Saturday, March 31, 2012

Rokker - Rock Fever

A1. Rock Fever

A2. Daddy! Whatcha Doin' To My Sister

A3. Tall Girls

B2. Flames Across The Sky

B3. Who's A Punk? Your Mother!

B5. Pigeon Hole Wankers

ROKKER (Austin, TX)
Rock Fever LP
Owl (911-74), 1979

Born in Small Town USA, the Jolly Rokkers were a four-piece group that played sped up renditions of 50's rock n roll standards through loud amplifiers. In 1977 they rearranged the line-up and changed their name to Slammer. Playing wherever they could pick up gigs around their hometown of Nampa, ID, they eventually booked a cross-country tour which brought them out to New Mexico and across Texas to Louisiana where they ran out of money.

They ended up settling in Austin where a thriving punk scene was in full swing. The band, which then consisted of Johnny Rokker on guitar and vocals, Lil Christine on vocals and harmonica, Zach Smith on bass/vocals and Davey Andrews on drums, again took on a new identity, this time calling themselves simply Rokker. They were spontaneous and rarely ever rehearsed. They booked as many clubs as they could but often got thrown out after their first set.

In 1979 they were ready to record a full length album. But none of the studios in Austin would work with them, so they found a place in San Antonio that let them lay down the tracks live to tape. It was all done in a single take with the songs being recorded one after another. Afterward, the engineer broke the songs up and played them over the studio speakers. Satisfied with what they heard, they yelled "Fuck the wankers!" and darted home to get drunk.

The album is a ripper to say the least, featuring upbeat rockers like "Tall Girls" and their stellar anthem, "Rock Fever." Vocals bring to mind Danzig on the ballad-like "Flames Across The Sky" and Richard Hell on the chorus of "Pigeon Hole Wankers." It was released on the band's own Owl Records in an edition of 1,000 copies and evidently sold out very quickly besides a small, now-dwindled band member stash.

After the record came out, Zach left the band and moved out to California. Keith Ayres, who had been in the original Jolly Rokkers and Slammer line-ups came out to Austin to fill in. Later on, Davey left as well, so their manager Frank Stewart (who had also designed their album cover) jumped on the drums and started banging.

By the early 80s the Austin music scene was changing and punk rock was being replaced by country roots and blues bands. Rokker played their final gig at the Gaslight in 1981.

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