- by Kevin Orton Rating:10 Release Date:2001-11-30 Label: Diesel Motor Records
When it comes to underrated, long lost cult classics, one would be hard pressed not to include Jeremy’s Gluck’s, I Knew Buffalo Bill. As a Rock journalist, writer and artist, Gluck is known to some. However, others may fondly recall his formidable Surf Rock band, The Barracudas.
The backstory is simple enough. For years Gluck and his pal, Nikki Sudden planned to collaborate. In the Autumn of 1986, Gluck got a call from Nikki who was recording at Woodworm Studio (owned by Fairport Convention’s Dave Pegg). With Nikki was his brother, Epic Soundtracks and former Birthday Party guitarist, Rowland S. Howard. If recording with Sudden, Epic and Howard isn’t Indie supergroup enough for you, they would also be joined by Gun Club’s Jeffery Lee Pierce. Add to the mix Gluck’s poetic lyrics and raw, unaffected vocals and the result is a one of a kind Folk Punk hybrid. An album where the Paisley Underground meets the Australian Outback via Merry Ol’ England. Its songs, positively bursting with all the passion found in Arthur Rimbaud’s A Season In Hell. An album that came and went with little fanfare and scant notice. Despite, I Knew Buffalo Bill has deservedly built up a cult following over the years and fans of any of its conspirators will find they’ve hit the motherlode.
The album begins with ‘Looking For A Place To Fall.’ A song that takes a flying leap without a safety net. “The rain outside my window has been used a thousand times before…just looking for a place to fall.” Doomy guitar, Garage Rock drums and yearning melody---if this first track doesn’t slap you across the face with ‘lost classic’, I don’t know what will. ‘Too Long’ follows, a simply gorgeous ballad that would have been all too at home on a Jacobites record (Sudden's former band). Same can be said for the delicate, acoustic likes of ‘Gone Free’.
The brooding, ‘Time Undone’ features Rowland S. Howard’s ominous, signature guitar and ‘Gallery Wharf’ has since gone on to become a bit of a Nikki Sudden classic. Gluck’s morning after rendition is unforgettable, however. His burn close vocals lending the song a raw edge. Without a doubt one of Buffalo Bill’'s standouts. One of many. Another more driving cut, ‘Burning Skulls’, would later be covered memorably by Howard.
Personal favorites of mine include the drunken, ‘Sorrow Drive’. A slide guitar driven affair that manages to satirize tear in your beer Country, while simultaneously being devastatingly heartfelt. “Who gets his loving out of a brown paper bag,” Gluck laments, “Sorrow Drive, I’m living but I ain’t alive”. Even more woozy and boozy is the warped, ‘Episode In A Town’ with the catchy refrain, “drink that bottle down”.
Elsewhere, the pulsing blast of ‘The Proving Trail’ go to show Buffalo Bill is far from a maudlin affair. Along with ‘Burning Skulls Rise’, its one of several selections that cut through the album's grey skies with a blazing, emotional saber.
Another major standout can be found in the unabashed cowboy ballad, ‘They’re Hanging Me Tonight’. It’s the kind of song the Everly Bros or Marty Robbins might cut in their heyday. Yet any pastiche is offset by Gluck’s passionate, angst ridden delivery. The same is also true of the stellar, ‘Prayer Of A Gunman’. Less successful might be the gimmicky trucker novelty of ‘Sixteen Wheels’ but that’s not saying its devoid of charm. Buffalo Bill concludes with the sneering, ‘Anyone Feel Lucky’ a song that is as ragged and jaded as anything off Alex Chilton’s, Like Flies On Sherbet. And for a cherry on top, there’s a demented stab at the Dylan’s, ‘Girl From The North Country’ to send you off to bed.
If parts of Buffalo Bill sound off the cuff, that’s the price one pays for spontaneity. And its that spontaneity that makes this long player sound so fresh and vibrant. Production wise, it has just the right touch of DIY flair without ever sliding into lo-fi territory. Vocally and lyrically, Gluck is a raw nerve. And despite any bleak moments, there's a survivor’s instinct at play and innate optimism that keeps its chin up as the rain, tears and dead leaves fall. An album that begins the morning after a dark night of the soul. Gluck and company, contending with the rough and rocky consequences.
Any fan of the Gun Club, Nikki Sudden or Rowland S. Howard will find this gem essential. The same goes for devotees of Gluck's band, The Barracudas. And if you've never heard of any of them, I Knew Buffalo Bill could serve as your gateway drug. In terms of long, lost classics---this is the genuine article.
Love this album! Picked it up a few years back simply because of Rowland S Howard. Great to see it getting some attention!
I’ve been meaning to get this for some time, but it’s expensive and rare. Perhaps I’ll go after a download.