Author Archives: Michael H. Little

Graded on a Curve:
Lou Reed and Metallica,
Lulu

Lou Reed was so full of shit in his lifetime it was impossible to ever take a word he said seriously, so when he said of this unlikely 2011 collaboration with Metallica that it was “the best thing ever done by anybody,” it was easy to write it off as just more empty punk braggadocio by the guy who invented empty punk braggadocio.

And it was even easier to write off given that said collaboration, Lulu, is regularly featured on worst-ever album lists and received a largely hostile response from everybody from Pitchfork (who gave it a damning 1.0 out of 10) to noted rock critic Chuck Klosterman who wrote, “If the Red Hot Chili Peppers acoustically covered the 12 worst Primus songs for Starbucks, it would still be (slightly) better than this.”

Me, I gave it a cursory listen when it was released and promptly filed it under S for Suck. But something called me back–Lou, whom I love and hate, is always calling me back–and I’ll be damned if this much derided collaboration doesn’t have more than its fair share of alternately brutal, tender, cold-blooded, and yes even majestic moments.

Sure, most of the songs on this “concept album”–which returns us to the scene of 1973’s equally controversial Berlin–go on far too long, and both Reed and the boys in Metallica go out of their way to pummel normal human eardrums into cowering submission (just check out the hammering and unrelenting “The View,” on which Lou actually bellows). And it’s definitely not for fans of “Melodic Lou,” who opted to stay home during these proceedings.

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Graded on a Curve:
Sir Douglas Quintet,
Mendocino

Hey ears: Hungry for some delicious Tex-Mex? I recommend you head for lovely San Antonio, where in 1964 the late, great Doug Sahm put together the Sir Douglas Quintet, which proceeded to cook up a heady concoction made out of ingredients from both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.

The band hit a creative peak with 1969’s Mendocino, which may have failed to make much of a dent on the pop charts but stands up just fine as a stellar collection of bravura performances by a band that was bravely creating its own Longhorn brand of what Gram Parsons famously dubbed “Cosmic American Music.”

What set the Sir Douglas Quintet apart from its contemporaries was its range of flavorings; thanks to the farfisa organ of Augie Meyers and the psychedelic-tinged guitar of Sahm, the Quintet could deliver the garage rock goods, but they could also turn on a peso and, by means of Sahm’s fiddle and country croon, sound like they were playing a barn dance. And on LP closer “Oh, Baby, It Just Don’t Matter” they ratchet up the decibels, crank up the guitar, and make like nothing less than a Lone Star State adjunct of Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Mendocino’s two stand-out tracks are both farfisa-fueled; thanks to Meyers the title track is one of the most cheerful salutes to a small city you ever will hear, while “She’s About a Mover” is a stone-cold rave-up, from its crunchy guitar to Meyers’ Vox Continental organ, which Sahm introduces by saying, “Lay it on me Augie.” A jerky-jerky salute to gutbucket rock ’n’ roll served up border style, “She’s About a Mover” is as timeless as they come and the most noteworthy thing to come out of the city on the San Antonio River since the Alamo.

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Graded on a Curve: Genesis,
Trick of the Tail

Sound reads from the archives, all summer long.Ed.

Well, there goes another theory shot to shit. I always thought Genesis hit the aesthetic skids the moment Peter Gabriel split and drummer Phil “The Anti-Christ” Collins took over on lead vocals, but I’ve been listening to 1976’s Trick of the Tail, the first post-Gabriel LP, and I’m afraid I was sadly mistaken. Trick of the Tail is not a great album but it’s a very good one, packed with well-constructed tunes with lovely melodies that occasionally, but not too often, stray into the prog trap of technical virtuosity purely for virtuosity’s sake.

Peter Gabriel’s departure threw Genesis’ future into question. A Melody Maker writer went so far as to declare Genesis officially dead. But the band committed itself to proving it could make good music without Gabriel, and after a fruitless search for a new lead vocalist Collins, who wanted to turn Genesis into an instrumental act, reluctantly agreed to take on the vocal duties himself. Which in hindsight seems like a no-brainer, as Collins is a virtual vocal doppelganger for Gabriel and the obvious candidate as a replacement.

