Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Aus Rotten: ...And Now Back to Our Programming

Review # 21
Artist: Aus Rotten
Title: ...And Now Back To Our Programming
Format: LP
Label: Tribal War Records
Year: 1998
Songs: 7

Aus Rotten was  one of the classic and best known bands of 1990s crust, spanning most of the decade and garnering considerable attention and credibility among crusties and more than a few fans of street punk with a sound that drew heavily off of the anarcho-punk bands like Conflict, but injected it with a more hardcore and metal sounds. I never bought a full-length record by the band but ended up with two in my collection thanks, again, to receiving my friend Tim's records.

...And Now Back To Our Programming is the band's second effort. It starts off, rather ambitiously, with a single 15 minute song, the title track. A song of this length for a punk rock band is a bold and ambitious move.  There's just one problem: even though it's all one track, it's not really all one song. It's probably three different songs. They have thematically linked lyrics, but structurally, this just isn't one song.  There are pauses, followed by completely different parts.  There are choruses, but they don't repeat throughout the 15 minute track, just one specific part of it. So as a piece of music, the song "...And Now Back To Our Programming" just doesn't hold together.  I'm not saying it doesn't sound good.  I'd say there are probably three good songs there.  But trying to make them all into a single song in this case feels either like a failed attempt at something that exceeded the band's creative grasp, or just a little bit pretentious. This isn't some epic opus, it's several good punk songs. Oh well. Side A of the record also includes an old ad for Phillip-Morris which extols the healthful qualities of their cigarettes. It's pretty preposterous that such claims were at one time widely accepted.

Side B of the record is more straightforward.  It's comprised of six  medium to fast paced hardcore songs denouncing sexism, homophobia, war, and greed. The vocal delivery is such that an ear that's used to this kind of music can actually make out most of what the band has to say, which is often not the case with bands like this. The message actually gets across in the music if you want to listen for it. Musically, what this has to offer is good, solid, hardcore punk with alternating lead vocals. There's nothing all that intricate or progressive on this record, but Aus Rotten are masters of their genre, and they deliver their material with passion and energy like a good punk band should. A few of the songs feature backing vocals from Adrienne Droogas of the band Spitboy, which is a nice touch, especially on the song "Sexist Appeal," which is thematically quite similar to a lot of the Spitboy material.

What my copy of this album lacks is the cover/fold-out poster.  I'm pretty sure Tim had this up on his wall at one point, and when the vinyl got boxed up and handed off to me, this didn't make it back into the package. So unfortunately, I don't have any of the album art or lyrics. What did come in this record was a pamphlet on veganism and a copy of "Resistance: A Journal of Grassroots Direct Action" from 1999. I'm not sure how this got in there, if it was from Tim or some previous owner of the record. It's got stories on the Zapatistas, Mumia Abu-Jamal, the McLibel case, and other stuff you'd commonly find in an radical publication back in the late 1990s (and, to varying degrees, today). Most of it is kind of dated, but it the publication itself looks pretty well done and is a slice of what was going on around the time the record came out. I don't expect I'll spend a lot of time with it, but it's sort of a cool find from a historical standpoint.

Next, I'll be reviewing another Aus Rotten record from Tim's collection, and then moving into the last two artists in my collection of LPs that start with the letter A....

Listen to "Sexist Appeal"

Total Songs Listened: 249

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