My favorite new and old music I listened to in 2022, plus some tributes to some of my favorites that left us this past year.
I should have died. Hydroplaning is real, folks. I drive past the place of my accident every week. Sometimes I don’t even think about it until after I’ve passed the spot. It’s still just so hard to believe how my van went flying off the road so quickly, but not as hard as it is to believe how I walked away without a scratch. I just have mental bruises. I have PTSD anytime it rains. That was in 2021. There’s probably been many times I “should have” or “could have” died. In 2022, it happened again. I had been sitting on my back porch an hour before the roof of my apartment building collapsed and a ton of bricks fell right where I was sitting. I had just thought about returning there five minutes before the collapse. Whatever fate I was spared, my destiny pointed towards…Garland? Yep, Garland, Texas. The same place in the opening scene of “Zombieland”: “I’m in Garland, Texas. And it may look like zombies destroyed it, but that’s actually just Garland.” I’ve felt like a zombie sometimes since I suffered a heat stroke while moving my belongings out of the old place, and the fear of losing all my stuff including my record collection nearly made my heart collapse, but it all worked out. Planet Garland ain’t so bad, my new apartment is great, and the whole ordeal led me to reconnect with a lost love. She’s been by my side ever since.
Death is always on my mind, and it’s no different this year. There was a lot of tragic, terrible, pointless and avoidable deaths this year, as it seems to be every year, so it’s hardly a thing to joke about, whether it’s natural, brought on by old age, disease, violence or suicide. Yet I laugh at it because it’s inevitable. Death begins the moment we’re born. It’s a constant game to beat it, but it always wins. So death has been a theme of mine this year, but so has rebirth, second chances, love and all kinds of other destiny nonsense. I also got my girl to watch LOST with me. It was officially my 13th time to watch the entire series. She liked it but thought the ending sucked. She’s one of “them”…
So here we go again, another year, another list of my favorite bands/artists, albums, and songs, and of course, playlists! Looking back over the past few of these I’ve done, they’re always long. My 2020 playlist was around 70 songs making it the shortest, and last year was just over 150. This year I went well over that Why so long? Why not? Nothing wrong with a six, seven or eight hour playlist that nobody but me listens to. I spend 8-10 hours on the road some days and a good playlist helps me keep going as much as coffee does. The formula is the same. I take my favorite 15-20 or so favorite new releases, most of which I own the physical product (others I tried to buy the downloads when I could) and pick a few songs from each. Then I include some other stuff, older music that I listened to a lot, some of which was reissued in the past year, and some stuff from sweet “in the wild” vinyl scores, and stuff that the wonderful world of technology (YouTube, Spotify, Shazam, etc.) helped me discover. Here’s another good question: why don’t I do a radio program or podcast? I’ve got followers on Mixcloud, yet no content. Maybe someday I’ll figure out how to use it. Maybe someday I’ll find the time. I found time to do marathon Facebook posts like celebrating the 50th anniversary of Exile On Main St. back in the spring. I always have The Rolling Stones on my mind being that they are my forever favorite band. I recently did a marathon of the Norton Rolling Stones Cover Series of split 45 singles, as well as making a huge playlist in tribute to the music of the year I was born, 1966. Then there was me trying to watch 100 films I’ve never seen in the span of 12 months. All this while driving over 60k miles a year. Where do I find the time for sleep?
Again with a death theme, I decided this year to include a “In Memoriam” for the many great musicians that have left us this year. Remember back in 2016 when Bowie and Prince died and everyone thought 2016 actually killed them. It was a weird joke that 2016 was this extraordinarily cruel year for celebrities when it was completely normal. Famous people die every year, and now that we’re 50-60-70 years removed from the golden era of the music of the late 20th century, all the legends we grew up with are checking out. And there’s more to come.
So without further ado, let’s get to my absolute favorite bands/records/songs of the year. No rankings here. I’m mostly going by the mix I created on the playlist, but it’s obvious what my favorites are.
The Battlebeats – Killed By Boredom 7” EP (Ottis Media)/ You Don’t Know Me 7” EP (Big Neck Records)/ Get Lost 7” EP (Post Party Depression)
2022 was the year of The Battlebeats! Their 2nd album was… Oh wait, they didn’t release a 2nd album…. Back in the day I listened to many bands that released a lot of singles, EPs, and compilation cuts, and I would make tapes compiling them in the sequence of when they were released, thus making my own little fantasy compilations. In ‘22, The Battlebeats released three 7” EPs, four songs on each. I could not wait for the third to be released so I could download it and make a playlist, and I did. All 12 songs, in sequence. 22 minutes. The best 22 minutes of 2022! Punk Rock! Now all I need to do is get it pressed onto a 12”…. I’ve been a day-one Battlebeats fanatic, stumbling onto Andresa Nugraha’s first demo the same day he first posted it on Facebook. I was pretty blown away by this kid (in his late 20s at the time) from Indonesia who was obsessed with the same music I was into when I was his age: ‘90s Garage Punk. He was a one-man band, playing guitar and drums on a raw set of songs recorded in his bedroom. Five originals and a cover of my favorite Teengenerate song. If you don’t know his story, it’s pretty much all due to his discovery of Teengenerate, becoming friends with Fifi, who would give him the name “Battlebeat”, which he adjusted to “The Battlebeats”. His songs had a strong influence of the trashy blues punk of the Oblivians and Reatards. It was infectious stuff. I immediately contacted him and suggested he post in the Budget Rock Facebook group, and the rest is history.
“At one point, someone sent him a message on Facebook telling him to join a budget rock group page, saying, “They’re going to love your songs”. Andresa joined the group and sold the last copy of the EP.” – from The Jarkarta Post https://www.thejakartapost.com/amp/culture/2022/06/07/the-battlebeats-from-a-bandung-bedroom-to-europe-and-the-united-states.html
Since then there have been four 7” EPs, all released on US independent labels, and the stellar 2020 full-length Search And Destroy courtesy of Alien Snatch Records from Germany (which made my 2020 and 2021 lists). He would recruit some band members and start playing shows, solidifying the lineup as a two-guitar/drum trio in the past year, while continuing to write and record all the instruments himself on the three spectacular releases of 2022.
The three 7” EPs released this year, Killed By Boredom, You Don’t Know Me, and Get Lost, are miles above the early Battlebeats releases in both production and songwriting. It’s been remarkable hearing the development of someone who was literally a kid during the ‘90s Garage Punk era and has now pumped new life into it. There’s certainly more of the Teengenerate/Oblivians/Gories/Reatards/Bad Times influence, but Andresa has done his homework digging into lots of KBD and other early punk sounds. “Rest In Piss” (You Don’t Know Me) has an unmistakable Radio Birdman feel to it. Recently I was watching a video of “Descent Into The Maelstrom”, and YouTube’s algorithm served up “Rest In Piss” afterwards. Even the machine gets it. Yet I don’t hear anything that would suggest that Andresa is calculating, but naturally absorbing his influences. On “I’m Not Right In The Head” (Killed By Boredom), he bashes out a tried and true ‘60s punk riff, and when he flies into the solo, it reminds me of Nervous Eaters’ “On The Avenue”, yet totally telepathic. The material continues bouncing around from high energy punk, to bluesy stomps. Then there’s my absolute favorite, “Another Desperate Night” (KBB) where we get some pure Maximum R&B, like Jack Oblivian doing the James Brown. I don’t how he does it, but Andresa has got “it”, and I love every second of it. Despite me putting all 12 songs together (and I repeated them in full at the end of the YouTube playlist), the lottery winner here was Ottis Media. The Big Neck and PPD EPs are amazing, but those four songs on Killed By Boredom make up the best fucking record that came out in 2022.
