Share BIZARRO HYMNS - Sonny Vincent (Still Unbeabtable Records)
When the nuclear winter truly sets in and punk, jazz, surf, garage, rock, blues and any other music not produced by a robot or a DJ stealing someone else's songs are all dead, Sonny Vincent will be The Last Man Standing.
Vincent cut his teeth with cult favourites Testors on the Lower East Side scene at a time when the first rush of punk had subsided and the heirs apparent were wondering what the fuck to do next. Sonny's been blazing away ever since, playing with a dizzying array of the underground's good, bad and ugly. He's criminally under-appreciated by the mainstream but wholeheartedly embraced by anyone brave or smart enough to lift the rug and peer underneath. In "Bizarro Hymns" he's simply done what he has been doing for 30-something years i.e. delivered the goods, straight from the shoulder.
"Don't Give A Fuck" sets up proceedings like a hitmen prepping at the scene of an ambush. Cascading notes announce the song and Sonny makes his Statement of Intent. The tempo's mid-paced and the engine room locks into a pounding groove. You better have strapped yourself in by then because it's all been a prelude to one of those nitro-fuelled head-shakers ("Faster Pussycat" - not that one but an original.) And that, folks, is pretty much the pattern from there in: mid-paced rockers peppered with acrid hand grenades.
Pockets of "Bizarro Hymns" are re-workings ("Forgive You Forget You", "Tears For Rwanda") but mostly it's new material, and it's all delivered with the urgent, impassioned attack that Sonny's trademarked. "Bizarro Hymns" doesn't take many detours - King Khan's sax player guests on "Tear Into Pieces" and "Jelly Roll Agenda", and there's some reeling organ on "The VooDoo Box" - but it doesn't need to. There's one genuine ballad ("Crystal Clear") that still manages to rub sparks out of the air with some blazing guitarwork.
Of course the core band on "Bizarro" is top-shelf: Bernadette (Gee Strings), Johnny Rio (Simon Chainsaw) and the Bishop (Motek). There's also a guest appearance by Scott Asheton. These are all people who Do Not Fuck Around. They play the shit out of these 15 songs.
You'll have to hunt moderately hard to find "Bizarro Hymns"; it's on a German label that's assembled an impressive catalogue but their stuff isn't in Wal-Mart or JB Hifi. So do the digging - like, how hard is it, really, to Google a label name and find a European online retailer who will accept your credit card number or Paypal cash? - and take the plunge. If you have trouble, get in touch with the label. Would a barman give you a bum steer?
These Hymns deserve to be heard. - The Barman
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COW MILKING MUSIC - Model Prisoners featuring Sonny Vincent & Bob Stinson (Disturbed Music)
If you're a Sonny Vincent fan you would have heard a few of these songs before, either committed to tape by him with a combo behind or by while in his earliest notable band, Testors. Here they are - plus more - recorded in the '80s with a band whose shifting ranks included ex-Replacements guitarist Bob Stinson.
Riding the serpent that was life in a band with Bob Stinson was never going to be a holiday. Brilliant guitarist he may have been, but his legendary commitment to excess got him deep-sixed from The Replacements, a ragged crew where you would have thought pushing the envelope was mandatory. Truth be known, those guys (read: Paul Westerberg) became more career-focussed as time went on.
These tapes are a mix of studio recordings and the odd live cut that were locked away for years in the hope that someone would eventually put them out. They're not as fully-realised as Sonny's best albums but they're formidable, all the same.
"Bad Attitude" burns with the fury and frustration of every great Sonny Vincent tune. Stinson's lead-break is up to the job and burns like a fuse.
Workings of "Sick On Yesterday", "Madras Prison" and "Time Is Mine" are here and each has a unique reason for being present. There's a meandering, if buried, guitar line (presumably from Stinson) on the former that works a treat, and the latter cut (which came out on an EP in Australia a century ago, courtesy of Dog Meat Records) never fails to live up to being a great pop song.
For all the mud the rehearsal version of "Sick On Yesterday", the closing track, it has a brutality about it that's impossible to ignore. "My Expression" gives Stinson full reign with an abstract break that adds a real twist.
If at times it seems like Bob Stinson is reluctant to jump out front into the spotlight that's as much down to the rudimentary production of some of these tracks as to him being, at times, a band member who was sometimes not entirely present. Still, you ain't going to hear these songs anywhere else.
