Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Oliver!: Boss Hog - Fire of Love; Tar - Deep Throw; Helmet - Oven; Vertigo - Dynamite Cigar (21 March 1992)

Just as Peel did, I present these 4 selections from the Sub-Pop compilation of Amphetamine Reptile acts, Smells Like Smoked Sausages  in a batch for your delectation.  Given that Nirvana parodying title, it's tempting to see this as a grunge collection only, but the choices themselves and the rest of the album too, are a bit more interesting than that.  Boss Hog give a blues makeover to Jody Reynolds's moodily twangtastic 1958 track Fire of Love, with its drawled female vocal and stabs of harmonica.  It's only in the turbo-charged coda, when that harmonica is turned into an instrument as rocking as any guitar that its place on this album makes any surface sense.  I suspect it may have been Peel's favourite track on the album, given that he re-played it at the start of his 4/4/92 show.  I can imagine him and Andy Kershaw approving of those modern 
whippersnappers paying homage to Jody Reynolds.

The last time Tar were on this blog was with the thundering, if slightly ponderous On a Transfer.  By contrast, Deep Throw is a more exciting piece of music, but it escapes being lumped in as grunge through what appears to be a mix between hard rock and shoegaze, especially given the "Do you wake up dreaming?" refrain that keeps cutting through and lodging in the listener's ear.

Helmet offer a reminder of the source of what American guitar music was being celebrated for in 1992-93 with their cover of Melvins' track, Oven.  Their take on domestic passive aggressiveness is very faithful to the original, but 
loses none of its unsettling sense of estrangement.

Vertigo's Dynamite Cigar has been bugging me because it reminds me of another record which I can't place. Curiously, I keep thinking it's a Half Man Half Biscuit tune.  Certainly they share the Wirral outfit's gift for quickfire verbiage as this tune is closer to rap'n'rock than grunge, though the vocals are disappointingly low in the mix.
Taken as a whole, none of these tracks or any of the others on Smells Like Smoked Sausages with the possible exception of Our Demise by Surgery looked like cracking the top of the Billboard charts, but as a snapshot of US guitar rock and insight into some of the bands' influences, it's an essential record.  Mind you, I recommend skipping the misanthropic album closer by God Bullies.

This has been a hard blogpost to write, because it's the first 
one I have done since the sudden, unexpected death of my beloved cat, Saoirse, on August 19.  In the 3 years I've been doing this blog, she mastered the art of sleeping through whatever unholy racket I would be listening to near her, in the name of research.  These tracks are dedicated to her.

Videos courtesy of Irresponsableful (Boss Hog & Vertigo), Jon Boucher (Tar) and Stoopid (Helmet).

"You're not listening to Claws by Milk again are you?"

1 comment: