Afros and Apple Pie
Camaro Sports Cars, Gasoline Lines,
Everything is Red, White & Blue
We hate it here ‘Coz there’s nothing to do
So which bunch of hardcore, punk nihilists penned this little ditty then? Black Flag, TSOL? nope; the track is called ‘1976’ and it’s from Redd Kross Third Eye, which I bought when it came out in 1991 and it even has Paul Stanley on backing vocals (very briefly, but he is there). Redd Kross started out in the hardcore punk scene, mainly it seems as a high-energy irritant, a bit of day-glo tuneful grist to the mill. Third Eye is chock full of that rarest of beasts, power pop, to an extent not seen since the halcyon days of The Raspberries and Jellyfish. You know, pop tunes played by a band not made by laptop – just like your grandfolks used to way back when.
I picked up on them because of a good review somewhere, or other and so when I spotted the LP in the racks AND there was a nude* chick on the cover it got bought, rather than the Swervedriver LP I’d sort of gone in for. Let’s not judge a book by the cover here but on the basis of the available evidence Redd Kross would not be knocking Biohazard off their #1 spot in my ‘Top 6 Bands you most want on your side in a fist-fight’ chart any time soon. Three spindly looking dudes, dressed in a garish array of 70’s hell-fabrics, ranged around aforementioned nude chick on stool but not showing any interest in her, unless the guys had some mean, mean skillz up their collective Draylon sleeves they looked like Debbie Gibson could have taken them down without breaking into a sweat. True story.
The music is good, I don’t have any close comparison points which is also good. I love the insistent driving of ‘Annie’s Gone’, the bitter ‘I Don’t Know How to be Your Friend’ and the rocking ‘Shonen Knife’ – named in tribute to everyone’s favourite Japanese buzz-saw punkers. The likes of ‘Zira (Call out my Name)’ and ‘Debbie & Kim’ are good, well-weighted pop tunes. Third Eye, apart from the, frankly awful, ‘Bubblegum Factory’ (imagine being held captive by Elmo, in a ball pit filled with white chocolate and you’re half way there**), is a good quirky lightweight LP. This is not the one you’d reach for if you were still sobbing as your soul mate walked off down the road with your best friend, or the one you’d reach for when you just wanted to take your anger to the very next level, but it does have its place.
Redd Kross made LP’s after this which I wasn’t that keen on, I saw them support Foo Fighters and they were okay, but not great, so for me this is their peak.
See her groovy movements, connect with her third eye
A teenage incantation
Some say she is the high priest
Of the confection generation
Which is sometimes just as deep as it needs to be.
*okay so she’s wearing a mask, mandala-style necklace and a plaster on her right knee (for reasons not specified), but it was close enough not to quibble.
**unless that would get you off in some obscure way, in which case I really don’t want to know about it you sicko!