Years ago, when my sister and I were kids and we had lots of cats and dogs around the house, an advertisement for pet name tags caught someone in the family’s attention (I don’t remember who saw it first). In the ad, there were little gold and silver tags shaped like fire hydrants and circles, or little fish or other cute shapes that you could order for your beloved pet.
On each of the tags was a sample name, to show you what they would look like when they were engraved. One sample tag read “Rover” (or some other standard pet name). One read “Rex”. One read “Kitty”. One read “Spot”. And one read . . . “Glicky”. Huh? Glicky? Glicky?!? Who has a pet named Glicky??? What in the world inspired someone to pick Glicky as a sample name?
We never found out, but everytime one of us gets a new pet, the others feel compelled to try to suggest “Glicky” as a the new pet’s name. This week, my sister got a new fluffy little kitten. She sent a picture and I looked at it and, well, I’ll be darned, but that fluffy little kitten sure looks like a “Glicky” to me. I think she has no choice but to name it accordingly.
Glicky’s last name will (like my sister) be Duft, by the way. Glicky Duft. Priceless.
So there are great obscure bands, and then there are great obscure bands. Tragic Mulatto is one of the latter. They were a scabrous, rough and tumble and powerful San Francisco based band in the latter half of ’80s who put out four or five records on Alternative Tentacles, each of which seems to have gone out of print as soon as it was issued. To the best of my knowledge, the only one that ever came out on CD was Italians Fall Down and Look Up Your Dress, which was a compilation disc containing a single and cuts from two other vinyl releases. Their best and final album, Chartreuse Toulouse, does not appear to have come out on CD, ever.
Every so often, I take Italians Fall Down out and listen to it over and over and just flat out marvel at how good Tragic Mulatto were, and how completely lost they appear to be in contemporary music history’s collective memory. I can’t find a single website dedicated to them, a single picture, a single decent biography beyond the stock stuff that shows up on Allmusic or Trouser Press. (There are, however, tons of websites dedicated to the sociocultural myth from which they took their name).
The core, consistent, indentifiable members of the band were drummer Bambi Nonymous, bassist-vocalist Rev. Elvister Shanksley and singer-tuba player-saxophonist Flatula Lee Roth. A couple of second drummers and guitarists rounded out the lineup, although the lack of real credits on any of their albums make it hard to figure out if different people played on them, or the same people with different fake names. (Guitarist Tim Carroll was a member at one point, for example, apparently under the name Richard Skidmark; he later went on to play with Austin-to-San Francisco legend Gary Floyd).
Rev. Elvister was a gravel-throated gurgler and dominating bass player who went on to play with Polkacide. Bambi Nonymous later played with Frightwig, Mudwimin and Black Manna. Flatula Lee Roth evidently disappeared from music altogether, or at least under that particular name. Which is a pity, because she was a titanic, Grace Slick-styled belter, a great vocalist in the impressive and rousing San Francisco tradition.
If you ever see anything by or about them, (a) grab it and marvel, then (b) let me know and send me a copy, please and thanks. They really are one of my alltime favorite bands, and it’s aggravating to have such a limited ability to track anything about/by them down in this internet era when so much is so readily available online.
And while I’m not generally inclined to give away copyrighted material on my website, since the records no longer seem to be commercially available, I will offer one sample: “Hardcore Bigot Scum Get Stabbed” by Tragic Mullato. Hear it and weep.