Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Star Spangles- Bazooka!!! (Capitol, 2003)

More than baseball, hot dogs and apple pie combined, procrastination is America's favorite pastime. Which is the reason why this review wasn't submitted to Dirty Sheets in time for a themed piece on Independence Day. On July 4, 2011, my lovable laughing stocks from Crab Town were defeathered by the Texas Rangers sans Cordell Walker, a Ball Park frank was replaced by a Chicken BLT with sweet potato fries at Ruby Tuesday and the usual sweet treat was benched in favor of several pieces of Ferrero Rocher candy. The digital vinyl spun on my Facecrack wall didn't necessarily uphold the Stars 'N' Stripes tradition, either. Kate Smith, Lee Greenwood and Bruce Springsteen? Those old standbys might've been on your flag-draped granpappy's phonograph, but I chose to blow out the candles on Old Glory's birthday cake with some lesser-heard gems that smear the same shades of red, white and blue frosting. If Lady Liberty holding her flaming torch symbolizes freedom, then her NYC homeboys The Dictators are emblematic of the freedom to rock 'n' roll. Name a band from China or Cuba. I sure as hell can't. Their version of "America The Beautiful" (from the Every Day Is Saturday odds 'n' ends collection) expresses its loyalty with brash vocals, loud guitars and skipped stanzas. At a shade under three minutes, it's also a tribute to the short attention spans of our nation's citizens. Salute! Formed on a military base in Europe, America proffered an overseas take on "California rock" thousands of miles away from The Golden State. Still, "Sandman" is "Top Gun" before Tom Cruise. Prominent mentions of aircraft ("All the planes have been grounded") and alcohol ("We ain't had no time to drink that beer") would be welcome in any at-ease watering hole from Oceana to Oceanside. American Heartbreak paid lip service to Finnish transplants Hanoi Rocks with a cool reading of "Rebel On The Run." Could you imagine Michael Monroe and the boys moving to North Korea instead of Los Angeles and releasing album after album of top-shelf glam rock? It's a good example of the "Great American Melting Pot" that's versed in the "Schoolhouse Rock" bit. Lastly, I selected another Noo Yawk group who might be one of the few to have graced the stages of Chicho's in Virginia Beach (on 9/10/01 -- think about that date for a minute) and the Ed Sullivan Theater.

I don't know what David Letterman does with all the CDs he gets from musical guests on his talk show, but I'd like to think The Star Spangles' Bazooka!!! was the soundtrack to more than one backstage soiree with several fresh-faced CBS interns. The juxtaposition of Johnny Thunders-like sleaze with Paul Westerberg's corn-fed sensibilities suggests that the Indiana-raised host kindly asked his tryster for permission to drop the Worldwide Pants. Faulty wiring is the thread to many a relationship. Via a measure to curb arson-laced arguments, "Which Of The Two Of Us Is Gonna Burn This House Down?" (Ain't that a mouthful, Dave?) is up to code with the Dalmatians and their handlers ("Because the best thing to do for fire prevention week/Is if me and you just not speak"). Moving to a different breed of dog, track 8's opening lines flame like Michael Bolton driving a jacked NYC ladder truck in reverse ("If we can't be lovers/We can't be friends"). Later lyrics are sure to strangle the poodle with a hose ("Maybe I'll call you if I need a meal/Maybe I'll ball you if I need a cheap steal"). Fueled by a Steve Jones-style guitar octane, "I Don't Wanna Be Crazy Anymore" pays at the pumps and confesses on a cat-clawed couch ("I'm public enemy in my hometown/Parents tell their kids not to say my name out loud"). Prescribed medications in effect, "The Party" favors a less toxic approach to having a good time ("Fill the beer can with Coca-Cola/Makes you feel like a rock 'n' roller"). In the right frame of mind to meet a possible better half, perhaps the appreciative "Angela" will be the one you get to know away from the stage ("She's got my posters up on the wall/She used a box of tacks to make sure it just don't fall/And when I stare into that space/I will always see her face").

Stay tuned for my Labor Day story. It should be ready by Halloween. Or Thanksgiving. Or Christmas.

-Gunther 8544

9 comments:

Shawn Abnoxious said...

Wow. Those samplings of lyrics are the sort that tell me that I aint alone... That is all ok... I must check this band out.

Gunny, i didnt tell you how I spent the 4th...

Praying for rain. I prayed for rain to ruin everyones fireworks. Blargh!

Rutledge said...

This album is on my official list of the ten greatest albums of the '00s. For now I'll put it at #6.

gunther said...

My favorite line is the beer/Coke one.

#6, huh? That's a solid ranking.

Shawn Abnoxious said...

Its like this band builds songs from sollid lines bit by bit... reminds me of how THE PAGANS songs are structured.... BLACK FLAG, to me, seem to build songs on broader concepts... JOY DIVISION build songs as allegory and metaphor... THE BUZZCOCKS do all of the above... is this STAR SPANGLES pretty easy to find?

gunther said...

Check any used bin. That's where I found my $1.99 copy!

Rutledge said...

Yeah, it was released on a major and was expected to be a massive release since "garage rock" had become the next big thing....so there have to be THOUSANDS of promo copies floating around. I'm sure Dave Letterman swapped his for a used copy of the Zero Boys' "Vicious Circle".

gunther said...

New or used, I've never seen their 2nd album anywhere. I'm sure Shake It has at least four copies of Bazooka!!!, Shawn. Didn't mention it in the review, but the songs were recorded at Steve Baise's then-studio in Chesapeake. Another Virginia connection to rock 'n' roll.

Rutledge said...

Interesting that you can't even find the songs from the second album on youtube. How many copies did they press? 10?

gunther said...

Maybe not even that many.