VIVA LA BEAVER – The Sailors (Drop Kick)
The sensitivities of various people normally get severely stretched by these guys, so we’ll do our best to sidestep the question of whether their faux-gay schtick is as funny as all fuck or a serious affront. If the truth be known, I probably lean towards the former, but it has to be said that the joke is always funnier when it’s about someone else.
The easiest observation is that The Sailors have widened the net in what looks like an all-out effort to offend as wide a cross section of the population as possible, so let’s momentarily move on to the music…
And it’s clear that The Sailors still kick out some ragged sounds with no concession to slickness. The key elements are a certain raw twang to the guitars and loads of scuzz on the keyboards (Geronimo now well and truly a fulltime, er, member), approximating what most people call “garage”. Of course, terms like that are limiting and The Sailors manage to toss in country rock and the odd bit of new wave, just to fuck you up.
The total effect is the musical equivalent of watching a very pilled-up-and-pissed inner-city feral at a party trying to haul his sorry arse out of a beanbag and weave unsteady his way across a crowded room to puke in the kitchen sink and failing, miserably. Watch (or in this case listen) with grim fascination; someone will clean it up in the morning.
The down-home lilt of “Set Your Ass On Fire” (surely just a harmless ode to chilli) is as far musically removed from the clattering loathing of “I Hate Myself” as is possible, but it all makes perfect sense when you hear their cover of Uncle Lou’s “I Wanna Be Black”. It’s an apt choice because surely at times Lou Reed has been as confused as The Sailors.
“Out Thy Vile Jelly” is a joke that kazoo players the world over will relate to. It does for the blues what suicide bombers have done for London train travel.
Lyrically, “Viva La Beaver” is puerile and childish, which as anyone who’s heard The Sailors knows is much of the appeal. We won’t spoil the intrigue by re-printing all of them here, but "Why piss when you can come" and "You've got the snatch/And I've got a cock" (truly - both titles of songs) are indicative of what to expect and a reflection of the strong language warning labels that are here to stay if the more religious strains of the Right have their way.
Clearly, these are lads who know all the possible uses of KY Jelly. Highly recommended (the CD, not the lube). Drop by their website for some choice film clips too. - The Barman
FAILURE, DEPRESSION, SUICIDE - The Sailors (Drop Kick)
The Sailors aren't going to change the world but they might just rock yours if you're into trashy musical shit-stirring with faux gay allusions. This eight-tracker - too long to be an EP, too short to be an album - is something of a holding statement, presumably to keep the Australian fans interested while they wreak havoc on American sensibilities, in the flesh, so to speak.
Album Number One ("Violent Masturbation Blues") had something to offend just about everybody; the follow-through "Turning the Other Cheek" showed the Sailors had more than one shot in their locker and could use it to stinging effect. "Failure..." is not as immediately arresting as those two, maybe a little more low key, but adds to the Sailors' quirky canon. It's not bent blues, more like bent garage. "Abattoir Blues" is the opening burst and leans heavily on dinky keyboards from newish member Geronimo. It's also lyrically useful if, as a city schoolkid taken on an obligatory school excursion to a rural slaughterhouse, you wondered why the funny looking bearded men with glints in their eyes (and possibly bulges in their pants) enjoyed sticking sharp objects into cow flesh.
"Good Karma's Coming My Way" is going to earn the Sailors anything but and shows why all that hippie shit doesn't pay off, with lines like: "I gave a big cheque to Amnesty/Slept with a ho and gave my partner VD" meriting a patent. "Teenage Mama Blues" is my nomination for a backing track to Jerry Springer's closing homily (yeah, sure you don't watch the show). The confessional "Slut for the Booze" (and aren't we all?) features Faces-style keyboards, some campy Viktor crooning and some truly awful lyrics.
"Hector Don't You Cry" is what passes for a talking blues in the Sailors' world, a shambolic ode to their drummer with references to their second home, the Tote Hotel, and a string of reassurances that you know he just can't trust. The cover of "Popcorn" - the original song surely ranking as one of the most annoying of the last 30 years - turns up the guitar content a tad for the first time on this disc.
