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FM to WEB: 'In Fuzz we Trust' by Rudi Portrudi

Rudi Portrudi writes exclusively for Mixgrill about the new Fuzztones' collection
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More than any other band, it's The Fuzztones who are responsible for the Garage Movement that began in the 80's and continues to this day. As the first US "Garage" band to tour Europe (in 1985), they so effectively spread the Garage Gospel that they inspired thousands of aspiring Garage freaks to start bands. Two Fuzztones tribute albums, "Fuzztones Illegitimate Spawn," have been issued, featuring bands from all over the world, paying homage to the legendary band.

But it seems the tribute albums were a mere warm-up exercise, Lead Fuzztones Rudi Protrudi has been working on a top-secret project for the last ten years - the last of the three part trilogy - "IN FUZZ WE TRUST," the Holy Grail of tribute albums, featuring over 15 of the legendary 60's Garage and Psych bands that have influenced the Fuzztones, all doing their own interpretations of Fuzztones classics! This star-studded release includes Sky Saxon, the Electric Prunes, the Pretty Things, Strawberry Alarm Clock, the monks, Shadows of Knight, and a lot more!

Below, you can read what Rudi writes about this new album, exclusively for MixGrill.gr:

D. Antonopoulos with Rudi

When The Fuzztones opened for Question Mark & The Mysterians at Spaceland in LA back in '97, Question Mark watched our set and later told our guitarist that he planned to record "Action Speaks Louder Than Words." I'd already had the fortune to have two of my heroes, Arthur Lee and Sean Bonniwell, guest on a recording ("All The King's Horses" on our 'Braindrops' LP) but the thought of one of our main inspirations actually recording one of our tunes was too much! I waited anxiously, but the Mysterians never did record 'Action.' Still, the fantasy remained in the back of my mind, where it festered and stubbornly refused to leave. By 2003 The Fuzztones were back in the studio, recording our follow-up album, 'Salt For Zombies.' At the time, I was hanging out with Sky Saxon, who I'd known since guesting on his albums 'World Fantastic' and 'In Search For Brighter Colors,' back in '87. As pretty much a last minute decision, The Fuzztones ended up recording a two-chord song I'd written in '67 when I was just a teenager, called 'Get Naked.'

I decided that since 'Pushin' Too Hard' had only two chords, I'd ask Sky to guest. He came down to the little hole-in-the-wall Venice studio I was working in, with a crew of very stoned-out hippies, and laid down a great impromptu interpretation, some of which appeared on 'Salt.' With this coveted recording under my belt, and the fantasy of ? and The Mysterians promise to record 'Action,' the seed of 'In Fuzz We Trust' began. I proceeded to spend the next ten years approaching my Sixties idols and trying to convince them to record my songs. Until the release of 'Songs We Taught The Fuzztones' in '91, many of our fans believed that most of the tunes we'd recorded were our own. The album brought much deserved attention to the original artists, and to my delight, many were thankful for the recognition - and with their newfound notoriety, several of these bands actually reformed! When the engineer I was working with informed me that the King of Fuzz himself, Davie Allan, was recording at the same studio, I asked that he arrange for a meeting. It just so happened that my old pal, Craig Moore of Gonn was in town, and I was fortunate enough to arrange the first of what would turn out to be many Garage "supergroup" sessions to later appear on "In Fuzz We Trust." Since The Fuzztones "She's Wicked," had been inspired by Gonn's classic, "Blackout Of Gretely," I worked up an arrangement of the tune, in Gonn's style, and Craig and Davie recorded their killer version of it.

NOW I had TWO killer tracks! Davie volunteered to record yet another with The Arrows, and Craig with the original members of Gonn. And so, "In Fuzz We Trust" was on its way. Inspired by my successful at persuading Davie, Craig and Sky, I began approaching other artists. When The Electric Prunes reformed for a one-off performance at Vox Fest, I was first in line. A brief meeting with James Lowe, after the concert, prompted their recording of "All The King's Horses," which, with the inclusion of Sean Bonniwell's and Arthur Lee's guest appearances, would mark the greatest "Supergroup" teaming on the album. Not to mention the remarkable harmonies added by the Pretty Things. But I'm getting ahead of myself....

Over the last ten years I managed to contact at least one key member from almost every living band that The Fuzztones had covered, proposing they contribute a track. Predictably, some were enthusiastic, others not. Sadly, some that promised tracks never came through. But amazingly, the bigger the band, the easier it was to coax them. With the help of the original Fuzztones' bassist, Randy Pratt, I secured tracks from Vanilla Fudge and the Vagrants, both of whom were recording in his studio at the time. I tracked down both the Tropics (of "As Times Gone" fame) and the Shy Guys ("Black Lightning Light") from comments they'd made on YouTube, and was amazed to find that both bands were still together, living and playing in Florida. In 2005 (I believe) the Pretty Things came to play Berlin, and I approached them - they had a free day following the show, so we picked them up at their hotel and brought them to a local studio. I had to make the engineer take an oath not to let anyone know they were recording there! In fact, that is a common theme for the album - I kept it secret for ten years as I continued to collect the tracks.
I worked in the studio with the Electric Prunes, Pretty Things, Sean Bonniwell, Arthur Lee, Craig Moore, Sky Saxon and Davie Allan and the rest of the artists recorded on their own and sent me the finished tracks. I was able to get John Zacherley, the first TV horror host, to guest on the Pretty Things cut, to remarkable effect. All the tracks are phenomenal. The Strawberry Alarm Clock and Vanilla Fudge really took the project seriously and did amazing versions of "Charlotte's Remains" and "Black Box" respectively. Wally Waller of the Pretty Things, who co-wrote all the tunes on SF Sorrow and Parachute, and sang on many of the Pretties best psych tracks, played bass and sang "Look For The Question Mark."

And speaking of Question Mark, he finally DID record "Action Speaks Louder Than Words" - it was the last track to be recorded for the album, and as you can imagine, it's amazing. With this album, we've come full circle, hopefully influencing and inspiring the very bands that influenced and inspired US. Without them, there would have never been a Fuzztones!

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