When the Revolution Comes
Lord High Fixers
The breaking down of the blues into its most basic components is nothing new, thanks to the efforts of primitivists such as Mississippi's Fat Possum Records (R.L. Burnside, T-Model Ford) and theatrical pretenders such as Jon Spencer (Blues Explosion, Boss Hog). Many folks have commented upon the almost-punk energy that the blues transmits at this basic level.
Tim Kerr--longtime guitarist with Austin's legendary punk outfit the Big Boys in the '80s--has been hip to that transmission longer than most, a prescience marked by his formation in the mid-'90s of Jack O'Fire, a lurching, squalling, feedback-laden aggregation that resurrected Howlin' Wolf with a mohawk and safety pins dangling from his ears and eyebrows.
Kerr had been through many definitive post-punk Austin projects before that, including Bad Mutha Goose and Poison 13; on When the Revolution Comes, he mixes the garage-punk attributes of those bands with the blues base of Jack O'Fire and comes up with a back-door entree into the world of garage psych and the sounds of bands like the Count Five and the Stooges, with just a dash of ? and the Mysterians thrown in. Rough, howling, and loud, Revolution isn't for everyone, but if you like your music on the noisy side, it'll hit the spot.
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Vocalist Mike Carroll--who worked with Kerr in Poison 13--is a standard-bearer for the demented brat school of singing, with a delivery full of caterwauling, shrieks, and phlegm-y howls; when he sings "Take Me Home," it's not some smooth night-bird's request for love but a psychotic dare. Joining Kerr on guitar is Andy Wright, late of Houston's Sugar Shack, and the two fuzzmeisters are backed up by the rhythm section of Stefanie Page Friedman (drums) and Robbie Becklund (bass), late of the Spoilers.
The music on Revolution combines the piss and vinegar of punk with the traditional formats that garage psych bent to their own twisted will: a totally fried version of Willie Dixon's "Love the Life I Live," the original "Born Loser," which closes out (as do many of the tunes) with an outro jam straight out of the Blues Magoos' "Tobacco Road," and "Scatman," which is 100 percent vein-bulging fury, Carroll's raging vocals the perfect complement to the tune's rampaging guitars. They also cover the obscure mid-'60s garage classic "Save My Soul."
Kerr and company haven't lost their taste for semi-political pamphleteering, either, as they continue to carry forward the mantle of the Young Lions Conspiracy, a Sun Ra-initiated idea that calls for the return of honesty and emotion to music. Judging by the spark and sizzle of Revolution, the Fixers' status as co-conspirators is secure.