ALIVE IN DETROIT - Cheetah Chrome (Detroit Underground Inc.)
It doesn't come much more alive than this effort from ex-Dead Boys guitarist Cheetah Chrome, culled from a 1999 show at Lili's 21 club in Hamtramck in the Murder City. "This shit is meant to be played loud, so crank it up you fuckers" reads the exhortation on the CD slick (as if you needed to be told.) Get the picture?
If the late Stiv Bators was the human, albeit demented, face of the Dead Boys, Cheetah was arguably its musical heart. His shredding guitarwork provided the launching pad for the singer's outrageous antics, without which he may have just been another Iggy effigy hanging from a microphone cord. Nowadays, he lives in domestic bliss in Nashville, a quarter of a country away from the Bowery scene of New York City and the industrial blankness of original home Cleveland, Ohio.
The first thing that needs to be said is that if Wayne Kramer has a "guitar player's voice", Cheetah must have gone MIA on an eight-day bender when the Rock Gods were handing them out. Now, you're not expecting a member of the fucking Vienna Boys Choir when you slip this sucker into the player and let it blurt. There's a certain frayed, dried out charm to the old bloke's bawling (like he'd been sponsored by Wild Turkey and Peter Stuveysant - since before he could walk.) But the sound is like a trip to the CBGB men's room - it ain't pretty. Some of the latter-day songs are a struggle, vocally. But he can, of course, play guitar. Loud. In abundance. Pete Bankert (Dark Carnival) recorded this and did a fantastic job. Cheetah and rhythm player Jimmy V are all over it.
The material is culled from the back pages of the Chrome catalogue, going back as far as the pre-Dead Boys/Pere Ubu precursors Rocket From the Tombs for "So Cold" and including some solo cuts (including a bonus studio track, "Still Wanna Die", from the unreleased Genya Ravan-produced, 1979 Cheetah album.) It's the Dead Boys stuff, however, that really sparks with powerhouse takes on "Ain't Nothin' to Do" and the peerless "Sonic Reducer" lifting the roof.
"Word on the street is that I died of AIDS or something," Cheetah croaks at one stage. Nope, Cheetah's a survivor (and the disc is dedicated to a string of his comprades who can't say the same - the likes of Stiv, Jerry Nolan and Johnny Thunders amongst them.) This is warts-and-all proof that he's still around. (Available from Vicious Kitten.)
- The Barman
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