It's on vinyl LP but comes with a hand CD inserted in the sleeve. - The Barman
SONNY VINCENT WITH MEMBERS OF ROCKET FROM THE CRYPT - Sonny Vincent With Members of Rocket From The Crypt (We Deliver The Hits/Cargo)
The title's a mouthful but the contents are thoroughly digestible. In true, tell-it-like-it-is style, Sonny and then-tourmates Speedo (guitar) and Ruby Mars (drums) serve up a platter of 11 killer tunes.
As luck had it, I was lucky enough to see Sonny and this line-up live in Chicago in 2003. Sonny had supported Rocket From The Crypt on some big shows and two of their number had signed on to return the compliment on a long-haul, no frills road trip of small clubs. The configuration suited a set list that was skewed towards Testors material the night I saw them, and it was nothing short of explosive.
So is this album, recorded at tour's end in RFTC's hometown of San Diego. It's two guitars, drums and Sonny's intense vocal and not much more, which is all you really need. The music ranges from all-out assaults to poppy punk rockers. The hooks and melodies in Sonny's songs are never buried far from the surface with the veneer of passion and anger plainly on display.
The stylistic envelope gets a pushing on "Something I Gotta Do" where two-minutes of muted but tough rockabilly accompaniment slides into acrid guitar solos. The seemingly resigned singalong of "It's Not Your Fault" is a peak, resolving itself with the blame being laid anyway. An instant classic and a pop song in punk rock leather. A hit on my world, it should be in yours too.
"Pieces" is a vengeful verbal assault on an ex-lover with a pneumatic rhythm that doesn't let up over 1min22sec. The concise guitar solo on "Through My Head" would sear a fire retardant suit and so would some of the dark lyrics.
"Her Hand" is a rare mid-tempo pause for breath and the longest cut by a long way at a shade under three-and-a-half minutes. It has a monstrous groove. So does the opening salvo "Pick Up The Slack" which is punctuated by another jagged solo.
If the Rocketeers who are along for the ride weren't from the Tombs, let's not be too hard because they toughen up considerably when locked in behind Mr Vincent. I'm guessing there was a bit of mutual admiration going on here and it pays off in spades.
Sonny burns while others just smoulder and never ignite. Is it really necessary to tell you to hunt it down and buy it? It comes on vinyl and includes a CD version inside. - The Barman
SEMPER FIDELIS - 30 YEARS ANTHOLOGY (1972-2002) - Sonny Vincent (Rockin' Bones)
Playing this massive, 56-track collection all the way through is on par with running through the Stooges "Fun House Complete Sessions" box set without the false starts and repetition. It's a marathon trip but you'll feel good you did it.
A 30-year retrospective of the output of one of punk rock's eternal outsiders, it spans three weighty discs on vinyl. The paper inserts alone are a small cousin of the Saturday edition of the New York Times, exhaustively listing every line-up on every track, and the platters are thick enough to eat off. No wonder it was more than half a decade in the making.
The world is reasonably well served for recent Sonny recordings. The all-star "The Good The Bad The Ugly", the Munster-issued "Hell's Kitchen" and the Testors re-issues are available, even if it involves a trawl through eBay. Earlier albums like "Cocked" and "Roller Coaster" , however, are scarce. not to mention the smattering of singles and vinyl-only offerings. "Semper Fidelis" fills some gaps and includes some surprises. For the uninitiated, it's a perfect starting point.
On the surprise front, there's "Flying", a 1972 song from one of Sonny's earliest bands that's previously unheard and hints at what was to come. "Me, Myself and I" (with Sterling Morrison on guitar and original Cramp Miriam Linna providing tribal drums) is a demo put down for Moe Tucker, whose longtime band included Sonny Vincent. And if you want to get right into the minutiae, there's a 1969 cassette recording message from Sonny to the folks back home from a stint in the US Marine Corps.
"Phantom" is a rarity that shows necessity to be the mother (fucker) of invention: Sonny and then band The Extreme it down in an audio store as a test of a prospective recording equipment purchase and the salesman unwittingly gets a credit as producer.
The bottom line is that this collection is almost too big to absorb in one sitting. If by chance you do attempt to do so, you'll be knocked dead by the raw passion, punk rock fury and amazing consistency of Sonny Vincent's attack.
