APOCALYPSE DUDES - Turbonegro (Bitzcore through Shock)
DARKNESS FOREVER! - Turbonegro (Bitzcore through Shock)
ASS COBRA - Turbonegro (Bitzcore through Shock)
NEVER IS FOREVER - Turbonegro (Bitzcore through Shock)
HOT CARS AND SPENT CONTRACEPTIVES - Turbonegro (Bitzcore through Shock)
If you also belatedly came to the altar of TBNGR after their (first) drugs-and-destruction-truncated life, be grateful that your chance for redemption is here. These are re-issues of the Norwegian deathpunk denim demons' first four, pre-break up/Hank breakdown albums and they're studded (ribbed?) with bonus tracks.
"Apocalypse Dudes" was my induction, courtesy of two Sydney fanatics in then New Christs guitarist, "Big" Al Creed, and his old Panadolls bandmate, Ashley "Oz Rock" Thomson. I'll cast no aspersions either man's way but the pair had taken to TBNGR like gay sailors to a chocolate cha-cha contest (if you get my drift.) I'm sure the homo-erotic allusions in TBNGR's faux gay kitsch (not that there's anything wrong with that etc. etc.) had absolutely nada to do with the attraction.
The 1998 issue of "Apocalypse Dudes" was a watershed in Eurotrash punk rock terms. Here was every great glam-punk album you'd ever heard, squeezed into a 13-track record that quoted (stole from?) anyone who was anyone. Catchy as herpes, metallic in places and leavened with keyboards in others, this was our Nirvana, sans flanellette. The attire was denim and leather, plus that hat the biker dude wore in the Village People. Confusing? You bet, and more the album for it.
"Don't Say Motherfucker, Motherfucker" provided the chorus and told you it was OK to rock, punk. Disposable but a keeper at the same time, this record pitted a brash Dictators rip-off ("Get It On") against black humour ("Are You Ready For Some Darkness") with a confidence only the possessed or the truly deranged possess. A stone classic - and the re-issued version carries the live single version of "Prince of the Rodeo" and Bowie's "Suffragette City".
Don't think I'm wrong when I say that the CD re-issue of the live "Darkness Forever!" live from the '98 tour (the last before singer Hank Van Helvete folded the band by getting admitted to a psych ward) now matches the double LP version with the addition of four bonus cuts. It's a sweaty, brash representation of the band live in Oslo and Hamburg.
TBNGR sound frayed around the edges it's because they were. The singalong to "I Got Erection" remains a cherished moment. Reprising songs from "Dudes" and "Ass Cobra", "Darkness Forever" puts the music right out on the edge. Thankfully, they came back.
"Ass Cobra" (1996) gets wraps all around the place for it's pre-"Dudes" lack of polish and caustic attack. I disagree. It's the melody lines that Pol Pot Pamparius brought when he joined after this album - married to the power chords and clever songwriting/theft - that lifted the band above the pack.
Once you get past the shock songs about kiddy fiddling ("Midnight NAMBLA") and foot fetishes ("Young Boy's Feet") there is a blunt, raw excitement to "Ass Cobra" that many punk bands strive for but rarely pull off. Let's give due credit and say that most of the reason is Euroboy's lead guitar work which is razor sharp. But it's still not the pick of the litter and a bit of runt by comparison, in my view.
The curious and sometimes aggressive reactions that Turbonegro elicited from US audiences when touring this album only spurred them on to greater depths, which is good to know.
Attempt a straight face when you listen to "Sailor Man".
"Never is Forever" establishes the formula that made "Apocalypse" the monster it was with the rougher edges battling with lashings of melody and glammed-up production. It's Hank's debut on record and he's a handy addition. As for the rest of the band - cock an ear to "Destination: Hell" or the storming "Hush, Earthling" to know this is a band that's reached another plane. Loud, fast and scientific, to echo one of their influences.
There's a slightly more guttural mix of "Hush, Earthling" with an up-front vocal, as well as two head-jerking outtakes ("Kick It Out" and "Let It Burn") to keep the bonus track junkies happy.
"Hot Cars..." has Hank's predecessor, Harold Fossberg, on vocals and what he lacks in range is compensated for through raw projection. This is a bit of a surprise packet with production sharper than "Never Is Forever". Cuts like "I'm In Love With The Destructive Girls" and "Armed and Fairly Well Equipped" are combustible, tight punk rockers that prove TBNGR were (are) a band that can rise above the shock schtick.
