London Times: The Gories at Dirty Water Club
The Gories may be an obscure name, but their influence far outweighs their popularity. Inspired by 1950s R&B and mid-1960s high school garage bands, this Detroit trio came together in 1986 to make incredibly primitive rock’n’roll: jungle drums, two buzzsaw guitars knocking out basic chords and scratchy riffs, no bass, lyrics about cheap wine and bad women.
They stripped music to its raw, passionate essence, which was both their appeal and their undoing. Something this untamed was always going to be volatile and the Gories came to an antagonistic end in 1992. Like the Velvet Underground before them, they sold records in the hundreds yet inspired thousands. Jack White, of the White Stripes, called them “the best garage band in America since the 1960s”.
Anticipation was high for the Gories’ first UK concert, particularly as hardly anyone in the sold-out Jazz Café could have seen them before. Album covers featured singer Mick Collins as a handsome young man in a sharp suit and he is now a middle-aged man in a baggy T-shirt, but otherwise they remained unchanged. Drummer Peggy O’Neill played a perfectly simple beat throughout and Collins and fellow guitarist Dan Kroha, who honoured the British audience by saying he learnt about the blues from listening to the Yardbirds, traded the most basic of solos. Most importantly, the Gories had character — insular, slightly hostile and very exciting.
It did take a while for the band to get into their stride. They began with Hey Hey We’re the Gories, but didn’t sound like they quite believed it. Then the concert headed on an upward trajectory and by the encore, for which the trio blasted through their most famous (relatively speaking) song Nitroglycerine, they were lost to their own creation. It was a triumph of sloppy rock’n’roll, proof that the mood a band creates can be more important than virtuosity or professionalism.