Monday, January 18, 2010

Compulsion - Comforter (Interscope, 1994)

To the members of Compulsion,

Thank you for making my first appearance at Lynnhaven Mall in over five years an enjoyable one. Last time 'round, I was lucky enough to stumble upon a Wherehouse Music store closing. Dude, all CDs were marked down to 90%! A band you guys probably influenced, Ash, had a two-disc anthology with A- and B-sides priced at $2.99! Other extractions on the dig included nuggets from Superdrag, UFO and Elliott Smith. Not a bad haul, huh? Several weeks ago, I planted my shovel at fye -- which is now upstairs near the food court. A fellow treasure hunter had already combed through the soil. In his hands were 15-20 discs with unidentifiable markings. Any fear of true gold being in the pile was mitigated, when the misguided man asked an employee for the whereabouts of The Doors' Waiting For The Sun. As the automaton was button-mashing, the paunchy pursuer spat, "Elektra Records, 1968. I could do your job!" Son, how about doing some shopping for shirts first? Unsightly portions of your navel and belly fur were more exposed than Janet Jackson's tweat at a halftime show. That Ben-from-"Grizzly Adams" look might play well for the bear hunters at The In-Between bar in Kempsville, but the mixed crowd inside a retail establishment prefers the innocuousness of Winnie The Pooh. Also, please try to curb the A.M. alcohol intake. Goddamn, you reeked like Mad Jack's whiskey flask! Finally, learn to control your snoring-while-standing breath volume. This can be accomplished in one of two ways: 1)yoga or 2)suicide. See you in 2015. Or not.

Sorry, Compulsion, for straying from the subject. You will get my full attention in the next paragraph, OK? Have y'all ever heard of Idlewild? They are also a band you guys probably influenced. I love their album The Remote Part, but the latter-day release with white lettering and red background was middling. Thus, it was placed back in the dusty bins near Billy Idol's lame-ass Whiplash Smile. If only Sid were still around to kick him in the gums... Besides Comforter, the other CD in my wheelbarrow was a 17-song collection from the Suburbs. Familiar with 'em? They were a pretty cool art-punk outfit from Minneapolis. Imagine Bryan Ferry collaborating with Wire. That's the sort of find where if I don't get it now, I won't see the damn thing for another ten years. Definitely worth $3.99 for "Love Is The Law" alone -- which was once featured on an episode of "Roseanne."

I'll work my way around the table from the left. Josephmary on lead vocals? Garret Lee on guitar and backing vocals? Sid Rainey on bass? Jan-Willem Alkema on drums? It's a pleasure to meet you all. I understand Compulsion were part of a UK movement called the "New Wave Of New Wave." Among your contemporaries in the fold were These Animal Men, S*M*A*S*H and Elastica. To be frank and a furter, I'm only cognizant of the latter act. However, if y'all were collectively responsible for nuking the likes of Happy Mondays, Pop Will Eat Itself, Jesus Jones, Ned's Atomic Dustbin and EMF (They're crumbelievable!), then the ales are on me. After 20 or so spins of Comforter on the not-quite-gentle cycle, I hereby declare Compulsion to be the Kings Of The NWONW! Elastica will remain the Queens, if that's OK with you. Musically, y'all conjure up many of the qualities that made millions of punkers and plebes alike fall in love with Nirvana. Passionate screams. Expert stick work. Bend-yer-brain lyrics. I also detect a quirky bent which tips its silly headgear to Surfer Rosa/Doolittle-era Pixies. Are y'all into field hockey players? There were rumors. Ride the tiger, River Euphrates! Staying in the Boston area, artful touches a la Mission Of Burma can often be felt in the song structure and phrasing. I'm sure you agree "Academy Fight Song" and "...Revolver" are two of the greatest anthems ever. If not, stay just as far from me... Just joking! Man, I tried fanning you dudes on Facebook, but my search for a page came up drier than yours truly at a pool party. Should I enter "Compulsion UK"? Or "Compulsion - band"? Or do you have an ironic listing such as "We Who Hate Compulsion"? Talk to me, brougham!

Speaking of the social network filled with folks you barely talk to in the real world, I posted the opening lines of "Rapejacket" on my wall ("Tom's in the bathroom/Trying to end his life/Sue's in the kitchen/Hiding all the knives"). The only person to reply was my bud Josh -- who assists me in the effort to rewrite the Trouser Press Record Guide. Of course, any album that commences with those lyrics is off to an awesome start. 'Tis a shame the guy in the song is suicidal and uncomfortable in his own skin. What kind of jacket is it? Leather? "Miami Vice"? Denim? "Thriller"? Am I crazy to think that "Delivery" could be a '90s take of the Sex Pistols' "Bodies"? I mean, child abandonment is really the same as abortion, right? When you bellow, "Time will never destroy your heart," let's hope the message applies to both mother AND child. Have you ever seen "Hoarders" on A & E? At least seven people I've encountered in my life could be on that show. The sponges-for-hands paranoiac in "Domestique," however, would be the star of an alternate program called "Bleachers" ("Disinfect/Every thing/Look at that!/It's in the kitchen!/It's in the bathroom!/My kids will get it!"). Were you on an REM kick during the session for "I Am John's Brain" ("Inventing enemies/Dying by degrees/Make the children weep/Millions are asleep/Elevated creep/Feel addiction seep/Harbour of the dead/Nestled in your head")? Just wondering. Count me as a fellow fan. Damn, Burma would love to claim "Oh My Fool Life" as a track on any of their recent recordings. You could loan the instrumental midsection to Sonic Youth, also. Favorite part: "I saw a robbery once. I was a witness/Somebody called the police. They said, 'Who did this?'/And I described them so well, in about a minute/The way they looked at me then, you'd think I did it". Lastly, did you really cause a disturbance on "Air-Raid For The Neighbours"? One generation's ear candy is another's discord ("You'll be safer in the cellar/Underground, my dear/We will come back in the morning/When we know it's clear"). I'm on both sides of the fence, actually. If it's rock, I'll say, "Turn it up!" If it's rap, I'll say, "Turn it off!"

Farewell, Kings!

Your pal,
-Gunther 8544


Tim Minneci said...
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DigMeOut said...

Listen to a podcast review of Comforter by Compulsion on Dig Me Out at, a weekly podcast dedicated to revisiting lost and forgotten rock of the 90s.