Monday, April 06, 2009


* The Sympathetic Sounds of Montreal . From the same folks who brought you The Sympathetic Sounds of Detroit (which featured The Dirtbombs, The Hentchmen, The Detriot Cobras and a rare White Stripes track) comes this compilation of Maple Leaf garage punk. Standouts include the party-time punk of Les Sexareenos and The Deadly Snakes, who manage to pay musical homage to Tommy James as well as The Status Quo in their two tracks.I also like the catchy tribute to Loretta Lynn by The Sunday Sinners.

One man who seems like a dominant presence on this record is Mark Sultan, aka BBQ, who once was a member of The Sexareenos and later became a musical partner of King Khan. BBQ's one or two-man punk/blues/do-wop stomp is heard all over the place here.

*Sybil by Troy Gregory. Speaking of The Sympathetic Sounds of Detroit, here's another album that showcases Detroit-area bands.

I discovered Sybil while looking for the song "Born in a Haunted Barn" by The Dirtbombs, which I'd stumbled across on Actually, I was looking for the album with that song, the apparently out-of-print Billiards at Nine Thirty, a split album with King Khan & The Shrines. Billiards isn't on eMusic, but "Haunted Bar" showed up on an album by this guy Gregory. And The Dirtbombs themselves are backing him up here.

Also appearing here are bands like Bantam Rooster (who play on the opening cut, an intense cruncher called "Lice, Cots n' Rabies Shots"), Outrageous Cherry (who do a song called "Regrets, I've Had a Few," which sounds like some long-lost early MTV hit, and Jim Diamond's Pop Monsoon (with an otherworldly, not very Christmasy tune called "Down 2 the Last Santa Claus.")

There's even a taste of country with The Volebeats. "Left My Mind Alone" doesn't come close to The Voles' "Two Seconds," but it's a nice surprise

*Specialty Profiles: Larry Williams: This New Orleans guy wrote some of my favorite cover songs the early Beatles did -- "Slow Down," "Dizzy Miss Lizzy" and (my favorite) "Bad Boy." He had several hits of his own in the '50s, including "Boney Maroni" and "Short Fat Fannie" -- both of which could be viewed as follows to Little Richard's "Long Tall Sally." At one point Specialty Records hoped Williams would become the next Little Richard.

But it didn't work out that way. Williams had some serious demons gnawing at him. In 1959 he was arrested for selling drugs -- long before that was fashionable. He bounced around labels, working mainly as a producer. He worked with Johnny "Guitar" Watson in the mid '60s, but no major hits came of that collaboration. And between 1969 and 1978 (when he briefly emerged with a funk album, long out of print,called That's Larry Williams), he didn't work at all in the music biz.

Williams died in 1980, found at his home with a gunshot wound to his head. According to the All Music Guide, "The medical examiners called the death a suicide, but rumors persisted for years after his death that he was murdered because of his involvement in drugs, crime and — allegedly — prostitution."

This collection has all those songs The Beatles did. (Until now, I never knew what the heck John Lennon was singing on the line, "He gave his cocker spaniel a bath in his mother's Laundromat. "). "She Said Yeah," which The Rolling Stones covered, some New Orleans R&B hits like "Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu" and Lloyd Price's "Just Because," and other gems like "You Bug Me, Baby" and "Let Me Tell You, Baby," which sounds like the second cousin of "Dizzy Miss Lizzy."

* Pyschobilly Box: Rockabilly Roots and Hootenany (Disc 1) This is a strange hodgepodge of actual pyschobilly bands (The Meteors and The Frantic Flintstones among them), rock stars trying their hand at rockabilly-related sounds (Lemmy from Motorhead singing "Good Rockin' Tonight," Johnny Ramone doing a surfed-up instrumental of "Viva Las Vegas") and '50s rarities from country stars.

The latter ones are my favorites. There's Patsy Cline getting into the rockabilly spirit with "Stop, Look and Listen" and a young Waylon Jennings with his mentor Buddy Holly and a honking sax (could that be King Curtis?) doing a song called "When Sin Stops."

While most of the acts are pretty obscure -- Scared Stiff, Coffin Nails, Demented Are Go, Hayride to Hell -- a lot of the songs covered here are very well known -- "Big River," "Wooly Bully," "Surf City," "Should I Stay or Should I Go."

And what's with all these cat bands? There's The Polecats, The Head Cat, 13 Cats, The Swing Cats (who do a limp, extremely non-psycho version of "Summertime"), and yes, The Stray Cats with a near 9-minute live version of their early '80s hit "Rock This Town."

There's lots of good fun here. But I don't have an overwhelming desire right now to download the second disc of this compilation. Maybe next month.

plus ...
The artist who would later be known as Dolemite
... the 16 tracks I didn't download last month from Hully Gully Fever by Rudy Ray Moore. Would I be a heretic to say I like a lot of this stuff -- basic hopped-up R&B from the '50s and early '60s -- even better than his Dolemite party-album classics?

plus ...

I had four tracks left over, so I picked up the first four songs on Merriweather Post Pavilion, the new album by Animal Collective. Sounds good so far. More on Merriweather next month after I nab the rest of the tracks.

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