Comparisons to early, smooth-faced Rolling Stones are undeflectable, but a quick glance at Sex 66 -- all striped trousers, shaggy mops, and colored shades -- suggests the simile is welcome, if not sought. Guitarslinger Mike Farrell peels country blues off the rock-stained walls of legends and teaches it something, swirling around the vocal strut of Jimmy Self, who croons like a matinee idol and gargles like an old prairie dog. Saxophone, pedal steel, and Hammond B-3 sidle through the mix, giving Grew Up Down rhapsodic textures while keeping a 1970s base coat. Unlike many Stones proselytizers, this Sacramento outfit has the sort of virile hooks, onstage chemistry, and lyrical ambiguity that make schoolgirls lose their virginity and slightly older girls reach for Sex 66 instead of Let It Bleed. If you don't leave humming "Girlfriend," I owe you a beer after Sex 66 performs on Thursday, Feb. 10, at Last Day Saloon; Bernie opens at 9 p.m. Tickets are $5; call 387-6343.
Cock Sparrer emerged from East London in 1975, playing alongside Thin Lizzy and Motörhead, and force-feeding a combative improvement on Dr. Feelgood's pub-rock scene. The band's snotty, rancorous, anthemic sound, which took inspiration from football matches, eventually set the stage for oi. In 1976, in an endearing display of working-class pride, Sparrer sent Malcolm McLaren packing when he refused to buy them a pint after rehearsal; a month later the Sex Pistols were making headlines. In 1977, Sparrer released a punk version of the Stones' "We Love You" with "Running Riot," a rousing example of cockney realism and street violence set to an unshakable melody. Their complete lack of interest in punk as fashion and their strident disassociation from the "art school" punks left Cock Sparrer out on the terraces while journalists whipped up flashy captions for the group's West London compatriots. In 1978, signed to Decca, the Cock Sparrer debut was released -- in Spain -- and the band faded into cult obscurity, only to re-emerge when its "Sunday Stripper" punk-grind was included on Garry Bushell's famous Oi! The Album compilation. Soon, Cock Sparrer vinyl was selling for outrageous sums of money. The latest, and last, Cock Sparrer album includes a raucous revamp of the 1970 football hymn "Back Home" and a beery farewell to fans called "Goodbye," but nothing compares to sadistic teenage mantras like "Chip on My Shoulder," "Taken for a Ride," "Trouble on the Terraces," and "What's It Like to Be Old" -- all of which will be in full effect (except the last, which will be swapped for "Because You're Young," for obvious reasons) on Saturday, Feb. 12, at the Great American Music Hall, with Reducers SF and Workin' Stiffs opening at 9 p.m. Tickets are $20; call 885-0750.