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Weekly Alibi Who Do You Voodoo?/Keeping the Faith

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy/U.S. Bombs

By Devin D. O'Leary/Michael Henningsen

NOVEMBER 17, 1997:  With one glance you take in the baggy pinstripe suits, the wide-brim fedora hats and the spectator shoes, and you just know. Big Bad Voodoo Daddy ain't fuckin' around here. When these boys say they swing, they mean it. Long a staple of the West Coast swing scene, BBVD is riding a wave of musical popularity to New York City and back again. This tight septet doesn't dilute their swing with funky rhythms or punky vocals--these boys take it straight up, no chaser. The popping bass, the bleating horns, the thump-thump-thumping drums--if you ain't movin' by the second song of the night, somebody better check you for a pulse, my friend.

Ever since their "Hey, world--look at us!" performances in FOX-TV's "Party of Five" and in the runaway moviehouse hit Swingers, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy have become standard bearers for the modern lounge scene. While Jon Favreau and Heather Gramm were waxing the Derby's dance floor with their shoe leather at the climax of Swingers, it was Big Bad Voodoo Daddy up on stage laying down the sole-shaking sounds. In case you hadn't noticed, this isn't sitting-down-and-sipping-a-cocktail kinda music. Neither a costumed novelty band nor a slavish retro act, this Daddy has got one finger on the pulse of America and the other on the neck of an upright bass. For a sybaritic sampling, check out one of their two self-released CDs (on Big Bad Records), their recently rereleased seasonal album "Whatchu Want for Christmas" (on Hepcat Records) or their two soundtrack appearances ("Party of Five" on Reprise Records and "Swingers" on Hollywood records). But to really experience the phenomenon that is Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, you've got to see them. This isn't some polished collection of studio musicians, this is a working class, get-out-there-every-night-and-perform-'til-you-drop showband. These guys play on the road over 200 days a year! Just watching them can be a tiring experience--Scotty Morris and Kurt Sodergren tossing vocals back and forth like a well-timed hand grenade, Karl Hunter administering a vicious beating to his skins, while the horn section swings along, ties swaying in unison.

So put on a sweet suit and fat tie, brother, and take your best gal out for a little of that twirly-twirly action. Somewhere, Cab Calloway is smiling in his grave.

--Devin D. O'Leary

Keeping the Faith

U.S. Bombs Explode in Albuquerque

One of the few editorial policies on the books around here states that no Weekly Alibi writer is ever permitted to refer to anyone or anything as "the bomb" or any variation thereof. If I were to break that rule, though, I would do so in reference to Orange County powerhouse, U.S. Bombs. Fronted by pro skater and rasp-throated singer Duane Peters, U.S. Bombs have received a fair amount of attention during their nearly four-year history, having been featured on the cover of Flipside and upon the pages of every zine from Maximum Rock 'n' Roll on down the line. Why all the fuss? Perhaps it's due to the fact that rather than wasting a whole bunch of time ranting about how they're the only band left in the world who play "real" punk rock, they actually go out and do it. Like motherfuckers!

The quintet's latest release, War Birth, pulls no punches and let's you know up front that these guys are about the same no nonsense, no frills, cheap thrills punk rock that exploded out of the UK some three decades ago and sent thousands of parents screaming toward support groups and rehab counselors. If U.S. Bombs have a message at all it's that there used to be a whole lot more to this thing called punk rock than name-brand shoes, name-dropping and the hair color-of-the-week. Oh, there still is, but this band is one of the few capable of reminding you and leaving not the slightest shadow of a doubt that this is what the Lord intended. And praise God for giving us the bomb!

--Michael Henningsen

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