LOVE BATTERYStraight Freak Ticket
THESE SEATTLE LADS have progressed quite a bit since I spent some low-quality time with them a while back. Now more melody and intricate playing sits alongside their heavy guitar glop--remember, grunge is yesterday, dudes! Some tasty wah-wah flavors "Fuzz Factory," while a touch of harmonica is an unusual addition to the fuzz-vocals of "Harold's Pink Room." "Brazil" combines a mesmerizing rhythm and gentle vocals, while the MTV-ready "Red Onion" both jangles and grinds with expert effect. I knew the lads were laying low with their last throw-away Sub Pop contract-ending LP--this here's the real McCoy. Maybe rock isn't quite all the way dead?
IGGY & THE STOOGESRough Power
"GUARANTEED BOWIE-FREE!!" the sleeve announces for collectors who thought the Thin White Duke blew it with his murky mix of Raw Power. This first non-bootleg issue of the sans-Bowie mix unveils a primal ferocity lacking in the '73 album, particularly in Iggy's drug-fueled bark and moans. The bass is finally audible as well, making this the proto-punk rock depth charge true fans always claimed it to be.
Two formats: CD, with several mix variations (including the legendary WABX-FM broadcast that "leaked" a version to the world, and in turn to the bootleggers); and four-song 10-inch, with takes of "Gimme Danger" and "Hard To Beat" not on the disc. A brutal, compelling document.
STEPS AHEADLive In Tokyo 1986
FIRST OUT AS a laser disc, fans of the '80s tour pressed for this 1994 CD. Mike Mainieri, president of this small label, Michael Brecker, Mike Stern, Daryl Jones and Steve Smith start with a high level of intensity that doesn't let up. Fast, long runs that only come from a thorough knowledge of bop race along with a driving rhythm section. The accents are strong, the use of effects playful and aggressive. The styles of jazz that came out of Miles' experimentations and Weather Report's tickets to the outer limits vibrate here in the context of heavy studio and solo players banding together to have big fun.
OH BOY, THIS one's a time warp. I swear that sounds like T.S.O.L.'s old singer Jack Grisham spitting out the deep guttural blurtings--what, it is? And that slightly flanged, distorted guitar, that can't be T.S.O.L.'s Ron Emory, could it? Sure enough. This disc sounds remarkably like outtakes from T.S.O.L.'s brilliant 1983 "artcore" LP Beneath The Shadows, and yep, there's producer Thom Wilson behind the boards again. It's amazing how "commercial" this "retro-'80s-punk" stuff is more than a decade later--but I always thought Grisham was one of the best punk vocalists. With The Joykiller he finally gets to cash in, and I'll drink to that.
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