Full House Head came out way back in July. (Buy it from Amazon.) That doesn’t matter; it’s timeless music. There’s no novelty here; this isn’t the kind of over-considered, stylized sound that requires analysis and contextualization at the very moment of its emergence, before the “scene” that birthed the music dries up and vanish, leaving only the shriveled curds of what seemed like The New New Thing mere days earlier. Endless Boogie play a style of music that has been played exactly this way for 40 years, and they do it without irony and no loss of impact. Indeed, had Full House Head come out in 1971, it would almost certainly have been received warmly, and the remaining, long-out-of-print vinyl copies would be commanding a cult audience today.
Endless Boogie live up to their name, not just because of what they play, but because by playing it, they are part of something larger than themselves, a continuum of guitarists, bassists and drummers spinning out what amounts to one long blues jam that no one can remember starting and that will basically keep going as long as there are guitars and amplifiers and electricity. They sound like Humble Pie. They sound like Free. They sound like Black Cat Bones. They sound like Back Street Crawler (before Paul Kossoff died). They sound like Savoy Brown. They sound like Jukin’ Bone. They sound like Killing Floor. They sound like the Georgia Satellites. They sound like Cactus, minus some of the metallic crunch. They sound like ZZ Top, a little, minus the sexual aggression. On the first track, “Empty Eye,” they sound like the late Mississippi bluesman Junior Kimbrough. On “Pack Your Bags,” toward the disc’s end, they sound like Crazy Horse.
The singer, Paul Major, sounds like a mix of Captain Beefheart, Jim Dandy Mangrum of Black Oak Arkansas and Rose Tattoo‘s Angry Anderson. But he’s only shouting (and yes, it’s shouting not singing) on maybe 1/5 of the record, if that. This is an album about guitars. Two of ’em, spinning out endless blues-rock riffs and searing bar-band solos for eight, nine, ten, or 22 minutes at a time. There’s one song, “Mighty Fine Pie,” that sounds like a Black Oak Arkansas outtake, from Major’s hoarse vocals to the crude could-be-about-sex lyrics. It’s actually my least favorite song on the album, because it sounds like they’re trying too hard. Their best material, like “Empty Eye” and the nearly-11-minute “Slow Creep,” sounds and feels like it just happened, effortlessly, because these guys are creatures of pure boogie. And pure boogie requires no metaphors. It is about itself.
Indeed, the music is best when it’s instrumental, when the guitarists (Major and Jesper Eklow) lock in and head down the highway, occasionally launching into solos that are part Bon Scott-era AC/DC, part Faces-era Ron Wood, but which have nothing to do with any music made after 1979. All the while bassist Mark Ohe and drummer Harry Druzd keep it rock-steady and simple, never trying to turn their music into Krautrock (though they get close on “Top Dollar Speaks His Mind”) or throw in unnecessary flourishes, because the boogie is all they need to sustain them indefinitely. And to prove it, this disc closes with “A Life Worth Leaving,” a 22:36 live jam that’s slower (plodding, even) and more acid-fried than anything else on the disc, kinda falling somewhere between Neil Young and Crazy Horse circa Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere and the Stooges‘ cover of Junior Kimbrough’s “You Better Run” (the longer, slower version). The near-bootleg sound quality doesn’t add anything to it, but doesn’t take much away, either. It doesn’t sound any worse than, say, Träd, Gräs och Stenar‘s live albums, and it rocks a lot harder.
It’s hard to understand how Endless Boogie have attracted the attention of indie-centric critics and the websites that publish their dribble. This is some of the least hip music I’ve ever heard. There is absolutely no social capital to be earned by praising their work, and listening to it won’t get you art-school pussy. In an ideal world, though, every bar in America would have a band exactly like this playing three, maybe four sets a night. And if, like me, you believe rock basically had every good idea it was ever gonna have before 1980, and peaked between 1969 and 1975, Full House Head is gonna sound glorious.