Jud Cost Dr. West's Medicine Show & Junk Band
Norman Greenbaum. He's the guy with that big hit from the early '70's, "Spirit In The Sky", right? A one-hit wonder. And that's about as far as it goes for the pigeon-holers of this world, people who herd factual detritus into extrastrength garbage bags like a gardener with a leaf blower. People who "collect" old records but never listen to them. Or people who actually study to be "Jeopardy" contestants. Great though his big hit was, there's a hell of a lot more to Norman Greenbaum than a solitary entry on a record chart.
Take Dr. West's Medicine Show & Junk Band, for example. The goodtimey jug band-plus he formed in Los Angeles in 1965 is described by Greenbaum, himself, as "a cross between Captain Beefheart and Spike Jones." Although Dr. West may seem pretty simple stuff at first glance, beneath the veneer of material you might be able to get away with playing for you grandmother (especially if her hearing aid is on the fritz), you begin to pick up on the subtleties. Like in a David Lynch movie, the familiar begins to take on an eerie life of its own.
Get past the jug, the kazoos and the coconut shell rhythm section, and this starts to feel like you're taking a Chemistry final with a kaleidoscope instead of a microscope. Not to worry. You probably OK as long as your Blue Book noted some of the following insights: "Bullets La Verne" appears to be about a New York hooker; "How Lew Sin Ate" has nothing to do with the dining habits of a certain Asian gentleman; "Jigsaw" adds a fuzzed-out backing track picked up in some smoky Moroccan dive; "Daddy I Know" links arms with Berkeley rabble-rousers Country Joe & The Fish; "The Circus Left Town Today" is the unlikely offspring of Bob Dylan and Jimmy Webb; "The Eggplant That Ate Chicago", inspired by any number of B-movie sic-fi classics, remains grudgingly cryptic; and, uhhhh, "Little White Pills" speaks for itself.
Just buying "Euphoria! The Best Of Dr. West's Medicine Show & Junk Band" on Sundazed Music isn't enough. No Cliff's Notes are currently available for this assignment. You really have to listen to it. You will never regret it.
This cd is the epitomy of the way things were in the mid 1960s. Dr Wests medicine show was a psychadelic junk (jug) band, employing wash boards,wash tub bass,kazoos,and various metal objects that were often whacked by drum sticks. But just in case you didn't already know,this group is where Norman Greenbaum got his feets into the music scene,about 99% of the songs on this cd were written by Greenbaum and he arranged all of them. One of the albums many highlights is the bands assault on "eleanor rigby" done junk band style,(ahh,kazoos in perfect harmony). But if you still cant fathom what this is gonna sound like, the best idea I can give you is if you've ever hear EARLY Spanky and Our Gang recordings (like the elusive LIVE album) or any thing by Mungo Jerry. If you like 60s' folkpsych BUY THIS CD
Paul Kristi (Mount Prospect, Illinois)