Route Rockin' Ghoulies

The road goads on forever with the Groovie Ghoulies' latest CD, Travels With My Amp

"Free Bird" and "Happy Birthday"

Ahh, those pesky requests! It doesn't matter who you are -- every band gets corralled into playing "Happy Birthday" sooner or later. It's the most performed song of all time, even though no one actually likes it. It's never shipped platinum and it always falls apart when the sensitive issue of the "do we sing the how old are you now?" line arises. That's why the Ghoulies' power-chord-thrashin' "Happy Birthday" dispenses with everything but the essential first verse words and the equally short playing time.

But what about silencing those yahoos who keep calling out for "Free Bird" every night? No one knows why they do it, probably the same reason construction workers think catcalling at beautiful women will eventually work for them. As a rule, no touring band ever honors the "Free Bird" request unless they are in the deep, deep South. Here the Ghoulies dream up their very own "Free Bird" and, at a ripping 39 seconds, it can be repeated whenever necessary: "Hey Free Bird! You haven't got any chains/Why don't you use your bird brain/Why don't you just disappear." Ronnie Van Zant's probably somewhere shitting his hat with laughter. "That's a good 'un."

"Hard Night's Day"

Nothing like a 24-second song to hurry up a set. Perfect for squeezing in another number after last call.

"Hair of Gold (And Skin of Blue)"

Some would say the group is advocating necrophilia but they'd be dead wrong. On this number, the Ghoulies take a stand on the racial inequality that still exists in this country. It's really "Brother Louie" and "Society's Child" for the translucent-skinned set (that, or it's about nailing a Smurf).

"Ghoulie Family"

Although the group took its name from the early '70s cartoon The Groovie Goolies, you'll note that they spell it differently to avoid legal hassles and having to perform "Chick-a-Boom" every night. Luckily, the gang from Horrible Hall is not joining the glut of reunion tours this summer -- how are you going to compete with the voluptuous horror of Poison/Dokken/Cinderella and Slaughter on one bill? Or worse, Yes touring with Kansas and threatening to play only the long songs!

The new Groovies have fashioned their own "Goolies Get-Together" theme crossed with Sister Sledge's "We Are Family," and it's here we learn that "dysfunctionality" and "flushing your future down the drain" can have just as galvanizing an effect on siblings as love and togetherness. Since most families only come together around food, it's nice to know that the Ghoulies are able to subsist on a road diet of "confections," "salty snacks" and "bottle pop," as one road receipt in the Travels With My Amp insert reveals. More troubling is that at one pit stop they spent $16.41 on four "Space-Playsets," five "Lizzards" and five "Giant Bugs" and only 59 cents on food (and that was a Kit Kat bar!).

"I'd Rather Be Alone," "(The Girl Is) An Unsolved Mystery" and "Criswell Predicts"

This trio of numbers offers different consolations for dealing with relationships on the road. 1) It's better to break up with your girlfriend before the tour so you don't run up a phone bill fighting; 2) Find a girl who's hard to figure out and let things deteriorate from there; 3) It really doesn't matter who you make a play for since famed Ed Wood soothsayer Criswell believes sisters are doing it for themselves and don't even need men for breeding purposes anymore. To keep her hubby Kepi in line, guitarist Rochelle "Roach" Sparman has a Teletubby she snuggles with on the tour bus. And it's one of the hetero ones!

"Rock and Roll Leprechaun" and "Dancing Late at Night"

One of the biggest disappointments of being on the road is meeting your idols and finding they don't live up to your expectations. Here, the Ghoulies have that problem neatly solved -- they just worship Jonathan Richman, the Mister Rogers of rock. Expecting him not to be friendly or flaky is like expecting ice cream not to be cold.

"The Highwayman"

Another nod to Willie Nelson and just about the most welcome road song since "Route 66." Kepi knows men won't stop for directions and would just as soon stick a CD in the stereo if it offered helpful, face-saving suggestions like "5 & 95 go up and down/10, 80, 90 go east and west."

To quote our irrepressible tour guides, awwlright!

The Groovie Ghoulies are scheduled to perform on Sunday, June 18, at the Nile Theater in Mesa, with Buck, Sixth Year Senior, 3 Chord Monkey, and Joe Would Be the Ruler. Showtime is 7:30 p.m.

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