Tuesday, November 6, 2007

!!! - The Dis-ease

(Hopscotch, 1998)

While !!! didn’t really pull it all together until the lengthy dub freakout on its side of the Out Hud split 12” a year or so later, it had the whole f/punk formula figured out well enough on this first single. What the band was doing back then was a lot more exciting than the zillion-selling (I think?), chart-busting (right?), stadium-filling (I'm pretty sure?) music it released on Touch & Go and Warp a few years down the road: these songs are more basement than disco, with a much looser, rawer feel than on later records. The rhythm section is definitely locked in, dance-wise – especially on catchy B-side keeper “The Funky Branca” – but there’s an overarching, appealing messiness in the brass blats, stereo-panned guitar squiggles, and mini drum breakdowns.

The lyrics and vocals have always been iffy (particularly live, with the added embarrassment of the less and less bearable frontman/MC antics), and the sophomoric ruminations on scene phonies in “The Dis-ease” are indeed purty bad: “Well what about U / Y do U do what U do / R U fabricated R U fake or made up / Come on let’s tell the truth.” Still, the mix emphasizes the music enough to successfully marginalize the singer’s yowlings, and the aforementioned POETRY wouldn’t be intelligible without the assistance of the lyric sheet.

Sure, this one's not a must-have, but it's successful partytime stuff that’s toe-tappy enough on its own, and tons o’ fun next to the comparatively sleek and lyrically “confrontational” (yawn) product the band has put out since joining the ranks of the bigs. If you manage to find both this and the rump-kickin' split-12" on GSL, quit while you're ahead.

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