Howl on the Haunted Beat You Ride
When I got the editorial gig at Creem in 1979, I had access to more than I should (in every dimension - it got pretty ugly after awhile), including Lester Bangs' home phone number. I called him, asked for some advice On Becoming a Rock Critic. He said, 'If you love a band, tell everyone, spread the joy, and say why. You'll do everyone a favor if you do that.' Well, I'll take his advice here for the first time - I love The Go. The Go have made the album they were destined to make. It's music like this that inspired them to pick up their instruments in the first place. They proudly wear their pop-hearts on their sleeves with this bubble-gum classic, and we're all the better for it. A few weeks ago Bobby Harlow sent me the new tracks, and when I put them on, I actually got goose bumps. This album is chock-full of gloriously lost influences meticulously crafted into a long-playing record, which is another lost form of influence. Download the entire thing into your iPod, play it, and I'm sure you'll agree. The poet Ezra Pound said, Make It New. Every so often, an artist, a band, manages to do just that. Like about once every 10 years. The Go have elegantly turned this trick with the album you hold in your hands. The Go crashed face-first into the Detroit garage scene a few albums ago with Whatcha Doin', which immediately catapulted them into the heart of the maw. Whatcha Doin' (Sub Pop) caught the public's attention as only a young band can -- a raucous collection of shoutalong garage jams, loose, daring, and charmingly arrogant -- a spirited, rowdy adventure. They gigged all over the place, wrote one hundred and one songs which eventually took shape on a number of amazing albums: the psychedelic masterpiece Free Electricity (lost to obscurity thanks to their former record label), a collection of rough nuggets style sketches called Supercuts (limited edition vinyl release), and the eponymously titled fourth album The Go (Lizard King). I love the self-titled album because it was (to me and many others) simply the best straight-up rock'n'roll record in decades, not a dog on it. The rough edges were left hanging out, but it had all the hallmarks of great songwriting doused in the grooves to convince me that they have what it takes to go the distance. The Go are in the process of inventing themselves. I should mention that there are at least 50 GO songs, recorded top to bottom, deemed by the band, 'too weird for general consumption.' Just like the Beatles giving the Rolling Stones 'I Wanna Be Your Man', any one of The Go's throw-away tunes could be hits for somebody else. Easy. I've got copies to prove it. The Go are the underground darlings that most rock and roll fans may never even hear. While their buddy Jack White slams the gavel with every record he cranks out, The Go are deep down in the lab, alone, opening new pathways to creative music. I wish I could have seen The Go with John Krautner and Jack White dueling it out on guitar -- it must have been wild. Wow, no kidding, you people who saw that configuration of The Go were really lucky. While that must have been great, as a fan, I'm thankful that The Go and Jack White parted ways, because instead of one great band, we are now blessed with two great bands, two sets of incredible songwriters whose styles are so dissimilar you have to wonder how they ever held it together for even a little while. Thanks for breaking up, guys, you've made me very happy. What makes this album so different from the others? Bobby Harlow produced and recorded Howl On The Haunted Beat You Ride. Take 4 bug-eyed misanthropes (Bobby Harlow, John Krautner, Marc Fellis and James McConnell) with an endless well of creativity, lock them up in a cellar together with 5 tape machines, and turn the controls over to the 1 guy that works 17 hours a day without lunch. Result: Every guitar tone, drum sound, vocal harmony, tambourine, piano, organ has been uniquely processed in a way that could even raise Brian Eno's eyebrow. Good luck finding another record like this one. It doesn't exist. The Go have created their own world: GO world. It's a lot like Disneyland only you have to be 18 to get in. The big kick in the ass comes every time The Go release a new album, because they are constantly changing, evolving, honing and re-inventing themselves in a way that isn't much different from Lou Reed, The Kinks or David Bowie. 'Learn from the best, to hell with the rest' just might be The Go's motto. I'm sitting in a hotel lobby in San Jose, Costa Rica, writing this on a house computer. I have a copy of Howl on the Haunted Beat You Ride playing over the computer's speakers. An English tourist in shorts, sandals and socks walks up and asks what I'm listening to. I tell him it's the new one from The Go. I give him the title and he says he's gonna buy it. A woman from Brazil asks the same thing. I tell her, and she says she really likes it and wants to know when the album drops. Seven more people have asked what I'm listening to. One aging American hipster said, 'That song sounds like Harry Nilsson!' He's talking about 'Caroline.' Another German woman in her 20s, said, hearing 'So Long Johnny,' she thinks that the song's retro-cool vibe smacks of Dion and the Belmonts, or something by John Lennon. These manner of comments are what I heard from a variety of people. Everyone who stopped by said, 'Wow! That's a great song!' And songwriting is what The Go excel at. Tunes par excellence. Nobody, but nobody today does it better. It's INFECTIOUS! Everyone who listens to The Go agrees that there's magic in their timeless music. Something important is happening here. All you need to do is open the door and let them all in. Ivan Suvanjieff San Jose, Costa Rica February 21, 2007.