Thursday, December 16, 2004

BGK – Nothing Can Go Wrogn! LP
That title isn’t a spelling error on my behalf, that’s as it’s written on the cover: a pun on nuclear power and its threat to humanity as we know it. This is, after all, Holland’s BGK. I had to laugh when I pulled this out of the shelf today. I first had this on tape when I was 15. A friend at school – the only other person in my year with a penchant for HC – taped it for me at the time, and it always reminds me of him and his goddamned homemade BGK t-shirt. The guy loved this record; so much so, he spent almost a week slowly tracing the detailed cover art (a cartoon picture of a scientist [actually a skeleton] posing in front of a nuclear power plant as all hell breaks loose), cutting out all the different paper parts for the different colours, and then painstakingly screenprinted each layer for an entire day to make the perfect BGK t-shirt. When someone goes to that much trouble, you know you have to accept an offer for a taping, if only in the name of good manners.

I’ve never much cared for “classic” European HC. There’s some good stuff there, I don’t doubt it, as I do have a hot, and totally ancient, tape of various Swedish bands collecting dust somewhere in my vicinity, though I think my hostility was originally borne from myself purchasing Raw Power’s goddamn awful Screams From The Gutter LP as a 14-year-old, an LP I traded in toot sweet. The buck stopped there: once burned by the continent, I made it my duty to only bother with the Yankee stuff. Still, BGK delivered the goods in spades with this LP. With my worn-out cassette coming to a premature end, I spotted a cheap, secondhand copy of this LP in 1990 and grabbed it before it disappeared forever. Well, it’s back in print on Alternative Tentacles as part of a Complete Discography deal, and has been for a few years, so don’t sweat it. I doubt you will.

The first thing you have to get your head around with this album is that it was made by angry Europeans in 1986. Therefore, they hate everything about America. If you’re feeling a little sensitive about such things, I’d advise you to keep away. I mean, these guys had a major beef with the US of A, of that there is no doubt. To confirm this, the Thank You list is like a who’s-who of right-on radicals of the day: MDC, Jello, Tim Yo, Reagan Youth, The Ex, Dicks, etc. In general, I care little these days for the political nature of music, so I’d like to discuss the actual music instead.

This was a period when the shadow of Discharge still loomed large over the punkers of Europe, and BGK were no exception. The basic ingredient is this: apply the two-chord thrash of Why?/Hear Nothing…-period Discharge and embellish with the accent of your native tongue. That isn’t to say that BGK were mere copyists. Why, far from it! Throatsman Rene has the barking vocals down to a tee, though the music is a little more eclectic. A little. For one, there’s a few token dirges, slabs of guitar noise which were probably written after a hard night on the cider and a flogging of My War’s B-side. There’s also a surprisingly melodic mid-tempo track as the closer, “Sad & Saintly”, a number you can sing along to without having to raise your voice, and of course in between all this is a smorgasboard of 2-minute, buttocks-shredding HC which passes you by at the speed of light. Truth be told, this album puts a fire under my ass at this point in my life like I never would’ve predicted 17 years back. It’s a scorcher!

Let’s have a song-title rundown so we can gauge the levels of angst present: “Pencil Pusher”, “Civil Terror”, “Pay To Die”, “Computer Control”, “TV News (Distorted Views)”, “Institutional Mentality”, “Injected Insanity”, “Youth For Crime”, “The Greatest American Zero”… the list never ends! The clincher for me remains track 5, “Jonestown Aloha!”. It starts off with an utterly generic guitar riff (you can picture the guitarist furiously moving the chords up and down the neck), then explodes into one of the most menacing oompah/two-step drum beats and takes off for the sky, Rene screaming his lungs out about something or other. Halfway through it dissolves into a faux funk beat for a few bars, a trick which usually falls flat on its face and embarrasses most participants - though they pull it off – and then rages back into the storm for another verse and chorus. Over and out.

BGK were pretty hot for about two seconds in their day, especially since they toured the US at the time, but have generally been forgotten since. More’s the pity: this is a fine disc, and if you like to party hard, fight the pigs and get down to the sounds of Discharge, Minor Threat, Void, SSD, Negative Approach and their ilk – short, fast & loud – you might want to add Nothing Can Go Wrogn! to your Xmas basket.

No comments: