Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Various Artists: The Blasting Concept Vol II
SST Records, 1986
For some reason, this record has become a punchline. Andrew Earles (Failed Pilot) calls it the product of "the whims of a misguided label mogul." A recent review in The Record Robot, an otherwise fine endeavor, called (nearly) every song "poo" and "uninspired." Rock writers. Feh. This record reminds me of those old cheap Warner Brothers compilations except the artists didn't totally suck. Blasting Concept Vol 1 is not recommended, though, but this record has some previously unreleased material and is a fine doc. of the SST sound in the mid 80's, a pastiche of punk, metal, improv, acid rock and even, heaven forbid, jangle.
Sure, not every cut on this famously $3.49 LP is stellar. With the exception of Overkill's shredful Moto:rhead tribute, the metal cuts (from Saint Vitus and Wurm) are fairly vapid and boring for my taste. DC3, a band I never much cared for, cover friggin' Mountain, one of the most over-rated under-rated bands from the 60's (or was it the 70's, dude?). The SWA cut is pretty dick deadening. And my opinion that Saccharine Trust and Tom Troccoli's Dog are projects best forgotten finds no conflicting evidence here.
But Painted Willie's unintentional(?) political hardcore punk Spinal Tap act always makes me laugh and I can never get enough Angst (both the band and the real thing).
The Meat Puppets take on Muddy Waters may be "uninspired" and "painful" but wasn't that the whole point - I love the call and answer sludge-lead guitar action and the sort of end of the night feel that goes against the whole notion of the song they are covering ("I Just Wanna Make Love To You") and I find it more interesting than that other classick rok band that covered it...
October Faction answers the question of "what if" Black Flag were free jazz with words by Bukowski with their "I Was Grotesque"...
And speaking of Black Flag, how about that "I Can Feel You" with Henry restrained, the Dez-Greg guitar work ? It was later put as the title cut on their final record in case you were still listening at that point (I was).
Minutemen do "Ain't Talking 'Bout Love" with their typical joyful smear and remind us yet again that d. boon was more than just a singer-songwriter but wielded a mean guitar. But Robot got it right on the Du cut (if you're quick about it you can still sample it their site).
Finally, the Gone cut "Watch The 'Tractor", a pre nu-metal instrumental if there ever was one, actually works when put on a compilation such as this. My only complaint about SST in this time period is too much testosterone - where are the chicks? (Kim Gordon and Kira not withstanding).
"Ain't Talkin' Bout Love" - Minutemen
"Just Me" - Angst
"The Big Time" - Painted Willie
Wanna buy it? - try Froogle for some of the used record stores and e-Bay - this puppy is long out of print and gonna probably stay this way (note that some of the cuts from the more popular bands like Black Flag and Husker Du have shown up on other collections).