It was pointed out recently by someone with good judgement that there wasn't a lot of love for The Fuzztones at the I-94 Bar. That's more a measure of what we've had time to review, not a reflection on the band. Here's a recap of a 2011 release on Italian label Go Down of demo tracks that presaged their 1989 "In Heat" album, the one that should have broken them worldwide on the Beggars Banquet label.
"Raw Heat" shows what legendary producer Shal Talmy never gave "In Heat": A Big Set of Balls. That's the short story. Back in the '80s, everything that was old was new again and the same went for producers. The physically ailing Talmy was all but retired, with credits like The Who and the Kinks well behind him. The band needed someone to referee its own creative differences (principally between Rudy Protudi and lead guitarist Jordan Tarlow). Beggars had signed the Fuzztones on the strength of their live show, a corker first LP, their demo's and a huge push from The Cult's Ian Astbury. Shalmy did the deal and came out of retirement. If only the label had asked the Kinks, first.
"Raw Heat" features most of the tracks that made "In Heat" but none of the thin production or covers ("I Can't Control Myself" and "You Must Be a Witch".) "In Heat" was mostly recorded with a new band after Protudi upped and moved from New York City to LA. It wasn't a patch on it heir debut, "Lysergic Emanations", and of course The 'Tones were dropped from their major label and sent fro the indie back-blocks. Not a bad place to be sometimes but you have to ask 'What If?'
It's hard to see what wasn't to like about this album in its original, unrefined form. "Cheyenne Rider" struts magnificently (and, if anything, could be given even fuller fuzz treatment to bring the lead guitar to the fire.) "One Girl Man" is a radio hit in this or any former world. "I'm Gonna Make You Mine" has the right mix of swelling organ and underlying fuzz with a killer chorus.
The story's all here (if you can read the fine print on the back of the record label (mine's a CD, not an LP) and the up side of "In Heat" is that its poor sales were no barrier to Europe embracing the band in a huge way. It was a breakthrough of another kind, making The Fuzztones the first of a rash of '60s revivalists to crack it for a major label deal. If the floodgates didn't exactly blow wide open the mindsets - and listening tastes - of many were altered by that very fact. Slip this into your player or onto your turntable and celebrate that fact. "In Heat" never sounded this good.