The Cream of the Crust
by General Smith, USMC
OK, listen up people!
emember the satanic red velvet get up that Jagger wore in Rock N' Roll
Circus? From Elvis' light blue jump suit and The Kinks S&M publicity
shot to The Velvet Underground's S&M publicity shot, Rock N' Roll has
always been about costume and a kind of fantastic elitism which everyone
secretly wishes they could capture. In 1998 with our Vietnam-esque music
industry, where all the bands dress exactly alike, where all the
resources are spread into a million little self-referential experiments
and spearheaded by knuckleheads like Sonic Youth, The General is very
angry. Of all the garbage spewed by undisciplined, A&R morons across
this great USA, The General was able to cull a couple of venerable
products which are truly deserving of commendation.
Upper Crust: "Decline and Fall of the Upper Crust" (Emperor Norton)
lawless and disciplined, beautifully dressed in velvet knickers, frilly
white shirts and bright, shiny buckled shoes, the Upper Crust are
operating at a level so far above most bands that they deserve The
General's special award for outstanding achievement in a world where
mediocrity is praised and genius regularly marginalized. On their second
album, The Upper Crust have created their own elite universe replete
with monstrous kick-ass guitar riffage and they actually write songs and
develop thematic content. Thank you Lord Jesus for sending us an album
without a single song about personal relationships, black nail polish,
self-loathing or whiny, tiny girls who look like rock stars but play
hippie folk music (e.g. most of the other records made in Boston
nowadays). Personal favorites include "Cream of the Crust," which spins
an elaborate John Donne-like parallel between excellence and love jism,
and "Vulgar Tongue." The intelligence and creativity behind this band is
pretty awesome so The General advises "progressive," "experimental," and
"alternative" types to avoid this at all costs. Believe me, you will
hate this record as it represents everything you seek to abstract and
diffuse. Unfairly, the band is mistaken for novelty: you won't see many
reviews of Upper Crust records, of that I'm sure. 99% of so-called rock
critics don't have the education or artistic background to understand
"...self-loathing or whiny, tiny girls who look like rock stars but play
hippie folk music..."
Hear the Upper Crust
The Donnas: "American Teenage Rock N' Roll Machine" (Lookout!)
hough highly derivative, and mysterious songwriter-wise, The General
approves highly of teenage girls forming bands to play Rock N' Roll.
These kids sure must stand out in their high school. Most teenagers
I know have enough cloth in one pant leg to outfit the entire Donnas
group for a year. The group is in fact so damn cool looking and sounding
that The General took a special shore-leave to NYC and enjoyed the girls
live, raw and in the flesh! Yes, the girls play very well live and Donna
R. really smokes on guitar. Enough gushing, The General must now regain
some composure. On this album all the songs are really pretty great. Any
band that writes lyrics including The General's "magic seven" Rock N'
Roll images is by definition going to give a rise in the ranks: (Action,
Satisfaction, Shake, Leather, Wanna, Machine, Radio). The Donnas cover
all the bases and sound very sincere and passionate about it. I just
can't figure out how these teenagers can be so friggin' hip, (could
there be an older gentleman behind the curtain?) it's the 90's for God's
sake!! I bet these chicks sit up and just giggle all night about how
their stupid classmates are into "electronica" and "ska" or some other
lame sub-genre spew from that mighty fountainhead of Rock N' Roll. It
must be a lot of fun to be in a band like The Donnas.
Hear the Donnas
The General's 10 South Pacific desert island discs for the month:
- The Rolling Stones "Exile On Main Street"
- The Kinks "Village Green Preservation Society"
- The Kinks "Something Else"
- The Botswanas "Mockers and Rods"
- The Upper Crust "The Decline and Fall of the Upper Crust"
- Lorrette Velvette "Lost Part of Me"
- The Sweet "Desolation Boulevard"
- Lyres "On Fyre"
- Chuck Berry "The Great 28"
- Mott the Hoople "The Ballad of Mott, a Retrospective"
Remember people, The General doesn't care what you think about his
opinions. All statements made in this column are statements of pure fact
and cannot be argued hippie-style by any reader of this column. Please
do not send The General records to review as he will most likely hate
them. If there are great Rock N' Roll bands out there The General will
find them himself.
"...cannot be argued hippie-style by any reader of this column."
All reviews based on listening levels of at least 95 db through The
General's high-grade, military spec tube stereo system. ©1998 General