God smiled on Hackamore Brick, in terms of talent and recording -- they made an album for the ages, utterly timeless, joyful, brilliant, defiant, and piercing, and just as much in 2013 as it was in 1970.
Getting it a wide hearing was another matter, as the album didn't receive any real exposure (despite the best efforts of a handful of reviewers, including Lenny Kaye) until 43 years later, with this reissue.
I first discovered Hackamore Brick's ONE KISS LEADS TO ANOTHER at a record show in the 1990s -- the group was a complete unknown to me, but the cover looked interesting in its enigmatic way, the date (about 1970) and apparent New York origins of the group were intriguing, and the label (Buddah/Kama Sutra) was one that had a knack for some unusual signings (the Flamin' Groovies, Captain Beefheart, Jules Blatner etc.).
That LP cost me $1, and it was some of the best money I ever spent on ANYTHING. It was a revelation in 1990-whatever, the basic, minimalist guitar attack and the offhanded but oddly expressive vocals recalling everyone from the Velvet Underground to Jonathan Richman (who was still a few years away from recording when this album was cut), not to mention anticipating elements of the New York Dolls and Johnny Thunders' solo work. (You also have to wonder if Tom Verlaine and/or Richard Lloyd listened to this record a few times early in the decade). And there's so much here -- parts of it sound like a 70s urban answer to country music, other parts like punk's answer to honky-tonk (I get the feeling Hank Williams Sr., had he lived into the 1970s, might have at least smiled over some of the lines in the Tommy Moonlight-authored "I Watched You Rhumba" and the Moonlight/Bob Roman co-authored "Peace Has Come"; and Johnny Bond might've loved "Radio," which is a car song that makes me want to get up and dance every time I hear it).
In fact, this is the bridge between the Velvets (especially the self-titled third album and Loaded) and the Dolls, and the Ramones -- one of rock's missing links, but ONE KISS LEADS TO ANOTHER doesn't sound extinct, or like a dead-end -- IT'S ALIVE!!!!!!!
And I was always hoping the record would get reissued by the reactivated Buddha label, but that wasn't to be. The Mr. Nobody label had it out briefly on CD a couple of years ago, but this new reissue from Real Gone beats that by a mile, at a much better price and with full annotation to fill in the gaps in the group's story, plus three excellent bonus tracks (two of them mono single mixes of songs off the LP).
I've been playing the CD at my music store and sold a couple at full price and got a lot of people asking about the group and the record. A month after the reissue hit the streets, we're still playing it here and people love it -- some jazz guy just asked me about it on the first day of August. And I've got to say, Tommy Moonlight should have been one of the great songwriters of the decade, just based on his four-song contribution to the five-song opening arc (side one on the vinyl): "Oh, Those Sweet Bananas," "I Watched You Rhumba," "Radio," and "Peace Has Come" (w/Bob Roman). Part of me feels I could go to heaven listening to that opening five-song sequence, it gets my heart pounding like part of a really good Bo Diddley album; and then there's "Got A Gal Named Wilma" . . . ., which melts in the mind as it enters the ears. And Chick Newman isn't a slouch, either, in the songwriting department -- "Reachin'" is one of THE great album openers, rivaling the best work of Lou Reed, Ray Davies, Syd Barrett et al, and would be worth the price of the album by itself, except that it all stays just as good as that on the mostly Moonlight-authored side one; Newman's "I Won't Be Around" and "Someone You Know" are worth the wait further into the album.
And I think this time the band may see some well-deserved recognition for their efforts of long ago, based on peoples' reactions -- this is like the Groovies' early stuff, in that it's great to play more than once in one sitting (I always get something new out of it). And a lot of people, natch, think this is a Velvet Underground outtake collection.
It's as fresh today as it was in 1970 -- and oh, those sweet bananas . . . .
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