The Nightcaps

"These are the Nightcaps. They play exciting music. They play in an exciting style. They play rhythm and blues. They play good."
So wrote disc jockey Bill "Hoss" Carroll of WRR's Kats' Karavan on the back of the white Texas R&B kings' lone album. He spoke the truth. Authors of two of the greatest booze-fuelled frat bashers ever to grace the rock 'n' roll world, "Wine, Wine, Wine" and "Thunderbird," Dallas's Nightcaps were one of the most influential proto-garage bands of all time, worshipped by famed Lone Star State rockers the Vaughan brothers and ZZ Top. Coming together as high school students in 1958, the Nightcaps issued the classic Wine, Wine, Wine LP on Vandan in '61, long before albums were commonplace in the rock 'n' roll market. With the aforementioned alcoholic anthems opening sides one and two respectively, the remainder was comprised of greasy instrumentals ("Tough, That's All," "Nightcap Rock") and their own takes on R&B favorites like "Twenty Four Hours (A Day)" and "Sweet Black Angel," all laced with the stabbing single note blues leads of guitarist David Swartz. Captured on tape by Dallas songwriter Bob Kelly (He wrote "Git It" and "Somebody Help Me" for Gene Vincent) while he was supposed to be tending to his late night WRR radio slot, the astounding array of Fender equipment on display in the front cover photograph should have yielded these guys a serious sponsorship. The album's title cut immediately registered in the frat rock canon and is blasted out at many a keg party to this day; the greatest version besides the original probably being that of the Bleach Boys. "Thunderbird" went even further, being immortalized by ZZ Top at their legendary concert at New Orleans' Warehouse Club, which went on to be released as the Fandango LP. Another Nightcaps fan, Stevie Ray Vaughan, also recorded it; while his brother Jimmy was said to have sat down and learned the entire LP before naming his Fabulous Thunderbirds in honor of it.

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