Vinyl can be found on Rockin' Bones. Also available on CD also through Puke n Vomit in the USA. - The Barman
SWITCHBLADE SUMMER - Sonny Vincent (Nest of Vipers Records)
There's a thing called the carotid artery in your neck. It supplies your brain with oxygen-carrying blood. If you go into shock and your pulse is faint, it's the place a doctor will feel, in part to gauge your chances of survival. Sonny Vincent's music takes aim at that carotid artery - and rips it out in one brutal blow.
There's a back story behind this album that's longer than George W Bush's blooper tape. I'll spare you the why's and wherefores of it came out in January 2008 on a little French label when at one stage it was residing somewhere closer to home. The important thing is that it's here and it's very good.
In its original form, "Switchblade Summer" had different tracking and a few more songs. At 10 tunes and 25 minutes it's clocking in a bit skinny but the economical nature of the album ultimately doesn't overly detract from its power. It is what it is and it damn well shits all over 99 percent of the so-called punk action that's out there today.
"Juicy Lucy" opens with a gnarly guitar figure and an "alright" before getting down to grabbing your attention with razor-sharop riffing and Vincent's trademark desperation vocals. The solo cuts like razor wire while Scott Asheton's industrial strength drum feel anchors things to the studio floor.
"Killing For God" and "Crash Course" are my highlights. The former adds Aussie Simon Chainsaw's guitar (Vanilla Chainsaws) to Sonny's German band and they set up an imposing aural Berlin Wall of (punk) Sound.
"Crash Course" sounds like Ground Zero after they've dropped the bomb. A stuttering ignition and then a shit-storm of fall-out driven by a tremendous Vincent solo. Only "Lost Culture" and its screeching air raid guitar intro comes close in the visceral energy stakes.
The crux of what makes Sonny's music so vital is explosive energy married to concise doses of melody. While "My World" is a 1min39sec sprint that's savagely executed, the title track that follows puts on the brakes and reflects on a lost relationship with a simple melody and lyrical solo.
"Comes Around" comes on like the son of "1970" but locks into an effective groove that buries any thoughts that it's a simple Stooges cop. Sonny plays some of his best guitar on this album and this song's a fine moment in that regard.
Jimmy James (The Hangmen), Texas Terri and Captain Sensible flesh out the guest roll call.
Not sure how you pick this one up as I haven't seen much of a web catalogue presence but you might drop the label a line if you have trouble. - The Barman
P.I.N.S. - Sonny Vincent (NDN Records)
Punk rock's Mr Perpetual Motion, Sonny Vincent, regrets that most folks only know him for his impossibly fiery, arse-kicking albums or the ones graced by more stars than you can poke a telescope at. Those regrets are highly qualified, of course, by the fact that plenty of labels are lining up to put out his stuff. Long may it be the case.
The star-studded "The Good The Bad The Ugly" WAS like a punk rock version of Who magazine without paparazzi pictures or Hollywood weight loss stories, and with infinitely more substance. So while luminaries line up to lend a hand - and Scott Asheton, Steve Baise, Wayne Kramer, Scott Morgan, Captain Sensible and Bob Stinson are some of the names on the latest one - Sonny would be a mug to say no, wouldn't he?
While it might irk to be regarded as purely a kicker of significant jams when there's an album of ballads in the can, ready to roll out, the undeniable fact is that Sonny spits out albums of intense anger, extreme power and raw intensity that few, if any, come within a bull's roar of matching. Hence pigeonholing is inevitable.
It's a Good Day For Rock when another Sonny long-player makes it onto the racks and for every detractor, disbeliever or ignoramus out there, there's a fan who's hip to this fact and only too ready to tug the leather jacket of the aforementioned and tell them to wake the fuck up and smell the ashtray before their nose ends up in it.
More evangelical raving soon but first some facts:
"P.I.N.S." stands for "Person In Need of Supervision", an American law enforcement term for juvenile offenders (a category a wayward Sonny found himself in after being incarcerated for possession of two joints). It's a double CD set of 41 songs plus Noam Chomsky sound bites, just to mix things up. The 40-page booklet art (much of it in 3D) is graced by Kiekergaard quotations and the visual talents of late American underground artist/tattooist Mad Marc Rude. It comes with a set of 3-D glasses. Disc one is 14 studio cuts. The second ("Gems") is live, demo and studio nuggets Sonny had sitting in the cupboard.
