Out Here

Heavy tin foil

Come On Feel The Metal
Various artists
steve records

The joke's an easy one to remember, but a hard one to tell. Come On Feel The Metal, on which almost three dozen local bands go metal in all its incarnations (from Zep to ZZ Top to pop), wears its novelty potential like ripped Spandex: It's an album built upon a shoddy foundation of nostalgia for a time when Warrant, Mstley CrYe, and David Lee Roth were top of the pops. Most of the bands covered here were negligible the first go-round; their songs, disposable fodder. The tracks on Come On Feel The Metal might elicit a laugh at first--whether it's Caulk turning Journey's "Any Way You Want It" into a threat or Andy Timmons Xeroxing Alice Cooper's "No More Mr. Nice Guy"--but that chuckle soon turns into a shrug, no different than hearing the original music after 15 years: "Hey, remember Krokus?" "Yeah. They sucked."

Instead of gathering the likes of Solinger, Pantera, and ASKA--bands suckled on Ozzy's teats and wearing Gene's makeup in the Basement--the folks at Crystal Clear have opted to take an alternative route. They've rounded up 35 of the usual suspects (Toadies, Tripping Daisy, Hagfish), flavors of the month (Grand Street Cryers, Cresta, Blender), local heroes (Cowboys and Indians, Little Jack Melody & His Young Turks, Brave Combo) and local zeros (Jibe, Stink!#bug), and anyone else Redbeard'll play, and squeezed from them a double-disc collection that'd do better as an EP. It has its moments, but few of them last beyond the initial kitsch factor; indeed, the only difference between Warrant's "Cherry Pie" and The Soup's is seven years.

Fact is, it's just too damned hard to make a bad song good; no matter how talented a band like rubberbullet is, especially with Bill Longhorse now on lead guitar, they're never going to overcome Aldo Nova's "Fantasy"; it's like asking Juan Gonzales to hit a home run with a thousand-pound bat. The lasting moments here come only when bands figure out how to skate on the thin ice without drowning: Brave Combo's "Double Vision" reveals Foreigner as the lounge band they've become, and Little Jack Melody recasts Slade's "Cum On Feel The Noize" as a Weimar Republic waltz, wresting it away from the rock world until it stands alone as a novel gem.

Peter Schmidt and Course of Empire's Chad Lovell reduce "We're Not Gonna Take It" to its bare percussive essentials, and it somehow works; Will Johnson's lo-fi redo of the Scorpions' "Still Loving You," is now all but unrecognizable--and thank Christ for that. Bonus points for getting the Toadies to admit they're Thin Lizzy, but be very afraid whenever you see the words "Deep Blue Something" next to "Originally performed by Dio."

--Robert Wilonsky

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky