Thursday, February 23, 2012
The Skunks on Last laugh Records
Well, well... here's another single from the Last Laugh conglomerate...they have about 5 million reissues I'm trying to get caught up on, and only because every single one is completely worthwhile. They are proof of the theory I have when my dad used to drive me nuts listening to oldies stations in the garage. They would play the top 40 songs from 1964, or 65 whatever year or month they were doing that hour, and after a while I started to wise up and say, 'Dad, these are the same god damn songs!!! They just rearrange the order...and you've been listening to the same 40 songs for how many years? Weren't there other bands around? Doesn't anyone want to learn about the local garage band who put out one single? Do they only care about the freaking Beach Boys?' Last Laugh has unearthed those bands that for whatever unfortunate circumstances didn't go on to be commercially successful, but were still creating amazing music, during a time when all you hear about are the Sex Pistols or god forbid, Disco.
Don't ever forget, kids... there will be bands you always remember because they did mindblowing things when first heard the single, and now no one remembers them except for a few other jerks on a message board, and the next generation of damn kids don't know anything, learn from history's mistakes. If you are lazy at least Harry has done the work for you.
I know I'm one of those know nothing dudes checking out this single from nineteen seventy god damn nine. But I will be one single smarter.
So The Skunks were a trio from Austin way before SXSW was even an abbreviation, and Jesse, Billy and Jon got together in the first wave of 'the punk' to drive the scene in the middle of Texas. I don't know if Austin was as progressive as it's considered now, so they probably had all that cowboy shit to deal with on top of an insular micro-scene.
"Can't Get Loose", brings tears to my eyes thinking about how back then you would have been so psyched just to have a single released...how much effort it must have taken to get this small run pressed or even distro'd for god's sake. Playing shows, probably talking to a million people and thinking about how you were going to make it happen night and day. The promo photo on the cover....how do you print the sleeve. It's a miracle things like this got made, but they cared so much, none of that mattered.
This track has a great early Cars demo feel, Jesse's vocals are layered almost in this kind of reverb style, and it's kind of country, a little raw, like a rocking Neil Young sound. It's not obviously punk in any kind of sneering, better than you sort of direction. It's the document of pure, raw rock, faster probably than anything around, less polished, but Jesse has this disarming half singing style, that's just holding off until the chorus, which is completely catchy and melodic.
I can't get loose from you no more.
The way the single slightly fades across the speaker, coming in a little stronger on one side probably has to do with the lone master that Harry repressed being slightly imperfect, but knowing Last Laugh, that was the way it came out and they painstakingly recreated the imperfections of the original.
That's the great thing about these artifacts, they're repressed in an unselfish attempt to disseminate these tracks in the format they were created: as a 45 single. The classic entry point to finding out about the band and going on to a full length, to getting into Jesse's novels...hell it even sounds contemporary, you could be fooled into thinking these guys just got together.
The B-Side, "Earthquake Shake" starts out with a massive cymbal crashing finale of a band finishing out an epic night to applause, but they're just getting started...this guitar distortion is perfect, the low, back in the mix vocal of someone that's just letting it lie... except for this chorus: "Do the earthquake shake"...which might sound kind of juvenile except this massive distortion and Jesse's barely yelling above this scuzz. They have a great sound here, insanely balanced between the instrumentation. It's got a lot of that Ramones big chorus sound with a raw country, it's grittier, even with the layered vocal, they're getting a big sound with less. Tighter and faster, and there's not a bit of irony or humor in this... from what I can hear, given this party lyric, it's incredibly serious, but maybe that's just because of the skill involved here in this execution. It might be funnier today to horribly attempt to play but when you can deliver the goods like this it's going to make it classic.
From Last Laugh Records.