Album opener “Dance on a Volcano” has muscle and a fetching melody, to say nothing of some powerhouse drumming by Collins, whose exhortations (“Better start doing it right!”) sound convincing. There is some technical showing off for its own sake, especially at the end, but this one is more hard rock than prog, thanks to Steve Hackett’s guitar work and Tony Banks’ synthesizer. “Entangled” is a bit fey for my tastes, a quiet little pretty ditty, but it wins me over with its melody, which is simply lovely. There’s a beautiful synthesizer solo, which doesn’t attempt to mime classical tropes the way your more virulent and dangerous progmeisters would, and I like it for that.

“Squonk” is tres cool, a lumbering but still lovely number about a mystical beast that dissolves into tears when captured. Collins’ vocals are excellent, and the band pounds out the beat, and I love it as much as I do any song by Genesis, including the great “I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe).” The title of “Mad Man Moon” leads you to expect a raver, but it’s no such thing. It opens with some too-pretty keyboards, and is too saccharine for words until it climbs and climbs to a climax that is very, very nice. Then there’s a piano-dominated mid-section that sounds like pseudo-classical hokey-pokey to me, and I suffer. Then the song takes off, and it’s all copacetic, at least for a short while. Unfortunately the song soon returns to its beginning, before finally wilting under Banks’ sugary piano.

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Graded on a Curve:
Mötley Crüe,
Shout at the Devil

Sound reads from the archives, all summer long.Ed.

Look, I’m gonna be straight with you; no way would I have reviewed this LP by hair metal legends Mötley Crüe if it weren’t for a snippet from a review from musico Robert Christgau in which he gleefully states, “It’s hardly news that this platinum product is utter dogshit even by heavy metal standards.” And who then goes on to mock the song “Ten Seconds to Love,” in which according to Christgau, “Vince Neil actually seems to boast about how fast he can ejaculate.

Vince Neil might have made a decent song about how FAR he can ejaculate—I once read, for instance, about how the late Beat poet Allen Ginsberg once left a friend’s bedroom with cum dripping from the ceiling—but instead he wrote an ode designed to console all of the world’s other premature ejaculators. I suppose we males should all say thanks to itchy-trigger-finger Vince for speaking out on such a taboo issue.

I have never been and will never be a hair metal aficionado—I’m too much of a pointy-headed, anti-populist intellectual—but what really struck me about 1983’s Shout at the Devil is just how far from utter dogshit it is. Sure, there’s some utter dogshit on it, but it also includes some hard rockers that (almost) allow me to ignore the ridiculous outfits, hair spray, and general low IQ of the band’s presentation. But who says a song has to have a high IQ? Sometimes a high IQ is a bad thing. Take Rush. And sometimes a low IQ can be a good thing; case in point Slade, whose utter inability to spell constituted half their charm.

Everybody—even geeks like me—knows the band. Vince Neil handled lead vocals, Mick Mars played lead guitar, Nikki SIxx manned the bass guitar, and the one and only Tommy Lee kept things interesting on drums. And the drama! Neil killed Hanoi Rocks drummer “Razzle” Dingley in a drunk driving accident. Sixx overdosed on heroin several years later and was temporarily declared dead. And his band mates’ behavior was hardly more sober-minded. Drugs, alcohol, women, and fast cars abounded. Why, I’m surprised they weren’t responsible for chopping the drummer for Def Leppard’ arm off with a battle axe. In short, amongst the lethally unruly hair band contingent, they were the worst offenders, which is really saying something.

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Graded on a Curve: Hawkwind,
The Space Ritual Alive in Liverpool and London

No offense to Deep Purple, but they didn’t know shit about space truckin’. When it came to kicking into installer overdrive the real kings of the intergalactic freeway were Hawkwind, and they put the pedal to the metal on 1973’s The Space Ritual Alive in Liverpool and London.

Space was the place in the early seventies; everybody–Sun Ra, David Bowie, the Jefferson Airplane, Steve Miller, Elton John even–was going Milky Way, but nobody explored its furthest reaches as relentlessly as Hawkwind.

And on Space Ritual they go way, way out, to the environs of Jam City where they lay down a bunch of relentless grooves built on the motorik drumming of Simon King and relentless bass of the late, great Lemmy Kilmister. If you’re a fan of sheer, unstinting propulsion–and who isn’t?–this Krautrock-friendly double live LP is the best thing this side of Neu!

