Tuesday, March 22, 2005


Has it been twenty years already? I sure remember those days, the days of The Garage Band Revival that first swept across the US of A and then the world with groups in every suburban studebaker-hut bashing out three/two/one/no-chord crunchers and putting their wondrous inaptitude to vinyl complete with neat picture sleeves that looked really boss in record collections stuck next to the original artyfacts of worth (which was the idea in the first place...if you couldn't be the Count Five the Primates would certainly do!). And who could forget all of the big-gun name groups on the scene from the top-notch Chesterfield Kings (a band that always seems to be looked down upon by the uber-humans in rockcritsnoblogland these days, so I guess I'm only showing my slob-like tastes in coming out saying I LIKE 'em!) to the Lyres and Fuzztones (a group I always used to think were a buncha watered-downs, but nowadays they come off a lot more snat in twenty-year hindsight than Henry Rollins' tiresome outbursts eventually did), and if you don't think that there were guys a-plenty across the fruity plain dressing in page-boys and balloon-y Bob Dylan shirts and gals in mini-skirts and chains and bracelets galore doing all the Shindig dances while a small minority of kids were acting L-7 to the strains of John Cougar and the rest of Chuck Eddy-approved "It's mainstream and bland so it MUST be GOOD cuz all them kids making their own records and printing their own fanzines and putting on their own shows are such LAZY blights upon the fine prarie of rock & roll righteousness unlike the mallbong America youth grooving to Lou Gramm..." Well, like I SAID before going off on that well-meaning tangent, if you think that the youth of the eighties took to the wild and untamed sounds of Garagebomp USA 'stead of "classic rock" schmooze...then you'd be wrong, as usual!

Face it, the eighties were the drekkiest decade to grace this planet of ours, and they were so ba-ad w/regards to high energy jamz that believe-it-or-not but the early-seventies of Cat Stevens and Melanie looked pretty enticing in comparison! At least we had Iggy and early heavy metal and something to look forward to (mainly the late-seventies of punk and fun!) back then, but what was there to look forward to in the eighties anyway? Nirvana and REM having hits??? And maybe that's what made the six-oh revival pretty keen in the light of the boring non-jamz going down then. Hardcore was fizzling out just like its main inspiration heavy metal had a decade earlier. The remnants of what was mid/late-seventies punk/new wave sounded pretty tame and 360 degree turnaround from earlier accomplishment, and what was worse was that the good bands who survived the late-seventies nova (Velveteen, MX-80 Sound...) were either dormant or getting shoved under the rug in favor of...Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam???

So yeah, the eighties were turdsville, but at least there were a few things there to keep high energy USA/Earth from slashing its collective throat...things like Greg Prevost, Billy Miller and Miriam Linna, HERE TIS and best of all there was GREG SHAW telling us about all the great groups (old and new) and records to spend our well-begged money on. Boy did I envy Shaw, who made his dough just sitting around the house and listening to records and tapes and deciding who to sign to one of his marvelous labels, and to put the frosting on the glands he just hadda go and open up his own showcase (The Cavern Club) for the best in the revivalism bunch. And true, this particular endeavor sunk like the most cliched stone you could find but then again I'd rank the efforts of Shaw from the sixties on to have been a lot more healthier for the fate of rock & roll than anything Jann Wenner could have come up with, dontcha think?

And what's best about it is that Greg Shaw is more meaningful in death than Dave Lang is alive, especially since his glorious Bomp! label is cranking 'em out at a fantastic pace and has been doing it for thirty years already which I think is crazy considering the odds against doing things GOOD and gettin' away with it, especially these days. And one thing that I'm sure got Shaw a pass through the Pearly Gates last year is this new release by some group outta nowhere called the Konks. And konked they are...just take a look at the yeti on the cover and tell me these guys aren't ready for the monkey cage at the zoo! And they play like a buncha yetis as well...sorta like the feh Cheater Slicks only much better because they don't sound like a mockery of the music they claim to love. They also don't sound like the truly tiresome who just sounded like retreads of hoary old Sonics/Seeds/Stooges riffs run into the ground (all the while the band members pat themselves on the back congradulating themselves for taking part in such a "meaningful experience")...naw, these guys sound like TOTAL TRASH like in mentally-challenged thugs 1961 meet 1966 doofs at the Grande Ballroom in 1968 as they ponder the significance of the Pagans. Complete with the cheap guitar sale $29.99 sound that Jonathan Richman so eloquently bellowed about.

I could make some big city critic comparisons about how the Konks sound like group "x" getting sodomized by group "y" in group "z"'s hot tub, but this ain't THE VILLAGE VOICE. But man, the primal tone of this one is nice enough, sorta reminiscent of a lotta the rock cum blues cum rockabilly yobsters of the past twenty years who got tangled up in many an indie label fishnet and usually ended up totally obscuresville for all their efforts. Gotta admit that I haven't been playing many of those past wonders as of late and I don't know just how much I'll be spinning the Konks in the future, but for now I'd say they were a better garage-oriented time-passer worthy of your collection than whatever the usual challenged ones out there in real-life rock critic land seem to be putsching at you these days, and maybe if I paid attention to what was being praised to the hilt out there (Little Steven merely bores) I could come up with a snappier ending to this review than I have, but gee ain't I a lazy turd!


Hey, whadja know...rock & roll rootier than Canada Dry's polar bear! And what's best about it is that this rock & roll is a one-man band affair! Yes, believe it or not but BBQ is the work of one soul, a soul going by the name of Mark Sultan who sounds like your typical four-man garage band whether they be from 1959 ("C'mon And Love Me") or 1966 ("Outta My Mind"), but whatever, Sultan does it all by himself and I ain't talkin' Eric Carmen either! It's all pretty good garage-a-billy cum BACK FROM THE SCUM fun that doesn't sound like a re-think via some 40/5-year hindsight but music being made by some TRUE FAN and not just another trust-fund kiddie trying to pass time between various "cultural milestones" in his life. To put it bluntly, this is a nice racket that coulda been one of those discs Beaver got when he joined that record club oh-so long ago!

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