Labretta Suede & The Motel 6 – Teenagers 7” (Turkey Baster)
I’ve waited so long to say the words “Labretta Suede & The Motel 6” and “new release” in the same sentence. It’s almost as fun as calling them a local band, or as the Dallas Observer’s Best of Dallas issue called them, “Best Band From New Zealand”… Alas, their time in Texas will inevitably come to an end next year when they relocate to the east coast to be closer to NYC. The last two years have been a dream come true for me. My favorite band moved to my town and I became good friends with them, helping and supporting them in every way I could. So many fun nights watching the band tear it up in Dallas and Austin. They stole the show at their SXSW appearance, while going toe-to-toe with Bob Log III, The Beaumonts, The Hickoids, Pat Todd & The Rankoutsiders, Big Foot Chester, and Jack Oblivian & The Sheiks over the past year. Then there were the times they blew The Queers, Teenage Bottlerocket, The Meteors, and even the legend Tav Falco off the stage. And the Labretta & Moondog 2-Piece Pack finished off the year with the Reverend Horton Heat (although technically their NZ tour kicked off Dec. 30 and NYE). My only regret was that I missed the shows they did in New Orleans and Houston. I’ve spent many moments observing the reactions of their audience. Many a jaw hit the floor watching Labretta do her thing. There was also a show by their Elvis tribute incarnation, Pricilla & The Presleys. They even worked up my request to play my favorite Elvis tune, “A Mess of The Blues”. So much fun. One of the best moments of the year for me was DJ-ing Labretta’s birthday party, but I’ll discuss that more later.
NOLA was actually the weekend my roof collapsed and what a terrible thing it would have been to return home to that. It was back in early January that Labretta and Moondog came over to my place and used my stereo for a pre-mastering listening session. I finally got my vinyl copy of Teenagers in July and it was the last record I spun before the collapse. Wild, loud Rock ‘N’ Roll and structural damage? Mercer Arts Center anyone? Hello, is this working…? Two bullet points regarding this single:
1. It was a family affair, a reunion of the classic New York lineup of The Motel 6 and the rhythm section of Capt. Jerry and Max Speed $1000, recorded by Matt Verta-Ray at his N.Y. Hed studio and mastered by Voidoid Ivan Julian.
2. It was released by Dallas-based Turkey Baster Records, a label of excellence and Texas Punk pedigree. In the late ‘90s TBR released killer singles by The Motards, The Chumps, The Reclusives, The Hatchbacks, The Put-Downs, The Reds, and The Boozers.
“Teenagers Gettin’ High” was written during the onset of Covid, an observation on what the kids do when they can’t do much else. “Teenage Head” had been in the LSM6 live repertoire for years. So many bands do covers where they try to put “their spin” on it when it’s better to just play it straight, but sometimes a song has been covered so many times that it’s cool to hear someone make it their own. This Frankenstein take of the Flamin’ Groovies’ classic makes me wanna yell “It’s alive! It’s alive! IT’S…ALIVE!!!” Of course I’ve seen them play it live countless times and I’m a little biased.
J.D. McPherson – The Warm Covers, Vol. 2 EP (New West)
I first heard J.D. McPherson with his amazing performance of Toussaint McCall’s “Nothing Takes The Place of You” on Shovel And Ropes’ Busted Jukebox Vol. 1, a collection of cover collaborations with some of their favorite contemporaries. I recall a live video of “North Side Gal” at a bike shop in Austin during SXSW that I thought was cool. I had also heard Labretta DJ “Head Over Heels” a number of times as well as both that and other songs appearing in my list of Shazams over the past year. Then in some random Spotify shuffle, his cover of Big Al Downing’s “Just Around the Corner” came on and I was just floored, and discovered his only 2022 release was this covers EP. It’s a really cool mix of R&B classics, and surprising takes on The Pixies and Iggy Pop. What he does with “Lust For Life” is amazing, taking it from the bombastic dance beat to a low key rockabilly blues interpretation. Another rare reimagining that works. The only negative (besides this EP not being available in any physical form) is when he slides into the “Sixteen” riff, only to use it as a coda. I would have loved to have heard him do that whole number as well. The smash here is Art Neville’s “Let’s Rock” which gets me dancing and grooving every time I hear it. It’s my number one “happy” song of the year and and it went over well at my NYE DJ gig. How it’s taken me so long to get totally hip to this guy is a mystery. I mistook him for just another Americana artist, but he is a pure rocker who taps into the vibe of ‘50s rock and R&B without being a revivalist. I feel a similar joy from McPherson’s music that I felt from Nick Curran. I even dig his Christmas album, and I just had to put “North Side Gal” on the playlist, because I am crazy about a north side gal.
The Courettes – Chaputa’s Double Feature Vol. 4 2×7 split w/ The Jackets (Chaputa)/ “Misfits & Freaks” b/w “Killer Eyes” 45 (Damaged Goods)/ Back To Mono (B-Sides & Outtakes) 10” mini-album (Damaged Goods)
Our returning champions, “The Hardest Working Band In Showbiz”. I started calling them that back in the spring and they’re actually using it as as hype now. The Courettes continued their world domination in 2022 with 142 shows in 13 countries. They were scheduled to play a festival in Canada but had to back out, then had a tremendously successful tour of Japan, and it looks like they may finally hit North America next year as they did sign with a U.S. booking agency… My number one favorite album of 2021, Back In Mono still got plenty of spins this year, but there was plenty of new surprises from the dynamic Danish/Brazilian duo.
One of my favorite BIM tracks, “Misfits & Freaks” was released as a single with an extended version and non-album B-Side. They returned to their early garage punk sound on the split 2×7 with The Jackets. However, my quest to own every Courettes release hit a wall as I’ve yet to pick up the three singles where they sing some of their hits in different languages: “Hop The Twig” and “Won’t Let You Go” in Italian, “Daydream” in Japanese, and “Want You! Like A Cigarette” in French. Since I can barely speak my native tongue, I had to control my collecting addictions.
I did however get the best of all, the Back In Mono (B-Sides & Outtakes) 10”. Side two features three B-sides and “So What”, the A-side of the Chaputa split, while side one delivered some of their best work yet. Now I wouldn’t change one second of BIM’s brilliance, but I just can’t believe these songs were outtakes. They obviously left these songs off for the purpose of a later release (can’t fool me Courettes!). It’s really hard to believe that there were songs of this quality held off of BIM when half of that record included songs that were previously released on singles, which makes this more of a wholly new record than a singles or rarities comp. “Daydream” and “Last Dance With You” are pretty, lush ballads in the “Wall of Sound” mode, and maybe there were too many songs like these already on BIM, but it’s the other two tracks that really stand out, and in some ways are better than anything on Back In Mono.
“Talking About My Baby” is a dance party with a ‘60s pop vibe and nice twist as Martin turns in a lead vocal on the second verse. They made one of their classic video singles for it and it’s simply a fun tune. But the real shocker is that “Tough Like That” didn’t get pushed as a single. What a monster rock epic. Flavia’s vocal performance is unlike anything I’ve heard her do yet. It’s…for a lack of a better term…balls-out. It’s the hardest this band has ever rocked, and maybe that’s why they held it back, but any other band would kill to create a song like this.
