While what’s left of those Brothers Gibb may, whenever asked, still like to refer to themselves as the Enigma (Cucumber Castle) with the Stigma (Saturday Night Fever) (for starters), may I posit the REAL, TRUE, ORIGINAL Great Big Rockin’ Rolling Enigma is none other than the one, the still and only, Big Boy Pete Miller.
Why, armed with little more than his twin-tone green ’61 Gretsch guitar – name of Henry, btw – and a clutch of equally vintage recording equipment (including a Goobly Box and genuine Humbert Humbert by way of very special effects, I kid you not) Pete has, since 1959 and counting, been in dozens of bands (the so-aptly-named Offbeats, Peter Jay and the Jaywalkers, The Fuzz, even Buzz), toured everywhere with everyone (Beatles, Stones, Kinks et al all round Swinging Sixties England, not to mention the wilds of the Orient – with his trademark electric wah-wah sitar — during no less than the Vietnam quagmire), composed beyond-numerous neat numbers for Freddie and the Dreamers, Damned, and the (original) Knack, and most notably of all as it turns out churned out literally thousands of recordings in studios worldwide these past four-plus decades with, for and/or alongside the likes of Marty Wilde, Peter Frampton’s Herd, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, Murray the K, Arlo Guthrie, Elvin Bishop, The Avengers, Tuxedomoon, Roy Loney, Marshall Crenshaw, Johnny and the Potato Chips, and even our good buds The Squires Of The Subterrain, very roughly chronologically speaking indeed.
And now! The good folk over there at Angel Air Records (“Where the Artist Has a Voice”) have gone and collected a dozen of some of Pete’s prime early-Seventies San Francisco productions neatly together right here upon one perfectly titled The Perennial Enigma CD.
Thrill, as I repeatedly have already, to The Great Joe Meek / Marc Bolan Tape that Got Away (“The Demo”), the absolute biggest hit Dave Edmunds somehow never had (“All Down The Road”), and a mere two-minutes-twenty- five called “Get Up And Dance” which finally fills that socio-musical gap between The Swinging Medallions and your very first Elvis Costello long-player.
Elsewhere, Harry Belafonte makes an extremely wrong turn …straight down into Lee “Scratch” Perry’s sub-basement (“Havana Juana”), “Who Stole My Garden?” asks the kind of musical question even those Bonzo Dogs seemed incapable of, and “Rudy’s In Love” – not to mention “The Prayer” – makes one wonder why in holy heck that Plastic Ono Lennon’s Rock ‘n’ Roll album didn’t, or should I say COULDN’T, sound half this coooool ??
Not to fret though: For while the inimitable Johnny Rhythm may no longer be with us, Big Boy Pete is still sitting tight there in Frisco, safe and stereophonically sound within his esteemed Audio Institute of America, demo-ing up his next several hundred severely-high-fidelity musical marvels. So until they too begin trickling out upon us Lost Groovers, I’d suggest you grab your own Perennial Enigma toot sweet, awreet?