Richard Duguay's sonic magnificence evokes rock and roll's real spirit
Bad Juju – Richard Duguay (self released)
"My empire lay in ruins..."
"You don't know if you're lost or found.."
Oh, my stars and garters! Richard Duguay is amazing! I don't get around much, anymore, ya know, I'd seen some pictures of the dude online here and there where he looked like a distant relative of Andy McCoy and Willie Deville, but I'd never heard his music until very recently and I'm a diehard fan, already.
An ex-member of Canadian band Personality Crisis and now based in Los Angeles, Duguay makes exactly the kinda music my friends and I loved growing up, when I worked at a hick record store in the middle of a midwestern cornfield and our vintage turntables and ghetto blasters were always spinnin' Dogs D'Amour, the NY Dolls, Hanoi Rocks, Bowie, Iggy, Cooper, ancient Aerosmith, all that kinda stuff.
You never hear music like this, anymore-not the real shit-some kid bands here and there, maybe, but they kinda almost always lack the life experience to bring that much emotional authority or meaningful insight or creativity, some of 'em get the clothes right-they show up lookin' like the Joneses, but there's no bruised integrity, no real blues-they're usually singin' about how hard it is having a day job after being on the red carpet all night, just not much soul. One of 'em who opens for Poison is even a little grunge influenced, it just ain't real. Fauntleroy hedge-fund heirs. Gentrification hipsters.
Whenever I hear anybody who can play guitar like this, I instantly start thinking about how I'm gonna recruit them to play in my imaginary desert ghost town elderly goth band, at the end of the dirt road, right? He's got a genuine volatile realness, you can feel that playing, like with Jimmy James or Spencer P. Jones or Joey Pinter or Johnny Thunders. This guy's guitar tone, alone, just makes him a hot commodity, but then he sings, and the vocal is just nothin' but real rock ‘n’ roll grit and feeling, and organic soulful purity--he's my kinda rocker! Some of his stuff is dead funny like FYFW, other songs are creepy fun, and pained and introspective, sometimes even reminiscent of Tom Waits living in a room at the Tropicana - ya know what I mean? Reminds you of how good rock ‘n’ roll used to be!
I guess I ain't really made much peace with the Reaper, because over the holidays, my original record store guru-former roommate-opening act, and favorite record store co-worker died alone in a hicktown hospice and I've been in such a blue funk about it, I can't even really bring myself to attempt to write any lyrics about how much that geezer meant to me. Been my friend since I was about 12 and never used me, lied to me, or tried to commodify or monetize his history with me, he was just a rare soul, salt of the earth, not put here to fuck anybody over, or climb over you to get somewhere, you don't meet people in this society very often who ain't trying to win something, he was never part of that backstab culture. He taught me about old blues and punk rock when I was a kid, watched me make mistakes, never judged me. He's one of the people most responsible for cultivating my early music tastes and he would have loved the dramatic, theatrical, hooky, 70's influenced music of Richard Duguay.
Hard to say goodbye to the real righteous, sincere soul brothers, I hadn't even gotten over grieving the seven or eight other people who left this world this past couple of years, so I welcome good music, it has an energizing, revivifying and comforting effect on my damaged self whenever I hear authentic rock ‘n’ roll that has real guts and depth of feeling, and enough concept album cinema to enjoy it as an adult comic book, too, if you prefer-just watch any of the trailers or videos of his on YouTube, you will be another instant convert if you like my kinda rock ‘n’ roll!
Richard Duguay is a super groovy, ultra charming, explosive talent-you can tell he's lived the hard knocks life of a wild livin' transient minstrel, but he also has a great sense of humor and fun, which makes him right the fuck on, in my book. Anybody who plays guitar like that has my interest, but when you see the guy perform, he brings a lifetime of poignant heartbreak, and divebar coolness and larger than life stadium glam show-biz chutzpah! A fantastically charismatic entertainer who knows how to emote to the back of the room and makes eye contact with the forlorn faces at the edge of the crowd, as Electric Frankenstein once sang! I love that.
Truthfully, I usually think I'm a better frontman and songwriter than many of my former peers, I just never had money or people skills to properly do the hustle, but Richard is the kind of exceptional, formidable, standout, no bullshit, fully developed, full blast frontman, a natural born showman musician-songwriter-voice-and composer-all around renaissance man, I'm not even jealous at his fucking spectacular achievement-I am hats off, 100 percent happy for this significant triumph-not that many people make a record as good as "BAD JUJU", anymore! It's a successful full length album experience, makes you want some pills and old headphones!