The dialogue that proceeds the opener "Librium Love" sets something of a pattern for TBNGR records, with this album's porno story from a Swedish backpacker evolving down the years into sound collages or vaguely thematic scene-setters.
"Hot Cars..." is appended with three worthy bonus songs and something else that seems to be a 26-minute excerpt from a gay rape porn flick ("A Career In Indie Rock".) You too may be tempted to bail out early.
Back catalogue to burn and mostly all essential. - The Barman
- Apocalypse Dudes
- Darkness Forever!
- Ass Cobra
- Never Is Forever
- Hot Cars and Spent Contraceptives
RETOX - Turbonegro (Scandinavian Leather Recordings/Shock)
"We saved rock and roll/With our bare hands," declares Turbonegro's Hank Van Helvete on "What Is Rock!?", the lengthy - and it must be said indulgent - closer (excluding two bonus cuts) on "Retox". For about half-an-hour back in the early '90s, it really seemed like these Oslo Denim Demons had applied the defribrilator to rock and roll's flabby heart and given it a reviving jolt. Their breakthrough "Apocalypse Dudes" remains a high-water mark, a brazenly derivative charge that cut through flanelette phalanxes of ordinary grunge acts to put punk (and glam) back on the musical agenda.
Time marches on and each subsequent Turbonegro album has been less well received than its predecessor. That's partly because "Apocalypse" was so good but also since Turbonegro has long settled into a comfortable niche where formula sometimes wins out over pushing the envelope (if they ever did.) Turbonegro now sits in a similar place to the Ramones, 20 years before. They're slavishly worshipped by fans and contemporaries, especially in Europe, and doing what they do better than anyone else, but they're also prisoners in a sitcom of their own creation.
The band knows it and acknowledges as much in public statements. But let's not get too serious about this thing called Cock (out) Rock. In the end, they're making a living out of doing this shit and you're probably not, so who gives an Alsatian's arse? Not these guys...
"Retox" sounds dirtier (in the production) than "Party Animals". The guitars are more distorted, the keyboard parts less prominent. It's still a melange of punk rock and metallic glam although some of the songs seems to go on a bit. "Retox" also retreads the same lyrical jokes - which inevitable, given that there's only so many double entendres in the world to go around. "Stroke the Shaft" and "I Wanna Come" are as obvious as the absence of a plotline in a Ron Jeremy movie but have a bit more going for them musically than the hirsuite Hedgehog's soundtracks. Come (sic) to think of it, Hank and Ron do share some physical characteristics.
Speaking of the music (which is where it all comes back to) the quotient of hooks and underlying melodies seems to have fallen off and the songs aren't as catchy they used to be. Maybe it's partly imagination or the perception of formula creeping in. The one thing that's obviouys is that some judicious trimming of the tunes might have hellped. It's not a lost cause, howevber, and if you're looking for hits, the pun-laden "Hell Toupee", the single "Do You Dig Destruction" and the anti-hometown ode "We're Going to Drop the Atom Bomb" make a good fist (another unitended pun, I'm afraid) of it. "Everybody Loves a Chubby Dude" is funny but benign pop, by comparison.
Almost have to give TBNGR extra points for some of the album names that didn't make the cut and are featured on the CD booklet. "Bully MILF", "Esperanto of the Fist" and "Easy on the Napalm" are cool, but "Police Line - Do Not Snort" takes some beating.
In the end, Turbonegro still packs enough of a punch to ream your arse until your eyes pop out of your head and your shit flows backwards, but you can't help the sneaking suspicion that they'd need a half-dose of a prescription erectile dysfunction medication and access to some stick books to get the job done. - The Barman
With Retox, the now well and truly revived Turbonegro continue to follow up their masterpiece (and arguably the greatest rock-'n' roll CDLP of the '90s, "Apocalypse Dudes") with another unique and inimitably memorable studio effort, which, for me, bears the most distinctly vast stamp of its singer Hank Von HelVete.
For long serving fans, the key elements which have endeared the band to us (faux homoerotic jokes and double entendres) continue. Songs like "Boys from Nowhere", "Hell
Toupee", 'We're Gonna Drop The Atom Bomb", "Stroke the Shaf", "Hot and Filthy" and "I Wanna Come" more than match the band's unique and high standard songwriting.
