Monday, August 21, 2006


Could you make that wrist a little more limp? The photo to the left is from Angel's The Singles Collection, Vol. 2," a Russo-American import, it's libretto written half in Cyrillic, half in English. Notice -- this is not Vol. 1.

Angel were a Baltimore band swept away to Hollywood and signed on the say-so of Kiss' Gene Simmons around '76 or so. Their first two albums on Casablanca were a mix of heavy metal and trudging prog set to embarrassing Dungeons & Dragons lyrics . (You want that stuff, go for Vol. 1.)

The purist hard rock fans usually prefer them over the later material, when the band was pressured to write singles or appeal to girls by looking like dolls.

Despite white satin garments and too shiny hair, I had all of the records and have come to like the dregs of their catalog best. The Singles -- Vol. 2 collects all of this bubblegum metal including a song about Christmas, delivered twice, one with non-denominational winter lyrics. Best of the lot is a warm and sincere cover of The Rascals' "Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore," sounding a lot like Alvin & the Chipmunks doing rock 'n' roll. Or was it the Evolution Revolution?

"Stick, stick, stick like glue," sings Angel's Frank Dimino on "Stick Like Glue." Indeed, couldn't get it out of my head for two whole days. The CD one also includes "20th Century Foxes," disco rock title tune for "Foxes," the movie, about white-trash & high-life San Fernando Valley girls and Scott Baio with a bad case of blueballs.

Does not contain "Wild & Hot" which may have had the lyrics "'Cuz I'm wild and I'm hot/And I'm ready to trot!"

Imagine having to sing that when you're in your thirties. That'd really suck the air out of you night after night. And that's just what happened to Angel.

'Cuz I'm wild and I'm hot! No, no, damnit, that's the other band, not us, Angel! Canada's Teaze were wild & hot, too. And the lyrics on their first album, reissued this summer, aren't quite as humiliating as Angel's but of similar flavor.

This was another group who sang they were "hot to trot."One guitarist played sans shirt in spandex pants, suspenders and bow-tie, taking on a Chippendales look in venues where women into the real Chippendales would not dare to venture.

It wasn't the lyrics that were important, though, because Teaze-type bands, of which there were many, always write the melodies and riffs first, then glue on words. And so you get basic themes on being cool, like "Boys Night Out," vigorous muscle car rock with lyrics about how the dudes are really going to tear up the town smoking cigarettes, cursing and drinking until daylight.

Wow, guys, get in a chain fight with a biker gang, why dontcha?!

With that as example, you know there's nothing about doing krank until your teeth are gone or being busted by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for running a meth lab. It's all dirty clean fun, not like Texans Point Blank, who were singing songs about shooting people and the true purpose of wife-beating around the same time. (You don't have to be an ogre to do hard rock, although, for some people, it really helps.)

"Rockin' With the Music" & "Hot to Trot" -- are titles that furnish you with the Teaze philosophy and while it's fashionable to dismiss such efforts as cliches beneath notice there's gritty pleasure to be had hearing the band work it's way through forty minutes of gutsy, tuneful, and very joyfully played hard rock. Teaze's music sounds as firecracker as the cover looks.

Black Stone Cherry include a show-and-tell DVD on their new one. So you find they're white trash from Kentucky, just like the kids thirty years ago where I grew up. It's reassuring to know that, contrary to the popular conception in the media, the genome of young people hasn't changed one molecule in the intervening decades.

What you get, however, is hard rock by guys who spent hours hanging out on the local auto mechanic's property, spitting chaw on the asphalt, talking about dirt bikes or girls, and urinating on the side of the building after the proprietor went home. Until, inspired by parents who were or are in rock bands and who -- perhaps, told them they looked vaguely like Lynyrd Skynyrd, they decided to take a whack at it themselves. Black Stone Cherry are harmless and friendly enough but should have stuck with chewing tobacco for their satisfaction. (Gooze, you're gonna pay for recommending this one.)

The first eight tunes on the CD are slow, downtuned, serious-man's straining hard rock. It grinds and hollers and you can't remember a blessed riff as soon as it's finished. At tune number eight, Black Stone Cherry mystifyingly decide to do classic rock, "Hell or High Water" having a melody that can be sung along to in the arena. The Yardbirds' "Shapes of Things" follows but while both are fine, neither are strong enough pegs to hang an album on. The first half of the record should have been tossed out before delivery with nary a look back.

The Flairs are a current Canadian band, the beneficiaries of a first round of publicity for Shut Up and Drive, one which netted them almost nothing. I saw the band in one of the guitar mags, and to frame this right, you have to know that the practice in such pubs is to essentially give out freebies to new product in the front of the book. And that more than half the article will be dumbass discussion about what it's like to be a girl doing rock and roll in a man's world. And the specs on the guitars and amplifiers used. It's not always that predictable, some would say so comfortingly so, but the practice is dependably formulaic.

What this also means is that The Flairs are one of those prole hard rock bands deemed completely uninteresting by the vast majority of music editors running reviews and profiles of altie product.

They're not quirkyor literary and they're obviously influenced by 80's-Sunset Strip pop metal and meat-and-potatoes punk rock. (They do a version of Skid Row's MTV hit, "18 & Life." It's not the best song on the CD.) So if you're a music writer you can pitch them around for review and have it met with a shrug or a gratuitous insult on how boring they allegedly sound. And if they get covered, it will be by an intern at a weekly writing for free or almost free, way in the back, limited to a sentence or two connected to an appearance at a local firetrap where they're on the bottom of the bill, or at best, the middle.

The Flairs, in other words, make just the kind of charging hard rock I like. You can play them alongside Teaze and the major difference is only that the songs are sung and written by girls and Flairs lyrics are better. They perform with vigor, tackle their material with enthusiasm, sound like they'd be a heckuva treat for thirty minutes in person, and have written one excellent end-of-summer tune in "Falling Into Pieces."

Suplecs' Powtin' On the Outside, Pawty On the Inside is just right for today, too. Watching Spike Lee's When the Levees Broke strikes the mood for their history. Suplecs were a poor man's stoner rock band who, like everybody, lost everything. They also saw this record, scheduled for release just as Katrina hit, get washed out to sea. CD-Rs went out but no one seemed up for them except the usual fanzine perps.

As a year old relaunch, it deserved another listen. Repeat spins reveal it easy on the ears. The art is standard Man's Ruin slum stoner rock in bib overalls but the delivery is more subtle. Suplecs, for instance, has a singer who tries. There is dynamic to the record and the guitar backs off on the big, fat and heavy knobs here and there, adding colors lighter than electric mud. Suplecs' ship won't come in with this one because they're not elegant, just like all the rest of the CDs reviewed today. If they'd been around in the mid-70's they would have had a fair chance of making four or five records, none of which they would have had to spend their own money on. They might have even made a little on a couple of them.

So make no mistake, they are part of the definition of why people listen to hard rock bands with no chance of even faint commercial success. Not easily expressed in words, it's a vibe from lives that share some sort of community with the listener.


Blogger Dip said...

Haha...yeah, I recommended it before I PLAYED it. Definitely a play once and shelve forever CD. Sounds too much like Black Label Society.
On the other hand, you might want to give a listen to the EAT A PEACH Deluxe Edition, which has a whole second CD of live Fillmore stuff including YET ANOTHER 20 min version of Whipping Post!!!

1:29 PM  

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