The Dumber of the Beast

According to the sleeve notes, this album is ‘one of the greatest original interpretations of the new dimension of Psychedelic sound’ – it’s not though: it’s a load of old nonsense.

Underground by Satan and Deciples (sic) is about as satanic as my dog’s farts: released (by Goldband Records) in the same year that Charles Manson and his Family were enacting something the world would forever see as satanic, this silly symphony was hardly likely to turn anyone into a Satanist. It is a load of fun to listen to, though.

Satan was (and quite possibly still is) one Roy O. Bates. Bates started out with a New Orleans bar band and recorded at least one, Screaming Lord Sutch-like single as Satan & Satan’s Roses (a cover of Elliott Small's I'm a Devil backed with We Recommend, Sable 404), before mutating into Satan and Deciples (sic). There are no credits on the album sleeve, although Bates, Childs and Denson were credited as writers on the labels, and the opening Track – Satan’s First Theme – is merely a re-recording of the plug side of the lone Satan & Satan’s Roses 45. Roy Bates/Satan’s show included some fire breathing pyrotechnics, highly unusual for the time – although soon Arthur Brown would be seen on our TVs setting fire to his head! 

Two tracks that didn’t make it to the album were issued on the 45 Mummie’s Curse (sic)/Cat’s Meow. Co-author credit on both cuts is given to ‘F Fender’, and although there’s no mention in his official biography of country star Freddy Fender being our Satan it does appear that he was at one point part of the group. According to Jeff Strichart (commenting on the Bad Cat Records blog in December 2015) Freddy ‘told me that all but one of the Satan and Deciples were dead. They were all Mexican and were hired as a backup band by the mysterious and presumably non-Mexican Roy O. Bates and even Freddy did not know much about him, who he really was, what his agenda was, if he was alive or dead’. With Fender’s passing in 2006 much of the story will remain untold.

As the Bad Cats blog makes plain ‘to be honest, a bunch of 5th graders could have probably come up with something at least as good’. The album seems to catch a band on the cusp of changing from a Sam the Sham or Seeds-style garage band into a more progressive rock band, but the material and the performances just ain’t good enough: despite the band’s best efforts to come across as sinister ‘the predominant satanic theme is about as ominous and threatening as a Tellytubby’. On Ensane (sic) Bates does a passable Lou Reed impersonation, while on Devil Time he goes for a James Brown vibe (even referencing Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag in the lyrics. It’s all a bit of a mish-mash.

Anyway, have a listen to a couple of tracks from the (according to the sleeve notes) Underground and decide for yourself. It’s been reissued on CD and is all over the YouTubes if you want more. Here, for your listening pleasure, is Why the Seas Are Salty and the dreadful Satan on Universe.


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