In the Backroom


The story began with two limited-edition 10"s, Vol. 1 (STAGO 055LP, 2014) and Vol. 2 (STAGO 062EP, 2015). This six-panel-digipak CD includes the contents of both 10"s as well as three bonus tracks. Deep down from the swamp delta of Berlin, D.C., and straight outta Gin Lane, Londinium, the feral stepsons of carpet dealers and long-forgotten record sellers, Don Rogall and Earl Zinger, with their long-awaited debut. As Alan Lomax once said, "I wish I could have done those recordings with Earl and Don." The music? Rock 'n' blues, dealing with some nasty boogie, jive, and ingredients of exotic origin -- a new breed of juke-joint anthems. Earl Zinger's biography would fill books: poet, mountebank, musician, physician, beast showman, and, to some extent, diviner and sorcerer, he is also the orator of the public marketplace, the man adored by the crowd to whom he offers his songs and couplets. Questions of morals and politics; toothache; pious legends; scandalous tales about priests, noble ladies, and cavaliers; gossip of grog shops; and news from the Holy Land are all in his domain. Rogall has been around, too. Jimmy Castor himself told him once to continue with the music, and there's even a John Lee Hooker tune, "Messin with Don." His music straight from the underground, not quite complete unless you can visualize the dancers who respond to it, the solo exhibitionists like the cigar-puffing, rubber-legged man and the woman whose pelvic grinding would shame any burlesque queen, and this amid a room filled with thrusting, swaying couples including, invariably, one in which a young man's joyous movement is gradually breaking down the shy reserve of his partner -- shouting out loud: "Rock 'n' Rogall!" All efforts have been made to make this release possible; it took years to distill these tunes out of live performances and studio recordings. Already solid hits in the Berlin underground, these releases on Stag-O-Lee are a document of something that otherwise would have been left to the "oral culture" forever.