Thursday, December 31, 2009


Last week I wrote about my favorite albums of the decade. Here’s my favorite of the past year.

* Tell ‘Em What Your Name Is by Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears. This Austin, Texas outfit doesn’t see soul music as some fragile museum exhibit — it’s a funk/punk Saturday night fish fry that never ends. The horn section is loud, the guitar has a bite, and the organist sounds as if he has been force-fed a steady diet of Jimmy Smith and The Animals. And Lewis shouts like Wilson Pickett’s long-lost grandson.

* Dracula Boots by Kid Congo & The Pink Monkey Birds. Brian Tristan, the El Monte, California, native better known as Kid Congo Powers, has been a member of The Cramps as well as of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and The Gun Club. With The Pink Monkey Birds, his M.O. is reciting strange tales over insane psychedelic guitar. Sometimes there’s New Wave-y keyboards adding some science-fiction zing to the mix. There’s a song about Santa Fe’s favorite ghost La Llorona, two songs about Santa Claus, and a cover of a funny Thee Midnighters tune.

* Not Now! by The A-Bones. This band of New Yorkers — led by the first couple of Norton Records, Billy Miller and Miriam Linna — sounds like those anonymous combos playing at sinister nightclubs or hopped-up youth dance parties in black-and-white teen-exploitation movies. A little dangerous, a little sleazy, but ultimately inviting because they’re so much fun.

* Viper of Melody by Wayne Hancock. Wayne the Train is perhaps the greatest living purveyor of ’50s-style roadhouse honky-tonk. With a tip of the hat to western swing and a sly wink at rockabilly, Hancock is retro to be sure. But he never sounds hokey. My favorite song here is a murder ballad, “Your Love and His Blood,” which contains a should-be-classic line: “The next time we’re together, you’ll be on the witness stand.”

* Raw, Raw, Rough by Barrence Whitfield. His first solo album since 1995 is full of early rock ’n’ roll/crazed R & B spirit. Barry probably gets sick of Little Richard comparisons, but in many ways such talk is well deserved. He also can sound almost pretty — in an Otis Redding kind of pretty.

* Invisible Girl by The King Khan & BBQ Show. There’s a big element of stripped-down blues bashers like Flat Duo Jets and White Stripes in KK & BBQ. But what distinguishes this dynamic duo is its anchor in raw doo-wop. The basic sound, therefore, is punk-rock roar, embellished by some Ruben & The Jets/Sha Na Na/rama-lama-ding-dong silliness but frequently based on some seriously gorgeous melodies and occasional sweet harmonies.

* Ruins of Berlin by Dex Romweber Duo. Speaking of Flat Duo Jets, founder Romweber was back this year with a new duo, this time with his sister Sara. Some songs sound like Flat Duo Jets Mach II. But other tracks feature guest musicians including a bevy of female guest vocalists, such as Exene Cervenka, Neko Case, and Chan Marshall. Try not thinking of Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet while listening to Marshall singing “Love Letters” with the Duo.

* Merriweather Post Pavilion by Animal Collective. My one concession to “modern” rock and my one favorite you’ll probably find on most those real rock critics’ list. Some of this music sounds like an advanced civilization of space creatures who worship Brian Wilson. One of my favorite songs of the year is the sweet, euphoric and irresistible “My Girls.”

* The Fine Print (A Collection of Oddities and Rarities 2003-2008) by Drive-By Truckers. I find this collection of outtakes, alternate versions, cover songs, and other previously unreleased tracks fresher than the Truckers’ past couple of studio albums. The strongest cut is Patterson Hood’s slow burner called “The Great Car Dealer War,” about a guy paid to torch vehicles at a car lot. The best lyrics: “I don’t ask questions, I don’t assume/I just take a long hard look when I walk into a room.”

* High, Wide & Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project by Loudon Wainwright III. Wainwright plays lots of songs associated with Poole — a hard-living, ramblin’, gamblin’, singing moonshiner — as well as some original tunes about the influential singer. It’s hard to find anything as cosmically kooky this year as Wainwright’s version of Poole’s “I’m the Man Who Rode the Mule Around the World.”

Honorable Discharges
* Haymaker! by The Gourds
* Blue Black Hair by The Del Moroccos
* Before Obscurity: The Bushflow Tapes by Tin Huey
* Tangled Tales by Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks
* Dave Alvin & The Guilty Women

Best Live Album/DVD Set:
*Live From Axis Mundi by Gogol Bordello

Best Oldies Compilation:
* I Still Hate CDs by Various Artists


I just got off the phone with my old musical crony and ex-Angry Samoan Gregg Turner, who has arranged a night of music, fun and weirdness at the Aztec Cafe, Saturday Jan. 9 (Richard Nixon's birthday!)

It'll be Gregg, Lenny Hoffman and me -- a loose-knit goon revue we once called The Hatchet-Wielding Jews, as per this 2004 David Alfaya poster seen here -- and perhaps some special guests, singing our songs and whatnot, about 7:30 p.m. until 11 p.m.


Last week in Terrell's Tuneup, I looked back on my favorite albums of the decade and tomorrow I'll present my favorites of the past year. (Check this blog later tonight).

But Jessica Cassyl Carr of The Weekly Alibi in Albuquerque asked me (and others) to look into the future and what we'd like to see happen in music in the next decade. You can find my words of wisdom -- along with those of The Handsome Family's Brett Sparks and Jeremy Barnes of A Hawk and a Hacksaw -- HERE.


And finally, be on the lookout for the next episode of The Big Enchilada Podcast, coming very soon.

You can subscribe to my free monthly (or so) podcast HERE.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Sunday, December 27, 2009


Sunday, December 27, 2009
KSFR, Santa Fe, N.M.
10 p.m. to midnight Sundays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell

101.1 FM
email me during the show!

OPENING THEME: Let it Out (Let it All Hang Out) by The Hombres
Long Green by Barrence Whitfield
I Found a Peanut by Kid Congo & The Pink Monkey Birds
I Hear Sirens by The Dirtbombs
Geraldine/The Lover's Curse by The A-Bones
Baby Doll by The Del Moroccos
What a Way to Die by The Pleasure Seekers
Amazons & Coyotes/No Confidence by Simon Stokes
Viper of Melody by Wayne Hancock

Three Hairs and You're Mine by King Khan & His Shrines
Anala by The King Khan & BBQ Show
Big Booty Woman by Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears
Sui Bong by Dengue Fever
Alcohol by Gogol Bordello
Tex-Mex Mile/My Name is Jorge by The Gourds

People Who Died Set
People Who Died by The Jim Carrol Band
It's a Hard Life by The Seeds (for Sky Saxon)
Flat Foot Flewzy by NRBQ (for Steve Ferguson)
Hadacol Boogie by James Luther Dickinson
I'm Wise by Eddie Bo
Red Hot by Billy Lee Riley
Bikini Girls with Machine Guns by The Cramps (for Lux Interior)
Swelters by Vic Chestnut

My Girls by Animal Collective
Nashville Radio by Jon Langford
Bold Marauder by Drywall
Little Pony & The Great Big Horse by Drive-By Truckers
My Heart is the Bums on the Street by Marah
Donut and a Dream by Tony Gilkyson
Girls by Eleni Mandell
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

Saturday, December 26, 2009



I don't know who this "Roundtable" is. Seems pretty square to me.

