Thursday, March 27, 2003
Pierce My Brain
Ancient first-wave Ohio punk rockers Rubber City Rebels make their comeback. Except, despite their LA relocation and Knack connections, they never really advanced that far as to merit a huge "welcome back." So, it''s the music that matters here.
Beyond merely peachy and accurate and true to form, Pierce My Brain is hilarious and insightful and absurd, making it as clean and sweet as their first ''70s efforts (including the song "Brain Job," a brilliant encapsulation of dead-end labor as death sentence). Only an old geezer would sing "I Don''t Wanna Be A Punk No More" and suggest that it''s impossible to recall what they were so angry about in the first place. And only an old geezer would ridicule the youth of today and one of their most ludicrous fashion statements like "(I Wanna) Pierce My Brain" with such accurate elan.
In straight up Ramones/Vibrators time, lean and mean and paying homage to the Dead Boys and Music Machine, only faltering during the nostalgia trip of "Punk Daddy" which namechecks Richard Hell, Johnny Thunders and Sid Vicious, the RC Rebs are just plain good at this stuff, knowing their limits and laughing about them.
James Chance is a great musician. Around 1979, when he was most visible in New York clubs, many observers thought he was a joke -- this doped-up, snotty little white boy who blew bent sax and sang/danced like the Godfather of Soul. Pile up his records, though, the way Tiger Style''s four-CD Irresistible Impulse box does, and it''s plain he knew exactly what he was doing.
When he lived in L.A. for a year, a couple of fans named Hillel Slovak and Michael Balzary (Flea) were in his stage outfit. You might know them as half of the original Red Hot Chili Peppers.
The new box collects everything recorded between 1978 and 1983: Buy the Contortions, Off White, Sax Maniac and The Flaming Demonics, plus there''s mucho rare live and studio material. The early stuff is best, but even as things get slightly more sluggish, less tight and more monotonous, there are electrifying moments. Three 1980 tracks from Soul Exorcism, showcase possibly the hottest band he ever had, with bassist Al McDowell, guitarist Fred Wells and drummer Richie Harrison; regrettable he couldn''t keep that one together. But he never could.
The Essential Willie Nelson
Columbia | Legacy
Tracing his career path from the provider of some of country''s most enduring tunes, from "Nightlife", "Hello, Walls" and of course, "Crazy" into "Outlaw", "Me and Paul", through rock-and-roll duets with Leon Russell, one thing is clear from this two-fer: There isn''t much that Willie Nelson cannot do, or hasn''t done, save maybe rap a little. Give him time.
A honey-voiced crooner of limited range and remarkable nylon-stringed guitarist, this gentleman is the living embodiment of American individuality, having had hits in numerous genres for over four decades. And as such, the familiarity of these unbreakable songs, as well as their numerous appearances on so many other recorded formats already render this collection somewhat moot. But for complete enjoyment, there is almost no other location that you can pick up on music that transcends borders like this one does.