It's become something of a cliché over the past few years, to celebrate the exhumation of an album that you never thought you'd see reissued with a triumphant cry of "back from the dead." It's very rare, however, that those words can be taken literally, which means the appearance of a Wayne County at the Trucks album should serve to reassure us that absolutely nothing is beyond the realm of possibility anymore. Because, in the world of lost causes, At the Trucks! was beyond all hope of salvation. No need to go into the actual politics behind the album's recording and original disappearance: audience member (and Psychotic Frogs frontman) Jimi LaLumia's liner notes do that very nicely. Suffice to say, when this album was recorded in New York in 1974, Wayne County seriously believed that the management company that he shared with David Bowie would be releasing it very soon. Instead, the tapes were shelved, an accompanying film was forgotten, and, when a fire swept through the warehouse where the recordings had been buried, that was the end of the tale. Or was it? Fast forward 30 years; somebody passing by a recently closed down studio found an old acetate disc in a box on the corner. Of course they listed it on eBay, from whence one of County's U.K. fans purchased it for $600; a copy was passed onto County, who in turn passed it on to the Spanish label Munster. The end of the rainbow had been located.
But was it worth looking for? Well it was, if you love (a) Wayne County, (b) rock history and (c) finding out where Bowiegot some of his best period ideas. Only seven songs are from the Trucks concert itself, including a deliciously primal "Man Made Woman," early versions of later County favorites "Wonder Woman" and "Stuck on You," and, fascinatingly, "Queenage Baby," a song that County has always insisted was a profound influence on Bowie's "Rebel Rebel" and...guess what? It probably was. The remainder of the disc is equally intriguing. "You Gotta Get Layed to Stay Healthy" is the sole survivor from a projected 1974 single, produced in New York by Mick Ronson; "Putty" is a demo from around the same time, and "Man Enough to Be a Woman" was recorded live in 1978, by County's best known band, the Electric Chairs, and is included here, presumably, to prove that what the rest of the world called "punk" in the late '70s was exactly the same as what Wayne had been doing all along.
The albums ends with four songs recorded by County in more recent years, and they're as much fun as you'd hope. But it's the Trucks show that opens your eyes the widest, and makes you believe in miracles while you're at it.