RIDE! - The Last Of the Bad Men (DHD Records)
This is the second studio hit-out for The Last Of The Bad Men and it's more fully-realised than its predecessor. It's still urgent and ragged with the usual quotient of soccer terrace shout-alongs (skate ode "Full Pipe","1959.") and rolling thunder hardcore ("O.C.D.") but hits harder by virtue of the band members having some shared touring mileage under their belts.
Spontaneity remains The Word of the Day and TLOTBM truly is a punk rock League of Nations with representation from the USA, Canada and Australia (allowing that American-born Deniz Tek now claims dual citizenship.) Band material is written and traded over the Internet with feverish rehearsals only happening when members physically convene, just before a tour or recording session.
I've heard some express disappointment in this band not being a safe, re-heated version of that staple many of us call Detroit Rock. The proof of the pudding is in the eating and the dish might suddenly become more palatable for those doubters with TLOTBM reprising Radio Birdman's little-played "Hit 'Em Again".
This Deniz Tek-Ron Asheton co-write never got an airing in the now defunct Birdman's second life because of personal objections from one band member. TLOTBM pump it out with extreme prejudice and a touch of desperation that exceeds the original recorded version. The Tek solo just before the two-minute mark burns enough fuel to leave a contrails across the CD player. I'm guessing that this recording was the catalyst for the song appearing in the set-list of a re-animated Visitors earlier in 2008. If so, it works on both counts.
Deniz Tek Group fans will likewise warm to the ripping version of "Day To Ride", one of the prime tunes from the "Outside" album. While it's hard to match the supercharged original with its balance of surging guitar power and backing melody line, these Bad Men go close. It's great to hear this one re-birthed as it was always an anthemic high-point for DTG sets.
Frontman Danny Creadon's paint-stripper vocals hover between declaiming, and haranguing, and you can imagine an Elvis-derived sneer on his dial as he puts the whole thing into a hardcore-meets-UK-punk context.No Vegas revue going down here, however. Creadon plays for keeps.
On the instrumental flank, Dr Tek's interaction with bassist-turned-guitarist Art Godoy is pleasing to the ear with some no-noinsense interplay, while Troy Zak's basswork really kicks into its own on the uppity "OCD".
No one player dominates. The Iceman might be the most storied member of this crew but this is a punk rock democracy with equal division of labour.
Cover songs apart, the real surprise packet is the closer,"Furious", where rhythmic detours and a female backing contingent turn things on their head. Order a copy here.
- The Barman
NOWHERE IS SAFE...- The Last of the Bad Men (DHD/Reverberation)
When you name your band after an infamous 19th Century soldier of fortune, American folk hero and high plains drifter, Tom Horn, you better live up to expectations. The good news is that, for the most part, this bunch of well-credentialled, geographically-scatterered rabble rousers do.
The Last of the Bad Men is the latest outfit for Radio Birdman's Deniz Tek but this is anything but an Iceman solo project. The driving forces are Art and Steve Godoy, the straight edge, ex-pro skateboarders-turned-tattoo artists who've been Tek's US backing band for years, identical twins who were the rhythm section for the briefly reconstituted Visitors who played a brace of Australian reunion shows in December 2005. They also played in L.A. punk band the Exploding Fuck Dolls for a time, so they have form for inspired band names.
This time out, however, Art's slipped over to guitar to go head-to-head with the good Doctor Tek, making room for Troy Zak (The Daggers) on bass. Paint-peeling vocalising comes courtesy of Danny Creadon, late of Canadian punks The Curb Slappys. Band members hail from places like Vancouver, Montana and California so if you're in the market for a house, don't let the agent sell you one next door to the one they're renting. You'll never sleep.
Birdman fans beware - this is closer to Black Flag than the Black Album version of "Radios Appear". Creadon howls the place down while various Bad Men bay like wolves in the background. It's raw punk rock, propelled by a rollicking rhythm section and scarifying twin guitars. Nothing more, nothing less.
Nine mongrel dogs in this litter of songs and the pick is easily a pup called "Tail Block" (which we've been featuring in the I-94 Bar's Sound Lounge). A burst of bass signals the band in and those dual six strings kick in like a turbocharger strapped to a skateboard. Tek's guitar is all over this one (the rest of the disc being a reasonably democratic affair) and it stings. Danny Creadon spits gobs of verbal fury and it's fantastic stuff.
"Action Reaction" is its companion piece, where ill-mannered punk guitar phrasings bumping heads with more fuck you vocals, the only daylight coming in the shape of a bass solo. Steve Godoy beats out a tattoo on the toms for "Get in Line" as the Bad Men indulge in social commentary on the state of the Oil Wars, but it's the sheets of insistent guitar that steal the show. Cue: Another anguished howl in the background. Better call the vet - the dog's turned rabid.
A few of the others didn't stick as hard on an initial listen, but given time they take on a certain ragged attraction. They'd all probably grow an extra leg when played live.
Those Birdman fans who've questioned Tek's extra-curricular output for having more twists and turns than one of his saturated, snaking solos won't change their tune, but playing off new people is exactly what keeps inspirational av-gas in the guy's fuel tank. If you liked the last thing Deniz did on tape with the Godoy twins - "Glass Eye World", which came out on his own Career label under the guise of The Golden Breed - you won't have many problems. That one probably has the edge on this, for mine, but should still find favour with fans of early '80s SoCal punk. - The Barman
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