Endless Boogie is a vanity band … The Endless Boogie band was to be fronted by Paul Major, our guiding light and guru in the quest for strange recorded music. Paul was unique, a superior advanced species.
So sayeth Jesper Eklow guitarist in one of my very favourite bands (you guessed it!) Endless Boogie. But he sayeth it in a great new book I bought recently Feel the Music: The Psychedelic Worlds of Paul Major (2017), which is a part biography of Mr Major, part selection of some of the rarest psychedelic records in the world and part insight into rare record collecting. Paul Major a native of St. Louis stared to surf for records in ’67, aged 13 and was immediately drawn to the oddments, the major label failures and he had a real revelation when he started to happen across his first few private pressings – this became the mother lode for his psychedelic journey and his career. To cut a long story short he freaked his way to NYC, worked in the Village Oldies record shop* and started to deal records in a major way, producing his Sound Affects and Feel The Music mailing lists** for weird music.
The book is a great, colourful read, the catalogues themselves are interesting as hell and I love his galleries of favourite/rarest/best deal albums where he casually drops comments like ‘one of only 2 known copies of this LP’, tells stories of how he used to see boxes of certain legendarily scarce albums just lying around and tales of a millionaire collector in Texas who has constructed a hurricane-proof bunker to keep his rarest records in – these are not things you’re going to pick up in HMV. It was a pricey book, but if you’re a weirdo collector, interested in psych, Endless Boogie etc then I commend this book to you. To sweeten the deal it also houses an exclusive 7″ with it with Major’s first band The Sorcerers on one side and a 5-minute Endless Boogie jam, ‘Acknowledgements’, on the other.
Which brings us onto that vanity band’s 2017 release Vibe Killer. This is their first not to be a double LP and I think the band’s sound benefits from that slight compression, as a previous reviewer somewhere I read pointed out the Boogie wasn’t a problem, but the Endless was starting to be. They were a band who had taken the term ‘long player’ very much to heart, an endemic problem for jam bands of any stripe. I mean I liked Long Island enough to make it the #1 LP in 2013’s Top 8 but 4 years on I don’t play it very often because it’s just too loooong (Island).
Opener ‘Vibe Killer’ is great. A slow loping, menacing track (‘I am your vibe killer / You’re done / This will end’) the band set the controls for the horizon, propelling themselves there with the sort of unfussily potent guitar soloing that always brings me to my knees. Everything breaks down and gets a touch psychotic for a while and then Endless Boogie drive it on home in a squall of feedbacking fuzz. Clocking in at 3:45 ‘Let it be Unknown’ with its’ bizarre ‘Give me a nickle and I’ll show you Don Rickles’ refrain, is the shortest EB song I know and maybe because of this comes over as abit inconsequential in this company.
By far the most disturbing track on Vibe Killer is the, brilliantly titled ‘High Drag, Hard Doin” with lyrics that sound, to me, like a drug deal/unrefined hedonism gone very badly wrong. The music is just awesome again though, diamond hard boogie, just the right side of sloppy and again with simply the best guitar solo I’ve heard … since the previous one on this LP.
Endless Boogie get da funk good style on Side 2 opener ‘Bishops at Large’ and it’s a really interesting diversion from their usual sound too. I’m not sure who the keys player is on this one but he does a damnably good job of it in a rolling and tumbling Stax kind of way. It would be my favourite track on Vibe Killer if it wasn’t for a heady combo of a broken arm, KISS, a bad acid trip and kites …
‘Back in ’74’ has an appropriately harder rock groove than usual and Major sing/speaks clearly. Major composed the lyrics after breaking his arm moving amps and told the tale of the last time he was ‘wounded’. Back in 1974 KISS played a kite festival in Forest Park St. Louis, Major and some of his chums, who’d shaved off their eyebrows the night before in homage to David Bowie, dropped acid and went up front – only to be turned upon by the crowd at the end of the gig. KISS didn’t bring their own kites. This is a stone cold nugget of greatness and would justify the price of the album all by itself.
LP closer ‘Jefferson County’ is the only track that feels like a bit of a let down to me, it ambles on comparatively harmlessly, which just isn’t enough in this context. CD buyers (boo!) get an extra track ‘Whilom’ and it’s a doozy, think Canned Heat in particularly cosmic mode stoned immaculate, slow though it is, it is still a tight track and would have swapped places with ‘Jefferson County’ if I’d have been in charge of things. There are also two bonus tracks^, ‘Trash Dog’ which is an excellently jagged, uptight affair and ‘Warp, Weft & Pile’ which sounds like the Malian bastard boogie son of The Doors’ ‘The End’ and is thusly very highly recommendedarooni.
As a 7-year fan of Endless Boogie Vibe Killer leaves me happy, it isn’t just more of the same which, no matter how good, puts me off bands after a couple of LPs, it is a progression. Vibe Killer takes what I love about the band for a long dusty ride out into some unfamiliar countryside and is all the better for the journey. This vibe’s alive.
We make our way up to the stage, right up front and the acid’s kicking in.
PS: ‘Acknowledgements’ is okay, but a little shapeless – I include it here because there’s an actual video of the thing. Warning: contains gratuitous scenes of Paul Major smoking, a lot:
*subject to a great chapter, or two in the book and is a shop I have been to.
**both of which make for surprisingly good reading, certainly for the more obsessive amongst us.
^both of which and ‘Whilom’ are included on the download card for vinyl buyers of Vibe Killer, which is the sort of touch that wins my undying fandom.