What makes these songs so great? Well, besides the crack rhythm section you get Dave Brock, whose sonic assaults on guitar (check out the wailing “Brainstorm” for starters) skyrocket these wonderfully titled tunes (“Master of the Universe,” “Earth Calling,” “Lord of Light,” “Orgone Accumulator”) straight into the stratosphere. And you also get the manic sax blurt and freaky flute stylings of Nik Turner, to say nothing of the electronics of Dik Mik and mad synthesizer work of Del Dettmar.

This isn’t just space rock; it’s hard rock that dances. Lemmy wasn’t some goddamn space hippie, just a leather jacket wearing rock ’n’ roller whose true calling was probably as a steamroller driver. And that’s what sets Hawkwind aside from, say, early Pink Floyd; they rarely noodle, and when they do they keep it short (c.f.: “Earth Calling”). The best of these songs gallop like Venusian Stallions and never let up. Hawkwind rides ‘em hard and puts ‘em away wet.

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Graded on a Curve:
Slade,
Slade Alive!

You can forget all about Kiss Alive! because Slade’s Slade Alive! is the real thing–a gut-bucket blast of pure rock ‘n’ roll energy from the poorest spellers in the history of music. This 1972 studio live affair captures this band of Wolverhampton rowdies at their rawest, and the spirit of raucous fun is contagious.

This baby was released before Slade reached full maturity and here’s how you can tell–there isn’t a single spelling error on it. And here’s another way you can tell–four of its seven cuts are covers, and the other three you probably don’t know.

The foursome’s subsequent release, 1972’s Slayed?, cemented the band’s reputation as Top of the Pops hit makers, but on Slade Alive! they established their bona fides as a formidable live act–one that pitted musical brutalism against vocalist Noddy Holder’s formidable tonsils and crowd-rousing charisma.

Slade gets filed under “Glam,” but theirs was an awkward fit. They looked ridiculous in their glitter clobber–like a bunch of roofers playing dress up–and unlike most of their Glam contemporaries appealed directly to England’s working stiffs.

Their proto-Oi! placed pints above androgyny, and their audiences did the same. When Noddy Holder says, “All the drunken louts can shout anything they like” he’s talking to the entire crowd, and not just a couple of unruly yobs.

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Graded on a Curve:
Gentle Giant,
Octopus

Remember a while back when the owner of Segway drove off a cliff and died—on a Segway? Well that’s kinda what England’s Gentle Giant reminds me of—they take all of the ingredients of progressive rock and drive them off a precipice. The problem is overkill: they’re all over the place, and I’m not talking about the album as a whole; I’m talking about individual songs.

Diagnosis: Musical attention deficit disorder. There was this kid in my grade school named Willie Wireman who was so exuberantly hyperactive his second grade teacher tied him to his chair—an act of sheer barbarism, I know, but things were different back in the sixties, and most teachers were war criminals. That said, if I were Gentle Giant’s teacher I would do the same thing; I would tie them to a chair.

The sextet’s manic tendencies border on the intolerable on 1972’s Octopus. Listening to its songs is like watching a game of professional ping-pong. I know full well that (1) Gentle Giant’s penchant for constantly shifting gears requires a high level of technical virtuosity across a variety of musical genres and (2) plenty of people love such displays. But I’ve known my fair share of clinical manic types, and like them Octopus makes me want to flee its company until it’s received proper medical attention.

From winsome folk rock to jazz to big symphonic interludes to fey madrigals they go, and the impression I get is a mash-up of Jethro Tull, Traffic, Fairport Convention, Kansas, Genesis, and Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. And I’m just talking about opening cut “The Advent of Panurge,” which has its share of interesting moments but refuses to stay in one place long enough to make an indelible impression.

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Graded on a Curve:
John Cale,
Sabotage/Live

Most of us associate a specific album with a specific period of time, whether it be that special summer following graduation from high school, the night we almost got busted for underage drinking and ended up puking in the backseat of Jumbo Harner’s dad’s Plymouth Fury, or the day we fell in love with that certain somebody who tore our heart out and left us forever confused, angst ridden, and bitter.

And so it goes with John Cale’s LP Sabotage/Live, which Cale recorded with a six-piece band at CBGB on a June night in 1979.

I was 21 years old and mentally going to pieces in a house in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania that was collapsing right around me. Not that I noticed, really; when the ceiling in the room next to mine collapsed, dropping a one-ton beam square on a housemate’s bed (he fled the house that same day), it didn’t even occur to me to seek safer quarters.

To be honest, I would have welcomed a one-ton beam crushing me in my sleep. It would have come as something of a relief.

