Roky done right
For anyone lamenting the absence of a proper Roky Erickson retrospective covering the defining studio moments of his troubled though prodigious career, Shout Factory's I Have Always Been Here Before two-disc comp will be a welcome sight. Neatly packaged in a gatefold digipack with loads of rare photos and an informative essay, the 43-track set starts with the Spades' We Sell Soul and runs through Erickson's psych classics with the 13th Floor Elevators, his brilliant Doug Sahm -produced solo work that followed, his ghoulishly great mid-period descent into demonology and his surprisingly tight 90s comeback recordings. Exactly what you need to hear - no more, no less.
Before the funk era, roadhouse jukeboxes were loaded tight with greasy R&B instrumentals by swingin' organ combos of the sort featured on Soul Mission's Heavy On The Hammond collection. Despite the vinyl source material and the lack of accompanying notes, the track selection - mixing relative obscurities like Gene Ludwig's Mr. Fink and Joe S. Maxey's Right On! with proven club rockers like Louis Chachere's The Hen and the Village Callers ' Hector - is well chosen and perfectly programmed for your next beer-hoisting party. Shake yo'self.
Eegah, it's Arch Hall Jr.!
Between 1959 and 64, guitar-wielding Arch Hall Jr. starred in a string of straight-to-drive-in teensploitation classics like Wild Guitar, The Nasty Rabbit, The Sadist, Eegah, The Choppers and Deadwood '76, all produced by his actor father Arch Hall Sr., who let his boy cut his own wonderfully wacky tunes for the soundtracks. Naturally, the fine folks at Norton Records are Arch Jr. fan club members and have collected the never-officially-released music - along with choice bits of kooky dialogue - on the entertaining Wild Guitar comp. As always, the thoroughly researched and well-illustrated sleeve notes are a treat. Believe it or not, Arch Hall Jr. is coming out of retirement to play Ponderosa Stomp 4 at Mid City Rock 'n' Bowl in New Orleans April 26 and 27. www.ponderosastomp.com.
Melody Nelson part deux
For a long time I had no idea there was any connection between my fascination with Brigitte Fontaine 's Est... Folle and Serge Gainsbourg's L'Histoire De Melody Nelson until I noticed that Jean-Claude Vannier had a hand in arranging both. Since then, the appearance of Vannier's name in the production credits has become a mark of quality for me and many others who consider him the French David Axelrod. Listening to the concrete-style sound collages, funky bass lines, choral chants and adventurous cultural collisions on the Finders Keepers reissue of Vannier's overlooked symphonic-psych masterwork, L'Enfant Assassin Des Mouches, it's hard to believe that such a strikingly modern-sounding piece of music was conceived and recorded some 33 years ago. You need to hear it.