The band gained notoriety during their brief tenure because they supposedly had a homeless lead singer who would walk around in the crowd prior to shows mumbling to himself. I think the homeless part has been debunked and the crowd mumbling thing seems difficult to maintain as your fame grows. That’s a nice, grabby story to write about, but it’s not necessary to appreciate this band, which is all over the map and great everywhere on it.
Musically, this is mostly straightforward late 80’s, early 90’s metal. Anthemic. Huge sound. Blistering guitar leads. In your face drums. And all of that is done perfectly, but they’re so much more, too. The 18-year-old that bought this CD (on the strength of their video for “Tank,” if memory serves) loved all the rebellion and swearing. “Fuckin’ Shit Ass” starts off with the sounds of Stanley throwing things around his room and more and more agitatedly muttering then yelling the title of the song. Like a lot of metal from the era, they cover the requisite topics like explicit sex (“Wet Your Lips,” “Big Black Bush”), but they also veer further afield. There’s rebellion in “School’s For Fools,” but it’s more of an anti-conformity thing a la “Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2)” than, say, “Smokin’ In The Boys Room.” Latin American social consciousness wasn’t confined to U2: “They shoot the children in Guatemala City,” Stanley sings in “Guatemala.” There’s a song about how great farm life is (the stripped-down “Farm Song”) and even the requisite power ballad (“Rise Above”) about heartbreak to close the album, which shouldn’t work, but is a really great song. Heck, very little of this should work. It’s just so scattered and so at odds with what was going on at the time (it was too smart for the metal that was on its way out and too rawk for the grunge that was coming in) that it’s almost impossible for me to believe this ever got made. But it did. And what a beautiful gift.
– “School’s For Fools,” “Telephone Call,” “Fuckin’ Shit Ass,” “Train,” “Wet Your Lips,” “Tank”
– “Blue Velvet Moon/We’re Here Now,” “Jawohl Asshole,” “Farm Song,” “Hey Buddy,” “Raise A Little Hell,” “Guatemala,” “Big Black Bush,” “Rise Above”
Filed Between: Jenny Lewis (promotional “Carpetbaggers”) and Lilith Fair, A Celebration Of Women In Music
Song Notes: After the jump
- Blue Velvet Moon/We’re Here Now – Sans the BVM (is that a cover?) it would be full for sure. It might be even with it. With it it might have been, but there’s that crowd noise and “Stanley” chant at the beginning, so I don’t think it would work. Such a great song, though.
- Jawohl Asshole – Don’t know what jawohl means, but it sounds awesome. Not sure if it’s the German “Ja wohl” because the J is pronounced as it would be in English, not like an English Y.
- School’s For Fools – So perfect. Motley Crue couldn’t write a better dumb rebellion song, and this one’s not even dumb if you don’t want it to be. But if dumb is more comfortable for you it fits that role, too.
- Telephone Call – Without re-listening I wouldn’t have thought this was one of the songs that would get full, probably due to all the Jesus references in the lyrics, but it’s perfectly crafted.
- Farm Song – Sounds like it was recorded on a tour bus on a highway. Not really, but sound effects are there to that effect. Totally different from anything else on album and the lyrics cause massive cognitive dissonance based on what the band seems to be like outside of this song. But good. And nice, sweet vocal harmonies.
- Fuckin’ Shit Ass –
- Hey Buddy –
- Train – The bridge is incredible, and the way it contrasts with the rest of the song, which is also incredible, is incredible. INCREDIBLE! Best song ever?
- Wet Your Lips – “Looks so pretty between my knees”
- Tank – “I’m a tank/I’m a tank/I’m a I’m a tank”
- Raise A Little Hell –
- Guatemala –
- Big Black Bush – What a killer opening thrashy riff. Probs would have been full if not for the live parts with the crowd shouting along.
- Rise Above – This ballad here at the end of that much hard rock is so textbook 80’s hair metal, and yet it is a really good song and totally works.