in the red | 7″/dl itr239 | 2012
Kid Congo Powers, as well as being Nick Cave‘s guitarist in the Bad Seeds and a founder member of The Gun Club, used to be in The Cramps. If you ever needed validation of his involvement in the band formed by the late, great Lux Interior and Poison Ivy, ‘Conjure Man’ is probably it, albeit what The Cramps might have become if they’d studied Morricone. Powers, or Brian Tristan to immigration, has a particularly distinctive tremolo guitar style which manifests itself here as a sort of desert-washed, dramatic blues, with all the insistent bleakness of a spaghetti western soundtrack in ‘Conjure Man’s spacious tumbleweeds-in-dystopia arrangement. His vocal may lack the stuttering jerkiness of Lux and the music some of the obtuse angles that made The Cramps such a compelling unit, but his echo-drenched Californian drawl has the same appealing blank weirdness, whilst lyrically here also recalling the wonderful anarchic mysticism of Screaming Jay Hawkins’ ‘I Put A Spell On You’.
The B-side is a cover of The Seeds’ ‘Lose Your Mind’ (misspelled, perhaps deliberately, as ‘Loose Your Mind’ on the 7″ label). That’s right, an ex-Bad Seed covering The Seeds. Powers captures the garagey rock ‘n’ roll blues of the original with ease, adding a lysergic, psychedelic quality to the arrangement via some sky-scouring synths and captivatingly frazzled, whining guitar trickery. It’s effortlessly cool, much like Kid Congo Powers himself.
The single was released in both red and black vinyl editions (100 and 400 copy editions), with both editions enclosed in a screen-printed sleeve printed onto cardboard cut from a Pabst Blue Ribbon box. If that doesn’t scream ‘carefully-produced lo-fi’ then I don’t know what else does.
First posted 2013; re-edited 2015
(c) 2015 Mat Smith / Documentary Evidence