Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Ravens "Listen To Me Now" b/w "Jolly Green Giant"

(GUEST REVIEW BY GENTLEMAN JOHN BATTLES)(Alona's Dream) John Belushi's teen Garage group released one single in 1965. Even Belushi's subsequent fame couldn’t detract from the sheer obscurity of this recording (only 40 copies were made, and, surely, it's never been comped). This lovingly rendered reissue (There's only 200 copies this time, so, jump on it, now!) features a nice hardboard copy of the band's one known photo. Both sides of this Soon To Cost a Mint on e-bay 45 are better than anyone had a right to expect. "Back From The Grave"-worthy in it's angstiness and it's youthful confidence. Hell, the original, "Listen To Me Now" should have BEEN on  a "Grave" sampler, but, it's non-inclusion makes it that much more special now. "Listen" breaks out of its cage in a teenage rage, a mid-tempo tear 'em up that's destined to become a classic, posthumously. Bet you didn’t know John Belushi played drums in a teen garage combo, based in Wheaton, Illinois (sorta) near Chicago? That's OK, neither did I, tho' it's common knowledge that he drummed behind his friends, The Dead Boys (AND Divine!), at the CBGB's benefit for their drummer, Johnny Blitz (who was almost fatally stabbed by an utter chickenshit, even by violent 70's NYC standards). Belushi doesn’t sing here, but you do get to hear him call out the vegetable names on what was, surely, The Kingsmen's second biggest hit (though they didn’t even bother doing it when I saw them in 1987). He declares "Potatoes...carrots....spinach...peas " with mock-operatic enunciation"  through what sounds like a spring reverb, possibly stolen from an organ.  The Raven's version of "Giant" is actually more intelligible than the hit (I finally figured out that they were saying "That's when he ran into an AMAZON!”), just as Motorhead's "Louie Louie,” surprisingly enough, is FAR more intelligible than The Kingsmen...not only that, but it WON'T have you saying, "Oh, Gahd! Just another cover of the day!” So, if you're a fan of the real stuff, this WILL be your mission.

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