Essential New Music: Dredd Foole & The Din’s “Songs In Heat”

“On any given night, it’s a different band that’s the greatest rock ’n’ roll band in the world,” Keith Richards once told Rolling Stone. On Feb. 2, 1982, that band was not treading the boards of some stadium, or even a sweaty club. That band was a 32-year-old music enthusiast who, as a birthday present, had been set for a studio date with some pals who had another band of their own. 

The singer on that date was generally known as Dan Ireton, but maybe “singing” isn’t the best description for what he did when he turned into Dred Foole. He hooted, hollered and hurled words like they were projectiles that could level buildings—and he had a thing against buildings. His confederates, usually known as Mission Of Burma, mostly switched instruments; Roger Miller played Farfisa organ, Martin Swope hefted an electric bass with alligator clips on its strings, and Clint Conley played lead guitar. Only drummer Peter Prescott played his usual instrument, but instead of his usual drum kit, he had one tom and one cymbal. More options would have gotten in the way of being Dredd Foole & The Din.

Unrehearsed, they played and recorded five songs, one take each, two of which would make it to a single. The a-side, “So Tough,” fairly leaps out of whatever speakers are handy like the Modern Lovers being blasted into orbit by an Apollo rocket fueled by pure adrenaline. That was their polite how d’you do. Dredd Foole opened the flip side, “Sanctuary,” with a blood-curdling invocation, which he roared thrice before dragging the rest of the Din on a headlong, Seeds-meets-Velvets charge past nowhere.

That single, if you could find it, would probably set you back a few mortgage payments. But now you can hear it—along with the hitherto unreleased rest of the session and some live tracks from a concert six months later—on a new CD called Songs In Heat. The rest of the recording, which mixes Foole originals with covers of songs by the Animals, Pere Ubu and the Velvet Underground, is every bit as visceral and unhinged as the tracks from the original single. Rumor has it that Corbett Vs. Dempsey has volumes more Dredd Foole music lined up for future releases, but even if that never comes to pass, here’s your chance to get ahold of the sound of the best rock band on earth on Feb. 2, 1982. Don’t blow it. 

—Bill Meyer