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The Drive-by Truckers are, in a way, the embodiment of Southern Music. Their albums and songs are nearly always about the South, about the experience of the South, about being Southern. The religious group I was brought up in was a very Southern THING, so in some ways I identify. The song “Outfit” off Decoration Day is something everyone can identify with. Words from a father to a son that ring more true than most other popular songs could ever hope to:
Don’t call what your wearing an outfit. Don’t ever say your car is broke.
Don’t worry about losing your accent, a Southern Man tells better jokes.
Have fun but stay clear of the needle. Call home on your sister’s birthday.
Don’t tell them you’re bigger than Jesus, don’t give it away.
That, right there, is the truth.
Front 242 were Belgians interested in Graphic Design first, and electronic music second. They took the “found sound” aesthetic from Cabaret Voltaire and Throbbing Gristle but created a somewhat sleeker sound, one that worked on the dance floor. Front by Front was released in ‘88 and was immediately acknowledged as one of the greatest “industrial” albums ever made. And yeah, sure, “Headhunter v3.0” is the certified hit, but we are here to discuss “Welcome to Paradise.”
This cut is made up of purely “found sound” bits, mostly televangelists. The key samples are from Farrell Griswold. Front 242, of course, said they weren’t making judgments, just providing something to think about. Regardless, the samples are funny and sad, the percussion swings and the song is tight.
Ok…so…this is the Dead Skeletons off their debut Album Dead Magick. The song is entitled Yama. The Dead Skeletons are from Iceland and they play terribly heavy psychedelic drone rock. I’ve listened to this album many many times and always find something new. It’s magic. It’s great. It’s a trip.
Winnipeg’s pride and joy…the Guess Who. Known as The Silvertones, Allan & The Silvertones, Chad Allan & The Reflections, Chad Allan & The Expressions, before finally becoming the Guess Who because of a somewhat ridiculous DJ mixup, the band had quite a few Top 40 hits in the states despite being really not that great to look at. For me, although I think American Woman is a great song, I think they peaked on the twin hits No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature from 1970. New Mother Nature was probably the sexiest song they ever wrote and a truly great moment.
Wanda Lavonne Jackson is the acknowledged Queen of Rockabilly. Her early career was in Country Music but she toured with (and briefly dated) Elvis who encouraged her to try Rockabilly. In 1960 she released Let’s Have a Party which became a fairly large hit. In response, her label re-issued many of her lesser known hits from the 50’s including Hot Dog That Made Him Mad (see below), Mean Mean Man, and Fujiyama Mama (a #1 hit in Japan). She still tours now and then and worked with Jack White in 2011. Hot Dog That Made Him Mad is a summation of her work…sassy, funny, satirical, with that amazing voice topping the whole thing off. Dig it.
My punk rock heritage encourages me to make fun of Woodstock, encourages me to make fun of The Jefferson Airplane, encourages me to make fun of the whole Power To The People down with the man vibe. But there is something here. Something great. Woodstock /did/ mean something….and the performance Grace Barnett Wing (aka Grace Slick) and the band turned in here is revelatory. White Rabbit was released in ‘67 and Woodstock was in ‘69. So the band has been playing this for awhile…but Grace kills it here with her lovely contralto, stoned as she is. Double extra points for the hair.
*Acid not included.
I loves me some New Wave, fer shur. Blancmange, formed in Harrow in 1979, is a band that deserved better than they got. Neil Arthur is one of my favorite New Wave vocalists, now that I think of it. They charted a ton in the UK but never got much love in the US outside of Kevin & The Bean on KROQ and 120 Minutes now and then. I’ve found the comparatively rare 12” version of Blind Vision on youtube for your viewing pleasure. Get some hair gel in and get to dancing.
There is hair…and then there is Zakk Wylde hair. Zakk started playing guitar for Ozzy when he was 21 and he has been a staple of Oz’s band and his own outfit, Black Label Society, ever since. What makes the cut below a great moment, aside from the hair? Zakk’s shtick isn’t a shtick. His kids are named Hayley Rae, Hendrix, Sabbath, and Jesse. Seriously. He seems like a guy who loves booze, loud guitars, and hair…and after all…what could be wrong with that? Below please find a live version of All For You and Super Terrorizer. To be played loud or not at all.
The Seeds. Godfathers of American Garage Rock. It’s not like they ever did anything terribly complicated. Mostly basic riffs and bass done on the keyboard (a la Ray Manzarek). What set them apart were the vocals of one Richie “Sky Saxon” Marsh. Sky’s style calls to mind Roky Erickson and you know I mean that in the most complimentary way. Find below their appearance on The Mothers-in-Law, a short lived sitcom produced by Mr. Desi Arnaz. On the show their band name was the Warts, because of course it was. If you can’t handle the sitcom banter of the mid 60’s fast forward to 3:40.