Music

The Hypstrz: Live at the Longhorn

Stephen Haag

Bomp! reissue finds early '80s garage rockers to be the missing link between Nuggets and today's garage revival scene.


The Hypstrz

Live at the Longhorn

Label: Bomp!
US Release Date: 2005-10-25
UK Release Date: 2005-10-24
Amazon affiliate
Amazon
iTunes

One of the key services provided by Rhino's recent Children of Nuggets box set was to remind folks that there was plenty of great garage tracks released during that genre's (comparative) Dark Age, the 1980s. But the funny thing is, with only a few exceptions (like, say, the Lyres), few of the "Children" sounded like their original Nuggets parents. That's hardly a complaint -- it speaks to garage rock's evolution -- but it leaves serious enthusiasts looking for a more direct missing link between the '60s garage originators and their early '80s scion. Leave it to another record label that loves forgotten garage rock, Bomp!, to unearth that connection: Minneapolis' Hypstrz.

Live at the Longhorn collects the Hypstrz's two long out of print records, 1979's Hypstrz Live EP and 1981's Hypstrization, both of which were recorded live at Jay's Longhorn (once a steakhouse; hence the name) in Minneapolis over the course of a weekend in April 1979. The disc also includes 15 unreleased tracks from that concert, plus three more tracks recorded in 2004 that proves the band can still deliver the goods. From a purely technical standpoint, Live at the Longhorn sounds great for a live album recorded over 26 years ago. The vocals are clear, the mix is sharp, and the crowd isn't intrusive. All live documents should sound this good.

What makes the Hypstrz -- singer Bill Batson (not to be confused with Captain Marvel), guitarist/brother Ernest Batson, bassist Randy Weiss, and drummer John Haga -- the missing link in garage history is that they were garage revivalists before that term even existed. Most of the tunes captured at the Longhorn are covers of classic Nuggets, and -- I can only surmise, since I wouldn't be born for another 14 months after this show was recorded -- many of the songs had been consigned to the Lost Jukebox of History, especially in light of the prevailing musical trends of the late '70s/early '80s. (As points of comparison: the Crawdaddys' Crawdaddy Express, a debut full of obscure '60s garage/soul cover tunes, was also released in 1979; the Chesterfield Kings' first album, also mostly obscure cover tunes, came out in 1983; and the first Lenny Kaye-curated Nuggets compilation wasn't released until 1986. That's about it for like-minded releases.)

As it is, the Hypstrz filled their set with the likes of Music Machine's "Talk Talk", Syndicate of Sound's "Little Girl", and (fellow Minneapolis-based) the Litter's "Action Woman". (Don't worry, even if you don't recognize the band names, you'll recognize the songs once you hear them.) Live at the Longhorn showcases a band with great taste in rock 'n' roll and the good sense to perform these songs live on stage, where the energy and excitement of garage is best captured.

The band's command of the wide variety of songs is impressive. Bill Batson adds the right amount of R&B to Wilson Pickett's "In the Midnight Hour" and James Brown's "I'll Go Crazy", then jumps to David Johansen-glammy on the Standells' "Riot on Sunset Strip". And while versatility and virtuosity are not always prerequisites for a successful garage guitarist, Ernest Batson amazes too, running the gamut from heavy blooze on "I Don't" (one of the few original tunes here, not the Troggs song) to hard surf on "Only a Matter of Time" (another original) and even a waltz, with their take on the Shangri-Las' "Remember (Walking in the Sand)". And be sure to dig the solos on the Flamin' Groovies' "Slow Death" and the Pretty Things' "Midnight to Six Man".

If it all seems like so much arcane musical name dropping, that's sort of the point. Thanks to bands like the Hypstrz that love rock 'n' roll -- and, of course, labels like Bomp! that lovingly reissue long-forgotten rock records -- I'm writing about acts like Love, Shadows of Knights, and the Remains in 2006, keeping the Great Rock 'n' Roll History Machine well-oiled and humming.

Who's to say the Hypstrz knew or cared about their anthropological work; what Live at the Longhorn is about, as much today as 25 years ago, is the vitality of rock music. Pop this disc in your CD player, close your eyes, and it's hard not to imagine yourself at Jay's Longhorn in April '79, beer in one hand, shaking your ass in time with the songs. That's what the best bands, cover artists, or those with original songs make you do. As the band penned in the closing to the reissue's liner notes, "All this sounds kinda high-falutin' but the main thing to remember about the Hypstrz is... we want to have fun and we want to share that fun with everyone else."

8

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Film

The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.

Music

The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.

Music

Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.

Film

'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.

Music

'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"

Music

Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.

Music

The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".

Music

GLVES Creates Mesmerizing Dark Folktronica on "Heal Me"

Australian First Nations singer-songwriter GLVES creates dense, deep, and darkish electropop that mesmerizes with its blend of electronics and native sounds on "Heal Me".

Music

Otis Junior and Dr. Dundiff Tells Us "When It's Sweet" It's So Sweet

Neo-soul singer Otis Junior teams with fellow Kentuckian Dr. Dundiff and his hip-hop beats for the silky, groovy "When It's Sweet".

Music

Lars and the Magic Mountain's "Invincible" Is a Shoegazey, Dreamy Delight (premiere)

Dutch space pop/psychedelic band Lars and the Magic Mountain share the dreamy and gorgeous "Invincible".

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" Wryly Looks at Lost Love (premiere + interview)

Singer-songwriter Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" is a less a flat-earther's anthem and more a wry examination of heartache.

Music

Big Little Lions' "Distant Air" Is a Powerful Folk-Anthem (premiere)

Folk-pop's Big Little Lions create a powerful anthem with "Distant Air", a song full of sophisticated pop hooks, smart dynamics, and killer choruses.

Music

The Flat Five Invite You to "Look at the Birdy" (premiere)

Chicago's the Flat Five deliver an exciting new single that exemplifies what some have called "twisted sunshine vocal pop".

Music

Brian Bromberg Pays Tribute to Hendrix With "Jimi" (premiere + interview)

Bass giant Brian Bromberg revisits his 2012 tribute to Jimi Hendrix 50 years after his passing, and reflects on the impact Hendrix's music has had on generations.

Jedd Beaudoin
Music

Shirley Collins' ​'Heart's Ease'​ Affirms Her Musical Prowess

Shirley Collins' Heart's Ease makes it apparent these songs do not belong to her as they are ownerless. Collins is the conveyor of their power while ensuring the music maintains cultural importance.

Books

Ignorance, Fear, and Democracy in America

Anti-intellectualism in America is, sadly, older than the nation itself. A new collection of Richard Hofstadter's work from Library of America traces the history of ideas and cultural currents in American society and politics.

By the Book

Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto (excerpt)

Just as big tech leads world in data for profit, the US government can produce data for the public good, sans the bureaucracy. This excerpt of Julia Lane's Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto will whet your appetite for disruptive change in data management, which is critical for democracy's survival.

Julia Lane

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.