Ray Hanson’s Whores of Babylon: Sonic outlaws, empire of dirt, glitter and perforated electric souls
Ray Hanson used to play guyitar for Thee Hypnotics, who destroyed audiences in their home of the UK before they begat The Jim Jones Revue. His current band is Ray 'Sonic' Hanson's Whores of Babylon. What are they like? You'll hear for yourself, soon enough.
Here's a word picture.
Think: Geordie Pleathur jamming in the midnight hours to Sonic Ray while thinking of Nick Marsh, lost loved ones, and nursing a broken hand.
Now read on...
But when I leave, you’ll remember I said, with the last words on my lips, that I am a revolutionary.
- Fred Hampton
Suburban classes understand their bread is buttered on the corporate side. The primary difference between the two parties is that the Republicans pretty much admit that they grasp and even endorse some of the nastiest facts of life in America. Republicans honestly tell the world: ‘Listen in on my phone calls, piss-test me until I'm blind, kill and eat all of my neighbors right in front of my eyes, but show me the money! Let me escape with every cent I can kick out of the suck...ers, the taxpayers, and anybody else I can get a headlock on, legally or otherwise.’ Democrats, in contrast, seem content to catalog the GOP's outrages against the Republic, showing proper indignation while laughing at episodes of The Daily Show. But they stand behind the American brand: imperialism. They "support our troops," though you will be hard put to find any of them who have served alongside them or who would send one of their own kids off to lose an eye or an arm in Iraq. They play the imperial game, maintain their credit ratings, and plan to keep the beach house and the retirement investments if it means sacrificing every damned Lynndie England in West Virginia.
- Joe Bageant, Deer Hunting With Jesus
Do you remember who you were before the world told you who you should be?
Surveillance, in any land where it is ubiquitous and inescapable, generates distrust and divisions among its citizens, curbs their readiness to speak freely to each other, and diminishes their willingness to even dare to think freely.
She had learned the biggest difference between the haves and the have-nots. Luck and birthright. And the luckier you are and the more doors open to you because... of your birthright, the more you need to convince others that you made it because of intelligence or hard work.
- Harlan Coben, "Stay Close"
I doubt very much that a working class band like Slade (or Sex Pistols...) would be allowed to get off the ground nowadays & that's a real fucking shame! There's a severe imbalance operating now in the 'arts' (music & films in particular but also radio, TV & politics too...) that means the 'arts' are largely dominated by a middle class/upper class mafia that for the most part excludes many working class people from even having a decent fighting chance of taking part. And surely that can't be right or good...
- Peter Coyne
Naturally, the common people don't want war ... but after all it is the leaders of a country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.
- Hermann Goering
The unwilling, led by the incompetent, to do the unnecessary, for the ungrateful
-found inscribed on a Vietnam-era coffin)
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.
- Dwight Eisenhower
War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength.
Upon suffering beyond suffering; the Red Nation shall rise again and it shall be a blessing for a sick world. A world filled with broken promises, selfishness and separations. A world longing for light again. I see a time of seven generations when all the colors of mankind will gather under the sacred Tree of Life and the whole Earth will become one circle again. In that day there will be those among the Lakota who will carry knowledge and understanding of unity among all living things, and the young white ones will come to those of my people and ask for this wisdom. I salute the light within your eyes where the whole universe dwells. For when you are at that center within you and I am that place within me, we shall be as one.
- Crazy Hors
North Dakota is the first state to legalize armed drones. This is a move toward police state tyranny.
- Jill Stein
INTO THE MYSTIC...Space travel's in his blood, he rules from some golden tomb, with a straight razor in his porkpie hat, reminds you Eddie Hazel is where it's at.
You know what they say-to every man given the key to the gates of Heaven, the same key opens the gates of Hell. While USA's corporate mercenary thugs abuse original peoples with mace and attack dogs for oil companies, and Flint's water remains poisoned, and the new figurehead is a shockaholic Howard Stern Whack Pack attention-seeking sociopath, everybody with a TV or a gizmo with a tiny screen, gets sucked in to Pokémon Go, or the manufactured distraction scandal of the day, and somehow, we all forget it's rigged, the fix is in, we get no vote.
Half the black and Latino populations are warehoused in corporate prisons for non violent drug offenses while the white people of the Northwest get rich off of legal reefer....K9's and tasers are deployed by gestapo cops against children and innocents each day, activists are found dead in burning cars...
We're told to get used to the constant indignities and liabilities of poverty and having our hooligan hives in the bad part of town torn down by developers and no soul landlords to make way for always more high-rise condos and gentrification hotels in all the old neighborhoods where we used to go to make art.
