Hey 21st century rocker,
We laid your mother in the back of the club and if you don't watch it, we'll ball you too in a New York instant.
Yeah, it's your world now: Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Doo Rag, the Gories, the Gibson Brothers, Fat Possum Records and Rooster Blues, the Flat Duo Jets, Southern Culture on the Skids. Sure they rock. They all rock. And when they were rocking in their mamas' arms (about nine months after we balled'em), Tav Falco and his Unapproachable Panther Burns were shaking all over. These were wreckabilly, juntabilly, psychotropic evenings long before such genres were termed, when the difference between the Panther Burns and Charlie Feathers was mostly age and a few notches on the volume knob of a Vibroverb amp. Okay, and Charlie knew how to play.
Tav on the band's end of the '70s noise rock origins: "Here was an art form I could participate in by just picking up the instrument, like a Kodak Instamatic camera. It was the feeling and aesthetic that mattered, more than musicianship or virtuosity. I didn't feel hindered by my lack of conventional guitar knowledge. I just went into it full tilt."
Before applying his vision to the guitar, Tav Falco was a filmmaker and documentarian. He amassed knowledge of regal Memphis area musical greats and championed their work even before he could replicate it. (He has since gotten down with Jim Jarmusch and collaborated filmicly with Kenneth Anger, and had roles in several films, including "Great Balls of Fire" and "Highway 61." His movie appearance in the current retro-release of "Downtown 81", featuring Jan Michel Basquiat, resulted from the Panther Burns' movements on the East Village No Wave art scene in the 1980s.) Among the talent whom Tav Falco and his Panther Burns have brought to greater renown: R. L. Burnside had yet to record an album when Panther Burns began covering his songs. (Tav's 1974 footage of R. L.'s juke joint is a compelling document of a world that is slipping away.) Charlie Feathers hadn't gigged in years when Panther Burns made him a regular guest on their stage. The great rockabilly songs of Cordell Jackson ("Dateless Night," "She's The One That's Got It") found a new audience and the guitarist herself has enjoyed a second career since the Panther Burns turned the spotlight toward her. The Sir Mack Rice omnibus had receded to a couple hits before the Panther
Burns revived his more outre tracks: "Tina The Go Go Queen" and "Ditch Diggin'" among others. Long before master musician Othar Turner and his Rising Star Fife and Drum Band were known to the world, the Panther Burns enlisted their talents on the band's first LP (1980's Behind the Magnolia Curtain). In the lean years of the early 1980s, the Panther Burns brought regular work to Alex Chilton and Jim Dickinson, both of whom played with and produced the band.
Tav: "The Panther Burns are the missing link between the earlier forms of swamp blues' unbridled howl and the psychological onslaught of the new millennium. We are, essentially, the ditch diggers in American music."
Named after a legendary plantation located still off 61 Highway in the lower Delta, the Panther Burns began their art actions around 1979 in a Memphis cotton loft, grew through the 1990s to a home in Vienna (and in Paris where their tango performance attracted international notoriety), and with this brilliant Panther Phobia have returned to the mythic Memphis garage of their origins. Recorded and mixed in Memphis, Tennessee, by Msrs. Jeffrey Evans (former Gibson Brother and the talent behind the '68 Comeback) and Doug Easley (producer and host to the stars at his studio, Easley Recording (901-323-5407)), Panther Phobia heralds a return to the tumultuous and exuberant tones and groans of the Panther Burns's landmark Behind The Magnolia Curtain. The music is organic, like a landlord's eviction squad. Drums pound like irate neighbors at the door. Slow songs snake like a chick passing out on 'ludes. You will lock your doors when you hear this record, you will bar your windows. Blood will flow from your nose, your lungs will itch. You will get a divorce, a speeding ticket, eleven twenty nine in the workhouse.
Tav: "You may have heard of the comedia del'arte, the peripatetic theater troupe of the 15th century, well the more rustic American version is the Panther Burns' staging of what we term antler del'arte. In other words, Panther Burns are the last steam engine train on the track that don't do nothing but run and blow."
We really appreciate the dogshit out of it.