AMERICAN STANDARD - The Jabbers (Steel Cage)
If The Jabbers were a car they'd be a battered F-100: Full of dents, looking like shit but still ticking over after having the crap flogged out of them on dirt roads for a week of Sundays. They certainly wouldn't be a shiny Pajero or Range Rover, and they wouldn't be within a bull's roar of an Audi or Jaguar dealership. Unfashionable? Yep.

That's why you have to give GG Allin's former band a measure of respect for still fronting up to the mark and doing what they do. And what that would be is fairly rote, mid-tempo punk rock. Unadorned and not pretty, but it does the job, to a certain extent.

If you didn't know, GG Allin was, uh, a little extreme. A sociopath. It doesn't get more extreme than recycling your own excrement on stage and certainly puts a new spin on the term 'shit eating grin'. That he shuffled off this mortal coil at the ripe old age of 36 was no surprise, although undoubtedly a disappointment for fans who'd been backing him to be true to his threat of one day suiciding on stage. He was a freakshow - maybe the ultimate one - whose gimmick value far outweighed any musical worth. If you want to dip into a back catalogue full of songs about rape, mutilating people and self hate, go right ahead.

Anyway, GG and The Jabbers parted ways well before the singer with vast numbers of kangaroos loose in his top paddock checked into his personal Hotel California in the sky (i.e. you can check in but never leave - snorting your own bodyweight in junk will do that to you but did I really quote The Eagles back there?). His bandmates went off to play with the likes of anarchist David Peel, Cheetah Chrome and Bro Wayne Kramer (and I seem to recall a single with the latter, the Jabbers and "Machine Gun" Thompson that rocked regally, in its own lo-fi way) but faded away in the mid-'80s, until now.

It's 20 years later and the newest Jabber recruit is singer Wimpy (ex-The Queers). He belts it out on 13 of the 16 tunes here, with guests Joe Queer ("Hang You High"), Jeff Dahl ("High on Drugs") and Jeff Clayton ("Nuke Attack") bringing up the rear. Most of the songs are written by the guitarists (Ron Basso and Chris Lamy).

Basso's leadwork provides some highlights, but there's a shortage of memorable material that stops this album getting out of second gear. That, and the apparent absence of irony. I mean, can you really sing songs like "Cock Magnet" or "Cunt Sandwich" and not grin?

Grizzled veterans they might be but over the course of an album, The Jabbers don't come up with many new tricks. This will work for some, but you can colour me grey. - The Barman



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