Imagine, if you will, a small house in Eugene, Oregon in 1973 situated next to railroad tracks on which massive engines shred the night air with ear-splitting blasts as they rumble past, usually every half hour or so, shifting cargoe from one dock to another, shaking dust from cracks broadening with each assault. Inside, between thunderous advances and retreats, a young man, hair approaching the shoulders, exhausted and frustrated, pounds viciously on keys of a Sears portable typewriter, headphones glued to the head and plugged into a classic stereo component system (Check it out! Dual turntable, Sansui amp with two huge five-way speakers, man!) received of late from a clearance house headquartered in Guam. It is maybe 3 A.M. and the doors are open as a mild breeze fences with the oven-like, stifling atmosphere fighting exile from the safety of the enclosure. For a week the young man has wrestled with the typewriter and at this very moment realizes that the very future of rock music as he knows it is at stake, that he is no less than a messenger on a battlefield and that the message must be delivered. In a blind fury, he types from within, neither reading nor comprehending the words as they appear on the crisp white sheet of paper, brother to so many fallen before and now laying in crumpled wads on the dusty floor. In a few short minutes he finishes and, ripping the sheet from the carriage, hastily folds it into an envelope and, after securing a stamp to a corner, wings it to a post office drop box some two blocks distant for deposit. Maybe four hours hence, he awakens from an exhaustion-induced sleep and realizes that he has little recollection of what was typed on that sheet. No matter. What matters is that it is done.
Such was my first published music review conceived. I sent another shortly
thereafter, a short rundown of Magma 's "Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh"
and they appeared side by side in Fusion magazine out of Boston. I would
give you the date, but I have no idea. All I ever saw was a xerox copy sent to
me by the good people at Ardent Records and no date was evident. I reprint it
here with apologies to Fusion and its editor, Barry Glovsky, whom I
unsuccessfully attempted to contact for permission. The subject of the review
was an album recorded by a little known band called Cargoe whose one
studio album, excellent as it was, suffered the fate of music hell. Here it is:
Okay, I've had it. I've laid back long enough while the industry and the
"listening public" have run roughshod over my music. Truthfully, I have serious
doubts as to whether the "listening public" can hear, let alone listen. And as
for industry, it's a known fact that its incredible lack of sincerity is
excelled only by its tremendous lust for the buck.
Let's face it. There has to be a cutting-off point. I reached mine long ago
and found various paths down which the flies are minimal and the shit isn't
waste-deep. These paths don't involve the Stones or Tull or any top-name
artists. They are, I guess you could say, a musical twilight zone, a place where
you can escape the "reality" of today's music. No superstars exist there and
each individual listener picks his or her music with having his or her head
dented by the populace. To most, judging by taste, the change would not be
especially welcome. But for those of you who don't bite bubbles in the bathtub,
here's a blast: Cargoe .
A few years ago, these four dudes boogied into Memphis with what they thought
could put them on top. After an initial disappointment with a local studio, they
signed with Ardent Records and, with wizard Terry Manning at the control board,
produced what turned out to be their only album. It was released but enjoyed an
extremely short life, due mainly to the temporary reorganization of the
distribution system. By the time the dust cleared, Cargoe was dead. The final
result: no group, no reissue, and one excellent album which is becoming
extremely hard to find.
The album itself is pure genius. The unique sound, the musical excitement,
the superb musicianship, everything. The album of the decade. No, century!!!
Hell, I can struggle with words all I want, but I could never get the feeling
across. You have to hear it to appreciate it. I guess I can say this much:
Cargoe is like no other album you've heard. No, they're not weird. They play
rock music. but with an excitement that's been missing since the first
No doubt, most of you spineless, tin-eared clods will stay with what you
have, kissing Bowie's album covers or practicing infantile withdrawals while
gulping down a bowl of Goatshead Soup. I leave you to wallow in your
tastelessness. Those of you who could use a breath of fresh air can follow this
path. I guarantee it. Finding this album may take a little doing. Copies do
exist, most relegated to cut-out bins and used record stores. Give it an honest
try and if you come up empty-handed, write to Terry Manning c/o Ardent Records,
2000 Madison Avenue, Memphis 38104. Who knows? If enough interest is shown, it
could trigger reissue proceedings. And with the stuff the industry is wasting
their vinyl on these days, it would be a blessing.
Thus began my journey from music lover to music critic and now, to music
crusader. That album has recently surfaced on CD, thanks to an unknown soul at
Japan's JVC who shares my belief that good music, lost and apparently drowned,
can and should always surface from the music industry's Davy Jones' Locker.
Terry Manning, who produced the album, shortly thereafter pulled a 1972 live
radio broadcast from the depths and Cargoe , gone these thirty-plus
years, is revived! Or at least their music. Let's just call it Neptune's gift to
Return to Home Page
More musical musings:
Scott Boyer/Talks about the Capricorn Rhythm Section
Christian Rock/The Early Years
Gabrielle Gewirtz/New York's Hidden Musical Treasure
Audrey Martell/Pop Like It Should Be!
Notary Sojac/Legendary Pacific Northwest Rockers
Bill Pillmore/Return of the Cowboy
Jess Pillmore/Revealed: Folktronica Plus...
Steve Young/Rock Salt & Nails
WFMU Terry Manning/Cargoe Interview