I was two months into a bona fide nervous breakdown and drinking to blot out consciousness. And I had company, for ours was a halfway house for the damned. My fellow inmates included a glassy-eyed fellow as translucent as a deep sea fish who was continually drunk and flitted silently about the house never speaking a single word to anybody. It was said he was from a wealthy family and had been thrown out of West Point and a couple of Ivy League schools for drinking before ending up at what amounted to a so-so state university in the sticks. It frightened me to even look at him. It was like looking into a lurid funhouse mirror of my future.

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Graded on a Curve:
Blur,
Parklife

Today on the Wayback Machine… we return to the Battle of Britpop! In last week’s corner at The Vinyl District: Northern England standard-bearer and contender for the crown, Oasis’ (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?! In today’s corner: Southern England’s pride and glory, Blur’s Parklife!

Let the fight begin!

I should state from the outset that this is a battle involving different weight classes. The heavyweight Mancunians in Oasis opted for the knock out; (What’s the Story) is a slow but methodical series of big, telegraphed hooks to the pleasure center of your brain. Blur, on the other hand, is a lightweight and a dancer, and Parklife comes at you like a flurry of lightning quick blows to the thinking part of your cerebral cortex.

While Oasis opted for monolithic, Blur went the eclectic route; stylistically they’re all over the place. And they’re all over the place for a reason; they’re making a statement on the richness and variety of London itself. Samuel Johnson once said, “If you’re tired of London, you’re tired of life,” and Damon Albarn is clearly not tired of London or the multiplicity of genres and influences that have long made it one of the world capitals of rock music.

Unlike Noel Gallagher, who took his cue from Seinfeld and wrote a whole slew of songs about nothing, Blur’s Damon Albarn is a social satirist and details man. From the polymorphous perversity of “Girls and Boys” to the closely observed details of the title track to the working class desperation of the very punk “Bank Holiday” to the industrial dehumanization of “Trouble in the Message Centre,” Albarn is concerned with what it means to be young and English.

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Graded on a Curve: Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson,
A Star Is Born (OST)

News of a remake of A Star Is Born starring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper is causing consternation in capitals across the globe. An official in Pyongyang, North Korea issued a terse communique warning, “We consider this an act of crass, imperialist show business aggression.” And a spokesperson at the International Court of Justice in the Hague said sternly, “A remake of this maudlin monstrosity could well constitute a crime against humanity.”

Why all the upset? If you’ve ever listened to the soundtrack to the 1976 version of A Star Is Born starring Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson you’d know.

While the movie was harmless Hollywood pablum, the music wasn’t so benign. Composed by such legendary rock’n’roll animals as Paul Williams, Kenny Ascher, Rupert Holmes, Kenny Loggins, and Babs herself, the soundtrack is a nauseating stew of pop schmaltz, disco schlock, and ersatz rock. Rolling Stone scribe Ken Tucker called it “the worst sort of histrionic supper-club stuff, much of it made ridiculous by being cheered raucously by a crowd at a pseudorock festival.”

The film founders on its ludicrous premise. To wit, out-of-control rock star John Norman Howard (Kristofferson) meets up-and-comer Esther Hoffman (Streisand), recognizes her immense talent, and lures her on stage at one of his shows. Where she performs some Cher-quality disco rock–and the audience roars!

Had this really happened in the “Disco Sucks” days of 1976 Barbra would have been pelted with unopened beer cans and used condoms. When Allman and Woman attempted something along these lines in Europe, riots broke out. Had they tried it on America’s festival circuit, God knows what would have happened.

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Graded on a Curve:
Ozzy Osbourne,
Diary of a Madman

Sound reads from the archives, all summer long.Ed.

Ozzy Osbourne almost bit my earlobe off during an interview once. One minute we were talking about Master of Reality and the next he was lunging across the table to take my left ear—an easy target seeing as how I suffer from Meniere’s Disease, which causes radical enlargement of the earlobes—and shaking it, while growling like an angry Rottweiler. It was like a scene straight out of Dostoevsky, to be precise the moment in The Devils when Nikolai Stavrogin bites the governor’s ear. Anyway, I cried “Mercy!” as he literally lifted me out of my chair and led me around the room, my earlobe clenched in his slavering mouth. He finally let go and apologized afterwards, but offered no explanations. Then again, what can you expect from the guy who once said, “Off all the things I lost I miss my mind the most.” I consider it an honor.

