DEATH BY UNGA BUNGA - The Mummies (Estrus)
In an age when playing it safe has become synonymous with mainstream music, we all need to walk out to the fringes where it gets weird and have our sensibilities fucked with by bands like The Mummies.
The Mummies existed in and around San Francisco only from 1988-94 and were among a handful of garage bands from the then re-birth of the genre that consistently made an impact outside their own regional scene. They did so because they were rawer, stupider and - let's face it, better dressed - than their contemporaries.
If clothes maketh the man, swaddling maketh the Mummy - and we're not talking Billy of "Lost in Space" fame. Threads, for The Mummies, were the same sort that King Tut went to his tomb in. If their sense of satorial elegance suggests The Mummies were anything but serious about their music, well, you've never heard their sounds. This is serious. Seriously fucked up.
"Death By Unga Bunga" compiles tracks from their seven (or is it eight?) albums, many of them on CD for the first time. None of them have a frog's fart of a chance of being played on the radio (at least not the radio of mainstream music's world) but who gives a rat's arse? (Hmmm, maybe this should be a review of the Animals?) Certainly not The Mummies.
Their recently launched web site has various ex-members house-bound with more kids than a Brady Bunch cloning experiment and unable to support them all, living on Chinese rocks or doing time. (They've actually been playing in the Bobbyteens and the Phanton Surfers, but that's anoither story). The bio accompanying "Unga Bunga" has it that the band never actually existed, the music being the product of faceless session players and live appearances staged by groups of bandage-wearing chumps who were hired to impersonate them. It worked for the Monkees, didn't it?
This music is so far removed from the Monkees and anything else that's penetrated middle class pop culture. Like the crude '60s sounds brought to life on the "Back From the Grave" series, this is some of the most raucous, damaged music recorded. Twenty-two tracks of it. Top marks to Estrus for having the good sense to make it available again, 'cos Mummies rekkids were (are) thin on the ground in my backyard.
If you want 'slickness' or 'high production values', go elsewhere. You won't like the sledgehammer dumbness of our personal fave, "You Must Fight to Live (On the Planet of the Apes)", and the lewd sludge of "Food, Sickles & Girls" won't cut it. Fer Chrissakes, this is a band that recorded an entire album on a beatbox!
If lo-fi is be the staple for a declining generation, contrary to the well-known joke, Unga Bunga's a nice way to die. - The Barman
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