Graded on a Curve:
Killdozer,
For Ladies Only

What’s your favorite party LP? Mine is Killdozer’s For Ladies Only. Small matter to me if nobody else can stomach it—it’s my party and they’ll cry if I want them to. On this 1989 LP the ladies’ men in Madison, Wisconsin’s Killdozer turn their bluntly tuned pile-driver approach and Michael Gerald’s mighty gravel-crushing tonsils to covers and nothing but covers, and the results are both ear pummeling and hilarious. The “Konzept” is wonderful—the possibility of this soundtrack to seduction actually working is less than zero, and Gerald—one of the smartest guys to ever set his sights on complete audience alienation—knows it.

I’ve written about Killdozer before. Working under the radar they produced a whole bunch of great irony-laden protest songs that in their way really were protest songs, while also burrowing into the unseemly pink underbelly of American culture with songs that are as finely detailed as they are queasy-making. Gerald’s eye for Wisconsin Gothic is as well-tuned as Flannery O’Connor’s eye for Southern Gothic, and it’s no accident Gerald celebrated O’Connor in the great “Lupus.” Just listen to “Hamburger Martyr,” the story of a deranged man who murders the fry cook who tries to serve him a subpar burger, if you don’t believe me. I will take the lines, “You call this a hamburger?/Well, I don’t call this a hamburger/Hell, I could make a better hamburger with my asshole!” to my grave.

But on For Ladies Only Gerald and the Hobson brothers—they’re Bill on guitar and Dan on drums—take a break from gritty social realism to celebrate some of the greatest songs ever produced by humankind. I’m talking of such immortal tunes as The Original Castle’s “One Tin Soldier (The Legend of Billy Jack),” Don McLean’s “American Pie,” and Deep Purple’s “Hush,” amongst others. And where would we be without Killdozer’s fine cover of Bad Company’s “Good Lovin’ Gone Bad,” which is so unutterably cool it actually found its way onto the Old School soundtrack? The world would be a poorer place, let me tell you.

Killdozer always had a weakness for covers—their versions of Neil Diamond’s “I Am, I Said” and Jessi Colter’s “I’m Not Lisa” can only be called definitive—and it’s a real treat to hear them turn their uniquely abrasive talents to a whole slew of ‘em. They turn Steve Miller’s “Take the Money and Run” into so much raw hamburger! They slow Deep Purple’s “Hush” to a monstrous crawl, while Bill Hobson generates some awesome feedback! They play “Good Lovin’ Gone Bad” straight, except Gerald sounds like a man suffering from a fatal case of laryngitis! As for “American Pie”—which Killdozer ingeniously split between both sides of a single on their original-issue box of five 7″ singles on different colors of vinyl—once you’ve heard Gerald “croon” it, you’ll never hear it the same way again, guaranteed! Never have I heard the song delivered with such earnest dishonesty. And when they kick up the volume, be ready to run!

Killdozer opts to throttle “One Tin Soldier” instead of covering it, with Bill Hobson playing some simply barbaric guitar. And Hobson slashes and burns on the almost lively “Burnin’ Love” as well, while Gerald comes as close as he ever has to actually singing like an actual human being. And Gerald goes country honk on Conway Twitty’s “You’ve Never Been This Far Before,” revealing that he does indeed have a soft side. Except he doesn’t have a soft side, as he demonstrates on Killdozer’s slam-dunk cover of The James Gang’s “Funk #49,” which goes rototiller on your ass. Watch out for flying debris! As for their take on Buffalo Springfield’s “Mr. Soul”—which can only be found on the boxed single release—Hobson plays some simply astounding guitar of the sort designed to put that pesky Canuck Neil Young in his place once and for all.

No, when it comes to an LP full of party starters, I’ll turn to For Ladies Only every time. Because it’s not just the ladies who will find it irresistible—there’s something on it for everybody. Sure, your dog is likely to retreat to the bathroom and cower in the bathtub, quivering like a furry tuning fork. But give him a bowl filled with beer and he’ll come around. He may even howl along with Michael Gerald on “American Pie.” I know I do.

GRADED ON A CURVE:
A

This entry was posted in The TVD Storefront. Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.
  • NeedsAShave

    Killdozer’s cover of EMF’s “unbelievable” will always be one of the most spectacular covers of all time.

  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


  • Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text
  • Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text