BLOODIED UP – Freddy Lynxx and the Corner Gang (Julie)
FULL COVER – Freddy Lynxx and the Corner Gang (Sucksex)
About once a year I’m lucky enough to stumble across an album which grabs me by the ankles, turns me upside down, and shakes. Hard. To the point of paralysis. Up until a few months ago, the eleven letters F-R-E-D-D-Y-L-Y-N-X-X occupied a faraway corner of my temporal lobe, swirling in and out of the ether, nearly linking vague memories relative to vicious kittens and a Thunderesque approach to six-string care and feeding. Then, from out of the blue (er, actually Vancouver), “Larger Than Life,” Lynxx’s 1990 album with the Jet Boys, remastered and given a shower, shave, cup of coffee, and a cigarette by Skydog, found its way to my mail slot and for the next several weeks we became inseparable, spending every spare moment together, never growing weary of each other’s company.
The fawning review posted in this forum a few months back bordered on unctuous smarm, but I stand steadfastly by it. It thunders (pun intended) with the muscle and urgency of vintage Heartbreakers and to say that it threw me for a loop is like saying David Johansen could probably use a few carbohydrates in his diet. How Lynxx has flown so far under the general public’s radar for so long remains one of life’s great mysteries. Concerns that I’ll be starting a doomsday cult ala Hale-Bopp with Lynxx as Godhead instead of a comet should be immediately put to rest.
Ever since, I’ve been playing hide-and-go-seek with Lynxx’s back catalog, batting about .500, still unable to snaffle 1996’s “No Pleasure Thrills” and 1997’s “The Courageous Cat.” Straight from the source, though, come these two albums he knocked out with the Corner Gang.
The Corner Gang are cut from the same cloth as the Jet Boys, ragged louts who manage to project an aura of detached cool, screwed and tattooed, oozing greasy pulchritude and looking to pull your girlfriend. The members rotate in and out of each song on a revolving basis and include Kevin K, Rick Blaze, Elda “Stiletto” Gentile, and members of Sour Jazz, Born In Flames, the Italian Aces, Fuzzbox, The Senders, The Golden Arms, Jimmy Keith & His Shocky Horrors, The Horehounds, The Runarounds, Stevie & The Secrets, The Michael Clark Band, The Jacobites, and The Flaming Stars (whew!). Collectively, they’re double jointed enough to bend to the breaking point, giving Lynxx enough elbow room to wail like the neighborhood air raid warning test that wakes me up the first Saturday of
1999’s “Bloodied Up” manages to pack enough big guitar drama, rip-roaring bliss, and three-sheets-to-the-wind beatitude into its 11 tracks to satisfy even the most discerning maven of live fast-die young-beautiful corpse rock and roll. And you just have to love a guy who writes a slashing, howling instrumental named after his band, not to mention one who opens an album with it, reaching into his bag of tricks and doing everything with his guitar short of splitting an atom.
“Too Many Hearts” is a chugging drive through Stonesville, Lynxx stuck in a traffic jam near the intersection of Richards Avenue and Wood Boulevard, Johnny T. directing traffic while paramedics perform the Heimlich maneuver on The Senders’ Phil Marcade after he starts choking on his harmonica. In Kevin K’s “Dead Boy Runnin’ Scared,” K somehow manages to come off as downright desperate, casually disinterested, and fully committed all in the space of one song, his reedy vocals the perfect foil for Lynxx, who’s slick like a pimp no matter what the sonic circumstances.
“Full Cover” (2004) takes its name from the military term for “total protection” which Lynxx gleaned from the Ridley Scott film “Blackhawk Down,” apropos for a band called The Corner Gang but according to Lynxx, “nobody noticed anything.” Something tells me that’s all about to change. Covers and/or tribute albums usually leave me cold, but “Full Cover” is a tumbling, messy, and unbuttoned affair brimming with élan, spirit and first-take vitality which sounds as if it was recorded straight through, sans ceremony, in one alcohol-blurred evening. Hard to believe the various producers (Roger Lavalee, Patrick Klein, Jeff Dahl, Steve Baise, and John Rivers) had much to do besides cover the mixing console with plastic, press “record,” and shout out “see you on the other side.”
“Full Cover” is one long stab ‘em and slab ‘em highlight, from the enthusiastic dismantling of dusty shouter “Soul Power” to Lynxx and Nikki Sudden leaving skid marks and the faint odor of bleach up one side of Chuck Berry’s “Bye Bye Johnny” and down the other, Max Decharne trying in vain not to be left holding the bag behind the piano, briefly channeling Jerry Lee Lewis before leaving him in the lurch. If these two songs alone don’t make your heart palpitate, don’t waste your time with defibrillators. Like a bad penny, Marcade returns to cough up a lung cookie on his own “Baby Glows In The Dark,” fellow Sender Wild Bill Thompson and Lynxx sounding as if they’re using ginsu knives coated with titanium alloy for slides and slamming this scribe with an epiphany: I’ve been completely
asleep at the switch when it comes to The Senders. What rock have they been hiding under all of these years? Duh…
One of the biggest surprises here is the classy take on the MC5’s “Miss X,” a brief respite from the dizzying maelstrom of Les Pauls that are Lynxx’s stock in trade, Cathy Peters and Cheryle Crane oozing soul with vocals that are harder than a whore’s heart. A veritable six-string murderer’s row of Mr. Ratboy, Lynxx, and K drag the Stones’ “Respectable” even further down into the spuzz than Keef and Ronnie were ever able to, kicking the tempo up just enough to make it their own. Lynxx and K sashay into the room on Thunders’ “In Cold Blood,” drop their cigarette ashes on the carpet, and still manage to charm themselves an invite to the next party.
