Here is proof, were it needed, that old-fashioned need not be a bad thing when it comes to rock’n’roll. In fact, I resent that term. Endless Boogie are the sort of band that re-connects you to whatever primeval impulse it is that drew you to rock in the first place, and, frankly, that never went away. Class is permanent and all that. This is music played on guitars, drums and bass, and these brutes honestly don’t give a rat’s arse about forging a new genre (hypnagogic pop can fuck right off in these guys’ eyes, I’m certain) or fusing existing ones. This is music about riffs, rhythm and rasping vocals, and it sounds as potently belligerent as early Stooges, Mott The Hoople (circa Mad Shadows) and a synth-and-sax-less Hawkwind all rolled into one shit-stirring rock’n’roll hubbly bubbly. Take a drag and it’ll make you high, but also kick you in the knackers along the way.
Long Island kicks into its rama-lama endless (ho ho) groove from the get-go with the opening 13-minute salvo that is ‘The Savageist’ (sic). Yes, this is one of those albums where the longer the tracks are the better, but what’s so remarkable about ‘The Savageist’ is that it achieves its time-bending power while adhering to a kind of monomaniacally repetitive groove that would make Klaus Dinger blush. As drummer Harry Druzd and bassist Mark Ohe (aka Memories from Reno!) lock into a chugging rhythm dominated by polyrhythmic toms and blobby bass riffs, guitarist Jesper Eklow tosses out razor-sharp, fuzz-laden circular solos, sounding like Amon Düül II’s John Weinzierl locked in the dingiest basement club in New Jersey, being forced to play the longest solo on earth just to be shown the way to the exit. Meanwhile, fellow guitarist and singer Paul Major (also known as Top Dollar, and whose grimy mug has been fabulously transformed into a sort of murderous Old Man of the Mountain on the album’s cover) contributes vocals that pull together Captain Beefheart, Edgar Broughton and Liquorball’s Feast, rivaling the latter for sheer snot-nosed menace. There’s nothing flash or technically proficient about ‘The Savageist’: it’s rock’n’roll at its most bloody-minded, feral and uncompromising, and in that respect, it has no small amount of the majesty of Neil Young’s ‘Cowgirl in the Sand’, The Stooges’ ‘Fun House’ or Broughton’s ‘Death of an Electric Citizen’. Perfect company indeed, provided you like your rock to be boneheaded, threadbare and gnarly.
From ‘The Savageist’, Endless Boogie sally through 40-odd years’ worth of rock brilliance with nary a care for what’s deemed “acceptable” by the dubious modern-day arbiters of good taste. ‘Last Night’ is like The Stones’ ‘Brown Sugar’, only with more garage and none of that band’s deliberate saltiness. ‘Dark Force’ again conjures up memories of the Edgar Broughton Band, with a bit of Detroit proto-punk thrown in for good measure and Major’s snarly grunt. The man doesn’t so much sing as linger around the melodic lines like a mean-eyed hobo hanging around the door to a swish nightclub. ‘Refocus’ showcases some stirring guitar pyrotechnics from Eklow, somewhere between an Axe Victim-era Bill Nelson (of course) and Neil Young’s more feverish wig-outs of the late seventies. As ever, he is ably supported by his unshakeable rhythm section, who are tireless in their dedication to holding up his every riff and solo.
Much of Long Island does suffer from being in the shadow of the raucous din of ‘The Savageist’ and ‘Refocus’, with the positively pastoral ‘Last Night’ and lengthy closer ‘Riley’ lacking those songs’ focus. Equally, don’t come to Endless Boogie looking for subtle lyrics or clever composition (even if the band’s sloppiness has been greatly overstated – see the aforementioned ‘Riley’, which is a proper post-psych meander easily superior to similar latter-day heads such as Endless Tapestry). But then, this gang don’t set their stall out to be anything else. This is just full-on, hard-edged rock played by four guys clearly getting their rocks off simply by playing. It must be a blast to see them live. If “indie-rock”’s increasing banality and supine cleanliness makes you want to tear your hair out, give Long Island a whirl. I guarantee it’ll kick all that crap into the sewer from the opening riff of ‘The Savageist’. Right, I’m off to whack on some jazz-drone. These guys have made me come over all funny!