The William Loveday Intention – Cowboys Are SQ (Liberation Hall)/ Paralysed By The Mountains (Damaged Goods)/ Early Demos, Vol. 2 (The Devil And God Entwined) (Damaged Goods)/ Where The Backwater Slid (Hangmen)/ Blud In My Eyes For You (Hangmen)
When I hear people complain about Spotify I just point to Billy Childish. The most non-commercial artist that I listen to and he puts every single thing he does online for the world to listen to for free. He must be mad. Oh, and the fucking Mummies are on Spotify now!?! Since 2020, under The William Loveday Intention, Billy has released 15 albums, 9 in 2022 alone, not to mention various 7” and one 78 rpm, plus albums by Wild Billy Childish and The Singing Lions, The Guy Hamper Trio, and a reunion 7” EP of Thee Headcoat Sect, in tribute to Don Craine, guitarist in the ‘60s English R&B group Downliners Sect who passed in 2022. Craine was famous for wearing a deerstalker cap (like Sherlock Holmes), and also worn by Childish and of course, inspiring the name of Thee Headcoats. It’s literally madness to try and keep up every thing Billy does and you’ve got to have a fat wallet to grab all the limited editions.
The William Loveday Intention includes JW Loveday (aka his wife Julie Hamper), Aldophus Havard (aka Wolf Howard), both of whom have been Billy’s constant accomplices since The Buff Medways and also currently exist as CTMF, The Chatham Singers, and a few other outfits, then there’s Jim Riley on harmonica, a steady element of the WLI sound, guitarist Dave Tattersall, organist Jon Baker (or Barker), violinist Richard Moore and others that occasionally appear, and of course it’s all led by Billy under what he claims is his rightful birth name William Loveday. His grandmother’s name was Ivy Loveday and his birth certificate says William Ivy Loveday, although his father’s name was Hamper and he was renamed Steven Hamper. He’s used the William Loveday name in different areas going back to the Milkshakes/Delmonas days.
The William Loveday Intention, for those who don’t know, is Billy expressing his admiration for Bob Dylan by covering Dylan’s songs, re-recording some Childish classics in a Dylan-like fashion, as well as new songs inspired by Dylan, and several covers of old blues and country songs that probably influenced Dylan, and some that Bob has covered himself. Riley’s harmonica style sounds a lot like Dylan’s too, and Moore’s violin brings a definitive Rolling Thunder feel to the proceedings. This is not the 60’s garage meets ‘77 punk sound we associate with Childish, but something very different, yet totally Billy. As he’s explained in interviews, he had always appreciated Dylan since he was a child when his parents listened to Dylan. He’s played many blues and folk styles throughout his work, so it’s really not that odd. He’s also pointed out that there was an old NME piece on Dylan from the 80’s, a sort of “What’s In My Bag?”, that listed records Bob had purchased at a record shop in London, and one of the records was by The Milkshakes. I guess this is a return nod.
I’ve listened to just about every WLI release and wish I could own them all. I did purchase two albums, Cowboys Are SQ (Liberation Hall) and Paralysed By The Mountains (Damaged Goods). The former, with its Diddley homage cover, includes some reworkings of some songs by Thee Headcoats and Thee Mighty Caesars, with a lovely country version of “You Make Me Die”, while the latter has my favorite WLI track so far, “Becoming Unbecoming Me”. It was inspired by the true story of Edith Hahn, as Billy explains “…the story of a Jewish girl in Austria who changed her identity and married a Nazi to escape the death camps.” Sounds like a movie and the song has its own cinematic quality. It has this folk-pop quality to it and sounds like nothing I’ve ever heard Billy do.
Another interesting WLI release was Where The Backwater Slid (Hangmen), described as “…a superb collection of motion picture soundtracks, background incidentals and other adaptations – taken from titles made famous by The William Loveday Intention.” It’s all instrumental versions of WIL songs that previously appeared elsewhere (and there are multiple versions of many WLI songs, demos and alternate takes). I included “Stood In The Doorway” on the playlist, which is also the backing track of another song “Gun In My Father’s Hand” from the Paralysed By The Mountains album. There’s two collections of demos, Early Demos Vol. 1 & 2, that were mostly recorded in Billy and Julie’s kitchen with the two of them and Jim Riley. “Wise Blud” is a acoustic version of the Caesars’ “Wise Blood”, with Billy’s usual misspelling of “blood”. The one album that I think I enjoy the most and really need a copy of is Blud In My Eyes For You, possibly inspired by Dylan’s all covers album World Gone Wrong, it features many early blues covers by the Mississippi Shieks, Robert Johnson, Blind Willie McTell, and the haunting take on Reverend Gary Davis’ “Death Don’t Have No Mercy”, slightly retitled “Death Don’t Show No Mercy.”
The Christian Family – The Raw and Primitive Sounds of The Christian Family (Voodoo Rhythm 2022)
Thank the Lord that I follow Switzerland’s Voodoo Rhythm Records (run by Reverend Beat-Man). Within minutes of receiving their email announcing the release of this record, I had ordered my vinyl copy. The Christian Family are well versed in the Gospels of Diddley, Cramps, Gories, and Oblivians and I didn’t need anymore testimonial than the first song “Who’s Gonna Catch Me” to be a believer. This Phoenix/L.A. duo, Brother Daniel Shircliff (guitar/vocals) and Sister Ann Seletos (drums/vocals) started playing their fuzzed-up “gospel punk” back in 2014, released a EP in 2016, and recorded this album two years later. They took a break and the record was shelved. Now with the release of the album they’ve reconvened and made an appearance at this year’s Gonerfest. Brother Daniel told the Phoenix New Times (Aug. 17, 2016) “We’re a punk band with a message of love (and) joy. That’s what the Christian Family is all about. The message of positivity. I don’t really wanna preach, but we preach positivity. We preach fun and joy.” They ask on their album cover “Devil’s Music?” I believe the Devil and God are the same, so yes, gospel and punk are the same too. Fun, love and joy.
Meanwhile in Memphis…
I’m gonna take a moment here to recall some of my favorite live shows I saw this year. In addition to all the Labretta Suede & The Motel 6 shows, there were a few other memorable moments. Off the top, I hit the road to Austin to see Amyl & The Sniffers (it was my fourth time to see the Aussie phenoms who have yet to play Dallas). I finally got to see the Circle Jerks after holding tickets since 2020, and the first time to see them since 1988. I also finally got to see Negative Approach after so many times missing them. I saw their split personality Easy Action open for Dinosaur Jr. in 2017, and I returned to see Dinosaur Jr. again a few weeks after NA at the same venue. Dino Jr. are one of my girl’s favorite bands, so she treated me for our first official date. She also would treat me for my Halloween birthday by taking me to see the fucking Misfits! Wow! I don’t go to many big concerts but that one was a doozy. I included two songs by them on the playlist which they actually played back to back. The King Khan & BBQ Show only released one song in 2022 (and a live album which I haven’t heard), but they also went on tour and their show in Ft. Worth was my 7th time to see them.
Pat Todd & The Rankoutsiders – Blues, Soul & Rock’N’Roll EP (BelugaMusic/Ghost Highway Recordings/ KOTJ Records)/ “Tell Us A Story” b/w “Prison of Love” 7” (I-94 Recordings)/ “Down On 7th Avenue” b/w “I Will Give Up” 7” (Heavy Medication Records)
I also finally got to see Pat Todd & The Rankoutsiders after so many missed opportunities. I saw his old band The Lazy Cowgirls many times in the late ‘90s, and I was really excited to see him again. I had heard some RO material before, but took a crash course to prepare for the show. I hate myself for not picking up the Blues, Soul & Rock’N’Roll EP at the show. It includes covers of many tunes in the genres the title refers to, including the cool “5” Royales song “I’m a Cool Teenager”, which the band played live. I did get two of the three singles the band released this year. My favorite is “Tell Us A Story”. “Tell us all a story, from the cradle to the grave, tell us all a story, where no souls were saved” Love the way he sings that last line on the last refrain. Pat Todd is a national treasure and not a finer American rock ‘n’ roll band exists right now.
