Over nearly two decades, Atlanta's prime purveyors of reverently
retro rock and roll, The Woggles, have released a veritable
cornucopia of albums, singles, compilation and tribute tracks, spanning
a handful of lineups. Most of The Woggles' releases have had at least
one toe firmly planted in a sort of southern trashy garage soul vibe.
Yet their catalog has also clearly indicated an abiding appreciation
of a wide swath of vintage flavors, such as surf music, spaghetti
Western soundtracks, and other appropriate drive-in sonic fare. This
appreciation is demonstrated by the way the band has sprinkled various
tracks reflective of this admiration throughout their releases over
the years, often either as b-sides to singles, or on tribute compilations.
Which brings us to their new release, Tempo Tantrum, which
is essentially a retrospective collection of instrumentals (originals
and covers), all but one of which have been previously released, though
many on very obscure, out-of-print, issues. For those relatively new
to The Woggles, this is pretty much a must-have record, in large part
due to the inclusion of their instrumental cover of The Monkees'
"Valleri", and their cover of The Fleshtones' "Theme
From The Vindicators", each an homage executed with deserved
respect, yet tinged with the raucous sweaty energy for which The Woggles
have long been known. Even longer term fans who may not have kept
pace with The Woggles' exhaustive release schedule over the years
will find this collection an interesting recapping of the band's instrumental
lexicon, underscoring the various lineup changes and guest players
who have aided the band in its exploits over the years.
A couple of songs in particular stand out above the others. Notably
"El Toro", a worthy homage to the spaghetti Western soundtracks
of Morricone and Nicolai, but brought to date with rock
drums and a driving bass line. Another highlight is "Los Angeles
No Niseimaturi", which originally appeared on a vinyl only EP
release a few years ago, and was apparently recorded as an act of
sonic reverence towards Nokie Edwards-era Ventures.
"The Elbow Twist" is a fine go-go combo organ driven stomper.
Even the one true vocal track on the album, a cover of Dick Dale's
"Mr. Peppermint Man" (taken from a 15 year old 10"
vinyl tribute release appropriately titled "Dickheads")
has 1962 stamped all over it. Given the very nature of The Woggles
as a band, this is a good thing indeed.
The above notwithstanding, the band is now at a point where two of
its last three full-length releases have been retrospective collections
and The Woggles, who are indeed still active, have only put out one
new release of new recordings sine 2003. Here's hoping that the Professor,
Flesh Hammer, Dan Electro, and Buzz Hagstrom
get back to the business of penning the best in balls-out revival
retro rock and roll sooner rather than later. After all, as Meredith
Ochs (of NPR's All Songs Considered) once said, a Woggles
show "will change your life," and there is nothing like
a brand new release of brand new songs, to give cause to bring The
Woggles to your town.
-David Meyer (mondogarage)
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