Friday, May 26, 2017

TERRELL'S TUNE-UP: Wolves, Angels and BBQ

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican 
May 26, 2017

“Anger is an energy,” John Lydon, a.k.a. Johnny Rotten, informed us a few decades ago. Considering that wisdom, Texa$ Platinum, the new album by The Ghost Wolves, is one of the most energetic I’ve heard lately.

The Austin couple of singer/guitarist Carley Wolf and her husband, drummer Jonathan Wolf, rock hard and wild with lyrics and song titles (“Attitude Problem,” “Whettin’ My Knife,” “Strychnine in My Lemonade”) that seem to seethe with vexation. And yet somehow listening to them only makes me grin.

Carley Wolf has a pixieish, girly voice that wouldn’t seem out of place in some of my favorite Japanese girl-punk bands. Actually, the first time I heard her, I thought of KatieJane Garside, the singer of the early-’90s group Daisy Chainsaw (“Love Your Money”). Carley is also a heck of a guitarist.

Her hubby Jonathan is not only downright powerful on the skins, he also adds subtle iggly-squiggly, sci-fi synth effects. The result is a refreshing take on the tried-and-true minimalist garage-y sound.

Summing up the spirit of the album is a track called “Noisy Neighbors (Yuppie Scum),” which features a recording of what sounds like some hapless neighbor coming to the door and meekly asking the group to keep the noise down. This prompts Carley Wolf to scream “Nobody likes a crybaby!” while the band unleashes a defiant blast of noise.

This is followed by a frantic little tune called “Crybabies Go Home,” a message to any fuddy-duddy neighbor or anyone else who would bring them down with trivial complaints.

Texa$ Platinum is brimming over with irresistible songs. “Triple Full Moon” starts off with nearly a full minute of the Wolves singing over a drum beat. This is basically a love song, with the refrain “You’re so good being bad with me.” And my favorite at the moment is a track with a very un-punk title: “Bunny Run.” It’s a fast-paced rocker bouncing off a bluesy guitar riff and features tinkling piano.

Curiously, the album ends with a low-fi acoustic hillbilly song called “DYGKD.” You might have fooled me into thinking this is some scratchy old field recording from the backwoods, except that Carley’s voice is recognizable. Don’t ask me what the title means. Don’t ask me to decipher the lyrics, either. I just think it’s cool that the band ends an album full of rage with a sweet wink and a joke.

Long may The Ghost Wolves howl.

Also recommended:

* Death Song by The Black Angels. Speaking of bands from Austin, the Angels are flying again.

This group, which has been around for more than a decade, is perhaps more responsible than any other for launching the modern-day “psychedelic rock” movement.

But unlike many bands who claim that description, The Black Angels actually live up to both the psychedelic and the rock sides of the equation. Often, so-called psychedelic rock is too spacey, with annoyingly meandering noodling. Or it’s so fey and precious it makes Donovan look like Randy “Macho Man” Savage — and makes me want to whack a hobbit in the head with a shovel.

But The Black Angels — even back in their early days, when they were fond of 14-minute sound odysseys — have a tough sound that has never fallen into those traps. Like the best groups of the original psychedelic daze, the Angels’ reverb-drenched garage-rock roots are always apparent. Their heads may be in some bizarre Dr. Strange dimension, but their feet are on the ground.

There are lots of solid rockers on this album. One of my favorites has a not very peace-and-love title: “I’d Kill for Her.” The guitars scream while Alex Maas sings a tale of love and death: “She was so loaded/And mesmerizing/I had to follow/Her black horizon/No, I will not kill for her again.”

Even stronger is “Hunt Me Down,” with its thunderous brontosaurus beat, while the bouncy “Grab as Much (As You Can)” — was this inspired by our current president? — has a bass line similar to the Beatles’ “Taxman” and an ending that might have been inspired by “A Day in the Life.”

Meanwhile, “Comanche Moon,” which concerns the genocide of the American Indian, starts out with a Byrds-y folk-rock guitar hook that soon yields to an Allmans-esque “Whipping Post” riff.

Velvet Underground fans will immediately catch the significance of the album’s title — though nothing on this record sounds like the folkish, Dylan-influenced “The Black Angel’s Death Song” from the Velvets’ debut.

The final two tracks here seem to be a nod to it, though. “Death March” sounds like a descent into the underworld, with drums that suggest the band is ready for battle. Maas’ voice sounds downright ghostly. The final tune is a six-minute dirge called “Life Song,” which may be closer to Pink Floyd than The Black Angels have ever come before.

