The Racketeers may not have been single-handedly responsible for Boston's mid-'90s roots-rockabilly revival -- back then, the guy everyone curtsied to was Cranky Frankie -- but they were damn well sure the motorvatin' engine that threw the whole thing into third gear. Wild, unhinged, and repping the ghosts of Scollay Square, these guys were mad for a racket that implied punk rock's primal steez but stuck to the '50s r&r script with an ear for the kind of stylistic nuances that made record collectors sweat motor oil. Frontman Dana Stewart would stand behind the drum kit spewing wisecracks in a grating, raspy, rusty-carburetor accent, but he sang like a teen angel on crystal meth. They had a strange effect on people. Once, way back in the day, we went to see them at T.T.'s. Out on the sweaty dancefloor, our roommate accidentally elbowed guitarist Tom Umberger's then-girlfriend, and an argument ensued. Tom came down off the bandstand to confront our roomie, who promptly fainted -- the only time we've ever seen a dude pass out deadaway from fright. Years later, after they'd become one of our favorite bands, OTD booked the Racketeers to provide the soundtrack to some big party or other (apparently we were getting married or something?). What little recollection we have of the event has something to do with them playing an extremely sloppy version of the Stooges' "No Fun." Well, there was that, and there was the good friend of the bride's who came to the party with her live-in boyfriend and more or less left with Umberger. Which sounds sleazy, but Tom and said friend-of-the-bride's eventually got hitched, so we're inclined to call it fate. Anyhowz, the good news this week is that the original Racketeers lineup has got back together -- Umberger and the wife are coming back from their new home base of Austin, even -- for a show at T.T.'s on August 4. We're hoping the fainter count is higher among the ladies than among the men.
LISTEN: to the Racketeers, at MySpace