Before his untimely death at the age of 49, prolific rock and roll musician King Louie Bankston envisioned Harahan Fats as a 22-song release on two cassette tapes. Next month Goner Records is honored to release it as a standalone 40-minute LP and as a limited edition “Director’s Cut” double cassette, as Bankston intended. Goner has been diligently working with his estate to celebrate Bankston’s vast oeuvre by releasing a series of unheard albums from Louie’s back catalogue. The first of this series is the digital (only) release of his 2001 King Louie One Man Band (debut!) album Jesus Loves My One Man Band which was released last month. Harahan Fats is the second of the series and will see its release in stores on vinyl, and cassette (double cassette has bonus tracks, limited to 125) on November 10.
The collection, recorded over a four-year period that culminated in mid-October 2021, showcases an American artist at the pinnacle of his musical and personal identity. An aural roadmap to South Louisiana that’s imbued with personal mythologies and blurry, beer-soaked, and drug-skewed memories. Today Goner has shared another preview of extraordinary posthumous Harahan Fats with its fuzzy, tell-all album centerpiece “Gone Too Far”.
As co-founder and drummer of the Royal Pendletons, Bankston recorded with power-pop legend Alex Chilton. He picked up a Gibson Flying V for his work in Bad Times, a garage rock supergroup that Bankston helmed alongside Eric Oblivian and Jay Reatard. In the 1990s, Bankston channeled his energy into bands like the Persuaders, Intelligenitals, the Clickems, Harahan Crack Combo, and Gerry and the Bastard Makers. At the dawn of the new century, he founded the legendary King Louie One Man Band.
In 2000, Louie pulled up stakes in New Orleans and moved to Portland, Oregon, where he joined the power-pop punk band The Exploding Hearts. Bankston wrote many of the songs and played keyboards on their only album, the highly acclaimed Guitar Romantic, released mere weeks before three members of the band were killed in a van wreck, and recently reissued by Third Man Records. Bankston then landed in Memphis, where he formed the Loose Diamonds, a ramshackle bar band, with Jack Oblivian, Harlan T. Bobo, and Gary Wrong. With guitarist Julian Fried, he formed Missing Monuments and Black Rose Band, founded a New Orleans biker-rock band called Kondor with Mr. Quintron, and reconnected with The Exploding Hearts guitarist Terry Six for Terry and Louie.
Despite Bankston’s musical adventures–and misadventures–Harahan was always home. And much like Bankston’s life, Harahan Fats is laden with truth and tall tales. Some songs are roughly laid down in a single take; others sound fully fleshed, with overdubs with drum machines and horns. On “Coke-A-Cola Cowboy,” and “(Theme From) Crawzilla” a happy-go-lucky Bankston notes recent heartbreaks over jaunty, countrified power pop guitar lines. Bankston’s fans will recognize the more bitter truths that underscore the lyrics of “Gentilly Woman,” the rollicking “Wasted At Work,” and the spoken recitation “Pawn Shop Row.” A few songs are a capella: “Down and Out,” and “Places Like This.” There are also journey songs, like “Trinkets” and a re-recorded version of the King Louie One Man Band song, “Writing the Same Song Over Again.” The heartbreaking “Rehab Legend,” which serves as the centerpiece of Harahan Fats, was not written by Bankston. He discovered this obscure hip-hop song by the rapper “Cadalack Ron” with less than a thousand views on Youtube. In true Louie fashion, he connected with lyrics of “Rehab Legend” and turned it into a stark, acoustic confessional.