Saturday, June 26, 2010

Wayne Kramer: The Hard Stuff (1995)

(As published in the Illinois Entertainer ... )

Wayne Kramer
The Hard Stuff

Having perfected his punk-metal skronk as one fifth of the legendary MC5, Wayne Kramer can reasonably expect to sell a few thousand copies of this album on nostalgic name recognition alone. The good news is that although he hasn't taught his guitar any new tricks in the last twenty years, he still knows how to make it sound like a garage full of lawnmowers. The bad news is that not only does Kramer sing like a rock critic, but he also solicits lyrics from one in the person of Mick Farren. Even worse, Kramer's lyrics are worse than Farren's.

Farren: "We are deprived / of the self-destruct relief of wild-bunch conflict" ("The Realm of Pirate Kings"). Kramer: "Truth and love are my law and worship, / form and conscience my manifestation and guide" ("Poison"). Farren: "Those souls on TV ain't really crying. / They accept that they were born to die" ("Hope for Sale"). Kramer: "Wilson moved his family out of the city / where times are tough, life is fast and hard and gritty" ("Crack in the Universe").

So, Henry Rollins's gushing liner notes and the clever "Sharkskin Suit" notwithstanding, what The Hard Stuff amounts to is forty-seven minutes of revved-up, punk-metal guitar rock like they don't make anymore welded to songs that you hope they'll never write again.

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