Monday, September 9, 2013

The Screaming Gypsy Bandits

The Screaming Gypsy Bandits
In the Eye
(BRBQ Records, Inc., 1973)

The world is full of unexpected connections. For instance, one would not be likely to think a link might exist between avant garde art punks MX-80 Sound, Top 40 popsters Looking Glass, mid-'70s metallers Starz, and contemporary jazzers like John Zorn, Tim Berne, and Satoko Fujii.

I'd like to introduce you to that link. Ladies and gentlemen, The Screaming Gypsy Bandits.

Their output during their lifetime was scant: this album and the compilation LP Bloomington 1, where I first heard them, released on the same label a couple of years later. Their members went on to stardom as the years wore on, however. Guitarist Bruce Anderson went on to fame, of a sort, with MX-80 Sound and its various offshoots. Guitarist Brendan Harkin joined Looking Glass, after their mega-hit Brandy (You're a Fine Girl) but in time to play on their final single, and stayed with them as they morphed into Fallen Angels then Starz. Bassist Mark Dresser (who left before this album was recorded) has played with the above jazz luminaries and scads more.

Three of the songs from this album were added as bonus tracks to the CD reissue of vocalist Caroline Peyton's 1972 album, Mock Up, so I've chosen one of the remaining six for today's post. It was written by Mark Bingham, who penned all the tracks on the album plus all of the songs on Mock Up. Junior is the longest track on the album and allows the members to really stretch out.

The liner notes for the Mock Up CD mention a Screaming Gypsy Bandits album that was never finished, Back to Doghead. In 2009, that album hit the shelves, finally, in compact disc form. Unlike In the Eye, it's a much more out there affair, with obvious inspiration from Captain Beefheart and The Mothers of Invention. I think it's pretty fabulous.

No biased opinions . . . yet