Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Have you ever seen a band, or better yet, been in a band where no one could really play their instruments? Or maybe you all liked to drink too much? Or both? Was the love of music, and having a damn good time doing it, far more important than musical prowess? The audience just never understood, did they?
If you can answer yes to any of these questions then you are in for one hell of a treat.
Regular "oldies rock" performers at the Orbit Room (the bar in a bowling alley) throughout the 1970's in Brentwood, Michigan, King U. & his U-Tones must have put on some pretty interesting, criminally under-attended shows...probably more like spectacles. One of my favorite stories is that when the King fired the lead guitarist for bringing a wah-wah pedal to the gig. Having seen the pin spotter at the bowling alley messing with the equipment before the show, they asked him to join the band, even though he only knew how to kind of play an E chord. Nevertheless, Logjam Lurch Patterson spent the next 6 years as a U-Tone.
Basically they just butchered the hell out of oldies, but thought they were great. If you can look past the fact that they can't play on rhythm, sing on key, play well (check out the saxophone...yeesh), and inability to remember lyrics you will hear the true spirit of rock n' roll AKA the sound of a group of friends having a great time together playing the music they love with all they've got. No matter how little they've actually got.
Personally, I cannot get tired of these records. Unlike comedy albums, these never lose their humor (to me). It's very difficult to put the greatness of the King's delivery into words, you just need to hear it.
I'm too sober to keep going on here, but if you like drinking, laughing, rock n' roll and you aren't one of those fucking assholes who take everything too seriously, today is your lucky day. And there's one more record too.
Ladies and gentlemen: the real king of rock n' roll!
Twistin' and Bowlin'
This all too limited E.P. was released in 2009 as an appetizer for Ben latest album, "The Incredible Hulk" (available from Junior Aspirin Records).
One thing I love about all of Ben's records is that each one confuses me for the first few listens. They're never what you expect. "Aiming Low" is no exception. The music is much murkier than normal plus there are far more layers of vocals (on the two tracks that have them) than we're used to. It's almost psychedelic, as least as far as the Rebel goes. However, instead of sunshine, elves, and kaleidoscopic freak-outs you get stoner self loathing, confusion, and Nazis. Negative misanthropic psychedelia? YES!
"Aiming Low, Getting High" (winner of the best song title in a long ass time award) and "Riding in the Sun" are top notch Rebel. "The Pot" and "Back Out Yellow Boy" are electronic experiments that come across as villainous themes from deranged 80's video games. I know a lot of Country Teasers fans aren't into tracks like this, and they're normally not my cup of tea either. However, the more i listen to them the more they grow on me. So be patient and open minded...you know the rebel is just gonna do whatever the hell he wants to do.
1) Aiming Low, Getting High
2) The Pot
3) Back Out Yellow Boy
4) Riding In The Sun
Out of all the Rebel's 7"s I've come across, this one just may be my favorite. I have nothing against Ben's more experimental electronic pieces, but he can write a solid "song" better than almost anyone alive. The evidence is here.
"The Idiot" (as heard in a more drunken version on the Country Teasers Live Album) is a retelling of the film "Stroszek," by Werner Herzog. The lazy shuffling music fits the feel of the film to a T and the lyrics work on their own to anyone who hasn't seen "Strozsek" (if you haven't, well, you should...it's a great movie) and is, in my opinion, far more effective than Ben's retelling of "American Beauty" on "Tarskoffsky's the Snackrifice." Not that it's bad in any way... His vocal sound effects to replicate the film's strange ending are a nice touch.
Other people's new year's resolutions, lamentations on being too lazy to record music, let alone leave the house, and an old Canadian folk song for rebels exiled to the States round out the rest of the E.P.
The closer, "Un Canadien Errant" first came to my attention in a live video on youtube with Ben and Sophie backed up by the French group, the Sentimentals (see it below). I was immediately pissed that i had no idea how to find a copy of this song. Over a year later i was hanging out on a friend's porch, helping him get rid of his 20 gallons of home-brew before he moved away, and this song came up. Needless to say I immediately insisted a copy and, presumably, another pint. I listened to it almost non-stop for the remainder of the summer. Definitely one of his "nicest" recordings.
But every song here is truly great, as you will soon find out...
1) The Idiot
2) Julie's Resolution
3) The Spastic
4) Un Canadien Errant