There are three rock & roll bands in the United States: Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Pere Ubu and Dead Moon. I know musicians who would give a kidney for the chord Fred Cole makes out of feedback at the end of "Poor Born," which is fortunate because the band may need a kidney some day. Fred Cole (guitar, vocals) and his wife Toody (bass, vocals) have been playing as Dead Moon for nearly 20 years now, self-releasing records on their Tombstone Records label in Clackamas, Oregon, where they live in Jeffersonian self-sufficiency. According to Unknown Passage,the fine 2004 documentary about the band (available on DVD from www.magicumbrella.com), Fred and Toody built the house they live in, generate their own electricity and create their own gear, some of which you can buy at their Tombstone Music store. Drummer Andrew Loomis has been along for most of Dead Moon's career, and the hard-living trio has become legendary in the Northwest and godlike in Europe, explaining such unlikely album titles as Live Mono—Hard Wired in Ljubljana.
The term "garage rock" has been corrupted, and I don't think it really applies to Dead Moon, anyway, since it implies unfortunate retro mannerisms and people trying to play their instruments like cavemen. No, what Dead Moon offers is psychedelic realism, variations on the great American theme of running like a dog on fire from creditors, the government, time and death. The band doesn't waste any time trying on haircuts and groping around for a connection to the source of rock & roll because it never leftthe source; Fred Cole hasn't stopped since he started playing with the Weeds and then the Lollipop Shoppe (see Nuggets, Vol. 1) in the '60s, and, yes, Dead Moon cuts its masters on the same lathe the Kingsmen used for "Louie, Louie." For anyone who likes rock music, this two-CD retrospective is one of the essential releases of the year. The next time Dead Moon comes through Southern California, go and you'll feel like you woke up on Treasure Island.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.