[14 March 2006]
I just cleaned up dog vomit. Perhaps I didn’t need to share that with you. Perhaps it’s too much information, and dog vomit is too repulsive a mental image with which to lead off a music review. But dog vomit made me think of this repugnant little album that I’ve been trying to put into words for the last two weeks or so, and as it turns out, there are no two better words that describe how I feel about it. Besides, dog vomit looks positively benign when you put “Revolting Cocks” next to it. So there it is.
As much as it pains me to say this about anything featuring Al Jourgensen, Gibby Haynes, or Jello Biafra, Revolting Cocks’ latest opus Cocked and Loaded, their first release in over 12 years, is truly, utterly, nigh-unspeakably awful. Let me count the ways:
1. The subject matter is appalling. Granted, this is the Revolting Cocks, the #1 brand for don’t-give-a-shit in the industrial rock world, but so much of this is borderline homophobic, ignorant, seventh grade crap that might seem edgy to Grandma (but then, Grandma lived through the early days of Zappa, didn’t she?). Oh, look, there’s a song called “Jack in the Crack!” I think they mean butt sex! Here’s one called “Pole Grinder”! It’s about a drag stripper saving money for his sex change operation. “Prune Tang” is about a slutty old chick. Are you laughing yet? Jello Biafra desperately, valiantly tries to save the day with a couple of songs about how people suck (and even works in a few memorable lines in the better-than-average “Viagra Culture”), but on a disc like this, any serious sentiment is bound to be lost in the fact that, yes, he really did say “My wiener must win”. None of this is even to mention that both Biafra tunes should have shown up on a Lard album.
2. Cocked and Loaded sounds terrible. Again, I am fully aware that the music of the Revolting Cocks is not music to be meticulously mixed so that every little detail comes through perfectly. This band is a mess and proud of it. Still, the entire album has so much high-end that the bass is almost totally drowned out of the mix, and every song seems to be covered in a wash of white noise whose sole purpose would appear to be to simulate distortion. You know, thus making the songs, uh, “rock” more. It didn’t work.
3. Revolting Cocks have sullied the names of Bauhaus and Iggy Pop by putting “Caliente (Dark Entries)” and “Fire Engine” on this album. It doesn’t even matter that Ministry helped Mr. Pop record the original “Fire Engine” (an old, mostly forgotten demo) back when Ministry was a synthpop band—it simply saddens me that Iggy Pop had anything to do with this album.
4. There is a sort of je ne sais quoi disappointment when a so-called “supergroup” is this much less than the sum of its parts. Gibby Haynes sounds like he’s living in 1991 trying desperately to remind us all that, dammit, he sang “Jesus Built My Hotrod”. Jourgensen’s obviously donated too many brain cells to chemical research. Rick Nielsen is here doing something or other, as is Billy Gibbons. I mean, Cheap Trick and ZZ Top are getting dragged into this! Then there’s some guy named Stevie Banch from a band called Spyder Baby who sings most of the most putrid songs on the album, and I have a feeling he’s right in his element here. The only guy who doesn’t make a complete fool of himself is Biafra, and his two songs won’t exactly have you forgetting that Dead Kennedys exist. Where are Paul Barker and Chris Connelly when you need them?
It’s reviewers like me that Revolting Cocks will undoubtedly laugh at. You know, because I don’t get it, I’m obviously some faux-high-minded wannabe intellectual type who thinks he’s too good for their little tossed-off album. Well, fine. Whatever. As far as I can see, Cocked and Loaded is one of two things—it could be an attempt at humor, in which case, it fails miserably, as none of it even approaches funny. It could also be some sort of mass catharsis, something where a bunch of artists get together, get drunk (and God knows what else) for a few weeks straight and record an album, so they could clear their collective pallette and get on with making the kind of music they normally make when apart from each other. Which is fine, good for them, but they didn’t have to go and make innocent consumers pay to hear it. Here’s a tip—if you value your ears (and maybe your sanity), don’t.