Flash - Tantara 1968
As a valued critic and society, I try to do everything I can to help out budding young mucousians. I know it's no cakewalk to be a young artist with stones in your pathway (eg lack of talent, no common sense), so I try to assist as best I can with my industry smarts and clout, and penis if it's a girl. But there's one piece of advice that I seem to give out over and over and over again to no avail. It's a key bit of learned knowledge that I long ago recognized as a crucial ingredient in the creation of solid working art, yet greenhorn guitar pickers keep ignoring me and making the same mistake decade after decade. For Christ's love, why won't anybody listen to me when I warn them that just because they're going to form ZZ Top in two years, that doesn't mean that they're Jimi Hendrix now?
Here's just one example of what I'm talking about. One time five years before I was born, a guitar picker named Billy Gibbons walked up to me in Soho, TX (just south of Houston) and said, "Hay Mark I'm going to form ZZ Top in two years, but listen to this grate band I'm in right now called The Moving Sidewalks." Now first of all, this was 1968; moving sidewalks hadn't even been invented yet, let alone served as the inspiration for a band name. But secondly and more disturbingly, this music didn't sound a thing like I figured ZZ Top would in 2 years when they were formed. Instead, Billy Gibbons was trying to be Seattle Supersonic Jimi Hendrix! And right then and there, I told him the same thing that I'd told dozens of musicans before him: "Just because you're going to form ZZ Top in two years, that doesn't mean that you're Jimi Hendrix now." "Plus this stinks."
In the most general sense, The Moving Sidewalks' Flash LP is a diverse yet underwhelming mixture of chunky rock, blooze, funky blue-eyed soul, garage rock and psychedelic experimentation -- sort of a Blue Cheer/Steppenwolf/Vanilla Fudge deal with some sub-Zappa noise dickery at the end. But more specifically, this is Billy Gibbons and three of his friends trying to be The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Texas Division. Hendrixy funk guitar licks like "You Make Me Shake" and especially "Pluto - Sept. 31st" (yeah, more like "Fire - Jimi. HDrx" if you ask me! He even uses the phrase "green haze" in the lyrics!!) are obvious enough on their own. Add to that a familiar wailing solo style, dopey PsYcHeDeLiC touches (echoed dramatic whispering, backwards drums, tape loops), and a very obvious attempt on Billy's part to vocalize like Jimi (self-aware 'cool' speak-sing, with lyrics like "Just-ah open your little mind up"), and mister you've got an album that fairly BEGS the advice "Just because you're going to form ZZ Top in two years, that doesn't mean that you're Jimi Hendrix now."
Many people are familiar with The Moving Sidewalks' popular garage rock Pebble "99th Floor." But see, that came out in 1967, before The Moving Sidewalks had toured with Jimi Hendrix. That's not what this album sounds like. This album sounds like, lousy.
"Flashback" is an exciting uptempo Mitch Ryder-style lead track that'll get your feet moving and your body grooving, but after that things get all Jimied up and undercompelling. Even the least Hendrixy songs (the slower, more straightforward blues numbers) fail to kick up any melodic or rhythmic steampower bubbles. And the last two 'songs' are just Pstupid Pscyhedelic tape fuckery that probably sounded dated two weeks after the record came out. Not as dated as "FX" by Black Sabbath, but let's not compare apples to Black Sabbath here.
So it's official. Just like I told Dusty Hill when he released an album called Are You Experienced? credited to "The Jimi Hendrix Experience (Featuring Dusty Hill As 'Jimi Hendrix')": "Just because you're going to form ZZ Top in two years, that doesn't mean that you're Jimi Hendrix now."
It's just like I told Frank Beard when he spraypainted his skin brown and had a lethal dose of wine forced down his throat by Cointelpro agents: "J
And, yeah, it's just sorta OK.
I mean, I have a REALLY low tolerance for psych rock in general, unless it's got some nasty guitar wranglin', and I figured if it's Billy Gibbons, there's at least gotta be some guitar merit, and there kinda is, but it's underwhelming to me. More of a historical curiosity... maybe it's just me, or maybe it's the water in Texas, but I hear a little bit of 13th Floor Elevators, who I like, so that Texasy Psych thing inclines me to add a point or two, but it's not going to get above a 6 (or maybe 7 if I'm in a trippy kinda mood) from me...
I can't seem to get on board. What's all the fuss about? Flashback was never a great collection of music. I had the lp right after it came out and it was disappointing. So, dragging it into the limelight after all this time as some sort of Billy Gibbons "find" is laughable.
I have a mint copy of the original "Moving Sidewalks" album. This is not a copy or remake. Is anyone interested in buying it?
To top it off, my husband played just before ZZ Top in Nacogdoches in 1971. Yes, they were way better by then.
Loved this critique.
The cover of “I Want to Hold Your Hand” (we just called it “Hand”) was an anti Beatle cover that mocked the juvenile love theme of the original and had an early Punk feel.
Billy was influenced by Jimi as was Stevie Ray.
Or hop on THIS moving sidewalk back to Mark Prindle's Hardware Store Of Shitty Record Reviews!