Michael Hurley, The Unholy Modal Rounders, Jeffrey Fredericks & The Clamtones “Have Moicy!”

Have Moicy!

This is a special record. If you can’t figure that from the amount of online chatter, user reviews and critical reviews declaring Have Moicy to be one of the best records of all time, or at least proclaiming some kind of undying allegiance (Moicy made the New York Times’ top 20 LPs of 1976), you’ll get it falling in love after just a couple spins. Count me in on the converted! Sometimes I fall so deep for a record that listening to the music isn’t enough, I wish I could touch or hold the sound itself. If it were possible, Have Moicy would get a hug.

A collaborative and joyous meeting of out-there minds, the founders of freak-folk hadn’t lost a touch of steam by 1976. Michael Hurley, known by fans as Snocko (see his official homepage), was a Folkways recording artist while Peter Stampfel was one half of the Holy Modal Rounders, Steve Weber absent from these sessions. This would be Jeffrey Fredericks and the Clamtones’ first official recording but all were essentially part of the Rounders family, and best of all, Have Moicy! is merely a gateway into the fine solo recordings of all the artists involved.

Stampfel’s numbers drive with clawhammer banjo, washboard and ratchety percussion, an unconcerned fiddle and mandolin leads. Half the songs are electrified with pre-Meat Puppets unaffected treble licks in interlocking rhythms. The players never fill too much space, giving each instrument enough breathing room to act as genuine ear candy. The band somehow converges to create a clean renegade folk constantly teetering on the edge of chaos. Some undefinable bit of magic holds it all together. The tunes have unserious and silly lyrics but are never overtly comical or embarrassing, just fun, unpretentious, and honest folk music.

It’s impossible to pick two standout tracks from such a solid lineup. If you like what you hear, don’t delay in grabbing the 1992 reissue or the mp3 download, you won’t be disappointed. Every tune is positively great, and for the initiated, few other records will bring as much cheer.

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“What Made My Hamburger Disappear”

:D CD Reissue | 1992 | Rounder | buy from rounder | amazon ]
:) Original Vinyl | 1976 | Rounder | search ebay ]
;) MP3 Album | download from amazon ]


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14 Comments.

  • aaahhhh, I need to get this album!! I’ve been wanting to hear it for a while now…thanks for a the taste.

  • Louder than Milk

    Agree it is difficult to pick standouts and as good as Micheal Hurley is, he seemed to inspire premium blend out of the rest. Robbin’ Banks by The Clamtones is just…well brilliant. As is Hamburger. The best album of the 70s.

  • One of my all time favourite albums. Great to see someone write it up, I’ve been banging on about it for years.

    Fave tracks: Robbing Banks, Jackknife/Red Newt, What Made My Hamburger Disappear.

    (Also a fan of Spiders In The Moonlight and Long Journey.)

  • Hey Folks… time for an update. Several actually:

    Most of you are talking about ol’ Jeffrey Frederick. (the “s” is a misspelling by Rounder Records). Now, Jeff passed 11 years ago (here in Portland, we call the date, “St. Jeffrey’s Day”).

    1. Jeffrey Frederick’s widow, Kathryn, has been remastering and publishing CDs by Jeffrey and his bands for several years now — see http://www.jeffreyfrederick.com, or the MySpace profile, Jeffreyfrederickandfriends. There are six songs up on the MySpace profile for you delectation and delight.

    2. Frederick Productions remastered and expanded “Spiders” which is now, finally, available on CD with a new Michael Hurley cover as “Resurrection of Spiders In The Moonlight.” We’d prefer if you got it through the website or CD Baby, but you can get it anywhere CDs are sold. We also just released on our sublabel, Red New Records (get it?), Teddy Deane’s new CD “So Far So Good” — actually it is being commercially released next week by Burnside Distribution (more standards and swing than Clamtones stuff, but great)

    3. We just put up 7 videos of Jeffrey performing, including a 1993 Clamtones reunion from which we took “Robbin’ Banks,” “Rotten Lettuce” and “Beer Shits.” There are six videos up on YouTube and a seventh, the wonderful “Saturday Night” up only on MySpace (too long for You Tube)

    4. The next big event will be the release of “St. Jeffrey’s Day: The Songs of Jeffrey Frederic, Volume I” in a month or two. All the surviving Clamtones — including Jill Gross — plus various members of Les Clams and Jeff’s pals and proteges have contributed, doing amazing studio versions of his songs. At least two more volumes are planned — Jeff was a prodigious and wonderful songwriter. Volume I is being remastered this very day…

    5. Finally, if you’re here in Portland, OR or catch them on a McMenamin’s tour, you can hear the Freak Mountain Ramblers doing Jeff’s songs most every show and on most of their CDs. In fact, they have “Picnic” up on their MySpace profile. Three of the Freaks were Clamtones/Holy Modal Rounders and the others all played with Jeffrey.

