Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog) (last update 5/23/2017)

July 1, 2012

Howie Pyro's Freaks ~ (Heavy Orange) Hippi Skelter: A Rock Opera In Five Movements (EP)

(No official website.)
Style: hard rock, experimental, punk, alt rock
Label: self-released
Year: 1988 (disbanded)
Home: New York City

Members: Howie Pyro ~ bass/b. vocals
Andrea "Big Mama Freaks" Matthews ~ rhythm guitar/vocals
John Fay ~ lead guitar/b. vocals
Eric Eckley ~ drums

"I never want to grow up. - Neither do I, kids are more fun than grown-ups. - We don't have to grow up if we don't want to. We can take some magic I have for that, Crummulus Pills," comes a conversation between Pippi Longstocking & her friend, Annika, opening up this obscure collector's item from the bassist of New York hard rockers D Generation. The voice-over, taken from one of the many Pippi Longstocking movies, eventually is joined by a guitar fading in, bringing along a bubbling mix of indecipherable incantations & studio effects that is nothing less than an acid-laced musical Alice In Wonderland as she falls through the rabbit hole. Thus is the strange five song rock opera about Pippi Longstocking, her friend Annika, & according to later interviews with Pyro, a link to Charles Manson ... though outside of the title that link is a bit hard to discern. Albeit, the link might not be a literary one but a figurative one, as Freaks is an authentic jump back to a psychadelic 1970's where punk is beginning its crawl through underground sewers. If it wasn't for the date on the album, released only on handmade cassettes, one would have no inkling that it was from the age of Motley Crue & Guns N Roses. Freaks was a retro rock outing, here in all its lo-fi glory, lasting barely over a year with Pyro, his future wife, to be nicknamed Big Mama Freak due to this project & who would later find fame with the Fleshtones, her cousin on drums & a friend on lead guitar. It was about an experience over anything that had long-term commercial potential. Freaks called up the spirit of Blue Cheer, the MC5 & the Stooges & they would release only two singles, the album In Sensurround & this little experiment lasting only but a fourth of the cassette. It may not be the most musically coherent album Pyro has been involved with, but it's one of those little obscure releases that drives collectors & fans crazy. This one even more so as information about it & the band is rare, let alone bootleg recordings nearly non-existant. It's certainly one of Pyro's most ambitious projects & while the album might include too many voice-overs from the movie, have disasterous nonsensical lyrics elsewhere (i.e. "When Is The Cow Going To Eat Your Yellow Shirt, Annika (Heavy Orange Reprise)" & "Heavy Orange Theme"), blazing guitar solos destroyed by the voice-overs & wierd sound effects & a bad a cappella piece (i.e. "Heart Is What We're Made Of") ... when the band gets down to playing they actually turn in a great punk driven album. If only they'd left out the crummulus pills this might have been more interesting, instead its a band lost underneath its own art. But, it should be said that for a band that didn't hide the fact that too many drugs were involved in the making of this recording, the songs are pieced together quite well with the many layers showing some dedicated & thought out work, while the vision itself has merit even if the outcome is too psychedelic for its own good. Bonus points for trying & sounding like it was made twenty years earlier than it was. In British English, the term "helter skelter" has the its meaning of "in disorderly haste or confusion" ... Pyro got that right!

(No video available.)


  1. This is good, I got it in the mail from you yesterday. I always enjoy a good tape. I ripped it over to a wave file so I could store the tape. The song "When Is The Cow Going To Eat Your Yellow Shirt" is a good rock & roll song, has that New York/D Generation. It is a shame there were not more songs on this release but well worth owning. Thanks again.

    1. I don't know why I didn't respond to this comment earlier. But, I'm glad I was able to pass the tape along! Maybe you'll pass the tunes around too? And, someday I'll review D Gen here.