ROADKILLARAMA - Dennis Most (Tornado Ride Records)
Oh My God. Is this the same band that inflicted "Wire My Jaw" on the masses? This is in another class entirely, a snarling amalgam of punk, garage rock andmetal that sneers and growls its way through 11 fiery tracks that are brutal enough to tape a sawn-off shotgun to your face and threaten to squeeze the trigger until you play them again.
The I-94 Bar's been rocking out to the sounds of the Pink Fairies and the third Deviants album lately and Dennis Most (aka Dennis Most and the Instigators until recently) is locked in a similar headspace. Roaring out of the American back-blocks of Indiana in the early '70s, he and his band were playing aggressive, metal-influenced proto-punk before there was such a thing.
Of course, no-one took a jot of notice until the '90s when one of their tunes lucked its way onto a "Killed By Death" compilation. Suddenly, record collector scum all over the world were claiming to have owned personally autographed copies of the Insitigators' back catalogue since the days when Henry Rollins was an itch in his father's pants.
Put it down to isolation and a desire to give the finger to the world, but this album has the same sense of fuck-you non-conformism that the Fairies and Deviants conjured in London back in the early '70s. Only the Indiana band plays harder. For all I know, Dennis and his boys are so determinedly caught in a time tunnel that they wear flares and think Jimmy Carter is still in the White House. I doubt they care less, but for some reason that's a good thing.
Wild guitar solos and a 16-wheeled but nimble-footed rhythm section careers through originals like the catchy "Don't Take Me For Granted, Janet" and the keyboard-infused garage rocker "Indiana Roadkillarama". Peter Poulos' guitar playing is big on mid-range sustain and a metallic but warm tone.
Most's vocals on "You Wear Your Hello Like a Permanent Fixture" recall PiL until the bridge where the guitars break in, with organ augmenting a driving bassline. Ditto "Where Are All The Nice Kids?" His voice swings from a whiney snarl to a balls-out roar and it he must be a sight to see live, looking a lot like a rocking cousin of pornstar Ron "The Hedgehog" Jeremy. (Is that going too far? Nah. That "Killed By Death" song was called "Excuse My Spunk" after all.)
Cool re-work of (ex-Pink Fairfies) Larry Wallis' "Police Car". The cover of "Psychotic Reaction" would demolish entire city blocks, played loud enough. Jeff Roncalli (drums) and Keith Grave (bass) lock into a murderous heavy groove Pity Syd Barrett's not around to hear his own "Lucifier Sam". It might have coaxed him out of the house. - The Barman
MY JAW - Dennis Most & The Instigators (Bacchus Archives/Dionysus)
Indiana native Dennis Most has been slogging it out in the trenches since 1969 and describes his music as a "hybrid of punky-garagy-psychedelic speed metal with hooks you can remember." As hard as that sound may be to imagine, one listen to "Wire My Jaw" leaves no doubt that it was a difficult birth.
The album is comprised of both live and studio material from 1976-1990 and includes tracks from not only The Instigators (whose main claim to fame appears to have been supporting XTC back in 1980 ? Damn! When that same tour rolled into Detroit's Madison Theater, all we got was Hazel O'Connor?) but another Most band called AudioLove. The only constant in the burning wreckage that is "Wire My Jaw" is the clunky, awkward monotone of Most, who mewls over the world-weary, beaten-by-life amplified ruckus laid down by a bunch of dirt merchants who can't decide if they're punk or metal.
"Excuse My Spunk," the 1979 single which is allegedly a highly sought-after collector's item and numbers Jello Biafra amongst its admirers, gets off to a scrappy start, powered by a chugging riff straight out of the Brian James songbook, but the minute you turn your head, in slouches a messy guitar solo right out of Mark Farner's.
More deserving of all the acclaim are "Gruesome Stories," which wouldn't sound out of place on a Roky Erickson album, Most howling like he's suffering from drug-induced mental problems, and the musclebound garage-band grunt of "King Of Sleaze." "Penetrate" starts out belligerently enough, propelled by a fuzzy, frazzled guitar tone and Most spitting venom, but its momentum is inexplicably short circuited by two entirely out-of-place guitar solos that Uriah Heep's Mick Box would be proud to lay claim to.
All of the pieces for a halfway decent album lay within the grooves (or whatever the digital equivalent of "grooves" are) of "Wire My Jaw" but it's almost as if those pieces were dropped in the studio and hastily spliced back together out of order. Most of it wallows in some sort of primordial energy that is just waiting to be harnessed, but which seems just out of the reach of Most and what was apparently an ever-changing band of street rats. For some reason I just can't seem to put my finger on, listening to it makes me feel unclean. - Clark Paull
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