|the desert island classics story #1:|
The place: Los Angeles, California – the time: late eighties. "Raging Winds of Time” are blowing hard indeed for the hyperactive local rock music scene of L.A. and Hollywood. "The New West” is becoming the hip slogan for the new music emerging from the clubs. Musicians are ditching the familiar powerpop style boosted by the overnight success of bands like The Knack. Now they are keen to revisit the spirit of sixties garage combos again.
But it was not the new generation of California kids to take the plunge into this music but mostly the solid network of players from the blues, folk-rock and country scenes who engaged in this criss-cross mix of musical activities. New combinations of already known players appeared out of the nowhere, putting out singles/EPs only to vanish again. It seemed the scenesters changed bands more often than their shirts and even local rock historians like Greg Shaw and David Bianco must have had trouble keeping up. The L.A. universe of rock bands was focusing on a new musical independence.
Right in the middle of this mad creative upswing, Louisiana-born Jerry Giddens, a politically aware singer/guitarist and ace poet, formed his band Walking Wounded, a combo not so much oriented towards the 60s garage sounds but more towards classic folk rock patterns. Their first low budget releases on the Chameleon label included a self-titled mini-album from 1986 and "THE NEW WEST”, a perfect homage to Hollywood's current guitar-rock scene. On the strength of their live performances and Giddens' songs local critics and players were ardently supporting the band and their next release was bound to be a national breakthrough. Giddens' creative juices were overflowing and the booming Southern California rock scene strengthened the band's spirit. Giddens' goal was to find a balance between the expectations of his politicised Angeleno clientele (i.e. his band's credibility) and the need for commercial success.
And so Walking Wounded entered the studio in 1989: Jerry Giddens (guitar, vocals), Tom Lillestol (vocals), Eddie Munoz (guitar, mandolin; ex-Plimsouls), Roger Prescott (guitar; ex-Train Wreck Ghosts), Tony Marsico (bass) and Charlo Quintana (drums; ex-Plugz, Cruzados) with the former Blue Cheer rhythm section of Kent Houseman and Robert Williams (of Captain Beefheart fame) shortly replacing Quintana and Marsico.
But things did not go smoothly. Sessions turned chaotic for one reason or another and Giddens and producer Jeff Eyrich had to work hard to keep recordings as "straight” as possible. In the late summer of 1989 the record was finally finished and "Raging Winds of Time” hit the stores in October to a more than encouraging response: Jerry Giddens was compared favorably with songwriters like Michael Been (The Call) or Bruce Cockburn, and the band in turn with superstars U2, Tom Petty, The Clash and The Byrds. Maybe a case of Hollywood rhetorical weirdness - but the record's mix of hard-hitting folk-rockers and ballads surely deserved high accolades. The title track was issued as a single, got massive airplay and even hit Canada's Top 10. Things were looking bright but disaster struck soon. Chameleon Records was bought out by Elektra, who took an interest in but one act on the label: Mary's Danish, a sort of funked-up version of the then-popular "X”. Elektra's Eastcoast administrators had no plans whatsoever for Walking Wounded and so a very promising career came to a halt in no time at all. With no support or media promotion the record was D.O.A. and Jerry Giddens was having a creative breakdown for a while.
But he managed to keep his creative flame burning and switched to the Doctor Dream label in order to at least keep ownership of his music. But the major bust of energy involved in the band's activities had dissipated. Walking Wounded's downfall even had an effect on the whole of Hollywood's guitar-rock scene which seemed almost stifled in the aftermath.
So here they come again – the rough and byrdsy sounds of Walking Wounded, featuring the one and only Jerry Giddens. Special bonus: three alternate tracks and a live recording of the band made shortly after the album's initial release in Hollywood's legendary China Club.
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