The Bootheels – 1988: The Original Demos
This is quite different since it’s all-American-Garage-inspired music in raw form. Closer to The Clash & The Jam than roots rock. But it has redeeming value for purists.
The band, out of LA were 4 young dudes who took this wasp-winged flight (some younger than 18 which was an issue for performing in bars) had a short tenure.
They had a quick ignite & an equally fast extinguish. But they were promising. They performed a distinctive rock & roll in 1988 with humorous songs, introspective rockers, all of which never got out of the starting gate. Maybe because that era had passed? Who knows.
Members of the band did go on to bigger things.
The CD is designed well, with engaging images, information, & nostalgia. “See It In Your Eyes,” & “Empty Wallet, Empty Bottle, Empty Heart,” are accessible for uninitiated ears. A good intro to the hard-edged punk mixed with 60s garage. Reminiscent of the obscure Ed Cobb flipside by The Standells (who hit with “Dirty Water”) on “Rari.” The raw vocal & aggression – a little piece of garage years rock before punk happened. This was recaptured by The Bootheels.
The release of 1988: The Original Demos (Drops Sept 24-Omnivore) showcases 13 demo cuts & 3 bonus songs from their 15-minutes in the sun. Comprised of producer/songwriter/bassist/frontman Luther Russell (later with The Freewheelers).
Guitarist Jakob Dylan (leader of The Wallflowers with the famous last name), Tobi Miller (future guitarist with The Wallflowers) & drummer Aaron A. Brooks (later with Moby, Lana del Rey & others).
The songs don’t sound too amateurish, there’s polish (“The Deal”). The band’s demise may have been glut. Glut in the music industry, & market over-saturation of a type of music. As raw & aggressive as the band sounds they do blur into the musical landscape since these kinds of pieces have been promoted heavily in years prior to The Bootheels.
As recorded, I don’t see many major labels rush to sign the band. But on the surface, the song titles all read interesting, potential rock hits, good subjects. I’m not sure what would’ve happened if a studio producer took over the reins. The possibility of losing the heart of the music would’ve been there. It would’ve been homogenized, pasteurized & gone from raw to intense pop-rock (read: The Standells, The Gentry’s, Electric Prunes, Status Quo) instead of the weighty brazenness of pure garage like The Stooges & MC5.
Unfortunately, The Bootheels faded like the mist on a bathroom mirror once the windows opened. But having access to these demos will put a smile on listeners who still enjoy that youthful brash artistic latitude that’s unleashed enthusiastically on a demo tape.
Produced in 1988 by Luther Russell the Omnivore release was produced by Luther & Grammy-winner Cheryl Pawelski. Image courtesy of Luther Russell. The 55-minute CD: available @