EXUMA II (Repertoire Germany)
Ah, the gnu year. Hope yours has been as nice and as tippy-top as mine has been, given we're only three days into the thing! And if I do say so myself I surely have been having a good time of it so far even though old fogey me has gotta admit that it's a pretty hard FACT to cram down the throat that FORTY years ago (1967) the hippie generation was comin' into musical and teenage-trend power helping to change rock & roll from a wild, garage-band/moptop-dominated sound to boring images of the Old West filtered through a folkie's eyes, while THIRTY years back ('77) a powerful musical movement that was bound and determined to stand atop the dungpile of disco doldrums and "classic" radio hackery yelling STOP!!!! with a mighty fury was making itself known and getting ignored en-masse for all its troubles. Twenny years back...well, by then we all kinda got the idea that the battle was over. Just who WON the war (if it was one to begin with) wasn't quite discerned, but as I was saying 2007 has been kind to me so far, especially with the nice weather we're having here in Western Pee-Yay and all the fun and games I've been engaging in ever since I got all of my Christmas presents in full working order.
But I'm not writing this post to tell you about the weather or all the fun I'm having with my Etch-A-Sketch either. Naw, I'd rather tell you all about the first BLOG TO COMM-sanctioned "archival dig" of '07, mainly this Cee-Dee reissue of the second el-pee that was put upon this earth for us by none other than the mysterious Exuma! I mentioned Exuma in a post a few weeks or so back, about how this act played such New York beergardens as Max's Kansas City not only during the early-seventies (the Sam Hood period) but during the "punk-active" mid/late portion of the decade where they'd be stuck on bills with local punkabilly band the Wherewolves amongst other suitable up 'n comers. Stuff like that always seems to get my interest up, especially since I never was able to shake off this weird devotion/obsession I have with New York (and related) musings during the sixties and seventies but as Imants Krumins once said that's MY problem.
Well, I did get hold of this second disque of Exuma's originally released in the voodoo-active year of 1970, and in the process I've learned a little more about this act than I thought I ever would, like Exuma was NOT some under-the-covers rock band who just happened to name themselves after an exotic locale (a la the short-lived Calabria) like I originally thought but a man whose band of percussionists and chanters just happened to be named after him just like those other Max's regulars Alice Cooper and Von Lmo. And not surprisingly, Exuma the man (originally going by the nom-de-birth of McFarlane Anthony McKay) was actually FROM Exuma in the Bahamas which is where he must've gotten a lotta the mysterioso spirituality that not only permeates this disc but woulda wowed a Max's audience the same way Alice, Lmo and all those freak passerbys did during that great glorious age of underground spuzz! And what's really surprising about Exuma is that he had been at it (under his original moniker) since the early-sixties folk boom but have no fear, there is not ONE moment of black folkie introspect, no John Bassette dantiness straight out of the Cat Stevens book of etiquette or Ritchie Havens bellow for tepid "freedom" to be heard on this offering. And aren't you glad about that?
And given that the guy crept out of the early-sixties folk scene where I'm sure the brotherhood vibes had been running high, he sure seems more attuned to the degenerate underbelly of En Why See where he spent time on/off doing his special mystical musings for a more punk-attuned audience who didn't want to have anything to do with positive lovejamming! And the sound that Exuma, the man and the band, makes is entrancing in the fine sinister way which is a surprise considering the whole thing is performed without a hint of electricity. First off, imagine an acoustic guitarist with some sense of rock appreciation as well as vocal gyrations worthy of the best of the era backed by a chorus of male/female voices all banging on congas and rattling a variety of bells and shakers. Then imagine a music, rock & roll for sure, that actually digs into the hard-edged anger and energy of the day. Play "We Got to Go" next to Captain Beefheart's "Drop Out Boogie" and you'll know what I mean. And on top of it imagine Exuma's vocal talents which can range from island thick to down-and-dirty on top of the manic choir and percussive intrusions. And after giving this one a nightly spin for the past week or so all I gotta say is how did this one slip under the radar all these years anyway?
And with themes ranging from overtly Christian ("Baal") to Caribbean spooky ("Paul Simon Nontooth" which is NOT an incantation to prohibit the famed introspective one from swiping more from black musical forms!) you don't know just where Exuma will take you with his island rock which at one point sounds like classic Tyrannosaurus Rex, another like Velvet Underground repeato-riff and yet another like the worst folk mass you've had the mispleasure of attending, at least until Exuma lets go with a few lower-gut screams and belches to jolt you out of the faux hippie mode into the realms of pure juju. And the fact that the only instruments on this disque are an acoustic guitar, percussion and harmonica goes to show you that Exuma didn't need Ben Franklin to put any electricity into his sound...it generates itself!
I dunno if I'll be searching any of Exuma's other platters out immediately...after all this one will last me for a good time before I'll be in need of another fix. But I can't deny this guy and his band or followers or whatever they were put out a pretty scronked-out album which sure has made this forlorn blogger one of the happier specimens on this planet here in the late-oh-ohs. A definite search out, and if you wanna know a li'l more about Our Hero the web seems to have a few tidbits here and there. For a fine rundown, try PERFECT SOUND FOREVER (don't worry, you-know-who from "Down Under" [the toilet] DIDN'T write it!) for a rather invigorating Exuma saga that points out a few previously unknown facts about the guy that I'll bet you didn't know, just like I didn't until stumbling upon the thing!
Before I leave, let me now present for you (via YouTube) this tasty tidbit of the reformed Simply Saucer live last week in Hamilton Ontario doing their famous old standby "Here Come the Cyborgs" for what I must guess was a rather appreciative audience. You probably were not there, and I wasn't either (though I was personally INVITED and even promised a free meal in the process! I declined because I can't use strange toilets), but now thanks to the miracle of internet we can all osmose to the savage strains of Edgar Breau and band and pretend we too were front and center experiencing the droning first hand! And hopefully before the cyborgs do come, I'll try sending off another post, like maybe this weekend???