Monday, November 9, 2009

The Gears - Rockin' At Ground Zero (Four Speed Music, 1980/Iloki, 1992/Bacchus Archives, 1999)

Los Angeles in the late 1970s brings two things to my wandering mind: great punk rock and a pair of steel-horse officers from the California Highway Patrol. Had the wild scenes surrounding jumpin' venues like The Masque and Hong Kong Cafe been aligned with the hijinks from the briefing room of nearby law enforcement, perhaps the partners would've taken in a show or two. Alas, Ponch's macho leanings and outlandish disco attire led to temporal couplings found in the sleaziest of adult books. As for Jon, his never-ending flashbacks of Vietnam stints kept him shackled in a cell of solitary confinement.

On-duty actions of the men known to dispatchers as 7-Mary-3 and 7-Mary-4 would've greatly assisted The Gears in their early days. In 1977, would-be vocalist Axxel G. Reese convinced L.A. Shakers drummer Dave Drive to put together a new band in an oil-stained garage. Guitarist Crazy Ruben and bassist Gabriel Shock also went along for the ride. Among the initial cuts pressed to wax were "Let's Go To The Beach" and "Don't Be Afraid To Pogo." Copping a fun-all-the-time attitude (surfing during the day, dancing to punk after sunset) and cut-to-the-quick beats, both perfect waves suggested a Left Coast Ramones who rode swells at Huntington rather than Rockaway and smoothed their boards with wheel grease. Once out of the water, however, Crazy Ruben became a cretin. Confusing a roadie's head for a "13" in the corner pocket, Ruben tossed a cue ball at the intended target and disappeared without a trace of chalk. After a short break, The Gears returned with new guitarist Kidd Spike (ex-Controllers) and replacement bassist Brian Redz in tow. Would this lineup be safe from the use of billiard balls as projectiles?

Minnesota Fats-cum-Nolan Ryan was absent this go 'round, thus The Gears took their time at the table seriously and recorded the masterful debut album in just several hours. The 15 selections continued the 1-2-3-4 punch of the pre-LP knockouts (both are reprised on the album and given a sponge bath) and blended twangy uppercuts to the fight plan. "Baby Runaround" jabs relentlessly at the opening bell. Cheatin' hussies are locked out of the homes of spurned lovers and told to keep their pretty faces away. One tip is offered to Jezebels looking for greener pastures: "Better make sure the diamonds are the genuine thing." Whether it's Gerald with a 14-carat jewel from Jared or Jared from Subway sporting a five-dollar foot-long, be certain the trade is worth the tears. Expectations of making out and getting drunk with a cute girl called "Trudie Trudie" would alleviate the earlier pain, but the lessons learned breach the first kiss ("What do you think I'd do/If you said, 'I don't like you' "). Back at the squat, whistling to no tune in particular and twiddling thumbs at the television are ways of "Wasting Time." If laziness is your only crime, that's not as offensive as kidnapping. Ask O.J. Simpson. Maybe he'll offer you a Snickers. Rockin' like a cat named Billy, the title cut warns of radiation attacks and atomic blasts on the air-raid siren, but all of the nuclear weapons in the world can never stop the feet from "dancing to the rhythm beat." You hear that, 3 Doors Down? Quit muddying the water, 'cause we want Muddy Waters. Pompadour intact, "Keep Movin'" advises, "When that bullshit starts to get too thick/You know it's time you'd better get out quick."

7-Mary-5: over and out.
-Gunther 8544

8 comments:

gunther said...

"Do you have a license for that taco?" The first time my sister saw that commercial, she replied: "You got a license for that hair?"

Shawn Abnoxious said...

hir-do's can be criminal, villanry (which isnt even a word) try gutting your own hair soemtime. I did. Three cuts until I cut myself into a mullet, which is what Im sporting as we speak.

Someones at the door... I think its the Hair Police! AAAGH

Rutledge said...

I cut my own hair all the time - since I haven't had any since 1993. The last "real" haircut I gave myself was circa October '93 - a really bad football player looking mohawk. My hair never really grew back after that. Co-incidence? Probably.

gunther said...

I get my head shaved as short as possible without being completely bald. Think it's called a triple-zero guard on the clipper. One day, I should go next level and Mr. Clean it.

Rutledge said...

I've been Mr. Cleaning it for about five years now - much more satisfying than just breaking out the clippers. But it does take a certain delicate skill to shave the back of one's head with a razor blade.

gunther said...

I need to find a woman who'll shave my head at regular intervals.

Rutledge said...

That's definitely in my top ten list of marital joys: the free head shavings.

gunther said...

Lucky man!