THE MUMMIES : “FUCK CDs, IT’S THE MUMMIES” LP......
I moved to San Francisco in 1989 and quickly adopted four bands as the ones I’d rush out and see anytime they played: WORLD OF POOH
(who soon broke up
), THE DWARVES
, THINKING FELLERS UNION LOCAL 282
, and THE MUMMIES
. Of the big four, I only still routinely listen to music from the first two – somehow the Thinking Fellers stuff, while interesting & convoluted & at times a total blast of Beefheartian glee, just never came off as wild on 45 and LP as they did on stage during their 1989-1993 heyday (though I once called an album of theirs a “masterpiece” in print around 1991, a move which I remember skeptically pondering the long-term consequences of, even as I was typing it
). The Mummies
, well, I must have seen every show in the greater Bay Area there for a few years – they were the most honest and raw bunch of 60s garage aficionados around, at a time when all sorts of second-wave 60s punk freaks were forming bands and blowing doors off the inferior 1980s move-coppers. At times, they howled like the everlovin’ Sonics
howled, and even though they dressed up in costumes – almost always an inviolable, guilty-until-proven-innocent Crime Against Rock – every show was a total mess of sweat, beer and shattered eardrums. A 6-pints-a-night affair, if you know what I mean. Their cover picks were superlative , and they very consciously sounded like what we’d all imagine a band like LARRY AND THE BLUE NOTES
sounded like live, unlike how they undoubtedly sounded for real in 1965 (tame teenybopper music for sock hops, with a little crazy distortion on the guitar, right?
Why, I remember how “proud” I was when The Mummies’ first album
(the one we’re discussing today) came out on Billy Childish’s Hangman label; I believe the deal was a direct outgrowth from a set they played opening for MUDHONEY
and THEE HEADCOATS
that was just aces.....Childish (who was already pretty beaned up at the time; I know because I tried to kiss his ass for a minute or two - “So great to have you in the United States, Mr. Childish”
, etc. – only to get gibberish back) stood up front and positively glowed
at the band, and all of a sudden, the nascent San Francisco garage punk scene was validated. Anyway, we got this LP out of the deal, the only real full-length The Mummies ever waxed, and it was all well and good in its day. But until I put it on again last week, I’d almost completely forgotten about it for a decade, and remembered not having spun it much at the time. Why not, you ask? Well, unlike other early 90s garage landmarks like SUPERCHARGER
’s “Goes Way Out!”, THE GORIES
’ “I Know You Fine, But How You Doin’” and the CHEATER SLICKS
’ “Whiskey”, the Mummies stuff suffers from a sort of “tribute” mentality that suffuses the whole thing. Everything sounds like an updated 60s punk band or maybe 50s rockabilly/R&B act, with more raw oomph
and a deliberately precipitous decline in fidelity, sure, but not much like a truly great band in its own right. I mean don’t get me wrong – some of this just smokes, like “Red Cobra #9” and “Your Ass (Is Next In Line)”, and there are a few stud instrumentals on here too that show off the band’s “chops” without a lot of showboating. But a lot of bands pulled off records like this around 1990-93, and while this might be better than most of ‘em, my enthusiasm has diminished with advancing age and years of distance between me and my live-music-three-times-a-week twenties. A fine band, love ‘em to death, but worthy of canonization? Come on.