Trivia: Released in October 1992 this was the debut album by Izzy Stradlin and the Ju Ju Hounds. This was Izzys first album since leaving GNR in late '91.
1 Somebody Knockin
2 Pressure Drop
3 Time Gone By
4 Shuffle It All
5 Bucket O Trouble
6 Train Tracks
* How Much (Japan only bonus)
7 How Will It Go
8 Cuttin The Rug
9 Take A Look At The Guy
10 Come On Now Inside
xx. Morning Tea (hidden)
There was a unique, ensemble sound to those guys playing together that was the perfect complement to Izzy's songwriting and singing. Could have been the great, rootsy, Americana meets Brit rock band of all time.
Source: Eddie Ashworth (2005)
IZZY STRADLIN AND THE JU JU HOUNDS
Izzy Stradlin - vocals, guitar, percussion
Rick Richards - guitar
Jimmy Ashhurst - bass, backing vocals
Charlie "Chalo" Quintana - drums, percussion
"The best thing about this is, it's not a complicated thing. It was fun."
That's how Izzy Stradlin describes Izzy Stradlin and the Ju Ju Hounds -- a band and a debut album, launched October 13, 1992 on Geffen Records worldwide.
Recorded in Chicago and Los Angeles and co-produced by Stradlin and Eddie Ashworth with mixes done in Copenhagen, the album is influenced by some of the musical styles Stradlin heard growing up, from the Keith Richards-style riff which opens "Somebody Knockin'" to the Beatlesque psychedelia of "How Will It Go" to the sinewy reggae skiffle of "How Much" and the country-blues of "Time Gone By". There's also a duet between Izzy and Ronnie Wood on a cover of the latter's "Take A Look At The Guy." The lead track, "Shuffle It All," has a Lou Reed-meets-Rolling Stones attitude, something of a "tumble on the wild side."
The album was preceded in Europe on September 14 by a four-cut EP, Pressure Drop, which includes "Been A Fix," "Came Unglued" and "Can't Hear 'Em," plus a revved-up cover of Toots & the Maytal's reggae classic, "Pressure Drop," the only track also included on the album.
It's been 13 years since Stradlin packed his drums in the back of his Chevy Impala and left his hometown of Lafayette, Indiana bound for Hollywood. He hooked up with high school buddy Axl Rose and became a founding member, rhythm guitarist and a songwriter of Guns N' Roses. Stradlin was the primary songwriter of such G N'R classics as "Patience" and "Mr. Brownstone," as well as the writer or co-writer of 12 songs on Use Your Illusion I & II, including the solo-credited "Double Talkin' Jive," "Pretty Tied Up" and "You Ain't The First."
Tell Stradlin it took a lot of courage to talk away from one of the biggest bands in the world in November of 1991 and he laughs. "It was a pretty tough thing," he acknowledges. "I was pushed and pulled in any number of directions. It just wasn't working out for me on any level and I couldn't seem to communicate my side of it, y'know. I couldn't really get through to anybody. I've known Axl a long time and I still have a lot of feelings for those guys. But I had to leave to get sane and somewhat normal. To get back to reality, I guess you could say. I'm happy. I don't know what the future holds or anything, but what the Ju Ju Hounds have done is good. I'm pleased with it, and if other people dig it, that will just be icing on the cake."
When Stradlin flrst left G N'R he returned to Lafayette and decompressed by riding trials motorcycles over obstacle courses. "I wasn't interested in music after all I'd been through," he says. "But when wintertime came to Indiana, I was sitting in a room with a guitar in the comer and it was the only thing that seemed to make sense." I began writing songs and recording them on eight-track until I had an entire demo album."
He called his friend Jimmy Ashhurst, who had played bass for Broken Homes, and the two began working on the material. But they didn't want to record with just the two of them and the process took on a momentum of its own when Ashhurst opened up his little black book and began bringing in musicians like former Georgia Satellite guitarist Rick Richards and ex-Cruzado/Bob Dylan drummer/percussionist Charlie Quintana to round out the core band. They represent a U.S. melting pot of references: a west coast bassist, southwestern drummer, and deep south guitarist to complement the midwestem frontman.
As the project progressed more guest stars showed up, like legendary keyboardist Nicky Hopkins and one-time Face lan McLagan, Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood, reggae vocalist Mikey Dread, guitarist Jah-T and more.
Stradlin was sensitized by the simplicity of his music and new life.
"During the recording we had the LA floods, earthquakes, the riots and the studio even got hit by lightening while I had headphones on. But it was great. Those are the kind of things I'd never noticed before back when I was doing drugs and stuff," Stradlin recalled. "Concentrating on playing music is what gets me off. I wanted to do a cover for the single sleeve with me in a pair of headphones and dark glasses, just listening to my music. I don't hear the bullshit."
The Ju Ju Hounds play more for the feel than to be analytical about what they're saying. A lot of the Iyrics aren't intended to be understood. It was such a groove Iyric, slurred in the backing vocal on a demo recording that sounded like "ju ju hound" that gave the band it's moniker.
