Warning: Contains nudity / semi-nudity
So here I am again back by popular demand to round off the rest of my Uncle Sam collection, namely their debut LP Heaven or Hollywood*. Recorded with the band’s first singer, Scott Cessna, this LP got a good rep in the press as a punky-sleazy take on early Alice Cooper. I hadn’t listened to this LP for about 10 years before today and, annoyingly, I can’t put it any better myself.
First up here’s the cover of the UK version of the LP. We have a chick in her scanties holding a razor, suggesting she’s about to engage an act of intimate depilation. Let’s be straight here, this is not a post-feminist statement of female strength, or ironic comment on the manner in which women’s bodies are made to conform to certain attractive archetypes of feminity and exploited to sell records to horny teenage boys – nope this is just about giving said teenage hornbags a taste of what they want.
Heaven or Hollywood kicks off with the sleazed-up punkoid strut of ‘Live For the Day’, before crashing headlong into ‘Don’t Be Shy’ which is just more of the same, which I mean in a good way. By the way be wary searching for this on YouTube there was a R’n’B act who cut a song of exactly the same name – who’d have thunked it? Then we suddenly change up a gear to the monumentally woozy ‘Alice D.’, a lysergic waltzing hymn to the drug of the same name. This is where the band really do sound like a grungy outtake from Love it to Death, or Easy Action and are all the better for it; not a good trip and all the better for it. When I eventually make a movie where the main character has a psychotic episode, involving bad drugs, bad sex and psychiatric harm then I’ve got the soundtrack nailed – it’s useful to have these things filed away just in case.
The Lp’s second classic nugget is ‘Candyman’. Right here:
Cheap visuals aside, I love this mentally-fried ditty about a, well what? drug dealer? serial killer? confectioner? again it has that perfectly judged fuzzy carnival feel to it.
Heaven or Hollywood is a bit front-loaded, the second side has some good tunes but nothign to touch ‘Alice D.’, or ‘The Candyman’, although I do like Alice-goes-manic ‘Under Sedation’ and the predatory ‘Peace of Mind, Piece of Body’.
Now cast your mind back a day to when I was telling you about when I saw them in Manchester, remember I told you that the band were kind enough to sign some stuff for us? well they were selling the totally uncensored US version of the LP on their own Skeller Records (the UK one was released on, appropriately enough, Razor), same sleeve – less underwear so I bought it of course. Now my kids are safely in bed, here it is:
It is signed ‘Joe, Thank you for coming, Larry Miller’ and ‘Joe, Enjoy the alcohol, Bill Purol’. Best of all, Larry bit the bottom right-hand corner of the sleeve several times, for reasons unknown! Cool though the autographs are this is not due to be popped in one of those expensive LP-picture frame things in my hallway anytime soon.
One for the family vault.
*although by doing a bit of, what we professionals call, internettaging today I found out there was a third Uncle Sam LP 14 Girls in 15 Days; the band clearly not being as sexually successful as, my beloved, Donnas ’40 Boys in 40 Nights’