Madcap virtuoso avantguitarist/singer/songwriter Gary Lucas returns to the alternative rock wars with the release of his new solo album for Enemy Records, "Bad Boys of the Arctic" (EMY 146-2).
In the tradition of his highly acclaimed 1992 album "Gods and Monsters" (which generated a 4 star Rolling Stone review), "Bad Boys of the Arctic" is brimming with memorable songs, sly lyrics, crafty twisted hooks and the kind of fiery, go-for-broke playing that is the hallmark of his formidable band, Gods and Monsters.
Driven by the percussive fury of Jonathan Kane (Swans, LaMonte Young) and the bass-in-your-face attack of Jean Chaine (David Moss Dense Band) and Ernie Brooks (Modern Lovers), Lucas and friends hip up a witch's brew of musique sauvage, with freewheeling excursions into the lyrical ("Jericho," "I Want to Play Your Guitar"), the surreal ("Exit, Pursued by a Bear") and the psychotic ("The Nightmare of History," "Vampire Circus").
Along for the wild ride are guest art-chanteuse Dina Emerson (a regular in the Meredith Monk ensemble -- listen to Dina Emerson tear into the opening track "After Strange Gods," an invocation to the unseen forces beyond the maelstrom); high lonesome singer Sonya Cohen (niece of Pete Seeger and daughter of the New Lost City Rambler's John Cohen -- listen to her raise shivers on the haunting and timely "Jericho" and the exultant "Out From Under"); and subversive song jesters Kenny and Larry, whose last public appearance was highjacking their Yale graduation ceremony. Here on "Poison I.V. League" they make a sarcastic thrust at C.I.A. drug running, the Clinton clique, the re-emergence of heroin and other white powders as Rock Fashion Statements of the 90's, and the Ivy League Old Boy fraternity, trying to govern with "that old college try" in a style akin to the Comedian Harmonists on laughing gas.
Elsewhere, Gary Lucas cracks the vocal whip on the metal horrorshow "They Can't Believe He's Risen Again" (is it a god or a monster?); on the electric ecstasy of the live Gods and Monsters performing cult pop-minimalist Arthur Russell's 1986 dance classic "Let's Go Swimming"; and on the hip-hop apocalypse "Vampire Circus," a cautionary tale of our dog-eat-dog universe with biting, incisive lyrics denouncing exploitation.
Rounding out the album are 2-1/2 instrumentals: Percy Grainger's lovely "Children's March -- Over the Hills and Far Away" (no relation to the Led Zep tune of the same name), here rendered by Lucas on the solo acoustic guitar; the National steel skeleton dance "The Nightmare of History," graced by the spectral moans of Kumiko Kimoto; and a live-in-the-studio free jazz Gods and Monsters hurly burly entitled "Cantina," designed to make your walls shake.
Other Gary Lucas releases on Enemy Records:
EMY 126-2 Gary Lucas - "Skeleton at the Feast"
EMY 133-2 Gary Lucas - "Gods and Monsters"