CBGB and Hilly Kristal at the Stereo Society
CBGB and Hilly Kristal
A Muddy History
The little wiggly pig’s recording documentation has had a difficult 29 years, and yet it still doesn’t get the holiday present it desires. This small, earnest and focused creature has the spirit of struggling artists everywhere.
Depending on who you believe, or who might remember the most clearly, Mud was originally recorded as a B-side to one of Hilly Kristal’s long-gone recordings, years after being sung to his daughter Lisa as she was dandled on his knee. However, the pig’s first public appearance was in 1976 on the CBGB seasonal 7″ single I Wish You A Merry Xmas. Don’t laugh: it got a review in Billboard magazine. Mud might have only been the B. side, but it persisted in the CBGB jukebox for many years.
The basic group playing the original countryish thang was the Shirts, from Brooklyn, who Hilly managed for several years from around that time. One notable alumna is Annie Golden, recently in the Broadway production of The Full Monte. From the others, Artie Lamonica, Robert Racioppo, John Piccolo and Ronnie Ardito are still active musically, even if not quite so prominently as the band in the seventies (the pinnacle for whom was a #8 single in the Netherlands from their first, largely unavailable album). Johnny Zeeek (Criscione) takes leave of his construction business direction for Shirts reunion performances perpetrated occasionally at CBGB until its demise. Their revival CD is Only The Dead Know Brooklyn, released in 2006, with rhythm tracks recorded at the club (sometimes live).
The singalong crew included Tish and Snooky, CBGB 70s scene regulars, who also guest on the more recent version on Hilly’s Mad Mordechai CD. They take occasional time off from running their Manic Panic hair coloring empire (which grew from their intense little boutique on New York’s St Mark’s Place) to sing. Genya Ravan contributed the little wiggly pig’s expression of disgust (eugh) while she was fronting her first solo band and producing the notorious Dead Boys’ first album for Sire Records. Genya was the Goldie of Goldie and the Gingerbreads, the first self-directed all-girl band who had with big hits in the Beatles era (as you all must remember quite clearly).
You can download free mp3s of either side of the 1976 museum-quality punk period piece, vinyl crackles and all, from our free downloads page.
The modern mud saga started in the mid-eighties with a late night suggestion at the bar by Hilly to Mike Thorne (after maybe one drink too many) to ‘re-do Mud with a disoc beat.’ This idea, too good to be true, was not finally realized until the release of Hilly’s first (and only) CD Mad Mordechai in 1999. A 12″ vinyl issue a few years back (of the long-form (over eight minutes) Christmas version, contrasting with the birthday version on the CD) was honored with college radio and club play, to our delight and astonishment.
The complete words are on our site’s Mud page, so you can all oink along together.
In December 2005, we released (for paid download only) the long and short Christmas versions of Mud, together with Barnyard Breakdown.
Mud (1991 Christmas 7″ version)
I Wish You A Merry Christmas
Mud (original 1976 version)