Enough of the prelims, onto the Main Event, and “P.I.N.S.” is right up there with Sonny’s meisterwerk, “Parallax Wonderland”, as a head-kicking, foaming storm of anger and guitar bile. Sonny doesn’t so much play guitar as thrash it within an inch of its life. Nice guy he may be in person, but put him in front of a microphone, with a power of amplification moving the air behind him, and Sonny Vincent is a ball of pissed-off fury with raw, passionate vocals and three chords his weapons of choice.
Texan label NDN has done itself proud even if "P.I.N.S." seemed to have a gestation period to rival one of their former State Governor's mangled State of the Union addresses. The book is chockfull of pictures and scads of lyrics. Just getting this much Sonny in one package was a thrill. The wait was worth it.
“Evil Twin” is as fitting an icebreaker as you could ask for, from its “C’mon motherfucker!” spoken opening preamble to its acrid lead-break and barely constrained vocal. Sonny is his Evil Twin and if you want to hazard a guess at some of the demons, within and without, that are driving the guy, go right ahead, it’s on your dime.
"Twilight (Starry Eyes, Starry Night)" is a promise to be true that namedrops Roky and Jeffrey Lee, striking the balance of rawness and bittersweet vocal melody that sets Sonny apart from all those garden variety two-chord thrashers. Mr Vincent is foremost a rocker and then a punk, which is a way of saying he has his chops down as well as being able to tap raw emotion. Many try, not all succeed.
"Shoot the TV", on the other hand, is a brutal street thug of a song, recorded in a Long Beach shipping container with pick handles and chainsaws for instruments. The same goes for "Interview". Handle both with care.
The perfectly-titled "Struttin Around" is a chunky piece of bravado, recorded with a guy aptly named John Strutt on drums. It's one of my fave songs on the album.
As close a cousin "P.I.N.S." is to "Parallax", it could easily double as a second volume of "The Good The Bad The Ugly" with many of the guitar slingers reprising guest spots. Wayne Kramer adds lead and fills to "Sweet to Me" and Scott Morgan does likewise on "Think For Yourself". Brian James is on "Good Day For Rock" (previously only available as a novelty split single on NDN that I'd be afraid to put into my jukebox because it had saw-teeth). Scott Asheton and Captain Sensible bob up on "Right On".
If you had to pick a core, it'd be lesser lights like the redoubtable Johnny Rio and Acetate Records head Rick Ballard on guitars. I'm sure the Ricky Ricardo credited on bass on several cuts is not the late husband of Lucille Ball but I better check and get back to ya...
Of course once you're done with Disc One there's the dessert of "Gems" to tuck into and there's ample to keep Sonny fans interested. Sonic quality varies but generally isn't too bad. Rocket From the Crypt back up Sonny on a couple of radio WMBR live-to-air songs ("You Don't Break My Heart", "Bad Attitude" and a frantic "Madras Prison"). The superb cover of Chuck Berry's "Carol" is the final studio appearance by late NY Doll Killer Kane, with Rock Ballard (guitar) and Clem Burke (drums) making up an all-star cast.
It's here that you can appreciate the other side of Sonny with a smattering of less tightly-wound tunes and semi-realised demos ("Cinematic Suicide") bobbing up among the hand grenades. Replacements heads will search out the two lo-fi but spirited cuts with Bob Stinson ("My Expression" and "Wheel of My Fortune").
As an introduction this is superb value. Two many highlights and enough depth and variety to keep any punk at heart engrossed. Now go out and grab some Sonny. This is the Real Deal. - The Barman
SOUL MATES - Sonny Vincent (Disturbed/Acetate)
Sometimes, it feels like I've been singing the praises of NY punk Sonny Vincent to an empty house. But then someone emails out of the blue to say they're also hip to the guy and digging his output muchly. It's even more of a headspin when they're Australian. Hotwire my heart. Maybe there is hope for this shrinking rock and roll world after all.
