Animal God indeed.

‘Animal God Of The Street’

Originally released on Capitol Records in 1975.

Re-released on Jungle Records in 1999, now again on Lilith Records

Vinyl / CD / Download

Recorded at Blue Fox Studios, Dog Bay, New Zealand.

Supposedly all songs recorded during 1969/1970.

Track List –

Side A.
1. Night Of The Hunter   (2:12)
2. Long Live Rock’n’Roll   (2:10)
3. Werewolf Dynamite   (1:38)
4. Is America Dead?   (8:11)
5. Rumble   (2:15)

Side B.
1. California Swamp Dance   (2:16)
2. Hobo Wine   (2:15)
3. Dangerous Visions   (5:42)
4. Ain’t Got No Transportation   (6:18)

Kim Fowley – All instruments, engineering, mixing, production, vocals and writing except –

–    A5: Link Wray and Mit Grant.
–    B1: Fowley and Skip Battin.
–    B3: Fowley and Lyn Dewolfe.

All artwork and photography by Kim Fowley.

Fowley’s arriviste – if not self-derided and honest – opening statement on the back of ‘Animal God Of The Streets’, reads:

“I am still ready to drop a grand piano on the head of the next person who tell me I’m a piece of shit”.

He then goes on to list his numerous music industry job titles in a manifesto style torrid, cocking a finger to his critics.

Whilst this LP isn’t exactly a “piece of shit”, it is indeed a hard sell, full of fatuous and epigone trashy out-takes meant to be recorded by other groups.
Instead he feverishly records all these demo-like tracks himself, running through musical styles like an over-excited loon in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.
It’s as though Fowley was donning disguises, getting into character: from acting the role of a biker gang reprobate howling at the full moon, or as a messianic prophet, serving his eulogies from Mount Sinai, he over-egged his case studies – but hey that’s part of the attraction, right?
Each song on this LP includes brief by-lines, which are either in dedication or attributed to a particular artist. There’s even a special reference to ‘the man of thousand faces’, Lon Chaney Snr, on ‘Werewolf Dynamite’ – the clues in the title kids!

If the albums notes can taken at face value, then all these tracks were laid down in 1969 and 70, and of all places in New Zealand – well why not?
It wouldn’t officially see the light of day until 1975, the year that Fowley was panting around after his jailbait creation, The Runaways.
By then of course this proto-twisted lament and study of the 60s seemed positively redundant, a hang-up from the counter-culture.
Even the cover seems out of step with the age it finally found its self released into, Kim starring intensely from under that shaggy bowl haircut of his, dark shadowed rings around those piercing haunting eyes, peering out into the world. Our tortured souls only companion is some anonymous half-naked enslaved groupie, bending to his will, holding either her own chains or the ones he’s about to tie round Fowley. Man what a trip.

Quite literally opening up the throttle, Fowley rides on into a growling fuzzed-up motorcycle eulogy, ‘Night Of The Hunter’. He ploughs straight over its intended road-kill, laying down tyre tracks on the whole Easy Rider freewheeling spirited ethos.
Steppenwolf’s ‘Born To Be Wide’ is the blueprint, whilst ‘Who Do You Love’ is given a thorough overhaul and kicking by a wide-eyed lunatic, who crows like Jim Morrison, throwing out gem descriptive lines with a scary flair of panache –

“It’s a rainy night in California,
My boots are soakin’ wet,
And I’m a-hunting paradise.
I’m a-ready and getting-set,
To do my huntin’ in the moonlight.”

A cross between the comic book schlock of Ghost Rider and some prowling sexual leather-clad miscreant, looking for a spot of Satanic fucking. Whatever its intentions, as the notes duly point out, this is: “…meant to be played loud”. Preferably to let your square neighbours in on it, I mean why not spread the joy.
Hot on its ballsy tales is the old-time rocker vignette “Long Live Rock’n’Roll”, a 12-bar stroll along the staple diet of jive-ass stock-in-trade of groups like Johnny Kidd and the Pirates and The Playboys – whose front man Vince Taylor this song is dedicated to.
Frantic vocals implore us to cut a dash and hit the floor, or bedroom:
“I want you to shake your soul”, working up to the moment of “I want you to dance the dog”.

Trashy mock horror comes next, the Lon Chaney Snr “Werewolf Dynamite” working over some rocking blues, as Fowley rolls his eys and yelps at the moon.
A soundtrack to some forgotten shocking B-movie, this pulpy spooky knees-up through the graveyard, describes all those well-honoured Halloween holiday clichés:
“Screamin’ through the midnight,
Shadows stop aside.
Yellin’ through the twilight,
Engine open wide.
Leapin’ through the starlight,
I think my brains are fried.”

Note the mention of engines again, adhering to that biking deviant theme that runs throughout this collection of songs.

