Saturday, June 26, 2010

Heavy Vegetable: The Amazing Undersea Adventures of Aqua Kitty and Her Friends (1994)

(As published in the Illinois Entertainer ... )

Heavy Vegetable
The Amazing Undersea Adventures of Aqua Kitty and Her Friends

Eleven of this album's seventeen songs clock in at under two minutes, and one of the longer ones only makes it past three minutes with the help of extended amp hum. Nevertheless, despite (because of?) its penchant for lyrics and song structures that only reveal the method in their madness after lots of listens, Heavy Vegetable isn't (just) fooling around.

The filial-hate tantrum "Junior," for instance, gains resonance coming as it does after "Black Suit" (in which mosh-pit-worthy power chords erupt while lead singer Rob Crow's dad ominously watches him writhe in the Intensive Care Unit). Likewise, the suicidal Eastern religionist whom Crow wishes would jump ("Krishna on the Ledge"), the onanistic farm animal ("Johnny Pig"), and the guy who just plain smokes too much ("Head Rush") imply the exhilarating variety of the physical world without getting all Gerard Manley Hopkins-like about it.

But what really whips these ditties and fragments into a coherent whirlwind the explosive drumming of Manolo Turner. Guitar-playing, singer-songwriting weirdos we will always have with us, but drummers who honor both Keith Moon and Buddy Rich, if only for two minutes at a time, are special indeed.

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