Here you go boys and girls, let’s have a party! Gather round everyone and uncle 1537 I’ll put one of my favourite party LPs on to play musical chairs to.
(Two songs in)
Umm, hello, you can stop crying now. Please stop crying! I’ll make the bad sounds go away, look just stop crying please! Now you’ve got me at it.
The LP in question? Dope, Guns And Fucking In The Streets the 1989 compilation of singles on the ever sinister Amphetamine Reptile records. I remember this LP coming out at the time amid some hoo-hah as people were starting to look for more extreme alternatives to the Seattle scene, although there is an overlap here with Tad and Mudhoney featuring. I remember my mate Matt getting out of Leeds University Record Library (I know, it was a better world back then) and saying it made him feel physically ill. Add all this up, plus my childish love of swearwords and I ended up picking this up as an impulse buy last year.
Amphetamine Reptile was set up by serving US marine, Tom Hazelmyer, initially to release stuff from his own band Halo of Flies* and quickly found a niche releasing sludgy, punky, plain noisy and odd stuff that no-one else would touch. Melvins, Helmet and The Jesus Lizard were probably the biggest names, although my own fave Am Rep release has to be Nashville Pussy Let Them Eat Pussy, genius of the filthy variety. There’s a lot less sex here, well, none you’d want to be a participant in, or maybe even a bystander to.
So is Dope, Guns And Fucking In The Streets just an endurance test? no, not at all, there’s some great stuff in here – although I appreciate that view will be held in inverse proportion to your ability to do without melody in your music and/or your Noisecore Tolerance Factor**. From the title and stark black/white/red graphics on in, this is not a welcoming LP.
Kicking off with U-Men ‘Bad Little Woman’ is a statement of intent, the track is an uncompromising, grainy-sounding, bass-led fast/slow number, but not the blizzard of noise you might expect. Blizzard of noise? ah, you’ll be wanting The Thrown Ups ‘Traffic Accident Sex’ then, which in a rare feat of onomatopoeia sounds exactly like, umm, traffic accident sex – a doubly impressive feat in 49 seconds flat. Should I find myself single again, a very real danger if I keep playing this LP over and over, I can’t see ‘Traffic Accident Sex’ making it onto any romantic mix CDs any time soon.
Now I can manage a 49 second assault like that but I have to draw the line at Cows ‘Almost a God’, note: not The Cows, or Thee Cowes, just Cows. This was nasty, a primal cocktail of woozy, creepy, STUFF – if you got completely wasted by yourself on Sherry and cleaning products every night for a week, I suspect this track is what life would then feel like to you. It’s horrible, I react badly to it physically. It’s just yuck, yuk! Maybe everything sounds like this in Minneapolis? I don’t know I’m not taking any chances. If this track were a colour it would be puce. I can’t say anymore.
Elsewhere there are bits that sound like The Fall in a good way, Tar ‘Antlers’ and like the Fall in a less good way King Snake Roost ‘My Zippo’. In this company Mudhoney almost sound like Supertramp, their ‘Twenty Four’ has a real sound of Black Flag to it, the Tad track is, as always I find, just heavy; is it me, or does anyone else find them very overrated?
Call me a great big wuss but for my money the best two tracks here are the two most straight-ahead tracks here. Surgery ‘Action Candy’ which is a great searing primitive alt-rocker with some excellent J Masics-style guitar soaring away towards the end is a great tune. I also rather like Lonely Moans ‘Lots ‘O Life’, which sounds like a slightly incompetent take on The Stooges ‘Down on the Street’ played by a quartet of scary dudes who have lost fingers in bad deal south of the border; but in a really good way.
So there you go folks, I have ventured beyond the valley of Dope, Guns And Fucking In The Streets so you don’t have to; unless you really want to that is. I quite like owning this LP, okay so the swearing excites me, but I do like the totally unlovable nature of what’s here. Playing it is a little like drinking hot coffee with a mouth ulcer, it hurts when the coffee touches it but you still keep on swilling the coffee that way anyway because it reminds you you’re alive.
Now if you’ll excuse me folks I’m off to listen to Hanson ‘MMMBop’; seriously.
P.S – Entirely out of context, here’s a picture of my birthday cake which featured a strangely familiar creature.
*can’t think of a better Alice Cooper song to name your band after, the Dwight Fryettes? maybe.
**NTF as us scientists abbreviate it; my current NTF is 5.77/36; rated at ‘pretty hardcore’ on the Internationally recognized Munich Noise Scale.