New York’s garage-rocking Fuzztones — Rudi Protrudi, Deb O’Nair and three lesser-named cohorts — do their wild Crampabilly thing on Leave Your Mind at Home, seven numbers recorded live. The sound approaches bootleg quality, but that hardly matters — the shrieks and demented guitar solos here don’t exactly call out for laser-level fidelity. Raveup enthusiasm is all that counts, and that’s exactly what the record delivers.
Lysergic Emanations is a fab studio LP, released originally in the UK and then, with new graveyard cover art (by Protrudi) and two different tracks, in the States. (It’s also available as a pic disc.) The sound is pure ’60s garage punk — the Seeds, Chocolate Watch Band, Yardbirds, Animals, ? and the Mysterians, Standells, Shadows of Knight — produced clearly but without any excessive slickness. Absolutely first rate.
In fine early ’60s rock’n’blues tradition, the 1984 live EP consists of the Fuzztones backing up veteran grandmaster Screamin’ Jay Hawkins on four of his classics, including “I Put a Spell on You” and “Constipation Blues.”
Live in Europe is preferable to Leave Your Mind in most areas: fidelity, audience participation and song selection are all superior. The only weak link is the band: with the onset of either boredom or laziness, they sleepwalk through this date. The Fuzztones’ original lineup fell apart not long after but, as Creatures That Time Forgot certifies (in screaming day-glo), not without leaving quite a legacy. Single and compilation tracks are interspersed with demos (neanderthal stomps through “The Witch” and the otherwise unavailable “Fabian Lips” really stimulate the adrenal glands) and deadpan interviews from sources as unlikely as The Larry King Show and Finnish radio. Priceless.
Protrudi relocated to Los Angeles and assembled an all-new Fuzztones, largely with fellow New York expatriates. This edition had precious little in common with its antecedent — instead of energized ’60s raunch, the emphasis is on sludgy, sub-Steppenwolf biker rock (although, applying a you-can-fool-some-of-the-people-all-of-the-time mentality, the psychedelic trappings remain unchanged). Kindred chameleonic spirit Ian Astbury (who’d soon regress backward to the exact same spot where had Rudi arrived) helped the band procure the record contract that yielded In Heat, a jumbled mess of styles that’d fit easily into Astbury’s closet. The few involving moments — the incongruous anti-draft missives “It Came in the Mail” and the self-explanatory “Me Tarzan, You Jane” — date back to the band’s first incarnation. Newer Protrudi compositions like “Nine Months Later” and “Hurt on Hold,” both of which appear on In Heat and their respective EPs, are at once listless and noisily monochromatic (though the Hurt on Hold EP boasts a fair rendition of the Troggs’ “Can’t Control Myself”). Action‘s four songs further prove the Fuzztones’ original reactionary philosophy to have been right on (man).
Between the Fuzztones’ East and West Coast eras, Protrudi assembled the Jaymen, a short-lived reverb instrumental trio. With recording quality that would make a bootleg dealer blush, both the full-length German album and the eight-song American mini-LP (no overlap; the latter boasts a nutty live version of “Batman”) are the fun-filled results of an informal 1986 session and sound — thanks in no small part to the genuine-article songs and properly reverent originals — like long-lost Link Wray outtakes.
When the Fuzztones and the similar (if more ’60s-reverent) Tryfles disbanded and melded, the resultant Headless Horsemen began to rebuild a lost past somewhere between the Flamin Groovies and Easybeats. Initially a trio overly inclined towards acne-era Who, by the time they hit vinyl, the realigned Horsemen foursome had invented a more stylistically singular pop music, spanning quiet introspection to hyperkinetic blueball odes. Echoing Green in their Kinksian romanticism of lust and longing, the Horsemen also shuffled frontmen and moonlighted occasionally as Chris Such and the Savages (incisive Anglo-rock esoterica name), playing spirited covers of familiar beat rockers. The Headless Horsemen dismounted as the decade turned.
Before the Fuzztones, Rudi and Deb were at the center of Tina Peel, a loosely constructed Harrisburg, Pennsylvania power-pop troupe that also tangentially involved future actress/Bongwaterite Ann Magnuson. The Extra Kicks tape contains perhaps rock’s best poodle-in-the-microwave ditty (“Fifi Goes Pop”) and a mind-numbing selection of penile paeans — two of which (“Wang It” and “Exception to the Ruler”) can also be found on the legendary You’ll Hate This Record compilation.