“The Big Country,” by the Raybeats

raybeats.jpgI put the Raybeats up there with the Fleshtones in terms of solid, high-energy acts from the early 80s that never really got their due. This track is from the Raybeats’ follow-up to the legendary Guitar Beat (which was re-released on a now hard-to-find CD in 97). “The Big Country” is a standout on It’s Only A Movie due to its more abstract, filmic approach– the rest of the tracks, in line with most of the Raybeats material is much more R&B/Surf-guitar oriented and up-tempo.

The band itself is comprised of some very important musicians who were highly influential, but seem to have flown mostly under the radar when it comes to their actual names. Jody Harris, one of the guitarmen in the group, teamed up with the late Robert Quine to record under their own names (more on that later), and also played with the Contortions, and eventually the Golden Palominos. Pat Irwin, also in the Contortions, has links to John Cage and William Burroughs, and eventually did some production for Love Tractor and ended up in the B52s. Check out more band history on their embryonic site.

The Raybeats, “The Big Country,” from the It’s Only a Movie LP on Shanachie (1983)

What I find remarkable about this track is that it sounds like it could have appeared on some of the late 90s Tortoise-crew records. This song actually comes to mind when I think of Tortoise’s TNT, and I can’t force myself to remember a note of music that actually appears on that.

Guitar Beat is a much more solid album, more in the party vibe than It’s Only A Movie. You should pick it up both if you see them. They’re strangely expensive online, but seem to pop up all the time in dollar bins.

Here’s a video of “Jack the Ripper,” also from It’s Only A Movie

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