Too beat tonight for much except a little love for three records that are haunting my thoughts right now due to heavy rotation on my I-Pod. Always gotta give it up for the good folk, even when I ain’t got much to give.
FORMERLY FAT HARRY – S/T (Capitol Records, 1972) – Retrospective collections by this ex-pat American led UK outfit are great and much easier to find (Goodbye For Good on Hux Records from 2007, or Mariachi Riff Live and Free Music on Shagrat Records from 2009), but their only contemporaneous release from back in the day still gets my vote as their very best. It’s their finest collection of sad-but-proud BYRDSian songs, the singing is DEAD sweet throughout, and the BAND-esque precision playing unparalleled. For all those who gotta endure insane amounts of stress/hassle during the 9 to 5 workaday. . . spinning this one upon returning home – as the sun sets and the anger abates and you sip a highball and start smiling at your cat doing donuts in the hallway – will calm you right the fuck down. Anyone who dismisses this quieter, rural end of early 70′s Brit rock (BRINSLEY SCHWARZ, QUIVER, EGGS OVER EASY…) you’re missing out bigtime.
RIPPER – “And The Dead Shall Rise” (Iron Works, 1986) – Never figured the late 70′s “horror music” of DEATH SS would have inspired so many impressive, crypt-dwelling rockers. But along with PAUL CHAIN and THE JESTERS OF DESTINY, Houston’s RIPPER were some of the very best. Their metal bludgeon was 80′s simple but mighty loud and effective, especially given the presence of so many weird/idiosyncratic elements. Dig those John Carpenter-esque soundtrack interludes! Or the highly-strung Diana Cancer-like banshee wail of Sadie Paine! And what of that drummer’s odd roto-tom fixation? This is some crazed shit, from beginning to end. But it’s Rob Graves (no relation to 45 GRAVE bassist) who steals the show with his camp but totally convincing performance as 17th-century vampire growler. God, if only every forgotten metal band was this inspired and pounding. Ray says their new comeback record – originally penned in ’87 as a sequel to this one – is just as good. I’m gonna believe him.
ROBI DRACO ROSA – Vagabundo (Sony Latin, 1996) – Ex-MECHANIC Dennis Catron turned me on to this guy here, with the caveat “will be missed by millions of U.S. teens who can’t get past the fact the singer used to be in MENUDO.” Yep Robi co-wrote “Livin’ La Vida Loca” with Ricky Martin, but he also once led this mighty curious foray into brooding, mid-90′s session grunge. And this is one CD that actually hits the mark way more often than it irritates with any kinda corporate slickness. Parts of this sound like MANU CHAU covering the ALICE IN CHAINS songbook; others like NICK CAVE gone Tropicália. Me I like to think I’m listening to LENNY KRAVITZ after he’s suffered serious head trauma and started to believe he was P.J. HARVEY reborn as a Puerto Rican pop star. Don’t believe me? Take a look at this.
Gotta credit Phil Manzanera who produced the heck out of this CD, and thank the cats from EDNASWAP(!) who all turn in great performances herein – but bow before Robi himself for the inspired material and soulful performances. Or just count your lucky stars that glistening little nuggets like this can still be dredged from the major label cesspools. Am I the last gringo to get wise to this classic of 90′s Rock En Español? Nope – that’d be you, hombre.