Where were you on May 27, 1988? Chances are you weren’t one of the handful of lucky jerks at a party in the ‘burbs outside Detroit, Michigan watching Mick Collins, Danny Kroha, and Peggy O’Neill (aka The Gories) rock you giddy. Lucky for us, Gories disciple Jack White and his label got a hold of a bootleg recording of the show and now we can pretend we were.
It’s likely no accident that the title of this recording recalls the Velvet Underground’s definitive live album The Quine Tapes. Third Man declares The Gories equal to Velvet Underground in influence and reach, and for good reason. Both bands sold few records during their time, but, to paraphrase Brian Eno, it seems everyone who bought a Velvet Underground or Gories record has gone on to make influential music themselves.
But why bother with a 25-year-old bootleg? It’s rare that a live record can match the thrill of an actual performance, and this recording is lo-fi, to be sure. But the infectious pared-down beat of The Gories’ signature garage sound pulls you along on a ride through blues, surf rock, and Stooges covers, as well as originals that would show up on their debut Houserockin’ a year later. The recording is peppered with banter from the band and the (sparse but fervent) crowd, which only adds to the intimacy and the energy. And like the best shows you’ve seen in a way-out dingy club or a library basement, it’s more about the experience than the soundboard.
The Gories may have been underappreciated by the masses in their heyday, but their influence is still as powerful as any of the biggest names in rock, then and now. Put this one on when you end up inviting the bar home with you after last call, or make it the soundtrack to a rainy morning baking muffins. The Shaw Tapes will electrify you. (Third Man Records)