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Shockabilly

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Biography

Formed in 1982 by guitarist Eugene Chadbourne, bass player Mark Kramer and drummer David Licht, Shockabilly produced music that sounded like an unholy combination of the Electric Prunes and Karlheinz Stockhausen. They specialized in outrageous cover versions - ‘Psychotic Reaction’, ‘19th Nervous Breakdown’, ‘Day Tripper’, ‘Purple Haze’ - and also more obscure items by John Lee Hooker, John Fogerty and Syd Barrett. When the song seems to be familiar, it gives the listener a thread on which to hang the power trio-chaos in which they liked to indulge. Chadbourne’s background was in rock, blues, late 60s free jazz and free improvisation - he put it all into Shockabilly with an energy and spleen that gained a response from the more adventurous post-punk audiences. After they folded in 1985 Chadbourne, an inspired songwriter, pursued a solo career while Kramer, as well as playing in B.A.L.L. and Bongwater, set up Shimmy-Disc, one of the great radical rock labels of the 80s and 90s.

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