Friday, April 13, 2007

Back in action. Got half an hour to kill, so let's see if I can rip out a handful of brief reviews before I summonsed back for duties...

EVERLY BROTHERS - Roots CD (Collector's Choice)
Still on an Everlys kick... This is their "comeback" record from '68, in which they attempted to ingratiate themselves w/ The Kids and make a vaguely (and I do mean "vaguely") psych-tinged country-rock type-a deal. Covering old songs "their Daddy taught them" (like their infamous '50s LP of the same name), they rip through a bunch of covers by the likes of Merle Haggard, Glen Campbell, Jimmy Rodgers, George Jones and even Randy Newman. Unlike many other '50s survivors, they didn't embarrass themselves in the process of "reinvention". An excellent piece of work, and if you, like me, worship at the altar of Sweetheart Of The Rodeo, then this is a logical purchase for next time.

THE CRAMPS - All Tore Up LP (revisited Records/boot)
Jay Hinman wrote all about this here, and soon after reading that piece from late last year, I trawled eBay and managed to scoop myself a copy from Germany for US$15. Some people - even Jay himself - hail this as perhaps the best Cramps disc there ever was. Otherwise known as "The Ohio Demos", ATU features a whole bunch of tracks from their first two LPs - Songs The Lord Taught Us and Psychedelic Jungle - some in rather different forms. Funny to think that their demo material from early in their career actually sounds a whole lot cleaner and punchier than their proper studio efforts. As for whether this is better than STLTU or Off The Bone... that's spllitting hairs: this is a good 'un.

BILL SHANKLY - Demo 2007 cassette
Time to party like it's 1982 all over again. I'm usually loathe to review close friends' artistic pursuits, but since I was impressed by the bulk of this months ago when I heard it at the singer's house, and have only just received it in the mail for "review purposes" ( I assume), I figure I'm safe to give it a positive review w/ no fears of nepotism accusations. Bill Shankly - named after the Liverpool Football Club's coach, I think - are a new Melbourne HC outfit comprising of various men in their mid 30s. Their cassette sounds like they haven't seen daylight since Dischord went "emo" some time back in the mid '80s. It has nine songs, two of which are covers: Minor Threat's self-titled number and Negative Approach's "Pressure". The singer - let's call him "Danny" - also happens to have body tattoos featuring the likes of Void and Minor Threat. That should give you a good impression of where the band's head is at. More to the point, they do their schtick awfully well. It's a punchy as fuck screamfest which is over just after it starts. If this was released by Touch & Go in 1981 in an edition of 200, you'd probably be skipping 2 months rent to get the original on eBay. Nice work, kids, now it's time to get the show on the road.

VARIOUS - Loch Ness Monster CD (Trojan)
A frighteningly good collection of "skinhead reggae" from 1970, or, perhaps I should say, this is a reissue of a 1970 skinhead reggae compilation from that year. Skinhead reggae? Don't ask. I'm not clever enough to fully split hairs w/ genres here, but I'm assuming that skinhead reggae was simply a brand of reggae baldies at the time in the UK happened to dig. It ain't DJ/dub style, and it's not pure rocksteady, but somewhere in between. What makes Loch Ness Monster stand out from the zillion other reggae comps orbiting the planet is the horror-themed nature of some of the cuts, w/ songs like the opener, "Loch Ness Monster" by King Horror, "The Vampire" by The Upsetters and "Dracula Prince of Darkness", along w/ the eccentricity of many of the bonus cuts ("Ghost Chicken", "Electric Shock", etc.). There's some weird stuff here, lots of yelping and screaming, so much so I'm surprised the bovver boys of Merry Ol' England gave this the time of day, let alone actively embraced it.

THROBBING GRISTLE - Heathen Earth CD (Mute)
TG's best work, all recorded on Saturday the 16th of February 1980, between 8.10PM and 9.00PM. One take in a studio w/ fifteen friends (including writer Jon Savage, who penned the sleeve notes) in attendance. TG may've been a conceptually brilliant group, all snarls and nastiness, but their music wasn't always as brilliant as the band looked in photos. The crown in that regards goes to Cabaret Voltaire, or at least their flawless first two albums. CV didn't quite have the photo ops, but they had the musical chops. TG did some fine stuff, sure, especially their first two LPs (Second Annual Report and D.O.A.: Third And Final Report), though they still sound like a series of sketches slapped together to show the world there was more to TG than performance art. Mind you, they're pretty good sketches. But Heathen Earth comes together like TG actually cared at one point about penning a tune. The band was given a basic outline to follow in their improvisation, like any other unit: start slow, build up and keep momentum then conclude at the 50-minute mark. Good-time droney electro-noise like they used to, Heathen Earth was an experiment pulled off successfully.


Mrow said...

Dudes with VOID tattoos are always way scarier than guys with BLACK FLAG tattoos.

BTW: I now got a blog of my own, and my NeareSST Relatives piece is it's first post. Do check it out:

Nazz Nomad said...

I have the boxed set of the Cramps Ohio demo's. Great stuff. It's amazing that Lux is still around after all these years, still Tearing It Up.