Stradlin has been stabbing handfuls of pushpins into a world map to mark the places the band will hit on its maiden tour. They'll start with a club tour of Europe and the U.K., plus a short foray to Japan before they begin touring the U.S. early in 1993. "On the road I always wanted to get out and see the people and places around town," enthused Stradlin. "I'm really looking forward to playing again."
Izzy Stradlin and the Ju Ju Hounds was recorded in Chicago and Los Angeles, with mixes done in Copenhagen and was co-produced by Izzy and Eddie Ashworth. Stradlin discussed the making of the record and offered the following track-by-track comments:
"Somebody Knockin" (Stradlin/Ashhurst): "Most of these songs are pretty vague and abstract because, when I write, I end up throwing together a bunch of thoughts that don't really blend together in a story. This one started as a guitar rhythm. It's probably a flashback on all the different visitors I've had over the last seven years since the success of G N'R."
"Pressure Drop" (Frederick Hibbert): "That's one of my favorite reggae songs ever. Originally we were going to cover it reggae style, but it was just too good. I figued we'd just fuck it up, so we just turned it completely around. But to give people an idea of where it came from, we put a little bit of the original version at the end."
"Time Gone By" (Stradlin/Richards): "We found ourselves going back to the music we were brought up on. This is a root-ish song I co-wrote with Rick Richards. He popped that riff, Charlie had a real cool drum thing he was doing. I wrote some lyrics and we put it all together. This one came real easy. A collaboration I was really happy with."
"Bucket O' Trouble" (Stradlin): "That's a real slammer."
"Got Away"* (Stradlin/Ashhurst): "It's just a mood; not about anything in particular, more like a collection of thoughts. Which doesn't make this any easier for you, does it? It's one of the first collaborations I've ever done with someone outside Guns N' Roses. Since '85 and that band started, I hadn't done anything with any other group or artist as far as songwriting goes. It was a little weird at first. Once we bagan recording the material I came out with, new stuff kept coming up."
"Train Tracks" (Stradlin): "That's the only song which is really autobiographical in a nutshell. Where I grew up in Indiana, we used to live by the railroad. That's where we hung out and smoked pot. If you weren't in school or working, that's where you were...down by the train track."
"How Will It Go" (Stradlin): "Definitely a song about change that you feel. I listen to so many different types of music, I guess it just rubs off on me. This was another song written in one sitting. Originally, I was going to record it with just me and an acoustic guitar. After I played it in the studio, we added keyboards and drums."
"Cuttin' A Rug" (Stradlin): "We had a real good time recording this. When we went to Chicago, the hotel we stayed at would have live music every night and all these people would be there, laughing, buzzing and dancing. When we went out, we'd pass all these reggae, rock, thrash, punk and jazz clubs on Clark street where people were just having a good time. Being in L.A. I'd forgotten how it was in some towns where the music scene thrives seven days a week and people are cuttin' a rug. This is just a fun song about loosening up."
"Take A Look At The Guy" (Wood): "That's from Ronnie Wood's solo album, I've Got My Own Album To Do. We collared him when he was having a listening party for his new album over at A&M Studios. Ian McLagan knew him from the Faces days. We went out to dinner and I asked if he wanted to do a duet on the song. It took a couple of days, but we got it together. We took turns singing. That's his guitar solo at the end. Four in the morning..."
"Come On Now Inside" (Stradlin): "That's a really soft, moody song with piano. It's the slowest tune on the record. It's about winter in Indiana, which is both dark and cold."
For good measure, Stradlin also commented on the rest of the Pressure Drop EP tracks:
"Been A Fix" (Stradlin): "That was sort of an angst song. I thing I was reflecting back to when I was first taking a look around after the success of G N'R and what a fuckin' mess it felt like I was living in. We left Hollywood dirtbags and we came back heroes. What a fuckin' trip. Originally, the track was called 'Sure Been A Trip.' Then I changed it to 'Sure Been A Bitch,' then we mixed it up so some of the vocals are 'been a trip' and some are 'been a fix,' as in jam, like you're in a fix."
"Came Unglued" (Stradlin): "That's the fastest song I've ever written in my entire life. I'd just gotten off the phone with somebody and I went back into my bedroom and recorded this in one take with my guitar and a little miniature buzz amp at full distortion. Then I went back and wrote down what I played, divided it into verse and choruses and wrote the lyrics the next day. It's sort of fragmented, but it's about coming apart completely. Because that's how I felt at the time. Like I was coming unglued. Then I wrote the song and I felt just fine."
"Can't Hear 'Em" (Stradlin/Ashhurst): "I like reggae because you can listen to it anytime, anyplace, anywhere. When ever I get a little wound-up, I put on a reggae tape and I can just kick back. Whenever we'd finish up a song in the studio, we'd go straight into a 15-20 minute reggae jam. Of course, our version of reggae doesn't sound like the stuff from Jamaica. It's kind of like our version of it."
*Japanese release only.
Released: Oct. 1992
Izzy Stradlin & The Ju Ju Hounds broke up in 1993 before work on there second album was completed. You can read more about that on our songs page