Well. Here it is. The moment both of you have been waiting for. The first 5 plus 1 plus 1 inductees into the Big Rock Candy Mountain Fringe Hall of Fame.
These entrants are my choices. Over the next forseeable future we're gonna ocassionally alternate between reader submissions/nominees (of whom I'm still responding to. Thanks for all the emails!), and a series of polls compiled from YOUR suggestions. If you don't like a list of nominees, tell me who I left out. We're a Demo Crassy here, so tell me what I'm missing or who I'm overrating. There's a poll at the bottom of this post. Vote early and vote often.
First, I'm giving out a Legacy induction to Mr. Harry McClintock. Regular readers here will already be familiar with my obsession with McClintock. This is the third time I've posted about him. McClintock is responsible in some part for the title of this blog. View my February 18th post for the full story. Harry's a bit of what it's all about isn't he? Putting the myth of the hobo, the long lost freedom of roads and rails that never existed, on the musical map. It's about the journey, not the arrival. Harry welcome to the Hall.
Harry McClintock: Hallelujah I'm a Bum (mp3)
Now for the rest.
Junior Kimbrough. Kimbrough may, by some folks estimation, be the last great Blues Man. Best known as the flagship artist for Fat Possum, and his appearance in the documentary Deep Blues, Junior had already been making his version of Mississippi Hill Blues for 40 years before being "discovered". It's the raw hypnotic style of his guitar playing, and his full throated wail descending into hushed, scratchy meditation. While Kimbrough had his influences, primarily Fred McDowell, he sounds like nobody else before. Ultimately, and too late, he became a touchstone for future musicians, an influence himself.
Junior Kimbrough: Sad Days and Lonely Nights (mp3)
Charlie Feathers. The real King of Rockabilly. In his book "Lost Highway", Peter Guralnick states about Charlie "...what seems to have held Charlie Feathers back was an absence of polish, an inability to adapt, the same forthright and unsophisticated manner that creates a wall of isolation around him even today". Sounds like a poster child for our little corner of rock revisionism. Feathers played it nasty and, yes, greasy. His back catalogue is a complete mess of starts and stops, but when he was on, he took his honkybilly into a stratosphere few can touch.
Charlie Feathers: Cherry Wine (mp3)
Screamin' Jay Hawkins. Well. Without Screamin' Jay, there is no Cramps. No Alice Cooper, Marilyn Manson, New York Dolls, Kiss, Gwar, Gories, or Mr. Quintron. Realy. Plumbing the depths of the darkest of souls, Hawkins set the standard for all things that go creep in the night. He's regarded as a novelty act now, which is unfortunate because it's hard to put into context how chilling his songs were back in the day. They still are, frankly. I'm not sure what devil Jay sold his soul to, but that muther could sing. Hawkins originally wanted to be an opera singer (!), but opted instead into rock and r&b. The world's a better, if slightly scarier, place for it.
Screamin'Jay Hawkins: I Put a Spell On You (mp3)
The Legendary Stardust Cowboy. The Ledge. If Screamin' Jay perfected shock, the 'Cowboy invented Punk. DIY never sounded so perfect and so fucked up. What was the deal with this guy? Who really knows. There's a great film about the man which I would highly recommend, Cotton Pickin' Smash, which should be available on DVD now (or very soon). When I saw the film here in Chicago, there were approximately 6 of us in the audience. For it's premiere. That's kind of telling, if unfortunate. We're not talking easy listening. Indecipherable murmerings followed by blasts of his bugle horn, a guitar eternally tuned out of tune. Like the best of "Outsider Art", the Ledge is unconscious of the rules, or just doesn't give a flying fuck. And in "Paralyzed", it was the Ledge, not the Shaggs, who set the standard for the legions of indie rockers, both good and bad, to come.
The Legendary Stardust Cowboy: Paralyzed (mp3)
Captain Beefheart. What can I say? The good Captain takes Howlin' Wolf, marries him to the Dadaists, and takes ole Hank along on the shotgun wedding. If Zappa is a salad, Don Van Vliet is a stew. Trout Mask Replica is the one most slobber over, and fair enough. But it's only a small, and admittedly dense, corner of Beefheart's musical palette. From barnyard stompers and fuzzback freakouts, to laconic mezmeration, the Capatain placed a middle finger on the art of expectation, and took off on a rocket all his own. And yes, you can even dance to it.
Captain Beefheart: Sure 'nuff 'n Yes I Do (mp3)
Tom Waits. Frankly, if been reading here for any length of time, this really shouldn't come as a surprise. Whether you buy into his persona or not, whether you can stomach the voice or recoil in horror, it's hard to deny that man can write. And he obviously hears sounds inside his head that shouln't suggest sanity. One could (and I believe several have) spend pages and pages of material dissecting Tom's various "periods" (piano troubadour, noise merchant, cubist funkster, etc.), but as a body of work, I tend to look at it as "Tom's next album". The man inspires obsession like few other artists. It's still hard to picture him sitting around the kitchen table with the wife and kids, drinking a near beer and chewing nicorette gum. I've already written about Waits numerous times here in these very pages. So I'm gonna leave it at that. He's in.
Tom Waits: Diamonds on My Windshield (mp3)
Well, that does it for round one. The next round is all up to you (although I'll still add at least one of my own choices...). Vote in the Poll below (you can make multiple selections). And, as ever, tell me who you think I'm missing. I had to cut out about 60-70 nominees in the following poll alone.
The Mountain family is moving this weekend. Regular posting will resume in a week or so. I'll still have access to my email, though. Thanks for stopping by.