Nervebreakers- Face Up To Reality (SteadyBoy Records)
Lithium X-Mas (Treblephone/ Groovenet Industries)
The were a few local bands I enjoyed checking out: Long Black Car, The High Fives, and the debut of Spacedime and Gemini! Two Dallas legends released new records. The Nervebreakers first album We Want Everything! was recorded in 1980, but wasn’t released til 1994. In 2008, they reunited and captured a batch of songs from their heyday that they had never recorded before, and then it sat on the shelf till 2022 when it was released as Face Up To Reality. Likewise, psychedelic rockers Lithium X-Mas released a new self-titled album after working on it for a few years. There’s only a few digital samples of it on their Bandcamp page. It features the core lineup of Mark Ridlin, Greg Synodis, Chris Merlick and Tom Battles who passed away in 2020. I was too young to see the Nervebreakers in their original run (I was 11 when they opened for the Sex Pistols, but did see one of their later reunions), but I first saw Lithium when I was 20 and saw them often. I was thrilled by the opportunity to see both bands perform in 2022. Lithium reunited for only three songs and they were all Alice Cooper covers during a special screening and DVD release show for the Live From The Astroturf documentary, which chronicled the original Alice Cooper group’s 2016 reunion at Good Records (and I was there too!). Sadly I missed the Nervebreakers’ November show and that’s all I’m gonna say about that.
The Mullens – No More To Talk About
Another local band that I’ve seen countless times and have been friends with for nearly 30 years, is The Mullens. They have a new album on Get Hip coming out anytime now (I think the band already has their copies) and they released a digital single “No More To Talk About” earlier this year, and I included it and a special surprise by them on the Youtube playlist. All three times I saw them this year were memorable, none more than just before Thanksgiving when they played outdoors, in 35 degree weather, for three people. Yet they came with the same energy as if the house was packed. This town doesn’t deserve them. Funny, the new album is called What You Deserve…
I was gonna say something about Memphis…oh yeah, lots of great music out of Music City this year. Reigning Sound released a fine live album, Memphis In June (Merge), recorded last year, then came the shocking news. Greg Cartwright announced the band was calling it a day. On June 10, they played their final show at the Overton Park Shell. I thought seriously about driving to Memphis to see it, especially since it was a free show! It was also announced that the Compulsive Gamblers would be playing a few shows including Gonerfest, but after my crazy summer, I just couldn’t pull it off. But the best show I saw all year came the week after my birthday when Jack Oblivian & The Shieks came to town. There were songs from different phases of Jack’s career including four Oblivians classics. “Little War Child”, a favorite from their underrated Desperation album was a highlight for me, and I included it on the playlist because I did indeed meet “…her at the Battle of the Bands.” They also tore into Television’s “See No Evil”. I found myself paying close attention to Shieks drummer Graham Winchester’s high energy performance. He had caught a number of people’s attention the past couple of years playing with Reigning Sound and Compulsive Gamblers. I had forgotten that he and multi-instrumentalist Seth Moody have another band called Turnstyles. On the playlist you’ll find their cool covers of The Hives’ “Die, All Right!” and Waylon Jennings’ “Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line”, which I had heard Graham sing with The Shieks way back in 2016. Seth and Jack are also in a band called Teeth of England, which features Jack on drums, fellow Memphis guitarist Jason Rice, North Carolinian singer/guitarist Dave Sinclair, and Seth playing everything else. I don’t know much else about the band but I’m assuming the band is Sinclair’s baby. There’s two full-length albums from 2020 on Spotify that have more of Sinclair’s manic style and funny lyrics. This year’s Serrated Cuts (Ghost Highway Recordings/Black & Wyatt Records) came to me randomly on Youtube back in the summer. I thought it some Deadly Snakes I had never heard at first. The more I listened I thought of early Talking Heads, but more garage. It quickly became one of my favorites albums of the year, yet this fact had escaped me when I went to see Jack and his merry band, because I really would have loved to have told all of them how much I love Turnstyles and Teeth of England. I ordered the Teeth Of England album from Black & Wyatt Records who also had limited copies of the 2019 reissue of South Filthy’s You Can Name It Yo’ Mammy If You Wanna…, so I grabbed it too. I had a CDr of it for years. South Filthy was a “supergroup” that included Jack, Jeffrey Evans (Gibson Brothers, ‘68 Comeback), Walter Daniels (Jack O’ Fire, Big Foot Chester), and several other notable Austin players (look it up). Jack’s “Grounded” was always my favorite tune on the record, so I threw it on the playlist. And that’s all I got from the Memphis desk. Let’s see now how the weather outlook is…
Kate Clover – Bleed Your Heart Out (SongVest)
“Dammit Kate, run!” Sorry, I can’t ever resist a LOST reference…
Hype is a major component of the music biz, but I always find it rarely adds up. I’ve totally forgotten about Wet Leg. Everyone was raving about them at the start of the year and I found their first couple of singles and videos amusing, but lost interest quickly. Then there’s Suzi Moon. I remember listening to her a year ago and not being too impressed. I missed two opportunities to see her live, shows that were raved about in the local community, so I figured I needed to give her another listen. Meh. Very ‘90s post-grunge pop punk sounding to my ears. Of course this is coming from a middle-aged dork who the kids don’t and shouldn’t give a shit what I think, but I was a teen in the ‘80s and an old man at 25 when Nirvana blew up, so…yeah, get off my lawn because I’ve heard everything before. But I will defend Amyl & The Sniffers because…I fucking like them. Look at the dot.
I don’t always keep up with what the kids are into. I remember about five years ago, I was at the Burger Boogaloo and I heard a DJ spinning this cover of “Jet Boy, Jet Girl” and my friend says “Oh this is Crocodiles!” “Who?” I had never heard of them. Months later my friend is going on Discogs to get the Elton Motello version and Plastic Bertrand’s “Ca Plane Pour Moi”. A couple months ago I asked the same friend “Suzi Moon or Kate Clover?” and they picked Moon. Go figure. I keep forgetting to tell them that Kate is married to Brandon Welchez of Crocodiles, who produced her album.
I had heard of her old band ExSage but was clueless about who Kate Clover was when I heard her cover of X’s “Your Phone Is Off The Hook, But You’re Not”, which I thought was dead on in the guitar tone and energy. As I stated before, so many bands do unnecessary covers where they try to put a different spin on it, but I thought Clover and her band played this X song the way it should be done. Necessary? Not really, but I bet it’s fun live. Then came her cover of “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’”. Now understand this, I have a lifelong love for Nancy Sinatra and “Boots” is like a sacred song to me. Other than Loretta Lynn’s version, I’ve got no need for covers of this song. But Clover’s take is a gorgeous psychedelic blues dream. The rare revamp, completely different in vibe but not in the lyrical message, that stands on its own (It’s also a duet with Warren Thomas, whoever that is).
“I used to be with ‘it’, but then they changed what ‘it’ was. Now what I’m with isn’t ‘it’ anymore and what’s ‘it’ seems weird and scary. It’ll happen to you!” – Abe Simpson
So two good covers, but what about the rest of her material? Her debut solo album Bleed Your Heart Out was recorded in Mexico City with Welchez and members of Davila 666. Simply, it rocks. High energy punk guitars and drums with a Goldilocks production, not too much or too little, but just right. Her songs are certainly influenced by the ghosts of L.A. punk (she often sites X, Germs, and The Gun Club as her biggest influences) with bits of new wave, roots rock and even a taste of paisley, and with her retro style she comes off as just cool. I think Clover has produced one of the best “commercial” sounding punk records I’ve heard since…well, I’ll say since The Donnas for lack of a better reference (there I go again comparing women). By “commercial” I mean melodic and kinda poppy punk, like in a Joan Jett/Blondie/Pretenders kind of way (FFS STOP IT!). BTW, I believe Kate Clover played Dallas the weekend before I went to see Amyl but again, I didn’t know who she was. Hope she comes back soon.
