Colonel Knowledge and the Lickity Splits
As a genre, doo-wop has been the least-mined for contemporary inspiration, overshadowed by the wealth of '50s R&B gold.
While there's merit in two-minute symphonies of teenage heartbreak, wide-eyed malt-shop innocence wears thin after repeated listening. There was, however, an interlude in the early '60s when the '50s weren't yet over, musically speaking; music with candy-sweet soul, but filtered through a hipness that looks quaint today—when psychedelic meant a couple of marijuana puffs in the garage rather than acid confusion.
Later, the New York Dolls defined trashy glam but it was the cute English glitter boys who stayed the course of going steady with their adolescent audience even while confounding them with ambidextrous sexuality.
Encompassing all of the above, with a nod to pre-fab "bands" produced by frenzied bubblegum-masters Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz (Ohio Express, 1910 Fruitgum Company, Professor Morrison's Lollipop), comes Colonel Knowledge and the Lickity Splits, looking backward and forward at the same time, from Shadow Morton to The Sweet.
Farfisa-driven hip-check grooves and sugar-coated falsettos not only give thanks to cardboard breakfast cereal records but bands like T. Rex who, while infinitely cooler than the Fruitgums, continued to aim for the teen girl's grape-sodapop heart (and pocketbook).
From Athens, Ga., Colonel Knowledge adds enough frenzy and goofball glee to the proceedings to win you over, but takes their colorful cavalcade of sound seriously.
Perhaps the bigger question than “How can Colonel Knowledge replicate their orchestral Kasenetz-Katz exuberance on stage?” is, “Will they be selling groovy Lickity Split lunch boxes from their merch table?”
Colonel Knowledge and the Lickity Splits and The Dirty Novels play Wednesday, March 22, at Atomic Cantina. Show starts at 10 p.m. Free.