We Found a 36-Year-Old KDKB Local Compilation -- Here's What We Thought Of It
Duane Davenport - "The North of Arizona"
I lived in Flagstaff for awhile, so I understand how being around those Ponderosa pines and aspens can feel like home. I still think Phoenix is a far better town, however, so I didn't care much for Davenport's descriptions of a "heartless city."
The Normal Brothers - "Fiddler and The Gambler"
Well, this song is normal alright. It sounds like every other fiddler song you can think of, but it warns that if you play music too much, your woman will leave you and take a plane to L.A. Just keep that in mind. Fiddling: Not Even Once.
Hans Olson - "Early in the Morning"
A pretty good attempt at a Muddy Waters -style song, it talks about leaving and ain't comin' back no more. I'm sure you can guess the time of day this exodus occurs. My favorite part is how Olson describes his musical style: "With just his acoustic guitar and harmonica Hans has been playing his folk, blues, and rock n' roll dance music for honkytonk audiences, in Arizona, since 1969." Huh. "Rock n' roll dance music for honkytonk audiences." Must be a lucrative target market, as Olson continues to play out to this day.
Dusty Chaps - "Keep Your Hands Off Her Stranger (She's With Me)"
I misheard the chorus to this song at first and thought it was a tune against one night stands. "Keep your hands off a stranger..." Never mind. This is actually about a guy who takes a girl out and tells these handsy fellows who this woman belongs to. It sounds suspiciously like the Statler Brothers. They formed in the summer of 1969, which immediately made me think these guys dropped acid in San Francisco and had a hallucinatory revelation to start a band. Somehow, I think I'm wrong about that one too.
The Fabulous Air Brothers - "No Regrets"
I swear these fabulous Tucson brothers use the same riff The Who use on "Baba O'Riley." It still sounds good here, especially when they begin noodling their guitars in a gentle, Grateful Dead sorta way. Fun fact: they were the house band at the Pawnbroker Restaurant and Music Hall once upon a time.
Fester Plugg and The Stilt Chickens - "Stilt Chickens Theme Song"
This is my favorite song on the whole album and it made the entire purchase worthwhile. It's definitely the most experimental song, recorded by the band's only member, George Gilman, in his home using a four-track home recorder. He fucks with the tape a little, speeding it up, slowing it down and twisting it all up. It sounds like some demented marching song, but the best part is the lyrics:
"Some folks call us cowboys / in spite of our long hair / some folks just ignore us / pretend that we're that not there / Some folks say we're crazy / I do believe they're right / because we'll sing almost any old song / if it helps us through the night.
We live in Arizona, the land of the desert sun / we don't work too hard and we don't get too much done. The intense heat doesn't bother us / we think that it's alright / 'cuz we sleep all day anyway and party all through the night.
Desert living could make a person crazy, I believe / People around here are the craziest that I could conceive. We have desert parties, that's how we get our kicks / Would you believe the things we do out in the sticks? We all drive pickup trucks and make them go kerspluts? Uh, what?
If we never make it big, we don't really care, / 'cuz we like living here, it's better than anywhere. Don't get us wrong and think that we would pass up the chance to strike it rich and own three good pairs of pants!"
It seems not much has changed in Arizona's outside reputation or slacker attitude, which was the whole point of reviewing this album, to see what's changed. I doubt most people would listen to most of these songs on a regular basis, but from a historical aspect, it's really enlightening. I wonder how future vinyl archaeologists will look back on compilation discs from the local Phoenix bands of today?
Troy Farah thinks about the present in the past tense at troyfarah.com