His Lordship – Rock ‘N’ Roll Is Not For Everyone (Psychonaut Sounds)
Best title of the year… This CD release combines two limited edition 12” EPs, All Cranked Up and the all-covers His Lordship Play Rock ‘N’ Roll Volume One. His Lordship is a high-octane guitar/drum duo (although they seem to have a bass player now) that blast out rockin’ tunes like they’re the only ones on the planet doing it. Of course they’re not but I admire their attitude. Looking at guitarist/vocalist James Walbourn’s resume, it’s easy to assume they’re not aware of the decades of underground garage punks doing the same thing, but I’m not holding that against them. Just like Jack White or The Black Keys, I find nothing wrong with stripped down, loud guitar rock breaking through to the mainstream because the alternative is… So yeah, this Walbourn guy, check it out: He’s an actual Muswell Hillbilly (born in Muswell Hill, London), played in Ray Davies’ solo band. He’s also done time with The Pogues, The Pretenders, Pernice Brothers, Son Volt, and backed up too many names to mention here. In 2010 he played on Jerry Lee Lewis’ Mean Old Man album, so it’s fitting that His Lordship rip into The Killer’s “Wild One”. They also do covers by Gene Vincent, Link Wray, Jack Scott and others. If some Cramps fans were upset by Wednesday Addams dancing to “The Goo Goo Muck”, they’ll probably hate His Lordship doing “The Way I Walk”, but I think it’s fun stuff.
The Greezies – Take The Ride
While visiting Seattle last year, I hung out with my old friend Andy Newsome. Andy was an ex-Dallasite who had been in one of my favorite local bands The Sunday Drunks (which also included members of The Mullens). He played me some demos of his band The Greezies and I loved it. Over the past year he’s sent me more recordings of the band and I was really into them, listening to them everyday for a couple of weeks. Then in November the band released their debut album Take The Ride digitally. It’s a beautiful canvas of psych-garage rock with loads of fuzz and surfy guitars. There’s an obvious Black Lips influence, but I like The Greezies a lot more and feel like they’re very much on their own trip. I love “Zilch” with its classic ‘60s punk refrain “I-I-I…I got nothing for you”. My favorite is the spaghetti western vibe of “You’re On Fire”, which I would most certainly use in my garage rock remake of “Zachariah”. Google it.
Yard Work – Yard Work II: Here Comes The Neighborhood
Yard Work are a band from Austin that features members of several bands (The Motards, The Chumps, Slum City) that I used to see when I lived in Austin in the late ‘90s. They answer the question “What do punks sing about when they hit middle age?” On their first album, 2018’s Earn The Rock, original singer Sean McGowan sang about…well, the band’s moniker, and searching for tools, finding snakes in the house and other rodents in the attic, lawnmowers and climbing trees with chainsaws, all set to a fun post-punk groove supplied by bassist Toby Marsh, drummer Aaron Fox, and guitarist David Lujan. Now with ver. 2.0, Sean has moved out and Candi Fox has moved in and continued singing about the trials of adulting, but in a slightly different voice, and oh, what a voice! This time we get songs (some written by Sean) about changing lightbulbs, “spending money on shit that I can’t use”, foundation repairs, floodlights, setting up drawers, cleaning filters, and of course traffic. All Austinites (and most Texans) can relate to “Mama’s stopping at the next HEB…”
THYROIDS – A Swift Kick In The Ass 7” EP (Turkey Baster)
This was released at the same time as Labretta Suede’s single and both bands were scheduled to play a release party at the Texas Theatre, but Labretta had to cancel due to illness. I took some photos of THYROIDS and they contacted me a week later asking if they could use them to promote their upcoming tour. I said no problem but I would have to send them over later because I was in the middle of something. At the very moment I got their message, I was standing in my neighbors yard across the street, surrounded by a hundred firefighters looking at my apartment building about a half hour after the roof collapsed. I never got back to the band. Sorry.
It’s pure coincidence that the first time I saw both THYROIDS and Labretta Suede & The Motel 6 was around the same time in 2016. THYROIDS were this young, noisy, and crazy blast of garage punk the first time I saw them, and I recall their set lasting about 20 minutes, ending in a screeching wreck of feedback. A few years later and with a solid new lineup, they’ve tightened up a bit but it’s still a rollercoaster of sound. They mix up a frenetic blur of punk, post-punk, new wave, hardcore, and experimental noise, but still with a teenage garage stomp on top. Their earliest digital releases are fun lo-fi excursions while this 7” EP, their first vinyl release, is a bit more polished production. I’m looking forward to good things from this band.
The Candy Snatchers – “Shame Shivers” b/w “Must Be The Cocaine” 7” (I-94 Recordings)
Virginia Beach/Norfolk’s finest return a decade after their last recordings with new guitarist Hans Molnar filling in for the late Matthew Odietus. My pal Doug “Goose” Duncan (formerly of Austin’s Phantom Creeps), Sergio “Sgt Stash” Ponce and the incomparable Larry May deal out some bar-burning RNR on the short-but-sweet A-side while covering the Trash Brats party anthem on the flip as part of I-94’s Detroit cover series. More new Snatchers to come?…
Thee Isolaters – “Crying Eyes” b/w “Close That Door (The Tigermen)” (Iso-Tope Records)
The Out-Sect EP – “Out-Sect Theme”/“Jaguar” b/w “2×4”/“Go Away (The Plague)” (Outro Records)
Northeast Garage Punk Action! Thee Isolaters from Buffalo NY and The Out-Sect outta Philly PA released two of my favorite 45s of the year. Snotty ‘60s Punk vocals and blood-pumping fuzz guitars with killer covers of classic stompers: Thee Isolaters pop it on the nose with The Tigermen’s “Close The Door” (Back From The Grave Vol. 5, which I scored a OG copy of this year), while The Out-Sect burn it down with The Plague’s “Go Away” (which appeared on Pebbles, Sixties Archives, Teenage Shutdown and other comps). Both combos conjure thoughts of later garage bands like The Cynics, Lyres, The Makers, etc, and that’s right up my alley.
Thee Isolaters released a a self-titled full-length in 2020 and a 3-song live EP earlier this year for a Ukrainian benefit. The live set includes more classic ‘60s covers like The Heard’s “Stop It Baby” and The Haunted’s “1-2-5”. Their album reveals that Thee Isolators not only got the ‘60s teen beat down but also dabble in some ‘70s Stones boozy swagger. Me likes.
“Are you in with the Out-Sect?” Yes. Love this band’s sound and style: great ‘60s punk snarl and switchblade riffs with some screaming fuzzed-out lead guitar. Love the line “Teen-generate in the flesh.” They have a couple of other digital releases including “Bad Walkin’”. Hope to hear much more soon.
Sick Thoughts – Heaven Is No Fun (Total Punk)
I listened to this when it first came out and really liked it. I really dug the cover of The Limps’ “Someone I Can Talk To”, which I didn’t know was a cover. I must have been listening to it on YouTube, because afterwards the algorithm gave me the original. I immediately threw it on the rough draft of this playlist and never went back to the Sick Thoughts record until recently, but so glad I did. I’ve been a lurker in regards to Drew Owen’s work. I had never heard of ST when I saw him play Austin in 2015. I did buy and listen to the 2018 self-titled Goner album a lot, and had it on my year-end list. I haven’t really paid much attention to Owen’s other projects since then. Heaven Is No Fun is without a doubt the best IMO, and my favorite record he’s done yet.
