… as Paul Major’s looped voice broadcasts at the end of ‘Dirty Angel’, summing up these records and his own career to date. Jam after jam after jam and long may it continue.
Aww man, you know me I’m not one to venture my opinion on an LP that can’t remember the moon landings, or Ronald Regan’s presidency at a push … sometimes though you just have to take a chance on writing about something (sort of) newer.
Endless Boogie Vol I, II has been out a whole three days now and I love it to death. There, I said it.
I have been championing these gnarly cosmic rockers since 2010 when Full House Head spun my world sideways and they have never let me down yet, 2013’s Long Island was my LP of the year, the Matinicus 12″ was excellent and 2017’s Vibe Killer was yet another classic jam. All brilliant, all similar enough to be comforting and different enough to show progression.
The band’s preferred métier is as old as the hills, rocked out improvisational guitar jams but the secret weapon in Endless Boogie’s arsenal is that, as a truly great music critic once wrote, ‘they put the Can in Canned Heat’. The band take their cues from the arty end of the strasse, Neu!, Can and all that VU drone and warp, cleverly toying with repetition and tiny increments of change. It’s a winning formula and one that done won me, good style.
Vol I, II is a chance to peer into Endless Boogie’s DNA a little as it is a compilation of their first two releases – not proper LP’s as such but hurriedly put together rehearsal recordings, they rush released in 2005 for a trip to England, 3 years before their debut proper, Focus Level. Before that they were a, self-described, vanity band formed in the art department of Matador Records. Vol I, II trace where this started to forge ahead from there.
It is pretty excellent right from the get-go too. Opening with ‘Outside Of My Mind’ Paul Major is straight into inarticulate growling mode, while the boogie gently stretches on out in front of us for 8 minutes, occasionally flexing an instrumental muscle or two.
Then everything ignites with the astonishing ‘Dirty Angel’, recorded in a single take. Imagine AC/DC* playing the Velvet Underground’s ‘Sister Ray’ in a medley with their own ‘Live Wire’ and you’re about there. The guitar tone makes me weak at the knees. The whole thing makes me want to break down and weep because it is so great. True story.
‘Stanton Karma’ is a lot calmer, in the way that 24 minute tracks tend to be. We are very much back on John Lee Hooker’s turf here and this is another beauty, wah-wahing out a little towards the end but mostly just spinning that gossamer thread of music ever onwards.
‘Came Wide, Game Finish’ is a mere tiddler at only 12 minutes long and it packs in a fabulous see-sawing riff attack, underlined with yet more inarticulate yowling and growling**. Sadly I’m only capable of about 5 minutes air guitaring at most, I will need to work on my stamina if I’m to salute this beast properly. ‘Style Of Jamboree’, the band’s second shortest ever track at 3:49, sounds like Hendrix mucking around in the studio after a hard day in a good way.
Vol I , II needed an epic closer, something to stand up against ‘Stanton Karma’ well ladies and gentlemen please welcome all 25 minutes of ‘Morning Line Dirt’ to the ring. It’s a real doozy too. Over the length of the track it gently unspools itself, starting slow and deliberately as everyone feels their way into it, before rising and falling as inevitably as an ancient empire.
What astonishes me is that even at such an early stage Endless Boogie had the chops and the skills never to bore us, which is, let’s face it a potential hazard for mostly instrumental tunes of this length and style. If you’re a fan at all then I cannot recommend this really nicely packaged release highly enough, if you’re EB curious then Vol I, II would make a great jumping off point too; but I warn you, once you get in, it’s endless.
Jam after jam after jam after jam.
*Seeing AC/DC in ’77 ‘along with about 200 other people’ was Paul Major’s best ever gig. Along with a certain KISS one.
**my fave kind. That’s not meant to be in any way disparaging btw Paul Major uses his voice mostly just as another texture all the way through Vol I, II and it works brilliantly.