Sun City Girls still shine

Pub date May 20, 2008
WriterWill York
SectionMusicSectionMusic Features

PREVIEW When Sun City Girls drummer Charles Gocher died of cancer last year, it was a shock to fans of the long-running band. The group hadn’t publicized his illness, and they seemed to be as active as ever during the few years prior to this sad, surprising news. Following Gocher’s death, the remaining members — brothers Alan and Rick Bishop — immediately disbanded the group, which had the same three-piece lineup since 1981. Along with their current nationwide tour, Alan and Richard Bishop’s The Brothers Unconnected: A Tribute to Charles Gocher and Sun City Girls (Abduction) is meant to close the book on this influential, inspiring, and sometimes maddening ensemble.

No one will ever accuse the Sun City Girls of being predictable or easily accessible. They were probably best known for their various fusions of psych-rock with influences from the Middle East (the Bishops are half-Lebanese), India, and Southeast Asia. But part of their charm was their willingness to do anything they felt like: a movie soundtrack, a radio play, or an album of trashy 1970s rock covers. With all that in mind, the tour-only The Brothers Unconnected is the most concise, approachable summary of the vast SCG catalog you’re likely to find. It showcases the Bishops together on acoustic guitar and vocals, live in the studio, doing renditions of some of their "hits." There is plenty of black humor, with Rick doing his best Gocher impression on the ornery "Ballad of (D)anger," and Alan hilariously handling "Six Kids of Mine," a song about strangling a gaggle of crying children in order to get some sleep. There are also moments of unadorned beauty on par with anything they’ve done: the mysterious, gently flowing "Cruel and Thin" and a handful of tunes from 1990’s Torch of the Mystics (Majora), including dramatic spaghetti-western anthem, "The Shining Path," and the sunny, raga-like "Space Prophet Dogon." If this disc is any indication of what their upcoming show at Slim’s will sound like, then it’s a must-see for anyone interested in this legendary group.

ALAN BISHOP AND RICHARD BISHOP PRESENT "THE BROTHERS UNCONNECTED" With Neung Phak. Wed/21, 8 p.m., $16–$18. Slim’s, 333 11th St., SF. (415) 522-0333,