Weekly Wire
Tucson Weekly Rhythm & Views

MARCH 16, 1998: 


Blind Date With Destiny
Bizarre Planet

SWIPING ITS NAME from an obscure Kingsmen track, the Bent Scepters recreate this splendid mid-'60s garage and psychedelic musical landscape by endorsing diverse elRoom With , Ventures, and Question Mark and the Mysterians, and then consolidating them into its peerless brand of '90s paisley garage pop. This Iowa City quintet of nerdish-looking British Invasion zealots are not, thankfully, stuck in a time warp worshipping only the Zombies, Strawberry Alarm Clock, and the Summer Of Love. A rather subdued rendition of "You'll Be Sorry Now" by the '90s reigning champion of one-man garage productivity, Billy Childish, does give the Bent Scepters a bit of respectability, but the song lacks the unhinged basement-bred muscle of Childish. The primary musical strength of the Bent Scepters centers around Pat White, and his vibrant Farfisa organ on the Them-sounding "Open Up Your Mind" and Bevis Frond cover, "Chinese Burn." Regrettably, the Scepters lack the ferocity incited by the likes of current garage lynchpins the Makers, Headcoats and Fiends. The fresh-scrubbed Scepters would probably feel more at ease playing at a friend's wedding or bar mitzvah--not in front of a biker bar packed full of inebriated serial killers. At times, they do manage to get a little bloodied, and wallow in the sonic sludge of "Eagle Has Landau" and the rapid-fire, 90-second guitar regimen "Gassed" to prove they're not just educated wimps.

--Ron Bally


For Your Sweet Love/Sings For You
Ace Records

THIS PRE-GARDEN Party stuff is what Nelson put out before Dylan inspired top-drawer Nelson albums like Rudy The Fifth. There's a TV movie worth making regarding Rick's subservient relationship to overbearing dad Ozzie, who insisted that his son record big-band fare like "Fools Rush In," which, to his credit, Nelson turned into a version that will be remembered long after the original is forgotten. Though Nelson never received due credit for his roll in introducing rockabilly to the teenybopper crowd, this two-fer package of 1963 releases portrays Nelson's move from Bobby Darin terrain into Elvis country, using Presley's guitarist James Burton. This is early, formative-years, hard-to-find stuff that hasn't been available for a long time, making this import quite a catch.

--Dave McElfresh


American Teenage Rock 'n' Roll Machine
Lookout Records

AFTER THEIR INCOMPARABLE debut album, the Donnas have released a second longplayer to be cranked up in the spirit of the Runaways and Nikki and the Corvettes. Their songs still have the Ramones' flavor ("Gimme My Radio") but a Joan Jett influence rings in songs like "Rock 'n' Roll Machine" and the red-hot "Leather on Leather."

Juvenile delinquency is on the rampage, and these curfew breakers are up for anything that doesn't keep 'em down. The Donnas get the boys' tongues a-waggin' with lyrics like: I know about gettin' it on/ And I want a little piece of you/ I'm thinkin' 'bout taking a bite/ If you know what I mean. They want Saturday-night party action, rock and roll and cheeba! It's unclear who actually pens the Donnas' songs, whether it's the girls or their "manager," ex-Supercharger Darrin Raffaelli--who seems to be the thread running through most worthwhile, present-day San Francisco bands. Regardless, the history of rock music is filled with songwriter-performer combinations that have produced countless monumental songs. The Beatles and the Rolling Stones are down in the books as the "inventors" of rock and roll, and they made their scene by covering Larry Williams and Slim Harpo tunes. You could write the Donnas off as just a spectacle of teenage girls in tight pants, but their unfailing anthems and the fact that they know how to play warrants the commotion they've been stirring.

--Fen Hsiao

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