Monday, December 07, 2009
CD Review - The Woggles - Tempo Tantrum
Wicked Cool Records
From my most recent assignment at Hybrid Magazine:
Over nearly two decades, Atlanta's prime purveyors of reverently retro rock and roll, The Woggles, have released a veritable cornucopia of albums, singles, compilation and tribute tracks, spanning a handful of lineups. Most of The Woggles' releases have had at least one toe firmly planted in a sort of southern trashy garage soul vibe. Yet their catalog has also clearly indicated an abiding appreciation of a wide swath of vintage flavors, such as surf music, spaghetti Western soundtracks, and other appropriate drive-in sonic fare. This appreciation is demonstrated by the way the band has sprinkled various tracks reflective of this admiration throughout their releases over the years, often either as b-sides to singles, or on tribute compilations.
Which brings us to their new release, Tempo Tantrum, which is essentially a retrospective collection of instrumentals (originals and covers), all but one of which have been previously released, though many on very obscure, out-of-print, issues. For those relatively new to The Woggles, this is pretty much a must-have record, in large part due to the inclusion of their instrumental cover of The Monkees' "Valleri", and their cover of The Fleshtones' "Theme From The Vindicators", each an homage executed with deserved respect, yet tinged with the raucous sweaty energy for which The Woggles have long been known. Even longer term fans who may not have kept pace with The Woggles' exhaustive release schedule over the years will find this collection an interesting recapping of the band's instrumental lexicon, underscoring the various lineup changes and guest players who have aided the band in its exploits over the years.
A couple of songs in particular stand out above the others. Notably "El Toro", a worthy homage to the spaghetti Western soundtracks of Morricone and Nicolai, but brought to date with rock drums and a driving bass line. Another highlight is "Los Angeles No Niseimaturi", which originally appeared on a vinyl only EP release a few years ago, and was apparently recorded as an act of sonic reverence towards Nokie Edwards-era Ventures. "The Elbow Twist" is a fine go-go combo organ driven stomper. Even the one true vocal track on the album, a cover of Dick Dale's "Mr. Peppermint Man" (taken from a 15 year old 10" vinyl tribute release appropriately titled "Dickheads") has 1962 stamped all over it. Given the very nature of The Woggles as a band, this is a good thing indeed.
The above notwithstanding, the band is now at a point where two of its last three full-length releases have been retrospective collections and The Woggles, who are indeed still active, have only put out one new release of new recordings sine 2003. Here's hoping that the Professor, Flesh Hammer, Dan Electro, and Buzz Hagstrom get back to the business of penning the best in balls-out revival retro rock and roll sooner rather than later. After all, as Meredith Ochs (of NPR's All Songs Considered) once said, a Woggles show "will change your life," and there is nothing like a brand new release of brand new songs, to give cause to bring The Woggles to your town.