Monday, February 20, 2012

Illusions of Grandeur - U.X.A.

Illusions of Grandeur
Posh Boy  PBS 104

My favorite radio show is "She Rocks" on KXLU.  It is an eclectic mix of music featuring "gine-core" which is how the DJs term rock made by females.  When I was listening a few weeks ago, I heard an old school punk song that I liked quite a bit.  It sounded vaguely familiar, but I couldn't peg it, I thought it might be an obscure Avengers track or something.  I was flabbergasted when the ladies on the radio said it was by U.X.A. because I have their album and I have always hated it.  I picked it up in the early 1980s because I dug the cover but when I played it I was turned off by De De Troit's off-key caterwauling.  I hadn't played it for 20 years, in fact it was on my purgatory shelf which is where I stick records that I'm thinking of getting rid of.  I dug it out and took it for a spin and I have to admit that it is better than I remembered although I can see why I disliked it so much originally.  De De Troit is not a good singer but she does have some charisma, she kind of reminds me of Johnny Rotten but without the passion or fun, she even seems to be affecting an English accent at times although I'm pretty sure she's from Detroit.  The lyrics, which are largely written by De De Troit, are pretentious dreck for the most part, without the directness or humor that characterizes the best early punk music.  Lines like "He was a killer, he was a television set" from "Tragedies" or "I'm trying to telephone I'm asleep in the rain and when this high wears off we'll score some more pain" from "Death From Above" make me wince.  I don't mind that Troit takes herself so seriously or attempts to make poetic statements about life and society, but I do mind that she does it so badly.  "Illusions of Grandeur" is an apt title for such an ambitious yet inept album.  Troit's lyrics are awkward, forced and full of cliches, they remind me of Snoopy's stories in "Peanuts."  There are a couple of exceptions, I do like "Hand In Glove" which has some interesting imagery despite the clumsy language of the song as well as the nasty "Sister Godrieda" which is based on a real life murderous nun.  The saving grace for this record is the music which really rocks and lacks the typical monotony of hardcore.  The tempo varies considerably across the record, similar to their peers X or the Flesh Eaters but without the chops, although the band can play.  I appreciate the commitment to pop in songs like "U.X.A." and "I Don't Lose Sleep" and I like the raw power of "No Time," "Tragedies," "Immunity" and "Non Fiction."  There really isn't a dull number on the album and it does get me bopping.  As far as old school punk goes, it is well below the top tier groups, but I've heard worse, heck I'd much rather listen to this than the Germs' album.  I basically enjoy it as long as I don't listen too closely, so I've pulled the album out of purgatory and it's back on the regular shelf.  Recommended for fans of the Avengers.

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