Rebellious Jukebox XI: Shaved Women/Maximum Effort vs The Volatiles

IMG_20150605_154923Originally published August 2013

Okay, you made me do it. Nobody else released a 45 last month, so I’m reviewing the July Tower Groove Singles Club release. Yes, I am somewhat involved in Tower Groove. Add or subtract from my opinions whatever you feel that you need to, it won’t hurt this lurching beast of a record one bit. One side features Shaved Women’s “Circles,” which only needed one wah-wah guitar solo to be the best “Wino-era” St Vitus song ever. It riffs & howls for damn near 5 minutes & then fades out. For all I know, they’re STILL playing it, & I’d be okay with that. The other side features Maximum Effort’s “Sacrifice,” filled with Zeng’s ranting Art Bell-isms, & hey, there’s that shredding guitar solo! Cool.

Just to put your conflict-of-interest fears to rest, though, I’m pairing that pretty great record with the Volatiles’ 1996 “Fuck All Punk Rockers” ep, which is easily my favorite St Louis punk rock 45 ever (so far, at least). Political without being preachy, catchy without being sappy, funny without being goofy, smart without being off-putting, this record had it all, five songs of punk perfection. And, oh yeah, the band featured the drumming skills of Tower Groove main man Duane Perry (crap! conflict of interest!).

Shaved Women “Circles”

No Volatiles musicks on the internets, but here’s a playlist saying they got played on WFMU in 1996. That’s kinda cool…

Rebellious Jukebox X: Bob Reuter’s Alley Ghost vs Bob Reuter

IMG_20150605_193042Originally published July 2013

It’s been thirty-two years since Bob Reuter last released a 45, but the differences between his 1981 solo debut(after a long run with the proto-punk Dinosaurs) & 2013’s Alley Ghost are far outweighed by the similarities. The burbling keyboards on “Jungle Fighter,” the robot-inducing jerky rhythms of “Flashy Graphics,” & the saxophone of Dominic Schaeffer (courtesy of art-prog-wavers Earwacks; we’ll get to them one of these months) all put Bob’s 1981 “Got Dreaming” 45 clearly in new wave territory, but the basic framework of his songwriting was already in place, & his voice was already world-weary but still wide-eyed. Can a voice be wide-eyed? Whatever. He even throws in the phrase “cheap infatuation,” which became its own song on Alley Ghost’s debut LP last year (I think that one may have even started life as a Dinosaurs song, but I can’t find my Dinosaurs bootleg CD-R right now, & I get paid by the minute).

The brand new “Dana Dew/She Brought Me To The Wire” 45 is a solid addition to Bob’s garage/punk/folk catalog/life. It’s clear that this particular lineup has done some road work, as they tear into the two songs like they’re the last hot dog at the truck stop, but otherwise Bob could have released this in 1973 or 1993 or 2013 & it would have been just as powerful. Call it timelessness or call it a refusal to grow up. I don’t think Bob would care either way.

Alley Ghost-“Dana Dew” live in the studio

I couldn’t find any records from the 1981 45 online, but here’s a thing that Bob wrote about it…

RIP, Bob, you cranky old goofball. I miss seeing you around…

Rebellious Jukebox IX: Tenement Ruth vs Uncle Tupelo

IMG_20150605_193123Originally published June 2013

Our great town was awash in bands like Tenement Ruth fifteen-twenty years ago. “Alternative Country ” was the coin of the realm, and you couldn’t swing a dead cat (gross!) without hitting somebody citing Johnny Cash & Nirvana as their main influences. Having trouble getting gigs? Put on a cowboy hat! The wave has long since crested, thankfully, which is why the Ruthies (does anybody call them that?) don’t sound like a boring re-tread on their vinyl debut. Well, that & the fact that they’re really good! There’s an undeniable twang in Melissa Anderson’s voice, but just listen to the way she emphasizes the “ger” in “a little longer” on side A’s “Dirty Carpet.” You can’t fake that. And you seldom hear anyone shredding a solo so unabashedly & unpredictably, yet never non-musically, as lead guitarist Dave Anderson. It’s like they take their country roots & rock/punk interests & make their own thing, which, duh, is what you’re *supposed* to do, but so rarely got done in that scene.
It’s not Uncle Tupelo’s fault that so many bands did so little with what they started (or if not started, at least popularized locally). The Tupes (did anyone call them that?) slipped out their first 45 after the surprising success of their “No Depression” album, and it was a snapshot of a band still weighing its options. Side A’s “I Got Drunk” is a raucous punk anthem whose lyrical subtext of regret was probably missed by a growing percentage of their audience, while their mellow take on “Sin City” shows their debts to the country-tinged rockers that came before them. You can’t really blame Uncle Tupelo for all the generic bands that sprung up in their wake, but you can thank them for the good ones.

Uncle Tupelo-I Got Drunk

Tenement Ruth-Dirty Carpet