Who the Hell are the Fuzzy Navels? Mystery group keeps identity under wraps, releases smashing holiday original. By Mandy Erickson I'll admit it. Before I even listened to Another Christmas by The Fuzzy Navels, I must have spent a good ten minutes staring at the artwork trying to figure out what the hell was going on. First, the photos. On the cover, just a close-up of the girls' midriffs wrapped in purple Christmas lights. Flip it over and you get another close-up of just their backsides. No faces anywhere. Then the names in the credits popped out at me: Yvana Kage-Banks, Veronica Stroke, Mona Chrome. Sure, stage names are a dime-a-dozen in the music industry, but these seemed almost intentionally unbelievable-as if the band were challenging you to figure out who they really are. The rest of the names in the credits didn't help, either. Everyone involved-from producer Thelonious Roth to alleged organist Wally 'King' Congo-seemed to be cloaked by a taunting alias. Eventually, I pressed play. And then, BOOM!-in jumps a Motown-on-steroids drumbeat leading the way for one of the catchiest, tastiest electric guitar riffs ever. The whole thing keeps building relentlessly until the girls top it off with their call-and-response harmonies in the chorus, and you could almost swear this is the track Joan Jett & the Supremes recorded in a parallel universe. Or maybe it was Diana Ross & the Blackhearts. Either way, after three-and-a-half minutes of sheer pop bliss, you've been hit by so many hooks, it's almost ridiculous. And then they do the impossible-they fade out on me before I'm ready to leave. Now I really had to know who was behind all this. As I expected, it was impossible to track down any of the band members using the names on the sleeve. As for their collaborators, I couldn't verify if any of them even existed.?The only lead came from a phone call to the Savor Records label (which does indeed exist!) Savor wasn't giving away the game either, but they did put me in touch with an actual person who was present at the recording session: Darrin Tate, assistant engineer at Shangri-Lava studios. 'Everything was very hush-hush at the studio,' he explains, 'When I got to the session, all the instruments and microphones were set up facing away from the control booth. When the band entered, the lights in Studio B were almost completely dimmed. The girls plugged in and started checking the sound with their backs to me, and believe it or not, that's how they tracked the whole song.' But what about their producer? 'I never actually saw him because he did the session from a separate booth that we normally use for amps. He had a talk-back mic wired in there so that we could hear him.' Tate speculated as to the true identity of the band members and their producer, but didn't want to go on the record 'just in case.' So the question is, are the Fuzzy Navels superstars in disguise having fun with a one-off side project? Or are they just a bunch of talented unknowns trying to break into the biz with a clever gimmick? I still don't know for sure. But I do know this: for those of us who are tired of listening to the same old holiday drone every year, Another Christmas is a welcome antidote. And I wouldn't be surprised if I'm still grooving to it in June-it's that good. Rock on, Fuzzy Navels-whoever you are.
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