Guitar heroes have always been more the province of heavy metal than punk, where the aesthetic of self-conscious primitivism and "loud fast rules" left little room for solos. There are exceptions, of course, and one of them is Rick Sims, the six-string scoundrel who leads his band of hard-rocking desperados, the Gaza Strippers, over territory that bridges Cheap Trick with the NY Dolls and Iggy's Stooges. From the start, as the sartorially splendiferous front man of the Didjits, Sims' sound set the band apart. The Strippers, like the Didjits, bring power pop sensibility exemplified by Cheap Trick together with the hell-bent, garage-rock urgency of early NYC punk. In the center is Sims' playing--the lightning-quick, melodically rich rain of notes that sizzle from his fretboard with the careering rhythmic rush of Ted Nugent high on bennies doing Berry's backward duckwalk, tongue wagging.
Sims, you see, is all showman. He'll bound from one end of the stage to another like a kid performing on air guitar in his bedroom: part clown, part star, a tour de force performance, all the while ripping off some of the tastiest licks since the Tootsie Pop. Employing the kind of irreverent sense of humor you'd expect from a band called the Gaza Strippers, their subjects have ranged from the virtues of masturbation ("Automat") and pimping ("Get 'em Down") to dieting ("Brainwasher"), murder ("Mommy Shot Daddy") and "auto" eroticism ("Throttle Bottom"). They're not above a cheeky cover either, such as their high-octane version of Love and Rockets' "Yin and Yang (The Flower Pot Man)." But in the end it always comes back to Sims' guitar pyrotechnics, which celebrate the big, silly attitude of '70s rock like AC/DC, delivered at a breakneck pace for the attention-addled TV generation. Think of it as high-concept junk food.