The album departs from its so far lightweight fare, as the behemoth “Is America Dead?” strides into view.
Fowley the ranting seer, declares forth a barrage of inquisitive antagonistic questions:

“Do you really think America is dead?”

“Where you gonna live, if it’s dead?”

“Where you gonna live if its dead?”

“Are you the one who’s dead instead?”

Our insightful leader goes onto tie-in Woodstock, Toronto, Vietnam, Jerry Rubin, Frankenstein and even the founding father of the US of A himself, “Did George Washington really grow marijuana on his Virginia plantation?”
He evokes comparisons to a more, unbelievably so, sober Wildman Fischer launching a grandiose paranoid essay on the end of the dream.
The backing rumbles along in a proto-Batman theme cyclonic scramble, stretched over an extended 60s groover, with countless falls and climbs.
Finishing off side one is the typical Fowley cover, a version of Link Wray’s ‘Rumble’.
Carrying on the mantle of the sleazy, unkempt biker, he gives this 1957 jalopy a suitable injection of hard-liner brooding and moody rock, turning this into the Hells outriders’ anthem.
Travelling down south; wading through the Cajun muddied waters of the Louisiana bayous, Fowley immerses himself into the quasi-down home twang of “California Swamp Dance”.
One time Byrds bassist and driving around LA cohort, Skip Battin, helps him drag up all the best riffs and lines from the swamp-rock songbook.
Attempting to sum up this entire genre, they chuck in plenty of slack-jawed dialect and nonsensical gibberish words of wisdom, such as, “Up and sock it to the swamp now, swamp is water”, or allusions to feeling at one with the natural surroundings, “Feel all the snakes, down in the water”.
Imagine Canned Heat and the Turtles (their ‘Battle of the Bands’ comes to mind), mocking the creature from the Black Lagoon, or picture the swamp thing letting it all hang loose, whilst pursing an harmonica to lips.

God knows what the maelstrom of voracious contempt that is Fowley was thinking with this next ode, “Hobo Wine”.
This drunken garbled crock, wistfully exclaims the virtues of being inebriated, “Stop your speed, put down your weed, fine red wine is we need”, whilst consoling the drugs to take a backseat.
Underlining this alcoholic induced message is another jaunty 12-bar Rock’n’Roll hand-me-down, that could have been an out-take from Chess records, then again maybe not.

We’re going to take it down a notch now, as the grand opening of Percy Sledge evocative organ, announces the start of a more soulful and indulgent number; Fowley shooting straight from the heart.
“Dangerous Visions” is full of feted gospel tones, with a splattering of acid-country rock, that works itself around an almost waltz like timing.
A halcyon drug addled balled, this lament sees Kim wallow in self-pity, crooning like a male Janice Joplin.
Nostradamus prophesies this ain’t, in fact it’s more like a session between Fowley and his psychiatrist, “I see dangerous visions, we’re livin’ in a strange kind of time”, coaxed further on these visions, he pushes his melodramatic point further, “I tell you I see dangerous visions, should we run, should we walk, or should we climb”.
I got a feeling that these illusions would follow him wherever he went.

Finally we reach the Dr.Feelgood like choppy acid-blues of ‘Ain’t Got No Transportation’, originally conceived for Iggy and his infamous Stooges.
It’s certainly a wild affair, with a constant chuggering rhythm and mooning, aping vocals, dripped in swaggering Jagger-esque pomp and bravado.
Those same ‘something of the night’ themes return as the lyrics build from a seemingly boisterous hitchhiking tale of thumbing a ride, the protagonist needing to get to his baby doll bride asap, before turning into a fright night special:

“Look behind the trees,
Just hear that big dog howl.
We’re comin-up on the moon,
Wee a one-eyed owl.
Get my voodoo magic,
Zombies in the cold.
There’s werewolves in the dark”.

This perfect mix of Vincent Price, Dr.John and Captain Beefheart spirited vocals is delivered with vigour and spunk; Fowley crouched on a rock yelling up at the night sky, in wild abandon.

Fundamentally a whole crap truckload of stinking silage, ‘Animal God Of The Street’ is in fact a masterpiece.
Why? Well for all the reasons that make this record a crass display of hock, they also wierdly make it so irresistible, like a guilty pleasure or in the same vein as all those garage rock bands that Lester Bangs always debased, only to applaud their sheer audacity.
The playing’s all really considered and competent, as is Fowley’s diatribes and production skills. It’s certainly a lot better then most of the peddled material that did get recorded by the numerous artists, he wrote for.

Fucking forget all the recent noise about The Runaways – except for ‘Cherry Bomb’ and ‘Hollywood’, you ain’t missing much – Fowley doing Fowley is unmissable.

Dominic Valvona

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