Philadelphia’s garage-pop torchbearers, Nixon’s Head, released MOd! (due March 2014), as part of a double CD with local rivals The Donuts, who counter with POW! (Groove Disques/Chapter 7 Records). Stuck on a station on the car radio, somewhere between AM and FM and from 1967 to 1979, Nixon’s Head packs 19 songs in 38 minutes, culminating in a 14-song medley on the folly of playing in the same band for over 30 years.
In the grand tradition of higher education and rock ‘n roll, the vision for Nixon’s Head dates back to the 1979 day when two boyhood friends, Andy Rosenau (vocals) and Jim Slade (guitar), decided to parlay their love of 1960s music and punk rock into a high school English creative writing assignment. Drummer Seth Baer was recruited to hold the beat while the band’s beginner musicians slowly learned to play their instruments. The formative high school version of the band managed to play a couple of Philadelphia’s punk rock clubs, proving once and for all the hazards of punk’s DIY aesthetic.
In 1984, playing their first show as Nixon’s Head, the band got booted off the stage of a legendary, since long-demolished South Street institution. Guitarist/bassist Chicken Frank joined the band as shows along the East Coast developed. In 1986, the band’s self-produced EP The Doug Factor sold out, thanks in part to a glowing review in SPIN magazine. Another EP, Traps, Buckshot & Pelt; a 45; and tours with the Dead Milkmen and the Ben Vaughn Combo followed until the usual suspects ground operations to a halt in 1991.
Since reforming in 1998, the band expanded to include Dorothy Haug (organ and vocals) and Jim McMahon (guitar/bass). Sadly, Jim, whose fretwork fires MOd!, passed away in October 2013. Bassist Colin Currie (Narband, Van Gogh’s Ear, The Rick Whitneys) made his debut with the band at the MOd! vs POW! record release show at Philadelphia’s Boot & Saddle on March 20, driving bassist-songwriter Chicken Frank to guitar.
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