Record Reviews: February 1991


Poison IdeaPick Your King, Darby Crash Rides Again, Feel The Darkness and Poison Idea

by Charlee Johnson

Poison Idea is an acquired taste, one which I have taken to as of lately. First frequented with the world’s loudest alcoholics in 1988 with their Kings of Punk LP, I followed their progress with a subsequent release entitled War All The Time. After that, I sort of fell out of step with them.

Having formed their own label, American Leather, the P.I. crew began releasing an abundance of material which had either been pressed in obscenely limited quantities or simply unavailable for public consumption.

Of all reissues within the last year, Pick Your King is the finest. This incredible seven-inch clocks in at 12:47 minutes and features 13 songs of supersonic punk. Originally pressed in 1982, Pick Your King opts for a breakneck pace in place of such 60-second wonders as “Self Abuse,” “Castration” and “Cult Band.” Even though it suffers from a somewhat monoral mix, the EP itself is a masterpiece.

Darby Crash Rides Again is a compilation of two early demos recorded around 1981. The influence of the West Coast punk bands of that era is quite prevalent, and the recording lacks any distinct identity. For hardcore P.I. fanatics, it is a must. For the casual observer, Darby Crash is little more than a faceless effort.

The most recent LP from the bunch is Feel the Darkness. Its professional packaging and production shines. The brief tenure of ex-MFL guitarist Aldine Strychnine injects a healthy boost of energy into the lineup. Lyrically, the album is perhaps the most comprehensive and intelligent of any P.I. release to date. The strong musicianship is an incredible documentation on how much ground has been gained since their halcyon hardcore days.

Finally, there’s the dreaded Sub Pop release. Perhaps it is little more than a joke. Dreadful in execution and poorly mixed, Taken by Surprise is a lackluster effort; the flipside of which is a dragging take of the Go Go’s “We Got The Beat.” For most, Sub Pop is similar to 4AD records: their packaging far outshines the hollow music content within. This is not the case, since the artwork AND the music is downright horrid. For some reason, I can’t help but think that this was the intention.

As the Poison Idea catalog grows in size, it’s beginning to establish a line of credibility. The new direction which P.I. aims toward is quite impressive. Very few punk bands ever came out of their minor-chord bashing forays to become musicians. Poison Idea are among the few veterans of that era to be such.


Samhain Final Descent

by Charlee Johnson

My feelings on previously released material are that if it isn’t good enough for release the first time, don’t bother the second. Final Descent manages to prove me wrong with its powerful performance and letter-perfect packaging.

The LP, a compilation of the band’s unissued tracks and discontinued EP, Unholy Passion, is a gothic fanfare of ultimate blasphemy. Glenn Danzig’s frightful compositions are dreadful suites of darkness, all of which are brilliant in their dominating execution. The remix of the Unholy Passion tracks are an additional bonus for their clarity, something that Samhain’s recorded efforts fail to achieve. Then again, maybe the somewhat cluttered mixes are what made the horrific overtones seem so apparent on their earlier releases.

Final Descent is a fine eulogy for one of Danzig’s darkest moments. Samhain’s experimental forays have never sounded fined, and there’s never been more of a need than now to have this material surface in wake of his burgeoning success.


Afghan WhigsAfghan Whigs, Nirvana Nirvana

by Charlee Johnson

The infamous Seattle sound has become the latest staple for egomaniacs. Readily accessible and limited in quantity, Sub Pop releases are every record collector’s wet dream: colored vinyl, perfect graphics and professional packaging. Most Sub Pop products are superior to independent and major label rivals. However, the musical content within is usually no match for its colorful appearance. On occasion, the label manages to wade through the post ‘70s grunge and fish out a few worthy acts. The Afghan Whigs is somewhat subdued from their excellent LP last year. Nevertheless, the performance here, though somewhat nostalgic with its heavy-handed “Freedom Rock” overtones, is down right homey. The lush piano and tender vocals are a plus on both features.

Nirvana serves us a heavy ditty featuring plaintive vocals that contrast with outright ballsy rock and roll. Certainly the finest Sub Pop acts, Nirvana breaks free of the phenomenon through their intense musicianship. The furor caused over Soundgarden will likely be doubled when the world learns of these guys.

Overall, the commanding performance of these singles show that Sub Pop might outlive their 15minutes of fame. Perhaps in time, when the dust settles, Sub Pop will have a chance of being known for their acts instead of packaging concepts.


Yexotay Ritual

by Less Nessman

From, believe it or not, Provo comes one of Utah’s better metal bands. When I picked this tape, I had to be honest and say it didn’t much appeal to me. However, after seeing an eye-opening live performance, I opened my mind and gave it a whirl.

For some reason local music is rarely produced exceptionally well. Unless the band has the funds to produce something well, like Stench or Bad Yodelers, it is rare to find local music really produced well. Yexotay, however, surprised me. Music this fast and hard is very difficult to produce into an easy listening product. The thing that makes this stand out is the clarity in the instruments.

Yexotay’s five-song EP is definitely worth the few dollars spent. This little thrash ditty contains five great songs, but the best tracks would have to be “The Yexorcist” or “Escape 9,” my two personal favorites. Their music, both live and recorded, contains a lot or energy, something most bands have a hard time creating…pick it up.


Read more from the archives below:

Record Reviews – What’s New at 4AD

Record Reviews: October 1990