PURPLE HAZED: Everything you read is true, you know that. So when you read here that Deep Purple was once listed in the Guinness Book Of World Records as the world's loudest rock band, there can't be any doubt that the Ian Gillian-Ritchie Blackmore-led band was deafening.
It's just possible, however, that they only seemed like the loudest band of the early '70s because their sludge-metal was so thick with Blackmore's simple, repetitive, rapid riffs and Gillian's edgy screeching. It must have been hard for the Guinness person to listen to it and imagine anything louder than wading through "Smoke On The Water," "Hush" and "My Woman From Tokyo."
An eerily similar experience can be had by spending a set or two in the company of Stinky Slinky. Of course, the hardest part of bringing yourself to be in their Purplish presence may be getting past the name--it's obviously hideous. Just as you can't (always) judge an album by its cover, you can't prejudge the Stinky boys by the name they play under.
When they opened a show for Star Crunch at Berky's On Fourth, 424 N. Stone Ave., last Thursday night, it was like taking a dive into a wormhole in time and finding yourself in 1973. Lead singer and guitarist A.J. was cracking eardrums with his voice, a sound like a nail being pried from someone's hand hammered to a steel cross.
Along with fellow guitarist Herb Calleros, bassist Lawrence Horvath and drummer Dave Wernette, he reanimated the heavyosity of Deep Purple's Machine Head without resorting to playing covers. At least, I don't think they played any actual Deep Purple "tunes." I have to admit I'm not all that familiar with the entire Purple play list, but I do remember their sound, and so does Stinky Slinky.
As someone said to me during the show, "It's like the soundtrack to an ass-whuppin.' " Exactly. They raise black and blue welts to old heights.
All that may appear to be written with a sneer of cynicism, but it's not really. Stinky Slinky is low-gear retro that will bring a smile, not a sneer, to the face of anyone who ever stood on a chair in a dingy, dank arena lit and shaken by the sudden glare and thunder of flashpots, careening guitar explosions and the obligatory overlong drum solo.
Being on the avenue at the two-month old Berky's was like revisiting a fist-pumping, doobie-dragging, ear-bleeding good time I can only vaguely remember.
If a cobwebbed part of your brain contains fragments of those sorts of memories, you'll want to rock out to Slinky sometime yourself.
The show was part of the Berky's On Fourth ongoing "alternative rock" series held every Thursday night.
Folks familiar with the original Berky's on Speedway know that the place specializes in blues. It's been hard to duplicate that recipe for success in the fraternity/sorority- dominated bar scene on Fourth Avenue, so Berky and co-owner Nick Sabia are experimenting with different sounds.
"Blues, I think, is only going to work so much on the avenue," Sabia says. "We have an opportunity to enhance what is really popular on the avenue and I think that is the alternative."
It would be nice to see another live music venue take root in Tucson, but the layout of the new Berky's bar is sure to cause problems--as it did when it was the Fourth Avenue Social Club.
The joint just isn't laid out for live music. It's made up of two unevenly matched, adjoining rectangular rooms. The band plays across an empty dance floor to a brick wall in one, while most of the patrons sit at the bar or at one of the tables in the other room. You have to crane your neck to see anyone on the stage if you're sitting down.
Sabia says he's considering moving tables and chairs into the area in front of the stage (since no one dances to rock and roll anymore, anyway), which would probably make the place a little more listener-friendly and increase the number of music listeners.
"We still are committed to making it work," Sabia says. "When we look at options of what we could do, if in the worst case scenario this doesn't work out, there's really nothing else out there. I'm not going to go country-western in here."
So, there you have it. They're locked into live rock and roll for the foreseeable future, but if more people don't start showing up, I guarantee they'll find alternatives to alternative rock nights. As usual, it's all up to you. (By the way, the cover charge is only $1 on Thursdays.)
LAST NOTES: Joe Rush celebrates the release of his new album, Play And Play And Play, at Club Congress on Sunday, June 18. It's the last night of another of Congress' outdoor music weekends.
These outdoor weekends are definitely cool. You get out of the jostle of the club, under the stars, and into a sound system that is undoubtedly better than what's inside.
The weekend kicks off with The Drakes, Grimble Wedge, Doo Rag and Caitlin and The Stickponies playing outside on Friday night (up until 'bout 11 p.m., when the club's neighbors insist the noise be taken indoors). Five more bands play inside afterwards: Greyhound Soul, The Splendor, Beyond Seven and Planet Blue.
Saturday's outdoor performers include Rainer, Little Sisters Of The Poor, In and Paula Jean Brown.
Just as it does on Friday and Saturday, Sunday's music begins at 7 p.m., showcasing Rush and his band Right Now and Deep Blue Something. Admission is two bucks on Sunday; $4 on Friday and Saturday.
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