It's reunion time: Local legends in their own time The Compulsive Gamblers are teaming up with Oxford's The Neckbones on Friday, December 14th, for a not-to-be-missed show at the Young Avenue Deli. Here's the deal:
Before forming the Oblivians, Jack (the Tearjerkers) Yarber and Greg (the Reigning Sound) Cartwright played together in a small skiffle band called the Compulsive Gamblers. (Okay, I made up the skiffle part.) The Gamblers' sound was bad behavior personified. Each tune was a smirking, swaggering brag, sour and vicious with cues taken from Tom Waits, comic-book advertisements, and drive-in creature features. A typical set ran the gamut of miscreation from pills, guns, and booze to pills, guns, and broads. There were always hints of high lonesome and the struggle to dissolve a less than lucrative partnership with the devil in favor of something like salvation. Though the Oblivians' music has certainly been more globally influential, the Gamblers' sound was more complex and mysterious. A trio of recordings, Gambling Days Are Over, Bluff City, and Crystal Gazing, Luck Amazing, tell the whole story. The first is a disc full of classic rock and raunch, the last a mature collection of retro-laced punk with a country soul and the heart of a 1950s prom theme. Cartwright's "Stop and Think It Over," "I'm That Guy," and "Your Happiness" along with Yarber's "Wait a Bit Joe" and "Pepper Spray Boogie" are classics waiting to be discovered by some 22nd-century musicologist.
In terms of the more recent Memphis scene, if the Grifters are the Beatles and the Oblivians are the Stones, then the Neckbones would have to be the New York Dolls. No question. The Neckbones' frontman Tyler Keith (the Preacher's Kids) comes on like a cross between David Johansen and Jimmy Swaggart, attacking his songs with a religious zeal that would (and may yet) cause Greg Oblivian to stop and say, "Dude." It's as if the Neckbones listened to the Oblivians' Soul Food and said, "Hey, we can do this -- dirtier." Nasty numbers like the Pixies-esque "Dead End Kids" and the blackjack anthem "Hit Me" will inspire even the most straitlaced youths to go out and boost a car. -- Chris Davis
Athens' The Rock*A*Teens, who gave birth to alt-country chanteuse Kelly Hogan and whose latest EP, Noon Under the Trees, is an invigorating bit of indie-rock shamble, will be at the Map Room on Friday, December 14th.
Some local rock fans may recognize the name Loggia from the most recent Makeshift Records compilation. The band played one of the release shows for that record and, as far as I know, haven't been heard from since. Next week, though, they'll be at the P&H Café on Saturday, December 15th, with Autumn Grieves. Both acts traffic in gentle, intelligent music, Loggia tending toward rock, Grieves toward folk. -- Chris Herrington