* BBQ by Mark Sultan. This is the latest solo album by Canadian Mark Sultan, a one-man band who is also half of the two-man band known as The King Khan & BBQ Show. He plays guitar and drums (via foot pedal) at the same time.

But Sultan’s real strength is his soaring voice. While a number of the better-known one-man outfits with roots in the punk racket play a hopped-up version of the blues, Sultan’s best songs are rooted in doo-wop and/or early soul.

Right now my favorite on this album is “Rock Me,” in which he makes a credible stab at being the best living Sam Cooke impersonator.

Ya like the videos?

Here are a couple from The Ghost Wolves.

Remember, nobody likes a crybaby!

Some folks like water, some folks like wine. But I like the taste of strychnine in my lemonade ...

Here are a couple of new Black Angels songs

And here's my favorite song on the latest Sultan album

Thursday, May 25, 2017

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Revenge of the Scopitones

It's been more than a year since this blog explored the Sexsational World of Scopitones.

As the Wolf Brand Chile ads used to say, "Friends, that's too long."

As I said last year, Scopitone was a company that in the early to mid '60s, filmed hundreds of music clips featuring pop stars -- and many who weren't quite up to star status -- singing their songs, usually with busty bikin-clad dancers doing the frug and Watusi behind them.

Those were the days!

And all these film clips were played on a coin-operated machine, manufactured in France, called the Scopitone 450. It basically was a jukebox hooked up to a 26-inch TV set that played 16mm film clips.

You can learn more about the machines HERE and see some crazy examples of Scopitone videos below.

When I saw that a pretty blonde named January Jones was the star of several Scopitone films, I thought how would that be possible? The actor who played Betty Draper in Mad Men wasn't  even born then. But this January Jones is a Mad Men-era singer who knew how to stuff a wild bikini. Here she is singing "Up the Lazy River."

Here are April Stevens & Nino Tempo, who probably are best known for their mid-'60s hit cover version of the song "Deep Purple." But here they do "Land of a Thousand Dances." This cover is so lame would make Wilson want to picket and turn Cannibal of the Headhunters into a vegetarian. But was anyone listening to the music?

Here's Gale Garnett, who had  hit in the '60s witha song called "We'll Sing in the Sunshine." How ya like these taters?

Sonny King croons a tasteful "I Cried for You."

Finally, here's the queen of Scopitone, the incomparable Joi Lansing.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

WACKY WEDNESDAY: Songs for the Serial Killers

Peter Kürten: He's looking at the river but he's thinking of the sea

The Axeman of New Orleans was a guy who liked to break into people's houses -- and murder them with their own axes (or sometimes a straight razor) in New Orleans back in 1918 an 1919.Most of his victims were Italian Americans.  He never was caught, at least not for the six or seven murders he committed. His identity remains a mystery.

Like the Son of Sam and the Zodiac Killer decades later, The Axeman sought publicity for his crimes. In March, 1919 he sent a taunting letter to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. And like Charlie Manson, he apparently dug  music.

Here's the infamous letter:

Hell, March 13, 1919

Esteemed Mortal:

They have never caught me and they never will. They have never seen me, for I am invisible, even as the ether that surrounds your earth. I am not a human being, but a spirit and a demon from the hottest hell. I am what you Orleanians and your foolish police call the Axeman.

When I see fit, I shall come and claim other victims. I alone know whom they shall be. I shall leave no clue except my bloody axe, besmeared with blood and brains of he whom I have sent below to keep me company.

If you wish you may tell the police to be careful not to rile me. Of course, I am a reasonable spirit. I take no offense at the way they have conducted their investigations in the past. In fact, they have been so utterly stupid as to not only amuse me, but His Satanic Majesty, Francis Josef, etc. But tell them to beware. Let them not try to discover what I am, for it were better that they were never born than to incur the wrath of the Axeman. I don't think there is any need of such a warning, for I feel sure the police will always dodge me, as they have in the past. They are wise and know how to keep away from all harm.

Undoubtedly, you Orleanians think of me as a most horrible murderer, which I am, but I could be much worse if I wanted to. If I wished, I could pay a visit to your city every night. At will I could slay thousands of your best citizens, for I am in close relationship with the Angel of Death.

Now, to be exact, at 12:15 (earthly time) on next Tuesday night [March 19, 1919}, I am going to pass over New Orleans. In my infinite mercy, I am going to make a little proposition to you people. Here it is:

I am very fond of jazz music, and I swear by all the devils in the nether regions that every person shall be spared in whose home a jazz band is in full swing at the time I have just mentioned. If everyone has a jazz band going, well, then, so much the better for you people. One thing is certain and that is that some of your people who do not jazz it on Tuesday night (if there be any) will get the axe.

