Galactic Cowboys create melodic prog-metal with a Beatlesque vibe

galactic cowboys

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, AUG. 26, 1993

By Steve Newton

I heard someone say once that they do things differently down in Texas, and after chatting with Galactic Cowboys vocalist Ben Huggins, I believe it. Take, for example, the photos that accompany the Houston-based band’s latest release, Space in Your Face. While more hoity-toity (pronounced “L.A.”) rock acts would scoff at using anything less than the hippest, most expensive photographic studios to shoot their liner art, the good ol’ Galactic boys just took a photographer up to Huggins’ brother-in-law’s ranch and did their business in the barn.

And when it came time to do the CD’s nifty cover shot—an elderly gent in a silver space suit, comin’ at ya in an eerie green glow—there was no cause to hire an actor or model to play the spaceman part.

“That’s just a ranch hand,” says Huggins, calling from El Paso. “That’s a guy that worked on the ranch there, and when the photographer said, ‘Can I get somebody in the suit?’ he just said, ‘Yup, I’ll do it.’ ”

That’s the kind of direct action that no doubt won the West, and also, in this case, immortalized one accommodating old cowpoke on the cover of a very refreshing and adventurous hard-rock release. As on their self-titled debut of ’91, the Galactic Cowboys juxtapose acoustic guitars with thrash tempos, and power chords and dense solos with bright melodies and lush harmonies. It’s the kind of sound that tempted one critic to ask: “Why did Metallica cross Abbey Road? So it could become the Galactic Cowboys.”

As well as bringing such exotica as sitar and tabla into its sonic mix, the band had a Houston-based symphony cellist sit in on three tracks. You might hear him on only one tune, though, especially if you’re the kind of listener who changes the CD just because you think it’s over. You never know when those hidden CD tracks are gonna leap out at you.

“It was our idea to have ’em on the album,” says Huggins of Space in Your Face’s two concealed songs, “but we had to compromise with the record company. They wanted a short album, just nine songs, and we wanted to go ahead and put the other two on. They said, ‘Well, that’s fine, but you gotta bury ’em,’ so that’s why they’re located at position 21 and 32.”

Some folks may never even get to hear those bonus tracks, since they’ll be too entranced by tunes like “You Make Me Smile” and “Circles in the Field” to let the unidentified ones run their course. But most of the tunes on Space in Your Face will probably make an appearance when the band plays the Town Pump on Sunday (August 26), making its northernmost sojourn to date.

“We’ve been up to Seattle,” says Huggins, “and people from Vancouver would come down and go, ‘Hey, man, why don’t you come up to Vancouver?’ And I tried to tell ’em it really doesn’t have anything to do with us—it’s the booking agency, ya know. They book it and we just show up and play. So this’ll be our first trip to Canada, but we’re looking forward to it. We’re excited about getting up there.”

 

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