Next time you’re at your local record store, take a good look around. Not a superficial scan or a gleam into who’s flicking through what and what the hell is that guy in a suit doing holding a G.G. Allin record -accountants need scatology punk too- but really goddamn look. With your eyes. All of them.
Notice how it’s not just us mere carbon-based lifeform types that must suffer through a perpetual gauntlet of social structures, status and expectation? Look at what’s taking pride of place in the store… oh, there’s that limited edition pressing of the Fleet Foxes debut album on swirly green 220 gram vinyl again. That’s right. Not 180. 220. What a snoot! Perched all hoity-toity on the front counter like its shit don’t stink. All status symbol and facial hair. Peering down its cover at you like you’re some dirty low-down cretin who’s only worthy of a two dollar Kenny Loggins album. Yeah, that one. Down there on the floor. Jammed into that partially obscured milk crate with all the other wretched heathens.
The two-dollar record bin.
A terminal rest home for the outdated and unhip. The last bastion of an exclusive group of pointless relics whose fate was sealed the moment they were played on Soft Rock 104 or whatever the fuck. Well, it’s all that I can goddamn afford today, so what the hell. Ima gonna look through. Cover me though. I don’t want my supercool friends to see me like this.
What have we here? Ah, yes, the usual suspects… Leo Sayer… pass. Joan Baez, Demis Roussos… pass and double pass. Oh, 10cc?! Maybe. Uhh, no. Gotta maintain my cred. And look, the ultimate symbol of all that is mediocre and painless and gentle and friendly, so fearless and unashamed of its complete hideousness, the king of the two-dollar record bin, I bring you… the Christopher Cross Flamingo album! That motherfucker is everywhere! It haunts me. Stalking from record store to record store, strategically placed in a clandestine sandwich between Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s Tarkus monstrosity and Barbara Streisand. Every. Fucking. Store. Ready to pounce like the predatory yacht rock monster that it is. And suddenly, only when I’m at my most vulnerable… BAH! Scared the crap out of me again. Gets me every time. One day, I’m just gonna have to fork out the two bucks and buy this thing. To quell the head demons, y’see.
And it was there, one day, in the catastrophe of ancient dust, asthma, spider web and Christopher Cross, that persistence finally paid off with a chunk of rock ‘n roll gold. Flicking through… Air Supply, Hall & Oates, Don Johnson? Uhh, no thanks… flicking through… Nik Kershaw…
Actually, at the time I had no idea what an RMF was. The name kind of reminded me of EMF -y’know, that hideous ‘Unbelievable’ early 90s romp into the inane and please kill me now vortex of perpetual rotation at every single goddamn party I ever attended as a sixteen year old? Yeah, that. So I ditched the RMF and continued to promptly flick through to the swampy realm of David Hasselhoff sings to Germans or some other such tripe. But there was something about this RMF that all but forced me to about face and pick it up again. The cover looks kind of cool. All yellows, pinks and blues agitated into an acid-drenched haze; kinda mysterious and minimal. Maybe one of those rowdy acid house combos from Manchester I’ve been hearing so much about lately? The cover had me intrigued enough to bite the bullet and begrudgingly talk to the human at the counter.
“Umm, sir. ‘Scuse me, but would you be so kind as to tell me what RMF stands for?”
“Why yes, son. It stands for Reverb Motherfuckers. Now run along home little Benny. Your mother will be worried sick.”
Reverb Motherfuckers. Well, I’ve got to buy it now!
How bad could it really be?
From the first bout of the dude at the start blurting out the somewhat irrelevant singular “well!” I was hooked. A sucker for all things RMF. The acid-fried swamp sludge of ‘Highway to Hojo’s’ kicks off Route 666, an apparent ode to some fast food grease pit found on the road between Texas and hell where you pay with your soul. Oh, and Charles Manson eats there. No worse than McDonald’s really. But the song itself, it’s actually pretty damn catchy in a low IQ sort of way and still gets me all sweaty and deranged some twenty-five years after first hearing it. As if ‘Highway to Hojo’s’ isn’t signal enough as to the tone this album might take, track two, the one-minute barrage of some nice fella lipping “Joan Collins always” repeatedly -funnily enough, the song is called ‘Joan Collins Always’– really hits home that it’s far too late to turn back; we ain’t in Kansas no more little doggy and have fallen way down the rabbit hole through the looking glass, people.
And then there’s ‘Who Got the Crack?’
The significance about this disjointed, over-fried masterpiece of a bargain bin album is that it taught me that the unconventional need not be a Laurie Anderson yawnfest or a Beefheartian headfuck. Unconventional can be cool. Hip to the jive. J to the iggy. Amid the sordid byplay and injected hits of weirdness that are somewhat reminiscent of a poor man’s early Butthole Surfers are some damn fine rock ‘n’ roll romps with a crateful of bargain bin licks that actually make one want to embrace a Christopher Cross flamingo album every once in a while. To soothe, y’see.
Route 666 is just that savage.
Here’s the thing. Always judge an album by its cover. Pink flamingo front and centre of a dark green background? No. Put it back. Lysergic perversion and molestation at the hands of three pastelly swirls? Yes. Solo artists named Christopher? No. God no! Any band with Motherfuckers in the title… hell, yes!
Where’s the band from? Dunno. It’s not important is it? When was the album released? Late eighties I guess. It don’t matter. The tunes are timeless in that they are not from time itself, and the surrealistic warmth of purple dragon octopus… whoa!
Too much RMF.