GREG “STACKHOUSE” PREVOST
“Mississippi Murderer” LP
(I think it might also be on CD, but it’s made for vinyl)
Mean Disposition Records, Spain
released January 2013
I applaud artists who know what they excel at and what they have a passion for…and then work over the years, over the decades refining and distilling that vision, applying it into new contexts and new situations, extending it and stretching it, but retaining that pure white-hot core and never letting the fire go out.
Greg Prevost is such a man. Like many people, I first heard his work when the Chesterfield Kings exploded on the scene circa 1979 with their incredible single “I Ain’t No Miracle Worker” (pictured below–that’s a scan of my personal copy, which I’ve treasured and played over and over for decades). Greg had recorded before that, in the mid-70’s, but that single distilled everything he was about into three minutes of pure psych-punk rock’n’roll ecstasy. He was doing to Chocolate Watchband vocalist Dave Aguilar what Aguilar himself had done w/ Mick Jagger ten years earlier…and what every Texas garage band who tried to out-Yardbirds The Yardbirds did…taking the ball that had been passed to him and running with it trying to score. And score he did. With The Chesterfield Kings, Greg and crew continued to make great singles and great albums, full of well-chosen garage-punk-psych covers and fine originals in the same tradition. But from that base, they went into many different areas, collaborating with folks as diverse as Kim Fowley and Mark Lindsey, totally unconcerned with what was the trend of the day and digging deeper and deeper into the core of what Greg must have heard in his mind when he first encountered Them or The Chocolate Watchband or “1523 Blair.” Catching lightning in a bottle…or maybe, “Lightnin'” is more like it!
At the base of Greg’s work—as with Dave Aguilar of the Watchband—has always been The Blues. With so few “original” Blues artists of the post-war era still alive, we might forget how pure REAL blues can be. Many years ago, The Chesterfield Kings recorded a blues album called “Drunk On Muddy Water,” and I remember reviewing it for Black To Comm (or was it so long ago, we still called it “Pfudd”?) and saying that the album captured the drunken trashiness of the blues and the trashy drunkenness of the blues. No disrespect was meant there. No one is a bigger blues fan than I am. But with the fetish-izing of the blues and blues culture, we seem to forget how so many classic moments of the blues came about from the pure joy of guys with a few drinks in them LETTING GO. Tapping into that primal scream. Escaping the drudgery of the minimum-wage work world through their music. Think Hound Dog Taylor. Think Jimmy Reed. The great blues-drenched second-generation white 60’s players, whether it be Rod Piazza or Glenn Ross Campbell or Tony McPhee, or later folks like Kent “Omar” Dykes here in Texas, understood that. Those who did not understand it just aped the moves and eventually wound up dressing like Stevie Ray. Look at the cover of the “Drunk” album, pictured below, with the drums in imitation of the famous photo of Rice “Sonny Boy #2” Miller. Clearly, these guys know what they are doing. The blues revivalists would never have accepted an album like this…it was too raw and too real. Like the Texas garage band who wanted to out-do the Yardbirds at their own game, The Chesterfield Kings took the ball handed to them by Snooky Pryor or Homesick James or Eddie Taylor and RAN WITH IT. The result was an album that’s never been equalled…until now.
Greg Prevost has now issued a new blues album, and it’s a killer. With Greg on vocals, guitars (lots of slide), and harp, and ably assisted by Zachary Koch on drums and Alex Patrick on bass (with occasional piano from Keenan Bartlett), he delivers a primal blues blast that sounds like the blues album the 1971 Iggy and the Stooges might have recorded had they been from Chicago and roadie-ing for J.B. Hutto. This is the album that everyone who ever thrilled to The Rolling Stones version of “I Wanna Be Your Man” or the b-side “Who’s Driving Your Plane” always hoped that the Stones would record, but they never did. If you wore the grooves off of “Exile On Main St” and dreamed that the next album would go even deeper and rawer, but then got the shaft with “Angie,” then this album is for you. Greg Prevost uses Jagger as his template, but he then goes back into the blues soil from which Jagger emerged and does it right in the way our hero Mick never got around to doing much after 1972.
The simple trio format (w/ added piano on some tracks) and the shrill amped-up sound and smeared guitar lines and smeared vocals (that would put a smile on Dave Aguilar’s face, I’m sure) also remind me of the bluesier side of the New York Dolls (and how one wishes THEY would have recorded a blues album!). And let’s not forget that Greg handles acoustic blues on the album too, beautifully…but the album is rooted in The Watchband’s “Sitting Here Standing,” and is there a better model? I think not…
It’s great that Greg Prevost is still at it, still working in a pure form. There are so many posers today, so many who coast on attitude and talk the talk, but can’t deliver the goods. Everything is so pretentious. An album like this comes out of left field and reminds me of how I once sat in front of the record player playing early Stones 45’s over and over, of why I once peroxided my hair as a child in a failed attempt to be more like Brian Jones. This album reminds me of why I love The Misunderstood, why I love Rod Piazza, why I love The Litter’s cover of “I’m A Man.” Greg “Stackhouse” Prevost has stepped up to the plate and hit it out of the park. The Blues is the animating force behind so much of the music we love….as I listen to the album closer, “John The Revelator,” I’m reminded of how blues-drenched David Johansen and Johnny Thunders and the Dolls were, for instance. If you’re the kind of person who feels that John Mayall on an off-day will ALWAYS be hipper than whatever is being pushed by Pitchfork and the like, then this album is for you. Be glad that SOMEONE is still pure today in this world of style over substance. Surely, this will be near the top of my “Best of 2013” list. Get your copy soon.
And I did not miss the irony of such a 110% AMERICAN album as this being issued….in SPAIN! Well, at least some Europeans still appreciate our culture, even if most Americans don’t…man, I feel like cracking open a beer and taking the day off work, that’s how excited this album makes me feel.
Just Google the album title and you’ll find some outlet that is selling this (I special ordered my copy from Rockit Scientist Records)…
Note to Greg Prevost: you MUST tour in support of this album…