tisdag 13 december 2016

Hoosier Hotshots

EPI 001 USA 1992

This is the first of three albums released on Epilogue records. The other two are Josefus and Truth, not really what we're looking for. 
If you're not looking for trouble, that is. The Josefus album (EPI 002) has a different version of the five-hour epic apocalyptic hippie-ripper "Dead Man". Funny. We didn't even need the original version.
Enough talking about insignificant pleasantries.

What we have here is 16 tracks from 14 Indiana groups.
You could argue that this is one of those so-so, standard, meat-and-potato garage comps.
And you'd be half-right.

It tries, and fails. Tries, and fails again. Throws a sureshot - but it's too late. 
This is not a watertight comp. This is the kind of comp that used to leave me frustrated and bewildered some 20 years ago.
"Do people actually like this shit?" I would ask myself. "I can't believe I paid $20 for this fucker! I can't understand why I didn't listen to it in the store! Fuck it, this is it, I'm never buying another fuckin' garage comp!!"

I lied, of course. I would buy more comps. A lot of them too. My faith would never be restored. But it wasn't Hoosier Hotshots that broke my spirit. 
It was actually some impotent professor-esque albums that was flying under the flag of Big Beats  Nuggets From The Golden State. It just bored me out of my fuckin face. 
I swear - when I opened the CD-case, a moth stumbled out, coughed out some dust, wiped his glasses on his cotton vinyl-friendly gloves, spewed out some trivial facts about pressing plant numbers, release dates, locales and the benefit of making garage comps from masters instead of original 45's. He then checked his prostate himself, made himself a cup of green tea and passed out on the sofa. He's still there. He's funny, my friend the moth.

Yeah, Hoosier Hotshots ain't that bad. It has some immediate killers (Not killers really. More like manslaughterers. In selfdefense-ers)

We have XL's classic acid punk clawing itself into your ears. I can't stand that high-pitched fuzz but I guess it is a matter of taste.
Cirkit is undeniably one of the best tracks here. 
The Endd of Out Of My Hands fame (Pebbles #9) does a pretty damn neat hazy freakbeaty slice of psych.

Those three are the only ones that really grabs you the first listen. And they're all relatively pedestrian garage.
So you feel a little bit empty the first time you've listened through it. That is when you listen to it again. If not right away, then atleast in the near future.

And then details hiding in the dark corners will emerge, voices from testosterone of yore will beckon your name and you will slowly come to a realization: this is a good album.
It is not great. But it is good. 

I checked it out on Discogs and my-oh-fuck-me-my what an overpriced slice of sausage. 
60 bucks? Seems legit.. I tell ya, those vinyl-collecting pharaohs are paying too much. Masochists. Consider it entry fee for the country club.

And what did I do wrong this time? 
I repeated tracks. Second Choice and Tell Me Girl is on Before The Dawn goddammit!

I didn't plan to revamp this, but I did anyway, then Ichanged my mind and somehow they sipped through so when I changed my mind again I find I repeated those two fuckers.
Sorry 'bout that.

Vintage Review:

While regions such as the Northwest and New England and states like Texas, Pennsylvania, Florida, California, Ohio, Minnesota and even Colorado have been represented by 60s garage compilations, Indiana seems to have been ignored until now. To be honest, I'm not even sure where it is on the map! 
However, judging from this brand new album, the Hoosier State also had its share of frustrated teenage musicians learning how to play guitars when they could've been trying out for the school football team or doing their geography homework (so they'd know where to find their home state on the map). 
Hoosier Hotshots is a good package with a glossy cover (which smells great for some reason) and an info-packed 8-page booklet. 
Things start out with the XLs' "Second Chance," a creepy organ mezmerizer making good use of an unusual deadpan lead vocal, but I've little use for their other cut, a later psych thing on which the guitarist applies dentist drill fuzz leads to your nerve ends. 
The Cirkit show how fuzz should be used on "Yesterday We Laughed," which has a fat, aggressive fuzztone riff and some original tricks in the arrangement. 
The Wild Things are anything but, yet their "I'm Not For You" is an amazing mid-tempo haunter with some inspired changes and a magical basement production: all muffled bass, cheap reverb, rattling tambourine and almost-in-tune guitars. 
In the teen ballad stakes there's Sir Winston & The Commons, whose "One Last Chance" is a cool Merseyish pleader which sounds like it was recorded from inside the bass drum. The Teen Tones' "Long Cold Winter" is another heart-tugger enhanced by some lonely wind effects ala Joe Meek. Yeah! 
Blues Inc. turn in a nice, Zombies-inspired tune, "Tell Me Girl," complete with electric piano and breathy Blunstoned vocals. 
The Endd (of "Out of My Hands" semi-fame) make an appearance with "Come On Into My World." Trouble is, after a promising beginning, the second half of the song degenerates into a distorted facsimile of Robert Plant fronting Blue Cheer (kind of like a lot of those long-hair/cut-off jeans bands that are always on TV nowadays, come to think of it). 
I prefer the Dukes' "Take Your Love," a twisted minor-key pop song with simple guitar and bass interplay and a slightly spastic rhythm which keeps the song on the verge of total collapse - hey, sometimes that's the best place to be! 
Other good tracks include the Shooting Stars' "I Love Her Anyway," a pounding shouter (or should that be shouting pounder?) from the teenage Louie/Sloopy/Lupe Lu school of 3-chord tricks, the Brit-style R&B of the Backdoor Men's "Evil," and a fine incompetent thudder by the Ferris Wheel. All of these tracks support the basic premise of this enjoyable comp and others like it: to hell with sophistication - leave that to the wimps! 

- Mike Stax (Originally published in Ugly Things #11, 1992)