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Tucson Weekly Rhythm and Views

FEBRUARY 23, 1999: 

Bettie Serveert

Venus In Furs And Other Velvet Underground Songs
(Brinkman Records)

HAVE YOU EVER wondered if proctologists get sick of their jobs? It's okay, you don't have to admit it, I've done all the wondering for you. See, being from a small town and all, I'm inclined to cheer on the underdog. What I've heard about the practice of proctology is the paramount importance of the under of the dog (so to speak).

I've reasoned that proctology equals gumption, for some measure of courage must be present to commit to the study and treatment of our least glamorous orifice. Certainly, they're aware of that gap in prestige; we all know that proctology will never have the spotlight that so many other fields of medicine command. The proctologist will never have a shot at stardom. There will never be a show about proctologists in L.A. or Chicago, mucking around in the emergency room.

We must recognize that proctology will never be a cross-over hit; the odds are better for a return of Cop Rock. The only reason I bring this up (better to get this out of the way fast) is that sifting through the crap that is popular music today is analogous to peering into a vacuous sphincter devoid of all hope.

Well, maybe it's not quite that bad. But in a land of stinky Twinkies, it's better to blow up the Hostess bakery than get suckered into the quest for delicious cream filling one last time.

However, the Velvet Underground was one band that always delivered the goods. In fact, the Velvets had sooooo many great songs that it became a rite of passage for sooooo many other bands to cover them. A short list includes: Jonathan Richman, Peter Laughner and Suicide, as well as R.E.M., Yo La Tengo, and Bettie Serveert.

But the Betties take it a step further by putting out a record of nothing but Velvets songs. The best part is that it actually works, since they play straight just as scores of kids did in the past. There's no embellishment, no attempt at making these songs their own, because they're not--it's a set that respects the originators. So go out and get this before some fool starts covering Hole songs and we're forced to don rubber gloves and nose plugs.

--Michael Brooks

Deke Dickerson and the Ecco-Fonics

Number One Hit Record!

EX-UNTAMED YOUTH guitar wizard Deke Dickerson delivers a fine mixture of '50s rock-and-roll, rockabilly, R&B, hillbilly and country swing with effortless fluidity due to his down-home singing style and nimble finger pickin' (the likes of which recall '50s teenage guitar virtuoso Larry Collins, of the Collins Kids). Number One Hit Record!, Dickerson's debut solo effort, has more in common with the fun-filled hillbilly swing of his last group, the Dave and Deke Combo, than the beer swilling, frat rock-meets-surf shenanigans of Untamed Youth.

The custom made double-neck guitar Dickerson heartily endorses enables this Missouri native to jump from the explosive Jimmy Bryant-inspired instrumental fireball "Jumpin' Bean" (with dual lead guitar provided by the phenomenal Collins) to the plaintive string-plucking of country weeper "The End of the Line." The bawdy "Poon-Tang," with special introduction by Claude Trenier (of show-stopping '50s R&B troupe the Treniers) is an obscene jump blues sex-romp with a honking sax solo courtesy of Joey D'Ambrosio (one of Bill Haley's original Comets).

Dickerson boasts a multi-talented backing band, the Ecco-Fonics, featuring granite stand-up bassist Brent Harding, drummer extraordinaire Brian Nevill, and Johnny Noble on second lead guitar, providing the perfect foil for Dickerson's own. Forget Rev. Horton Heat and his repetitious rockabilly-cum-metal pretension--ol' Deke is the real deal, daddy-o.

--Ron Bally

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