Back on that first listen, it was impossible to miss the humor and catchiness of “Mother, I Love Satan” and the lyric that makes up the album’s title. I’m not a religious person and I find Satan as boring as the overwhelming amount of lo-fi punk that has come out in the past 20 years, but fortunately HINF has way more going for it than that one song and I certainly prefer the sound of this record to earlier ST releases. I love the way Owen combines fast and furious punk with ‘70s metal moves. The Thin Lizzy-style guitar harmonies on “Hole In The Wall” may prompt some Devil-sign hand gestures, but they sound quite heavenly to me. “Horrible Death” fits my theme perfectly. “She’s gonna die a horrible death, you’re gonna die a horrible death, I’m gonna die a horrible death, right now!” blends the violence and humor in perfect Ramones lyrical simplicity.
The Mudd Club – Gimme A Thrill (Raving Pop Blast! Recordings)
Sophomore hijinks from the Kansas City via Bristol UK garage rockers. Bottle Blonde, their first full-length was a favorite from last year. The kids are building their chops nicely, while the songs echo different influences in addition to the Cramps ‘n’ surf of the first album. “Rock ‘N’ Roll Boy” gives me a Dolls/Thunders thrill, and they go down under for the Saints/Missing Links on “Wild About You”.
CIVIC – Born In The Heat/ End of the Line (Cooking Vinyl Australia)
Another favorite from last year was Melbourne’s Civic and their Future Forecast album. They were supposed to appear at Gonerfest this year but dropped out. Hopefully they make it to the U.S. in 2023. Their second album, Taken By Force will land in February, but they issued two cuts late this year and they’re great.
Adia Victoria – Ain’t Killed Me Yet
It was in the final days of 2021 that I came across the 21st Century blues of Adia Victoria, which I had read an article about her performing at the legendary Ryman Auditorium in Nashville opening for Jason Isbell. I instantly added her brilliant A Southern Gothic to last year’s list and listened to it a lot early this year. Then I forgot about her for most of the year, and only last week realized she had teamed up with Mavis Staples and Margo Price on Price’s song “Fight To Make It”, to benefit women’s reproductive rights, while only releasing one digital single of her own. “Ain’t Killed Me Yet” was actually intended for A Southern Gothic, but serves as a bridge to whatever this amazing artist does next. A reminder that she’s just getting started.
And Your Bird Can Swing…
1987 was a very important and transitional year for me. I had graduated high school the summer before, had gone from a conservative national chain record store job in a mall, to a much cooler local chain record store set up in an old grocery store. There was much more independent music and lots of imports in their stock, but more importantly there were some really cool members of the staff including a few musicians and local music fans. Some of these people became lifelong friends that I still hang out with. My mind was opened to so many new sounds, and I began exploring the world of underground/alternative music. I felt a metamorphosis happening. I had grown up loving the hard rock of the ‘70s and by high school in the early ‘80s I found myself a total metalhead. I was also very much into punk, but I just wanted to rock ‘n’ roll and party, dude, and liked the big dumb rock they called “Hair Metal”. The real seed of things to come was years before with Hanoi Rocks, who I’ve never considered to be Metal or Hair Metal. They were a glam punk band and through them, I became obsessed with the New York Dolls, Johnny Thunders and The Heartbreakers , The MC5 (who my stepdad had introduced me to years before), and of course The Stooges. Yet I kept wasting time listening to a lot of lame shit. Then this band came along that seemed like they were taking the music back…to…idk, but Guns ‘N Roses just seemed real. Yeah, Axl Rose pooped his hair up early on, but they were no hair band. The Stones, AC/DC, Aerosmith… GNR evoked the style and blues-based swagger of those bands far more than the obvious Van Halen influence of most hair bands (and I loved Van Halen too). I got into GNR when their first EP came out and got my uncle that lived in L.A. to pick it up for me. So I was more than excited when Appetite For Destruction came out, and fortunately no one else knew about them. The manager of my record store got a promo copy with the soon to be controversial Robert Williams cover. He took one look at the cover and had no interest in it and I was able to convince him to give it to me. I was over the moon.
Enter Redd Kross…I knew they were the former Red Cross of the early L.A. punk scene, but I really didn’t know much about them. I made the assumption that they were a hardcore band since I had seen that they played shows with Black Flag and other notable bands. As I would quickly collect all of their records, I would learn that they were a spectacular teenage punk band loaded with humor and ‘70s pop culture affections. Their first EP and first album Born Innocent are still some of my favorite records ever. However, it was Neurotica, released in ‘87, that hooked me. The mashup of glam, punk, psychedelia, and Beatle harmonies had a tremendous impact on me. Coincidentally, 1987 was also the year EMI released the entire Beatles catalog on CD in the U.S. for the first time. They spread it out over several months and with each release, I got to listen to them everyday at the record store, causing me to have a bigger appreciation for the Fabs than I ever had before. That September, I would see Redd Kross play one of the greatest live shows I’ve ever seen, which included a wonderful cover of The Beatles’ “Rain”. I would see GNR twice in ‘87 and a third time the following year, and in that time they seemed to lose their mojo, becoming very sloppy and boring to me.
Over the decades I’ve returned to AFD and still have some appreciation for it, but with the ability to stream it I found no reason to keep my CD, so I sold it. When Merge Records announced the 35th Anniversary reissue of Neurotica in a swank 2xLP gatefold filled with photos and demos, I jumped on it. However, I had this trip to Austin to see Amyl & The Sniffers and to go record digging planned, so I didn’t need to be buying an expensive reissue right then. So I made the decision to part with my OG vinyl promo copy of Appetite For Destruction, plus a near-mint copy of GNR Lies, and the OG Live Like A Suicide EP (vinyl & cassette), for FAR LESS than they were worth so I could buy more records, including this amazing reissue of Neurotica. 35 years later and Redd Kross are still the top of the Class of ‘87. Another coincidence, right around the same week that my new copy of Neurotica arrived in the mail, I found a sweet ‘70s repress of The Beatles’ Revolver—U.K. version! As much as I love it, I did not shell out $150 for the Revolver box set (but I did finally drop $50 on the Past Masters set), but still, Redd Kross and The Beatles, together again, and…Hanoi Rocks reunited in 2022!!! Sorry GNR, I no longer have the appetite.
The Fall-Outs – Fine Young Men (Hex Enduction Records)
The Fall-Outs were one of the bands I got turned onto in the mid-‘90s that converted me fully to garage rock. Their first recordings were released on cassette in 1986 and issued on vinyl in 2022 by Seattle’s Hex Enduction Records (I visited the Hex Enduction store on my Seattle trip last year). The untitled tape now called Fine Young Men, with a few bonus cuts for the vinyl, it’s a fun collection of rambunctious Garage/Mod/Power-Pop and features some thrilling covers by The Kinks, Jimmy Reed, Sam Cooke, and The Animals.
The Exbats – I Got The Hots For Charlie Watts (Canon Rat Records)
The Exbats have been one of my favorites of the past few years, and this album was one of my favorite discoveries of 2018. Originally released on cassette and CD, issued on wax this year and it arrived in the mail a few days after my roof collapse. A month later, it was the first record I listened to in my new place.
