The Other Half

No no, the OTHER Half

Mr. Pharmacist - Eva 1982
Rating = 7

Okay, I'm gonna bring it down a little for this next one.

If you're anything like me, you're 32 years old and were born on July 17, 1973, so you don't think much about natural death. Accidental death, sure why not? But unless you're an unfortunate disease sufferer (in which case you're not like me, so the comparison no longer stands), the only mortality staring you in the face is purely hypothetical.

Now then, take my wife's father. PLEASE! No, but seriously - take my wife's father. About six months ago, he was diagnosed with a very rare form of leukemia, and since then has experienced a number of setbacks, mostly related to his red blood cells not creating any more blood. But there's always been this feeling - "Well, he may only have a year or two left..." Then all of a sudden, last week it became, "He's really not doing well. He may only have a few months left." Then, over the course of a single night earlier this week, his body took a complete nosedive and now they're saying it's just a matter of days. But see -- he's still coherent. Or rather, he's too weak to talk or stand up or roll over or anything, but his brain is still alert enough to know exactly what is happening to him. Think about that -- he's in there, a 76-year-old man, war hero, loving father, devoted husband.... he doesn't want to die yet. My wife tells me she keeps catching him crying. Not like big baby blubbers crybaby, but -- he's scared. He doesn't want his time to be over. That's not something a normal person is ever going to be ready for. And he has no idea what will happen after he dies. So he's just lying there, helplessly watching as his body loses all of its fat and muscle, horrific bedsores multiply all over his legs, and the doctor talks to his family about 'end-of-life issues' -- knowing full well that he's not going to recover and he will soon cease to be. Worst of all, as my wife pointed out to me, he still sleeps peacefully. Think about this -- you know how sometimes you have a really good dream about it being Christmas and you having sex with somebody and then you wake up and are disappointed to discover it's not real? Alternately, how about when you have a horrible nightmare about having an exam in a class that you haven't gone to all semester and there's a ghost trying to kill you, and then you wake up and are so relieved that it was just a dream? Well, no matter what my wife's father dreams -- a wonderful sugarcandy dream of America or a nervewracking nightmare of papercuts -- when he slowly stirs his way back into consciousness, he opens his eyes and remembers that his reality is far, far more horrible. I'm not saying people should expect to live forever, or that we should all sit around and worry about death all the time, but Christ, why can't we all die like "Weird Al" Yankovic's parents?

On a slightly less depressing note, I seem to still be attracting angry letters from readers left and right, telling me if I can't appreciate so-and-so, I should stop writing reviews etc blah blah blah. Now look - I've been doing this site for over a decade now. Okay, actually I did it for 2 1/2 years, then took 2 1/2 years off, and have now been back 'doin' it' (fuckin') for five years and counting. But there's still been a web site of my record reviews up on the Introweb for over a decade. And what happens over the course of a decade? (A) People change, (B) Hey, how's it going? Sorry, I thought I had a B, but then I realized it was really just a subset of A. People change. I have changed. My musical tastes have changed. My writing and reviewing style have changed multiple times. And because I seldom re-read anything I write after posting it, there's probably a ton of stuff on here that I no longer agree with or think is amusing. For example, for a while I was reviewing every single album I listened to - which amounted to like eight reviews a day, so of course they were all tiny and didn't say much about the record. Those reviews are still somewhere on the site. For another while, I was hanging out with a particularly ribald group of people and it seeped its way into my writing, resulting in grotesque sexual innuendo for its own sake, with no actual jokes attached. That stuff's still up somewhere. Lots of ignorant anti-Bush diatribes are scattered around the site, along with embarrassing early reviews where I just describe every song on the record. And poor, boring writing? Ho ho! Don't get my started, car! But the bottom line is that if I went back through every single review and updated it to reflect my current taste and style, by the time I finished, my taste and style would have changed again! So I choose to just keep pressing forward rather than dwelling on past mistakes (although I did rewrite my Rush reviews a while back, I admit). It's really just a blog anyway -- a blog before its TIME, you might say! (Or not)

Furthermore, I am not a professional music critic. I am under no obligation to review anything 'objectively.' I work for a living. This site is my HOBBY. I don't come to your house and tell you you're masturbating wrong, so don't bitch at me if I don't write reviews the same way you would. If you don't like my site, fuckin' shut your ass and go to another site! You think I spend all day on sites I hate?

