What is it about Michigan rock bands releasing debut albums 30 years after they were regularly working the live circuit? The Ramrods did it a few years back and The Seatbelts, now well and truly reformed, continue in the same vein. Contemporaries of the similarly non-prolific Sonic's Rendezvous Band, they've unleashed "Joy Ride" onto an unsuspecting public with rock and roll seemingly in its death throes. Maybe, just in the nick of time.
It was pointed out recently by someone with good judgement that there wasn't a lot of love for The Fuzztones at the I-94 Bar. That's more a measure of what we've had time to review, not a reflection on the band. Here's a recap of a 2011 release on Italian label Go Down of demo tracks that presaged their 1989 "In Heat" album, the one that should have broken them worldwide on the Beggars Banquet label.
"Raw Heat" shows what legendary producer Shal Talmy never gave "In Heat": A Big Set of Balls. That's the short story. Back in the '80s, everything that was old was new again and the same went for producers. The physically ailing Talmy was all but retired, with credits like The Who and the Kinks well behind him. The band needed someone to referee its own creative differences (principally between Rudy Protudi and lead guitarist Jordan Tarlow). Beggars had signed the Fuzztones on the strength of their live show, a corker first LP, their demo's and a huge push from The Cult's Ian Astbury. Shalmy did the deal and came out of retirement. If only the label had asked the Kinks, first.
"Raw Heat" features most of the tracks that made "In Heat" but none of the thin production or covers ("I Can't Control Myself" and "You Must Be a Witch".) "In Heat" was mostly recorded with a new band after Protudi upped and moved from New York City to LA. It wasn't a patch on it heir debut, "Lysergic Emanations", and of course The 'Tones were dropped from their major label and sent fro the indie back-blocks. Not a bad place to be sometimes but you have to ask 'What If?'
It's hard to see what wasn't to like about this album in its original, unrefined form. "Cheyenne Rider" struts magnificently (and, if anything, could be given even fuller fuzz treatment to bring the lead guitar to the fire.) "One Girl Man" is a radio hit in this or any former world. "I'm Gonna Make You Mine" has the right mix of swelling organ and underlying fuzz with a killer chorus.
The story's all here (if you can read the fine print on the back of the record label (mine's a CD, not an LP) and the up side of "In Heat" is that its poor sales were no barrier to Europe embracing the band in a huge way. It was a breakthrough of another kind, making The Fuzztones the first of a rash of '60s revivalists to crack it for a major label deal. If the floodgates didn't exactly blow wide open the mindsets - and listening tastes - of many were altered by that very fact. Slip this into your player or onto your turntable and celebrate that fact. "In Heat" never sounded this good.
More weird and wonderful garage grunt from Swiss label Voodoo Rhythm, this time from a Spanish five-piece combo making their long-player debut.
Fuzz garage trash rock's best-kept secret is a multi-headed, twin-drummer-driven thing that eats the frail and aged and comes from Switzerland. The aptly-named Monsters have three albums ("Birds Eat Martians", "I See Dead People" and "Youth Against Nature") to their credit, and this compilation on Australia's busiest underground label compiles their best, adding a couple of exclusive bonus recordings.
Psssssst…..don’t tell anyone but The Monsters may just be the wildest, most uncompromising manic high priests of unhinged and trashy garage rock in the world, or at the least Switzerland. There are a lot of names you can throw up in opposition (Guitar Wolf the most prominent) but I simply won’t believe it until my own abused and bleeding ears tell me so.
This is a return to the record store racks (those that are left) for Mick Medew and one that's well overdue. His regular band The Rumours are still a going concern and this was conceived as a solo side project, but grew into a full-blown, plugged-in album with a new band. "The Mesmerisers" is a superbly rounded record.
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