Pussy Galore Legend Reborn

Classic albums from notorious N.Y. band fronted by Jon Spencer to be reissued.

Though his memories of those art-trash rock days are mostly good now, former Pussy

Galore singer/guitarist Jon Spencer wasn't sure what to expect when he sat

down to mix his old band's final live album.

But leave it to say, the recordings far exceeded his expectations.

"The show sounded a lot better to me than I remembered," said Spencer, who now leads Jon Spencer Blues Explosion through many a new musical frontier.

For a band that relatively few people witnessed in their prime, Spencer's

Pussy Galore developed quite an outrageous reputation in the late '80s. There was the New York group's reputation for half-art, half-trash Lower East Side noise; their famed cover of the Rolling Stones' Exile On Main Street in its entirety; and, of course, their super-slutty name (along with album titles such as Groovy Hate Fuck and Dial M for Motherfucker) back in the day before the Butthole Surfers charted in Billboard.

The fact that their members have gone on to form such better-known groups

as the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Royal Trux and Boss Hog has only added

to the Pussy Galore legend.

Come 1998, it'll be like the band never left.

The first two months of the year will not only see the reissue of Dial M for Motherfucker (1989), Sugarshit Sharp (1988) and Right Now! (1987) on Matador records, but also the first-ever release of the final live show in Pussy Galore's career.

You might say it'll be Pussy Galore galore.

Live In the Red (working title: Mutiny on the Bowery), the

album that documents PG's last show at New York's CBGB's club, is "probably

the most rock 'n' roll album the band has ever done," according to Larry

Hardy, owner of In The Red Records, which is releasing the disc. "The

whole thing's pretty full of mayhem. And that's what struck me when I saw

them live: they were a bit more of a straight-forward rock 'n' roll band,

whereas on album they came across as more psycho and fucked-up."

Recorded in August 1989 after the departure of founding member Julie Cafritz, the album features the fractured lineup of Bob Bert (ex-Sonic Youth) on drums and Spencer, Neil Hagerty (future Royal Trux) and Kurt Wolf (future Boss Hog)

on guitars.

"It's a lot of stuff off of Dial M, but I think it's so much better than Dial M," the 32-year-old Spencer said. "It rocks. We just -- bam! bam! bam! -- it's a really good show. At the end of the show Neil Hagerty smashed his guitar. It's at the very end of 'All Right,' there's a thud and a 'krang!' and that's Neil smashing his guitar."

Although Live In the Red is likely to please Pussy Galore's old

fans, it remains to be seen whether kids raised on the more slick Blues

Explosion will appreciate the sonic harshness of their predecessors. "I've

met a lot of young kids who thought that the last Blues Explosion album

(1996's Now I Got Worry) was a bit too gnarly and raw and weird,"

Hardy said.

At least some of the energy behind Live In the Red can be attributed

to turmoil within the band, which was beginning to break up even as Dial

M for Motherfucker was being recorded.

Although Spencer later regrouped with Bert and Hagerty for 1990's Historia de la Musica Rock, the singer said the group was already beyond repair when they played their last gig.

"Dial M was very much the end of it," Spencer said. "I felt at the time I was making that record that that was the end of the band, and in some ways, that's what the record is about. Julie Cafritz left the band, and when we played that show at CBGBs, it was like, 'OK, this is the last show.' It wasn't like making a big deal out of it or advertising it, but it was understood among us."

Spencer combed through the band's old studio tapes in search of additional material to include with the Matador reissues, he said, but added that the hunt

turned up no unreleased songs or radical reworkings.

Die-hard fans shouldn't hold their breath, he said, for a re-release of Exile on Main Street, which was originally available only as a rare cassette. "Pussy Galore was a pretty cool group," Spencer added, "but it's not like we're Robert Johnson or something, where everything needs to come out." [Wed., Nov. 5, 1997, 9:00 a.m. PST]