I'm talking about Tom Sharpe's story in today's New Mexican about the panel of downtown merchants and others wanting to move some events off the Plaza.

Here's the part that made me pig-bitin' mad:

On Monday, the roundtable mulled over the idea of meeting early next year with leaders of the eight major annual Plaza events — plus Outside In, the organization that sponsors free music on the Santa Fe Plaza Bandstand during the summer — to see if some of the events might be moved to the Santa Fe Railyard, the Santa Fe Community Convention Center or other venues.

(Merchant H.C.) Potter said the first question they should be asked is, "Is it necessary to have your event on the Plaza?"

I'm prejudiced here, because I usually catch several Santa Fe Bandstand shows during the summer and I love seeing the Plaza come alive with activity at night. The crowd usually is predominantly local, but you see lots of tourists enjoying themselves in the crowd as well. (The above photo was taken at The Gourds' July 2008 show.)

Of course, I'm just a local and not the type who drops big cash bucks in the galleries and boutiques, so who cares what I like, right?

This issue of what should and shouldn't be allowed on the Plaza has been around since at least the early '80s when I started my career as a journalist. The truth is, some -- not all -- downtown merchants just wish locals would stay away.

When I was covering City Hall for the Journal North in the mid-80s, one of the burning issues of the day was the scourge of street musicians and food vendors in the downtown area, which according to some of the merchants of the day were gauche and offensive in the eyes of the nice people who spent money in the galleries. Not only that, these musicians and street sellers were unfair competition for the tourist dollar, some shopkeeps contended.

"Gee, I'd like to buy that $5,000 painting, but I just spent all my money on a hotdog and a tip for a guy singing Dylan songs ... "

A few years later, working for The New Mexican, I covered a concerned merchants gripe session at City Hall about the very topic of "too much activity" on the Plaza. One newly-shop owner stood up and said he wished they'd get rid of Fiesta, or at least hold it somewhere other than downtown. This guy called me the next day aghast that I'd quoted him. Some of my readers apparently were upset about the idea of moving Fiesta and called him up and told him so.

If they get serious about moving the Bandstand series, I hope local music fans do the same.

And with city elections coming up, maybe we should get some bumper stickers saying "I like Santa Fe Bandstand AND I VOTE!"

Friday, December 25, 2009


A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
December 25, 2009

Political satirist Andy Borowitz recently wrote, "As the decade draws to a close, a new poll shows that a majority of Americans are holding out hope that the 10 years just past turn out to be a dream sequence from which they will soon awake."

That pretty much sums it up. But here are 10 albums that made this lousy decade a little more bearable. A few are out of print, but you can find them around.

* Honky by Simon Stokes. Rough, crunching, blues-infected biker rock and outlaw country from a tough old leather-faced geezer with a scratchy voice and a dirty mind. Stokes laughs at himself and his romantic follies in the hilarious rocker "No Confidence." Even better is a blazing crime tale, "Johnny Gillette," concerning bald cops and a serial killer. Stokes did a duet album with Timothy Leary and produced Russell Means' album The Radical. He co-wrote "Miniskirt Blues," which was recorded by The Cramps with Iggy Pop. But he's never sounded stronger than he does on Honky.

* Three Hairs and You're Mine by King Khan & His Shrines. The mighty Khan — a foulmouthed Canadian guitar picker of East Indian heritage who lives in Germany — seemed to be everywhere this year, with his partner Mark "BBQ" Sultan and the garage supergroup The Almighty Defenders. But my favorite aspect of Khan's career is when he plays with The Shrines, a full-fledged psychedelic soul band, complete with horn section. There's punk and garage-rock influences in the grooves, even a flicker of speed metal. But make no mistake, this band has soul! And this 2001 Voodoo Rhythm release is the best of his Shrines albums.

* Barbecue Babylon by Drywall. The world of this album is apocalyptic, and Stan Ridgway makes a great carnival barker at the gates of Armageddon. A desperate spirit has settled over the land. Thievery and murder abound, and the government has gone even more insane than the populace. Life is cheap. Love is tawdry. Paranoia thrives. And Drywall makes it sound like fun.

* Goodbye Guitar by Tony Gilkyson. Most solo albums by sidemen only prove that sidemen belong on the side. But this proves there are major exceptions to that rule. Gilkyson — a former Santa Fe resident who served time in the Los Angeles bands X and Lone Justice — made an album of solid roots rock and a magnificent dirge of self-loathing called "My Eyes."

* We Have You Surrounded by The Dirtbombs. I guess I like a dose of apocalyptic paranoia in my music. It reigns supreme in The Dirtbombs' 2008 offering. On nearly every song, singer/guitarist Mick Collins seems to be looking over his shoulder and not liking what he sees. The end is near, and everyone's out to wreck his flow. With a lineup that includes two bassists and two drummers, The Dirtbombs are one of the many Detroit bands of the 1990s that didn't become famous when The White Stripes rose to glory.

* Cow Fish Fowl or Pig by The Gourds. Pure exuberant hillbilly funk with vocals that sound as if the town drunk had hopped on a honky-tonk stage and led the band into bold new dimensions. The stomping jugless-jug-band (well, Kev Russell sings about jugs) sound of "Ants on the Melon (With Due Regards to Virginia Adair)" remains my favorite Gourds song.

* Escape From the Dragon House by Dengue Fever. Dengue is an Orange County garage/psychedelic/surf rock band (with sax and Farfisa organ!) fronted by Cambodia-born Ch'hom Nimol and dedicated to reviving the wild, wonderful, lost Cambodian pop that was virtually destroyed by the Khmer Rouge. They mix in a little Ethiopian soul music, which was also suppressed by evil Commies in the '70s.

* All the Fame of Lofty Deeds by Jon Langford. This is the best Waco Brothers album that wasn't really by The Waco Brothers. It does, however, feature Langford, the evil genius behind The Wacos (and charter member of The Mekons.) Here he tackles a favorite Langford theme — the travails and temptations of country singers in post-war America. The story is a bittersweet distillation of everything that makes America attractive and everything that makes it repulsive.

