EVERYTHING FOR THE FIRST TIME ? - Big Midnight (Alive)
Maybe with a little luck and the right management, Big Midnight could be the next Stooges or, at the very least, fill in the gaps between Iggy Pop solo albums and Stooges reunion jaunts. Those who would've thunk this type of Motor City muscle would crawl out of California, a place good for nothing much more than beer commercial music these days, please raise your hand.
Not since The Left, on their 1985 EP "Last Train To Hagerstown" (I know, I know ? obscurity is my specialty), has anyone come as close to capturing the same type of lightning in a jar, er, turd in a punchbowl that Iggy, the brothers Asheton, and James Williamson did at the cusp of the 70's (and beyond) in the sleepy little college town of Ann Arbor, Michigan as these guys have (no small feat ? just ask The Trolls). Besides apparently trying to best Iggy's record on Disc 5 of "1970: The Complete Funhouse Sessions" for saying the words "all right," what's immediately unsettling about singer Shea Roberts' voice on opening cut "Doin' All Right" is how much he sounds like the world's forgotten boy, circa "Kill City," the collection of demos Iggy did with James Williamson during his mid-70's period of uh, refocus. And did I mention the song swings like a motherfucker?
In fact much of "Everything For The First Time," from the keyboards down to the production (by Roberts and Jeff Saltzman) seem to echo what is perhaps the great lost album of the Iggy/Stooges canon. Refusing to play entirely to their strength of honking, dribbling, drooling, blasts of grit like "Doin' All Right" and "Little Miss Mercy", Big Midnight temper "Everything For The First Time" with downright moody, bleak, and sometimes excruciating sonic pap like "All The Dreams," "Spent Too Much," and the piano-driven "Trying To Get By."
Plodding though they may be, these songs may appeal to those who enjoy the type of solace only a warm bath and a razor blade can offer. Thankfully, and at the risk of beating the Iggy/Stooges comparisons into the ground, it's the one-man freak show side of Iggy that Big Midnight choose to mine for the most part on this album. "Neglect Yourself" may be a blatant nod to "Raw Power's" recommendation to "Lose sleep baby and stay away from bed," but it kicks like a mule anyway and Lydia Walker's backing vocals are a nice touch.
On "Gotta Get Down," guitarist Elisha Drons coaxes a Nugentian wail from his guitar then spends the rest of the song trying to saw the damn thing in half. Big Midnight is apparently Alive's latest entry in the Murder City 500 and continues in the professionally packaged and produced grand tradition of their "Motor City's Burnin'" comps and albums by surf/instro throwbacks the Silencers.
There's no denying these guys have the chops and cocksure arrogance (not to mention teen dream looks) to either wallow in a whomping grimefest or float on material bordering on psychedelia, but it may behoove them to choose one or the other. Fence sitting's not a wise long-term career choice. But what do I know? I'm just a guy with a computer.
- Clark Paul
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