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Friday, August 20, 2010

Angry Samoans: STP Not LSD


1) I Lost (My Mind); 2) Wild Hog Rhyde; 3) Laughing At Me; 4) STP Not LSD; 5) Starring At The Sun; 6) Death Of Beewak; 7) Egyptomania; 8) Attack Of The Mushroom People; 9) Feet On The Ground; 10) Garbage Pit; 11) (I'll Drink To This) Love Song; 12) Lost Highway.

Perhaps Back From Samoa did have a «revolutionary» quality to it. But the Samoan rock critics did not really set out to revolutionize music; their goals were more modest and, at the same time, far more complex — distillation, bottling, and distribution of the quintessential «rock spirit», the Holy Grail of every rock critic. And, much as the punk movement in its original phase claimed the same goals, continuing to move in the «hardcore» direction would, in the end, only displace, if not actually profanate them.

So, instead, the Samoans fell back on their roots — garage proto-punk and irrevent psych-folk of the mid-Sixties. The 1987 EP Yesterday Started Tomorrow introduced the retro styles in ear­nest, culminating in a Jefferson Airplane cover, and by 1988, it was clear that these guys had tota­l­ly switched to recreating (with only minor updates) the visions of The Sonics and The Holy Mo­dal Rounders, with a bit of Velvet Underground for good measure.

Nobody really got it, and very few were happy about it. Who needs the Angry Samoans when they are not all that angry any more? Speed is reduced, cussing is cut down, and what about all these acoustic folk songs making fun of backwoods dwellers? What is this, Greenwich Village? Where is anything even vaguely on the level of 'Right Side Of My Mind'?

But let us take a peep at the bright side. STP Not LSD is anything but non-creative. If you like the classic garage aesthetics, there is every reason to enjoy the Samoans' take on it. If people see a reason for the existing of Brian Setzer and Dave Edmunds, and are willing to argue that these guys are not totally expendable even if you have proper access to all the treasure groves of classic rockabilly, then the same case can be argued for the Samoans.

All I know is that STP Not LSD is fun. The band still holds together tighter than a buttplug, the lyrics, if not as obnoxiously obsessive, are on the same demented level, and even if all the riffs are pilfered from old garage classics (which they may or may not be), they're good riffs, and the sources are not always easily identifiable. Plus, there is diversity a-plenty: for instance, Metal Mike employs just about every single nasty, crunchy guitar tone ever recorded in the Sixties log­book and beyond. (My favourite is the introduction to 'Death Of Beewak' — hello, San Fran­cisco!) Switches to acoustic, too, every now and then.

Certainly no amount of consolation is ever going to turn the record into the kind of trailblazing classic that Back From Samoa will be considered for as long as the trails do not become over­grown; but the subgenre of «hardcore punks doing retro shit» is not tremendously large in itself, which means STP Not LSD might deserve a bit of space in your collection, too. Give it a modest thumbs up, and don't be afraid to play it, say, once a year — it's only twenty-three minutes.

1 comment:

  1. nah, the one-string fuzz leads before every verse of DEATH OF BEEWAK are totallly SRC lead style. i was thinking "Quackenbush!" everytime i stepped on the ancient blue/red early 70's Unibox giant stomp pedal. i loved the 1st/2nd lp best SRC stuff. (3rd lp was a snoozer). MILESTONES was solid top to bottom, but they (SRC) were on a terrible "sign everything/anything and throw them all against the wall at once" label that could barely move many Steve Miller Band album without shooting themselves in the foot.

    if you're doing crude West Coast style, that's gotta be KAK. which i mimicked (plus some feedback/tones0 all over THE MISTAKEN recording (7 songs, samoans w/o the regular rhythm section) the previous year. i like that record FAR better than either samoans record straddling it during 1986-1988. songs, performances especially, we did good pre-production work getting the guitar sounds and drum parts figured out and down before the recording weekend.

    the "photo album" that's the 1985-1988 lineup has a picture(s) of the little practice amp that the 1st guitar was done with on the STP NOT LSD album. weird thing that was carried by the Colton Piano stores. but only a certain model (had the gonzo overdrive channel). it's way too squashed (for EQ) BUT if you have an original issue PVC cassette, that's a good approximation of what's on the master tape (and the test pressings). the retail pressing done 1/2 year later (the label was chapter 11 heading towards dissolution that year) is UNLISTENABLE. later CD/digital, probably worse. but the cassette PVC presed up didn't fuck up the "dark" EQ on the guitars (and snare drum also). we didn't want one sound/tone on that Side 1 that couldn't have been on an album from the 1969 Midwest -- dark and heavy rhythm guitars, w/plenty of lead guitar. it was there on the master tape (and test pressings). ahhhhygrrrgh and the BACK cover photo should have been on the front (cover). junked auto picture.