* Miracle of Five by Eleni Mandell. Mandell has just about the sexiest voice in showbiz today, and her 2007 album drives home this point. This is contemporary torch music with subtle touches of film noir. It makes great background music for reading Raymond Chandler, Ross Macdonald, or even James Ellroy.

* Kids in Philly by Marah. These Philly kids were roots conscious without a trace of retro, and so spirited — even when they sang of winos in the alley and murder in the streets, Marah had a jarring aura of optimism. And though they were much too young to have experienced the Vietnam War, their jaw-dropping "Round Eye Blues," a veteran's grim memories of the war, mixed up with images from rock 'n' soul lyrics, cut to the marrow. Marah never again matched this album from 2000.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

No SF OPRY on Friday

Because it's Christmas Day, there will be no Santa Fe Opry on Friday. Same goes for New Year's Day. The Opry will return full blast on Jan.8

On the other hand, Terrell's Sound World will air as scheduled this Sunday and Jan. 3.

If you really need a fix of the Music Nashville Does Not Want You to Hear, you might have to resort to some episodes of The Big Enchilada Podcast.

Try the recent Hillbilly Heaven ....

Merry Christmas to all!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


But my son Anton and his band Outtagear are going to be interviewed on KSFR at 9 p.m. Mountain Time

That's 101.1 FM in northern New Mexico. Or on the Web HERE

UPDATE: I corrected the time! 

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Sunday, December 20, 2009
KSFR, Santa Fe, N.M.
10 p.m. to midnight Sundays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell

101.1 FM
email me during the show!


Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer by Los Straightjackets
Santa Doesn't Cop Out on Dope by Sonic Youth
A Poundland Christmas by Wild Billy Childish & The Musicians of the British Empire
Santa Looked a Lot Like Daddy by Buck Owens
Hey Santa Claus by The Chesterfield Kings
Santa Claus by Thee Headcoatees
Christmas Boogie by Canned Heat with The Chipmunks
Winter Weather by Squirrel Nut Zippers
The Jesus Song by The Persuasions
Six Bullets for Christmas by Angry Johnny & The Killbillies
Egg Nog by The Rockin' Guys

Lone Star Christmas by Jerry Faires
Lucy's Tiger Den by Terry Allen
Merry Christmas Elvis by Michelle Cody
Must Be Santa by Brave Combo
Shake Hands With Santa Claus by Louis Prima
Dark Christmas by The Dex Romweber Duo
Gloria by Elastica
We Three Kings by Mojo Nixon & The Toadliquors
The Friendly Beasts by Sunshone Still

Even Squeaky Fromme Loves Christmas by Rev. Glen Armstrong
Mrs. Claus' Kimono by Drive-By Truckers
Christmas is For the Birds by Conway Twitty & Twitty Bird
Christmas is Paradise by Mary Gauthier
Let's But the X Back in Xmas by Candye Kane & Country Dick Montana
Santa Drives a Hot Rod by The Brian Setzer Orchestra
Yulesville by Ed "Kooky" Burns

Santa Claus is Watching You by Ray Stevens
Happy Birthday, Jesus by Little Cindy
White Christmas by Otis Redding
Lonely Christmas Call by George Jones
Christmas in the Trenches by John McCutcheon
Silent Night/What Christmas Means by Dion
Oh Holy Night by Brian Wilson
Christmas Every Day (Maybe It'll Help) by Giant Sand
Star of Wonder by The Roches


Friday, December 18, 2009


Friday, December 18, 2009
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
10 p.m. to midnight Fridays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell

101.1 FM
email me during the show!

OPENING THEME: Buckaroo by Buck Owens & The Buckaroos
Move it on Over by The Maddox Brothers & Rose
Living With the Animals by Mother Earth
Hard Luck and Old Dogs by Nancy Apple
There Goes the Bride by The Derailers
A Mess o Blues by The Starline Rhythm Boys
A Fool Such as I by John Doe & The Sadies
Down by The Riverside by The Million Dollar Quartet
My Boy Elvis by Janis Martin
This Cat's in the Doghouse by Rosie Flores & The Pine Valley Cosmonats

Whoop and Holler by Ray Wylie Hubbard
Brimstone Rock by 16 Horsepower
The Hammer Came Down by House of Freaks
I Know I Got Religion by Angola Vocal Group
How Dark My Shadow's Grown by The Bad Livers
Just Like Geronimo by The Dashboard Saviors
Santa Bring My Baby Back by The Rev. Horton Heat
Old Toy Trains by Roger Miller

Ants on the Melon by The Gourds
Pissin' in the Wind by Simon Stokes with Texas Terri
The Fame of Lofty Deeds by Jon Langford
Moonglow, Lamp Low by Eleni Mandell
Round-Eye Blues by Marah
My Eyes by Tony Gilkyson
Like a Rolling Stone by Drive-By Truckers

Santa Can't Stay by Dwight Yoakam
Artificial Flowers by Cornell Hurd
Hanging Dog by Jacques & The Shakey Boys
Satin Sheets by Jeannie Pruett
I Push Right Over by Robbie Fulks
You've Got to Walk That Lonesome Valley by Luther Dickson & The Sons of Mudboy
Don't Let the Devil Ride by Clarence Fountain & Sam Butler
CLOSING THEME: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets

Steve Terrell is proud to report to the monthly Freeform American Roots Radio list

Thursday, December 17, 2009


A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
December 18, 2009

In the realm of rockabilly and rocking country, one major underappreciated voice is that of Rosie Flores. Though she’s never enjoyed much fame of her own, Flores — who’s spent most of her life between Texas and California — did a lot to resurrect the careers of rockabilly pioneers Wanda Jackson and Janis Martin. Flores convinced both to come out of retirement to help out on her album Rockabilly Filly back in 1995.

And Flores’ version of “Red Red Robin,” which appeared on a Bloodshot Records children’s album a few years ago, is not only the greatest version of that song I’ve ever heard, but it’s also the definitive song of spring.

It’s been too many years since sweet Rosie has graced us with an album of new material. Except for a Christmas record and a live album, her new one, Girl of the Century, is her first since 2001’s Speed of Sound. She’s got one fine band behind her — The Pine Valley Cosmonauts, led by Jon Langford (The Mekons, The Waco Brothers) and featuring Jon Rice on pedal steel, fiddle, and other stringed instruments and Tom Ray on stand-up bass.

There’s some solid rockabilly here with Johnny Cash’s “Get Rhythm,” “This Little Girl’s Gone Rockin’,” and “This Cat’s in the Doghouse.” Flores sings a couple of Langford tunes — “Halfway Home” and “Last Song” — both of which sound like the type of ballads The Waco Brothers favor when they do slower songs.

