The Coolies – Dig … ? (1986)

CooliesFrontCover1Play this album for any fans of mid- 1960s folk-rock without prior explanation or warning. And watch as they slowly catch on to Dig?’s wonderfully outrageous concept.

This LP by the Coolies, a five-man band from Atlanta, opens with the high, chisel-like pinging of an electric guitar. Over this harsh backing, lead singer Clay Harper begins slowly rapping familiar lyrics:

”Are . . . you going . . . to Scar-bo-rough Fair . . . parsley . . . sage . . . rosemary . . . and thyme. . . . ”

By the second verse, Paul Simon’s bucolic ballad has been set to dense power chords that hint of the Kinks’ ”All Day and All of the Night.” And the Coolies don’t stop there.

Nine of the 10 tracks on Dig? are Simon compositions. The exception is an equally outlandish version of Paul Anka’s ”Having My Baby.”

TheCoolies2The Coolies have taken Simon’s songs, the epitome of coolly intelligent pop, and subjected them to wildly anti-intellectual arrangements, many borrowed from other rock classics. The idea is both irreverent and inspired.

”Bridge Over Troubled Water,” ”El Condor Pasa” and ”Homeward Bound” become growling rants that maintain and even expand the passion of Simon and Garfunkel’s originals in ways their fans never dreamed of.

Harper sings the ”59th Street Bridge Song (Feeling Groovy)” in a hilarious deadpan: ”Hello lampost/ whatcha knowin’ . . . ain’t you got no rhymes for me/ dah, dah, dah, feelin’ groovy.”

”I Am a Rock” opens with electric blues riffs until drummer Billy Burton and bassist Jeb Baldwin kick in to carry the track forward with a rhythm straight from ”Cool Jerk.”

Acoustic guitar and bass lines lifted from Lou Reed’s ”Walk on the Wild Side” introduce ”Having My Baby.” Harper sings ”Cecilia” as a whining country-punk lament.

Fanclub”Mrs. Robinson” is transformed as a twangy, Ventures-style guitar instrumental. And the double-guitar attack that opens ”The Only Living Boy in New York” turns the song into a hyper yet melodic rave-up.

Dig? might be dismissed merely as a clever novelty LP if not for the consistent quality of the Coolies’ playing. This is one tight band. On ”I Am a Rock” and several other tracks, the guitar work from Rob Gal and Teddy Murray soars.

And Harper is a strong vocalist, with one unfortunate habit. While practically every white rock singer has emulated black blues artists, Harper often drops into a mocking dialect that’s the aural equivalent of performing in black face. It’s an objectionable vocal approach that mars an otherwise excellent album. (December 7, 1986; by Tom Duffy, Orlando Sentinel)

And I love all these Simon & Garfunkel songs, but – believe me – this tribute album is an unbelievable fun … this is a must !

Hey boys, where are ya ? I would like to hear some AC/DC + Kinks classics as folk-rock tunes !

TheCooliesleft to right:
Billy Burton – Jeb Baldwin -Clay Harper – Rob Gal – Teddy Murray

Personnel:
Jeb Baldwin (bass)
Billy Burton (drums)
Rob Gal (guitar)
Clay Harper (vocals)
Teddy Murray (guitar)
+
John Cerreta (keyboards on 04.)

BackCover (2)1Tracklist:
01. Scarborough Fair (Traditional) 2.24
02. Bridge Over Troubled Water (Simon) 4.09
03. The 59th St. Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy) (Simon) 2.23
04. I Am A Rock (Simon) 4.00
05. El Condor Pasa (Traditional) 4.03
06. Having My Baby (Anka) 4.41
07. Cecilia (Simon) 2.27
08. Homeward Bound (Simon) 3.11
09. Mrs. Robinson (Simon) 1.53
10. The Only Living Boy In New York (Simon) 4.35
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11. Sounds Of Silence (Bonus Track) (Simon) 4.34
12. Richard Corey (Bonus Track) (Simon) 4.04

LabelA1*
**

TheSingleSingle: “Scarborough Fair” b/w “The Sounds Of Silence”

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