For former Velvet Underground drummer Maureen "Moe" Tucker, the chance to
sing some of the most classic girl-group songs of ol' was more than just a new
It was an opportunity to relive her youth.
"Of all those girl-group songs I loved," she said recently by
phone from her home in Douglas, Ga., "these are ones I thought I could
hopefully sing halfway decently."
Tucker added that recording the songs on
her new four-song EP undoubtedly transported her back to the days when Phil
Spector's Wall of Sound ruled the airwaves. "When I was singing 'Da Doo Ron
Ron,' I felt like I was 19 years old, in the car with the window down."
Fans familiar with Tucker's brilliant 1991 recording of the Crystals' "Then
He Kissed Me" know that the former Velvet Underground drummer was tuned
more than Bo Diddley while she was growing up. Now she's indulging those
fans' (and her own) wishes for more vintage material with the EP of classic
'60s girl-group material.
Tucker -- who was 18 when the Crystals' made "Then He Kissed Me" a top-10
hit in 1963 -- said she had set her mind on making a girl-group record several
years back but only recently found funding for the project. Besides the
Crystals' "Da Doo Ron Ron" and "Then He Kissed Me," the new EP features her
takes on the Ronettes' "Be My Baby" and the Teddy Bears' "To Know Him Is to
Joining Tucker in the studio were John Sluggett, her drummer as a solo artist
and the guitarist for Half Japanese, and Matt Kohut, the bassist for Ween and
an Atlanta band called the Changelings. They worked on the EP for four days in
September, during which it also managed to capture new versions of VU's "I'm Sticking With You" and "After Hours."
"When we went in the studio, I had no intention of trying to duplicate the
girl-group originals," Tucker said. "So we started off with 'Be My Baby,' and
I sat down with the guitar, and after like four measures, we looked at each
other and said, 'Uh-oh, this isn't gonna work.' They're just not guitar
songs. It's amazing. So we said, to hell with it, let's just do it over
again. We built them up, listened close to the originals. We didn't copy them
completely because you can't tell what's going on there, but we tried to get
that big sound."
Tucker plans to release both the girl-group EP and the VU cover single on her
own, as-yet-unnamed record label. She'll have both records available
through her mail-order address by the end of the month.
In addition to creating these releases, the drummer-cum-guitarist also found
time in recent months to work on a children's recording as well as an album
by New York eccentrics Vegetarian Meat.
Tucker described the children's record, Not Dogs...Too Simple (A Tale of
Two Kitties), on Casino Records, as "a Disney movie on record.... There's a narrator, and, of course, the characters burst into song here and there. I'm one of the lead cats, Louise." Not Dogs...Too Simple is slated for a February 1998 release and comes complete with an illustrated storybook.
Meanwhile, Tucker not only produced the upcoming Vegetarian Meat album but
also played drums on it, making the record her second return to the
instrument this year (she first beat the skins on the Magnet album Don't Be a
Penguin). "It's very Jad Fair-ish as far as lyrics," she said of Veg Meat.
"Good music, energetic singing."
The only drawback to Tucker's busy schedule, she said, is that she hasn't had
time to begin working on a new album of original material. "I haven't had
time for six months to concentrate on my own stuff," she said. "I guess in
January I'll start thinking about touring and getting going."
Contact Moe Tucker at P. O. Box 2357, Douglas, GA 31534.
[Wed., Nov. 12, 1997, 9:00 a.m. PST]