Spending much of his time based in Germany and touring all over Europe, Sonny's recently gone about re-stamping his mark on his home country, doing a couple of extensive runs of shows and recording or playing live with bands whose personnel have included the likes of ex-Voidoid Ivan Julian, former Devil Dog bassist Steve Baise, Misfits guitarist Bobby Steele and Stooges drummer Scott Asheton. It's an uphill battle to gain a break in the US for sure, but thank fuck for for labels like Acetate and Disturbed who've shown enough faith to make his CDs available.
And so to this 17-track slice of rawk, a typically uncompromising piece of Sonny sonic fury. If you're remotely familiar with the Vincent modus operandi evident on his last three or four releases, you'll take to this like a diabetic to insulin. Furious rythms, Sonny's impassioned vocals. Stun guitars shredding up the soundscape and cutting off the top of your head. Think early Jeff Dahl meets the "Raw Power" Stooges and the Dead Boys, but with more grit than glam. The opening song is "Totally Fucked" (its title, not its description) so subtlety is not the strong suit. So what?
It's not that he's any more original than anyone else, but Sonny Vincent has the happy knack of welding major chord melodies to razor wire guitars in a way that's immediately arresting and damn near impossible to ignore. The furious "I Come to You" is driven by a bottom heavy drum mix that picks up apace, takes off and all but explodes at the end. Then it segues into the down home, ringing guitars of "All Burnt Down", a ballad. Inspired.
Most of the songs are frenetic offerings, a couple ("You Very Much" and "Chopping Block" - dig the fractured lead guitar break on the latter) as as raw as anything Sonny's recorded since his Testors days. "Concrete Poetic" finds him back in NYC, roaming the night-time streets with a tune that's as brutal as a mugging. A lot of people claim to be uncompromising. Sonny Vincent is the exception rather than the rule, because he is.
It's not the stellar crew of "The Good The Bad The Ugly" but there's a variety of esteemed players on this disc, drawn from Vincent backing bands spread over two continents. Evidently put down in four or five studios, there's nonetheless a coherence throughout the 12 tracks that make up the body of the album (the other five are tagged as bonus cuts, with a couple of them coming close to filler).
Even so, it's interesting to hear answering machine message from Joey and Dee Dee Ramone, and even more of a buzz to hear a fragment of a demo version of "Down on Me". "UFO in My Heart" is also a demo of some promise, but the goof off of "Oriental Actors" sounds like settling time at a dodgy Thai restaurant with a rubber credit card and a headful of bad acid. You can't win 'em all.
There's a good case to be made that "Soul Mates" is a return to familiar ground and that "The Good The Bad The Ugly" is still the best place to start for the unintiated. Even if "Soul Mates" is treading water, established Sonnyfans will lap it up. Hey - sometimes it doesn't pay to change an old pair of shoes.
Album of the month. - The Barman
THE GOOD THE BAD THE UGLY - Sonny Vincent (Acetate /EFA)
Unless you're a stranger in this bar you'll know Sonny Vincent is frequently on our jukebox, so to say his collaboration with two-dozen guitar luminaries was long anticipated is something of an understatement. Big expectations sometimes bring disappointment but it's no letdown. Fourteen tracks - 13 of them shitstorms and the other a diversion down the country road apiece. All best enjoyed at earplitting volume.
Quick history lesson: Sonny is one of the second wave of New York punks, an agitator of sorts with his own band the Testors, who were an abrasive outfit that were minimalist enough to be just this side of No Wave. Various spells of, uh, enforced confinement left Sonny one pissed-off lad, and you can hear it in the string of albums he's recorded over the years - albums under various band names (The Dons, Rat Race Choir, Pure Filth) and many with big name collaborators. The likes of Cheetah Chrome (Dead Boys), Bob Stinson (The Replacements) have been on board, while Sonny was a member of saintly Mo Tucker's band (of the Velvets, as if you didn't know).
More recent solo recordings have been with the core of Scott Asheton (the Stooges) and Captain Sensible (the Damned) on drums and bass respectively, and they laid down the beds for this album. Then the guests started having input. And what guests! This was known as The Guitar Slingers' Album during its making. The list reads like our dream all-star gig. How's Wayne Kramer (MC5), Walter Lure (Heartbreakers), Robert Quine (Voidoids, Lou Reed), Greg Ginn (Black Glag), Richard Lloyd (Television) and Tony Fate (Bellrays) grab you for openers? Brian James (Damned), Scott Morgan (Rationals, Sonics Rendezvous Band, Powertrane) and Javier Escovedo (Zeros)? If you're of a younger vintage, what about Noodles and Dexter Holland (Offspring)? Or Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth) and Don Fleming (Dimstars)?
