California produced a lot of punk bands in the early '80s, and most of them sucked, but this one didn't. Essentially the umpteenth punkers who wet their cute little neurotic teeth on the Buzzcocks' breed of pop-punk (geez, the way you hear punk these days, you'd swear nobody ever listened to anything but worn-out vinyl copies of Singles Going Steady
. Who says the Sex Pistols were the most influential punk band?), the Descendents presaged Weezer with their upfront tales of nerdy teenboy angst over girls.
Whoever writes the lyrics for this band is pretty - well - blunt when it comes to women: he admits that all he wants is to get laid, and then gets pissed off and wounded when other guys get the girl instead of him. Uh, maybe you better change your approach, guy? I don't think girls like being told that you're only going out with her in the hopes of getting some (even if that's exactly what oh, 90% of red-blooded males are thinking anyway. Sorry to break it to you ladies, but men are disgusting pigs).
Anyway, like a lot of bands, the Descendents peaked early, but they didn't break up after they'd lost a little steam. They took a few years off in the early '80s after lead singer Milo Aukerman left for college, and then reformed. When Aukerman left again several years later, the band didn't break up - they simply hired a new singer and changed their name to All, who are still going strong on the American punk club circuit with their patented pop-punk-and-purge formula.
is a very brief little piece of plastic, the five songs here collectively last about as long as an average pop single. It's kind of redundant to own too, since the entirety has been compiled twice: the first time on Bonus Fat
and the second on Two Things At Once
. The Descendents seem more influenced by Black Flag than anyone else at this juncture, penning amelodic blurts concerning junky suburban culture.
"My Dad Sucks" and "Mr. Bass" are anti-parent and anti-fish, respectively. The 16-second "I Like Food" is pretty spastic and self-explanatory. "Hey Hey" is kind of nondescript. Now for the real deal: "Weinerschnitzel", one of the greatest novelty numbers of all time. Lasting all of 11 seconds, it goes like this:
"Welcome to the Weinerschnitzel, may I take your order please?"
"Yeah, I want....(unintelligible, thrashing)"
"Do you want (bull? veal?) sperm with that?"
That one little ditty is a must hear, so hear it in some format - like on Two Things At Once
by Reviewer: Creative Noise
Posted: Tuesday 11th Mar 2014 9:17 PM
Even though Albert King became a household name after this release, it seems he remained something of a musician’s musician, a well-respected influence who never really reached the stature of say, B.B. King or John Lee Hooker. I could be wrong of course – don’t forget Belgium’s blues tradition is as notorious as Tunisia’s speed metal culture – but that’s my impression. Anyway, if there’s one argument why the guy should be more revered, it’s this album, which was - surprisingly - released by Stax, a decidedly more soul-oriented label at the time. Luckily Estelle Axton was convinced by the guy’s capacities and so the label gave him a shot.
Initially, King only recorded a few singles, later some extra songs, and that’s Born Under a Bad Sign
. So whilst the album contains recordings spanning more than a year (between March 1966 and June 1967), it does feel like a unit. Of course, the main reason for that is all the songs were recorded with the same personnel: Booker T. & the MG’s, Stax’s house band and arguably the best session band that ever existed. Aided by the legendary Memphis Horns, they provide King with the best backing he could hope for. The result is 34 minutes of Soul-Blues heaven, with energetic R&B, stomping boogie, and suave ballads for every occasion.
Despite the high-quality backing, the album wouldn’t have been such a classic if it weren’t for King’s playing. He was unique in several ways: firstly, he played a Gibson Flying V, something I haven’t seen many legendary Blues guitarists use. Secondly, he played a right-handed guitar left-handed (so the strings remained where they were), something Jimi Hendrix also did (and of course several people will tell you he copped it from King). And indeed, it doesn’t take an expert to tell his sound is different from most other guitarists - it’s less mellow, seems to have more bite, which is probably the result of his 'reversed' strumming and picking.
Contrary to what might be expected, the title track wasn’t the breakthrough hit. “Laundromat Blues”, the album’s first single, did pretty well, even though it’s not among the album’s best tracks. It is
damn fine though, with expert playing by King and great support on piano. Second single “Oh, Pretty Woman” not only has a booming bass, but also a few classy solos.
The two tracks that open the album are the cream of the crop though. The title-track – only the fourth single or so they cut – belongs in the pantheon of Blues greats, with great atmosphere, Cropper’s legendary repetitive rhythm guitar, and King’s fantastic performances (of course the line 'If it weren’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have no luck at all' adds to the coolness). Almost as good are the exotic rumba-styled “Crosscut Saw”, with its expressive percussion and horn accents, and the dirty “Personal Manager” that shows how much Clapton and Michael Bloomfield must’ve listened to this guy.
Not all the material is as stellar – compared to the fiery blues tunes, the ballads “I Almost Lost My Mind” and “The Very Thought of You” seem nearly stilted – but that’s compensated for by the incredible consistency of the rest of the material. “The Hunter” is a great thumping Hooker-styled boogie, “Kansas City” a wonderfully strutting version of Leiber & Stoller’s classic, and “As The Years Go Passing By” the kind of misery-ridden tale that other lesser artists would milk hundreds of times.
So, even if he was kind of cheating, King delivered an album that was something of a rarity at the time: a wonderfully diverse, fully realized and coherent-sounding set that still sounds as fresh today as it must’ve all those years ago (there’s a lot of hiss in the left channel though). Rated:
by Reviewer: Guy Peters
Posted: Tuesday 11th Mar 2014 9:36 PM