Steve Ter­rell looks at a few Dirty Wa­ter Records re­leases

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The Johnny and Bo in the ti­tle re­fer to Ra­mone and Did­dley. The ti­tle song, com­plete with the fa­mous Bo beat and a re­verb-heavy gui­tar, has a re­frain com­bin­ing “Hey, Bo Did­dley” and “Gabba gabba hey.”

The re­cent pass­ing of Nor­ton Records co-founder Billy Miller set me to think­ing about how much I ap­pre­ci­ate great in­de­pen­dent record la­bels. I as­sume Nor­ton will re­main a na­tional trea­sure un­der the di­rec­tion of Miller’s tal­ented and vi­sion­ary widow Miriam Linna. But Miller’s death also makes me ap­pre­ci­ate other great la­bels as well. Loyal read­ers of this col­umn have seen me sing the praises of Nor­ton, as well as oth­ers like Blood­shot, Saus­tex, Voodoo Rhythm, and Off La­bel.

Another one that de­serves to be high on that list — es­pe­cially for us fans of garagepunk and mod­ern rock ’n’ soul — is Dirty Wa­ter Records, a Bri­tish com­pany named af­ter The Standells’ ma­jor 1966 hit and an off­shoot of the Dirty Wa­ter Club in Lon­don, which op­er­ated for more than a decade out of a venue called The Bos­ton and still pro­duces oc­ca­sional live mu­sic events at var­i­ous Lon­don spots.

I’ve writ­ten in the past about Dirty Wa­ter record­ing artists like King Salami & The Cum­ber­land 3, Los Pey­otes, and Hol­ly­wood Sin­ners. Here’s a look at sev­eral re­cent Dirty Wa­ter re­leases. ▼ Johnny & Bo by The Dusta­phon­ics. Next only to King Salami, this band is prob­a­bly the most ex­cit­ing Dirty Wa­ter act in the la­bel’s 12-year his­tory. Fea­tur­ing the gui­tar of the French-born Yvan Ser­ra­noFon­tova and the full-throt­tle vo­cals of Hay­ley Red, The Dusta­phon­ics com­bine surf mu­sic, punk, and R&B (and a few echoes of ska, sound­track mu­sic, and ex­ot­ica) into a unique hopped-up sound.

The Johnny and Bo in the ti­tle re­fer to Ra­mone and Did­dley, who are in Ser­rano-Fon­tova’s and Red’s per­sonal pan­theon of mu­sic he­roes. The ti­tle song, com­plete with the fa­mous Bo beat and a re­verb-heavy gui­tar, has a re­frain com­bin­ing “Hey, Bo Did­dley” and The Ra­mones’ sig­na­ture “Gabba gabba hey.”

There’s also a high-spir­ited trib­ute song cel­e­brat­ing the late Tura Satana, the star of Russ Meyer‘s sex­sa­tional 1965 clas­sic, Faster, Pussy­cat! Kill! Kill!. Be­fore her death in 2011, Satana col­lab­o­rated with Ser­rano-Fon­tova on some mu­sic projects, in­clud­ing co-writ­ing an early Dusta­phon­ics song, “Bur­lesque Queen.” Here’s a DJ tip: Play this along­side The Cramps’ ver­sion of “Faster Pussy­cat.”

Other high­lights here are a sped-up cover of The Spe­cials’ 1979 ska-re­vival hit “Gang­sters,” a tune called “Lis­ten to the Show­man Twang” (fea­tur­ing Red call­ing out idols in­clud­ing Dick Dale, The Ven­tures, Mickey Baker, Magic Sam, and The Trash­men), and not one but two ver­sions of a song called “You Don’t Love Me Any­more” — one with a horn sec­tion and one with­out.

