Hindu Love Gods was an American rock band that was, in essence, an occasional side project of R.E.M.
The band debuted with three scattered gigs (all in Athens, Georgia) in 1984. They played mostly cover tunes, though a few unreleased originals also made it into the mix. The first gig took place on Valentine’s Day, 1984, and featured Bryan Cook (vocals and piano, a member of Athens bands Oh-OK and Time Toy), and R.E.M. members Bill Berry (drums) Peter Buck (guitar) and Mike Mills (bass). The follow-up gig took place two weeks later; added to the line-up was R.E.M. lead singer Michael Stipe on vocals and drums, and Warren Zevon on vocals.
Zevon’s career stretched back to the late 60s and for over 30 years until his death from cancer in 2003 at the age of 56, he was a huge influence on many big hitters and popular artists within the American music industry without himself ever enjoying much mainstream success. He was also an almost complete-unknown here in the UK.
The third and final gig of 1984 was in June and featured the Cook/Berry/Buck/Mills line-up.
Hindu Love Gods went into the studio as a quintet that summer, with the line-up of Berry/Buck/Cook/Mills/Zevon. They recorded two songs for release as a single, which were eventually issued two years later. The A-Side, Gonna Have A Good Time Tonight was a cover of an Easybeats tune; the B-side, Narrator was a Bill Berry composition that R.E.M. had played live, but never recorded.
After a period of inactivity, Hindu Love Gods played one 1986 gig in Athens as a benefit gig for the family of a musician who had died in a car accident. The line-up for this performance was Berry, Buck, Cook, Mills and Stipe.
Buck, Mills and Berry later joined Zevon as his back-up band while recording the latter’s solo album Sentimental Hygiene in 1987. During an all-night (and supposedly drunken) session in the midst of recording said album, they also churned out ten cover songs. None of these were intended for release, but such was the demand for R.E.M. product just a few years later that an LP called Hindu Love Gods was released on Giant Records in 1990.
A single was also released. This is the 12″ version:-
mp3 : Hindu Love Gods – Raspberry Beret
mp3 : Hindu Love Gods – Wang Dang Doodle
mp3 : Hindu Love Gods – Mannish Boy
You’ll need to excuse the little hops and skips on the two b-sides as the plastic is second hand and not in great nick….but you’ll hopefully get an idea that it all sounds like some guys who have a love for the blues just enjoying themselves in a recording studio because they can. But it doesn’t float my boat all that much. Here’s another cover version of one of those songs which is a unique sort of take on the blues:-
mp3 : PJ Harvey – Wang Dang Doodle (Peel Session)