If there's one criticism, although I thought the addition of keyboards added a new dimension to the Sailors, I miss the twangy, slightly de-tuned stuff they cranked out in the earlier days. This could well be a relatively accessible entry point for those unfamiliar with what's gone before. God knows what the Americans in some of the more out-of-the-way places will think of 'em. - The Barman
TURNING THE OTHER CHEEK - The Sailors (Dropkick)
On which Melbourne's masters of faux garage gayness prove they're more than just a one joke wonder. The debut "Violent Masturbation Blues" was a warped piece of distorto-twang and off the wall enough to have Melbourne lounge lizard Dave Graney proclaiming it the best album of 2001. "Turning...", however, goes the extra mile and is truly inspired.
Like Turbonegro in Antipodean garage-surf drag, but with more depth (depth being what it plumbs), this is the sort of album that defies pigeon-holing. Especially with the band doing its level best to convince that holes belonging to pigeons are of no interest whatsoever.
The icebreaker, "YCMA" (not a mis-type), sets the pace; the chorus explains the title ("Your cock's my ass".) Unlike the similary-named (but identically themed) Village People tune, it's done with abandon and fewer manners. Viktor's arresting vocals and the bass-less, twangy twin-guitar attack are the essential elements but this time around the sound's fleshed out with Geronimo (aka Cow Penalty's Matt Heydon) on keys. Works a treat, too.
There's no shortage of stylistic variety, from the garage clatter of the opening track to the fast-shuffle of "I Wanna Be Your Woman", the country-punk of "Jesus Loves Me" or "Young Faggot From China" or the bent blues of "Secret Men's Business". It takes a couple of listens for the lyrical novelty value to wear off, at which point you're going to ask yourself if there's more to the story than a few poof jokes. If you're a fan of rough and ready garage sounds, the answer's probably going to be resoundingly positive.
You get 12 songs for your hard-earned, with a couple of hidden monologue interludes. Eleven of the tunes are Sailors-penned, with the sole cover the ("La Cockaracha") only weak point. Spencer P. Jones guests on three tracks, which is all the more reason to grab this. If you liked "VMB" - whether you like to pot the pink or the brown when playing snooker - you'll take to this like a drag queen to a feather boa. Not a disco song or show tune to be heard either. - The Barman
VIOLENT MASTURBATION BLUES - The Sailors (Dropkick)
It's a measure of how tolerant Australian society has become when one of the funniest and most edgy bands in the country make a name for themselves by out Turbonegro-ing Turbonegro. These three Melbournites (remants of The Martians, joined by the alleged son of a Russian sailor, hence the name) would have it that life's a dance and the name of that dance is the Chocolate Cha-Cha (if ya get my drift.) In other words, when these guys duck out for a fag they don't mean a smoke (well, they do mean a smoke - but in their case it's a pink cigar. Are you following me???) Yep, when you hear a poof joke, you might bite your tongue in these politically correct days, but these guys bite their pillows. They're matress munchers - and proud of it. Turd burglars. Drillers for Vegimite.
Now Melbourne's always been different from Sydney, but it's the latter place that's scheuled to host the Gay Games in 2002. That being the case, the organisers could do worse than have The Sailors play at the opening ceremony. (Legend has it that programmers of a Canadian gay pride radio show put this record on high rotation. They either have a helluva sense of humour or miss the plot completely.) Yes folks, this front is indeed a ruse (though I'm not about to pick up the soap in front of them.) But don't fear the joke will rub off and there'll be nothing left. Although they play things for laughs, The Sailors dress it in a musical coating that'll keep you sucking for ages. And your spinchter won't fall out afterwards.
This is anything but safe sex music. It careers along, all distorted bass and twangy surf-reverb guitars with off-the-wall vocals (and off-colour lyrics - sample: "I punch you with the fist of my cock") in a dizzying barrage. Songs like the rollicking single "Bawdy House Blues", the lurching "Trim the Bush"or the demented "Turkey Slap Blues" are simple but effective garage blasts.
Seriously sick. Something to offend almost everyone - especially that bloke down the road in number 14 with the pencil-thin moustache and tight white T-shirts who likes showtunes. One more album like this will make them heroes.
- The Barman
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