“It’s rolling, you queebs.” These immortal words may have been your introduction to San Diego, California-based garage punkers, the Gravedigger V. The opening dialog on their 1984 debut album, “All Black and Hairy”, summed up the snarly attitude that was found within the thirteen tracks spread out among both sides of the Voxx-released wax. Mastering the retro sounds of ’60s rock ‘n’ roll, the ‘Diggers found themselves rubbing elbows with like-minded neighbors in Los Angeles that were part of the Paisley Underground. However, the Gravedigger V displayed a more sinister presence, and were more akin to revivalists like the Chesterfield Kings and the Fuzztones, as opposed to the Long Ryders and Green On Red. As mere teenagers, they were owning the stage at Whisky A Go-Go, where they caught the interest of Voxx Records owner Greg Shaw. This aligning of the celestial bodies resulted in the aforementioned LP, but the positive vibes didn’t last, and the band imploded shortly thereafter.
With the Gravedigger V now six feet under, the former members were free to pursue other deviant clubs that shared their passion for Nuggets and Pebbles compilations. While ex-members Dave Anderson and Tom Ward went on to play in Manual Scan, it was Leighton Koizumi and Ted Friedman who would continue the boss ‘Digger sound in the Morlocks. With a solidified line-up that included Jeff Lucas, Tom Clarke, and Mark Mullen, a mini-LP titled “Emerge” was released in 1985. This was followed in 1987 by a live album, “Submerged Alive”, for Epitaph Records, which saw Lucas leaving the band. This began a downward spiral for the Morlocks, with the oncoming years being nothing short of tumultuous. The band held on to record material for a couple of 7″ EPs, but this wasn’t enough to keep the wheels on, so they folded.
The 1990s were a bleak period for the loyal fan base that were holding out for a Morlocks reunion. Other than two live documents, “Wake Me When I’m Dead” and “Uglier Than You’ll Ever Be!”, there just wasn’t any new music being made. Mainly, this was due to some legal hassles that Koizumi was embroiled in, which caused him to fall out of the recording industry altogether. Then, to add insult to injury, he was declared “dead” in a Spin article in 1999. Ready to put all of this behind him, Koizumi resurrected the Morlocks name in the new Millenium and finally released a new album, “Easy Listening For the Underachiever”. This was followed up with “The Morlocks Play Chess” on the Fargo label in 2010.
Dusseldorf, Germany is now HQ for Koizumi’s latest iteration of the Morlocks, where he’s amassed a veritable who’s who of European garage rockers: Marcello Salis (guitar/vocals) spent time in the Hangee V; Oliver Pilsner (bass) was a member of several fuzz masters, including the Fuzztones and the Magnificent Brotherhood; Rob Louwers (drums) pounded the skins for Link Wray, the Q-65, and the Fuzztones, as well; and Bernadette (guitars) shredded for Sonny Vincent and the Humpers. With this pedigree of talent and street cred, it’s no surprise that the next step in the band’s list of achievements would be extraordinary.
On August 21, 2018, Hound Gawd Records announced the release of “Bring On the Mesmeric Condition”, the first new studio album from the Morlocks in over eight years.
With an international street date of August 31, the Morlocks unleashed a garage-thumping manifesto on an unsuspecting public. Mixed and mastered by THE go-to fundamentalist of Detroit rock ‘n’ roll, Jim Diamond of Dirtbombs fame, this album is another testament of Koizumi’s genius. For the first time ever, we have here a collection of all original material. That’s right, no covers. Like a good lover, this LP takes care of that itch and hits all of the sweet spots. The lead-off track, “Bothering Me”, isn’t a toe-tapper, it’s a full-on jumper, screaming to be blared out of the speakers of a ’74 Plymouth Duster. Koizumi explains the recipe for this rocker: “Take 2 cups of Flaming Groovies, add 1 cup of New York Dolls, then add 2 tablespoons of Rolling Stones.” You can’t argue with this assessment, and it could very well detail all ten tracks included here. “We Can Get Together” applies more grease to the proceedings, with Koizumi’s unholy vocals being complemented by his merry band of scowling toughs. “No One Rides For Free” is such an anthem, it should be their motto. One can only imagine this printed on the back of an official Morlocks tee, complemented by a bumper sticker to apply on that custom Van. Other standout tracks include “One Foot In the Grave”, “High Tide Killer”, and “Easy Action”, but quite honestly, the whole damn record smokes. The guys even slow it down here and there, just to give the listener a chance to catch their breath and change their oil. With appetites whetted on this musical buffet, let’s pray to the (Dodge) Demons that it won’t take Leighton Koizumi and the Morlocks another eight years to get our engines revving.
“We Can Get Together”:
“No One Rides For Free”:
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To order “Bring On the Mesmeric Condition”, head over to Hound Gawd! Records.