Tuesday, May 16, 2006

RHINO BUCKET no pale imitation

One of my favorite things about hard rock records is how the performance of an unflash band can creep up on you. And that's the case with Rhino Bucket's & Then It Got Ugly on Acetate. Over fifteen years ago, Rhino Bucket were a major label acquisition sold off the back of AC/DC imitation. Their records came into the Morning Call newspaper. They played one of the more notorious dives in the area, DJ Bananas, in the slum of Whitehall just north of the interstate, as opposed to the usual place for rock and roll of this type, the slum on the southside of Bethlehem. I gave them the Nightclubbing treatment for their trouble. The word "cheapjack" was flung out (if I can find the notice in my pile, I'll republish it) and now I regret using it.

The show wasn't a good one but the review was gratuitously callous. And as the record contract ticked toward expiry for Rhino Bucket, they picked up Simon Wright who drummed for Fly On the Wall. Last year, you could see him in all his momentary AC/DC glory on the extended video "opera" for the LP that came with the AC/DC DVD video collection, Family Jewels. If the music was good enough for Wright, I had to have been missing something.

& Then It Got Ugly is a good AC/DC LP. The delivery is Bon Scott without the sense of humor or fixation on shaggy dog sex stories and while you might be inclined to think that's a liability, in this application it's not. The lyrics are dour, cynical and personal, but slapped on top of the craftsmanship of the tooling in the rock and roll engine driving them, their acid is gripping. Toward the middle of the record, Rhino Bucket's singer tells someone they should be slapped for asking what book he reads. You won't hear that on any AC/DC platter.

The guitars are heavy and twangy, the rhythm section fireballing but precise in its rock and roll timekeeping. "Blood, Sweat & Beers" is entitled with an obvious Rhino Bucket philosophy but pain is their more constant companion. The album closer, "I Was Told" -- among others -- makes it abundantly clear.


And now for the daily RERUN: Motorhead's same old song and dance

(August 1991, abridged) It was Halloween two years back when Motorhead claimed the stage in front of Slayer at the Stabler Arena. A local fan of the band, colloquially known as The Face, was beside herself with excitement -- bolting to the lip of the stage to bury her head in one of the loudspeaker bins. It was behavior typical of Motorhead fans.

Nothing has changed since then. Although Stabler honchos banished Motorhead, Slayer and their ilk for attracting fans who tend to beat on the venue as much as they beat on each other, the band still makes no concessions to style.

The English quartet -- Lemmy, Wurzel, Phil Campbell and Philthy Animal Taylor -- still make records that don't get played on U.S. radio, records of brain-scuffing volume treasured by the young and/or critics who think they know what rock and roll is all about.

1916, Motorhead's latest, is neither better nor worse than those before. Full-throttle freight-train rockers about cultivating body lice, seeing the Ramones, drinking BonJovi's booze and kick-stomping your oppressors are laced through with guitar leads that make the cultivated blink in pain.

It's pretty good, as far as this type of stuff goes, but not the true Motorhead experience. To savor that, you have to see them perform.

Motorhead onstage rewards the brave with trampling, untrammeled metal like the insidiously catchy anthem "Ace of Spades, interrupted occasionally with the crappy/abrasive machine drone of "Orgasmatron," the band's one stab at art.

1916 was relatively hot in Deutschland, commented Wurzel during a brief chat. "... Germany was special; there were more people out to see us than ever before." He added that the album had sold 120,000 copies there, a figure close to what the band attains in America for a "good" release.

Although the band hasn't quite proven it's for mainstream America, talking with Wurzel gives the impression that Motorhead is a group not of stars, but of geezers one could share a few too many drinks with. And that's the way they want it.

Headlining is Judas Priest, the quintessential favorite of Lehigh Valley would-be metal stars. Unfortunately, the beginning of the decade has the Priest doing poorly. After a draining lawsuit concerning the influence its songs have on disturbed minors, Judas Priest released the indifferently received Painkiller album.

Painkiller, rated as "[heavy metal] music to blow your jaw off to" [months earlier in the newspaper] suggests the band is approaching retirement.

Also on the bill is Alice Cooper. The elderly-looking Cooper, who used to get in trouble in the 70's for onstage antics like carving up dye-filled baby dolls with a saber, has scored a hit with "Hey Stupid." Perhaps he knows something fans don't.


Anonymous Deborah Frost said...

Simon Wright?
You mean they finally got rid of the transvestite drummer?
(And =I= wouldn't've noticed either if BRAIN SURGEONS pre-NYC hadn't been talked into having them open)

It was NOT one of our more enchanted evenings.

4:45 PM  
Anonymous Big Al said...

Rhino Bucket is the greatest bar band in America (Supersuckers are right behind them),but I really don't get all the dc comparisons(an arena band)I guess Dolivo has some Bon in him but he really doesn't sing in the same range (Dolivo is a tenor compared to Bon's screachy alto)and as you point out totally different lyrical approach. I just discovered these guys a few years ago when they were touring with the Supersuckers and I can't stop listening to them.

7:25 AM  
Blogger George Smith said...

Have been listening to the latest, The Hardest Town. AC/DC's an old touchstone, still obvious in the rock 'n' roll delivery, but the band has its own imprint totally carved. Rockin' from the dour and painful side of life, Dolivo delivers his blooz grippingly. Not a lot of people can do it so reliably. Angry Anderson, from Australia, comes to mind -- although his voice is utterly different. They're similarly brutal in lyrics, declaiming on various ways one gets smacked in the teeth.

Who else can do it? I don't know. But someone always should.

11:02 AM  

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