17 Pygmies

17 Pygmies

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17 Pygmies officially began in 1982 when then Savage Republic member Philip Drucker (aka Jackson Del Rey) began jamming in a garage with keyboardist and guitarist Michael Kory (Radwaste) and drummer, soon to be singer, Debbie Spinelli from Food & Shelter and Radwaste. The group's first composition was an odd, kind of surf-a-delic, Emerson Lake & Palmer inspired cover version of the theme music to David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia. Since no one was around to say stop, the band quickly devolved into a kind of spooky instrumental and 80's style techno-pop band, and by the time the Pygs, as they were now known to the five people including the band members who knew them, started covering Brazilian sambas (and just before the release of their first EP) Robert Loveless, now a member of Savage Republic, signed on as bass player/keyboardist.

That "Hatikva," EP quickly led (minus Kory, who left to pursue an alternate path to obscurity) to 1984's full length LP “Jedda By The Sea." "Jedda" was an album short on the letter "h" but long on musical innovation and is still considered a "post-punk" masterpiece by those same five people including the band members who though "Hatikva” was worth releasing. Next came 1985's "Captured In Ice" which interestingly contained the non-hit "Chameleon" which made a very influential list called the 100 greatest unknown techno songs. All this obscurity led to several personnel changes (the only permanent idiot,,,er band member is Del Rey) which of course led to the release in 1989 of "Welcome" on the Island Records subsidiary Great Jones label. And they say contrary thought won't get you anywhere. Well, it didn't and the band was dropped the next year (1990) that saw the self- release of the last demos for Island as the EP “Missyfish”.

Ironically( or is it iconic) 17 years later, the “13 Blackbirds/13 Lotus” double CD was released under the indie record label Trakwerx, with original member Del Rey and Welcome era singer Louise Bialik in tow. Another fine fellow worth mentioning, guitarist Jeff Brenneman from White Glove Test also joined the fray. Soon after, there were more personnel changes, and the band reformed as The 17th Pygmy with Meg Maryatt (who was a contributor on 13 Blackbirds/13 Lotus) on vocals, guitar and accordion, Tony Davis, from White Glove Test on bass and Dirk Doucette, also from White Glove Test, on drums.

Thus, in October 2007, “Ballade of Tristram’s Last Harping” was released, which reflected a retro ‘60s Psychedelic-‘70s Classic Rock direction. Ballade is also a visual tribute to the Art Nouveau movement. The Art Nouveau style is probably best exemplified by the works of Gustav Klimpt and Aubrey Beardsley both of whose works were liberally borrowed from (but never credited) on the covers of many, many, many ‘60s albums.

With Jackson Del Rey’s newfound creativity writing experimental prog rock scores to classic silent films (“Battleship Potemkin”,“Nosferatu” & “Tarzan”), he had the idea to record a concept album, “Celestina” (loosely based upon the classic 15th century Latin novel La Celestina, a timeless tale of love and betrayal). 17 Pygmies have returned to their original name, perhaps for good, and continue on in the tradition of their signature sound that was first explored and presented on their classic 1984 release “Jedda By The Sea”.

Not to rest on their laurels, 17 Pygmies, along with their new bass player, Bob Mora, are in the process of writing a new CD that leans toward alternative pop/rock songs, although with that very Pyg vibe. Some new songs have already been performed at live shows such as the IPO Festival at Spaceland in Los Angeles.

And so it is, for now.
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17 Pygmies Discography

Albums

RR 1948 17 Pygmies Jedda By The Sea (Album) Resistance Records (2) RR 1948 US 1984 Sell This Version
RR-01946, RR01946 17 Pygmies Captured In Ice (Album) Resistance Records (2), Resistance Records (2) RR-01946, RR01946 US 1985 Sell This Version
162-536 003-2, CCD 6003 17 Pygmies Welcome (Album) Great Jones, Great Jones 162-536 003-2, CCD 6003 US 1988 Sell This Version
none 17 Pygmies Missyfish / Hatikva (Comp) Nate Starkman & Son, EFA none Europe 1991 Sell This Version
TW 1003 17 Pygmies 13 Blackbirds(CD, Album + CD, Album, Rem) Trakwerx TW 1003 US 2007 Sell This Version
TW 1008 The 17th Pygmy* Ballade Of Tristram's Last Harping(CD, Album) Trakwerx TW 1008 US 2007 Sell This Version
TW 1010 17 Pygmies Celestina(CD, Album) Trakwerx TW 1010 US 2008 Sell This Version
TW 1015 17 Pygmies The Outlaw J.D. Ray(CD, Album) Trakwerx TW 1015 US 2009 Sell This Version
TW 1020 17 Pygmies Celestina Short Story Part Two(CDr, Album) Trakwerx TW 1020 US 2011 Sell This Version
TW 1022 17 Pygmies The Book Of Celestina Part Three: Even Celestina Gets The Blues (A Tale Of Love And Quantum Physics)(CDr, Album) Trakwerx TW 1022 US 2012 Sell This Version
TW 1024 17 Pygmies Isabel(CDr, Album) Trakwerx TW 1024 US 2013 Sell This Version
none 17 Pygmies Isabel II: Abaddon Rising(CD, Album, Ltd, Num) Trakwerx none US 2015 Sell This Version

Singles & EPs

RR01 17 Pygmies Hatikva Resistance Records (2) RR01 US 1983 Sell This Version
TW 1006 17 Pygmies Last Train(7") Trakwerx TW 1006 US 2006 Sell This Version

Compilations

LTMCD 2581 17 Pygmies Jedda By The Sea + Captured In Ice(2xCD, Comp, RM) LTM (4) LTMCD 2581 UK 2013 Sell This Version

Reviews

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megster

megster

July 28, 2012
For anyone who is interested, 17 Pygmies have launched a PledgeMusic site to help fund the new release "Isabel: Part I" which is a continuation of the "Celestina" Sage. In production is also the graphic novel "The Book of Celestina". Some of the exclusives are RARE LPs from Jackson Del Rey's private collection including 17 Pygmies and Savage Republic LPs from the 80s.
Check out our site to see more exclusives available.

http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/isabel

Thank you and please pass the word.

Meg Maryatt

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