Travels With My Amp
The Groovie Ghoulies
Reviewed by Mike Mosher
Wednesday, April 12 2000, 7:45 PM
This one is fun! Imagine the Ramones doing a Halloween album. "She's the Daughter of Frankenstein," "Ghoulie Family," and "I'd Rather Be Alone (Than Be With You)" all hark back in wit, song structure and delivery to those non-nonsense lads. Some songs here are even less than a minute, so pay attention.
I jumped at the chance to investigate this disc as I'd seen the Groovie Ghoulies' cool horror-humor graphics, alluding to the memorable ads for scary stuff in the back of 1960s Famous Monsters of Filmland magazines. The "fun-filled map" by S. Britt in this CD carries on this tradition, depicting Area 51, chupacabra and bigfoot, Elvis' ghost and other mystery spots the foursome must have encountered touring in their van. "The Highwayman" is a fine road song--and directional mnemonic for several major freeways!--derived from this asphalt experience.
Simple, swingin' B-side rock applied to the little people. "Leprechaun Rock" immediately reminded me of Jonathan Richman. The Ghoulies soon responded to my thoughts of the sweet roadapple Richman by providing a cover of his "Dancing Late at Night."
The Groovie Ghoulies' "issue" song pleading interracial acceptance, "Hair of Gold (Skin of Blue,)" obliquely deconstructs whiteness in pondering "I'm not sure exactly where she's from/Somewhere probably European." In an odd conflation of 1950s radio and separatist feminism (and this is a two gal, two guy band) the band quotes no less an authority than white-tie-and-tails Ur-television clairvoyant Criswell to predict "You better be good or you're out the door/'Cause the women won't need the men any more."
I'll bet their practice room has a sign like "No Pompousness Allowed." The solid playing by Roach on guitar and Amy on drums keeps the machine whirring. Former Queer B-Face's bass is credible, while songwriter Kepi's vocals are as whiny as a garage rocker should be. Their sound is so stripped-down and constant, you feel like you've wandered into the tight set of a dedicated bunch of locals in the band at a really great school dance in 1965 or 1980, and you emerge a little sweaty, happy and refreshed. Don't look for variety here--as you never did in the Ramones--only a nonstop party.
Travels With My Amp is a Lookout Records release