SPLENDOR OF SORROW – Easter Monkeys (Smog Veil)
Hard to believe stuff as simultaneously raw and challenging as this still existed in the early ‘80s, but Smog Veil’s ongoing documentation of the Cleveland scene has unearthed many such surprises. Easter Monkeys, a band whose sole release before this comp was a posthumous vinyl LP, were the brainchild of fallin’-down-dissolute free associator Chris Yarmock. With the recruitment of guitarist/ex-Pere Ubu roadie/record store geek Jim Jones, they became inheritors of the pre-punk Clevo underground tradition that included Ubu, Mirrors, and the Electric Eels.
As an axe-slinger, Jones (who went on to join Ubu and left the planet in 2008) churned up a post-Hendrixoid feedback apocalypse that compared favorably with more widely hyped Japanoise outfits like Les Rallizes Denudes and Fushitsusha because of its integration within actual songs that had melodies and dynamic shifts. With Charlie Ditteaux on bass and Linda Hudson (li’l sis to a couple of members of Clepunk legends the Pagans) pounding out the Mo Tucker tribal thump (albeit with more cymbals), their jams had the motorik feel of early Ubu, but with more blood on the stage.
To get an idea what I’m talking about, listen to the eight-plus minutes of “Nailed To the Cross.” Add a little Crampsian Ghoulardi (late night Clevo horror movie host) schtick (see “Camera Fo’ ” and faux blooze “My Baby Digs Graves”), and you’ve got something goin’ on. The murky suicide anthem “Heaven 357” is worthy of the early Scientists, while “Take Another Pill” works off the most bone-crushing riff imaginable.
In “Monkey See, Monkey Do” a hyperthyroid Bo Diddley bounce careens straight into the “doot-do” chorus from “Sympathy for the Devil,” to riotous effect. Some live and rehearsal bonus tracks repay the Monkeys’ debts to the Velvets (“Cheap Heroin,” “Power”) and Stooges (“Vaporize”) in full.
Cop via smogveil.com. - Ken Shimamoto
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