The great state of Minnesota invented ice surfing, and the great Trashmen invented ice surfing surf rock, which required an immense imaginative leap because ice surfing is a rural legend, I mean who was going to go stand on the ice of Lake Winnibigoshish on their surfboard in swimming trunks and turn into a human popsicle while going nowhere, which is just one of the reasons why Minneapolis’ Trashmen were so awesome, that and the fact that they bequeathed us (even if they stole it) the timeless and brilliant “Surfin’ Bird,” which could well be the most loony tunes (and hence best) song to come out of the Gopher State this side of Cows’ “Whitey in the Woodpile.”
Yep, there’s no gainsaying the mad amphetamine rush of Bob Reed’s frenzied vocalspiel on “Surfin’ Bird”; he basically invents the Ramones, barks and squawks, cackles maniacally, flaps his gums and produces raspberries and stutters, and finally gives up on human speech altogether as an inadequate tool for imparting the World Changing message that he has to convey, namely that the bird is the word, man, the bird is the word. You can travel all ‘cross this crazy land and never hear anything like it, Reed’s demented siren call to arms, and I’m here to tell ya that nobody, not Syd Barrett or Arthur “The God of Hellfire” Brown or Britney Spears even, ever went this far out on the limb of total insanity and lived to tell about it.
1990’s Sundazed Records release of Live Bird 65-67 is pretty much self-explanatory; on it the Trashmen roam the U.S. spreading dementia the way that apocalyptic cell phone pulse does in Stephen King’s Cell, playing songs like “Surfin’ Bird,” the great follow-up “Bird Dance Beat,” the very cool “King of the Surf,” and “Ubangi Stomp,” all of which are guaranteed to jump-start your bing-bang-boom heart in ways having nothing to do with the lobes of your cerebral cortex. Which is tremendous; who needs free moral agency when they’ve got “Mashed Potatoes?” Or one of my own personal faves, the raucous “Henrietta”?