Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

The Id—
Short Circuit/Boil The Kettle, Mother


Released 1967 on RCA Victor
The Seth Man, October 2002ce
The Id hailed from San Diego, California and counted among their members Jerry Cole, a session guitarist from the early sixties who appeared on early records by The Beach Boys, spent time in a later lineup of The Champs and recorded instrumental records backed by The Spacemen with a style both accomplished and highly idiosyncratic. How he came to be involved in The Id is unknown, but it seems that they may have been comprised of session men and not denizens of the teenage garage. Which is even cooler in the instance of this single because it’s teenage as hell.

Four tracks were taken off their sole “The Inner Sounds Of The Id” album and paired off into two 45s over-recorded in the typical mid-sixties style of RCA Victor and one of them was The Id’s highest achievement: the perplexingly titled and wholly psychotic B-side, “Boil The Kettle, Mother.” The song’s even crazier than the title and luckily; it’s no mere novelty. It is a full bleed, total rave up from the opening, chopped down “The Nazz Are Blue”-styled riff to its pulverising buzzsaw tail out. For the whole length of the song it remains at the same level of intensity of the build in The Count Five’s “Psychotic Reaction” and by the end builds even higher than that. Matching the insanity of the track are the polite yet quietly threatening vocals which are delivered in an drawn out, effete Zombie whisper that teasingly repeats the lyrics in hushed tones until it is nerve-racking to extremes. But the music is so explosive and you’re already laughing too hard at the lyrics to be the grossed out in the least by the failed and heavy handed Oedipal innuendos thrown all over the place with each apron-tugging line:


“Boil the kettle, Mother
Boil the kettle, Mother
I want to see the steam, Mother...
I want to feel the heat, Mother...
And see the kettle gleam...

Boil the kettle, Mother
Hotter, hotter, hotter...
I still can’t see the steam...”


Perverse, right? Stupid, too: and not just because everybody knows a watched kettle never boils. But I suppose with a name like ‘The Id’ they had a lot to live up to -- which they do after two simmering instrumental breakdowns. Cole has been straining at his 6-string leash for too many of the above verses, content for the moment with deftly and quickly picked riffs that cross-stitched each and every time the rest of the band cut out to leave the vocalist to continue his coercive lyrical demands. But his patience finally breaks with the final vocal line of “Hiss...hiss...hiss...” signaling time to rip open a bombastic run up and down the neck at top speed with his fuzzbox and amp distortion set JUST below the level that would make it bleed otherwise into an incomprehensible, black magic marker thundercloud of noise (Which is what it threatens to dissolve into, anyway.) Tearin’ it all up in an amazingly propulsive frenzy all jagged and rambunctious as a single tambourine whacks out simplistically over it all, Jerry Cole carries on at top speed and volume with Yardbirdsian runs up and down the neck, while still finding the time and space to throw in some Middle Eastern-tinged progressions.

By comparison, the A-side “Short Circuit” ain’t half as crazed, but then again: neither was anything else in the entire Id canon. But it does scores high marks for maintaining that singular drive fuelled only by the innate frustration of unrequited love that is the undying hallmark of garage punk. A jangle guitar and sparse drum pattern like “Ticket To Ride” played at the wrong speed sets the scene for unfurling, double tracked guitar parts -- one a volume controlled sensor and the other a fluid and quickly resolved Rickenbacker guitar melody that hints at both The Knickerbockers and “Surrealistic Pillow” in equal parts and at breakneck tempo. It has the same rising lust factor of barely/almost suppressed premature ejaculation that The Electric Prunes perfected on “I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)” and here a sharp, slashing rhythm guitar sets up an arrangement of unpredictable stops and starts to a jerking, off-beat reinforced by the sort of tight, prominent bass and confident drumming one would expect from studio musicians.
Despite the fact it’s teenage as hell.