Haha! Reynolds pipped at the post with “Cherry Red”, but still setting an attack groundhog upon me. They are terrifying beasts, aren’t they. Are The Groudhogs a bit neglected? I know “Split” is regarded as their masterpiece and it is awesome (and lyrically brilliant too, especially 1-4’s tale of a night of paranoia slowly resolving itself into a disturbed sleep) but they had a pretty good album run there in the seventies.
Funnily enough I was listening to Beefheart the other night myself after realising that this sounds really nothing like the original. I’m a bit unorthodox on Beefheart, as in, Clearspot, The Spotlight Kid are immense records and I’m really fond of the soft and hazy (as opposed to Fast n Bulbous) stuff on Blue Jeans and Moon Beams and some of the stuff on Doc at the Radar Station, while the last one, Ice Cream for Crow, I think is a kind of late masterpiece. It could sound a wee bit vitiated I guess from one perspective but I always found it more “elegiac”, sparse and Wintery, the good Captain laying down in the foul rag and bone shop of the heart, plus it contains some really lovely stuff, especially this. What I can’t really get on with is Trout Mask, it just wears me out (I’ll confess, heretically, to having the exact same response to Metal Box, which, after two tracks has just kind of ground me down. Shoot me now, but my favourite PIL album is actually “Album”). I cant be the only person who listens up to Moonlight in Vermont and then thinks about the long, tortured, dry but wacky, dustily unvariegated stretch ahead. Hey Don, some of those guitar parts may have defied the human hand but they also defy the human ear. It’s a triumphant double -whammy of sorts, I suppose. Kind of the musical equivalent of Wilde’s line about foxhunting: the unplayable in pursuit of the unlistenable.
Yeah the good riffs probably did go to Hair Metal, it’s true. The New York Dolls were a big influence weren’t they, the rawer punkier end of the scene being Hanoi Rocks (this belter is one of Bonsai Silverback’s favourite songs ) and so were (I now realize) Cheap Trick. There is something strangely toothsome and moreish in those glossy Eighties singalong stadium glam confections. If I had to choose something from that era, riff-wise I’d have this and, brace yourself, this.
There’s also a bit of an inter-zone (well if you can call a band as huge as Guns and Roses an inter-zone) where hair-metal tried to reinvent itself with injections of thrash metal or by harking back to punk. Modifying the hair metal signifiers a bit and getting heavier. The group of small town punks I hung out with when I was eighteen or nineteen would, mystifyingly, listen to G n R even though everything else was a steady diet of Conflict, Subhumans, Discharge, Amebix, Saw Throat and the Alternative Tentacles back catalogue and stuff on SST was for hippies.
Out of respect to Reynold's trampled Groundhog, I'm not going to go anywhere near AC/DC.
Skipped through the early to late-eighties, have we? Alright then, lets get stuck into a bit of that!