But my favorite track is “Who’s Gonna Take Your Garbage Out,” a duet with Langford that was originally recorded by Ernest Tubb and Loretta Lynn. There’s some classic hillbilly humor here. The best line is “Callin’ a man like you a husband is just like callin’ old wild cat a pet.”

Another classy Flores/Langford duet is “Little Bells,” a song written by alt-country honky-tonker Paul Burch (from his recent album Still Your Man). It’s the type of tune Ray Price would have killed back in his early days.

The album ends with the title song, a slow tune featuring a Spanish guitar. As far as slow ones go, I vastly prefer the sexy, jazzy “Dark Enough at Midnight.”
Also recommended:

* Honey Moon by The Handsome Family
This latest album by The Handsome Family, released earlier this year, is actually a theme album. As the title implies, the theme is love.

It’s basically Brett and Rennie Sparks’ anniversary gift to themselves, as they have been married 20 years. It’s not that they haven’t tackled the subject of love in the past — just never in such a concentrated form and never so sincerely. As Brett’s baritone strains for the high notes in the refrain of “My Friend” and in “The Loneliness of Magnets,” he sounds as if he’s embodying the lovesick blues.

The Handsomes — who have lived in Albuquerque for the past several years and have played here a couple of times (including a Plaza Bandstand gig in 2007) — are known for dark and twisted tunes (lyrics all by Rennie) that feature mythological motifs often wrapped in mundane, modern imagery.

The Honey Moon tunes are lighter in spirit but no less poetic than their songs on previous albums. Take the first verse of “A Thousand Diamond Rings”:

“A smashed windshield, the dust of a pickup truck/ Shining with silver secrets in the Albuquerque sun/The light makes jewels of pawn shops and drive-through banks/Wrinkled faces staring out of the laundromat/;And even the broken glass in the street/Shines like a thousand diamond rings.”

But don’t worry, Handsome fans. The sweet weirdness of Mr. and Mrs. Sparks hasn’t vanished. It’s not all sweetness and light on this Honeymoon.

For one thing, this album is full of bugs. There’s a “cloud of honey bees” in “Down in the Winding Corn Maze.” And “June Bugs” is a slow country waltz full of huggy, kissy lyrics in which springtime and reawakening love are symbolized by June bugs and hawk moths returning to the yard.

But the greatest bug song of all is “Darling, My Darling,” which is sung from the perspective of a lusty male insect willing to give all to the gnawing fangs of a female insect lover.

Now that’s true love!
* Shine by Nancy Apple. This Memphis country singer hasn’t done an album with a full band in several years. With this one — recorded at Sun Studio in her hometown and produced by Keith Sykes — she’s back with a vengeance.

The album starts out with a Ronny Elliott song, the slow, pretty “Creole Boy With a Spanish Guitar.” But just when you think this is going to be a strictly mellow affair, Apple slaps you in the back of the head with “Voodoo Woman,” a bluesy romp featuring a wild harmonica (by Robert “Nighthawk” Tooms).

Another wild ride is “Rockin’ Granny,” a song for Apple’s friend Cordell Jackson, a crazy rocker during her lifetime. (True story: Apple was in New Mexico, appearing on my radio show The Santa Fe Opry, the day she got word of Jackson’s death in 2004. She had to cut her trip short, returning to Memphis to sing at Jackson’s funeral.)

A couple of my favorite Apple songs are on this CD. “Cathead Biscuits and Gravy,” which first appeared on a duet album with singer-songwriter Rob McNurlin, gets a full country-band treatment here, with McNurlin sharing the vocals. The album ends with “Moonlight Over Memphis,” a soulful ballad that Apple wrote, inspired by moonlight over the J√©mez Mountains on one of her trips to New Mexico.

* Hear songs from these albums on The Santa Fe Opry: 10 p.m. Friday on KSFR-FM 101.1 and streaming live HERE. And don’t forget Terrell’s Sound World, same time, same station on Sunday.

Christmas Enchilada: Red and green podcast featuring some of my favorite Christmas songs, available for free HERE.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Santa Fe musician/artist/barroom philosopher Terry Allen is one of six New Mexicans to be awarded a $50,000 fellowship from United States Artists, the state Department of Cultural Affairs announced today.
Allen, originally from Lubbock, Texas, is responsible for albums including Lubbock on Everything, Juarez, Human Remains, and The Silent Majority. Needless to say he's a Santa Fe Opry favorite. I did a profile of him (along with The Handsome Family and Joe West) in New Mexico Magazine a few years ago. A version of that can be found HERE. (Scroll down quite a ways.)

The others from this state to be awarded were musician Rahim AlHaj of Albuquerque; author Antonya Nelson of Las Cruces; glass artist Mary Shaffer of Taos; and the team of Delores Garcia and Emma Mitchell of San Fidel, who learned the craft of pottery from their mother Lucy Lewis of Acoma Pueblo.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Former Stray Cats singer Brian Setzer collapsed during a performance at Isleta Pueblo last night. According to this report from KOB TV, he was about two songs into his set with the Brian Setzer Orchesta.

Here's the Associated Press story. which blames "dehydration, high-altitude sickness and vertigo."

Nothing about hairballs.

Reportedly he's OK now and will play a show in Phoenix tonight.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Sunday, December 13, 2009
KSFR, Santa Fe, N.M.
10 p.m. to midnight Sundays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell

101.1 FM
email me during the show!

OPENING THEME: Let it Out (Let it All Hang Out) by The Hombres
Paranoia by Pierced Arrows
Where the Flavor is by Mudhoney
Low Budget Life by J.J. & The Real Jerks
Goin' Down South by Paul "Wine" Jones
The Clown of the Town by Rev. Beat-Man
Melvin by Thee Headcoatees
I Need Your Lovin' by Wolfman Jack & The Wolfpack
Little Drummer Boy by Joan Jett

Wowsville by Bob Taylor
Worried About My Baby by Howlin' Wolf
Wear Your Red Dress by Barrence Whitfield
I Won $400 by The Raniers
Stormy Monday by Question Mark & The Mysterians
Let it Grow by The Black Lips
I'll Be Loving You by The King Khan & BBQ Show
Jihad Blues by The Allmighty Defenders
Mercy Mercy by The Remains
Eggnog by The Rockin' Guys

Inca Roads by Frank Zappa
God Box by The Fall
Ice Nine Hop by Tin Huey
Booze, Tobacco, Dope, Pussy, Cars by The Butthole Surfers
Sue Egypt by Captain Beefheart
There's No Truth in the Night by King Automatic
Exploder by Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
Chestnuts Roasting by Rick King

Transparent Life by The Chesterfield Kings
Amnesia by The Mekons
Heart Full of Soul by The Yardbirds
Ruins of Berlin by The Dex Romweber Duo
Wanderlust King by Gogol Bordello
Wasn't That Good by Wynonie Harris
Fairytale of New York by The Pogues with Kirsty McColl
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

Saturday, December 12, 2009




The elves have finished putting it together and now the Be-bop Santa Claus has delivered the second annual Steve Terrell Podcast Christmas Special right into your electronic stocking. There's a little Christmas cheese and a little Christmas sleaze with Yuletide goodies from The Rockin' Guys, Wildman Fischer, Andre Williams, Pee Wee King, The Fall, Nervous Norvous, Be-Bop Santa Claus, The Turtles, The Drive-by Truckers, The Handsome Family and more.