The music has never been worse.
You can talk about Flock Of Seagulls or Thompson Twins; or "Disco Duck" or "Kung Fu Fightin'"; not being as cool as Captain Beefheart and Phillip Glass or whatever, all day, from atop your lofty towers of collectible vinyl from generations past, and I'll still assure you all, that even that commercial stuff we used to complain about being too superficial and contrived, cold and synthetic, back in the ’70s and ’80s was positively spilling over with real feeling and poetry compared to the push button gimmick oriented plastic surgery disco they make for booby jobbed rich girls to lip-synch to, nowadays.
The only people with bands you can even go see these days are mostly made up of geezers who got lucky in the ’70s, or poser goofball bands of campy Casio and ukulele duos in funny hats and shit who are funded by millionaire parents. Few of our most esteemed and talented artists get to even step on stage anymore. Jim Jones Revue, along with Jim Jones & The Sacred Mind, being notable exceptions.
It's really fucking expensive, and hard to have a band, if you ain't some corporate executive's niece. Most of us can barely make rent, let alone rent practice spaces. Even the geniuses and supernova talents of the real rock’n’ roll underground have mostly been shoved from the marquees by fucking electronic music DJ's and scumbag club owners, who only care about their rich kid vaping, and Kanye enthusiast techno brainwashed bottom-line.
Meanwhile, Unshakeable Sonic Ray's been creating countless hallucinogenic tunes that remind one of driving through New Mexico at night in a sketchy Oldsmobile with a bad water pump and broken tail-light, confidently wearing sunglasses, cause he's receiving transmissions from other planets, other dimensions, other times.
"La Ballad Le Blueberry", "Blackhearted Alleycat", and "Sick & Dirty" are driving, energetic chunes and animated instrumentals, and you can close your eyes and see crazy shamanic intergalactic warlock cartoons listening to this stuff.
I know he's been aspiring to compile a gigantic, deluxe box-set compilation of his prolific catalog of seldom heard solo tunes with classy concert bill style artwork shades of Gary Grimshaw and suitably cosmic photos and lyrics and liner notes for some super hip record label, but you know how these things take time. He's got so much music in the attic, he's been leaking a little on-line, at long last, and I'm surprised Quinten Tarantino and Jim Jarmusch and David Lynch not heard this shit yet, 'cause it all makes you think of leopard coated, fishnet stockinged, black wigged, ’70s super vixens and cool, long cars with tinted windows, alley way foot chases over chain link fences and in and outta dumpsters, painted subways, and long leather detective trench coats.
"Coming At Ya From Miles Above Ya" is some sick Sly Stone groovin', remember how exciting it was unearthing all those cheap Hendrix bootlegs in record store cutout bins when we were kids and realizing even his unheard stuff was brimming over with funkified genius and greasy soul? Ray can make a guitar sound like a sitar, and manifests all kindsa burning lamp scenes that bring the Band O Gypsies to mind. As your older friend, the acid head, might say, "far fuckin out, maaan...!"
Ray Hanson is the man on the mountain-come on up! Remember Thee Hypnotics? They were absolute motherfucking motherfuckers specializing in total rock ’n’ roll motherfuckery by every means necessary, and left guys like the Black Crowes and Guns N Roses in their stool. You know it's true/all the feelings come back to you. They were hair metal and mediocre grunge lawnmowers, just cutting down all other bands who existed, like it was just nuthin'.
Primal Scream somehow got better management and more loving record company support, but Thee Hypnotics wore their influences proudly, but still, effectively carved out their own sound-much like Hanoi Rocks and the Stooges did, but they were even more musical, and diverse, like a scabby knuckled, garage punk, Free(!) on Ultra Blast, all killers, all champions, over the top, MC5 or Bad Brains crazy badasses, shooting shockwaves of sex and rebellion, mysticism and magic, over the heads of unworthy audiences in tiny college bars who were baffled by their sleek coolness and suave apparel in the sloppy carwash era of grunge.
All those chump ass frat boy college kids were drunk on Pearl Jam's bongwater, and sadly, incapable of faintly grasping the profoundly sensuous nuance and subtlety and powerhouse majesty of Thee Hypnotics, except occasionally, a small clique of boisterous, whiskey sodden, rebel huns and wide-eyed black hole kids, who were transfixed by the fuzzed out and ferocious smoke and shambles and rhinestoned g-strings they always left in their wake.
