I've been listening to the Ill Band's full length since I picked it up many weeks ago now at their Moon II show, but these early singles Johnny had at the show are equally as good, with a little bit more of a raw sound, some messing around with vocal effects...the origin story of that crisp, minimal masterpiece that is Ask all the Doctors.
On A-Side's "The Doctor" Johnny is almost poking fun at himself on this one, delivering the vocal in the exact opposite of how I'm used to him sounding on the big record...rocking out, almost screamy metal, some sort of blues style, cutting himself up. The bleating vocals, of this manic, spaz doctor, and when the guitar distortion lines up with these howls of vocal, it's pretty great, still minimal as anything and all I keep hearing is a Devo new wave sound in everything, but I think that's just me. The strumming here even is off at one point, a little slip of the pick in this take...and they left it there! Hell yes, it all gets a little out of line, and says nothing about the musicanship. These are conscious choices, like that intro to "new Years Eve" on the full length.
"Makes Them Feel Good" gets a little country with a bendy, almost slide electric, lyrically, it's JIB perfection:
Don't listen to the people that you live withbecause, you need to do whatever makes you feel good... we've all got our own things, some people like to write about 7inches because it makes them feel good. Exactly.
It's everything that's great about the Dead Milkmen why I'm a little guilty of not revisiting Big Lizard in my backyard enough, what am I too cool for that album now? Hell no! They're making clever simple points that aren't too jokey, but are really specific...that's a fine line, and they nail it every time. Bitchin Camaro?
That modern art over there don't hate it, I don't get it either, but the guy that made it really cares about it, and you don't have to try to understand it. It won't make you stupider. But this is as catchy as a line dance, they've got the music part completely covered.
B-Side's "Television personality" is a spazzy track with a see/saw manic rhythm, and again, I can't hear anything but those new wave influences, like the Feelies, not going as pop as Talking Heads or anything, but it's that goofy messed up robot style. Malfunction, malfunction. Messing with the vocal more on this one, he's got a lot of range for being so deceptively straightforward.
The last one up, "Rocketship" is the most rockingest interlocking guitar melody about leaving on a rocket ship, that's it, and that's great.
We had better rocket ships in the '80s.
Just like "It's The Future" track on the full length, this is another lament about technology. I don't think we can really blame scientists...the future with no diseases and free energy and holograms just never seems any closer. It feels like the future is just going to be exactly the same as it is now with different clothes and celebrities, that's basically it. Still The Johnny Ill Band makes it sound pretty fun, like 'hey lets get excited about this again'. Nasa's gone? That's all I used to dream about as a kind...what's going to happen when you take that away? The children should listen to the Ill Band...THIS is what rockets were like.
Very proper, exact timing notes on the sleeve, 4 songs pressed onto black vinyl, with an inner screened red sleeve, machine stamped with numbers from Kaboodle via X! distro.
Have a listen to this interview with Johnny and the Ill Band, the sexagon is revealed, these early singles are discussed, pete talks about his organ sound, and Detroit. 19min.