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Mushroom with Gary Floyd - Mad Dogs & San Franciscans (2003)

I'm slumped over at the Beauty Bar, my head ducking the plastic hair dryer dome as beehive designs surround me, when this voice starts coarsely bunting up against my skull. There are wicked edges to each syllable, but there's a viscous soul to it that seeps in where the barbs have already drawn blood. Which is peculiar, as the song itself is a nasty, bashing sort of punk number, the lyrics asking, \x93Are you stupid, or just a faggot?\x94 It's the Dicks, of course, one of the most powerful Texas punk bands ever to arise, at the same time as the Big Boys and the Butthole Surfers, before singer Gary Floyd-- the gargantuan punk-rock queen from which this powerful voice emanated-- pulled up stakes to the more accepting climes in San Francisco. With the less chain- gang Sister Double Happiness, he preceded the grunge genre by a few years, keeping a soulful edge to their sludgy rock. A touchstone for the likes of Nirvana, the Jesus Lizard, and Mudhoney (the last two covering Dicks' songs), Floyd has lain low the past few years, as punk cred don't exactly pay Pacific Gas.

That he's paired now with Mushroom, a bunch of left Coast groovers and movers, is less a respectful resurrection than an inspired match. Comprised of players who've dabbled with folks such as Beth Orton, Beck, Faust, and Kevin Ayers, they have always been capable of summoning speed-crisped 60s soul, 70s fusion synth stacks, and 90s Tortoise wax buffing all the crags to a sheen, but with Floyd, they fill in that missing decade of the 80s, with his hardcore heart. Happy enough to contemplate their omphalos while zoning out to Herbie Hancock's Headhunters or Daevid Allex92s Gong, Mushroom veers more towards early seventies AM Gold with such a formidable front man, while still trudging up the old Fillmore West in all its incestuous glory and excess.

Divining Joe Cocker, Floyd gives you just enough time to hit the black lights and crash into the bean bag before Mushroom takes off with the cringingly titled \x93The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, but It Will Be Auctioned Off on eBay\x94. That it works better than it reads by lava lamp is crucial, for they do take their sweet-ass time reaching expansion, wading through flute and trumpet morass before revealing their secret weapon: Monoshock and Glands of External Secretion tweaker Doug Pearson. Pearsox92s synthesizer is the x-factor for most of the tracks, extracting the psychoactive purities that lace their originals and covers, coating it all in electric Kool-Aid meltdown. On Curtis Mayfield's \x93Pushermax94 he is both street-level truck brakes and uncut space dust, squirting tracers around Floyd's falsetto and leather take on the gay hustler, concerned more with his own tricks than on ruining the ghetto. That the signature conga line drops into a lock at the end with the Can patter of Patrick O'Hearn Thomas (also doubling as producer of the sessions) gives their cover a much more potent effect.

\x93Even the Beatles Had Beards\x94, the other Mushroom original, decelerates into a Traffic jam, with harmonica and organ cutting through with the Doppler effect of late-night ambulances, smoothing away all memories of a front man, but when Floyd belts back at the ARP blats of the Who b-side \x93Water\x94, his presence pulls the proceedings back from the tarpit of noodling these chops always teeter over, saving the group from falling in with the other dinosaurs. That Carrie Nation nymphets could be reborn to shimmy for the likes of the Spencer Davis Group, Steppenwolf, Leon Russell and Randy California is less about the Mushroom's session-cat ability to cough up long-haired balls of past glories than the dollar bin detritus coursing through Floyd's rough, corrugated throat, scuffing it up just enough to take hold on the way down. (source)

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