Thursday, July 19, 2012

returning to the topic of bands who specialised in cover versions (Dickies, Flying Lizards, Laibach, Residents, etc), forgot about Shockabilly

it's practically all they did

i suppose the cover version can be a means of showing-off one's radicalism or extremism, a modernist(ish) move rather than a postmodernist one

along with Eugene Chadbourne (who carried on doing quite a few covers in his solo career, if i recall right), Shockabilly also included Kramer. As in Shimmydisc, whose whole thing  -- or to be fairer, semi-whole thing -- was a kind of ironic yet genuinely yearning replay of the Sixties.  Kramer, as in Bongwater.

That's a Monkees cover. (Kramer's other half in B-water was Ann Magnuson, who came out of Club 57 and that whole Klaus Nomi/B-52s/John Waters-y  Mondo-irony-kitsch thing).

And Shimmydisc as in B.A..L.L..  Who to my mind always teetered just on the wrong side of the same line  that Butthole Surfers teetered just on the right side -- the line being that threshold where the past in pastiche become problematic

The first Shimmydisc album that came into my ken was a compilation called The 20th Anniversary Of The Summer Of Love.  There was one really amazing  trippy-but-not-too-retro track on it but for the life of me I can't remember what it was or who it was by-- but purely on that track's account, I kept the CD for years and years. Not sure if I got rid of it or still have it in storage


  1. My understanding was that Shockabilly were never a serious project to begin with -- just three musicians of different backgrounds who'd met around the way throwing together something half-assed for the sake of picking up a few extra dollars by playing at hole-in-the-wall venues around NYC, and having a few snickers while they were at it. A fair share of quasi pomo irony in blithely butchering former objects of reverence from the previous era -- just make sure you bring the rake this time, Eugene. Never intended as much more than a shits & giggles sideline thing. But eventually it caught on with a few of the proto-indie cognoscenti.

    The early EPs were almost all covers, but by the time they got around to their last two releases, you'll noticed that they started doing more of their own original material. Chadbourne has originally moved to NY to be a part of the improv jazz scene, so in later years he's never been wild about the fact that Shockabilly became the thing most people associate him with. And as you point out by citing Bongwater, it seems like the desecrated covers thing may have been mostly on account of Kramer.

  2. Also on the whole matter of playing-glib-with-older-musical-forms/genres: It's seldomly pointed out that rummer David Licht had been one of the founding members of the Klezmatics.