The Lords of Altamont – “Lords Take Altamont” (Gearhead Records)
As if timed by fate, The Altamont Speedway Free Festival ended an era and arguably heralded the beginning of another darker chapter in popular culture, as well as a nation’s history. Held on Dec 6, 1969 it was intended to celebrate the counter cultural movement at the time, a triumph of the hippy era and a generation who had effectively ‘..turned on, tuned in, and dropped out..’ against ‘the man’. Already facing civil rights tensions, a growing anti war movement against America’s participation in the Vietnam War as well as general public disillusionment in the Nixon administration, all the seeds were in the air for a revolution. Against this backdrop came the bands of the era, all stoked up whether it was on anarchic energy, pills or both: The Rolling Stones, The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Santana, The Flying Burrito Brothers and Crosby, Stills and Nash. To thumb their noses still further at the authorities, as well as to offer final proof of this new utopia, the organizers asked the Hells Angels and not the police to be security for the event. Great in theory, as many Angels did indeed circulate in this alternate world, however, they too inhabited a world, one of their own with their own rules that placed them not in an egalitarian society but where they were at the top of a predatory food chain. As the love evaporated and the darkness took over with numerous beatings and finally a fatality – The Grateful Dead didn’t even get to play – it was all disturbingly captured in the 1970 film “Gimme Shelter”. Fast forward 40 years later and The Lords of Altamont are born, a California garage / psychedelic band that take inspiration from that time, be it in the music, biker films, image (complete with biker patches) and not to mention their name, which is in homage to the infamous event. Comprised of former members of The Bomboras, The Fuzztones and The Cramps, they’ve been around for 15 years or so and released 4 prior albums, not to mention getting a few Hells Angels coming to their shows. This time around they’ve decided to be different and in homage to their namesake festival, re-recorded 14 tracks from the bands that were billed on Altamont back in ’69. From Crosby, Stills and Nash’s ‘Black Queen’ to Jefferson Airplane’s ‘The Ballad Of You And Me And Pooneil’ to the Rolling Stones ‘Love In Vain’ and ‘Sympathy For The Devil’, Jake “The Preacher” Cavaliere sings it like he was on that tiny stage that fateful day alongside Keef but unlike Mick, perversely revels in the dark vibe that envelopes you as the raw, wailing guitars and Hog heavy rhythm stamp their jack booted leather authority over all the tracks. Peace n love? Fuck off man, this is about as tripped out and down n dirty as it gets – thank god these guys weren’t at Altamont, cos the body bags woulda been piled high. They’re about as much fun as getting a knuckle sandwich from ‘Chief’ Barger himself.