All mixed up

Jun 24, 2009 at 12:00 am
The Gories were as much a gateway drug for would-be amateurs willing to strap on, sit-down or let rip as they were for music-hungry heads looking for fresh veins of inspiration. To that end, the Gories jams that connect with said crowd are purely subjective. But, dammit (!), if push came to shove and I had to cook up a Gories mixtape, I'd damn sure put the following cuts on there. Feel free to post your own track listing in the comments section below!

Covers side

"Boogie Chillun" — John Lee Hooker

Appears on: Houserockin' LP

Hooker's minimalist, sweaty backyard blues are like a guidebook of Detroit's forgotten historical and sonic funky charms. In the hands of the Gories, its primal force is amplified and gives the kids something to chew on.

"Hidden Charms" — Howlin' Wolf

Appears on: I Know You Fine LP

How on earth Collins managed to make Howlin' Wolf sound slick and composed by comparison is anybody's guess. Maybe it's how it pushes the upper reaches of his voice and the desperation with which the Gories imbue this classic. Just a theory.

"There But For the Grace of God Go I" — Machine

Appears on: Outta Here LP

This obscure disco track pushed the Gories' nine-note limit to the max; the arrangement was conceived by Collins on his drive to practice one night.

"Train Kept a-Rollin'" — Johnny Burnette's Rock 'n' Roll Trio, Yardbirds, Aerosmith, et. al.

Appears on: Live bootlegs

A perfect example of the Gories' ability to steal a song back from a tertiary source for anyone weaned on radio and Aerosmith's version. Kroha's adenoidal garage snarl takes it right back to its rockabilly source while injecting it with some mutant grunge.

"Ghostrider" — Suicide

Appears on: I Know You Fine

A spaced-out power-thumping opportunity for the trio to stretch it out and plow all in the service of an apocalyptic boogie that's as irresistible as it is incendiary.

"Stormy" — The Jesters of Newport

Appears on: Outta Here

This is where the Gories literally connect with their Back from the Grave influence, as said comp contains the Keggs' unhinged tale of a volatile woman. "Go on! Show ‘em how stormy you are!"

"Great Big Idol With the Golden Head" — Coasters

Appears on: Outta Here

The Coasters' 1957 follow-up to "Searchin'" may have been goofy in its setup, but like the original to which the Gories stay faithfully raw, it is at it's heart a tale of infidelity rendered even more heartbreaking by the "mess of empty beer cans layin' on the ground" lyric.

Originals Side


Appears on: I Know You Fine

The Gories only professional video (shot by Peggy O'Neil's future husband, Dan Rose) was made for this jam in a garage run by Collins' relative. Kroha's deadpan assessment of a lover who was like "dropping a stick of dynamite in a Dixie cup" over a deadly double-time pounding rhythm is, indeed, volatile.

"Sister Ann"

Appears on: Houserockin'

The character (?) Collins adopts to deliver this damned blues needs someone to pray for him. The genius couplet "I need it, desperately/ I need an intermediary" is a howl.

"Can't Catch Up With You"

Appears on: Outta Here

Thank the stars that, as they struggled to come up with new songs for their final LP, Collins and Kroha were able to come together to tackle dual vocals on this chugging tale of a dude, chasing his wandering girl all over town, to the liquor store where she descends from the burger place, to the liquor store and finally, to the quarry pit. A real life partner jam to the goofy fun of their "Idol" cover.


Appears on: Houserockin'

So the Gories have girls in their lives that are "volatile," and "feral." Bad luck, dudes. The delivery is equal to the title.

"Outta Here"

Appears on: Outta Here

Kroha absolutely delivers on this scathing indictment of a scene that seems "incestuous, a little too much for me." For anyone who's ever stewed too long at home and thought of getting the fuck out of Detroit, this is an anthem that provide a few minutes of the perfect exit down old I-75 or I-94.

"Thunderbird ESQ"

Appears on: I Know You Fine

In the early years, the Gories compensated for their lack of ability by getting wrecked on cheap hooch. Fortified wine like Thunderbird ("What's the price? Ninety-nine twice!") were among the cheapest and most effective. This paean to the joys and sorrows of loving the bottle more than a woman is probably responsible for 95 percent of Thunderbird sales to college students. Here's a hint: Chill it first.


Appears on: Outta Here LP

Any two-chord bash and chord-chop garage-blues-punk jam that starts with the lines "I can't understand you, baby/I can't figure you out/If I could read your mind, honey/I could feel what you're all about" is A-fuckin'-OK with anyone who remembers what it was like to be confused and in lust-love. And in Kroha's delivery, the sense of longing makes the whole thing hang together. Perhaps the Gories' finest use of syncopation on record, to boot!