Tuesday, May 23, 2006


On the surface of it, there are a lot of bad things about “Prodigal Son” by the Amboy Dukes. For starters, you’ve got Ted Nugent -- pre-Tarzan suits, pre-“Wang-Dang Sweet Poontang,” pre-bow-hunter, pre-Damn Yankees (did anyone listen to the recent installment of the Bob Dylan satellite radio show in which he played baseball-themed songs, and, before introducing a song from the Broadway show Damn Yankees, Dylan said “And I don’t mean that band that Ted Nugent started with those guys from Styx”?!!). Then there’s the hard-to-ignore Carlos Santana guitar tone – it’s not looking good. Add to that the extended uber-Onanist drum and organ solos, and, well, it’s damning, frankly. I’ll admit, this song doesn’t need to be 8 minutes and 40 seconds, but few do. What redeems it for me is the totally retardo rubato at the beginning. That and the fact that I have very fond memories of the first time I heard it. We were in van, somewhere near Hampton, Virginia; yes, there was weed, and my friend Chris had made a mixed tape that started with this track. It was also the first time I heard Blind Willie Johnson’s “God Don’t Ever Change,” which came on right after it, and I’ll forever thing of the two songs together. It’s one of the beauties of the now-gone mixed-tape era that completely unrelated tunes could get yoked one to the other in your mind – indelible album sequencing.

The Amboy Dukes evidently got their name from a famous book about gangs in Brooklyn. I learned this when I read Pete Hamill’s lame memoir The Drinking Life. Hamill, a bit of a self-satisfied windbag like Nugent, was also inspired by the book.

Maybe I should go to postasecret.com for this but, I actually sort of like that Damn Yankees tune. You’ve got to watch the video – the dumb sunglasses, vests with nothing underneath, the bad bangs, the sleeveless T-shirts, the Nuge, the totally unrelated Bonnie and Clyde storyline. Matthew Barney couldn’t do this shit.

And, after you do that, I’ve got something else for you – it’s so volatile I can’t even say what it is, just click.

I know it’s wrong, but I’m okay with that.

Ok. To atone for that, here's some righteous Blue Cheer off of their second record, OutsideInside. This is big, grave medicine. The sound of the kick drum alone is enough to hurt your kidneys. I honestly can't fathom how this music can be this heavy. It's like some sort Copernican Revolution, you have to reconfigure your understanding of everything to make sense of it.

Blue Cheer -- "Sun Cycles"

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