Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Critical Mass on Last Laugh Records

Harry sent this one in, one of those great unmissable essential reissues on his Last Laugh imprint, this one from a band I'm just looking up now, Critical Mass, who look to be Florida's own first punk band. Led by Mick Fazz, they recorded this one in 1978...they've since reunited in '97 and seem to still be playing the occasional show.

These were a couple of demos that these guys put together after definitely hearing a lot of the Sex pistols and of course The Ramones. On the A-Side's, "Silver Screen" they've got that snotty, sleazy belligerent sound in heavy effect. A bluesy guitar two chord riff, ramped up and distorted to the edge of putting the treble in the red. After seeing that documentary about Deep Throat recently, I wonder if these lyrics weren't inspired by Linda Lovelace, which must have been happing down there around the same time...this story about the guy behind the scenes plotting to get his revenge after being ignored himself. Nice use of some kind of TV sample in the beginning, playing real low in the background. This has a big time glam slant, you can hear a little bit of Bowie glitter at work, and even Mick's vampiric rolling of the r's in "all I'm gonna get is an autogggraph" is a confident sound, these guys knew exactly what they wanted to pull off and the B-Side gets even better.

"No One left to Blame" expands on that sleazy nasal story song with a real combination of a scuzzy Chuck Berry rock and the attitude of some of their English contemporaries, almost hitting that "The problem is YOU' pistols melody, half singing into a sneer...the guitars are coming off stronger here, insane double fill percussion, way more competent then they should be going for this trashy sound. They go even further with this guitar break, syncing together in a prog inspired harmonic math riff, only to drop it a few seconds later for a wailing solo, and back to that punk rhythm guitar. When it comes together hitting on that same downbeat it's a blast of arena rock. Impressive, just as much credit should go to Harry for dusting this off, because as much as I love the seven inch, I can't bring myself to spend hundreds of dollars on an old punk single, because I will inevitably scratch it or a cat will puke on it, but $6? The price of one lousy beer? That I can swing.

As always, faithfully recreated in a plain white paper sleeve the newly retooled Last Laugh site says:

Formed in the early 70's in Miami, Florida, Critical Mass brandishes their version of melodic power pop from roots ranging from The Sex Pistols, The Ramones, The Stranglers to The Beatles and Cheap Trick. The band's first self produced demo, a two song 45 of "Silver Screen" backed with "No One Left To Blame" released in 1978, has become a sought after example of Florida's first punk band. Underground punk aficionados craving rare unheard late 70's punk rock can find copies on eBay commanding hundreds of dollars. Ryan Richardson of calls it a "swamplands gem"...

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