HOW TO TALK TO YOUR TEEN ABOUT BONEHEAD CRUNCHERS
I hate to be the guy giving out bad news, but we’re at the end of an era: the Bonehead Crunchers compilation series is finishing off with Vol. 5, available now from seriously heavy mailorders and stores. But that also means you’ve got five chances to learn everything you’d wanna know about a newly christened genre of music that’s basically shorthand for … well, ever see a busted-up panel van with some drippy airbrush art on the side and ominous 8-track rumblings coming from within? That’s a good place to start with bonehead.
Named or at least popularized by Robin Wills at the extremely excellent Pure Pop blog, bonehead is the sort of missing link between the beginning of heavy metal, the hard-ass parts of glam, the most shamelessly riffing rock ‘n’ roll and the very start of what would be called punk in a few years.
The golden years of bonehead were probably between the first Black Sabbath LP and the first Ramones LP, where weirdos who just wanted to rawk—definitely not “rock”—started bands that were too fun to be doom, too primitive to be psych or prog, and too jeans-and-t-shirt to be glam. In a way, the best bonehead is outsider art, a what-the-fuck take on rock that gets better the more “off” it sounds. Here’s some highlights from each volume of the Bonehead Crunchers series.
SUPA CHIEF – RED BRAINED WOMAN (VOL. 1)
This is pretty much bonehead personified. Heavy riffs, bizarre lyrics, total commitment to the vibe. This band was apparently from Orange County, too! You ruled, Supa Chief. Get in touch!
DICKENS – DON’T TALK ABOUT MY MUSIC (VOL. 2)
Apparently this was a bunch of the roadies for NRBQ trying to play an E chord as loud and thus as awesome as possible. This definitely catches an important part of the bonehead spirit—taking the ideas that most people would laugh off and abandon, and bringing them to life!
BARRY ROLFE – LOOK THE BUSINESS (VOL. 3)
On the third volume, the Cruncher compilers set up a bunch of UK bands, so you get a little more of a glammy/pub rock vibe. (As opposed to America’s merciless riffery, you know.) Mystery man Barry Rolfe put this out in 1973, even though it sounds like something Chiswick or Stiff would’ve done in ’76.
CINDY UND BERT – DER HUND VON BASKERVILLE (VOL. 4)
And on Volume 4, we crunch over to Europe. There are lots of strong tracks on this volume, but I couldn’t not put up this operatic cover of Black Sabbath. This is less bonehead-y than, say, the adorably ridiculous Mothers of Track song about how motorcycles rule, but the inspiration here is undeniable.
KING HARVEST – JUMPIN JACK FLASH (VOL. 5)
And this is the last track from the last Bonehead volume, focusing on Australia and New Zealand—what a way to go. This is, of course, NOT the “Dancing In The Moonlight” King Harvest, but a bunch of weirdos from New Zealand who give this Stones song a Stooges treatment. Part two especially rips—they keep going til the record fades out, and they’re probably still playing RIGHT NOW, thirty years after the fact. You know how it goes—bonehead’s not dead!