The inspiration came on a smoky, guitar-flashing night at Austin’s Continental Club. The LeRoi Brothers were scorching their way through another frenetic set, punctuated by rousing vocals and a powerhouse rhythm. Something had to be done to get this band on vinyl! Bruce Sheehan heard the plea and Jungle Records was born.
The LeRoi Brothers‘ – Check This Action (1006) was released in the spring of 1983 with a Rock & Roll parade down Austin’s Congress Avenue that featured the boys jammin’ from the bed of a pick-up. The critically acclaimed LP exceeded all expectations and is now considered a classic roots Rock & Roll record. In 2017 a Deluxe CD Reissue was released that includes Six Bonus Tracks, four taken from the legendary Moon Twist EP that was originally released on Amazing Records in 1981. The two additional outtakes were taken from the Check This Action 1983 sessions.
On the heels of that success, Jungle unleashed Big Guitars from Texas – Trash, Twang and Thunder (1007), an exceptional album that featured 14 sizzling instrumentals by six of Austin’s most renowned musicians: Denny Freeman, Evan Johns, Frankie Camaro, Don Leady, Mike Buck and Keith Ferguson. The LP received considerable attention on college and alternative radio charts and, more prestigiously, was widely recognized by the industry when in 1985 it was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of Best Rock Instrumental Performance. That same year N.A.I.R.D. presented the Big Guitars an Honorable Mention Award for Best Indie Rock Album. 1988 found the Big Guitars burnin` up on Compact Disc, released in January by RykoDisc (20074).
1985 also saw the Halloween release of the Commands single – Psycho/My Baby Loves Monster Movies (8501-45). Core ghouls Suzy Elkins and Gerry “Phareaux” Felton were joined by spooks Mike Buck, Omar Dykes, Don Leady, and Wes Starr and included a cameo appearance by Al “Grandpa Munster” Lewis.
1986 proved to be the busiest year so far for the label. The self-titled debut by Evan Johns & the H-Bombs (1008) was released in early April. The epic LP which balances Johns’ raucous guitar-wielding tapestry with powerful countryish tunes and ballads, was partially produced by Garry Tallent of Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street Band. Danny Federici, another E-Streeter, is featured in a cameo appearance.
Only three months later the Wild Seeds were welcomed into the Jungle fold. Their full-length debut LP, Brave, Clean & Reverent (1009), was released in the fall of 1986. It features the songwriting talents of Michael Hall and the included Joey Shuffield of Fastball fame.
1987 found the Kings of American Reggae, Austin’s Killer Bees, releasing their first LP for Jungle, entitled Groovin’ (2001). This killer disc features Michael E. Johnson, along with very special guests Cyril Neville, Daryl Johnson, (from the legendary Neville Brothers) & Timbuk 3 and earned N.A.I.R.D.’s top award in ’87 for Best Indie Reggae Release. – An outstanding blend of solid Reggae and Rock & Roll.
The Fall of 1988 saw the Jungle hopping with preparations for the September release of Mamou (1010), the Cajun-bred, hard hittin`, swampy rock, slam dance band, that named themselves after their hometown, Mamou, Louisiana. Their debut release, entitled Mamou, is an evolutionary blend of Rock & Roll and traditional Cajun like you`ve never heard before. 1990 saw this legendary LP re-released on MCA Records (10124) along with the band & their music featured in the 1991 film Scorchers (Faye Dunaway and James Earl Jones).
Evan Johns sleighs Santa Claus! -what next!! 1989 saw Jungle’s holiday season rocked right off its North Pole by that guitar maniac, Evan Johns & his H-Bombs, with the release of the mini-LP Please Mr. Santa Claus (4001). Originally pressed exclusively on red vinyl (now op), the 1990 season brought a collaboration with the infamous RykoDisc for the release of the Compact Disc (30169).
The fall of 1990 brought a burnin’ release by those mid-west desperadoes the Highwaymen* that featured Troy Campbell and Scrappy Jud Newcomb (who went on to form Loose Diamonds). The appropriately titled Live Texas Radio (3003) is all guitar Rock & Roll with just a pinch of country flavorin’ thrown in. It was recorded in Austin for KUT-FM’s Live Set. The superb songwriting talents of the great Troy Campbell will immediately rope you in. * (no not Willie & the boys).
Now jump ahead to 2012. The reunited True Believers, having had so much fun delivering a scorching set at Grulkefest (an event honoring the late Brent Grulke), reform with original members Alejandro Escovedo, Javier Escovedo, Jon Dee Graham, Denny DeGorio, and Rey Washam. A studio session in the spring of 2013 produces two singles – Dedication and Gipsy Son. Again Jungle heard the call and was honored to put out the tracks as digital downloads and via a five song CD – EP entitled Dedication (1303) that also includes three live KUTX cuts. Simultaneously, Jungle released the long out of print two original studio LP’s as a digital download entitled Hard Road.
Ya never know what will come out of the Jungle!!