Soopageek's Favorite 100 Albums
Of all the bands which made themselves in G.G. Allin's image, The Dwarves are arguably at the top of the sleaze-rock heap. They figured out that you couldn't merely be obvious; you had to offer a bit of cleverness as well. The figured out that it wasn't enough to only be loud and fast; you had to develop a palatable tone to engage the listener. My old list contained their Blood, Guts, and Pussy LP as my Dwarves offering, but I realized upon further deliberation that, I only liked that album for its name and album cover. Honestly, this is my favorite of the Dwarves catalogue. Its 13 tracks are just a more enjoyable record, all 18 minutes of it. Heh, yeah you're lucky if a Dwarves song clocks in over one minute. To relay a story told to me about a Steel Pole Bath Tub/Dwarves show; apparently Steel Pole Bath Tub opened the show and proceeded to play covers of Black Sabbath's "Paranoia" and Cheap Trick's "Surrender"... and that's it... over and over, that's all they played for one hour were those two songs in alternating fashion. Then the Dwarves came out and tore through a 15 minutes set and walked off stage; no encore, no nothing.
But about the album... it was one of the last albums they recorded with the band's original lineup of Blag Dhalia, Salt Peter, Vadge Moore and He Who Cannot Be Named. It is often tasteless, vile, disgusting, and chock-full of overt references to drug abuse, sodomy, violence, and pedophilia. It's definitely not for the faint of heart. Like, G.G. Allin though, it can be so over-the-top that it often comes off seeming cartoonish and tongue-in-cheek rather than being earnest. The obviousness of it, however, is softened by its cleverness and oft near-poetic lyrics. In "Speed Demon":
Los Angeles, city of eternal night
The dream of a girl thirteen, swirling cherry vanilla
Walk this jungle beat down in the skirt of a juvenile teenage dream
Hot like the asphalt of a 7-11 or maybe a suffragette
When it culminates with the line "The face dripping with Clearasil and cum... I knew I'd seen that face before", it's enough to bring a tear to the eye of this hardened, cynical punk rocker. In this age of bland, punk boy-bands it's nice to remember that punk used to at least dare to be dangerous. For the record, the guitar solo in this song is probably one of my all time favorites... it has a tone that just cannot be ignored, reminiscent of the Blue Cheer-by-way-of-the-Stooges tone achieved by their label-mates Mudhoney.
In "Fuck 'Em All" some of their lyrical cleverness shines through:
I fucked one turned sideways, like a china doll
I fucked 'em all
It seems like ballin' bitches is all I ever do
You better watch your ass
I'll fuck that, too
If you are actually still reading this review in spite of the scatological nature of our subject, then you will truly appreciate the handling of the album's opus "Dairy Queen". At 5 minutes in length, it is a sprawling masterpiece by Dwarves standards. Blag Dhalia out does himself with classic, pop song puppylove-esque lyrical cliches in verse one about the object of his affection who works at a Dairy Queen:
Well it was just a Sunday drive
To see the neon in her eyes
She had to be so wild and free
Just like a radio playing oldies
Then descends into depravity in verse two with the unforgettable lines:
The parking lot was at her feet
The sun went down, a train came 'round
And she went down on every guy in town
Finally in verse three, we return to the innocent cliches, but now it is informed by the second verse, giving it a whole new level of meaning:
Well everything in this old world
Yeah every flavor was inside that girl
Then came the day she couldn't stay
That was the day that she melted away
Fucking brilliance. Obviously I know this isn't the sort of record that will appeal to a lot of people. In fact it's safe to say that a lot of people will find it morally reprehensible, repugnant, and offensive. To that I say, good! Rock and roll should not be a part of the safe establishment where rock stars are all politically correct activists, beknighted by royalty, and conscientious icons. Rock and roll is about excess, attitude, and danger... qualities the Dwarves have in spades.
Unfortunately, I couldn't find an image of the album cover anywhere on the internet, which speaks somewhat of this record's limited availability. Japanese punk label Juggler Records opened up shop domestically hoping to gain a foothold in the burgeoning punk/alternative swell of the late 80's and early 90's. They lay all their hopes on The Blue Hearts, who had been quite popular in the Japanese punk scene for sometime. What's interesting about The Blue Hearts whem compared with a lot of bands imported from Japan (or anywhere for that matter) is that they sing in their natives tongues rather than try and sing in English. Even more interesting still is that on the stength of their musicianship, particularly their ability to write a catchy melody, you WANT to be able to sing along. At least you can sing along to the chorus of "Linda, Linda" (side note: at least one Japanese recording containing this song is titled "Rinda, Rinda", so they have a sense of humor to boot), but on other tracks, you find yourself being hooked by the melody and have no idea what they're saying. While listening to it I find myself making-up faux Japanese; something which has a phonetic aproximation to what I hear coming out of my speakers. You should hear me get into "Be Nice" with it's opening first line unaccompanied by any music (Keeee Gaaa Sheee No Sho Waaaahhh!) then the backup la-la-la's (or is that ra-ra-ra's?). For days after listening to it I find myself whistling the melodies as they swirl in my head endlessly.
Musically they're a little mix of everything: ska, surf, rockabilly, and even occasional drifts into nice feedback scree for the toneheads, all delivered at the speed of punk. This record is no undiscovered classic or unfound great, but it is fast and furious fun and serves as an excellent reminder that what Captain Beefheart said was true - It doesn't matter what you say, as long as you sound good.
100. Hustler's Convention - Lightnin' Rod