This is probably the best Sonny album to date; a dead heat with "Parallax in Wonderland" from 2000, although it may exceed that one, given a few more spins. Production certainly has it all over "Parallax", whose sheer intensity overcame those shortcomings. The lyrical subject matter is rarely anything other than gritty, the paen to Waye Kramer ("Trans- Love") an exception. It's obviously heartfelt ("I was through and had enough/Then you lifted me up") that could have sounded cloying, done by almost anyone else. These are songs about being down on the street ("Down the Drain"), Johnny Thunders ("Scratching on the Eight Ball"), being busted ("Busted"), drugs ("Skag") and about making a glorious racket ("That Sound", "My Guitar").
How's it sound? Sonny's impassioned vocals cut like a serrated knife, behind a howling storm of guitar noise. There's an economy to the arrangements (and soloing) however that means it's not overdone. There's also an ear for simple melody that lifts Sonny's stuff out of the rage-and-angst pit just so (with guest harmony vocals form Texas Terri and someone called Suzanne E).
Above all, it's an album about guitars and everyone's going to have their favourites. Me, I revel in the sounds that Richard Lloyd and Robert Quine wrench out ("Funny Now She Blew It") and Waldo Lure doesn't do too bad filling out "Scratchin' on the Eight Ball" either. Ask me next week, 'cos it'll probably be a couple of other cuts on top of the hit parade. - The Barman
FOOTNOTE: It also has an alternative cover in Europe, styled on the Sergeant Peppers Beatles effort. You can see it by rolling your mouse over the US cover.
HELL'S KITCHEN - Sonny Vincent (Munster)
Ha! Another Sonny Vincent disc - just the thing to rouse the neighbourhood on a lazy Spring afternoon, now the I-94 Bar has had an outdoor sound system fitted in the beer garden. True to form, Sonny doesn't let us down with 13 tracks of powerful, unadulterated rock 'n' roll FILTH.
Now on the Munster label out of Spain (Europe seems his natural marketplace and the man's currently on tour there "with some crazy German motherfuckers" according to the note he sent that I'm reading as I write this). More importantly, Sonny Vincent's music isn't for the faint-hearted: It's loud and it's raw and it's anguished and it's FUCKING PISSED OFF! "Hell's Kitchen" is NOT cocktail music.
After the shitstorm that was "Parallax Wonderland" (one of THE releases of 2000, for staff around here) "Hell's Kitchen" finds the Sonny Vincent band in stripped-back mode with no guest appearances by punk luminaries (eg. Wayne Kramer or Ron Asheton.) His regular drummer on the last two albums, Scott Asheton, and bass player for much of the last, Captain Sensible, seem otherwise engaged, but Bernward D.K. and Stephan G. seem able replacements.
While "Parallax" was breathtaking for its mix of melody and unabashed energy, there's an element of control on "Hell's Kitchen" that tempers the attack, ever so slightly. "Bringing the Psycho Back Home" and "Surfing Motherfucker" are sledgehammers to the solar plexus; "Get Ready" is a slow tempered, edgy burn that uncoils before exploding. "City Streets", a tale of urban paranoia, pushes Sonny's vocals up front so you can make out the lyrics of isolation, loud and clear. "Real Cool Girl" hangs itself around a surprising melody line that you'll be singing for days after.
Not that there's any shortage of aural assault. One listen to "Resistor" or "No Sacrifice" confirms your ears are in for a hiding (the latter spiced with Sonny's own "just say no" to 'Just Say No') and the up-front guitar of "Super Sonic" shows Mr Vincent doesn't have to augment his own six-string talents with infusions of big names to make a song interesting.
A faithful and molasses-thick take on "Search and Destroy" rounds the thing off, and for me the cover tune's the only superfluous thing about this disc - it's good but I could have done with another Vincent original 'cos I ALREADY know where he's coming from. Still, if it turns on some kid to the joys of the Stooges (and stops him or her buying a Limp Dick - er, Bizkit - CD, I suppose it's worthwhile.)