Well, as I am cold and crave the warmth of my native Tartarus, and it is about time I leave your earthly home, I will cease my discourse. Hoping that thou wilt publish this, that it may go well with thee, I have been, am and will be the worst spirit that ever existed either in fact or realm of fancy.

The Axeman

This inspired  composer Joseph John Davilla to write an instrumental rag that year called "The Mysterious Axman's Jazz (Don't Scare Me Papa)." Years later it would inspire The Tombstones to do this song, "Axeman of New Orleans."

Ed Gein has been the subject of several rock songs. The Plainfield, Wisc. man liked to create arts and crafts with human skin -- some he dug up from nearby graveyards, and some from women who he killed. He was arrested in 1957 by police who found all sorts of grisly souvenirs in his house including Nine masks of human skin; bowls made from human skulls; human skin covering several chair seats; a belt made from female human nipples; a lampshade made from the skin from a human face ... and other fancy stuff.

Gein inspired Hitchcock's Psycho, as well as other horroe movies like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The character of "Buffalo Bill" in The Silence of The Lambs has  a lot of Weird Eddie in him.

He also inspired several rock 'n' roll tunes, most notably Slayer's "Dead Skin Mask." But I'm going to post something I just recently stumbled on, "Good Old Ed Gein" by The Pornscars a German psychobilly band. (Thanks to Jack Samuel of the  Rocking the Garage Google-Plus Group for this one.)

Did I mention Son of Sam, the 1970s New York killer who was only following orders from a demonic dog? The Dead Boys did this song not long after David Berkowitz's killing spree.

Dead Moon were at their spooky best when they sang about cannibal killer Jeffrey Dahmer, another Wisconsin maniac, in "Room 213."

Finally, Randy Newman's haunting "In Germany Before the War" is the tale of  Peter Kürten, the “Vampire of Dusseldorf" who committed all sorts of depraved murders and sexual assaults. Among the crimes he admitted was the killing of a nine-year-old girl in 1913. He was executed by guillotine in 1931.

Sunday, May 21, 2017


Sunday, May 21, 2017
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
10 p.m. to midnight Sundays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell 101.1 FM
Email me during the show! terrel(at)

Here's my playlist :

OPENING THEME: Let It Out (Let it All Hang Out) by The Hombres
Death March by The Black Angels
Skintrade by The Mekons
Out of the Question by The Seeds
Alligator Wine by Fifty Foot Combo & Reverend Beat-Man
You Must Be a Witch by Dead Moon
Two Ton Feather by Dion
In Heaven by The Pixies
Jesus Christ Pose by Soundgarden

The Black Dog Runs at Night by Angelo Badalamenti
The Grace by The Molting Vultures
Strychnine in My Lemonade by The Ghost Wolves
Broken Racehorse by The Blind Shake
Staying Underground by Destination Lonely
Astral Plane by The Modern Lovers
It's Suicide by Mark Sultan
Kiss My Sister's Fist by The King Khan & BBQ Show
Up in Flames by Koko Taylor

Baby Please Don't Go by Them
In Dreams by Roy Orbison
I Must Be the Devil by Glambilly
Beehive by Mark Lanegan
Apocalyptica Blues by Blind Butcher
Mother Sky by CAN
Blues Without Reason by The Vagoos
Blue Velvet by Bobby Vinton

The Spell by Afghan Whigs
Dark Night of the Soul by Danger Mouse & Sparklehorse with David Lynch
Ain't But the One Way by Julian Cope
Sycamore Trees by Jimmy Scott
Port of Amsterdam by Dave Van Ronk
Questions in a World of Blue by Julee Cruise
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

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Friday, May 19, 2017


Friday, May 19, 2017
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
10 p.m. to midnight Fridays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell 101.1 FM
Email me during the show! terrel(at)

Here's my playlist :

OPENING THEME: Buckaroo by Buck Owens
You're Crazy for Taking the Bus by Jonathan Richman
Little But I'm Loud by Rosie Flores
She Gave Up on Herself by Miss Lesley
Hogtied Over You by Billy Bacon & The Forbidden Pigs with Candye Kane
The Other Woman by Loretta Lynn
Bus Breakdown by Dale Watson & Ray Watson
Humpty Dump Jump by L.A. Rivercatz
Griselda by Yo La Tengo
Bonaparte's Retreat by Holy Modal Rounders
Pablo Picasso Never Got Called Redneckerson by Frontier Circus

