Monday, October 23, 2006

Thee Hypnotics

As I know I have said numerous times in numerous places, Thee Hypnotics were one of the best, most refreshing and most rockin’ bands of the early 90’s! This British quartet was the real deal in regards to late-60’s Detroit r’n’r, though their influences also included non-Detroiters such as Blue Cheer, Jimi Hendrix, and early heavy metal monoliths.

Their first single, “Justice in Freedom”, showed that they were the heirs to the MC5’s high-energy-politics crown – far more than any of the many other bands who were attempting these sounds at this time. Their 12”, Liver Than God, was a monster! Guitarist Ray Hanson had an amazing variety of sounds, from seductively, hypnotically quiet, to ear-blistering noise – all quite beautiful! I love this record – as did everyone I knew in the LA underground scene – and think it is one of their best.

I got to see the band somewhere around this time and they were phenomenal live! Singer Jim Jones was a terrific front person, with enough r’n’r personality and sex appeal to entertain everyone, bassist Will Pepper and drummer Phil Smith kept the groove going while Ray man-handled his guitar and amp and blew away the jaded LA audiences!

Come Down Heavy was next and, while naturally more subdued than the live record, this is a great album that represents what I consider to be the best of their song writing. Half a Man/Half a Boy and the title cut are fab, truly heavy, head-banging tunes. In these early days of CDs, there is some filler (there is a track that is just Phil checking his drums), but overall, this is a wild, excellent example of how r’n’r should be played!

After this, there were some problems – a bad car accident on tour, the addition of a second (unnecessary – to my mind) guitarist, and the recording of their most unlikely album, Soul, Glitter & Sin. This record was very clean and very moody – I believe that they were influenced by the Bad Seeds (Nick Cave’s band, not the 60’s garage band) at this point. To me, this was an experiment that didn’t work.

They came back with Very Crystal Speed Machine, produced by Chris Robinson and sounding very much like the Black Crowes. Still a very rockin’ record with some hot songs, but nowhere near the fantastic mania of their early works.

Still, these guys left behind a helluva r’n’r legacy and will always be revered by anyone lucky enough to have seen or heard them!

Check out Thee Hypnotics My Space page here


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