The evil-carney sideshow barker miracle cure huckster, Richard Duguay has the best all around rock ‘n’ roll pipes I've heard in forever! Little bit of Alice, Tyla, Lemmy, Mindwarp, David Jo - that is what a true rock ’n’ roll voice should sound like-lived in, lived it, 'for real! I'm trying to think of any other modern day character with his kind of starpower and ability, and nobody's really coming to my mind. Like I said, the music has some old Cooper-Stooges-Bowie feel, it's a reckless joyride through the savage journey of the rock ‘n’ roll dream-other side of the mirror, psychedelic Alice in Garageland vibes on "The Rain" that reminded me of the Stones Majesties, the Cult, The Doors, and that under-rated ‘80s band, the Front! The stuff of real late night fun and coolness!
The production's right, and musically, the band performs as a very high level in my guttersnipe opinion. You gotta say, it's a masterpiece."Psychotic Garden" oughta make Alice envious. It's like visiting the haunted amusement park at night-real fun house, ya know? "Dr. Silver" might be Richard Duguay's wild west medicine show Sinestro alter ego-the moonshine bandido, it makes one think of that Circus Of Power song, "Dr. Potion", all the New Orleans voodoo stories my street musician friend Tattoo Mark from the French quarter used to tell us, and he's like a shamanic pirate dandy leading us into all kinds of wicked temptations!
"Firewalk Of Lies" is a gloriously aching ballad, the kind my ragged posse in the painted jeans and red cowboy boots used to try to write in the cemetery before the lost boys abandoned ship and joined the adultish world. If you like the Crybabys and the Cramps, you will love Ricard Duguay! Again with this exceptionally gorgeous, expert flamenco style lead guitar playing and real heartfelt vocal. I never liked rock critics and I've certainly got no constructive criticism to offer this unusually legitimate artist of the highest caliber-heck, I'll probably asking HIM for pointers, henceforth. He really knows what he's doing, and clearly grew up loving some of the same kind of Stones-Mott-MC5 stuff that I did.
Congratulations to everyone involved in the making of "Bad Juju", it is an important artistic triumph and living proof and an example that real rock ‘n’ roll records can still be made, even in the cold shadows of death plagues, cultural brainwash and sterility, divide and conquer consensus manufacturing, and dystopian police state fascism.
"The Last Star" is a seductively neon lit, high ride down some dangerously rain slick street of bombshell decadence and druggy sultriness, guitars snarling like Buxton and Bruce! Death car, last star, you get the picture. The singing is not probably for best-in-dogshow-dorks trained by Amerikkkan Idol to listen for the Broadway high note, it's not that kinda Kelly Clarkson and Clay Aikin fakeass over singing. Think Keith or Tyla, or Mindwarp. It's the sound of real rock ‘n’ roll that you so seldom hear these days! Fuck, it's greatness. This song has glints of that sinister cult band from the wrong side of Hollywood-Factory Superstars, and that farout group from Norway we all fell in love with, Silver!
"The graveyard savior's gone...." Those who know me can probably see how his vivid lyrics are hitting me hard. "The graveyard savior's gone...." Duguay totally has the magic power to reach into your haunted heart and forgotten dreams, and stir all that bad madness right back to life, there you are, looking at your tired eyes in the mirror, peeling off your false eyelashes, remembering all those crazy, futile, majestic highs and harrowing, torturous, punishing, traumatizing lows. It'll make you look at your unresolved inner conflict and urges and impulses and jumbled WTF memories of vomiting and stripper pasties, and derelict hotels, and broke-up bands and unfinished manuscripts. Here's one who finished his-and it's a beautiful thing to behold!
"There's a room at the top of the stairs" is ominous and foreboding with a darkly captivating harpy chorus of la la las, in the background. Kinda reminiscent of that animated super villain MOK in the old "Rock & Rule" cartoon with Lou Reed and Iggy and Blondie and Cheap Trick. He really knows how to do it, if you box-set and lunchbox owners wanna argue about it, pick up a big bottle on your way over to the black-lite ashram, but Alice Cooper probably only made maybe six records this good. "Scars & Stripes" summons up weird demons "from the inside"..