CLICK HERE to download the podcast. (To save it, right click on the link and select "Save Target As.")

Or better yet, stop messing around and CLICK HERE to subscribe to my podcasts and HERE to directly subscribe on iTunes.

You can play it on the little feedplayer below:

The official Big Enchilada Web Site with my podcast jukebox and all the shows is HERE.

Here's the play list:

(Background Music: We Wish You'd Bury the Missus by The Cryptkeeper)
The Last Month of the Year by The Tarbox Ramblers
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen by The Legendary Shack Shakers
I Want to be King of Orient Ah by Elastica
There Ain't No Santa Claus on the Midnight Stage by Captain Beefheart
Be-Bop Santa Claus by The Be-Bop Santa Claus
Rootin' Tootin' Santa Claus by Pee Wee King
Sleigh Bells, Reindeer and Snow by Rita Faye Wilson
(Background Music: It Came Upon a Midnight Clear by BeauSoleil )

A Christmas Carol by Tom Leher
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing by The Fall
I'm a Christmas Tree by Wild Man Fischer
Rudibaker's Christmas Wish by Andre Williams
Monsters Holiday by Bobby "Boris" Pickett
(Background Music: Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer by Los Straitjackets)

Something Funny in Santa's Lap by The Moaners
Santa and The Sidewalk Surfer by The Turtles
I'm Waiting for Santa Claus by Nervous Norvous
Mrs. Claus' Kimono by Drive-By Truckers
A Johnny Ace Christmas by Squirrel Nut Zippers
Jinglecide by The Rockin' Guys
So Much Wine by The Handsome Family
(Background Jingle Bells by Twitty Bird & Friends)

Friday, December 11, 2009


Friday, December 10, 2009
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
10 p.m. to midnight Fridays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell

101.1 FM
email me during the show!

OPENING THEME: Buckaroo by Buck Owens & The Buckaroos
Crazy Ex Boyfriend by Rev. Horton Heat
Endless Sleep by Tav Falco
Sing Me Back Home by The Chesterfield Kings
Country Hixes by T. Tex Edwards & Out on Parole
It Was the Whiskey Talkin' (Not Me) by Jerry Lee Lewis
Love Letters by The Dex Romweber Duo
Keep My Skillet Good and Greasy by Uncle Dave Macon
There Goes My Everything by Jack Green
Christmas in the Honkytonks by Ethyl & The Regulars

Hopes Up High by Bill Hearne
Under Lock and Key by Gary Gorence
Loudmouth Cowgirls by Kim & The Cabelleros featuring (Chipper Thompson)
In the Jailhouse Now by Webb Pierce
Hey Thurman by The Gourds
Liza Pull Down the Shades by Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys
Mean Mean Mama (from Meana) by The Light Crust Doughboys
Hong King by Chris Darrow
Blue Christmas Lights by Chris & Herb

Wreck on the Highway by The Waco Brothers
Gorgeous George by Ronny Elliot
He's in a Hurry by Johnny Paycheck
Big River by Johnny Cash
Heartaches by The Number by Roseanne Cash with Elvis Costello
Dark Enough at Midnight by Rosie Flores & The Pine Valley Cosmonauts
Blues Keep Calling by Janis Martin
Hound Doggit Blues by Cordell Jackson
Christmas Ball Blues by Leon Redbone

The Great Car Dealer War by The Drive-By Truckers
Only You (Can Break My Heart) by Buck Owens
It's Four in the Morning by Faron Young
Back Home in Sulpher Springs by Norman & Nancy Blake
Midnight Stars and You by Wayne Hancock
Good Night Irene by John McKelvy
Be Real by Freda & The Firedogs
CLOSING THEME: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets

Steve Terrell is proud to report to the monthly Freeform American Roots Radio list


A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
December 11, 2009

Here are some suggestions for presents that will bring joy to your loved ones and help keep the Santa Fe music scene alive. I'm talking about the gift of local music.

A whole pile of CDs by bands and singers from the Santa Fe area were released in recent weeks and months. Fans can find the discs in local stores — at least I think there are a few places here that still sell CDs — or on the artists' Web sites and MySpace pages. Amazon, iTunes, and other online services sell works by several of the following artists. Or better yet, skip the middleman, go to their gigs, and buy the CDs in person.

* A Good Ride by Bill Hearne. Unlike most of Hearne's recent CDs, which focus on his love for hard-core honky-tonk, his newest one showcases his acoustic, folky side. It's not quite as danceable as his last few, but it does feature that great flat-picking that Hearne fans love. He performs songs by The Blasters (a sweet, sad "Border Radio"), Gordon Lightfoot, Lyle Lovett, Joe Ely, Ian Tyson, and Chuck not to mention a tune by Frogville label-mate Joe West ("I Remember Lovin' You") and one by former local picker John Egenes ("The Railroad Is Calling My Name"). Hearne's main musical partner on A Good Ride is the wonderful Don Richmond, who plays just about any stringed instrument you can name. But the best news is that on a couple of tracks he's backed by his main musical partner in life, wife Bonnie Hearne, who in recent years has been too ill to perform very much.

* Straight Ahead by Gary Gorence. And the winner of the 2009 track most likely to be mistaken for Creedence Clearwater Revival is ... "Change in the Weather" by John Fogerty. But coming in second is Gary Gorence's "Under Lock and Key," the first song from his new album. It's a cool, swampy rocker that will remind you of "Green River," "Born on the Bayou," and other Creedence tunes. Gorence is backed by his band, The Jakes, and the whole album is full of good, rootsy, country-and-blues-influenced working man's rockence is a decent storyteller, too, as he proves with "Monica's Mother." The CD release party for Straight Ahead starts at 8:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 11, at Tiny's Restaurant & Lounge.

* Stephanie Hatfield & Hot Mess. If the music reminds you of Hundred Year Flood, there's good reason. HYF's Bill Palmer co-produced and plays guitar (and other instruments) on this hot mess and also wrote the opening song, "Suffer." But the real star of the album is Hatfield's soulful voice. My favorite tune here is the hard-rocking "Fishboy." Hey, they're playing New Year's Eve at the Cowgirl BBQ & Western Grill!

* Crooked by Jaime Michaels. Singer-songwriter Jaime Michaels is backed here on various cuts by some of Santa Fe's finest — Jono Manson (who also produced the album) on guitar, Sharon Gilchrist on mandolin, Mark Clark on drums, Peter Williams on bass, Tom Adler on banjo, and Ben Wright on guitar. And there are some appearances by some pretty impressive "outsiders," like Tejano accordion ace Joel Guzman, guitarist Andrew Hardin, and the Austin duo of Christine Albert (a singer formerly of Santa Fe) and Chris Gage (who plays a sweet, sad accordion on the title song).

* You Can Take a Child Out of the Ghetto But ... by Willy Magee. As you've probably noticed, all the other albums I've mentioned here are in the folk/country/blues/roots-rock vein. Not this. Here sweet Willy — who has played in numerous local bands, including Alex Maryol's — lays down funk, hip-hop, and sly humor. Magee played most of the instruments here himself. But on "Freakaholic," Lydia Clark plays keyboards and Jay "Rusty" Crutcher blows sax. And on "Woo You," Magee reveals his Marcia Brady fantasies.

* One Man's Music by Vince Bell. Twenty-seven years ago this month, singer-songwriter Bell, who moved to Santa Fe more than five years ago, was driving home from a recording session in Austin, Texas, that involved ideman named Stevie Ray Vaughan. Bell was broadsided by a drunk driver in a Ford Fairlane and thrown 50 feet from his car. "My right arm was not recognizable, and my liver had been forced out of my midsection and onto the pavement. There was substantial injury to my spinal cord and brain. I would have scar tissue in my eyeballs as a result of lying in gasoline," Bell wrote. But he lived — despite a premature report in the Austin American-Statesman to the contrary (an error that, as a reporter, made me cringe nearly as much as the description of Bell's injuries).

And he's still making music, as demonstrated by this album, released earlier this year along with Bell's autobiography of the same name (published by the University of North Texas Press). The CD features Bell on vocals and Ned Albright on piano. The music is sparse and haunting, perfect background music for reading the book, which deals not only with the accident but also with his years of recovery, both physical and mental.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


The last couple of days I've been listening to my digital music collection on I've uploaded about 30,000 songs -- some of those are duplicates, which I'm trying to weed out, though that's a pretty tedious task.

I first signed up at Lala about three years ago when it mainly was a CD swapping service. (I wrote a Tuneup column about that, which you can see HERE. A couple of updates: Since writing that I have received several unplayable CDs. Also I eventually located Surfin’ in Harlem by Swamp Dogg and The Electric Prunes’ Stockholm 67.)

Eventually the CD-trading aspect of Lala dried up. The last CD that was supposed to be sent to me never arrived.

But recently I've been noticing that when I'm searching for information about a particular song on Google, many times it results in a playable full version from Lala right at the top of the page. Lala has evolved into a major music streaming service. That means, you can listen to your entire music collection from any computer anywhere.

And then there was the recent news that Apple has purchased Lala -- some speculate as a vehicle to make iTunes more Web friendly.

There some bugs in Lala, however. Apparently when it scans your music collection, some of the songs that end up in your Lala collection are a little different.

For instance, The Cramps' version of "Heartbreak Hotel" somehow turned into a rather blah instrumental version. And "Murder's Crossed My Mind" a dark, folkish tune by my Brooklyn friend Desdemona Finch somehow got translated into a hair-metal screamer.

Oh well, surprises are good sometimes.

My Lala profile is HERE. (Some of you will remember the pseudonym I'm using there)

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

My Radio Shows on YouTube

This was put together by KSFR News Director Bill Dupuy who did some others as well for the special one-day KSFR fund-raiser this Thursday.

Speaking of which, BC of Blue Monday and I will be doing a shift together from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, so do tune in 101. FM or stream us on the Web . And most important, GIVE US YOUR MONEY!

Sunday, December 06, 2009


Sunday, December 6, 2009
KSFR, Santa Fe, N.M.
10 p.m. to midnight Sundays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell

101.1 FM
email me during the show!

OPENING THEME: Let it Out (Let it All Hang Out) by The Hombres
Jackyard Backoff by The Cramps
Rebel Woman by Dean Carter
Ballad of the Fogbound Pinhead by Thee Headcoats
Heart Attack and Vine by Screamin' Jay Hawkins
Jimmy the Exploder by The White Stripes
Busted by The Black Keys
I Loved Her So by Me & Them Guys
Easy Action by The Sons of Hercules
Built For Comfort by Gary Farmer & The Trouble Makers
Deck the Halls with Parts of Charlie by The Cryptkeeper

King of Beers by Too Much Joy
The Shape of Things to Come by The Ramones
Blues That Defy My Soul by Dex Romweber
Psilocybin Explosion by Marshmallow Overcoat
DTs or The Devil by Rev. Peyton's Big Damn Band
One Fine Day by Rev. Beat-man
Death Metal Guys by The Rev. Horton Heat
Old Time Religion by Rev. James Cleveland & The Gospel Chimes
American Wedding by Gogol Bordello

Gabbin' Blues by Big Mabelle with Rosemary McCoy
Sugar Farm by T-Model Ford
Kissing Tree by Barrence Whitfield
Comin' Round the Mountain by Hound Dog Taylor
Return of the Mantis by The Hydes
Vague Information by King Automatic
Reml by Tin Huey
Step Aside by Sleater-Kinney
Jingle Bell Rock by The Fall

Ghost of a Texas Ladies' Man by Concrete Blonde
Find Me a Home by The Detroit Cobras
My Little Problem by The Replacements with Johnette Napolitano
Brand New Man by The Fuzztones
Spider's Web by Stan Ridgway & Pietra Wexstun
The O-Men by The Butthole Surfers
Big Fat Mama by Mississippi Fred McDowell
The Parting Glass by Tommy Makem & The Clancy Brothers
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

Saturday, December 05, 2009


* Johnny Cash Sings The Ballads Of The American Indian: Bitter Tears. I had this on LP when I was a kid and I've been meaning to buy a CD for years. But I was inspired to download the album after reading this article in Salon about Cash, Ira Hayes, Peter LaFarge, Bitter Tears, a clueless music industry (thank God that's all been cleared up by 2009) and Tricky Dick.

It's a sad album. It's one of the angriest albums released on a major label in the '60s -- especially the early '60s. It's all about broken promises, broken lives, damned rivers and damned peoples and Goddamn you, Great White Father, anyway.