Okay, so the above never happened. (I feel obligated to say this because in another article I swore my adolescent skull secreted sperm, that’s how horny I was, and a few folks actually wrote to tell me this was impossible. Duh.) But the Ozzy earlobe biting could have occurred. He once ate the heads off two live doves, and famously bit the head off a dead bat on stage, an act that led him to quip, “I got rabies shots for biting the head off a bat but that’s OK—the bat had to get Ozzy shots.” And then there’s the time he thought it would be a good idea to snort fire ants. In short, in Ozzy World, biting off a journalist’s earlobe would be child’s play.

I love Ozzy’s work with Black Sabbath, but have always avoided his solo stuff, although I love “Crazy Train.” Why? Because after being fired by Black Sabbath in 1979, one would have expected Ozzy to continue in the grand Sabbath tradition of releasing records filled with songs so monolithically slow and heavy they sounded like mammoth King Tiger tanks grinding up unlucky Poles. But Ozzy took a radically different path. His solo albums were lighter, in fact almost dainty; compared to the relentless eardrum-pummeling crunge of Black Sabbath they sounded spritely, bouncy even. In short, he gave up mastodon metal for regular old metal, which in that time and place was as much about hair spray as it was gargantuan guitar wank. If Sabbath’s albums are pig iron, Osbourne’s solo LPs are aluminum, and I for one wasn’t crazy about Ozzy’s transformation from Iron Man to Tin Man.

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Graded on a Curve:
Oasis,
(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?

I’m of two minds about Oasis’ (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?, which many consider the crowning glory of the 1990s Britpop movement. On one hand I can’t help but bask in its bold strokes, symphonic sweep, and big, soaring anthems. On the other, there’s this nagging voice in my head that tells me it’s a stellar example of cocaine-induced grandiosity, and all sound and fury signifying nothing.

On this 1995 LP older brother/songwriter Noel Gallagher eschewed the rawer sound of the band’s debut Definitely Maybe in favor of a slew of pumped-up arena rockers, and in so doing produced the biggest–both in sonics and sales–album to emerge from the Cool Britannia movement.

Gallagher’s formula was simple; he took a cue from McDonald’s and supersized everything. The key world is swelling, and the results sound just swell, that is unless you’re of the opinion that (What’s the Story) is all steroidal bravado and no content.

And I can understand those people who have come to the latter conclusion, because Gallagher doesn’t really have much to say. The lyrics are crap; they sound like placeholders for some real lyrics Gallagher was simply too lazy to write. He goes heavy on catch phrases, cliches, and the like, and comes up with more than his fair share of howlers; “Slowly walking down the hall/Faster than a cannonball” will stand forever as one of the dumbest couplets in the history of Western Literature.

But in the end I say to hell with the slipshod lyrics and simply revel in these soaring anthems to nothing: “Wonderwall,” “Champagne Supernova,” “Don’t Look Back in Anger,” and “Some Might Say” may not mean much of anything, but rarely have a bunch of empty gestures sounded so inexplicably… sublime.

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Graded on a Curve: Starship,
“We Built This City”

Well here it is, the most abused song in the annals of rock and roll. If ever there was a tune that belongs in a shelter for battered songs, it’s this one. In a just world it would be sitting in a tranquil psychiatrist’s office, blowing its nose into a hanky and sobbing, “Why does everybody hate me?”

1985’s “We Built This City” has been maligned by plenty over the years, but I’ll limit my mentions to two publications. In 2010 Blender put it at the top of its list of the “50 Most Awesomely Bad Songs Ever.” Not to be outdone, in 2016 GQ declared it “the most detested song in human history.”

But I’m not here to pile on. You really can’t beat “the most detested song in human history,” and I might even question whether the detestation is justified. The real question is, just WHY do people detest this baby so much? I will attempt to answer this question.

1. People detest it because they hated everything Starship had come to represent. As you’ll no doubt remember, “Starship” was just the latest attempt by a bunch of hacks to re-brand what had come to be a decidedly second-rate product. Jefferson Airplane produced a lot of great music. Jefferson Starship produced a modicum of okay music and a lot of really shitty music. The abbreviated Starship produced a couple of odious hit singles and left the whole world wondering what they’d change their name to next. Star? Ship? Starshit? In short, the record-buying public was sick and tired of these bozos, and just looking for an excuse to throw eggs.

2. Many also despise “We Built This City” because it’s the product of egomania run amuck. Plenty of people built the rock scene in San Francisco, and Starship’s feckless attempt to snatch sole honor stank of hubris. To make matters worse, Grace Slick was the only member of this band of latecomers who was around when rock exploded in the Bay Area. These poseurs didn’t build this city; they showed up late and shit all over it. Oh, and it doesn’t help that the lyrics suck. “Marconi did the mamba” anyone?

3. Despite what I’ve said above, I doubt that many people really detest “We Built This City.” It’s just a dumb song. In fact, I suspect most of us are glad it’s around to poke fun at. So let’s poke fun at it!

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Graded on a Curve: Humble Pie, Eat It

Sound reads from the archives, all summer long.Ed.

When it comes to most 1970s double LPs, you can count me out. Especially the live ones. Bands almost inevitably saw them as an opportunity to stretch out, and engage in long, boring, and masturbatory free form shenanigans. Whole sides given over to one song! And in some cases, such as The Allman Brothers’ Eat a Peach and Canned Heat’s Living the Blues, TWO sides dedicated to one song! But look on the bright side. Should you ever decide you want out of this world, all you’ll have to do is put on Canned Heat’s 41-minute version of “Refried Boogie,” and presto! Suicide by ennui.

England’s Humble Pie was as guilty as the rest. On the band’s 1971 double live LP Performance: Rockin’ the Fillmore, Steve Marriott and company dedicated whole album sides to both Dr. John’s “I Walk on Gilded Splinters” and Muddy Waters’ “Rollin’ Stone.” Rockin’ the Fillmore is not so much an album as a tar pit, perfect for sinking slowly into on Seconal, Nembutals, and all the other great downers that made the seventies the Decade of Drool. I did my fair share and they were fun, especially when it came to basic motor skills, so much fun indeed that I once attempted to force a forkful of spaghetti into my forehead.

But Humble Pie redeemed itself with the 1973 double LP Eat It, because (1) I spent a lot of time listening to it as a kid, (2) there was simply no beating front man Steve Marriott—the legendary former guitarist and vocalist for The Small Faces—when he was at the top of his game, and most importantly (3) only one of its four sides is live. Amazing! Not a 40-minute track to be found! And what’s more its mix of hard rock originals, quieter numbers, jacked-up soul classics, and good old hippie blooz inexplicably works, thanks to the wonderfully grainy voice of Marriott—one of rock’s most unheralded lead singers—three of the greatest backup singers ever, and a band proficient enough to master songs from any genre under the sun.

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Graded on a Curve: Killdozer and Alice Donut, Michael Gerald’s Party Machine Presents!

Sound reads from the archives, all summer long.Ed.

Killdozer and Alice Donut: two bands for people with great taste that taste great together! Uniting to produce some of the greatest music ever! Talk about your coups! Why didn’t this baby win a Grammy? Because as Elvis Costello said, “Radio is in the hands of such a lot of fools/Trying to anesthetize the way that you feel.” That and both bands have about a 1,000 fans, each.

Madison, Wisconsin’s Killdozer (1983-96) was renowned for its macabre sense of humor—as expressed in the hilariously morbid lyrics of vocalist/bassist Michael Gerald—and gave us such immortal songs as “Hamburger Martyr” (man murders fry cook for making bad burger after saying, “I could make a better hamburger with my asshole!”) and castration ode “The Puppy” (“My old lady’s name is Lois/I love it when sucks my dink/When we set Sonny’s balls on fire/She didn’t even blink”). And then there’s their EP “Burl,” which they dedicated “to the loving memory” of Burl Ives when he was still among the living. As for their music, it was a monstrously loud and grating blues-based noise punk with savage guitars, a big distorted bass, and the unbelievably low-pitched vocal sneer of Gerald.

As for NYC’s Alice Donut (1987-95, 2001 to NOW), they are a freaky outfit that shares Killdozer’s humorously bleak view of existence but expresses it in a less, er, Wisconsin Death Trip kinda way. They focus on the perversities of existence, as is evident from the title of their 1989 LP, Bucketfulls of Sickness and Horror in an Otherwise Meaningless Life (whose two sides are called “Side Sickness” and “Side Horror”) and such great songs as (the quite pretty) “Tiny Ugly Life” and “The Son of a Disgruntled X-Postal Worker Reflects on His Life While Getting Stoned in the Parking Lot of a Winn-Dixie While Listening to Metallica.”

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