Share GOTTA GET AWAY!! - RC5 (Twenty Stone Blatt Records)
Before I begin, let me point out the four bottles that I’m giving this disc. It is the perfect representation of the genre it wants to file itself under. Jack Endico’s production ensures it. If I passed it to Wade (the Dead Rabids’ bass player), he would thank me profusely and tell me how it is the most awesome record he has ever heard. Sydney rock identity Robyn Watkins would also find it the best CD she has heard all year and sing its praises loud. I guarantee this.
The trouble is; I’m not them. Halfway through the opening song “Coming my Way”, I decided I hated this record with a vengeance. However, I promised The Barman that I’d review it. I kept with it and, by the end, I couldn’t deny its quality. This disc earned its high score all right but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.
All the things I tell you that I don’t like about this disc will be the very reasons many of you will love it to death. Don’t listen to me. Hear it for yourself and call me a miserable shit later. I don’t mind. When I tell you it ruthlessly follows a well worn formula, many will rejoice because someone is following a beloved path that too many have abandoned. Despite their name, don’t put too much trust in the MC5, Stooges and Ramones comparisons that other critics have made. West coast and eighties mid west punk have been far more of an influence on these lads. The songs go very fast with big cymbal crashes emphasising the overly dramatic chord changes. Lovers of hard core will drool. It rocks but it doesn’t roll. I consider that a bad thing but many others do not.
The guitar playing is excellent and I:94 Bar regulars will no doubt spot the obvious tips of the hat to Deniz Tek and Chris Masuak. There’s even a song called “TSB/ FK3 8WA” which you would swear had Warwick Gilbert on bass (but doesn’t). But the songwriting is the rub. In my book, it doesn’t matter how good the playing is if you haven’t got decent songs to hang your riffs on. Despite popular opinion, a riff is not a song. Backing vocals delivered on one note do not constitute hooks especially when delivered like football chants. Most of the album is pretty samey. The band goes from zero-to-160 in 01 of a second and then they stay there until album’s end.
It is lyrically naive and the vocals really let the whole thing down. Whilst they are competent, they lack the ability to communicate any kind of emotion. They don’t even sound particularly angry. And yet, does this music require such subtleties? Do we mock James Brown for his inability to play a better flute solo?
Here’s the thing. The MC5 used to listen to free jazz. When you listen to the drums on the first Stooges album you know without a doubt that they spent their Friday nights listening to Motown. The Ramones listened to bubble gum pop and Radio Birdman listened to just about everything. I somehow doubt that, if you went through the RC5’s record collection, you’d find much to influence them outside of their genre of choice. And that is why they have produced such a great genre record. It is also the reason I have my doubts. It’s like watching a mangy dog chewing holes in its butt. How long can it go on until nothing is left?
If these guys played down at the Annandale in Sydney, the room would be full of men joyfully tilting their beers towards the stage. Wide and wild eyed punters would stumble out onto the Parramatta Road proclaiming a second coming. Who am I to say thee nay?- Bob Short
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