Some bands simply sound so nice while you’re driving, and one among my favourite driving bands has at all times been Bare Prey, led by singer-guitarist Van Christian, who died in a single day Monday.
Songs like “Flesh on the Wall” and “40 Miles From Nowhere” are good anti-radio soundtracks whether or not you are in an uptight metropolis or underneath an enormous, unspeakable sky out within the desert and hills surrounding the group’s Tucson hometown. Whereas different Arizona bands like Meat Puppets and Inexperienced on Crimson additionally evoked the altering desert panorama, Bare Prey introduced the thunder and warmth lightning in a lot heavier doses.
Van Christian and Bare Prey merely rocked tougher than the opposite bands within the Paisley Underground and most alt-rock bands of the ’80s and ’90s, for that matter. Even ballads like “The Story By no means Ends” have been heavier and fuller than different bands’ most energetic tunes.
Van’s gruff, uncooked vocals and unsentimental lyrics may appear easy, however additionally they have a method of sticking in your head for years afterward. Whereas everybody else within the retro-’60s scene was mimicking Neil Younger, Bob Dylan and the Byrds, Bare Prey have been enjoying energy chords and turning up their amps and scaring away the meek and timid. Van’s anthem “What Worth for Freedom” was like an indignant reply track to the many years of indifference following “We Shall Overcome.”
And when Bare Prey coated songs by folks, they actually did, because the cliché usually goes, make them their very own. They took the Stooges’ seemingly untouchable “Filth,” for example — one of many Stooges’ few gradual songs — and sped it up, turning Iggy’s sodden, sullen entreaty right into a head-banging refrain with a catchy new hook on par with the most effective of the Beasts of Bourbon and AC/DC.
Nevertheless it’s Bare Prey’s remake of songwriter Jimmy Webb’s Glen Campbell hit “Wichita Lineman” that is actually transferring and unexpectedly chic.
As an alternative of turning the outdated track right into a Killdozer joke or layering it with tons of manufactured irony and hipness as Urge Overkill did of their model, Van Christian intones the lyrics in a chillingly funereal, coolly restrained robotic-outsider monotone, a somber distinction to David Okay. Seger’s gigantic hard-rock guitar that fills the track’s massive, looming, lonely areas like surging, momentous mesas. Crammed with shadows and light-weight and dynamic shifts in quantity and temper, Bare Prey’s transformation of the track is achingly lovely and poignant and feels touched by eternity.
So, these are a number of the details. There are such a lot of others, comparable to Bare Prey drummer Tommy Larkins occurring to accompany Jonathan Richman, and Van Christian being part of the Mates of Dean Martinez. A few of Van’s associates and colleagues and friends have achieved much more success, however who cares about that now?
I will be listening to Van’s doomy, gloomy, sardonic, smart asides in my head for the remainder of my life, and I’m grateful for that.
I am additionally fortunate that I acquired to see Bare Prey in live performance, from right here to Rome, the place they routinely stole the present from extra well-known headliners. And as a lot as I’ve loved so many good and good musicians from Arizona — Inexperienced on Crimson, Alice Cooper, Solar Metropolis Ladies, Jodie Foster’s Military, the Shoppers, Linda Ronstadt — Bare Prey stay my favourite band from the world and the one I want I may see once more the very most.
I am bored with details. I am bored with my favourite singers going away. I wish to hear Van Christian growl his method by way of “Silver Prepare” and “Hour Glass” once more.