Monday, June 20, 2005


Compilations part 4: Manhattan on the Rocks/New York Bands on the Verge...

Thus far, the compilations that I've dealt with have been basically good straight through. No such luck today. Manhattan on the Rocks came out in 1992 on Pow Wow Records and a lot of it is kind of blah. There's a point in the early 90's where bands that previously would have been content to play the East Village indefinitely started to think seriously about becoming big, with often dubious results. Ironically, a lot of the bands on this CD probably could have done ok...if they'd waited about five more years to release these tracks, some of which could have fit really well into the hard-rock radio formats of the mid-to-late 90's or into the record collections of teenagers beginning to grow bored with Marilyn Manson.

Running down the list of people that I'm not posting, there's Stigmata A Go Go, False Prophets, ISM (not to be confused with the post-No Wave act Ism), Motherhead Bug (who used to get a ton of press around town though I don't think it helped their record sales), Virus, Emergency Broadcast Network, Lysdexic, Black Car Nation, Some Weird Sin, and 700 Miles. A lot of these are overproduced (compensating for all the 80's NYC bands with terrible production, I suppose). There's much long hair in the band photos.

Anyway, we're here for an appearance by Rat at Rat R, one of the best of the early NYC noise-guitar bands. Their debut album, in particular, is long overdue for a CD reissue. On that, they sound something like a cross between early Swans and Confusion-era Sonic Youth. Later they moved in a more conventionally rock direction, so while you can hear some skree-guitar on The Way, it doesn't scream "Lower East Side" like their first record. Really great stuff with all the power that Kim and "The Drummer" could never muster, and I hope I won't annoy too many people by noting that things like this seem to be aging much better than The Grateful Youth. I mean The Sonic Dead. I mean...

Rat At Rat R, for this track, is John Myers, David Tritt, Walter Sipser and Victor Poison-Tete. Here's the Trouser Press entry on the group. The Way is apparently the last song they released, and it doesn't appear elsewhere.

The other reason I hold on to this CD is Big Stick, one of New Jersey's greater contributions to the world of music. For once, there's a website! There's also a nice overview here (wow, that site takes me back to the 80's! Be careful as many of the links are not so work safe. Among other things, I learned that there's a new-ish alt-porn director named Eon McKai, ha ha). By Big Stick, here's Freddie & Me, which sometimes sounds like a distant, distant cousin of Ton-Loc's Wild Thing. Did I say distant? WFMU's Beware of the Blog recently posted another very nice Big Stick song called Drag Racing. Find it here.

The Way by Rat At Rat R
Freddie & Me by Big Stick

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