Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Jimmy Jukebox—
Motor Boat / 25 Hours A Day


Released 1973 on Chattahoochee
The Seth Man, December 2011ce
When Kim Fowley appeared on the Old Grey Whistle Test in early January 1973, he achieved three things: First, he freaked out host “Whispering” Bob Harris with his razor-sharp glitter look, then he then demonstrated the double-jointedness of his extremities and lastly, he proclaimed to the world the imminent arrival and success of the then-obscure Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel -- a group which at this time Fowley looked every inch a member (Oooo-er) with the possible exception of the teddy bear kept tethered to his side with a whip.

In the wake of this display, Fowley recorded a single. A single? Nay: more a double-sided, monster discotheque powder puff on roller skates with all the gravitational pull of a wind testing tunnel at G-force settings. Recorded at American Colony, Venus by Fowley with the help of his ex-chauffeur and long-time musical partner Michael Lloyd, it remains one of his solo high watermarks of the seventies post-“Animal God Of The Streets”, if not THE one. Hell, nothing else on Kim’s “International Heroes” or the ‘78 compilation “Living In The Streets” (aka: “The Dorian Gray of Rock’n’Roll,” where this 45 also resides) reeked half as great with such hypersimplistic exuberance. Whoa!

Like Bernard William Jewry, David Jones and Marc Feld before him, Kim Fowley reinvented himself with a name change as no fashionable disguise and presto -- reemerged as something else: Namely, Jimmy Jukebox. And this single was his sole sonic document. With hilariously affected and adenoidal fop vox, the giddy A-side of “Motor Boat” features reverb-au-go-go on everything: the repeating monochord opening/chorus/coda slapback guitar; the vocals, the drums and come to think of it: the beginning, the middle and the end. The 1959 Frankie Ford hit “Sea Cruise” was a longtime Fowley supergawd fave that had recently appeared on the soundtrack album for “American Graffiti” -- a project for which Fowley produced three tracks by Flash Cadillac & the Continental Kids -- and you can just make out how it was subtly refracted through Fowley’s mind and retooled for the nascent L.A. glitterworst trash set as “Motor Boat.” The doubled up bass on the chorus, a Glitter Band drum pattern, minus one drum set -- too expensive! -- and a nasally, over-echoed chorus of “((((((Motor boat! )))))) / ((((((Motor boat!))))))” against a stompin’ handclap-and-drum breakdown just can’t be beat. Best of all, instead of even attempting Bolan’s patented, wordless high-pitched vocal accenting preceding a chorus, what does Kim do? He lets loose with an extended alveolar trill of “rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr...!” Also known as rolling your ‘r’s, the only other one that comes to mind is Johnny Rotten’s “England Dr-r-r-r-r-reaming” in “God Save The Queen.” (Then again, Kim had already predated and possibly informed Bolan’s vocalisation six years earlier on his own “Pop Art ‘66” single.) As one might guess, the lyrics are ridiculous: From advising one to “shampoo your head in a hurry” to asking “Hey babe, can you float on water?”, Kim takes the cake when he winds up rhyming “motor boat” with “billy goat.” Once “Motor Boat! / Motor Boat!” has been insensibly chanted below the IQ level of The Bay City Rollers, it takes a headlong dive into a repeating tunnel of reverbed noise that fans out across 180 degrees of sound.

On the flipside you get more for your money with “25 Hours A Day.” Here, Fowley switches his vocal delivery into a Marc Bolan-with-a-head-cold deluxe-sans-Larry-The-Lamb-isms while oddly bearing trace elements from (no kidding) Roy Wood’s “Songs of Praise” from his debut 1972 album, “Boulders” -- only with the gospelisation shaved off and then nailed over the top. Maintaining a straight face in the wake of how Fowley runs down couplets like “I’m dancing, dancing like a champion / How was I to know?” is about as impossible as this track is infectious. The same backing L.A. guy’n’gal vocalists shore up J. Jukebox on the chorus, although I still can’t tell exactly which part is the chorus because the entire song seems as though it’s three separate choruses crosscut together. Don’t matter, though: because it’s such a catchy and simple single that both sides hold up to repeated listening. Over and over. 25 hours a day. Uneeda reason?! How about this one: We need to rock’n’roll! Yeah-yuh!