Monday, March 19, 2012

Brood of Bo, Sons of Vega

"... I never heard anything avant-garde. To me it was just New York City Blues."

The legacy of Suicide has been well-documented, (beloved band loved and covered by Bruce Springsteen, blatantly ripped off by the humourless, attitude-merchants of A.R.E. Weapons, revered by Spacemen 3, that t-shirt in The Adventures of Sebastian Cole) but that of Alan Vega's drum-machine-driven rockabilly solo efforts? Not as much: a bit of love from Jarvis Cocker, occasional name-checks for the septuagenarian sculptor... If Suicide's first and second albums were homages to the bossa nova rhythm setting on a church hammond organ, Alan Vega's solo outings were paranoid hymns penned by a basement-bound, pock-marked loner with aspirations to become a leering leather-jacketed lout - betraying a fervent love of Bo Diddley. Alan Vega's solo work positively reeks of the fumes of model airplane glue: all slap-delay, finger snaps and meandering nervous vocals.

The solvent-abusing duo Royal Trux and Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, would have been the ideal practitioners of Vega's brand of nervous rockabilly, be, unfortunately they were side-tracked by the more unseemly elements of 90s production, and presumably the kitsch-pit ethos of the Grand Royal magazine and label. (Royal Trux built upon the woozy swamp rock of the Rolling Stones' Ventilator Blues - so it's not a total loss.)

Lisbon, Portugal's The Legendary Tigerman (nee Paolo Furtado) mines the same territory as Alan Vega (the absurd turns of phrase, for example) although the production is a bit slicker, his croon more self-assured, so that he comes off more like a continental Chris Isaak.

Also a solo artist, Montreal's Bloodshot Bill boasts an anthropoidal warble that's a direct descendant of the hyperventilating howling of The Cramps' late Lux Interior.

Finally, and most enjoyably, Mac Demarco, known formerly as the fuzz-obsessed Makeout Videotape, is another addition to the children of Alan Vega... I'm A Man showcases a killer deep-registered voice, inventive guitar work and pleasantly lo-fi production. It's not a cover of the Bo Diddley song of the same name, but worthwhile anyways...

No comments: