‘I’m Not A Sicko, There’s A Plate In My Head’
Very sadly, I don’t have a plate in my head and so I just have to fess up to being a sicko. Damn, outed myself again, mind you actually owning a copy of the Oblivians Never Enough does pretty much the same job.
I was lulled into the fold through Oblivians’ southern-flavoured 2013 LP Desperation and I soon scurfed up the cash for the gnarly needy 10″ atrocity that is 1994’s Never Enough. Released on one of my very fave labels, Sympathy For The Record Industry (motto: ‘Yesterday’s sounds tomorrow, today’s sounds sometime next week‘) with a cover featuring a curvy naked chick listening to an Oblivians single on a Dansette record player, this somehow tweaked my curiosity; it was probably the font they used on the cover. Plus you have to love a record that does not print its title anywhere on it, there’s a cussedness to admire right there.
Coolest thing about Oblivians, always, is the fact that not only do they go for the 1537-approved band-name-as-surname trick, but even more democratically Greg, Eric and Jack Oblivian swap around their instruments live and in the studio at will.
These Memphis sickos* serve us up 8 slices of punkorama-lamma-lamma-big-dong punky garage oddness on Never Enough. It has its moments but is far from the full-frontal assault I thought it would be when I bought it; it’s more interesting than that.
Over the 18:40 of Never Enough the Oblivians ladle in some almost country stylings, before deep frying them in cheap drugs and head cheese, before serving them in a rockabilly sauce. I’m thinking mostly of the rumbling epic** closer ‘Show Me What You Like’ which sounds like the Stooges soundtracking a life-changingly sordid act by a Stetson wearing good ol’ boy in a cheap motel.
Other highlights include the ripsaw rock of ‘Five Hour Man’ which sounds like hideous chemically-enhanced priapic one-upmanship on Billy Ward & The Dominoes ‘Sixty Minute Man’ (of Fallout 4 fame, for me at least). Spoiler Alert: he meets an 8 hour lady. On a similar tip I love the let’s-go-out-tonight ‘Feel Real Good’ and the bouncy oddness of ‘Happy Blues’, this latter puts me in mind of the Numerators headfuckiness.
The wonderfully negative ‘Never Enough’ sounds like it was hewed from wood, all splinters and rough shapes whereas the splendidly named ‘I’m Not A Sicko There’s A Plate In My Head’ is spat out of the rockabilly cannon straight into the side of a cliff, it hurts good.
How much you like Never Enough will depend on a few factors, chief amongst them being how much you can hack noisy, crudely played garage punk by sickos who could and should know far better. If you’re one of those lightweights demanding melody and basic instrumental competence then just, jog on Mantovani. The rest of us can just lurch around enjoying ourselves and blaming the plates in our heads.
PS: In a bid to make this a more seasonally appropriate post (I started it on 21 December!):
PPS: Because you’re worth it:
*plate/cranium status unconfirmed at time of going to press.
** 3:39 qualifies as epic in this company.