Thursday, May 12, 2005
Yesterday's post about hearing Paul McCartney's Junior's Farm at work sent me straight for the Lee Harvey Oswald Band's cover of same. I didn't feel like this post got enough attention the first time around...some of these tracks are seriously amazing. So here's the original piece back for a second time.
If your boss is standing right behind you reading this, you might want to find some way to distract him/her while you casually re-direct to a page about boss things (as opposed to a blog about music by horrible people named Zowie Fenderblast and Dredge and James Meat, who seem to think that young girls and japanimation characters doing heroin is the height of wit, and who write songs with titles like Getting Wasted With The Vampires and Green Like The Color Of Blood).
For a history of the Lee Harvey Oswald Band, you can start with Allmusic, though after you think about it for a while and start to wonder why a band that formed in the 70's only released product in the 90's, and on Touch and Go at that, you might want to mosey over to Trouser Press for an alternate history.
One nice thing about the LHOB is that you can own everything they did by buying two CDs, both of which can usually be found cheap and used (how appropriate). Especially on their first CD A Taste Of Prison (which includes their first EP) they kind of sound like a bootleg recording of David Bowie jamming with the Stooges, except there's a real Urge Overkill "This is Rock And Roll, Baby" feel to the whole proceeding. I wish the album was a little bit...better. The idea of an uber-trashy Bowie-esque fake-relic is a great one, but when it's arguable that the rockingist track on your CD is the Wings cover, you might want to spend some more time in Badass Songwriting 101 and less time writing your liner notes in Japanese.
Jesus Never Lived On Mars is what I want them to be doing, but they only manage that level of quality a couple of times. A Taste Of Prison sounds cool, it sounds real, it sounds nasty, but it doesn't always sound good.
The second album Blastronaut has better sound (like a good bootleg this time) and better songwriting. The opening sing-along track The Greatest Man Who Ever Walked The Face Of The Earth runs smack into an extremely Man Who Sold The World sounding ultimatum called Surrender Earthlings, kicking things off in style.
[Between that track and Hilly Michaels' Close Encounters and Graham Coxon's People of the Earth, I'm getting tempted to put together a mix of "Earth people, we have come to destroy you...or something" songs. Any other suggestions?]
And, Rocket 69 (Hmmm, the first three songs on the CD are the three I'm featuring: that doesn't bode well!) is possibly the best thing they ever did, getting the proportions of beer, lust, and catchy chorus just right. Actually, the rest of the CD is pretty good, ok, fairly great if you're in the right frame of mind. Again, I want it to be faster, louder, and most of all funnier, but that's a "glass half empty" way of looking at a fairly strong album. I still think that the Dwarves and Urge Overkill did this sort of thing better, but LHOB carved out their own distinct niche in the land of fake (but real) Rock Stars.