And yet, there's a sweet ray in humor -- albeit black humor in one song: Cash's "tribute" to General George Armstrong Whazisname. "I can tell you, Buster, I ain't a fan of Custer/And the general he don't ride well any more."

And hey, isn't the melody of "Drums" a lot like that of "Running Bear"?

* The Whole Fam Damnily by The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band. This trio from Indiana is a damn family -- The Rev plays slide guitar, the Mrs. plays washboard and the brother plays drums.

And hey, they got Jon Langford to do the album cover!

It's a hopped-up homage to raw country blues, a pig sloppin;, snake-stompin' romp. You might hear a little Scott H. Biram in here, maybe some Legendary Shack Shakers, definitely some Southern Culture on the Skids influence.

But the lyrics, at least in several songs, are modern. True, the message of "Wal-mart Killed the Country Store" has been spouted by many a coffee house whiner. But "Your Cousin's on Cops" -- reportedly based on true Peyton family history -- is one of a kind.

And here's some good news, especially for those of us who missed them when they first played Santa Fe several months ago: Rev. Peyton and the family is playing the Santa Fe Brewing Company on Sunday, Jan. 31. I missed him last time he was here so I'm hoping to make it this time.

* Fall Be Kind by Animal Collective. Sometimes I have these weird time-travel fantasies about going back to the late 50s or early '60s and playing some of my favorite music for the folks. In some, my better angels prevail. I want to play stuff like, say, Rev. Peyton to assure people that good American roots music will survive in the 21st Century.

But sometimes my darker angels have the upper hand and I want to fuck with them. I'd play them Animal Collective and tell them that the aliens had invaded the Earth. And that they'd won.

Of course, the befuddled earthlings of the past probably would think I was talking about aliens who worshiped Brian Wilson.

Just a few months after releasing their album Merriweather Post Pavilion comes this 5-song EP. There's nothing as sweet and euphoric as "My Girls" from MPP. But just when you're floating along the cosmic plane on the opening song "Graze" and think you might you have it figured out ... ZAP! Of of the sudden you're in the middle of a weird Teutonic, cartoonic flute solo. For some reason it brings back strange memories of this coin-operated puppet show they used to have in arcades. The aliens have lost, and, at least for a few moments, the puppets have won.

* My Shit Is Perfect by Bob Log III Here's one of the most fun one-man bands out there.

This is just good down-home stomping blues with Log’s trademark distorted vocals (he performs in a motorcycle helmet making him look like some demented Power Ranger) and some scattered electronic embellishments.

I reviewed this album in a recent Terrell's Tune-up. If you missed my words of wisdom, check it HERE

* Invisible Girl by The King Khan & BBQ Show. What distinguishes this dynamic duo from all the other punk/blues bashing two-man outfits out there is its anchor in raw doo-wop. Your basic punk-rock roar is colored by some Ruben & The Jets/Sha Na Na/rama-lama-ding-dong silliness, but the music is based on some seriously pretty melodies and occasional sweet harmonies.

My favorites are the ones where Mark "BBQ" Sultan’s high voice soars, such as “I’ll Be Loving You” and “Tryin’.” Sometimes he sounds like a more ragged Sam Cooke.

I also reviewed this album in that recent Terrell's Tune-up. You can see the whole shebang HERE.


* 6 tracks I didn't already have from Wasn't Tomorrow Wonderful by The Waitresses. Recently discovering Tin Huey, which included Chris Butler, the songwriter and guitarist who conceived of The Waitresses re-sparked my interest in this long defunct Ohio band.

I was fortunate enough to get to see The Waitresses in Pasadena in May 1982. (I was out in California promoting Picnic Time for Potatoheads with my pals Alec and Rich, who owned the Potatohead van. Besides seeing The Waitresses, the most we got accomplished in the L.A. area was getting kicked out of the Capitol Records Building and getting propositioned by hookers at a Malibu sushi joint.)

I'd never heard of The Waitresses until a few days before, but KROQ was playing "No Guilt" continuously -- and "I Know What Boys Like" slightly less frequently. And unlike most songs played continuously on the radio, I didn't start hating it. In fact I still like it more every time I hear it. And I still grin every time Patty Donahue says "Sucker!" near the end of "I Know What Boys Like."

(We dropped a copy of Potatoheads by KROQ, but I don't think they ever played it.)

About the songs off this, The Waitress' 1982 debut, are on the CD The Best of The Waitresses, which I've had for years. Nice to see the full album available.

* Nine tracks from The Kids Are All Square - This Is Hip|Girlsville by Thee Headcoats and Thee Headcoatees. Billy Childish can get more use from basic Kingsmen/Kinks/Bo Diddley riffs than George Washington Carver could for the peanut. Thee Headcoats, his band from the late '80s until the early part of this century perhaps was his best.

The songs here include, not one, not two, not three, but four songs dealing with the American frontier -- an irreverent yang to the righteous ying of Johnny Cash's "Bitter Tears," though Cash's "Custer" would fit in with these songs.

There's Thee Headcoatees' "Davy Crockett," (which I didn't download because I already had it from another compilation) set to the tune of "Farmer John." In "Cowboys Are Square" Wild Billy takes the side of the Indians. "Pocahontas Was Her Name" is far cooler than any song used in the Disney movie. Then, heading up to frozen north, "Nanook of the North" is yet another fantasy about falling in love with a Native girl. ("I killed a pack of wolves with my frost-bitten hands/Just to prove to her I was a mighty mighty man.") It would be a good companion with Hank Thompson's "Squaws Along the Yukon."

But not all the songs are hysterically historical. One of my favorites is "Ballad of the Fogbound Pinhead." It's just a simple put-down song. "He never ever knew right from wrong/Never knew the words to a Headcoats song."

This basically is a two-album combo. I didn't have enough credits this period to get Girlsville, the second album, which is by Thee Headcoatees (Thee Headcoats' ladies auxiliary). I'll pick that up next week when my account recharges.

