Friday, March 02, 2007

Notes From Underground-The Denims, Anne Briggs, The Flamin Groovies, Roky Erickson & The Heartbreakers

This is a new weekly column that I will attempt to do, chronicling songs that are not overexposed, or exposed at all for that matter. It will be similar to the Top 100, but with only five songs instead of ten.

Here are the first five:

1. “I'm Your Man,” The Denims, Essential Pebbles Volume 2 (Mid to Late Sixties)-Basically a Queens, New York version of The Zombies. They are collected with a score of other bands that are, for the most part completely unknown, on The Essential Pebbles Collection Volume Two, which collects bands even more obscure than Volume One. The good news is that this double disc is cheap and has 55 tracks; some of which are recorded straight from the old forty-fives, so there are some scratches and pops. I don’t mind it, but most people would.

2. “Willie O'Winsbury”-Anne Briggs, Anne Briggs, 1971-Along with Vashti Bunyan and Sandy Denny, Anne Briggs was one of the most angelic of Britain’s female folk singers. With a beatific and nigh perfect voice and a style that virtually launched the female traditional folk movement, the anxious Briggs hated the sound of her recorded voice and retired at the age of 27.

3. “Have You Seen My Baby?”-The Flamin' Groovies, Teenage Head (1971)-Before Cyril Jordan would take the reins and reinvent The Flamin’ Groovies as the greatest power pop band ever; Roy Loney drove this hard rocking proto-punk band. If you ever wanted to hear a song written by Randy Newman sound like it was recorded by The Stooges, here’s your chance.

4. “I Have Always Been Here Before,” Roky Erickson, Gremlins Have Pictures (1986)-The former leader of Texas’ influential psychedelic band The 13th Floor Elevators famously underwent shock treatment and a regiment of the antipsychotic drug thorazine after pleading insanity to possession of marijuana; and it shows in his solo material. Gremlins Have Pictures is a collection of musical scraps that the king of underworld rock and folk recorded between 1975 and 1982. “I Have Always Been Here Before” is a direct antecedent of Robert Pollard’s fried-brain folk style and a bittersweet lament on a man’s wasted life.

5. “One Track Mind”-Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers, L.A.M.F Revisited (1984, Recorded in 1977)-Written by Walter Lure and Jerry Nolan, “One Track Mind” perfectly illustrates the evolution of the slapdash, loose and languid proto-punk of Thunders’ first band, The New York Dolls, to his second, the quicker-paced, but just as unruly (pure-punk) Heartbreakers.



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