One of the great (and lesser known) musical travesties is that The Gories — the best bass-less garage band to ever come out of Detroit and maybe anywhere — have been critically buried by a clownish, image-obsessed, meticulously-managed duo who mainly sound like a neutered Led Zeppelin. They also eschew the bass-guitar and have a girl drummer. I will not name them, but you must know which gruesome twosome I speak of.
Detroit is obviously known for its numerous bands and musical groups, but rock and roll-wise, I’d rather it be for The Gories, The Stooges, Nick and the Jaguars, Ted Nugent, Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, the MC 5, or even Bob Seger for crying out loud; just not that other band. The Gories formed in 1986 — a trio of obscure motor-city trash rockers that included guitarists Mick Collins, Dan Kroha, and drummer Margaret Ann (Peggy) O’Neill. They had done time in local acts such as, “the Wire-inspired” yet Jesus and Mary Chain-named, Floor Tasters, the U-Boats, the On-Set, and Darkest Hours.
Armed with Fender guitars, Vox amps, a fuxx-box and a stripped down drum-kit, The Gories were armed to the teeth and prepared to churn out some of the most filthy, fuzzy, immediate, and effecting garage-punk to ever be spewed from a speaker since… well, since Ike Turner’s amp fell from a moving car, or when Link Wray or Dave Davies slashed their amps, depending on which apocryphal story you choose to believe.
After a slew of singles and one beautifully realized yet chaotic album, The Gories went to Memphis, Tennessee in 1990 to record an album at Easley Recording. The man they enlisted to helm the record was none other than Alex Chilton, formerly of the Boxtops, Big Star, and Tav Falco’s Panther Burns — an avowed rock deconstructionist who had produced the Cramps psychobilly classic, Songs the Lord Taught us.
Though I have become recently wary of superlatives, I Know You Fine But How You Doin’ is close to perfect and should be legitimately placed above all other revivalist garage records. Another minor travesty is that the people at Rhino had the stones to put out The Children of Nuggets box and ignore the Gories. In the land of the garage revisionists — The Gories are king.
I Know You Fine opens with a lyrically poetic and antiquated sounding DJ’s shout-out from days passed: "This here’s the Gories from Detroit; hot of the press. It’s gonna jump on you baby and it’s gonna stay in your dress. Here it comes!" And then the first song, “Hey Hey, We’re the Gories,” scratches along, playfully aping, you guessed it, The Monkees. The slightly lascivious “You Make it Move” follows, buoyed by a fuzzy, livewire guitar line and the primal, repetitive thud of what sounds like a disabused oil drum.