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the Gibson Bros

11 Jul , 2011,
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the Gibson Bros

the Gibson Bros.  In the early 1990s, a buddy and I were living by the post office, near the 23rd street tracks, across from the Hadley Fruit and Nut Company.  Dude came home from a day of buying and selling music in Fresno, with the record Memphis Sol Today by a project called the Gibson Bros  The standout tracks on that record, to me were Barbara and Memphis Chicken. The Gibson Bros was a project that Jon Spenser was involved with.  I knew Spenser’s name from my brief introduction to Pussy Galore, so many years before, and I was getting to know the Jon Spenser Blues Explosion.  I liked Spenser’s work.  I wanted to know more.

The Gibson Bros.–featuring Jon Spenser

the Gibson BrosPussy Galore covered the Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main Street, in its entirety, a few years previously.  As far as I know, it was available only on cassette, and only a few hundred were produced.  My room-mate had a copy of that cassette that Joe Mendez at Below Zero recorded for him.  I liked how Spenser and PG handled the Stones music.  When I heard that Spenser was connected with Gibson Bros, I was already there.

the Gibson Bros –Memphis Sol Today

the Gibson BrosI haven’t heard Memphis Sol Today in years.  I’m not even sure if I still own it. I sure do recall that disonence –almost, but not quite like fingernails down a blackboard–in Spenser’s guitar work.  Jon Spenser played a Telecaster, I suspect.  That may account for the ‘jangle’ and ‘crunch’ to most of his work.


Gibson Bros–crazed music

The Gibson Bros came howling out of Columbus, Ohio with a reckless brand of minimalist American roots music, twisting blues, hillbilly and gospel  — as well as their own already bent tunes — dementedly passionate, loosely played music that never resorted to gimmicks or camp. The quartet, which included rock-critic-turned-drummer-turned-guitarist-and- singer Don Howland –ex-Great Plains, did their level best to put their town on the map. Although often compared to the Cramps, the Gibsons cast a wider musical net, digging their wildly reverbed guitars, super-simple drumming and Jeff Evans’ frantic vocals into obscure blues and hillbilly tunes, gospel classics and derivative originals–bizarre lyrics and all–with equal fervor. Not always focused — or tuned up — enough to be enjoyable, the willfully hapless Gibson Bros were still capable of deep wit and high excitement.

the Gibson Bros –guest starring Jon Spenser and Cristina Martinez

The first half of the record consists of home recordings made with Memphis spenser2guitarist Brent Stokesberry and drummer Ross Johnson, punctuated with  varried and strange assortments of samples and spoken-word weirdness; the music is even more casual than usual but has its moments. Side Two consists of sporadic yet compelling live tracks recorded by a short-lived foursome with Pussy Galore/Boss Hog twins Jon Spencer on guitar and Cristina Martinez on drums.

Howland and Evans recorded Memphis Sol Today! at the legendary Sun studio. In contrast to the authentically unhinged The Man Who Loved Couch Dancing, it’s a relatively straightforward — and, by Gibson standards, well recorded — session concentrating largely on the band’s demented idea of rockabilly, with Evans and Howland joined by Jon Spenser on guitar, vocals and organ, and drummer Rich Lillash.

The Gibson Bros.–last days

The last stand of the original Gibson Bros lineup was on 1990’s Punk Rock Truck Drivin’ Song of a Gun, a casually well executed collaboration with kindred spirits Workdogs, the New York-area duo of bassist/singer Rob Kennedy and drummer Scott Jarvis (who’d previously worked on their ownmemphis sol and with Half Japanese, the Velvet Monkeys, Tav Falco’s Panther Burns and Purple Geezus). Their rhythmic skills manage to make the Gibsons sound almost professional for the first (and only) time in their existence. Gathering up enough 18-wheeler songs to justify the album title, the Gibdogs also rev up a version of “Shakin’ All Over” and such originals as “Talk Italian to Me.”

Damn!  The Gibson Bros were one of my favorite bands in the early 1990s. Now, I have to go back and listen to Pussy Galore, Boss Hog and the Royal Trux again.

the Gibson Bros

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Tell Us What YouThink

  • Cathy

    Love it

  • cherie’

    absolutely fantastic….i look forward to reading more