Kid Congo & the Pink Monkey Birds – Dracula Boots

January 01, 1970

(In The Red)


Watchers of Kid Congo Powers – that would be Brian Tristan
to friends and family – over the years have long noted the slide guitarist’s
invaluable contributions to the Gun Club (which he co-founded with Jeffrey Lee
Pierce, split from, then later returned to the fold in time for 1984’s Las Vegas Story), the Cramps (essential
LP: 1981’s Psychedelic Jungle) and Nick
Cave and the Bad Seeds (Tender Prey, The
Good Son,
from ’88 and ’90). He’s also worked with numerous other outfits
over the years, including Die Haut, the Divine Horsemen (w/Chris D), Michael
Gira’s Angels of Light, Mark Eitzel and Barry Adamson, additionally indulging
his collaborative muse with the NYC likes of Knoxville Girls, Botanica, Kid and
Khan, and Congo Norvell (the latter w/vocalist Sally Norvell; their 1997
release Abnormals Anonymous is a
unheralded classic).


Regardless of who he surrounds himself with, Powers never
fails to bring the proverbial fretboard primal scream to the project, a
piercing open-tuned twang conveying druggy, noirish dread lined with a macabre
sense of humor, all powered by a hi-nrg aesthetic honed by having been at Punk
Ground Zero when he first commenced operations in Los Angeles in the mid/late
‘70s. Once in awhile he steps out with a project more readily identified as a
solo effort, which is what the Pink Monkey Birds, originally a collaboration
between Powers and Jack Martin of the Knoxville Girls and dating back to about
2001, has evolved into. Dracula Boots is only the second PMB album – it’s preceded by 2005’s Philosophy and Underwear – but it serves nicely as both an
affirmation of and an introduction to the Kid Congo aesthetic.


The album kicks off with “LSDC” (make of the title what you
will), a simmering slice of electro-garage heavy on trebly fuzz guitar,
wraithlike synth wails and a chanted, shamanistic vocal. Speaking of garage, a
cover of mid-‘60s East L.A. Chicano rockers’ Thee Midniters’ “I Found A Peanut”
is delivered in uproarious fashion, part fratty R&B and part minimalist
punk. The other cover appearing here, “Funky Fly,” was originally served up by
Bo Diddley,” but aside from the persistent maraca throb linking back to the
signature Bo beat it bears only slight resemblance to the original; instead,
with the droning organ and serrated guitar licks cutting through the mix, the
instrumental resembles a No Wave take on psychedelia.


Elsewhere you get a visit from “Black Santa” (a loopy instro
written by PMB bassist Kiki Solis and drummer Ron Miller), have a taste of
“Pumpkin Pie” (a kind of neo-Blaxploitation theme, funky and dynamic), and
experience how it feels to be “Rare As the Yeti (a churning distorto-anthem that,
with its echoey guitars and sardonic, B-movie vocal recitation, bears a
distinctive Crampsian imprint). Things wrap up with “Late Night Scurry,” a
spoken word piece recalling a bizarre dream and namechecking, among others,
Michael Jackson and Crocus Behemoth (a/k/a Pere Ubu’s David Thomas); here,
Powers indulges his signature slide guitar twang against a gothic-tilting
bass/drums graveyard trudge.


It’s all good, and it’s all great, disposable fun guaranteed
to liven up any house party populated by freaks, geeks, misfits and miscreants.
Kinda like all those folks Kid Congo’s been associated with over the years, in
fact. Fangs a lot, Kid!


Standout Tracks: “Rare
As the Yeti,” “Funky Fly” FRED MILLS


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