cgi~ C PTURE
standing connections to the West Coast punk
revolution of '76: Javier, as leader of San Die-
go's bratty Zeros; Alejandro as a member of San
Francisco's unlamented Nuns and, more recent-
y, neo-country rockers Rank and File.
Geneaology aside, the True Believer's live
power comes from their impeccable multi-guitar
arrangements, aided by third guitarist Jon D.
Graham, who doubles on lap steel. Sometimes
they sound like three rhythm guitars; sometimes
they sound like one BIG guitar. Gotta lotta twang
in that thang, y'unnerstan'
Considering the TB's had a whole batch of
bright, tuneful, original material that, live, they
socked across with the kind of energy that
makes folk wanna criss-cross Texas in a pickup
hen it comes to live rock 'n' roll,
the operative word is spontane-
ty. Spontaneity. Spontaneity in
the sense of having the talent
not to play a solo exactly the same way every
stinkin' time or in being willing to toss off an ad-
lib that you know probably isn't going to sit well
with the audience andstil/make them like you.
The finest example of the latter seen of late
came during a Los Angeles performance by
those improper Bostonians, the Del Fuegos,
that took place near the beginning of the '84
NBA Championship series (between, of course,
Boston and L.A.). About two-thirds of the way
through a blistering set, bassist Tom Lloyd sidled
up to the microphone and straight-facedly in-
formed the crowd how he and the rest of the
band ''would like to thank the Lakers for giving
the bail back in the last two minutes there,' re-
ferring to a crucial turnover that eventually cost
the Lakers the game.
James & Bobby Purify's "I'm Your Puppet" and
Marvin Gaye's "That's the Way Love Is" to
spectacularly pneumatic transformations of Evis
Presley's ''(Marie's the Name) His Latest
Flame'" () and Brenda Lee's "Sweet Nothin's"
(!!), and changing n/ghtly.
Hipsters 'n' flipsters, sophisticats 'n' sophisti-
kittens alike will notice that there's been no dis-
cussion of anybody's image thus far. That's be-
cause how you move is more important than
what you're wearing while you're doing it.
And-contrary to that Carly Simon-sung com-
mercial-nobody does it better than L A 's own
Fishbone, a young, black sextet whose mem-
bers spend half their set four feet off the stage.
Along with their acrobatic hijinks, whack-at-
tack hairstyles and party-in-your-pants dance
stance, the 'bone boys be throwin' down on
such groove-alacious booty-busters as "Party at
Ground Zero,'' a signature song that's as irre-
sistible as it is uncategorizeable; and '? (Modern
Industry),'' a "tune"'-and I use that word
loosely-consisting mostly of five different
voices yelling radio station call letters over a lop-
ing, Third World back beat.
Operating under the credo that getting down
needs no justification, the wildest band this side
of Birdland hits the stage like the opening break in
an eight-ball tournament and doesn't let up until
both 'bone and audience are swimming in sweat
(and drowning in dry humor). Forget that work-
Meanwhile, the award for the most disap-
pointing disc debut of 1986 has to go to the
True Believers, an Austin, Texas-based quintet
for whom the term "roots-rockers" has mutiple
applications. The band's frontmen, brothers Ale-
jandro and Javier Escovedo, not only are siblings
of former Santana sidemen Pete and the late
Coke Escovedo and nephews of Prince protege
Sheila E. (as in Escovedo), but also boast long-
Oi a bov
That is punk. It was also pretty darned funny,
and, after the crowd had a good scowl at the
Bosstown homeboys, everybody went right
back to wearing the shine off the dance floor.
Needless to say, one snide ad-ib does not an
evening's entertainment make. Nor, alone, does
the Del Fuegos' relentless physical energy, at-
tacking the crowd with an hour's worth of body
shots, throwing tough, two-fisted combinations
of ragged-but-right, Rolling Stones-ike harmo-
nies and leader Dan Zane's razor-throated vo-
cals over such genuinely melodic, muscular orig-
inals as 'Nervous and Shaky' and "I Want
You." It's not that simple.
What does catapult the Del Fuegos from the
ranks of the pretenders into the ranks of the con-
tenders is the quartet's willingness to whip up on
some absolutely inspired choices in outside ma-
terial. ranoina from arittv. areasy renditions of
THE DEL FUEGOS
truck tossin' empties out the back-not to men-
tion some splendid cover versions from the likes
of ex-New York Doll Johnny Thunders ("Alone in
a Crowd") and the Velvet Underground ("Foggy
Notion" and'"Train 'Round the Bend")-you've
got to wonder how come the band's best mate-
rial isn't on the record, why the whole thing
sounds like it was recorded from two blocks
away, and where do I find a bar that pours drinks
as stiff as the performances on this disc?
Beats us. If we knew, we'd be a big-time re-
cord producer instead of a professional smart-
aleck trying to vindicate having spent the last 20
years in teriyaki parlors-turned-rock 'n' roll joints
where the toilets don't work.
On second thought, maybe it has something
to do with the atmosphere: smokey, sweaty,
sleazy, smelly scenes where everyone you meet
is just dying for a hit... and some of them do.
No way you'll ever capture that on a compact
disc BY DON WALLER *