Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Jack Ruby, JACK RUBY
ugEXPLODE, 2011; available
8 tracks, 24:51
Since it's almost time to say goodbye to 2011, I hereby declare this short CD archival release of the year! The legendary (and until now unheard on record) Jack Ruby was a strange meeting of minds. On the first four tracks, they are comprised of singer Robin Hall, bassist/guitarist Chris Gray (the only constant, it seems), and drummer/keyboardist/Serge synth player Randy Cohen. On the first track, 1974's "Hit and Run", this trio is joined by early member Boris Policeband* on electric viola (the credits say violin, but Robin Hall himself corrected this in the comments). "Hit and Run" is a wonderful slice of proto-punk, beginning like a perfect emulation of RAW POWER-era Stooges before Hall's deranged mantra of "And ya hit and ya run and ya hit and ya run...." leads into a meltdown of Serge noises, a mess of violin feedback, and guitars distorted beyond recognition. This puts them firmly as a proto-no wave act as well. The other three '74 tracks are no less intense, with the glam-punk of "Bored Stiff" and the noisy "Bad Teeth" being highlights. The last four tracks come from a 1977 rehearsal session. The band 's lineup has been changed to future Contortions bassist George Scott, drummer Nick, and Gray, with the latter taking on vocal duties. The sound quality is a little rougher, but that's not surprising as the earlier tracks were studio-recorded demos. "Hit and Run" and "Bored Stiff" show up again, but in drastically different forms. These tracks are more in line with punk and no wave, ditching the glam touches. It might be less surprising in context, but the musicianship is still top-notch and noisy in the best ways. Comparing the two lineups is interesting, and the two halves form a delightful whole. While the playing time is admittedly skimpy, the musical quality is worth every penny. I highly suggest spending the $10 to order this direct from ugEXPLODE. Kudos to Weasel Walter for continuing to find and release no wave obscurities like this!
*Apparently three tracks were recorded with Boris; why these weren't included is unknown, but it's highly possible the tape was damaged or the recording was otherwise unsalvagable. Weasel Walter mentions having access to other Jack Ruby recordings, but it's hinted that the most noteworthy made it onto the CD.