My initial exposure to The Moray Eels Eat The Holy Modal Rounders came through my mate Eric at a time when I was buying what I could afford and Eric was buying what he could find. While he couldn't find everything his collection contained a wide range of interesting ephemera, some of which found their way into the repertoires of Heavy Chunder and Snafu. Had Snafu found a way to extend its brief and inglorious career there's every chance tracks like Bird SongOne Will Do For Now and Dame Fortune would have joined the Werewolf in said repertoire.

It was several years before I managed to track down their earlier work, and the hit and miss flow of information into Townsville (though the ratio was inclined tilted towards the hit side of the equation) meant I'm not sure whether I was aware of Stampfel and Weber's involvement with The Fugs. By the time Cloncurry Jim imported the gloriously ribald Golden Filth Stampfel and Weber had long flown The Fugs' coop.

When the album under consideration was recorded, the original acoustic warped folkie duo had expanded to a five piece electric band, including playwright Sam Shepard on drums. I seem to recall them appearing on Rowan and Martin's Laugh In, around this time in the same slot that shot Tiny Tim into his fifteen minutes of fame. 

I’d already heard of them when they did.

You wouldn't have been betting on the Rounders gaining the same degree of notoriety, though. Stampfel was in the process of assembling a new band (The Moray Eels) out of the drug-addled wreckage of The Holy Modal Rounders.

Having been induced to record an album for Elektra by producer Barry Friedman (who was about to change his name to Frazier Mohawk), the sessions verged on anarchy, and the results were edited into side-long suites that weren't suited to radio airplay even if the contents had commercial potential.

My first copy of the album, found in the second hand racks at Brisbane's Record Market (if I recall correctly) was soon worn out, at least partly due to damage resulting from attempts to find a particular track for specific listening. I suspect that Eric’s copy had much the same fate, and would have been replaced at least once.


B© Ian Hughes 2012