Saturday, April 04, 2009
As The Lights Go Down
As the resurgence of everything eighties continues with all the indecent haste of a Stalinist firing squad so does the tendency for bands to plunge into the mainstream melee and thus achieve mere meandering status. Built on the sturdy buttresses of usual suspects such as Maiden, Metallica, GN’R and Queen it quickly takes you into a realm of despair at the landscapes bereft of true inspiration that it proudly opens up to you. Sure there’s melody and soaring vocals – by numbers - and some chug-thrusting guitars but it’s all too redolent of a Ford Mondeo advert (because the name conjures Nightranger?), too clinically concise and it generally drifts past on gently undulating waves of bluster that aren’t too clued up about where or when they’re going to come to a rest or what shop to go into first nor which unruly tyke to tell off beforehand. The sound and spirit of those bands above is largely, or, let’s be blunt, massively absent in this. Some may take the side that this indicates a sloughing off of such childish affairs as influences. Though from this rickety seat, rest assured that it does mean that this is sorely needing the single, slight but massive in scope, spark of individuality to shake it’s main above the parapets It’s not terrible and will no doubt succeed on a smallish scale, though one large enough to prove me wrong. It just doesn’t do very much at all never mind go anywhere, and never mind again it actually convincing the listener to divest some attention in their direction. That will then, I suspect, serve to embolden my misanthropy into ever greater mires of curious condescension and quizzical incomprehension at the audience awaiting with barely acknowledged baited breath for bands brandishing such bland, banal, bread knife music. Then again, look at pretty much any mass appeal – many a slight appeal too, for that matter – band and try not to come to a sociopathic conclusion. Dull as several decades of dishwater from the dampest, dirtiest, down at heel drablands of Dewsbury. Class dismissed.
Pearls Before Swine
This quartet hail from and rail around East LA’s last chance saloons and lost roll casino’s, lashing the Hispanic sections' long-established roots in Rockabilly into the ground as the foundation on which their concrete-cracking garage squall can fester in abundantly arable degeneration. Assailed by storms and street hassles these monuments to raw, whisky-raddled, risk-reared rumpus can never stay constantly secure and so are prone to episodic bouts of pandemonium as they succumb to the peculiarly pickled ravages of ju ju howls, mentally incapacitating mantras and driftwood dirges over unscrupulous daughters, as started on their self-titled debut VR release of a couple years ago. It should be noted that honcho mister uno Herman Senac was founder of cow-punk decimation squadron Blood On The Saddle, which may at least partly explain why this doesn't settle for paltry yelps at The Stooges back pockets and frayed seams. Early Gun Club remain an obvious reference point, you can also detect the drone of Spacemen 3 on sweltering, petrol-fume-throated 3,000 Miles, they in turn being overly influenced by Jeffrey Lee’s lot as well as Suicide, and classic sixties monoxide-riled marauders like The Seeds (Forbidden Wayout) and The Count Five (Of Faith) and on upto The Birthday Party (Suffer So Easy) and Billy Childish (Don't Wanna Know). Once again, part 33, Voodoo Rhythm resident dimension-shifting chieftain Beat-Man unleashes a unique asset of his singular production line, for general ubiquity to ignore.
Following last year’s Skeletons album then the live CD/DVD hextravafanga Fuck It We’ll Do It Live comes this limited EP. Released in conjunction with his current tour as well as heralding a cull on activities as the curtain descends on the last chaotic year or so. Ever more inveterately entertaining the pentagram tooth-picking diminutive devil-raiser starts the skewering opening sequence with a two-pronged frenzy of new blood that has playful nursery rhyme B-Movie Babylon blistering, listing a roll-call at midnight mass atop seething cauldrons and chainsaw shrieks of reanimated WASP relics and Plan 9-budget creepy keyboards lathering threats like ‘I’m the worms in the can / I’m the corpse in the bodybag’ in gore and groans galore. A line like ‘I’m your neck in the noose / I’m your screw that’s coming loose’ casts a slight light through cracked clapboard walls that the angst and allusions are still digging deep, which, despite the sheer exuberant fun of much of the muck he rakes through, is a striking reason why he levitates himself out of the trough into the realms of real idol. Return Of The Living Dead disinters it’s shattered shell from similar ground but opens up the throttle like a well severed carotid to force stakes splicing the heart of the live favourite rampage through Tom Petty’s Runnin’ Down A Dream. From Frankenstein Drag Queens From Planet 13’s comes I Love To Say Fuck (featuring the pleasing admission ‘I don’t care if you’re my mother / or my motherfuckin’ father’) to retwisted visits down shadowy paths on My Demise B.C. and Skeletons A.D. – already haunting extracts from the album of that name, here embalmed acoustically, releasing the purifyingly odious stench of desolate gothic grandeur with pictures of graveyards, candlelit black-shrouded scribes in stain-glass windowed church antechambers. Talk is of a hiatus for the foreseeable while he readies his country side-project Bourbon Crow to go to town. For now, this is a slight though essential means to curtail this chapter in Joseph Poole’s scar-tossed career.
Back To The Black Bayou
One of the few current breed of blues belters n’ brooders that can trace some kind of lineage back to the roots and sources from whence the blues idiom originated, or at least was refined and ratified. The calibre of coaching from Lightning Hopkins, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Elmore James and more resonates throughout this simmering recording mainly comprised of the artist reacquainting himself with bygone travels. And quite marvellously does he acquit the proceedings too. Not too many steps removed from the late seventies Muddy Waters sessions stewarded by Johnny Winter that begat Hard Again and I’m Ready, with the James Cotton / Jerry Portnoy harp roles taken here by producer Little Victor. With a life lived under the black cloud of the real, though intangible, blues, including his father being a victim of a KKK lynching when he was five, El Red has an easily authoritative stance many strive to replicate and simply stall in all too apparent facsimiles of inherent feel and loose, shrug-back shuffles and street-beat salutes and slumbers. Born in 1932, Louisiana Red is all too rare - thin on the ground maybe, but thick on the heart and head - in a field whose name and symbolisms have long ago and worlds apart largely been cast onto the pyres of myth in favour of ersatz cappucino and latte froth culture of little or no significance or accord.