Joyce Street – “Life Ain’t Worth Livin’” 45 (The Numero Group)
Spotify introduced me to Joyce Street one morning and I couldn’t get enough of her. Unfortunately there’s only an album’s worth of material, all released as digital singles except for “Life Ain’t Worth Livin’” which The Numero Group has also reissued the 1969 Reena 45. Street went to L.A. at the age of 18 with hopes of making it as a soul singer, but a producer convinced her to sing her original song in more of a “countypolitan” sound, the result being a wonderful Loretta Lynn-like Honky Tonk ballad. She continued making country/folk/rock music but none of her records sold. She left L.A. and moved to Austin. And that’s where the internet fails me. Not sure what happened to her after that or if she’s still alive, I’m guessing so with the little bit of bio there is. I still need to purchase the reissued 45.
Out Of The Past…
As I mentioned before, I threw a lot of older things onto the playlist that I listened to this year. In addition to celebrating the 50th anniversary of Exile On Main St., I listened to tons of covers of Rolling Stones songs, courtesy of Norton Records and I added a few others that I love. The Stones, AC/DC and the Ramones are my personal holy trinity, so I couldn’t put the Stones on the playlist without something from the other two. This year marked five years since Malcolm Young’s passing, and with Charlie Watts last year and all the original Ramones gone, listening to these bands means more to me than ever before. I specifically chose “Chainsaw” because I finally visited the Texas Chainsaw house in Kingsland back in March with Labretta & Moondog. We had a lovely day driving around the lower Colorado River area of Texas. We listened to the New York Dolls on repeat, so “Lone Star Queen” is a reminder of that great day.
Also I mentioned the technological mind-control I was under this year. YouTube gave me the bizarre “A Cowboy’s Work Is Never Done” by Sonny and Cher. I’m sure I saw them perform the song on their TV show when I was a kid, but I was obsessed with it for days and still am. Likewise for Thane Russal & Three’s cover of Otis Redding’s “Security”. I had never heard it before but instantly realized that his arrangement was “borrowed” by King Khan & BBQ for their song “Fish Fight”. Russal and Small Faces’ “All Or Nothing” were both on my 1966 playlist and I was particularly fond of listening to the Small Faces track on the way home every night while thinking about…life. And what a fucking brilliant song it is. Not sure where I heard “Congo” by the Twistin’ Kings or “I’m Alive” by Johnny Thunder, but I Shazammed both at some point this year. I had always wondered what the “other” Johnny Thunder was about. He had a Top 5 hit with “Loop De Loop” in 1963, and in ‘69 he tried his hand at a Rock song with “I’m Alive” (written by Tommy James), and Bob Dylan called it “One of the most powerful records I’ve ever heard.” As for the Twistin’ Kings, they were actually Motown’s Funk Brothers, who Berry Gordy, trying to capitalize on the Twist craze, had them record an album of dance instrumentals called Twistin’ The World Around. Filled with novelty twist songs, the 6:35 “Congo Twist” (broken up into two parts for a 45 release) stood out as the one special track on a mostly forgotten album. And I threw a few tunes in that I had the pleasure of spinning for friends, including “Mojo Workout” by Bobby Long. I was once known as DJ Mojo Workout and it was my theme song, as well as the name of this here blog. Not sure where I heard Frank Sinatra doing “Jesus Is A Rock In The Weary Land”, and I’m not sure I’ve ever heard ol’ blue eyes sing a gospel song. The song which is a traditional spiritual reminds me of the old-timey Halloween song “Swingin’ At The Seance” by the Deep River Boys. Both songs have this Caribbean/calypso sound to them, if that’s an accurate description. I love them both nevertheless. Les McCann’s “Burning Coal” was another Shazam that I spent months looking for a vinyl copy, which leads to the next category of selections on the playlist.
Days after the Amyl show, I was broke from the trip to Austin and record digging with rent due. I gathered up a batch of classical 78s, old books, and about 30 or so old National Geographic magazines, and headed to Half Price Books to unload them. I wasn’t expecting to get much for them but rather I needed to get rid of junk. I don’t remember the dollar amount but as I headed to the checkout to get my cash, I had to walk through the record section to get there. My inner voice was saying “Don’t even look…” This particular store rarely had anything more than the usual selection of used records and I rarely found anything special…but there it was, at the end of the aisle in the jazz section, bright red cover OG pressing, waiting for me, a record I had been searching for, for years: Mel Torme’s Comin’ Home Baby!
The year started out with me acquiring the holiest of holy grails, but I didn’t find it in the wild. After watching Discogs for years I finally found a decent and reasonably priced copy of Dr. Feelgood’s Down By The Jetty. Same with the original “Some Kind of Wonderful” 45 by Soul Brothers Six, a holy grail of two decades or more (I spun it at Labretta’s birthday party and it really got the party hoppin’ NYE). How about a free Alice Cooper “Elected” b/w “Luney Tune” 45, or “Victoria” b/w “Brainwashed” by The Kinks? What a cool coincidence as I was listening to Small Faces a lot when I found a used copy of the reissue of From The Beginning. I scored other treasures by Talking Heads, Plastic Bertrand, Avengers, Edwin Starr, The Yardbirds, X-Ray Spex, Jack O’ Fire, Didjits, The Del-Gators, and more Billy Childish. I picked up two Slim Harpo comps that covered most of my favorite tunes by him, and two by another favorite blues man, J.B. Lenoir. I found an OG pressing of A Date A With Elvis by The Cramps, and a OG U.K. press of The Real Kids debut, which I gifted to a friend. I bought The Beguiled’s Blue Dirge in 1995 but gave it to a friend as well, and now have another copy. I found a still sealed copy of the Heartbreakers’ LAMF “Found ‘77 Masters”, which was an RSD release from last year. Does that count for a reissue? And dammit if it doesn’t sound great! I found a reissue of Solomon Burke’s If You Need Me at Hex Enduction in Seattle last summer, but in the course of digging I sat it down and walked away and didn’t realize I didn’t actually buy it till later. So I was thrilled to find it again this year in Texas. One of the best scores of the year was finding six volumes of the Teenage Shutdown series of ‘60s Garage comps, hence Fallen Angels’ “Bad Woman” on the playlist.
And now for the serious part…In Memoriam…
But first, more about me! On January 15, 2022, I came out of DJ retirement and spun records in public for the first time since December of 2010. Labretta’s birthday was two days prior, and the day before that, the great Ronnie Spector left this world. Just as the party got started, word came down that Rachel Nagy of The Detroit Cobras has passed the night before. Ronnie’s influence on Labretta and Rachel is immeasurable, and so it set the tone for my DJ set where I played The Ronettes as well as many of the “songs The Detroit Cobras taught me”. The next day I ordered the first two Cobra albums which I only had on CD. Next to Ronnie, the biggest departure this year would have to be “The Killer”, Mr. Jerry Lee Lewis, the last of the original Rock ‘N’ Roll giants. Then there’s the Queen of Country Music, Loretta Lynn. Oh how I loved her so. I already had a dozen of her albums and picked up four more this year. As big as those names are, the ones that really hit hard for me were Chris Bailey singer of The Saints, and Wilko Johnson the hyperactive original guitarist of Dr. Feelgood. I first heard “I’m Stranded” when I was 16, but didn’t really freak out on The Saints till my 30s. I first heard of Dr. Feelgood when I was in single digits, but never actually heard them (to the best of my memory) till I was almost 50. What a mind blower…
The Jimmy Murphy song on the playlist comes from the “Desperate Man Blues” soundtrack, a documentary on record collector and music historian Joe Bussard, a musician himself who recorded some of John Fahey’s earliest work. With his passing this year, Bussard left behind 15,000 78’s chronicling American blues, country and jazz, mostly from the 1920’s and ‘30s. Another man behind the music, one with a mountain-size legacy, was Jim Stewart who started recording country fiddle bands in his garage before his sister Estelle Axton put up the money to buy an old movie theater…oh hell, if you don’t know what I’m talking about, we can’t be friends. Stewart was there for every moment in the history of Satellite Records, which changed its name to Stax, and helped make legends of Otis Redding, Booker T. & The MGs, Sam & Dave, Eddie Floyd, Isaac Hayes, and so many more. In 2005, a friend gave me a download of the Complete Stax Singles box set. Other than the big hits, I didn’t realize the true magic of Stax until I listened to the singles collection (watching documentaries, reading books and a trip to the museum in Memphis helped). There’s an 8-song set of lesser-known hits within my playlist that was the beginning of a mixtape I made called “Scrambled Eggs On Credit” (a reference to “Goofing’ Off” by Macy Skipper) which made up a huge chunk of my DJ sets a decade ago. I can’t explain enough how much the music of Stax Records means to me.