    If you love Jeff’s tunes, you’ll definitely get off on the Freaks.

  • Ixmi

    After a rough day at work, I was lounging in the bathtub. I started blowing bubbles in the water and the song came back to me… “Lord, lord, lordy have you ever blowed bubbles under water when you’re feeling bad”… (or something like that). I have not heard this album in over 25 years, but it was one of the formative records of my childhood. I remember my brother and I dancing around the living room and singing the songs, entertaining our friends by belting out the intro to Jackknife and Red Newt. Great stuff. I was thrilled to find this review. Thanks!

  • gdash

    My only objection to Brendan’s write-up is his description of the lyrics
    as unserious and silly. While I get what he means, they are assuredly
    not those things, just as Duck Soup isn’t, or The Importance of Being
    Earnest, or Clarence Carter’s “Making Love (At the Dark End of the
    Street)”. This is serious stuff indeed, all the more because it is so
    funny and left field. And we shouldn’t neglect the melancholy undertow,
    particularly in Hurley’s songs.

  • Despite the loss of too many family members — Jeff and Paul Presti come to mind — the divine madness continues. As gdash knows and I mentioned last year, you can now find many videos of the Have Moicy principals up on YouTube, Facebook and MySpace — Jeffrey Frederick, Michael Hurley and Peter Stampfel/Holy Modal Rounders. “St. Jeffrey’s Day” has been out for a while (and includes many of the folks responsible for Have Moicy covering Jeff’s tunes). There are also numerous videos of the Freak Mountain Ramblers up on YouTube, sometimes doing songs from Have Moicy. Dave Reisch, who plays bass and sings on Have Moicy (and produced St. Jeffrey’s Day) is one of the Freaks. Hurley plays continually around the US and, sometimes, Europe — he’s become one of the heros of the “freak folk” movement. Peter Stampfel has been extremely active, mainly in the New York City area, performing with any number of ensembles, some of which include Sam Shepherd and his son, Walker. Oh, on “Clamtones B.C.,” Jeffrey Frederick and the Clamtones did many of the tunes from Have Moicy live (it’s from a 1976 radio broadcast from Rohan’s Rockpile in Vancouver, B.C.). If that’s not enough, Jeff’s tunes, Robbin Banks and Red Newt are pretty widely covered by everyone from Scots folksingers to Ekoostik Hookah.

  • Anonymous

    Rocked this from my phone in the cleaning products aisle of the grocery store

  • Len Liechti

    Wonderful, demented stuff. Of course you have to be virtuoso musicians to get away with doing absolute pisstake stuff like this – fortunately these guys are. The fiddle playing is simply something else. I’ll never describe bluegrass music as “po-faced” again after hearing this. If Frank Zappa had had a background in bluegrass rather than jazz he’d have produced something like this. Worth buying for Peter Stampfel’s 1991 update sleeve notes alone – hilarious.

  • Plans are afoot for a kind of sequel to Have Moicy — Hurley, Stampfel, Remaily, with Sam Shepard and others… Sometime early next year if the stars align properly. Meantime, Jeffrey’s being inducted into the Oregon Music Hall of Fame in October – should be a new compilation to celebrate. If you like what you hear, check out my Dehypnotist channel on YouTube and the many videos elsewhere on YouTube of Portland’s Freak Mountain Ramblers. These guys are still doing these songs…. And Hurley is playing all around the region, better than ever.

  • Janet

    I’m searching for the song about blowing bubbles underwater when you’re feelin’ bad. Singing it has made me feel better for decades! What is it called? Is it availailable anywhere online, mp3, youtube?

  • That song is “Driving Wheel.” Dave Reisch occasionally sings it with the Freak Mountain Ramblers and other aggregations –it’s on Have Moicy. And here is Snock himself doing it on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_aBPKzGG2w

  • Janet

    Thank you sweetiepie!

  • And now there’s Have Moicy 2: the Hoodoo Bash. Now, it’s not the original Have Moicy and Hurley, Frederick and Paul Presti aren’t on it, it’s more old-timey, but it has not only Peter Stampfel, Robin Remaily and Dave Reisch from the 1976 crew and also Baby Gramps, Jeffrey Lewis, Kristin Andreassen, the Dustbusters/Downhill Strugglers (Eli Smith, Walkere Shepard, Craig Judelman) and more… Just out from Red Newt Records with great reviews by Robert Cristgau, an upcoming Fresh Air segment with Ken Tucker, and more…

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