Shimmy Disc 1993. Shimmy 055
I first became aware of Kramer as one half of the hilarious/excellent Bongwater when I bought their debut Double Bummer. One day I may get round to ripping that. However his name crops up all over the place. He played bass for the Butthole Surfers for a while, and turned out a surprising amount of solo material. What I didn’t notice at the time was his production work on some of the most interesting US music from that period, including Galaxie 500’s albums and some of Low’s material. Perhaps though he’s best known for the label he ran, Shimmy Disc which seemed to be a home for all the insanely brilliant American bands back then who no-one else would touch.
Owning a label is key to understanding this release. It’s so self indulgent, so vast and so, well, nuts, that it could only ever have been self released. 36 tracks across 3 LPs or 2 CDs for a debut solo album eclipses even George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass, including as it did an LP of jam sessions. This is all proper songs! What’s most surprising is that he pulls it off. It veers in style from psychedelic rock referencing The Beatles to Led Zeppelinesque instrumentals. He’s also been listening to the 13th Floor Elevators, Syd Barrett, The Grateful Dead and well, most of what’s been worth listening to since the 60s. This is a guy who understands music intimately and really knows how to bring all these influences together into an insane rock opera. It is of course pretty unmanageable – a good one for a rainy day, but there’s surprisingly little filler here.