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L’HOMME QUI N’AVAIT PAS FROID AUX OEUFS (The Man Who Was Not a Cold Egg ???)

From relatives to relations, here is a review about rock’n’roll in Florida.

Written by Gildas Cosperec
Somewhat translated by Jeff with help from Thierry Photographe

Originally appeared in Nineteen Magazine in France - June ’87

Charlie Pickett
If you were asked about the most American rock’n’roll’ states I am sure Florida would collect less than 5% of the votes. If someone had told me when I decided two months ago to write a review about Florida’s scene I would meet people like Moe Tucker, Alex Chilton, Peter Buck or Jim Duckworth I’d probably tell him no way. Nevertheless ...

To start, listen to a compilation called "Florida Punk Groups From The Sixties" released by the french Eva label a few years ago. Eight groups inside and the most interesting for us is Mark Markham and The Jesters. This combo is not far better than others but it is the most significant in our review because it makes the relation with nowadays.

Sleeves notes are too short but a complete research leads to interesting information. The Jesters were a famous rock’n’roll group in Florida. More than The Shy Guys, Palace Guards or Tabula Babies. They hit very hard with the song "Marlboro Country", a rather aggressive garage tune. Some people still remember this today, particularly Mark Markham’s cousin, named Charlie Pickett.

Charlie founded his group and he did not hesitate one second to cover "Marlboro Country". He also covered other gems from Mark Markham, the very funny "If This Is Love, Can I Get My Money Back?" he released as a 7" with a first choice B-side called "Slow Death" from you know who (The Flamin’ Groovies).

To complete this review about this man it is important to know he recently told me that he wanted to learn to play guitar so he could play "Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out".

Not finished! A-side of his ever first single (in 1981) was "White Light/White Heat". And the previously mentioned "Slow Death" is not a coincidence because his discography contains two other Groovies’ songs including a very good "Shake Some Action" (LP "Live at The Button"- 1982).

Does Charlie Pickett only do covers from his cousin or Velvets or Groovies? Not at all! His band Charlie Pickett & The Eggs also spawned a big quantity of original songs such as "Overtown" on the "Cowboy Junkie Au Go-Go" EP. A video has even been filmed to illustrate this song which speaks about the black part of Miami, where all kinds of things and stoned people in the state go through. Also on this record is a ballad, "But I Didn’t", that will make the most hardened girlfriend cry. The next song "Trashfever" does not need explanation.

Charlie & the Eggs regularly go north along the East Coast to New York. One time during a tour they played their very own version of "Waiting For The Man" and all people liked it, from trashopunkies or skinheads to cool people. Maureen Tucker knew about this. Her boyfriend’s daughter was in the crowd when CP & Eggs played this song again at another gig. As Charlie is an assiduous reader of V.U. fanzine "What Goes On", he reads Maureen Tucker would agree with the possibility of recording songs with him. So all is ok and Moe will be the drummer for the next LP of the band. Bye bye Eggs, hello to Jim Duckworth (ex-Gun Club, Panther Burns). The record is finished in 1986 and it is called "Route 33". According Charlie, "It is the route which passes in front of my birthplace and which leads to Meigs County. It is also half of Route 66." Not to forget, "Meigs County" is also the name of a M. Markham song.

"Route 33" is released on Twin-Tone Records and the sleeve shows Charlie squatting on Route 33, hair in the wind. In the background is a fallow field and a part of superb blue sky, an atmosphere à la Steinbeck meets Jack Kerouac.

From the first riffs on "America on Horseback" the tempo is established. Dream Syndicate, Gun Club and Flamin’ Groovies’ shadows float over the record. No doubt, "Route 33" is completely devoted to swamping guitars which burn inside and which make one regret that guitar hero status is now a forgotten thing. Going fast (heavy foot on the gas pedal), Charlie Pickett’s Band sounds the attack. The record impressed a lot of people and Rolling Stone writes it is "the world’s greatest rock’n’roll band". British paper Melody Maker tells about hilariously wacked, sincerely twisted busting out at full speed.

Recently C.P.’s Band played in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and in the same time at the opposite part of the town R.E.M were ending their set by inviting people to go as fast as possible to see Charlie’s gig. For sure the evening ended under a storm of 6-strings spiteful guitars and Peter Buck’s guitar was not the last to be heard. Perhaps it is that evening a collaboration with REM’s leader was mentioned for the first time. Peter Buck’s participation in the recording of the coming LP is decided very quickly. The LP is on the way to be released, Peter Buck is the producer and when you read this paper it will be in the record stores.

I heard some songs and they make me think this record could be a high moment for the group, a way for them to establish their reputation. Because they are a group. Good old friends from The Eggs are back and Pickett's pleasure with this is evident. John Salton is the other guitarist of the band and Eggs-Chief. For this occasion he sings on "Religion Or Pleasure" with Charlie’s guitar riffs. Later Pickett formed the Eggs, a remarkable outfit that maybe had too much talent for its own good. After personality clashes splintered the Eggs, Pickett, working with others, gained a little of the national critical attention he long deserved.

On the record early Gun Club atmosphere is never far away. Blues with "John The Revelator", calm and strong as a song going from a juke-joint in the Delta. Blues again with "Destry Rides Again", but electrically wild this time and which does not need a long time to turn into fierce boogie. It is easy to understand it since on "Route 33", the whole record is a story of guitarists. Keep an eye on the best record stores. Also keep an eye on planned gigs because Leslie (the band’s manager) is trying to plan a tour in France this summer. Britain seems to be the best destination for them because Charlie and John Salton have contacts there. Stay tuned.

When these guys wish to have a very good time on stage, all is crazy. I wish you could hear this cassette recorded last January in Miami in which the group plays some of the best garage hymns. Even though they are not considered specialists in garage music The Eggs bring the fire with "Psycho", "I’ll Go Crazy" or "Helter Skelter". The kind of covers to make jealous many knights of the monoxide of carbon.

It is really impossible to speak about Charlie Pickett without knowing more about The Eggs. They've played with him since "Live at the Button" and because they did not participate in the recording of "Route 33" John Salton and John Galway (the drummer) took advantage to work up their own group, The Psycho Daisies and to make the LP "Pushin’ Up Daisies". This record is pretty good, John Salton is an excellent guitarist influenced by The Stones and by The Dream Syndicate and haunted –one more time- by The Gun Club. Alex Chilton’s practiced ear made him propose to produce the next LP. And perhaps Roky Erickson would do the same thing if he could have heard (and seen) the way the group covers "Two Headed Dog" onstage.

So what's next? Will the activity of The Psycho Daisies keep on running or not, due in this case to the re-activation of The Eggs ? Their latest (and very good) release for a Christmas compilation on Midnight Records could bring big regrets. It seems Salton has a new group, "Sons of Batman"- what a name! – whose reputation is only inside Miami. Psycho Daisies' future is really dim.

We shall not leave Florida without having regrets about The Preachers, who recorded only one album which was promising. Their wild swamp-rock ("Walking Through The Swamp"), or insane-rock ("Evil Thing") was perhaps showing strongly their admiration for somebody very appreciated in this area (Gun Club).

Nor attributing the winning prize for being the most mysterious and enigmatic group to The Trembles who made a blazing single "Stupid Foot" (Mental Records). This record was one of my favorites for a long time. Impossible to know if they want to go on with Farfisa and Vox guitar because our best and very professionnal investigators – they even met Bryan Gregory along Miami Beach – did not get information. Missed appointments, returned letters to the sender, cancelled gigs time after time, The Trembles look like someone we cannot meet or contact; the one we never see….. Frustrating.

If one day a group has to be the rock Florida bearer it seems Charlie Pickett and The Eggs will be the one. Our travel in the country of alligators and Sonny Crockett was very useful.

If you meet Charlie in France, ask him for news from his cousin Mark, for sure he will be pleased.

Gildas Cosperec - Nineteen # 23 - June ’87.

Latest news: a posthumous single from The Psycho Daisies, "Burning The Candles" is ready to be released. And John Galway now plays in New York with The Silos. And The Preachers intend to play together again. And …

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