Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Impasto Soul/White Dub Nexus

The sonic drift is like some sort of Kontiki cross current, blowing pathetic pilgrims in their makeshift barks, half-ass dug-outs, and nut-job rafts of strung-together bottles and styrofoam, hurling wind-battered searchers into the blustery void, to land, half-mad, on shores peopled with distorted man-gods and leering stone giants. Crazy vegetation. When you’re a pioneer, you’ve got to be ready to charge into frightening territory. To face the enemy. And, upon returning, the trail-blazer must be prepared to meet disbelieve and outright hostility when reporting back from new frontiers.

Midway through the week’s journey I found myself at a dark pass. Seeking refuge from the cubicle hum, I dipped into the stacks of one of the record stores near the office. After some initial searching, I had to muster up the backbone to ask the old jazz-bo behind the counter where I might find Cher and Bobby Goldsboro records, having already poked around in the respective general alphabetical sections. He led me over to the oldies section. It was there that I saw the color, making my fool’s-gold discovery of a Tommy James and the Shondells record from 1970 called Travelin,’ basically their last record together. Painting of a rowdy stagecoach ride on the cover. (Funny that Lefty should mention TJ in his previous post.)

A few of these tracks are classic examples of a bogus generic classification that seems to become more real the more absurd the concept becomes. I’m speaking of proto white dub. This is Trenchtown via Ohio. Curtis Mayfield and Superfly via the Beastie Boys and the Egg Man. Howlin Wolf via Beefheart. Sprinkled with a lifted bit of grandeur from “Come Together.” Impasto soul with worrying Native American incantations. Vocals-through-the-Leslie-cabinet abuse. Boneheaded genius. Like Joe Walsh.

“Candy Maker” - Tommy James and the Shondells

“Moses and Me” - Tommy James and the Shondells

1 comment:

Lefty said...

Sounds like the bass player got baked and sneaked back into the studio and remixed the entire album so it reversed the volume level of every instrument. Bass up front, vocals in the back. Add reverb. It does sound better now.