Wednesday, February 13, 2013
V/A- Maniacs From the Motor City compilation LP review
V/A- Maniacs From the Motor City compilation LP review
This was the last vinyl compilation of local Detroit bands to be released (at least, as far as I’m aware) and it was about 25 years ago that this came out. The first band, Son of Sam, was fronted by Lacy Shelton, the oldest and longest-running Detroit punk rocker still around. This was his first band (not to mention this was released on his label, .44 Caliber Records), and the two songs “Watch Me Bleed” and “Tomorrow’s Just Another Day” are low-fi garage-y hardcore punk that moreso serves as background noise/energy for Lacy’s carefully penned, thoughtful lyrics to be spouted with a very unique snot and anger that I’ve not heard any other frontman take on. Next is Coven 13 with their two tracks “Burial Ground” and “Threshold of the New”, which sound like heavily Samhain-influenced rock- perhaps a punk rock side project of King Diamond in another era. Devilocks and skulls and deep-singing voices galore here- not bad, definitely a curveball approach to putting together a compilation, and a good one. One point I’d like to make here, though, is that I can find little about this band online, and given the easy availability of information today, that’s odd. Regardless, it’s very unique-sounding, though it rings enough of other bands to not be too out there. Next is Forced Anger’s song “Vultures”, which is a very bass-heavy track that kicks into a very 80s-hardcore fast and raspy punk track with a spitting vocal sound that speaks of urgency and concern. The band had more oddball tracks that truly set them apart from most of their contemporaries, but this is a very stellar hardcore punk song in and of itself that isn’t at all out of place. Inside Out follows this, with “High Expectations” and “Live For Today”, two psychedelic ’77-style punk tracks that aren’t fast, but are instrumentally friendly and conscious. Also, the band is composed of all females, a striking rarity in a highly macho scene of the time (just ask anyone from back then). Here, the energy of the music is all over, evenly spaced along all the instruments and the vocals, which sound like an American version of Beki Bondage of Vice Squad. The second track is stronger than the first, with more pizzazz and spark in the music- everything is equally important and distinct among the instruments. This was the sleeper hit of the record, no doubt. Spanking Bozo’s “Tell You Something” is the following track, and it is downright strange. Flipper is the first band to come to mind here, followed by a plethora of no-name garage bands from the 60s that probably played with the Stooges and the MC5, but never got the same recognition. Not a fan of this one, and I’ve never heard of this band before, either. A truly odd band, song, and a puzzling selection for this compilation, though I’m sure it fits the bill somehow.
On the flip side of the record, Almighty Lumberjacks of Death are next, with “Working Class Kids” and “Gangland”, which are an Americanized version of Blitz. Both songs are very simple and good drink-a-long songs that ring true of the sentiment many Detroit kids had at the time. This band is one of the better-known bands to emerge from Detroit, and it’s not necessarily undeserved- the singer, Jimmy Doom, has an especially different voice for an Oi! band, and despite the simplicity of the music, it’s a necessary piece of Detroit’s punk rock alumni, without a doubt. “Strike First” and “Rogues” are the next tracks, done by the band Rogues. This is another heavily Oi! influenced band, though they have more of a standard punk rock vibe, as opposed to a drink-a-long one. Still striking in its simplicity and its ability to please the inner drunk. “Dead Motherfucker” is the subsequent song, and it’s by Slaughterhouse, another band I haven’t heard much about (given that I know most of Detroit’s past and present punk bands, this is why I find mystery to be odd). This is proto-noise punk- heavy with feedback, sludgy pace, and despondent, high-pitched vocals that only seem to have one tone. The guitar sounds like the Stooges’ feedback sound heard in the beginning of “I Wanna Be Your Dog”, but not even that can clear up the confusion I have with this song and band. It’s just fuzzy and weird, for the most part. Sublime Wedge’s “Riding White Alligators” is… somehow weirder than the Crucifucks, not quite as good, and one wonders how this band even got on this compilation- this is pure experimental weirdness. Not utterly worthless, but I would leave an ‘undetermined’ vote for the worth of this song and band. It leaves one wondering “What the fuck?” and “Why is this on a punk compilation?” I’m all for diversity, but this is just fucking weird. Lastly is S.B.L.C. (short for Screaming Bloody Leper Children) and their two tunes “Fuck” and “Flesh and Blood”. The first is just straightforward punk rock- short, sweet, and to the point, the stuff the band is largely known for. The second is not quite as simple, though possessing the same energy as the first track. Low-fi, Oi! influenced hardcore punk, I suppose. It has some nice guitar work, and the singer sounds pretty upset in a negative way, so it’s not too bad.
Only one word can truly describe this compilation LP succinctly and correctly, though it is definitely a far cry from the kind of music punk from Detroit is known for churning out: Eclectic. Worth your time, and worth looking into more of the history of the bands on this compilation, if you can find it.