Hello, hello, I love you so
Yet it all began when I ran into you not so long ago
And since that day I’ve wanted to say hello, oh, oh
Hello, hello. Nothing says horror for me like the Partridge Family and so it is entirely fitting that my latest platter of horrors opens with a cover of a song by the-family-who’s-name-must-not-be-spoken-aloud.
It is sort of almost like totally Halloween and so it’s time to break out the Groovie Ghoulies Born In The Basement from the crypt I keep it locked up in. The band’s sophomore effort from 1994 just hits the spot for me. I bought this album totally and utterly on the cover alone, the fact that it was on blood-red vinyl was just the icing on the grave and the fact that the ever-reliable Probe Records sticker described them as ‘horror cartoon punk fiends’. Done, sold.
To a degree Born In The Basement hits all the right rackety Ramones-y, campy Cramps-y and febrile Fleshtones-y notes, the likes of ‘I Wanna Have Fun’, ‘The Beast With Five Hands’ (‘You really make me happy / You really make me sing / But I don’t think we’ll marry, I can’t afford five rings’) and ‘Back To The Basement’ rock like bad ‘uns, all naive hand claps and deliberately clunky chord changes and they’re as life-affirming to me as that kind of racket always is; there’s more going down here though.
The Groovie Ghoulies peddle a nice line in dumb, of course they do, but they sock it to you with a fairly large clever quotient and a side serving of melancholy too. Check out the clumsy yearning of, their cover of Love’s, ‘A Message To Pretty’ which is almost Neil Young filtered through a Sacramento punk pop lens and rather darned good for it too. Check out their cover choices ‘Hello Hello’ by that family, the 13th Floor Elevators track ‘Levitation’ and two tunes penned by Bobby Dylan, Eric Clapton’s ‘Walk Out In The Rain’ and ‘Hell Time’*. They don’t play them for laughs either, these are all played right, tight and well – the latter track is one of my very favourites on Born In The Basement – sod mucking about with Sinatra Bob, we demand that you give us an LP of Groovie Ghoulies covers!
Born In the Basement has been a bit of a grower for me, I have come to treasure its’ raw stripped down energetic sound, hidden romantic touches and rock and roll literacy. I really like the melancholy kiss off of ‘Think Of Me’ that closes proceedings. Kepi (singer) and Roach (guitar) were married** and the band didn’t outlast their marriage break-up, so the GGs only had a certain half life which is sad but ultimately the way punk bands should be. So, turn it over, slap it on again and get ready to have some real Halloween fun.
Some people go through life and never have any fun
I wanna go with you and baby I’ve just begun
Some folks are just too cool – never let down their guard
I wanna make you drool – I wanna leave you scarred
I wanna have fun with you
I wanna have fun on you in you with you near you
I wanna have fun with you…
805 Down (in the basement).
PS: I was going to paste a vid here, but Youtube is being a total arse-face tonight.
*recorded by Mr Dylan as ‘Band of the Hand’ on the soundtrack to the film of the same name.
**I seem to have a real thing for husband and wife bands.