Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Collection: Kim Fowley - Under Ground Animaldotdotdot
artworkKim Fowley! What do you say about Kim Fowley? If he moves in next door, your lawn will die! He is among the most enigmatic and unusual independent producers on the rock & roll scene - EVER! The girth of his work spans more genre than just about anyone. While the quality of his work varies, there was never a shortage of ideas. Where Joe Meek had a "technique" centered around compression and a wall of sound he heard in his head when he was alone, Kim Fowley straddled the line between the forced humor of Frank Zappa and the creative documentation of real working bands.

Kim Fowley's career spans five decades. This CD compiles a cross-sectional slab of his work from the fifties and sixties. Among the gems unearthed hear are his aptly titled "Worse Record Ever Made," which was a ludicrous narrative attempt to fill two minutes over the "Louie "Louie" progression played by the Snowmen of "Ski Storm" fame (later to become the Sun Rays) while Althea & the Memories "partied" loudly in the background. Althea & the Memories were "discovered" singing at a hot dog stand at Selma & Vine in 1963. It was issued in '63 on the illusive Trash Records label.

Also of particular note is the inclusion of one of my faves from the allies of the sixties garage band era, Sacramento's Rogues doing "Wanted Dead Or Alive." It's a thickly produced somewhat muddy track inspired by "Hey Joe." Oh yeah, and then there are the instros...

This is a dandy look into the legacy of a true original, Kim Fowley.
Picks: Geronimo, Charge, Teen Machine, Fall Out, Moon Beat, Vito and the Hands

Track by Track Review

Geronimo dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This 1959 track came out of the same Hollywood studio regulars that were the Gamblers and so many others. Nick Venet (before becoming a famous session producer) , Sandy Nelson (while he still had two feet), Bruce Johnston (before joining the Beach Boys to replace David Marks) and Richie Podolor (before being Richie Allen and the Pacific Surfers, the Devons, the Super Stocks, the Ghouls, before engineering for Ed Cobb at the Chocolate Watchband sessions, and before producing Steppenwolf and founding American Recording). It's a perfect upper Midwest buffalo bop styled instro... a basic riff and lots of Indian stereo types... whoops and hollers, gun shots, and dull cries of "Geronimo" Very fun. "Geronimo" was included in the soundtrack to "The Ghost Of Dragstrip Hollow."

Charge dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Opening with a trumpet blasting out the charge, and covered with woodblock horse hooves, this two chord wonder with a spiffy melody riff is both a fifties backwoods marvel and a pre-surf tune waiting for a decent reverb treatment. The plinky piano is so Leon Russell (though he isn't credited). ""Charge"" was included in the soundtrack to The Ghost Of Dragstrip Hollow.

Teen Machine dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Speaking of the Gamblers, this is a follow-on to 1961's "Moon Dawg" c/w "LSD-25." The drummer on this session is Mel Taylor just before he joined the Ventures. It's a cheesy organ dominated piece, not even remotely similar to "Moon Dawg" in style. The lead guitar employs a pretty intense tone for 1961.

Fall Out dotdotdotdot
Pre-Surf (Instrumental)

August 1961 was the release date for this single. It is more surfy that the Ventures, though certainly influenced by them. Considering it was released the same month as Dick Dale's "Let's Go Trippin'," it's quite surfy and perfectly poised to help define that transitional period between the Belairs' Mr. Moto" and "Miserlou." This pre-surf watery tune was cut by a Texas band, and licensed out by Kim Fowley. It's quite fluid, and Spanish influenced, with Fireballs style damped plucking as well as whammy and round full guitar tone.

Moon Beat dotdotdot
Pre-Surf (Instrumental)

Less surfy and more Spanish than "Fallout," this is nonetheless a solid and enjoyable guitar instro of serious merit. Lots of country influences too.

Vito and the Hands dotdotdot
Psychedelic Sludge (Instrumental)

In 1966, Elliott Ingbar (Captain Beefheart & his Magic Band, the Mothers of Invention, etc.) lead this studio construct which featured the Byrds' dancers. Heavy, hinting of the Captain's "Mirror Man" sound, and a soundtrack to your delirium. Heavy, thick, and not of this earth.