Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Weekly BOMP! - The Zantees "Out for Kicks"

Released by Bomp in 1980, the Zantees first long player Out for Kicks is like some old V-8 lunging off the line, building power and speed as it goes. Here at the Gemini Spacecraft archive it gets shelved beside the Blasters’ American Music and Alex Chilton’s Like Flies on Sherbert, two other great 1980 LPs that helped spark that branch of postpunk that Greg Shaw dubbed “Real Rockers,” rightfully reclaiming the word from “the same creeps who took over new wave,” who were then trying to apply “Rocker” to “that lethargic sludge they worship as reggae.” Shaw asserted that only “records with that frantic beat that makes you want to go hog wild” deserved to be called “Rocker.” And Out for Kicks definitely lives up to Shaw’s criteria.

The Zantees line-up included Billy Miller and Miriam Linna, on the vocals and tubs respectively, then of Kicks Magazine, soon to launch Norton Records, teamed up with guitarist brothers Paul & Bill Statile and bassist Rob Norris in a sort of proto A-Bones, if you will. As for the words to describe their sound, let Shaw say it, “Some folks call the Zantees a rockabilly band, but they’re not. They’re so much more than that. They’re a Rock ‘n’ Roll band in the strongest sense, having grabbed inspiration from all the high points of the past 30 years including not only rockabilly but punk, invasion, surfing, and maniac R&B and bashed it all into a style that’s indefinable.”

On Out for Kicks, dig how the Statile brothers' string-wringin' calls to mind that of Paul Burlison, Cliff Gallup, and others, then mixes it all together, sometimes simultaneously, sometimes even in the same riff! And Billy Miller’s wild vocals here display a spastic youthfulness not as apparent on later A-Bones records. Add Miriam Linna’s “hog wild” beat, and a heapin’ helpin’ of reverb on the vocals, guitars, drums, and, hell, everywhere, and you get a real classic. Now out of print, but not too hard to track down.

Greg Shaw quotes originally from Bomp! Magazine, now reprinted in Bomp! Saving the World One Record at a Time (Ammo, 2007).

"Blonde Bombshell," "Big Green Car," and "Gas Up," from Out for Kicks (Bomp! LP 4009).

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