For me, absolute standout highlights are the Motorhead-infused "No, I'm Alpha Male", the aformentioned "'I Wanna Come" (a classy musical departure from the rest of "Retox"), "You Must Bleed/All Night Long" and "What Is Rock!?". Fans of singer Hank Von Helvete and/or members of the human populace who are of a large/rotund buildwil get off on "Everybody Loves a Chubby Dude".
Limited copies of "Retox" also include two bonus tracks, with the choice cut being "Into the Void".
Turbonegro's "Retox" presents more ample evidence why Turbonegro should not and cannot be destroyed, but savoured for as long as possible.
- Simon Li
PARTY ANIMALS - Turbonegro (Burning Heart/Shock)
Fuck it’s 2005, WTF ! a long way from the deep dark 90’s when I used to listen to Turbonegro, for how shall I say, motivation . . . , rock n roll was way fuckin underground during the 90’s and I wanna personally thank any fucker who purchased an independent rock n roll record cause we were the only ones doing it, we hung around the dimly lit flame like moths, very stubborn moths, that’s what Turbonegro did and it nearly killed em, post "Apocalypse Dudes" the band was, well shall I say - unmotivated.
During the 90’s I came to love Turbonegro like I was 14 again -nice feat as I am a 40-plus-year-old, Old Fuck - the quasi gay references, their own TurboHype, the hardcore/punk rock n roll mix, ultra fun live show, sleaze, big gut, no holds barred, the essence of rock n roll, rolled into a brand new pigbag.
Turbonegro have been poping up all over the place; "Age Of Pamparius" – the theme song for WildBoyzs, Steve O and Chris Pontius’s ("Jackass") ‘nature loving’ globe trotting thrill seeking show, hanging out with Bam Magera (Jackass, CKY) including playing in his fucking house !! (Man I would kill to have Turbonegro play at my house!) All up, it looks like the MTV kids are gonna get some real rock n roll for a change this summer. The train is a rolling.
So to the new album, we got the fast tracks, we got the funny tracks and what I haven’t heard before Turbonegro go '60s, oh yeah, "Hot Stuff" and "Blow Me Like The Wind" feel like Austin Powers, but an Austin Powers whose idea of foreplay is rimming and golden showers. "City Of Satan" is anthemic, it kicks off like Joan Jett's "I Love Rock'n' Roll" and ends up like something off "Sgt Peppers". Really !! Outstanding! Someone’s taking the RIGHT drugs here. "Death From Above", "Wasted Again" and "High on the Crime" all get to the point quick, like walking round with a rat in your dirty underwear.
"If You See Kaye" is already classic Turbonegro, fast, funny, urgent, can’t wait to jump around hearing this one live. Over the course of the album Turbonegro conjure up Satan's home theatre for misspent youth. The whole record is very theatrical -well, so’s the band - but not vaudeville. There’s just to much talent for it just to be vaudeville. The guys sound exactly like they are ready to party, and they are the ultimate party band. Influence-wise, they occasionally lean on the Dictators and their 70’s hero’s but they really have their own shit goin' on.
Turbonegro are the party we shoulda had in the '70s. "Hot Stuff" and "Final Warning" spin the album outta control. "Final Warning" is just plain mean (and loving it). This new Turbonegro record is perfect for 2005. Hey. if they play it on MTV, I hope one of 'em gets a blow job off Brittany Fears !!
When Turbo played in my home town, I went round the back of the venue after the gig hanging out waiting for the band to come out the back, Hank appeared, he looked well kinda neat, hair tied back no make up, he seemed kinda quiet like people are after rock n roll gig’s, I sided up to him, not wanting to be too invasive but, he was smoking a cigarette under a dim street light. I spoke. “Hank, I love the band, thanks for a great show, you guys make me feel like a kid.” Hank didn’t exactly look at me, he half turned. I could tell he was having a breather before the second half of the night.“You had good time, huh,” he said, like he sold me cheap rubbers from under his coat. “Yes, I had good time”. Turbonegro = good times, let em roll . . . . .
. - Ashley Thomson
So what's really going on here?
A band shoots for gold by applying catchy production and (shudder) melodies to its punk-glam base, and the critics go all cold on them. Former Next Big Thing editor-turned-blogger Lindsay Hutton was at it this week, and as much as I respect his opinion (genuinely), I have to ask how many albums has it been since Turbonegro weren't a cartoon band? (Rhetorical questions sometimes deserve an answer: At least three by my count - it depends how seriously you want to apply the test).
Fact is that on their new disc, "Party Animals", the band's sense of humour is still intact. Many of the faux homoerotic jokes have been watered down, but for mine, self-deprecating humour is always half the issue. Rock (cock or most other varieties) should never take itself too seriously.
Lindsay makes some good points that I largely shared, until the fourth or fifth spin of "Party Animals". It was only then that these songs hit the spot.
So it crept up on me. I won't be alone. In the minds of many, Turbonegro have a huge hurdle: Neither "Party Animals" or "Scandinavian Leather" are "Apocalypse Dudes". As musically barren as the '90s were most of the time, that album was an unashamedly derivative, but totally energetic, in-the-face classic. Like a firecracker up the arse of a sad music scene.
Near incoherent raves from the likes of occasional I-94 Bar columnist and Sydney punk nosebleed, Ashley Thomson, and then-New Christ, Al Creed, made me listen - and I went to deathpunk heaven.
So what's to say? Well, from the scene-setting intro (let's face it - no album's complete without a synthesized, disembodied vocal from Stephen Hawking) to the hilariously murderous, hidden track closer (a guest spot by a Serbian guerrilla tops a Pistols-inspired collaboration with a Not So Great Train Robber, any day) it's a ride that falls just short of slick.
Producer Michael McDonald (Redd Kross) applies enough gloss not to scare away radio programmers, although with titles like "Blow Me Like the Wind" and "If You See Kaye" - geddit? - a few of these songs wouldn't be troubling the chart compilers. Fuck them. Tis a pity, 'cos "Blow Me" is as catchy a pop tune as you could hear. "City of Satan" is pure glam stomp, the stuff that was the essence of Brit radio back in the early '70s, before melting in a psych melange. Whether it stands the test of time like "Apocalypse Dudes" is a moot point. Ask again in a month or three. Fact is, it stands up on its own hind legs, and beats the living shit of most anything else around.
But back to critical opionions and when Turbonegro toured Australia in 2004, the punters were sharply divided. Half of them wanted to slap on sailor hats and party, the rest reckoned they'd seen it all before (down to Hank's onstage patter, repeated in several cities night after night according to one road warrior who'd caught them Stateside). To each their own but the best bands always manage, it seems, to polarise opinions. Me, I recognise the theatricality that's integral to what they're doing but I still think a rock and roll heart beats solidly within.
Anyway, with "Party Animals" Turbonegro has clearly said "stuff the silver, we're going for the gold" and I for one hope to see them up on that victory platform.
- The Barman
SCANDINAVIAN LEATHER - Turbonegro (Epitath)
Well for me, Turbonegro saved rock n roll, hey not just on their own but with a bunch of other bands through the '90s who against the odds kept the rock n roll torch burning bright.
Here in Australia there is only one "cool" national radio station, Triple J but through the 90s their awareness of rock 'n' roll was comatose to say the least. All they played were 21-year-old fuckwit kids pop bands. Yeah, yeah, I know they're a youth network radio (blah blah) but they sucked, honestly. Now for the good news, through the '90s subterranean rock n roll culture found a new powerful ally, the Internet. Yep, as well as porn the Internet gave instant access to the free-wheeling underground world of rock'n' roll - real rock 'n' roll that is. Me, I found Turbonegro through one of my favorite '90s record labels, Man's Ruin Records, which was on the 'Net but is now defunct after poster artist Frank Kozic blew a cool 500 grand on it.
As well as releasing cool Aussie bands like The Onyas and Cosmic Psychos, Man's Ruin made accessible to me great new rock n roll bands like The Hellacopters, Gluecifer, Fu Manchu and the omnipotent Turbonegro album "Apocalypse Dudes" (co-released by Sympathy For The Record Industry, who had released earlier Turb in the States). Well, I have to tell you my summer was fuckin' made. I played that fuckin' record over and over and over and over again, my wife knew it backwards, my kids would yell out from another room "Not that fucking record again". I just loved it. It coincided with the Australian summer of '98-99 and I gotta brag here, because I got so many people into Turbonegro it wasn't funny.
With so much nice pop youth culture ruling here in Australia, not just on the radio and TV but local gigs as well, underground rock 'n' roll via the I nternet became a salvation once again for me, and what befitting saviors Turbonegro turned out to be. God bless their wretched rock 'n' roll souls.
