Artist: Bobby Ubangi
Title: Inside the Mind of Bobby Ubangi
Label: Rob's House Records
Release date: Summer 2009
Release number: RHR-053
Atlanta punk scene mainstay Bobby Ubangi released a solo LP of two-minute garage-pop classics on Rob’s House Records this summer with help from some longtime friends shortly before losing his lengthy battle with terminal lung cancer.
Ubangi, 34, was diagnosed in August 2008 with cancer. At the time, he was not expected to live past Christmas, but he defied the odds until July 1, 2009. He is best known to local music fans as the former guitarist of Atlanta-based punk bands The Carbonas, Lids, and Gaye Blades.
Between the diagnosis and his death, Ubangi recorded and released on local labels three singles and an LP, partly to help cover his doctor bills and other expenses as he was no longer healthy enough to hold a job.
The final productive months of Ubangi’s recording career are remarkable when you consider the lack of official releases by his earlier bands. In the eight years prior to his diagnosis, Ubangi played on a Lids single and LP and two Gaye Blades singles. When touring and partying were out of the question and music provided of the few escapes from a painful and fleeting life, Ubangi doubled his musical output.
Ubangi’s solo LP, Inside The Mind of Bobby Ubangi, features the three-chord guitar playing and simple yet catchy hooks that brought The Lids some notoriety in the garage-punk world and guest appearances by some of his most famous friends.
The opening track, “Another Girl Like You,” was originally released as a single on Atlanta’s Douchemaster Records and is a near perfect two-minute pop song which is about a girl who apparently was too much for Ubangi to handle.
Another insanely catchy cut is “Make You Mine,” which features Steven Hutton of The Customers on lead guitar and Mike Beavers of Predator and G.G. King on drums.
“Dry” features Gentleman Jesse Smith, another former Carbona, on lead guitar, and I would like to believe Ubangi was pretending he was a cowboy when he penned its lyrics.
Other guest appearances include Cole Alexander and Jared Swilley from The Black Lips on “Some Kind of Love,” Gentleman Jesse bassist Warren Bailey on “That’s Alright” and the incomparable King Khan on “Spacesh*t.”
Ubangi chips in with more than just great lyrics, nasally and very Southern vocals and simplistic guitar playing. He plays organ on “Where the Old Folks Go (To Get Down),” which borders on sounding like Southern rock, and he shakes a mean tambourine on several tracks, including the memorable “Busty Summertime.”
The album was recorded in Womack’s Atlanta home, lovingly known as Nuts! Studio, as he reached a point that he did not get out much because of his condition.
Ubangi’s bravery in surviving longer than his doctors expected and his friends’ willingness to put on “Bobby Ubangi Preservation Society” benefit concerts once he was unable to work showed unity in a scene some want to portray as divided.
In fact, a benefit for Ubangi was held July 1 moments after he passed, though some local musicians found it impossible to perform after the passing of a longtime friend. Proceeds from that night and a July 4 concert and all-day carnival in East Atlanta headlined by The Carbonas went toward Ubangi’s burial fund.
If you like simple, Ramones-inspired punk and garage rock, check out this LP. Though only 600 copies were pressed, it is still available through Rob’s House Records, www.robshouse.com.