If you were in my age group, and were lucky enough to see those cats lay it down, even once, you know there was no one like them, and has not been, since. They were like the Hendrix Experience, vintage Aerosmith, Blue Cheer, Iggy, Cream, Alice, and the Stones, rolled up into one seething, sweaty, manic ball of jazz slashings and fearless knee drops and James Brown hard work and broken glass and suave Johnny Thunders stylishness. No one came close. No one.
I loved the Jesus & Mary Chain, because they were defiant rabble rousers and songwriting path cutters and appreciated that documentary that suggested they were the actual giants that bands like Oasis were standing on the shoulders of, but for me, Nirvana's Killing Joke basslines and "See My Mary Ann walking awayyyy...heeeyyy" chords were discarded peanuts on the floor, soiled condoms on the proud highway, next to the unbridled, unprecedented, unfucking-believable, rollicking, raw power of Thee Hypnotics, live.
I saw plenty of half-hearted college town trust fund turds with swell clothes copy Thee Hypnotics cool shoes and dutifully trot out some token effects pedals and Lux Interior-isms, but honestly, they were all instantly forgettable franchise clones doing tiredass college town obligatory Standells covers, whereas, THEE inimitable, THEE HYPNOTICS, were making cult movies outta sound and containing and conveying a vast spectrum of landmarks, smells, the wind, feelings, and the open road-those fuckers took us on real trips, like Kerouac and Kesey and Bangs and Thompson.
"Coast To Coast" was like Anton Newcombe destroying the recording studio control panel in a fit of artistic fervor while Sonic Youth and Royal Trux were covering "Pet Sounds". Everything was always so vividly visual with these guys, they totally showed you their outer space and inner space travelogue photographs, with their crisply cobalt sounds.
Thee Hypnotics were gratifying to behold, because they were everything I missed out on, by being too young to have seen the Dead Boys or NY Dolls. I never forgot the intense chutzpah they had when they first hit this continent running, having just landed on American shores, when they opened their first American gig with a maraca shakin' cover of "Sweet Emotion"... in tragically bloated, sold out, washed up, formulaic, Aerosmith's hometown. They reminded us of how fucking cool Aerosmith had been, back when they were still writing shit like, "Combination", "No More No More", "Last Child" and "Sick As A Dog". Explosive. Thee Hypnotics were bold as love. Several bands have copied their high dynamics, and black shades, but few can stop on a dime and deliver smoldering torch and twang, and slowburn romantic blues, or highbrow jazz improvisations, into nauseous, bad trip psychedelia. They had it all.
I've said it elsewhere, how I'm proud that mine and my roommates' punch drunk, enthusiastic howls of hellion recognition were the first applause they probably heard in America, and so well deserved at the time. They were out of this world, while we were out of our minds. Their early Detroit influenced mind melting stuff was coveted and kept in plastic bags and treasured and shown off by all the leather clad dropouts who bought their 12 inches at Newbury Comics and Tower Records. We were all Half Men/Half Boys seeking out some kinda streetwise Justice In Freedom, Ya dig?
Most of my pirate scumbag scoundrel amigos preferred the air raid feedback and Motorbooty freakouts of "Live'R Than God"'s Pretty Things meets Car City Garage Violence, but I was always drawn helplessly to the delicate "Little Wing" grace and Faces style barroom throwdowns and textured sunsets and sweaty, Louisiana moons of "Soul, Glitter, & Sin" and "Very Crystal Speed Machine".
When "Soul, Glitter & Sin" came out, it was so distinctive, unlike anything we'd ever heard. Remember the first time you heard the Pixies, or Flaming Lips, when they still sounded so joltingly fresh and new? That was how innovative and powerful and unique "Soul, Glitter & Sin" was to my coterie of badly tattooed thugs and sexy glam harlots. James Bond shit, Dr. John voodoo shit, and David Lynch madness. Total psychedelic overload that inspired 1000 risky road trips and doomed basement bands, reckless drug experimentation, and soothing sounds that caressed our weary skulls whenever we finally blacked out upon our surrealistic pillows with plastic fantastic evil vixens in the dawn's early light. If the corporate rock fix was not already in, these dudes might have steadily elbowed out all those mediocre college radio drips, who dominated the airwaves in the ’90s, with their buzzkill, navel gazing, and sensitive James Taylor string sections.
Thee Hypnotics. They were, by far, simply the best, in my book. All those millions of words wasted by Matt Pinfield wannabe dorks who cashed big paychecks sucking up to the man writing for Spin Magazine and Rolling Stone and College Music Journal and Alternative Press on the Strokes and Evan Dando and Alice In Chains and shit rightfully belonged to Thee Hypnotics. They out played everybody, out rocked everybody, outlived everybody, and easily, out cooled all their trust funded imitators, and so called fucking peers, but truthfully, they had none, in their heyday. Who? Fucking Soul Asylum? Veruca Salt? Urge Overkill? Oasis? the Goo Goo Dolls? I mean, don't get me wrong, I liked summa those bands well enough, but Thee Hypnotics were really onto some Future Sounds Now shit.
