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NOT MOLD AWAY: Metz

southern music vinyl

25 Hour Party People:

Texas Psychedelia

Long before flowered-up morons in track suits and fishing hats were declaring a Second Summer of Love in Northern accents so coarse and indecipherable that one wondered if they were speaking with marbles in their mouths or were simply afflicted by some unfortunate preexisting condition, the fuel that kept their smiley-face Hacienda nights pumping—Ecstasy—already had a history much older than its current crop of casual, scally users.

Before it was “Ecstasy,” it was “Adam,” and the drug found its first home not in the trendy nightclubs and discos of London or Los Angeles, New York or even Manchester, but in the seedy underground and gay-bar circuits of Dallas and Houston, Texas. And unlike MDMA’s latter-day influences, which produced music wholly execrable and as embarrassing today as an old yearbook photo, the seeds Adam sewed in the mid-’70s Texas soil blossomed and bore very good (if scarce) fruit.

Like a psychedelic century flower, there exists less than three known pieces of intact vinyl evidence to corroborate the entire existence of the mythical Houston band, Metz. Not baseball fans, as far as we can tell—what Metz were obvious boosters for, though, was imbibing and partying…hard. The sound of Metz’s only album resembles the C.I.A.’s MKUltra experiments, only instead of testing Army recruits with doses of LSD, they’re spiking the Southern rock Capricorn Records roster with shots of MDMA, giving them instruments and recording the results. Imagine The Allman Brothers in drag, or The New York Dolls if they were actually gay, backed by a chorus line of sweet and soulful pre-snip “sisters,” playing anthems that swirl endlessly in an eddy of guitars, organs and keys, coming-to the next morning in the much-too-muscular arms of someone you certainly don’t recognize. Metz give Slade a run for their money in the creative spelling department (select song titles include “On An On An On” and Your What Ah Need”), and, while there is a definite glam-rock style that pervades the entirety of the LP, it’s far too trippy, messy, and American to have ever appealed to the Marc Bolan/David Bowie teen bisexual demographic. This is real degeneracy; not air-kissing and play-acting to the bedroom mirror while mommy’s out shopping.

More than anything else, it’s an infectious and raucous head-scratcher. That a band like Metz existed at all stands as a miracle in the face of Mendelian inheritance; a miracle made even more inexplicable given the locale in which Metz briefly flowered, where the sheer number of Camaros and feet shod in cowboy boots would seem to preclude any departure from or swift destruction to all “others” existing outside the norms of the uber-macho. And perhaps that’s what happened. Indeed, the first copy of the record ever unearthed was found broken in half and super-glued back together by a pair of intrepid record diggers unsure of what they’d found. A 45 from later in the decade credited to a Texas band also named Metz is known to exist; however, if it’s the same group, it bears little trace of their early tribal experimentation. Maybe it was just a phase after all.

A known head and eloquent elder statesman of the underground music scene, whose early role in the Metz saga as ill-starred protagonist, eulogized the feel of the album perfectly: Sleazy street-wise Texas white boy trips in the ghetto and has Rocky Horror hallucinations.” Now, wouldn’t a declaration like that have you reaching for your wallet ready to invest?

Well, now you can.

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