Better Dead Than Red . . .
Epic executives should have known better. Back in the Spring of 2003 the label was poised for the brilliant three tiered re-release of the entire AC/DC catalogue. A special gig was scheduled at New York City’s Roseland Ballroom that provided fans with a rare opportunity to see the lads from Down Under in something other than a stadium setting. The show also bore special importance as it coincided with the band’s induction into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Recognizing the event as a potential springboard for a newly signed act, Epic’s brain trust bestowed the opening slot on Vendetta Red. To say this was poor judgment is an understatement. Concert goers watched in dumbstruck awe as the group distinguished itself as the worst band many had ever seen. Jumping around like hallucinating chimpanzees, Vendetta Red emitted thirty minutes of indecipherable noise, boasting an embarrassing lack of talent in every respect. Obviously the label had too much invested to simply pull the plug on these musical cretins, so the single “Shatterday” was released and an accompanying video hit the airwaves. If Epic’s decision to foist Vendetta Red on the masses proves one thing, it is that major label clout and the best intentions do not always translate into quality product.
To say that Between the Never and the Now is bad would be far too simple; this level of musical incompetence has not been witnessed since Keanu Reeves formed Dogstar, and must be broken down and itemized for all to see.
1) The CD is comprised of twelve tracks, each varying in their own degrees of atrociousness. Every song incorporates lyrics that were written to appear cerebral, but instead sound inane. Attempts at pained sensitivity in “There Only Is”, “Seconds Away”, and “Accident Sex” would make Billy Corgan give up music altogether, while the song “Caught You Like A Cold” elevates the use of idiotic cliché to lofty heights, leaving listeners either laughing or cringing.
2) The lead vocals on each track represent some of the poorest singing in recent memory, reminiscent of the Vines on their worst day. Making matters worse is the inclusion of gratuitous shrieking into half of the songs. Granted, rock has always had a unique mix of screamers hitting the high notes, from Roger Daltrey and Robert Plant to David Coverdale and Kevin DuBrow, but Vendetta Red’s cacophonous efforts set a new sub-standard in this department.
3) The dozen tracks represent a band searching endlessly for an identity, and finding none. Punk? Alternative? Grunge revisited? God knows what the goal was with this CD, but Vendetta Red defies reasonable classification.
4) The album’s lowlight comes with the inclusion of “Lipstick Tourniquets”, a song that is quite simply, unbelievable. Combining an amazing array of vocal, lyrical and instrumental ineptitude with doses of the aforementioned shrieking, this track is the epitome of amateurism, and should be viewed as the Crown Jewel in the “What to Avoid as a Band” instruction manual.
As horrendous as Vendetta Red and its inaugural major label effort are, one would think there might be something positive to say about either of them. Alas, no words can make amends for this sorry example of a band or the CD, and both will hopefully fade away into musical oblivion very soon.
For Epic executives, let us forgive them in this instance. The label deserves a pass as it has more than made up for Vendetta Red with an impressive list of quality acts and recordings over the years.
Nonetheless, Epic could have saved critics a great deal of time if it had borrowed from Spinal Tap and renamed the album Shark Sandwich. Reviews would have then simply read “Shit Sandwich . . .”
// Notes from the Road
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