The electric eels have left a serious scar on the face of music like few other originals have so far, a complex yet primitive pulsation of audio animosity shot through the universe right at the exact moment when nobody could comprehend it. Chicago may be the Midwest hub population-wise, but we all know that Ohio was Punk’s true Mesopotamia, and nothing spells that out more succinctly as the electric eels.
Founding guitarist Brian McMahon’s long-awaited memoir of his wild proto-punk days is finally here, the first-ever book covering the primordial ooze of Cleveland’s wiry mutants in all their prickly-detailed glory. Over the course of 300 pages, you can really crawl inside the brain of one of America’s finest overlooked musical miscreants, a fascinating glimpse into the vivid details and sickening dreams of one half of the songwriting contribution to the electric eels demented noise. To be so ahead of their time with so little to lose, now just the utterance of their name holds instant reverence with the punk cognoscenti, but that took a while. Once the meat of their recordings was unearthed and had time to circulate, now everyone is tripping over themselves to drool at their feet, and rightfully so.
Jaguar Ride: Memoir of an electric eel taps into the once impenetrable inner space of life around this ground-breaking “band” quite effortlessly. Like the eye of the universe opening up just enough for your weary legs to slip past and dangle in it’s toxic waters, McMahon leads us through his haziest experiences with incredible recollections of what it felt like to stand at the edge of the cliff of possibilities. The electric eels were true originals that streaked across time and space for a very short amount of time in the early-to-mid 1970s, creating nothing short of atonal atrocities glistening with punk promise. Deranged Rust Belt pop songs blanched in chemical waste and chopped mercilessly with a broken food processor and left for dead, only to be rediscovered when the coast was clear for cultures so noxiously curdled to finally thrive. Now that experience is finally here in book form for you to absorb and indulge, and as the mysteries of the eels go many layers deep, fear not and embody their pioneering spirit, finally in print.
“While NYC s(t)inks in mommy n daddys tru$t fund and LA continues to snort coke off a Hollywood Blvd streetwalker’z lifeless boob, the voice of real American rock n roll EXPERIENCE palpitates thru the streets of CLE, be it the punk love of the Pagans or the hashish scarab ink of the 60s mimeo poets bopping around Asphodel bookstore. Brian McMahon LIVED this scene and now here’s his keyhole. Stick it in!”
–Thurston Moore, (Sonic Youth/Ecstatic Peace Records)
“Brian McMahon’s insanely detailed narrative of the gestation and weird expansion of the Cleveland sub-underground music scene is both an everyman’s tale of growing up weird in the suburban ’60s and an essential chunk of secret cultural history. Amazing stuff.”
–Byron Coley, (Forced Exposure, No Wave New York)
“Jaw-dropping musical epiphanies are rare & life-changing enough that they’re impossible to cleanse. When I heard the Electric Eels’ “Agitated” for the first time, an entire cosmos of pre-punk crudity opened, and I gleefully leapt in. The Eels’ surviving recordings were and remain the most unhinged and beautifully damaged relics of the mid-1970s rocknroll wastelands, and I wasted no time trying to foist these knuckle-dragging art terrorists on everyone I knew. Brian McMahon has done current and future scholars a great service by beaming us back to 1960s-70s Ohio, and to the conditions that ripened him to help inflict some of the most transcendent & raw ear-bleed ever known onto mankind.”
–Jay Hinman, (Dynamite Hemorrhage)
“The enduring influence of Cleveland freaks on the international music underground is exemplified in the case of the Electric Eels. These exceptional musicians watched psychedelic expansion hit a wall in the early 1970’s, and responded with a glorious bad trip ecstasy, dealing agitation and repetition of blunt and crude sounds, infantile imagery, obnoxious and hysterical vocals, a presence of disorientation and violent insanity. Their cult is growing, and this memoir by cult leader Brian McMahon provides a view of life before during and after being an Electric Eel. Jaguar Ride reads manic, crackling with sharp observations. The stories are street stories, American 70’s street stories, illegal and free stories, stories of a band that pushed boundaries with malicious intent and written in this spirit, as if Lou Reed’s fantasy of collaborating with Raymond Chandler came to light. ”
–Dan Stewart (Distort Magazine, Total Control, UV Race)
THE WIRE Magazine review: