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The Memphis Goons
Even if the Memphis Goons weren't a great rock band, they'd be a great rock story. Back in 1969, piano playerRobert Hull, guitarist/bassist Phil Jones, and guitarist/bassist Mike Lantrip were three fellas from the Memphis suburb of Whitehaven, bored jut like plenty of their peers. So they formed a band and adopted new names (Hull was Xavier Tarpit, Jones became Wally Moth, and Lantrip took on Jackass Thompson). But the Goons weren't like the thousands of other garage bands of the era, out playing school dances and parties. No, the Goons' concise and private m.o. went like this: write, practice, record, move on to the next tune. Over the next few years, they captured hundreds of songs on tape. Though the term lo-fi wouldn't emerge for another two decades with bands such as Pavement and Guided By Voices, the Goons created the early blueprint for the sound: raggedy guitar, oddball lyrics, basement-value home recording, and dollops of passion. Not that anyone other than themselves heard it. As the players grew up and started having families, they stopped conducting their sonic experiments. Xavier Tarpit took the pen name Robot Hull and began writing for Creem under Lester Bangs. Eventually he went back to Robert and became an executive producer for Time-Life Music. Then, in 1996, Hull wrote an essay for Rolling Stone's Alt-Rock-a-Rama called "The Original Punks: The Greatest Garage Recordings of the Twentieth Century." Number two on the list (behind a tied number one for the Sonics and the Kingsmen's "Louie, Louie") were a band no one had ever heard of called the Memphis Goons. The piece set the stage for Shangri-La to release the Goons' only proper album, Teenage BBQ, later that year. Though the disc collects vintage cuts from reel upon reel of homemade tapes, the band would not be confined to yesteryear. In 1998 they performed a surprisingly inspired show back in Memphis -- their first ever. ~ Chris Nelson, Rovi