Friday, December 04, 2009


Friday, December 4, 2009
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
10 p.m. to midnight Fridays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell

101.1 FM
email me during the show!

OPENING THEME: Buckaroo by Buck Owens & The Buckaroos
Please Don't Take the Baby to the Liquor Store by The Rev. Horton Heat
Doghouse Blues by Wayne Hancock
Change in the Weather by John Fogerty
Cotton Fields by Creedence Clearwater Revival
Rockin' Granny by Nancy Apple
Little Bells by Rosie Flores & The Pine Valley Cosmonauts
Hot Dog That Made Him Mad by Carolyn Marks & The Roommates
Silver Threads and Golden Needles by Wanda Jackson

Big Mamou by Waylon Jennings
You Can't Judge a Book by Its Cover by Sleepy LaBeef
Good Lovin' by Quarter Mile Combo
It's the Law by Bob Log III
Poor Little Critter on the Road by Trailer Bride
Mud by The Rev. Peyton's Big Damn Band
Pontiac Joe by The Electric Rag Band
Darlin' by Jimmy Dale
Billy the Kid by Jacques & The Shakey Boys
Sal's Got a Meatskin by Cliff Carlisle

Border Radio by Bill Hearne
Jubilee Train by The Blasters
Monica's Mother by Gary Gorence
One Hour Mama by Maria Muldaur
Sadie Green (The Vamp of New Orleans) by Roy Newman & His Boys
Suits Are Picking Up the Bill by Squirrel Nut Zippers
Horse Doctor Come Quick by Corb Lund
Rabbits Don't Ever Get Married by Hank Penny

Droppin' Out by Ron Haydock & The Boppers
Lovesick Blues by Artie Hill & The Long Gone Daddies
Barn Dance Rag by Bill Boyd & His Cowboy Ramblers
Wrong Side of the Tracks by Guy Clark
Oil in My Lamp by The Byrds
Why Me Lord by Johnny Cash
The Birth of Jesus by Clarence Fountain & Sam Butler
CLOSING THEME: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets

Steve Terrell is proud to report to the monthly Freeform American Roots Radio list

Thursday, December 03, 2009


A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
December 4, 2009

It’s strange that one of the most exciting, innovative, and all-around crazy albums released this year was recorded in the late ’70s.

I’m talking about the “new” CD Before Obscurity: The Bushflow Tapes by the long-defunct Akron, Ohio, band Tin Huey.

Tin Huey rose from the same weird Midwestern creative ether as its homeboys Devo and Pere Ubu from nearby Cleveland.

Some people will be drawn to this record — consisting of previously unreleased live recordings and Huey rarities — because it features early work by sax maniac Ralph Carney, who has blown on some of Tom Waits’ finest albums along with guest shots with The B-52s, Ubu, Elvis Costello, The Black Keys, and many others. (Recently he’s been touring with They Might Be Giants.) Though best known for sax, Carney also plays clarinet, flute, guitar, harmonica, keyboards, Jew’s harp, and who knows what else.

Tip your Waitress: But it wasn’t Carney who first attracted me to Tin Huey. It was Huey singer/guitarist/Chris Butler and Huey’s connection with another Ohio band — The Waitresses. Butler was basically the brains behind The Waitresses, a band that rose to a short but well-deserved glory in the great New Wave scare of the early ’80s.

Fronted by singer Patty Donahue, whose hilariously whiny, disengaged-punk-chick, proto-Valley Girl voice epitomized the music of that era, The Waitresses actually had a hit with a song called “I Know What Boys Like,” which you can find on just about any Best of New Wave compilation in bargain bins across this great land. Butler wrote or co-wrote virtually every song Donahue ever sang with the group.

Some have dismissed The Waitresses as a one-hit-wonder or an ’80s novelty band. But if you ever saw them live (I did, at Perkins’ Palace in Pasadena in May 1982) or listened to their albums, you know that their music was strange and deceptively complex. There was a definite Zappa/Beefheart influence, as was the case with Tin Huey. The Waitresses had a sax player named Mars Williams who was a crazy performer — though, recently re-rereading the liner notes of The Best of The Waitresses CD, I realized that Carney, not Williams, played sax on “I Know What Boys Like” and sax and harmonica on my personal favorite Waitresses tune, “No Guilt.”

The first song on Before Obscurity is an early version of “Heat Night,” which would appear on The Waitresses’ first album, Wasn’t Tomorrow Wonderful. But even better for Waitresses’ fans is “The Comb.” It’s a live performance featuring Donahue on lead vocals. Butler considers this to be the birth of The Waitresses — it was the first time he and Donahue performed together in public. For devotees of Donahue, who died of lung cancer in 1996, this alone will make Before Obscurity mandatory listening. It’s a sweet reminder of her cool persona.

But wait, there’s more: Even without the Waitresses connection, there’s lots to love about Before Obscurity. I already mentioned the debt to Zappa and Beefheart and common cultural roots with Devo and Pere Ubu.

There’s some obvious proto-punk influence, most apparent in the group’s cover of The Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog” (which must have been recorded on or around April 21, as they begin the track singing “Happy Birthday” to Iggy). You can also hear some Velvet Underground, and there’s probably a Television influence, especially on the song “Return Engagement.” (I thought I heard a little Mission of Burma here, but that’s not likely, because that band from Boston didn’t release its first recording until 1981. Must have been something in the air.)

Even though Huey was obscure, I wouldn’t be surprised if some musical acts that came later were hip to the group. Listen to Mr. Bungle, for instance, and you might hear echoes of Tin Huey. A few nights ago, when the Huey tune “Remi” came up on random shuffle mode on my iTunes, at first I thought it was Primus — but with an arrangement by Tom Waits. (This track is actually credited to “Ralph Carney & Friends,” with an explanation that the friends include “one or more Hueys.”)

“Pink Berets” is a dated political spoof about letting women into the military (there’s a reference to the ERA. Don’t know what that was, kids? Look it up!). The punch line is, “Now I’m a boy in the USO.” (I prefer the spoof from the early '90s by Santa Fe's Jim Terr: "The Ballad of the Queen Berets.")

Here’s a disclaimer for the last four tracks on the album: they are best listened to if you’re a longtime fan, musicologist, or flirting with unconsciousness. (I wonder how many people fall into all three categories.) These are lo-fi live recordings of the band, apparently without Butler or Carney. Though not truly representative of Tin Huey’s sound, it’s good rocking fun.

Free Huey: Do check out the band's Web site. There you’ll find a free MP3 of a cover of Talking Heads’ “Don’t Worry About the Government.”

Wednesday, December 02, 2009


Speaking of reasons to despise the music industry, I heard a report on NPR tonight that got me pig-bitin' mad.

Weasels in the Land Down Under!

It seems some Australian music publishing company is suing Colin Hay and Ron Strykert of the early '80s band Men at Work claiming copyright violation. Oh no, did The Men steal "Down Under" from somewhere?

Well, not the whole song. But if you listen close to a little flute part between verses you'll hear a little snatch of "Kookaburra" -- you know, the kiddie song about the bird who sits in the old gum tree.

Apparently that's a copyrighted song, written by an Australian school teacher in 1934. In the NPR piece you'll hear an Aussie lawyer explain, "Kookaburra' is a four-bar song. Over half that song is used in 'Down Under,' which is the test of law."

As NPR reporter Neda Ulaby points out, half of four bars is two bars!

Next we'll hear that Larrikin Music Publishing is coming after this little music pirate.

And here's The Men from the early days of MTV:


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