Artist: G.G. King
Title: Drug Zoo
Label: Rob's House Records
Release Date: August 2009
Release Number: RHR-054
Atlanta in the past year has seen the emergence of several good new bands featuring familiar faces, including G.G. King, as evidenced by their new “Drug Zoo” single.
The group features its namesake, Greg King, on guitar and vocals. King is probably best known as front man of The Carbonas, though he has performed with scads of other bands, including The Stolen Hearts, Frantic, Quadiliacha and even the legendary Neon Christ a time or two.
The band’s name is both King’s real initials and a nod to shock rocker G.G. Allin and Ramones bassist turned white rapper Dee Dee King. Apparently, King came up with the “Gentleman Jesse” name for longtime Carbona Jesse Smith’s popular powerpop group, and Smith in turn got to name King’s new band.
His current backing band is three former Carbonas: guitarist Clay Kibourne, bass player Chris Van Etten and drummer Will Greene. Past members of G.G. King, which debuted in the winter, include Mike Beavers of Predator, Ryan from The Bukkake Boys, James Joyce from Noot ‘d Noot and Judi Chicago and Adrian Barrera of The Barreracudas and The Hiss.
“Drug Zoo,” the band’s newest single from New York-based Rob’s House Records, features three cleaned-up versions of songs found on a demo cassette that’s been floating around for a few months.
The title track is two and a half minutes of mid-tempo punk rock with lyrics about junkies whose problems become a public spectacle. When Greg belts out “Oh no” before the short instrumental break, it kind of reminds me of The Troggs. There’s nothing wrong with that, though you would expect that more from one of Atlanta’s numerous garage revivalist acts and not one of its few punk bands.
“Witching Hour” starts the b-side and is a pop-influenced song with a punk rock edge. The muffled lyrics at the end sound like King is spelling something out, so I guess this is a cross between The Zero Boys and Bay City Rollers. Comparing an unofficial Carbonas side project to The Zero Boys seems too easy, but I’m going that route.
The other song on the flipside is a cover of “The Letter” by The Box Tops. You all know this one, as it’s that “give me a ticket for an aero-plane, ain’t got time to take a fast train” song that gets played on oldies radio stations.
The band has covered “The Letter” since their first shows, and over time it has gone from being a punk rock cover that almost comes across as a novelty song, like The Dickies used to do, to being a well-done nod to a classic.
An interesting note on this one is the Alex Chilton connection. Chilton was in The Box Tops, and he was also in Big Star, whose song “September Gurls” was covered by The Carbonas and, more famously, The Bangles.
Check out G.G. King. They along with The Stolen Hearts, Customers and Barreracudas are one of the best Atlanta bands to debut this year.