The Underground All Stars

Band members                             Related acts

- Kim Fowley -- vocals




Kim Fowley (solo efforts)





Genre: psych

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Extremely Heavy

Company: Dot

Catalog: DLP-25956

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: small cut out hole lower left corner

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5921

Price: $50.00


As a Kim Fowley produced psych-ploitation album 1969's "Extremely Heavy" didn't garner a great deal of favorable attention.  Mind you it wasn't anything earth shattering, but within that subgenera it wasn't half bad.


So here are Fowley's thoroughly uninformative liner notes: "What happens when a drummer from Memphis, a lead guitar from England, rhythm guitar from the depths of Greenwich Village, bass from one mental hospital and recording studio after another and a pounding organ, who has known every festival in the United States last summer, get together to rip apart each others musical inside at an all-night torture session which you should find extremely heavy.  Not content to merely give each other an early case of shattered ear drums, with their bone hot music screeching, they had to drag into the massacre a recently disengaged lead singer of a former super-group as well as a New York bubble gum brother who wanted to get into something worthwhile.   Hollywood's midnight groupies were rather shocked to see the participants emerge and apart from the recording studio wearing black masks as each member of the All Stars has prior commitment and we might have been unnecessarily embarrassed as to who everybody was.  It was pretty weird to hear drummer 1 tell guitar 1 to take 12 bars here and there.  Well let's hope there's another Underground All Stars album 'cause by then the rumors will be ranging from Tiny Tim, to The Beatles, Steve Cropper, to Dick Van Dyke, Gypsy Rose Lee to Cleo.  Oh well, another West Coast hype that made good between the grooves.  You have to admit one thing, it's teenage."


In spite of Fowley's implications that the album featured well known stars forced to record anonymously due to contractual issues, if I had to speculate on this one, I'd guess that it was another Fowley solo project with backing from West Coast sessions players.  As such both the Underground All Stars nameplate and "Extremely Heavy" album title were misnomers.  To Be honest Rick Griffith's skull cover was probably the heaviest thing here.  Elsewhere most of this was little more than attitude and posturing.  For goodness sakes over half of the songs were remakes of soul hits. With that kind of track listing, how friggin' heavy could it be?  Certainly one of the better psych-ploitation albums out there.  It could have been even better had Fowley included a couple more originals like 'Happy Meadow Trail Dance'. 


"Extremely Heavy" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) The Hunter (James - Wells - Jackson) - 3:40   rating: *** stars

'The Hunter' offered up a nice snarling slice of teenaged angst and was one of the 'heaviest' songs on the album.  Fowley's ragged voice wasn't anything great, but matched up well with the tasty fuzz guitar and garage moves.  And you though Kiss came up with the 'love gun' concept ...  Total BS.  Gene Simmons and the rest of The Kiss clowns copped it from Fowley.

2.) Crosscut Saw   (R.G. Ford) - 3:47   rating: *** stars

Well give Fowley credit for being willing to do a cover of Albert King's classic 'Cross Cut Saw'.  The funny thing is that his garaged-up version wasn't half bad.  Mind you, the original was better, but his cover came in a close second.  Nice twin lead guitars here.   

3.) Norwegian Wood (instrumental)  (John Lennon - Paul McCartney) - 2:25   rating: *** stars

Slowed down and given a jazzy feel (nice bass lines), this instrumental cover of 'Norwegian Wood' actually wasn't half bad.  Not that anyone needed another cover of the song.    

4.) You Don't Know Like I Know (Isaac Hayes - David Porter) - 2:10   rating: *** stars

For whatever reason Fowley and company decided to play 'You Don't Know Like I Know' pretty close to the original.  Unfortunately that approach merely served to underscore their version couldn't compete with the Sam and Dave original.   The song did have a nice guitar solo going for it ...     

5.) Louie, Louie  (Richard Berry) - 3:20   rating: *** stars

Oh wow, version 4,289 of 'Louie, Louie' ...  So on this one Fowley sounded like he was either trying to cop a British accent, or he'd recently undergone root canal surgery.  Amazingly you could actually make out most of the lyrics, though I've never bother to check to see if they matched the original.  Even funnier - while it wasn't all that different from The Kingsmen original, this version was pretty decent.    


(side 2)
1.) Don't Fight It (Wilson Pickett - Steve Cropper) - 3:15   rating: *** stars

Side two started out with another decent soul cover - this time out Wilson Pickett's 'Don't Fight It'.  Competent is normally a pretty good measure, but not in music.  Why would you pick a song where you had zero chance of improving on the original?  Beats me.    

2.) Get Back (John Lennon - Paul McCartney) - 2:35   rating: * star

The first thorough disappointment, Fowley was way out of his league when it came to covering 'Get Back'.  His version was amateurish and lame.  Waste of vinyl.  

3.) I'll Be Your Baby Tonight (instrumental)  (Bob Dylan) - 1:50   rating: ** stars 

Done as an instrumental, Dylan's 'I'll Be Your Baby Tonight' came off as a decent slice of Band-styled country-rock.  Nice guitar, but other than that there wasn't a great deal going on here.

4.) Grab This Thing (Steve Cropper - Isbell) - 2:50   rating: ** stars 

The best aspects of Fowley's cover of Steve Cropper's 'Grab This Thing' were the frantic bass line and the Cropper-styled lead guitar.  Needless to say, this was another one that just couldn't measure up to the original.    

5.) Happy Meadow Trail Dance (Kim Fowley) - 4:55   rating: *** stars

The lone Fowley original, the instrumental 'Happy Meadow Trail Dance' was also the album's heaviest performance.  Musically this one wasn't much more than a routine bluesy jam, but the grooves sported some nice feedback soaked lead guitar, plenty of wailing harmonica, and Fowley screaming some sort of nonsense in the background.