Phil And The Frantics

Frantically ripping off everybody they can

Phil And The Frantics - Bacchus 1999
Rating = 6

Years ago, in collegetime USA (1991-1994), I broke the law and made third-generation tape dubs of several Pebbles compilations at my college radio station. If you are unfamiliar with Pebbles compilations, think again! You've got another think coming! They're like Nuggets, but with even more obscure '60s bands. Check 'em out - there are too many, but the first several are really great. At any rate, one of those fine Pebbles tracks that stuck with me over the years was "I Must Move" by Phil And The Frantics, a beautiful low-key melancholy lost love song. So years later, when I happened upon a Phil And The Frantics CD for like 4 dollars at a 'The Wiz' Going Out Of Business sale, I scooped it up like a girl's butt and just squished it around for a while.

Q. What did Rodney King say to the lingerie salesman?
A. "Why can't we all just get a thong?"

Phil And the Fuckups were an Arizona band that changed membership about 50,000 times in three years, but always revolved around lead singer/saxophonist (in like ONE SONG) Phil "Philthy Animal" Kelsey. They never actually recorded an album; the CD is just a compilation of singles, covers and outtakes they jotted down during their brief existence. They were very British Invasion-influenced, down to a faux-British accent in several songs (honestly, Phil just sounds like a man with an oval-shaped head who doesn't know how to close his mouth, but as a result his words come out sounding quite Britishly inflected). Their musicianship was completely indistinct - sustained organ chords, a clean and mostly buried electric guitar playing the simplest notes and chords in town, a nondescript rhythm section, an occasional harmonica solo - but a few of their melodies were absolutely terrific. Unfortunately, they were almost undoubtedly stolen from other sources.

Hey! Let's play "What shitty song do I have stuck in my head?" Here's a hint: "'I love you, Huey' was the note I read. But there's a strange pair of shoes underneath the bed!" Anyone? First one to guess correctly wins the prize of also having the song stuck in YOUR head! Just another fine contest from all of us here at

And then ten years after college fell apart, I inadvertently discovered that "I Must Run" was nearly completely stolen from The Zombies' "I Must Move" (though let me tell you something - Phil may have only slightly changed the song, but he made it a hell of a lot ass-better than it was!). From there, it was only a skop, jip and hump before I realized that "Pain" was an attempt to rewrite "I Must Run" using the chords from The Beatles' "It's Only Love." And that "Where Am I Running To?" was composed by listening to The Byrds' version of "The Bells Of Rhymney" and playing it back on an out-of-tune guitar. Worst of all, "I'm High" is a blatant ripoff of my very own "Lonesome As A Colored," which wasn't even recorded until like 35 years later so don't ask me how they managed THAT! 'Phil And The Frantics'? Yeah, more like 'Phil And The FranPRICKS,' if you ask me!

But hey, if you like the idea of a band taking other peoples' songs and sprucing 'em up a little, Fil And The Phrantics did it pretty okay! Plus, their best song of all - the morbid, murky "Till You Get What You Want" - doesn't sound much like anything I've ever heard! Why couldn't they have written more songs like that one?

Because the band line-up changed every eight or nine days.

Also included are covers of popular songs by Gary "U.S." Bonds (a tuneless, rotten take on "New Orleans"), the Dave Clark Five (a ballad called "To Me" that I initially thought was a Phil-written original ripping off the Dave Clark Five's "Everybody Knows"! As it turns out, the Dave Clark Five just weren't a terribly versatile band), Buck Owens ("Act Naturally," sounding suspiciously like The Beatles' cover of the very same song) and the Rolling Stones ("The Last Time," featuring the least correct rendition of its guitar line that I've ever heard!). And then 4 stereo mixes of songs you've already heard earlier on the disc. That's some pretty exciting stuff. We were all over the moon about that one.

A 6 stands for 'pretty good' and this CD actually is a pretty good listen. Not the most creative mess of British Invasionry you'll ever hear (minor-key melancholy and some catchy whiteman r'n'b), but what do you expect from Arizona, the state that killed my father-in-law last night? Thanks for nothing, asshole state.

I'm not putting down the people of Arizona, you understand. Just the state itself, which is a complete asshole. Fuck you, state!!!

Also, does anybody know how to find an 'Easter Egg' on a DVD? I keep hearing about all these hidden 'Easter Eggs' but I've no clue how one goes about finding them. Should I just throw the remote control at the TV and see if that works?

Ooo, you wanna hear a HOTT fancy story that'll make you proud of me and all giving me thumbs up? Apparently my official interview transcriber Jim Laakso was at a 'show' tonight (not sure what he means by 'show' -- a minstrel show, I assume) and he began chit-chatting with world-famous book writer and record critic Jim DeRogatis of Let It Blurt, some other books, and this new book about the Flaming Lips fame. Because Jim Laakso rules and does things I'd never have the lack of shame to do, he asked Mr. DeRogatis if he'd ever heard of (That's MY site!) Expecting Mr. DeRogatis to reply "I don't read shitty little sites that are just peoples' names. Who the fuck are you?" (thus quoting popular The Who single "Who Are You" in the process, which is totally something a record critic would do, theoretically), Jim Laakso was taken aback, eyebrows held high, when Mr. DeRogatis - who reviews music for a living - replied, "He's funny. Very, very funny."

See that? REAL PEOPLE occasionally visit this site too! It's not just a bunch of Downs Syndrome kids like everybody thinks!

So whenever you run across a hilarious 'Mark Prindle' homemade riddle like this one:

How many Frantics does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Two: one to steal a light bulb from The Zombies, and the other to screw it in after the first guy quits!

just remember that somewhere out there in the night, Jim DeRogatis, professional music critic and author, is laughing, laughing, laughing! OH, how he's laughing!

(at my bald spot)

Reader Comments
The song is Huey Lewis & The News' 'Bad Is Bad'!!

Crap! It's stuck in MY head! Damn my Google abilities!

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