cramps - The I-94 Bar
The Johnnys, Allniters, The Troughmen, The Cool Charmers, The Normals et al
"10 Highlights of my Punk pilgrimage across America"
1. In late 1978 I was naïve, wide eyed and bushy tailed, 20 years of age and full of beans, myself and two companions left Auckland, NZ and headed to LA on our mighty search for Punk Rock. There was a bunch of funky Afro American dudes on the flight in the seats in front of us, they kept hanging over the back of the seats and enquiring if we were punk rock? I said well we are punk rockers if that’s what you mean, they were very keen to find out about us and the music and kept buying us drinks – turned out they were Andrea True Connections' backing band heading home from Australia. After a several drinks we were all singing "More More More how do you like it, how do you like it"! Much to the chagrin of our fellow travellers.
2. Arriving in LA, the enormity of the place dawned on me . Our hotel downtown was really scary; we huddled in a corner of the room all night and listened to the fighting going on in the corridor whilst watching the door handle going up and down as the door was being tried. We moved to Hollywood the next day to a Motel 6 - equally as dodgy.
Garage blues and freakadelia had a baby and they named it Hi Alerts...
Over the last two or three years, something very interesting has been happening in the Glasgow underground scene; in contrast to the blandness of current high profile Scottish acts, from the derivative stadium rock of Biffy Clyro to the glossy coffee table electro-pop of Chvrches (they really should get the "U" key fixed on their computer), an exciting garage rock scene has coalesced around one of Glasgow's greatest, yet least heralded rock groups, The Primevals.
Formed by Michael Rooney in 1983, The Primevals blazed an uncompromising path through the '80s Scottish music scene. Inspired by such luminaries as The Cramps, Tav Falco & Panther Burns and The Gun Club, Rooney's barmy army of fellow punk-forged rock 'n' roll obsessives had no truck with the prevailing trends. Their outsider status within the Scottish music scene was in many ways analogous to that of Radio Birdman when they established their "Detroit South" Real O-Mindset in Sydney, Australia in the mid-70s.
A lot of you guys have got me dead wrong. I don’t actually want to write reviews tearing bloody strips from your flesh. I don’t want to kick you in the balls. I don’t want to take your daydreams of fame, glory and love and cruelly crush them. But sometimes a man has got to do what a man has got to do.
I’d like to say that it wasn’t your fault and it was mine. But I’d be lying. It’s all these crap records you keep making. And you know you’re doing it.
You keep including self-written third person press releases announcing your godhood. You present me with expectational cheques your butt can’t make good on. The general idea is, you have to convince someone else to write something nice about you in the third person. If you write about yourself in the third person, you’re asking to be slapped down. So, find someone else to sing your praises. But that’s not going to be me.
This is swampy, tub-thumping, blues-y bayou rock and roll with more meat on its bones than a fat lady in a St Kilda cake shop at lunchtime. Of course it's from Melbourne, but it probably's done time washing dishes in a Memphis roadhouse, soaking up Alex Chilton stories.
The Beat Taboo take their cues from so many different places that you could easily name-drop half-a-dozen influences and come up winning and grinning. I suppose the Cramps are the obvious one (dig the "Human Fly" references on "Splinter Beach") but that's a tag that's as limiting as it's lazy.
Looked at their whole career, the Cramps were really a portal leading back to a rich assortment of '50s rockers and freaks. To whom, The Beat Taboo (and plenty of other garage-y bands) owe a deep debt.
Packing their fourth and probably strongest album so far, Kid Congo & The Pink Monkey Birds are heading back to Australia in August.
“La Araña Es La Vida” summons the Mexican muse of The Great Spider Goddess of Teoticuhan, who sprouts hallucinogenic morning glories and protects the underworld, or in Kid’s eyes, the world of underground music.
Recorded at The Harveyville High School gym in Kansas by guitarist-vocalist Kid Congo Powers (The Gun Club, The Cramps, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds), bassist Kiki Solis (Baby Baby Dance With Me, Knife in The Water, Rhythm of Black Lines), drummer Ron Miller (Switch Hitter, Up The Academy) are joined by Chicano, Mosrite playing guitarist Mark Cisneros (Medications, Deathfix), it’s on In The Red Records.
Kid Congo and his band toured Australia to rapturous reviews in January 2016. The extensive tour just seven months later covers five states and the Northern Territory.
KID CONGO & THE PINK MONKEY BIRDS AUSTRALIAN TOUR
THURS 18 AUG - Lighthouse Theatre, Darwin Festival, NT
FRI 19 AUG - Mojo's, Fremantle, WA
SAT 20 AUG - Crown & Anchor, Adelaide, SA
WED 24 AUG - The Bridge Hotel, Castlemain, VIC
THURS 25 AUG - Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC
FRI 26 AUG - Friday Nights @ NGV, Melbourne VIC
SAT 27 AUG - Caravan Music Club, Oakleigh, VIC
THURS 1 SEPT - Oxford Art Factory, Sydney, NSW
FRI 2 SEPT - The Triffid, Brisbane, QLD - Tickets
Twisted - Plastic Section (Outtaspace)
Two salient points need to be made:
If you're going to tap a source, go back to the original.
And there ain’t nothing plastic about this Melbourne trio's sound.
Think Flat Duo Jets, the early White Stripes, Link Wray & The Raymen and BBQ to name a few. While you're at it, you can throw in that catch-all descriptor "Crampsian". In a big way...
There's a lot of competition but this might just be one of the best Australian releases of 2005, certainly in the (self-imposed) sub category of Voodoo Psych Garage. Think multi-layered fuzz guitar entwined around chunky organ chords and you're in the neighbourhood. As good as their debut EP "Ladies May We Introduce Ourselves" was, "Sonic Seducers" is a quantum advance with the songs sounding more rounded, and the band much more in control.
"Hipster beware! Time to be free; rock 'n' roll is primeval beat."
Lindsay Hutton, founder of the “Next Big Thing” fanzine and “The Legion of the Cramped” Cramps Fan Club, knows a thing or two about great rock 'n’ roll. His liner notes to the “On The Red Eye” anthology of early Primevals material succinctly summarised the appeal of the Glaswegian garage veterans: "Their Gun Club meets Radio Birdman take on Detroit rock 'n' soul preachin' blues was much more direct than practically anything that has ever come outta Glasgow.“
Formed by Michael Rooney in Glasgow, Scotland in 1983, The Primevals were the compete antithesis of everything that was fashionable at the time. Right up to the present day, the group has always been roundly ignored by mainstream media both in Glasgow and at a national level, aside from a handful of free thinking journalists who have championed them through thick and thin.
Sonny Vincent: Primitive 1969-76. Diamond Distance & Liquid Fury - Sonny Vincent (Hozac Archival)
Some would hide their earliest bands’ recordings in a dark place and hope nobody found them. Thankfully, not Sonny Vincent.
As one of the last New York punks still standing, Sonny Vincent criminally remains a well-kept secret. The music he’s made under his own name, and with a string of bands - most notably, Max’s Kansas City and CBGB graduates, Testors - is some of the best primal sound around. This collection of songs from his pre-punk bands, spanning 1969-72, does nothing to detract from that track record.