The Los Angeles-based band Phast Phreddie & Thee Precisions are back! The group has reunited to celebrate the release of a special 2-disc 35th Anniversary Deluxe Edition of Limbo on Manifesto Records. But first, for those not familiar with the act in question, a bit o’ background.
Phast Phreddie & Thee Precisions
Phast Phreddie & Thee Precisions were a hot local L.A. band in the early to mid-1980s. Fred “Phast Phreddie” Patterson originally formed the band with musician pal Jeffrey Lee Pierce who soon moved on to front the Gun Club. The band roster currently includes Fred “Phast Phreddie” Patterson (lead vocals), Chris Bailey (drums), Steve Berlin (saxophone), Harlan Hollander (guitar), and Don Snowden (bass).
They opened for such bands as Levi & the Rockats, The Plimsouls, The Blasters and other acts. Those gigs garnered them a record deal with Martian Records. They recorded West Hollywood Freeze-Out live to two-track in September of 1981.
The band was once so hip that members of such other acclaimed acts as Los Lobos, The Blasters, the Gun Club, The Plimsouls. and X reportedly lent their tuneful talents to the band’s live shows and recordings. They were unique in that they rose up amidst the height of the Los Angeles punk rock scene. Indeed, they were often on the same bill as punk rock bands even though their signature sound was definitely not punk.
Thee Precisions’ signature sound is a mix of multiple music genres. It includes be-bop, jazz, R&B, and jump blues.
This new project is a re-mastered double CD deluxe edition of Limbo. It includes the original West Hollywood Freeze-Out EP, demos, rarities, live tracks and the band’s 1986 single “Only Lovers Left Alive.” None of this material has ever been available on CD. Guest artists here include Steve Berlin of Los Lobos, Marty Jourard of the Motels, The Blasters’ Dave Alvin, Jeffrey Lee Pierce of the Gun Club, Gene Taylor of The Fabulous Thunderbirds, and The Plimsouls’ Peter Case.
This 40-track work has a running time of over two hours and 25 minutes. It includes some of the group’s jump blues covers and an original.
Disc 1 opens on the brief titular track “Limbo” as listeners are immediately introduced to the band. Highlights here include the original version of “Sweet Gin.” You can’t help but notice the work of X drummer D.J. Bonebrake here.
“Night Train” which is perhaps one of the best cuts here and comes complete with apropos sound effects to boot.
“Oooh Wow” follows complete with a guest appearance by “T-bird” Gene Taylor.
Another exceptional audio offering here is “Out In The Cold Again.” This song is somehow reminiscent of the era in which it was written. Perhaps this is somehow partially due to the inclusion of Peter Case on acoustic guitar.
The surprises keep coming as The Long Ryders famous frontman Sid Griffin appears “In Walked Bud.”
“Money’s Gettin’ Cheaper” remains ready-made for alternative and college radio.
“Rebop Boogie Blues” is a fine example of the fun approach the group took to their music.
Next is “Compared To What” which indicates their ability to address socio-political issues in a track that grooves as well.
The EP title track “West Hollywood Freeze-Out” follows. It offers ample evidence of the band’s capabilities at the time.
“Sloppy Drunk” is a ready to roll bar song. It features Alvin on guitar and Taylor on the keys. “Goodbye My Love” is a noteworthy cover of the 1968 James Brown tune. It could certainly serve as a good show closer.
The CD closes on the long version of “Walk With Me Baby.” It is a fave of both critics and fans alike.
Disc 2, like Disc 1, has 20 tracks. This CD includes demos, rarities and live tracks recorded at legendary iconic L.A. hot spots. The opening live “What A Friend I Have In Whiskey” makes it clear why the band was big with its live audiences.
There are other noteworthy numbers as well. Witness the band’s take on “In The Midnight Hour” recorded during a rehearsal.
Also included here is a live version of “Sweet Gin (Soul Gin)” which was a frequently performed crowd-pleaser that originally featured Jeffrey Lee Pierce. A live version of “In Walked Bud” recorded at California State University Northridge reveals a bit more about the group’s rep with the college crowd.
One source of inspiration can be found in the band’s clever cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Stone Free” which they reimagine as more of an Otis Redding song.
The compilation even includes a remaster of their 10” single “Only Lovers Left Alive.”
The entire project, dedicated to the Imperial Dogs’ Don Waller, ends on the 1985 demo “People.”
The band, which was active from 1979 through 1985, was unfortunately often unknown outside of the L.A. scene. Of course, this recent release could change that. Overall, the album is a remastered piece of L.A. music history.
In fact, for fans of the out-of-place, ahead of its time act and the various bands born of this 1980s act, it is even more significant. If you are an old school fan of the band this is what you have been waiting for all these years. Mind you, “Phreddie” Patterson has no delusions of grandeur.
He admits that they might be “a footnote of a footnote in the history of rock ‘n’ roll,” but believes the group was ahead its time. Indeed, quite sometime before the Squirrel Nut Zippers scored a hit with “Hell” in 1997, Thee Precisions had introduced jump blues to a new generation. They also gave Steve Berlin his first performance platform before joining The Blasters, and Los Lobos, and working with R.E.M. So check out Phast Phreddie & Thee Precisions’ two-CD deluxe reissue of Limbo because you don’t want to be left “Out In The Cold Again.”