Little Steven’s Underground Garage Rolling Rock ‘n’ Roll Show
w/ The Zombies, The Mooney Suzuki, The Woggles, The Forty Fives, The Explorers Club
Tues. Sept. 26
32 Ann St.
The mighty “Little Steven’s Underground Garage Rolling Rock ‘n’ Roll Show” — presented by guitarist, disc jockey, and actor Steven Van Zandt’s terrific syndicated rock radio show — bomps into town on Tuesday with the garage rock, punk, and ’60s pop sounds of The Zombies, The Mooney Suzuki, The Woggles, The Forty Fives, and local band The Explorers Club on the bill.
The Zombies’ ethereal psychedelic rockers endure like the harmonic undead. One of the most uniquely complex and consistent bands of the ’60s, original members Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent have the quintessential rock rags-to-riches story. The school chums in St. Albans, England, won a contest, landing the top prize, which was to record for the Decca label. Their first single, “She’s Not There,” became an international smash hit in 1964 and showcased their musicianship, the unique sound of Argent’s electric piano, and the breathy soaring mystery in Blunstone’s voice.
In their four years of recording, The Zombies released a clutch of pop-perfect singles, as well as 1968’s Odessey [*spelling intentional] and Oracle, a psychedelic masterwork that ranks with the Beatles’ Revolver, the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, and Love’s Forever Changes. Sadly, the band had broken up before the album’s release.
Infused with a new excitement to be performing again, Blunstone and Argent are joined on stage by Keith Airey on guitar (who previously played with Tom Jones and Nik Kershaw), Jim Rodman on bass, and, most notably, with the Kinks for 20 years, and his son Steve Rodford on drums.
“I think Colin’s voice is even better than it was in ’64 — and I feel like a better player,” Argent said recently. “To be playing on stage again with such a great band is a gas.”
Bursting outta the piney woods, swinging on the edge of Saturday night sin, The Woggles sling heaping helpings of soulful hash and platters of snotty ’60s punk with an undeniably infectious stage show. Led by the showman to top all showmen, The Professor (a.k.a. Manfred Jones), this Georgia-bred combo have maintained the same raucous spirit since their first manic house party throw-down on Halloween in 1987. However, the line-up has morphed aplenty before settling upon able sidemen Buzz “Bomb” Hagstrom on bass, Dan Electro on drums, and the “Flesh Hammer” Jeff Walls on guitar (formerly lead axe-man for Guadalcanal Diary and Hillbilly Frankenstein).
The Woggles’ 2003 album Ragged But Right was lauded as one of “the Top Ten coolest albums” by Little Steven Van Zandt on “Underground Garage.” Their eighth long player, Rock ‘n’ Roll Backlash, is in the can, and over a dozen 7-inch singles fill out the rest of their discography.
Never allowing the grass to grow under their hooves, The Woggles have played for audiences across Europe, Asia, and North America and were featured on John Peel’s last World Service BBC Program. NPR’s Meredith Ochs’ NPR All Songs Considered urged listeners, “Go and see a Woggles show; it will change your life.”
Atlanta quartet The Forty Fives churn out snarly garage punk of the ilk cranked out by the MC5 and Stooges. At times, they also veer down power pop straightaways to “Junkfood Heaven” or rip out some twang that’d charm any lot lizard honey. Bryan G. Malone leads these scruffy rockers on vocals with whiskey ‘n’ pills guitar riffs, grabbing hooks reminiscent of the pill-popping Hamburg-era Beatles. Trey Tidwell rocks the Hammond B-3, Mark McMurtry thumps the bass, and special for this tour, nightclub owner David Desprez hits the skins.
With three albums under their belt, The Forty Fives recorded the most recent, 2004’s High Life High Volume on the Yep Roc label, with Southern Culture on the Skids frontman Rick Miller at his Kudzu Ranch Studios. They’ve toured extensively, criss-crossing North America at least four times, just last winter joining the Romantics and fellow Yep Rock artists the Fleshtones for Little Steven’s big “Rock Fest.”
New York-bred Mooney Suzuki — lead singer and guitarist Sammy James Jr., bassist John Paul Ribas, guitarist Graham Tyler, and drummer Will Rockwell — formed in 1998, made a splash in the garage-rock community with the 2000 release of People Get Ready (on Estrus), and broke into the national scene with the critically acclaimed album Electric Sweat (Gammon, reissued on Columbia). They’re back on the road behind a rave-up, six-song collection titled The Black EP (V2).
Irascible pop-rock ensemble The Explorers Club are the featured local act on the bill. This wild lineup is nothing but energetic, high-powered and really damn loud. Not at all for wilting flowers.