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Rating: 2 stars **
Title: Rotten Kids
Company: Rocking Horse
Grade (cover/record): VG / VG
Comments: minor wear; minor hiss on a couple of tracks
Catalog ID: 6308
I'll readily admit that I bought this album without any knowledge of the band simply because it was released on the Rocking Horse label which was know as a tax scam imprint. The title gave me the impression this was going to be a punk/new wave collection ... so much for titles.
Like lots of tax scam releases, 1977's "Rotten Kids" is a complete mystery - no performance credits, no writing credits, not production credits. 100% anonymous ... And like many tax scam releases, the packaging and marketing appear to be haphazard with no interest in attracting attention, let alone generating sales. In this case there was exactly zero punk or new wave to be found across these twelve tracks. Instead you were treated to an odd collection of genres that spanned the spectrum from radio-friendly pop ('Day and Nite'), conventional Chicago-styled blues (C'ryin' the Blues'), and even some Captain Beefheart styled blues-rockers ('Getting Myself Together'). Eleven of the twelve track sounded like they were done by the same group, but the closer 'Crazy Flyers' was clearly recorded by a different artist. Totally different voice and a totally genre (country-rock). The highlights came in the form of two surprisingly commercial performances - 'Day and Nite' and a nifty cover of 'Good Lovin'.
Kids" track listing:
1.) Getting Myself Together rating: *** stars
'Getting Myself Together' was a good introduction to the band's weird sound. As mentioned above, at least on this one the Captain Beefheart comparison really wasn't that far off with a somewhat discordant melody accompanied by a gruff, sing-song vocal and some suitably goofy lyrics. It's fascinating in the same way a bad traffic accident grabs your attention ...
2.) I'm a Fool rating: *** stars
Built around a jaunty combination of acoustic guitars and harmonica, 'I'm a Fool' quickly spun off into paranoid ramblings that would have made the late Wildman Fisher proud. Easy to imagine some New York City street performer yelping his way through this one ...
3.) The Beat of My Heart rating: ** stars
Built on a spare, dark, and bluesy vibe, 'The Beat of My Heart' actually sounded a bit like a Tom Waits. If that dark, desperate, growl of a voice appeals to you ... well here's one for your iPod.
4.) Brown Eyed Man (Chuck Berry) rating: *** stars
Opening up with some jarring electric guitar and a jumpy, herky-jerky arrangement, their cover of Chuck Berry's 'Brown Eyed Man' was about as mainstream rock as the album got. It gets an extra star for enthusiasm making up for shortcomings in technical skills and the fact the vocal sounded like it was recorded with the microphone shoved down the singer's throat.
5.) Seems So Good rating: ** stars
Hum, snotty white guy trying to sound like a Delta bluesman ... usually not a good thing and it certainly wasn't a good move as far as 'Seems So Good' went. Given the lyrics, you'd swear the song was actually entitled 'Get Off of My Back' ...
6.) Day and Nite rating: **** stars
'Day and Nite' was a complete surprise ... The first track to show any real commercial inclination, this one had a surprisingly attractive melody with some tasty lead guitar and a multi-tracked lead vocal that actually had radio potential (geez, if Lou Reed could have a hit, this one was just as good).
'Cryin' the Blues' opened side two with a slice of hardcore Chicago-styled blues. The anonymous lead singer sounded like he had a mouth full of marbles. Dull, dull, dull ....
2.) Try Driving Me Crazy (aka Cross Cut Saw) (Albert King) - rating: ** stars
Gawd only knows why it was shown under the title 'Try Driving Me Crazy' ... Regardless of the title, this was a perfunctory cover of Albert King's 'Crosscut Saw'. The guitar solo was actually pretty good - not enough to make you forget King's original, but not bad.
3.) Every Mornin' rating: ** stars
'Every Mornin' and 'Mister Morning' were a pair of short experimental pieces that once again recalled some of Captain Beefheart's weirder outings. 'Mister Morning' at least had a semi-recognizable melody.
4.) Good Lovin' (Rudy Clark - Arthur Resnick) - rating: **** stars
And then out of the blue came their cover of The Olympics/The Young Rascals 'Good Lovin' ... Easily the best thing on the album, their arrangement gave the song a mildly ominous and snotty attitude that was quite likeable - imagine the New York Dolls covering the song during a sober period ... The chiming guitars were great.
5.) Crazy Flyers rating: * star
As mentioned, 'Crazy Flyers' didn't even sound like it was performed by the same band. Sporting one of the dumbest lyrics you've ever heard, the inspiration seemed to come from The Royal Guardsmen (think 'Snoopy versus the Red Baron' updated to a World War II scenario). Horrible.
Not a must-own tax scam effort ...
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