Share TWEENAGE SHUTDOWN – Various Artists (Illustrious Artists)
The history of kidsploitation in music includes the likes of five-year-old, um, bluesman Lucky Peterson performing on The Tonight Show in the late ‘60s, pre-pubescent late-‘80s punkers Old Skull, and Human Skab, an oddball PacNW outfit led by a 10-year-old whose ’86 cassette was just unearthed and released. Add to that list this compilation of ‘60s garage snot covers by bands of primary school kids from inner city Sydney, trained by music teacher Stephanie Bourke, kitted out with vintage gear, and produced by You Am I drummer Rusty Hopkinson.
Surprise: From the opening volley – the CEOs’ fierce assault on the Sonics’ “Strychnine” -- this thing rips. No novelty record here. Part of the beauty of this project is that it really doesn’t require a whole lot of musical ability to bash out Nuggets-type noise effectively and, dare I say, authentically. Sure, these kids had the benefit of ace guitar tech Matt Wicks tweaking the tones, but the energy and individuality that shine through on these versions are all theirs. The vocals, in particular, are surprisingly strong. Dig the Blips’ take on the Raiders/Monkees classic “Stepping Stone”: that’s one pissed-off sounding little kid. Sure, Sk8trgrrrl’s singer kinda milks the “cute” angle on the Alarm Clocks’ “Yeah,” but damned if she doesn’t hit all the notes! And sound sassy!
The Inkheads get points for covering “Why Do I Cry,” a fave at mi casa from the A Session With the Remains album, and for making the punk-polka two-beat work on the now-ancient anthem “My Generation.” Smartypants lay down a raw ‘n’ raucous version of Shocking Blue’s “Venus” that actually trumps the ‘riginal, to these feedback-scorched ears. The Monstars even repeat the stupid opening joke from the Premiers’ “Farmer John,” which the adults involved evidently found as hilarious as I did. And I’m not tuned-in enough to know whose version of the Kinks’ “I Gotta Move” it is that Dead Serious (Except for Alice) are imitating, but it’s a corker - almost as good as their name.
If you think there’s nothing new under the sun in the world of garage rock revivalismo, you’re probably correct, but this furious and fun collection lets you hear all those antique sounds through fresh ears. It’s become an instant obsession at mi casa like nothing since Cambodian Rocks. Even my sweetie is on board with this. So, crank up Tweenage Shutdown, dive into its ocean of fuzz ‘n’ Farfisa, and forget that most of the musos involved weren’t even born until after the dawn of the new millennium. - Ken Shimamoto
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