The second installment in a scruff, poetic panorama of turn-of-the-century America, Get Right with God turns from Superamerican‘s hard-rock dissection of patriotism towards an equally distortion-soaked consideration of religion. It would be easy enough to underestimate this Pittsburgh band’s diesel-fueled, cock-rock-referencing tunes as Neanderthal rock—a step-child of AC/DC, ZZ Top, Zeppelin and MC5—yet that would leave so much on the table. There’s a crazed intensity and lucid-nightmare-like poetry to these songs that no other band working right now can match. Yes, you could toss off the sludgy, blues vamp of “Like a Thief” as a scrunge-rock pole dance, but that would miss the damaged gospel clarity of its “There is no joy without sorrow / There is no sorrow without joy” verse, or the razor sharpness of its instrumental groove. And certainly, you could understand all-out rampages like “Rocky Bleier” as simple stomps, as long as you ignored the killing force of the bass line, or the way that singer Tricky Powers sounds like he’s being electrocuted and having an orgasm at the same time. But I don’t know how you can shrug off the best cut, the visionary “Watching the War from Above”. The tune is flat-out dangerous, all desperate barroom piano trills and maimed poetry, a slack-grooved dance with the apocalypse. It may be the devil, it may be the military industrial complex, it may be some other form of evil speaking through Tricky’s mouth when he wails, “They say it’s the year of the vulture / It sure as hell ain’t the year of the dove / So stay away from me on the sidewalk pushing sculpture / With your piss and your myth of unselfish love / Me, I’m just sitting here with someone else’s baby dear / Watching the war / From above”. All I know is that this is as intense and powerful a rock record as you can find in these latter days… and nowhere near as simple as it seems.
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