The Warlocks – Rise and Fall, E.P. and Rarities (Zap Banana Records)


Rise & Fall Ep & Rarities

The first Warlocks album and E.P. probably weren’t high on anyone’s list of albums that needed to be remastered, yet here they are, in a two-disc set rounded out with a few previously unreleased songs. In their early days Bobby Hecksher and his rotating cast of supporting musicians were a far stranger proposition than today, with up to nine members (including two drummers) still somehow sounding like a four or five-member group to all but the most stoned of listeners. The band were also prone to lengthy jams (five songs in this collection have the word “jam” in their title) heavily indebted to Spacemen 3, Hawkwind, Neu! and The Velvet Underground. They’re also kind of boring. Things get better when they cut the bullshit and get down to actual songs, like the dreamy Pink Floyd-esque numbers “House Of Glass” and “Motorcycles”, or the Brian Jonestown Massacre inspired “Cocaine Blues” (the two bands have swapped members at times). It’s a mixed bag, and anyone new to the band is better off checking out The Phoenix Album or Heavy Deavy Skull Lover first. However, there’s enough strong moments for psych-rock heads to enjoy.

Tracklisting:

1. Jam of the Witches

2. House of Glass

3. Skull Death Drum Jam

4. Whips of Mercy

5. Song for Nico

6. Left and Right of the Moon

7. Motorcycles

8. Frequency Meltdown

9. Heavy Bomber Laser Beam

10. Cocaine Blues

11. Song for Nico

12. Jam of the Zombies

13. Caveman Rock

14. Angry Demons

15. Jam of the Warlocks

16. Turn the Radio On

17. Turn the Sun Down

18. Total Headache

19. Dilaudid

20. Inside/Outside (demo)

21. Shake the Dope Out (demo)

22. Dope Feels Good (demo)

The Warlocks – Surgery (Mute Records)


The Warlocks have always underwhelmed expectations, but Surgery, their third album, takes a small step forward. Maybe the band were reinvigorated by the return of original bassist Jenny Fraser and the introduction of wonderfully-named drummer Bob Mustachio (one of two drummers in the group). Or maybe hot-shot producer, Tom Rothrock (Beck, Elliott Smith, Coldplay) brought some new life into the band – adding a bit of the Phil Spector Wall Of Sound into their Wall of Drone.

When tastefully incorporated, the Spector influences work well, like “It’s Just Like Surgery” or druggy VU-inspired ballads “We Need Starpower” and “Thursday’s Radiation”. On “Gypsy Nightmare”, “Evil Eyes Again” and “Angels In Heaven, Angels in Hell” they chase that Phil Spector/girl group sound, but Hecksher’s whiney voice is out of place in such grandiose surroundings. “Angels in Heaven, Angels In Hell” is a particularly grating attempt at what Hecksher calls “sonic space age doo-wop”. “The Tangent” is another ballad about sickness (a theme which runs throughout the album), which goes off on a – you guessed it – tangent that’s probably not intended for sober listeners. The album ends with the Stones-y “Bleed Without You Babe” and “Suicide Note”, which would sound a lot like Suicide, if they were a full band. Hecksher even “sings” a bit on this one!

While the band’s shortcomings make Surgery hard to completely embrace, a few winning moments may point towards better things to come.