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George Brigman - Jungle Rot (1975)



At age 18, the most a musician should ever hope for is an ill-fated, ramshackle band to fill backyards and basements, a pennant to someday pin on the brick wall of nostalgia. George Brigman wasn’t like most musicians. He came away from the latter part of his youth with an impressive lot of recordings pressed on his own imprint, Solid Records, and a legion of fans eager to get their hands on his tomes of blissful, bluesy sludge. The first of these albums was Jungle Rot and the year was 1975. In the interim between the debut’s release and its 30-year anniversary in 2005, numerous bootlegs would appear of questionable quality, leaving ample room for a proper, dutiful reissue. Enter Karl Ikola and Rick Noll, respective proprietors of Anopheles Records and Bona Fide Records.

But don’t call Brigman the Rimbaud of self-produced psychedelia. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he’s seemingly uninterested in masturbatory poetics; Brigman’s lyrics stand as elemental and unadorned as a rite of passage, allowing for some of the fuzziest layering of guttural guitar chops in ages, not unlike Jim and William Reid’s eventual idolatry of Bo Diddley and “Teenage Lust.” Brigman’s voice takes on a deepness that casts a bizarre patina on the whole record; it’s as if you’re privy to a teenager jumping forward and psychically channeling his formative years, calling forth every hormone-laden scene with a new ferocity that only a few jaded years and a wobbly leg up could bring. These are not the crystalline teenage anthems of the Ramones, nor is this the idle dabbling of a rock ‘n’ roll whippersnapper. This, folks, is what all those white blues brothers from South London were getting at in the late ’60s and early ’70s before the keyboard symphonies came into play. Jungle Rot is up there with Twink’s Think Pink, May Blitz’s Second of May, or any of Ron Warren Ganderton’s material. Fans of Dead Meadow take heed, you can now put down that Blue Cheer record.

Brigman’s tendencies draw comparison to those of the Groundhogs’ Tony McPhee, so it should be no surprise that he covers the icon’s music in later releases. In fact, three tracks from Brigman’s former band, Hogwash, presumably named for the 1972 Groundhogs album of the same name, are included on Jungle Rot for good measure. You’ll hear traces of everyone from Dick Dale to Willie Dixon on this LP, with licks as leveling as Ry Cooder’s. Imagine a less schizophrenic, never-ending version of Todd Rundgren’s “No. 1 Lowest Common Denominator” from the standout Todd LP, spread across a hazy battery of intoxicated but brutal songs. Brigman’s take on the bad boy serenade is equal parts Martin Sheen in “Badlands,” and a sleepier Johnny Burnette.

“Schoolgirl” rivals the Dennis Wilson song of the same name. Its rebel Casanova mentality is contrasted with an appropriately weepy guitar – it sounds just as bombastic as Wilson’s track from the unfinished album, Bamboo. “Don't Bother Me," much like I Can Hear the Ants Dancin's "Blowin' Smoke," first released as a 45 in 1977, punishes as much as the rest of his musical taunts; Brigman is clearly warming up to assume the role that titles his Human Scrawl Vagabond LP, itself still waiting for reissue in European boots."

So what was once lost is now found. Baltimore continues to stand as an unexpected American vortex that occasionally regurgitates clandestine fodder of decidedly potent value. Between George Brigman’s quiet genius and Fortune Teller’s monumental Inner-City Scream LP from 1978, ’70s Baltimore seemed like a serious place to be. John Waters just may have to fork over his throne as Maryland’s King of the Wasteland. It’s now time for Guy Blakeslee to have a glass of Kool-Aid with his predecessor and really get something going. Imagine the possibilities. (Allison Wisk)

Jeff Barrett - Drums
George Brigman - Guitar, Vocals, Bass
Ron Collier - Harp, Congas


George Brigman & Split (G.B. with a long hair:))

One of the great homemade masterpieces of the 1970s, George Brigman's JUNGLE ROT is the sound of youthful hero worship gone gleefully off the deep end. Conceived as a tribute to British psych-blues band the Groundhogs and their leader Tony McPhee, the album takes that bands' acid-fried boogie and warps it with primitive recoding techniques and the fevered isolation in which Brigman worked. The title track alone with its fuzz-damaged guitar pan and punishing four-on-the-floor rhythms is worth the price of admission, yet the rest of the album delivers equally inspired wallops of technical brilliance and blown-out acid shred. While Brigman continued to hone his chops in the ensuing decades, he did so once again in relative anonymity. In the mean time, JUNGLE ROT became a collectors' sensation, finally receiving an official reissue in 2005.

George Brigman's 1975 debut LP, Jungle Rot, may well be the last great American 1970s underground LP of its stature and power (as both grail collectable and musical monster) to never to have received a legitimate reissue - until now! An eighteen year old songwriter and guitarist with big ambitions, Baltimore's Brigman cut Jungle Rot thirty years ago as a privately pressed LP on his own Solid Records label, making this raw fuzz guitar, acid-blues "rough diamond" gem his first release. Amazingly, this is the first legit (from original master)cd reissue to ever appear, and the sound quality exceeds the original (poorly mastered and pressed) release in every way, not to mention the even more poorly done bootlegs which followed. Finally a release from the masters with 3 way cool never before heard tracks from 76 andthis issue is fully authorized by George Brigman. The insane title cut will leave your jaw on the floor (sounding like Half Machine Lip Moves-era Chrome four years before they made that LP), followed by an even more crazed guitar freakout, "DMT" (that really sounds like the Stooges at their peak - though Brigman denies an influence), upon hearing this LP, you'll wonder why "Jungle Rot" hasn't been shouted from the roof tops in every Blue Cheer, Groundhogs and Stooges' loving ghetto the last three decades. "Schoolgirl" is perhaps the ultimate white blues lament from the USA '70s underground, with a pacing and grace that's as supple as an old farm hand, warm as a shot of whiskey or a tear running down your cheek. A classic hook/riff that recalls other unstoppable tunes such as The Masters Apprentices' "Poor Boy", the Saints' "Messin' With The Kid", or the Pretty Things' "Can't Stand The Pain". But it was at the altar of the Groundhogs' T.S. McPhee that Brigman worshipped, and his sublimeinstrumental, "(T.S.)", speaks volumes for a teenaged guitar gunslinger on a mission to transcend his influences. "I Feel Alright" (not the Stooges classic) is a fuzzed out, growled vocal, thudding behemoth that sounds what might have been if Suicide had guided their sound through a pathway of guitars and drums and not Voice and Rev - it has the same basic pulse and drive. Jungle Rot is a truly remarkable record that exudes as much youthful wisdom and vision as it does brash aggressivene Mojo (Publisher)

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