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Alternative Folk

Shockabilly was largely the brainchild of avant-garde guitar virtuoso Eugene Chadbourne; along with cohorts Mark Kramer on bass and organ and David Licht on drums, Shockabilly mixed radical reinterpretations of rockabilly and rock & roll oldies with crazed Chadbourne/Kramer originals demonstrating the band's additional grounding in free jazz improvisation and avant-garde experimentation. Shockabilly was not always the most listenable group around -- their sense of humor is not for everyone, and Chadbourne's often silly, processed vocals grate on some -- but remained challengingly distinctive. The group first appeared on Rough Trade in 1982 with an EP, The Dawn of Shockabilly, which was followed the next year with Earth vs. Shockabilly. 1984's Colosseum and Vietnam and 1985's Heaven found the group hitting its stride, but by the end of the year, Shockabilly was no more. Chadbourne went on to an equally idiosyncratic solo career, while Kramer dropped his first name, recorded solo and with Bongwater, and founded indie stalwart Shimmy Disc, which has since reissued the Shockabilly catalog in various repackagings. Steve Huey

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