Big Boy Pete – Cold Turkey (2012)

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From 1961-65, Big Boy Pete (aka Pete Miller) was the lead guitarist and singer for Peter Jay and the Jaywalkers. Upon departing the well known British band, he launched a prolific solo career. To this day, Pete remains highly active in music. He continues to write songs and record discs out of his home studio in San Francisco, California. Aside from doing his own thing, Pete has collaborated with cherished folks like Bill Bonney, the Squires of the Subterrain and Hilton Valentine of the Animals.

Clothed in a sleeve of a wiggy painting Pete created while tripping on acid, which his dog later urinated on, Cold Turkey (Gear Fab Records) features material from 1965-72. Not to be confused with the tune of the same name by John Lennon, the title track of the set is certainly familiar to hardcore collectors of obscure sixties wares, having appeared on a handful of compilation albums in the past.

Wrapped in blankets of fuzzy reverb and loony electronic sounds, Cold Turkey is further enriched by Big Boy Pete’s harsh, hysterical vocals, suggesting he is in the throes of a psychotic breakdown and enjoying every minute of it. Radical and wildly innovative, the wonderfully warped confection injects elements of punk rock and rap music into one bewildering brew before the labels even came to be.

In fact, a lot of the stuff on Cold Turkey is amazingly futuristic. A few of the songs here especially foreshadow quirky new wave quotations. Charted of angular hooks, tinny tones, robotic vocals and jerking rhythms, such tunes seriously resemble nothing else that was being recorded at the time. “The Telephone Company,” in particular, is bound to produce visions of Devo, while “Checkmate” and “I Just Can’t Stop” precede the kind of arty, lean-boned fare practiced by XTC, the Vapors and the dBs.

Administered by scruffy garage pop fixings, “Baby I’ve Got News For You,” “A Little Bit Of Lovin’” and “Leave It In The Hands Of Love” post as other charming songs included on Cold Turkey. Typical of so many artists, Big Boy Pete chooses to end the disc on a mind-blowing note. Clearly modeled after the Beatles’ “Revolution No. 9,” the fascinatingly freaky “Scrople” creeps and crawls its way through a crazy collage of dumbfounding moves. Spooky, ghoulish messages mingle with peculiar noises and disjointed instrumentation, resulting in an expressive experimentation of sonic insanity.

Flowering with primal energy, Cold Turkey contains the work of a man who is madly passionate about rock and roll. The multiple influences of Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly and psychedelic whimsy frequently manifest amid the album, but there’s no question Cold Turkey is obscenely unique and makes for a heck of a staggering listening experience.

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Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King hit No. 4 with "Stand By Me" -- which is actually one of her favorite songs, especially John Lennon's version. She's contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as Rock Beat International's associate editor. Paterson has also published Inside Out, and Twist & Shake. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Beverly Paterson
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