Writing about music is like dancing about architecture

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Jerry Cole - Between Surf and Psych

Between his reign as the go-to guy for surf and hot rod instrumentals (read about it here) and inadvertently spawning a slew of psychedelic cash-in (read about The Id and the Animated Egg here), Cole was involved in a series of rockabilly inspired records. Sticking with the Bihari's Crown and then Custom labels, Cole followed the tried and tested cheapo record formula - get into the studio, record as much material as possible, use as many old ideas as you can (why waste anything) and leave the design geniuses at the record label to package them up in as corny a way as possible. If you want to read more about Crown click here.
However, despite everything seeming to count against these records having anything of interest in their grooves, Cole's musicianship and professionalism shine through.
Its not psychedelic, its not surf, its not really even rockabilly. But don't let that put you off. These are worth turning your ears to.

Credited to the Stinger, Guitars A Go Go features some fine, fuzzy blues based playing. I particularly like Mo Jo, which is really just a Howlin Wolf knock off - but this is the world of exploito so who cares? I'm also partial to the opener, 007 Rides Again, if only because the title is trying to link the record to the Bond-craze. Its got zero to do with James Bond. Meanwhile, Mustang has a very Buzzsaw-type vibe with loads of Link Wray-esq fuzzy guitar action. Side one closes with Dang Thing which has some nice, clean, surf playing from Cole. I'm pretty sure it appears on one of his hot rod records but I can't place it. Time to crack open the sax for side two and frankly, to these ears, its not an improvement. That is until we get to the slightly crazed, uptempo One for the Money. You can image the kids go-going to this one! All in all I like what the Stingers are doing on this record. Sure the production is almost nonexistent and sure the music is derivative but its no-nonsense fun stuff. And I've got to love it for that!

It made a kind of sense to put out the first Stingers record in 1965 but by 1967, when Volume 2 (now credited to Jerry Cole and the Stingers) came out it must have been old hat. However, it does open with Yeah Yeah Yeah, which is just The Id's Boil the Kettle Mother without the strange lyrics. Done in a more obvious rock and roll style its pretty good although it fails to reach the levels of weirdness the Cole got to with the Id. There's a lot of very fine blues-y piano on this record, and thankfully no sax! It's not as good as its predecessor, however. As usual the titles are amusing as they are obviously trying to reference hits of the day. Paperback Lover (Paperback Writer), Along Came Mary (And the Wind Cried Mary), Yeah Yeah Yeah (She Loves You Yeah Yeah Yeah).

Its a return to form with A Go Go Guitars, although unfortunately not a return to fuzzy guitar. Now Jerry has dropped the Stingers altogether so perhaps Crown thought people would buy the record for his name alone. It opens with Hip Hugger - which appeared in a different guise on a number of other Crown exploitos. And guess what, next we have another version of the song that would become Boil The Kettle - here called Boss Hair. I'm sure I've also heard Teen Age Fair before as well, but I'm so addled by all these exploito records I can't be sure where I've heard it. Side 2 has a distinctly blues-derived sound and while its a long way from actually being the blues, its very listenable for all that!

What do you do when there's a new 'fad' and you are a knock-off label like Crown? Of course you repackage your old stuff as new stuff. Don't buy these records. Why I hear you ask? Because they are just repackages of the A Go Go/Stingers stuff, because they are NOT psychedelic in any way, and because, for some reason, they sound even worse than their predecessors. 



  1. Crown pulled albums like this off all the time. The well known artist budget recording were often lack luster, and for a good reason!

  2. They did this with the Ventures on compilation albums such as "Running wild". There were a bunch of compilation albums with new song titles to make it look like original albums. They also repackaged classic album such as the "Ventures in Space" with new covers and dropped a few songs altogether. How cheap can you go on an album with only 24 minutes of music?


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