So many bands have made such calculated efforts to “rock” that most of us have forgotten what rock ‘n’ roll was in the first place. That carnal, unintentional urge to make guttural noise is what made Elvis Presley swing his hips and Robert Plant shove ethereal, inhuman sounds from his throat. The truest rock music has almost always relied heavily on two elements for its creative drive: sincerity and pure instinct. And any group that would like to know how to rock honestly should take some serious footnotes from the raw, no-bullshit tones of Dead Moon.
The Oregon-based trio, consisting of Andrew Loomis and his wife Toody and drummer Fred Cole, took the DIY approach to extreme levels during its nearly twenty-year existence (Dead Moon disbanded last year). The members took the most precise care with the handling of their music, preferring to cut many of their own albums with the very lathe-cutter used to create the Kingsmen’s “Louie, Louie.” They even live in a house they assembled themselves from discarded construction materials. But the group, its music or behavior was never meant to be a marketing strategy. Quite simply, the band members live their music.
Echoes of the Past is a lovingly assembled, forty-nine-track best-of compilation that spans the band’s career, from its 1988 debut onward. It is a tribute to the band’s existence and a perfect introduction to the genius of the musicians’ gritty, gravel-and-whisky blues rock. Listening to this collection, I’d be surprised if groups such as the White Stripes weren’t paying close attention to Dead Moon’s primary-colored blues and vinyl-centric catalog.
From upbeat rockers such as “Dead Moon Night” to the live energy of “54/40 or Fight” (as seen on the film Hype!) to ballads such as “Last Train” from 1999’s Destination X LP, Echoes of the Past earns the right to call itself a “best of.” It captures the band in each of its different musical phases and sorts them into one neat, tidy bundle of dirty, messy brilliance. It makes you wonder if Clackamas, Oregon has any other ridiculously brilliant bands hiding in its corners.
“Dead Moon Night” MP3: [audio:http://www.subpop.com/assets/audio/2934.mp3]