Thee Hypnotics with a be-hatted Ray Hanson.
You had to go to fucking Australia to find anybody who could rock as hard as Thee Hypnotics, but the crazy thing was, they also out carressed and cocktail lounged, and spooky crooned, and tearful dirged everybody, too. Those fuckers just had it all.
You like Morphine and Mazzy Star, or fucking Chambers Brothers, Curtis Mayfield, or the Beasts Of Bourbon, or Pussy Galore, or My Bloody Valentine? Thee Hypnotics were drenched in ’70s soul, ‘60s garage, ’50s gospel, they were flea markets full of old eight-track cassettes and blaxplotation black lite posters you could fit in your leather jacket inside pocket with your fucking flask and three bags full. Take it with you to California. Heavy drug music for people who read books all the time.
All those cheap Nirvana copyists were boring everyone with microwaved reheated fake punk in "ironic" dirty Iron Maiden t shirts, while Thee Hypnotics were generating entire libraries of dangerous, status quo challenging, Sun Ra experimentation and ghetto knife fights behind the wig shop. Masters. Magic men.
They looked like the Rolling Stones in the park circa '65, and the Stooges in their cool as fuck pimp shoes and Mick Jagger in "Performance" haircuts. They played the fuck out of their instruments. Phil, the Drummer, was like all your Uncle's favorite esoteric jazz drummers but he had a hooligan's soul beneath his intellectual and technical grasp of musical history. Some even say he was often the first Hypnotic to kick over the amplifiers, crash his hot rod, and end up smoking Clove cigarettes naked on the roof with some famous goth poetess. Will Pepper was a leather clad lady killer in Lou Reed shades and tight pants.
Jim Jones was a Jaggeresque devil emanating shamanic lizard king coolness and jumping recklessly from balconies. Ray Hanson was the engine room, thee musical visionary effortlessly throwing out waves of brain expanding, be here now, hedonistic, let it all hang out, whoo-whoo-whoo-whoo revelation, as Phil says, either you get it or you don't and music drips from Brother Ray's fingers. Like icicles in the sun. That dude is a crazy wizard in a wino fedora, telling ancient stories to generations to come. Everybody knows Jim Jones is the greatest living frontman, only maybe rivalled by Iggy, or Tex, or Mike Monroe on a good night, and Ray is over there in some room right now, rolling off genius music like all the Stones and Stooges guitarists combined. Phil's a teacher and a filmmaker, dunno much about Will Pepper's current doings, but I do so wish that Phil's epic Thee Hypnotics movie could see the light of day or they'd, at least, send me a bloody bootleg copy. I haven't even seen the Beasts Of Bourbon movie, yet, and those are my favorite fucking bands. Ray's been recording hundreds of songs and finally leaked some online for the people to hear.
"Supersonic (Who's Bitchin' Now?)" takes the Hendrix riff to "Let Me Stand Next To Your Fire" and pours Marley's "Get Up Stand Up" on the blazing inferno, telling both those old mad composers to roll over and let Sonic Hanson take over. While much of his strobe-lit work has always been considered "too cerebral" by Fatcat record executives for the football fans and Hamburglars of Middle Amerikkka to ever grasp, one can easily imagine his supernova fireworks shows appealing to the big festival audiences who have had twenty five years of light shows and drugs to catch up to what Slim Jim and Sonic Ray were doing with Thee Hypnotics, back in the day and they might be finally ready for it, now.
His version of "No Expectations" reminds me of Peter Laughner being visited by the ghost of Robert Johnson, on that last fateful night, it's fucking brilliant, like somebody left the Stones version out in the sun too long and it warped a little. Crows hittin' your window."Cosmonaut of Time & Space" is a snippet of a sonic landscape that evokes some humid quality that takes me back to some golden afternoon in the unmowed backyard in Cambridge, back in my twenties. This is great stuff.
"Mojo Blossom (She Got The Eyes Of The City)" is some more pimped out psychedelia, like David Ruffan and George Clinton in platform heels and floor length fur coats, stonedout in the wee hours lookin' to score more a.m. refreshments in the wasteland decay of the Motor City with "Gimee Shelter" playin' somewhere in the background. Coffee shop breakfast specials, spoons hitting cups and plates, while the room spins and your waitress in the rollergirl hot pants has on white lipstick and blue eyeshadow.