New Mexico Blues by John Wagner
Don't Leave It Lie by Shinyribs
Queen of the Minor Key by Eilen Jewell
What Makes Bob Holler by Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys
Sweet Kind of Love by Don Walser
God's Problem Child by Willie Nelson with Tony Joe White, Leon Russel & Jamie Johnson
This Land is Our Land Redux by Slim Cessna's Auto Club
The Hand of the Almighty by John R. Butler

Get Up and Go / Fiddle Tunes by David Bromberg
Hello, I'm a Truck by Red Simpson
On the Road Again by Memphis Jug Band
Waiting for a Train by Jimmie Rodgers
One Bad Shoe by The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band
Rusty Cage by Johnny Cash
Make it Up to Mama by Sarah Shook & The Disarmers
No Glory by The Eagle Rock Gospel Singers

You Don't Hear Me Crying by Modern Mal
I'm Gonna Love You by Jimmie Dale Gilmore
Hope the High Road by Jason Isbell
She Never Spoke Spanish to Me by Joe Ely
Long Black Veil by Hazel Dickens & Alice Gerrard
Lesson in Depression by James Hand
Country Bumpkin by Cal Smith
CLOSING THEME: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets

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Thursday, May 18, 2017

THROWBACK THURSDAY: In Praise of American Epic

Will Shade with The Memphis Jug Band
OK, my advice to you is to quit reading this blog post and go sit yourself in front of your TV -- or your iPad or whatever you use for a TV these days -- and start watching the PBS series American Epic

It's a 3-part series about American roots music in the early 20th Century, co-produced by Jack White and T-Bone Burnett and narrated by Robert Redford. There is lots of rare footage and photos, a soundtrack full of spooky old country, blues and folk classics and interviews with living musicians -- Charlie Musselwhite, Taj Mahal, Willie Nelson etc. -- talking about how this music enriched their lives.

Episode 1 of the series is already available. "The Big Bang" focuses on two great acts from the 1920s, The Carter Family and The Memphis Jug Band, discovered by Ralph Peer, the Columbia Records A&R man who traveled the south seeking recording artists, black and white, to appeal to rural audiences.  (You can watch on your computer HERE.)

Below is a trailer for the series, followed by some songs that are featured in that first episode.

Here's Jimmie Rodgers, foreshadowing MTV by 50 years or so,

Here are Maybelle and Sara Carter reunited on The Johnny Cash Show in 1970. Johnny says it's their first time performing together in 27 years (though actually they'd recorded together in 1963 and did a bunch of shows together in the '60s.)

I love whoever decided to film this song by Whistler's Jug Band way back when.

In American Epic, the rapper Nas compares jug band music with gangsta rap. “These guys are talking about carrying guns, shooting something, protecting their honor, chasing after some woman who’s done them dirty. It didn’t start with hip-hop. It started a long time ago. It started with America.”

Here's The Memphis Jug Band singing about what Kinky Friedman calls "Peruvian Marching Powder."

And here's American Epic: The Soundtrack on Spotify. But listen to it after you watch the show!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

WACKY WEDNESDAY: We Just Missed Jonathan's Birthday!

Jonathan Richman at Meow Wolf, Santa Fe, NM
Nov. 5, 2016

The strange and wonderful Jonathan Richman turned 66 on Wacky Wednesday Eve, Tuesday May 16.

Richman and his band The Modern Lovers, in their early-'70s incarnation, was a pioneering post-garage, pre-punk band from New England. Richman was a Velvet Underground fanatic, though his own vision was much less dark and far more whimsical.

By the end of the '70s Richman's sound was getting softer, more acoustic, more chidlike, Through the years he's stayed true to his oddball vision.

A personal note: Back in 1998 I got to open for Jonathan when he played in Santa Fe. Truly one of the highlights of my own tacky music career.

Below are some of my favorite Jonathan tunes.

Here's one from one his frequent appearances on Late Night with Conan O'Brien in the early '90s.

And here's another Conan performance.  Everybody loves those vampire girls.

Going back to 1987, here's a tribute to Jonathan's favorite Marx brother.

Gregg Turner does a fine cover of this Jonathan favorite.

Speaking of people who've covered Jonathan, here are a couple of versions of Modern Lovers songs, starting with an acoustic take on "Pablo Picasso" by Iggy Pop.

And here's Joan Jett singing Jonathan's song about New Mexico's state bird.

And here's the first Jonathan song I ever heard back in the mid '70s. It's still one of my favorites.

Drummer Tommy Larkins with Jonathan Richman at Meow Wolf last year

TERRELL'S TUNE-UP: Wolves, Angels and BBQ

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican   May 26, 2017 “Anger is an energy,” John Lydon, a.k.a. Johnny Rotten, inf...