A textbook example of "They're big in Europe," Dead Moon ranks for us Yanks as the quintessential cult band. Leader Fred Cole started his musical hitchhike in the '60s (his fourth band, Lollipop Shoppe, appears on the first Nuggets boxed set). After masterminding some heavy gutter-psych combos and even taking a stab at punk (the Rats), he and wife Toody settled on this scraggly power trio in '87. They've released most of their 20-plus records and countless singles on their Tombstone label, often cutting them on their home vinyl-pressing machine. All that labor has smelted an amazing amalgam of '60s garage rock, AC/DC groove-pound, Cramps graveyard-creeping, and blues-master soul-diving -- all led by Cole's gut-aching warble.
If you've never experienced this band, the ragged hooks and hardscrabble production won't prepare you for the depth of feeling they're able to ferment. Their sweaty roar can make the apocalypse seem like a fitting last call, as on "Fire in the Western World" or during Toody's lead-vocal swipe on the boisterous sing-along "Johnny's Got a Gun." If there's a classic Dead Moon tune, it's the desperate back-road racer, "54/40 or Fight," delivered here in a crunchy live take.