbers" features acoustic guitars, but retains some wild screams (and ends with the line "all's well that ends well"!), "Evil Hearted Ada" is almost traditional rockabilly, "Doctor Boogie" is just cool rock'n'roll! They round out the record with a few mid-tempo/ballady songs that are still great tunes in an almost Rolling Stones-y way. In fact, "Whiskey Woman" starts off as a sensitive ballads and winds up in a wild rave up! Great stuff!

Flamingo opens with the wild "Gonna Rock Tonight" (which i covered in the Egomaniacs on a Groovies tribute album) that sets the tone for the whole record. "Headin' For The Texas Border" & "Second Cousin" are probably among the best songs of the 70's! Again, there are some slow songs on here, as well, but they never lose their edge and every song is memorable!
They put out a few other records before Roy Loney split as lead singer and they moved into their 60's pop style, including another oft-covered masterpiece, "Slow Death", but these are the two stand out albums for me. The CD reissues include cuts from other, rare released and even a couple of unreleased songs.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The Slickee Boys - Separated Vegetables

This first album by the Slickees is an ultra-low-budget production, from the sound quality to the cover which was a xeroxed sheet of paper glued onto a white sleeve, but still features some of their best songs with my favorite line-up of the group!

This is another band that went through numerous member changes, but guitarists Kim Kane and Marshall Keith (a highly under-rated and excellent lead guitarist!) were the core of the group and I believe that they are still playing, though not together or as the Slickees - some 30 years later!

Martha Hull was the singer on this record and I always loved her voice - tough (when she belts out "I'm calling the shots here" in "Heart Murmur" you definitely believe her!) yet super melodic and just as home singing the Yardbirds, Downliner Sect or the Small Faces as she was with the wonderful Kane composition, "Golden Love".

This pre-punk combo had all of the right influences, from the 60's bands through to the great 70's groups like the Flamin' Groovies, and they channeled them all into a super, original sound. I never had a chance to see them live, though I did jam with a couple of them in the late 70's at Kenne's Highland's wedding! Several of them also appear on Kenne's album, Afrika Korps' "Music To Kill By".

Another rare release, a 7" EP called Hot'n'Cool (I think!) was released prior to this album and includes some more great covers, as well as another Kane hit, "Manganese Android Puppies"!

The band continued with a new singer, Mark Noone, and has released many more cool pieces of vinyl, but these are still my faves!

A minimalist website exists here.
More detailed and correct info here.
(The image is cut because my scanner can't do 12x12 images!)

The Fast - The Best of the Fast: 1976-1984

I first encountered the Fast back in 1979 in LA when this NY group came out for a series of dates in the area. They had already gone through some changes from a keyboard-laden, op-art pop band, to a more streamlined 4 piece r'n'r band, still with ultra-catchy songs.

(Until this comp came out there were some of their songs that I hadn't heard for almost 25 years and I still recognized them immediately! THAT's how memorable they are!)

They were still very stylish - in fact, the lead singer, Paul Zone, was a clothing designer/tailor at Trash & Vaudeville and had made my then-girlfriend's zebra jacket that she wore to see them! They had flair and put on a great show, including a silly, though also unforgettable, stunt of Miki Zone's of playing his guitar with pencils!

I love the songs from this period the best - maybe because that's when I saw the band, but also because they are simply great r'n'r tunes.

"Love Me Like a Locomotive" is a "steamy", pulsating ode to hot sex. "TShirt & Tight Jeans", "Sizzler" (I still can't drive by one of the restaurants without singing this song!),"Kids Just Wanna Dance", and their cover of "Boots Are Made For Walkin'" are all fun-laden blasts of teenage energy! "B Movies" talks about what every hip rock'n'roller was into at the time - great, bad pop culture! "Coney Island Chaos" was one of their "story" songs - in the tradition of the Who - which, for some bizarre reason is not including on this comp. But the amazing "Cars Crash" is - a wild ride through sex and car accidents (LONG before the movie of the same theme)! A terrific song and an interesting story of killing your girlfriend and then dating and doing the same to her best friend!

The Zone brothers went through many more changes before becoming an electronic dance music duo, Man 2 Man - which I personally do not care for - but the early songs are songs that I've always loved and still listen to constantly! This comp is highly recommended!

Also, look for their singles as the Fast as well as the Miki Zone Zoo!

Great Fast site here!
(Above photo is credited as the Miki Zone Zoo, but i think it is the same lineup i saw as the Fast - i don't remember the drummer one way or another, but the other 3 were the Fast!)