OK, I hear you that was '98 and now it's 2003 (fuck/quick). After Turbonegro's inevitable demise mid-tour in Europe in 2000 (singer Hank Van Helte heading into rehab/an asylum), things looked fucking grim for Turbojugend. Over the next five years "the industry" decided rock 'n' roll was pretty cool and signed up a plethora of pretend rock 'n' roll bands. Ha!! Then Ii heard Turbonegro were playing a summer festival in Europe. I heard the rumour of new recordings, then blammo, the NEW Turbonegro record "Scandinavian Leather" ('Oh yes, baby, what's black and 12 inches long? Mummy those men are scaring me. What do you mean you dont like sucking cock? If you believe in God you must therefore believe in Satan, long live rock n roll !!') - well, let's say I was very excited.
Cut to the cliche of 2003: "Scandinavian Leather is not as good as Apocalypse Dudes". Yawn. If i hear that one more time....It's not 1998, the band are five years older (and wiser?) NOTHING is as good as it is the first time. It's YOU that aint as good as you were in '98!! This is a different album to "Apocalypse" and "Ass Cobra", it amalgamates Turbonegro's most original and authentic elements from their earlier records and focuses then into a journey more suited for a longer distance (sorry was that to0 political?) For me this album is a grower. Turbonegro are anthemic about their deviant behavior and paranoia, while buoyant with humor.
These are ugly people having a very good time ('cept for Euro boy - pretty and having a good time). They are the antidote to the ever-wretched Big Seven record companies. Their spirit remains pure (although stained with urine and sperm) and their passion is intact. You can trust not to trust these guys. "Scandinavian Leather" is a good time record, particularly if your good time is being decidedly bad. Turbonegro for me confirm once again that rock n roll will never die, never.
- Ashley "Oz Rock" Thomson
APOCALYPSE DUDES -- Turbonegro (Man's Ruin)
Was intrigued by New Christs guitarist Big Al Creed's multiple references to these guys at the I-94 Bar, then when his recommendation for this slab in particular was seconded by Infra Sonic on the Divine Rites List, I decided to jump in.
The packaging had me scratching my head at first. On the front cover: the logo for the Symbionese Liberation Army, U.S. terrorists whose claim to fame was kidnapping and then enlisting heiress Patty Hearst, who actually joined them in a couple of "revolutionary" bank robberies before they were "neutralized." A cursory look at the band shots had me wondering, "What's this -- Marilyn Manson? Or the Village People?" These black denim-clad Norwegians have a sense of visual style that's interesting, to say the least; expect a lawsuit from Alice Cooper ("...and I LIKE it...") for co-opting his eye makeup design, if he ever stumbles across a copy of this on the way to the bank to cash his residual checks from "The Hollywood Squares."
On to the music, 'cause it's the tunes that tell the REAL story. Touted as "the masters of Black Glam Punk" (whatever that means), these guys borrow liberally from Big Dumb Rock (Stadium Variety), from the opening titanic overture to the opening "The Age of Pamparius" to the extended finale on the closing "Good Head" - which is okay, as they have the power and drama to back it up in spades. That said, if that was ALL they had, they wouldn't be worthy of a Bar patron's attention. So what else have they got, you ask?
Buzzsaw guitars in the Detroit/Noo Yawk tradition that we all love (and if it wasn't FOLK MUSIC, the Dictators could claim copyright infringement for appropriating the signature riff from "Next Big Thing" and sticking it in "Get It On"), without the endless solos that can make the Hellacopters such a rough listen. Yer typical leaden Euro rhythm section. An obsession with "perversion" and scatology that, coupled with limited English skills, makes their lyrics a real hoot to read. ("Rendezvous With Anus" indeed.) Maybe that's a good thing; they're less likely to get picked up to open for the Foo Fighters that way. Material-wise, it's pretty much pedal to the metal all the way, except for the change of pace "Humiliation Street," (coincidentally?) my favorite track.
Conclusion: This disc will kick your ass all over the room...and you'll LIKE it. (And it's released in the States on the Man's Ruin imprint of former Austin/current Frisco worthy Frank Kozik.)
- Ken Shimamoto
Go here to read the review of the Turbonegro tribute album.
BACK TO THE REVIEWS PAGE
BACK TO THE BAR