Speed, Glue & Shinki

Speed, Glue & Shinki

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Like their music, the personal and creative relationships of Japanese rock & roll deviants Speed, Glue & Shinki were in a state of total disarray during the recording of their eponymous double-vinyl sophomore album in 1972. The ostensible bandleader, guitarist Shinki Chen, was already partially distracted from the proceedings, and original bassist Masayoshi "Glue" Kabe had completely checked out to resume his hobo-like travels, which left preternaturally wired vocalist and drummer Joey "Speed" Smith to jump into the driver's seat and accelerate the band's psychedelic rock school bus right over the cliff of reason. Replacement bassist Mike Hanopol was a handpicked ex-accomplice of Joey who assisted him in composing the majority of the album's songs, and these were a vast catalog of typically loose, ultra-distorted, proto-metallic acid blues grinds like "Run and Hide," "Calm Down," "Wanna Take You Home," and a wastoid anthem for the ages in "Sniffin' & Snortin', Pt. 1" and "Pt. 2" (which came complete with appropriate sound effects). The cumulative emotional effect of all this gloriously demented garage rock drudgery (think the MC5 meets Grand Funk meets Black Sabbath meets the 13th Floor Elevators) was so disconcerting that when a flute suddenly flutters into view midway through "Don't Say No" (one of Shinki's few songwriting contributions), listeners may find themselves instinctively swatting at it in panic, shrieking like uniformed Japanese schoolgirls. In all fairness, Shinki's Hendrix-worthy talents did shine through on numerous occasions, even reaching religious fervor all over the epic "Search for Love" and in the backwards solo of the aforementioned "Wanna Take You Home," while Hanopol tunes like "Bad Woman" and "Red Doll" revealed his passion for American power trio Mountain. But there was no mistaking Joey Smith's dominant role throughout the LP, whether that meant croaking like Louis Armstrong across "Flat Fret Swing" or jamming together a 13-minute ambient sound experiment on Moog synthesizer entitled "Sun/Planets/Life/Moon," which, along with the slightly less free-form "Song for an Angel," took up all of the fourth vinyl side. Aaaand exhale…COUGH-COUGH-COUGH! As if you hadn't guessed already, and in spite (heck, perhaps because) of the all-consuming chaos, what Speed, Glue & Shinki conjured here was a bona fide proto-stoner rock landmark. It may not have translated into record sales, and the band's messy collapse soon after its release no doubt left a bitter taste in everyone's mouths (particularly their free-spending, un-recouped label backers), but at least the short-lived trio's unique cult legacy was now signed, sealed, and delivered for posterity.

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