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Jeffrey Frederick

Clamtones B.C.

Steve Weber

The Holy Modal Rounders B.C.

Review by Ed Ward

No Depression July / August 2006

IN THE MESSY history of the Holy Modal
Rounders, it came to pass that there was,
at one juncture, a division into east coast
and west coast Rounders, a separation
caused mostly by Steve Weber's decision
to head west. When a west coast performance
happened, much of the band was Jeffrey
Frederick's Clamtones, who also performed
to great acclaim from their Oregon base
under their own name. The gleaming gem
in the discography of this schism is the
amazing Have Moicy! on Rounder, which is
credited to Michael Hurley, the Unholy
Modal Rounders, and Jeffrey Frederic &
the Clamtones.

If you are confused (not least by the
fact that Rounder Records spells Jeffrey's
surname with an s and his widow Kathryn,
who has released the records under discus-
sion, doesn't), you're in the right mood to
appreciate the music on these three discs
(Clamtones B.C. is a two disc set), which
were recorded, not Before Christ, but in
British Columbia on June 4, 1976. They
were I am told, part of the same perfor-
mance, Weber coming up to do the middle
set with the Clamtones sans Frederick and
harmony vocalist, Jill Gross.

Neither of these discs is going to
change history, but the plunge into Fred-
erick's catalogue is fun, with previously
obscure songs such as "Honolulu" and
"Griselda" alongside classics such as "Sweet
Lucy" and "What Made My Hamburger Disappear",
as well as a few Michael Hurley songs.

If only the band were better, no folk-
rock band is ever enhanced, in my opinion,
by a sax/flute/piccolo player, and yes I'm
talking to you Teddy Deane.

I don't recommend the Weber disc. It's
a sloppy set, with Weber sleepwalking
through some Rounders classics. Its only
surprising moment is when he announces,
"This is a song about a drug I don't like,"
and in the few seconds before the band
starts playing, you can almost hear the
audience wondering what on earth it could
be. Ipecac? Nope, it's "Cocaine Blues", the
ragtimey one with the magical line, "Come,
Doctor, ring the bell, there's a woman in the
alley," which Weber somehow sucks the life
out of.

The performances were recorded by a
radio station for live broadcast, and the
sound is pretty good. The Frederick set
might have been edited down to a single
disc with good effect -- I don't think I need
to hear "Penile Malfunction" or "Paraple-
gic Waltz" again-but it's a good way to
hear an underdocumented songwriting
wildman. They don't seem to make 'em like
that anymore, which is a mixed blessing.