SHAKIN’ IN MY BOOTS: A TEXAS ROCK ‘N’ ROLL COMPILATION – Various Artists (Licorice Tree Records)
So what’s not to like? Fifteen chunks of blazing garage greatness (yeah, we’re back to usinjg the G word)
from a few familiar names but mostly lesser lights on a new label. Brother Lindsay Hutton of the Next Big Thing reckons Licorice Tree might just be the Lone Star State’s Estrus, and he’s not buying an argument here.
In case you didn’t know, Texas spawned a plethora of cool but little-known bands in the days of “real” garage music in the mid-‘60s. You could probably say that a lot of what makes ‘60s punk great was crystallized in three or four local scenes, and Texas was one of them. The Elevators and the Zachary Thaks are only the tip of a very substantial iceberg that’s thankfully been exposed via a slew of modern-day compilations.
Anyway, enough of the crusty history lesson, but if you think half the bands on “Shakin’…” sound just like ‘em, you’re right. None more than The Ugly Beats, who are my pick o’ this crop. “I’ll Come Again” is a cover (originally by The Legends), but its ragged harmonies and plaintive lead vocal atop understated organ and guitar are choice.
Just don’t go thinking this is another copycat compilation from a buncha Bomp list wannabees: Covers make up only a small proportion, and much of the material is skewed enough to make the collection something special. There’s more than enough sloppy righteousness, tearaway punk assaults and cheesy surf or spy movie instros to make it a bag of licorice allsorts.
Briefly a Devil Dog and now a Raunch Hand, Mike Mariconda makes an appearance on the great “Shut It Down”, the opening salvo from The Stepbrothers. Little wonder they’re on the label roster with a long-player coming down the pipeline soon.
Speaking of pipes, “Rescue Party” by The Crack Pipes is exactly the sort of disconnected, organ-based scuzz to blow away any of your preconceptions. It’s wonderfully off-kilter stuff, as is “I Want You” by The Golden Boys.
The Sunday Drunks have already rated a bit of exposure around these parts and “Hard Drinkin’ Woman” shows the rave was merited. Nice and lo-fi. Speaking of which, 00 Spies take the lo-fit cake with “Such a Bad Guy”. It’s served straight up, so you know what it’s like. 00 Spies pale stacked up against The Ka-Nives whose “Let’s Dance” makes almost everything else sound over-produced. If you think I’m going to criticise the unhinged, totally untutored guitar solo therein, think again.
John Schooley makes the sort of raunch ‘n’ blues that give The Hard Feelings a rep among people in the know (hell, Dropkick Records already pressed this one up as a studio version on the “Won’t Like It…” album here in Australia, so good news travels far). “Half in the Morning”, in this context, is live, credited to a gig in Antwerp Prison. No cheaps shots about throwing away the key.
McElmore Avenue break the garage mould with a spacey organ instro. ‘Tis OK and it’s probably unfair to judge on one outing, but Scandinavia’s Mutants hold a bit more interest for me. The Deadites , on the other hand, couple surf bass runs with bratty vox and stop-start rhythms to come up with a pearler of a tune in “I Can’t Behave”.
Of course, pearls are only sand that irritated an oyster. To continue the bad jewellery analogy, there’s no shortage of rough diamonds among this lot, almost any of whom seem worthy of further investigation. I’m not your mum, so I’m not going to pick any favourites. Suffice to say you ought to wrap your ears round a good chunk of this stuff, ‘cos it’ll be good for you. – The Barman
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