One Kiss Leads to Another
||"Zip Gun Woman"
The Kama Sutra label was a hit factory for the Lovin' Spoonful
until they became the sister label to Buddah Records, when a streak
of non-commercial experimentalism relegated most of its output
far away from the charts. Labelmates to awesomely cement-headed
Brooklyn hard rock trio Dust, Michael Brown's post-Left Banke
combo Stories, and a rocked-out and revitalized Flamin' Groovies,
Williamsburg, Brooklyn's Hackamore Brick signed to the label and
issued one album and a 45 in 1971 before vanishing into the cut-out
bins. Whatever the public was looking for at the time, Hackamore
Brick could not puzzle out. What they did manage to do, however,
is become the first band to cite the Velvet Underground as a significant
influence--members of the group were said to have chaired the
Venus in Furs Society, the official VU fan club, while the band
was still active--and, moreover, bridge their late-'60s Factory
double-time chug with the searing, involved six-string search
of Television and the Patti Smith Group in the mid-'70s, despite
having only surface connections to either. (One could link Lenny
Kaye to working with another Kama Sutra artist, Andy Zwerling,
in this era, and both Zwerling and the Brick sharing Richard Robinson
as a producer). If for no other reason, Hackamore Brick are a
crucial band by virtue of the development of these sounds between
generations and scenes.
But the record, man! Over the years, this thing has grown on me
like no others of its kind or time. With the aforementioned VU
influence in place, Hackamore Brick sought to burnish that group's
amphetamine drone into a more accessible pop-rock framework, but
instead added more touches of originality than could be expected,
energized by warmth, struggle, and loss, and to say they accomplished
this is an understatement. The guitar playing that became synonymous
with Television is there right off the bat with "Reachin',"
a heart-rending ballad that questions the ongoing battles in Vietnam
with that of personal character, wondering if there was a man
who could really brave the war and return spiritually intact.
They chug along with Loaded intensity on the groovers "I
Won't Be Around" and "Oh! Those Sweet Bananas,"
then double-back to an even greater height on "I Watched
You Rhumba," and when that organ kicks in you won't be able
to keep from nodding your head. Ever the classicists, their "Radio"
is a love song to the medium--and simultaneously a dead girlfriend
ballad, the albatross of early-'60s doe-eyed pop (see J. Frank
Wilson's "Last Kiss"). They cap the album off with "Zip
Gun Woman," proto-punk that eclipses a similar sound the
Modern Lovers would mine by a few years. Also included in this
reissue is the impossible-to-find "Searchin'," a Jimmy
Webb tune that only appeared as the B-side to the "Radio"
single; this is as complete a picture of the band as has ever
been made available.
It'll either click with you or it won't, but those who dig Hackamore
Brick will be singing their praises for years to come. I've owned
a copy of the original for about four years, and rarely does it
get filed back on the shelf. Out of all the "lost" albums
out there vying for your attention, this one is definitely more
worth the chance than a lot of others. It has a strangely satisfying
common touch and is executed so effortlessly, it'll sound like
something you've been familiar with for a long time. [DM]