Friday, March 26, 2010

The Suicide Commandos - Make A Record (Blank, 1978)

Common names are often shared by notable figures, but it's usually obvious which person is more known by the Average Joe. For example, John Smith was one of the Jamestown settlement's founders in 1607. Most folks know that his head was saved on the chopping block by Pocahontas, but are you aware it was Smith who gave the New England region its name? In the same part of the United States 375 years later, John Smith, a kicker for the NFL's Patriots, scored the only points in a 3-0 victory over the Miami Dolphins as time expired. The contest would later be coined the Snowplow Game. OK, John Smith was an easy pick. Hell, it's used on samples of credit cards. What about a handle like Adrian Peterson? Oddly, the APs to whom I'm referring are employed by the National Football League and play similar positions. The one starting for the Minnesota Vikings is a Pro Bowl running back who holds the single-game record for rushing yards (296). On the Chicago Bears, AP might as well be in the WPP. Switching sports, Chris Osgood has hoisted the Stanley Cup three times as an ace goaltender for the Detroit Red Wings. Back to Minneapolis, Chris Osgood is held in high regard as a founding father of that city's punk rock history. Feel sorry for Osgood, because his band's tag is also upstaged. Suicide Commando, AKA Johan Von Roy, is an electro-industrial musician from Belgium with 5,245 fans on Facebook. Headed by CO, The Suicide Commandos have 106 FBers singing their praises.

Make it 107. Joined by Steve Almaas (bass/vocals) and Dave Ahl (drums/vocals), Chris Osgood (guitar/vocals) put forth two singles ("Monster Au-Go-Go" and "Match/Mismatch") in 1976. The following year, SC recorded Make A Record's fifteen tracks at Sound 80 Studios in Minneapolis. Memorable gigs at the hometown Longhorn Bar led to several cross-country tours. A fruitful friendship with Pere Ubu blossomed for SC in January 1978, when the newly constructed Blank Records released both bands' debut albums simultaneously. If this ain't an art-punk's wet dream, call me Colin Newman with a towel.

Speaking of Wire, that UK band's 1977 masterwork is a towering template for Make A Record. Indeed, SC's song lengths (often under two minutes), jittery vocals, and jagged musicianship tap heavily on the fabric. Though Minutemen and Urinals backers would be quick to debate, Make A Record is arguably the best salute of Pink Flag that's been done by an American band. Please don't think I'm calling SC a tribute act, though. Chris Osgood's massive riffing suggests a duel between Chuck Berry and Johnny Ramone on a stage blanketed in nerve gas. Also, a sonic kinship with fellow Midwesterners Devo and the aforementioned Pere Ubu keeps SC's passport tucked away in Ahl's drum case.

DA's sticks pound the snare, but your previously distant roommate Charisse is busy "Attacking The Beat." Because you've never seen her moving in a club before, the vision of the "Little Petite One" in a short skirt compels you to join the lovely Latina on the floor. Dancing in the dark? On the ceiling? For you, Charisse, I'd feign fandom of Bjork and Lionel Richie. To impress the lady, you glue the clippings of your gray hair onto your face. Talking in an accent similar to the man from the Dos Equis adverts, you tell Charisse about the thirst for her tongue in your mouth. Unfortunately, she bites off your nose and spits it into a beer glass. Discussing reattachment surgery with "Mr. Dr.", he lets you live. Why? So you can pay the bill. Sense of smell regained, you exit the love nest and find the wispy woman at the stove tackling tofu, tuna, and taco sauce. The lunch shows Charisse cares a lot, but you think she's "Semi-Smart." More proof of a sliced IQ is given, when "She" tries to convince you that one of The Monkees is named Peter Dork. Charisse's sweet love (juice) offsets her lack of music trivia, so you go back to kissing her (lips). The morning after, she leaves you with nothing but a plate of dirt. It's better than the tofu taco salad, for sure. Still, you miss the one who's done you wrong and wonder if Charisse has heard this song. Walking away from the abandonment, you see a thing that makes you frown. It is Charisse's nightgown. Neither black nor brown, the memory of her makes you drown. You're left with no choice but to "Burn It Down." That goes double for the apartment. Luckily, the fire station is across the street.

The Suicide Commandos. A band by any similar name...

-Gunther 8544

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