Okay, okay I’ve held off long enough, Endless Boogie – Long Island, this LP got me so hot under the collar I mini-reviewed it a few days after getting it In February this year. Cards on the table: I think Endless Boogie are a brilliant band who don’t get anywhere near the critical attention they deserve. I have a theory about this.
My theory is, since you ask so nicely, that it’s because they play a predominantly blues-based rock boogie which always gets marked down as poor man’s music and left, with the odd ZZ Top-shaped exception, as the preserve of fair-to-middling white-trash bar bands everywhere, and as such cop the attendant cultural snobbery. Some bands like Raging Slab played on this downwardly mobile chic. As with a lot of cultural generalizations there is a kernel of truth in this somewhere, but there is, I think, so much more to Endless Boogie’s, umm, boogie.
I’m not sure if quoting yourself is a sign of incipient monomania or just plain bad manners, anyhoo a genius cultural commentator of some renown once compared their second LP Full House Head to Krautrock and even the desert music of Tinariwen, the comparisons still hold, in places, on Long Island. That’s not to say this LP is a retread at all, Long Island to me is the sound of more, more, more – it’s more Krautrocky, it’s more Boogie-y, it’s more-y, sorry I mean it’s longer.
Opener ‘The Savageist’ was my favourite track on the LP, but there again I always was one for obvious charms and, cad that I am, my affections now lie elsewhere. At 13:32 it is a real statement of intent and sets out most of Endless Boogie’s qualities resolutely up front, growling damn near unintelligible vocals*, a groove that stretches on out to the horizon and more guitar breaks than is decent on a single track slathered all over. In fact the bits of lyrics that do shine through scare me, ‘you’ve got a pretty big mouth…’, it all goes a bit ‘Deliverance’ at that point and I start seeing canoes and arrows everywhere. It really is brilliant.
The second track, ‘Taking Out The Trash’ is one of the two most overtly ‘rock’ tracks here (and sounds like a close cousin of ‘Tarmac City’ from Full House Head) and clocks in at, a comparatively Ramones-like, 6:42. The guitar sound is just incredible and again puts me in mind of both The Saints and Rose Tattoo, it’s so dirty you really should have a tetanus jab after hearing it. After the free-flowing first track, this is much more structured and (horrors!) has lyrics you can hear, although I found myself singing along to the guitar, rather than the vocals last night. Behind every great man there may be a great woman, but behind every great band there is definitely a great drummer, Harry Druzd in this case and you can hear him to best effect on this one.
Next up ‘Artemus Ward’ – I know he was Abe Lincoln’s favourite writer but that’s all I can remember about the dude. This track is an altogether quieter more laid back, more meditative take on the boogie, with virtually spoken word vocals on top. The guitars this time almost forming a delicate decorative lattice-work around the song. ‘Imprecations’ has a real strident low-down Led Zep feel to it and notwithstanding some fine guitaring in the middle, is the least effective track for me on Long Island, again though the guitar tone the band and producer Matt Sweeney conjure up is a thing of rare beauty in itself.
Things get really interesting on the next (and best-named) track, ‘Occult Banker’. Again we are treated to a grand metallic boogie, which just repeats and repeats hypnotically, with yet more fine soloing layered on top, to the point where you twig that this really is a boogie equivalent of the whole Krautrock motorik concept (Motorgie? Boorik?) of progression through repetition, almost to the point of trancing out. This is especially the case when the band slide into ‘On Cryology’ without a gap in the tracks, which really does sound like an amped-up boogie version of Neu’s ‘Hallogallo’, I don’t really have the words to praise it properly. If it wasn’t for the absolute precision of the playing, the very exact rhythm section and the snaking twinning and twining guitars, it would feel something akin to a stoner moon shot.
‘General Admission’ breaks the mood again with some pretty filthy 70’s biker rock riffs and snarling guest vocal by Max Peebles, it is virtually boogie metal and I defy you not to nod your head appreciatively. Best of all though, well tonight anyway, is the closer ‘The Montgomery Manuscript’, another 14 minute slice of Boorik and a dead-ringer for Neu again, you could get lost in this tune and wander around for days before finding the exit. It is the artiest track on offer here and perhaps the best compliment I could pay it is that it’s too short for me – I could have done another 10 minutes before coming up for air again, if at all.
The brief notes state that,
‘Most songs on this album are on-the-spot improvisations with some added guitar and vocal overdubs’, which is something I would normally run from as fast as I could. But it works here, none of it feels self-indulgent or like filler, which is no mean feat for close on 79 minutes of music. I don’t want to get boring here but the quality of the playing is simply brilliant.
Trolls? the cover picture for Long Island is by a Norwegian artist, Theodor Kittlesen drawn in 1906, showing the Norwegian idea of trolls becoming, or hiding, within the landscape. The darkness and the heaviness alleviated by the one bright eye.
9:18? three tracks in a row, ‘Artemus Ward’, Imprecations’ and ‘Occult Banker’ all time out at 9:18, there is clearly a heavy significance I can’t grasp at play here.
Far gone and out!
*again the aforementioned cultural genius compared the vocals to ‘a misanthropic troll pleasuring himself under a bridge’ – I can’t think of another, or a better description at the moment.