Reading the breathless adulation with which the KCMU DJs reacted to this slab of vinyl from the larger-than-life Evan Johns and his band, it’s hard not to feel a bit of a bittersweet pang: A little internet research reveals much more of the same fierce admiration coming on thirty years later, combined with regret that Johns never “made it,” was never recognized on a national level for his musical prowess. The man doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page. For shame! He’s still around and playing, though. You can check out his music on Myspace, and check out his fundraising campaign for a new liver on Facebook.
You can also listen to this very album on Grooveshark, which is what I’m doing now. Listening to Rollin’ Through the Night, it’s easy to hear what people love. It’s fierce and loud and ballsy and completely without artifice, and packed with stellar, inventive guitar-playing. Here’s a great post by a fan that will give you a little perspective on the man and his music.
“This is a Jello Biafra ‘discovery.’ This an ’82 recording. He has two other releases on an Austin label, Jungle Records. This is a rock & roll dream. Great songs with solo guitar to tear your ears clean off. This is fucking hot. This belongs in HEAVY. If it gets stuck in M, I ask you DJs to make a big fuckin’ stink until it gets moved up to HEAVY. The H in their name ain’t there for looks!!”
“This guy’s lookin’ good for a gig at Meeker’s Landing. Muck and I are 1, 2 on the guest list. In a perfect world, this would go platinum and earn Alternative Tentacles big bucks to fight the DK’s lawsuit so that they won’t have to put out any more albums. [Someone else wrote over in red pen to make it "so that they could put out many more albums!"] In a perfect world. Oh, well.”
“Yay! A.T.! Yay! E.J.! Yay! DK!”
“Besides being one of hottest guitar players to come along in a long time -- this guy just cooks! I can’t move around & I can’t sit still -- Move it to Heavy!!!”
“Fuckin’ excellent. Yes, even ‘girls’ swear! Sounds like Wolfman Jack lettin’ loose!”
“‘Evacuation’ = Hillbilly spy theme.”
“Very excellent album. P.S. I believe Ric Ocasek is producing his next album. [Nope.] He deserves the big time!”