Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Black Beauties - Catch A Beat (Full Breach Kicks, 2006)

Small-time hustler Joe May was having a rough patch. He had accumulated a modest fortune selling defective watches and duck-shaped cookie jars to unsuspecting Chicagoans, but an extended hospital stay put a cold cap on his commissions. Checking up on old affairs with an in-the-know bartender, Joe parked himself on a ripped stool long enough for a whiskey shot/beer chaser combo. "Go fuck yourself!" he mumbled to one in particular. When Joe returned to his quaint apartment, there was an unfamiliar air about the place. Hearing a woman's voice in the shower, he slowly stepped into the bathroom and carefully peeled back the curtain. Joe's introduction to the pretty, naked brunette was made in the form of several hard slaps across his cheek. Profusely apologetic, he explained to the young mother that the apartment had been his residence for over twenty years. The landlord assumed Joe had passed away or skipped town, thus the reason for the place's current occupants. With nowhere else for the former tenant to go, the woman agreed to let him rent a room for $100 per week. Joe was grateful for the arrangement, but the five bills in his wallet needed some fast company. Contacting an ex-supplier, he begged the intimidating gentlemen for products to move: watches, TVs, stereos, etc. By this point, Joe was considered dead weight to the operation. Instead of favored electronic items, a corn-fed, 50-pound lamb shank imported from New Zealand was placed in the desperate man's hands. "WHAT THE FUCK AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THIS?" Joe bellowed. "It practically sells itself," said the leader of the laughing trio. "Now, get out of here!" Needless to say, every restaurant manager, grocery clerk, convenience store cashier and dishwasher had absolutely no use for the bloody, bulky animal part. Most were violently adamant with their refusals. Feeling the full brunt from sub-freezing temperatures in the Windy City's air, Joe's final pitch was made to an outfit not normally in the business of buying meat slabs: the offices of Full Breach Kicks record label on N. California Ave.

Once inside the cramped quarters, several interesting pieces caught his eye as potential trades for the pulled portion. A "gold"-plated disc from The Electric Kisses was nicely framed ... and autographed by Mike Frame! Two "Grammy" statuettes signified "wins" for 2005's Album and Song of the Year -- Chaz Matthews' Amazing Graceless and his "Beautiful," respectively. An embossed, drug paraphernalia kit flashed the logo of California trash-punk legends The Joneses -- whose back catalog had garnered a deluxe reissue treatment on FBK -- with a personal inscription from bandleader Jeff Drake. Twelve labeled glass bottles contained sugar-sweetened cola specifically manufactured for The Soda Pop Kids' Teen Bop Dream release party. Paired with the initial presentation's failure of any cash exchanging fists, Joe's suggested swaps for the shank were politely turned down. FBK countered with an offer of a hot-shit local act's latest wax and a bunch of band stickers. Despite grumblings of an uneven tit-for-tat, the remedial Zig Ziglar couldn't imagine walking out the door with added poundage. Resigned to the short end of the selling stick, Joe responded in a loud and direct fashion: "WELL, LET'S HEAR THE GODDAMN RECORD!"

You could've put The Joneses' handle on The Black Beauties' Catch A Beat, and many rock 'n' roll junkies would've spiked the needle into its grooves without asking about the original dealer. David Jo/J.Drake-ish vocals injected with more snot than a nurse's office filled with fifty sniffling noses. Guitars that bend like a riff competition between Chuck Berry's The Great Twenty-Eight and Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers' L.A.M.F. Booze-informed lyrics mixed with a swizzle stick of playful raunch and pointed concern. "PCP To Me" is the closest TBB come to a mirror reflection of The Joneses' "Pill Box," revealing a habit tougher to kick than any narcotic ("I shoot that girl right into my brain/This addiction I can't explain/In the alley or on the subway/I gotta have her every day"). Jonesing (HA!) for pre-gig jams en route to the N.Y. Dolls or Jayne County date downtown? Put on your tight pants, splash Hai Karate liberally, drink copious cups of wine and crank out "Action Party" stat. Be careful when taking your turn in an all-night game of "Fussin' And Fightin'." You might have to abandon the wrinkled comfort of Gain-scented sheets and greet the cloudy morning with a broken heart to go with your busted brain. Add up the numbers representing transportation devices in "Taken For A Ride," and you have 131 ways how to be a secret admirer ... or stalker ("Wonder if she's goin' ta work/Wonder if she's goin' ta school/I wonder if she looks at me/And thinks I'm a fool").

Back to the transaction, this "rock 'n' roll shit" didn't touch the haggler's heart like beloved Puccini albums he'd spun in more fruitful times. Lamb in arms, Joe headed for the exit and paced towards The Mutiny. He thought gyros would be an excellent addition to their menu.

-Gunther 8544