Have You Heard? The JUDY'S

None of these guys are named Judy.  
All of these guys are The Judy's.

HERC SR. used to manage a burger joint called Judy's in Illinois.  It was a Wendy's clone much like McDowell's, the McDonald's clone in Coming To America.  Before stricter child labor laws went into effect, HERC used to wash dishes there in the late 70s as a twelve-then-thirteen year old until Wendy's sued Judy's out of business.

HERC has an Aunt Judy.  She was born, raised and has lived her whole life in Texas.  Just like The Judy's.

Jeff, Dane and David (l. to r.)

The Judy's came together in Pearland, Texas in December 1979 with four high school friends who had been in different bands together. Shortly after their first recording on December 12, 1979, band member Sam Roush perished in a car crash. The remaining three members - David, Dane and Jeff - carried on as a trio, playing numerous shows throughout Texas and releasing an EP, Wonderful World Of Appliances (below), in September 1980.  It is a terrific introduction to the dark humored lyrics and gleefully odd music of The Judy's.  Listening to the songs on the EP immediately brought to mind The B-52's, Devo, Phil Seymour, Talking Heads, Elvis Costello, Frank Zappa, They Might Be Giants, Weird Al and XTC.  Lead vocalist and songwriter David Bean's nasally voice (HERC thought of a Spongebob/Buddy Holly hybrid), Jeff Walton's bubbling bass and Dane Cessac's mechanically manic drumming instantly earned them a repeated playings of their barely 12 minute, 6 song EP. Standouts include the disturbingly cheery Gary Gilmore shout out "How's Gary?" and truly Bikini Bottom-ish party that is "Underwater Fun".

More gigs across the Lone Star State ensued over the next few months with a couple of pauses to record their first album proper, Washarama (above), which was released in July 1981.  The album featured all of the quirky ingredients from the EP and The Judy's upped the ante with throwbacks from the girl groups and surf bands of the Sixties.  Tracks that will get even more spins include "Her Wave", "Right Down The Line", "You Never Call Me" and album closer "All The Pretty Girls".

After having an up and coming R.E.M. open for them in concert in the Summer of 1981, The Judy's continued their statewide club-hopping non-tour and landed gigs opening for the likes of Talking Heads and The B-52's through 1982 before finally disbanding after three short years. Singer Bean continued to develop tracks the band had been working on at the time of their break-up and released them as an EP, Modomusic (above), under his own name in 1983.  He enlisted the guitar slinging of Jimmy Lee Ray Raycraft from The Dishes to finish the recordings.  The last song "Keep Breathing" stands out as a departure in sound for Bean but HERC likes it.  Other cool tracks that sound like The Judy's of old include "My Imagination", "I Project" and "Betty-O.!".  Walton also issued an EP in 1983.

Just as HERC had spent one long summer doing, The Judy's mended fences and were touring together again in 1984 with David Bean continuing to perform shows on his own as well as with The Dishes.  In July 1985, The Judy's second album Moo (above) was released and the band barnstormed Texas on their legendary Moo tour complete with conveyor belts, milk, cereal and the band dressed as milkmen.  HERC's lifelong fascination with cows aside, Moo is a testament to the maturity and confidence of the band and though it sounds more polished and professional it still contains wholesome helpings of their ironic wit.  HERC's favorite songs are the final three on the album: the oom pah pah of "Don't Be A Hippie", the should have been a huge hit single or commercial jingle "Milk" and the wonderfully nonsensical "Moo" which HERC has been singing all day much to the chagrin of MRS. HERC.

Incessant touring continued throughout 1985 and in 1986 Dane the drummer was a contestant on Wheel Of Fortune before being replaced in the band by Matthew McCarthy behind the kit.  A sax player and dancer were added to the lineup as well and the shows continued through 1986. "Girl Of 1000 Smells" was a limited single release early in 1987 - HERC has not heard it and cannot comment on the song other than "What a title!"  Songs from The Judy's would appear in two major motion pictures but not on the respective soundtrack albums: Something Wild and Married To The Mob.  The band went on hiatus again in late 1989 with Walton and original drummer/gameshow contestant Cessac forming the band Punch with a few others.  They toured through 1990 and in 1991, David Bean released another album, Land Of Plenty (above), under The Judy's name though he was the only original member who appeared on it.  His vocals and weirdly witty lyrics were the only constant as the music had evolved beyond the herky-jerkiness that had been their signature sound.  The songs are longer with some hitting the four and even five minute mark and there is a creeping soft rock and country influence heard in several songs.  For HERC, the weakest song is "Train" which is way too mellow (get that electric piano outta here!) and way too long.  Overall, after just two listens, Land of Plenty is HERC's least favorite Judy's listening experience.  The four tracks he's saving in digital form are the rocking "When She Was Good", the tres bien "Speak French", the bluegrassy sing-a-long "Middle Of The Road" and the straight-up country prayer of thanks that is "Sweet Life".

Thanks to the criminally generous largess of a fellow music fan and anonymous donor, HERC has only recently had the pleasure of listening to the music of The Judy's.  At the time they were touring and recording, HERC was out of state (Illinois and Arizona) and completely unaware of the regional furor them Judy's boys were kicking up across the Great State of Texas.  Amazingly, almost their entire albeit brief recorded output, save for a couple of singles, is available through the band's very own label, Wasted Talent Records, on both CD and VINYL!

For even more words and pics of The Judy's:

And check out this super fan's reviews:

1 comment:

  1. I was wondering what to listen to on my commute today. You've provided me with the answer.

    David Bean got a mention on page 88 of Rolling Stone 431: "David Bean's minimalist, quirky 'My Imagination' is almost lovable - reminiscent of the New Wave pop tunes of Wazmo Nariz - but you wouldn't want to listen to his weird voice for long." The reviewer is wrong on all counts. I should note that the version of 'My Imagination' that appears on the reviewed album, "Ten From Texas" is different from the version found on Modomusic.