His song, "Critical....Darling" has more of this absolutely ace guitar playing that blows my mind and another elegantly belligerent vocal that hypnotically beckons you back to the acid swirly beat-bus. Fan-fuckingtastic stuff, I mean, really! "Days are long and life is cheap" makes me wanna drink hot rotgut vodka and weep at my own clown white reflection in the clown room mirror. You'll wanna buy two copies of "Bad Juju"-one for yourself, and the other for that one real gone last bandit in scarves and yesterday's eyeliner who you know and love.
"The Divine Decline" kinda says it all, doesn't it? All my old friends would love this if they were still alive! These are horrifying times for aging libertines like me-friends like Dave A and Paul K, heroes like the Beasts and Walter Lure and Dave Kusworth and Sylvain Sylvain, even places, even ideas, keep vanishing right before our eyes!
When I was a kid, I had some raggedy glam bands and my band house in the country was called Paradise Lost. Last I heard, the locals tore it down, replacing it first with a tanning salon, then a cell phone store, and a tanning bed place, and finally, the local chapter for a conservative organization called "Teens For Christ", the small-town evangelists and juvenile authorities really hated my tiny Cramps and Dead Boys-influenced rock brigades for corrupting their daughters with old records and Aqua Net so they must be very gratified and comforted that our little Midwestern subculture's ground zero landmarks are all being wiped away.
I talk a lot about how steadily, strategically our whole way of life has been under attack these past 25 years by the corporatist squares and tv believers, rule obeyers and script memorizers-the P.M.R.C. scolding committees came back with a vengeance-the uptight white polite temperance league, pay to play, nags and joiners and belongers and sports fans who put faith in empty etiquette gesturing and phony baloney politicians. I was sayin' it way before the rollout of the clampdown, lockdown, death plague, fake celebrity bourgeoise politics, bipartisan jackboots and made for tv events. I knew what was up when the Wall Street swells were kicking all the artists and bohemians out of urban bohemia, and outlawing protest music after 9/11, and when the monopolies were buying up all the indie magazines, radio stations, underground labels, and entertainment weeklies, killing real comedy, and thrusting false music, fabricated idols, false narratives, and lies upon everybody, against our will. Boy bands, lifestyle programming, exclusionary gentrification zones for yuppie assholes.
Now we got the killer cooties so we gotta hunker down inside our bunkers and own private world memories and try to be grateful for what we have, because the genocidal secret society techlord billionaires, and stormtrooping robocops don't wanna us congregating, sharing resources and information, looking each other in the eyes, ever again, no matter how many shots we get, it's all downhill from here, ya can feel the dread and hostility, animosity and pig-media induced paranoia, everywhere you go. Divided States Of Gitmo.
Most of the on edge anxiety and red versus blue resentment is intentionally programmed into us by talk radio and partisan identity hustlers to divide us, isolate us, make us feel helpless, alone. Funny thing is how the evil bipartisan, aspiring deities at the top of the tower are probably right to outlaw good music, sharing a bottle, dancing and kissing and holding hands, standing together against a bought off and corrupt establishment, because even one real rock ‘n’ roll song can still make you remember what life was like, when we were more fully alive and still had spaces to boogie, laugh, and get it on. "Paradise Is Gone" transports me right back to my own long-lost, scrappy Eden before the fall of all our once enchanted Mystery Cities into the hands of these one percent sadist Mister Burns billionaire scrooge fucks.
I don't know the guy personally, but from what this record tells me, Richard Dugay seems like a seething personification of fast drivin', truth knowin', Bukowski quotin', late night horror show host, divebar smoker-joker, no shit takin', highway travelin', blues mystic, rattlesnake motherfuckin' gypsy action man. One of the few and the proud last survivors. A refugee from another time.
"Way Back Home" is deeply sad and too true for my very bruised brain this evening-it's got depth and honesty-"all I dreamed about is lost" and features some of the most essential, emotive guitar playing you're likely to hear this year. Sonic magnificence and a weary voice of hard road experience and outlaw authenticity-it's funny how I said something about one of his aforementioned songs leadin' you into temptation....that was written BEFORE I checked out his website and found out that is the ACTUAL TITLE to one of his previous albums. Ha!
How did I never find out about this guy, until now? I clicked on that album cover on his website and found out he's got an older song called, "Fuck You, Fame Whore". I mean...! Right???! Holy shit! I love this guy! Heroic rock ‘n’ roll for the last days! Get it fast! FYFW! A 10 bottle buzz, set 'em up!