Record Reviews: November 1990
National Music Reviews
Sunshine and The Biffs – In Memory of Vinnie Vinyl
Sunshine and The Biffs don’t write songs so much as they create tone poems. Although no two numbers here sound alike, there is a common thread. Reminiscent of very early Massacre Guys or the Pixies with a sense of humor. I also like the fact that the tape I received included a free sticker and the card from a Megadeth tape. The only disappointment here was a needless cover of “Sunshine of Your Love.” I guess it makes sense thematically, but it’s a little too obvious. I’d like to see these folks play at the State Fair sometime. –Phil Harmonic
Sound In Time – Intergalactic Space Wedgies From Krom
My first thought upon opening this gem was: “Wow, this is recorded on an XLII-S, if this sucks, I can record over it.” Well, guess what? This tape rips! It’s been living in my car stereo for quite some time now. Looking at the band photo, I find it hard to believe such clean-cut-looking lads can groove so much. The bottom line is that anyone who can sing equally convincingly of Socrates and Dixie Living Wear gets a thumbs up in my book. –Phil Harmonic
Hard To Believe: A Kiss Covers Compilation
A Kiss covers album—what a concept. This is such a cool compilation, it’s like a tribute to my adolescent years. Ten years ago this would have been stupid, even though anybody that’s at least 25 and played in a band did at least one Kiss song, probably more…but now it seems so right.
This is the classic Kiss. To me, anyway. I was 14 when I went to my first Kiss concert. It was January 1977, and it changed my whole life. I had never seen anything like it. The closest thing to it was Alice Cooper on “In Concert.” This is when Peter Criss and Ace Frehley were still in the band. Makeup, platform boots, fire, blood, levitating drums. Before that, I had only seen bands like Black Oak Arkansas, Ted Nugent, Aerosmith, Jethro Tull and Blue Oyster Cult. Kiss was a whole other ball game altogether.
For me, the infatuation only lasted up until “Love Gun”. Then they became accepted by the masses, including grandma and grandpa and the United States, and eight-year-old kids were going to school with Kiss lunch boxes. They just weren’t dangerous anymore and became way overproduced.
This compilation is raw like the original Kiss. Even Ace Frehley’s “Snow Blind” sounds like Skin Yard could have come up with it themselves. And The Melvins’ “God of Thunder” is the heaviest thing I’ve ever heard. Coffin Break’s “Beth” is classic. All, Bullet Lavolta, Nirvana, Chemical People, Hard-Ons, and a whole lot more. A must for everyone.
Now if someone would put out an Alice Cooper cover album, my life would be complete. –Ringo Maggothead
Ministry – In Case You Didn’t Feel Like, Showing Up (Live)
Trying to capture the atmosphere of a Ministry concert on vinyl is impossible, which is why I sorta treat this EP as the half-assed gesture it is. The six songs here are uninspiring, and nowhere near the absolute frenzy of their shows.
I’m one of those people who could have cared less about Ministry until Thanksgiving of ‘89 when their excellent The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste LP reared its wonderfully malignant head. Before then, I had always opted for the Revolting Cocks and their sheer brutality. When word came of the impending live EP for Ministry earlier this year, I was half-heartedly believing it’d be as masterful as Alain Jourgensen’s Live! You Goddamned Son of a bitch! effort with the Cocks. I’ve since learned that it was in foolish faith indeed.
Then again, I feel the point behind this project was to show those who were in absentia that Ministry is quite a diseased entity to encounter. Had I been unfamiliar with their recent tour and recording within these last 12 months, I’d be shocked senseless.
Unfortunately, In Case You Didn’t Feel Like Showing Up makes me feel like “In case you purchased this, you’re gonna get fucked over if you’ve seen us live because it doesn’t even compare.” I’d suggest you pass this one over and pick up Beers, Steers and Queers by Alain’s other deformed offspring, the aforementioned Revolting Cocks, while awaiting something new from the Ministerial beings of punishment. –Charlee Johnson
Slayer – Seasons in the Abyss
Let me start out by saying I’ve always liked Slayer. The first thing I’d ever heard was Reign in Blood, and I will readily admit that the reason I got ahold of that mutha was from the controversy raised over its release. Musically undisciplined and incredibly abusive, Slayer made Clive Barker’s gore escapades read like Dr. Seuss’ “The Cat In The Hat Went Splat” novella.
Then I saw these guys live in San Antonio. They played a half-hour set, which clocked in at something like thirty songs in thirty minutes. Even more importantly, these guys simply didn’t give a shit. Their only concern was if it was fast and loud. Basically, Slayer were unmelodic bastards from the careening depths of hell.
So what happens here? Progression. If Led Zeppelin were the Hammer Of The Gods, then Slayer is one of the colossal, Titan badasses that wreaked havoc throughout Mount Olympus. Not only are the songs defined, structured, and incredibly tight, they are actually pretty impressive performances. The solos no longer suffer from diarrhea of the guitar, nor do the vocals sound along the lines of your old man passing a kidney stone. Granted, if your mommy hears you playing this, she’ll bet that you are sacrificing your dog for an incantation to some lower-third-plane demon. Somehow, I can’t help but smile at this.
In short, Seasons in the Abyss is a brilliant, credible change for a band that would have been accused of aspiring to nothing more than demon drivel. It stands as a pretty impressive endeavor. Should it be true that this is the band’s final studio effort, it’s a helluva epitaph that will inspire the minions for eons to come. –Charlee Johnson