Monday, August 18, 2008
Nervous Norvus - Stoneage Woo
Here's a record that I found on my trip to California, "Stoneage Woo" by Nervous Norvus. I mentioned in an earlier post that I had the chance to check out a bunch of thrift and antique stores while out west. One antique store had a bunch of 45's, including several that I wanted. I negotiated a price of two bucks each with the proprietor. As it turns out, this was probably the biggest bargain of the bunch, as it's both a great record and also pretty tough to find.
Nervous Norvus was born in 1912 as, and sometimes recorded under the name, Jimmy Drake. He's best known for his big 1956 hit, "Transfusion", a song that was on his first single, recorded for the Dot imprint. He made two more 45's for Dot in 1956. Beyond that, he recorded sporadically over the next several years on a variety of small labels. Drake, who was already well into his 40's by the time he started making records, died in 1968.
As for "Stongage Woo", it was released in 1961 on the Embee label out of San Francisco. In keeping with other Nervous Norvus recordings, it's very strange and unusual, perhaps even especially so. And while some would dismiss it as a mere novelty, that really misses the point. Yes, there's certainly a novel element but the song also rocks and in fact sort of defines do it yourself, lo-fi rock and roll.
If you like primitive, "Stoneage Woo" has it in both sound and subject matter. Instrumentally, there's but a single guitar and various percussive sounds. Nervous Norvus sings the tale of boy meets girl back in the (really) olden days. The words mostly wind up being a series of grunts, giggles and oohs. Pure genius.
In 2004, Norton Records released a Nervous Norvus retrospective on CD with a whopping 33 tracks. I don't own it but, given Norton's long track record of quality releases, it must be a hoot to listen to.