Comment permalink

The Morlocks: The Ghost of Gerry Roslie

When your band releases more live sets than actual studio work, you know that there was and or is still a problem. What that problem is might not be obvious, but it’s there guaranteed. As an extension of the arm of the Paisley Underground, a group of San Diego natives called Gravedigger V came to the attention of Bomp! head honcho Greg Shaw. They got a little deal just like the rest of the garage retreads from that first resurgent era of garage. But out of that ensemble came a few of the principals that would make up the Morlocks. Comprised of at least two members at any given time from that other group, the Morlocks recorded just over a full length’s worth of material during its initial life span. Of course, they’ve been reconstituted and are currently touring in Europe, but you know…

After singer Leighton Koizumi enticed guitarist Ted Friedman to defect from Gravedigger V, the two solidified the first line up of the Morlocks with guitarist Tom Clark, bassist Jeffrey Luck Lucas and drummer Mark Mullen. Getting off to a quick start, the quintet recorded a 1985 single after gigging around Southern California for a few months. And even if the band had to borrow some gear from another garage act, the Tell Tale Harts, the resultant Emerge, released on Midnight Records, has as much punk abandon as garage stomp and ‘60s psych.

More than a few of these songs offered here could be mistaken for some authentic ‘60s nugget, but they’re not. The short burst of eight grimy tracks move between an all out thrashing garage with indecipherable guitar noodling and some more staid pop meanderings. “It Don’t Take Much” is probably the closest approximation of the ‘60s pop side of garage, even if Koizumi gets in a few of those raspy screams. He comes off as some dastardly cross between Darby Crash and the Sonics’ Gerry Roslie. Considering the time and place from which this all springs, that makes sense. But the shambolic crash and thud of that rhythm section when placed behind some of the more aggressive guitar playing from this era in garage probably served to alienate some of the Morlocks’ potential fan base. I suppose it kinda didn’t matter too much, though.

Subsequent to this long single – it’s almost twenty minutes in duration – the band recorded a live set released for the then fledgling Epitaph Records. The set, recorded in Berkeley during 1986, was released with a good deal of added studio trickery, prompting some fans to decry it an unfit live rendering of the group’s performances. Regardless of that, one’s ability to hunt that disc down at this point is probably pretty limited, but give it a shot.

Even if Submerged Alive is sitting around in your local record store’s used bin, it’s probably got a hefty tagged affixed to it. And considering that Emerge was re-released last year by the Italians behind Circolo Area Pirata, this shorter offering is probably easier to find – and maybe even better.