THE BUTCHER SHOP - The Butcher Shop (Bang! Records)
There was an early '90s review of the self-titled Kim Salmon and The Surrealists album that had an all-affirming tagline along the lines of: "Ugly music for ugly people." That album's Brad Pitt compared to this.
The Tex Perkins-led Butcher Shop had two lives. Some would say both were mercifully short.
The first (1988) was as a studio-only combo that included moonlighting Johnnys, Spencer P. Jones and Billy Pommer Jr, and ex-Gun Club and Cramps member Kid "Congo" Powers that produced the "Hard For You" three-track EP. The second (1989) involved gigs and a rejigged line-up (with Lubricated Goats Peter Hartley and Stu Spasm) and spawned the "Pump Action" LP.
Both line-ups were on the Black Eye label, whose roster, reputationally speaking, was characterised by consumption of various substances, nudity, anarchic tendencies and/or all of the above. The Butcher Shop had something in common with the rest of the roster in that they wallowed in their own musical filth and threw it back at audiences. Perhaps less confronting than GG Allin - I'm only going by second-hand reports on both counts - but you get the picture, and that attitude is admirably captured on record.
The 15 songs here are mostly crackers and they're not all direct as you might assume. There's enough raw ooze in the opener, "Pump Action", to fill a dozen Malabar sewage outfalls, and you can feel the musical crunch of "The Length" as it's used as a billyclub on the back of your skull.
"Youth Culture Sucker", the impossibly fuzzy "Deep Throat" and the fairly rancid "Death Plug" are all toxic enough to have your next crop of party guests running for the door, even if your food doesn't.
There's a streak of industrial bleakness running through tracks like "90,000,000,000 Decibels" with synth ace John Murphy guesting on that one and two more. There are also detours into instrumental delicacy ("Open Heart") and Morricone-noir ("The Descent") so don't go pigeon-holing.
The perennial Beasts of Bourbon favourite "Hard For You" gets an airing in more insidious form than you've probably heard anywhere else. Beware - it bites.
As usual, the good folks at Bang! have done the world a favour by reviving some long-lost Australian music. Nicely-packaged too so don't waste time waiting. - The Barman
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