Tuesday, 10 April 2012

5 Great Rockers You've Never Heard Of

You know what my favorite part of being a music geek is? It's discovering a great artist, or a great record, that nobody's ever heard of, and having an opportunity to inform the world of their greatness.

I've done it before on this blog too, I've raved about Laito Lychee and about Charlie Terrell, but since everyone loves lists, I think it's about time I put together a Top-5 of relatively unknown rock 'n' roll guys I love and wish the whole world loved too. So here it goes.

5. Barrence Whitfield
Wow! The guy's a real rock 'n' soul screamer in the Little Richard tradition and his band, The Savages, is SMOKING HOT. Check out any of his albums (personal favorite: "Ow! Ow! Ow!", 1987), and if you don't get up and dance, then most likely you're already dead.

4. Charlie Terrell
There's a whole blog post dedicated to this guy, so there's no point in repeating the same stuff. If you've never heard of him and you love rock, blues, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, and all things southern, then you gotta check him out. I love Charlie, and you'll love him too.

3. J.D.Wilkes
This guy's the frontman for the Legendary Shack Shakers, the best punk blues band ever. On stage he's a lunatic, sort of like a cross between Iggy Pop and Jerry Lee Lewis, and his band will kick your ass. Bigtime. Their fourth album "Pandelirium" is one of the top-10 albums of the 21st century, real talk.

2. Mike Doughty
OK, now it's time to go all intellectual on your ass. Soul Coughing was an amazing band, but a bit too weird for mainstream tastes. Mike Doughty's ironic stage presence and strange storytelling made me fall in love with the band, and this particular song is still one of my all-time favorites, it makes me want to buy a set of bongos and write beat poetry:

1. Chuck E. Weiss
Chuck's not a guy, he's a novel waiting to be written, and a funny one too. I mean, come on man, what are the odds of the same person:

a. Playing the drums for Blues legends Lightnin' Hopkins, Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon and Howlin' Wolf, despite being white (and very Jewish),
b. Becoming young Tom Waits' best friend, and quite possibly his inspiration,
c. Being commemorated as the subject of a major pop hit, Rickie Lee Jones' "Chuck E.'s in Love" (1979, No. 4 on the Billboard Singles charts),
d. Hanging out with Johnny Depp and eventually becoming his business partner, and all this
e. Many years before releasing his first official album?

I had began writing the Chuck E. Weiss / Tom Waits / Rickie Lee Jones story (the three of them pictured above), but gave up because I can't possibly do a better job than this cat. So instead I'll just urge you to track down Chuck's three official albums, "Extremely Cool", "Old Souls & Wolf Tickets" and "23rd & Stout", and discover the man that could have been Tom Waits, if he hadn't chosen to become the real Lebowski instead.

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