Other notable people that moved on this year, all of who I’ve enjoyed their music throughout my life:
King Louie Bankston (The Royal Pendletons, Persuaders, King Louie’s One Man Band and so many more)
Kelly Younger (Really Red)
Jet Black (The Stranglers)
Gord Lewis (Teenage Head)
Kim Simmonds (Savoy Brown)
Dino Danelli (The Young Rascals)
Dan McCafferty/Manny Charlton (singer and guitarist of Nazareth who passed away months apart)
Steve Pallow (aka Haunted George, also of The Necessary Evils and The Beguiled)
Don Craine (Downliners Sect)
I personally lost three musician friends in 2022: Jason Thrasher, Carlos Johnson, and Greg Towle, all who left their own legacies with everyone who ever knew them. Rest in peace and rock on brothers!
Post Edit: While at the NYE party I was DJ-ing I looked up at a TV and saw that Anita Pointer of The Pointer Sisters had passed away. I was a little busy and not able to look it up. The very first record I ever bought with my own money was a Ronco comp when I was 7 that had “Yes We Can Can” on it. I had meant to include the song on my playlist for NYE, and even after seeing the news it still slipped my mind. It would have fit perfectly as it has the many other times I’ve spun it. It turns out she actually passed on NYE. I can’t think of a better song and message to ring in a new year with. Added to this playlist. Rest In Peace Miss Anita.
This just in…
The Retail Simps – Reverberant Scratch: 9 Shots In The Dark (Total Punk)
I’m always late. To work. To shows. Sometimes dinner, and lots of times, to the party, but I usually stay till the end. I’ve heard many talk about The Retail Simps, and about a dozen other bands I wanted to check out that I never got around to. Well, since I didn’t finish this project before the end of the year I figured I should check it out…love it. Crazy, silly, boozy, funky, jazzy, experimental, soulful, weirdo ‘70s proto-punk influenced rock ‘n’ roll from Canada. It’s too late to pontificate on them cuz I’m still trying to figure it all out. All I know is it makes me want to dance and get drunk. Just like my NYE DJ set filled with greasy R&B and rock ‘n’ roll. This kind of music is worthy of the Mojo Workout!
And Now for Something Completely Different…
Yard Act – The Overload (Zen F.C./Island Records)
Not the band you were expecting to be here? I’ll admit, they’re not the kind of thing I usually go for. Toby Marsh of Yard Work turned me onto them via his YouTube show where he and Sean McFalls review new releases. Toby was making light of the similarity of their name with his band’s name, suggesting they need to open for Yard Act. He compared them with Gang Of Four, who hailed from the same town of Leeds, U.K. Toby being a bass player loves the bass playing. There’s a definite post-punk sound not unlike GO4, but the unusual talk-vocal style, that’s almost like Rap was something I wasn’t expecting either. After seeing their album appear on a few best of the year lists, I decided to check them out.
Another unlikely “like” for me this year is the Will Ferrell/Ryan Reynolds Christmas musical “Spirited”, inspired by “A Christmas Carol”. I’m not a big musical guy but I watched it three times over Christmas. The morning after my first viewing I woke up with the positive vibe of the movie in my head, and that’s when I decided to watch Yard Act’s video for “100% Endurance”. At first I thought the singer looked awfully familiar but soon realized it was actor David Thewlis. Mind you, I hadn’t seen any of their videos or knew anything about them (I also love the video for “Rich” and noticed some of the same characters are in other videos). The narrative of the song is that aliens have arrived and the narrator suggests a new perspective on our lives. Here’s a portion of the lyrics:
Two lines, “It’s all so pointless” and “It’s hippy bullshit but it’s true” just grabbed me. The lyrics just filled me with those same kind of vibes that “Spirited” had. “Death is coming for us all, but not today” stuck out like a sore thumb with my theme of death. The message of “Spirited” was that we’re all capable of change and no one is “unredeemable” (although that’s open for debate), and “100% Endurance” was about making the best of the present and not worrying too much about what lies ahead, because when you die life goes on for everyone else, and please understand, it’s not all about you or me. “If everyone was as enlightened as me…”
A few years ago my high school buddy Shawn Ritchie lost a sudden battle with that ugly shit called Cancer. Years before, I challenged Shawn to give me his all-time Top 25 albums. Shawn turned me onto The Stooges when I was 15, and was the first to every play me Never Mind The Bollocks in full, but his main thing was hard rock and metal; massive fan of Blue Oyster Cult, Thin Lizzy, Scorpions, UFO, AC/DC, and Black Sabbath, but loved Black Flag, X, Mudhoney, the MC5 and so much more. I was somewhat surprised, but I really shouldn’t have been, that he listed Cookin’ by the Miles Davis Quintet. He was always surprising me and guiding me places I never thought I would be going. I had chosen The Ronettes’ “Be My Baby” to end the playlist because what could possibly follow the greatest song ever written? The second day we were moving things out of my apartment, days after I had suffered a heat stroke and was still feeling it’s effects, and just being completely exhausted, I decided I needed to go out and see a rock show. I needed to hang with friends that had helped me out. So on the way down I thought of Shawn, and felt Miles was I needed to hear. I was listening to “Tune Up/ When Lights Are Low” from the Cookin’ album (another 2022 vinyl score) when I received the message that would reconnect me with my girlfriend, so I had to put it at the end of the playlist.
If you’ve read this far…well…thanks. You’re either insane or really bored. Hope you enjoyed my ramblings, and hope you’ll listen to the playlist(s). Anything on the playlist that I didn’t explain you’ll just have to figure it out. As usual there were things not available on Spotify (no Savoy Brown – Blue Matter or Raw Sienna? What gives? Better get all them Battlebeats on there. Just saying…), and so the YouTube playlist has a couple of extras. It ended up being nearly 10 hours long with more or less 200 tracks. Two Jazz pieces over 10 minutes long didn’t help. Is it excessive? Your mother’s excessive…btw have you called her lately? Better get on that. Again, just think of it as a day of listening to some radio station. It’ll make the work day or a long trip entertaining at least, or just take a few days to listen to it all. Or don’t. I just DJ’d over five hours at a friend’s NYE party. It may be a few days late but it’s a miracle I’ve even been able to complete this thing. It’s been a year of miracles. Frustrating and fun, sad, beautiful and full of hope. Even though Labretta’s cat tried to eat me in my sleep…
#Labretta Suede & The Motel 6
#The William Loveday Intention
#The Christian Family
#Teeth Of England
#Pat Todd & The Rankoutsiders
#The Candy Snatchers
#The Mudd Club
#The King Khan & BBQ Show
#The Retail Simps
#The Fall Outs