Do you remember the beginning of that 1980s nurses-in-Vietnam-show China Beach? You know the one that started with Dana Delaney and a bunch of other ladies and gentlemen all hanging out on a beach in ‘Nam, and then explosions started happening, and USO shows up with ladies in glittery dresses, and this one helicopter swooping down over everything, and the whole time Diana Ross and The Supremes Reflections just blasted out over everything. Well, the first song, The Mile off of Cool Ghoul’s second LP, A Swirling Fire Burning Through Rye, feels like a distant homage to not just Reflections but to the sort of nostalgic Hollywood representation of those moments in our history.
The Mile is a good-time song, the type you’ve come to recognize from Cool Ghouls, a slow burning bit of Buzzcocks and Yardbirds that you might hear in a bar late at night and find yourself swaying to in some mixture of hip-shaking and slow-dancing. It doesn’t stop there though, there’s something about the vocals, the tinge of melancholy just barely hanging off their edges, that pulls you back as well, to an era when Vietnam had come and gone, and we were finally taking the time to talk about it, to dissect it’s lengthy shadow, to look at what might have happened to those who weren’t just killed there, but lived to see it through to its anti-climactic end. We were trying to understand what had come before, and when you look at an event of such horror and length, sometimes you have to sweeten the view from above just a little bit with a Diana Ross song. And that, that’s what The Mile is, it’s a band in 2014 looking back on the music (and the events, and the people, and everything else) of the 60s and 70s through the filter of nostalgia and producing something that condenses all of it – the good, the bad, the hippies, the longhairs, etc. – into an amalgamation of what we’ve heard before. And sure, it might ride the rails of nostalgia a bit much, but there isn’t a band out there I’d rather hear doing so than Cool Ghouls.
A Swirling Fire Burning Through Rye drops on November 11 from Empty Cellar Records.
:Cool Ghouls – The Mile: