By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Your own backyard
It forever seems that Dallas' "music scene" is the Runner-Up: despite the plethora of local bands signing to major labels and modest front-page coverage in Billboard a couple of months ago, this town seems destined to finish no better than 10th, behind the Chicagos and San Diegos and Austins of this world. But, as the spate of local-only compilations (including the all-Denton Welcome to Hell's Lobby) have proven recently, you don't have to leave town to find what you need any given night. At worst, there are myriad bands in town that sound like your favorite band from somewhere else, and, at best, a couple dozen sound a whole lot better.
The Fry Street '94 collection, subtitled Back on the Street! and released on the Denton-based VIP Records label, is better than any live disc has a right to be: it manages to capture what most studio albums lack, the power that comes only from delivering in front of an audience, without sacrificing clarity. Highlights are the contributions from Funland ("(Die Like a) Satellite"), Baboon ("Happy Life/California Dreaming"), the Grown-Ups ("Mad Villain"), Caulk ("Wait"), and Vibrolux ("Volcano," a song not featured on the band's four-song cassette currently on sale around town). Pops Carter's "Baby, Come on Home" has the appropriate growl but gets Dentonized (too many horns), and surprisingly, the Earl Harvin-Kenny Withrow collaboration ("First Jam") is a bad move to kick off the disc--it's a meandering piece of art-rock, terrific musicianship in search of an actual melody.
A local compilation released through The Met, comprised of previously released material (except for Hagfish's misogynist, facetiously or not, "Buster"), does a fine job of crossing genres: Ronnie Dawson's infectious song-of-the-year "Up Jumped the Devil" exists next to Funland's cathartic "Garage Sale" exists next to the Cartwrights' near-classic "Crazy Broken Heart" exists next to Colin Boyd's sweet "You Act So Tough." But like most compilations, the results are split 60-40, at worst: Fireworks' cover of Link Wray's "Slink" sounds thin and dinky next to Dawson's enormous bad-ass swagger; Jack Ingram can't compete with Donny Ray Ford (it's a little like John Denver taking on George Jones); The Soup is disposable fun though nothing more; and Magic Box is more aluminum than metal.
But there are more delights--some expected and some surprising--than disappointments, ranging from 39 Powers' "Until Anything" (the only rock band in town fronted by a woman who sounds like a thousand choirs) to Bobgoblin's catchy new-wave-hits-of-the-'80s "Nine." But keep in mind it's a sampler: every band on this thing has a tape or CD out, and why pick from the buffet and hear only one song from, say, Lithium X-Mas ("Hip Death Goddess") or the Old 97s ("St. Ignatius") when you can sit down with the full course and own each band's full-lengthers? The Met's "Winter '94" is available for $3.99 at Blockbuster Music.
Rumors surrounding the death of Mad Hatters in Fort Worth are greatly exaggerated. Owner Kelly Parker explains that the club is merely moving to the old Crossing location at 224 E. Vickery, and hopes to have the place open sometime in early December. Mad Hatters is moving for several reasons, Parker says: the club's lease is up, he needs more space to book the occasional big-name shows, and zoning laws prohibit Parker from getting Mad Hatters out of the food-service business. Also, he adds, "our crowds have outgrown the neighborhood's tolerance for them."...
But the fate of On the Rocks, Deep Ellum's preeminent hard-rock hangout, is not so promising. After spending seven years on the corner of Commerce and Good Latimer, the club closed it doors on November 28--not because of financial failure, says booking agent Louis LeCamu, but because the owners of the building have sold it--to whom, though, is unclear right now. In a letter sent to the Observer, LeCamu promised that "I'm sure we'll be seeing each other again on down the road. Dallas is a big city, but it ain't that big."...
What's in a name: Cricket Taylor, now a year returned from her jaunt to New York City, has changed the name of her eponymous band to Velvet Soul. And Wig, featuring Analise Ripke, was forced to change its name to Blue Face when Island Records signed another band called Wig...
The Nightcaps, the seminal Dallas white-boy R&B band of the late '50s and early '60s that influenced the Vaughan brothers, will make a rare appearance December 2 at 7 p.m. at Borders Books and Music at Preston and Royal. Copies of their only album, the legendary 1960 Wine, Wine, Wine, will be available for $9.99 on vinyl only.