Friday, March 7, 2014

''IN FUZZ WE TRUST - 60'S Psych and Garage Legends Salute The Fuzztones”

[GUEST REVIEW BY GENTLEMAN JOHN BATTLES] (Stag-O- Lee) Here's something different: a tribute album featuring the artists that inspired the subject of said tribute! Rudi Protrudi spent ten years rounding up several of his favorite Garage and Psych legends to cover The Fuzztones' material, in their own inimitable styles. The results should stop The Fuzztones' detractors, and Garage Nazis who don't think the older guys can cut the mustard, dead in their tracks. Truth is, even if you're not a Fuzztones fan, I think you'd be hard-pressed to find fault with this album. Davie Allan, King of The Fuzz Guitar, appropriately, kick-starts this whole mess with "Avalanche,’ actually a Link Protrudi and The Jaymen track, but Davie Allan is the man with the power, and it doesn't pay to mess with the man with the power, baby. He plays this number like it was written for him. It’s a roaring, scorching fire, flippin' off the squares and stickin' it to "The Man.” The Shadows of Knight are represented by Jimy Sohns and their latter day bass player, as well as Rudi, and former Fuzztones guitarist, Elan Portnoy. "I Never Knew" is what The Shadows of Knight SHOULD sound like today. Sohns can still shout the Hell out of a good Garage Punker, with the right backing. This track, and "Me Tarzan, You Jane" (featuring Dick Taylor from The Pretty Things!!!) ooze misogyny and betrayal...the sound of a man merely reclaiming his cajones, lest anyone take it the wrong way. But, there's no shortage of balls here. Sohns is hurling Molotov cocktails, doused in piss and vinegar. "Ward 81" is a monster mash-up, performed not only by The Pretty Things, but also ably assisted by 80's Psych warriors Plasticland, and the coup of the century, legendary Horror Host, Zacherley, to perform the Preacher rap (I don't mean Hip Hop, though Run DMC were in the original video!), taken from an Oral Roberts sermon (I've been told). He’s having a lot of fun with it, diabolically dishing the drivel about the mentally ill batting for Satan's team. Phil May, The Pretties' frontman, turns in a gritty, feverish performance, while lead guitarist Dick Taylor, and even mid-period Pretties' guitarist Peter Tolsen (who hadn’t played with Taylor in over 40 years), crank out a gritty, dark din worthy of "Get The Picture," the Prettys’ acclaimed second album.  The Fuzztones have performed extensively in Israel, Rudi even recently doing a recording session, there, so, why wouldn’t he turn to The Promised Land...FLORIDA. Two original 60's Fla. Garage bands, The Tropics (who once shut down ONE THOUSAND BANDS at the 1966 International Battle of The Bands at McCormick Place in Chicago) and The Shy Guys (who actually kept on playing until 2008!), repaid a mitzvah to Rudi for covering their songs, by covering his. Both band turn in stellar performances, and each have about a year and a half to prepare for The Ponderosa Stomp. The Fuzztones back their departed friend and guru, Sky Saxon on "Get Naked" (previously released, with a cameo by Sky, on "Salt For Zombies,” but this version features him on all lead vocals, an exhortation to go wild in the streets, stark buck nekkid! Well? Come on, what's stopping you?). "All The King's Horses" features many other great friends of ours, The Electric Prunes, The Pretty Things, and the late, great Sean Bonniwell from The Music Machine, and the late, great, Arthur Lee from Love. The track originally appeared on the album "Braindrops," with guest vocals from Bonniwell and Lee, though they were buried together in the mix. On this version, their original vocals are separated for far greater clarity, giving each a "solo" vocal, tastefully done, I might add. The Electric Prunes turn in a blazing rendition that will surprise absolutely no one who's heard the three outstanding studio albums and one, equally strong, live CD that they've recorded since the turn of this century. Wally Waller and John Povey from The Pretty Things kick in with their signature "S.F. Sorrow" harmony vocals. Too many cooks? No, they're all cookin' and it's TOO MUCH. But NO ONE is so much of too much than Question Mark! " CH'EAH! KAZ, BABY!" ? and The Mysterians' "Action Speaks Louder Than Words" reeks of bad attitude at it's best. The band is playing at their peak (from which you can look down at Sherpa tribesmen and bands of Yeti), with "Q" at his arrogant best. "It's what we call "Tuff". It's TUFF, BABY !". Roctoberfreund, Gary Burger of the monks turns in a song well-suited for him, "Hurt on Hol," with an arrangement that lovingly parrots " monk time." The Strawberry Alarm Clock present a surprisingly aggressive sounding "Charlotte's Remains", utilizing the same Psychedelic studio trickery of their salad days, with more of an edge. They put out a CD of mostly remakes, recently, but, what the Hell, it still sounds great. A new CD is on the way, we're told. Gonn, one reformed 60's Punk outfit that always delivers the goods, doesn't disappoint with "Shame on You" and ''Hallucination Generation." Lead Singer Craig Moore also joins unholy forces with Davie Allan on "She's Wicked," one of several uncontested highlights of this collection. The Vagrants (minus Leslie West…there's a very funny story about that in the liner notes) sound virile enough to be the unfortunate protagonist of this song. They had a side order of Testosteroni when they dined at Vagino's Pizzeria prior to this session. The Wallflowers, featuring The Pretties' bassist and gifted Vocalist, Wally Waller, push the psychedelic envelope further on "Look For The Question Mark," but, what better way to close things than with a nod to early Heavy Rock. Confidentially, not a big fan of Vanilla Fudge. Don't hate 'em…but, Rudi warned me about their seemingly unlikely inclusion (though not if you understand that The Fuzztones are more than a "Pebbles" paint by numbers band), assuring me it was a standout track. Boy, he wasn’t kidding! "Black Box" finds The Fudge heavier, tighter, and SCARIER than any band has a right to be. If you liked "DOA" by Bloodrock, but found it plodded along too much for your taste, get a load of THIS good shit! All the spooky vibe inherent in early Iron Butterfly collides with the stop on a dime tendencies of...well, of Vanilla Fudge. Wow.

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