Monday, September 15, 2014

The Skeletons: Where Have They Been All My Life?









Here's what All Music's Stephen Thomas Erlewine has to say:

The Skeletons never gained widespread recognition, yet they had a small cult of dedicated followers who made them a modestly popular roots-rock bands in the late '80s and '90s. Based in Springfield, Missouri, the Skeletons formed in 1979 as a touring band assembled by Steve Forbert. Following the tour, they decided to stay together, releasing their own records when they weren't touring either as their own entity or as a supporting group. In 1987 they released their first American album, Rockin' Bones. Over the next 10 years, they remained busy, particularly backing artists like Syd Straw and Dave Alvin, yet only released three other albums -- In the Flesh! (1988), Waiting (1992) and Nothin' to Lose (1997). 

I've been trying to sell this record for a year. Good price. It's even on orange vinyl. No bites.

Over the weekend, as I prepped for an upcoming record show, I looked at it again. This time I noticed the drummer was Bobby Lloyd Hicks, a fave when he sits in with NRBQ.  Upon further inspection, I noticed they were managed by my good friend Rich Nesin.

Time for a spin. Right?

DAMN! This record is killing me. Why didn't I get the memo?

"No longer for sale!"
 -Worst record dealer ever

Check out their covers of Sonny & Cher up top and The Easybeats below, as well as The Skeletons original "Watch What You Say," all from the 1992 release "Waiting."








Oh, and why not...

...the always stunning, always killer...Syd Straw, backed by...you guessed it...THE SKELETONS!




And Bobby Lloyd Hicks? You kick ass. Drummers take note. I did, and that's why we have a Skeletons post today.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi...thanks for the posts...Skeletons were/are the Morrels)...early 80's...find the album "Shake and Push"..it will change things..D.Clinton Thompson is the "great unknown" guitar player...also, see "Park Central Squares" D.Clinton's side project...best to you...Dr.MAD

Anonymous said...

Wow! Great to see a post on The Skeletons. I live in Springfield and have been following them and their various incarnations (The Symptoms, The Morells & The Skeletons) for over 35 years. Sal, I'm not surprised you dig 'em as they are very much in the NRBQ vein. Donnie Thompson is truly one of the great guitar gunslingers. Google Image D. Clinton Thompson Driving Guitar and check out the cover and you'll see what I mean. If you haven't yet, check out Shake & Push by the Morells. DIG IT! Randy

William Repsher said...

I bought that album when it came out. Recall that it got one of those smaller capsule reviews in Rolling Stone and sounded interesting. There's a whole sea of alt country bands from the 80s that got buried in the graveyard of time when that whole No Depression/New Sincerity movement of the early 90s rolled around. A lot of them haven't made the jump to CD, or did initially and those early pressings are long gone. "Time Heals" by The Gear Daddies is another song from that era I recall fondly -- a lot of songs, actually. I'd say the Sonny & Cher cover is the song I remember most from that Skeletons album.

Troy said...

The Skeletons got a bit of airplay in Chicago around the time of In the Flesh (which IS a very fun album). 'Outta My Way' is a longtime favorite. Great post, and I'm glad you finally caught up with them!

Ken D said...

I think the Morells' album was in the vinyl you bought from me a few weeks ago. Who's sorry now?
Maybe a follow-up post about that record?

Anonymous said...

LOVE the skeletons. check out the morells, their rockabilly incarnation.

buzzbabyjesus said...

It comes on strong and sounds like favorite songs you haven't heard yet.

richeye said...

Thanks for all the props. Here's a correction to the All Music Guide info. When Steve Forbert was recording Jackrabbit Slim, we had a sax player from Springfield, Bill Jones. He turned Steve and I onto The Symptoms. We flew down there to see them in a place called the Amador Mining Club (long gone) and had an incredible time. The Skeletons and The Morells already existed and the name/play lists depended largely on who was available to join in on a given gig. D. Clinton Thompson and Lou Whitney were the core of all three groups. Wrongo played drums in the Symptoms and Morells while Bobby Lloyd was in The Skeletons. Bobby was better suited to Steve's thing, so it was the Skeletons + Bill Jones who augmented Steve's keyboard player, Paul Errico and formed the touring band for that album cycle.

Lou was eventually immortalized (if that's the right word) on Steve's next album, Little Stevie Orbit, with the song, Laughter Lou. Lloyd continued to play with Steve and with Dave Alvin off and on through the years, and as noted has landed in NRBQ.

More stories on request....

cmealha said...

And this is why this is such a valuable site. Really liked them especially the 1st cut.

M_Sharp said...

Not only a great band, but they have a great sense of humor, too.

Probably the best show I ever saw was The Skeletons opening for Dave Alvin, then being his band, at JC Dobbs in Philly, 11/11/91. There's a bass-less audience recording of the show out there somewhere.

The Morells were the previous version of the Skeletons; their album "Shake And Push" is one of my favorites. Here's their rockin' video ode to their favorite diner: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X87mfrXqcwA

J. Loslo said...

Love The Morells and The Skeletons. The Park Central Squares album is also worth checking out, with their entertaining covers of The Hombres' "Take My Overwhelming Love (And Cram It Up Your Heart)" and Ben Vaughn's "Don't Spill Ketchup on My Toast Bread." Lou Whitney and D. Clinton Thompson also made an album called "The Book of Matthew," covering songs by someone named Matthew Darkly, about whom I know nothing. Kind of quirky pop. Also worth checking out.

A walk in the woods said...

So, great backbeat, snappy guitars and vocals, AND horns? Damn, yeah! Great call, Sal... I need to check this out more at length...

soundsource said...

great shit, didn't realize these guys were the morrels a great band and you might have the record somewhrer

John Ellis said...

Some great posts here, but the original post on AllMusic is not really accurate when it says that The Skeletons were "formed in 1979 as a touring band assembled by Steve Forbert".

After The Symptoms broke up, The Skeletons started playing in 1990. The original band was Lou, Donnie, Bobby Lloyd Hicks, and Randall Chowning (from the Ozark Mountain Daredevils).

No recordings were made, but there is video of that lineup playing on a local Springfield TV show.

Shortly thereafter, Randall left and Nick Sibley joined up, who played keyboards and guitar. That lineup is the version of The Skeletons that did the most gigs and was documented on Live At The Amador, when Lou said "we're gonna put The Skeletons to bed for a while", since they had been offered to be Forbert's touring band.

After that tour was over, then The Morells were formed, which was all of the members of The Symptoms minus the lead singer (Jim Wunderle).

Joe Terry later joined The Morells, and later became part of The Skeletons when they reformed in the early 90s.


john ellis said...

Thanks for your correction Richeye.
And by all means....more stories.