Alternative Press - 12/94, pp.98-100
"...prime educational material. And as with any other worthy tribute album, TURBAN RENEWAL works best when those paying tribute do more than ape the Pharoah's garage/frat organ grinding and make the material their own..."
Option - 11-12/94, p.151
"...Tribute masterminds Billy Miller and Miriam Linna...found a great subject....artists who are all (conceivably) real fans...and suggested they be somewhat faithful to the original arrangements....Energetic and free of self-conscious posing..."
Personnel: Hasil Adkins (vocals, guitar, drums); Mark Korpi (vocals, guitar, maracas); Chris Horne, Deke Dickerson, Dexter Romweber, Fink, Pete Ciccone, Fabulous Andy G., Tim Purrier, Keith Streng, John Felice, Ben Vaughn, Blaine Cartwright, Bruce Bennett (vocals, guitar); John Szymanski (vocals, harmonica, organ); Ted Roddy (vocals, harmonica, bongos); Gus Cordovox (vocals, accordion); Scott McCaughey (vocals, organ, tambourine); Chris Cush, Jeff "Monoman" Conolly, Peter Zaremba (vocals, organ); Miriam Linna (vocals, drums, maracas); Mighty Joe Vincent, Chris Handyside, Vince Brinicevic, Joey Vincent, Bill Milhizer, Mike Buck (vocals, drums); Andy Shernoff (vocals, maracas); Lonesome Bob (vocals, shaker); Billy Miller (vocals, tambourine, background vocals); Doak Short, Tina Buck, Dave Wesselowski (vocals, percussion); Joe Nick Patoski, Lorenzo Estefan, Great Gaylord, Philippe Marcade, Homer Henderson, Handsome Dick Manitoba, Philip Macade, Tom Jorgenson, Little Richard Elizondo, Roy Loney, Rudy Grayzell, Speedy Sparks, Steve Baise (vocals); Casper Rawls (guitar, 6-string bass); Jack Hickey, Puffy Longshot, Rockin' Thunderbolt Enocky, Jezebel , Germano Brix, Wild Bill Thompson, Mike Tchang, John Reed, Palmyra Delran, Shaggy, Jim Sangster, Fifi (guitar); Michael Sweetman (saxophone); Lara Espinoza, Rocky Morales, Lars Espensen (tenor saxophone); Lynn Petezell, Peter Linzell (baritone saxophone); Steve Rager, Asch Gregory, Kristine Cummings, Kurt Bloch, Dave Amels (organ); Bill Waldron, Al Caiata, Albert Caiati (drums, background vocals); Victor Arroyo, Shoe, Jim Janota, Crystal Light, Nat Brewster, Ned Brewster, Chris Raymond, Crow, Jackie T-Bird, F. Clarke Martty, Janie West, John Jorgenson, Tad Hutchinson (drums); C. Cruz Rojas, Batman Perez, Alberto Chevez, Rick Coraccio, Alberto Chavez, Pat DiNizio, Matt Bartholomy, Ruyter Suys (background vocals).
Recording information: Apex Recording Service, Camden, NJ; Baja Studios, Tokyo, Japan; Coyote STudios, Brooklyn, NY; Egg Studios, Seattle, WA; Excello Studios, Brooklyn, NY; Highway 54 Studios, Chapel Hill, NC; John's Basement, Detroit, MI; OK Studios, Tokyo, Japan; Paul's Basement, Hendersonville, TN; Sweat Box Studios, Austin, TX; The hit Shack, Austin, TX; The Lanes, Boston, MA; Waterworks, New York, NY.
Unknown Contributor Roles: The Devil Dogs; Jezebel ; Nau; Handsome Dick Manitoba; Hasil Adkins; John Felice; Lonesome Bob; Palmyra Delran; Andy Shernoff; Roky Erickson; Teisco del Rey; The Brood; Ranch Hounds; Swingin' Neckbreakers; The Untamed Youth.
The flood of artist tribute albums is pretty loathsome -- too much piggybacking on someone else's creative coattails just to get heard -- but Turban Renewal shapes us more like it, from the name to a dedication to Mattie and Hattie. Take one obscure but deserving artist, assemble the right bunch of in-with-the-out-crowd suspects cum fans, and let 'em loose on the songbook. It may have prompted Rhino to get its Pharaohization best-of compilation out on CD a couple of years later -- but Turban Renewal shows even more clearly how distinctive Sam the Sham himself really is.
See, he may be eternally linked with '60s garage punk now, but Sam came out of the rhythm & blues, and even those monolithic riff tunes had a lightness and swing to the rhythm, because the players were coming up with black music (and Tex-Mex R&B, in Sam's case) as a big part of their listening diet. That light feel is missing in action here -- it's almost all rock thud, bash and crash down below in the rhythm section -- and nobody comes close to matching Sam's vocal charisma or charm, either.
There are plenty of worthy performances here -- it's just that the tracks mostly capture one element of Sam the Sham & The Pharaohs' essence, and the rest escape them. There are solid efforts in the faithful vein (Homer Henderson, Handsome Dick Manitoba, Untamed Youth, and the ever-reliable Fleshtones, although their take on "Medicine Man" captures the exuberance with more of a ? and the Mysterians feel). Others plug into R&B from a guitar-heavy, neo-New York Dolls angle with varying degrees of success: the Devil Dogs, John Felice, Swingin' Neckbreakers; Ranch Hounds, with their storming take on "Greenwich Grendel," and the Naughty Ones' solid R&B groove with harmonica and sax.
Ben Vaughn's accordion-driven "Grasshopper" gets the charm, Ray Loney's "I Couldn't Spell !!*@!" catches the slyness, and the two power pop outings are surprisingly good (The Brood and the Vacant Lot's backing harmonies and drum drive on "How Do You Catch a Girl"). Plenty of crash and burns, too, from the merely unmemorable -- Chiflados del Ritmo, Flat Duo Jets -- to badly misconceived -- Great Gaylord's unfunny "Deputy Dog," Nine Pound Hammer's totally wrong Ramones-blast through "Oh, That's Good," or Hasil Adkins doing a one-rockabilly-wildman-band thrash on "Wooly Bully".
Can't say anything on Turban Renewal really cuts the originals, but it's stronger overall than it sounds at first listen, and probably gave a lot of these bands a cool cover version for their live sets. Tell you the best thing about it, though -- it'll send you scurrying off to track down that Rhino Sam the Sham compilation. And, damn, that sucker will sure sound good. ~ Don Snowden