Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Sleep well, Rosa Parks.
So I received a fantastic mix cd from the right Rev. Frost of Spread the Good Word, who's celebratin' his birthday right about now (or sleeping it off...what's the time difference?). Man, the man sets the bar high. I'm trying to return the favor, but it's a struggle. What do you give a preacher who already has everything worth having? A Barbara Streisand mix? You know, in keeping with the horror theme?
In my search I reacquainted myself with one Mr. Jerry J. Nixon, straight outta pasttime New Mexico, via Britannia. Or maybe not. See, there's some suggestion that Mr. Nixon is a hoax, albeit a very good one. Voodoo Rhythm Records, the company responsible for the compilation of all his recordings from the "Quality Records" sessions, has been known to be a touch on the pranksterish side.
Here's what we're told in the liner notes: Nixon was born in England as Gerald Hall, committed a crime, joined the merchant marines, and migrated to Santa Fe, New Mexico, changing his name to Jerry J. Nixon in the process. He worked in a cardboard factory, drove a truck, joined the Communist Party, and recorded some great, lost rockabilly classics on the side. He died penniless. Sounds fascinating. Wow, a true unknown legend. Except for the fact that several music journalists around the area claim never to have heard of him, and that the places mentioned in his bio, including Quality Records and the Q recording studio, never existed. Voodoo even included an article from the Santa Fe News suggesting Nixon was a hoax. Which begs the question, why? Admittance, a sly wink, or marketing? I dunno.
All of this is pointless, of course, if the music aint no good, or comes across as a joke. Which it most certainly does not, good sir. No, it sounds like the real thing. Actually it sounds fucking great, revved up honkeybilly swinging through late-nite battered and sweaty jukejoints, urgent and untamed, filtered through just the right amount of sepia ageing. It's an album one imagines could only come from the mid-50's rock rebellion (apparently the only smoking gun, music-wise, is the organ, which may have been made too late to be on these recordings). If you like your rock'n'tonkin'billy "pure", without the ironic, tryin' too hard, I got a costume shtick, this is the sound hummin' in your head. Boogie in a time machine. "Red Sun" is the apocalyptic raveup one always dreamed could only be made in a canyon, and "Saturday Midnight Bop" should remind everyone of the good ole over the bra, under the bra fumbles of a bygone era. Speeding car races on back roads optional.
So, is it real? Yeah. The dates and facts may not match up, but the music does. Mr. Nixon, wherever and whoever you actually are, the 'Mountain salutes you.
Jerry J. Nixon: Saturday Midnight Bop (mp3)
Jerry J. Nixon: Red Sun (mp3)
Support your local hucksters, pranksters and barely existing record shops. Before they blow away.