DAVIE ALLAN & THE ARROWS
Fuzz Fest (Bomp)
Although this album was first released (for about 15 minutes) in late 1996, the subsequent demise of the Atomic Beat label effectively rendered Fuzz Fest stillborn. Reissued by the indie titans of Bomp and goosed up with two additional tracks, it features an incarnation of Allan & the Arrows (bassist Dave Provost and drummer Dave Winogrond) that makes a strong case for its turbocharged, rpm-addled garage-rock philosophy.
What’s most remarkable about Davie Allan is the fact that he’s still so crap-cuttingly able. After decades of often thankless toil in the fuzz-rock orchard, surviving both the diminished candy-ass standards the British Invasion made requisite and (worse) being under contract to Mike Curb, Allan has always stuck to his guns. He was bred for it, and boasts a most colorful pedigree: This is, of course, the very same fellow who graced the soundtracks of mid-’60s AIP drive-in flicks (The Born Losers, The Angry Breed, The Hard Ride, The Wild Angels and the beloved, LSD-drenched Wild in the Streets), and Allan handily channeled the sonic Zeitgeist for Hollywood’s objectively trashy deification of the one-percenter and acid head.
That cinematic background is evident, and, together with the degree of Allan’s obviously ardent involvement, it makes for some expansive if not epic music. Sculpting vast melodic landscapes and supplying an emotional atmosphere to complete the picture, Allan conjures rock & roll quintessence, the unseen fifth element (initially proposed by Greek philosophers and today designating cosmological unknowns) and applies it with masterly skill, right smack upside thy head. Allan does not pussyfoot — the man is simply a monster, and the entire album rolls, stomps and flows with consummate ease through 17 tracks all bearing appropriately lurid titles (“Corridor of Fear,” “Frantic,” “Angel Dust,” “Metal Fatigue,” “Chopper,” “Roswell, New Mexico”).
Allan uses the limited, juvenile restrictions of his fuzz heritage with a purist’s single-mindedness, while layering on colors and tones so worldly and adult that it’s headspinning — like a Shirley Temple served with three ounces of Everclear rotgut. He’s tearing all over the place; one minute a beefy Lynyrd Skynyrdesque guitar figure or burnt-rubber hot-rod riff, the next a whiff of bolero, a twist of Mancini, all with a thick, fungal fuzz crust, shaken and slapped atop pounding tribal tom-toms. Every twist and Technicolor turn is made with deft, crafty insouciance and decidedly walloping skill. Wild stuff, baby.