Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

The Hogs—
Blue's Theme/Loose Lip Sync Ship


Released 1966 on Hanna-Barbera
The Seth Man, June 2001ce
Hot on the heels of Davie Allan & The Arrows’ archetypal biker instrumental “Blue’s Theme” came this one-off cover by none other than The Chocolate Watchband under the fairly ridiculous (albeit cycle-informed) nom de plume ‘The Hogs.’ Which should come as no surprise to anybody now, but back in the early eighties when the B-side, “Loose Lip Sync Ship” surfaced on “Pebbles Vol. 3,” it took only one listen of “Gossamer Wings” off The Watchband’s “No Way Out” LP to see that it was in essence the same track, save for different freak-out additives at the coda and stripped of the session vocals (“Loose Lip Sync Ship” oddly mirrors the methods of The Arrows’ producer, Mike Curb who would ceaselessly reissue ‘new’ instrumentals by simply retitling them.) I don’t know if it was The Watchband’s Jagger-obsessed vocalist Dave Aguilar doing the overloaded and reverbed spoken words at the end as he riffs on the well-known American TV commercial for Trix, a breakfast cereal (“Freaks are for kids, not for silly rabbits!!!”) but whoever it was, it was probably his first experience with an echo chamber because after a mini free-form freak-out, some church organ chords waft in and then he starts vamping on a church service (“I would like all of you to turn to chapter 37, and we will all sing hymns”) which is respectful until some joker in the band starts up with an intonation of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” causing peals of insane teenage laughter ring throughout and filtered through the severest reverb. It fades into electro-smear as you hear the vocalist go “All right, that was perfect!” Classic.

As for the A-side, what can you say: “Blue’s Theme” was an instrumental by Davie Allan & the Arrows that originally appeared in the opening credits for Roger Corman’s primal biker thriller “The Wild Angels” and its accompanying soundtrack. And here it’s cut with an almost equal amount of guts by The Chocolate Watch -- sorry, The Hogs -- with the drums far more prominent than The Arrows’ original and the fuzz guitar is right on the money. It’s an excellent, driving instrumental, and yet another important touchstone in the ‘surf to punk via psychedelia’ sub/non-genre -- a critical musical evolution during the early to mid-sixties.

It was hinted at in the liners of “Pebbles Vol. 3” that the pseudonymous producer credited on the label as merely ‘The Phantom’ was none other than Frank Zappa. The liner notes to the Big Beat reissue of The Chocolate Watchband “No Way Out,” insist it was not The Mothers of Invention leader, but offer no clue as to who ‘The Phantom’ was. But since it was The Watchband, chances are it was probably Ed Cobb, as he produced the A-side. Or maybe it was Richie Podolor. Then again it could’ve been Mike Curb...or maybe even Kim Fowley. Even though I’d love to know, it doesn’t really matter. I’m just glad that ‘The Phantom’ (whoever he or she was) captured this perfectly gnarled, acne-stained 45 down on tape for all time.

Ultimately, the most bizarre thing about this single besides the music are all the unanswered questions surrounding it. Why was it issued under the name The Hogs? And why didn’t it come out on Tower Records?? And why was it issued RIGHT after “The Wild Angels” film and soundtrack??! Why was the producer cloaked in mystery???! Help, I’m a rock! The whole thing is so drenched in Mondo-fucking-Hollywood, circa 1966 even I can’t believe it...

Although Big beat were unable to secure these two tracks for their fantastic reissues in the early nineties of The Chocolate Watchband’s three albums, combining them with all other non-LP material, it already did appear on their fantastic “44” compilation in the mid-eighties on vinyl, with a subsequently release on CD.