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Happy Hosting, Happy New Year - Rob Ellen
Here is a treat for fans of the West Coast (San Francisco) late 1970s - 1980s punk scene. Music if it combined numerous elements it was all loud and performed in a hurry. With an odd ballad of sorts thrown in for good measure you have The Flesh Eaters. The last time the line up found here of lead vocalist and songwriter John D (Desjardins), John Doe (bass), Dave Alvin(electric guitar), long time Los Lobos act Steve Berlin (sax), D J Bonebrake (Mirimba, percussion) and Bill Bateman (drums) appeared together on an album was in 1981 (plus you have on five tracks, vocalist Julie Christensen). A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then; John Doe and Dave Alvin both have released a number of fine albums. While Berlin has done a ton of recordings with Los Lobos and other sessions too. Alvin likewise has been most active. Apart from his solo Americana singer-songwriter blues, folk rock and country records he has quite recently made two duo records with brother, Phil Alvin (they were also in the famed 1980s band, The Blasters). His latest release is with seasoned Texas singer-songwriter, and founder member of Texas band The Flatlanders, fellow singer-songwriter Jimmie Dale Gilmore. While I enjoy, greatly, most of Alvins’ work this association was one I won’t be placing among my all-time favourites.
John D’s lead vocals like the hard punching production took time to settle, even then they lay uneasy on more songs than not. He is best heard on My Life To Live and Miss Muetre (two of the album’s six remakes) that enjoys cutting lead vocals as sax, guitar and percussion are plentiful. Keeping them close company you have energy filled Cinderella and the funky sounding House Amid The Thicket and undoubtedly the best song on the record She’s Like Heroin To Me. Edging out in the process the dramatic punk flavours shrouding the infectious sounding Pony Dress.
If you like highly charged, raucous and aggressive playing you will find this in abundance as Alvin, Berlin, Bateman, Bonebrake and Doe get behind vocalists John D (who alone enjoys a strong cult following).
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