Now here’s an album that definitely nowhere near enough people know about, Love/Hate Blackout in the Red Room. I ventured a chunk of my hard-earned on this in April 1990 after a good review in Kerrang! and because they were being marketed as whacked-out, arty*, party-rockers. It was a risk because as I knew to my cost in those pre-internet days for every Circus of Power or Sea Hags, there was always a Salty Dog or a Spread Eagle lying in wait for the unwary. Would Love/Hate be okay? no, they were awesome! I knew they would be as soon as I saw the sticker on the front warning me that it contained lyrics which ‘may cause offence’, always a good advert for any LP as far as I was concerned (Thanks Tipper!).
Listening to this LP again, almost 23 years after I bought it is a joy, it is a real state-of-the-1990-art LP, once you have recalibrated your ears to (uncanny Jim Morrison look-a-like) Jizzy Pearl’s** voice. The guitars are huge, the production is top-notch with loads of bass clout (Tom Werman, not my fave producer of the time deserves a big hand here), the band is generally great and the tunes are good, none overstaying their welcome, most clocking in around 2:30. Unlike so much else coming out at the time Love/Hate were no Guns ‘N Roses copyists but, you felt, real gutter dwellers. Hell, even the token ‘ballad’ here ‘She’s an Angel’ contains the line ‘Mommy takes the strings off your bass / So you won’t hang yourself’ -we are certainly not in Tesla country here folks.
This LP is full of great tracks dealing with getting loaded to the max with whatever is at hand (‘Fuel to run’, ‘Mary Jane’, ‘One More Round’), the effects of getting so loaded (the amazingly titled ‘Why do you think they call it dope?’, ‘Straightjacket’) and the interesting flora and fauna you meet whilst in that state (‘Slutsy Tipsy’, ‘Hell, CA., Pop.4’). hearing it again now lines jump out at me about ‘black-brassiered dancers’, ‘dirty little dopers on dope’, ‘I think I’m gonna knock somebody’s head off’, ‘Look sincere / smell like beer’, not to mention various gang bang Slavegirls, Lone bitch bikers and eating a Rock Queen’s cookies.
Which brings me to a sticky point for 41 year-old me, as opposed to 18 year-old me. Now even as a testosterone-sodden teen I always knew sexism was wrong and why and that it had no place in real life, but I always gave it a bye in my music. Hell, I had to, otherwise how could I ever listen to any decent metal? now I can still suspend my disbelief and surf the ghostly remnants of those adolescent hormone storms listening to all my old stuff, but occasionally, just occasionally something jars me out of it. Now I accept I may be doing my usual Woody Allen-esque overthinking the issue here, but I got knocked for six here today. These are from ‘Rock Queen’ which I was merrily singing along with just now until I thought about it properly;
Met a little girl / Just Thirteen / She’s a knock-down blue-eyed slut psycho-virgin tease’
‘Rock queen, thirteen, buxom, blonde bad dream / Let me touch your cookies – let me eat your cookies – now’
Hmmm. That’s wrong, badly wrong. See what I mean? well I can’t say they didn’t try to warn me with a sticker. I remember this causing me unease as an 18 year-old, but now as the father of a young girl… what I find fascinating is that I don’t remember any fuss over this at all when it came out, surely the world wasn’t that different a place 22 years ago? here’s an interesting social experiment readers, 1537 invites the more criminally gullible of you to record a lyrically-faithful cover of ‘Rock Queen’, release it with a bit of publicity and just wait for all the ‘Pedo Band in Cookie Probe’ headlines to accrue***.
That aside, this was a great LP and the band should have prospered, instead they reportedly freaked out during the recording of the follow-up Wasted in America and I never got to see them live.
Being an obsessive sort I also picked up Blackout in the Red Room 12″ picture disc with non-LP B-side ‘Tinsletown’ (good, but I can see why it didn’t make the cut for the LP) and the 12″ of She’s an Angel (it was never going to turn them into chart darlings) with some so-so live tracks and a great big poster by Skid featuring talking beer glasses.
* Just to prove they were arty the bassist, Skid (I’m guessing not what his mum calls him!) used to come on stage wielding a large crucifix made of Bud cans and did all the artwork; mostly woozy tripped-out paintings of woozy tripped-out dudes getting into that state.
** again, am guessing not his given name.
*** 1537 will even pay the first £15 of your expenses as you relocate yourself and all your family to Milwaukee under a new identity. Offer expires on 11.02.2013.