Wednesday, July 22, 2009

HOW LIVES ARE CHANGED: THE LAZY COWGIRLS

This post is seriously cribbed from a review of THE LAZY COWGIRLS' masterpiece "Tapping The Source" that I wrote for my old blog, Agony Shorthand, back in 2003. The band - and this record - were seriously developmental stepping stones for me personally, and I believe that its profile is way too low in the world today. Therefore I'm going to post several tracks from it so you'll have no choice but to purchase the full CD or LP if you can find it. Here's what I said six years ago:

"You know how some people are always asking couples how they met? For these kindly inquisitors, all romantic beginnings set the full context for everything that followed (never mind what really happened as the couple came to truly know each other). I'm kind of the same way when it comes to music. It's mildly exhilarating to learn of individuals' discovery processes; those happenstance instances where their musical tastes experienced a tectonic shift, or when they were introduced to a band or genre that ended up setting their standards for years to come. You know; the older brother who played you the Velvet Underground for the first time; the time you stumbled into the Minutemen show; the Skip James track you downloaded because someone said you might like it. I love that shit.

I was very recently presented with a crisp compact disc version of the LAZY COWGIRLS' "Tapping The Source", the popularly-recognized best record from a truly formative rock and roll band for me. My over-involvement with them led to a real love for raw garage-oriented rock; the deep discovery of bands such as the MC5, NY DOLLS, RADIO BIRDMAN and even the SHIT DOGS; and a period in which I bought more 45s of this "sound" than anyone would consider healthy. Listening to it again inspired a torrent of insular words. The Lazy Cowgirls showed up at the right time in my life, when I was 18 years old and ready for a home-town band to rally around. In 1986 these newly-minted Los Angelinos played a bill in Santa Barbara, California with AGENT ORANGE, the MENTORS (yes! The Mentors!), AGGRESSION and at least 1 or 2 other horrid hardcore bands. I attended with hopes of hearing Agent Orange play "Bloodstains", but it was the Lazy Cowgirls who blew me clean away.

These guys were the most incongruous garage-based punk band imaginable; total Indiana hicks with farm boy accents as deep as you can imagine; a balding, slightly overweight frontman who was MC5-style energy personified; and a total steamroller approach to the "live event". This approach boiled down to revving up the audience to religious levels, bashing it out for 45 minutes, then wrecking everything on the stage after an 8-minute scream through "You're Gonna Miss Me"; (always, always the set closer). Before that show I knew of the band from their debut LP "The Lazy Cowgirls", which was mostly notable because it was produced by Chris D. of the FLESH EATERS, who were a godhead band for some of my influential peers at the college radio station I was DJ-ing at (and who at this time were in the process of becoming my "favorite all-time band").

After that "tectonic shift" of a show, I saw the Lazy Cowgirls, no kidding, at least 25-30 times; every time they played in Los Angeles from 1986-1989, I and a posse of similarly-oriented drinkers with fake IDs would head down to the Anti-Club or Raji's to watch them deliver. I think there were at least two caravans up to San Francisco/Berkeley to see full weekends of shows there as well. Sick! I'd tell anyone who asked that they were my favorite current band. New records came out, the lineup changed a bunch, the band soldiered (and continues to soldier) on, and I more or less forgot about them around 1995 or so. I hear they're now a "bar rock" band a la the Stones or Divine Horsemen. Might be worth checking out one of these days for shits & giggles, right?

So I listened to "Tapping the Source"; again this week, this time attempting to hear it with the ears of a man unencumbered by all the baggage collected in the previous paragraph. I have to say it still holds up! No, not in the sense that it's a life-changer, but it is still a drop-dead raw and searing 4-track punk rock record, with every single track cranked out in glorious shit-fi. "Goddamn Bottle" was the "hit", but this record also has the longtime show opener "Can't You Do Anything Right?", "Mr. Screwdriver", and my fave, "Bullshit Summer Song". If I was hearing it for the first time I'd probably call it a real good record, and would maybe pull it out for a spin every year or so. Subsequent four-on-the-floor bands such as the New Bomb Turks owe a huge debt to these guys, as it was the Cowgirls who did the Ramones/Stooges/Dolls hybrd first and certainly the best. It (strangely) sounds fantastic on CD, as well."

Play The Lazy Cowgirls, "Bullshit Summer Song"

9 comments:

SDD said...

The Cowgirls helped inspire me to form The Humpers.....if that matters to anyone.

Holly said...

Oh man!

At some point in the mid 90s I misplaced my "Sock It to Me Santa/Goddamn Bottle" 7" after a 10 hour xmas music marathon. My life has been less complete ever since.

It seems here would be the place to find a kindred soul who has a copy of the a-side...

tom jones said...

isn't it on the sftri happy bday baby jesus 10"?

Holly said...

No. But thanks for encouraging me to dig it out - it's been a while!

aikin said...

hey - for some strange reason, I just found your blog. Great, great stuff. Thanks!

Rexx said...

Scott Deluxe Drake!!
The Humpers top my list of total ass-kickin' garagecore so it's wonderful to hear that the Mighty Cowgirls were a reason to birth the Humpers. You'll always be my fast, fucked and furious favs!!
I've got all your post-Humper output as well. Please keep your screamin' garage poetry flowing!

Charles D. said...

good article. I interviewed them a couple of times for me zine (along with the Humpers, Red Aunts and a bunch of early '90s LA-Long Beach bands). I wouldn't exactly call them a bar rock band...there 1995 masterpiece "Ragged Soul" is one of the best CDs from the '90s. After they lost original guitarist D.D. Weekday things seemed to go south...

Anonymous said...

The later cowgirls stuff was great,it's not bar rock or that country shit(as brain dead morons would say) its rockandroll only thing that changed was he got better writing songs
Sure he threw in an acoustic cut sometimes.so? So did bobby Dylan and the stones kinks who mc5 etc...anyway I saw the cowgirls a bunch always GREAT but his newer band the rank outsiders is as good if not better if that is even possible

Anonymous said...

I don't know... every since the "original" lineup (Keith Telligman, Allen Clark, D. D. Weekday) departed, it's was NEVER the same after that. Below par or should I say "substandard" music followed. The original lineup had so much more energy!... also the original band seemed to have more direction and opportunity. Too bad... the last Cowgirls' album tasted like watered-down milk without D.D. Weekdays razor sharp guitar.