Agony Shorthand

Monday, December 19, 2005

On your short list of post-Velvets, pre-Ramones proto-punk treasures should be this outstanding collection from Cleveland’s MIRRORS, a band who’ve always been sort of looked upon as the stepchild third wheel to their 1973-75 Cle contemporaries ROCKET FROM THE TOMBS and the ELECTRIC EELS. Me, I think they blew away RFTT on all counts, but then I think that band, despite some obvious roots-and-branches genre-invention & a couple of great songs later vastly improved by Pere Ubu, are more than a bit "over-revered". The Mirrors, on the other hand, can’t skip by a review, including ones I’ve written (including the one I’m typing right now), without multiple mentions of their Velvet Underground fixation/worship. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! Taken primarily from a first album that was never completed, with some other requisite odds & ends (including their spazz-tastic 1975 artpunk 45 "Shirley/She Smiled Wild") from different stages of their brief career, "Hands In My Pockets" is the premier collection of their work, beating out the killer 10" that was 1/3rd of the "Those Were Different Times" 3x10" Cleveland comp and the lost 1989 LP reissue "Another Nail In The Coffin" that I didn't cotton to at the time, but which since has been reissued on CD as "Another Nail In The Remodeled Coffin" & which has not been purchased in this house as of yet.

The raw, chip-on-the-shoulder confidence this band exuded during a time in which their music was a decided minority art permeates this thing -- you get the feeling that they were pumping out these anthemic masterpieces knowing full well that they were the hottest thing in town. At times crashing hard rock ("We'll See", "Cindy and Kathy") & other times lovely "Sunday Morning"-esque floss ("How Could I"), the MIRRORS were never more than two steps removed from their own unique amalgamation of 1960s garage, Velvets-style propulsion and feedback-laden psychedelia. Jamie Klimek, who sang & composed the majority of the tracks, is a lost genius with a great set of pipes who ought to be getting his due far more than he has -- perhaps in our time, he will. His spooky 1973 soundscape experimentations "Fog-Shrouded Mist" and the outstanding "Violent Shadows/House On The Hill" pre-date work he did right after this band's demise & well into the 80s with THE STYRENES. Just a terrific collection through and through, and easily as necessary to your collection as the SIMPLY SAUCER, DEBRIS and GEORGE BRIGMAN discs. Man, I wonder if Chris Stigliano's ever heard this band? I think he might get a kick out of 'em!