Agony Shorthand

Wednesday, February 05, 2003
MONOSHOCK GETS THEIR, this is some tribute to the 1995 2xLP from San Francisco Bay Area band MONOSHOCK from none other than Julian Cope on his Head Heritage site. To wit, Mr. Cope throws around some pretty big names (Pere Ubu, Neon Boys, Electric Eels, Chrome) in describing what is definitely a heavy, HEAVY set of discs:

"WALK TO THE FIRE is a barbarian classic (what an oxymoron, ya moron!) that brings a smile to your face and sway to your hips and a lump to your dong from the moment you put it on. This record is as life-affirming as a noisy early morning fart on London’s rush hour Tube; rasping, stinky and utterly impossible to ignore – indeed, WALK TO THE FIRE is “enhanced by a very poor and unclean production job”, as its main protagonist once wrote of someone else".

I was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to put out this band's first 7" ("Primitive Zippo") back in 1994, and to have watched them go from a 1988-89 Isla Vista, CA weekend party band (albeit the sort of party band that worshipped the Stooges and Black Flag) to the trio that released this record/CD. I have long felt that all the wonderful things that Mr. Cope ascribes to Monoshock here did, in fact, HAVE THE POTENTIAL to be realized, given the talents involved, and often were realized in a live context -- but not on "Walk To The Fire". Grady Runyan is simply a FEROCIOUS guitar player, and Monoshock had all the right influences, ideas, attitudes, drugs, whatever, to be a band that people followed religiously. But I feel that outside of a few killer tracks, this particular record falls short of "classic" status by a mile. It always seemed like Monoshock had a protective self-sabotaging mechanism in place that made it so that the second Monoshock received any attention (like from a booker, say), they felt the need to kick the unapproachability and the musical dissonance up a notch. Thus despite being a wild, unpredictable, feedback-drenched band -- who really DID sound like Crime and Pere Ubu and even added a few amazing new chops of their own -- very few people in Oakland/San Francisco even saw or appreciated them when they were around. The band seemed to like it that way, but who knows. The record collectors sure loved them, and so does Julian Cope. Maybe you will, too -- there are samples available here.