Hicks from ’70s sticks dig their way out of muck
Truth and Janey
In April 1976, an unpretentious numskull trio from some Iowa cowtown recorded this ballroom concert (longest endurance tests 9:05, 8:12, 7:21, 6:51), not issued on double vinyl till the early ’90s, and not on CD till now. To read their backstory, you need their 1,000-pressing 1976 studio LP, No Rest for the Wicked. There, Truth and Janey are more a redneck butt-boogie bunch; here, their humongous swing repeats inexorably toward monotony or trance, a gargantuan steam-press clearly indebted to strangleholds Ted Nugent was then inflicting. A high-pitched male voice in Creamora mode keeps the elephant stomps spacey rather than sodden—”White Bread” ‘s vocals could halfway pass for Jack White. The overall aesthetic has the drummer and bassist getting as stuck as possible in the stodge-blooze muck, then Billy Janey shoveling his way out with holy squeals of ungodly guitar: a good match for “Hard Road” ‘s words about wanting to get the hell outta Davenport, as is the catchiest hook—namely, the chorus of “My Mind,” an epic depresso anthem sliming its way up a musty Midwest-cellar staircase in a manner not far removed from what Pere Ubu were doing a couple states over at the time.
Hirsute ’70s nature lover paddles his own gnu
Wind From the Sun
Headbanded, Samson-haired, war-painted, bare-chested, myth-obsessed north Illinois Strat enigma Jordan Marcarus looks like some nutcase who’d run a venison-jerky booth at Native American festivals; he even does a song about Hercules. I actually prefer this near-solo session, previously released cassette-only in 1992, to the allegedly legendary and sometimes proto-G N’ R Revival, recorded a decade earlier with various buddies—and even that was a few years after his quartet-turned-trio Winterhawk had failed to lure in the already endangered Blackfoot market on the long and lonesome disco-era arena-boogie-opening-slot trail. Pothead liner notes (“Much of this music is best suited for intergalactic canoeing”) and lines about riding to the midnight sun affirm the absolute Icarus-rock majesty: awe-inspiringly fluid space-gurgle tapestries like you wouldn’t believe, rocking the mellow yet heavy like “Closer to Home” by Grand Funk. Not to mention stretched out on the hammock like Marcarus has all the time in the world, which he does, seeing how the opening cut lasts 14:24, during which its lushness takes plenty of detours, yet stays too body-consciously grounded and humble to freeze into mere prog. Suicide (elegantly in “From the Bottom Up,” self-effacingly in “Dreamerhood”) is a recurring theme; there’s also stuff about an airport fire. Final track is the good-humored and brief “Zak Jam,” kicked off with baby talk from Zachary Marcarus.
’70s warmongers ring in golden age of leather
All Your Pretty Moves
Nine tuneful cuts that’d almost fit on one side of a C-90, first sold on vinyl at 1979 shows by four scary dudes from Shreveport, Louisiana, doing not Rocky fight songs like their more famous namesakes but rather yet more he-man don’t-tread-on-me-decade metal, this time with a hard-assed funk undercurrent beneath proto-Priest melodrama spouting ominous preoccupations with “The New Order,” “Back to the Homeland,” and, er, “Kristallnacht” (which I hope is anti-), holy fuck. Their logo is an iron cross, the first song’s spoken-word midsection goes “the terror attracts, violence is the fashion,” and the shirtlessly scowling and muscleman-torsoed frontman wants to beat your face in. But the post-Hendrix/Lynott potato-famine-soul inflections in his singing are as hamfistedly uplifting as the likewise Thin Lizzified double- guitar leads, and his Survivormates’ hangdog mustaches and Jewfros might be clues that their career of evil comes with irony attached, especially given that they reportedly covered Blue Öyster Cult and Cheap Trick songs live, along with their album’s closer—a stellar seven-minute take on Mott the Hoople’s stupid groupie grope “Rock n Roll Queen,” years before Great White discovered Ian Hunter. Which is to say that, for punk-hating late-’70s AOR wannabes, these dorks had real smart taste. And though a genuine studio budget would’ve punched up their sound, their chunky war marches partake in an unforgiving forward motion regardless. Not to mention, in one instance, pirates: Mutiny on the Bounty is what “Black Sea” is all about.
Sludge in the ’70s: Rotted remains of obscure Middle American metal also-rans dug up, and oh the stench
by George Smith