The Tribe has spoken
Mark Enbatta’s Tribe - Mark Enbatta’s Tribe (Bam Balam Records)
Way back in the early ‘80s, The Vietnam Veterans were the first French psychedelic band to grace a turntable in the I-94 Bar. It was their debut ,"On The Right Track Now" LP, and the wigged-out faux '60s atwork and cover of Roky's "I Walked With A Zombie" (reprised, even) were as attractive as its bargain price tag as it sat in the Phantom Records rack.
It was weird stuff and out of left-field for someone then on a strict listening diet of Citadel Records post-Birdman fare. Over the course of six albums, until dissembling in 2009, the Vets carved a niche for themselves and toured extensively around Europe.
Like KISS, the Eagles and various other outfits whose names I can't believe I typed, let alone throught of, it was one of those splits that really wasn’t one. Various members played together under different names - most notably as The Gitanes and Vietnam Chain. Founding Vets member Mark Enbatta was the glue in those collaborations an d now ropes in two of his comrades for this, his second album under the Tribe moniker. Keyboardist Lucas Trouble is absent because he passed away in 2016, and it’s to his memory that the album is dedicated.
“Mark Enbatta’s Tribe” is one dark trip. Enbatta’s lyrics explore themes like death, decay and deceit. His vocal is often grim and at sometimes he intones like Mick Farren. His guitar is muscular and fluid. The 13 original songs are all Enbatta’s and evidently some were written during Lucas Trouble’s lingering departure, so the darkness should be no surprise.
At times, the band sounds like the Pretty Things in their “heavy” ‘70s era; at others they recall the Gun Club crossed with a tighter Crazy Horse. Enbatta is an accomplished guitarist and so is American-born bandmate Peter McConnel, who matches him blow for blow.
Th songs are solid, with a degree of variety. "Victim and Culprit" simmers with Thundersesque guitar. "Bubblesex" is a glammy tribute to, um, smelly panties. (Ah, the French.) "Minor Chords" recalls Neil Young, circa "Zuma", and "I'm a Fake" is a boogie-rocker.
"The Cliff" is an ethereal ballad - until the couplet that rhymes "rocks" with "cocks". (Ah, the French, again. The real surprise, however, is a cover of "Keep Searching'" where the soaring guitars and a leery vocal impart a weirdness that would have Del Shannon reeling in his grave.
You can score it as a download at the link below or grab a physical copy (LP or CD) at one of those super-slick utopian online stores like Forced Exposure.