SLUB - Barracuda 7" (Death Valley/1995)The band known as Slub were quite the big deal in the "underground" down here (and elsewhere) at some point in the late '80s/early '90s. They put out an ace cassette in 1987 through Au-go-go (not officially an Au-go-go release, I think, but released through their channels somehow) which showcased a lo-tech grime-rock which, whilst not far from the '80s pack of noise-rakers popular at the time (Big Black, Buttholes, Flipper, Scratch Acid et al) in approach, also lent a heavy debt to a vast array of '70s rockers (from Hawkwind to Pere Ubu to Can to the riff-rock of 'Sabbath and Zep') and post-industrial units such as Nurse With Wound, Coil and all those Limey self-mutilators. It was quite the brew, and they fitted in snugly w/ fellow compadres of the time such as King Snake Roost, Thug, Venom P. Stinger and co. (all heavily touted by the great B-Side 'zine: the essential 'Strine rag for the latter half of the '80s). Dr. Jim - the man who released their debut LP in 1990, Roottmann - and I have often thrown around the idea of putting our collective skulls together and releasing a Completely Discography CD pack of Slub's wares: the cassette, LP, comp' tracks, Sympathy 7"s, etc., and whilst we're both convinced that such a nice public service would give us a free pass in the next life, there's also the fear that such a grand folly would only help empty out our bank accounts and contribute to the landfill known as the current CD-buying climate. Thoughts?
Anyway, the band went through a zillion line-up changes in their life (approx. 1985-'95) - for many years they included celebrity multi-instrumentalist, comedian and man-of-a-thousand-bands, John Murphy, and apparently even featured the Dirty 3's Warren Ellis in their ranks for a period - but somehow managed to be never anything less than pretty darn good in their recorded output. Slub aren't the kinda band you're gonna put on at your next barn dance; Vikki Riley's screeching howl assures that. The thick coats of guitar squall, electronic FX and pounding drum beats also likely don't contribute to most humans' idea of a "good time". But there's this one exception in their catalogue: their rendition of Heart's '70s megahit, "Barracuda". It's surprisingly faithful to the original, not a butchering by any means. Whilst not possessing the massive FM-radio production of the original, it still crunches with a BIG sound: the chugga-chugga guitar riffs, Riley's awesome note-perfect wailing and a sense of momentum which never lets up. You could play this at yer next Blue Light disco and likely walk out w/ all bodily parts intact. There's no getting 'round it: it's an excellent interpretation. The B-side tracks are from '89 w/ a different line-up; "Blind Owl" is the kinda bruised guitar dirge they perfected at the time, and "White Panda" (a traditional Chinese folk tune, sez the liners) is a more experimental piece and churns like a Current 93 track before Tibet went off w/ the faeries (fitting, since John Murphy was in an early line-up of the C93). Only 300 of these were ever made, then they're gone forever... worth all the pennies.