Friday, April 6, 2018

Masters of Reality / Raging Slab

Sunrise On The Sufferbus (Chrysalis)
Dynamite Monster Boogie Concert (Def American)
Melody Maker, 1992

by Simon Reynolds

So many bands today like to pretend that punk never died; I
can't see how this stance is somehow less regressive than bands who
pretend punk never happened. At the very least, you can't accuse
Masters Of Reality and Raging Slab of opportunism: they plonked
themselves in the boogie zone long before the likes of Black Crowes
and Alice In Chains made such revisionism profitable.

Defiantly out-of-time, Masters Of Reality are consummate blues
rock classicists. On songs like "She Got Me" and "J.B.  Witchdance"
their jive'n'roll ploughs an irresistible furrow midway between
Sabbath and Cream.  Their wondrous blend of nimble and ponderous owes
a lot to veteran Cream sticksman Ginger Baker's crisp, exquisitely
weighted drumming. "Ants In The Kitchen" and "Tilt-A-Whirl" have the
sculptural, slow-mo quality of ZZ Top at their weirdest: a
parodoxical fusion of bulk and grace, like a balletic hippo.  But
Masters Of Reality also do gorgeous, plaintive ballads, like the
breathless, breathtaking devotional "Jody Sings". My personal fave is
the slow-burning groove of "T.U.S.A.", on which Ginger Cockney-drawls
a heart-felt protest against the Yanks' inability to make a decent
cuppa. And he's spot-on: they bring you a teabag and a pot of warm
water, "but boiling it isn't/so tea you have not." His expatriate's
lament ("we need tea/to set us free") certainly speaks to me.

Raging Slab are as turgid and turbulent as their name promises.
Like Masters, they were rehabilitating boogie long before it was
fashionable or fiscally viable: their debut "Assmaster" (what a
title!) came out in '87.  Apparently, they're former art-punks who
turned themselves into white trash in the ultimate downwardly mobile
manoevure.  Now under Rick Rubin's tutelage, they offer Dynamite
Monster Boogie Concert, a steaming sludge-fest of Southern Rock:
crankin' riffs, butt-quaking bass, overwraught vocals, and cheesy-
but-scorching "Freebird"-style bottleneck geee-tar.

Skynyrd and ZZ Top are their obvious ancestors, and like those
bands, Slab are funky, in the original gamey body odour sense of the
word: Dynamite is crammed with stinky grooves. Once again, their
bulbous bombast seems no more retrogressive to me than the New Wave
of, say, Radiohead. And on the stand-out "Ain't Ugly None", they take
boogie into the future, using the studio to create an ambient
frightmare of feedback, then grinding out the most gruelling,
torsion-inducing riffage I've heard in many a long year.  Yumyum.


side note: from Record Collection Rock, published as The Perils of Loving Old Records, in the New York Times

"....On a more playful level, there's Monster Magnet
and White Zombie's nouveau biker rock (Steppenwolf, Blue
Cheer), or Raging Slab's resurrection of Southern rock
(Lynyrd Skynyrd, Black Oak Arkansas).  These bands'
revivalism is filtered through tongue-in-cheek humour, as in
the title of Raging Slab's latest album "Dynamite Monster
Boogie Concert", and its press kit, which contained
everything you'd need to attend an early 70's arena show: a
bottle of Thunderbird, a paper bag and a tube of glue, and a
lighter to hold up during the ballads."  

1 comment:

Kevin Quinn said...

Great shout on 'T.U.S.A', proper evocation of the cultural differences between 'Us'. Ta for reminding me of it