I’m not the only person to have posted these tracks in the quote-unquote blogosphere, but I’ve lived in perpetual terror for too long thinking that there might be some of you who’ve yet to hear them – so here it is, MORTY SHANN AND THE MORTICIANS. As I understand it, these two guttural howls from 1960 remained unissued and unloved until Norton Records set fit to put them on a 45 a few years ago, and then later comped them on the “KICKSVILLE VOLUME 2” rockabilly acetate collection. I was floored the first time I heard them. Think screaming HASIL ADKINS-style hoot, mixed with raunchy throat culture vocals a la THE TRASHMEN (an inspiration? When did “Surfin’ Bird’ come out? Wow – the always-reliable Wikipedia says 1963), and then muddle up the fidelity real real good until you’ve got an absolute Top 10 contender for the Primitive Shit Rock hall of fame. Plus the songs just scoot, too. I wouldn’t call it rockabilly at all – it exists in an almost otherworldly place of its own, and if it’s really from 1960, as Norton says it is – holy crap.
Here’s what I wrote about this record (the 45) a couple years ago:
Made reference to these guys a few posts ago and got an email saying, "who??". Well. MORTY SHANN & THE MORTICIANS were unknown to history until Norton found their unissued 1960 recordings of these two songs and quietly set them loose along with all the other sleeveless 45s they pushed out a few years back. I sort of picked this one out of a catalog on a whim and was just floored when I heard it. Primitive Shit Music? Puh-leeze. This is so raunchy and bug-eyed insane it puts even the TRASHMEN to shame. Morty is a frog-voiced, gravel-throated belter and his band plays off-the-rails, poorly-tuned madman's rock that's completely frantic and pulse-quickening. Before your breath can be caught and your nerves steadied, each 90-second retarded wonder is over in a big unexpected flame-out or quick fade. Fans of BUNKER HILL, THE PINETOPPERS and the fastest of the early lo-fi rockabilly pioneers will be very pleased, but this really ain't rockabilly, nor R&B -- just pure white frat trash. It'd be real nice to know who these guys were and where the hell they came from & if they ever tried to inflict this sound on a paying audience.
Play Morty Shann & The Morticians, "Movin' In"