I’m just con­fused as to why they’re called The Dusta­phon­ics. There ain’t noth­ing dusty about these sounds. Start a dust-up at www.dirty­wa­ter­records­phon­ics. ▼ Goin’ Chicken Crazy by MFC Chicken. This band leans heav­ily on soul and R&B, as fil­tered through 1960s North­west­ern U.S. bands like The Son­ics and The Wail­ers. Led by sax man/singer Spencer Evoy and gui­tarist Alberto Ziol, this al­bum sounds like a party that has no in­ten­tion of ever end­ing. That’s prob­a­bly most ev­i­dent in the songs “Hooch Party,” “Black­out Drunk,” and the Chicken’s rau­cous cover of The Top­pers’ 1954 nov­elty, “Baby Let Me Bang Your Box.”

The group cel­e­brates sim­ple joys like hav­ing a new pair of socks, roast pota­toes, and even hair-care prod­ucts. “I Ain’t Cry­ing (That’s Just Po­made in My Eyes)” pokes fun at the retro cul­ture that of­ten sur­rounds mu­sic like this. “When my girl up and left me, she took my good po­made/Now I’m left with the cheap stuff, the kind that ain’t well made.”

There are so many chicken songs here — “Goin’ Chicken Crazy,” “Chicken in a Hurry,” “Big Cluckin’ Mis­take” — I couldn’t help but be re­minded of Hasil Ad­kins’ al­bum (on Nor­ton Records) Poul­try in Mo­tion. (Don’t be a chicken. Visit www.dirty­wa­ter­­chicken.) ▼ Dirty Rock ’n’ Roll by Pussy­cat & The Dirty John­sons. This is a high-en­ergy, big-per­son­al­ity English trio, led by singer Puss John­son, whose voice is a joy­ful ex­pe­ri­ence that re­minds me of KatieJane Gar­side of Daisy Chain­saw. (Re­mem­ber “Love Your Money”?)

Even so, some songs on this al­bum deal with grue­some themes. There’s the open­ing song “Bury­ing the Bod­ies.” Then in “Hell Bent,” Puss sings of mak­ing boots out of a vic­tim’s skin (and shrink­ing his head and grind­ing his bones), while the near-metal­lic “Sou­venir” con­tains ro­man­tic lyrics such as, “They’ll find you in a ditch some­where/bound and bro­ken with no hair/I kept it as a sou­venir.”

My fa­vorite songs here are “Why Do You Hate Me,” “Hideous” (a rock­ing tirade against fash­ion-ob­sessed, celebrity wor ship­ping con­form­ists), and best of all, “Still Livin’ With Mum and Dad,” an ode to eter­nal youth. “Hey why don’t you come over/and play on my Game Cube/We can lis­ten to punk rock, baby, and make out in my room.”

And there’s even a song about the cat’s mor­tal enemy: “Dirty Li’l Dog.” Grab some Pussy­cat at www.dirty­wa­ter­ .uk/pussy­cat. ▼ Mys­tery Lover by Archie & The Bunkers. This band mostly just rants against hip­pies and lib­er­als and de­mands their wives sti­fle them­selves. Not re­ally. Ac­tu­ally I’m a lit­tle puz­zled about why this group — a pair of teenage (!) broth­ers from Cleve­land — chose this name. But I don’t care if they call them­selves Her­man’s Her­mits — these young­sters have cre­ated some amaz­ing mu­sic here. With Cullen O’Con­nor on or­gan and Em­mett O’Con­nor on drums (and both con­tribut­ing vo­cals), these young­sters rock hard be­yond their years.

The om­nipresent or­gan gives the sound a spooky feel that re­minds me of Mr. Quin­tron, the New Or­leans key­boardist whom I first came to love through his col­lab­o­ra­tion with The Obli­vians.

Alas, this is only a six-song EP. One of the songs is a cover of “Sun­glasses Af­ter Dark,” first done by rock­a­billy Dwight Pullen and later by The Cramps. I hope these guys have a long fu­ture in mu­sic and stay true to these roots. Dingbats and meat­heads can find out more at www.dirty­wa­ter­ .uk/archie.

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