Tuesday, August 08, 2006

What I'm listening to this week.

Private Jungle
The Slamhound Hunters
Satin records

Ah...the Slamhound Hunters! Jet City Blues contributor Mark Dalton was kind enough to burn a copy of this CD for me recently, and I've really been digging listening to it. This now somewhat obscure CD by this great Seattle band is still available on Amazon (see the link above), and I highly recommend that you add this music to your collection.

So, what the hell is a Slamhound? Well, I'm not sure, but the first time I saw the name, it was a robotic bomb in William Gibson's sci-fi novel "Neuromancer." Perhaps Mr. Dalton can enlighten us as to some other meaning related to the band (please?!). Private Jungle was originally released in 1987 and released in 1999. The band members were Louis X. Erlanger (guitar and vocals), Kim Field (harp and vocals), Mark Dalton (bass and background vocals), and the one and only Leslie "Stardrums" Milton (drums and vocals on "Swap Crab"). All the tunes here are original, with the exception of the cover of Moon Martin's "Cadillac Walk," which originally appeared on the Mink DeVille album "Cabretta." What's the connection? Louis Erlanger was the guitarist in the Mink DeVille band in New York.

There ain't any bad tunes on this collection, folks! My favorites include the Slim Harpo-ish "Cadillac Walk" (more uptempo than the darker original), the rockin' "Hard Work," the sparse "Lonely Woman," the spooky "The Snake Sheds It's Skin," and the even spookier tune about a serial killer by the name of "Joe The Ripper." There is uniformly great playing throughout - the terrific rhythm section supports Louis' tasty guitar (including some great slide) and Kim Field's killer diatonic and chromatic harp playing.

The Slamhounds played around town quite a bit between recording sessions for their two albums (4/1 Mind was the title of the first recording). Various artist would play the live shows, depending on who was in town at the time. I recall seeing bassist John Lee and guitarist Dave Conant playing gigs with the band.

The Slamhound Hunters disbanded after a European tour in 1993. I hear that Louis Erlanger is living in New York, while the rest of the band is still living and working in the Seattle area. Mark Dalton plays with the Chris Stevens Band, Leslie Milton plays with pianist Lady Keys at the Alligator Soul Restaurant in Everett, WA, and Kim Field can be seen around town occasionally sitting in with various bands.

Here are some photos of the band members from that time:

Kim Field & the Left Hand Men at the Pioneer Square Tavern - Seattle, 1983. Left to right: John Lee, Leslie Milton, Kim Field, and Jeff Ziontz.

Louis X. Erlanger at the Central Tavern - Seattle, 1983.

Leslie "Stardrums" Milton and Cadillac. Lopez Island, WA - Mid '80s.

Mark Dalton at the Central Tavern - Seattle, 1983


Blues Boss said...

This is a fun recording....

I picked it up a year or so ago (can't remember where or from who - Maybe Mark)....

Especially like 'Cadillac Walk'

Thanks for the photos - 'in younger days....'

Tall Cool One said...

More Slamhounds history - Lou and Kim played together in a college band in New York City called the Sting Rays. Kim came back to town after he graduated and got a gig in the Isaac Scott Band with Twist Turner and me, and we had a lot of fun playing with Isaac in his prime. After Lou quit Mink Deville (all of the original band except the singer, Willy Deville, had already bailed when Lou left), Lou came through Seattle on his way to Japan to play with japanese bluesmanToru Oki, and liked Seattle enough to eventually settle down here for a number of years. We did some initial recordings at Kearney Barton's studio under the name "Jr. X's Night Train" and Lou and I also played in "Twist Turner and the Turning Point" with Jack Cook on second guitar - recording an album with that band called "Listen to the Blues" that has some great guitar playing on it, as well as Isaac on gospel-style piano. The Slamhounds initially had a very fluid membership (like every other local blues band at the time), with my old Nebraska pal Ken Rose on bass for awhile, this guy John (who used to play with the Dynamic Logs) on bass for awhile, Jim Becker on drums, Conant, and John Lee on bass too for awhile. There were also some great female backup singers with the band called "the Spitting Cobras" starring the incredibly beautiful Donna Beck. During the recording of our first album the lineup solidified to Lou, Kim, Leslie and me, and stayed that way for the next decade. "Private Jungle" got picked up by a French record label, which resulted in a tour of Germany and Austria for us in 1993, which was about as much fun as a person could possibly have in this world. Going on the road with Leslie Milton is an experience I wish every bass player could have! We never really actually disbanded - Kim was living outside of Boston for many years, Lou in NYC and the rhythm section here, everybody with kids and all, and we just haven't gotten any gigs that paid enough to get everyone in one place! Give us a gig! Festivals welcome!