Agony Shorthand

Friday, April 01, 2005

Long overdue reissue CD from Wisconsin's TAR BABIES, who, when they really let it rip ("Confusion", "Be Humble" and especially "Native Son") were one of the most explosive and berzerk American hardcore bands of the early 80s. Lying semi-latent during that time, as this packed-with-extras CD makes abundantly clear, was a real downer white funk/noise vibe that was probably closer to "no wave" than anything else. If you can imagine that vibe somehow coexisting with raw, loud, Black Flag-intensity hardcore, well, here it is. Guitarist Bucky Pope calls it a "weird funk-rock hybrid that we coasted on the rest of our career", and I'd throw the emphasis on weird, at least during their 1983-84 incarnation. Anyhow, it's great to see those first two EPs out & about again. Seriously, the sucker punch of their blink-you-missed "fast" songs from "Face The Music" are as crazed and aggro as anything this side of the first DIE KREUZEN LP. Never felt that the Tar Babies got their due for those two records, perhaps because 99% of any self-described punks from that era would have created another half-dozen Germs burns during the aforementioned mid-tempo, weirdo spazz/riff artcore the band were pushing on most tracks.

This CD's packed with extras, and is essentially a full discography of everything they did up to signing with SST and releasing the very worthy "Fried Milk" LP in 1986. And though there's a warning to audiophiles right there on the package, man, the 45rpm EPs themselves sound hotter than this 2005 digital age reproduction does. Hunh. Couldn't Roy Thomas Baker or Jim Steinman have been brought in for some clean-up? Maybe it just wasn't in label Lexicon Devil's budget this time. I'm giving it the "strong buy" recommendation anyway -- you need to hear one of the dozen or two hardcore bands who really did anything cool & original with that very limiting format. If you don't slam your ass off during "Confusion", I have it on good word the label will provide a full refund.