Monday, May 29, 2006

THE BAD TEXAS BEES: Beat your women & liberals, cut taxes, eat pills

The guy on the right is not Peter Dinklage

In 1976, POINT BLANK weren't at all like Natalie and her tour-bus toilet-sharing rebels, blogged of on Sunday. They were ugly men from Texas, signed to Arista, and guided by ZZ Top's manager and producer, Bill Ham. ZZ Top would slow down in 1976, issue Tejas, and take three years off until Deguello in 1979, a gap which gave Ham three years to try and reinvent his money-makers as a more criminal-minded and reactionary bunch, Point Blank.

Point Blank's debut had five bulls-eye shotgun blasts (in eight cuts) of impolitic sentiments delivered via twin-guitar riffage, a blooz shout-screamer and shuffle rhythms mined from Rio Grande Mud-tone ZZ. If our president had a house band from the days he was a power drunk, dancing on tables and delivering cheap shots on the playing fields, Point Blank was it. Growing up in rural Pennsylvania, an area Kevin Phillips says repeatedly in American Theocracy is demographically, ideologically and politically like Texas, South Carolina or Tennessee (he's right), the Point Blanks were so iron-fisted, Old Testament and misanthropic, I felt I knew them from fights in gym class and post-football game dance orgies.

On "That's the Law," singer John O'Daniel brings on a Taliban-like rant for putting the woman in her place. The message: You don't lie to me, because lieing is against my law! Now don't you turtledove me, you put no one above ME! Because what I say goes, and that's according to my law! "Aiiieeeee-hai-hey!!" he screams. The descending riff and drums complete the sonic picture of someone having drunken fists put to them in the bedroom.

Shoot the women and goddamn liberals
"Free Man" is an honest motorcycle gangster/white trash lament about timeless issues that sometimes motivate voters. We're paying too darn many taxes, O'Daniel shouts. Furthermore, the law wants to arrest him for "eating too many pills," getting in the way of the small home business commerce of the meth operation.

On "Bad Bees," the woman again gets the chop. To a strutting boogie, the girl is non-specifically warned to stop doing whatever she's doing, to drive her "sucker" home, or the "bad bees from the hive" -- the gang from the corner bar or the motorcycle club -- will be summoned to rectify matters.

And if you were a meddler from outside, a fashion statement or a presumed cool cat, Point Blank would disabuse you of it. The "Lone Star Fool" comes to town, think's he know where it's at, wears a seer-sucker hat, playing psych--ee--delic music for the teenage crowd. He's a fool, Point Blank're country boys and you know what happens then! "Aiiee-hai-hey!" shouts O'Daniel. The album closes with him reflecting that he has to move on, to go someplace else because of unspecified and perhaps unfortunate actions.

It remains a totally gripping and uncommercial Seventies hard rock record.

Second Season, out the next year as follow-up saw the band maintain it's talent for flat-headed boogie but easing up on the spittle-spraying mean drunk intensity of the lyrics. The titles are provocative -- "Tatooed Lady," "Nasty Notions," "Stars and Scars" -- but they only hint at the explosive anger and bile of the first LP. They added a cover of Bob Seger's "Beautiful Loser," but Arista had had enough of them.

Point Blank were subsequently picked up by MCA, where the band issued a string of progressively more MOR records. All the mean edges were gradually sanded down to nothing except for moments on Hard Way in 1980, when the band reverts to form for the title cut and turns in a crashing live rendition of Deep Purple's "Highway Star." The fighting drunks were back behind the wheel for fifteen minutes. O'Daniel would then leave and be replaced by a second-stringer from the James Gang

'Vere are de gurlz?
Hard as it may be to believe in 2006, Point Blank retains a core of fanatical true-believers in its ouvre. The best example is Hank Davison's Hard Way, the only Point Blank tribute band ever, I think, and one that builds on the inspiration of the first album. Euro-bikers, Hank Davison and his compadres resemble the apotheosis of every Texas roadhouse band, ever. On Hard Way, they cover two Point Blank tunes -- the obvious title song and "Free Man," from Point Blank #1. The rest of the album is a mix of heavy R&B, and AC/DC-style shout-alongs. Their business looks pretty successful.

Point Blank's first two records have just been reissued by Wounded Bird. Visit Hank Davison Band here.

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