If not, you're DEAD WRONG. My favorite is

Now let's talk Other Half, since that's why we're all here today. I'll never forget that bright Autumn day in '91 when I was perusing the record library at WXYC-FM Chapel Hill 89.3, and the on-air DJ put on this mod rockin' two-chord blaster that went, "Mistah Phahmacist! Won't yu help me out today? In your usual sunny way - Mistah Phahmacist..." etc. I didn't like it at all. It reminded me of Billy Childish and all Thee bands he's been in. That whole simplistic wayback sound. When the DJ announced that it was The Fall, I decided right then and there that I would never, ever give this "Fall" band another chance.

Then about a week later, Chris Crowson played "No Xmas For John Quays" on his show and that resolution was shot to hell in a handbasket.

So I of course grew to love "Mr. Pharmacist" and it was no small leap for me to then want to hear the original version by '60s California group The Other Half. Luckily, self-same Chris Crowson purchased a copy roundabouts 2001, made me a CD-R roundabouts 2002, and now I'm reviewing it roundabouts 2006! God how the time does fly when you're talking about The Other Half. Whoa! Now it's 2015 and I still haven't said what it sounds like!

It sounds like a 1966 garage rock record. Unfortunately for the band, it came out in 1968! The singer has a lowish voice that kinda makes you think of Sean Bonniwell (Music Machine) or John Kay (Steppenwolf), and says all his 'i's as 'ahh's. Then they've got your basic drums/bass/occasional tambourine rhythm section, a rhythm guitar crunch-janglin' along, and a lead guitarist who soars above the fray with a thick, wiggly sound similar to that heard on Amboy Dukes records or Blue Cheer's "Summertime Blues" (in an interesting turn of events, this guitarist - Randy Holden - actually joined Blue Cheer a couple years after this hit). And as far as this Pebblesy-type music goes, The Other Half were pretty darned good at it!

This type of music is likely not going to change the world or blow your mind at this point in history. It's really pretty basic messy young garage rock. However, it is uptempo, upbeat, hooky, raw and an awful lot of funness. The band proves themselves adept at all aspects of the garage rock subgenre, attacking straight-up Kinksy chord smashers, Yardbirdsy energetic r'n'b, herky-jerk pissedoffness, Middle Eastern psychedelia, tuneful pop and wite man blooze with equal fervor. Sure, some of it sounds amateurish as all hell, but chances are that they were all like 8 years old and tripping on DMSO so what do you want? The only real boneheaded track is "What Can I Do For You, The Other Half," a hilariously inept blooze breakdown intended to fill up several minutes of remaining space on the album. If your children are bored, have them count how many times the singer says the phrase 'come on' in this track. It will keep them occupied til nigh on Dectober!

But I know what you really want to know, you rascal you. Are any of the other songs as great as "Mr. Pharmacist"? Well... there aren't any other songs as blunt, direct and single-minded as "Mr. Pharmacist," so if that's what you're looking for, you might be disappointed. However, if you have an interest in all types of mid-60s guitar-oriented youth music, there's plenty to enjoy here -- the sick Turkish-gone-wrong "Morning Fire," groovy spy bass-driven "Flight Of The Dragon Lady," psych angertone "Feathered Fish," intelligent morbid "I Know," beautiful "Wonderful Day," poppy relaxed "Bad Day," - all great tracks and huge hits! In the little radio station up my ass.

As fun as it is however, it's not the most groundbreaking record in the world. The riffs of "Introduction," "I Need You," and "No Doubt About It" were ripped straight from the Trad. Arr. catalog, and that lousy blues song takes up like 97% of the running time. Thus, a 7 seems the proper grade. But a happy, healthy, thumbs-up 7!

Now if you'll excuse me, it's time to put on a new record in the little radio station up my ass.


Sorry, I forgot we were having live guests today.

At any rate, welcome to my ass! So how did you come up with the name "Kottonmouth Kings" anyway?

Reader Comments
Sympathy about your father-in-law and all the over the top empathic brain boiling it seems to be inflicting on you. I lost my uncle and my friend who I knew since pre-school to the same thing in a 2 month period to the same freaky leukemia last year. Sorry I can't remember anything about the record review part, was it Tha Fall, honky? We were listening to that yesterday: my 2 yr. old son was dancing and these big, gay, bald men came over for dinner, then the barristas stopped by and my wife got drunk.
Holden Played only on the second side of Blue Cheer's "New! Improved!". The 1st side of the l.p. is neither of the proposed adjectives and also lacks Holden, but the 2nd half is a great guitar record. And I believe, none of the Blue Cheer guys had anything to do with it or played on it. There is an album by Randy called, "Population 2", and it contains the same songs you will find on side two of said B.C. album. But in their entirety, and with a better mix and more guitars. I fucking love that album. Massive guitar sound and cool songs. Hard to find though, but, thru the magic of the intranet and whatnot, Im sure it can be procured,

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