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Tucson Weekly Rhythm and Views

JUNE 21, 1999: 

Gaza Strippers Laced Candy (Man's Ruin)

FORMER DIDJITS LEADER and one-time member of the Supersuckers, Rick Sims is one monster guitar player. On Laced Candy, the debut effort from his latest incarnation of sharp-dressed outcasts, he materializes as the snot-nosed punk offspring of '70s guitar gods--Ronnie Montrose and Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick locked in hand-to-hand combat in the middle of a minefield.

Sims throttles his six-string weapon with speedy metallic leads and savage punk rock-heavy power chords worthy of histrionic guitar exhibition in an arena-rock show circa 1976. Even Ace Frehley couldn't help loving this smart-aleck show-off. With the Gaza Strippers, Sims has chucked out the full-scale three-chord punk molestation of the Didjits/Supersuckers in favor of nitro-fueled '70s rock riffs that Nugent, AC/DC and Motorhead keep regurgitating to perfection.

But make no mistake about it; this is no nostalgic bell-bottoms and platform shoes trip down a self-indulgent path paved by Frampton's overrated "Comes Alive" gimcrack. Sims would skin the balding duffer alive if they were locked in the same studio exchanging guitar pointers. Luckily, he hasn't abandoned his devilishly funny lyrical banter. His shrieking high-pitched vocals provide the perfect foil to tasteless and witty words abdicating power and catastrophe via the imagination of a 10-year-old boy's bloody Gameboy conquests.

"Automat," "Brainwasher" and "Missile Command" may not perceive Sims as older and wiser, but downright nastier and more violent is for certain. A sizzling off-the-cuff version of "The Flower Pot Man" by Love and Rockets caps off the delirious lunacy.

--Ron Bally

FUGAZI Instrument (Dischord)

FUGAZI USED TO write songs--beautifully crafted, rocking, flowing, innovative, anthemic songs which made them semi-famous and markedly molded the sound of post-punk. Unfortunately, after a spate of albums of declining quality, it is now official--Fugazi has run out of ideas. Instrument, which is the soundtrack to a film of the same name, is a record of demos, experimental clips and general noodling, which sounds overall like the band was in the studio, bored, and had some money to spend. Fugazi has some pretty terrific parts, but the band cannot or will not incorporate the parts into coherent songs. They seem content to come up with a riff and expand it into a song, or slap two totally incongruous riffs together. While their work aspires to magnificence and all of the elements are there, somehow it just doesn't come together. In all fairness, after over a decade, a band is more than justified to experiment with its sound. It's just unfortunate they chose the route they did. But make no mistake--Fugazi's noodling is better than most bands' best work. However, much like a gifted child who has not lived up to his potential, the tragedy here is that Fugazi has shied away from its brilliance.

--Jack Vaughn

ROLLING STONES Liver Than You'll Ever Be 30th Anniversary Edition (Turd On The Run)

PARALLELING THE REISSUE activity of major labels, the collectors' market is cleaning up the master tapes of vintage live albums and offering new CD editions--this one is even a gold disc and adds bonus tracks plus a booklet detailing the record's origins.

One of the most legendary artifacts ever was Liver Than You'll Ever Be, recorded from the audience in '69 at the Oakland Coliseum. The show was so primal, so evil, so pure unadulterated Stones that it earned a rave review in Rolling Stone and forced Decca to release Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out in an inferior, too-late attempt to co-opt the bootleg's notoriety. Electric workouts here like "Sympathy For The Devil," "Live With Me," "Gimme Shelter" and "Stray Cat Blues" are, well, electrifying. Don't miss the midset Jagger/Richards acoustic blues showcase for "Prodigal Son" and "You've Gotta Move," and how the pair segues back into a full-band "Love In Vain."

Welcome To New York (The Swingin' Pig)

Welcome To New York, from the '72 Madison Square Garden show, doesn't add bonus tracks, although the reproduction of William Stout's original LP artwork is a nice touch. And while this soundboard recording is not as exciting as the '69 material--by now the Stones were settling into a comfortable, if not quite yet complacent, groove--tunes like "You Can't Always Get What You Want" (nice horn intro) and "Sweet Virginia" (jaunty acoustic guitar, drum, piano and sax interplay) are quite tasty. And Mick Jagger would never again sound as swaggeringly cool as he did on this, the Exile On Main Street tour.

--Fred Mills

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