For a period of time in the early-to-mid ’80s, Phast Phreddie & Thee Precisions were one of the hippest bands in the Los Angeles. So hip that members of such acclaimed L.A. bands as X, Los Lobos, the Gun Club, The Plimsouls and The Blasters lent their talents to their recordings and live shows. So hip that the brilliance of Phast Phreddie & Thee Precisions was largely unknown apart from Los Angeles scenesters.
That could change with the two-CD deluxe reissue of Limbo, the band’s long out-of-print debut full-length album, out January 31 on Manifesto Records.This remastered two-CD set also includes the band’s debut EP, West Hollywood Freeze-Out, as well as a second CD of rarities, demos, live tracks and the rare 1986 self-released single “Only Lovers Left Alive.”As Phast Phreddie (real name Fred Patterson) humbly puts it in the liner notes, Phast Preddie & Thee Precisions lasted a mere six years (from 1979-1985) and they may be “a footnote of a footnote in the history of rock ‘n’ roll,” but the band was ahead its time. Long before the Squirrel Nut Zippers scored an unlikely hit with “Hell” in 1997, Thee Precisions brought jump blues to a new generation. The band also gave sax-man extraordinaire Steve Berlin his first notable platform, long before he joined The Blasters, and later Los Lobos, and was featured on an R.E.M. song.
Phast Phreddie was initially known for his written words in his self-published fanzine Back Door Man from ’75-’78 and also wrote for L.A. punk journal Slash, before it became the influential record label.Initially, Phast Phreddie put together thee Precisions with his pal Jeffrey Lee Pierce (though he soon left to front the Gun Club), Berlin, fellow scribe and bassist Don Snowden from the Los Angeles Times, drummer Chris Bailey and guitarist Harlan Hollander. That lineup soon landed gigs opening for The Blasters, The Plimsouls, Levi & the Rockats and others.The live gigs led to an invitation from Dan and David Kessel to record an album for Martian Records. Recorded live to two-track in September 1981, West Hollywood Freeze-Out featured some of the band’s jump blues covers as well as an original, plus a mind-blowing cover of the James Brown ballad “Goodbye My Love.” Blasters guitarist Dave Alvin and pianist Gene Taylor joined the party on “Sloppy Drunk.”On Limbo, aside from the core lineup, the album also features a who’s-who of L.A. musicians, including Taylor on “Oooh Wow,” X drummer D.J. Bonebrake on vibes on the original “Sweet Gin,” and Plimsouls man main Peter Case on acoustic guitar on “Out in the Cold Again.” Long Ryders frontman Sid Griffin turns up on “In Walked Bud” and one of the several other takes of “Sweet Gin” features old pal Jeffrey Lee Piece back on board.
The second disc features rare live tracks (including a smoking cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Stone Free” reimagined as an Otis Redding track) — recorded at such legendary L.A. hot spots as the Whisky-a-Go-Go and Club Lingerie — as well as various demos and rarities.The package also includes scream-of-consciousness testimony by the late, great Don Waller, to whom this reissue is dedicated.Though you may have missed them in their prime, it’s not too late to get hip to Phast Phreddie & Thee Precisions. Pick up a copy of Limbo, belly up to the bar, pour yourself a shot and get down with your bad self, baby!Phast Phreddie & Thee Precisions will be doing a reunion show on February 1st at Joe’s Great American Bar & Grill in Burbank, California. This will be the first time they have played together in over 34 years!