Monday, April 07, 2008

The Big Boys Had Soul

Who was the funkiest punk band of the very early 80s? Easy: Big Boys from Austin, TX. This band had a lot of heart, soul, anger-management issues (at least in song format), and were all-around good fellows who encouraged their audience to sing along and start their own bands. Skate punks, 70s soul revivalists, drag queens (OK, only singer Randy "Biscuit" Turner was in drag, particularly favoring ballerina tutus), the Big Boys were a big influence on a lot of musicians and performers over the years.

They first caught my attention with their excellent cover of Kool and the Gang's Hollywood Swinging. Back in the early 80s, let's just say that skate-punk bands did not readily acknowledge the greatness of 70s funk and soul very often; like never. The Big Boys didn't just play soul/punk (dubbed "funkcore;" I guess "spunk" didn't make the cut)--they LOVED it and it shows. They had a horn section for crissakes--unheard of at the time.

You can get 31 of their best songs (short and sweet) on their Fat Elvis collection. There's also a Skinny Elvis but "Fat Elvis" has their best soul music. It's also full of hardcore stuff that hasn't aged as well, in my opinion, although impressive for its passion and Randy Turner's gnarly vocals. Their best punk stuff is anthemic (Fun Fun Fun, Apolitcal, We Got Your Money, We're Not in it to Lose) and there's even a moody ballad, Sound on Sound, that ushered a more thoughtful Minutemen-like vibe into their melodies before they busted up in 1984.

We Got Soul photo collage featuring the Impromptu Horns (a bunch of friends from high school) and Chris Gates' excellent (stuck-in-my-head all week) bassline.

Funk Off / Baby, Let's Play God - Randy Turner shows his charisma in this Flipside video.

Fun Fun Fun with lots of live-show clips. Whoo! The underground 80s were fun to the third power.

This must be the Guyville Liz Phair was singing about. Nothing but GUYS.

- Very sadly, Randy Turner died in 2005 from Hepatitis C.
- Guitarist Tim Kerr's interview for Perfect Sound Forever. Long ago we were briefly pen pals. Back in my day, if you wanted to write fan mail, you actually had to write on a piece of paper, then mail it. I liked his letters because they were written in big black pen and looked like set lists. Yes, I was a fan.
- Big Boys fan site

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