While “Larger Than Life” remains the last word in the Lynxx canon, “Full Cover” comes close – damn close – to sending it to the showers from atop its lofty pedestal. It’s another loud knock at the door marked “Big Time,” ignoring the “No Solicitors” sign and shaking your hand while minding not to flash too much of the diamond-encrusted pinky ring and Rolex watch. How much longer does Lynxx have to pound the pavement before someone invites him in? - Clark Paull
LARGER THAN LIFE DUSTED - Freddy Lynxx & The Jet Boys (Skydog)
There are those (well alright, mainly us ugly Americans) who would vilify and denigrate Freddy Lynxx (nee Di Angelo) for not only being Parisian, but for five finger discounting the entire New York Dolls/Heartbreakers catalog on "Larger Than Life," but in my mind the latter is more than enough to forgive him for the former, put him on a pedestal, and add him to the short list for coronation of some sort.
My son just made his first Holy Communion, so I'll stop just short of popehood. Besides, Lynxx and I share an astrological sign (Scorpio) and he favors Les Paul Juniors. Even Bob Dole would look cool playing one of those, if he had two arms that is.
A personal post-it note: as most Barflies know by now, I might not be the most objective person on the planet when it comes to anything by the Dolls, ex-members of the Dolls, or anything that sounds or looks like the Dolls or its ex-members (like Hanoi Rocks, Trash Brats, or The Joneses, fer instance). On the other hand, my devotion isn't so blind that I can ignore the obvious - David Johansen dumbing down as Buster Poindexter was a desperate embarrassment and the world needs another Johnny Thunders live album about as much as Detroit needs another garage band, mayoral scandal, Japanese automobile dealership, or electronic music festival.
Legend has it that Lynxx experienced an epiphany of sorts after hearing one of Thunders' sermons in Paris in 1983, shortly thereafter leaving his band The Aristocrats to roadie for him and, one presumes, touch the hem of his garment. Lynxx, Vic Vixen (guitar), Poker Alice (bass), and Nick Hell (drums) later sought Thunders' blessing on their new band and asked him to help them choose a name from a list of three candidates. With the top choice taken from a Dolls' song and the second and third being Flying Pizza and Vendetta, this one was a no-brainer, even for someone as squashed as Thunders.
"Larger Than Life Dusted," originally released as "Larger Than Life" back in 1990, has, as the modified title implies, been dusted off and remastered by Skydog and buttressed with six bonus tracks, the end result being a dirty, smart, raving, reckless, chaotic, gloriously sloppy masterpiece that I'm still kicking myself for not tracking down sooner (special thanks to Andrew up in Vancouver for spreading the gospel).
Lynxx plays like a man possessed, obsessed, and distressed and for all we know, he may be channeling Thunders from the beyond, the beyond, the beyond... Like dirt on a dog, the ghost of Thunders clings for dear life to every last train whistle run, trumpeting elephant string bend, and fleabag, skid row Chuck Berry lick Lynxx wrings from those Les Pauls he’s so enamored with.
Album-opening instrumental "Jet Rollers" is nothing more than an excuse for Lynxx to show off, ala Thunders on "So Alone’s" opening cover of "Pipeline," and the Jet Boys brazenly throw down the gauntlet behind him with enough scabrous intent to make Waldo, Jerry Nolan, and Billy Rath wince, not disjointed enough to make fun of, but not tight enough to take seriously. In other words, a cause for celebration. When I snap my fingers, move on...
At its fluid-clogged heart, "Larger Than Life" is a bubblegum confectionary of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder chords and riffs blasting away the clouds - somebody in the next room yelling to turn that damn thing down - gang shouts, and amphetamine-flaked arrangements which don’t stray far from the band’s heart, soul, and very reason for being. "Blind’s Night," "You Talk Too Much," and their cover of the Undertones’ "Teenage Kicks" are all delivered with snot-nosed abandon and just the right amount of reverence for the past, but not enough to worry about kicking down a few doors and stepping on a few toes.
Lynxx isn’t afraid to extend a song beyond the generally accepted three-minute barrier for a punk song and, believe it or not, throw in some brass and piano for texture, like the five-minute plus "Lonesome Boy" and "Just Wanna Talk To You" (which opens with what sounds like Lynxx killing a feral cat with six strings and an amplifier). As great as "Larger Than Life" is, the album doesn’t actually peak until eight songs in. "You Tell Me Lies" is a bleeding stroke of genius - giddy, immediate, and catchy - Lynxx fighting the 3/8 Brass Section to a dead draw with raging Genzalean guitar heroics and vocals which recall nothing if not those on Syl Sylvain’s early solo albums.
The original album closes with the closest thing to a ballad Lynxx was able to muster and/or stomach, the majestic "Like A Shooting Star," which, at the risk of overflogging the Thunders comparisons, might be thought of as his "You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memor ," dramatic, pompous, tender,
and grandiose (and that’s just the guitar solos). Imagine "Free Bird" crossed with "Lonely Planet Boy" and you’re nearly home.
Unbelievably, the bonus tracks manage to wedge in another 30 minutes of Lynxx and the Jet Boys going completely over the top, from the slicing, dicing "Call Me Sister Midnight" to the sliding, Stonesy loiter of "Think About It" before collapsing in a heap after a take on the Heartbreakers’ "Pirate Love" which spanks D4’s version and sends it to its room.
Despite (or maybe because of) its blatant Dolls thievery, "Larger Than Life" may be - I shit you not - THE great lost (and I do mean LOST) album of the 90’s and one of the best albums I’ve heard in my 47 years on this mortal coil. Talk about capturing lightning in a jar. Fucking A... - Clark Paull
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