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At press time, the 1997 version of 16 Horsepower is preparing to begin rehearsing the material that will wind up on its next album, which the instrumentalists will start recording in Lafayette, Louisiana, in February. The producer of the sessions will be John Parish, a longtime associate of P.J. Harvey who shared credit for the 1996 disc Dance Hall at Louse Point. Tola says the foursome will warm up for this challenge with a date at the Bluebird Theater, probably on either February 7 or 8. This scheduled appearance came as news to Jeffrey-Paul. Upon hearing about it, he laughs before muttering, "I guess I've got more work to do than I thought."

S.A.C., a disc released in the final quarter of 1996, is the fruit of a brief romance between the Psychodelic Zombiez and 16 Horsepower's imprint, A&M; the tracks for the CD were cut mainly at the company's Los Angeles studio. As you might expect from that reference, the sound quality is on par with any national release, effectively spotlighting the Zombiez' stellar instrumental skills. For me, there was a certain over-cleverness at play during some of the arrangements: In "Desert Flower," "The Healing" and "Insecurity Mishap," the melodies were either buried or delayed until their impact was lessened. But the raucous "Babaghanouj," the swingin' "Spank Your Wanky Doody" and the back-and-forth funk workout "Judas" struck me as the sort of bags that Papa would enjoy--and apparently I was right. The group's Kurt Moorehead discloses that the Zombiez have just completed a new demo financed by another major, MCA. "Our producers, Michael Douglas and Alex Reed, knew Mitch Brody, one of MCA's A&R guys, and he came to see us in L.A.," Moorehead says. "And he liked us so well that he arranged for Michael and Alex to fly to Colorado." A week spent at Kerr-Macy studio resulted in the completion of three cuts--a new version of "Sleeping Bag" and two fresh offerings. MCA representatives should review the results sometime this month, and Moorehead is confident they'll like what they hear. "Basically, I think they want to know if we have a radio hit in us--and I think we do. The whole thing turned out slammin'."

The Denver music scene suffered two important losses during December. Bassist Harry Bruckner died in his sleep on Christmas Eve. As Jim Ratts, Bruckner's bandmate in Runaway Express, told Westword during a previous profile ("Ratts Patrol," June 12, 1991), Harry could "read minds on the bass guitar. He learned how to follow in front." Two days earlier, on December 22, blues guitarist Bob Hornbuckle lost his fight with cancer. "Last Call," in which writer Steve Jackson chronicled Hornbuckle's final struggle, appeared on Westword's cover on October 31, 1996, and is still available online at www.westword.com; it serves as a fitting eulogy for an impressive musician and a true character. Both Bruckner and Hornbuckle will be missed.

--Michael Roberts

Backbeat's e-mail address is Michael_Roberts@westword.com. While you're online, visit Michael Roberts's Jukebox at www.westword.com

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