"Slow Horses, Fast Women, It's All The Same To Me" demonstrates Spacedout Sonic Ray's remarkable aptitude for gator shoed, black cat boned, mellow vibe coolness reminiscent of Prince B-Sides with some front porch swing serenading the ghosts of the bayou after walking past the cemetery talking to the frogs and spooks and crickets hootie-owl Tom Waits style staring at the night. Bad scenes inside the St. Peter's Hotel. He reminds me of Willie Deville and Lightning Hopkins and Dr. John and Sun Ra, ya know? One of those rare artists who sound like no one, but can do it all with first person authority and soul power.
Digging through Brother Ray's treasures is a real pleasure, he's only leaked a small handful (80 songs?!!) of his sonic goodies to the fans on-line, but there is a little bit of everything, here. That's why it was such a crime Thee Hypnotics never received the full on rock stardom push from the industry weasels when they were together, they were the ultimate rock band in many ways. Maybe the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion had a sliver, or the Black Crowes, or the Cult, or whoever, but nobody I know of really delivered the vast array of rock ’n’ roll sounds like Thee Hypnotics, who put slop bucket blues and high dollar exotica and raunchy riffs and desert mirage experimentation and paisley flickerings on the wall in a sleek martini glass a Vegas go go girl in sequins and pasties and feathered headdress might enjoy after a long night on the Vegas strip.
These sacred artifacts, rarities, obscure gems, and odds and sods give a glimpse into what a Mondo ultra deluxe velvet embossed multi-disc box set with aluminum stickers and beautiful coffee table book quality booklets might feel like. It's a real get high, exploring the Fantastic Imploding Implausible transmitting via satellite from his secret ashram high above the Himalayans.
"I Hope You Get To Heaven A Half Hour B 4 The Devil Knows Your Dead" is reminiscent of Keith Richards vocally, but is far nastier and seedier than anything you've ever heard Keith spit atcha, it's deeply immersed and inspired by that sixties ragged school of English punks who grew up listening to old timey American blues artists and conjure up their own pictures of old Mississippi cemeteries and tin roofed juke joints and broken down buses melting back into the moss. Ray's a voodoo man with angels' on his sleeve, maybe he ain't got the gold, like so many of the lesser rockstars of the internet age, but he's sure got the silver.
I could listen to this stuff all night. This makes me think of Ike Turner and Son House and Lightnin' Hopkins. John Lee Hooker and Buddy Guy. Workin' in a hot kitchen with a broken ice machine and flies buzzin' around the garbage, that serves tepid tap water out of old Mason jars, and has paper placemats and an old lady with a beehive hairdo and the radio station behind the cashier is always playing Patsy Cline. Home fries slow cooked in bacon drippings in a cast iron skillet. Of cracked coffee cups and cowboys and old folks complaining about the Mayor, and them strangers that just moved into the old Lewis Ranch on the outskirts of the ville.
Of having to handwash filthy clothes covered in nasty fluids from having to pick chicken all day long and not having quarters for the washing machine. Mismatched dishes bought at estate sales, metal breakfast tables from the ’50s, scalding hot coffee served with buttermilk biscuits, grits, country ham and sausage gravy, blackeyed peas with hamhocks, and a side of lard, while your hungover companion in the Hollywood Boulevard sunglasses picks absent mindedly at her braised greens and waffles, as she's pretty certain everything here is cooked in bacon drippings and hamhocks. You eat until you’re full and ask for a to go container for the chicken and waffles with a side of beans and fried cabbage.
It's gonna be a long drive tomorrow. Past old barns and beer signs and people don't take too kindly to you big city slicker folks coming around here with your fancy high heels and spookin' the horses.
Of course, it's a sin that those guys did not get the big-time arena millionaire fortune and fame back when they were blowing everybody in the world off the stage, but we all know it's been said many times, it's almost like a universal law, that the visionaries and trailblazers get overlooked by the followers and the squares, while every dorky nerd with some pitch correction software and a Halloween costume gets raved about in corporate media. So sick of all the say nothing porn star rich girls, nerds with computers making nutty video game sound effects, and horseshit manufactured television cowboys.
Thee Hypnotics were the last true underground rocknroll gods and Ray still believes in riding for the brand, the code of the prairie, in standing strong. Honor among outlaws. Pirate Love. If you can't dig Ray, you can't dig nuthin'. He's the meanest mean, the blackest black, the best of the best. Do you want some moonshine, or are you just shopping? DO YA UNDERSTAND?
DREAM ON COWBOY.