- The Barman
PARALLAX IN WONDERLAND - Sonny Vincent (Devil Doll Records)
Sh-i-i-i-i-i-t! Plonked this into the CD player in the Bar the other night after a patron called Jamie dropped it off and choked on my Crown Lager! This is s-o-o-o-o-o rocking! I'll put in an extra '!' just for effect! In case you haven't worked it out yet!
From the nightmare car accident that is "Knifeman" - a sonic warning to fasten the seat belt - that's followed, in quick succession, by the aural hammering of "Dedication" (with a killer riff and hook to match) and the insistent battering ram that it is "Good Ideas"....it's the most defiant, ballsy opening to a disc that these ears have heard for some time. Savage, take-no-prisoners stuff, with all the impact of a well-placed heart punch.
So who's Sonny Vincent? Glad you asked, 'cos he was a stranger in the I-94 Bar until recently, when missives from the likes of Do the Pop editor Alan Wright and comments by Ron Asheton wised us up. Sonny used to tread Lower East Side boards in a band called the Testors, supporting the likes of the Cramps and the Dead Boys, and has been playing professionally since age 14. He went on to jail, Moe Tucker's band and, more recently, the touring circuit in Europe and various parts of the States with people like Cheetah Chrome and Steve Blaise (Devil Dogs). Adding their talents on "Parallax..." are regular collaborators Scott Asheton and Captain Sensible, as well as Wayne Kramer and Ron Asheton.
Recorded in Michigan and L.A. (Sonny's current home), it's pleasurably raw in a way that marks the very best rock and roll. There are so many highlights on this disc. "2 Years 1 Joint" - a biographical rant - drips the sort of anger that can only be real. Listen to "Don't Care Anymore" and try and convince yourself Sonny doesn't. Captain Sensible - he of bass duties in the punk theatre of the Damned, re-born as a spikey pop protagonist in solo band mode - rightly gets a credit for his succint lead break in "Do What I Want", which is another scorching stomp. It's all hard, and it's all fast, and it mostly all rants but, more often than not, it also not has a hook or chorus that leaves you hitting the replay button (case in point: "Signed in Blood".)
The pace only eases for the melancholic "Lost Again", the mid-tempo raunch of "Change Now" and the twisted closer "French Music" (Cool lyric: "Have a caffe latte...and a croissant...French music sucks, but it's nice"). A languid, off-the-wall wind down (replete with Ron Asheton doodlings) after an otherwise frenetic journey that might have left you pausing for breath - if so, stiff shit. If you're a wimp what are you doing in the Bar, anyway?
Sorry to rave but as Jules Normington used to regularly say in the Phantom mail order auction lists: "You really need this". - The Barman
PURE FILTH - Sonny Vincent and His Rat Race Choir (Overdose)
Not to be confused with the '70s Long Island, NY artrock cover outfit, some of whom now play with the John Entwistle Band (how's that for obscure esoterica?). Au contraire, what we have here is yet another example of hard rockin' music in the classic mold influenced in equal proportions by the Stooges (it helps having Scott Asheton on hand to spank the skins, of course -- "Always a Catch" is the closest I've heard to Funhouse-level energy since the New Christs' "Here and Now") and '77 punk (which also makes sense, what with ex-Rocket From the Tombs/Dead Boys guitarist Cheetah Chrome and ex-Damned bassman Captain Sensible on board) - music close to the hearts of every I-94 Bar denizen.
Former Moe Tucker sideman Vincent uses his liner credits to namecheck the other half of the known world not namechecked on the Streetwalkin' Cheetahs' disc, and sounds a lot like Johnny Thunders' Heartbreaker foil Walter Lure vocally (especially on "Cinematic Suicide"). Guitar-wise, he recalls everyone you know who picked up the axe between, say, 1976 and 1978. And wouldn't you know, I-94 Bar firm favourite Scott Morgan even guests on guitar on half the tunes! "Life to Life" has an intro reminiscent of the one from Raw Power's
"Death Trip. "Epic Ripped Up Letter" is a peppy, poppy punker. Although this was allegedly mastered from a cassette, it sounds fine to this listener's feedback-scorched auditory apparatus. A fun ride. In the value-for-money stakes, however, it's docked half a Rolling Rock for time...under 30 minutes.- Ken Shimamoto
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